Updated: Sep 12, 2021
Can you BELIEVE it's already Week One of the 2021 NFL Season! It got here so quickly and more ready than ever to help guide you guys to a championship. So let's dive into some starts and avoid!
Before we get started, I do want to mention that especially in Week One, we haven't seen ANY of these teams play a full game, so trying to predict starts and sits this early are NOT easy to do.
Also, rather than going with the easy picks for starts and avoids, I try and focus on important decisions that fantasy managers actually need to make. Must starts and obvious sits within reason will not be on my lists.
A START is a suggested lineup move based on matchup, and an AVOID is quite the opposite. It is NOT a must enforce. So if I recommend avoiding Josh Jacobs, and the only player you have to replace him is someone like Devontae Booker, use your judgement and realize that a backup who won't see touches is not a better option than a starting QB.
That being said, lets win some leagues! 🏆
START Robby Anderson vs NYJ - This will be the FIRST time that Robby gets to play his old team, and he gets to do it with his old QB as well! Not only is this a double revenge game, but the Jets' secondary is EXTREMELY vulnerable. Other than Marcus Maye, the Jets starting DBs consist of a rookie 6th Rounder, a second year 5th rounder, a washed 31 year old safety, and an UDFA from 2020 starting at nickel. No matter where Robby lines up, the matchup will be there, and I expect him to EAT.
START Baker Mayfield @ KC - Last year, in games where Baker actually had to throw the ball, and I'm talking about shootouts specifically (against CIN, TEN, BAL), Baker averaged 325 Pass Yards, 3.6 Pass TDs, and ultimately 29.8 PPG. When they met in the playoffs last year, Baker didn't play up to par, but I'll cut him some slack due to his first playoff game. Plus, there's a chance Baker will have OBJ on the field, which he didn't have last year. For what it's worth, this game as the HIGHEST Point Total of the week at 54.5, so Vegas is expecting a shootout and so am I.
START Raheem Mostert @ DET - Wow. I can't believe I'm actually saying this. I think I'm going to be sick. If you know me, you KNOW how far my hatred for Mostert and this entire 49ers backfield goes. But, I'm not going to let my bias interfere with the fact that this is a cakewalk of a matchup and if there's one game I trust Mostert to get enough work in, it will be week one while Trey Sermon and Elijah Mitchell are still getting acclimated and Jeff Wilson is still on the PUP list. Damn you Shannahan, don't make me eat my words.
START Michael Pittman vs SEA - I'm not as confident in this one, but I'm willing to take a chance at the second year WR in a fantastic matchup, with a QB upgrade (Went is playing), and with T.Y. Hilton on IR and Parris Campbell banged up. When I say great matchup, I mean Seattle was one of the WORST defenses against WRs last year, and all they did this offseason was let Shaquil Griffin, their best CB, walk in free agency. Pittman is a high upside play with WR2 upside. There is risk as well, but who else are they passing too?
START Laviska Shenault @ HOU - Both D.J. Chark and Marvin Jones are coming off offseason injuries, while Viska got some valuable playing time with Trevor Lawrence in the last preseason game. It's a cakewalk of a matchup, so really any of these WRs could have a game. But I believe in the talent with Viska, and I think Lawrence will lean on him in his debut.
- Sterling Shepard vs DEN ; Likely no Evan Engram, Saquon Barkley will be limited, Kenny Golladay is coming off an injury, and the Giants will likely be playing from behind. I love Shepard more as a desperate start if he gets to play in the slot. 🤑
- Elijah Moore @ CAR ; The rookie didn't get a single snap in preseason, but he will see optimal coverage opposite of Corey Davis, and both Jamison Crowder and Keelan Cole are expected to miss this game. He has a low floor, but the uber talented rookie could start off his career with a BANG. 💥
AVOID Josh Jacobs vs BAL - With minimal involvement as a pass catcher and the addition of Kenyan Drake, Jacobs must rely on a heavy workload on the ground as well as efficiency. I'm not too confident he will have either of those things against a stringent Ravens' Defense. I'm avoiding starting Jacobs if possible.
AVOID Tua Tagovailoa @ NE - It's year two for Tua, and he starts off the year in New England without his WR1. The Patriots defense have just about all their main pieces back and more. There's a ton of streaming options this week, Matt Ryan, Kirk Cousins, Baker Mayfield, that are available in most 1 QB leagues and should be started over Tua.
AVOID Melvin Gordon @ NYG - You figure that if there's one game you can start Melvin, it would be this one. But last season, the Giants were quietly one of the best teams against RBs at the end of the year, and from the sound of it, the Broncos aren't afraid to throw Javonte Williams into the mix.
AVOID Darrell Henderson vs CHI - This one I'm not too sure about, but Chicago does have an impressive front 7, and considering how little the Rams RBs were involved in the passing game last year, I just don't think Henderson will do enough with whatever volume he is given. Plus, Sony Michel will at least cut into the early down work.
AVOID Darnell Mooney @ LAR - Let's not get cute here. Allen Robinson will be a priority for Jalen Ramsey, but we all know he wants revenge on Mooney. I don't think Ramsey will shadow Arob the entire game, and we still aren't certain what kind of role Mooney will play. He does have upside, but for me the risk of him coming off injury and seeing some Jalen Ramsey is enough for me to use other options.
- Saquon Barkley vs DEN ; Saquon is likely still going to be in a ton of peoples lineups this week, including mine. But the point of lowering expectations is this, if you have another elite option, start them over Barkley. But if you don't have a Round 1 or Round 2 player that you can play over him, keep him in. It's a tough matchup and he's expected to see a limited workload.
- Ty'Son Williams @ LV ; With all of Dobbins, Edwards, and Hill out for the year, many people expect Ty'Son to be the next man up and "carry the load" for the Ravens. In reality, we don't know if that will be the case. We will likely see a lot of Lamar and whoever else in on the roster that day. I'm just not confident Williams will be "the guy" in Baltimore. Could he score and do enough to get you through the week? Sure he could. But my expectation is that his floor is very low.
Good Luck as always, and I'll see you back here for Week 2! 😉