Posted: Wednesday, September 4, 2019
This is the Fantasy Football Nerd's look at the best and worst matchups for Week 1 of the 2019 NFL season. Analysis is aggregated from multiple sources including FFN. FFN rankings are based upon PPR (point per reception) scoring. Given the known conditions, these matchups are the ones to watch and/or avoid.
Please Note: This list does not generally include the elite players that you are going to start regardless of matchup. You don't need us to tell you to start Aaron Rodgers, Travis Kelce, or DeAndre Hopkins. Instead, we take a look at other players on your team that we believe either have great matchups or should be avoided for multiple reasons. Factors like opposing defense, performance trending, and peer comparisons may influence our decisions.
Start 'em Jameis Winston (TB, QB)
It might be a bumpy ride, but Jameis Winston enters 2019 with the profile of a legitimate starting quarterback for fantasy. With two potential Pro Bowl receivers, an emerging tight end, and a head coach who relishes taking big shots, Winston still carries huge potential. He's ranked 5th this week at home against a Niners secondary that was tied for the most passing touchdowns allowed last season. Great way to start the season.
Start 'em Jared Goff (LAR, QB)
Ranked right below Winston is Jared Goff - fresh off a lucrative contract extension. Goff will have a full arsenal of weapons at his disposal for the opener, including WR Cooper Kupp. Note, though, that Goff struggled on the road last year, averaging just 244 yards and 1.25 TDs per game. He finished as a top 12 fantasy QB in just 1 of 8 road games.
Start 'em Cam Newton (CAR, QB)
Newton is a risk/reward Week 1 fantasy play. That foot sprain he suffered this preseason might limit his rushing ability. (And remember that he's still returning from offseason shoulder surgery.) Newton draws a Rams defense that finished mid-pack in fantasy points allowed to QBs last year. L.A. did allow the 11th most rushing yards to QBs.
Start 'em Austin Ekeler (LAC, RB)
With Melvin Gordon holding out, it's safe to plug Austin Ekeler into your lineups. He'll share duties with Justin Jackson but we fully expect Ekeler to have the higher share percentage in this one. He's ranked 15th this week among RB's making him a high-end RB2 with the potential for RB1 production. He averaged just over 15 fantasy points when Gordon missed time last year.
Start 'em Todd Gurley (LAR, RB)
We'll get the big Gurley reveal in Carolina on Sunday. We're all just guessing at how much his workload will really be scaled back. But he's as healthy now as he'll be all season. If you drafted him, you're starting him in Week 1.
Start 'em Chris Carson (SEA, RB)
For a team that led the league in rush attempts last year, the Seahawks have a fantastic run game and that starts with Chris Carson. He's ranked 13th this week facing a Bengals defense that gave up the 4th most yards on the ground last season and the most points on the board. Carson is in must-start territory this week.
Start 'em Tyler Boyd (CIN, WR)
Tyler Boyd starts the season as the Bengals' default No. 1 wide receiver with A.J. Green expected to miss multiple games with his ankle injury. Boyd was drafted as a WR2 and should be solid in that role for fantasy purposes. His Week 1 date will be in Seattle against a secondary that lost Earl Thomas and slot CB Justin Coleman in the offseason. Boyd is ranked 19th this week on FFN.
Start 'em Tyler Lockett (SEA, WR)
With Doug Baldwin in retirement, Lockett will have to be more than a big-play receiver in 2019, however, but we're optimistic that Lockett can handle the extra targets. Just how many that will be is to be determined, but he will easily set a career-high if he stays healthy. With question marks surrounding DK Metcalf and David Moore, Lockett will be a top-20 WR at home against the Bengals to begin the season.
Start 'em Julian Edelman (NE, WR)
Though Edelman had a scare when he took a hard fall on his left hand during the Patriots' preseason finale, his absence from this week's injury report confirms that the veteran will be ready to play Sunday against the Steelers, and as such is poised to maintain his high-volume role in New England's passing offense. The Steelers gave up more than 20 fantasy points to slot receivers last year.
Start 'em Delanie Walker (TEN, TE)
One of our favorite TE targets in drafts this year should start the season strong. While the Browns defense is certainly much improved, they did give up double-digit fantasy production to tight ends last season. He's ranked 10th this week on FFN.
Start 'em Jared Cook (NO, TE)
The Texans gave up the 4th-most yards through the air last season. That's good news for Jared Cook and his new team. Coming off a career-year in Oakland, Cook belongs firmly in the TE1 discussion.
Start 'em Baltimore Ravens (BAL, DEF)
The #1 ranked defense this week is Baltimore traveling to Miami. The Dolphins just shipped OT Laremy Tunsil out of town and will face Ryan Fitzpatrick and a "rebuilding" Miami offense.
Start 'em Jason Myers (SEA, K)
Nobody allowed more points on the board last year than the Bengals. Myers is kicking at home and should be able to put up solid numbers. He's ranked 3rd this week on FFN.
Sit 'em Matt Ryan (ATL, QB)
Matt Ryan opens with a tough draw in Minnesota. The Vikings allowed the 2nd fewest fantasy points to QBs last year. And in eight home games, they allowed just four total passing scores. That included zero to Matt Stafford, and just one to Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers. It's difficult to sit Ryan and he could absolutely still pull this off, but there's no denying the difficulty of the matchup.
Sit 'em Ben Roethlisberger (PIT, QB)
Big Ben has often struggled against the Patriots - particularly on the road where he's not necessarily known for his road success. When at home, New England has held opposing QB's to under 200 yards passing and 15 fantasy points. Although he has JuJu and plenty of other options, he's missing Antonio Brown for the first time. Ranked 20th among QB's this week, it will be interesting to see what Big Ben can produce here.
Sit 'em Peyton Barber (TB, RB)
While the aerial assault in Tampa Bay is locked and loaded, the run game remains a question mark. Bruce Arians will likely go with the hot hand in Week 1 between Barber and Ronald Jones. Barber is expected to start. We also expect Dare Ogunbowale to be involved, particularly on passing downs. All three backs carry low floors in an offense that hasn't demonstrated the ability to foster a fantasy-friendly rushing attack in quite some time.
Sit 'em LeSean McCoy (KC, RB)
The move to Kansas City and a reunion with Andy Reid doesn't make Shady McCoy a must-start in fantasy. Keep in mind that he's been there for only a few days and he still needs to learn a new playbook. He will also have to share duties with Damien Williams - a timeshare situation that we simply don't know what will look like. McCoy is ranked 42nd this week putting him even outside flex territory.
Sit 'em Devin Singletary (BUF, RB)
Ranked one spot below McCoy is Devin Singletary. The LeSean McCoy release made things less murky in Buffalo, but it's still going to be a running back by committee to start the season with Singletary expected to be the biggest producer. Frank Gore figures to be sprinkled in on running downs, while T.J. Yeldon helps out on passing downs, so Singletary still has some work to do before locking in a 15-touch workload. Singletary belongs in the RB3 mix for now.
Sit 'em Curtis Samuel (CAR, WR)
We'll see if Samuel is able to immediately cash in on what was a super buzzy summer. He's ranked 40th this week - making him a borderline flex option for Week 1, though, with his QB returning from a sprained foot and a matchup with a talented Rams secondary featuring CB's Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib and Nickell Robey-Coleman, he could struggle.
Sit 'em T.Y. Hilton (IND, WR)
The loss of Andrew Luck to retirement is going to hurt T.Y. Hilton. You can no longer count on him as a WR1 with Jacoby Brissett under center, and if past history with Brissett is relevant, he's likely to be much more dependent upon big plays. Hilton will still be productive, but he isn't the must-start fantasy option we've come to know and love. He's ranked 21st this week among WR's, so you're not going to actually sit him, but you should at least temper your expectations - particularly with Casey Hayward expected to shadow him.
Sit 'em Calvin Ridley (ATL, WR)
With Vikings CB Xavier Rhodes expected to shadow Julio Jones this weekend, Ridley could see a bit more action than usual. But he'll also have his hands full against CB Trae Waynes. Ridley is ranked 37th this week on FFN.
Sit 'em Greg Olsen (CAR, TE)
Olsen kicks off his season against a Rams defense that allowed the 10th most fantasy points to TEs last year. He's ranked outside our Top 12 this week - not because of talent or capabilities, but more so because it's unclear exactly how big a role he'll play coming off his foot injuries. We don't have much to go on either. He made one catch for just 4 yards in his only preseason appearance this summer. He's too risky for Week 1.
Sit 'em Jimmy Graham (GB, TE)
Like Olsen above, Graham finds himself outside the Top 12 - not because of talent or capabilities, but more so because of his anticipated usage. It's a new offense in Green Bay, and while that's exciting for fantasy owners to see how it will shake out, we can't forget that the Bears allowed the 11th fewest PPR points to TEs last season and held Graham to 40 scoreless yards in 2 meetings.
Sit 'em Jacksonville Jaguars (JAC, DEF)
The Jaguars have a solid defense, but this isn't the week to use them. They're ranked 28th this week on FFN facing one of the NFL's most potent offenses in Kansas City.
Sit 'em Adam Vinatieri (IND, K)
Ranked 24th this week among kickers is long-time veteran Adam Vinatieri. The Chargers ranked in the Top 10 defenses last year and they'll face Brissett and an Indy offense with a ton of question marks. Stream a different kicker this week.