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Commissioner’s Corner: Week 1 Fantasy Football Start ‘em or Sit ‘em

Bucs players not listed among top starters

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Training Camp
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady at AdventHealth Training Facility.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The time has come for another year of fantasy football start ‘em or sit ‘em, and I’ll be your commissioner for the season. Just like you, I get a cheap thrill out of watching stat lines and player points pop off.

A lot goes into considering who to put on your active roster from week to week, so you need all the help you can get to help make those decisions easier.

No matter how you look at it, you should always look at the match up not just the player. Start with the opposing defense when setting your skill players. How many points and yards are they allowing from week to week? Do they shut down the pass or the rush more?

Each Thursday I’ll be breaking down roster picks on who to start and who to sit. I’ll even throw in a sleeper pick for good measure. You may not agree with the pick, but that’s the beauty of fantasy football.

Week 1 of the NFL season is one of the most highly anticipated sporting weekends in all of sports. This year, more than year’s past, you’ll find yourself relying more on training camp footage, prior year stats, team adjustments and analyst breakdowns. Let’s kick this off!

Quarterback

NFL: Pro Bowl-NFC at AFC
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson warms up before the 2020 NFL Pro Bowl
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Start: Deshaun Watson (QB3), Houston Texans (@ Kansas City Chiefs)

There’s no surprise here. If you have Watson, you play him. He was likely your QB1 in your draft. Watson is QB3 behind Mahomes and Jackson in both PPR and Non-PPR leagues. You may have some small doubts Hopkins isn’t there this year, but this is where I feel Will Fuller V will help the young baller out. He also has David Johnson, who is a phenomenal pass catcher out of the backfield.

Sit: Tom Brady (QB11), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@ New Orleans Saints)

This is exactly why you came here. Brady’s average draft spot was in the 7th round at pick 87. You either thought he was a steal or you picked him up as your backup. For those of you that got him at a steal, your time will come, just not this week. Fantasy Pros has Brady as a QB3 along with Brees. He has a lot of weapons but he’s forced to take those weapons into battle untested. Let’s give him a couple of weeks.

Sleeper: Josh Allen (QB7), Buffalo Bills (@ New York Jets)

I don’t think anyone is giving Josh Allen the props he deserves. He fell to an average 100th overall draft pick, but Fantasy Pros has him as a QB7 and ESPN has him ranked as QB6. He’s got a lot of upside. He threw for 3,089 yards last season. He had 20 TDs and only 9 interceptions. He led the Bills into the post season where they played the Texans in the AFC Wild Card.

Running Back

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers
Seattle Seahawks running back Chris Carson in week 15 against the Carolina Panthers
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Start: Chris Carson (RB15), Seattle Seahawks (@ Atlanta Falcons)

Carson had the 5th most total yards last season at 1,230. He racked up 9 touchdowns and 37 completions. He’s a good pass catching back in PPR leagues. Start him now while his hip holds up, and let’s hope it doesn’t flare up otherwise you’ll want to make sure you have Rashaad Penny as his handcuff.

Sit: Ronald Jones II (RB36), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@ New Orleans Saints)

Likely another reason why you’re here. Rojo will have his moments, but the Bucs are in a win now mode and will not tolerate any gaps. Arians already said Fournette will have a role in week 1, which is presumed to be the 3rd down short yardage back. The Bucs running back room is stacked, so there’s no way you can confidently rely on Jones to carry the load unless Shady or Fournette go down. Actually, Fantasy Pros has Fournette (RB24) ahead of Rojo (RB36), but don’t go rushing out to roster No. 28 either.

Sleeper: Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB9), Kansas City Chiefs (vs. Houston Texans)

I know many would say this is not a sleeper pick, but since there’s been so much hype about this kid, I had to mention him somewhere. Starting running back Damien Williams opted out of the season due to concern around COVID-19. This leaves the first round pick dwelling in the RB1 category now. They face a tough defense, so if there is any other reason to make him a sleeper it’s because of JJ Watt.

Wide Receiver

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Detroit Lions
Bucs wide receiver Chris Godwin stiff arms Detroit Lions defensive back Tracy Walker
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Start: Chris Godwin (WR6), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@ New Orleans Saints)

Yes, I said don’t start Tom Brady but I didn’t say he won’t feed the rock. Evans and Godwin make up one of the best wide receiver duos in the league. They’re both fast, run accurate routes and have fantastic hands. Brady is a situational quarterback though, and he loves the slot receiver just as much as he loves his tight ends. Godwin was the model of consistency in 2019, so I’m banking on that again this year. He had a total of 10 completions and scored touchdowns in both contests against the Saints last season. He only had 3 outings all season where he had fewer than double-digit points in half-PPR formats.

Sit: Kenny Golladay (WR7), Detroit Lions (vs. Chicago Bears)

I totally understand this may be coming as a surprise, especially since the media has been hyping him up as WR1 status for every game. But, have you seen the latest injury reports? Golladay popped up on the Lions’ injury report on Wednesday with a hamstring injury. If you haven’t been working out, running consistently, stretching and drinking a lot of fluids, your hamstrings are going to pop like rubber bands. Now, he hasn’t had any issues all training camp, but I would encourage staying at arms length for week 1. Most of you picked him up in rounds 2 or 3 as your WR1, so you can play him if you need to but I if you want to play it safe and you have the depth, save him.

Sleeper: Allen Robinson (WR8), Chicago Bears (@ Detroit Lions)

Robinson has proven himself to be a reliable target in Chicago. Since Trubisky was named the week 1 starter, there’s more reasons than ever that he’ll go to his favorite target. Trubisky knows his job is on the line, so he’s going to stay as safe as possible and hit Robinson as much as possible. Robinson is anticipated to score the 12th most PPR points among all receivers at 231 FPs. Even if Foles steps in, he’ll still get looks.

Tight End

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Oakland Raiders
Oakland Raiders tight end Darren Waller catches a pass against the Jacksonville Jaguars in week 15
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Start: Darren Waller (TE5), Las Vegas Raiders (@ Caroline Panthers)

I’m only starting here because I think TE 1-4 are no brainers. Last year’s Raiders were a mess, but out of the chaos there emerged great talent. Waller caught 90 receptions for 1,145 total yards last season. Not many touchdowns, but he’ll continuously see his value in PPR leagues. You’ll get the yardage points in non-PPR leagues with an average 12.7 ypg.

Sit: Rob Gronskowski (TE13), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@ New Orleans Saints)

Many of you may have already come to this conclusion yourselves, but Gronk is not a starter this week. I’m not sure if he’ll be a starter many other weeks to be honest. Arians announced both tight ends, Gronkowski and Howard, will be starting week 1 against the Saints. From a fantasy perspective, I think that sounds horrendous.

Sleeper: Mike Gesicki (TE12), Miami Dolphins (@ New England Patriots)

There’s no better rivalry than the Dolphins and Patriots. Patriots have about half the defensive starters they had last year, and their only real strength is with their secondary but he McCourty twins can’t cover everyone. They’re going to have DeVante Parker and Presont Williams to contend with, which frees up Gesicki. Gesicki was picked up at an average draft spot of 153 in PPR leagues. He finished tied for 42nd with only 5 touchdowns, and he had 570 yards with an average of 11.2 ypg, but he had 89 targets. Rosen is out, Fitz is in, Tua is on deck. A lot of upside.

Defense/Special Team (D/ST)

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco sacked by Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Stephon Tuitt and linebacker TJ Watt
Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Start: Pittsburgh Steelers (DST1) (@ New York Giants)

It’s a common sense move, so I’m making it easy for the first week. The Steelers should be at the top of just about every league office’s player rankings. Pittsburgh has always been known for their defense, so why would this year be any different? Heyward, Tuitt and Watt lead the defensive charge again in 2020. Joe Judge takes over as the head coach of the G-men. In his first year, I can’t reasonably anticipate big things for them. There aren’t many weapons for Daniel Jones, and the pass rush will be a lot for him to handle.

Sit: New England Patriots (DST5) (vs. Miami Dolphins)

The Pats had a lot of opt outs on defense due to COVID. They still have the McCourty twins, sure, but there is now a lack of depth that made last year’s squad so uncontrollable. The Patriots ended the 2019 season as the No. 1 defense. They had 47 sacks, 25 INTs, 7 TDs and held teams to 275 ypg. That’s an incredible stat line for a defense, but as pretty as it looks, sit ‘em. Dolphins are coming to play, and there’s just too much uncertainty in New England right now.

Sleeper: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (DST16) (@ New Orleans Saints)

The Buccaneer’s defense has not been given much respect over the past couple of years. So it seems with the DST16 ranking given for 2020. When week 12 hit last season, it was almost a light switch. They went from having negative digit fantasy points to double digits. They had 16 FPTS in week 12 against the Falcons. Then they went on a tear with 24 FPTS against the Jags, 17 points against Detroit and 12 points against the high powered Texans offense. This Defense is healthy, stronger and the secondary is upgraded and trained to pick up where they left off.

Kicker

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals
Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein kicks a field goal against the Arizona Cardinals
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Start: Greg Zuerlein (K4), Dallas Cowboys (@ Los Angeles Rams)

Zeurlein is going up against his old team in week 1. The Cowboys have one of the best running backs in the league, so they’ll find a way to make it down the field. If not to score they’ll at least get in the redzone for a field goal. Either way, there should be plenty of opportunity for the veteran kicker to rebound his career with a team desperately needing consistency at the position.

Sit: Matt Prater (K6), Detroit Lions (vs. Chicago Bears)

So, I totally get the Lions have a lot of confidence in Prater’s leg. I’m not even going to say he’s inconsistent as his numbers show otherwise. I’m just seeing that his numbers have naturally declined with the offense. He was only given 31 FG attempts last season and only 35 extra points. The offense just isn’t as high flying as the Megatron days like back in 2013 where he made 25/26 and 75 XPTs. Maybe Matt Patricia and Stafford will make some magic this year, but it won’t happen in week 1.

Sleeper: Jake Elliott (K7), Philadelphia Eagles (@ Washington Football Team)

Probably not on anyone’s radar, but if you’re streaming kickers go with Elliott. He could very easily be kept all season (except for his bye week of course). Not many chances in the red zone last year, but he’s young, accurate and reliable. He was 100% in all but 3 outings last season with 2 field goals over 50 yards, and 13 kicks between the 30-50 yard lines. For those that get extra points for distance, you may want to consider that.