Whether you were an obsessed, crazed fan like myself, or whether you were a casual player, you knew to start your tight ends against the Cardinals last season. As it turns out, the Cards are playing arguably the league’s best tight end, George Kittle. Now, I know it doesn’t take to a genius to start Kittle, regardless of the matchup. That’s precisely why I’m not going to waste your time dealing with the obvious. My goal is to talk about the players I had outside of my top-5 at every position during the peak of draft mania. So, buckle up. Let’s get straight into Week 1 Start and Sit candidates.
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Fantasy Football Week 1 Start And Sit
Carson Wentz (My Ranking: QB7)
Forget about name recognition for a moment. If I asked you how you’d feel about starting a quarterback that was going up against a defense that had given up the third-most passing touchdowns just the year before, what would you say? I’m going out on a limb here- did you say, “pretty damn good”?
In case you were wondering, the Washington Football Team is responsible for the dreadful stat I mentioned. Their best corner, Quent0n Dunbar, was sent to Seattle in this offseason. While Dunbar said “sayonara”, the (is washed up t00 harsh?) incoming Kendall Fuller and Ronald Darby are trying to positively alter the trajectory of their misshapen careers as of late. Landon Collins is still in town, but like Fuller and Darby, he’s a shadow of his former self. All of this to say that their exploitable secondary is a juicy matchup for opposing quarterbacks.
Last season, Carson Wentz managed a QB7 showing from Weeks 12-17 despite working with an in and out and banged-up receiving corps that left him to depend on the practice squad promotee Greg Ward and his two tight ends. Although Alshon won’t be suiting up for Week 1, Wentz’s options are much stronger than Alshon’s last absence. Philly’s rookie, Jalen Reagor is now a full go for Sunday’s game, and DeSean Jackson will be on the field as well. This is not to mention his two stud tight ends. While I have Wentz ranked at QB7, he’s got top-3 upside, making him an attractive start.
Jared Goff (My Ranking: QB12)
In what was an underwhelming season for a handsomely paid Jared Goff, the ending offered a light at the end of a tunnel. Once Sean McVay got ahold of his offense in Week 13, Goff finished out the year at QB6, averaging 21.58 points-per-game. With an entire offseason to gameplan more two-tight end sets, which were highly effective for the Rams, you can count of McVay having control of his offense come Week 1.
The loss of Brandin Cooks is less of a loss than you may expect. After dealing with multiple concussions and limited productivity last season, Cooks’ departure doesn’t leave LA in a precarious position. After all, with the emergence of Tyler Higbee, the Rams’ offense came to life.
Their opponent, the Dallas Cowboys is coming off an offseason having just lost their star corner, Byron Jones. While their secondary still has decent contributors, they’re up against it facing the likes of Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp. Byron’s exodus leaves them exposed, and a good matchup for your fantasy stars.
Baker Mayfield (My Ranking: QB27)
Do you remember the plethora of commercials starring Baker Mayfield that got old by the third week of the season? More specifically, do you remember his girlfriend asking him to retrieve snacks from the far end of the field promptly after returning to his seat? Well, starting Baker Mayfield this week would be equally as maddening.
Following an uninspiring finish of QB18, Baker finds himself going against a top-3 defense in his season debut. Adding to his poor performance last year, his new Head Coach, Kevin Stefanski, prefers a run dominant offense. As the offensive coordinator for the Vikings in 2019, Stefanksi and his crew ran the ball for the fifth-most attempts in the league. While Cleveland’s offense has plenty of talent, both Stefanski and Baltimore’s defense don’t bode well for a quarterback heading into a typical AFC North slugfest.
Daniel Jones (My Ranking: QB25)
Do you know who’s going to be a hot commodity on waivers in Week 5? Yep, it’s Daniel Jones.
Jones starts the year with a brutal slate of matchups. His first stretch of the season starts with a home game against the vaunted Steelers defense, a road trip to Chicago and Denver, ending with a home game against the Rams. For a quarterback who turned the ball over a staggering 30 times last season, playing the team takeaway champ of 2019 is no small task.
Stacking onto the looming feat is the Giants’ offensive line. Their unit upfront has potential, and rookie Andrew Thomas is set to bolster the struggling group. Still, it’s going to take a lot for their blocking corps to keep the 2019 sack leading defense at bay.
Running Back Starts
Marlon Mack (My Ranking: RB17)
I’m sure you Jonathan Taylor megafans are sick to your stomach right now. Let me reassure you of something. I fully project Taylor (hey, that’s my name) to take the starting gig, and sooner than later.
The two biggest factors in this decision the Colts O-Line and the Jaguars D-Line. Fitting, huh? Last season, the Colts’ line finished first in run blocking per Pro Football Focus, and second place wasn’t particularly close. On the other side of the ball, like other areas of the team, Jacksonville’s D-Line has been decimated. Both Yannick Ngakoue and Calais Campbell have left the team, and they took most of the D-Line talent with them. While these two stars left, the Jags drafted first-round rookie K’Lavon Chassion out of LSU, and there’s previous first-round talent that can hopefully step up for the team’s sake.
Now, onto Marlon Mack. I haven’t been particularly fond of Marlon Mack this offseason. I spoke about the turning of the tide in Indianapolis not too long ago. Taylor is destined to usurp Mack, but all reports out of camp have said that Mack has been the starter. Head coach Frank Reich talked about his worthiness of the role saying that he “earned the spot.” Conveniently for Mack, and those who drafted him, he’s got what could perhaps be the best matchup for any running back. Feel confident to start him, because it’s the return of the Mack. I’m sorry, I couldn’t help myself.
Chris Carson (My Ranking RB:9)
Pete Carroll, the master of deception, came out recently and talked of a “hot hand approach” in Seattle. C’mon, Pete, really? Ignore it. A credible source, Joe Fann, chalked it up mainly to “coach speak”. Let’s face it, Pete flings this crap around like he’s in a game of dodgeball. Start Chris Carson and don’t look back.
Carson put together a stellar season despite his fumbles and injury. He managed to put up 1,230 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground. What’s more, he’s going up against a Falcons defensive line that lost it’s best player, Adrian Clayborn. Former first-round picks, Vic Beasley and Takkarist McKinley have been lackluster and shouldn’t be considered as threats to Carson. Dante Fowler Jr. is in town as well, but his success in Los Angeles may be attributed to his time with Aaron Donald. Either way, again, plug Carson in your lineups with confidence.
Running Back Sits
Devin Singletary (My Ranking: RB25)
It has not been a pretty offseason for Devin Singletary. The Bills drafted rookie, Zack Moss, who covers up Singletary’s deficiencies. Singletary has had a fumbling problem throughout his short career, and he’s been having those same problems in practice. When speaking about Singletary, the coaching staff and GM, Brandon Beane, has addressed his problem while simultaneously praising Moss’ ability to keep the ball in his arms. Additionally, Zack Moss is no slouch in the passing game and stands to cut into Singletary’s work in that area of the game. Splitting carries and receptions is never good for a backfield. Add this all up together and you have an answer. Bench Devin Singletary.
Jonathan Taylor (My Ranking: RB27)
For all of the reasons I listed above, make sure Taylor is not in your lineup unless it’s a desperation flex move. Frankly, the only reason he’s this “high” in my rankings is because of his matchup. He’s still going to get 7-9 carries, and the combination of his O-Line thrashing the Jags’ D-Line, and his own explosiveness make him a touchdown threat with 40 or so yards. Best case scenario, he catches fire in limited work and cuts into Mack’s workload. But again, that’s the best-case scenario, and I’m not projecting that. His ranking is merely based on upside.
Wide Receiver Starts
Tyler Lockett (My Ranking: WR8)
Let me just start by saying that Tyler Lockett is still Russell Wilson’s top target. I’m going to let you on a little fact. Before getting injured in Week 10, Lockett was the WR4 from Weeks 1-9 in half-PPR leagues. His rapport with Wilson spans back multiple seasons ago, and nothing has changed since D.K. Metcalf’s arrival. Part of Lockett’s game is that he lines up in multiple areas of the field. Sometimes he’s in the slot, and sometimes he’s burning defenders over the top. Despite his injury, Lockett put together over 1,000 yards and 8 touchdowns. He’s playing a gaping Atlanta secondary this week, and although I recommend starting Metcalf as well, I’d prefer Wilson’s No. 1 guy in my lineup.
Robert Woods (My Ranking: WR11)
What an end to the season it was for Robert Woods. Do you know how I mentioned Goff’s phenomenal finish to the year? A good portion of his stat line was on the back of Mr. Woods. In half-PPR leagues, Woods was the WR7. Once Kupp was somewhat forgotten in the Rams’ passing attack, Woods became a target monster and gobbled up receptions. That was not meant to be a Sesame Street reference, by the way. Woods is a particularly good start if you’re in a PPR league. He’s put up 86 and 90 receptions respectively over the last two years, and during his late-season run, he was on pace for 120 receptions a full season. While that’s a bit inflated for what his value really is, 100+ receptions are well within his range of outcomes. Fire him up against the Cowboys who lost Byron Jones. He’s a fantastic start this week.
Wide Reciever Sits
Odell Beckham Jr. (My Ranking: WR35)
Don’t misunderstand me, I love the talent of Odell Beckham Jr. He’s more than just a phenomenal player. He’s a bonafide superstar at his position. My problem is that in Cleveland, that superstar put up a WR26 season. He had multiple games where he pulled a Houdini, and although I expect him to bounce back from his core injury, this is not a week I’d feel comfortable with him against the Ravens.
The Ravens’ secondary is extraordinary. They allowed the sixth-fewest passing yards last season. Take that and mix it in with Kevin Stefanski’s offensive motto, and that’s not a good recipe. While last year doesn’t paint a completely accurate picture, he still only put together two receptions for 20 yards and four receptions for 44 yards in his two games against the Ravens. There’s too much working against him for me to feel comfortable starting him.
Amari Cooper (My Ranking: WR28)
We’ve played this game before. “Just when you thought it was safe to go in the water…”
Hamstring injuries are never a good thing for receivers and after his injury last season he wasn’t the same guy. He’s come out and said that he feels good heading into Week 1, but why risk it? Squaring up against Jalen Ramsey with a possible hamstring issue does not make a good match. Just don’t do it to yourself.
Tight End Starts
Jack Doyle (My Ranking: TE11)
If you’ve read my Sleepers and Streamers article, you know of my affinity for Jack Doyle this week. I won’t go into specifics as to how bad Jacksonville’s secondary is, but to summarize the article’s points, oh, they’re bad. Very, very bad. As a bonus to the crater-sized holes in their secondary, Philip Rivers is known for peppering his tight ends with targets. Like I mentioned in my previous article, Jack Doyle has a knack for getting open. Last year, he was fourth in target separation. He averaged a 1.4-yard difference between him and his defender. An open Jack Doyle running across the middle of the field and a tight end lover in Rivers feels like a match made in heaven.
Hunter Henry (My Ranking: TE5)
Chances are that you weren’t a poor soul who drafted two tight ends, but if you were don’t feel bad about yourself. It happens. That being said, if you drafted Hunter Henry you’re most likely going to start him. Still, here are some reasons why your pick is validated in Week 1 at least.
Behind the woeful Cardinals, the Browns allowed the second-most fantasy points to tight ends last season. If you saw those three little green letters, “CLE”, you knew you were set for the week. The team, however, spent a second-round draft pick on Grant Delpit from LSU, but not having an offseason and playing in his first game in the NFL, he’s got a lot to prove while also having little time to prep.
Hunter Henry on the other hand is a beneficiary of the unfortunate injury to Mike Williams. Despite missing four games last season, Henry caught seven touchdowns in the red zone. That means he was nearly due for 10 red zone touchdowns on a full season. With Williams, a red zone threat, being gone, that area of the field opens up more for Henry. Considering Williams’ vacancy, Henry becomes the No. 2, No. 3 at the worst target on the team in terms of overall targets on the field. He’s going to feast, and your lineup will thank you.
Tight End Sits
Austin Hooper (My Ranking: TE17)
Have my thousands of mentions about the Browns playing the Ravens begun to bother you? Good, that means it’ll stick.
Going back to the well with defenses against tight ends stat, Baltimore allowed the second-fewest points to tight ends last season. Now, in a crowded offense that wants to run, and run, and run some more, Austin Hooper is a player you want to avoid. Offensive philosophy and receiving corps aside, is this really a matchup you feel comfortable starting him in?
Blake Jarwin (My Ranking: TE15)
Be cautious of training camp narratives. While it’s fair to take heed of what’s coming out of camp, you can’t believe everything you hear. Curtis Samuel made sure to remind us all of that fact.
Blake Jarwin is said to have been one of the stars out of training camp. It’s reasonable to assume that he did actually shine. We’ve seen him explode from time to time, and we know the talent is there. The issue is that these games have been sporadic due to Jason Witten starting ahead of him, and we’ve never seen him as “the guy.” Recently, the Cowboys got rid of Randall Cobb and drafted CeeDee Lamb, a better weapon for Dak Prescott than Cobb. There are a whole lot of mouths to feed in Dallas, and the Rams’ secondary is more than capable of making things difficult for Dallas. In fact, if you take a look at my rankings (they’ve been updated since they were posted, so my rankings here don’t reflect them) I’m projecting just that. I like Jarwin this year, and I think he’ll have some good games. I’m just not ready to start him in a negative matchup without seeing what his role in the offense is.
That’s a wrap on my start and sit candidates. If you guys enjoyed what you read, check out other articles on Fantrax like Mick Ciallela’s Week 1 DST/K Streamers.
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