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Top fantasy football starts and sits for Week 1

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NFL: Preseason-Seattle Seahawks at Oakland Raiders Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

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By this point, you have read our fantasy football columns, drafted your team, and are ready to go for Week 1. But there always are some tough calls to make when setting your lineup. So to help you win your first game, here are my top starts and sits for Week 1. Similar to NFL.com’s starts and sits, I will not list obvious starters like Todd Gurley and Antonio Brown (this list won’t include kickers, yes I realize that they are people too).

Quarterbacks

Starts

  • Derek Carr- Carr is leading a Raiders offense with a lot of potential against the Saints in Week 1. The Saints defense has not gotten better from last year, where they allowed the most points to quarterbacks of any team.
  • Dak Prescott- I’m buying the hype. Rookie duo Prescott and Ezekiel Elliot should lead the Cowboys to a huge game offensively. The signing of Mark Sanchez shouldn’t unseat Prescott from starting.

Sits

  • Any quarterback in the Panthers vs Broncos game- If your starting a Broncos quarterback, or even have one on your team for that matter, you probably just forgot to take a quarterback in the draft. It’s more likely that you drafted Cam Newton, and yes, I’m telling you to sit him. The Denver defense is still good, really good. To think Cam will play significantly better than he did in the Super Bowl is a bit absurd. I would sit him this week in favor of quarterbacks you could likely pick up off waivers with better matchups.
  • Jimmy Garoppolo- Being that this is Baltimore Beatdown, I doubt anyone reading this actually owns Garoppolo. The only people I know that own Garoppolo are Patriots fans. If you do own Garoppolo, or are picking him off of waivers to play instead of your own quarterback, just don’t do it. It’s hard to expect Garoppolo to do much in his first start, especially at Arizona facing a healthy Cardinals defense.

Running Backs

Starts

  • Whichever running back starts for the Chiefs- Jamaal Charles is clearly the best running back on the Chiefs, but he is listed as questionable for Week 1. Head Coach Andy Reid said that Charles might not play at all on Sunday. Frankly, I don’t care. Whoever starts for the Chiefs, and it looks like it will be Spencer Ware, will get a lot of touches. Reid doesn’t like running a committee system, and don’t expect that to change. Ware put up huge numbers last year filling in for an injured Charles. Whoever starts will get to go against a soft Chargers run defense.
  • Whichever running back starts for the Seahawks- We know the Seahawks love to run the ball, and facing one of the worst run defenses from last year, they will want to do that again. Talk has come out of Seattle that Christine Michael could start of Thomas Rawls Week 1. I’m not buying that. Despite being listed as questionable, I think Rawls will play, and start Week 1. The Seahawks might work Michael in to take some load off of Rawls, but Rawls will likely get the goal line carries. Pick up Michael anyway, because if Rawls can’t go, Michael is still a great start against the Dolphins.

Sits

  • Miami runnings backs- Arian Foster and Jay Ajayi are firmly entrenched in a committee. Neither will get more than 13-14 touches a game. Facing the best run defense from a fantasy perspective from 2015 in Seattle, Foster and Ajayi are horrible starts. There is no way your team could be that desperate.
  • LeSean McCoy- You may not have the option to sit him, but the Ravens run defense has been rock solid. They gave up the seventh fewest points to running backs last year, and the Ravens front has looked rock solid in the preseason. McCoy may be very touchdown dependent in this game, especially if Tyrod Taylor find success through the air.

Wide Receivers

Starts

  • Amari Cooper- Start him for the exact same reason Carr is a good idea. I personally am not a fan of starting two players on the same team, but this may be a rare time where that isn’t a horrible idea.
  • Sammy Watkins- Where the Ravens have been great against the run, they have been shaky against the pass in the preseason. Plus, the Ravens didn’t face a receiver of Watkins’ caliber in the preseason, Tyrod Taylor may be able to find Watkins running free a few times.
  • Corey Coleman- I’m adding a third start just because I love the matchup. The speedy rookie will get accustomed to the NFL very nicely with a matchup against a soft Eagles secondary. Coleman is a strong flex play for Week 1.

Sits

  • Jarvis Landry- Sorry, I really don’t like Miami’s matchup this week. Sit Landry for the same reason you are sitting Miami running backs. Starting anyone against Seattle’s defense in Seattle is just not a good idea.
  • Kelvin Benjamin- This might be my favorite player for this year. I have about five different teams, and he has ended up on every one of my teams. But I’m sitting him this week. Denver’s secondary is really really good. I just don’t know if I can trust Benjamin to anything more than touchdown dependent in Denver.

Tight Ends

Starts

  • Coby Fleener- Yes, Oakland’s defense has gotten much better, but until they show me that they can stop a tight end from running all over them, I’m starting whichever tight end if playing Oakland. In Week 1, its Coby Fleener. Drew Brees loves throwing to his tight ends. Ben Watson had a career year with Brees last year. Expect the same from Fleener.
  • Jordan Reed- Reed may seem like an obvious start no matter the matchup, and that is especially so this week, facing a bad Steelers secondary. The Pittsburgh defense does not seem much improved from last year. Expect Reed to run wild.
  • Eric Ebron- The Colts allowed the seventh most points to tight ends last year. Ebron’s breakout year should start with a bang.

Sits

  • Gary Barnidge- The Eagles were quietely a good defense against tight ends last year. They gave up the tenth fewest points to tight ends. There really is no way to tell if last year for Barnidge was a fluke, and facing a tough Eagles defense against tight ends should help us to find out.
  • Antonio Gates- I think he is finally in for a regression as his age will catch up to him. He is also facing the best defense against tight ends in the Chiefs. Starting Gates is a bad idea.

Defenses

Starts

  • Seattle Seahawks- I have already tooted the horn of the Seahawks defense enough times.
  • Philadelphia Eagles- Yes, I did say that Coleman could put up some big numbers against the Eagles, but the Browns have literally nobody else of relevance. Expect turnovers from a rusty Robert Griffin III.

Sits

  • Both defenses in the Steelers vs Redskins game- There will be A LOT of points scored in this game.
  • New England Patriots- The Patriots defense is very good. But Carson Palmer and the Cardinals offense may be better. The Patriots just don’t have a good enough secondary to stop the passing offense of the Cardinals. If the Patriots struggle to defend the pass that will open up room for David Johnson to run. If this happens, and I think it will, it will be a long night for the Patriots.
Good luck this week!