Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 1

by Mitchell Renz | @mitchellrenz365 | Featured Writer
Sep 4, 2017

Todd Gurley could get off to a blazing start to his season

After months of writing about Breakouts, Sleepers, and Busts it is finally time to see if all the countless hours of projections and draft preparation will pay off. We made it fantasy football world, another offseason under our belt and a brand new season filled with excitement awaits. It is hard to believe Week 1 of the NFL season is here which means tough lineup decisions and sleepless nights wondering if I should play a wide receiver or running back in my Flex spot.

Week 1 is always hard to prepare for because we don’t know what to expect from each team or what a player’s role will be. The Preseason gives us a little insight but not nearly the amount we want or crave. Hopefully, all the studying and preparing I have done this offseason leads to a great Week 1 of Start/Sit Picks. If you don’t find your players below please ask me on twitter @MitchellRenz365.

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Quarterback

Start of the Week: Marcus Mariota vs OAK

The Raiders vs Titans will be the highest scoring game in Week 1 of the NFL and I am betting on Mariota to shine in this game. The Raiders first team defense this preseason has looked horrible and I expect the new and improved Titans offense to torch them. Mariota has new weapons Eric Decker and first round draft pick Corey Davis to compliment his great run game and reliable options Rishard Matthews and Delanie Walker. When a quarterback can score with his legs his fantasy value sky rockets and the Raiders defense tied for the most rushing touchdowns given up to quarterbacks in the NFL last season. Mariota will be my top ranked quarterback Week 1.

Start: Jameis Winston @ MIA

The Dolphins secondary looked weak against the Eagles in their dress rehearsal game Week 3 of the preseason. A weak secondary will get eaten alive with all the options that Jameis Winston has this season to throw too. The Dolphins were the fourth worst defense against quarterbacks in 2016 and judging by their preseason performances I don’t think this has changed much. Winston threw for more yards and touchdowns on the road last season and opened the season up with a win against the Falcons with four passing touchdowns. Maybe not four passing touchdowns but I wouldn’t be surprised to see three.

Start: Derek Carr @ TEN

As I stated above in my Start of the Week with Mariota. I expect this to be a high scoring game. Both teams have questionable secondaries and both teams have solid offenses. The Titans in 2016 were the fifth worst defense against quarterbacks allowing 284 passing yards a game which was fourth most in the NFL. Carr will have to keep up with the Titans Week 1.

Honorable Mentions

Ben Roethlisberger @ CLE
Carson Palmer @ DET

*Sleeper* Jared Goff vs IND

Sit of the Week: Philip Rivers @ DEN

This pains me because Philip Rivers is one of my favorite quarterbacks in the NFL and a guy I have hyped up all offseason. But this Broncos defense at home is no joke. The Broncos were the second best defense against quarterbacks in the NFL in 2016. The loss of Wade Phillips isn’t being talked about enough but this defense is still elite. Rivers also really struggled against the Broncos last year completing only 50 percent of his passes throwing three touchdowns and three interceptions with an average of 223 passing yards a game. With so many talented quarterbacks stay away from Rivers Week 1.

Sit: Dak Prescott vs NYG

The Giants defense was elite last year and looks solid again this season. The Giants were best in the NFL against opposing quarterbacks last year giving up only 11 fantasy points a game to them. Prescott in the two games against the Giants last season had a 51.2 completion percentage, threw for only one touchdown and two interceptions and averaged 196 passing yards a game. Even though he finished as a QB1 10 times in 2016 he failed to finish as a QB1 both times against the Giants. Third time will not be the charm for Prescott.

Sit: Drew Brees @ MIN

The Vikings have a great defense and they are especially great at home. They surrendered an average of 18 points a game at home last season. They ranked 4th against quarterbacks in fantasy points given up and ranked third in the NFL in passing yards given up. I will be the first to say that I think the Drew Brees home and road splits are over blown but this is a tough matchup for the Saints against a physical Vikings defense.

Honorable Mentions

DeShone Kizer vs PIT
Matthew Stafford vs ARI
Tyrod Taylor vs NYJ

Running Back

Start of the Week: Todd Gurley vs IND

The Rams this preseason actually haven’t looked so bad on offense Goff looks better in his second year and an improved receiving corps with Sammy Watkins and Cooper Kupp are giving me at least a little confidence in this offense. The Colts defense this preseason looks like it might be the worst defense in the NFL and the Colts don’t have Andrew Luck Week 1 which means I am picking the Rams to win this game. Gurley hasn’t rushed for 100 yards in a game since Week 15 of 2015 and I think he breaks that trend Week 1 against the Colts.

Start: Dalvin Cook vs NO

I don’t expect the Saints to score a ton of points against the Vikings at home but even if they do, it’s still Dalvin Cook‘s game. Cook this preseason has shown that he is the best running back on the team running between the tackles and receiving the ball. If the Vikings are winning in this game it will be Cook on the field and if they are playing catch up it will be Cook on the field. The Saints last season gave up the third most fantasy points to running backs and even though they have made some improvements this offseason I don’t see them being too much better.

Start: Jonathan Stewart @ SF

Jonathan Stewart will split time with McCaffrey which is why McCaffrey is also an honorable mention in Week 1. The 49ers made some upgrades in the 2017 NFL Draft but not enough to improve a defense that surrendered an average of 144 rushing yards a game and 24 rushing touchdowns on the season. The Panthers will win this game with solid defense and their running game which will lead to plenty of opportunities for Stewart to rack up some fantasy points against a horrible run defense.

Honorable Mentions

Christian McCaffrey @ SF
CJ Anderson vs LAC
Bilal Powell @ BUF

Sit of the Week: Kareem Hunt vs NE

There isn’t a single player in fantasy football whose stock has risen more the last two weeks than Kareem Hunt. The season long hype around Hunt is real but he faces an extremely tough matchup Week 1 against the Patriots. The Patriots ranked number one against fantasy points to running backs in 2016 and I expect the Chiefs to be playing catch up to the Patriots at home. Also, the Patriots didn’t allow a single 100-yard rushing game to a running back in 2016. Sit Hunt Week 1 against the Patriots.

Sit: Lamar Miller vs JAC

On paper, the Jaguars should have a great defense this season which is leading me to trust my gut and sit Miller. If you don’t like trusting your gut, then I’d say trust your eyes and watch Miller’s tape this preseason. It doesn’t look good and the rookie D’Onta Foreman looks much better. The Texans coaches have already said how they believe they overworked Miller in 2016 and will lighten up his touches in 2017.

Sit: Leonard Fournette @ HOU

The Jaguars @Texans game will be the lowest scoring game of the week. Both teams enter the game with question-marks surrounding their quarterbacks and will likely lean on their running games. With that being said the defenses will stack the box begging the quarterbacks to make a mistake. The Jaguars have a quarterback not afraid to make mistakes. Bortles has 11 career interceptions returned for a touchdown in his career. Fournette battled a foot injury this preseason which scares me a little with his past. What really scares me is how dominant the Texans defense was last season against the run and now they get back JJ Watt.

Honorable Mentions

Jeremy Hill vs BAL
Marshawn Lynch @ TEN
Carlos Hyde vs CAR

Wide Receiver

Start of the Week: Amari Cooper @ TEN

Cooper is going to absolutely feast in this matchup against the Titans. The Titans gave up on average 188 receiving yards a game to wide receivers in 2016. The Titans also allowed the most wide receiver targets in the league last season with 407. Cooper is entering his third season which is the breakout season for most wide receivers and will get targeted heavily in this Week 1 matchup. Cooper has the upside to finish as a top five wide receiver in Week 1.

Start: Doug Baldwin @ GB

Doug Baldwin has looked great this preseason and so has Russell Wilson. The Seahawks offense will have to keep up with the Packers offense which is why Baldwin finds himself on the start list. The Packers ranked dead last in fantasy points against wide receivers in 2016. The Packers gave up an NFL high 3,025 yards and 26 touchdowns to wide receivers last season. I am expecting a high scoring game since Rodgers and the Packers offense can’t be stopped at home.

Start: Terrelle Pryor vs PHI

The Redskins will battle their division rival in what may be a sneaky fantasy game. The Eagles traded for Ronald Darby which should help the Eagles secondary but none of the Eagles corners match up well with the 6’4″ Pryor. The Eagles gave up the third most fantasy points to wide receivers in 2016. Cousins threw for two touchdowns in both of the games against the Eagles last season and I expect him to throw for two more in Week 1 with one of them going to Pryor.

Honorable Mentions

Sammy Watkins vs IND
Eric Decker vs OAK
Danny Amendola vs KC

Sit of the Week: Dez Bryant vs NYG

Dez Bryant and Dak Prescott have both looked great this preseason yet they both find themselves as Sits Week 1. The Giants did a fantastic job in 2016 against Bryant. In the two combined games, Bryant saw 14 targets but only managed two receptions for 18 yards. Not exactly what I am looking for in a wide receiver that I drafted in the first two rounds. The wide receiver position is deep enough where starting Bryant in a tough matchup isn’t worth it Week 1.

Sit: Keenan Allen @ DEN

Allen has looked good this preseason which is a great sign since his 2016 season ended so quickly with an ACL tear. He has a tough matchup against a Broncos defense with arguably the best secondary in football. The Broncos in 2016 were by far the best team in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers. They were the only team in the NFL to not surrender 10 plus touchdowns (7) and give up 2,100 yards (1,570) to opposing wide receivers in 2016.

Sit Tyreek Hill @ NE

Hill hasn’t looked good this preseason showing unreliable hands with three drops this preseason.  He was quiet in the third preseason game managing only one catch on four targets for 11 yards. Something about the fact that Bill Belichick has had plenty of time scheming for Hill makes me believe the Patriots will be ready for him. The Patriots are famous for taking a player out of the game and I believe they do just that with Hill.

Honorable Mentions

TY Hilton @ LAR

DeAndre Hopkins vs  JAC
Allen Robinson @ HOU

Tight End

Start of the Week: Zach Ertz @ WAS

I have already gone on record saying Ertz will lead the team in targets, and receptions in 2017 and I expect to see his involvement right away Week 1. Ertz built chemistry with Wentz as the season went on and it showed in the fact that Ertz had 55 receptions and all four of his touchdowns in the final eight games. Last season the Redskins gave up the second most receptions(106) and the third most yards (1,100) to tight ends. Ertz will continue right where he left off last season being heavily involved in the offense and hopefully, he can find the end zone.

Start: Evan Engram @ DAL

Yes, play the rookie in Week 1 against the Cowboys. All offseason I have been saying how rookies don’t do well their first season but the Giants wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard all have missed time this preseason due to injuries. Engram is an athletic freak at the tight end position and may be leaned on in this game. The Cowboys gave up the second most point to tight ends in 2016 and their defense has gotten worse this offseason. The Cowboys surrendered the most receptions (119) and yards (1,199) to tight ends in 2016.

Start: Delanie Walker vs OAK

Walker will get off to a good start Week 1 against the Raiders in what I believe to be the highest scoring game Week 1. The Raiders have been a bottom 10 defense in fantasy points given up to tight ends the last three years and this preseason that doesn’t appear to have changed. Walker has looked like the same old reliable option for Mariota and even though Walker is one of my tight end busts on the season he will get off to a great start Week 1.

Honorable Mentions

Charles Clay vs NYJ
Kyle Rudolph vs NO

Sit of the Week: Martellus Bennett vs SEA

The Packers are playing at home which means the Packers will score points but Bennett won’t be a part of the scoring in Week 1. The Seahawks were the fifth best defense against tight ends in fantasy football last season. Also, history has shown that Rodgers uses his wide receivers much more than his tight ends which leave me to believe that Bennett will be the fourth or fifth option in Rodgers progressions. I feel the only way Bennett has a good week is if he finds the end zone and the Seahawks allowed only three receiving touchdowns to tight ends all last season.

Sit: Eric Ebron vs ARI

The Cardinals were hands down the best defense against tight ends in 2016 and I expect that to continue in 2017. The Cardinals on a per game basis were surrendering three catches for 26 yards 0.13 touchdowns to tight ends. That’s not just the starting tight end numbers, that’s combined of all the tight ends for every team’s average against the Cardinals. I expect Ebron to have a good season but leave him on your bench for Week 1.

Sit: Hunter Henry @ DEN

The Chargers offense this preseason looks impressive due to a number of options Philip Rivers has at his disposal. Henry will still be sharing time with Gates and as the preseason has shown Gates can still get it done in the red zone. Henry was tied for a league high eight touchdowns among tight ends in 2016 but failed to reach 500 yards. Henry was really only startable when he scored. The Broncos last season did give up receptions and yards to opposing tight ends but only gave up four touchdowns all season to tight ends. I’m staying clear of the Chargers passing game in Week 1 in Denver.

Honorable Mentions

Julius Thomas vs TB
Jack Doyle @ LAR

It’s time to make those hard decisions for your lineup now. If you make the right choices and win your week give yourself a pat on the back and hope you come back next week and every week after that to get my Start/Sit Picks. Now that your lineup has been submitted it’s time to do my favorite thing every week, put my feet up grab a drink (only if you’re above the age of 21 unless my friends from Germany are reading this then 16 is ok.) Yea 16 figure it out America. Seriously though fantasy football is about having fun so enjoy each week as if it’s the last.


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Mitchell Renz is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Mitchell, check out his archive and follow him @mitchellrenz365.

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