Fantasy sit-start: Lineup advice for every Week 1 game

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Steelers vs. Browns: Start James Conner, who will continue to act as the Steelers’ workhorse during Le’Veon Bell’s absence like he did throughout the preseason. Bell may report Saturday to collect a game check, but he’s almost certainly out Week 1. Pittsburgh has a strong offensive line, and will likely be cautious with “road” Ben Roethlisberger against an improved Browns defense, so the team won’t hesitate to give Conner a bunch of touches. He’s an RB1 in Week 1.

Start Josh Gordon, who may be on a snap count after missing most of the preseason but could still be heavily involved right away, and you didn’t draft Gordon to sit that type of upside while he’s actually playing.

49ers vs. Vikings: Sit Alfred Morris, who just recently signed in San Francisco, gets a Vikings D that allowed the fewest fantasy points to RBs last season and comes off the field on most passing downs (SF is nearly TD underdogs). Try to buy Morris low after a tough Week 1 setup.

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Start Latavius Murray in deeper leagues. There aren’t byes or a ton of injuries yet, so this doesn’t apply in all formats, but Minnesota is likely to ease back Dalvin Cook, who played one series during the preseason while returning from ACL surgery. Murray should see goal-line work with potential for more in an offense and matchup with upside.

Bengals vs. Colts: Start Andy Dalton, who’s suddenly stocked with weapons and could get in a shootout in a dome against one of the league’s shakiest secondaries (that lost last year’s best corner in free agency). Expect Dalton to be a popular DFS target in Week 1.

Start Jack Doyle, who could benefit if Andrew Luck continues to throw underneath more and gets a plus matchup likely faced up mostly with Shawn Williams, who allowed the most yards per route covered among safeties last season. Also sit all Colts running backs.

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Bills vs. Ravens: Sit Kelvin Benjamin, who gets tough Baltimore corners on the road with a QB who tossed five interceptions in the first half of a start last year.

Start Baltimore defense. Interception% is noisy, but the setup here looks enticing even aside from the disastrous QB situation, as Buffalo’s shaky offensive line lost its top-three starters during the offseason, so no other defense has a matchup nearly as favorable in Week 1.

Jaguars vs. Giants: Sit Odell Beckham and Saquon Barkley in DFS. Beckham is generally matchup proof, but he’s got as tough of an assignment as it gets Sunday likely shadowed by Jalen Ramsey. Meanwhile, Jacksonville’s run defense is much stronger when Marcell Dareus plays.

Start Keelan Cole, who overtakes the Jaguars’ WR1 role and gets a Giants defense that allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to wideouts last year. Dede Westbrook is another sleeper who could be unleashed out of the slot.

Buccaneers vs. Saints: Sit Mike Evans in DFS. His on-target% typically falls way off with Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Evans will be shadowed by Marshon Lattimore.

Start Ben Watson. New Orleans is due for major positive TD regression through the air, and it’s tough to predict WR targets outside of Michael Thomas right now, so Watson is a cheap way to get shares of a Saints team with the highest implied total this week.

Texans vs. Patriots: Start Will Fuller. Sunday’s matchup has the makings of a shootout, and the Pats should shadow Stephen Gilmore on DeAndre Hopkins, leaving Eric Rowe on Fuller, who pulled down a whopping seven touchdowns during four games with Deshaun Watson last year. Obviously, check Fuller’s status, as he’s dealing with a hamstring issue (again).

Start Rex Burkhead. There’s always concern about Patriots backs, and Burkhead’s health status isn’t totally clear, but there’s optimism for a big role right away, especially considering New England’s receivers after Chris Hogan are Phillip Dorsett and Cordarrelle Patterson.

Titans vs. Dolphins: Sit Marcus Mariota, who could start slow while learning a new system under an OC calling plays for the first game of his career.

Start Mike Gesicki, who’s going to be given an immediate bigger role than expected with MarQueis Gray and DeVante Parker out. I also have Kenyan Drake as a top-10 RB this week.

Chiefs vs. Chargers: Sit Sammy Watkins, who struggled learning a new system in KC throughout the preseason and will be mostly shadowed by Casey Hayward this week. But start Patrick Mahomes, who’s in for a big fantasy season this year and will benefit from facing a banged-up LA defense missing Joey Bosa.

Start Tyrell Williams and Mike Williams, as the Chiefs allowed the second-most fantasy points to WRs last season and then traded Marcus Peters, while safeties Dan Sorensen and Eric Berry might be out Sunday with injuries. Keenan Allen has a dream matchup as well.

Seahawks vs. Broncos: Sit Doug Baldwin, who’s self-proclaimed just “80-85%” healthy and faces his worst possible matchup on the road against the NFL’s best slot cover corner in Chris Harris.

Start Royce Freeman, who’s about to be unleashed by Denver in a positive game script versus a depleted Seattle defense (although Earl Thomas’ return is huge).

Cowboys vs. Panthers: Start Dak Prescott, who’s averaged far more fantasy points with Ezekiel Elliott playing throughout his career, and while it’s tough to peg which Cowboys WR to use, they have enough capable weapons to take advantage of a vulnerable Panthers secondary.

Start Devin Funchess, who’s lost buzz thanks to Christian McCaffrey and D.J. Moore, but he remains the team’s WR1, and the total (42.5) in this game seems low.

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Washington vs. Cardinals: Start Chris Thompson, who appears back to full strength, and Adrian Peterson could find tough sledding against Arizona’s front seven that allowed just 3.5 YPC last season. As tempting as the Peterson revenge factor may be, Thompson is the Washington back to start this week.

Start Ricky Seals-Jones, who’s a total wild card when it comes to usage but should have a much bigger role in 2018 after leading all tight ends in yards per route run last year.

Bears vs. Packers: Start Trey Burton. He’s going to be used like crazy in the Travis Kelce role of Matt Nagy’s offense and will be lined up plenty against a rookie appearing in his first ever NFL game Sunday night. Chicago will likely have to be throwing frequently in the second half while playing from behind, and the team’s WR1 (Allen Robinson) ended preseason without a single target after missing almost all of 2017 and being a bust in 2016. I moved Burton ahead of Greg Olsen on my final TE rankings, coming in right behind the big three.

Start Jamaal Williams, who’s the clear lead back on a team at home that’s one of the biggest favorites of the week. While the Bears defense has a bunch of long-term upside, in Green Bay in primetime isn’t the easiest place to acclimate, so consider Williams a top-15 RB this week, when there’s no Aaron Jones risk.

Jets vs. Lions: Start Robby Anderson, who was underrated throughout draft season and should play the slot more (he was used there more in the preseason, and Jermaine Kearse is highly questionable), thus avoiding any Darius Slay shadowing. Anderson is in store for a big year.

Sit Kerryon Johnson, whose role out of the gate is completely up in the air, with LeGarrette Blount (who was a strong late round sleeper) and Theo Riddick almost certainly ahead of him in the RB pecking order in Week 1.

Rams vs. Raiders: Start Cooper Kupp. There’s a lot to pick from with the Rams in this matchup, so let’s go with one of the cheaper options in Kupp, who finished top-15 in yards per route run last season, continued to show good rapport with Jared Goff throughout the preseason and will see plenty of beatable slot corner Leon Hall in a game in which the Rams should light up the scoreboard.

Sit Jordy Nelson, who got some buzz over summer for looking like his old self, but the Rams are absolutely loaded at corner, and he’ll likely see a bunch of newcomer Marcus Peters on his side in the late Monday night game, when you’ll want to have Nelson on your bench.

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