Week 1 STARTS and SITS for Fantasy Football

We have finally made it to the start of the 2021 NFL season!  You’ve researched, you’ve drafted and now you are ready to make that week 1 lineup to begin dominating your league.  With that comes the neverending search for reliable sit/start advice.  As a fantasy manager myself, I loathe reading sites that give me […] The post Week 1 STARTS and SITS for Fantasy Football appeared first on The Fantasy Champions.

Week 1 STARTS and SITS for Fantasy Football

We have finally made it to the start of the 2021 NFL season!  You’ve researched, you’ve drafted and now you are ready to make that week 1 lineup to begin dominating your league.  With that comes the neverending search for reliable sit/start advice.  As a fantasy manager myself, I loathe reading sites that give me “reliable advice” to start my 2nd round pick.  

For the purpose of my sit/start advice, players that do not warrant ANY start advice throughout the year will essentially include any players selected in the first 4 rounds of most drafts – you don’t need anyone to suggest starting Stephon Diggs, Ezekiel Elliott or Davante Adams.  If you need the advice to start any of your top 4 picks, then you’re doing this fantasy football thing wrong!

I will, however, look to provide good statistical reasoning for sitting star players on any given week.  While I believe that it should be an easy call to start a top 20 WR and RB, a top 10 QB, and a top 5 TE, I will look to give sound reasoning to sit any of these players.  I will also look at mid to lower-tier players that have the opportunity to shine on any given week.

Let’s get started with week 1!

QB STARTS

JALEN HURTS (EAGLES): Jalen Hurts begins his 2021 season facing the 2nd worst DST vs fantasy QB’s from the 2020 season.  There’s no reason to believe Atlanta’s defense has taken a significant step forward since last year, especially one that was also last in the NFL when facing opposing WR’s.  Start Hurts with confidence, especially since his O-line and WR room won’t be any healthier than they currently are at this moment.

TREVOR LAWRENCE (JAGS): T-Law has the best possible matchup to begin his NFL career when he faces the Houston Texans in week 1.  The Texans’ 2020 DST was 5th worst against fantasy QB’s (20.76 points/game) and 7th worst vs opposing fantasy WR’s (40.73 points/game).  Considering Houston is predicted to compete with the Lions for the worst record in the league, Lawrence should comfortably produce QB1 numbers.

QB SITS

DANIEL JONES (GIANTS): Daniel Jones has demonstrated that he is still unable to protect the ball (based on his preseason interceptions) and his receiving corps isn’t healthy to start the season (Golladay is still nursing a bad hamstring, Evan Engram tweaked his calf, Darius Slayton is injured).  Jones also has the pleasure of facing the Broncos’ DST – the same DST that was 6th best vs fantasy QB’s in 2020 only giving up 20.31 points/game.  Leave Jones on your bench until his surrounding cast is healthy and the Giants are facing a less dominant DST.

JUSTIN HERBERT (CHARGERS): Justin Herbert has the misfortune of starting his season against one of the most robust DST’s in the NFL when the Chargers face the Washington FT.  WFT’s DST was ranked 4th best vs opposing fantasy QB’s (15.07 points/game) and 4th best vs opposing fantasy WR’s (30.83 points/game).  Although I love Herbert’s prospects in 2021 behind an improved O-line, I don’t love his week 1 matchup.  Don’t expect QB1 numbers from this young QB to start the season. 

RB STARTS

RAHEEM MOSTERT (49ERS): Raheem Mostert is healthy and ready to destroy his week 1 opponent when the Niners face the Detroit Lions.  The Lions were 2020’s worst DST when facing fantasy RB’s giving up 31.99 points/game.  Although Trey Sermon may steal some touches, Mostert has historically been very efficient and could easily outproduce his fantasy draft position.  Light him up in week 1. 

RB SITS

D’ANDRE SWIFT (LIONS):  D’Andre Swift’s health to begin this season has been in question but, if he proves to be healthy, he has the misfortune of facing the San Francisco 49ers, 2020’s 2nd best DST vs opposing fantasy RB’s (18.54 points/game).  Chances are that the Lions are going to be playing from behind early in this game which could mean that Jamaal Williams gets more action in week 1.  If you have to play Swift, don’t expect much better than a low-end RB2 performance.  If you can afford to sit him, do it.

DEVIN SINGLETARY/ZACK MOSS (BILLS):  Buffalo’s running game pretty much starts and ends with Josh Allen.  When the Bills face the Steelers in week 1, they have to face 2020’s 8th best DST vs opposing RB’s.  Considering Buffalo is a “throw first” offense and Allen is the team’s defacto red zone rushing threat, there is no benefit to starting either of the Bills’ RB’s in week 1.

WR STARTS

ROBBY ANDERSON (PANTHERS): Let’s call this the proverbial revenge game! Sam Darnold and Robby Anderson both get to face the team that was disinterested in their professional services and let them go for virtually nothing.  Matt Rhule demonstrated that he could improve the Panthers’ offense, even after the injury to CMC at the start of last year’s season.  With a fully stocked arsenal, you can expect a healthy target share for Anderson in week 1 when they face the Jets – last year’s 6th worst DST vs opposing fantasy WR’s (41.35 points/game).  Robby should reward you with a solid WR2 performance with the chance to sneak into WR1 territory if he has some end zone luck.

DEVONTA SMITH (EAGLES):  The narrative that rookie WR’s need a half of a season to adjust to the NFL is often accurate.  However, in Devonta Smith, the Atlanta Falcons have to face the reigning Heisman trophy winner from 2020.  The Falcons sported the worst DST vs opposing fantasy WR’s last year (44.60 points/game) and they did not make any notable additions to their CB core.  Jalen Hurts should look to Smith early and often and help provide solid WR2 numbers in week 1 – start Devonta with confidence.

WR SITS

ALLEN ROBINSON (BEARS): OK – I realize that the draft capital spent on Robinson precludes you from completely sitting him in week 1.  He is a total stud…but he has to face 2020’s best DST vs opposing WR’s (27.63 points/game) in the LA Rams.  This is not a total sit, but it is definitely a warning to hedge your expectations for Robinson in week 1.  With Andy Dalton at the helm and an impressive CB corps in LA, it is likely that Robinson may struggle to low-end WR2 numbers instead of the consistent WR1 numbers you are accustomed to.

ODELL BECKHAM JR (BROWNS):  Many analysts are calling for a return-to-form for OBJ in 2021.  I do not include myself in that crowd.  His history of injuries and his difficulty succeeding post Eli Manning (yes…post Eli Manning) have me fading OBJ yet again.  Considering he has to face 2020’s 2nd best DST unit when facing opposing fantasy WR’s (29.68 points/game), I would not expect any kind of a breakout in week 1.  Sure, OBJ will have some “boom” games this year – just don’t count on that to start the season against the Chiefs.

TE STARTS

KYLE PITTS (FALCONS): The rookie stud TE…the TE that runs like a WR and is as big as Calvin Johnson…yeah he should be alright in week 1 against the Eagles.  Philly sported the 8th worst DST vs opposing fantasy TE’s in 2020 (14.06 points/game).  With Pitts’ “run after the catch” ability, one or two big plays could easily result in top 5 TE production for the week.  Based on how poor the Falcons’ DST will play this year, there is no doubt they will have to throw the ball to stay in most games.  Pitts should produce in his first week and should be in your starting lineup.

TYLER HIGBEE (RAMS):  I made this same recommendation last year in week 1.  Although it didn’t turn out as well as I had projected, the 2021 version of Tyler Higbee is different in one big way – Matthew Stafford.  Chicago’s typically potent DST is weak against opposing fantasy TE’s, giving up 15.64 points/game in 2020.  Based on where Higbee was drafted this year (often between TE8 and TE10), he should easily outperform his ADP and provide you with a solid TE1 performance.

TE SITS

MIKE GESICKI (DOLPHINS): Miami might have a vastly improved offense this year, but they have to start the season against the New England Patriots. With the return of several defensive studs from 2020’s COVID purgatory, the Pats should return to form especially against opposing TE’s.  Last year, they were the 5th best DST vs opposing fantasy TE’s giving up only 10.92 points/game.  Mike Gesicki may improve this year overall, but he should be planted firmly on your bench in week one.

ANY BUCS TE:  Sure the Bucs have Tom Brady.  Yes they are the defending Superbowl Champions.  But don’t look past the fact that the Cowboys DST was ranked 6th best vs opposing fantasy TE’s in 2020.  In all likelihood, the Bucs are going to ease Gronk into the season and keep him fresh for the inevitable playoff run.  That leaves Cameron Brate and OJ Howard (who is fresh off of the ruptured Achilles tendon that ended his 2020 season).  This should be a shootout, but likely won’t see any offensive stars in the Bucs’ TE room.

As always, good luck in your league and enjoy the start of 2021’s season with the opener on Thursday night!

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