Fantasy football: Who to start — and sit — in Week 1

The first week of NFL action kicked off with a replay of last seaon’s NFC divisional playoff round. Once again it came down to a red zone possession for the Falcons, and once again they couldn’t get into the end zone to defeat the Eagles. At least this time Julio Jones caught the pass from Matt Ryan, though he was out of bounds. Jones was an easy start for fantasy owners this week, catching 10 passes for 169 yards. Here are more players you can be confident to start, and some you should avoid in Week 1.


Kirk Cousins, QB, Vikings—It will be his first start with his new team and I think it will be a good one. Cousins has developed a rapport with Stefon Diggs already and had a great game the last time he faced the 49ers.

RELATED: Fantasy football Week 1 rankings.

Update: Weather is having me second guessing Ben Roethlisberger and Tyrod Taylor this week. Plan accordingly as rain could be a big factor in Cleveland Sunday. If you have to play Big Ben, I’m a little more optimistic about him over Taylor in the bad weather. Two possible replacements are Marcus Mariota (at Miami) or Andy Dalton (at Indianapolis).

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Steelers—The home-road disparity in Roethlisberger’s fantasy scoring has always been a concern, but it wasn’t that bad last season. He faces the Browns and without Le’Veon Bell he should utilize Antonio Brown a great deal.

Tyrod Taylor, QB, Browns—Call it Hard Knocks hype if you like, but all signs point to Taylor having a nice outing. He turned the ball over just six times last season and scored 18 touchdowns through the air and on the ground. The pass catchers he has in Cleveland are a big upgrade from what he had in Buffalo.

Joe Mixon, RB, Bengals—Mixon showed great athleticism in preseason that we all expected to see in his rookie campaign. He gets to face a weak Colts defense in the season opener.

Alex Collins, RB, Ravens—Collins is expected to be the workhorse for Baltimore and he faces a Buffalo defense that gave up the most fantasy points to running backs last year.

James Connor, RB, Steelers—With Bell out, Connor could give the Steelers a glimpse of life without the All Pro. He gets to face the Browns this week and Pittsburgh may have to run due to weather conditions.

Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals—He faces a Washington defense that was decent against the pass last year, but lost its slot corner Kendall Fuller in a trade with the Chiefs. Fitz feasts in the slot and Sam Bradford will want to get the ball to him.

Chris Hogan, WR, Patriots—I think this is the year Tom Brady and the Patriots drop off a bit, but I like Hogan in the first week. He faces the Texans, who were sixth worst in points allowed to wideouts last year.

Broncos receivers—Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are not facing the Legion of Boom. Richard Sherman is in San Francisco and Earl Thomas isn’t happy. Last season Seattle was merely middle of the road in limiting wide receivers. Case Keenum is a major QB upgrade as well.

Ricky Seals-Jones, TE, Cardinals—Washington was in the bottom six teams in defending the tight end. Seals-Jones has a big opportunity here with Jermaine Gresham recovering from last year’s Achilles injury.


Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, 49ers—The hype surrounding Garoppolo is based on a solid end to last season. He can turn in some QB1 weeks this year, but this shouldn’t be one of them as he faces the Vikings pass defense led by All-Pro Harrison Smith.

Eli Manning, QB, Giants—He has Odell Beckham Jr. back and three, maybe four, solid targets to throw to, but he faces a tough Jaguars defense. Jacksonville has possibly the best defensive backfield in the league.

Derek Carr, QB, Raiders—The Raiders have had a rough preseason and I see that carrying over to the opener against the Rams. Add to that, Carr is facing a defensive backfield comprised of Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters. Not to mention Aaron Donald joined the Rams in time to harrass the Raiders QB.

Rex Burkhead, RB, Patriots—I don’t really understand the hype around him, but it probably has to do with the eight touchdowns he scored last season and the fact that Dion Lewis is now in Tennesse. James White, a pass-catching maven, is still in town, though.

Adrian Peterson, RB, Redskins—Some owners can’t help but get excited about having Peterson on their team. They have to realize he’s not the same running back he was a few years ago. He faces the Cardinals this week and they were fifth best in limiting running backs’ fantasy scoring last season.

Chris Carson, RB, Seahawks—I do think he’ll have some weeks when he could be a solid start, but this most likely won’t be one of them. He faces the Broncos and the Seahawks’ offensive line isn’t much better than last year.

Marquise Goodwin, WR, 49ers—I like Goodwin over the course of the season, but Sunday’s matchup has him covered by Xavier Rhodes. That’s a tough matchup with a strong Vikings defense.

Buccaneers tight ends—This decision is based on not knowing which one will lead the team at the position, Cameron Brate or O.J. Howard. Wait until it’s clear which one becomes the favorite.

Contact Cat Vasquez at 512-445-3677. Email Twitter @AAS_Cat.

Fantasy football Week 1 recap and top waiver wire picks

Is it just me or was Week 1 kind of weird? You had Tom Brady posting a dud on Thursday while Alex Smith went off. You had Le’Veon Bell gaining just 47 total yards in a juicy matchup with the Browns, getting outscored by players like Tommy Bohanon of the Jags. Who? And you had Julio Jones getting outscored by players like Andre Holmes.

There are always a few surprises in the season opener, but this year seemed odder than most.

Don’t worry about Brady, Bell or Jones too much, though. Things should return back to normal in Week 2 for them.

The big news is surrounding the likely No. 1 pick in a lot of drafts, David Johnson. The initial diagnosis is that Johnson suffered a dislocated wrist, according to ESPN, and will likely need surgery. The Cardinals are going to get a second opinion, but he could be out for a lengthy period of time. Kerwynn Williams should be picked up off the waiver wire since he’ll be Johnson’s replacement in Arizona.

D.J. Hayden #31 of the Detroit Lions tackles David Johnson #31 of the Arizona Cardinals in the second half at Ford Field on September 10, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit won the game 35-23.(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Something that’s almost just as concerning for the Cardinals is the play of Carson Palmer. Even if Johnson is healthy, Palmer didn’t inspire confidence. When the passing threat isn’t much of a threat at all, the running game will suffer.

Speaking of suffering running games, only nine running backs rushed for more than 70 yards this week. That’s not to say there weren’t great performances overall out of the backfield.

Kareem Hunt had the best debut for a rookie running back this season, but he wasn’t alone in putting up great numbers as a rookie.

Leonard Fournette was expected to get a lot of touches and he came through with a productive performance in his debut. He rushed for 100 yards and and caught three passes for 24 yards.

Dalvin Cook took the lion’s share of touches in the Vikings backfield while rushing for 127 yards. He had 25 touches to Latavius Murray’s two.

Count among the running back duds, everyone in the Saints backfield. Adrian Peterson and Mark Ingram each rushed just six times for a combined 35 yards.

One unexpected performance came out of Chicago’s diminutive Tarik Cohen. He looked great in preseason, but with Jordan Howard as the main back for the Bears, it wasn’t clear if Cohen would be used that much. Well, he was used just enough, totaling 13 touches and gaining over 100 yards from scrimmage. Cohen was very effective in the passing game, looking like Darren Sproles as he led the team with 12 targets. He even caught a 19-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.

Cohen, Fournette, Hunt and Cook were four of the top eight fantasy scoring running backs this week. That’s a great start for my prediction that five rookies will end the season as RB1 or RB2 status. Add to that, Joe Mixon led the Bengals’ backfield in touches. He didn’t have a good game, but who did for the Bengals? That could possibly work in your favor. A piece of advice? Try to trade for him now. Buy low and benefit when his team-leading touches pay off.

Even rookie receivers performed well on Sunday. Kenny Golladay scored two touchdowns for the Lions and Cooper Kupp caught 4 passes for 76 yards and scored for the Rams.

Kenny Golladay #19 of the Detroit Lions catches a fourth quarter touchdown next to Justin Bethel #28 of the Arizona Cardinals at Ford Field on September 10, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. Detroit won the game 35-23. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Speaking of the Rams, Jared Goff actually looked pretty good. He completed 21 of 29 passes for 306 yards and a TD. Has the Jeff Fisher curse finally been lifted? Could be, but we’ll have to see against a decent defense. If you’ve got room on your bench, go ahead and add Goff as trade bait.

This wild Week 1 really made me appreciate veteran quarterbacks who came through. Matthew Stafford, Derek Carr and Matt Ryan all played as well as expected. Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger didn’t play great, but they didn’t stink up your team like Brady, Palmer or Eli Manning.

Another veteran, Sam Bradford, is finally starting to look like what some thought he would coming out of college. He was sharp, decisive and accurate in the thrashing of a terrible Saints defense Monday night.

As far as veteran running backs go, LeSean McCoy, Ezekiel Elliott and Todd Gurley all played well.

Antonio Brown outplayed every wide receiver on Sunday, hauling in all 11 of his targets for 182 yards. Jordy Nelson was Jordy Nelson while Amari Cooper showed signs of taking that next step owners have been waiting to see. Of course, Tyreek Hill had the best game of all on Thursday.

Monday night, Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs just outright abused the Saints secondary. Thielen had 9 catches for 157 yards while Diggs scored twice.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Jason Witten’s performance. He caught 7 passes for 59 yards and scored on his way to becoming the Cowboys’ all-time leader in receiving yards.

Top waiver wire picks:

Tarik Cohen, RB, Bears: 5 rushes-66 yards, 8 rec.-47 yards, TD

Sam Bradford, QB, Vikings: 27-32, 346, 3 TDs

Kenny Golladay, WR, Lions: 4 rec.-69 yards, 2 TDs

Nelson Agholor, WR, Eagles: 6 rec.-86 yards, TD

Javorius Allen, RB, Ravens: 21 rushes-71 yards

Mike Tolbert, RB, Bills: 12 rushes-42 yards, TD, 1 rec.-12 yards

Kerwynn Williams, RB, Cardinals: Will start in place of Johnson.

Jesse James, TE, Steelers: 8 targets, 6 rec.-41 yards 2 TDs

Jared Goff, QB, Rams: 21 comp., 29 att., 306 yards, TD

Contact Cat Vasquez at 512-445-3677. Email Twitter @AAS_Cat.