NFL Week 1 Start/Sit
Under a cloud of a national pandemic, the 2020 National Football League regular season begins Thursday, a welcome sight for Fantasy players who put together teams without the benefit of a preseason schedule. The experience of watching a game in person will be altered, yet the mere presence of deciding who to start and sit will — at least for a few hours — give fantasy players a sense of normality in a world changed forever.
Start: Eagles QB Carson Wentz
Injuries to Alshon Jeffery and first-round pick Jalen Reagor leaves Wentz with the same uncertain cast of characters at wide receiver. No worries, considering Wentz averages 279 yards with 15 career touchdown passes in seven career games against a Washington Football Team, which allowed 35 touchdown tosses in 2019, the third-highest total in the league.
Sit: Bills QB Josh Allen
The trendy breakout candidate could walk his fantasy owners into heartache as he takes on a Jets defense that was seventh overall in fewest average depth of target. The Jets love to blitz, which doesn’t bode well for Allen, who was pressured 23.2% of the time last year, 12th highest among quarterbacks.
Start: Raiders RB Josh Jacobs
Jacobs is in line to put up monster numbers against a Panthers defense that allowed the most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs last season. His Fantasy owners can also count on him adding extra yardage after contact: Jacobs was sixth among running backs with 2.8 yards per carry after the first defender put pads on him.
Sit: Buccaneers RB Leonard Fournette
This isn’t to say he won’t get a few touches in his Tampa Bay debut, but Ronald Jones will get the bulk of the snaps against a Saints defense that was sixth-best in fantasy points per game allowed to opposing runners in 2019. Only three other teams allowed fewer rushing yards last season than New Orleans, so unless the options are thin, it’s best to keep Fournette sidelined.
Start: Saints WR Emmanuel Sanders
With the Bucs focusing on WR Michael Thomas and RB Alvin Kamara, Sanders should thrive in his New Orleans debut. Tampa Bay had the worst points per game average against opposing wide receivers in 2019 while also allowing the most targets per game to opposing wideouts. Translation: Sanders belongs in your lineup.
Sit: Dolphins WR DeVante Parker
It’s a given that Parker will be shadowed by Pats All-Pro corner Stephon Gilmore, who allowed a paltry 44.3 QB rating when thrown at last season. Parker averaged 17.1 yards per catch against New England in 2019, yet will be hard-pressed to duplicate that total against a defender who allowed just 11.7 yards per reception against him last year.
Start: Rams TE Tyler Higbee
After closing the regular season as a favorite target of quarterback Jared Goff, Higbee opens the season with a solid matchup against a Cowboys defense that allowed the most fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends last season. Higbee averaged just over 11 targets per game over the last five contests of 2019, and even with the wealth of talent Goff has at receiver, expect Higbee to get the bulk of the looks on Sunday night.
Start: Bears RB Tarik Cohen
He’s a strong play in PPR formats, having caught all eight of his targets in two games against the Lions last season. He should be good for double-digit targets in the opener, especially since Detroit gave up the third-most receiving yards per game to opposing running backs.
Sit: Packers QB Aaron Rodgers
Rodgers had the fourth-most poor throws among starting QBs with 114, and his 31 throwaways were second only to Tom Brady. With essentially the same receiving corps returning, starting Rodgers isn’t a smart play against a Vikings defense that ranked third in fewest yards after the catch and added more thump to its pass rush with the addition of defensive end Yannick Ngakoue.
Start: Bears WR Allen Robinson
He and the aforementioned Tarik Cohen will thrive, but Robinson could really reward his fantasy users. The Lions were dead last in the league in air yards allowed (3,042), and the 189.8 yards per game allowed to opposing receivers was second-worst. This will be one of the rare times the Bears’ passing game could pay off.
Sit: Cardinals RB Kenyan Drake
Considered a potential breakout back, Drake may have to wait a week or two before living up to those expectations. He opens the season against a stingy 49ers run defense that was third in fewest fantasy points per game allowed to opposing running backs. Even in PPR formats, Drake is a risky play as only the Panthers (24.5) allowed fewer receiving yards to opposing running backs than the 49ers (25).
Start: Raiders QB Derek Carr
A strong close to 2019 should carry into the new season for Carr, who averaged 300.2 yards per game in his last four games. He also did not throw an interception in the same span, and with the new addition of rookie Henry Ruggs III at receiver, everything points toward Carr being solid under the radar play.
Sit: Colts WR T.Y. Hilton
A combination of things goes against Hilton. The Jaguars gave up the 11th fewest points to opposing receivers last season, plus the addition of a new quarterback (Philip Rivers) and the presence of young wideouts Parris Campbell and Michael Pittman will lead to fewer targets for Hilton. It’s best to sit him and lay back to see how Rivers distributes to his receivers instead of blindly starting Hilton.