Must-Start or Must-Sit? 2020 NFL Fantasy Week 1

Best Matchups to Maximize your Chance to Win

TE Tyler Higbee running against the Cowboys.

With Week 1 upon us, many people will be editing their lineups daily, constantly swapping players in and out to try to find the ideal lineup, because every decision you make is crucial. There is no worse feeling than losing because you made the bold choice to start a player who only contributed single-digit points. On the contrary, successfully predicting a player to unexpectedly pop for 20+ points massively increases the likelihood of you defeating your opponent. I have 10 players that may be on your team; half that are must-starts, and half that should be keeping your bench warm for Week 1.

Mark Ingram II vs Cleveland Browns: Start

The Ravens open the season with a favorable match up for their RB’s against their division rival Cleveland Browns. The Browns were one of the worst teams against the run last season, giving up 144.7 rushing yards per game. Facing a Baltimore offense that averaged 206 rushing yards per game, Ingram owners should be salivating over this match up. After being held to only 8 points in Week 4 of last season, Ingram scored 17 points in their Week 16 contest. With the Ravens expected to slowly work JK Dobbins into the offense, look for them to try and take the lead early, and run the ball often. Ingram should make an appearance in the end zone on Sunday, just as he should be in your starting lineup.

Devin Singletary vs New York Jets: Sit

Although Singletary enters the season atop the depth chart, he will have to prove he can stay there with Zack Moss getting his share of touches as well. In Week 1 he will be trying to make an impression against a Jets defense that only surrendered 86.9 rushing yards per game last season, and an impressive 3.3 yards per carry. Singletary didn’t play in 5 games last season, and posted the 32nd best fantasy campaign for running backs. Towards the end of the season, he showed the ability to be a workhorse back, however he still hasn’t shown that he can consistently get into the end zone. With only one game eclipsing the 100 yard mark, Singletary could have trouble scoring any meaningful points against the stout Jets run defense. Singletary should only start if you don’t have any better options.

JuJu Smith-Schuster @ New York Giants: Start
WR JuJu Smith-Schuster playing peek-a-boo.

Let’s start off with this: the Giants allowed 39 points per game last season to opposing teams wide receivers. If JuJu Smith-Schuster can catch even half of those targets, he’ll get you almost 20 points. Smith-Schuster battled an injury and terrible quarterback play in 2019, which led to a less than stellar season. JuJu Smith-Schuster enters Week 1 excited to have Ben Roethlisberger back at the helm and with a veteran QB under center, JuJu is WR2 material with high upside. Even after Logan Ryan’s signing last Week, he and the Giants pair of cornerbacks James Bradberry and Corey Ballentine will not be enough to contain Smith-Schuster. Look for him to start off the season with an entertaining performance. 

Julian Edelman vs Miami: Sit

Cam Newton and the Patriots will have a stellar season and make the playoffs, but there will be growing pains. With Tom Brady throwing to him, Julian Edelman finished as the 7th overall receiver last year, but struggled against Miami. The Dolphins’ defense was ranked 31st last season, and Edelman scored only 9.2 and 5.6 points in Weeks 2 and 17 respectively. Giving up 27 touchdown passes to WRs was the most in the league last season, so Miami added Byron Jones and Noah Igbinoghene to bolster their secondary. I see this being a close game, and Cam & Co. won’t figure out their offense’s potential until Week 3. Edelman should be keeping your bench warm for you in *most* leagues this week.

Drew Brees vs Tampa Bay: Start

After suffering a throwing hand thumb injury last season, Brees only got to play the Buccaneers once. The Bucs had the 32nd ranked pass defense last season, and gave up 21 points to Brees in their only match up. Tampa Bay defended the run better than any other team in 2019, but they gave up big pass plays at an alarming rate. What’s even more shocking is the fact they did nothing to address it this off-season. This is a completely new and improved Tampa Bay Buccaneers; except in their main place of concern from the previous year. Tampa Bay will continue to have a bottom 7 ranked pass defense this season, with Tom Brady or not. Expect Drew Brees to sling the ball in a high scoring game.

Matthew Stafford vs Chicago: Sit
QB Matthew Stafford attempts a pass against the Bears.

The Chicago Bears defense had a memorable season in 2018, but in 2019 they took somewhat of a dip. They couldn’t repeat as the #1 defense, but they were still impressive, allowing only 15.1 points per game to quarterbacks. Matthew Stafford has many targets around him in Detroit, and possibly the RB1 the Lions have lacked for years in D’Andre Swift. Nonetheless, in 18 career games vs the Bears, Stafford has only scored more than 20 points 5 times. Although I believe the Lions will win this game, you could find much better value elsewhere at QB in Week 1.

Tyler Higbee vs Dallas: Start

Tyler Higbee is one of the most interesting tight end targets this season, bar Hayden Hurst. Higbee caught fire in Week 13 and never looked back as Sean McVay really made him a focal point of Los Angeles’ offense. Despite missing two games and his late blooming, Higbee finished as the 8th ranked tight end. Dallas surrendered the second most points to tight ends last year (16.1) and Higbee himself scored 23.1 in Week 15. Entering a contract year, he will make a statement against the Cowboys. All signs point to a very active Sunday night for Tyler Higbee, making him an elite TE option in Week 1.

Austin Hooper @ Baltimore: Sit

It seems as though Cleveland’s patience with Baker Mayfield is running out. They have built a star-studded offense around him, this must be the year he uses the weapons surrounding him. Hooper proved in Atlanta that he could be a weapon for Matt Ryan, so the Browns signed him to a 4-year, $44 million contract. However, all of these weapons cause questions about how the targets will be shared. Hooper could become Mayfield’s security-blanket, but until that chemistry is proven, it’s best to take Hooper out of your lineup against a Ravens defense who allowed 8.2 points per game to tight ends last year. 

Jonathan Taylor @ Jaguars: Start
Colts RB Jonathan Taylor at training camp.

The Colts Week 1 match up against the Jaguars should have Jonathan Taylor feeling ecstatic. This game presents an opportunity for Taylor to breakout and catch head coach Frank Reich’s attention. Marlon Mack will steal a decent dosage of touches from Taylor, but Jacksonville’s 31.5 points per game allowed to RBs was 32nd in the league in 2019. It’s clear the Jaguars are tanking at this point, as they traded Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue (against their will), further diminishing this defensive line. Against one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, I expect the Colts to get out to an early lead and burn a lot of clock on the rookie’s shoulders.

A.J. Green vs LAC: Sit

There’s a lot of red flags to deter you from starting A.J. Green this week. Green has proved in the past that he is the WR1 the Bengals are missing, but after sustaining yet another serious injury the Bengals are beginning to look forward. Though I think Green will have a bounce-back season, competition for targets between Tyler Boyd, John Ross, and Tee Higgins doesn’t bode well for fantasy. Additionally, it will be interesting to watch rookie Joe Burrow make his first career start against the Los Angeles Chargers defense who gave up 2063 passing yards to receivers in all off last season. You can find a safer play than Green on your roster for Week 1.

Is there anyone you agree or disagree with, and why or why not? Comment below and let me know.


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