Welcome to the weekly Start/Sit column! Each week I’ll aim to analyze upcoming games, research team injury reports, and check-in on any depth chart movement – all in an effort to offer you weekly start/sit recommendations.
The starts will feature some under-owned, off-the-radar, sleeper-types week-in and week-out – and our sits feature more popular players that I think will underperform. I’ll list a must start/sit for each position, then briefly touch on some other options that I like/dislike. While this is useful when setting your weekly lineups in your season long leagues, this can also be a valuable tool if you’re playing daily fantasy sports (DFS).
Since we don’t have a lot of data to go off of in week one, for the first edition I’ll be basing most of my choices off of the average draft position. The starts of the week are players that were drafted in the middle or late rounds; the guys that are probably sitting on the bench but should be inserted right into the starting lineup. When it comes to the sits it will be just the opposite; I’ll be selecting players that were probably drafted to be starters, but should be shown the pine in week one.
Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville is taking on a Giants defense that finished 31st against the pass last season and didn’t make any key defensive additions. The Jaguars have a stout defense and want to lean on the run game with Leonard Fournette, but the Giants could put up some points with the bevy of offensive weapons they’ve assembled. It’s possible that this turns into a high scoring affair in New York, and as he proved at the end of 2017, Blake Bortles can be a fantasy stud when Jacksonville is forced to throw the ball.
Jamaal Williams, RB, Green Bay Packers
Now that the regular season is kicking off all the Aaron Jones truthers out there will have to hold their breath as Jamaal Williams gets his shot as the Packers lead back. While the Bears could become a formidable defense with the blockbuster addition of Khalil Mack, it will likely take some time for them to gel. With the return of Aaron Rodgers the Packers should put up plenty of points and Williams will get the lion’s share of the carries, including at the goal line. He averaged nearly 19 PPR points in weeks nine through fourteen last season and will easily have that kind of scoring potential in week one.
Robby Anderson, WR, New York Jets
Rookie quarterbacks rarely find early success on the road, so when Sam Darnold starts for the Jets in Detroit it will likely have a negative impact on the wideout. On top of that, I expect Anderson to be covered primarily by All-Pro corner Darius Slay. Slay has the talent to shut down the top receivers in the league, so he should have no problem smothering the Jets top receiving option.
Kenny Stills, WR, Miami Dolphins
Stills has been one of the more underrated fantasy players over the past three years, and now that Jarvis Landry is gone to Cleveland and Devante Parker is out with a broken finger he will be the unquestioned number one option for Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins. They face the Titans who, despite having a new defensive-minded head coach, finished 25th in pass defense last season. Stills has big-play ability and will definitely see the target volume to be a worthy start in week one.
Eric Ebron, TE, Indianapolis Colts
You can’t put too much weight on preseason performances, but it’s tough to ignore Ebron’s showing in the all-important third preseason game. The Colts new tight end caught all five of his targets for 54 yards and a touchdown. Ebron’s talent has never been a question, and now he gets to take on a questionable Bengals defense with Andrew Luck throwing him the ball.
Defense/Special Teams: Detroit Lions
The Lions have a new defensive-minded head coach in Matt Patricia. They get to play at home against a bad Jets team that will be starting a rookie quarterback in week one. They definitely aren’t the sexiest pick, but if you are planning on streaming defenses Detroit is a good place to start.
Other Good Starts
I can see Jared Goff and the Rams putting the pedal to the medal and trying to make a statement against the Raiders on Monday night.
In a battle of bad defenses, Andy Dalton could put up some big numbers against the Colts.
James White has been one of the few constants in New England, so with injury questions in the backfield and depth questions at wide receiver he could have a huge week in PPR formats.
The Lions backfield is a fluid situation, but LeGarrette Blount is listed as the starter and they should easily handle the Jets. His value may never be higher this season than it is in week one.
While Kansas City focuses their defensive effort on stopping Keenan Allen, quarterback Philip Rivers should spread the ball around. Mike Williams could be the biggest beneficiary with his athleticism and big play ability.
I expect the Lions to run away with the game against the Jets and Kenny Golladay to stake his claim as a legitimate fantasy wide receiver for 2018.
Mike Gesicki is already the starting tight end in Miami, his athleticism is off the charts, and Ryan Tannehill will need to throw the ball to somebody besides Kenny Stills and Danny Amendola, especially in the red zone where Gesicki skill set can shine.
At this point in his career, Antonio Gates has one skill: Catching touchdowns. It wouldn’t shock anybody if he came down with a score in week one.
Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
Mahomes and his rocket arm should end up scoring plenty of fantasy points this season, but not many of them will come in week one. The first official game of the Patrick Mahomes era begins on the road against a tough Chargers defense that finished third against the pass in 2017.
Marshawn Lynch/profiler], RB, Oakland Raiders
Beast Mode’s ADP skyrocketed through August after some nice preseason performances, but the 32-year-old running back is about to run into the defensive wall that is Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh. As much as the John Gruden and the Raiders want to establish the run game, they’ll have a tough time against a Rams team that led the entire NFL in scoring last season. If they fall behind early game script will not be favorable for Lynch. He may have some big performances this season, but he belongs on the bench in week one.
[profiler]David Njoku, TE, Cleveland Browns
Njoku is one of the many Cleveland skill position players that has been hyped all offseason. I can see him finishing as a TE1 this season, but he won’t break out against the Steelers. Njoku’s best attribute is his red zone ability, and Pittsburgh, who finished as the seventh-ranked scoring defense last year, will be stifling Cleveland drives before they get into the red zone.
Defense/Special Teams: Chicago Bears
The Bears defense is a popular pick right now with the addition of former Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack. The bad news for the Bears is that they travel to Green Bay to take on the high powered Packers offense in week one. It may take some time for Chicago’s defensive unit to gel and while they should be streamable at times in 2018, you’ll want to avoid them in week one.
Others to Avoid
I know you have to start Russell Wilson if you spent the draft capital on him, but he has a tough matchup in Denver with a questionable supporting cast, so it might not go well for week one.
Dak Prescott has to go on the road in week one and take on Carolina with a questionable cast of pass catchers, not an ideal situation.
The Browns could be facing a negative game script for much of their week one matchup against the Steelers, seriously limiting the upside of Carlos Hyde.
It could get ugly for the Buccaneers when they visit the Saints in week one, so despite Peyton Barber starting at running back, I don’t see Tampa Bay finding much success in the running game in New Orleans.
Alfred Morris and the 49ers face an elite Vikings defense, and his lack of pass-catching skills will put him squarely behind teammate Matt Breida in week one.
I think the Packers will light up the scoreboard in their home opener against the Bears, but I don’t trust Randall Cobb to have much of an impact. Green Bay just has too many other offensive weapons, including my must start running back Jamaal Williams.
Rishard Matthews missed most of training camp with a knee injury, so even though he is listed as the starter for the Titans he’ll likely be overshadowed by other Tennessee pass catchers.
Rookie quarterbacks rarely find early success on the road, so when Sam Darnold starts for the Jets in Detroit it will likely have a negative impact on wideout Robby Anderson.
The combination of age, injury, and other options in Carolina give me a bad feeling about tight end Greg Olsen/profiler] this year, even against a subpar Dallas team in week one.
My main reason for not liking [profiler]Jack Doyle is how much I like Eric Ebron. Doyle will catch some passes but Ebron has a much higher ceiling.
The Houston Texans defense should be in line for a great year, but I’m not trusting them week one as they travel to New England.
I hope you find this useful and I’m always happy to interact on Twitter @aalarson if you have any start/sit questions. Be sure to check out the rest of our weekly in-season content right here as we give you the tools and content to win every week of the season. Good luck this weekend!