Week 1 is in the books and with that the fantasy football season is officially under way! There were plenty of surprises in Week 1 and hopefully you took the smart approach and started Tyler Eifert, Carlos Hyde, Chris Ivory and Jordan Matthews — just to name a few.
Depending on your team and league, these guys were not guaranteed fantasy plays last week and had huge weeks that propelled many fantasy owners to victory.
This is where an article like this is so vital. It will act as your guide in making those tough decisions if you are trying to figure out who to start, especially if you have a flex.
If you still can’t decide — trust your gut. It’s always a better feeling knowing that you went with the guy you thought was going to have a huge game, than listen to someone else, and then regret that decision for days afterwards.
So let’s not waste any more time and get started, shall we?
START THESE RBs...
Ameer Abdullah, DET (at MIN)
Did anyone come into this season with as much hype as Abdullah? There was so much insane hype, especially after his first preseason game, he was dangerously close to being the guy who was so underrated that he eventually became overrated. Thankfully the hype proved to be true, as the rookie totaled 94 total yards on only 11 touches and scored a touchdown. That’s incredible production on only 11 touches. Hopefully the Detroit Lions' coaching staff has finally clued in that Abdullah is the real deal and he gets about 20 touches in Week 2 against a Vikings defense that just let Carlos Hyde run for 168 yards on Monday night.
Chris Ivory, NYJ (at IND, Mon.)
This one is easy. The Colts can’t stop anyone and the Jets are going to need to run the ball to control the clock to keep Andrew Luck off the field. Ivory showed us what he is capable of in Week 1 when he finally gets an opportunity to be the lead running back. He ran over the Browns for 22 fantasy points and last week the Colts allowed 26.3 fantasy points to LeSean McCoy and other Bills running backs.
Lamar Miller, MIA (vs. JAC)
The Dolphins' offense didn’t look very sharp in Week 1 and Miller was one player who really struggled. He scored only seven fantasy points as he got just 13 carries (he did have one reception). Luckily for Miller he gets the Jaguars in Week 2 – a defense that ranked among the 10 worst against the run last year and didn't look much better last week against the Panthers. Miller will get more than 15 carries this week and you can also bet on him getting 3-5 receptions as well.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Bishop Sankey, TEN (at CLE)
Believe it or not Sankey played really well in Week 1. It was probably his best game as a pro. It also helps that Sankey looks to have an actual offensive line this year and a real NFL quarterback in Marcus Mariota. What makes starting Sankey intriguing is his matchup. He’s going up against a Browns defense that got torched by the New York Jets, who aren’t really known as a running powerhouse. The Browns gave up 154 total rushing yards to Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell in Week 1. Looks like Sankey should be in good shape for a 100-yard rushing day.
SIT THESE RBs...
C.J. Anderson, DEN (at KC, Thurs.)
Anderson is coming off a Week 1 matchup against the Ravens where backup Ronnie Hillman looked like a way better fit for Gary Kubiak’s zone-blocking running scheme. To make things worse, Anderson got a toe injury in that game and is now dealing with a very short week, as the Broncos play the Chiefs on Thursday night. Hopefully you drafted well enough that you can sub in a Danny Woodhead, Doug Martin or even Bishop Sankey – all of which will have a better week than Anderson.
Frank Gore, IND (vs. NYJ, Mon.)
Gore’s debut as a Colt was lackluster to say the least. He looked old and slow as he carried the ball just eight times for 31 yards and then left the game in the second half due to calf cramps. Yes, Gore was going up against the Bills' stout rush defense, but this week he is going up against one of the best front fours in all of football in the New York Jets. Gore will probably get more carries, but his yards per carry average isn’t going to get any better, so that means you need to look elsewhere this week.
T.J. Yeldon, JAC (at MIA)
Yeldon had a so-so rookie debut in Week 1. He only ran the ball 12 times, but he did average 4.2 yards per carry, but then again he only scored 6.7 fantasy points. Yeldon is a good runner and will produce solid double-digit fantasy weeks this season, but probably not on Sunday when he goes up against Ndamukong Suh and the Miami Dolphins.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Justin Forsett, BAL (at. OAK)
In most cases there is no way that you are going to sit Forsett. You probably drafted him in round 2 or 3, and he’s playing the Raiders this week. But in Week 1 rookie Javorius Allen looked like the better runner and started to take carries away from Forsett. Plus if Lorenzo Taliaferro plays, he will take all the goal-line carries. Forsett still has first crack and being the every-down back for the Ravens, but his grip as lead dog isn’t as tight as it appeared.
START THESE WRs...
Demaryius Thomas, DEN (at KC, Thurs.)
Yes, Thomas is a stud and most likely was drafted in the first rounds of your fantasy draft, but after Peyton Manning’s Week 1 performance, a lot of people are second-guessing starting Thomas this week because the Broncos play on a short week and Thursday night isn’t usually a good night for impressive fantasy numbers. But keep in mind that even though Manning struggled mightily, Thomas was still a huge part of the Broncos' offense. He caught seven of 11 targets, but gained only 60 yards and failed to reach the end zone. The key takeaway here is that he had 11 targets and when a player as good as Thomas sees as many screens and short plays, he is bound to make something happen. Plus, the Chiefs' secondary looked awful last week against Brian Hoyer and the Houston Texans. The Broncos are just a little bit better than the Texans.
Brandin Cooks, NO (vs. TB)
Cooks is a popular breakout candidate for the 2015 season, but he sure didn’t look like it in Week 1, as he only scored 5.3 points in standard leagues. But there’s a positive here – he led all Saints receivers in targets with eight, so he clearly has the attention of Drew Brees. In Week 2, Brees and Cooks get to go up against a Tampa Bay secondary that allowed 25.6 fantasy points to a pair of Titans receivers who most people didn’t have on their fantasy roster. Cooks should have a field day at home on Sunday.
Pierre Garcon, WAS (vs. STL)
Just reading this might make you cringe, but Garcon is a huge start this week — especially in a PPR league. The Redskins lost their No. 1 wideout DeSean Jackson last week and that means that Garcon will step up and be the lead guy. The only season in Washington that Garcon played without Jackson he had 113 catches on 182 targets for 1,346 yards and 5 TDs, that’s not too shabby. Now he has Kirk Cousins throwing him the ball, so expectations should be tempered somewhat, but at least Cousins isn’t afraid to throw the ball deep or into traffic. The Redskins face a tough matchup going up against a stellar Rams defense that will stop Alfred Morris in his tracks, forcing Cousins to throw — right to Garcon.
Terrance Williams, DAL (at PHI)
Williams jumps into Dez Bryant’s spot in the Cowboys’ offense, which is a very productive spot to be in, just look at Dez’s numbers over the last few years. Okay, Williams is not Bryant, we know that, but Williams knows how to score touchdowns. He scored eight last year (yes that’s with Bryant giving him space by taking on double teams). Listen, it’s all about opportunity. Williams is now the default No. 1 in an offense that is going into a Week 2 matchup against the Eagles that should be an all-out barn burner. Williams is definitely worth a start.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Donte Moncrief, IND (vs. NYJ, Mon.)
Moncrief was a very pleasant surprise in Week 1, too bad most people didn’t start him because he was most likely sitting on the waiver wire. So of course everyone scrambled to pick him up this week. Why? Because it’s all about opportunity for Moncrief, as T.Y. Hilton has a bruised knee, Andre Johnson looked like a dinosaur in Week 1 and Moncrief played much more than uber-hyped rookie Phillip Dorsett. The Colts go up against the Jets this week and it looks like Darrelle Revis will be on Johnson, so Moncrief will be available to gobble up all his targets. Remember, the Jets allowed somebody named Travis Benjamin for the Cleveland Browns to score 14 fantasy points last week.
SIT THESE WRs...
Amari Cooper, OAK (vs. BAL)
Cooper did manage to lead the Raiders in targets in Week 1 with nine, but he didn’t really make any significant contributions — only scoring 4.7 fantasy points. This week there are serious questions about his starting quarterback Derek Carr, and Cooper will be going up against a tough Ravens secondary and most likely be matched up against cornerback Jimmy Smith. Put this all together and Cooper is nothing more than a WR3 gamble in Week 2.
Andre Johnson, IND (vs. NYJ, Mon.)
Johnson is the exact opposite of Donte Moncrief. Johnson simply looked old and slow in Week 1 and while many experts are predicting a bounce-back week for Andrew Luck and the Colts offense, that doesn’t mean a big week for Johnson. He might lead all Colts receivers in targets, but he will be lining up against Darrelle Revis, which isn’t good for Johnson owners. Look for Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener (along with Moncrief of course) to step up this week, not Johnson.
Brandon Marshall, NYJ (at IND, Mon.)
Marshall had a decent start to the fantasy season last week, burning supposed star Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden for 62 yards on six catches, plus a touchdown. This week however is a different story. Marshall is going up against a legit shutdown corner in the Colts' Vontae Davis. Davis completely eliminated Sammy Watkins, the Bills' best playmaker, from the game in Week 1 and he will do the same thing to Marshall on Monday night.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
James Jones, GB (vs. SEA)
Jones was probably the most added player off the waiver wire after Week 1, all because he scored two touchdowns, which is great, but he only saw four total targets. So the good news is that Aaron Rodgers obviously trusts Jones in the red zone. The bad news is that Rodgers prefers to throw most of time to Randall Cobb and Davante Adams. Adams actually led the Packers in targets in Week 1. Of course one of the Packers' receivers is going to line up against Richard Sherman, but even if Jones never matches up against Sherman, it’s a safe bet that Jones won’t score two touchdowns this week. Actually he probably won’t score at all, so he isn’t worth starting.
START THESE TEs...
Tyler Eifert, CIN (vs. SD)
Eifert looked like a star in the making in Week 1 with five catches for 110 yards and two touchdowns. But by far Eifert’s best stat was his team-leading 12 targets — that’s massive. The Bengals are a run-first team, so there are not that many targets to go around. Plus they have some guy named A.J. Green lined up on the outside, so for Eifert to get 12 targets means Andy Dalton is really comfortable throwing him the ball. Eifert will be hard-pressed to match his Week 1 numbers, but he’s going up against a Chargers defense that allowed Detroit’s Eric Ebron 53 yards on four catches, plus a touchdown. Eifert can do way better than that and will finish the week as a top-5 TE.
Dwayne Allen, IND (vs. NYJ, Mon.)
With T.Y. Hilton’s status up in the air thanks to a bruised knee, it appears that the Colts will go back to their two-tight end sets that were very effective last year. That does mean more of an opportunity for Coby Fleener, who should do better than his one catch for five yards in Week 1, but it’s Allen that has the bigger upside. Mainly because Allen has scored in nine of his past 14 games, including Week 1, so Andrew Luck clearly looks his way in the red zone.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Jordan Reed, WAS (vs. STL)
It’s true that Seahawks TE Jimmy Graham had a decent game against the Rams in Week 1. But get this — Graham is only the fifth tight end to score double-digit fantasy points against St. Louis in the past 49 games, according to CBS Sports. That’s crazy. But Reed will see an increased workload with DeSean Jackson out, and that equals every fantasy owners favorite word — opportunity. Reed had 63 yards and a score last week and should be able to match those numbers this week.
SIT THESE TEs...
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TB (at NO)
This might come back to haunt me, and Jenkins is only a sit if Mike Evans plays in Week 2. If Evans doesn’t play, then ASJ is a must start, so monitor this situation closely. The reason to sit Seferian-Jenkins if Evans plays is simple — Evans will be Jameis Winston’s No. 1 target when he returns, no question. There are only so many balls to go around in a Buccaneers offense led by Jameis Winston, who is still learning the ropes as a starting NFL quarterback.
Owen Daniels, DEN (at KC, Thurs.)
Daniels is still a popular candidate to emerge as an every-week option for fantasy owners this year playing alongside Peyton Manning and head coach Gary Kubiak, who both have long track records of producing fantasy-relevant tight ends. However, Daniels was basically invisible in Week 1. A lot of that has to do with Manning struggling, but the QB didn’t really look Daniels' way at all. Look for that trend to continue in a tough Week 2 matchup against the Chiefs.
Zach Ertz, PHI (vs. DAL)
Ertz was highly touted coming into the 2015 season and he was heavily involved in the Eagles’ offense in Week 1, seeing eight targets. But he only caught three of them for 46 yards. It’s still too early to trust Ertz as a starting fantasy tight end. If the Eagles decide to pound the ball on the Cowboys this week, that means Brent Celek will see the field more than Ertz. Wait for Ertz to prove himself before throwing him in your lineup.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Jason Witten, DAL (at PHI)
Now most people would assume that Witten is a must start on a week-to-week basis and especially this week with Dez Bryant out, but hear me out. For whatever reason Witten just hasn't had much luck when he plays in Philadelphia. In 12 career games in Philly he has only scored twice and produced fewer than 80 yards in each of those 12 games. Of course you’re going to start Witten, but lower your expectations and don’t be surprised to see Cole Beasley outscore Witten this week.
— Written by Michael Horvath, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Horvath is a Canadian who also happens to be a fantasy football (not to be confused with CFL) and fitness nut. Follow him on Twitter @realmikehorvath.