You’ve studied hard and created your big board, you won your draft, picking up those late round darlings that were the talk of the off season. But now Week 1 is here, poop just got real and now you have to set that lineup that’s going to get your season off to a winning start.
I’m going to be here each week to help you identify who you should be slotting into your lineup and those all-important flex positions, though quite frankly, this is about anyone that I’m high on for the week ahead. What I won’t be doing is telling you to start Christian McCaffrey or Michael Thomas. If you need that sort of help, I’m not sure fantasy football is for you.
Onto the must starts for Week 1!
Tarik Cohen (RB), Bears @ Lions
Its hard to know whether 2019 was a good or bad year for Cohen, as even though he over-performed his RB33 ADP to finish as the RB27 in PPR leagues, he only had seven double-digit fantasy performances. He saw over 100 targets and despite catching a career high 79 balls, saw his total yardage drop off by over 40% from over 1100 to just 669 yards and his touchdowns reduce from eight to just three.
Onto 2020 and heading into Week 1, Cohen benefits from the groin injury suffered by starter David Montgomery that has held him out of practice early in the week and his status for the opener in Detroit is questionable. Even if Montgomery does suit up, Cohen is set to see an expanded role and with a more than achievable 120 all purpose yards, eight catches and a touchdown, Cohen can start your 2020 fantasy campaign with a bang, even with Mitchell Trubisky at quarterback.
Eric Ebron (TE), Steelers @ Giants
Going a little deeper into the Week 1 waiver wire here as Eric Ebron is just 34% rostered in redraft leagues at the moment but there is value to be had, especially if you are in a two tight end league. Ebron had a down year in 2019 after a career 2018, not helped by the retirement of Andrew Luck initially and then a season-ending ankle injury.
Ebron landed in a great spot in Pittsburgh and training camp reports about his connection with the healthy again Ben Roethlisberger give me confidence about his use as a red zone weapon. Ebron will be touchdown dependent as he has never been a yardage compiler in his six years in the league, but facing what looks on paper to be the worst defense in the league in the Giants, should see his Steelers career get off to flying start.
DeSean Jackson (WR), Eagles @ Washington
Ooh I love this one. No player seems to love Week 1 like DeSean Jackson. Since 2011 Jackson has averaged 22.1 fantasy points on the opening weekend, including two touchdowns in each of the last two years. His skillset of getting behind the defense suits those early match ups, where defenses are lacking game time and continuity and facing a Washington team in a major transition period, Jackson will eat again.
Henry Ruggs (WR), Raiders @ Panthers
Every Week 1 needs a new hero to get us all excited for the new season. Last year we had Marquise Brown, who popped off for 147 yards and two touchdowns vs the Dolphins and this year it could be a similar performance for Ruggs. The Panthers defense has a ton of new starters and rookies and so can be exposed by a deep threat like Ruggs who with Tyrell Williams on IR, is already the de facto number one receiver. If Ruggs can make that connection with Derek Carr work straight out the gate, we could see a big Week 1 from the Raiders’ first round pick.
James White (RB), Patriots vs Dolphins
White is one of the most reliable fantasy assets in the NFL and proved it again in 2019 as he finished as the RB18 after being drafted as the RB28. We saw with Cam Newton in Carolina that he is willing to feed a pass-catching back and out of the Patriots’ stable, White remains the go-to option, especially as they are lacking in talent at the receiver position. Even if doesn’t lead the team in rushes, that 10 target per game floor is good to produce 12-14 fantasy points to support your opening week match up,
Jimmy Garoppolo (QB), 49ers vs Cardinals
Jimmy G ate vs the Cardinals in 2019, tearing them up for 741 yards and eight touchdowns, averaging 29 fantasy points in the process. Facing them in Week 1 , there could be fireworks in store and Garoppolo will no doubt be out to prove that he’s a top quarterback after his disappointing use in the 49ers playoff run. His connection with George Kittle is vital and especially if the Cardinals haven’t rectified their terrible pass defense against tight ends . I’ve spent all off season predicting big things for Garoppolo and Week 1 is where we start to see that start to pay off for your fantasy team.