[BLG Note: Introducing our new weekly start/sit fantasy football column from BGN Radio’s James Seltzer! For more fantasy talk, check out James on the This Week In Fantasy podcast.]
Disclaimer: Starts and Sits are relative to where a player is ranked on the aggregate. In other words, a "Start" is someone I like more than most, and a "Sit" is the opposite. So if I say to start Carson Wentz and sit Aaron Rodgers, that doesn't mean I'd start Wentz over Rodgers, it just means I think Wentz will exceed his expectations while Rodgers will underperform his. Cool? Cool. Let's get it. -Seltz
Carson Wentz – I know, I know. I'm a homer. And yes, I'm absolutely, 100% head-over-heels in love with Carson Wentz. What can I say, the heart wants what it wants. Having said that, the heart has zero to do with fantasy football. Check that ish at the door. Or with the Coat-check person. Do they still have coat-checks? Is that a thing anymore? Anyhoo, as much as I love our fair-haired ginger, I'm not making this pick with my heart, I'm using my head. Washington had the league's eighth-worst defense in 2016, according to Football Outsiders, and just lost a starting safety (Su'a Cravens) less than a week before the season. Add in Carson's new toys, the likely ineffectiveness of the running game, and Doug Pederson's penchant for calling lots and lots of pass plays – and Wentz has a terrific recipe for fantasy success on Sunday.
Carson Palmer – Start all your Carsons this week, you guys. However, my love for one Carson doesn't extend to the other. This is strictly business. Palmer faces a Kerry Hyder-less Lions defense that yielded 32 passing touchdowns last season – only the Browns allowed more – and the third-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. And even though Palmer is approximately 637 years old, he can still pick apart a defense if he's given time to do so. Especially a bad defense, like the Lions. Yeah, I said it, they're bad. Come @ me Lions fans. Lol at the thought that any Lions fans are reading this – and LOL at the thought that there are any Lions fans...period. Start Palmer against the Lions, aka the team with no fans.
Dak Prescott – Welp, if you didn't think I was a homer before, I've probably lost any chance of dissuading you of that notion now. So I'll lean into it, Carson Wentz is going to have a better fantasy season than Dak Prescott. Booooooooom. Lock it in. This week looks to be a particularly tough one for Dak as he faces a strong Giants defense led by John Barchard's favorite player, Landon Collins. This Collins-led defense – hold up...I just threw up in my mouth a little bit...I think I'm good now...back to our regularly scheduled programming – New York was especially good against the pass last season, allowing less fantasy points to opposing QB's than any team in the league not named the Broncos.
Aaron Rodgers – Listen, if you drafted Rodgers you're obviously starting him. He's still a top 5 quarterback for me this week. But I'd consider avoiding Rodgers in daily leagues, and tampering down expectations for him in your seasonal leagues as well. I know Rodgers is aces at Lambeau, but Seattle's defense is going to be legit. Not only did they just add a total stud in Sheldon Richardson, but they also get Earl Thomas – THE EARL THOMAS – back after the safety missed significant time last season. This is a completely different defense when Thomas is on the field. It's actually kind of insane how important he is for them. Anyway, alls I'm sayin is that Seattle's D is good and Rodgers may not be super great this week. Let's move on.
Todd Gurley – Alright, let's pick up the pace. Too much rambling and tangent taking, not enough fantasy goodness. My bad. I hope you can forgive me...someday. With that in mind, I like Gurley a ton this week. Not only do I think Sean McVay will find more creative ways to use his best weapon than Jeff Fisher did (duh), but Gurley faces a Colts defense that was among the worst in the league last season and did next to nothing this offseason to get better. I would start Gurley this week over any running back other than David Johnson or Lev Bell.
Bilal Powell – Yeah, I know, the Jets' offense is going to be horrendous. Like, atrociously awful #alliteration. But they will get yards. And they will score touchdowns...I think. Someone has to be the guy to get those yards and maybe touchdowns. I think Powell ends up being that guy more often than not, and I like him to start the season on a high note against a bad Buffalo defense.
*Bonus PPR Sleeper: Theo Riddick – Riddick is always criminally underrated in PPR leagues and this year is no exception. Arizona was terrific against the run last season, so I expect the Lions will have to throw the ball to have any offensive success on Sunday. Throwing = Catches = Riddick.
Ameer Abdullah – Same logic I used for Riddick applies in reverse to Abdullah. The Cards will shut down Detroit's running game – namely Abdullah – which will lead to more opportunities for Riddick. Plus, this Lions' o-line is less than inspiring. Or to put it bluntly, it's bad. Lions fans? Didn't think so. Leonard Fournette – I love Fournette's talent. I think he's going to be a star in the NFL, just not yet. Why, you ask. Because Jacksonville's o-line is trash (evergreen statement). Also, because Fournette's already had injury concerns and he hasn't played in a regular season game. Did I mention how bad the Jags' o-line is yet? Add in a tough matchup with an emotionally-charged, JJ Watt led Houston defense, and I'm avoiding Fournette at all costs this week.
Stefon Diggs – I'm all in on Stefon Diggs this season. I dig Diggs, you might say. Sorry. That was bad. Let's forget it ever happened. I dig really like Diggs. After reeling in 84-catches (in 13 games) as a rookie, Diggs heads into 2017 primed for a breakout. He's a flawless route runner who has a knack for finding holes in a defense. Plus, the Vikings plan to use him on the outside more this season, which also should help his fantasy production. Week 1 should give Diggs a perfect opportunity to flash his potential as he faces a Saints defense that yielded the most passing yards in the league last season.
Jamison Crowder – See?!? I told you I wasn't a homer. Lol. Seriously though, Crowder's a really good receiver, and potentially more importantly, he's a trusted target of Kirk Cousins. Even more, more importantly, he'll get to line up in the slot against Patrick Robinson. Need I say more? Well, actually, I do need to say more. This is awkward. The thing I need to say is, keep an eye on the injury report as Crowder popped up with a hip issue this week. It doesn't appear to be serious, hence me recommending him, but it's worth noting. Ok. Now I don't need to say more.
*Bonus Deeper Sleeper: Rishard Matthews – Matthews was way better last year than you think. Unless you think he led the Titans in catches (65) yards (945) and receiving touchdowns (9). Then he was exactly as good as you think, which was pretty good for the record. With Corey Davis still behind the curve after coming back from injury, I expect Matthews to play a big role in the offense, especially early in the season. This week's matchup with a horrid Raiders pass defense is an ideal opportunity to take advantage of Matthews' deflated price, especially in daily formats.
T.Y. Hilton – This one doesn't take a lot of explaining. Hilton with Luck is good. Hilton without Luck is much less good. Let's move on.
Dez Bryant/Keenan Allen – I'm lumping these two together because they are in similar situations in my mind. Both are guys I like over the long-term this season, but have difficult matchups in Week 1. Depending on the size of your league, it may be unlikely you have better alternatives, but I'd be leery of starting either of these guys (particularly Allen) in any format where I might be able to avoid it.
Sammy Watkins – I could talk about Sammy having to learn a new offense in a short period of time, or how I think the Rams' game plan will lean heavily on the running game. I could even talk about my fear that Watkins will tweak something on the first drive, miss the rest of the game and put up a hot zero for me in the process. But I'll confine my analysis to two words and only two words: Jared Goff.
Zach Ertz – Why would anyone pick Ertz as a "start" anytime before November begins? Great question. Because I'm stupid, I guess. But here's my (potentially flawed) reasoning: Ertz owns Washington. I mean, he owns them. Plus, with Jordan Matthews gone I expect Ertz to receive more of the "security blanket" work from Wentz, which should give him a high floor on a weekly basis. So, yeah. I'm in on September Ertz. Until he inevitably disappoints me.
Zach Miller – This is more of a long shot, home run type play, but there's of logic behind it. One, the Bears have literally no capable receivers. Two, Miller isn't the worst ever. Three, the Falcons struggled defending tight ends last season. Alright, that's all I got on Miller, which was probably too much to begin with.
Martellus Bennett – Quick and easy: Seattle's defense is awesome. Aaron Rodgers historically hasn't used his tight ends much. Earl Thomas.
Eric Ebron – Ebron is banged up, facing a Cardinals defense that allowed the least fantasy points to opposing tight ends last season, and is generally overrated. Sit all day, everyday.
Chargers – Trevor Siemian. That is all.
None jump out as overvalued this week. Seattle and Minny are the two top defenses with tough matchups, but they seem to be ranked appropriately.
Some guy who's playing in a dome or who's on a team with a good offense.
Any guy who doesn't qualify the above set standard for "Start."