Thursday Night Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em: Should Emmanuel Sanders, Kelvin Benjamin & Others Be Used?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

After weeks of preparation opening night is finally here!  Thursday games are often tricky, because there isn’t necessarily a reason to take any undue risks with questionable options (which could set you back and spoil your week).  Who are the borderline players that should be in lineups?  Who should be sat down?  Let’s take a look at the skill players taking the field tonight and try to answer those questions:


Denver Broncos

Emmanuel Sanders – Wide Receiver
His second season in Denver wasn’t quite as good as his first, but it’s hard to get upset with a receiver who posted 76 catches for 1,135 yards and 6 TD.  Of course there was a distinctive split in his numbers:

  • First 8 Games – 46 receptions, 639 yards, 4 TD
  • Final 8 Games – 30 receptions, 496 yards, 2 TD

He did miss a game, but even in the three postseason games he was relatively underwhelming (he averaged just over 5 receptions for 76.7 yards and went without a TD).  He managed 8 catches for 83 yards in the preseason and it’s hard to imagine gaudy numbers with Trevor Siemian under center.  He’s not a must sit, but he’s certainly only a consideration in three-receiver formats depending on your alternatives.

Verdict – Sit in shallow leagues, borderline for three-receiver formats


Trevor Siemian – Quarterback
He’s likely going to operate more as a game manager than a play-maker, as the offense could easily revolve around C.J. Anderson.  While he showed some potential in the preseason, he still threw just 1 TD vs. 2 INT and it’s very possible he’s simply keeping the seat warm for Paxton Lynch.  At an extremely deep position, there’s too many high upside alternatives.

Verdict – Only an option in deep two-quarterback formats


Virgil Green – Tight End
Maybe he has the potential to be a breakout at the position, but for Week 1 there’s far too much risk.

Verdict – Sit
Obvious Starts

  • C.J. Anderson (RB)
  • Demaryius Thomas (WR)


Carolina Panthers

Kelvin Benjamin – Wide Receiver
We may want to believe that he’s going to immediately return to the superstar he was in 2014, but that’s a hard sell.  He missed all of last season due to injury and he’s going to be eased back into action this season.  Steve Reed (via Twitter) recently reported:

Ron Rivera said Kelvin Benjamin might not see as many snaps this year as he did in 2014. Would like to spread out playing time more.”

With the potential for limited snaps, it being his first game back and also a difficult matchup, he’s on virtually the same level as Sanders.  There’s far more risk involved here though, especially given the potential for the limited playing time, so leave him on your bench unless you are in a deeper three-receiver format.

Verdict – Sit in shallow leagues, borderline for three-receiver formats


Devin Funchess – Wide Receiver
He’s clearly a receiver on the rise, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to get there in one shot.  He will face the same timeshare concerns that Benjamin is, though his upside isn’t as high.  Is he a player that is worth stashing?  Absolutely, but there’s too many potential Sunday alternatives to take this gamble early in the week.

Verdict – Sit


Obvious Starts

  • Cam Newton (QB)
  • Jonathan Stewart (RB)
  • Greg Olsen (TE)

Make sure to check out all of our Week 1 rankings:

Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em (2016): Week 1: Start Latavius Murray, Sit John Brown & More
Thursday Night Start 'Em or Sit 'Em: Danny Woodhead, Michael Crabtree & More


  1. Stan Cal says:

    Hey Professor! So a few friends and I got together and made am absolutely clowney league: 6 teams, 2 each for QB, RB, and flex, and a 9 player bench. It was one of the most ridiculous and fun live drafts I have ever participated in. It does mean that the week-to-week decisions matter far more, though. Here’s what I’m rolling with (current starters capitalized):

    RB: DA. JOHNSON, INGRAM, Forte, L. Murray, Bernard, Lewis
    WR: JU. JONES, ROBINSON, JEFFREY, COOPER, Allen, Maclin, Hurns
    TE: Fleener, Allen
    D/ST: Chiefs
    K: Gostkowski

    Any advice on my WR/flex? Also, I would strongly suggest doing a silly league like this sometime, it really shakes things up!

  2. Haggy says:

    Hey Prof. Really like Tyler Boyd. Would have to drop Kamar Aiken or Virgil Green to get him. Really trying to hold on to Green cause really like his chances to shine. Would you do it.

  3. Smidge says:

    Would you flex J. Stew tonight or play K. Aiken Sunday

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