I know I said this in my other start/sit article for Week 1 but it doesn't mean it isn't true. In some ways, Week 1 is the hardest week to make start/sit decisions in fantasy football, and in other ways, it is the easiest week. It's the hardest because we have zero regular-season NFL games to make our decisions. However, it also is the easiest because we drafted the way we did for a reason. Of course, that doesn't mean we are right!
But unlike the RB/WR spots where there are more than 50 options for you and your fellow owners to choose from, there are really only about 30 for each of the three positions (quarterback, tight end, defense/special teams) here. Often less. The odds of you sitting any of the top dozen is pretty slim. And if so, it's because you have one of the obvious top options. The odds of you starting any in the third dozen are pretty remote as well. Therefore, I will likely focus on the mid "QB2/TE2/DST" options, i.e. typically those ranked that week from around 13 to 24. That's the tier I will be evaluating. And more often than not, I'll try to give you a lower-ranked option for whom to start and a higher-ranked option for whom to sit.
Of course, on those weeks in which there is QB1/TE1/DST1 I'd sit, I will highlight that. And if there is a QB3/TE3/DST3 I'd start, I will do so as well. Any other suggested rules you want me to follow, go ahead and send 'em my way (@MarkStrausberg). If enough of you want to be stricter, looser, or whatever you suggest, I will adjust my approach accordingly.
With the ground rules out of the way, let's get to the Week 1 start/sit suggestions!
START This QB
Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers at Detroit Lions
I am putting my money where my mouth is. In my Superflex dynasty league, I will be starting Jimmy G. As I reminded everyone in my QB rankings, Garoppolo is the starter whether you like it or not, and he should have a field day this weekend. The Detroit Lions gave up more than 30 fantasy points to quarterbacks last season, which was more than any other team. Do I see Garoppolo putting up that many points? No. Do I see him maybe putting up 15 to 20 points? Absolutely.
I would be surprised if George Kittle and Brandon Aiyuk don't each catch a touchdown this weekend, and that would give Garoppolo a dozen points there alone. He should run a little bit and probably throws for a little more than 200 yards. That would put Garoppolo right in the low-QB1/high-QB2 range, which makes him a great value play considering that most rankings have him barely cracking the QB2 range.
SIT This QB
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Washington Football Team vs. Los Angeles Chargers
There is so much I love about Fitzpatrick — the beard, his brains, his attitude, and yes, even his talent. And I think Fitzpatrick will be "fine" this week, but I don't see the WFT taking to the air too much on Sunday. They are going to want to keep the high-powered Charger offense off the field and one of the better ways to do that is to run the ball with Antonio Gibson. I would be shocked if Fitzpatrick doesn't finish with around 25 passing attempts.
Furthermore, as badly as the Chargers got torched last year (29 TD passes allowed!), their pass defense wasn't that bad. They gave up the ninth-fewest passing yards and had a dozen picks, putting them squarely in the middle of the league's rankings. They also added CB Asante Samuel Jr. in the second round of the draft, who many had pegged as a first-rounder and should make them less susceptible to the TD pass. For this week at least, I don't see the Chargers allowing any "Fitz magic."
START This TE
Dan Arnold, Carolina Panthers vs. New York Jets
In that same aforementioned Superflex dynasty team, I am tempted to start Arnold as well. I am lacking a true TE1 in that league and Arnold makes for a viable "hail mary" play. Last season with Arizona, he posted 31 catches for 438 on 45 targets. Not a lot of volume but that's a pretty nifty 14.1 yards per catch. Even better, four of his grabs went for touchdowns. That put him just outside the top 15 among tight ends in that category for 2020, but ahead of peers that are more well known (in both NFL and fantasy circles), such as Noah Fant.
And it may shock you to find out that the Jets were the most generous team when it came to giving up fantasy points to tight ends last season. In fact, New York was much more generous than any other team, allowing more than two points per game to the next team on this list, the Bears. To put this gap into perspective, if Chicago had given up two fewer fantasy points per game to TEs, its rank would have changed by 10 spots. That should tell you how bad the Jets were against TEs. Will they be better this year? They almost have to be. But I'd bet against a drastic improvement, making Arnold an interesting TE start this week.
SIT This TE
Gerald Everett, Seattle Seahawks at Indianapolis Colts
I am seeing Everett ranked as a top-20 TE this week almost everywhere I look and I can't help but wonder why. Because he was so amazing with the Rams last year? The last time I checked 40-plus catches and a touchdown in a season is far from amazing. And it's not like last season was just a blip. His numbers each of the last four seasons are pretty similar. Well, at least he is going to Seattle, an offense that relies heavily on throwing to the tight end, right?
Nope. Last year the Seahawks targeted their tight ends 115 times, a total that is below league average. And I don't see the script changing suddenly even with a new offensive coordinator (Shane Waldron) calling the shots. The Colts were actually the sixth-best team in preventing fantasy points to tight ends last year. I'd rather take the upside of a Dawson Knox or one of the Viking TEs over Everett. No thank you on Everett.
START This Defense/Special Teams (DST)
Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans
I am typically seeing the Jaguars ranked in the 13 to 19 range for this week and that seems about right. So don't invest too much in this recommendation. There are at least 10 DSTs I like in the top dozen more, plus four or five others. But I do like the Jags better this week than say Pittsburgh, who was likely one of the first DSTs selected in your draft.
The number one reason I like Jacksonville is that the Houston Texans are going to be bad this year. And I mean really bad. I could go position by position, but the years of poor front-office decisions are definitely going to catch up to them this year. I guarantee you that new Jags defensive coordinator Joe Cullen is not losing sleep on how he is going to contain a Deshaun Watson-less passing attack or a running game led by 31-year-old Mark Ingram.
Cullen was previously the DL coach with the Ravens, who comes from a system that both last year and traditionally has had a strong front seven. Amongst all the talk that Urban Meyer might have botched things on the offensive side of the ball, the improvements this team has made on the defensive side of the ball have gone greatly unnoticed. Don't be surprised when the "Sacksonville" Jaguars are a thing once more, and that starts on Sunday.
SIT This Defense/Special Teams (DST)
Green Bay Packers vs. New Orleans Saints (Jacksonville, Fla.)
I've seen the Packers ranked as high as seventh this week, but they're typically ranked as one of the back-end DST1s. Even that however is too optimistic. Yes, there are arguments to be made. They did have 41 sacks last year, which put them in the top dozen in that category last season. They will also be facing Jameis Winston, the famed solo member of the 30/30 club (30 TDs and 30 INTs in a season), so expecting a pick or two is not outrageous. Plus, the Saints will be without Michael Thomas and Drew Brees.
But New Orleans still has a few weapons left, namely Alvin Kamara. The NFL's leading touchdown-maker last season, Kamara is a threat to make something big happen as a runner and receiver. Also, it's possible that Winston's stronger arm can open things up a little more than what the Saints were able to draw up with Brees at the helm.
Finally, while Sean Payton is 6-7 in season openers, he's won the last two, including a victory over last year's eventual Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Yes, the Saints won't be at home in the Superdome, but Green Bay will have to deal with the Jacksonville elements too.
There are easily a dozen worse options than the Packers DST this week, but I'd go with at least 15 other units before starting them.
— Written by Mark Strausberg, a member of the Athlon Network Contributor, who despite his youthful exuberance and good looks has been playing fantasy sports before Wildcats or Hoosiers even made it to VHS. Got a fantasy sports question or thought? Hit him up on Twitter @MarkStrausberg.