NFL Week 1 – Fantasy Start/Sit Decisions

NFL Week 1 – Fantasy Start/Sit Decisions

The regular season has arrived! Time to dust off the start sit template and see if this thing still gets the job done for fantasy football decisions. As a reminder: I’m going to avoid going over the obvious, high end draft pick, must start players week in and week out (unless I think you should sit them). This is designed to be a slightly deeper look down the fantasy depth chart at your options.

Draft season is officially behind us; all that stands between us and December glory is sound lineup management week to week. If only it were that easy! The biggest story (as of right now) heading into Sunday’s games is that Pittsburgh’s star running back Le’Veon Bell is not going to be facing the Browns at First Energy Stadium in Cleveland this weekend. If you are a Bell owner, you may want to pay particular attention to your options at the position. Enough talk, let’s dive in:

Quarterback

START – Ryan Tannehill (vs. Tennessee)

Tannehill is coming off a preseason where he went 29-39 on passing attempts and threw for 247 yards and 1 touchdown. That’s pretty efficient work for the 30 year old veteran, in my book. The Titans finished 2017 as the 24th defense in pass DVOA, and while they added Malcolm Butler to their secondary, he only helped New England to a 21st place finish in DVOA. Just how much better will Tennessee be against the pass? Tannehill has a chance to set the tone for the Dolphins season with a strong outing. He looks to improve to 2-2 against the Titans in his career with a win on Sunday.

SIT – Patrick Mahomes (@ LA Chargers)

Mahomes did this in the preseason:

Wow! Ok, ok. But he also is liable to do this, a lot:

The Chargers finished 2017 as (likely) the best team that didn’t qualify for the postseason, led by a 9th place finish in DVOA pass defense. Look for ballhawks Casey Hayward and Trevor Williams to give Mahomes headaches this weekend. I’m off him this weekend.

Start Sit
Andy Dalton, Cin (@ Ind) Tyrod Taylor, Cle (vs. Pit)
Mitchell Trubisky, Chi (@ GB) Jimmy Garoppolo, SF (@ Min)
Phillip Rivers, LAC (vs. KC) Derek Carr, Oak (vs. LAR)


Running Back

START – Lamar Miller (@ New England)

Miller enters the opener for Houston without any threat to his ability to start, as D’Onta Foreman is on the PUP list with the same achilles injury that sidelined him last November. New England finished 2017 as the 31st DVOA rush defense, but they are healthier at linebacker to start this season than they were for most of last year. That said, this is a game most expect to be offense heavy, Miller could have some red zone opportunities that help his owners out, here.

SIT – Matt Breida/Alfred Morris (@ Minnesota)

With Jerick McKinnon out for the season, we have a report that San Francisco will utilize a “hot hand” approach to touches to start the season. I don’t expect anyone’s hands to get hot against the Vikings, who finished 2017 as the 6th best defense by DVOA against the rush. Look for help elsewhere this week.

Start Sit
Peyton Barber, TB (@ NO) LeSean McCoy, Buf (@ Bal)
Dion Lewis, Ten (@ Mia) Rex Burkhead, NE (vs. Hou)
Theo Riddick, Det (vs. NYJ) Adrian Peterson, Was (@ Ari)


Wide Receivers

START – Robert Woods (@ Oakland)

Robert Woods was Jared Goff’s favorite target on a per game basis in 2017, receiving 7.1 targets per game, good for 22.2% of the passing volume. Yes, the Rams added Brandin Cooks via trade from the Patriots, but I just think chemistry and rapport matters between players, especially early in a new season. The Rams starters didn’t play in the preseason, so we’ll see who Goff trusts the most when games are on the line early on. I think Woods is safe. The matchup is also soft – Oakland was 30th against the pass by DVOA in 2017, and 24th or worse against all three WR spots on the field.

SIT – Sterling Shepard (vs. Jacksonville)

Pretty easy sit decision, here. Jacksonville was the best pass defense in the league in 2017. If that’s not enough of a reason to be off Shepard, factor in Odell is back and will get a ton of looks from Eli. Factor in its the debut of Saquon Barkley, who has a better matchup in the run game overall. Finally, factor in Evan Engram also has the best matchup in the pass game for Eli, as Jacksonville was 20th against TE’s in 2017. Shepard has a tough matchup across from him as well as competition within for targets.

Start Sit
Josh Doctson, Was (@ Ari) Jordy Nelson, Oak (vs. LA Rams)
Donte Moncrief, Jax (vs. NYG) Marquise Goodwin, SF (@ Min)
John Ross, Cin (@ Ind) Sammy Watkins, KC (@ LAC)



Tight Ends

START – Mike Gesicki (vs. Tennessee)

It’s time for the rookie second round pick out of Penn State to shine. The Titans finished 2017 as the 24th DVOA defense against the position. Gesicki is ready for starter’s work according to coach Adam Gase, because (his words) this isn’t a hobby. Gesicki is an athletic freak who profiles similarly to Rob Gronkowski if you look at his NFL Combine numbers. Could he be the next iteration of that kind of pass catching tight end? Invest early if you can to find out!

SIT – George Kittle (vs. Minnesota)

Kittle is coming off of a shoulder injury he suffered in Week 1 of the preseason that kept him out for the rest of the month. While likely precautionary in nature, a lack of recent game action coupled with a tough date against the 2nd best defense against the position by DVOA in 2017 is enough for me to steer clear for the week. Look elsewhere if you can.

Start Sit
Tyler Eifert, Cin (@ Ind) Kyle Rudolph, Min vs. SF)
Charles Clay, Buf (@ Bal) David Njoku, Cle (vs. Pit)