Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 1
R.C. Fischer discusses players to start and those to sit in Week 1 matchups.
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Non top 12 consensus ranked players at their positions who could wind up top 5 in Week 1
Spencer Ware (KC): vs. San Diego
Ware is the hot name of fantasy Week 1, the ‘chic’ name – mostly because Jamaal Charles is gone and Ware scored a few goal line TDs in the preseason. That’s cute, but it’s not the full reason you should go full throttle on Ware this week…
1: One of the best parts of this play is how sad the San Diego run defense is. They allowed the sixth most rushing yards per game and yards per carry against last season. They gave up the fourth most rusing TDs last season. I’ve watched them in the preseason…their run defense looks just as bad, possibly worse. Their pass defense is very good…you run on them to beat/handle them.
In two matchups with San Diego last season, Ware tallied 19 carries for 148 yards (7.8 ypc) and two TDs. Ware got hurt/went out mid-game in his second matchup against the Chargers last season — he might have posted 150+ yards on them the second time around, if not for leaving the game. He was rolling.
2: This isn’t a ‘Jamaal handcuff’ story. I would argue, and have argued – Ware is one of the best running back talents in the NFL. An incredibly powerful runner, and amazingly nimble for his size, plus he has fantastic hands in the passing game. He isn’t the Jamaal fill-in…he may be better than Charles (current age) right now. If no Jamaal this season, Ware might lead the NFL in rushing and rushing TDs.
Eric Decker (NYJ): vs. Cincinnati
For the first time in nearly a decade, long time Bengals’ starting cornerback Leon Hall is gone. Lowly-rated cover corner Dre Kirkpatrick now moves up into the starting rotation. Adam Jones is likely to take on Brandon Marshall, leaving Decker time to ‘mess around’ with Kirkpatrick.
Decker is usually money scoring TDs – he posted a score in all but three of his 15 games played last season. He has double-digit TD catches in three of his last four seasons (only Geno Smith‘s reign of terror stopped him). Give me the reliable Decker vs. the unreliable Kirkpatrick. Decker is more of a ‘is he a WR1 this week?’ than a ‘should I start him?’ conundrum.
Vance McDonald (SF): vs. Los Angeles
It’s not that McDonald is a warm body who is starting for his team, so ‘any port in a storm.’ McDonald is a legit talent at tight end. Well-above-average athleticism for a nearly 270-pound tight end with crazy offensive lineman-like strength. He’s nearly untackleable in the open field.
McDonald is more talented than he is given credit for, but as a bonus…the 49ers’ receiving group is hideous. When you’re trading for Jeremy Kerley and instantly listing him as a starter…things aren’t going well in your pass game/NFL organization. McDonald averaged 3.5 receptions for 43.7 yards and 0.50 TDs per game in his final six games with Gabbert last year – 7.9 fantasy points per game (10.9 PPR) in that stretch. Gabbert may lead the 49ers in targets and catches in Week 1/the whole season.
See more on the 2016 case for McDonald here, written by one of the best fantasy minds I know: Very Deep Sleeper Report – Vance McDonald (Aug. 2016).
Top 15 ranked players at their positions that are going to make you whine and say “I can’t sit my studs!” and then will make you wish you had:
Cam Newton (CAR): vs. Denver
You do remember the Super Bowl, right? Cam threw for 265 yards with no TD passes and a pick. He ran for 45 yards with no rushing TDs. A grand total of 13.1 fantasy points for Cam. I don’t blame Cam, per se – he was sacked seven times. He was hit 13 times. Here’s the thing – this Denver defense may be even better this year.
What’s changed for Carolina? Kelvin Benjamin is back, and out of shape. Devin Funchess is still everyone’s favorite sleeper who does little to nothing in games, but perpetually keeps his ‘hot sleeper’ status. It’s the same game — with Denver actually getting better/deeper. At minimum, the upside here is VERY limited for Cam.
Keenan Allen (SD): vs. Kansas City
If this is Keenan Allen vs. Marcus Peters, then Keenan is dead money for fantasy this week. Sure, Allen had a great run in fantasy last season, pre-injury, but he did so against a lot of weak secondaries who had primary corners out injured…or just bad corners. When he faced his toughest task last season, at Cincinnati – Allen had two catches for 16 yards.
Allen is not transcendent, he’s just a guy that gets a million targets…but Philip Rivers is not dumb enough to test Marcus Peters. Rivers will likely avoid Peters, and thus cold-shoulder Allen…and thus you have a bad start to your fantasy season starting Keenan.
If Peters lays off him on and off – there’s a chance Allen survives Week 1. If you’re deep enough at WR, consider avoiding the risk with Keenan this week.
C.J. Anderson (DEN): vs. Carolina
I wish I had Anderson’s fantasy press agent. He’s awesome at his job. His client was a fantasy bust last year, and now is working with the illustrious Trevor Siemian this year…how is this good for Anderson’s fantasy outlook? Oh, yeah…and he’s pushed, nationally, as an RB1 option for Week 1 facing the Carolina run defense! A run defense that allowed the fourth-lowest yards rushing per game in the NFL last season. That press agent is a miracle worker!
I know. You’re using my sarcasm above against me – “Don’t you (me) remember the Super Bowl?” The one where Anderson had one of his best games of the prior season – 90 yards rushing and 1 TD? I do remember that. I also know that Anderson sprung loose on a 34-yard run in that game, a rare longer run for him (he only had five runs of 20+ all regular season – Spencer Ware had four 20+ yard runs in half the carries in 2015)…and outside of that one jolt, CJA tallied 22 carries for 56 yards (2.5 yards per carry) in that game – not great.
You start Anderson, I’ll start Ware.