I’m a creature of habit, so the weekly fantasy schedule is a welcomed divergence from the aimlessness of the summertime mock drafts and having to tolerate everyone who thinks it’s cool to use a hashtag in the message boards.
Anyway, week one of the regular season is here, and as such I’m sure most of you aren’t going to make any crazy roster moves. The first week is special in that regard. Everyone is still sold on the players they drafted, and no one has any reason to think otherwise.
But there are still possible moves to make to ensure that you come out on top. Particularly I’m thinking that there might be some people looking to stream defenses and quarterbacks (I’m looking at you Luck owners). There might even be a few people on the fence over which flex players to start or sit.
So without further ado, here’s the first start/sit article of the season!
1. Buffalo Bills D/ST - Start
There has been plenty of negative coming out of Buffalo this season, but they’ve got nothing on the New York Jets. The Jets have one of the least anticipated offenses I’ve seen in recent memory. Starting quarterback Josh McCown (That’s right) will be attempting to throw to the likes of Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse (Oh yes) while defenses focus on Bilal Powell (God help him).
Who wants season tickets to that show? No, seriously I’m asking for a friend?
Buffalo’s defense is currently only owned in 11% of ESPN leagues so if you are looking to stream a defense this week they are likely available. This might be a better option for Seahawks defense owners this week as they face Green Bay on Monday night.
2. Kelvin Benjamin - Start
Some of you might have Benjamin plugged in as your WR2 in which case you likely aren’t debating whether to start him week one, but for everyone on the fence between Kelvin Benjamin and another Flex player: Go with Benjamin.
Benjamin had a pretty phat preseason with eight catches for 107 yards and two touchdowns. He looks healthy, energetic, and weight appropriate.
If you are one of the superstitious types then look no further than the eerily similar stat lines, but if you are more practical take solace in the fact the Benjamin is a serious contender for a bounce back campaign after last season and he’s proven to already be playing at a high level throughout the preseason.
Additionally, I believe that 49ers are going to be planning for the unique coverage quagmire of Jonathan Stewart and Christian McCaffrey. The 49ers aren’t particularly strong in stopping the run, so their added focus in that area should help open up some passes down the field for Benjamin.
3. Carlos Hyde – Sit
Much like Kelvin Benjamin, many of you might be considering starting Carlos Hyde for this contest versus the Panthers. The Panthers defense had a down year last season, but they still placed in the top ten in limiting opposing yards and yards per attempt last year.
And that was with Luke Keuchly missing most of the season.
This season the Panthers have their star linebacker healthy to back up an extremely impressive defensive line, meaning the 49ers will be forced to move the ball through the air. I know the thought of Kyle Shanahan whipping up some Atlanta run game magic with Carlos Hyde is the reason you probably drafted him, but I would wait to test that theory out next week.
4. Eric Decker – Sit
Decker is definitely in line to see some touchdowns thrown his way this season, but a lot of that will hinge on his connection with Marcus Mariota. I like the matchup this week against the Raiders, but considering the experience that Mariota has with other weapons on the roster, I’m more comfortable sitting Decker in week one.
The Raiders defense is young and Khalil Mack might not suit up this week. Particularly, I’m interested to see how rookie Marquel Lee (Go Deacs!) fairs at the middle linebacker position in stopping Demarco Murray in his first regular season start.
I think the writing is on the wall for Murray to have the advantage all game long, and for that reason, it seems unlikely that the Titans are going to abandon the run game. The Raiders have notable struggles covering the tight end position, and Delanie Walker has been one of Mariota’s most reliable targets since he entered the league.
If you have no other flex players this week to work with, then taking a chance on Decker could pan out based on the matchup alone, but I’m just not ready to plug him into a starting fantasy line up until I know where he fits on the Titans roster.
5. Martavis Bryant - Start
Ben Roethlisberger is getting his deep threat guy back in time for a coveted game versus the Browns. Bryant hasn’t proven to be the most reliable player when it comes to being available for games in the past, but when he is actually suited up he has huge potential in an explosive offense.
The Browns are getting better as a football team, but they’re not good enough to handle Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant on the field at the same time. A player’s fantasy potential is dependent on game flow, but it’s safe to assume that Roethlisberger will take a few shots down the field. However, if you are in a PPR league I would take a hard look at other options as Bryant likely won’t see a huge amount of targets with Brown and Bell on the roster.
6. Brandon Marshall – Start
This one depends, a lot, on the status of Beckham for Sunday’s matchup against the Giants. Right now he’s listed as questionable with an ankle injury. From what I can tell he is past the worst part of the injury that he sustained toward the end of preseason, but he is going to be a game time decision.
If Odell sits on Sunday night, Marshall’s value gets a boost, as his target share on the offense will increase against an exploitable Cowboys secondary.
7. Carson Palmer - Start
Palmer and the Cardinals have an interesting match up against the Lions in week one. The Lions secondary isn’t great (allowed 33 passing touchdowns last season) and Matthew Stafford has a tendency to get himself wrapped up in “shoot out” kind of games. Particularly, because his defense isn’t that great, but also because Stafford is a fierce competitor. I think Stafford’s talent is enough to keep the Cardinals wary of abandoning their passing game altogether, so I’m not too worried about game flow dictating a more run heavy approach despite the presence of David Johnson.
I like the prospect of Carson Palmer slinging it out with a healthy John Brown and Larry Fitzgerald on the field. Last season was a down year for Palmer and he still managed 26 touchdowns and 4,233 yards, and he finished the season strong once the Cardinals figured out how to use their run game to give the old man’s arm a rest. I’m starting Palmer in one of my leagues as a fill in for Andrew Luck and he’s only owned in 31% of ESPN leagues.