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:
Odell Beckham – New York Giants – Wide Receiver
This is one of the more frustrating situations of the week as Beckham is listed as questionable, traveled with the team to Dallas and it appears like the Giants will give him a chance to suit up (depending on how he warms up) despite not practicing. That said, as Adam Schefter tweeted this morning:
While the Giants believe Odell Beckham Jr. is considered a game-time decision, there is real doubt whether he will play, per sources.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 10, 2017
With the Giants playing on Sunday night the replacements options, if you do opt to roll the dice and see if he’s ultimately able to play, are limited. We do have the advantage of their being two Monday night games, expanding our options a little bit (think the Saints’ Brandon Coleman, for instance) but that doesn’t mean there are great choices.
At the same time, even if Beckham does play will he have the same explosiveness? Will he see a normal workload or will he be on a snap count? Could he suit up and only be utilized as a decoy?
There’s a significant potential reward, but the downside with few replacements could be even worse. Unfortunately unless you have a solid replacement in place for Sunday night or Monday night, you’d be better of using someone playing earlier in the day.
Verdict – Sit ‘Em, unless you have a viable late game alternative
Joe Mixon – Cincinnati Bengals – Running Back
Most speculation has been that Mixon will be the lead back for the Bengals, but fantasy owners with depth may want to tap the brakes a little bit. Paul Dehner Jr. of The Cincinnati Enquirer (click here for the article) recently published the following quote:
“The flow is more important than the touches,” running backs coach Kyle Caskey said. “You see it in the preseason when we are forced to put guys in because we want to get them playing time. We are more worried about touches in the preseason and play numbers and play counts. In the regular season we are more worried about production and winning.”
Mixon, Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard will all play a role, and there’s no guarantee that Mixon gets the bulk of the opportunities. Further complicating things is a difficult matchup, with the Ravens being among the best against opposing running backs a year ago. With the questionable opportunities and a difficult matchup Mixon should be viewed more as a FLEX option than a RB2 (though he has the upside) and depending on your alternatives could be worth sitting down.
Verdict – Potential FLEX
Jordan Reed – Washington Redskins – Tight End
According to Ian Rapport (via Twitter):
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 10, 2017
The oft injured tight end is among the elite at his position when he’s healthy, but that is often not the case. At this point, while he’s still a usable option, his stock has to be dropping with the risk increasing. Consider him more of a low-end TE1 at this point for the week.
Verdict – Low-end TE1, at best
Golden Tate – Detroit Lions – Wide Receiver
According to Josh Weinfuss of ESPN (click here for the article):
With Peterson likely shadowing Lions receiver Golden Tate on Sunday in Detroit, Bethel will likely be assigned to Marvin Jones Jr., who had 55 catches for 930 yards and four touchdowns last season. Bethel might be just as athletic as Peterson, but he’ll be taking on a much larger workload than the six-time Pro Bowl selection.
Tate should still get some targets, but being shadowed by one of the elite in the sport is going to make for some tough sledding. Consider him closer to a WR3 than a WR1 and it all depends on your alternatives.
Verdict – Usable, but depends on the alternatives
Marcus Mariota – Tennessee Titans – Quarterback
He’s ranked as a Top 10 quarterback this season and is likely in your starting lineup already for Week 1. If you are on the fence for whatever reason, here’s a great stat from ESPN’s Matthew Berry:
For his career in the red zone, Mariota has tossed 33 touchdowns against zero interceptions and he added the second-most-successful red zone receiver (in terms of touchdowns) over the past five years in Eric Decker. Opponents turned 57.9 percent of red zone drives into touchdowns against the Raiders last season (ninth-highest rate), so yeah. I’m on Mariota this year and it starts this week.
In other words, if he’s not in your starting lineup he should be (unless you have one of the truly elite).
Verdict – Start ‘Em
Eddie Lacy – Seattle Seahawks – Running Back
According to Liz Mathews (via Twitter):
Carroll on Thomas Rawls: “He worked out well again today, that will go all the way to gameday.”
Rawls is listed as questionable as he works his way back from an ankle injury that cost him the bulk of the preseason (he had 2 carries for 5 yards). Even if he does play, it’s possible he’s on a “pitch count” of sorts and only sees limited action. You would think that would make Lacy a must use RB2, but that’s hardly the case as he’s still not going to see a full workload and failed to impress in the preseason (14 carries for 51 yards).
Verdict – Dart throw FLEX option
T.Y. Hilton – Indianapolis Colts – Wide Receiver
We all know that Hilton is a risky play with Andrew Luck out, but here’s an interesting stat courtesy of ESPN:
Luck’s absence really impacts Hilton. The receiver has averaged 1.5 fewer targets and 17 fewer receiving yards a game in the 10 games that Luck has missed in his career. Moncrief is more of a possession receiver, so his role shouldn’t be too impacted because, if the preseason was any indication, the Colts won’t be looking to stretch the field. They’ll look more for quick-rhythm throws from quarterback Scott Tolzien, who is starting for the injured Luck.
While Hilton does amass catches, he’s always been a big play threat (he owns a career 15.7 yards per catch). In other words it’s fair to downgrade him closer to a WR3 at this point.
Verdict – Usable, but more as a WR3
John Brown – Arizona Cardinals – Wide Receiver
There were health issues this preseason, though he’s healthy and ready to go. Not only that, he’s expected to play a significant role. According to ESPN:
Brown has looked healthy the past couple of weeks and he’s expected to play — and play a major role — on Sunday. He said this week that even if he’s not 100 percent, he’ll do what he can do to play. But there’s no reason to believe he won’t be on the field against the Lions and that he won’t have an active role in the Cards’ offense.
The Lions actually allowed the seventh most receptions to wide receivers a year ago, despite defending the fourth fewest targets (317). Brown is a locked in WR3 (with WR2 upside).
Verdict – Start ‘Em
Sources – ESPN, NFL.com
Make sure to check out all of our Week 1 Rankings: