The first football Sunday of the 2020 NFL Season is less than 24 hours away from kickoff. A win in your fantasy football league(s) out of the gates would be a nice start to the work week. So, let’s examine some Start/Sit quandaries as we begin our respective campagins towards Fantasy Football Glory!
Quarterback Start/Sit Recommendations
START Ben Roethlisberger @ N.Y. Giants
It’s been quite some time since we’ve seen a healthy Big Ben but reportedly it’s all systems go. There may be some rust to knock off in the early going but his Week 1 opponent gave up the 3rd most points and tied for the 5th most passing touchdowns (30) allowed in 2019. It should be noted that the Giants have bolstered their defensive personnel but considering that there are a lot of new faces, some unproven and a new coaching staff, communication may be a challenge. I’d wager Roethlisberger puts up a nice line. If you’re still on the fence, the Giants new defensive coordinator held the same position in Miami last season. The Dolphins allowed the most touchdown passes (39) in the NFL in 2019. Start/sit? Start Em’.
START Jared Goff vs. Dallas Cowboys
My only hesitation with starting Goff Sunday night is that the California wildfires/smoke could result in a postponement and/or relocation of the game. But assuming this contest takes place during Week 1 I’m firing up Jared Goff. I expect this to be a shootout. Both teams boast talented perimeter weapons and Goff had 51 pass attempts in the Rams’ matchup with the Cowboys last season. We’ll see if what was a porous offensive line in L.A. last season can hold up, but as of right now Dallas’ pass rush does not give me pause. Furthermore, it remains to be seen whether the young secondary of the Cowboys sans Byron Jones can hold up on the back end.
START Josh Allen vs. New York Jets
There are some that believe Josh Allen will be QB1 overall when this fantasy football season ends. I’m not THAT bullish. But, more often than not you should be able to start Allen with confidence. Week 1 against the Jets without C.J. Mosely, Jamal Adams, and lingering question marks as to who will consistently supply pass rush represents as good an opponent as any to deploy Josh Allen against even if you aren’t convinced of his subtantial, season-long fantasy football prospects. Allen is an easy Start/Sit decision for me Week 1.
SIT Cam Newton vs. Miami Dolphins
This is not an indictment of Cam’s season-long fantasy football prospects. However, I want to see how his body responds to live action before I feel confident in starting him. The Dolphins are obviously a team in transition but they have an excellent duo out at corner with Byron Jones and Xavien Howard. Newton (when healthy) has always raised the play of his supporting cast but if Cam isn’t “Superman” then it will be a group of unproven tight ends and receivers not named Julian Edelman that will have to grow up and step up in a hurry. I personally have Cam Newton in several leagues paired up with a Jared Goff or Matthew Stafford type and I fully expect that Newton will pay dividends in fantasy this season. But I’m going to wait for some confirmation regarding health and continuity (at least one week) before I Start Em’.
SIT Derek Carr vs. Carolina Panthers
Carr may be appealing given the Panthers’ inexperienced, albeit talented secondary. However, I must caution you as you make your Start/Sit decisions considering that the Panthers’ 53 sacks last season was just one off the pace for most in the NFL. The Panthers can absolutely get after the passer and they’ve added 2020 first round draft selection Derrick Brown to the mix. Also, there’s something about a west coast team, on the road on the east coast, with a 1 pm EST kickoff that gives me reservations. I’m as excited as everyone else in terms of the potential of the Raiders’ passing attack in 2020 but the team’s top three wideouts have one-year of collective professional experience. I’d wait at least one week before starting Derek Carr. Sit Em’.
SIT Kirk Cousins vs. Green Bay Packers
In both contests against the Packers last season Kirk Cousins finished with a Quarterback Rating below 59.0… His next lowest QB Rating in any single contest was 87.2. Not enough to sway your Start/Sit decision? Half of Cousins’ total interceptions in 2019, came against the Packers. That’s 50% folks… in two games. You want some more? Cousins managed to only complete 48% of his passes in those matchups, was sacked six times, and fumbled twice.
Running Back Start/Sit Recommendations
START Marlon Mack @ Jacksonville Jaguars
I’ve stated it previously, you cannot summarily dismiss Marlon Mack given that the Colts drafted Jonathan Taylor. Both backs will be viable fantasy options during most weeks and the gutted Jackosnville Jaguars roster represents the type of team ripe for multiple ball-carriers to have a good fantasy performance. Not to mention the Jags allowed the 2nd most rushing touchdowns (23) in the NFL last season. If you have an injury that may compromise your lineup options in Week 1, Mack has RB2 upside and is a solid FLEX option. Start Em’.
START Tarik Cohen @ Detroit Lions
It remains to be seen as to whether the Chicago Bears offensive line can open up some rushing lanes. Still, Tarik Cohen, with David Montgomery (groin) less than 100% should get plenty of opportunities via ground and air. Volume remains a huge factor in fantasy football, particularly at the running back position and game script shouldn’t be a determining component as it pertains to Cohen’s usage in Week 1. Ride the snap rate, touches, and open-field prowess as long as it lasts.
SIT Cam Akers vs. Dallas Cowboys
In what I expect to be a committee that will “settle” into a hot-hand approach it will be difficult for me to trust Akers’ weekly fantasy prospects as long as Malcolm Brown is healthy. Especially, since I expect Brown to be favored among the coaching staff in passing situations. I recommend monitoring Akers’ situational usage initially unless an injury forces your hand. Sit Em’.
SIT Melvin Gordon vs. Tennessee Titans
I certainly understand if you’re not in a position to sit Melvin Gordon. But if you do have considerable depth at running back it may not be a bad idea to monitor how he and Phillip Lindsay are deployed prior to putting him in your fantasy football lineups. The Tennesee Titans have an impressive front seven which recently got even better with the recent acquisition of Jadeveon Clowney. Furthermore, the Titans only allowed 3.9 yards per carry last season, tied for 3rd best in the NFL.
Wide Receiver Start/Sit Recommendations
START Marvin Jones vs. Chicago Bears
Not a great matchup on paper but Jones should see a heavy target share in Week 1 as Kenny Golladay battles injury. Even if Golladay suits up he could end up playing more of a decoy role considering he won’t be at 100%. Matthew Stafford and Marvin Jones have always possessed excellent chemistry and both are healthy at the same time for a change. I’ve high expectations for this Lions offense as long as they can keep Stafford upright. Jones will be the main beneficiary in Week 1.
START Emmanuel Sanders vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I maintain that Manny Sanders will have a better “reality” season than “fantasy” season in 2020 BUT the Bucs where horrid against the pass last year. Ranked dead last against fantasy wide receivers. I expect Tampa Bay’s pass defense to be improved in year two under defenisve coordinator Todd Bowles, but not so much so that this game doesn’t end up in a shootout.
START Hollywood Brown vs. Cleveland Browns
There is some boom-or-bust potential here but I’m inserting Marquise “Hollywood” Brown into my fantasy lineups with confidence in Week 1. Despite the Browns’ noteworthy pass rush, I still think Lamar and Hollywood will get theirs; particularly with the Browns injury riddled secondary.
SIT Courtland Sutton vs. Tennessee Titans
Don’t play this game. Final contest on Week 1 slate… latter part of the Monday night double-header. Sutton could very well not play and you’re screwed. If he does happen to play he’s going to be limited. On the off chance he has a huge game, be encouraged about his Week 2 outlook. Sit Em’.
SIT Jarvis Landry @ Baltimore Ravens
This may seem counter-intuitive considering Landry had a season-high 167 receiving yards against the Ravens in 2019, but that was in Freddie Kitchens’ offense. It still remains to be seen what Kevin Stefanski’s offense will look like and whiat it means for the presumed WR2. I imagine we’ll see something that resembles Gary Kubiak’s rushing attack; but what of the passing scheme? Will the volume of targets be available for the tough as nails wideout, Landry? I suggest observing the proceedings in Week 1.
SIT Kenny Golladay vs. Chicago Bears
See Marvin Jones Start Em’ recommendation.
Tight End Start/Sit Recommendations
START Noah Fant vs. Tennessee Titans
Presumably down Courtland Sutton and K.J. Hamler; facing a quality run defense. I believe the Broncos will call upon Noah Fant in addition to Jerry Jeudy to carry the passing offense in their season opener. Despite having one of the better defenses in the NFL, the Titans struggled to contain the tight end position giving up the third most TDs (9) to opposing tight ends in the NFL a season ago. I expect Fant to take s significant step in year two and it starts in Week 1.
START Dallas Goedert @ Washington Football Team
Philly still doesn’t have a fully healthy complement of receivers, their starting running back has been ruled OUT and they run two-tight end sets at an incredibly high clip. Washington allowed the 4th most fantasy points to the tight end position last season and Goedert averaged just under eight targets per game from weeks 6 thru 17 in 2019. I’ll venture an educated guess and assume that what should be a high snap rate will translate into a solid fantasy floor this week.
SIT Chris Herndon @ Buffalo Bills
The Jets have a dearth of healthy receiving options so Chris Herndon may end up being forced fed. But the Buffalo Bills feature a defense that makes things very difficult on the tight end position (Top 3) with versatile defensive backs that play much bigger than their size. Herndon has tantalizing upside this season but I’d prefer to go in a different direction for this particular contest.
SIT Austin Hooper @ Baltimore Ravens
This one will come back to bite me if game script dictates the Browns having to abandon the running game and play catch-up. However, it should be noted that the Ravens were the stingiest team in the NFL against tight ends last season.
Best of luck this weekend. Remember always start your STUDS and I take ZERO responsibility if these recommendations are wrong. Also, if my calls are right make certain you tell a friend.
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