by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Trying to decide who you should start or sit this week? Let’s take a look at a few potential decisions owners have and try to sort through them:
Start – Carson Palmer – Arizona Cardinals – at Detroit
Last season the Detroit defense allowed the second most passing TD in the league (33) while not getting many interceptions (10) or sacks (26). They tried to address the situation in the draft, grabbing defensive help in the first two rounds (including a corner back, Teez Tabor, in Round 2), though does that mean there’s going to be a huge transformation? Palmer may be 37-years old but he’s thrown for over 4,000 yards in four of the past five seasons and should continue to produce gaudy numbers with Larry Fitzgerald and company at his disposal.
Sit – Dak Prescott – Dallas Cowboys – vs. New York Giants
With or without Ezekiel Elliot on the field, Prescott is going to be a risky play in Week 1. The New York Giants defense is among the best in the league, especially in the secondary. With arguably the best safety, three corner backs who can cover and a defensive line that can consistently bring pressure (especially with Jason Pierre-Paul further removed from his injury and potentially turning back into the force he once was). Remember, in the second matchup between the two teams in ’16 Prescott completed just 45.9% of his passes throwing for 165 yards, 1 TD and 2 INT. There’s far too much risk involved given the matchup to trust him.
Start – Frank Gore – Indianapolis Colts – at Los Angeles Rams
The Indianapolis Colts are going to need to lean on the running game a bit this week, considering the absence of Andrew Luck and the questions facing the passing game. Of course that will allow Los Angeles (who were middle of the pack in regards to points allowed to opposing RB last season) to focus on Gore, who is hardly the force that he once was but still a dependable option. He’s not elite, but as a RB2 Gore is going to be a solid play.
Start – Bilal Powell – New York Jets – at Buffalo
If you want to point to the presence of Matt Forte and think he’s going to be “the man” for the Jets, it’s a misguided thought. In fact, as part of an offense that may be the worst in the NFL not just in ’17 but for the past decade (if not longer), Powell arguably is the only usable piece. He showed be the focal point each and every week, and a lot of touches is going to be a lot of opportunities to produce.
Sit – Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints – at Minnesota
The presence of Adrian Peterson (as well as Alvin Kamara) alone is going to impact the outlook for Ingram, who could ultimately share the touches. When you couple that with the difficult matchup with the Minnesota Vikings and the potential lack of TD (he scored 6 TD in ’16, and only once has he scored more than that) and he’s a tough sell as anything more than a FLEX (and even then, it would depend on your alternatives).
Sit – Thomas Rawls/Eddie Lacy – Seattle Seahawks – at Green Bay
You could argue which one of the two has the higher upside, but it doesn’t really matter. This situation is evolving as a four-man committee, and that’s a lot of mouths to feed. There’s only going to be so many touches, and it’s impossible to predict who is going to get most of them (especially in a game where they may need to put up a lot of points, meaning more passing attempts). Until we get some clarity, avoid this situation all together.
Wide Receivers (Two-Receiver Formats)
Start – Kelvin Benjamin – Carolina Panthers – at San Francisco
There are going to be questions regarding Cam Newton’s ability, having missed the bulk of the preseason due to injury. Still it’s hard not to trust Benjamin, even in shallower formats, against a questionable defense that allowed the fourth most points to opposing wide receivers a year ago. There is some risk, but the reward is far too high to leave him on your bench.
Sit – Mike Wallace/Jeremy Maclin – Baltimore Ravens – at Cincinnati
This is a similar situation to what Benjamin faces, as Joe Flacco has missed a lot of the preseason due to injury. The difference here is a much tougher matchup, as Flacco averaged roughly 250 yards with just 1 TD and 2 INT in his two games against the Bengals last season. Throw in the lack of clarity as to who the go to guy may be and this is a situation to avoid in all formats.
Wide Receivers (Three-Receiver Formats)
Start – Pierre Garcon – San Francisco 49ers – vs. Carolina
It’s easy to overlook Garcon, but where else are the 49ers really going to turn as a source of targets? Regardless of the matchup and the questionable quarterback play, Garcon has proven that he can consistently make plays (79 receptions for 1,041 yards a year ago) and should have ample opportunity to do so once again. In deeper formats he shouldn’t be overlooked
Sit – Kevin White – Chicago Bears – vs. Atlanta
The expected top receiver for Chicago, he’s going to draw a tough matchup against corner back Desmond Trufent. That alone will limit his appeal, but he also will face questionable quarterback play and competition for targets. Considering the risks involved, as well as the uncertainty given his history, it’s impossible to trust White.
Start – Delanie Walker – Tennessee Titans – vs. Oakland
There are questions about Walker over the entire season, but the Raiders were consistently beaten by tight ends in the preseason. Regardless of the improvement in the weapons across the field, there’s little reason to think that the Titans won’t continue to exploit the obvious weakness.
Sit – Eric Ebron – Detroit Lions – vs. Arizona
Ebron has potential, but Arizona was one of the toughest defenses against opposing tight ends a year ago. The Lions also have other weapons to turn to, so if they respect Arizona’s ability to stop tight ends they will simply look elsewhere.
Sources – ESPN, NFL.com
Make sure to check out all of our Week 1 Rankings: