It’s finally football time! Week 1 is upon us and fantasy managers need to get their lineups set for Week 1. This is often the hardest week to predict as many managers haven’t seen their players in action since last season. It is difficult to predict how rookies will fare, as some need a few games to get going while others (Clyde Edwards-Helaire, ahem) start the season strong, but may fade after a strong start. When looking at who to put in your lineup, trust your gut. Look at your draft and go with the guys that you drafted early. Don’t try to get cute just yet. There’s plenty of time for that in the weeks ahead.
Please note 5 Up/5 Down is a guide on players that should exceed or fall below their rank this week. This is based on past performance, injury status, and matchup. This is not a start/sit column, but rather a guide.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Washington Football Team vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Fitzpatrick is barely ranked as a QB2 this week. Even with Curtis Samuel likely out, he still has Terry McLaurin and Logan Thomas as pass catchers. Fitzpatrick is known for slinging the ball downfield and this should bode well for McLaurin, which then bodes well for Fitz. He’s not a QB1 based on his inconsistent play and lack of pass-catching options, but he is a solid QB2 that should exceed his No. 21 ranking.
Justin Jackson, RB, Los Angeles Chargers at Washington Football Team
Austin Ekeler is already dealing with a hamstring injury, which is concerning for his fantasy owners. It’s not clear that Jackson is the No. 2 behind him, but Week 1 should give some insight. If Ekeler is, indeed, banged up, he may play less than he usually does. This will open the door for another back to step up, although it is a tough matchup. Jackson is ranked No. 71, so his arrow is pointing up. Fantasy owners need to keep an eye on which backs are used and then head to the waiver wire next week.
Darrell Henderson Jr., RB, Los Angeles Rams vs. Chicago Bears
Before Sony Michel is really included in the offense, fantasy managers should play Henderson. He’s ranked No. 23 this week, but for Week 1, he should exceed that. The Rams lost Cam Akers, and it seemed like Henderson would step into his role. However, by acquiring Michel it shows the team is not fully confident in Henderson. He knows that if he can prove it, he’ll get a bigger role, and this is the week for him to show the team that.
Dyami Brown, WR, Washington Football Team vs. Los Angeles Chargers
Brown is unranked, but for the sake of “5 Up,” assume he’s ranked greater than 50 and has the potential to finish in the top 50. With Curtis Samuel banged up, Brown should get a bigger role this week. He’s a rookie, but he’s been playing in the slot, which should mean plenty of targets. Fantasy managers who are looking for a player that may pay off this week should look at Brown. At the very least, grab him before he gets claimed on waivers next week.
Hunter Henry, TE, New England Patriots vs. Miami Dolphins
It is nearly impossible at this point to predict what the Patriots are going to do with any pieces of their offense, let alone their tight ends. They added both Henry and Jonnu Smith to the roster in the offseason, and both were banged up for much of the preseason. Henry seems to be the more natural tight end, but both are likely going to get plenty of playing time. This is just a gut feeling, but it seems that Henry will be the Patriots' tight end to start in Week 1 and exceed his No. 18 ranking.
Trevor Lawrence, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans
Ranking a rookie QB as a QB1 is quite risky for Week 1. Lawrence did look good at times in the preseason, but without seeing how he will fare against a first-team defense, it is hard to immediately anoint him as a must-start fantasy QB. Lawrence ended the preseason well but did struggle as well. He has weapons to work with, and he certainly can develop into a QB1, but ranking him No. 12 seems a bit high.
D’Andre Swift, RB, Detroit Lions vs. San Francisco 49ers
Swift has been dealing with a groin injury and has missed a lot of the preseason. The Lions' offense will likely utilize him, but it may be hard to trust him with a full workload in Week 1. It seems likely that Swift will be used at the goal line. He had 10 total touchdowns last season. It is certainly possible that Jamaal Williams will be used to give Swift a break as he eases into game action. While the team has not said he will be limited, they may want to be sure Swift is healthy for the season. He’s ranked No. 25, but he may fall below that, especially if he doesn’t find the end zone.
Kenny Golladay, WR, New York Giants vs. Denver Broncos
The Giants' offense as a whole seems like it may struggle. Saquon Barkley is not 100 percent but will likely play in Week 1. Golladay is on the injury report with a hamstring injury. He pulled it at the beginning of August and started to practice again, but it is clear that he is not healthy either. Being new to the team, practice reps with Daniel Jones are important. Being on the sideline, Golladay has missed out on valuable reps. He certainly has the potential to be a fantasy contributor, but not in Week 1.
Nelson Agholor, WR, New England Patriots vs. Miami Dolphins
It is hard to trust anyone on the Patriots' offense at this point. For most of the offseason, it was assumed that Cam Newton would be under center for the beginning of the season. Since Newton was cut, it will be Mac Jones at quarterback. Agholor has been dealing with an ankle injury and missed practice as recently as Thursday. The Patriots will likely try to get Agholor out there, but fantasy owners should take this as their cue to sit him. He’s ranked No. 55, so he likely wasn’t started in anywhere but deep leagues, but try to find another receiver.
Dallas Goedert, TE, Philadelphia Eagles at Atlanta Falcons
With Zach Ertz still on the Eagles, it is going to be tough to trust either tight end until fantasy managers see how Jalen Hurts uses them. Reports from the Eagles are claiming that Hurts is looking to target both tight ends. This offense is going to look different and it is certainly possible that they do what the Patriots have done in the past and utilize two tight ends. But No. 8 is a bit high for a tight end that is potentially in a timeshare.
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.