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Fantasy Football

Fantasy Football: Week 1 Start-Sit

Fantasy Football
Photo Credit: USA Today

The first Sunday with NFL action, what a glorious day! Fantasy owners have completed their fantasy drafts, but they are still faced with difficult choices. Figuring out who to start and sit each week is essential to your fantasy success.

In my weekly Start-Sit column, I will analyze the matchups and provide you with my start-sit recommendations for fantasy football owners. 

If fantasy owners are still undecided, the Pro Football Network has you covered. Our fantasy staff provides weekly rankings for PPR and Standard leagues that will allow you to decide between which players you should start-sit. 

Week 1 is normally the most difficult to predict but take a look at which players fantasy owners should start-sit in Week 1. 

Quarterbacks

Start

Matthew Stafford, QB Detroit Lions vs. Arizona Cardinals

 

Matthew Stafford had his worst season since 2010, but the news came out that Stafford played most of the season with broken bones in his back. 
 
The Lions offense will be facing a Cardinals defense that will be without their top-two cornerbacks. Stafford should have no problems finding Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, newcomer Danny Amendola, and rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson. 
 
If the Cardinals offense come out as touted, we could easily see a score fest. Regardless, Stafford should post fringe QB1 numbers in this juicy matchup. 

Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, San Francisco 49ers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers should be an offensive explosion. Jameis Winston and his elite pass-catchers should have fantasy success resulting in Jimmy Garoppolo trying to match up. Garoppolo will have enough pass attempts to put up fantasy numbers. Garoppolo has weapons as well with breakout tight end George Kittle, receivers Marquise Goodwin and Dante Pettis

Garoppolo might sneak into the startable quarterback range in deeper leagues, but he is a great DFS option. 

Sit

Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons vs. Minnesota Vikings

Matt Ryan was looked upon as a top-tier quarterback coming into this season with the team welcoming back offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and the return of running back Devonta Freeman

Ryan starts the 2019 season with a tough match-up against the Minnesota Vikings in Minnesota. The Vikings allowed the fewest touchdowns passes (15) and tied for second in sacks (50) last season. They were especially tough at home last season, allowing just four touchdown passes at U.S. Bank Stadium. 

The Falcons worked to improve their weak offensive line that gave up 42 sacks last season. They drafted right guard Chris Lindstrom and right tackle Kaleb McGary, and those rookies will form the right side of the offensive line. The Falcons also signed James Carpenter and Jamon Brown to help solidify the line. Offensive lines typically take a prolonged time to gel into a cohesive unit, which is not conducive to success against this formidable Viking defense.

Look for the Vikings defenders to be in the Falcons backfield all game causing Matt Ryan to be sacked continuously and make critical mistakes. Avoid Matt Ryan in Week 1. 

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers s. New England Patriots

We all know Antonio Brown is gone (more ways than one), but that’s not the only reason fantasy owners should steer clear of Ben Roethlisberger

Roethlisberger had a career season in 2018, leading the NFL last season with 5,129 passing yards. He averaged 320.6 passing yards last season. However in their 2018 matchup, Ben passed for only 252 yards with two passing touchdowns and two interceptions against the New England Patriots. 

We don’t know how the offense will function without Brown. The Patriots game plan to take away what you do best, so elite cornerback Stephon Gilmore will shadow JuJu Smith-Schuster and the rest of the defense will take him away as an option for Roethlisberger. The Patriots will make the likes of James Washington, Donte Moncrief, and Vance McDonald beat them. 

The Steelers will be playing in a hostile environment at Gillette Stadium against a defense that finished seventh in the league in points per game allowed (20.4). Roethlisberger will have better games, so find another quarterback with more upside this week. 

Running Backs

Start

Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers vs. Indianapolis Colts

Melvin Gordon‘s holdout makes Austin Ekeler an intriguing fantasy option for Week 1. Ekeler filled in nicely when Gordon was injured last season. He looks to be the primary contributor in the Chargers backfield but will share touches with Justin Jackson.

Chargers start the 2019 season taking on a Colts defense that was one of the NFL’s stingier run defenses in 2018, permitting just 3.9 yards per carry. However, Ekeler will make his fantasy impact in the passing game. The Colts allowed 6.9 receptions (second-most in the league) and 52.1 yards per game (seventh-most).

Ekeler’s value will be his production in the passing game. He should see a handful of targets, making him someone you can trust in PPR formats. 

Matt Breida, RB, San Francisco 49ers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Matt Breida averaged 5.3 yards per carry and 9.6 yards per catch last season as he filled in with all of the injuries to the 49ers backfield. 

This season, Breida will battle Tevin Coleman, who signed a two-year contract this past offseason to play under his former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. 

Breida was listed as the RB1 on top of the 49ers unofficial depth chart. The 49ers backfield will be a headache for fantasy owners to figure out. However, a matchup against the ninth-worst rush defense last season in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should make both running backs fantasy relevant in the first game of the 2019 season. 

Breida outplayed Coleman this preseason and has significant upside in an exploitable matchup.

Sit

Kenyan Drake, RB, Miami Dolphins vs. Baltimore Ravens

Kenyan Drake finished as the overall fantasy football RB14 last season. However, there has to be concerned for fantasy owners regarding his outlook for Week 1 against a Ravens defense that ranked third in the league in rushing yards allowed per game

The Miami Dolphins look to be the worst team in the league. Additionally, Drake will be running behind a shaky offensive line after the trade of starting left tackle Laremy Tunsil.

Drake will also have to share touches with Kalen Ballage. There is no appeal to starting Drake against a tough Ravens defense.

Peyton Barber, RB Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. San Francisco 49ers

Fantasy owners can’t trust Peyton Barber. He will be in a timeshare with Ronald Jones and Dare Ogunbowale in the Buccaneers backfield. Barber averaged only 3.7 yards per rushing attempt and finished above 50 rushing yards just seven times in his 16 starts.

The Bucs will face 49ers runs defense that allowed 4.1 yards per carry and just 13 rushing touchdowns last season.

This game should be a passing fantasy bonanza, leaving the weak Bucs running back non-factors and on your bench in Week 1.

Wide Receivers

Start

Dede Westbrook, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Kansas City Chiefs

Dede Westbrook led the Jaguars in catches, targets, yards, and touchdowns last season and that was with Blake Bortles throwing him the ball. 

With Nick Foles now behind center in Jacksonville, we could see Westbrook ascend to an elite fantasy option this season. If the preseason is any indication, Westbrook has already established chemistry with Foles. Foles threw to Westbrook on seven of his ten attempts in their only preseason game together. 

The Jaguars face the Kansas City Chiefs, and if they need to keep pace with the Chiefs offense, Westbrook will be the primary benefactor. Start Westbrook in Week 1. 

Marvin Jones, WR, Detroit Lions vs. Arizona Cardinals

This a boom game for Marvin Jones and the Detroit Lions offense.

With the Cardinals down both starting cornerbacks, the already weak Cardinals secondary becomes extremely woeful and prime matchups to target for fantasy owners.

The biggest key to the fantasy production to the Lions offense is the success of Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals offense. IF Kliff Kingsbury‘s Air Raid offense can find success in the NFL starting against the Lions, this Week 1 matchup will turn into a shootout. That is music to fantasy owners ears.

Fantasy owners will want to a piece of this game, and the passing game of the Lions should have a field day against the Cardinals and Jones should benefit along with fantasy owners.

Sit

T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts vs. Denver Broncos

The only season that T.Y. Hilton didn’t surpass 1,000-yards receiving in his career is the season that Jacoby Brisset started 15 games in place of Andrew Luck in 2017.

The Colts offense will face a Los Angeles Chargers defense that has finished in the top ten in fewest points allowed to wide receivers over the past two seasons.

Hilton will not be a total fantasy bust in 2019, but he needs to be on your bench in Week 1.

Corey Davis, WR, Tennessee Titans vs. Cleveland Browns

Corey Davis is the most reliable target in the Titans passing attack. However, in week 1, Davis will draw coverage from Pro Bowl cornerback Denzel Ward.

His quarterback Marcus Mariota will be playing with a few backups on the offensive line with the suspension of left tackle Taylor Lewan and an injury to right guard Kevin Pamphile.

The surging Browns defensive front will pressure Mariota all game leaving less time to find Davis. The game script should favor Mariota, forcing him to throw to keep up with the explosive Browns offense. However, Mariota is not a good quarterback and will be running for his life throughout the game, which leaves fantasy owners benching Davis in Week 1. 

Tight End

Start

Will Dissly, TE, Seattle Seahawks vs. Cincinnati Bengals

The Seattle Seahawks offense should have their way with a Cincinnati Bengals that allowed the most passing yards in the NFL last season. Fantasy owners want to start all Seahawks in this Week 1 matchup.

Will Dissly broke out in the first game in 2018 by catching three passes for 105 and a touchdown. He was an immediate waiver wire priority for fantasy owners but sadly suffered an injury in Week 4 that subsequently landed him on the injured reserve.

Dissly is a sneaky option and a solid red-zone target for quarterback Russell Wilson. Any fantasy owners that are weak at the tight end position or lost Jordan Reed should look for Dissly to produce in an ideal matchup.

Darren Waller, TE, Oakland Raiders vs. Denver Broncos

The Antonio Brown saga is over, but it leaves the Oakland Raiders to adjust their game plan in their Week 1 matchup against the Denver Broncos in their Monday Night affair.

Darren Waller is a freak athlete who steps into the tight end position vacated by Jared Cook, who was one of the better fantasy tight end options last season.

The release of Antonio Brown makes Waller a  top streaming tight end option. The Broncos struggled against tight ends last season, allowing 8.6 standard-league fantasy points per game.

A popular sleeper selection in fantasy drafts this season, Waller makes those owners look smart immediately in Week 1.

Sit

David Njoku, TE, Cleveland Browns vs. Tennessee Titans

David Njoku was very inconsistent last season. Njoku had six games as a top ten tight end last season. However,  he also had eight games in which he didn’t finish inside the top 20.

Njoku will now need to share targets with wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. in the Cleveland Browns offense. Additionally, he will need to contend with a Tennessee Titans defense that ranked third in fewest fantasy points per game (7.3) to opposing tight ends.

Beckham and the Browns will want to make a splash in this game, which leaves Njoku searching for targets and sitting on my bench in Week 1.

Eric Ebron, TE, Indianapolis Colts vs. Los Angeles Chargers

Eric Ebron was a league-winning tight end last season. However, the abrupt retirement of Andrew Luck altered the fantasy landscape for all Indianapolis Colts offensive players. Ebron reached fantasy nirvana previous season, but a repeat this season is not imaginable.

In Week 1, the Colts face the Los Angeles Chargers with Jacoby Brissett at quarterback, and he will also have to share targets with fellow tight end Jack Doyle.

Head coach Frank Reich is a bright play-caller and will ultimately figure out how to maximize Brissett’s talents. However, fantasy owners will not see that in Week 1 against a Chargers defense that allowed only five touchdowns to tight ends last season.

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