Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Week 1
As the 2020 fantasy football season begins this week, that means Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em returns for yet another season! The long-awaited football season is finally upon us once again and that means we can talk all the fantasy football we want. As we look into week 1, we will look at the players who you should be sure to have in your starting lineups and those who should be riding some pine this weekend. As a helpful hint, you can always find me on Twitter (@DMooreNFL) for any additional start/sit questions not answered in this piece. Without further adieu, let’s get into it!
- Scoring and stats are based on half-point per reception scoring and come from fantasydata.com
- Start percentages originate from ESPN.com
- Start options range from 0-60%
- Sit options range from 50-100%
The following are my Start’em Sit’em Week 1 recommendations:
Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Quarterbacks
Eagles vs Washington Football Team
ESPN Starting Percentage: 49.9%
One of the biggest story-lines surrounding Wentz during the 2019 season was how quickly his supporting staff was disappearing around him. Also, how he’d be forced to lead an offense with second and third-team skill players as well. But as we enter the 2020 season, the Eagles have put an effort into helping surround Wentz with better talent. Now while the Eagles are dealing with some injuries right now, they will march into week one with an impressive group. Heading into week one, Wentz will have the likes of DeSean Jackson, Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, and Miles Sanders to target against their division rivals in Washington.
The Washington Football team boast one of the worst secondaries in the NFL and over the final five weeks of 2019, they gave up the most fantasy points (145.1, 29 per game) to opposing quarterbacks. Wentz also had some of his best games of the 2019 season against them, scoring 25.02 and 21.54 fantasy points in those two games. He is in a prime position to re-insert himself among the top quarterbacks in the league and that journey will start in week one in a big performance against the Washington Football Team.
Bills vs Jets
ESPN Starting Percentage: 55.2%
Allen comes into his third season with the Bills and they have Super Bowl aspirations. A lot of their success in 2020 will depend on Allen’s progression and performance. They went out and acquired Stefon Diggs from the Minnesota Vikings, giving him his best wide receiver to-date. He’ll have a chance to show off this new partnership against a lowly Jets team who just traded away their best player (Jamal Adams) this offseason. On top of that, Allen’s penchant for running the ball will be on full display in week 1 as the Jets allowed the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks over the final five weeks of the 2019 season. That also includes the third-most rushing yards to quarterbacks during that time (149) too.
The Jets come in with very low expectations and with a defense that somehow got worse from last season to this one, Allen is going to very quickly set the tempo for what will be a long season for the entire Jets team.
Saints vs Buccaneers
ESPN Starting Percentage: 54.9%
In what is expected to be Brees’ final season, he has the pleasure of facing off against the new-look Buccaneers team featuring fellow legend Tom Brady as their new quarterback. It’ll be a spectacle to watch as we’ll see two sure-fire Hall-of-Famers square off against each other. But for Brees, he walks into a tough situation against the Buccaneers and isn’t in a strong spot to produce a lot of fantasy football points. Over the course of the final five weeks of 2019, the Buccaneers allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks and only gave up four passing touchdowns while collecting five interceptions.
The Buccaneers return most of their biggest contributors on defense in Shaq Barrett, Jason Pierre-Paul and Ndamukong Suh plus add second-round rookie safety Antoine Winfield Jr. to the mix as well. Despite Brees coming in with a strong offensive line, one of the best wide receivers and running backs in Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara respectfully, he will be hard-pressed to put up a strong week 1.
Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Running Backs
Colts vs Jaguars
ESPN Starting Percentage: 11.4%
By now most have probably heard that the Colts drafted running back Jonathan Taylor in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft. It’s clear that the team views “JT” as their lead back of the future. But he still has to contend with Mack in 2020 and Mack is still very much a viable running back in fantasy football. Mack finished the 2019 season strong with two 15+ fantasy point performances with one of them being against his week 1 opponent, the Jacksonville Jaguars. Over the final five weeks of the 2019 season, the Jaguars gave up the most fantasy points to opposing running backs (168.6, 33.7 per game).
Taylor is expected to see his role grow as the season progresses but until then, Mack is fully expected to be an integral part of the Colts offense and he has the chance to start off his contract year strong against a Jaguars team expected to be one of the worst in the league this season.
49ers vs Cardinals
ESPN Starting Percentage: 42.6%
Mostert broke out in a big way down the stretch in 2019. Over his final six games, he had at least 50 yards from scrimmage and one touchdown. On a dangerous 49ers offense that heavily features running the ball, Mostert enters the 2020 season as the leader of the deep running back ground and is poised to continue where left off last season. He’ll face a Cardinals team that gave up the 12th-most fantasy points to opposing running backs over the final five weeks of the 2019 season, which included over 750 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns during that stretch.
Armed with a new contract and a chip on his shoulder, Mostert has the chance to hit the ground running against a vulnerable Cardinals run defense and continue his dominant ways.
Saints vs Buccaneers
ESPN Starting Percentage: 10.2%
There are currently no running backs with a starting percentage from 50-100% that I would recommend sitting, however I did want to talk about the Saints running back vs. the Bucs.
While it may seem crazy to recommend sitting a solid RB2 or Flex like running back like Murray, there are several red flags that stand out between him and his tough week 1 match-up. Murray will be going up against a Buccaneers defense that gave up the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs over the past final five weeks of last season. They gave up on average less than 100 yards from scrimmage (361 total, 72.2 per game) per game and only four touchdowns during that stretch as well. Kamara isn’t the best start either, but he’ll likely be used more in the passing game.
Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Wide Receivers
Bears vs Lions
ESPN Starting Percentage: 1.0%
Miller comes into 2020 as a popular sleeper in fantasy football and with good reason. Over the final seven weeks of the 2019 season, Miller saw at least nine targets in four of those games and finished with least 50 receiving yards or a touchdown. That includes a monster 140 receiving yards and nine receptions on 13 targets against the Lions in week 13. Now Miller will have a chance to replicate his week 13 effort as he faces the Lions in week 1, who gave up the most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers from week 13-17. This is also a Lions defense that traded away their top corner-back and replaced him with a talent but an inexperienced rookie in Jeff Okudah. Miller comes into 2020 healthy and with David Montgomery injured, the Bears may need to rely on Miller and the passing game even more.
Washington Football Team vs Eagles
ESPN Starting Percentage: 54.3%
After being one of the biggest breakouts in 2019, McLaurin looks poised to improve upon his terrific rookie season. He comes into 2020 as the undisputed number one wide receiver for Washington and with improved play from Dwayne Haskins expected, McLaurin has the chance to take another step forward in 2020. He will be going up against the Eagles in week 1, who gave up the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers over the final five weeks of the 2019 season. McLaurin also went bananas against the Eagles as he put up 5/125/1 and 5/130/1 stat-lines last season. He is in a smash spot for week one and can start his sophomore season strong against an easy opponent.
Odell Beckham Jr.
Browns vs Ravens
ESPN Starting Percentage: 88.8%
In his first season with the Browns, Beckham was a disappointment compared to the lofty expectations he had. Between the overall below-expectations performance by the Browns’ offense as a whole and the injury-riddled season Beckham had, it’s hard to gauge on what can be expected of him in 2020. Unfortunately for him, he starts off his 2020 season against one of the toughest defenses against wide receivers. The Ravens allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers over the final five games in 2019. On top of that, Beckham was very inconsistent against the Ravens as he had six receptions for 66 yards and one touchdown (15.6 half point-per-reception points, 7.8 on average) in their two match-ups last season. Between the tough match-up and entirely new offensive coaching staff, it’s difficult to trust OBJ in week 1.
Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em Tight Ends
Steelers vs Giants
ESPN Starting Percentage: 4.4%
After a big breakout season in 2018 (66-750-13), Ebron took a step back in 2019 (31-375-3) in 2019 that was plagued by injuries and inconsistent quarterback play. But with a new team and quarterback throwing to him, Ebron’s arrow is shooting up in 2020. He comes to a Steelers team that has struggled to find a difference-maker in the receiving game at the tight end position. Plus with Ben Roethlisberger under center again, the entire team gets a boost in their fantasy football prospects. Despite the competition from Vance McDonald for snaps and Juju Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson for targets, Ebron is a strong sleeper this season.
He gets the chance to make a strong first impression against the Giants, who gave up the most fantasy football points to opposing tight ends (90.9, 18.2 per game) over the final five weeks of the 2019 season. That includes over 80 receiving yards on average (84) and one touchdown per game on average. Don’t be surprised to see Ebron jump out the gate hot in week 1 in this juicy matchup.
Browns vs Ravens
ESPN Starting Percentage: 16.5%
Hooper signed a huge contract in free agency with the Browns over the off-season following another strong season (75-787-6) in only 13 games in 2019. While he is expected to be an oft-used player in their revamped offense, it’s tough to figure out just how much he’ll be used on a team that has struggled to get consistent production at the position. On top of that, it’s with an entirely new coaching staff that we have yet to witness in action. The Ravens represent a very tough week one match-up for Hooper as they gave up the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends over the last five weeks of the 2019 season. That included only nine receptions and 108 receiving yards (21 per game). Hooper could turn out to be a very valuable part of this offense but it’s best to steer away in week one.
Start ‘Em Sit ‘Em D/ST
Seahawks vs Falcons
ESPN Starting Percentage: 25.5% (ownership %, couldn’t find starting)
Once the most feared defenses in the NFL, the Seahawks have still produced a solid group but nothing like the “Legion of Boom” days. But with the addition of Jamal Adams and Quinton Dunbar to the group along with stalwarts like Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright, the Seahawks have the chance to bring their defense back to their former glory days. They have an appealing week one match-up against the Falcons who were giving up the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing defenses over the final five weeks of the 2019 season. That included 19 sacks, four interceptions, three fumble recoveries, and one defensive touchdown. This presents a key opportunity for the Seahawks to debut their new defense in a dominant fashion.
Patriots vs Dolphins
ESPN Starting Percentage: 96.0% (ownership %, couldn’t find starting)
The Patriots produced one of the best fantasy defenses in recent memory in 2019. But while the Patriots lost franchise cornerstone Tom Brady in free agency, they also lost some key defensive players as well. Linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins signed with the Dolphins and Lions respectfully. Defensive tackle Danny Shelton also signed with the Lions while safety Duron Harmon was traded to the Lions and linebacker Elandon Roberts also signed with the Dolphins. Despite the losses on defenses, the Patriots are still expected to field one of the best defensive units in football this season.
They come into week one facing a surprisingly tough Dolphins squad that gave up the eighth-fewest fantasy football points to opposing defenses over the final five games of the 2019 season. With the Dolphins getting Preston Williams back from injury along with a revamped running back group with Matt Breida and Jordan Howard, they suddenly find themselves with more weapons at their disposal. The Patriots will typically be a strong team defense to start every week. It just won’t be this one.
Thanks for reading
Doug Moore is a fantasy football writer for Gridiron Experts. He has previously written for sites such as ESPN, SBNation, FFToday & Inside The Pylon. He also was the co-host for the highly-rated fantasy football podcast Overtime Ireland for several years. You can find him on Twitter at @DMooreNFL