2020 Fantasy Football Starts, Sits, Sleepers: Week 1

2020 Fantasy Football Starts, Sits, Sleepers: Week 1

by September 12, 2020 0 comments

The best part about fantasy football is winning. The second best part is the draft. However, the draft has come and gone, and fantasy owners struggle with who to start, who to sit, and who to target as a sleeper each week. Thankfully, four of our writers (Mike Fanelli, Joshua Abbe, Mason Thompson, and MJ Hurley) offer up their takes on who fantasy owners should start, sit, and play as a sleeper this week. Be sure to follow all of them on twitter and reach out with any fantasy football questions you may have. Without further ado, let’s get started.

Quarterbacks

Starts

Drew Brees vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers

This game should be high scoring between two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks. Last season in his only game against the Buccaneers, Brees threw for 228 yards, three touchdowns, and scored 21.1 fantasy points. With Tom Brady and the Buccaneers’ high powered offense putting the pressure on, Brees and the Saints are going to have to match score for score. Against a Buccaneers’ defense that struggled at times last year and has a young cornerback group, expect Brees to have another three touchdown game. – Mike

Ben Roethlisberger at New York Giants

Roethlisberger is a great option for Week 1. Last season, the Giants allowed 21 fantasy points a game to quarterbacks, and their secondary did not change much this offseason. The last time Big Ben played 16 games, he threw for over 600 passing attempts. Look for him to come out with a bang to show he’s still got it against a weak secondary. – Joshua

Carson Wentz at Washington Football Team

The Eagles are already dealing with injuries to offensive linemen and receivers. Even with that, Wentz is a plus-play in Week 1. Against Washington, he should be able to take care of a secondary that isn’t good. Kendall Fuller is the only player worth noting at the cornerback position, and he is in his first year back in Washington. Otherwise, they’ll be starting Ronald Darby and Jimmy Moreland. Start Wentz with confidence this week. – Mason

Josh Allen at New York Jets

The New York Jets had the 16th overall ranked defense in 2019. However, that was before Adam Gase, and the front office decided to trade away their best player in Jamal Adams. With the loss of their star safety and Buffalo adding deep threat Stefon Diggs, it appears Allen has a very favorable matchup in Week 1. – MJ

Sits

Daniel Jones vs Pittsburgh Steelers

Many, including myself, believe Jones could have a fantasy breakout season. However, the breakout won’t start this week. The Steelers have one of the best defenses in the league, while the Giants have one of the worst offensive lines. Expect the Steelers to send pressure at Jones all night long and force him to make quick decisions, opening the door for mistakes and turnovers. If you drafted Jones with hopes of him turning into a fantasy star this season, add a quarterback off the waiver wire. Tyrod Taylor is an excellent target and owned in just 3.7 percent of ESPN leagues. – Mike

Baker Mayfield at Baltimore Ravens

Mayfield should bounce back this year, but this week against the Ravens, he needs to be on the bench. The Browns have a new coaching scheme, and the growing pains are not worth this risk. Now yes, the Browns beat the Ravens in 2019 but facing a defense that allowed 12 fantasy points a game to the position last year is worrisome. – Joshua

Joe Burrow vs Los Angeles Chargers

Burrow’s first start isn’t going to be a pretty one. He will be under duress all game against the Charger pass rush and will face one of the best secondaries in the league. Even without Derwin James, Los Angeles still has Casey Heyward, Chris Harris, and Desmond King. While Burrow has weapons, he could be in for a rude awakening against a top defense in the league. – Mason

Aaron Rodgers at Minnesota Vikings

There are multiple factors here that lead to Rodgers warranting a sit in Week 1. First of all, there have been documented issues between Rodgers and his receivers, not named Davante Adams, and their communication on routes in camp. Add that to the fact that the Packers offense is all about timing, and Rodgers likely won’t hit 300 yards or three touchdowns against the well trained Vikings pass rush. Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon will likely carry the ball enough to warrant a few big plays out of Rodgers, but overall he should on your bench this week. – MJ

Sleepers

Jared Goff vs Dallas Cowboys

After a disappointing 2019 season, many people were out on Goff. However, Sunday night, he will prove them wrong. Despite a horrible three-game stretch in the middle of the season, Goff finished the year as the QB13 in six-point per passing touchdown scoring. Meanwhile, the Cowboys’ defense was average at best last season and lost Byron Jones in free agency. Their cornerbacks are a young group so expect Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp to have their way Sunday night. – Mike

Cam Newton vs Miami Dolphins

Remember Dolphins Week 1 of 2019? Well, Newton isn’t Lamar Jackson, and the Patriots aren’t the Ravens offense from a year ago. Last year they gave up 21 fantasy points a game to the position. While the Dolphins changed their defense from last year, they should still struggle against quarterbacks in 2020. Newton still has the athletic ability for goal line work and getting the ball down the field. He should have a nice floor for Sunday. – Joshua

Philip Rivers at Jacksonville Jaguars

If you’re looking for a stop-gap while your starter has a tough Week 1 matchup, look no further. The Colts and Rivers square off against the lowly Jaguars in what should be a blowout. Jacksonville’s secondary is a mess after shipping off A.J. Bouye and Ronnie Harrison in the offseason. Now they rely on C.J. Henderson and Tre Herndon as their starting cornerbacks. Rivers and company should make easy work of the Jaguars secondary. – Mason

Matt Ryan vs Seattle Seahawks

Ryan has one of the biggest X-factors in the entire NFL, and it’s Julio Jones. Add Calvin Ridley to the mix, and the Falcons have a very nice passing attack that will be backed by the addition of Todd Gurley in the running game. Although Seattle always has a good defensive unit, Ryan often performs well at home and could have a big game. – MJ

Running Backs

Starts

Jonathan Taylor at Jacksonville Jaguars

Despite the nonsense report that the Colts drafted Taylor to spell Marlon Mack, fantasy owners can still Taylor with confidence this week. The Jaguars were one of the worst teams against the run last season and gutted their defense in the offseason. Expect the Colts to round the ball with a high yards per carry average. The game could get so out of hand so quickly that the Colts have plenty of run out the clock carries to give to Taylor and Mack. Taylor has the upside to finish as a top 15 running back this week in non PPR given the possible workload. – Mike

Cam Akers vs Dallas Cowboys

It’s no doubt Akers is more talented than Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown, but he’s in a prove it stage with no preseason football. Akers should get the goal line work and assume control of the carries when he starts to move the ball down the field. With Henderson battling a hamstring injury, Akers should have plenty of opportunity to impress the coaching staff. – Joshua

Mark Ingram vs Cleveland Browns

While Baltimore did select J.K. Dobbins, they would be wise to pound Ingram against the Browns defense. Cleveland ranked third-worst in the league against the run last year. Then they didn’t do much to replace him besides draft Jacob Phillips in the third round. Ingram was a bargain at his draft price and has an enticing matchup this week. – Mason

Tarik Cohen at Detroit Lions

David Montgomery has been limited for weeks due to the groin injury he suffered in training camp. Even if Montgomery is active against the Lions, Cohen will have a very important role in the Bears offense. Cohen poses a running and receiving threat. With a lack of a backup option to Montgomery, look for Cohen to see a significant amount of touches this week, whether Montgomery plays or not. – MJ

Sits

Antonio Gibson vs Philadelphia Eagles

The offseason darling Gibson is a risk to play this week. First off, if you’re a believer in the team’s depth chart. J.D. McKissic is listed as the team’s starting running back. Second, reports are the team plans to use a running back by committee approach to start the season. Third, the Eagles were one of the best teams against the run last season. With Washington expected to chase points in the second half of the game, the coaching staff may lean on the veteran McKissic rather than the rookie. Gibson’s time will come, but it isn’t this week. – Mike

Le’Veon Bell at Buffalo Bills

It’s no secret that Bell and Gase haven’t been on the same page for a while. Now going to Buffalo to face one of the toughest run defenses in the league doesn’t bode well for the Jets starting running back. Fade bell this week. – Joshua

Jordan Howard at New England Patriots

New England ranked in the top-10 in run defense last year. Meanwhile, Howard was signed to be the starter behind an abysmal offensive line. While the Patriots have lost many defensive players due to opt-outs, they should be in control of the game, causing Miami to get away from the running game. Matt Breida could be the better play of the two Dolphin running backs this week. – Mason

Melvin Gordon vs Tennessee Titans

In a move that no one truly saw coming, the Broncos have listed Gordon and Phillip Lindsay as co-starters. With Lindsay being the more power-oriented back out of the two, he will get more goal line touches. With the Titans being at the bottom of the NFL in 2019 in giving up rushing touchdowns, Lindsay could have a good day in the red zone, limiting Gordon’s upside. – MJ

Sleepers

Boston Scott at Washington Football Team

The Eagles are dealing with injuries to their receiving core. Alshon Jeffery has been ruled out for this game, while Miles Sanders may be limited with a hamstring injury. Whether the game gets out of hand early or not, expect Scott to see a solid amount of snaps this weekend. Washington struggled against running backs last season, especially in the passing game. With injuries to two of their top weapons, the Eagles will likely feature Scott more in the passing game. In deeper PPR leagues, Scott is a flex option this week. – Mike

Chris Thompson vs Indianapolis Colts

Thompson’s PPR appeal this make makes him a viable flex option or even a borderline RB2. The Jaguars will struggle against a Colts defense that should have them trailing, needing Thompson, who is their best receiving backs, to catch balls out the backfield. With the game expected to get out of hand easily, Thompson should see plenty of garbage time points. – Joshua

Anthony McFarland Jr. at New York Giants

Pittsburgh has a solid running back room that features multiple backs. While James Conner is the lead back, McFarland should get plenty of playing time on Monday against a horrible Giants defense. McFarland may not have even been drafted in most leagues and could be a top waiver-wire addition after Week 1. – Mason

Kerryon Johnson vs Chicago Bears

The fantasy world was very high on D’Andre Swift coming into Week 1. However, the rookie running back has been limited in practice all week with a hip injury. Johnson is established in the Lions offense and has the trust of Matthew Stafford in the passing game. Veteran Adrian Peterson will likely get some touches as well, but for now, Johnson should be the RB1 in an offense that allows the running game to thrive. – MJ

Wide Receivers

Starts

DJ Chark vs Indianapolis Colts

While the Colts added Xavier Rhodes in the offseason, he isn’t the shutdown cornerback he once was and shouldn’t scare you away from starting Chark. The Colts are expected to easily win this game, which means the Jaguars will have plenty of opportunity for garbage time points. With limited weapons around him, Chark could lead the league in target share this season. In two games against the Colts last season, Chark had 12 catches for 138 yards, two touchdowns, and 37.8 fantasy points. With his expected volume and game flow, Chark’s floor this week is 15 PPR fantasy points. – Mike

Tyler Boyd vs Los Angeles Chargers

With A.J. Green on the field, Boyd has the potential to make a splash Week 1 with Burrow. Boyd does a lot of damage out the slot, so look for Burrow to lean on him, which should produce a ton of yards after the catch. Green spreads the defense out to open more targets his way. – Joshua

T.Y. Hilton at Jacksonville Jaguars

Yet again, another Colts player is selected as a start. Hilton will be paired against Henderson in his first career game and should make easy work of the rookie. He could finish as a top-12 receiver this week. Furthermore, Hilton was a steal in drafts and is an excellent player to have in your starting lineup this week. – Mason

Jarvis Landry at Baltimore Ravens

The Baltimore Ravens recently released All-Pro safety, Earl Thomas. Because Thomas likely would have been following Landry around the field on Sunday, the veteran slot receiver will have an advantage over the Ravens. Landry has been under drafted in 2020 fantasy leagues even though he posted incredible numbers for his ADP in 2019. With most of the focus centering on Odell Beckham Jr., Landry always draws less attention. – MJ

Sits

Keenan Allen at Cincinnati Bengals

Mike Williams is expected to be out for this game, and while that means Allen will see more targets, it also means he will see all of the defense’s attention too. With Taylor taking over as the starting quarterback, the Chargers are expected to focus on the run more this season. That means Allen won’t see the same number of targets per game he did last season. Furthermore, the Bengals have William Jackson and Mackensie Alexander at cornerback. Whether Allen lines up outside or in the slot, he will have a tough matchup. With the expected game flow and his matchup, Allen belongs on your bench this week. – Mike

Amari Cooper at Los Angeles Rams

The Cowboys have too many mouths to feed in that offense, and we don’t know how the target share will breakdown. Furthermore, Cooper will be shadowed by Jalen Ramsey. The last time these two faced off, Ramsey gave up just one catch for a mere 19 yards. Cooper has struggled to get over the 100-yard mark and has become too touchdown dependent. – Joshua

DeVante Parker at New England Patriots

Parker will be going one-on-one with Stephon Gilmore this week. While Parker had an excellent end to last season, things have changed since then. Preston Williams may have been the receiver to draft from Miami, and he has a much easier matchup against J.C. Jackson. In what could be a low-scoring affair, Miami players should stay on your bench. – Mason

Adam Thielen vs Green Bay Packers

Thielen benefited greatly from having Diggs across from him in 2019. Due to Thielen’s lack of deep threat ability, he needs a lot of targets to accrue the fantasy points to warrant being even a start in most leagues. With Jaire Alexander on his hip all afternoon, look for Thielen to underperform. – MJ

Sleepers

Marvin Jones vs Chicago Bears

At the time of writing, Kenny Golladay was doubtful to play with a hamstring injury. Even if f he does play, you should start Jones. If Golladay is active, Kyle Fuller will be assigned to him. With Fuller on Golladay, Jones will be matched up against the rookie Jaylon Johnson. However, if Golladay doesn’t play, Jones will see an uptick in targets. Expect Stafford to look Jones’ way early and often on Sunday. – Mike

John Brown vs New York Jets

Brown had a career year last season, surpassing the 1,000 yard mark for the first time in his career. With Diggs now a Bill, defenses will focus on stopping him, opening up more opportunities for Brown in this offense. Brown is exceptional out of the slot, and Allen has the perfect opportunity to exploit a weak Jets’ defense in the middle of the field. – Joshua

Bryan Edwards at Carolina Panthers

When Tyrell Williams went to the injured reserve, Edwards was the biggest winner. The coaching staff has raved about him all offseason, and he finally has the chance to show why they are. His Week 1 contest against the Panthers gives him a chance to get off to a great start against a young Carolina secondary. The Panthers could have four rookies starting on their defense, including two in the secondary. – Mason

Jamison Crowder at Buffalo Bills

In the same way that Landry is often slept on, so is Crowder. Yes, the Bills do have one of the best corners in the NFL in Tre’Davious White, but Crowder will avoid him by lining up in the slot. With Sam Darnold growing in the Jets offense, Crowder will be his safety blanket in the middle of the field against the stout Bills defense. – MJ

Tight Ends

Starts

Hayden Hurst vs Seattle Seahawks

Last season, the Seahawks were one of the worst teams against tight ends. However, in the offseason, they added Adams in a trade with the Jets. Despite his addition, Hurst is a top 12 tight end this week. Even with the Adams addition, the Seahawks’ defense isn’t as good as it’s days with Richard Sherman and Thomas. Expect the Falcons and Seahawks to both score almost at will in this game. With the Seahawks trying their best to slow down Julio and Ridley, expect Ryan to target Hurst plenty, especially in the red zone. – Mike

Tyler Higbee vs Dallas Cowboys

Higbee finished last season on a high note, and with the exit of Brandin Cooks, he could see more targets his way. His last five games of 2019, he caught almost seven passes a game with nearly 100 yards receiving in four of the final five games. Jared Goof continues to improve at the goal line. He should be more confident throwing to his tight ends near the goal line, so look for Higbee to get an uptick in red zone looks this week. – Joshua

Hunter Henry at Cincinnati Bengals

Henry as listed as a bust in our preseason article because of his draft price, and the uncertainty at quarterback. However, he has a great start to the year against Cincinnati. The Bengals reworked their linebacker core and secondary during the offseason. Yet, Henry should take advantage of the miscommunications that are bound to occur. – Mason

Kyle Rudolph vs Green Bay Packers

The Packers rarely cover tight ends well. With Thielen being followed around by Alexander and Justin Jefferson likely drawing some significant attention, Rudolph will be left to be covered by one of the Green Bay linebackers or safeties. The Packers’ best cover linebacker, Kamal Martin, was placed on IR recently, which leaves Rudolph with the ability to roam the middle of the field as one of Cousins’ favorite targets in the red zone. – MJ

Sits

Mike Gesicki at New England Patriots

At the time of writing, Gesicki was questionable with a glute injury. Even if he plays, he should be on your bench this week. Besides playing through an injury, Gesicki faces the Patriots and their excellent secondary. While not having Patrick Chung hurts, the Patriots have several other good defensive backs. Furthermore, Parker is questionable to play with a hamstring injury. If he is out, expect the Patriots to take away Gesicki and force Ryan Fitzpatrick to beat them targeting someone else. – Mike

Jonnu Smith at Denver Broncos

The Broncos defense is one of the toughest against the tight ends. Just last season they only allowed three touchdowns for 2019 and the second-fewest allowed for red-zone targets with 10. Smith might be a better play further into the season, but for Week 1 against Denver not worth the risk. – Joshua

Evan Engram vs Pittsburgh Steelers

While the Giants will likely be losing most of the game against Pittsburgh, Engram will not have a good week. Pittsburgh’s defense will make life extremely difficult for Jones on Monday, and the pass rush will likely hurt the receivers for the Giants. – Mason

Rob Gronkowski at New Orleans Saints

Although Gronk may receive some significant goal line targets as the season progresses, Week 1 is not the time to take a shot on Gronkowski as a starting tight end. If you’re reaching for a flex position, even then Gronkowski will not be the focus in an offense that includes Chris Godwin and O.J. Howard. Gronk is listed as the number one tight end on the Buccaneers depth chart, but the unknown is too risky for an early matchup. – MJ

Sleepers

Dallas Goedert at Washington Football Team

Much like with the Scott pick, Goedert should see an increased workload with Jeffery out this week. Last season, Goedert finished the year as the TE10 and finished as a top 12 tight end in 57.1 percent of his games, in large part due to an increased workload with Jeffery missing time. Washington struggled against tight ends last season and did very little to improve on that in the offseason. Between the matchup and the likely increase in target share, Goedert is a top 12 tight end this week and is available in 72.3 percent of ESPN leagues. – Mike

Noah Fant vs Tennessee Titans

The Titans struggled against tight ends last season. Only two teams gave up more touchdowns to the position in 2019. Fant had two games last season with over 100 yards. Towards the end of the season, his chemistry with Drew Lock grew. In the offseason, the chemistry only got better, and Fant is a nice flier for Monday night. – Joshua

Jimmy Graham at Detroit Lions

Graham moved from Green Bay to Chicago in the offseason. Chicago’s offense won’t be great this year with Mitchell Trubisky as the quarterback, but barring a switch to Nick Foles this week, Graham should be a benefactor. Either way, Graham is going to get more targets than he did in Green Bay. – Mason

Blake Jarwin at Los Angeles Rams

The Cowboys have a lot of offensive weapons. Defenses all season will be struggling mightily to handle Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb, and that’s without even discussing dynamic running back Ezekiel Elliot. With so many resources going towards the speedy skill players, Jarwin probably will be overlooked in the middle of the field. The young tight end showed bright spots in 2019 and during training camp. Look for him to abuse a depleted linebacker core in Los Angeles. – MJ

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