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Fantasy Football Friday: Start/sit for Week 1 of 2018 NFL season

Which players should be in, out of your season-opening lineup?

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NFL: AFC Divisional Playoff-Jacksonville at Pittsburgh Steelers Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Start/sit is a big thing for Fantasy Football. Decisions like these always need to be made and it’s always better to get advice. But I’m not particularly a fan of generic start/sit columns because there’s so much unknown — what scoring your league has, roster size, do you have any other options? Unfortunately there’s really no way to personally cater this column to you, so we get these columns that list a few players that might have a sizable group of people on the fence. At the same time, I want to cater this to you. You’re who I’m trying to help. Trying emphasized. If you like the column as it is, awesome! At the end of this post, I’ll put a poll to whether you’d like start/sit to keep appearing like this or if you’d like something that could be more personalized, like maybe an hour or so Sunday morning on Twitter or through the Questions feature on Instagram stories. Please let your opinion be known.

With that out of the way, here’s start/sit for Week 1.

Running back

Start: Jamaal Williams, Green Bay Packers

Jamaal Williams is currently Green Bay’s starting running back, at least until Aaron Jones returns from suspension and maybe after. Williams didn’t put up overly impressive numbers last season, but there is some reason to believe in improvement. Per Next Gen Stats. Williams was ninth in running back Efficiency last season, which I found was more predictive year-to-year than just yards per carry. The Packers are favored by over a touchdown, which could lead to some increased work on the ground at the end of the game.

Start: Marshawn Lynch, Oakland Raiders

It’s an easy joke to make, but Jon Gruden’s coaching philosophy might not have evolved from the last time he was a head coach. Considering all he’s said and done throughout the offseason, it’s hard to imagine he’s not a firm believer in running the ball and running it often — even if it is straight into Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh. However, the Rams did give up the second most fantasy points per game to running backs last season and Lynch is sure to see volume on Sunday.

Sit: Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks

People might not remember how good Chris Carson was last season when he was healthy. Unfortunately that might not help him in the Week 1 matchup against the Denver Broncos. For the bit the Broncos defense slipped last season, the run defense was still one of the best in the league — third in DVOA, sixth-fewest fantasy points allowed per game to running backs. The Seahawks appear to have a new commitment to the run game, but that might not find success early in the season in Denver.

Sit: Adrian Peterson, Washington Redskins

We’ve talked a bit this offseason about how running into stacked boxes instantly decreases the chance of a running play being successful. Adrian’s Peterson’s running style calls for defenses to stack the box against him because of the heavy formations his team rolls out for him. He usually needs a fullback and can’t really run from shotgun. He’s going against defense that was the best run defense by DVOA last season and allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to running backs. That defense is now coached by the guy who led the No. 5 rush defense by DVOA and allowed the third-fewest fantasy points per game to running backs.

Wide receiver

Start: Juju Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers

Since 2014 in games without Le’Veon Bell, Ben Roethlisberger has averaged two more pass attempts and 43 more passing yards per game than with Bell in the lineup. The short passes typically reserved for Bell turn into longer passes to wide receivers. Last year no team ran base defense more than the Cleveland Browns, which is asking for the Steelers to come out with three wide receivers and sling the ball around. Smith-Schuster is a big play waiting to happen against a defense that tied for the sixth-most passing touchdowns of 20 or more yards allowed last season.

Start: Keelan Cole, Jacksonville Jaguars

Keelan Cole is the latest in a now long line of acquired and developed Jaguars receivers that don’t get enough attention because of the quarterback situation. But Cole, a former undrafted free agent, is quite good. From Week 9 through the end of the regular season, Cole had the 13th-most fantasy points among wide receivers and only Marvin Jones (19.8) had a higher yards per reception than Cole (18.7) among wide receivers with at least 30 catches in that span. If Cole gets a bunch of Eli Apple on Sunday, he could have a nice day.

Sit: Robby Anderson, New York Jets

Robby Anderson is the Jets’ No. 1 receiver and last year he played that role quite well with Josh McCown. On Monday night, though, the Jets will face the Detroit Lions and that means Anderson is likely to see a good amount of Darius Slay, one of the league’s most underrated cornerbacks. Last season the Lions were third in DVOA against opposing No. 1 receivers and Slay followed top receivers most weeks. Between the tough matchup and the first start for a rookie quarterback, it might be better to wait and see with Anderson before using him later in the season.

Sit: Sterling Shepard, New York Giants

All the talk about Odell Beckham and Jalen Ramsey kind of overshadows that Jacksonville has another really really good cornerback in A.J. Bouye. If Shepard plays outside, he’ll likely get Bouye on most of his routes — or he’ll get Ramsey if the two stick to sides. Even in the slot, Shepard won’t have a an easy matchup. If you have a better option at receiver, it might be the right place to go and avoid the Jacksonville matchup with the Giants figure out their offense to open season.

Tight end

Start: Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans

No team gave up more fantasy points to tight ends last season than the Miami Dolphins — they narrowly beat the New York Giants (10.2 to 10.1). The Dolphins upgraded at safety and linebacker in the draft with the selections of Minkah Fitzpatrick and Jerome Baker, but there’s still plenty of places for a veteran like Walker to exploit the defense. If he’s healthy — he had been out of practice but did not appear on the injury report this week — he should be a big part of a Titans’ passing game that is still working things out with the wide receivers.

Sit: Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals

Tyler Eifert is healthy at the moment, but the Bengals want to preserve that health for as long as they can. It looks like that will involve a limited snap count, at least in the early part of the season. While some of those limited snaps should take place in the red zone — somewhere Eifert has been great — it’s safer to see what this looks like in a game before hoping Eifert can become and Antonio Gates-like red zone specialist. Tight end is always deep and there will be plenty of options to fill in like Tyler Higbee against the Raiders or Ben Watson against the Buccaneers this week if you need a streamer.


How would you like start/sit each week?

This poll is closed

  • 86%
    Keep writing column as is
    (176 votes)
  • 13%
    Specific questions Sunday morning through Twitter/Instagram
    (27 votes)
203 votes total Vote Now