Sunday Morning Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em: Thomas Rawls, Kevin White, Martellus Bennett & More

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Just hours before the start of Week 1 I know many people have questions running through their heads. Who should I start? Who should I sit? Let’s take a look at how some of the recent news changes things:

 

Thomas Rawls – Seattle Seahawks – Running Back
While Rawls is likely to play, how extensive of a role is a significant question.  Christine Michael has already been dubbed the starter, and it’s likely he sees the bigger workload in Week 1 as he’s coming off a strong preseason and Rawls is still working his way back.  We want to suggest Rawls, especially against a potentially questionable Dolphins defense (they allowed the most points per game to opposing running backs a week ago), but we simply can’t.  While Michael figures to be a RB2/FLEX option, Rawls should be off radars this week as there’s far too much risk.

Verdict – Sit

 

Martellus Bennett – New England Patriots – Tight End
With Rob Gronkowski not making the trip and already being ruled out, Bennett suddenly becomes an extremely attractive option.  Granted it is a tough matchup (the Cardinals are generally viewed as one of the better defenses in the league), though let’s not forget that Brock Osweiler (11-13, 146 yards, 1 TD) and the Texans thrashed them in the important third preseason game.  Jimmy Garopollo will be under center, instead of Tom Brady, though he looked good in the preseason himself (66.7% completion rate).  Bennett figures to be among the primary targets, along with Julian Edelman, and is a mid-level TE1 in all formats thanks to his potential to absorb a big chunk of Gronkowski’s targets.

Verdict – Start

 

Kevin White – Chicago Bears – Wide Receiver
After missing his rookie season with a stress fracture in his shin, White is listed as questionable for Week 1 due to a hamstring injury.  He has the potential to be a breakout performer this season, though there also could be a lot of boom or bust to his game as he will be inconsistent as he develops.  By year’s end maybe he’s emerged as a trustworthy week-to-week, must use option but he’s certainly not there in Week 1.  Given the potential that he’s more decoy then target thanks to the injury, if he even plays (and at this point he’s expected to be out), and the risk of inconsistency, fantasy owners would be wise to look elsewhere.

Verdict – Sit

 

T.J. Yeldon/Chris Ivory – Jacksonville Jaguars – Running Back
NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport posted the following tweet this morning:


Expectations had been that Yeldon and Ivory would be in for a fairly even workload, though that no longer appears to be the case in Week 1.  That makes Yeldon the better option, but does it make him a “good” option?  There is still a good amount of risk, especially if Ivory is the one given the goal line touches.  Given the uncertainty, which was already there any way, this is a tough situation to trust.

Verdict
Yeldon – FLEX play
Ivory – Desperation FLEX play, but better left on bench

 

Matt Jones – Washington Redskins – Running Back
He’s slated to play on Monday night, that’s not the question (barring some sort of setback).  The issue is exactly how much?  Preseason “star” Rob Kelley figures to play a significant role, as he averaged 5.2 yards per carry (198 yards on 38 carries).  Jones, meanwhile, missed the final two preseason games and failed to break a run of more than 9 yards (32 yards on 9 carries).  This figures to be a timeshare, at best, with the potential for news to break on Monday that Kelley could see the lion’s share of the touches.  If you have a suitable alternative you should be utilizing him on Sunday.

Verdict – Sit in most cases, unless you are truly desperate

 

DeVante Parker – Miami Dolphins – Wide Receiver
Ian Rapoport tweeted this morning that:


Given the matchup with the Seahawks does his absence really matter?  Kenny Still should step up into his role, but he’s far too risky of a play.  Arian Foster is the only viable fantasy option this week, with Jarvis Landry also an option in three-receiver formats.

Verdict – Generally Miami is team to avoid today

 

Baltimore Ravens Running Backs
Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun recently published this quote from Marc Trestman (click here for the article):

“I think the bottom line is we have some idea in how we want to work them in and rotate them, and then we will adapt to the game conditions and see where it goes,” offensive coordinator Marc Trestman said Thursday. “I expect to see all the guys playing and in there at some point in time.”

This appears to be a situation fantasy owners want to avoid.  While Justin Forsett could be the “workhorse”, there’s far too many moving parts to have faith in any of them.

Verdict – Sit them all

 

Philip Rivers – San Diego Chargers – Quarterback
According to Matthew Berry of ESPN:

“One hundred twenty-two. That’s how many consecutive pass attempts Rivers has against the Chiefs without a touchdown pass. The Chargers will try to establish the run here against a defense that is missing a few stars but is still formidable and allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing QBs last season.”

It’s clearly a tough matchup, but don’t completely ignore Rivers either.  While Eric Berry is expected to be ready, he did hold out for the majority of camp so his performance will be something to watch.  The Chiefs will also be starting 2014 third round draft pick Philip Gaines, who missed the bulk of ’15 due to a torn ACL.

It’s a strong defense, but there are questions.  Rivers isn’t a must start, but consider him a borderline QB1 despite his poor play against Kansas City a year ago.

Verdict – Start (as a low-end QB1)

 

Matt Forte – New York Jets – Running Back
ESPN’s Rich Cimini recently said the following in regards to New York’s backfield (click here for the article):

Based on what we saw in the one preseason game they played together, you’ll see Forte on first and second downs, with Bilal Powell handling the third-down duties. Forte was a three-down back during his career with the Chicago Bears, so he’ll have to adjust to a reduced role.  If you’re looking for numbers, I think the workload will be more balanced than it was last season. Chris Ivory averaged 16 rushes per game, Powell six. This year, you could see something like 14 for Forte, eight for Powell.”

It’s an interesting note, especially since one of Forte’s strengths throughout his career has been his production in the passing game.  Losing a third down role is going to significantly hurt his overall appeal.  Does that mean he isn’t a usable option in Week 1?  Of course not, though the Bengals allowed the sixth fewest rushing yards to opposing backs a year ago.  Value him more as a low-end RB2/FLEX option this week given the risk and loss of opportunities.

Verdict – Start, but more as a FLEX

 

Sources – ESPN, NFL.com

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

Thursday Night Start 'Em or Sit 'Em: Is Sammy Watkins Worth The Risk & More
Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em (2016): Week 1: Start Latavius Murray, Sit John Brown & More

30 comments

  1. Randy says:

    Who do you like at flex in a standard league out of Randall Cobb, Gore, and Rashad Jennings? Also, I have Rivers at QB and Tannehill at backup, would you get cute and drop Tannehill for Dak or Brock to start over Rivers? Lastly, how would you rank these end-of-bench stashes: Alfred Morris, Doctson, T Sharpe. Thanks!

  2. Gern says:

    Morning Prof!

    I awoke this morning to a trade proposal and was curious about your thoughts. He offered Jarvis Landry and Forte for A Peterson. While this is an easy “no” in my book, I was considering countering with B Marshall & Shady McCoy for A Peterson or Marshall/McCoy/K Benjiman for Peterson/M Thomas or Funchess. What do you think?

    My team is:

    QB: Rogers/Brady
    RB: Peterson/Martin/Williams/Bernard
    WR: Green/Edelman/J Matthews/Funchess/Thomas
    TE: Eifert/Ebron
    K: Gostkowsk
    D: KC

  3. Gern says:

    If this helps, his team looks like:

    RB: McCoy/Hyde/Forte/Michaels
    WR: Hopkins/Marshall/Landry/Fitzgerald/K Benjiman/Shepherd/White

  4. Mark says:

    Good morning!
    Thank you in advance. I maybe thinking too much but here it is.
    PPR league. Need a WR2: Pick one
    1. Michael Thomas
    2. Pierre Garcon
    3. Rishard Mathews

    Thank you again!

  5. V Money says:

    Hey Professor,

    What do you think about this trade?

    Ryan Matthews for Demarco Murray.

  6. Gern says:

    K, so maybe Hopkins and McCoy as a counter?

  7. John says:

    Professor,

    I have to start one of these guys, full PPR. My gut says to avoid Carlos Hyde (even though I drafted him with pick 52 overall back in early August). I am also afraid I am “getting cute” if I play Michael.

    Option A: Carlos Hyde
    Option B: Christine Michael
    Option C: Duke Johnson Jr.
    Option D: Arian Foster

    Thank you!

    John

  8. stephen says:

    Thoughts on .5 PPR Flex: Shepard, Fuller, or Riddick?

  9. Richard says:

    Hi Prof, I wonder if you couldgive an opinion on this trade I have been offered? I receive Eddie Lacy and Jarvis Landry for Dez Bryant and Ryan Mathews.

  10. Toby says:

    Hello Professor,

    I have Rawls as my RB2 and only Matt Jones as an alternative? What should I do?

    Thanks in advance.

  11. Andy says:

    Which 2 players will you set to start the flex? Spencer Ware. Christine Mike and Donte Moncrief.
    Thanks

  12. Gern says:

    Someone just dropped A Foster. Would you pick him up and drop either Bernard, Funchess, or Thomas?

  13. Gern says:

    I’m looking through rosters to identify a potential trade to upgrade at RB once Bell returns in Pit (I have Williams now) in week 4. I have Peterson, Williams, D. Martin, and Bernard. I’d like to flip Martin into a stronger RB who is lower this week due to poor performance (e.g., Freeman) or injury who should be back by week 4 (e.g., Charles).

    Would you trade Martin for either of these players?

    • Given the performance of Ware, I’m not sure Charles returns to a “workhorse” role. As for Freeman, I’m necessarily sold he has more upside than Martin.

      I guess the answer would be, no I wouldn’t

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