So you fell in love with the whole “zero RB” strategy in your fantasy draft and now you find yourself with a roster full of wide receivers and tight ends. That’s all fine and dandy, but just exactly who should you start or sit in Week 1?
It just so happens that you came to the right place. Keep reading for my suggestions on which wide receivers and tight ends to start, and which to consider leaving on your bench. And don’t worry, I have QBs (and DSTs) and RBs covered too.
START THESE WRs...
DeAndre Hopkins, HOU (vs. JAC)
Chances are if you spent an early-round pick on Hopkins you are starting him. However, there has been some trepidation among fantasy owners after his lackluster 2016 season. Tom Savage and Deshaun Watson may not seem like ideal quarterback options, but either is an improvement from Brock Osweiler. The Texans will look to put up points against a Jaguars team that struggled mightily in the preseason.
Pierre Garcon, SF (vs. CAR)
Garcon's value is on the rise after the 49ers released Jeremy Kerley, and his Week 1 matchup against the Panthers makes him a fine start for fantasy fans in PPR formats. Last season, Carolina surrendered the fourth-most targets (23.6 tpg), the second-most catches (15.9 rpg) and the fantasy points (27.65 ppg) to opposing home wideouts.
Stefon Diggs, MIN (vs. NO, Mon.)
Diggs is one of my favorite breakout candidates this season, and an opening week matchup against the Saints makes him a solid option across the board. Last season, New Orleans surrendered 17 touchdowns and an average of more than 24 fantasy points per game to wideouts. The Saints’ defense also will be without the services of CB Delvin Breaux.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Sammy Watkins, LAR (vs. IND)
It’s a good bet to start any teams’ receivers against the Colts. They have a good corner in Vontae Davis but he is hobbled. The Rams will be looking to be on the offensive after setting new lows in production last season. Watkins can really take advantage of one of the most porous rosters in the NFL. The Rams will be mentioned again in this post, they’re poised to have a darn good opening day.
SIT THESE WRs...
T.Y. Hilton, IND (vs. LAR)
Hilton is hard to sit, and you shouldn't consider benching him unless you have a solid alternative. Regardless, this week's matchup against the Rams and contract-year CB Trumaine Johnson isn't a favorable one. It also doesn't help Hilton's cause that he'll be catching passes from backup Scott Tolzien rather than superstar Andrew Luck.
Kevin White, CHI (vs. ATL)
White might end up being a decent fantasy option this season, but let’s see how the Bears’ passing game shakes out before inserting him into your lineup. It is not a great matchup against the Falcons’ secondary, so I am keeping White on my bench. Long term, there’s a good chance he becomes Chicago’s WR1, but that will have to wait at least one week.
Allen Robinson, JAC (vs. HOU)
Robinson is coming off a down season in 2016, at least compared to the totals he put up in the previous campaign. And while he's still on the WR2 radar, the Penn State product is a risk this week against the Texans. Their defense allowed the third-fewest fantasy points (17.4 ppg) and the fourth-fewest yards (137 ypg) to road wideouts.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Dez Bryant, DAL (vs. NYG)
The Giants have a great secondary, and they were able to contain Bryant in two games last season. They could make things tough on him again this week. Bryant had two catches for 18 yards against the Giants last year on 14 targets. He also lost a fumble in Week 14, so his fantasy production against New York alone in 2016 was on the wrong side (-1). He'll clearly do better than that, but it might not be by much. Just lower your expectations for Bryant this week and consider him a low-end WR2 at best.
START THESE TEs...
Zach Ertz, PHI (vs. WAS)
The Eagles traded top wideout Jordan Matthews opening the door for Ertz to have an increased role this season. Early reports have Carson Wentz looking Ertz’ way early and often. Finding a tight end to start Week 1 can be difficult, but Ertz is a safe bet to go with. He has a solid opportunity this week against the Redskins.
Delanie Walker, TEN (vs. OAK)
This is a bad week for tight end matchups, so I'd rather give fans validation for solid starters than throw darts at a Jermaine Gresham, George Kittle or Vance McDonald. As a result, I have Walker listed as a start ‘em based on a favorable home game against the Raiders. Last season, Oakland allowed 8.92 points a game to tight ends.
Kyle Rudolph, MIN (vs. NO, Mon.)
Much like Walker, Rudolph is a tight end that owners know to start in most weeks. While the Saints weren't terrible against the position last season, their defense has been known to surrender a lot of points in the past. This unit also will be down starting cornerback Delvin Breaux, which is good for all of Minnesota's pass catchers.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Charles Clay, BUF (vs. NYJ)
Clay hasn’t always been the most consistent tight end but he should be a great play in Week 1 against a stripped Jets defense. New York is trading assets quickly and piling up picks for next season. Clay will be a big red- zone target this week for the Bills and Tyrod Taylor has to throw the ball to somebody.
SIT THESE TEs...
Martellus Bennett, GB (vs. SEA)
Green Bay just doesn’t use its tight ends as much as other teams in the NFL. Also, the Seahawks gave up less than six points per game to tight ends last season. They have the safeties that can cover these guys.
Coby Fleener, NO (vs. MIN, Mon.)
Fleener was a disappointment for fantasy fans a season ago, finishing 12th in points among tight ends. While he should be better with a year in the Saints’ offense now under his belt, I'd avoid him in what is a tough matchup against the Vikings. Their defense allowed just two touchdown catches to road tight ends in 2016.
Eric Ebron, DET (vs. ARI)
Ebron is a popular sleeper in fantasy circles this season, but I fear he'll have a tough start to the season in Detroit's home opener against the Cardinals. Last season, Arizona's defense allowed an average of two catches, 18.4 yards and just 3.34 fantasy points per game to home tight ends. Keep Ebron on the bench this week.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Tyler Eifert, CIN (vs. BAL)
Eifert appears to be fine from the knee issue that bothered him in the preseason, but I'm always leery with him when it comes to injuries. And while he does have a good track record against the Ravens with at least 11 fantasy points in two of their past three meetings, I expect this Baltimore defense to be tough. Only five tight ends scored against the Ravens last year and only two reached double-digit fantasy points. Eifert did that in his lone meeting against Baltimore – he was injured in the rematch (shocker) – and I consider him just a low-end starter at best 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.