Fantasy football Week 1 starts and sits: Should you play Cam Newton? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The fantasy football season officially begins Thursday, and we're sure you drafted an awesome team. (Haven't drafted yet? We've got you covered.)
But your awesome team won't go very far if you don't start the right players.
Fantasy football success is all about pushing the right buttons, whether that's inserting a lesser-known player with a favorable matchup into your lineup or sticking with your top running back despite a potentially tough matchup.
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So, which buttons should you push in Week 1 to get off on the right fantasy foot? Here are five players to start and five to avoid on opening weekend.
Cam Newton, QB, New England Patriots: Is it a gamble to start a QB who's played two games since the end of 2018 in his first contest with his new team? Sure. But Newton torched Brian Flores' Patriots defense for four total touchdowns in 2017, and Flores is working with a less talented group in Miami, which allowed the second-most fantasy points to QBs last season. Newton is a low-end QB1 this week.
Raheem Mostert, RB, San Francisco 49ers: Just call him Raheem Must Start. The 28-year-old has emerged as San Francisco's No. 1 back after scoring a touchdown in each of his final six games last season and has a great chance to carry that momentum into 2020 against an Arizona Cardinals defense that surrendered the most total yards in the NFL last season.
Tarik Cohen, RB, Chicago Bears: Cohen is projected to be the Bears' lead back in Week 1 as David Montgomery deals with a groin injury. The Detroit Lions gave up the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs last season, so Chicago's dynamic playmaker could exploit that weakness.
Michael Gallup, WR, Dallas Cowboys: Expect Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey to lock up on Amari Cooper, which means Gallup --who's coming off a 1,107-yard season as Dak Prescott's clear No. 2 target -- could have room to roam against Los Angeles' secondary.
Diontae Johnson, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger is back, which is great news for Johnson, who looks primed for a breakout second season as Pittsburgh's second target behind JuJu Smith-Schuster. The New York Giants' secondary is nothing to write home about, so Johnson has WR2 status this week.
Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals: Even if you buy the Burrow hype, don't tempt fate by starting a rookie QB in his NFL debut. The 23-year-old LSU product is bound to make mistakes, especially in a difficult matchup against Joey Bosa and the Los Angeles Chargers' pass rush.
Sony Michel, RB, Patriots: Michel looks good to go for Week 1 after offseason ankle surgery, but don't be surprised if the Patriots ease him into action considering his injury history. Rex Burkhead and James White likely will eat into Michel's touches, so he's more of a touchdown-dependent RB2 this week.
Leonard Fournette, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Fournette has RB1 talent, but there's just too much risk here without knowing how many touches he'll get in a crowded Tampa Bay backfield featuring Ronald Jones II, LeSean McCoy and rookie Ke'Shawn Vaughn. See how things shake out in Week 1 before thrusting Fournette into your lineup.
Marquise Brown, WR, Baltimore Ravens: Brown has a tough Week 1 matchup against Denzel Ward and the Cleveland Browns' secondary. The Ravens might rely heavily on the running game in this one, making "Hollywood" a somewhat risky boom-or-bust play.
Christian Kirk, WR, Arizona Cardinals: Kirk is coming off a strong second season for Arizona but will lose a ton of targets to superstar wideout DeAndre Hopkins and has a brutal matchup in the 49ers' top-ranked defense. Kirk still could be a valuable fantasy asset this year -- just not in Week 1.