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START/BENCH: Week 1

The day of reckoning has arrived. OK, the week of reckoning. And I’m playing pretty fast and loose with the word “reckoning.”

The beginning of the 2017 NFL season has arrived – and with it, another year of fantasy football.

With that comes another season of Start/Bench here at Fantasy Sharks, albeit with a new person driving the bus…

Hopefully not right into a ditch.

I’m sure you’ve read enough of these types of articles to know the drill. This piece contains some players with favorable fantasy matchups worth strong consideration for starting lineups, and some others that for whatever reason should give fantasy owners pause.

That isn’t to say that because Carson Palmer of the Arizona Cardinals is listed here but Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions isn’t that you should automatically start the former over the latter. That’s especially true early in the season. You drafted players to start for your fantasy team for a reason. Be leery of getting an early case of the yips.

The reality is that we really won’t have a great feel for this season for at least a couple of weeks. I can make recommendations based on what we think we know, but a lot has changed since we last saw these teams. Until we have a larger sample size circa 2017, it’s all the more reason to (in most cases) not get cute.

You’ll also notice that the “Studs” list is sparse to start the year. There are a few players (like Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon and Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson) who will all but certainly be on the list in Week 2 who just drew a rough matchup first time out. That isn’t to say you should sit them (once again, yips), but in my mind a “stud” is a sure bet – or at least as sure as bets get in fantasy football.

There are some others who some may feel deserve a spot who are just going to have to earn it. I’m very much a “What Have You Done for Me Lately?” type of fantasy owner.

Admit it – you were dancing a little bit to that.

Finally, and this is an important consideration to bear in mind throughout the season – it’s your team. These are recommendations. No more, no less. Yes, there’s a method to the madness and I like to think I have some idea what I’m doing, but if your gut is screaming at you to start someone I said to bench or vice/versa you should do that. Don’t let anyone tell you how to run your fantasy squad. It’s the express lane to indigestion.

Now we’ve set the soundtrack and established what passes for ground rules with me, let’s get to the starting and the benching,

NOTE: Due to the potential impact of Hurricane Irma, Sunday’s game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins has been moved to Week 11. Get all Dolphins and Buccaneers out of fantasy lineups.

QUARTERBACKS

STUDS

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers (vs. SEA)
Tom Brady, New England Patriots (vs. KCC)
Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints (at MIN)
Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons (at CHI)
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks (at GBP)

SPOT START OF THE WEEK

Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals (at DET)

As Josh Weinfuss of ESPN reported, Palmer said his throwing arm is healthier than it’s ever been to start a season. “I’m right where I need to be condition-wise, strength-wise, arm-strength-wise, endurance-wise, with my shoulder and my elbow,” Palmer said. “I’m good.”

That might be wishful thinking from the 37-year-old, but there’s no denying that for now at least Palmer’s healthy. That’s great news headed into Sunday’s game against the Lions. Detroit ranked fourth in fantasy points per game allowed to quarterbacks in Sharks League scoring in 2016, and their pass rush has already been ravaged by injuries this summer.

ROLL THEM OUT

Sam Bradford, Minnesota Vikings (vs. NOS)

Yes, you read that right. No, I’m not drunk. I’m not going to sit here and recommend you start Bradford over a top-10 fantasy option in Week 1, but the Vikings are going to have to throw the ball to keep up against the Saints, who were sixth in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks last year. Bradford’s a solid fill-in if you’re out of (Andrew) Luck.

Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans (at OAK)

The favorite son of the “wait to draft a quarterback” crowd starts things off on the right foot this year. The Raiders surrendered the seventh-most fantasy points to quarterbacks last season, and if the preseason was any indication Oakland’s defense might actually be worse this year.

Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers (at CLE)

Yes, Big Ben opens 2017 on the road, where he rather, um, sucked last season. But it’s fair to assume Pittsburgh will want to come out of the gate strong, and there weren’t many teams who were kinder to fantasy quarterbacks than the Clowns in 2016.

SIT THEM DOWN

Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars (at HOU)

I feel like this goes without saying, but with Andrew Luck on the shelf some fantasy owners may be considering other alternatives in Week 1. Bortles should most assuredly not be one of them in an awful matchup on the road against a stout Houston defense.

Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys (vs. NYG)

If you discount the Week 17 game he hardly played in last year, Dak Prescott lost two starts as a rookie. They were both to the New York Giants, who were 31st in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. In those games Prescott averaged just 196 passing yards and .5 touchdowns per contest.

Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers (at DEN)

Odds are if you drafted Rivers in 2017 it was as likely as not as part of a “platoon” at the quarterback position. If that’s the case you might want to use the other guy in Week 1 – no team allowed fewer fantasy points to quarterbacks in 2016 than the Denver Broncos and their “No Fly Zone” defense.

 

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 a seven-time FSWA Award finalist and two-time winner who was named the organization's Fantasy Football Writer of the Year for 2017. 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.