Week one of the NFL and Fantasy Football season has finally arrived which means it’s time to make some lineup decisions.
The opening week of the NFL season is always full of excitement and optimism. This extends to the fantasy football world where every owner feels they have a chance to bring home a championship.
However, some will quickly realize that their team might not be as strong as they thought. It’s also a time where some make their first lineup mistake.
Fantasy starts with doing the research so you have a strong draft. However, it’s equally as important to keep focused and make proper lineup decisions. All fantasy owners have gone through the pain of having a high scorer on their bench.
Producing the right lineup is a mix of reviewing the matchups and luck. My strategy is just review the situation for each player and go with my gut.
The first week of the season is usually the toughest because we really don’t have a great handle on each team’s gameplan. We know the stud players like Todd Gurley will get plenty of touches, but do we really know how the Cincinnati Bengals are going to split carries?
Most are going to start the guys that have name value. However, don’t hesitate to take a risk or two early in the year. This sit-start article has some suggestions on who should or shouldn’t be in your lineup.
Good luck to everyone and try not to over think your starting lineups. Hey, it’s only week one!!
Start: Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers
vs. Kansas City Chiefs
I’m one of the guys who waited until late to draft my quarterback and ended up with Philip Rivers. It’s a strategy that is going to work out well for week one as the Chargers face the Chiefs. Kansas City has an iffy secondary which Rivers should be able to exploit.
Kendall Fuller is the Chiefs top cornerback and he spent most of last year handling the slot duties for the Washington Redskins. It’s possible that the Chiefs look to keep him in this role whenever possible.
The Chargers are also loaded with offensive weapons that can do damage in the passing game. Keenan Allen should have a field day going against the Chiefs group of cornerbacks.
I’m even high on Mike Williams who is looking to get his career on track after a rough rookie season. Williams has the type of length, quickness and leaping ability that works well in the red zone.
Rivers is a veteran quarterback who doesn’t hesitate to let the ball fly.
Sit: Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
vs. Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals feature an impressive collection of pass rushers that should make things difficult for Andrew Luck. They’re able to generate pressure off the edge with players like Jordan Willis, Carl Lawson and Carlos Dunlap.
However, it’s the pressure brought by defensive tackle Geno Atkins that really makes disrupts the flow of the quarterback.
The Colts don’t have much supporting Luck as he makes his way back from injury. T.Y. Hilton is still in the mix, but the rest of the receiving corps is average at best. The running game will also be an issue.
Start: Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals
@ Indianapolis Colts
The Colts are still in the early part of rebuilding their defense. Their front seven doesn’t have the type of bulk needed to consistently shut down the running game. They also lack experience at linebacker which should work in Joe Mixon’s favor.
Mixon is heading into the season trying to establish himself as the Bengals lead running back. He’s a versatile playmaker who can make plays as a runner and pass catcher.
During the preseason, he showed flashes of how much of an impact he can make for the Bengals. Mixon will still split some time with Gio Bernard, but the touches should lean more towards Mixon this year.
Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons
@ Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles defense is fully healthy and loaded with established veterans. Their defensive line is especially deep. Fletcher Cox and Haloti Ngata are the projected starting defensive tackles and both excel at slowing the run game.
Philadelphia can also afford to put some extra defenders in the box because of their underrated secondary. They won’t hesitate to match Ronald Darby or Jalen Mills one on one with Julio Jones.
Freeman has been a very productive back throughout the years, but he has been heavily worked. Last year, he started to show some signs that that workload was taking a toll. The running back position is a tricky thing as we have seen player’s production just completely fall off.
Start: Alex Collins, Running Back
vs. Buffalo Bills
The Ravens offense looked strong during the preseason with an improved passing attack. This is something that can open some more room for Alex Collins. The addition of John Brown should especially keep opposing defenses from stacking the box.
Collins was the Ravens bell-cow last year and I don’t expect much to change. This is still a team that will want to run the ball and take deep shots with Joe Flacco’s arm.
The Bills are a team in transition that have a lot of questions to answer. Defensively, they are starting two veteran defensive tackles in Kyle Williams and Star Lotulelei. Both have had solid careers but have seen their play dip recently.
Baltimore should be able to move the football this weekend and that will include Collins racking up yards on the ground.
Sit: Jamal Williams, Green Bay Packers
vs. Chicago Bears
The Khalil Mack trade has really sparked some optimism around the Chicago Bears. This is a team that is now expected to compete for a playoff spot. That journey starts this week as they face their rival the Green Bay Packers.
Chicago’s defense is going to be playing with a little extra spark. This is a group that has a very strong front seven which doesn’t bode well for Jamal Williams.
Start: Stefon Diggs, Minnesota Vikings
vs. San Francisco 49ers
The Minnesota Vikings will be looking to show off their new quarterback this weekend against the 49ers. Kirk Cousins worked this preseason to develop a rhythm with his new weapons. The relationship between him and Stefon Diggs already appears to be strong.
San Francisco added Richard Sherman this offseason to be the leader of their secondary. He’s been slowed this past week with a hamstring issue which is a slight concern. Diggs is an explosive athlete with the ability to quickly get in and out of his breaks.
It’s going to be difficult for Sherman to shutdown someone like Diggs if he’s slowed by an injury.
Sit: T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts
vs. Cincinnati Bengals
There is just too much uncertainty surrounding Andrew Luck and the Colts offense. They didn’t look overly impressive during the preseason and who really knows the full story surrounding Luck’s shoulder.
Hilton is still a terrific player, but it is going to be tough sledding against the Bengals. Cincinnati has a strong secondary led by William Jackson III, Dre’ Kirkpatrick and Darqueze Dennard.
There should also be a concern about how much time Luck will have in the pocket. The Bengals pass rush is very active and should be able to exploit a young Colts offensive line. Things just don’t look to favor starting Hilton this week.
Start: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers
@ Cleveland Browns
JuJu Smith-Schuster is a player I’m all in on this year. He had a tremendous rookie season and has looked great in the preseason. This is a big-play threat who is also developing as a route runner and overall player.
Cleveland is obviously going to commit a lot of resources to shutting down Antonio Brown. It’s really a lost cause because Brown will get his.
However, that extra coverage shifted toward Brown means favorable matchups for Smith-Schuster. Ben Roethlisberger has never shied away from spreading the ball around and already trusts his second-year wide receiver.
Sit: Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks
@ Denver Broncos
Baldwin’s injury situation is very worrisome. The talk is that he won’t be fully healthy for much if not all of this season. Personally, I’m not interested in dealing with this type of uncertainty through out the year– especially in week one.
The Broncos might not have Aqib Talib anymore, but Chris Harris and Bradley Roby are still on board. Harris is an excellent cover-man who will make it difficult for Baldwin to create separation.
Seattle still has a questionable offensive line which will need to deal with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb this week. Russell Wilson isn’t going to have much time in the pocket to let Baldwin find space.
Start: Tarik Cohen, Chicago Bears
@ Green Bay Packers
Matt Nagy and the Chicago Bears hid Tarik Cohen throughout the preseason. They obviously didn’t want to tip their hand. The expectation is that Nagy will use Cohen like he did Tyreek Hill last season.
Cohen is a shifty and explosive athlete who is a nightmare with the ball in his hands. He is capable of reaching the end zone every time he touches the football.
The Bears find themselves with more pressure to win now after Ryan Pace traded for Khalil Mack. Nagy’s offense will need to do their part which in turn puts more pressure on quarterback Mitch Trubisky.
Cohen is the type of player who will make life easier for a young quarterback. Picking up key first downs on shorter passes or breaking off long runs all help.
Sit: Golden Tate, Detroit Lions
vs. New York Jets
The New York Jets have a very underrated secondary. They spent big money this offseason to bring in Trumaine Johnson who will work opposite Morris Claiborne. At safety, Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye are back after successful rookie campaigns.
Detroit heads into the start of the season looking to establish a more rounded offensive attack. They invested in both the offensive line and running back position during the offseason. This means there will be slightly less opportunities fro someone like Golden Tate.
I’m keeping Tate on my bench for week one based on the tough matchup and uncertain workload.
Start: Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings
vs. San Francisco 49ers
Kirk Cousins has always utilized the tight end position which means good things for Kyle Rudolph. Cousins was the one throwing passes to Jordan Reed when he emerged as a major weapon. In fact, Vernon Davis even put up solid fantasy numbers with Cousins.
Rudolph is a big-time red zone threat who has a knack for finding open spaces in the defense. He uses his big frame and long arms to attack the ball at its highest point.
The presence Stefon Diggs and Adam Theilen draw attention away from Rudolph who routinely flies under the radar. San Francisco’s linebacker corps is young and inexperienced. They really don’t have anyone who’s ready to handle Rudolph.
Sit: Evan Engram, New York Giants
vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Engram is expected to play week one, but is recovering from a concussion. This is the type of injury that always brings uncertainty. The injury is only one reason why I’m moving away from Engram this week.
Jacksonville’s defense is the other reason to avoid Engram. The Jaguars have Telvin Smith and Myles Jack who both do a great job in coverage. They also won’t hesitate putting one of their cornerbacks on Engram if they feel he could be a problem.
Start: Los Angeles Rams
@ Oakland Raiders
Jon Gruden faces a tough matchup in his return to coaching. The Oakland Raiders are going to have a tough time moving the ball against the Los Angeles Rams defense. This is a unit that added significant talent to an already solid group.
The rebuilt cornerback position now features Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib. Both are capable of creating turnovers and shutting down the opponents top receiver.
Oakland will be running out the inconsistent Amari Cooper and aging Jordy Nelson. These two will have a hard time finding space working against the Rams secondary. Things will be made even more difficult by the Rams ability to create pressure.
Look for Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh to make things miserable for Derrick Carr.
Sit: Pittsburgh Steelers
@ Cleveland Browns
I don’t anticipate the Browns putting up 40 points against the Steelers. However, this is going to be a much improved offensive group. Tyrod Taylor is the type of veteran quarterback who can move the chains and avoid turnovers.
Josh Gordon will see playing time and is always a threat on the outside. The presence of Jarvis Landry will also help keep the Steelers on their heels.
Start: Greg Zuerlein, Los Angeles Rams
@ Oakland Raiders
I want my kicker to be on a team with an effective offensive attack. The more opportunities for field goal and extra point tries the better. Greg Zuerlein has the pleasure of kicking for the Los Angeles Rams and their explosive offense.
Jared Goff and company have no problem moving the football. The Oakland Raiders absolutely don’t have enough defensive talent to slow down the Rams attack.
Zuerlein will have his chances and is always a candidate to connect from deep. This is one of the kickers who could put up some serious fantasy points this week.
Sit: Mason Crosby, Green Bay Packers
vs. Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears are going to come out charged against the Green Bay Packers. They have a new sense of confidence thanks to the late addition of Khalil Mack. This defense features a lot of speed and playmakers.
Aaron Rodgers may be the best quarterback in the league, but it’s going to be tough going on Sunday night.
Mason Crosby may not get as many opportunities as one my expect. The Bears defense has a chance to limit the Packers offensive attack enough to hurt Crosby’s fantasy production.