Starting or sitting the right fantasy football player often means the difference between winning and losing. Our week 1 picks are right here.
Picking your fantasy football lineup might be one of the most entertaining yet stressful parts of your week. It also might not be. Though, who are we to judge? Regardless, week one officially kicks off on Thursday night, and you have some decisions to make before game time.
Analyzing match-ups are key to picking the right player. Does the opposing defense play better at home or on the road? How many yards per game did they allow to opposing wide receivers last year, and does the defense figure to be just as suspect this season? Those are a few of the questions to ask yourself when breaking down a match-up.
There’s little debate that at the end of season, first place prize is sometimes worth more in pride than in money. While some players are easier to predict than others, it’s often the FLEX or WR2 that you entered an hour before game-time that wins you the week.
Our start ’em or sit ’em picks are here for week one.
Spencer Ware, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Jamaal Charles is unlikely to play in week one. Even if he can suit up, who knows how effective he’ll be or if he’ll be relied upon to shoulder the bulk of the running back workload. Head Coach Andy Reid told Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star, “Yeah, Jamaal has to keep working through it — it would be a stretch for him to play on Sunday.”
Ware will take on a San Diego defense that finished 27th against the run last season and 20th in total yards allowed. Ware also averaged an impressive 5.6 yards per carry last season. The odds are in Ware’s favor, at least in week one.
Ware warrants a start as your FLEX and can even be considered for RB2 status if you don’t have great depth at the position.
Stefon Diggs, Wide Receiver, Minnesota Vikings
Diggs had an impressive rookie season in 2015, catching 52 passes for 720 yards and four touchdowns. He’ll have an important role in Minnesota’s offense, but you’re better off sitting him in week one.
The Vikings’ murky quarterback situation puts the passing game in doubt, at least for the earlier part of the season. If newly acquired Sam Bradford is named the starter, he wouldn’t have had much time to build chemistry with his receivers. It’s also unclear how well he’s digested the playbook on such short notice. Neither of which bode well for Diggs and the Viking receiving core.
Tennessee also allowed the seventh fewest passing yards per game of any team last season, only adding to the list of reasons to keep Diggs on the bench. If you’re looking for a flex play, look elsewhere.
Michael Thomas, Wide Receiver, New Orleans Saints
Starting a rookie in his first career game? However, does it sound so bad when Drew Brees is throwing him the football?
Consider what head coach Sean Payton had to say about his second rounder, “Listen, I think he’s gonna contribute early. I don’t follow fantasy football, but shoot, I’d try to have him. I think he’s gonna do well,” as noted by Mike Triplett of ESPN.com.
Michael Thomas has a chance to make an impact from the game’s first snap on Sunday. The Ohio State product is on a team with several options (Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead, Coby Fleener, etc.) but could still see a decent volume of targets in the Saints pass happy offense.
He’ll face an Oakland defense that finished 26th in passing yards per game allowed last season. Also playing to Thomas’s advantage is his team’s own porous defense, which finished 31st against the pass in 2015. The Raiders shouldn’t have much trouble scoring, as we could be looking at a shootout in week one.
Sure, starting a rookie has it’s concerns, but Thomas has the upside to lock down your FLEX spot in week one.
Will Fuller, Wide Receiver, Houston Texans
Contrary to Thomas, Fuller is a rookie you should stay away from in week one. Although he’s listed as the starting wide receiver opposite of DeAndre Hopkins, there are several factors working against him.
First and foremost, the Bears allowed the fourth fewest passing yards per game of any team last year. You would think that Hopkins is likely to be doubled, but that doesn’t necessarily mean Fuller is in line for a productive first game. Hopkins is an elite receiver who will get the lionshare of targets one way or another.
Quarterback Brock Osweiler has plenty of upside but is still unproven. Fuller is an attractive young wideout, but it’s best to keep him on your bench until he proves his worth.
Tyler Lockett, Wide Receiver, Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks receiving corps is difficult to predict. Although Doug Baldwin had a career season in 2015, there’s no legitimate star in this group. Warranting FLEX consideration this week is second year man Tyler Lockett.
According to the team’s official depth chart, he’s listed as second string behind Jermaine Kearse. However, he should see time in the slot and as a dangerous return man. If his impressive rookie season was any sort of omen, (51 catches 664 yards, 6 TD) you have to like Lockett on opening day.
He’ll face a Miami defense that allowed 250 yards per game last season through the air. Marshawn Lynch is now retired, as the Seahawks have begun to take to the skies more often. Lockett’s versatility and favorable match-up makes him an attractive starter in week one.