By: Jamy Bechler @WinningDFS101
Start/Sit – 2018 Fantasy Football – Week 1
Unless you loaded up at a position during your draft and are extremely deep, you will be playing your studs. That is, you’ll be playing your top-ranked players. It’s week 1. You drafted your players where you did for a reason. This is the easiest week of the year for Start/Sit. For example, I think Kareem Hunt was over-valued in most drafts and has a really tough matchup on the road against the Chargers in Week 1 but he is a must play in week 1.
When it comes to season-long fantasy football, you play your studs. You play your RB1 or WR1 unless they are hurt. Don’t overthink it. You are playing head-to-head against one opponent each week. You just have to beat that opponent (who also probably has weaknesses in their lineup). Unless you are a huge underdog that week, don’t get cute.
This article is to provide some additional information as you set your lineups this week. If you have a player that we list in the “sit” category, you shouldn’t automatically sit him because you might be replacing him with a much worse player. Think of Start/Sit rather in terms of “Confident/Cautious.” These are players that we seem to be getting a lot of questions about. We offer our take on whether you should be confident or cautious in playing them this week.
Start – Philip Rivers vs. Chiefs
Rivers has a good offensive line, plenty of offensive weapons, and has finished as a Top-12 QB in eight of the last 12 years. To be fair, Rivers struggled in both games last season against Kansas City. Marcus Peters had three interceptions against Rivers. He is gone and the Chiefs are not the imposing defense that they were last season. Nobody had more 300-yard passing games (6) than he did last year. I would play him as a home favorite over all the other mid-tier QBs that you might have selected as your QB1.
Notables – Kirk Cousins @ 49ers, Alex Smith @ Cardinals, Andy Dalton @ Colts
Sit – Ben Roethlisberger @ Browns
Big Ben has been a great quarterback and you probably drafted him to be your QB1. But if you have another quarterback, this might be the one week to consider benching him. Even though he has won more games in Cleveland since 1999 than any Cleveland Browns quarterback with 11 (Derek Anderson had 10), doesn’t mean that he plays well on the road or in Cleveland, for that matter. In the last two seasons in Cleveland, he has combined for only 430 yards and 2 touchdowns. His home-road splits have been extreme the last few years. He is a Hall of Fame quarterback but against an improved Browns defense, with Le’Veon Bell’s status up in the air, and his huge home-road splits through the years, I will approach him with extreme caution this week.
Notables – Patrick Mahomes @ Chargers, Derek Carr vs. Rams, Jimmy Garoppolo @ Vikings
Start – Carlos Hyde vs. Steelers
Hyde might not even end up as Cleveland’s top back this season. Nick Chubb is the new shiny toy and Duke Johnson might be the most underutilized talent in the NFL. But, this is not the entire year but Week 1 we are talking about. He is the starter right now. He was a Top-12 running back last year and a Top-15 back in 2016 so he has the potential to produce fantasy goodness. Last year, he earned nearly 1,300 all-purpose yards, 59 receptions, and eight touchdowns for a struggling team that went through three different starting quarterbacks. New Cleveland offensive coordinator, Todd Haley, has a successful track record of utilizing his running backs. We all know Le’Veon Bell‘s success but DeAngelo Williams was a fantasy star when he filled in for Bell and Jamaal Charles made a lot of fantasy owners smile with his pass-catching opportunities.
Notables – Jamaal Williams vs. Bears, Rex Burkhead vs. Titans, Royce Freeman vs. Seahawks
Sit – Jay Ajayi vs. Falcons
As the featured back last season for the Dolphins, he averaged 22 touches per game in the first seven games and proceeded to score exactly as many touchdowns as you and I. He was then traded to Philadelphia and played so poorly that the Eagles went to a “running back by committee.” He has been banged up a little during the preseason. There are reports out there that the Eagles want to make him the featured back. I will believe that when I see it but for Week 1, I am going to proceed with caution. Darren Sproles is back and will be the third-down passing back and the coaches seem to like the talented Corey Clement. Ajayi could certainly go off for a big game but I will feel better benching him than playing him.
Notables – Chris Thompson @ Cardinals, Kerryon Johnson vs. Jets, Isaiah Crowell @ Lions
Start – Emmanuel Sanders vs. Seahawks
Sanders had a bad 2017 season but he was plagued by injuries and poor QB play. He is now healthy, rejuvenated, and has a reliable quarterback. Denver beat writers are excited about Sanders and his connection with Case Keenum. If you believe the preseason and coach-speak, then he will play primarily out of the slot this year. Keenum loves to go to his slot receivers. Last year, Keenum helped make Adam Thielen into a Top-10 WR. In 2014, Sanders was the No. 7 WR. Between 2014-2016, he averaged nearly 1,200 yards and 138 targets per year. He also had 20 TDs during that time. Seattle has been a defense to stay away from but they are not at all what they used to be.
Notables – Jarvis Landry vs. Steelers, Nelson Agholor vs. Falcons, Keelan Cole @ Giants
Sit – DeVante Parker vs. Titans
For each of the last two seasons, DeVante Parker has been lauded by some of the best in the business as a player to watch going into that season. The headlines seemed to all say the same things: “DeVante Parker among young pass catchers poised to break out”, “Why DeVante Parker is the breakout player for the Dolphins”, “Can’t miss breakout players”, “Sleepers to keep an eye on” and so on and so forth. As the saying goes, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Well, shame on me. I’ve been fooled both in 2016 and 2017. Not this year!!! A breakout wide receiver needs more than one touchdown in a season – especially if he isn’t going to get anywhere close to 1,000 yards (670 to be exact). Even though Jarvis Landry is gone, Danny Amendola and Albert Wilson have been playing decently during preseason. I am not convinced Parker is ready to break out. The Week 1 matchup against the Titans is tougher than many people might think.
Notables – Will Fuller @ Patriots, Robby Anderson @ Lions, Sammy Watkins @ Chargers
Start – George Kittle @ Vikings
This pick is a little bit of a stretch but he has as much of upside as any Tight End outside of Gronk, Kelce, or Ertz. If you are an underdog in your matchup or want to roll the dice, go with Kittle. He has the potential to be a top-tier tight end. He showed flashes last year when he played with three different starting Quarterbacks. Overall, he led the 49ers with 16 red-zone targets in 2017. Kittle really ended the season on a high note as he combined for 7 catches, 142 yards, and a touchdown against two of the NFL’s best defenses in the Rams and Jaguars (so the Week 1 matchup against the Vikings is not as scary as it might appear at first). Minnesota is good defensively but it is best against the running game and on the outside. Jimmy G will need somewhere to go and that just might be the TE position. I expect great things from the second-year athletic Tight End and I’m predicting it starts off in Week 1.
Notables – Trey Burton @ Packers, O.J. Howard @ Saints, David Njoku vs. Steelers
Sit – Eric Ebron vs. Bengals
Once again, you are going to play your top Tight End. That is why you picked him. Unless you waited on Tight End and don’t have an obvious play, you will be playing your top guy. I saw a lot of people drafting Eric Ebron and getting excited because there were positive reports coming out of Indianapolis during the preseason. Those kinds of reports are what got Detroit Lions fans excited for the last four years. The 10th pick of the 2014 draft never fulfilled the expectations Detroit Lions fans had for him. In fact, non-Lions fans never were really satisfied with his production either as he was constantly under-performing relative to his potential. He has a reputation for dropping balls, having mental letdowns, and not making the most of opportunities. He produced only 5 total touchdowns in the last two years with Matthew Stafford under center. That is criminal in the world of fantasy football. He now has new life having been cut by the Lions. Think about that for a minute. Just four years into his career, the team that drafted him #10 overall (ahead of Odell Beckham, Jr., Taylor Lewan, and Aaron Donald to name a few) has given up on him. Are you playing him this week? No. I am not telling you to bench him this week. I am telling you to bench him for the season. Cut him and pick up a running back that could end up being a full-time starter. Even if Ebron has a great game, it won’t last. Don’t be deceived.
Notables – Evan Engram vs. Jaguars, Tyler Eifert @ Colts, Jared Cook vs. Rams
Unless you have one of the top 4-5 defenses that are probably an automatic start each week, then you might want to consider streaming your defense each week with the team with the best matchup that is at home. Remember, low scoring games is not the only factor for a good defense. You can’t predict fantasy defensive scoring but you can predict opportunity. You want defenses that are aggressive and get pressure on the quarterback. This pressure can lead to turnovers. It is also a decent gamble to target defenses going against rookie or inexperienced quarterbacks.
Start Notables – Ravens DST vs. Bills, Lions DST vs. Jets, Packers DST vs. Bears
Sit Notables – Buccaneers DST @ Saints, 49ers DST @ Vikings, Colts DST vs. Bengals
About the Author-
Jamy Bechler is a fantasy contributor for CouchPotatoGM and FantasyPros. His DFS twitter is @WinningDFS101 and his website is FantasyFocusFootball.com. When he is not playing fantasy sports, Jamy is an author, host of the “Success is a Choice” podcast, and is a leadership trainer, working with businesses and teams across the country (including the NBA). You can also follow his personal twitter account @CoachBechler. Even though he offers his advice on players and contests, after additional information and consideration, he may end up using different players and strategies than what he recommends.
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