Here are a few guys who might be on your bench that you might want to consider starting over guys you drafted higher that you think have to be in your starting lineup because of the draft capital you spent on them. The draft is over! It’s time to make start/sit decisions! Let’s take a look at a few guys we should consider starting this week.
Start: Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen, and Stefon Diggs vs Saints
The Saints defense isn’t any better than it was last year. They added a few highly-touted rookies in the secondary, but they’re still rookies. Expect this improved Vikings offense to put up some good numbers against the Saints. CB Delvin Breaux is out on IR, which leaves room for Thielen and Diggs to do their thing. Expect Thielen to be more of a volume play from the slot, so he’s more valuable in PPR, and Diggs can be played in either format since he’s moving to the outside. Bigger plays are in store for Diggs on the outside, and this secondary might not be able to stop him in the Vikings’ debut. The Saints were 30th in rushing defense DVOA last year and 32nd in defense vs receiving RBs, according to FootballOutsiders. We should see a heavy workload from Dalvin Cook in both the run and pass game on Monday night, and this defense hasn’t been able to stop that many RBs last year; they allowed the 3rd most fantasy points to RBs last year.
Start: Larry Fitzgerald
With so much uncertainty about who the outside receivers will be for Arizona, one thing is for sure: Either Quandre Diggs (PFF rated 43.7) or D.J. Hayden (PFF rated 42.9) will be defending the slot, and neither will be able to hold Larry Fitzgerald. We’ve seen Fitz start the season very strong the past two seasons, and we should expect him to get a ton of targets from Carson Palmer in Week 1 while Darius Slay and Nevin Lawson defend the outside receivers. If you’re worried about Slay moving in the slot to cover Larry, don’t; Slay only played the slot 4% of snaps last year. Fitzgerald will be one of the red zone targets for Palmer, and we should see quite a bit of scoring with a tight line and a total of 48. In the first three games last year, Fitzgerald averaged 7 catches on 11 targets with a TD. In 2015, those first three games he averaged 8 receptions on 9 targets and averaged 2 TDs per game. Needless to say, he comes out fresh to start the season. The Lions have allowed the 6th most fantasy points to WRs last year, and they were the worst DVOA to slot WRs. Don’t hesitate to start him, especially in PPR leagues.
Start: Brandon Marshall
Brandon Marshall should be seeing a lot of Nolan Carroll, who PFF rated 52.9/100 last year. Marshall might have lost a step or two, but he is still an elite talent who can take advantage of his matchups. I would start Marshall whether OBJ plays Sunday night or not; there are advantages to both situations. If OBJ doesn’t play, more targets for Marshall. If OBJ does play, he takes coverage away from Marshall. There will be more targets for Marshall in this one because of the tough matchup WR Sterling Shepard has in the slot against Orlando Scandrick. The Cowboys have six new starters, so the Giants should be able to take advantage. The total for this game is 48, so we should see quite a bit of scoring. Since the Cowboys are favored, we could see a positive game script for Marshall as well.
Start: Eric Decker
We haven’t had a chance to see the rapport between Decker and Marcus Mariota first hand, but this is a match made in heaven. Mariota is ridiculously efficient in the red zone, and who else is also a touchdown machine in the red zone? Eric Decker. Since 2010, Eric Decker has more touchdowns than Demaryius Thomas, Antonio Brown, and A.J. Green; and he missed all of last season. This week, he has a great matchup in the slot vs T.J. Carrie, who PFF rated at 69.8/100. The total of this game is the highest of the week at 50.5, and should be a shootout with a line of 2.5. Eric Decker practically catches a TD in every game he plays; judging by games he started throughout his career, he has a 70% chance of catching a TD. I would expect Decker to take advantage of this matchup and hopefully catch a TD from Mariota.
Start: Ted Ginn
With Xavier Rhodes projected to shadow Michael Thomas, Ginn should see plenty of Trae Waynes. Because of Rhodes shadowing Thomas, I expect Brees to continue what he did in the preseason and look for Ginn early and often. With Willie Snead out for three games, there are even more targets to spread around, and Ginn can benefit. He is a play in both PPR and standard leagues since he should get a healthy target share. This game is in Minnesota, but is in a dome, and we know that throwing in a dome is Brees’ comfort zone. If you have a mid-level WR who has a tough matchup, I wouldn’t hesitate to throw Ginn into your lineup. The best thing about Ginn in this offense is that he’ll be able to pick up short and intermediate catches, while also used in the field stretching role, so the big play opportunity is there. Who knew that you can start someone with confidence that you drafted in the 12th round?
Here are a few guys I don’t think are great options this week. These are guys who you probably would have started because of where you drafted them. They might have somewhat of a floor, but the upside isn’t there with these guys in these matchups. Disclaimer: Only sit these guys if you have other decent options who have legitimate roles in their offense!
Sit: Deandre Hopkins
Hopkins has a tough matchup with Jalen Ramsey. If you’re in a PPR league looking for someone with a decent floor, go ahead and start Hopkins; he should have some catches for a decent amount of yards, but the upside isn’t there this week. Ramsey is expected to shadow Hopkins, and had a good amount of success against Hopkins in the two matchups last year. We’re not sure what the chemistry with Savage will be, but I do expect it to be better than what he had with Brock Osweiler. This is a tough Jaguars defense, and things can get ugly for the Texans in Savage’s season premier. This is also the lowest projected total out of any game this week, so it’s probably better to look outside this game to replace Hopkins in your lineup.
Sit: Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders
It’s tough to sit DT, but if you have a better option it might be a good idea. DT gets it done with any quarterback, but he’s going to get either Jason Verrett or Casey Hayward. Both are shutdown-caliber CBs, and the upside isn’t there for Thomas in this one. Verrett is coming off an ACL injury, and Hayward was the one who held DT in check in their two games last year. They quite possibly can keep Verrett on him, while Hayward gets Emmanuel Sanders. Either way, they will both be shadowed and the upside is very limited with these guys, but if you’re okay with 5 catches for 50-80 yards, go ahead and start them.
Sit: Leonard Fournette
Leonard Fournette has to start his NFL career against a very tough Houston defense. If you have some depth at a position, and have a three-down back that you are benching for Fournette, I would reconsider. We don’t know if Fournette will be getting those third down opportunities. There’s no doubt that the Jaguars want to run the ball, but this matchup against this defense with J.J. Watt back is not one to be excited about. I expect the Texans to focus on the run to make Blake Bortles throw the ball. The Jaguars offensive line is decent, but not the type of line that would make me say play him anyway. I think Fournette is going to be a great RB in this league, but I want to try and stay away from this matchup as long as I have a suitable 3-down replacement. If you don’t have one, have confidence that he will get a ton of carries, as this game has the lowest projected total and should be a defensive game throughout.
Sit: Keenan Allen
Keenan Allen should get some catches, so play him if you want a relatively decent floor, but I don’t see a ton of catches for him in this one. Word is that he’s moving to the slot, and if that’s the case, he’ll see a ton of shutdown corner Chris Harris Jr. Philip Rivers had two games to forget against the Broncos last year, and maybe he needed Allen as his safety blanket, but I don’t see Allen being able to break out in this one. If you have another option, I would definitely consider it; it’s not fun starting your players against the Broncos in Denver.