Fantasy guidelines to help Week 1 start, sit, stream decisions originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
So, you’ve finally drafted and you love your team. Sure, a couple of guys got away, but that sleeper you snagged in the eighth round is sure to put you over the top. But after taking that initial victory lap you realize you’ve got to choose among all these exciting players for that final slot in your starting lineup. The indecision sets in again.
Don’t worry, because there are a few guidelines to follow that can set you up for Week 1 success.
Since there are too many players to go through individually, I’ll only use a couple of guys as specific examples. Feel free to extend this logic to others who fit the same profile. Or if you have a really, really strong feeling on a player who doesn’t fit the following criteria, go with your guy. Nothing’s worse than losing your week because you listened to the experts instead of your gut. These guidelines are meant to help if your lineup decision is coming down to a coin flip.
SIT ROOKIE RBs
Deciding who to start or sit Week 1 in a normal year is tough. Teams have new coaches, new rosters, new dynamics. Week 1 could see a continuation of last year’s trends, or the first chapter of a new narrative may be written. But with no preseason and a shortened training camp this season, it’s even tougher to predict a potential breakout rookie performance. First year players haven’t had as many opportunities to prove themselves to their new coaches, or to acclimate to the pace and complexity of the NFL. So, in this unique season it behooves fantasy managers to trust incumbents over rookies fighting for a starting spot, at least in Week 1. Yes, it’s a risk that you’ll miss out on a monstrous breakout performance, but you’ll also avoid a possibly disastrous dud.
“But, Alex, Antonio Gibson has a clear path to 20+ touches in Washington! Darrell Henderson is nursing a hammy, so the Rams are surely going to feed Cam Akers!”
I hear you, and I totally understand why you’re excited. The hype train on your rookie RB left the station last week and the brakes are broken. But until Washington takes the field on Sunday we don’t really know how big of a role Bryce Love will have. There’s a real possibility he takes the goal line carries instead of Gibson. In Los Angeles, Malcolm Brown has already proven that he can be an effective back and hovered around a snap count of 20%-30% in 2019. That number is probably going to go up with Gurley out of the picture, not down.
Now, that doesn’t mean you should start Brown, Love or J.D. McKissic. I’m avoiding all of those backfields entirely in Week 1.
On the other side of the coin, this is a great opportunity to trust the WR value pick you most likely found later in your draft. Players like Keenan Allen, Tyler Boyd and T.Y. Hilton could all be had at WR3 prices, and will provide you with a higher floor than the rookie RBs for that final starting spot. Try to identify that WR who’s reliable week in and week out like Jarvis Landry, or a WR who received an offseason upgrade, like Boyd and Hilton who each got new QBs.
“But, Alex, I don’t want a boring floor play in my final starting spot! I want to take a chance with a home run hitter to put my score through the roof!”
Ok, so you like to gamble with that last spot. Lucky for you, there are still plenty of options among late-round WRs who should be a thrill to watch, while giving your team a chance to rank among the top scorers in your league. Look for guys like DeSean Jackson, who is in line for plenty of targets since Alshon Jeffrey and Jalen Reagor may each miss the season opener. Will Fuller V is in a similar situation. Marquise Brown is another candidate to score at any given moment, even if his role in Baltimore hasn’t drastically changed.
STREAMS OF THE WEEK
Quarterback and tight end are the two positional slots you can get away with streaming weekly if you’ve invested elsewhere in your lineup, so I’ll focus on those two here. While many players stream D/STs and kickers as well, you can look to Vegas lines to help decide on a defense, and let’s be honest, kickers can be the biggest crapshoot in fantasy.
QB: Phillip Rivers, 27% rostered
The amount of disrespect Rivers gets every year in fantasy is almost comical. Since 2013, Rivers has finished the season as the QB 18, 10, 7, 12, 8, 8, and 4. Yes, last year was rough. But behind arguably the best offensive line in Indianapolis, Rivers should have more time to make plays. Facing the gutted Jacksonville defense Week 1 should afford him plenty of opportunities as well.
TE: Eric Ebron, 35% rostered
Ben Roethlisberger is back, and back with him is the time of the tight end in Pittsburgh. Don’t fear Vance McDonald who caught 50 balls in 2018. The Steelers brought Ebron into their tight end room for a reason, and Roethlisberger may want to break in his new weapon early.
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