Week 1 Starts and Sits
September 8, 2016 | Jackson Safon
Winter is coming, and so is football season.
We’re just days away from the start of the NFL season, and more importantly, the start of fantasy football season. With that, I’d like to welcome you to my weekly start/sit column, where I’ll give a couple starts and sits at each position. No defenses and no kickers; I’ll leave that to Denny Carter.
The best part of Week 1 is everyone finding out how painfully wrong they’ve been over the past seven months, myself included. Nobody can predict who will be this season’s Kevin Ogletree, but I’ll certainly try. Every once in a while I’ll highlight the Aaron Rodgers’ of the world when I think they have a particularly juicy matchup, but more often than not I’ll be talking about fringe guys you actually need to make a decision on.
START: Matthew Stafford @ Ind
Stafford is one of the more underrated players in fantasy this season and has a Week 1 matchup prettier than Steph Curry’s jumper. While looking at Vegas’ over/unders isn’t a perfect method, it certainly helps. The Lions vs. Colts matchup has the highest combined point total of week one, with the Colts favored by three and a half points.
The Colts gave up the eighth most points in the league last year and show no signs of significant improvement. Meanwhile, Stafford averages four more points per game when going against bottom five pass defenses. While many are concerned about Stafford losing Calvin Johnson, since Golden Tate joined the Lions, Stafford has actually scored more points without Johnson. Stafford could put up 50 attempts this week in a high-flying matchup.
START: Blake Bortles vs. GB
Bortles’ upcoming regression was probably written about more this summer than if Bart Simpson had to write it out in detention.
Good news for Bortles owners is said regression isn’t likely to come in week one. The Packers-Jaguars matchup has the fourth highest Vegas total in Week 1, and the Jaguars are five and a half point underdogs. While it’s admittedly a small sample size, Bortles averages three more points in games with an over/under of 48 or higher.
With the news that Jordy Nelson is ready to roll, the Packers offense should be flying as high as Marge’s hair, meaning the Jaguars will be in comeback mode from the get-go. Garbage time points count the same as the rest, so play Bortles with confidence in week one.
SIT: Philip Rivers @ KC
I’m very high on Rivers this season, but Rivers is as bad against the Chiefs as he is unlikable. Over the past five years he has averaged a full five fewer points per game against the Chiefs than he does against the rest of the NFL. And the sample size isn’t small either.
He’s only averaged 16.76 points per game in his last 10 games against Kansas City.
To make matters worse, the Chiefs were the fifth toughest team for fantasy quarterbacks to face last season, according to ESPN. While the Chargers should be attempting a ton of passes as seven point underdogs, Rivers has struggled against the Chiefs and against top-5 defenses. While his season outlook is still strong, I would stay away from the Bolo tie this week.
START: Spencer Ware vs. SD
It’s looking more and more unlikely that Jamaal Charles will be ready to go this week, so your opponents should beware of Ware. In the three games he received at least 10 carries last year, Ware averaged 95 yards per game and over 19 PPR points. He’s proven to be a successful running back between the tackles, at the goal line, and in the passing game, and is in an offense that is designed to feature its running backs.
Oh…and the Chargers allowed the fifth most fantasy points to running backs last year.
Oh…and the Chiefs are seven point favorites.
Oh…and you can probably think of a better pun than I did for your team name this week.
START: Rashad Jennings @ Dal
Jennings isn’t flashy, he isn’t sexy, heck, he might not even be that talented. But he’s the starting running back on one of the best and fastest paced offenses in the league and has a great matchup against the Cowboys.
The Giants were second in seconds per play last year and were still in the top five whether they were trailing or leading by multiple scores. They play fast no matter the scenario under Ben McAdoo, and more plays means more points.
The Cowboys defense was unsurprisingly bad against the run last year, allowing the fifth most rushing touchdowns and the sixth most fantasy points to running backs. While Jennings is one of the most boring names in fantasy these days, he’s got a solid chance to end the week as a top-20 running back.
SIT: Jeremy Hill @ NYJ
Weeks like this is exactly why Jeremy Hill is a much better best ball play than a weekly management play. He’s going to have some weeks when the game script fits him perfectly and he finishes with 20 carries and multiple touchdowns. Then there will be weeks like this one where he’s basically running into a wall.
The Jets allowed the second fewest rushing yards, fewest rushing touchdowns, and third fewest fantasy points to running backs last year. Trying to run the ball against the Jets is like trying to solve a Rubik’s cube: annoyingly difficult, but every once in a while you find someone who can do it pretty well.
Much like trying to solve the Patriots backfield, looking at the Bengals will often be a debate as to who will have a better week: Jeremy Hill or Giovani Bernard. This week is looking overwhelmingly like a Bernard week, to the point where Hill is borderline un-startable in leagues with standard starting spots.
START: Marvin Jones @ Ind
Jones is a good play this week for many of the same reasons that Stafford is. The Colts passing defense is poor, the expected point total is high, and the game will be very fast paced. While the Lions were one of the slower-paced teams in the league last year, they had the sixth-fewest seconds per play when trailing by seven or more points.
Marvin Jones is stepping right into the Calvin Johnson role and has a chance to be featured in the red zone. Jones has fantastic opportunity this week and might end up being one of the most traded guys in fantasy after he gets off to a hot start.
START: Donte Moncrief vs. Det
I have a confession to make. I’m so high on both the Colts and Lions offenses this year that it’s almost scary. So the fact that these two teams are playing each other in week one has to be a sign from the God that I’m sure desperately cares about fantasy sports.
Moncrief is one of the most popular names in the fantasy community this season and has been dubbed by many as “this year’s Allen Robinson”. Want to know the difference between the two? I’m pretty confident that Moncrief will have more than one reception for 27 yards in Week 1.
Moncrief had five touchdowns in the seven games Andrew Luck played last season and is a much better short yardage receiver than T.Y. Hilton, which could be good considering how bad the Colts’ offensive line looked in the preseason.
SIT: Emmanuel Sanders vs. Car
While the departure of Josh Norman is obviously not good for the Panthers defense, they’ve proven in the past that a dominant front seven can make up for deficiencies on the back end. The good news for Sanders is that Trevor Siemian probably won’t be worse than Peyton Manning was last year. The bad news? Siemian’s first NFL start is up against the defense that led the league in interceptions and was sixth in the league in sacks.
The Denver offense was already inefficient last season, and there is evidence they may move to a more run-based approach this season. Over the second half of last season the Broncos averaged four more rushing attempts per game, and if Sanders loses volume, the team’s lack of efficiency could catch up to him.
START: Dwayne Allen vs. Det
I told you…almost scary investment in this offense. If you’ve made it this far you probably know why I’m so bullish on the fantasy prospects of this matchup.
Here are the cliffnotes: high expected point total and fast-paced offenses. There should be plenty of touchdowns to be had, and Allen is a strong bet to lead the Colts in that category this year.
SIT: Zach Ertz vs Cle
This mostly boils down to the fact that Carson Wentz is starting for the Eagles. Wentz had a rib injury that caused him to miss most of the preseason and wasn’t expected to start regardless of the injury. This game has one of the lowest expected point totals of the week, so if you’re starting Ertz you’re hoping desperately for a touchdown to salvage his day.