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Start or Sit? NFL fantasy football tips for Week 1

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Unsure about who to start in your fantasy league? You’ve come to the right place.

Dallas Cowboys v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The regular season is upon us and for many folks throughout the country, that means it’s time to start stressing about which players to insert into your lineup for your fantasy football league. It’s never an easy thing to figure out, especially in the first week, but we’ve got some suggestions on who to start and sit this week.

Start ‘Em

QB Dak Prescott vs. New York Giants

Whether or not Prescott evolves into a superstar quarterback under Kellen Moore, he figures to at least have a good performance against a Giants defense that was particularly bad last year and lost two of their best players in the offseason.

QB Matthew Stafford vs. Arizona Cardinals

The buzz in Arizona is all about Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury bringing the Air Raid offense to the NFL, but to those who watched this team in the preseason their defense raised flags as red as their uniforms. Look for Matthew Stafford to exploit a secondary without their star cornerback Patrick Peterson who is suspended.

QB Josh Allen vs. New York Jets

Josh Allen was a raw prospect last year, but he looks improved so far this year. His receiving corps, featuring Cole Beasley, is improved and Allen completed 64.3% of his passes in the preseason. He’s also a threat to put up good rushing numbers, especially against a Jets defense that is still looking for its identity under a new defensive coordinator.

RB Leonard Fournette vs. Kansas City Chiefs

Even with a new offensive coordinator and quarterback, Leonard Fournette figures to carry a big load in Jacksonville. Going up against a defense that is very much in flux after transitioning from a porous 3-4 scheme last year to a 4-3 scheme this year, Fournette has a very favorable matchup in front of him.

RB Saquon Barkley vs. Dallas Cowboys

Saquon Barkley only put up 137 rushing yards in two games against the Cowboys defense last year, but the second-year player should see more action this time around. With Odell Beckham gone, Barkley figures to be the top skill position player and should get a high volume of carries and targets in the passing game. His value in PPR leagues is phenomenally high.

WR Dede Westbrook vs. Kansas City Chiefs

Dede Westbrook is in for a big second year with the Jaguars. His new quarterback, Nick Foles, has a habit of hitting receivers over the middle of the field and setting them up for big YAC. That’s where Westbrook shined in college, and as such he saw seven targets from Foles in their lone preseason game. Against a rebuilding defense, Westbrook has a chance to really blow up.

WR Michael Gallup vs. New York Giants

Michael Gallup is another second-year receiver with momentum. He had a tremendous preseason and seems to have great chemistry with Dak Prescott. Against New York, it’s likely that the Giants defense will give help to stop Amari Cooper. There’s not much depth in the New York secondary, which opens things up for Gallup to build on his hot preseason performance.

TE Jared Cook vs. Houston Texans

The New Orleans Saints offense has traditionally sought to use their tight end a lot. The last two years, they’ve shifted away from that because of low talent at the position, but now the ageless wonder of Jared Cook is in town. He had 68 catches for 896 yards in Oakland’s anemic offense last year, and should flourish in New Orleans, especially since all the attention will be on Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara.

Cleveland Browns DEF vs. Tennessee Titans

The Browns may very be among the best pass rushing fronts in the NFL this year between Myles Garrett, Olivier Vernon, Sheldon Richardson, and Larry Ogunjobi. Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan will be out with a suspension. That alone makes this a nightmare scenario for Tennessee and a dream for owners of the Browns defense.

K Jason Myers vs. Cincinnati Bengals

No other team in the league surrendered more fantasy points to kickers last year than the Bengals. Their defense lost some of their better players over the offseason, and it’s very possible that the Seahawks could be putting up a lot of points on them. That’s usually good for the kicker, who benefits from field goals and extra points.


Sit ‘Em

QB Marcus Mariota vs. Cleveland Browns

As I mentioned above, Mariota is going up against a terrifying defense without his starting left tackle. The rest of the offense, Mariota included, hasn’t looked great throughout preseason efforts. All of this combines into a perfect storm of reasons to sit Mariota this week.

QB Andy Dalton vs. Seattle Seahawks

In the past, Dalton has been a pretty solid fantasy option even when the Bengals were bad. He was always good for some big pickups from AJ Green, at least. But Green won’t be suiting up Sunday and Dalton will be going into Seattle with a patchwork offensive line. The Red Rifle should be avoided at all costs.

QB Ben Roethlisberger vs. New England Patriots

Playing well against the Patriots defense in Foxboro is hard no matter who you are. Roethlisberger is perhaps better equipped for the challenge than any other quarterbacks out there, but he’s also going to have to adjust to an offense without his top target of the last seven years.

RB Jordan Howard vs. Washington Redskins

Former Bears running back Jordan Howard is the lead back in Philly, at least for now, but the Redskins are not a good matchup for him. Their front seven is vastly underrated, and the Eagles are not known for producing great stats out of their individual running backs. Plus, Howard doesn’t offer much as a receiver, a vital aspect for running backs in PPR leagues.

RB LeSean McCoy vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

There’s an understandable desire to believe that Shady McCoy will see a career rejuvenation in his reunion with Andy Reid, and that might happen. Just not this week. Added to the team about a week ago, McCoy will probably share snaps with Damien Williams at first. Even if he does get more usage, it’s against a defense that should create problems for any ball carrier.

WR Antonio Brown vs. Denver Broncos

Is he suspended? Is he playing? It’s hard keeping up with the latest AB drama, but even if the extremely talented receiver does play Sunday against the Broncos, temper your expectations. He has very little practice time with Derek Carr and is going up against a defense that’s expected to be pretty good this year. Also, he may or may not be able to see the ball with his new helmet, so there’s that.

Every Cardinals WR vs. Detroit Lions

This is more so because of the unknown. We saw very little of the offense Kliff Kingsbury will actually run, and if he is running a pure Air Raid offense, then there will be a high variance of receivers catching passes. Big names like Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk might not get enough attention to be viable fantasy producers, at least not yet.

TE Austin Hooper vs. Minnesota Vikings

Austin Hooper was a sleeper tight end pick in most drafts this year, but against the Vikings he’s not a great option. Last year, tight ends only scored one touchdown in Minnesota all season long.

Indianapolis Colts DEF vs. Los Angeles Chargers

The Colts have a very stingy defense that got better over the offseason. It’s one of the reasons Indy won’t be completely helpless without Andrew Luck. But against Philip Rivers and the Chargers’ efficient offense, there are better options out there.

K Aldrick Rosas vs. Dallas Cowboys

Aldrick Rosas was quietly a very good fantasy kicker last year, but his opportunities are likely to be slimmer this season after the Giants offense lost so much talent. Additionally, the Cowboys defense was highly effective against fantasy kickers last year, making this an unenviable situation for owners of Rosas.