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Week 1 Start-Sit: Sleeper Starting Running Backs

week 1 start-sit
Photo Credit: Mike Morbeck

Football. Is. Officially. Back. Doesn’t that feel great to say? I mean the college games last weekend were phenomenal but the kickoff of Fantasy Football season on Thursday is the real start date. With that said, I think it is time for some start-sit analysis!

As I said last year when I first got the opportunity for a start-sit column, I want to be somewhat bold. I am not here to tell you to start David Johnson and sit Jay Ajayi. Because, you know, Johnson is the top player in Fantasy and Ajayi is on a bye week.

I want to help guide you to making the tough decisions. Just because you drafted one guy in Round 10 and the other in Round 3 does not mean that you have to start the Round 3 guy every week. It is a weekly match-up game, so where a player was drafted has no significance going forward.

I thought about trying to come up with a catchy name for the start/sit article. Then I realized that pretty much every start-sit has a catchy name now. So just like in Fantasy Football, I will zig when everyone else is zaggin! Let the SCFE Start-Sit reign supreme!

I will also be keeping track of my start-sit picks. Accountability should be a crucial factor in looking for Fantasy Football advice and information. So if a guy outperforms his ranking as a Start then it is a win. If he does so as a Sit then it is a loss. Vice versa for the under-performing players. If someone outperforms/under-performs their ranking by 12 or more spots, I will count those as Major Wins. By these metrics, my Start-Sit predictions were 128-99-1 last season with 67 Major Wins.

For our Week 1 Start-Sit predictions I am going to focus on guys rankings outside of the Top 24 RB/WRs and Top 10 QB/TEs for my Starts. I will focus on guys inside the Top 20 RB/WRs and Top 8 QB/TEs for my Sits.

Week 1 Start-Sit

(All rankings based off of the Fantasy Pros consensus PPR rankings as of 9/7)

Start

Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys (QB14)

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Over his last 10 games at Dallas, Eli has averaged over 25 points per game. In six of those games he had at least three touchdown passes and over 300 yards in half of them. He’s had at least 248 yards and three touchdowns in four of them. He just kills the Cowboys in Dallas.

Sam Bradford, QB, Minnesota Vikings vs. New Orleans Saints (QB15)

New Orleans was not the worst team in the league against quarterbacks last year, but they still are not good. They gave up the third most passing yards and tied for the third-fewest interceptions. I think this game turns into a complete shootout and you could do worse than Bradford this week.

Jonathan Stewart, RB, Carolina Panthers at San Francisco 49ers (RB34)

Robert Kelley, RB, Washington Redskins vs. Philadelphia Eagles (RB35)

Jeremy Hill, RB, Cincinnati Bengals vs. Baltimore Ravens (RB47)

Thomas Rawls, RB, Seattle Seahawks at Green Bay Packers (RB50)


There is a theme with all four of these running backs: they are starters that are ranked behind their back-ups.

While McCaffrey will get the majority of dump-offs and screens, Stewart will still get the early down work and goal-line carries. Kelley has been completely overlooked for both Samaje Perine and Chris Thompson all pre-season but Fat Rob remains the starter. Copy and past the last sentence and put in Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard for the Jeremy Hill analysis.

Rawls is interesting because he might be a game-time decision. With the addition of Eddie Lacy, C.J. Prosise coming back from injury and Chris Carson electrifying pre-season games, Rawls has been forgotten. Pete Carroll listed him as the starting running back and if he plays he will get 15-20 touches.

Brandon Marshall, WR, New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys (WR30)

As I previously mentioned, I am expecting Eli to have a huge day. Odell Beckham is a game-time decision and even if he plays he will not be 100%. Enter Brandon Marshall who is (shockingly) playing with the best quarterback of his career. Five catches for 90 yards and a touchdown.

Adam Thielen, WR, Minnesota Vikings vs. New Orleans Saints (WR32)

Like I said, I am thinking shootout in Minnesota. Thielen actually out-scored his higher ranked counterpart Stefon Diggs last season in both overall points and efficiency.

Kendall Wright, WR, Chicago Bears vs. Atlanta Falcons (WR50)

The Bears will have to throw to someone to keep up with Atlanta. While I do like Kevin White for the whole season, I think Wright has a bigger day against the Falcons’ porous pass defense.

Austin Hooper, TE, Atlanta Falcons at Chicago Bears (TE19)

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On the other side of the ball in that game, I think Hooper continues what he started at the end of the playoffs last season.

Indianapolis Colts D/ST at Los Angeles Rams (D/ST23)

I mean, Jared Goff right? I know the Colts have a terrible defense, but if you couldn’t snag the Rams, Steelers or Jaguars then Indy is not a bad streaming option.

 

Sit

Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers at San Francisco 49ers (QB8)

I think Ron Rivera is serious about using Cam less. Between Jonathan Stewart, Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel, Cam has more short, outlet options than he has ever had before in both the rushing and passing games. In what should be a grind-it-out, low-scoring game I think Cam does not deliver on this lofty ranking.

Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans (RB18)

For the first time since they drafted Jadaveon Clowney first overall, both he and J.J. Watt are fully healthy. Fournette is still coming back from an ankle injury and it is not like rookie running backs just explode in Week 1 (See Ezekiel Elliott and Jordan Howard last year or Todd Gurley the year before).

More importantly, I think Houston will have the fourth biggest city in the country to play for as they recover. There could be a Steve Gleason moment and the Texans could go on a run a year earlier than the Saints.

Marshawn Lynch, RB, Oakland Raiders at Tennessee Titans (RB19)

I’ve been down all Lynch all pre-season and nothing is going to change now. The Titans sneakily had the second-best defense against running backs in Fantasy Football last season. There will be too much DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard for Lynch to deliver on RB2 status.

Keenan Allen, WR, San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos (WR19)

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First game back from injury and Allen gets the dominant Broncos’ defense. I’m not sure Philip Rivers will have enough time to get the ball to Allen enough to satisfy this ranking. Let alone the fact that he is a coin flip from having a season-ending injury again.

Allen Robinson, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans (WR20)

As I said with Fournette, the Texans’ defense is at full strength and the city is behind them. It is just a tough spot for Jacksonville. Also, I own more shares of Allen Robinson on my Fantasy teams than anyone else so he is sure to bust.

Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins vs. Philadelphia Eagles (TE5)

The Eagles had the second best defense against tight ends last year and we are still not sure if Reed is 100%.


That’s it for the Week 1 Start-Sit predictions! Be sure to check back next week to see how I started the season off. As always, just shoot any game-day questions to me on Twitter @Tomlin3.

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Michael Tomlin
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Michael Tomlin

Michael Tomlin is an ESPY-nominated, former college football player who stays associated with the game through Fantasy Sports. He has been writing his personal blog, Dirkland.blogspot.com, for three years and it focuses on Fantasy Sports, as well as handicapping. He was born and raised in the DFW Metroplex, and he follows all of the Dallas teams, along with Texas Tech athletics and Manchester City F.C.
Michael Tomlin
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