Fantasy Football IDP Start/Sit Advice: Week 1 (2019)
Week 1 is here at last. What seemed like an eternity between seasons is behind us, and it’s time to set some line ups. Week 1 is never the time to get cute, and it’s advised to start the IDP studs that were selected early in the draft. We take them that high for a reason, and now is not the time to overthink things. Start the studs. As the season unfolds, trends can lead us towards favorable matchups.
A couple of quick things I like to clear up regarding Start/Sit articles I write. It’s too easy to roll with start Darius Leonard or Myles Garrett…you get what I mean. My rankings will tell you that those are top players and mainly weekly starts. I look to bring players from a bit further down my rankings than the top-10 to light. These are players who will likely outperform their usual ranking on a given week and deserve to start.
Okay, enough housekeeping. Let’s take a look at the Start/Sit IDP options for Week 1.
Jerome Baker (LB – MIA)
The new coaching staff in Miami has revamped the linebacking corps by trading Kiko Alonso to the Saints, inserting Sam Eguavoen at MLB and promoting Baker from the part-time role he played last season to a full-time role at WLB. The Week 1 matchup is a positive one for Baker against the run-heavy Baltimore offense. Once Lamar Jackson took over full-time in Week 11, the Ravens averaged 45 rush attempts per game. Baker will easily surpass double-digit tackles in the opener.
Preston Brown (LB – CIN)
After playing 16 games and posting triple-digit total tackles in his first four seasons in the league, Brown would see both streaks end in 2018 as a knee injury limited him to just seven games. Still only 26 years old and entrenched as the three-down MLB for the Bengals, there is every reason to believe Brown will bounce Back in 2019. Baker should get off to a hot start at Seattle as the Seahawks ran the ball 52 percent of the time last season, and they will look to continue that trend in 2019.
Vontaze Burfict (LB – OAK)
After a fast start to his career in Cincinnati, Burfict has struggled with injuries, including multiple concussions. He hasn’t played a full 16-game schedule since back in 2013. Now the starting MLB in Oakland, Burfict will look to jump-start his career. With all the games that he’s missed, we tend to forget what Burfict has produced over his career. In 75 regular-season games played, Burfict has 1000 total tackles, which averages out to 13.3 per game. This includes 22 big plays and a defensive touchdown. Start Burfict when he’s healthy.
Trey Flowers (DE – DET)
The Lions acted early in free agency to sign Flowers and reunite him with his former defensive coordinator, Matt Patricia. Flowers immediately assumes the lead edge rush role for the Lions and will look to reach double-digit sacks for the first time in his career. Over the past three seasons, Flowers has averaged seven sacks and 54 total tackles while producing seven big plays over that time. A strong start to the season is definitely possible as the Cardinals’ offensive line continues to struggle, as it allowed 52 sacks last season.
Jadeveon Clowney (DE – SEA)
Initially, I thought it would be best to take a wait-and-see approach with Clowney until he got up to game speed. After seeing the reports out of Seattle about how he has looked in practice, and after hearing the news that he will play Week 1, there is no doubt that you should start him. In the past two seasons, Clowney has 18.5 sacks and 106 total tackles with seven big plays and two defensive scores. The matchup this week against a banged-up Cincinnati offensive line further boosts Clowney’s value.
Olivier Vernon (DE – CLE)
The trade that sent Vernon to the Cleveland Browns immediately returned him to a DE designation after he seemed out of position at OLB with the Giants. Another positive note regarding Vernon is that he is entering the 2019 season healthy after dealing with ankle issues that cost him eight games over the last two seasons. Vernon teams with emerging star Myles Garrett and Sheldon Richardson to form one of the most dominant defensive fronts in the NFL. Teams will have to account for Garrett opposite Vernon, which means that he’ll face fewer double teams. Even better for Vernon is that the Titans will be without suspended tackle Taylor Lewan in Week 1.
Fletcher Cox (DT – PHI)
After missing time with a foot injury, Cox will be ready to go for the opener according to news out of Philadelphia. One of the most dominant players at the DT position, Cox is coming off a career-high 10.5 sacks in 2018. Over the past three seasons, Cox ranks third in pressures among interior players according to ProFootballFocus. The Eagles face a depleted Washington offensive line that will be starting veteran Donald Penn, who was signed in late July, as Trent Williams continues to hold out. This is a great matchup for the entire Eagles defensive line.
Antoine Bethea (S – NYG)
There is an adage regarding IDP football that, while it will sound rude, it is right on the money. IDP owners love good players on teams with bad offenses. Sorry Giants fans, but Bethea fits the bill heading into 2019. The 37-year-old Bethea has posted triple-digit tackles in seven seasons, including two of the past three. Last season he led the DB position in total tackles. A steady dose of Ezekiel Elliott in Week 1 will ensure that Bethea is off and running for another big year.
Quandre Diggs (S – DET)
It took Detroit a few years to figure out just what to do with Diggs, but things have finally worked out perfectly. Diggs has settled in nicely as a “Jack of all Trades” in the Detroit defense with an official designation of FS. Don’t be fooled by the designation, however, as the Lions run a lot of sub-packages that see Diggs lining up in the box. A willing tackler, Diggs also has big-play skills with six interceptions and a defensive touchdown in the past two seasons. A Week 1 matchup with a rookie quarterback behind a shaky offensive line bodes well for him.
Alec Ogletree (LB – NYG)
It sort of feels like I’m piling on the Giants here, but I do have concerns regarding the veteran Ogletree. The first is that he has missed a chunk of training camp with a calf issue, although he is practicing in full this week. Secondly, it took five interceptions and two defensive touchdowns last season for Ogletree to manage to finish among the top-30 in scoring. Those numbers are going to be hard to replicate in 2019. Even in a solid matchup against Dallas, I want to see that Ogletree is returning to form before I’m suggesting starting him.
Patrick Onwuasor (LB – BAL)
After posting 90 total tackles in 2017, Onwuasor saw that number dip to 56 last season as he played 214 fewer snaps in 2018. That will all change this season, however, as Onwuasor is currently penciled in to be a three-down ILB for Baltimore. That bodes well for a bounce-back season, and generally, we’re all about rolling out three-down ILB as starting options. It’s the Week 1 matchup with the Dolphins that is the problem. Miami’s offense is highly unlikely to be on the field long enough to warrant starting any Baltimore defenders.
Nick Bosa (DE – SF)
The good news is that Bosa returned to practice with a week to go until the opener and is expected to play at Tampa Bay. The bad news is that his injury was diagnosed as a high ankle sprain, so Bosa missed almost all of training camp and the preseason. There is a conditioning concern as well the fact that high ankle sprains can tend to linger. No, I am not a doctor, but I’ve played fantasy football long enough to have dealt with many players trying to work through this injury. Take a wait-and-see approach, as there is the strong possibility that Bosa is on a snap count.
Yannick Ngakoue (DE – JAC)
There is no doubt that Ngakoue is a premier edge rusher, as he racked up 29.5 sacks in his first three years in the league. The presence of all-world Calais Campbell also boosts Ngakoue’s value as teams cannot look to double team him often. That’s the good news. The bad news is that over the past three years, he has averaged just 27 tackles per season and he has had 27 games where he scored five or fewer points in most standard scoring formats. Boom or bust, thy name is Yannick Ngakoue. Against the ultra-mobile Patrick Mahomes, this feels like a bust game.
Justin Simmons (S – DEN)
In his third season, Simmons set career highs in total tackles with 97 and in interceptions with three. Those numbers were good enough for a low-end DB2 finish in most 12-team, standard-scoring leagues. Unfortunately, the addition of Kareem Jackson feels like one of those situations where the two eat into each other’s tackle opportunities and fantasy production. It appears that Jackson will play SS and Simmons may see fewer tackle opportunities in a deeper FS role. The fact that the Raiders offense is a mess and might be without Antonio Brown doesn’t help matters, because there may be a lot of three and outs for Oakland.
Jabrill Peppers (S – NYG)
There has been some preseason hype surrounding Peppers. Unfortunately, people have assumed that he’ll fill the SS role and will be spending plenty of time in the box. Sorry folks. That role is going to the aging veteran Antoine Bethea mentioned earlier. The Giants will look to utilize Peppers’ versatility by putting him at FS. Peppers has the speed to get sideline to sideline that Bethea lacks these days, and New York will take advantage of that. I don’t see Peppers racking up a lot of tackles, and big plays have never been his strength. Unless Bethea goes down, Peppers will more than likely be a weekly sit.