Skip to main content

Week 1’s Toughest Start/Sit Decisions: Cam Newton, Raheem Mostert, Michael Gallup

Sep 11, 2020

Every week fantasy football owners are confronted with difficult lineup questions. Who should you start, and who should you sit? That’s what many are left asking, often with little help. It’s good you landed here, as we can help each week using our Who Should I Start tool. Simply type in several players that you are deciding between per position or for your flex and we will let you know who the experts would start and who they would sit.

Here’s a look at the toughest start and sit decisions of the week along with our expert’s advice.

Get free start/sit and waiver wire advice for your fantasy team >>

Start Cam Newton (QB – NE) or Tom Brady (QB – TB)?
56% of Experts Would Start Brady

Newton
There are a lot of question marks surrounding the former NFL MVP. Not only did he have multiple surgeries and is starting over in a new offense, but he’s now 31 years old and might lose some of his mobility that made him so valuable in fantasy football. The Dolphins as his first opponent should be interesting, as they’re a team with many changes on the defensive side of the ball. Oddly enough, most of those changes include former Patriots. On top of that, Brian Flores is their head coach, who knows Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels all too well. In two games against the Dolphins last year, Tom Brady threw for 485 yards and four touchdowns, so it wasn’t like they couldn’t gameplan efficiently against Flores’ defense. Knowing the Patriots running back situation is questionable at best, they’re likely going to lean on Newton a bit more than they’d like in Week 1. The Dolphins did allow a league-high 39 passing touchdowns last year, including at least two passing touchdowns to 14-of-16 quarterbacks, but their secondary has been overhauled and now has legitimate talent. The scheme also limited the rushing totals of quarterbacks, as they allowed just 128 rushing yards to quarterbacks all season long. Almost half of them were to Josh Allen, someone who’s often compared to Cam Newton. For what that’s worth, Allen crushed this defense for 256 passing yards and three touchdowns, while rushing for 56 yards and a touchdown. Newton has many variables, but he should produce low-end QB1/high-end QB2 numbers. We know there’s upside for more, though they’re not likely to be a well-oiled machine out of the gate.

Brady
It’ll be weird seeing Brady with the Bucs uniform on in a real game, but this is what 2020 has brought us. It’s not an easy one, though. The Saints defense is one of the best in the league, and they’ve only gotten better this offseason. They’ve added safety Malcolm Jenkins, as well as third-round linebacker Zack Baun to their potent defense that allowed just a 61.5 percent completion-rate and 6.92 yards per pass attempt in 2019. Don’t forget about the addition at the end of last season either, as Janoris Jenkins was added to the cornerback unit. They did allow 26 passing touchdowns, though a lot of that comes from volume, as they faced 602 pass attempts last year. It is worth noting that the Saints defense allowed 23.2 points per game while at home compared to just 19.8 points per game on the road. Playing in the dome does typically help quarterbacks, and the Saints do score more there, leading to some garbage time stats for opponents. The 49.5-point over/under doesn’t suggest this will be a crazy high-scoring contest, though. As a divisional game, it’ll probably be tight. Jameis Winston completed 45-of-78 passes for 517 yards and four touchdowns during the two meetings last year, so it’s not a must-avoid matchup or anything with Bruce Arians’ offensive scheme. Still, there’s some downside risk to this being a tough matchup in Brady’s first game as a Bucs player. I’d consider him a mid-to-high-end QB2 for this week. I don’t really want to play him in tournaments and don’t think he’s safe enough for cash.

View More Analysis

Start Raheem Mostert (RB – SF) or Mark Ingram (RB – BAL)?
74% of Experts Would Start Ingram

Mostert
This backfield lost a member this offseason, as Matt Breida was shipped off to Miami. That also opened the door for McKinnon to take on a bigger role, though he hasn’t seen a regular season game since 2017. It’s crowded, sure, but this backfield totaled 501 total touches last year. That’s a massive 31.3 touches per game. When you factor in that running backs totaled 472 touches against the Cardinals last year (fifth-most in the NFL), you know there’ll be plenty of touches to go around. This team did not run the ball well against the Cardinals last year, that much is clear. The only one who did was Breida. We did see them rack up a lot more receptions than they typically do, though. It makes sense because the Cardinals allowed the sixth-most fantasy points through the air to running backs. This favors someone like McKinnon, who’s clearly the primary receiver out of the backfield. I don’t think we can take anything concrete away from Mostert, who totaled just seven carries in a small sample size, but the fact that they stuck with Coleman despite his lackluster numbers is worrisome. Mostert should be considered a risk/reward RB3 this week who should be in the lead role, especially on the goal line. It does help that he’s a big home favorite, as that correlates very well.

Ingram
This backfield was more of a mess last year than most realize, simply because Ingram scored a lot of touchdowns. But get this… based on how many touches he received and where they took place on the field, Ingram “should have” finished as the No. 23 running back instead of the No. 8 running back where he did. If you combined Gus Edwards and Justice Hill as one running back, this backfield was a 52/48 split. Seriously. Ingram had 228 touches while Edwards/Hill combined for 206 touches. Now you add Dobbins to the mix? The Browns allowed a robust 4.96 yards per carry last year and are extremely light on talent at the linebacker position. Their starters are currently B.J. Goodson, Sione Takitaki, and Tae Davis. They lost last year’s fourth-round pick Mack Wilson (linebacker), as well as second-round pick Grant Delpit (safety) during training camp. This is a new defensive scheme, but it’s hard to see them turning things around right away, especially given the injuries they’re dealing with. The biggest question mark is how this timeshare shakes out, though Ingram should resume his 12-16 touch role to start the season. Knowing the Browns allowed the fifth-most fantasy points per opportunity last year, you can start him as a stable RB2 this week, though he doesn’t have a massive ceiling. As for Dobbins, you can’t start him with any confidence, as the Ravens continue to say Edwards will be involved, and we know they’ll run with the veteran Ingram out of the gate. I’ll just make my prediction: I don’t think Dobbins totals more than 7-10 touches in his first NFL game, leaving him outside starting range.

View More Analysis

Start Marlon Mack (RB – IND) or Jonathan Taylor (RB – IND)?
76% of Experts Would Start Taylor

Mack
The Jaguars allowed the second-most fantasy points to running backs last season as they gave up the second-worst yards per carry and the 2nd-most touchdowns to the position. Jacksonville has since lost Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakouwe, and A.J. Bouye, and it’s not hard to envision them being the worst defensive unit in football this year. The Colts’ backfield will be a true committee approach, at least for now, but in a matchup like this, Jonathan Taylor and Marlon Mack are both usable as RB2/flex plays with tons of upside.

Taylor
We didn’t get any preseason games, so we don’t have any clue how this timeshare will work, but I’m going with talent. The Colts selected Taylor in the second round of the draft because they felt they had a void at the position, period. They’re now about to go and face the defense that allowed 10 running backs to post top-12 performances against them in 2019. Keep in mind they had Calais Campbell on the roster the entire season and Marcell Dareus for half of it. They’re no longer on the defensive line. To highlight the issue, the Jaguars allowed 5.20 yards per carry with Dareus off the field last year. They allowed 5.76 yards per carry when Campbell was off the field. Teams should be able to run wild on this defense, especially one with a top-three offensive line. Again, going back to last year, they allowed 205.2 total yards per game to running backs, which allows for multiple producers. I’m expecting around 15 touches for Taylor in his debut and that’s good enough for an RB2 start, even with the uncertainty in his role, as this defense is just too giving. Mack will likely garner 8-12 touches himself, though there’s a possibility for more against a defense that he tore up last year. In two games, he finished with 186 yards and three rushing touchdowns, though he didn’t catch any passes in those games. Hines was an afterthought, catching three passes in each game and totaling 10 carries between the two of them. If you want to start Mack as a RB3/flex option, I think this matchup has enough potential for it, just don’t get used to it.

View More Analysis

Start Keenan Allen (WR – LAC) or Tyler Lockett (WR – SEA)?
54% of Experts Would Start Allen

Allen
The Chargers have a very shallow wide receiver depth chart. Seriously, after Allen, it’s Mike Williams, Jalen Guyton, Joe Reed, K.J. Hill, and Darius Jennings. You probably haven’t heard of most of them. Knowing that Williams is likely out for this game, Allen should be peppered with targets. The Bengals didn’t have William Jackson shadow last year and I doubt they’ll do that this year. They did snag both Mackensie Alexander and Trae Waynes in free agency, so they have a new look to them in the secondary, though Alexander has been away from the team for a lot of off-the-field issues, while Jackson and Waynes have been hit-or-miss in coverage through the years. The Bengals defense under Lou Anarumo allowed 9.48 yards per target to wide receivers last year, which ranked as the third-most, though teams didn’t pass all that much against them. Wide receivers averaged just 17.3 targets per game, though that’s more than enough when we know the state of pass catchers in the offense. Allen should see eight-plus targets in this game and be considered a high-end WR2. He’s worth considering in cash lineups.

Lockett
The Falcons looked to be a pretty average team against wide receivers last year, allowing the 16th most fantasy points to them. But looking a bit closer, they were very bad. They allowed a 67.5 percent completion rate (fifth-highest), 9.52 yards per target (second-highest), and a touchdown every 17.3 targets (eighth-most often) to wide receivers. What does all that add up to? 1.97 PPR points per target, which ranked as the third-highest mark in the league. Not an average secondary now, eh? Lockett caught all six of his targets for 100 yards in their meeting with each other last year. Considering they lost long-time starter Desmond Trufant, it’s hard to say they’re going to get better. Start Lockett as a rock-solid WR2 who comes with plenty of upside in this matchup.

View More Analysis

Start Michael Gallup (WR – DAL) or Julian Edelman (WR – NE)?
64% of Experts Would Start Edelman

Gallup
We don’t know if Amari Cooper will be shadowed by Jalen Ramsey, but if he’s not, Gallup will see plenty of the shutdown cornerback. That’s because we typically don’t see Ramsey move into the slot, and it’s a similar story with Gallup, as he was in the slot just 11 percent of the time last year. It appears that it’ll be Ramsey and Troy Hill on the perimeter, which is less-than-ideal for Gallup. Hill played very well when promoted into a full-time role last year, allowing just 23 catches for 304 yards and a touchdown on 51 targets in his coverage. Was it a flash in the pan? He’d been extremely below average in his prior four years in the league. There are a lot of changes to the Rams, including their defensive scheme, so it’s difficult to take much away from last year when they allowed just 11.97 yards per reception, which was the sixth lowest in the league. Until we know the pecking order in the Cowboys offense, Gallup should be looked at as a mid-to-low-end WR3, though it does help that Cooper may be dealing with some sort of ailment that could lessen his involvement in the gameplan.

Edelman
The Patriots go from a team that threw the ball an average of 600.7 times over the last seven years, to one that’ll likely go towards a more run-heavy attack under Cam Newton. Edelman loses that connection that he and Brady had, which led to him averaging 9.6 targets per game over that time. Newton has tended to target big-bodied wide receivers over his time in the league, though he’s never had a slot receiver like Edelman. The Dolphins suddenly have a very talented cornerback unit, though we could see Edelman match up with the weakest of the bunch, rookie Noah Igbinoghene in the slot. He’s obviously never played a snap in the NFL, so we could see the Patriots exploit that area of the field. Edelman played 68 percent of his snaps in the slot last year, so he’s clearly the one with the best matchup on the field. Slot receivers Jarvis Landry, Tyler Boyd, and JuJu Smith-Schuster all posted 103-plus receiving yards against this defense last year, even if the cornerback unit does look different. Edelman can be played as a semi-high floor WR3 this week.

View More Analysis

Start Evan Engram (TE – NYG) or Hayden Hurst (TE – ATL)?
67% of Experts Would Start Hurst

Engram
Did you know that Engram was on pace for 136 targets last year before going on season-ending IR? To highlight how rare that is – Travis Kelce had 136 targets last year. Engram had just one game with fewer than 40 yards, highlighting a floor that not many players have. There’s a new coaching staff in town, which can drastically change things, but Daniel Jones showed the willingness to target tight ends consistently, as he even did it with backup Kaden Smith last year. The Steelers were rather dominant against every position but tight ends last year. Sure, they allowed the 11th-fewest points to them, but on a per-target basis, there’s cracks in the foundation. They allowed a 69.9 percent catch-rate (11th-highest), a touchdown every 11.6 targets (fourth most often), and 1.93 PPR points per target (fifth-most) to tight ends. On top of that, you have Golden Tate, who might be playing through an injury. Engram should be considered a solid TE1 for this game.

Hurst
The Falcons gave up a second-round pick for him, highlighting just how valuable he was in their eyes. The Seahawks were the second-worst team in the league when it came to defending tight ends last year, but they did something about that this offseason. They went and snagged Pro Bowl safety Jamal Adams. He saw 33 targets in coverage last year and allowed just 150 yards on them. While the scheme likely had something to do with it, the Jets (where Adams came from) were the third-best team against tight ends last year. Learning a new scheme can take time and this will be Adams’ first game in a Seahawks uniform, so we might see some time to acclimate, but the same can be said for Hurst in the Falcons offense. I’m still expecting a lot of pass attempts for the Falcons in this game, so Hurst should be in the 5-8 target range, leaving him in the low-end TE1 range, though there’s certainly some red tape surrounding this matchup.

View More Analysis

View your league’s top available players with My Playbook >>


Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | SoundCloud | iHeartRadio

Featured, Featured Link, NFL