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Start or Sit? NFL fantasy football tips for Week 1

What players should you be inserting in your starting lineup this weekend?

Seattle Seahawks v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The 2020 NFL season has officially begun, and with it comes the fresh start of a new fantasy football season. To start the week off in the win column, it’s imperative to make sure you got all the right guys going this week. To help dial in your lineup, we have a few suggestions to offer up this week.

Note: You won’t find all the regular stars who are considered auto-starts week in and week out. Instead, we’ll be looking at fringe players or possibly streaming options in shallow leagues.

QUARTERBACK

Start’Em

Ben Roethlisberger vs. New York Giants (Week 1 position rank: 10th)

The Pittsburgh Steelers veteran quarterback missed all but two games last year as he suffered a shoulder injury, but he was the league’s third-highest fantasy QB in 2018. He’ll make his 2020 debut against a bottom five defense in terms of passing yards allowed last season from a Giants team that is still very suspect in the secondary. It should be a big day for big Ben.

Sit’Em

Aaron Rodgers vs. Minnesota Vikings (Week 1 position rank: sixth)

If you have Rodgers on your team this year, you probably spent next to nothing to get him as the veteran quarterback’s draft cost is lower than it’s been his entire career. Rodgers is still a talented player and will have some good games, but his consistency will frustrate owners this year. And one of those hair-pulling moments could come from his matchup with the division rival Vikings. Mike Zimmer has had his number lately as Rodgers has averaged just 183 yards and less than one touchdown per game in his last five contests against Minnesota. Discount, double-check your lineup by sending A-Rodg to the bench this week.

RUNNING BACK

Start’Em

Marlon Mack vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars (Week 1 position rank: 25th)

Considering how late Mack was drafted, you wouldn’t think he is coming off a season where he rushed for 1,091 yards in just 14 games. That’s the effect of drafting rookie stud Jonathan Taylor this year. There will be a time when Taylor will be the clear lead-dog in Indy, but just when will it happen? With Mack starting the season in the mix and going against a Jaguars defense that was 31st last year in both rushing yard per attempt and rushing touchdowns allowed, this matchup is too good to pass up. Mack has low-end RB/flex play this week.

Sit’Em

Cam Akers vs. the Dallas Cowboys (Week 1 position rank: 28th)

With Darrell Henderson possibly limited this week, many fantasy owners are excited to unleash the rookie Akers. It’s okay to be fascinated about what he could do in some type of Todd Gurley role for the Rams’ offense, but there are just too many variable that could result in a dud performance. Not only could Malcolm Brown also steal some touches, but also don’t forget that Los Angeles only had 22 yards rushing last season when these two teams faced off. And now, the Cowboys will have a healthy Leighton Vander Esch along with Jaylon Smith to clean up the tackles. You’d be better served to wait until Akers established a more reliable role before committing him to your lineup.

WIDE RECEIVER

Start’Em

DeSean Jackson vs. Washington Football Team (Week 1 position rank: 32nd)

The Eagles signed Jackson to a three-year, $28 million contract last season, but unfortunately only saw one full game of action. But boy what a game it was. Jackson’s return to Philadelphia was a big one as he caught eight passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns. And it just so happened to come against a weak Washington secondary, who doesn’t project to be much better this year. With Alshon Jeffrey and Jalen Reagor likely out of the mix on Sunday, look for DJax to get a healthy target share. Combine that with his big play ability and Jackson has could be a huge spot start this week.

Sit’Em

Terry McLaurin vs. Philadelphia Eagles (Week 1 position rank: 19th)

Sticking with the same NFC East game, second-year WR Terry McLaurin should be in line for another strong season; however, he draws a tough matchup in the form of Darius Slay in the opener. The Eagles made Slay the highest paid cornerback in the league (prior to Jalen Ramsey and Tre’Davious White signing their new deals) to lockdown the opposing team’s top receiver. This is going to make things a challenge for McLaurin to kick off his sophomore campaign.

TIGHT END

Start’Em

Tyler Higbee vs. Dallas Cowboys (Week 1 position rank: 7th)

If the end of last year was any indication, Higbee could end up being the next fantasy star tight end. He averaged over 17 points a game when the Rams switched to a more 12 personnel-heavy offense over the last five games of the season. On Sunday night, he’ll square off against a Cowboys defense that allowed the most receptions to tight ends last year as well as the third-most receiving yards. Even in the Cowboys rout over the Rams last season, Higbee churned out 17.1 fantasy points in half-PPR leagues, and that was without finding the end zone.

Sit’Em

Austin Hooper vs. Baltimore Ravens (Week 1 position rank: 14th)

Hooper finished last season as the third-highest scoring tight end, trailing only Travis Kelce and George Kittle. Of course, a big part of that was the pass-heavy Atlanta offense. He now joins the Cleveland Browns who had the fourth fewest targets to tight ends last season. Not only that, but he draws the Ravens defense who were the best in the league in fantasy points allowed to tight ends as they gave up just three touchdowns to the position all year.

DEFENSE

Start’Em

Indianapolis Colts vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (Week 1 position rank: 7th)

For those who play the streaming game, the Colts D have probably already been on your radar as they have a favorable early season schedule. With several weaker offensive teams on the docket, they start the year with Jaguars. Indy bolstered their defensive line by trading for DeForest Buckner, and he and teammate Justin Houston should have Minshew scrambling quite a bit. The Jaguars are going to have to take a lot chances to stay in this game, and that could lead to some nice fantasy scoring opportunities for the Colts.

Sit’Em

Los Angeles Rams vs. Dallas Cowboys (Week 1 position rank: 18th)

The Rams have a good defense, and will be startable most weeks, but this isn’t one of them. With the high-powered Cowboys offense strolling into town, this one could end up being a shootout. When these teams met last year, Dallas lit up the scoreboard for 44 points, and with a new pass-happy head coach combined along with adding the best collegiate wide receiver to their roster, there’s no reason to expect things to slow down.