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:
#Jaguars RB Chris Ivory (calf) is expected to play, but not receive his full compliment of snaps. TJ Yeldon may start in his place.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 11, 2016
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.
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:
#Dolphins WR DeVante Parker, who tweaked his hamstring in practice, is expected to be held out and not play, per source. Being cautious.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 11, 2016
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: