(Dave Pokress/Sportsday Wire)
Week 1 is finally here! After studying and putting together the best possible team during drafts the last couple of months, Fantasy owners will finally get to see their works of art in action. One of the best parts of Fantasy Football is deciding who to start and sit, and while you will ultimately make that decision, I am here to help.
Start: Eli Manning
Manning and the Giants will lock horns with their division rival Cowboys on Sunday Night Football to open the season. He was drafted by many as a low end QB1 or high end backup, but this is definitely a week to run Manning out there. The were smack in the middle of Fantasy points allowed per week to opposing quarterbacks, surrendering 16.24 last year. While that ranked 15th in the league and may not seem like a matchup to exploit, Manning had two great games against Dallas. First, in Week 7 he threw for 248 yards, but three touchdowns and no interceptions. For those in standard leagues he eclipsed the 20-Fantasy point mark that you hope to receive from your QB. The second matchup was even better, as he threw for 338 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, flying by the 20-point mark. With the Giants deficiencies on defense they will have to put up points, meaning Manning should see a ton of volume.
Deeper league options: Jay Cutler, Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota.
Sit: Philip Rivers
Rivers is another QB that was drafted as a borderline starter. However, this is not the week to roll him out. While the Lions did lose some pieces on defense, they are bringing back a core that only allowed 14.18 Fantasy points per week to opposing QBs, the fifth lowest mark in the league. The Lions held QBs to only 23 touchdowns passes. Add in the fact that Rivers only threw for over 300 yards four times last year and you can see how this is a risky start.
Caution: Andrew Luck
Bonus segment here, but Fantasy owners should not expect a typical Andrew Luck week to start the season. The top QB has to travel to Buffalo, who led the league in sacks last year. While you are not benching Luck to start the season, we did see late last year that the Bills are capable of shutting down top QB’s, such as Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers.
Start: Devonta Freeman/Tevin Coleman
This is an interesting situation that owners need to monitor closely. While some Falcons beat writers have reported that Freeman should play Week 1 and will start, a hamstring injury has him in jeopardy. Even if he suits up the two will split touches, especially if Freeman is not 100 percent. This game has all the makings for a shootout with two stout offenses and two poor defenses. Do not be surprised if Coleman sees the bulk of carries, especially early on, which makes him more valuable in a standard league. Freeman should be a big part of the passing game, especially if the Falcons fall behind early, making him a solid PPR play if he suits up. Both should be considered solid Flex plays or a start at RB2 for those who waited to draft running backs.
Sit: Mark Ingram
It may be hard to sit a running back you drafted and expected to plug in every week, but this is a tough matchup for Ingram. The Cardinals allowed the sixth-fewest points per game to opposing running backs last year. They also allowed only eight rushing touchdowns, which tied for the ninth-fewest in the league. Ingram only rushed for over 100 yards four times last year, and he saw 23 or more carries every time he did so. This game may not allow him to see that kind of volume, and if he doesn’t find the end zone he will likely have a dud of a game. This may be going out on a limb but do not start him with confidence.
Start: Jeremy Maclin
The Baltimore Ravens were the only team to allow more receptions to opposing wide receivers last year than the Houston Texans. We all know Alex Smith is a game manager who will not test the Texans defense downfield but will rather complete short pass after short pass and move the chains. Maclin should see a large bulk of those targets and could be in for a great day in PPR formats. The Texans also allowed 21 touchdowns to opposing wideouts last year, which is the third most in the league. After no Chief wideout caught a touchdown last year. I have a funny feeling that Maclin will end that streak in his first game with the team.
Sit: Steve Smith
The Broncos allowed the second fewest Fantasy points to opposing wide receivers last year, at 18.27 per game. Smith was drafted in many leagues as a WR3 or Flex option and he should provide enough value this year to justify that selection. However, in a Ravens passing game that lacks established weapons, the Broncos main focus will be to keep the ball out of his hands and he could be in for a rough opening week. Some options I like more this week are Roddy White, John Brown and Nelson Agholor.
Start: Richard Rodgers
This may be a bold prediction, as Rodgers did not post a single game last year with more than four catches, 58 yards or multiple touchdowns. In fact, he only had two touchdowns on the year. However, the Packers will look to exploit every advantage they can without Jordy Nelson, and the Bears allowed the most Fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends last year. They also allowed opposing tight ends to haul in 13 touchdowns, topped only by the Jets (14). Rodgers should not be started in all formats, but should be on the radars of those in deeper leagues or who need an injury replacement. He may not catch lightning in a bottle, but a touchdown would suffice.
Sit: Coby Fleener/Dwayne Allen
The addition of weapons such as Andre Johnson and Frank Gore put a damper on expectations from the Colts tight ends. Not only is there more mouths to feed in Indy, but the two will share targets with one another. Add in that the Bills allowed the least amount of Fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends (4.09) last year. There is not a ton to like here and owners are advised to stay away.
Good luck in your opening week! If you have any other questions feel free to follow me on Twitter, @MichaelFFlorio.
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