Fantasy Football Start/Sit Week 1
Just writing this article makes me giddy with excitement. I’ll save the cliches and overused phrases, so let’s dive right into some players you should start and sit. I made all my decisions based on a 12-team or OwnersBox PPR formats unless said otherwise. This article applies to both season-long and weekly fantasy leagues.
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START: Ryan Tannehill vs. ARI ($6,800)
Tannehill has been a fantasy target of mine due to his sneaky upside and consistent floor. I’m not too worried about this matchup against Arizona, even after the Cardinals upgraded their defense a bit. The truth is we simply don’t know how the Cardinals’ defense—or any unit—will perform. We can look at last season’s statistics, but they still don’t perfectly forecast this season’s successes or failures. Therefore, we have to stick with what we know. We know Tannehill is capable of being a QB1 after he finished as the QB7 last year. We know Tannehill can make plays on the ground, which is always a bonus in fantasy football. We know Tannehill got a new toy to play with in Julio Jones. How can we expect Tannehill to fall flat? He’s a solid starter in 12-team leagues and a fine one in 10-team leagues.
SIT: Joe Burrow vs. MIN ($6,400)
This is less on Burrow and more on his situation. If you drafted him, you either waited too long for your starter, or you drafted your backup too high. If you’re deciding between the first quarterback you picked and Burrow, then it’s probably best to sit Burrow. If Burrow is your QB1, I’d highly recommend investing in a capable starter for Week 1. Quarterbacks like Kirk Cousins—only $200 more on OwnersBox—and Tyrod Taylor—$1,100 cheaper—have enticing matchups, and both may be available depending on your league format. With Burrow, we simply don’t know how he’ll play coming off last season’s devastating knee injury. He has sky-high potential, but we should wait to see how he looks before confidently sliding him in the starting lineup. Playing against a healthy Minnesota defense doesn’t help, either.
START: Raheem Mostert @ DET ($5,600)
The hot name to draft out of San Francisco was not Raheem Mostert, but rather, Trey Sermon. It’ll be Sermon’s time to shine eventually, but for now, Mostert looks like a good starter for your lineup. As expected, Mostert will get the start in Week 1 and possibly longer. His matchup against Detroit is—to put it nicely—fantastic. Unless Dan Campbell suddenly transformed the Lions’ defense into actual lions, then Mostert should be running all over the unit. After all, Kyle Shanahan highly values the run game. On the surface, the 49ers had an average run-pass rate in 2020. However, take out every fourth-down play and every fourth-quarter play and San Francisco ran at the fourth-highest rate in the NFL. Mostert should get good looks against a weak Detroit defense.
SIT: Sony Michel vs. Bears ($4,300)
This seemed pretty obvious to me but I got enough questions about Michel to force my hand. He has too many question marks to make me confident in starting him, even as a flex play. What’s his role? Will he split carries with Darrell Henderson? Will he be involved in the passing game? How acclimated is he to the Rams’ playbook? Is he even good anymore? We don’t even know how good the Bears’ run defense will be, what with Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, Robert Quinn, Eddie Goldman (if healthy), Roquan Smith… Yeah, the outlook isn’t pretty. For the record, I’m not anti-Michel. I loved him as a prospect coming out of Georgia and I think he was put in a bad situation in New England. On top of that, he hasn’t been the healthiest. I just haven’t seen enough yet to be confident in a bounce-back performance, especially to start the season.
START: Antonio Brown vs. Dallas ($5,000)
Whether you want to admit it, Brown looked like his old self last season. He immediately played a contributing role in Tampa Bay’s receiver-friendly offense. No, I’m not saying Brown can be Tom Brady‘s new favorite weapon, although Mike Evans and Chris Godwin did see fewer targets with Brown in the lineup. But Brown was a top-18 receiver from Week 9 on. There’s room for him to make an impact in this offense, and therefore, on your fantasy lineup. He gets a good matchup to start the season against the Cowboys’ questionable pass defense. Expect a flurry of passes from both teams, which should lead to plenty of targets for the Buccaneers’ pass-catchers.
SIT: Ja’Marr Chase vs. MIN ($4,700)
After watching Chase’s disappointing preseason, I feel a bit nervous about starting him so early. Keep in mind he hasn’t played in a meaningful football game since 2019. Could Chase have overcome his drops since Cincinnati's last preseason game two weeks ago? Sure. Is it likely? Probably not. Besides, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd can hold the fort down until Chase returns to his old self. He was the fifth-overall pick for a reason. It just seems like fantasy managers drafted Chase near his ceiling. While he can reach his full potential by the end of the season, his recent on-field woes suggest he’ll need some more time to acclimate to the NFL. Even though I don’t expect a bad performance from the Bengals’ receivers against the Vikings’ secondary, it feels too soon to slide Chase into your lineup.
START: Jonnu Smith vs. MIA ($4,300)
If you have to start Smith, my sincerest apologies to you. Starting a tight end is never easy unless you have one of the top four or five of them. Smith isn’t a bad start by any means. Although, I normally wouldn’t advise you to start Smith because of Hunter Henry. Henry has missed the past few weeks with a shoulder injury, though. And while he said he expects to play on Sunday, it’d be pretty surprising to see Henry get his normal workload. It seems fairly obvious that Bill Belichick plans to heavily utilize both Henry and Smith in the offense. Even if Henry gets a normal workload, Smith may have enough opportunities for fantasy points. Again, only the top tight ends really ever instill 100% confidence in starting them, but Smith’s role may open the door for him to be a TE1 in Week 1.
SIT: Robert Tonyan @ NO ($4,200)
Tonyan was the definition of touchdown-dependent last season. Despite him and Travis Kelce leading all tight ends with 11 touchdowns, Tonyan left a lot to be desired in certain weeks. But we’re talking about this season, a season in which A.J. Dillon may steal some goal-line opportunities and Marquez Valdes-Scantling reportedly has emerged as the WR2. Perhaps the most important factor is the expected negative touchdown regression from Aaron Rodgers. It’s historically rare for Rodgers to replicate what he did last season. That all hurts Tonyan’s value as a red-zone touchdown vulture. Touchdowns aren’t a sustainable way to make a living in fantasy football. Until Tonyan proves he’s more than a four-target, one-score guy, his floor is scarily low, even against New Orleans’ defense.