As we enter Fantasy Football Week 1, we also dive into a sea of unpredictability. For all the predictions and projections we have made, there are a lot of surprises and both good and bad luck that lie ahead. So it’s a good approach to rely on somewhat proven performers when we can, and put our stock into those we have backed confidently. There have been a lot of offseason changes that will also affect outlooks. I’m not going to heavily base matchups on what we saw last season. This is a new year, but I know what appears to be safer for you to do, or who are the better choices among guys I backed in preseason drafts. These Start ‘Em and Sit ‘Em picks lean to PPR formats.
Week 1 Start and Sit
Start ‘Em Running Backs
Mark Ingram at MIA: We have seen Ingram play well as a part-timer before, and now he gets a well-deserved opportunity to be a starter and featured back. He will be a prime member of the supporting cast for Lamar Jackson as both a runner and receiver, and it begins in the opener with a quality matchup.
Duke Johnson at NO: He has already shown us that he can be one of the best receiving backs in the league and now he will get a chance to show that he can get a significant amount of carries as well. Even if the rushing totals are not impressive, Johnson is a new type of resource for DeShaun Watson to utilize, especially when the pocket is breaking down and he elects to throw.
Josh Jacobs vs. DEN: He is not proven yet as I prefer my Week 1 starters to be, but he soon will be very dependable for Fantasy purposes. All the focus is on the Antonio Brown/Derek Carr hookup, but Jacobs will be essential to provide support to Carr and give the Raiders optimum offensive balance that they have lacked for years.
Start ‘Em Wide Receivers
Tyler Lockett vs. CIN: He is a must-start in all formats as the new WR1 in Seattle. The Seahawks run the ball a lot, but that loosens up defenses for timely downfield strikes from Russell Wilson. Lockett is moving into Doug Baldwin’s old role and should be very prolific in it, and he has already displayed impressive big-play ability.
Alshon Jeffery vs. WAS: When Jeffery is available and healthy, he is often capable of quality performances, especially when the matchup is right. This is certainly a good one for Jeffery this week against the Redskins, as the Eagles should dominate time of possession and Jeffery will get a lot of looks on key passing downs and in scoring situations.
Michael Gallup vs. NYG: We saw signs of an impending breakout late in the 2018 regular season and the playoffs thereafter. Then Gallup also showed flashes of his playmaking promise in the preseason. With Amari Cooper dealing with plantar fasciitis, Gallup could be Dak Prescott’s prime receiving playmaker against the Giants.
Start ‘Em Quarterbacks
Russell Wilson vs. CIN: So many Fantasy types are hung on how much the Seahawks ran the ball last year, they lose sight of the fact that Wilson threw a career-high 35 TD passes last season. Sunday’s matchup vs the Bengals has the look of a home game where the Seahawks dominate, and Wilson easily tosses three TD passes. Keep in mind he has been a Top 9 Fantasy QB every season of his career.
Ben Roethlisberger at NE: He has been very disrespected in Fantasy so far this season, as he was not drafted as a QB1 despite coming off one of his best seasons ever. Many in Fantasy circles are overrating the loss of Antonio Brown. Roethlisberger will be fired up to pull off something of an upset at New England to open the season. Expect in the range of 300 yards and possibly three TD passes.
Start ‘Em Tight Ends
Mark Andrews at MIA: It won’t be a high scoring game in South Florida, and Andrews won’t roll up huge numbers, but he will outperform a lot of the TE pack this week. The Ravens may wilt in the heat, but Andrews should be good for some key catches and targets in the goal line area. If Lamar Jackson throws one TD pass it could be to Andrews.
Delanie Walker at Cleveland: He is healthy again, and is a familiar and reliable target for Marcus Mariota. He may represent the Titans’ best hope of staying in the game from a receiving perspective.
Week 1 Sit ‘Em
Tevin Coleman at TB: He failed in his audition to show what he can possibly do as a lead runner last year. Coleman also opens the season behind Matt Breida on the San Francisco depth chart.
Devin Singletary at NYJ: If you have to, I would only use him as a flex. He should lead Buffalo’s committee, but Frank Gore could get a lot of work too early in the season. Singletary has the most upside of any Buffalo RB and may be the top goal-line runner, but he looks risky in what could be a lower scoring opener.
Derrius Guice at PHI: He is expected to start and has generated some buzz heading into the season. But he could be watching from the sidelines a lot as the Eagles build a big lead and Chris Thompson sees more field time.
Robby Anderson vs. BUF: He has been dealing with a calf injury, which may hinder his upside. A tough matchup against the Buffalo secondary does not help his outlook.
Emmanuel Sanders at OAK: He showed signs of a quality recovery from an Achilles injury in the preseason, but he is actually at high risk for another issue. Sanders is ahead of the timeline for his return and could go down at any time with another compensatory problem.
Curtis Samuel vs. LAR: He stirred some optimism in the preseason, but Cam Newton is still not 100 percent and we cannot expect much in the way of big plays from the QB. You likely have a safer option to use than the likely WR2 on Carolina.
Lamar Jackson at MIA: He must show improvements as a passer first when play begins for real, and I expect the Ravens to lean on the running game in a very hot atmosphere in Miami. I predict a TD pass to Mark Andrews and that will be it.
Kyler Murray vs. DET: He has a lot of potential as we all know, but Murray was up and down in the preseason and using a rookie QB in his first game is too risky.
Jack Doyle at LAC: The Colts offense will be less explosive, of course, without Andrew Luck, and Doyle returns to a passing crew that has much more competition for targets than before.
Austin Hooper at MIN: I still do not believe in him as a starting Fantasy TE, and don’t expect much against the Vikings.
Scott Engel is an inaugural member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association’s Hall of Fame and a four-time award winner. He was one of the driving content forces in the rise of RotoExperts.com and was the lead host on the RotoExperts in the Morning for six years on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio. He was also instrumental in the launch of the FNTSY Sports Network. Scott was the first-ever Senior Writer and Managing Editor at CBS SportsLine and won a company Hall of Fame Award. He was also an Associate Editor and Fantasy analyst for ESPN.com. He has been the featured Fantasy Writer on Seahawks.com since 2012 and his work has been syndicated to the Associated Press, NFL.com, New York Daily News, New York Post, Yahoo Sports, Bloomberg Sports, Sports Illustrated and many others. He is a credentialed media member who won an FSWA award in 2016 for his Insider Fantasy Reporting. Known as “The King”, Scott is on Twitter @scotteTheKing
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