Week 1 Start'em/Sit'em

Sep 9, 2020 at 4:02 pm ET

This is the Fantasy Football Nerd's look at the best and worst matchups for Week 1 of the 2020 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 Christian McCaffrey, Travis Kelce, or Michael Thomas. 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 Carson Wentz (PHI, QB)
If you drafted Carson Wentz, you likely waited on QB and were able to get him in the ninth or tenth round. You're about to be rewarded for your patience. In both games against Washington last year, Wentz threw 3 touchdowns. He will be without Alshon Jeffery and Jalen Reagor, but don't let that sour you on him. Washington gives up the 8th-most fantasy points to QB's and Wentz is fresh.
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8th Most Pts to QB
Start 'em Cam Newton (NE, QB)
The Cam Newton experiment starts in New England this week. While the Dophins have Xavien Howard and Byron Jones, they did give up the 3rd-most fantasy points to QB's last season. Admittedly, there are going to be question marks for Newton, but his #11 ranking this week puts him in fringe-QB1 territory.
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3rd Most Pts to QB
Start 'em Drew Brees (NO, QB)
Ranked 6th this week on FFN is Drew Brees playing at home against a Bucs team that is all-in on 2020. While Tampa Bay remains a middle-of-the-road defense, Drew Brees is a beast at home averaging more than 300 yards passing and almost 3 scores over the past two years inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
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10th Most Pts to QB
Start 'em James Conner (PIT, RB)
We are all-in on James Conner returning to his workhorse status and leading the Steelers on the ground. The fact that Big Ben is back provides a significant boost as the Giants will not be able to stack the box against Conner like teams did last year. Conner is in fantastic physical shape and should exploit an average Giants defense.
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15th Most Pts to RB
Start 'em Tarik Cohen (CHI, RB)
If David Montgomery misses this game or is limited in it, look for Tarik Cohen to capitalize on the additional touches. He's projected for 7 rush attempts and 4 catches against a Lions team that he has scored at least 13 fantasy points in four of his last five games against them. Plug Cohen in as a low-end RB2 / high-end FLEX.
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6th Most Pts to RB
Start 'em Todd Gurley (ATL, RB)
Todd Gurley will take his first snaps on a new team, and there really isn't anyone else on the team as a legitimate threat to take touches away from him. He also has a positive history facing the Seahawks posting double-digit fantasy points in every contest.
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11th Most Pts to RB
Start 'em Keenan Allen (LAC, WR)
According to ADP data, Keenan Allen was drafted as a WR3 / FLEX option this year, and while he won't have Philip Rivers any longer, he should be prepared to see a ton of work - particularly if Mike Williams is limited or misses time. Allen is ranked inside our Top 12 this week. Plug him in against an average Bengals defense.
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15th Most Pts to WR
Start 'em Terry McLaurin (WAS, WR)
A breakout candidate, Terry McLaurin should be primed for a big game against the Eagles. Not only does Philly give up the 3rd-most fantasy points to receivers, McLaurin absolutely owned them last year to the tune of 5-125-1 and 5-130-1. Darius Slay may have something to say about a repeat, but we wouldn't count F1 out.
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3rd Most Pts to WR
Start 'em Stefon Diggs (BUF, WR)
We're about to see what kind of rapport Stefon Diggs and Josh Allen were able to create this off-season. Reports of them practicing together, and even spending time playing video games together, should help kick-start the relationship. It's a good matchup as the Jets no longer have a formidable, shut-down CB.
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8th Most Pts to WR
Start 'em Hayden Hurst (ATL, TE)
New team. New opportunity. Last year, the Seahawks gave up the 2nd-most fantasy points to tight ends. This year, they've brought in Jamal Adams who should help shore up the secondary. That may not be enough to shut down Hayden Hurst, though it remains to be seen how often we can expect Matt Ryan to look his way.
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2nd Most Pts to TE
Start 'em Tyler Higbee (LAR, TE)
Even though Gerald Everett is back and healthy, this is a great matchup for Tyler Higbee. Not only did the Cowboys give up the 7th-most fantasy points to the tight end position last season, Higbee absolutely chewed them up with a monster 12-catch, 111-yard performance in Week 15. There may even be a few extra targets to go around with Brandin Cooks no longer in town.
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7th Most Pts to TE
Start 'em Philadelphia Eagles (PHI, DEF)
Ranked #1 among all defenses this week on FFN are the Philadelphia Eagles facing a Washington team that surrendered the 2nd-most fantasy points last season. They will likely rattle the cage of QB Dwayne Haskins, and other than Terry McLaurin, there really aren't a lot of weapons in the Washington offense.
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2nd Most Pts to DEF
Start 'em Wil Lutz (NO, K)
If this game is anything like we're expecting, there should be plenty of points on the board. That bodes well for Wil Lutz as nobody gave up more fantasy points to kickers last season than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
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Most pts to K
Sit 'em Aaron Rodgers (GB, QB)
Once an elite fantasy QB, Aaron Rodgers has been largely relegated to backup duties. That's not likely to change this week against a Vikings secondary that gave up the 6th-fewest fantasy points to the QB position last year. This will be a tough game on the road against a team that has largely kept him in check the past two seasons.
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6th Fewest Pts to QB
Sit 'em Matthew Stafford (DET, QB)
Sticking with the NFC North, we're keeping Matthew Stafford on our bench this week as well against a strong Bears secondary that kept quarterbacks in check last year surrendering the 7th-fewest fantasy points to them. He has a healthy receiving corp, but he will also face a healthy pass rush too.
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7th Fewest Pts to QB
Sit 'em Gardner Minshew (JAC, QB)
While the matchup looks good on paper, the Jaguars have no legitimate RB threat and everyone knows that - especially the Colts who will look to exploit that by blanketing the receivers. We saw flashes of brilliance with Minshew last year, and even though he no longer has to fight for the starting job, he will likely struggle this week.
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11th Most Pts to QB
Sit 'em Leonard Fournette (TB, RB)
It's going to be tough to trust Leonard Fournette this week. He's had limited practice, learning a new playbook on a new team, and the Saints were brutal against running backs last year surrendering the 4th-fewest fantasy points to them. What role Fournette will play in relation to Ronald Jones leaves too much uncertainty for a starting recommendation.
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4th Fewest Pts to RB
Sit 'em Le'Veon Bell (NYJ, RB)
The addition of Frank Gore hurts Bell's fantasy value. If we could be reasonably confident in his workload, perhaps our tunes would change. He comes into this week's rankings at #21, so he's still a low-end RB 2 / high-end FLEX option, but temper your expectations. Buffalo was a pretty solid defense last year giving up the 10th-fewest yards on the ground and the 12th-fewest fantasy points.
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12th Fewest Pts to RB
Sit 'em Antonio Gibson (WAS, RB)
With Adrian Peterson now in Detroit, all eyes are on the dynamic Antonio Gibson. The problem is that we have nothing to really base our expectations on. He's a gadget guy who can play RB and WR, and he was barely used in college. While it's easy to know why people drafted him, it's harder to know how Washington will actually use him. Add to the mix the fact that the Eagles gave up the 3rd-fewest yards on the ground and the 4th-fewest fantasy points to running backs last year, and Gibson's risk shoots up.
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4th Fewest Pts to RB
Sit 'em Jarvis Landry (CLE, WR)
The big question marks here deal with volume and usage. We haven't seen what new HC Kevin Stefanski's plans to do with this offense. There are a lot of mouths to feed here, and the target volume is frankly an unknown. There's also the question of how much usage Jarvis Landry will see. It would seem reasonable that in his first game since offseason surgery, they may be more inclined to limit his snaps. Oh yeah, and the Ravens have a solid defense even without Earl Thomas.
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13th Fewest Pts to WR
Sit 'em A.J. Green (CIN, WR)
We fully expect A.J. Green to suit up. He's had an entire year to rehab, and HC Zac Taylor has indicated that Green will be a 'full go' for Week1. Are you ready to just plug him into your lineup though? We haven't seen Joe Burrow throw a single pass in the NFL, Green has barely participated at all during training camp, and his usage is a complete unknown. When he was healthy a few years ago, he was a TE1 for sure - even against a solid Chargers secondary. We'd wait a week or two before feeling confident putting him in our lineups.
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3rd Fewest Pts to WR
Sit 'em Jamison Crowder (NYJ, WR)
Admittedly we're a bit conflicted on Jamison Crowder, but ultimately we're placing him in our Sit side of the ledger. The injuries to Breshad Perriman and Denzel Mims should equate to more targets for Crowder, but there's a double-edged sword there. More targets likely means more attention, and when you're facing a Bills secondary that surrendered the 2nd-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers last year, it makes it difficult to consider Crowder anything more than a potential flex option this week.
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2nd Fewest Pts to WR
Sit 'em Mike Gesicki (MIA, TE)
We have every confidence that Mike Gesicki emerges as a solid fantasy option this year, but perhaps not in Week 1. The Patriots have largely kept tight ends in check, and they have been absolutely brutal to passers giving up the 2nd-fewest yards through the air to them last year. The QB situation in Miami isn't ideal, but the Dolphins are planning on lining Gesicki up in the slot in three-wide sets, so that's positive for fantasy owners.
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12th Fewest Pts to TE
Sit 'em Rob Gronkowski (TB, TE)
Gronk comes into our rankings this week at #12 putting him right on that edge of startability. It's really difficult to know how much the Bucs will use them. It would seem reasonable that he gets endzone targets, and Bruce Arians is going to want to get him involved, but he hasn't played a down in a long time and the Saints have been stingy with fantasy points to tight ends.
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8th Fewest Pts to TE
Sit 'em Cleveland Browns (CLE, DEF)
An opener against Lamar Jackson and the Ravens is not a great way to start the season, but that's what's the Browns are facing. Baltimore gave up the 4th-fewest fantasy points to opposing defenses. It will be difficult for Cleveland to prevent the Ravens from doing whatever they want.
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4th Fewest Pts to DEF
Sit 'em Zane Gonzalez (ARI, K)
One of fantasy's most consistently reliable kickers last year may struggle coming out of the gates in 2020. Zane Gonzalez remains a strong fantasy kicker, but a Week 1 matchup with the 49ers isn't great. Only two other teams gave up fewer points to kickers last year.
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3rd Fewest Pts to K

Join the Discussion

MonkfishOnCape CommentedSep 9, 2020 10:50 pm

“Saints have have been stingy with Fantasy points to tight ends.” Not Brady throwing to Gronk.

Nerd CommentedSep 10, 2020 9:41 am

We'll see. :-)

flubawub CommentedSep 15, 2020 10:00 pm

you guys totally blew the starts and sits! I won't be looking for advice from you guys again.

Nerd CommentedSep 16, 2020 9:26 am

Great feedback. Thanks. Sorry we won't be seeing you again.


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