The NFL is back, which means Fantasy Football is underway. The season started yesterday with the defending Super Bowl Champions showing no signs of rust against the Houston Texans. Patrick Mahomes led the Chiefs to a 34-20 victory, and we may have found our next fantasy superstar in Clyde Edwards-Helaire. The rookie running back out of LSU ran all over Houston’s defense, racking up 19.8 fantasy points — and he wasn’t even used in the passing game where he will thrive throughout the season. That’s what I’ll be looking to do in this segment — finding the biggest overperformers each week — just like I did last year. So without further ado, let’s get into this year’s first installment of Start ’em, Sit ’em.
The Dolphins defense has provided no reason to believe they are not one of the worst units in the NFL. In a week were I believe tackling might be an issue because of the lengthy layoff between games, Cam Newton is not the quarterback teams want to be facing. He’s become less of a running threat over the last few years, primarily because of injuries. However, with a ton of time off, this is probably the healthiest he’s been in years. I’m expecting a statement performance in his Patriots debut and would start Newton over quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers, Matt Stafford, Tom Brady, and possibly even Drew Brees.
I think the Seahawks will have to score points to keep up with the Falcons offense. However, that could be easy to do against Atlanta’s defense that features one of the youngest cornerback groups in the NFL. In DFS games, I’m spending the money to have Wilson on my roster.
The Bengals surrendered the most rushing yards per game last year. On top of that, Tyrod Taylor should find a lot of comfort checking down to the running back, considering it is his first game as a starter again in a system that he’s not ultra-familiar with.
The Browns surrendered 144.7 yards on the ground per game last season, and after a long layoff, the last thing they will want to do is tackle a bowling ball like Mark Ingram while also having to defend Lamar Jackson. I expect the Ravens offense to have a field day, and Ingram to reach the endzone a couple of times.
After unloading all of their star players over the past couple of seasons, something tells me the Jaguars aren’t going to be the most inspired bunch. To me, Jonathan Taylor will be the guy for the Colts in a crowded backfield. They didn’t draft a player that talented, with that many miles on him, just so he could ride the bench. Taylor could look like Clyde Edwards-Helaire this weekend.
Matt Ryan will have time against Seattle, which means the Falcons will score points through the air. With all the attention on Julio Jones, it wouldn’t surprise me if we saw just how far Ridley has come in his third year. A couple of touchdowns could be in his future on Sunday.
Smith-Schuster owners last season suffered. Following a 2018 in which he caught 111 balls for nearly 1,500 yards, he only played in 12 games, recording 552 yards receiving. A lot of that had to do with injuries, but mostly it was the Steelers quarterback situation. With Ben Roethlisberger back under center, Smith-Schuster’s value skyrockets, and I think we see that from the opening week against a Giants defense that struggled against the pass in 2019.
A guy that wasn’t even drafted in some drafts, Jack Doyle could have a big year for the Colts. Phillip Rivers has made a career throwing to tight ends, and he’s the best they have. They get the Jags in Week 1, making him an intriguing sleeper pick in DFS formats. I also find myself starting him in one league.
Cousins isn’t much of a fantasy assett, but if you’re in a deeper league or looking for a sleeper in DFS formats, do not turn to him. In his two games against the Packers last season, Cousins had a completion percentage under 50% to go along with two touchdowns and three interceptions.
Fortunately for Tom Brady, he won’t have to deal with a raucous New Orleans crowd, but he still will be up against a tough defense in a brand new system. I think it might take a few weeks for Tom Brady to get his feet under him with the Bucs, and I don’t think he’s a great fantasy option this year anyways.
With little time in the organization and against an excellent run defense, Fournette is not the play this weekend. I think he could be a fantastic piece for Tampa Bay down the road, but give him this week off while he gets his feet wet in Bruce Arians’ offense.
Lions running backs
I don’t know how you can trust any Lions running back until we see how they use them in Week 1. Add to that, they have to face a fantastic front seven in Chicago, and I’m not starting any Detroit running back unless I absolutely have to.
You’re probably starting him if you drafted him, but I don’t see this being a huge game for Singeltary. The Jets are a bad team, but one of the few things they are good at is stopping the run.
Odell Beckham Jr.
Odell Beckham Jr. is no longer a top-tier fantasy wide receiver. The talent is still there, but Cleveland is a mess, and until I see something differently, I’m not starting Beckham unless I have to, especially against Baltimore, who gave up less than 200 yards per game through the air last season.
With Diggs gone, Thielen will have a good year in fantasy. You have to start him in almost every league based on where you drafted him, but I’m staying away in DFS formats for the same reasons I mentioned above for Kirk Cousins. I just don’t see this being a great offensive game for the Vikings against an underrated Packers defense.
Bill Belichick had all the time in the world to scheme for a team that just beat the Patriots in the last week of 2019. I expect New England defense to be as ready as any unit in football for Week 1, and they were the best at defending against the pass last season, allowing just 173 yards per game. I don’t see Parker getting anything going, and the Sun Sentinal reported yesterday that he could see limited reps on Sunday.