Start/Sit for Week 1
NFL Week 1 Sit/Start
Welcome to Week 1 Sit/Start at FantasyDaddy.com. In this column I’ll be highlighting players with prime matchups to exploit and those with poor outlooks that should stay on your bench. It’s important to remember that fantasy football is a weekly game, and that while some players are elite talents that will start for you regardless of matchup, most are not. Managing these players correctly is the key to season-long success.
Let’s jump into our week 1 QBs.
Colin Kaepernick @ Dallas: There’s been some concern surrounding the 49ers’ offensive troubles in the preseason. A week 1 trip to Dallas to feast on the Cowboys’ less than stellar (and that’s being nice) defense might be exactly what they need. Vegas linemakers currently have the 49ers as 4.5 point favorites in a 51.5 over/under game. That puts them at a projected 28 points, the third highest total of the week behind the Eagles and Broncos. Last year the Cowboys yielded the second most fantasy points per game (FPPG) to opposing QBs and Kaepernick has his best weapon back in Michael Crabtree. Start him with confidence.
Matt Ryan vs NO: This game has the makings of a shootout, with the over/under set at 51.5. The Falcons are 2.5 point underdogs, but this bodes well for Matt Ryan. As fantasy football managers, we like QBs who are underdogs in high over/under games. It means they’re likely to be throwing the ball a lot in an effort to keep up with the opposition, which equates to fantasy production. The Saints’ were quite effective against opposing QBs in 2013, allowing the 5th fewest FPPG to the position, but Vegas likes the Falcons to keep it close. Julio and Roddy are 100% and Matt Ryan should be hitting them early and often in this game.
Jay Cutler vs Buffalo: The Bears offense thrived last year under Marc Trestman, and this year should be no different. The emergence of Alshon Jeffery as an elite WR to compliment Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte gives Cutler one of the most feared set of weapons in the NFL. Buffalo was the 9th best unit in terms of FPPG vs opposing QBs, but if you look at their 2013 schedule they faced pretty mediocre competition outside of Drew Brees and Brady (x2). The Bears are projected to score 27 points; Cutler is a safe mid-tier QB this week.
Other QBs I like: Tony Romo, Carson Palmer, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Chad Henne
Cam Newton @ TB: Cam Newton is not 100% right now and may not even play on Sunday. Even If he does play, I recommend leaving him on your bench if you have serviceable QB2. Vegas projects the Panthers to score a measly 18.25 points, the third lowest total of the week. Any hesitancy to run will hinder Cam’s fantasy production, and his depleted WR corps won’t help the situation. There’s also the possibility that he leaves the game partway through if his rib injury is aggravated. You want as much “guaranteed” production as you can get in fantasy football and Cam is just too risky for me this week. You’ll hear the phrase, “start your studs” a lot in fantasy football, but if you follow this philosophy too diligently you’ll end up shooting yourself in the foot occasionally.
RG3 @ Houston: It’s hard to trust RG3 right now with his poor 2013 season and uninspiring preseason. Jay Gruden is trying to keep him in the pocket and the transition is reportedly not going well. I think RG3 has the opportunity to have a nice bounce-back season with all of the weapons he has in Washington. That being said, if I’ve got Romo, Ryan or Cutler on my roster I’m rolling with them this week and taking the wait and see approach with RG3.
When week 4 rolls around we’ll talk more about lower tier QBs that managers may be looking at for bye week fill-ins.
Frank Gore @ Dallas: Frank Gore is one of my favorite RBs this week. There is a lot of talk about his age and Carlos Hyde possibly stealing carries, and these worries may come to fruition later in the season. This week though, roll out Gore with confidence. With QBs we like underdogs in high over/under games who are going to be slinging the ball. Similarly, we like RBs who are on heavily favored teams since those teams are likely to be running frequently with the lead. The 49ers are a run-heavy team in a high over/under game in which they’re a large favorite. Gore is as safe a play at RB as it gets this week. The Cowboys were dead last in FPPG vs opposing RBs in 2013.
Arian Foster vs Washington: I’ll be the first to admit that Foster’s injury history has me worried this year. He’s one of my favorite plays at RB this week, though. I expect Foster to be leaned on heavily as Ryan Fitzpatrick acclimates to his new team. Houston is a small favorite and Washington ranked 29th against opposing RBs in 2013. When he’s 100%, Foster has proven his ability to handle insane amounts of touches. The potential to see 20+ touches gives him a high floor, which is what you should be looking for in your RBs.
Lions RBs vs NYG: I’m a bit weary of Bush and Bell this year because their workload split is still a bit uncertain. I like both this week though as I expect the Lions to lead this game early and hold on to it. Both backs were receiving double digit touches towards the end of last season and I think that’s a reasonable expectation for week 1. They are very strong flex plays this week.
CJ2K vs Oakland: Despite all of the flak he gets, CJ2K still finished as a top 10 back in standard scoring last year. This week he gets to face an Oakland team that gave up the 27th most FPPG to opposing RBs and the Jets are 5.5 point favorites. Geno Smith is still a developing QB and the Jets should be relying on their run game heavily. They had the 5th most rushing attempts last season despite being underdogs in most of their games. Chris Ivory may eat into CJ’s carries, but if CJ is effective early he should receive the majority.
Other RBs I like: Shane Vereen (PPR), Pierre Thomas (PPR), Danny Woodhead (PPR), Fred Jackson
Steven Jackson vs New Orleans: While I like the Falcons passing attack, I dislike their run game. Atlanta’s offensive line is weak, the Saints ranked 10th in FPPG against opposing RBs in 2013 and I expect Atlanta to be throwing the ball often. Atlanta was dead last in rushing attempts last year. Their offense was of course very different looking with all of the injuries they sustained, but their defensive ineptitude remains and they’ll still be playing catch up.
Rashad Jennings @ Detroit: With the injury to David Wilson, Rashad Jennings looks to be the workhorse back for the Giants. While an effective rusher, a lot of what defines a RBs success is opportunity. The Giants ranked 30th in Adjusted Line Yards, footballoutsiders.com’s preferred stat for measuring offensive line contribution to a team’s running game. They are a 5.5 point underdog and are only projected to score 20.75 points. Additionally, Detroit has a weak secondary (31st in FPPG vs opposing WRs) but a strong front 7 (5th in FPPG vs RBs). All signs point to the Giants airing it out in this one.
Bernard Pierce vs Cincinnati: Pierce is hoping to put the heat on Ray Rice during his two week audition for the starting job in Baltimore. Unfortunately, he’s in a tough spot against a Bengals defense that ranked 5th in FPPG vs opposing RBs. Baltimore’s offensive line ranked dead last in adj. line yards in 2013. The Ravens are a slight favorite, but the over/under for the game is low at only 43, the 4th lowest total of the week. I have a tough time trusting Pierce this week.
Bishop Sankey: He is not the starting RB for the Titans as of right now and cannot be trusted as a fantasy producer.
Roddy White: See Matt Ryan. Roddy is finally healthy and with Julio opposite him the quality of his targets will increase.
Michael Crabtree: See Colin Kaepernick. If Crabtree is 100% he’ll be Kaep’s main targetand should be in for a big game. If he doesn’t play, substitute Anquan Boldin.
Victor Cruz: Victor Cruz had a forgettable 2013. The talent is still there, Eli just needs to find a way to get the ball in his hands. Hopefully he’ll be able to against a Lions team that allowed the most FPPG to opposing wideouts in 2013. The Giants should be throwing the ball a lot this week in an effort to catch Stafford and the Lions. Expect Cruz to see double digit targets.
T.Y. Hilton @ Denver: I’ve seen mixed reviews on Hilton this week and I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not very high on Hilton this season in general. He’s a very boom or bust player and I look for consistency in my WRs. However, I like him this week against Denver in a game where the Colts could attempt 35+ passes, something they did 10 times last year. The Colts are a sizeable underdog at +7.5 points, and as much as they want to get their running game going, that won’t be a winning game plan against the high-powered Broncos.
Other WRs I like: Cardinals WRs, Marques Colston, Emmanuel Sanders, Julian Edelman, Kenny Britt
Mike Wallace: Like Hilton, Wallace is the type of player I like to avoid in fantasy football due to his inconsistency. He’s actually in a situation similar to Hilton this week with respect to how Vegas projects their games, but the key difference is that Wallace will be lining up against Darrelle Revis. I don’t want any part of that.
DeSean Jackson @ Houston: See RG3. Until I see this passing offense succeed I prefer not to start any part of it. DeSean is another big play WR prone to boom/bust weeks and Houston was 5th in FPPG vs opposing WRs in 2013. DJax is certainly capable of a big game any week, but I wouldn’t expect him to see large target volume.
Rookie WRs: Kelvin Benjamin, Mike Evans and Brandin Cooks should not be relied on in week 1. There is a lot of hype surrounding these guys but rookie WRs rarely make an immediate impact in the NFL. Cooks has the most upside of the three in a game in which the Saints are expected to score 27 points, but even with Kenny Stills out he’ll be the 3rd or 4th passing option on the team.
Antonio Gates @ Arizona: Arizona was awful against TEs last year and it was no secret. They ranked dead least in FPPG vs opposing TEs by a large margin. With Patrick Peterson covering Keenan Allen, Gates may very well be the most targeted Charger this week. Add the facts that Arizona yielded the fewest FPPG to RBs and the Chargers are an underdog and I like Gates even more.
Zach Ertz vs Jacksonville: The Eagles are projected to score the most points of any team this week. The problem for fantasy players is that they spread the ball around a lot. That being said, my favorite bet for Eagles TDs (aside from Shady, of course) is Ertz. At 6’6” and 250 lbs, Ertz is a prime red zone target and reports out of camp are that the Eagles intend to use him as one. He’s a bit of a risky play but Ertz drafters knew they were gambling on his upside when they took him. With the Eagles projected to score 31.5 points this week, now is as good a time as any to unleash him.
Kyle Rudolph: I’m a big Rudolph fan this year, but the Rams shut down opposing TEs hard in 2013. This is a low over/under game in which Minnesota is only expected to score 20 points. Norv Turner is known to be a boon to TE fantasy production, but this is a week to let Rudolph sit.
Travis Kelce vs Tennessee: Kelce made big splashes in the preseason and was been a popular late round TE pick. However, his role is still bit unknown. He played 15 of 39 preseason snaps with the first-team offense but most of the snaps were in two TE packages with Fasano also on the field. The Chiefs will lean on Jamaal Charles as usual in a game in which they’re favored. Kelce may see a few targets, but he just can’t be relied on.
Jets vs Oakland: Oakland is starting a rookie QB and is projected to score the lowest of any team this week at only 17.25 points. There’s not much more that needs to be said.
Pittsburgh vs Cleveland: Cleveland is just ahead of Oakland with a projected score of 17.5 points and are big underdogs to the Steelers. While the Steelers’ defense isn’t what it once was, the Cleveland offense is severely underpowered without Josh Gordon.
49ers @ Dallas: I talked about a lot of 49ers offensive players squaring off against the terrible Dallas defense, but the 49ers defense may be in trouble as well. The Cowboys offense is fairly high-powered and the 49ers have sustained multiple losses on defense due to injuries and off field activities. This game could very well turn into a shootout in which Romo and company score a good amount of points.
Denver vs Indianapolis: Denver’s defense should be improved this year, but Andrew Luck and the Colts coming to town will be a difficult first test. While Denver is heavily favored in this game, the over/under is the highest of the week, with the Colts still expected to score 23.75. Keep Denver on the bench.