Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 1
It has felt like an eternity, but Week 1 is finally here and it is time for you to scramble all of your research together and set your lineups. There are a few juicy matchups on the slate and a few situations to avoid. I’m not here to tell you to start Aaron Rodgers and Julio Jones. There is no beneficial reason for me to essentially tell you to start your studs. I am here to tell you who is hot (start) and who is not (sit) for this week. Without further adieu, here is your Week 1 “Who’s Hot, Who’s Not,” which is just a more fun way of telling you who to start and who to sit. I’ll also give you a “Fire Starter” who is my start of the week and an “Ice Cold” who I feel carries the strongest bust potential.
Who’s Hot – Start
Fire Starter: Carson Palmer, QB – Arizona Cardinals vs. New Orleans Saints
Palmer was putting together a rather efficient season in 2014 before tearing his ACL and being sent to injured reserve. His surgically-repaired knee is fully healthy and his Week 1 matchup against a depleted New Orleans secondary that will be without Keenan Lewis is a juicy one. Vegas has the over/under line for this game at 48, and if I were a betting woman (hint: I am) I’d comfortably take the over in this shootout. Palmer has weapons around him in John Brown and underrated veteran Larry Fitzgerald. Both quarterbacks in this game will be slinging it, and I see no reason why Palmer can’t throw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns. He has been itching to get back on the field and this matchup favors him in his return. Start him with confidence as he will torch the Saints defense.
Julian Edelman, WR – New England Patriots vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
I considered Edelman’s quarterback, who is very angry and will look to put a beating on the Pittsburgh Steelers, as my fire starter. Edelman figures to benefit the most from the attention Rob Gronkowski will see from the defense. There are questions surrounding his health and he hasn’t practiced since early August, but the Patriots have never been one to be accurate with their injury reports and Edelman should be a full-go. Brady will be throwing all over the Steelers and PPR machine Edelman should get a solid number of targets. He averaged over six receptions a game last season and is his quarterback’s go to receiver outside of Gronkowski. With Brandon LaFell on PUP and no other real talent at receiver, this is a great game for Edelman to start the season. He is also always a threat to break off a ton of yardage on punt returns, which is just an added bonus.
Jarvis Landry, WR – Miami Dolphins @ Washington Redskins
The Washington Redskins are falling apart at the seams. Every day it is something new, and negative, with that team. DeAngelo Hall and Chris Culliver will be in charge of covering the receivers in this matchup which is why I love Landry. Tannehill targeted him 13 times in three preseason games and he converted 11 of those targets. His quarterback looked his way in the red zone which is something we want in our fantasy receiver. Landry’s speed and athletic skill combined with this all-around terrible Washington team sets him up for a boom this week. DeVante Parker‘s playing time is up in the air leaving just Greg Jennings, Kenny Stills, and Jordan Cameron left to fight for targets. I expect a healthy dose of Landry and will be starting him everywhere I can.
Chris Ivory, RB – New York Jets vs. Cleveland Browns
Here is a great Ivory stat courtesy of Rich Hribar of Rotoworld. In games the Jets were favored last season, Chris Ivory averaged 13.6 points per game as opposed to the 8.9 points per game he averaged as an underdog. The Jets are favored this weekend and there is no more Chris Johnson to vulture Ivory’s touches. Their coach recently stated that they would like to see him get 20 touches a game and this week we will see Ivory firmly plant himself as the workhorse in New York. Cleveland ranked dead last in rushing defense last season and it is not inconceivable that Ivory can finish as a top five running back this week. I like him to run for over 100 yards and to score a touchdown for your fantasy team.
Brent Celek, TE – Philadelphia Eagles @ Atlanta Falcons
No I did not spell Zach Ertz wrong, and yes you read that correctly. Fantasy darling Ertz is shaping up to be either a game-time decision or on a snap count coming off groin surgery. Celek is a veteran in a high-octane offense and could have a nice game for himself. He is the less attractive option at tight end in Philadelphia but with Ertz’s injury Sam Bradford will need to look for a big body in the red zone. Jordan Matthews will see the bulk of the attention from the Falcons’ defense which should open up opportunities for the underrated veteran tight end. Even though Ertz is the tight end everyone is drafting, the local Philadelphia writers believe Celek is the one who will lead in snaps. Those are the guys you want to trust. There are other tight ends with nice matchups this week, but I’m not here to give you the obvious starts. Celek may have sleeper status, but his ceiling in this offense makes him a must start for me this week.
Who’s Not – Sit
Ice Cold: Russell Wilson, QB – Seattle Seahawks @ St. Louis Rams
I’m not trying to sabotage you, I’m just telling you that you should bench Russell Wilson this week. The Vegas line of 41 should come in at the under and this could be one of those field goal-happy games. Both defenses are stout. According to our rankings, the No. 1 defensive unit Seahawks are squaring off against the third ranked Rams. With both teams loaded with playmakers on the defensive side this game will be more like a chess match. Wilson shouldn’t have too much room to run and he likely will not be airing the ball out. He is without a question a top quarterback, but this could be his worst fantasy output of the season. Keep him on your bench in favor of a quarterback with a better matchup.
Brandon Marshall, WR – New York Jets vs. Cleveland Browns
Marshall should get the Joe Haden treatment this week, who is as much of a shutdown corner as any in the league. The offseason acquisition of Marshall is an exciting move for the Jets, but we just won’t see it this week. This figures to be a run-heavy game regardless, and Haden will give him a tough matchup. I’d start Decker over him if I’m going to play a Jets receiver but this is the right week to keep both on your bench. Marshall is coming off his worst season in eight years and will be eager to return to form. I just don’t see it happening this week.
Terrance Williams, WR – Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants
With Dez Bryant sitting out the entire preseason Williams showed his capabilities in handling the WR1 duties. However, that was the preseason and the real season is upon us. Sunday night will be the Dez Bryant show and Williams value will be mainly touchdown dependent. Recency bias will have you leaning to start him, especially against this banged up secondary, but don’t fall victim to preseason fool’s gold. While Williams is always a threat to break off a long one for a score this week will be all about Bryant. The Cowboys kept him sidelined all summer and will show the league why they rewarded him handsomely this offseason. Keep Williams on your bench this week.
Tevin Coleman, RB – Atlanta Falcons vs. Philadelphia Eagles
You spent a mid-round pick on Coleman this summer and it will finally pay off now that his coach has publically named him the starter. Coleman is a talent but keep in mind this will be his first professional football game and expectations must be tempered. The Eagles were in the top half in terms of rushing defense last season and they will probably bring the hyped rookie back down to earth this week. This is a pass-first offense and while Coleman will get his touches, I wouldn’t start him this week in this particular matchup. Wait a week to see how he adjusts to NFL game speed before plugging him into your lineups.
Jordan Cameron, TE – Miami Dolphins @ Washington Redskins
He finally has a competent quarterback to throw to him and the chance to show off his athleticism. The problem with Cameron is the receiver I recommended starting this week from Miami. During the preseason we saw the rapport between Landry and Tannehill. We didn’t get a chance to see much of how Cameron will be used, as he only caught two passes on six targets this summer. I understand it is tempting to start him with his matchup and that he is likely your TE1, but I would look elsewhere this week. You already know he is a perennial injury risk but what you don’t know is how he factors into the Dolphins offensive game plan. Put Cameron on your bench while you observe how the Dolphins use him this week.
I do not have a crystal ball and can only rely on research and good old intuition. I may hit or miss on a few but these are my honest predictions for this week. I’ll keep myself honest with a full disclosure section next week when I give you your who’s hot, who’s not for Week 2. Consider my recommendations here but ultimately trust in yourself. Good luck!