By: CPGM (Twitter: @CPGMHeadley)
FANTASY FOOTBALL START/SIT – WEEK 1
Welcome Back! CPGM is here to give you its first edition of The Fantasy Football Start/Sit memorandum for the 2017 Fantasy Football season. It is time to set your lineups after weeks of research, mock drafts, real drafts and waiver wire additions. It is very important to set your optimal lineup by looking at the matchups and deciphering who to start and who to sit. Every year I preface my post by saying START YOUR STUDS! Yes, I understand that the Seahawks and Broncos defense are stingy in giving up opposing fantasy points but you drafted Aaron Rodgers and Melvin Gordon this high for a reason and now isn’t the time to sit either one of those players. Also please note that this post will not give you the obvious candidates like start Le’Veon Bell versus the Browns or to start Julio Jones against the Bears, I will go a bit deeper in deciding which fringe players to start or sit. Check out more content at couchpotatogm.com, follow me on Twitter @CPGMHeadley and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel (search Couch Potato GM).
START – BEN ROETHLISBERGER VS BROWNS
At first glance you might think “DUH” always start all your players against the Browns. However, if you are an avid fantasy football participant then you might know that Big Ben has a ridiculous Home/Road split. This game will be in Cleveland where in 2016 Roethlisberger only threw for 167 yards on 36 attempts and 0 touchdowns. A deeper look into Roethlisberger’s stats in the 2016 season has the veteran quarterback at home completing 70% of his passes for 20 touchdowns and 5 interceptions while on the road completing 59% of his passes for 9 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. In layman terms he is Tom Brady at home and Blake Bortles on the road. So why start Ben you ask? First and foremost, he has the Triple B’s aka The Killer B’s all in uniform for the first time since 2015. Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown are arguably the best players at their respective positions in the entire NFL but it’s the other B, Martavis Bryant that makes this offense the most dynamic in the league. Bryant’s ability to stretch the field gives Bell and Brown more space and opportunities to gain huge chunks of yardage in the short to intermediate area on the football field. This is a big plus for Big Ben’s stock and even though he struggled on the road against the Browns last season, at the end of the day it is still the Cleveland Browns. Start Ben with confidence.
Marcus Mariota vs Raiders
Eli Manning vs Cowboys
Sam Bradford vs Saints
SIT – PHILLIP RIVERS VS BRONCOS
Phillip Rivers didn’t fare so well last season against the fearsome Denver Broncos defense and I am not confident he will do any better this season. The 35 year old veteran does get a bit of a boost with the return of his number 1 receiver Keenan Allen however the combination of Chris Harris and Aqib Talib will be ready for the challenge Monday Night under the bright lights in their home opener. The biggest question mark for Rivers and the Chargers’ offense continues to be their offensive line. In 2016 the Chargers gave up 40 sacks and used 24 different offensive line combinations due to injuries and poor play. The spotlight will shine squarely on right tackle Joe Barksdale as he gets the mission of battling with All Pro pass rusher Von Miller. If he struggles to contain Miller like most tackles do then Rivers will have no chance of being a fantasy factor in Week 1. Rivers will have more premium matchups later in the season but this week you should sit him on the bench and start another QB if you have that option.
START – DALVIN COOK VS SAINTS
I’m trying to hold my excitement just a bit on what I expect from Dalvin Cook but I’m going to let the cat out of the bag, Week 1 against the Saints on Monday Night Football will showcase the greatness that is Dalvin Cook. The Vikings fan base will sleep better that night after losing Hall of Fame running back Adrian Peterson who will also play in that game on the opposite sideline. The revenge narrative for Peterson will turn into the “Cook Show” and spring board another excellent Vikings running back career. The Saints defense has been historically bad over the last couple of seasons and although the Vikings offensive line is nothing to brag about I believe they will open up enough holes for Cook to explode through. The key for the Vikings is to get Cook to the second level as his vision, explosiveness and home run speed is special despite his poor combine numbers. CPGM has been beating the Cook drum throughout his career at FSU and the draft process so now is the time for him to make us look smart.
Todd Gurley vs Colts
Jonathan Stewart vs 49ers
Christian McCaffrey vs 49ers
C.J. Anderson vs Chargers
LEONARD FOURNETTE VS TEXANS
The rookie out of LSU who was drafted with the 4th overall pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars came into league with a lot of hype as the Jags wanted to run the football more and take the ball out of the hands of quarterback Blake Bortles. After playing in only one preseason game due to a foot injury, Fournette’s fantasy forecast has taken a hit recently. Not only do fantasy owners have to worry about Fournette’s injury history but the play of Bortles could hamper the entire Jaguars offense. I believe Fournette’s yards per carry will be on the low end this season and he will be a touchdown dependent fantasy player due to the stacked boxes he should face in his rookie year. Owners of Fournette should take a wait and see approach in Week 1 as the Jags will travel to Houston to face J.J. Watt and company. The season opener in #HoustonStrong will be a passionate atmosphere as the city is still recovering from the devastating Hurricane Harvey. I expect the Texans defense to be flying around and making plays in the Jaguars backfield all game long which will depress Fournette’s fantasy outing.
START – DOUG BALDWIN VS PACKERS
A healthy Russell Wilson means a lot better Seahawks offense in 2017. Wilson was hampered with leg injuries last season which ultimately led to the demise of the Seahawks. We all know the Seahawks offensive line is dreadful and they didn’t improve much from a personnel standpoint, however Wilson’s legs will be the key for the Seahawks and Baldwin’s production. Even with a hobbled Wilson, Baldwin still performed with 94 receptions 1128 yards and 7 touchdowns. Baldwin has now improved upon his receptions and yardage total every season over the last 5 years in Seattle. At this point I strongly believe that Baldwin is getting better and better and is in the prime of his career. He is an unstoppable force that will improve his numbers yet again with Wilson creating outside of the pocket and finding the open receiver who is usually Baldwin. The Packers defense struggled mightily last season in defending the pass and although they added some pieces in the secondary in the offseason they will be outmatched by Baldwin’s route running and ability to make big plays from the slot.
Martavis Bryant vs Browns
Sammy Watkins vs Colts
Kelvin Benjamin vs 49ers
Stefon Diggs vs Saints
Ted Ginn vs Vikings
TYRELL WILLIAMS VS BRONCOS
You already know how I feel about the Broncos secondary so naturally I recommend keeping Tyrell Williams on your bench this week. Williams had a breakout season in 2016 catching 69 balls for 1059 yards and 7 touchdowns. The health of Keenan Allen might reduce Williams’ 115 targets from last season however he should be a more efficient player before and after the catch with defenses focusing on Allen. Not in this game though as Williams is recovering from a groin injury and has to face the best cornerback duo in the league. Last season in 2 games against the Broncos Williams caught a total of 4 passes for 32 yards and 0 touchdowns. Sit Williams and go with another option.
START – EVAN ENGRAM VS COWBOYS
I expect the Giants to put up a lot of points in this contest against an incompetent Cowboys pass rush and defense. Odell Beckham and Brandon Marshall are battling preseason injuries and may not be 100% which tells me that Eli Manning might take advantage of other matchups in this game. Evan Engram the rookie from Ole Miss is an intriguing name to start if you are in a tight end quandary as he is not your regular tight end. Engram has the skill set and speed of a receiver and should be used primarily as a receiving threat from the slot position. The Cowboys will more than likely struggle to get to the quarterback even with a poor Giants’ offensive line which will give Manning time to hit Engram across the middle of the field for big gains.
Delanie Walker vs Raiders
Kyle Rudolph vs Saints
Jason Witten vs Giants
ERIC EBRON VS CARDINALS
Many fantasy prognosticators are predicting a breakout season for the 4th year tight end as Ebron has improved every single season as a pro and gets a boost with the departure of slot receiver Anquan Boldin. The red zone vulture Boldin hogged a lot of Matthew Stafford’s targets last season inside the twenty with 22 attempts to Ebron’s 6. Therefore it’s only right Ebron gets more opportunities inside the 20s and cash in as a TE1 in fantasy leagues. This assumption does make a lot of sense but the biggest obstacle for Ebron will come down to health. Ebron injured his hamstring on July 31st and has missed a substantial amount of time in trying to develop a rapport with Stafford. He should be ready to go in Week 1 but you need to question is he 100%? And is he in shape to go up against the athletic Cardinals defense? Tyrann Mathieu and Budda Baker are rangy safeties with the ability to blanket opposing tight ends therefore Ebron has to show me before I insert him in my lineup.
DEFENSE TO STREAM
ATLANTA FALCONS VS BEARS
Here is a defense that I not only recommend for Week 1 against the Mike Glennon led Bears offense but I also recommend to own for the 2017 fantasy season. Dan Quinn is up to something in Atlanta and has revamped the historically poor Falcons defense into the second coming of the cover 3 dominant Seahawks defense in recent history. Late last season the Falcons took a major step forward with rookies Keanu Neal and Deion Jones in the middle of the defense and has now secured the pass rush by drafting rookie Takk McKinley to play opposite of 2016 NFL sack leader Vic Beasley. For fantasy purposes, sacks and turnovers are key for success. Therefore the pass rush coupled with the return of star cornerback Desmond Trufant and the opportunistic Falcons secondary will go a long way in becoming a Top 10 fantasy defense in 2017.