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START/BENCH: Week 1

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

No, not Christmas—although to look in some department stores, you’d think it was.

Guys, it’s barely September. Slow your roll. Let Halloween have its moment in the sun. And put the freaking tinsel away.

No, it’s time for football season to start. In the college game, it already has. On Thursday night, the 2019 NFL season will get underway when the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears meet at Soldier Field. And when that season begins, so will another year of fantasy football.

Yeah…I’m excited, too.

The problem with all that excitement and anticipation after months of research and preparation is that it tends to lead to overthinking. You look at that second-round tailback, examine his less-than-ideal Week 1 matchup and wonder if maybe putting in a reserve isn’t the way to do.

The overwhelming majority of the time, it isn’t.

It’s simple, really. You drafted the team you did for a reason. Drafted the starters you did for a reason. That bad matchup might not wind up being nearly as unfavorable as we thought—most of matchup assessment in September is educated guesswork.

Don’t screw yourself up right out of the gate by getting cute with lineup decisions. Not in Week 1. There will still be plenty of time for that sorta thing later on.

QUARTERBACKS

STUDS

Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City (at Jacksonville)

Deshaun Watson, Houston (at New Orleans)

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (at Chicago)

SPOT-START OF THE WEEK

Nick Foles, Jacksonville (vs. Kansas City)

Chiefs head coach Andy Reid is familiar with Foles from their time together in Philadelphia, and he told reporters (via Alex Dixon of Arrowhead Pride) that he expects Foles and the Jaguars to be a tough out in Week 1.

“He’s a good football player and I’m happy for him,” Reid said. “I’m happy for him being with a good organization and having another opportunity to play. He ended up going back to Philly and having success there in the playoffs and the Super Bowl. He can play. We have to prepare ourselves going against a good football player.”

The Jaguars aren’t especially likely to win this game. And the Chiefs spent the offseason trying desperately to upgrade one of the NFL worst defenses. But Foles should be able to find success through the air against a Kansas City team that gave up the fourth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks in Sharks League Scoring 2018.

ROLL THEM OUT

Kirk Cousins, Minnesota (vs Atlanta)

Cousins was one of the NFL’s more disappointing signal-callers last year. But his statistics were actually pretty good, he still has an offense loaded with passing game weaponry and Sunday he gets a Falcons team at home that struggled in a big way defending the pass in 2018.

Lamar Jackson, Baltimore (at Miami)

Let’s see—how can I put this? The Dolphins suck. The Dolphins suck really, really bad. Miami was ninth in fantasy points given up to quarterbacks last year and fifth in fantasy points surrendered to running backs. Jackson’s a bit of both—and he’s going to get his in Week 1.

Russell Wilson, Seattle (vs. Cincinnati)

Wilson’s weaponry in the passing game is admittedly unsettled as the 2019 season gets underway. But the Bengals have developed a habit of making every offense they face look like the Kansas City Chiefs—no team in the league allowed more yards per game last season.

SIT THEM DOWN

Derek Carr, Oakland (vs. Denver)

The Denver Broncos were not an easy matchup for opposing quarterbacks in 2018—25th in fantasy points surrendered to the position. With the great Vic Fangio now running the defense, things aren’t going to get any easier.

Sam Darnold, New York Jets (vs. Buffalo)

If you’re considering starting Darnold in Week 1 you likely either play in a 2QB or Superflex league or you drafted early and went with Andrew Luck as your starter. Either way, reconsider—no team gave up fewer fantasy points to quarterbacks in 2019 than the Bills.

Matt Ryan, Atlanta (at Minnesota)

Odds are you spent an early-ish pick on Ryan—early enough that you probably aren’t sitting him right out of the gate. But it’s worth bearing in mind that for all the things that went wrong for the Vikings last year, the pass defense wasn’t one of them. It’s a tough matchup to open the season.

About Gary Davenport

A member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and Pro Football Writers of America who resides in Columbus, Ohio, Gary has been featured on a number of fantasy websites and in nationally circulated publications. These publications include the USA Today Fantasy Football Preview and the magazines distributed by Fantasy Sports Publications Inc., for whom Gary is a both a contributing author and associate editor. Gary is an nine-time FSWA Award finalist and three-time winner who has been a finalist for that organization's Fantasy Football Writer of the Year award each of the last four years. He won the honor in 2017 and 2019. Gary also appears regularly on Sirius XM Radio (including live from Radio Row at Super Bowl XLIX) and over-the-air stations across the country. Gary was one of the co-founders of, and Head Writer at, Fantasy Football Oasis before joining Fantasy Sharks as an IDP Senior Staff Writer in 2011. He knows football. Or so he's heard.