By now, pretty much all fantasy football drafts should be over, which means one of two things: you’re either brimming with confidence that your roster can take you to a championship come Week 16, or you’re looking for some in-season miracle to help save a tough draft. Either way, Week 1 is finally here, and regardless of how your draft went, there are decisions to be made. That’s where this week’s start/sit comes into play.
Start ‘Em; Quarterbacks
Colin Kaepernick (@ DAL)
Remember last year when Kaepernick exploded against the Green Bay Packers for 412 passing yards and three touchdowns? I expect a similar outing against the miserable defense that is the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys gave up 20.3 fantasy points per game to opposing signal callers in 2013, which was second worst in the NFL. A lot of points are going to be scored in this matchup, and at the end of the day, I see Kaep finishing Week 1 as a top five quarterback.
Carson Palmer (vs. SD)
In the final seven games of the 2013 season, Palmer averaged more than 300 passing yards per game and threw for 12 touchdowns. That hot streak should continue into the first week of the NFL season as the Cardinals go up against a shaky pass defense in the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers gave up the 9th most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks last year, and their defense ranked 23rd in sacks. If Palmer is given time in the pocket, which will likely be the case on Monday Night Football, he’s going to have a big night.
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Sit ‘Em; Quarterbacks
Aaron Rodgers (@ SEA)
Anyone who is going into Century Field is going to have a start week offensively, even if they were a former MVP. Rodgers is going to have trouble finding time in the pocket as staring center J.C. Tretter is out, meaning rookie Corey Linsley will be relied on to direct the offensive line against the dominant Seattle defensive line. Throw in the Legion of Boom who will be feeding off the crowd’s energy as they present the Lombardi Trophy to the city, and you’ve got a bad situation on your hands.
Cam Newton (@ TB)
The rib injury that Newton is still recovering from really concerns me. Anytime you have an injury that causes difficulty breathing, it’s going to be hard to perform at an optimal level. Newton has had success against the Buccaneers in the past, but with his injury status and an improved defensive unit led by new head coach Lovie Smith, I’m avoiding playing Newton this week.
Start ‘Em; Running Backs
Arian Foster (vs. WSH)
When Foster is healthy, he’s still one of the best running backs in the league. When he’s healthy and he’s playing a defense as poor as the Redskins, he’s primed for a big fantasy week. The Redskins gave up 20 rushing touchdowns last year, bad enough for worst in the league. With no one else on the Texan roster who looks to be guaranteed any touches with a health Foster, a top five finish is within reach.
Chris Johnson (vs. OAK)
I probably won’t have CJ?K in the “Start ‘Em” section of any subsequent articles, but Week 1 is the one week where I’m confident in plugging him into my lineup. Johnson has looked decisive and strong this preseason, and will be facing an Oakland defense that gave up double digit weeks 13 out of 16 weeks last year. Look for the Jets to run the ball early and often, with Johnson at the forefront of the rushing attack.
Sit ‘Em; Running Backs
Doug Martin (vs. CAR)
Even with the offensive line upgrade with the addition of ex-Patriot Logan Mankins, the Carolina front seven is still one of the most dominant groups in the NFL. While their secondary is going to be a point of weakness all year, the guys up front won’t be. That spells trouble for Martin, who seems to be gaining the trust of owners the closer the season gets, but he’s likely going to disappoint in Week 1.
Rashad Jennings (@ DET)
The Detroit Lions had a very good run defense in 2013, as only LeSean McCoy and Matt Asiata posted more than 100 yards rushing against them. While Jennings will provide value in the passing game, his lack of rushing yards and potential loss of goal line carries make him a less than ideal candidate to start in fantasy football leagues.
Start ‘Em; Wide Receivers
Marques Colston (@ ATL)
When Colston is healthy, he’s a productive fantasy player. In the final eight games of 2013, Colston was a top 20 wide receiver, and should have success Week 1 against the Atlanta Falcons. Colston has had success against the Falcons, especially in the touchdown department. He has three touchdowns in their past five meetings. This game is primed for a shootout, with Colston being just one of the many beneficiaries.
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Cordarrelle Patterson (vs. STL)
Patterson is going to be matched up with “number one” defensive back Janoris Jenkins, who allowed 12 out of 16 wideouts that he faced off against either a touchdown or 100 plus receiving yards. While the jury is still out whether or not Patterson can be more than just a good special teams guy, he should find success this week.
Sit ‘Em; Wide Receivers
T.Y. Hilton (@ DEN)
In his first two NFL seasons, Hilton has had five or less fantasy points in ten games that were played outdoors. While he’s been nearly unstoppable when he plays indoors, he’s been unstartable in fantasy leagues when he plays outside. I think when we look back at Hilton’s 2014 season, he’s going to have a lot of useful games, but few of them are going to come when the Colts are outdoors.
DeSean Jackson (@ HOU)
I don’t think RG3 is going to have enough time this week to find Jackson on deep vertical routes that make him so dangerous. The Texans’ defensive line is even better with Jadeveon Clowney, which will make time in the pocket hard to come by for the Redskins. Jackson’s been labeled as a boom-or-bust type player, and I think Week 1 is going to be one of those bust weeks.
Start ‘Em; Tight Ends
Rob Gronkowski (@MIA)
If the New England Patriots are throwing Gronkowski onto the real football field, I’m throwing him onto the fake football field as well. Enough said.
Antonio Gates (@ ARI)
The Cardinals gave up the most points to opposing tight ends last year, and with all the injuries to their linebackers, I think Gates is going to feast. With shutdown defensive back Patrick Peterson focusing his efforts on 2013’s rookie sensation Keenan Allen, Philip Rivers is going to look for his most trusted receiving option often.
Sit ‘Em; Tight Ends
Heath Miller (vs. CLE)
I think Miller is going to have a great year this year, and is one of the more underrated tight end options, but he’s had a history of poor production against the Browns. In four out of five of his matchups against Cleveland, Miller has posted four or less fantasy points in those games. He also hadn’t found the end zone. With the “depth” at tight end, it’s hard to trust Miller in standard 12-team leagues this week.
Kyle Rudolph (@ STL)
The Rams have one of the league’s best linebacker corps, and it’s shown in their defense against opposing tight ends. Over the past two seasons, only three tight ends have scored double-digit fantasy points against St. Louis. Rudolph has faced the Rams once over that span, where he recorded just three catches for 22 yards. Big things are coming for Rudolph, but they will have to wait at least one week.