2019 Fantasy Football Week One: Starts, Sits, and Sleepers

Joshua Abbe, Mason Thompson, Givanni Damico | September 7th, 2019

What a start to the 2019 NFL season! Antonio Brown has turned the Oakland Raiders into The Sopranos, while Julio Jones just signed a contract extension that is fully guaranteed. However, tomorrow we can get away from all the nonsense and enjoy 13 great football games. To help fantasy football players with their roster construction, three of our writers have provided some insight on which players they would start, would sit, and consider a sleeper for week one. Be sure to follow all of them on twitter and ask any of The Scorecrow’s fantasy writers for fantasy advice.

Quarterbacks

Starts

Jameis Winston vs San Francisco 49ers

Winston comes in week one with an enticing matchup against a 49er team that allowed the most passing touchdowns and the third-most fantasy points to quarterbacks when at home last season. New head coach Bruce Arians brings big potential for a high-powered passing offense that puts the ceiling quite high for 2019. Mix in the company he throws to of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and O.J. Howard. Winston has a great opportunity to put up big numbers for 2019 and that starts in San Francisco. – Josh

Dak Prescott vs New York Giants

Prescott has a great opportunity to get off to a fast start for teams that drafted him this year. In a match-up against the lowly Giants, he should have no problem returning value for the spot you drafted him at for this week. In two games against the Giants last year Prescott threw for a combined 547 yards and five touchdowns. Expect another great stat-line from him this week against the porous Giants secondary. – Mason

Matthew Stafford vs Arizona Cardinals

Stafford flies under the radar both in real life and in fantasy football. Besides Chandler Jones, the Arizona defense shouldn’t pose a threat to Stafford. He’s got plenty of targets to throw to as he should be able to pick apart the secondary. The Lions aren’t the most electrifying team offensively, but additions all over the field will help Stafford out. This could be one of Stafford’s biggest weeks of the season. – Gio

Sits

Ben Roethlisberger vs New England Patriots

Roethlisberger faces a Patriot defense that allowed an average of 15 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks on the road for 2018. He also is without his long-time WR1 in Antonio Brown as well. With a tough matchup going into week one, Big Ben is a borderline QB2 or a must sit in one quarterback leagues. – Josh

Matt Ryan vs Minnesota Vikings

It might be tough for most fantasy teams to put Ryan on their bench but Ryan has an unfavorable match-up this week against the Vikings. Minnesota only allowed four touchdown passes at home last year and while Ryan does play better in domes, the Vikings didn’t lose much talent in the secondary for fantasy players to feel confident in him this week. If you have better options on your bench or the waiver wire, I’d suggest taking them. – Mason

Kyler Murray vs Detroit Lions

Murray has received significant hype, especially in dynasty leagues, but this will be his first NFL start. I’d like to see him settle in before immediately starting him. During the preseason, his poise in the pocket wasn’t fantastic which led to a lot of hurried throws and short runs. Unless you’re in a deep superflex league, Murray should be avoided on Sunday. – Gio

Sleeper

Jimmy Garoppolo vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers

With the knee no longer bothering him, Garoppolo goes into Tampa Bay facing a defense that allowed the third-most fantasy points to the quarterback position in 2018. He is a solid QB2 start for this week. – Josh

Joe Flacco vs Oakland Raiders

Is Flacco elite? Well, he could be this week against the Raiders on Monday night. The Raiders allowed over 240 yards in the air last year and still could be just as bad this year as well. Flacco could show the Broncos organization that they should start to have some faith in him with a good performance on Monday night. If you need a streamer, or you have a quarterback in a tough matchup, Flacco could be an option for you. – Mason

Josh Allen vs New York Jets

Allen was a very good option in fantasy last year mainly because of his legs. He has improved his accuracy making him a dual-threat. If he can pick apart the Jets’ defense, he can really prove his worth for the season this week. – Gio

Running Backs

Starts

Austin Ekeler vs Indianapolis Colts

Melvin Gordon holding out means Ekeler will be handed the backfield duties. Though he might be sharing the load with fellow running back Justin Jackson. Ekeler brings a skill set to do work on the ground and in the passing game and with the volume for week one, he could score at any time he touches the ball. The Chargers threw the ball 58% of the time last year. Look for Ekeler to be more involved than Jackson against the Colts defense. – Josh

Chris Carson vs Cincinnati Bengals

Even after reaching for Rashaad Penny in the first round of last year’s draft, Carson exploded for the Seahawks. He finished with over 1000 yards while also averaging over four yards a carry on 247 attempts. Carson also figures to play more of a role in the passing game considering the Doug Baldwin retirement this off-season. Playing against the Bengals, Carson has the opportunity to get over 20 touches and is a high-end RB2 this week. – Mason

Phillip Lindsay vs Oakland Raiders

Oakland has many distractions right now and the organization isn’t in the best state. Joe Flacco is a solid quarterback, but he won’t overpower the Oakland defense with his arm. He’s going to lean on Lindsay to find some holes and make some big plays against a very lackluster front-seven. Lindsay shocked everybody last season and I expect him to remain consistent. – Gio

Sits

Derrick Henry vs Cleveland Browns

Before his breakout in weeks 14-17 last season, Henry only averaged three yards per carry. He scored seven fantasy points when the Titans lost in 2018 and going into week 1 against the Browns, it’s not too promising that the second half of the game won’t be garbage time for the passing game leaving Henry with little to no carries coming from behind. Add on already dealing with an early training camp calf issue, Henry may need to ride the bench week one. – Josh

Devin Singletary vs New York Jets

Singletary looks to have a firm grasp on valuable carries for the Buffalo offense this year. Unfortunately for him, a tough game against the Jets isn’t what he needs to start his fantasy relevance. With Frank Gore perhaps handling a majority of the carries, Singletary will need an explosive play to help fantasy owners this week against a defense that was stout and still added Quinnen Williams and C.J. Mosley in the offseason. – Mason

Joe Mixon vs Seattle Seahawks

Seattle still has a very stout run defense. Mixon hasn’t been the model of consistency during his time in the NFL and if there’s any week to bench him this year, it’s this week. This offense won’t be productive, especially without A.J. Green for a while, so I don’t expect Mixon to add anything spectacular this week. – Gio

Sleeper

Derrius Guice vs Philadelphia Eagles

Guice is being given the lead back carries going into week one and with the rumors of Adrian Peterson being a healthy scratch, the workload should go through Guice. He’s shown during the preseason he can be a three-down back and don’t expect that to change in Philly. – Josh

Justice Hill vs Miami Dolphins

Like Mark Ingram, Hill has a chance to shine against the lowly Dolphins. There is a chance that the Ravens could be so far ahead that they would pull their starters pushing Hill into action. The former Oklahoma State product is the dash to Ingram’s smash in this offense and could force the Ravens to use a committee later in the year. Expect Hill to get some carries, especially if the game is well out of reach for the Dolphins. – Mason

James White vs Pittsburgh Steelers

Everyone forgets about White. He will be splitting carries with Sony Michel, but the Patriots’ coaching staff said that White will be their go-to guy in passing plays. This makes him a great opinion in PPR leagues. I have a feeling this game will be pretty back and forth, so White is a good start for this week. – Gio

Wide Receivers

Starts

Dede Westbrook vs Kansas City Chiefs

Westbrook is a great flex play week one as he’s set for a breakout 2019 season. With a better quarterback in Nick Foles, the wideout has a chance to exploit a Chiefs defense that allowed the second-most fantasy points to at home receivers last season. Tack on the most receiving yards per game allowed. Westbrook should be Foles’ first option in the passing game. A strong WR2 in PPR formats. – Josh

Cooper Kupp vs Carolina Panthers

Kupp returns after finishing last year on injured reserve after a dominant start to the year. In what should be a high-scoring affair, Kupp has touchdown upside as well as being a PPR machine against the Panthers secondary where he will match up against Ross Cockrell in the slot. – Mason

Calvin Ridley vs Minnesota Vikings

Wait, start Ridley against the Minnesota defense? Yes. I anticipate Julio Jones to be locked up by Xavier Rhodes, which leaves more targets for Ridley. Ridley had great production in his rookie season and proved that he was a red zone threat. He should have a solid matchup and potentially be a sleeper play against a stout defense. – Gio

Sits

Corey Davis vs Cleveland Browns

Davis faces top cornerback Denzel Ward in a great WR/CB matchup that hinders the wideout’s upside for week one. Mix in Delanie Walker and Adam Humphries getting their fair share of targets as well. It’ll be hard to trust him given the matchup and his quarterback is still Marcus Mariota. – Josh

T.Y. Hilton vs Indianapolis Colts

Hilton took an enormous hit to his fantasy value when Andrew Luck retired a few weeks ago. He only barely eclipsed 900 yards the year Jacoby Brissett led the Colts in 2017. The Colts overall will take a hit, but perhaps no one as much as Hilton who will line up against Casey Hayward in week one. If you have receiver depth, you should think about sitting Hilton. – Mason

Sterling Shepard vs Dallas Cowboys

Shepard is not a great receiver. He doesn’t have a very good quarterback throwing him the football this year. If last year was any indication of what Sunday will be, most of the passes and handoffs will go to Saquon Barkley. Shepard will also have a hard task with the Dallas cornerbacks making this an unfavorable matchup. – Gio

Sleeper

Dante Pettis vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers

See Jimmy Garoppolo above! With Pettis being quiet all preseason and the training camp rumor mill from Kyle Shanahan about not impressing. Pettis goes into Tampa Bay as the WR1 on the depth chart. If he fell to you in your drafts, you stole gold. – Josh

Deebo Samuel vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I’ve been high on Samuel the whole summer to the point where I’ve said that he’s the best fantasy receiver on the team. Per the unofficial depth chart, he is running with the third-team offense in San Francisco. I’m not buying it. Samuel is far too talented to not be used in action and could be a top waiver claim if he gets targeted in Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay. The 49er/Buccaneer game looks like it could be a shootout and the 49ers could use Samuel’s spark to gain an edge and use him for the rest of the year if he impresses. – Mason

Randall Cobb vs New York Giants

Yes, Cobb is on the Cowboys. He’s still a good receiver who’s facing a bad secondary. This game should be a blowout and I expect Dak Prescott to get the ball to his new wide receiver. Bold prediction: Cobb has 85 yards and two touchdowns. – Gio

Tight Ends

Starts

Jared Cook vs Houston Texans

Cook comes off a career year finishing as the TE5 in 2018. Now moving over to a Sean Payton offense that is notorious for passing the ball, Cooks starts out against a Texans defense that allowed 97 catches, 1,104 yards and 10 touchdowns to opposing tight ends last season. With the focus on Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas, Cook should be an easy target in the middle of the field for Drew Brees. – Josh

O.J. Howard vs San Francisco 49ers

Similar to Chris Godwin, Howard has a positive match-up against the 49ers this week. In an offense that lost Adam Humphries and DeSean Jackson in the off-season, Howard should gain a ton of targets and should provide great value in a high-scoring game in Tampa Bay this weekend. – Mason

Vance McDonald vs New England Patriots

McDonald was a touchdown vulture last year. The Patriots’ defense isn’t very impressive and McDonald can find a way to get open in the middle of the field. Plus, the Pats have to deal with JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington, and James Connor. McDonald is the forgotten player on that team who is so valuable to Ben Roethlisberger. – Gio

Sits

T.J. Hockenson vs Arizona Cardinals

Hockenson was drafted as a top-10 pick of the NFL draft, but he is a blocking tight end for a Lions scheme that’s transitioning to run game. The Cardinals are tough facing opposing tights ends and with his role still unknown, it’s too much risk to start him this week. – Josh

Austin Hooper vs Minnesota Vikings

Hooper, in a situation similar to Matt Ryan this week, will have a hard time against the prolific Vikings defense. At a position with limited options, it will be tough to sit him, but the Vikings only allowed 5.3 points per game to the tight end position last year. Hooper is set for a breakout campaign but he’s difficult to trust this week. – Mason

Eric Ebron vs Los Angeles Chargers

Ebron was a beast last year but just lost his franchise quarterback. Jacoby Brissett is a total unknown as he takes over as the starter. Ebron also has competition at the position with Jack Doyle and is facing a tough defense. Avoid Ebron this week. – Gio

Sleepers

Darren Waller vs Denver Broncos

In a sneaky debut for Waller in Denver, the Broncos gave up the sixth-most fantasy points and seventh-most yards to tight ends in 2018. Now with Antonio Brown out of the picture that’s one less target for quarterback Derek Carr and that Raiders offense. – Josh

Will Dissly vs Cincinnati Bengals

Dissly hasn’t been healthy enough to serve fantasy value after his impressive week one last year. He gets another shot this year in the first game to show his skill-set against the Bengals. Dissly is a solid streaming option this week as a solid red-zone target as well as being another option outside of Tyler Lockett and Chris Carson in the passing game for Russell Wilson. – Mason

David Njoku vs Tennessee Titans

The Titans defense is older and slow which will help Njoku get open down the seam. He’s an athletic tight end who hasn’t achieved his full potential yet. I expect a breakout year from him and it starts week one. – Gio

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