Fantasy Football Start’Em Sit’Em Week 1

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NFL: New England Patriots at Detroit Lions
Aug 25, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Marvin Jones (11) makes a catch against New England Patriots outside linebacker Elandon Roberts (52) during the second quarter at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Who’s In Who’s Out

Week 1 of the fantasy football season is here! With the fantasy football season finally kicking off, that means tough lineup decisions need to be made. Especially with the Dolphins and Buccaneers already on “bye weeks”. Here are the list of guys that should and should not be in your starting lineups!

Quarterbacks

Starts

Russell Wilson – SEA @ GB
Point spread total: 51

The start of the week at the quarterback, Russell Wilson will be engaged in a shootout with Aaron Rodgers in what Vegas is predicting as the highest scoring game of the week. This is a no-brainer. Wilson will be going up against the Packers defense that allowed the sixth most fantasy points and most passing yards to opposing quarterbacks in 2016!

Ben Roethlisberger – PIT @ CLE
Point spread total: 47

Big Ben on the road is a scary thought, but fear not! He will be okay this week on the road against Cleveland. Why? Well, besides the fact that the Browns allowed the second most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, they allowed the fifth highest quarterback rating to quarterbacks at home.

Sam Bradford – MIN versus NO
Point spread total: 48
If you are an owner looking for a quarterback to fill in for Andrew Luck or are worried about Tyrod Taylor’s availability, Bradford is your best bet. Coming off a career year, Bradford finally got an entire offseason with the Vikings offense. In Week 1, Bradford will take on the New Orleans Saints defense at home. A defense that allowed the ninth most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks in 2016. They also allowed the fourth highest quarterback rating to opposing quarterbacks while playing on the road.

Marcus Mariota – TEN versus OAK
Point spread total: 50.5

There are a million reasons why Mariota should be started this week from the game script to the fact that the Raiders defense allowed the eight most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. The Raiders defense is still filled with many holes and with all the new weapons at Mariota’s disposal, he should have a productive day in a high-scoring affair.

Derek Carr – OAK @ TEN
Point spread total: 50.5

In home games last year for the Titans, their opponents averaged 44.8 passing attempts per game, the most in the NFL. With all of those attempts come passing yards. The Titans at home in 2016 allowed 293.9 passing yards per game. Derek Carr is going to get a plethora of passing volume in this game.

Sits

Philip Rivers – LAC @ DEN
Point spread total: 43

Rivers is on the road against the Denver Broncos defense that allowed the fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks. This is a nightmare waiting to happen. Just how good is the Broncos defense against quarterbacks? In 16 games last season, only three times did an opposing quarterback scored more than 20 fantasy points. Rivers scored 26 points in two games against his division rivals in 2016.

Matthew Stafford – DET versus ARI
Point spread total: 48

Going up against a difficult Cardinals secondary, it is hard to see Stafford having a huge game this week. Interestingly enough the Cardinals defense plays better on the road. In 2016, they allowed 179.5 passing yards per game on the road versus 241.1 passing yards per game at home.

Dak Prescott – DAL versus NYG
Point spread total 47.5

Dak was great last year, but the only team that seemed to have his number were the New York Football Giants. Dak averaged nine fantasy points per game in both matchups against the Giants last year. With Ezekiel Elliot coming back for at least one game, expect to see Dallas run heavier than usual. That will hurt Dak’s overall fantasy output.

Running Backs

Starts

Dalvin Cook – MIN versus NO
Point spread total: 48

Cook has earned the featured back role on the Vikings and has a great matchup against the New Orleans Saint’s defense on Monday Night Football. New Orleans allowed the third most fantasy points to running backs in 2016.

Kareem Hunt – KC @ NE
Point spread total: 48.5

Bill Belichick will take away a team’s best offensive weapon. As much as Hunt has impressed so far in his brief career he is by no means the best offensive player on the team. But in this case, that is a good thing. It also helps that the Patriots are very vulnerable to running backs that can catch passes out of the backfield. They allowed the second most receptions to running backs in 2016.

Todd Gurley – LAR versus IND
Point spread total: 41.5

Gurley in 2016 was a huge disappointment. But what is a bigger disappointment? The Colts defense. Just look up their depth chart. http://www.ourlads.com/nfldepthcharts/depthchart/IND The only guy that is well-known is Vontae Davis and he is hurt. Screw Saturdays are for the boys, Sundays are for the gurleys. It also helps that the Colts allowed the most sixth most fantasy points to running backs last year.

Bilal Powell NYJ @ BUF
Point spread total: 40.5

Flashback to 2016, Week 17. Bilal Powell had 22 rushing attempts for 122 yards against who else, but the Buffalo Bills. As one of the best offensive players on the Jets, Powell should see a good amount of volume against a team he has had success against in the past. The Bills since 2016 have allowed the most rushing plays over ten yards.

Danny Woodhead BAL @ CIN
Point spread total: 42.5

The PPR machine is back in business. Woodhead known for his PPR prowess should see a great opportunity against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals in 2016 allowed the second most targets to opposing running backs.

Sits

Paul Perkins – NYG @ DAL
Point spread total 47.5

Perkins has been less than impressive this preseason and it is difficult to believe that will change Week 1 against the Cowboys. The Cowboys in 2016 allowed the fourth fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs and allowed the fourth
fewest rushes over ten yards. With the offensive line in disarray, it is very hard to trust Perkins this week in an unfavorable matchup.

Leonard Fournette JAX @ HOU
Point spread total 39.5

This is going to be a low scoring game. Vegas has Jacksonville @ Houston as the lowest point spread total for Week 1. Besides the fact that this will be a low-scoring game, the matchup is also very bad for Fournette. Houston has an excellent defense and there will be some stacked boxes in Fournette’s future.

Terrence West BAL @ CIN
Point spread total 42.5

In both games last year against the Bengals, West always performed as the lesser running back. In two games against the Bengals, West has 18 carries for a whopping total of 66 yards. No thanks. Stick with Woodhead in the Baltimore backfield this week.

Marshawn Lynch OAK @ TEN
Point spread total: 50.5

The Tennessee Titans allowed the third fewest amount of rushes over ten yards allowed in 2016. With Lynch being taken off the field on third downs for Jalen Richard and Deandre Washington, and game script looking like pass-heavy, Lynch may be the only fantasy bust of this Week 1 shootout.

Ty Montgomery GB @ SEA
Point spread total: 51

Big test game for Montgomery this week. If he can show that he can be a productive running back against the hard-hitting Seahawks defense, then perhaps he really has morphed into a running back permanently. However, it will be a tall test for him as the Seahawks defense allowed the fifth fewest fantasy points to running backs in 2016.

Wide Receivers

Starts

Pierre Garçon – SF versus CAR
Point spread total: 48

Garçon looks to be a target monster for the San Franciso 49ers. In the preseason, it just looked like quarterback Brian Hoyer had tunnel vision going right for him on each and every slant route. In a matchup against the Panthers who in 2016 allowed the fifth most receiving yards and fourth most receptions to opposing wide receivers, Garçon is locked and loaded for a solid day at the office.

Chris Hogan – NE versus KC
Point spread total: 48.5

A player that seems to play bigger in the spotlight (AFC Championship game against Pittsburgh last year) Hogan is somebody that needs to be started this week. With Edelman gone, look for Hogan to become Brady’s go to guy. As a player that was on the field last year for 74.1 percent of offensive snaps, the opportunity will be there for Hogan. The Chiefs have also been suspect against deeper passes, as they allowed the seventh highest yards per reception (13.7) and seventh most receiving yards in 2016.

Amari Cooper/Michael Crabtree OAK versus TEN
Point spread total: 50.5

Can somebody say shootout? A shootout is what this game is looking to shape up to possibly become. The Titans in 2016 allowed the second most fantasy points to wide receivers. And honestly, their secondary has not improved much since then. Yes, they did bring in Logan Ryan and drafted Adoree’ Jackson, but that will not stop Cooper and Crabtree. With a game script leaning towards points on the board, fantasy owners would be foolish to leave either of these guys on their benches.

Marvin Jones DET versus ARI
Point spread total: 48

The Cardinals in 2016 allowed the fourth most fantasy points to wide receivers. But what is more notable is which receivers they gave the points to. With Patrick Peterson locking down one side of the field, the receivers not being covered by him were able to feast. This will be Marvin Jones this week. He will be most likely drawing the coverage of first-year starter Justin Bethel. Another year in the system with Matthew Stafford and the Lions, it would not be surprising to see Jones get off to another fast start like last year. My sleeper pick for the week!

Terrelle Pryor WAS versus PHI
Point spread total: 47.5

Pryor will enter Week 1 with something he has never had before…an formidable quarterback. Kirk Cousins should be able to connect a few deep passes to Pryor in Week 1 because the Eagles are very weak in that aspect of their defense. The Eagles defense in 2016 allowed the second most passing plays over 25 yards.

Sits

Keenan Allen – SD @ DEN
Point spread total: 43.0

Now this is an easy one. Allen will be facing the Denver Broncos defense and most likely Chris Harris Jr. in the slot. Yes, the same corner that ranked as the number one cornerback last year. Whatever you do, do not start Allen this week.

Mike Wallace/Jeremy Maclin – BAL @ CIN
Point spread total: 42.5

Will the elite Joe Flacco please stand up? Not sure this will ever happen, but seriously the amount of time Flacco has missed is very worrisome. Without practice time to build chemistry with his receivers, it is very tough to trust this passing game. Not to mention that the Bengals allowed the second fewest fantasy points to wide receivers in 2016.

Tyreek Hill KC @ NE
Point spread total: 48.5

Bill Belichick’s main strategy is to take away his opponent’s number one offensive weapon. In this case, that weapon is Tyreek Hill. The Patriots will most likely match cornerback Malcolm Butler up on Tyreek Hill while having safety help over the top. People forget that the Patriots defense allowed the sixth fewest fantasy points to wide receivers in 2016. Only once did they allow an opposing wide receiver to score over 20 fantasy points in standard scoring.

Golden Tate DET versus ARI
Point spread total: 48

Love me some Golden Tate this year, but not against Patrick Peterson. Peterson will most likely be shadowing Tate for the majority of the game, so that makes it tough to start Tate even in PPR formats. Even though Tate plays the slot, Peterson will still follow receivers that primarily play in the slot, as well as on the outside. Looking back at 2016, all of the receivers that had big games against the Cardinals were primarily secondary receivers. Brian Quick, Taylor Gabriel, Kenny Stills, Jeremy Kerley, and Brandin Cooks all scored 15 plus fantasy points against the Cardinals defense. The reason being that Peterson was not covering them. (Marvin Jones anyone?)

Allen Robinson JAX @ HOU
Point spread total 39.5

Robinson is a great player, that is just in a terrible situation. And this week to go along with his terrible quarterback he has a terrible matchup in Houston. The Texans allowed the fifth fewest fantasy points to wide receivers in 2016. Right now unless the matchup is great, Robinson is going to remain on the bench.

Tight Ends

Starts

Coby Fleener NO @ MIN
Point spread total: 48

Coby Fleener burned a lot of fantasy owners last year. But it is time to forgive and forget because he has a real opportunity to make an impact in the Saints offense. With Brandin Cooks gone and Willie Snead out for the first three games, there are targets that could be shifted over to Fleener in the passing game. With favorable matchups and game scripts against Minnesota, New England, and Carolina, Fleener could see some sneaky production over the first three weeks.

Charles Clay BUF versus NYJ
Point spread total: 40.5

Who led the Buffalo Bills in targets and red zone targets a season ago? You guessed it: Charles Clay. Regardless of who plays quarterback for Buffalo this season, look for Clay to have a steady amount of targets on a weekly basis. With some much change at the wide receiver position, Clay has remained one of the few passing options from a season ago. Clay played in 82% of the offensive snaps last year, and nothing about the offense shows that will change. Clay has a real opportunity to receive volume in the Buffalo offense especially this week against the Jets.

Vance McDonald PIT @ CLE
Point spread total: 47

Vance McDonald was recently traded from the 49ers to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers have Jesse James as the starting tight end, but I am not so sure they feel great about him. Mike Tomlin basically stated that the current tight end situation was not “varsity” enough. Basically, Tomlin was calling James “JV material”. McDonald is a very explosive tight end that can make plays down the field. I believe that he will end up taking the job over James and become a very fantasy relevant tight end in the high-powered Steelers offense. He also will play Cleveland Week 1, the same defense that allowed the most fantasy points to tight ends in 2016.

Sits

Eric Ebron DET versus ARI
Point spread total: 48

When teams played the Cardinals last year, there was one rule to abide by. Never start a tight end against them. They allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends in 2016. Only one tight end last year scored more than ten points.

Jack Doyle IND @ LAR
Point spread total: 41.5

With Andrew Luck on the shelf and Doyle facing a Rams defense that was very good against tight ends last year, he may be a guy to avoid. Without Luck, he lacks upside and the Rams allowed the sixth fewest points to tight ends last year.

– Andrew Erickson covers Fantasy Football for cover32. Like and follow on

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