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Around the NFL: Fantasy football start/sit for Week 1

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Weekly start/sit fantasy football advice from around the league

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Week one is upon us and it is time to set your lineups in hope of bringing home the coveted first place trophy. Leading up to the season, so much importance is placed on the draft, but leagues are won through weekly strategy and maneuvering of your roster in order to give yourself an edge over the competition. In this segment we will break down the best start/sit at each position based on match ups and projections.


Quarterbacks

START:

Deshaun Watson vs. New Orleans Saints

Watson will start his 2019 campaign on prime time going against a Saints defense that allowed 269.9 passing YPG IN 2018, which ranked 28th in the NFL. With newly-added Laremy Tunsil blocking his blindside, Watson is an elite option, which he will be more often than not in 2019.

Lamar Jackson @ Miami Dolphins

Lamar returns to his home state of Florida as The Ravens travel to Miami to face off against the tanking Dolphins. This is the perfect match up to begin to implement the new-look offense and after an offseason of criticism and doubt, expect Jackson to start off hot and deliver what could be one of his best statistical games of 2019.

Dak Prescott vs. New York Giants

Dak receives his fair share of criticism at the QB position but has consistently been a top fantasy contributor when his supporting cast is fully healthy. He enters Week 1 with his offensive line intact and it looks more and more likely RB Ezekiel Elliot will be back in the building for the opener. Dak is a solid play in all formats going against an abysmal New York Giants unit.

SIT:

Baker Mayfield vs. Tennessee Titans

Tennessee boasted a top-10 defense in most statistical categories in 2019 and is returning a solid secondary headlined by Kevin Byard, who recently became the highest-paid safety in league history. Baker is an every week starter, but I expect the opener to be more of a ground and pound slug-fest with less fireworks through the air.

Cam Newton vs. Los Angeles Rams

It has been a while since we last saw Cam Newton take the field 100% healthy and firing on all cylinders. He enters Week 1 with a sprained foot lingering, limiting his rushing upside -which makes him such an attractive option week in and week out. Panthers GM has deemed him 100% but with Aaron Donald and the Rams coming to town I am holding off expectations on Cam putting up QB1 numbers in Week one.

Mitchell Trubisky vs. Green Bay Packers

Trubisky boasts QB1 upside in 2019 entering his second full season under Matt Nagy’s offense, but will face tough sledding against a revamped Packers defense in prime time. The additions of Za’darius Smith and Rashan Gary to the pass rush, coupled with safety Adrian Amos, rookie safety Darnell Savage and second-year corner Jaire Alexander should pose all types of issues for Trubisky and the Bears, who will look to establish the run early and often.


Running Backs

START:

Nick Chubb vs. Tennessee Titans

No running back has moved up draft boards faster than Nick Chubb and I expect him to be on full display against a Titans’ defense that allowed 116.4 YPG on the ground in 2018. With Duke Johnson in Houston, expect Chubb to be featured more in the passing game, which only raises his already high floor and gives him RB1 overall upside. Chubb is an elite option with a safe floor entering week one.

Leonard Fournette vs. Kansas City Chiefs

Fournette enters the 2019 season fully healthy as the unquestioned workhorse for a Jaguars team looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2018 season. The Chiefs’ run defense was in the bottom-ten of the league last season, allowing 132.1 YPG. They did not do much in the offseason to expect improvement. The Jaguars offense should be much improved, and the threat of Nick Foles should open more rushing opportunities that were not there with Blake Bortles at the helm.

Le’Veon Bell vs. Buffalo Bills

Yes, Bell is coming off nearly a 20-month layoff from football and we should expect some rust, but they did not pay him upwards of $50 million to be an afterthought in their offense. Expect the Jets to ease in Sam Darnold to start the season and make him as comfortable as possible, which should include establishing the run and targeting Bell often in the passing game. Bell provides a safe floor and although we haven’t seen him on the field in a while, we all know the upside.

SIT:

Joe Mixon vs. Seattle Seahawks

The talent is undeniable, but the situation could not be worse for Mixon - who is running behind a decimated offensive line. Seattle boasts a downright filthy-Front seven and this has all the makings of a rough day for Mixon who will need to make an impact in the receiving game to save his floor in week one.

Kenyan Drake vs. Baltimore Ravens

Drake has been battling injuries throughout training camp and now looks like he could be heading towards a committee with Kalen Ballage. Drake quietly had a productive 2018 campaign posting over 1,000 scrimmage yards, but he’s up against a Ravens defense that is always stingy against the run. Drake is nothing more than a low-floor/low-upside play in Week 1 and should be avoided in all formats.

Aaron Jones vs. Chicago Bears

It’s tough not to like Aaron Jones the player and the upside he possesses for the 2019 season, but it does not get tougher than opening the year against the No. 1 ranked run defense in 2018. Jones is being taken high in drafts with the upside of a RB1 but will face a low floor in this one and will need to make a big impact in the passing game to save face with fantasy owners in Week 1.


Wide Receivers

START:

Mike Evans vs. San Francisco 49ers

In 2018 Mike Evans joined Randy Moss and A.J Green as the only receivers in NFL history to eclipse 1,000 yards in each of his first 5 seasons. Enter Bruce Arians and his aerial attack and you may be looking at the #1 overall wide receiver in 2019. Evans should see Richard Sherman at times but that is not enough for me to shy away from him in this match up.

Amari Cooper vs. New York Giants

Cooper is dealing with a foot injury which seems more of a pain tolerance issue than a debilitating injury and he should be good to go for a juicy match up against the lowly Giants. Cooper established himself as the go-to guy immediately following his trade from Oakland and put up WR1 numbers to finish the year. He should see plenty of opportunities to offer a high ceiling in week one.

Jarvis Landry vs. Tennessee Titans

Landry has never benefited from playing alongside a bonafide number one receiver which will be the case in 2019 with the addition of Odell Beckham. I am interested to see how the targets shake out, but I expect Landry to do work out of the slot with the attention shifting to Beckham. He will provide Mayfield an elite safety valve which should leave him with a high floor weekly.

SIT:

Antonio Brown vs. Denver Broncos

The talent is undeniable but so too is the headache that is AB. I believe that AB will still be a productive receiver during his time with the silver and black, but this Week 1 matchup doesn’t bode well to live up to his draft position. This has more to do with the Broncos pass-rush than anything else, as I believe they will be getting to Carr relentlessly and the big-play ability down field will be limited. Expect him to get on track Week 2 versus Kansas City.

Robby Anderson vs. Buffalo Bills

Anderson figures to be the top target at wideout for Sam Darnold but will begin the season dealing with a minor injury. On Sunday, he faces a tough matchup with Tre’Davious White and a stout secondary in Buffalo. Anderson flashes big-play ability and will need to get behind the secondary at some point in order to provide a solid floor this week.

D.J. Moore vs. Los Angeles Rams

Many expect Moore to make a big jump in his second year after flashing big potential in 2018. A healthy Cam Newton will play a big part in that, but this Week 1 matchup is one I’m avoiding. He will see Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters all night and with a hobbled Cam Newton I think his floor outweighs his ceiling and it could be tough sledding for the Carolina passing game.


Tight Ends

START:

Mark Andrews vs. Miami Dolphins

With the top tier of tight ends set in place as weekly must-starts, I will focus on some others at the position who hold TE1 value. Mark Andrews has looked like a man amongst boys throughout training camp and has dominated practices, showing a strong connection with Lamar Jackson. He plays with a fire and tight ends are heavily featured in Greg Roman’s offense, which should help his weekly floor. The Ravens have two other players at the position who will be regulars which could eat into his targets, but I expect Andrews and Lamar to come out hot and build off the momentum of 2018.

Jared Cook vs. Houston Texans

Cook has had a solid, if not unspectacular career. Upon landing in Oakland last year, Cook put up a very solid statistical season. That brought him to New Orleans via free agency with Drew Brees and an offense who targets the tight end position often and has made the likes of Ben Watson fantasy relevant. Cook has the trajectory and floor of an every week starter.

SIT:

Trey Burton vs. Green Bay Packers

When Burton was acquired via Free agency, he looked in the mold of Zach Ertz and figured to be heavily involved in Matt Nagy’s new look offense. He wasn’t terrible in 2018 but was anything but spectacular and fell short of TE1 projections. Now dealing with injuries and his status still up in the air for the opener, I am avoiding him on all platforms this week.

Evan Engram vs. Dallas Cowboys

Engram is a solid player on a bad, bad offense. The ball needs to go somewhere, and he should see enough targets per game to make an impact on your fantasy roster but this Week 1 matchup with the Cowboys and their linebacker core is just one to avoid. I am streaming this position Week 1 based on matchup rather than going with Engram’s limited upside.