It's Week 1 of the fantasy football season, which means it’s time to make those decision about which quarterbacks on your roster (and which defense/special teams) to start or sit.
Everyone wants to get off to a good start in Week 1 but choosing which player (and/or DST in this case) to roll with and which to leave on the bench can lead to frustration and utter disgust when you sit someone who has a huge game.
Fortunately for you, you have come to the right spot. Let’s find out which QBs to start and which ones to sit (and don’t forget about the DSTs too).
START THESE QBs...
Matthew Stafford, DET (at IND)
Stafford could be this year’s Blake Bortles – someone who was drafted late, or not at all, who turns into a top-5 fantasy QB. Even with Calvin Johnson retired, the pieces are there for Stafford to succeed. Offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter revitalized the Lions’ offense late last year and looks to implement a no-huddle attack this year which will give Stafford plenty of opportunities to sling the ball all over the field. This week’s matchup against the Colts should be quite the high-scoring affair and it just so happens that the Colts’ No. 1 shutdown corner, Vontae Davis, isn’t going to play. Plus, the Colts’ defense just isn’t really that good anyways. If you need more convincing about Stafford, how about the fact that he averaged 20.1 fantasy points on the road last year, including at least 20 points in each of his last eight games to finish 2015? Stafford is in for a huge week.
Eli Manning, NYG (at DAL)
Simply put, the Giants' offense looked horrendous during the preseason (then again it is the preseason) and Manning failed to throw a touchdown in the two games he played. Also, Manning flat out stunk in his last game at AT&T Stadium where he only managed 8.36 fantasy points, but that was last year. This year the Cowboys are already looking like they have a shaky pass defense, as they allowed Ryan Tannehill to throw for 162 yards and two touchdowns in the second preseason game. That was followed by Russell Wilson throwing for 193 yards and two scores in his final preseason action. That is a trend that is going to continue this week as Manning should have no problem putting up 20-plus fantasy points against the Cowboys.
Derek Carr, OAK (at NO)
Last year it was easy to pick on the Saints' defense because they were terrible against the pass, surrendering more touchdown passes (45) and fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks (23.98) than any other team. That bodes well for Carr, who was excellent on the road last season, throwing for multiple touchdowns in six of eight games and scoring 20 or more fantasy points in four games away from home. This is going to be a fun game to watch and both Drew Brees and Derek Carr should be going back and forth all game.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Tyrod Taylor, BUF (at BAL)
If you’re a fan of narratives, this is the game for you as Taylor faces the team that drafted him before he signed as a free agent with the Bills in March 2015. You know Taylor wants to have a good game in his return to Baltimore. Last year, Taylor was a pleasant surprise as he showed flashes of brilliance as both a passer and rusher, averaging the third-most fantasy points per touch among quarterbacks. He also scored at least 20 fantasy points in standard leagues in four of his final six games last year, including three with at least 30 fantasy points. Taylor averaged 22.6 fantasy points in seven road games last year and he should keep it rolling against the Ravens.
SIT THESE QBs...
Philip Rivers, SD (at KC)
Rivers might have the best year of his career this year with offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt back with the team, but this matchup against the Chiefs in Arrowhead Stadium is going to be tough. Rivers has averaged just nine fantasy points per game in his last four against the Chiefs, throwing only two touchdowns compared to five interceptions. The Chiefs will be without standout pass rusher Justin Houston and safety Eric Berry missed a lot of training camp and the preseason because of a contract holdout, but in Arrowhead, another nine-point fantasy game isn’t out of the question for Rivers.
Andy Dalton, CIN (at NYJ)
Dalton was on fire last year before a Week 14 thumb injury ended his season. This will mark the first real game that Dalton plays without having Marvin Jones, Mohamed Sanu (departed via free agency) and Tyler Eifert (recovering from offseason ankle surgery) to throw the ball to. The good news is that Dalton still has All-Pro wide receiver A.J. Green, but the bad news is that Jones and Sanu have been replaced with Patriots cast-off Brandon LaFell and rookie Tyler Boyd. The last time Dalton played with a scaled-down receiving corps was in 2014 where he really struggled with only five games with more than 20 fantasy points (standard scoring). You might want to keep Dalton on your bench until at least Eifert comes back.
Ryan Tannehill, MIA (at SEA)
So you’d probably only consider starting Tannehill in two-QB leagues this week anyways because he’s going up against the Seahawks in Seattle. Even though Tannehill is a prime breakout candidate and should have a very good year with new head coach Adam Gase running the offense, this is not the week to start trusting Tannehill. Maybe Week 3 against the Browns in the Dolphins' home opener.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Blake Bortles, JAC (vs. GB)
By now we all know that Bortles was an amazing fantasy quarterback last year many claimed off of the waiver wire and used his insanely high pass production to help them get in (and possibly win) their league’s fantasy playoffs. Remember, Bortles did finish with 4,428 passing yards and 37 total touchdowns and a whopping 316.12 fantasy points. Of course if you drafted Bortles all you’re asking for is for him to just repeat last years’ number. Unfortunately, the regression monster (I just made that up) is coming for Bortles as the Jaguars don’t want to get into an air-it-out game against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers and will likely use their running back tandem of T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory a lot in this game. Hopefully you’ve got a better option on your bench that you can start this week like one of the guys mentioned above.
Defense/Special Teams (DSTs)
START THESE DSTs...
Los Angeles Rams (at SF, Mon.)
This one is quite simple. The Rams have one of the better DSTs in the league, especially with Tavon Austin as their return man. They also have one of the best front sevens in all of football, which should be a big challenge for Blaine Gabbert, who doesn’t have many weapons to work with and is turnover prone.
Houston Texans (vs. CHI)
The Texans’ defense figures to make an immediate impact, even more so with news that J.J. Watt (back) is on track to suit up for a home matchup against the Bears. Jay Cutler has never been the most accurate quarterback in the league, so I'd look for Houston to force a few turnovers and sack him quite often.
SIT THESE DSTs...
New England Patriots (at ARI)
The Patriots’ defense has some major holes entering this season, including the loss of defensive end Rob Ninkovich (suspension), so a road matchup against the high-powered Cardinals’ offense leaves much for fantasy owners to desire. Last season, defenses averaged the second-fewest fantasy points per game (4.75) against Arizona.
Pittsburgh Steelers (at WAS, Mon.)
The Steelers have a lot of issues in their defensive backfield, so much so that the team traded for one of the biggest draft busts of the last five years in former Cleveland cornerback Justin Gilbert. Couple that with a matchup versus the Redskins, a team that figures to throw the ball a ton, and you have a recipe for a defensive fantasy disaster.
— 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.