Fantasy Football Week 1 Starts, Sits: Advice For Toughest Decisions

The 2017 NFL season got underway Thursday night with the Kansas City Chiefs’ dominating victory over the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. The Week 1 schedule has 14 games remaining, though, leaving fantasy football owners with plenty of difficult decisions to make.

With that in mind, here are our starts/sits for Week 1:

Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals
Dalton is surrounded by talent this season, and we expect him to be a consistent, nearly matchup-proof fantasy performer. That begins with a Week 1 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens who, despite once again having a formidable defense, might be more susceptible to the pass than many expect. And given that this is a home game for the Bengals, who typically start strong, we think Dalton should be in your lineups.

Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings
Despite the offseason addition of running back Latavius Murray, it’s Cook who looks primed for feature-back duties. A second-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Cook shined as a dual-threat back during the preseason, which bodes well for a primetime matchup with the New Orleans Saints, who have one of the league’s worst rush defenses. Start this rookie with confidence.

Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams
Gurley was a major disappointment for fantasy owners last season. But while that trend might continue this year, we think he’s a great play for Week 1 against the Indianapolis Colts, who allowed opposing backs to rush for 4.82 yards per carry last season. The Colts aren’t particularly good against the pass, either, and Gurley is a fine receiver out of the backfield. Playing in front of their home crowd, we expect Gurley and the Rams to excel Sunday.

Austin Hooper, TE, Atlanta Falcons
Hooper isn’t one of the sexiest names at the tight end position, but we think he has a shot to put up big fantasy numbers against the Chicago Bears on Sunday. The Bears boast a defense that’s slightly underrated but merely average at covering tight ends. Assuming the Falcons make routine trips to the red zone, Hooper should have plenty of opportunities to capitalize.

Brandon Marshall, WR, New York Giants
We’re not high on Marshall long-term, but he’s a solid play against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night. Whether star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. sits or not, he’s clearly not 100 percent, which bodes well for Marshall’s target volume. Marshall makes for a great WR2 play against an iffy Cowboys secondary.

T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts
Until quarterback Andrew Luck is back under center or fill-in QB Scott Tolzien shows chemistry with Hilton, we can’t recommend starting the speedy wideout. That includes a Week 1 matchup with the Rams, who still boast one of the NFL’s stingiest defenses. Sure, Hilton could break a big play or two, but betting on that is a huge risk with Tolzien throwing the ball.

Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Fournette’s talent is obvious, but we’re not expecting much from him in a road matchup with the Houston Texans. Already stout defensively, the Texans have a healthy J.J. Watt back in the fold, which should make life difficult for any running back. As is always the case with the Jaguars, there’s potential for an early blowout, which could limit the amount of carries Fournette gets.

Randall Cobb, WR, Green Bay Packers
The Seahawks’ elite secondary could force Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers to throw between the hashes more often, which seemingly would benefit Cobb. But those types of plays typically don’t result in huge chunks of yardage, and Rodgers has far greater options in the red zone. Leave Cobb on your bench.

Odell Beckham Jr., WR, New York Giants
Beckham looks 50/50 to play against the Cowboys on Sunday, which in and of itself should be enough to make you look elsewhere for receivers. But even if he does suit up for the Giants, his nagging ankle injury makes him an iffy play, especially when you consider much of his fantasy value comes in the form of yards after the catch. Starting Beckham would be a huge risk this weekend.

Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys
We expect Prescott to regress a bit this season, and that starts with a Week 1 matchup against the Giants, who have one of the more underrated — and formidable — defenses in the NFL. Running back Ezekiel Elliott will suit up for this game, which could open up the play action for Prescott. But even if that happens, we don’t have much confidence the sophomore QB can put up fantasy-relevant numbers.

Click to see the five must-start defenses in Week 1 >>

Thumbnail photo via Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports Images

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