Fantasy Football is a fun game. You get to talk trash to your friends, root for players you wouldn’t normally care about, and create competition that most of us lose after we graduate high school/college. The best part might be the overall unity that is created amongst the “home” league and how it becomes a staple of many friendships for the rest of their lives. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that the only time friends get together or have their “group chat” buzzing, is during Fantasy Football season.
With all that competition, excitement, and comradery, there is one part of Fantasy Football that can be mentally exhausting. That ladies and gentlemen, is the stress. The stress can come in many ways: having to sweat out the close matchups, the big plays, the injuries to your star player in the first quarter, and many others. However, one stressor that stands out is two words that are engrained in every Fantasy Football player; start and sit.
Those two words separate are powerless, but together can create a tornado of emotions. “Who would you play?” “Do you think he has a big game?” “I’ve switched my flex all week!” These are just some phrases you might have heard or even said yourself. We put so much thought and effort into our starts/sits because nothing is worse than playing the wrong guy and having it cost you your matchup. We’ve all been there where we break out in a cold sweat in the middle of the night and have nightmares about that loss that will seemingly haunt us forever. Well if Fantasy Football means enough to you where you read start/sit columns, then I’d definitely say you’ve been there.
Now I’m no Nostradamus. I can’t predict the future or I’d be retired on an island somewhere. What I can do is dive in the numbers, dig through the juicy matchups, examine trends, watch film, & collect data that I feel should lean towards certain players being better starts than others. While it won’t always play out that way, fantasy is a game of what’s most “likely” to happen and we need to attack it that way.
Every week I plan to try and make some of your decision-making easier with what I’ve collected but ultimately it’s your call on what you want to do with your team! We’re going to discuss Quarterbacks, Running Backs, Wide Receivers, & Tight Ends on each week’s slate, and I hope that we can win you the week!
Now, lets boogie.
Quarterbacks to Start:
Aaron Rodgers | Green Bay Packers: Let’s get down to brass tax here. Aaron Rodgers stunk Week 1. He scored 1.3 Fantasy Points. That was good for QB35 on the week. In case you didn’t know, there are only 32 teams. You may be wary of putting Rodgers back in your lineup, but I’m here to tell you to not touch that dial.
Aaron Rodgers is going to be real..and he’s going to be spectacular on Monday Night Football against a division rival that’s a favorite for the #1 pick. Need more assurance? The Lions surrendered the 2nd most points to the Quarterback position in 2020, and they just lost their top cornerback in Jeff Okudah. Plug and play Rodgers and you won’t be sorry.
Matthew Stafford | Los Angeles Rams: On the surface, it may seem like Matt Stafford was pretty average against the Bears on Sunday Night Football. 24.34 Fantasy Points had Stafford sitting at a very average QB10. Don’t let this fool you. Stafford didn’t need to be great in this game to lead his team to victory, but he was in the short dosage we got of him. 20-26 for 321 yards and 3 TD’s is crazy efficient. He also looked unstoppable no matter the scenario. According to data collected from NFL fantasy analyst Adam Rank, “Stafford was great on long-yardage. He was 7-9 for 212 yards with three touchdowns and a passer rating of 158.3 on downfield passes (10+ air yards). He was also 8-8 for 155 yards and two touchdowns on play-action passes.”
The Colts defense looked AWFUL on Sunday. This has actually been a trend for the Colts as over the last 10 games Quarterbacks have averaged 20 Fantasy Points per game against this defense. That includes a Russell Wilson’s gaudy stat line last week that included 4 TDs and over 27 fantasy points. Stafford should be a great play in this spot.
Jalen Hurts | Philadelphia Eagles: Jalen Hurts flashed the potential in Week 1 against Atlanta that had some speculating that he could be the overall fantasy QB1 this season. Hurts threw for 264 passing yards and three touchdowns, while also adding 62 yards with his legs. This was good for a QB7 finish with plenty more potential to Hurts’ ceiling.
Hurts gets the San Francisco 49ers in Week 2, who not only lost cornerback Jason Verrett (ACL) and could be without linebacker Dre Greenlaw (groin), but they just made Jared Goff look good. Goff finished as QB3 in Week 1 against this defense, scoring just under 30 Fantasy Points. Hurts also gets to make his 2021 home debut, while the 49ers play their 2nd consecutive road game. I expect Devonta Smith to eat up the 49ers defensive backs and Hurts to potentially get one in with his legs in this one.
Quarterback to Sit:
Jameis Winston | New Orleans Saints:
This one seems a little more controversial, but hear me out. Jameis Winston threw 5 TD’s on only 20 passing attempts. That type of efficiency of a touchdown every four attempts is something you won’t see again this season from any other quarterback. Credit to Sean Payton and his coaching staff for having a plan for Winston in this game.
Winston averaged 8.7 air yards per attempt, compared to 10.5 in 2019. That nearly 2 yard per attempt stat is huge because Payton wants Winston to check the ball down more and not take quite as many shots as he did with Tampa Bay. That can potentially limit his upside. Let’s also not forget that Winston had a ball that was intercepted in the endzone but was called back due to a questionable penalty.
Winston was pressured just 20 percent of the time on Sunday against the Packers, which allowed him to take what was given to him. In his career, Winston has not been quite as good against pressure. According to Player Profiler, he was 14th amongst quarterbacks in pressured completion percentage in 2019, and is 27th so far this season. The Panthers did a great job pressuring Zach Wilson on nearly 40 percent of his dropbacks on Sunday and I expect them to bring it hard and heavy again in Week 2. I’d look elsewhere, if you can, for your starting quarterback in a one QB league.
Running Backs to Start:
Najee Harris | Pittsburgh Steelers: Najee Harris probably had a hand in you losing you your Week 1 matchup. Those 5.9 Fantasy Points are just not going to cut it. Let’s cut Najee some slack though. Buffalo was ranked 17th for Running Backs in 2020 in points per game and they came out aggressive on Sunday.
Don’t let that total keep you from starting him this week. Najee Harris was the only running back in the NFL to play every single offensive snap in Week 1. He didn’t come off the field. In a much more favorable game against the Raiders, Harris should be a top 10 running back this week.
Antonio Gibson | Washington Football Team: Antonio Gibson only scored 11.8 points in his 2021 debut. Good for RB25. Not necessarily what we were hoping for when many touted him as a top 5 running back this season. However, there were many positives from this game.
Gibson saw 23 touches and a 56.1 touch share in the Washington backfield. He also got 20 of the 23 running back carries. Also strangely enough, Gibson led the team in total targets with 5, catching 3 of them for 18 yards. That type of usage is extremely welcome in Fantasy Football. This week he gets to play a Giants defense that has allowed nine total touchdowns and an average of 25 points to backs over their last nine games. That includes last week when Melvin Gordon broke off a 70+ yard TD run against them. Gibson should be a great play.
Melvin Gordon/Javonte Williams| Denver Broncos: Speaking of Melvin Gordon, both he and Javonte Williams got plenty of work in their first game together. 15 touches for Gordon and 14 for Williams. The only real difference in their stat lines being Gordon having that aforementioned 70-yard touchdown run. The Jaguars have allowed 20 total touchdowns and the third-most fantasy points to running backs in 2020 and just saw Mark Ingram record 26 carries and a touchdown against them. Denver should blow this team out of the water, and I expect a lot of that to be due to their ground game. There should be room for both Gordon and Javonte Williams to score this week and both be flex starters.
Running Back to Sit:
Mike Davis | Atlanta Falcons: Insert RB against Tampa Bay here. Mike Davis led the Falcons backfield with a 38.3 percent touch share last week. That’s good. However, he only finished with 10.2 Fantasy Points in a loss to the Eagles. That was good for RB32. Cordarrelle Patterson is going to be in the mix as he received 9 touches in this game.
The Falcons offense looks shaky to say the least, and they’re going against a defense that was 4th best against the run in 2020, allowing only 9 rushing touchdowns to running backs. They also clog the middle extremely well, which is where Mike Davis likes to run. Avoid, avoid, avoid.
Wide Receivers to Start:
Ja’Marr Chase | Cincinnati Bengals: Thank goodness we can put this dropping the football stuff to rest. For those that bought Chase at his ADP dip at the end of draft season, congratulations. You have the WR1 in a great offense with an abundance of fantasy relevancy.
Chase quieted the critics in Week 1, posting five catches for 101 yards and a touchdown on seven targets. According to Sports Illustrated, “The Bears struggled against wideouts in their last nine games dating back to last season, allowing 16 touchdowns and nearly 40 fantasy points per game.” That includes the absolute beatdown the Rams WR’s did in Week 1.
Jarvis Landry | Cleveland Browns: The Cleveland Browns are angry. They just lost a heartbreaker to the Kansas City Chiefs to open the season. Who do they play this week? (Checks schedule) oh, the Houston Texans. Not only do the Texans rank in the top 10 in terms of Fantasy Points per game allowed to wideouts last season, but they just allowed rookie Trevor Lawrence to throw for over 300 yards and 3 TD’s in his first NFL game.
Add in the fact that Odell Beckham has been declared out for this game, and you have a wide receiver that should give Houston many problems on Sunday. I expect a ton of targets and a lot of points from Cleveland in this game and Landry should have a hand in that.
Mike Williams | Los Angeles Chargers: You’re obviously starting Keenan Allen & Austin Ekeler on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys. Is there room for more Chargers in your lineup? You best believe so.
Dallas gave up 41.7 Fantasy Points per game to wide receivers in 2021, which ranked 6th most in the league. They also gave up a NFL-high 26 touchdowns to wide receivers. That trend continued in Week 1 vs Tampa Bay with 3 touchdowns to Buccaneers wide receivers. Mike Williams received 12 targets in a tough matchup vs The Washington Football Team and with that type of volume, I expect Williams to have a good day against this Dallas secondary.
Wide Receiver to Sit:
Robby Anderson | Carolina Panthers: I’m not saying to hit the eject button on Robby Anderson yet, but we have to have an eyebrow raised after the opener. Anderson finished 4th on the team in targets in Week 1, tied with TE Dan Arnold.
While that’s troubling, it’s important to note that rookie Terrace Marshall finished 2nd with 6 targets. Anderson’s day of 12.7 points doesn’t look so good if his one catch wasn’t a 57-yard touchdown. On only 3 targets mind you. Anderson now will have a tougher matchup this week against a Saints defense that has allowed just six touchdowns to wideouts in their last 10 games. Another important note is that Robby Anderson has also averaged just 9.8 points in three games against them in his career. I’ll look for my flex somewhere else, thank you.
Tight End to Start:
Jared Cook | Los Angeles Chargers: Another Chargers skill player in this article? Why not. I expect the Cowboys and the Chargers to have the highest-scoring game of the week, and many will be involved.
Jared Cook was quietly a top 10 tight end in terms of routes run in Week 1 and had a 17% target share (5 receptions on 8 targets). He gets to face a Dallas team that just allowed 2 touchdowns to Rob Gronkowski and I love Cook’s chances to score in this one.
Tight End to Sit:
Mike Gesicki | Miami Dolphins: This may be for nothing to have Mike Gesicki here. After his goose egg in Week 1, fantasy managers already might not want him sniffing their starting lineup. Gesicki received only two targets in this game and came down with neither.
What’s worse? He didn’t even play the most snaps at the Tight End position. Gesicki played just 21 snaps, while Durham Smythe (who?) recorded 38. Will Fuller V now returns from suspension and Jaylen Waddle looks to take another step in this offense. Tua didn’t seem to look Gesicki’s way in Week 1 and I don’t he will versus a tough Buffalo defense in Week 2.