Week 1 Fantasy Football Who To Start and Sit

Friday, Sep 5, 2014 at 12:00 pm ET


This is the Fantasy Football Nerd's look at the best and worst matchups for Week 1 of the 2014 NFL season. Decisions are based upon the FFN rankings and matchup analysis. Given the known conditions, these matchups are the ones to watch and/or avoid.

This list does not generally include the elite players that you are going to start regardless of matchup. You don't need us to tell you to start Peyton Manning, Jimmy Graham, or LeSean McCoy. Instead, we take a look at other players on your team that we believe either have great matchups or should be avoided for multiple reasons. Factors like opposing defense, performance trending, and peer comparisons may influence our decisions.

Start 'em - Jay Cutler (CHI, QB)
If you're looking for a guy to outperform where you likely drafted him, Cutler should be that guy this week. With Forte to keep the Bills honest up front, Cutler will take to the air with Marshall, Jeffery, and Bennett. Unless Buffalo can rattle Jay Cutler early, it's tough to see the Bills somehow containing the Bears' receivers. Don't be surprised to see Cutler finish as a Top 10 QB this week.
Start 'em - Colin Kaepernick (SF, QB)
Take a look at the FFN Defensive draft rankings. See that team at the bottom? Yeah, that's America's Team. As talented as Dallas is on offense, their defense is more than questionable. Colin Kaepernick should be able to pick their secondary apart, and if the play breaks down, we could see a repeat of last year's 49er's opening against Green Bay where Kaep ran wild. This game should be high scoring so start Kaepernick with confidence.
Start 'em - Tony Romo (DAL, QB)
Across the sidelines from Kaepernick will be Tony Romo. Romo and the Cowboys may not win as many games this year as Dallas fans would certainly like, but Romo and the offense will be fantasy gold this year. We expect San Francisco to come out swinging, and as the points start piling up, Romo will have to respond by going to the air. There will be plenty of fantasy points to be had by all in this game.
Start 'em - Frank Gore (SF, RB)
Trust me, there are more games than just the Dallas/San Fran game going on this weekend, but if you're looking for a solid start at RB this week, I would be remiss if I didn't mention Frank Gore. Here's a guy that is likely playing his last season, but who still played every game last year and rushed for 1,292 yards. He was drafted as an RB3 in most drafts this year making him a tremendous value. Seriously - how many RB3's are rushing for 1K+ yards? Even though the Niners have said that Gore's workload will decrease this year, there's no reason not to expect a heavy dose of Frank Gore against a weak Dallas front on Sunday afternoon.
Start 'em - Zac Stacy (STL, RB)
Based upon the matchup and the fact that Shaun Hill will be playing for injured Sam Bradford, Zac Stacy will be leaned on heavily this week and should produce nicely for fantasy owners. Based upon last year's data, the Vikings gave up the 8th-most points to fantasy backs (ppr). Even with some rotations, Stacy will have plenty of opportunity to rack up some yards.
Start 'em - Chris Johnson (NYJ, RB)
The Raiders gave up the 3rd-most fantasy points to opposing RB's last year, and even though Chris Johnson will share duties with Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell, he should still see enough of a workload to make him a viable starter this week. Don't be surprised when you see CJ2K finding pay dirt on Sunday. The Jets should beat up on the Raiders and Johnson will get plenty of that action.
Start 'em - Cordarrelle Patterson (MIN, WR)
Cordarrelle Patterson has the ability to fill the void left behind when Percy Harvin went to Seattle. He's the kind of player where it's effective to simply get him the ball and let him make the plays. Most of the industry is excited to see how Norv Turner will impact the Vikings' offense this year, and you can be sure that Patterson is a part of that discussion. Patterson should pick up where he left off last year as the Rams allowed an average of 22 fantasy points to #1 wideouts last season.
Start 'em - Andre Johnson (HOU, WR)
Depending on how and from what spot you drafted, there's a good chance that you drafted Andre Johnson as one of your starting wide receivers this year. This is a great matchup for the veteran this week even with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center. You never know how long you'll have either Andre Johnson or Arian Foster this season, but both are excellent plays in Week 1.
Start 'em - Michael Crabtree (SF, WR)
If you've got a 49er or Cowboys player, play them. The same philosophy goes for Michael Crabtree. He had an issue with his calf this week, so pay attention to the FFN injury reports, but assuming that he suits up, this is a beautiful matchup for a guy who needs to put up big numbers in his contract year. The Cowboys gave up the 3rd-most yardage to opposing WR's last season, so expect Kaepernick to take a couple of shots downfield to Crabtree on Sunday. He's probable to play on Sunday, but don't forget to check the injury report.
Start 'em - Michael Floyd (ARI, WR)
It's fun to watch what can happen to 3rd-year receivers. They get some time under their belt and start to feel more comfortable with running routes at the NFL level. It helps when they also line up opposite guys like Larry Fitzgerald who often command double coverage. We expect 2014 to be a breakout year for Michael Floyd and that begins with Week 1 against San Diego. The Chargers gave up the 4th-most fantasy points to wide receivers last year, and even though they upgraded their secondary this year, Floyd should still see fantasy points this week.
Start 'em - Zach Ertz (PHI, TE)
He's 6'5 in a Chip Kelly offense with a QB whom he has chemistry with. Combine those factors with a Jacksonville defense that gave up the 5th-most yards to tight ends last season and there are plenty of reasons to like Zach Ertz's potential this week. In fact, Ertz should easily finish in the Top 10 among TE's this week with Nick Foles looking his way often.
Start 'em - Pittsburgh Steelers (PIT, DEF)
Let's be honest. Without Josh Gordon, there isn't a legitimate threat to be had from the Browns. Jordan Cameron and Ben Tate are it and neither is an option 20 yards downfield. That puts a lot of action within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage and the Steelers know this. We expect them to put the screws to Tate and they'll keep an eye on Cameron. Oh yeah, there's that whole QB situation as well... Nobody expects the Browns to do much this week making Pittsburgh's defense a great one to play in fantasy this week.
Start 'em - Robbie Gould (CHI, K)
I like to say that picking kickers is like sitting in a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn't get you very far. Robbie Gould could get me up out of the rocking chair this week though. The Bills gave up the 3rd-most fantasy points to kickers last year, and there's no reason to think that Forte, Cutler, Marshall, and Jeffery won't be knocking on the door to the endzone all day. There are plenty of reasons to believe that Gould should have a field day this week.
Sit 'em - Eli Manning (NYG, QB)
Last year and this preseason were not good ones for Eli Manning. In fact, Eli looked downright awful completing less than 50% of his passes this preseason and averaging an anemic 13 fantasy points all of last season. He doesn't look comfortable in this offense, and with the exception of Victor Cruz, his receiving corp is average. Detroit is going to come after Eli early and often. If they can rattle him early, he will have a difficult time bouncing back. This is not the 2011 version of Eli Manning.
Sit 'em - Cam Newton (CAR, QB)
I'm not doing it. Even though I drafted Cam Newton as my starting QB in one of my leagues, there's simply no way I plug him in this week. I've written about his receiving corp before so I'm not even going to go down that path. The issue I have is that he's dealing with a rib injury and is still listed as a game-time decision (ever try to run or breath heavily with a rib injury?). His offensive line is not going to protect him, and while Benjamin is a great target for Newton, I'm not putting stock into the kid Week 1. There's too much uncertainty with Newton to recommend him as a start this week.
Sit 'em - Philip Rivers (SD, QB)
There are few quarterbacks as exciting to watch as Philip Rivers. He plays with passion and fire, and when he's on - he's on. He could end up doing well against Arizona on Monday night, but I wouldn't put a lot of money on that bet. The Cardinals lost some key players, but overall their defense is still pretty stout. There are better options this week at QB.
Sit 'em - Trent Richardson (IND, RB)
Here are the facts. Trent Richardson was a bust last year. He's facing a talented Denver defense. He averaged less than 3 yards a carry in all of his preseason action. Finally - this game will not highlight the run game. Manning and company are going to put up numbers, and the Colts simply won't have the time to establish a run game, let alone one where so few yards are gained with each touch. Luck will have to go to the air often to keep pace with the Broncos. I think Richardson will have a bounce-back year, but that's not going to start in Week 1.
Sit 'em - Maurice Jones-Drew (OAK, RB)
Take away the one breakaway run the MJD had against Green Bay this preseason and you're left with a paltry 2.7 yard average per carry. Factor in a Jets D that gives up the 3rd-fewest fantasy points to RB's, a poor QB, and a time share situation with Darren McFadden and any running back would have a hard time producing fantasy points. MJD is not the same guy who just a few years ago led the league in rushing yards. He's a bad start this week.
Sit 'em - Steven Jackson (ATL, RB)
I've written glowingly on SJax's career before, but he's no longer the fantasy god that he was for many years in St Louis. The 2014 Steven Jackson is still dealing with a hamstring issue. He plans on starting Week 1, but his shelf life is questionable. The Saints surrendered the 5th-fewest yards to RB's last season and their defense has improved since then. Freeman and Rodgers will also eat into Jackson's carries. It's tough to find much love for SJax here.
Sit 'em - Sammy Watkins (BUF, WR)
The talent is there. We knew that on draft day. The trouble is that Watkins is dealing with a nagging rib injury that forced him to miss one preseason game and cut short two others. His QB situation is terrible with either EJ Manuel or Kyle Orton. He'll have the Bears' Tillman and Jennings blanketing him. Watkins will be a good receiver - just not in Week 1.
Sit 'em - Mike Wallace (MIA, WR)
There is so much potential between Mike Wallace and Ryan Tannehill. Wallace is explosive and can stretch the field with the best of them, but he and Tannehill still don't appear to have the kind of chemistry that equates to solid fantasy numbers. The Patriots have a solid defense and their secondary is championed by Darrelle Revis. While Revis isn't the super stud that he once was, he's still talented enough to take away much of Wallace's potential contributions.
Sit 'em - Delanie Walker (TEN, TE)
The Kansas City Chiefs gave up the 3rd-fewest fantasy points to tight ends last year and there's no reason to think that they won't be able to repeat that number this year. That begins with taking Delanie Walker out of the equation this weekend. Walker was a boom or bust TE last season, and while there will be weeks this year where he booms, the Chiefs will likely limit him to a bust.
Sit 'em - Houston Texans (HOU, DEF)
Jadeveon Clowney and JJ Watt are ridiculously talented, but they cannot be an entire defense unto themselves. Nine other guys have to contribute, and that's where the Texans will fall short. The Redskins have a solid ground game with Alfred Morris and a potentially dangerous air game with Garcon and Jackson. There will be too much offensive power for a defense that was one of the worst last year and still gave up points like crazy this preseason. They'll get better, but the Texans are too risky in Week 1.

Join the Discussion

If asking a sit/start question, be sure to provide your scoring format and contribute to answering questions from other FN members as well.

dolfan8313 CommentedSep 6, 2014 11:00 am

I have Cutler & Romo and I am at a loss on which one to start.

Nerd CommentedSep 6, 2014 11:00 am

Go with Cutler this week.

phillyfan0517 CommentedSep 6, 2014 11:00 am

I have Chris Johnson, Cordarelle Patterson and Reggie Bush to fill 2 positions (PPR)...suggestions?

Hartzman CommentedSep 7, 2014 11:00 am

4 PTs TDs , 20 yds= 1 pt., Brady or Romo?

Nerd CommentedSep 7, 2014 11:00 am

@phillyfan0517 - Go with Patterson and Bush.

@Hartzman - Both could have great days, but I'd give a slight edge to Brady today.

Good luck!

Dr. Strangelove CommentedSep 7, 2014 11:00 am

OK I like the new start or sit feature this year but now you gave me a dilemma. I agree that Mike Wallace has a tough matchup with NE corners but really to sit him when he is projected for 9.6? I really like Deandre Hopkins after his preseason and potential but the QB situation in Houston makes that a difficult trigger to pull. Thoughts? Let the seaon begin and go Nerd!!

Dr. Strangelove CommentedSep 7, 2014 11:00 am

OH by the way, hope you don't have to wax this week!

Nerd CommentedSep 7, 2014 11:00 am

I would not sit Wallace for Hopkins. There are other players I would put in place of Wallace (guys like Kendall Wright, Marques Colston, and Cordarrelle Patterson for example). Hopkins is not one of them.

Nerd CommentedSep 7, 2014 11:00 am

Seriously - I hope I don't have to wax this week. If I do, I'm sending the video to Andre Ellington with a big, fat, sarcastic Thank You.

dirty copper CommentedSep 7, 2014 11:00 am

Ryan Matthews or Steven Ridley

Foos CommentedSep 7, 2014 11:00 am

flex position in ppr league:
Jonathan Dwyer, Chris Ivory or Andrew Hawkins

Nerd CommentedSep 7, 2014 11:00 am

@dirty copper - Gotta go with Mathews

@Foos - Ivory is the best of those options.

RAIDERS4LIFE CommentedSep 12, 2014 11:00 am

Foles or Cutler this week? you think Foles will get back to last years form?

Nerd CommentedSep 14, 2014 11:00 am

Foles


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