Fantasy Football: Start 'em/Sit 'em


(Photo: Gary A. Vasquez, USA TODAY Sports)

Get some insider tips on who to start or sit this week from our fantasy experts George Haraktsis, Jason Feiner, and Roy Countryman!


Quarterbacks


Patrick Mahomes


George: Mahomes looked like a seasoned veteran last week against the Chargers, and while he put up some gaudy numbers, I think the script gets flipped in Pittsburgh on Sunday. Mahomes only completed 55% of his passes last week against a Chargers defense that could only muster one sack without Joey Bosa. He will now have to face a Steelers defense that sacked Tyrod Taylor 7 times and generated 20 pressures on the day. I think he fails to find the deep ball with so little time in the pocket this week, and struggles to make his mark in fantasy.


Verdict: SIT ‘EM


Jason: Mahomes’ arm talent is real and he already found a connection with speedster Tyreek Hill on the outside. But this week the Chiefs head into Pittsburgh, and it may be in your best interest to leave Mahomes on your bench for at least another week. The Chargers D was weakened last week and he still only completed 55% of his passes. It would be of little surprise if Mahomes comes back to earth this coming Sunday.


Verdict: SIT ‘EM


Roy: Woot, WOOT! Here comes the conductor for the Mahomes Hype Train. Even with Joey Bosa missing, the Chargers have a reputable defense. Mahomes is blessed with arm talent many have only seen on Madden, which he may need given the vaunted Steelers pass rush across the field this week. There are two question marks in the Steelers defense this week — one is a hamstring injury to Joe Haden, and another is that the Pittsburgh safeties are still trying to get comfortable with each other. The defense won’t be good enough to slow down Mahomes.


Verdict: START ‘EM


Ryan Fitzpatrick


George: If you expected a performance of 417 yards, four touchdowns, a 75% completion percentage, and a 156.3 passer rating from Ryan Fitzpatrick in week 1 then you’re either a magician or clinically insane. While the Bucs are at home this time, they face the reigning Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles defensive line just made mincemeat of Matt Ryan and figure to do the same against Fitzpatrick. I think this was a one week fluke and Fitzpatrick comes back down to earth.


Verdict: SIT ‘EM


Jason: It would be a hard pill to swallow to expect the same type of production from Fitzpatrick in week 2 against a Philadelphia defense that just gave fits to 2016 MVP Matt Ryan, who had just an 8.8 point fantasy performance. I don’t think it would be wise to play Fitz as a week 2 option expecting the same output. Tampa has a talented offense, but he will fall flat in their week two home opener.


Verdict: SIT ‘EM


Roy: The Beard gets a much more challenging task in week 2. The Eagles D is known for its quality secondary as well as an imposing pass rush that has a lot of depth to rotate in and out to stay fresh. Fitzpatrick would be wise to try and get the ball out quick to his great assembly of weapons at WR and TE. A key injury to monitor though that could put a hamper on his value is the concussion, and shoulder injury DeSean Jackson is dealing with.


Verdict: SIT ‘EM


Sam Darnold


George: Other than his first pass going for a pick-six, Sam Darnold looked very good in his regular season debut. The issue here is that looking good on the gridiron does not always equate to fantasy production. Darnold does face Miami this week, a less than stellar defense, but I am not willing to crown him a fantasy starter as of yet.


Verdict: SIT ‘EM


Jason: Though Darnold put together an admirable line of 198 yards for 2 TDs and an interception, the Jets finished the day with 48 total real points while Sam Darnold only took 13.8 fantasy points home with him. The Jets are back at Metlife stadium on Sunday against a weak Miami squad, but Darnold hasn’t done nearly enough for me to start or even roster him at this current stage in the season.


Verdict: SIT ‘EM


Roy: The cries for a franchise QB coming to New York may have been answered if Darnold can keep up the quality play he showed last Monday night. But the Dolphins defense, despite lacking the star power from last year, did not allow a passing TD in week one. Pump the brakes on Darnold for now.


Verdict: SIT ‘EM


Running Backs


Adrian Peterson


George: Is it 2012 again, or do my eyes deceive me? We saw vintage Adrian Peterson against the Cardinals, and that trend won’t stop this week. The Redskins fed the ball to Peterson 26 times. Don’t expect this pattern to change with an easy matchup against the Colts, who were just torched by Joe Mixon for 149 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown. This is another great matchup for AP, and you should ride him until the wheels fall off.


Verdict: START ‘EM


Jason: If you have yet to trade AP for a hefty ransom, ride him and reap the rewards. If he stays healthy throughout 2018, we may have taken a time machine back to his glory days. He will be productive until running is no longer an option.


Verdict: START ‘EM


Roy: This Future Hall of Famer is essentially replacing Rob Kelley from last year. He will vulture a ton of TDs in the red-zone from pass-catching back Chris Thompson. I hope Jay Gruden and Co. keep feeding this guy until he starts showing his age, because it's great to see Peterson rumbling on highlights again.


Verdict: START ‘EM


Derrick Henry

George: Henry failed to find any sort of rhythm in the twice-delayed matchup in Miami, and while I do think he’ll bounce back, I don’t believe it will be this week. Mariota is scheduled to play this week after injuring is elbow, which does not bode well for Henry, who is not known for his pass catching. I’d stay away from Henry against a solid Texans defense and expect Dion Lewis to receive a majority of the snaps if they’re playing from behind.


Verdict: SIT ‘EM


Jason: Henry has never tickled my fancy in fantasy football.. All of my eggs were put into Dion Lewis’ basket, as Matt LaFleur loves a change-of-pace, do-it-all back. After a game that saw Lewis take 11 more touches than Henry and receive goal line and third down work, Henry seems to have been phased out of the Titans offense. After an abysmal showing that saw Henry gain 2.6 yards per carry, he won’t be finding his way into any of my lineups this week.


Verdict: SIT ‘EM


Roy: Henry’s physical specimen of a RB but just can’t seem to get the ball rolling, whether it’s is defenses keying in on him, injuries along his OL, or the presence of Dion Lewis. The Texans come to town after a respectable effort against the Patriots, and I could see them flexing their muscles on D this week against a battered and bruised Titans team.


Verdict: SIT ‘EM


Royce Freeman


George: Don’t let Philip Lindsay scare you. Freeman is still the starting RB. Think of Lindsay as the Ying to Freemans Yang. They both had exactly 71 yards on exactly 15 touches each. The Broncos will be facing a terrible Oakland defense in Denver and should get up early against the Raiders, giving Freeman a favorable game-script. Keep riding the Freeman train and don’t look back.


Verdict: START ‘EM


Jason: Lindsay will keep a role in the offense as the lightning to Royce’s thunder, but Royce is a productive back that should see more targets in the coming weeks. Don’t let a UDFA player scare you away from starting Freeman. Fifteen plus touches and a game against a pitiful Oakland defense is just what the doctor ordered. Start Freeman and you will be glad you did.


Verdict: START ‘EM


Roy: No one should panic after one week of work on this kid. He has a very well-rounded skill set that includes being able to run with power, quickness, and balance, as well as an underappreciated set of reliable hands out of the backfield. In week 1 he got outpaced by another underappreciated rookie from last year’s draft class in Phillip Lindsay, but do not fret. This is Denver’s bellcow.


Verdict: START’ EM


Wide Receivers


Chris Godwin

George: Every wide receiver for the Bucs looked good last week, and Godwin was no exception. While last week’s numbers may not jump out at you, the fact that DeSean Jackson is most likely out with a concussion Sunday should. While I don’t expect Fitzpatrick to have a superb day, Godwin will still step up in Jackson’s absence. He’s only a flex starter, but you could do much worse than that.


Verdict: START ‘EM


Jason: Godwin adds an extra dimension to an already explosive Buccaneers offense, but take this with a grain of salt. Seeing four targets in a game in which Tampa scored 48 is not exceptional. He ended with 11.6 fantasy points, but take away his touchdown and you’re left with a measly 5.6 points in .5 PPR formats. He won’t score a touchdown throughout most weeks, and he’s facing a stout Philly defense that gave up just 12 points to a loaded Atlanta team in week 1.


Verdict: SIT ‘EM


Roy: Godwin is a big-bodied WR who wins at the catch point with strong hands. He is developing a nice chemistry with Fitzpatrick this year, and the more he gains his trust the more passes will be coming his way. With the injury situation that DeSean Jackson is dealing with this week, he may see an increase in his usage. Even though he will be facing a quality defensive secondary this week in Philly, I think he would be a borderline #2/3 WR.


Verdict: START ‘EM


Quincy Enunwa

George: Ah, Quincy Enunwa — the forgotten man in New York’s WR corps. Enunwa missed all of 2017 with a neck injury, but made up for it in a big way on Monday night. He and Darnold found chemistry early and often in the Jets’ rout of the Lions. With Miami coming up this week, a team that is certainly not known for its pass defense, Enunwa figures to keep getting peppered with targets and could continue to build upon his impressive first game.


Verdict: START ‘EM


Jason: After gaining steam at the tail end of 2016 and missing most of 2017 with a neck injury, Enunwa seems ready to become the number one option in the passing game. Right? Well, maybe not. After all, Robby Anderson is in line for a larger workload than he received in Sunday’s smashing. Although Enunwa is worth a roster spot, I am not ready to implement him into my starting rotation, even in a favorable matchup versus the Dolphins.


Verdict: SIT ‘EM


Roy: Enunwa seemed to be one of Sam Darnold’s go-to receivers, and he should continue to see a large number of targets week in and week out. A crafty route runner who knows how to gain separation getting in and out of breaks, his game is not one that you have to worry about being affected too much on a game to game basis. Don’t sleep on him having quality production against the Dolphins, even though they showed great pass defense in Week 1. Start him as a #3 WR this week.


Verdict: START ‘EM


Kenny Golladay

George: After watching the Lions’ second-year wide receiver catch 7 passes on 12 targets for 114 yards, it’s hard not to keep riding the Golladay express. While some might attribute this to the blowout, they’d be wrong. Golladay did most of his damage before the game was becoming out of reach, so his rapport with Stafford was organic. Now with a favorable matchup against the 49ers, Golladay should continue his onslaught of defensive backs.


Verdict: START ‘EM


Jason: After gaining traction throughout the offseason, the second-year receiver made the most of his opportunities on route to his first 100 yard receiving game of his career. Stafford looked to him on the first pass of the season and an additional 11 times throughout the night. With 12 targets, Galloday finished the night with a 7-114-yard line. We can all expect Stafford to improve as the season goes on and in a favorable matchup that saw, Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs produce, Kenny Golladay is in position to thrive. Start him as a low-end WR2 with immense upside.

Verdict: START ‘EM


Roy: Golladay flashed last year in his first year in the league, being able to win routes down the field. In week 1 it was more of the same, and he seem to be in sync with Stafford on a night not much else was. He should continue to see a high volume on a week to week basis, and should put up some quality production in the red zone. Facing up against an underrated group of Press CB in SF, in Richard Sherman and Akhello Witherspoon I can see his numbers coming back down to earth from Week 1.


Verdict: SIT ‘EM


Tight Ends


Jack Doyle

George: Don’t worry about Eric Ebron getting looks and scoring a touchdown. Don’t worry about Doyle fumbling on what could have been a game winning drive. Just don’t worry. He garnered ten targets from Andrew Luck in that same game and led the team with 60 yards receiving. Doyle will continue to be Luck’s second favorite option in an offense that does not boast another great pass catching option beyond T.Y. Hilton. I don’t expect Washington’s defense to be as good as it was last week, and Doyle will benefit.


Verdict: START ‘EM


Jason: He may have fumbled the game away in the waning moments of Sundays thrilling defeat, but his connection with quarterback Andrew Luck remains intact. After ending the 2017 season as a top 10 TE, Andrew Luck has returned to the fray, boosting Doyle’s value in the process. Start Doyle in what could potentially be a high scoring affair.


Verdict: START ‘EM


Roy: While a heartbreaking fumble left a bad taste in everyone's mouth, there is another reason to pause when considering his fantasy value. Eric Ebron. Yes, that Eric Ebron. The same guy that flamed out of Detroit after years of hype and no production. He seems motivated, and seems like he also has Luck’s eyes set upon him. Going up against Washington this week could be a sneaky time for Ebron to pass up Doyle on the targets list, and possibly put up some big numbers.


Verdict: SIT’ EM


Jonnu Smith

George: I’m not touching Jonnu Smith until I see some actual production from the young tight end. 3 targets for 1 catch and 12 yards is not enough yet. With Delanie Walker out, some may want to jump on the young pass-catcher and start him immediately but I’d advise against it. Smith is not Walker. Stay far away until things settle down in Tennessee.


Verdict: SIT ‘EM


Jason: Smith is definitely worth a roster spot in a thin tight end class, but more production is need to feel comfortable in starting Delanie Walker’s replacement. He is a talented prospects with the athleticism to give Mariota a reliable big body pass catcher, but given the history of underperforming rookie tight ends, he doesn’t cut it for me heading into week 2. Walker said he has the potential to be better than himself, but that production will not come yet.


Verdict: SIT ‘EM


Roy: Smith was a big-time pass-catching prospect coming out of Florida International, and he could start to make a name for himself in the same way this weekend against a Texans D that seems to struggle to contain TEs. He should receive a large target load week in and week out with to Delanie Walker going on IR, and Mariota loves looking to his TE for production. Start with confidence as a streaming TE. Best case of opportunity meeting volume this week at the position.


Verdict: START ‘EM


Defense/Special Teams

Saints


George: The Saints have no choice but to bounce back after a brutal week in Tampa Bay. There’s no excuse for letting up 48 points ever, and common sense would tell you to sit the Saints this week, but I’m going to fade the public on this one. The Browns allowed the second worst pressure rate in the NFL last week and now face Cameron Jordan at home in the Superdome. Expect the Saints to bounce back this week and cement themselves as a top defense again.


Verdict: START ‘EM


Jason: Now heading home against a Browns team that scored just 21 against the Steelers and allowed 7 sacks and an interception, the Saints are a solid option to rebound and regain their spot among the NFL’s elite. In this critical matchup, look for the Saints to dominate form the get-go. They are a safe bet and should be started in week 2.

Verdict: START ‘EM


Roy: This team has way too much talent to play like they did this weekend on a weekly basis, but week 2 will be no mail in victory. They have a Browns team that just stood toe-to-toe with one of the most talented rosters in football, and will be riding that wave of confidence into New Orleans. The Browns have the talent at the skill positions, and now a competent OC in Todd Haley who could continue the heartbreak of Saints fans.


Verdict: SIT ‘EM


Seahawks

George: A few turnovers saved the Seahawks defense from a terrible outing this week, but I don’t expect the same to happen again in Chicago. The Bears looked good for at least a half against the Green Bay Packers, so I don’t think they’ll have trouble against the Seahawks on the road. The birds generated virtually no pass rush against a pretty suspect Broncos offensive line, and now face a better line in Chicago. I hate the matchup.


Verdict: SIT ‘EM


Jason: The Seahawks generated no pass rush in their week 1 loss to Denver, but forcing three turnovers helps bring fantasy points to your D/ST. This week Seattle is on the road against a Chicago team that has a plethora of talent, but I still wouldn’t be nervous to start the once dominant defense. Seattle ranks as my 8th DST this week. I will admit it is a risky gamble, but it's a gamble that should pay off in the end.


Verdict: START ‘EM


Roy: It is sad to say that the Seahawks are no longer a weekly starter on D. The depletion of talent in the pass rush and the infusion of inexperienced young players will help keep them as a middle of the road starting option, especially when you consider the matchup against the Bears and their up-and-coming collection of offensive talent.


Verdict: SIT’ EM


Steelers

George: It’s tough to get a solid read on the Steelers last week, since the weather conditions were less than ideal and created an awful playing surface for both squads. With that being said, the secondary definitely had it’s holes in it, but the pass rush was and should remain a strength. When the Steelers inevitably pressure the green Patrick Mahomes at home, I would expect some turnovers to come their way and a great fantasy day to follow. Start with confidence.


Verdict: START ‘EM


Jason: The Steelers defense played admirably against a Browns offense that looks talented on paper but that did not look great on the field. This week the Steelers debut at home against a versatile Chiefs offense that could explode on any given play. I don’t see the Steelers repeating their seven sack performance against Kansas city, and this contest will be a high scoring affair.


Verdict: SIT ‘EM


Roy: The Steelers had an uneven effort last week, generating a ton of pressure on Tyrod Taylor, only to allow him to break contain and run all over the field. With the talent that Patrick Mahomes showed throwing the ball, the real threat is his escapability to break the pocket and run for long gains. injury and comfort level in their secondary will also play a part. The Steelers always seem to crush the Chiefs’ OL in these matchups, but the secondary will truly be the deciding factor in the game.


Verdict: START ‘EM