Welcome back to the regular season and my weekly Running Back & Tight End: Start/Sit article.
Before I go any further, please note that you will never find names like Rob Gronkowski, Zach Ertz, or Travis Kelce on this list. They are weekly starters and you drafted them as such. If you’re doubting that, remember it for next season and don’t commit such high draft capital on the position.
With that in mind, here we go!
Running Backs: Start ’em
Players that might normally ride the fantasy pine or, at best, be considered in your flex play will be found in this list. Start them, with confidence
Isaiah Crowell – New York Jets
The Lions are improved. However, they were absolutely atrocious against the run in 2017. You don’t magically fix that overnight.
The Jets will want to protect the ball and ease Sam Darnold into the mix.
These two points equates to Isaiah Crowell having a very good week being fed the rock many times. That mid round draft pick is about to pay off very quickly. Don’t let the 2017 Browns taint your opinion of Isaiah Crowell. He will rarely be a weekly RB1, but is worthy of the RB2 slot for this week 1 matchup.
Peyton Barber – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
He is the man in Tampa Bay right now. You likely have two running backs on your squad that you would prefer to start over Barber and that’s fine! Float this guy into your flex and take a nap before the games begin. (Actually, don’t take a nap. Crazy stuff happens before the kickoff.)
Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson – Cleveland Browns
The Steelers are below average against the run and mediocre against the passing game.
Tyrod Taylor is comfortable passing to the RBs. Both Hyde and Johnson are capable pass catchers. I don’t know anybody crazy enough to draft both of them but they are both startable assets.
Running Backs: Sit ’em
Players that you may have invested a high draft capital but might have a rough week due to their matchup……or for other reasons.
Indianapolis Colts RBs
Leave them on your bench unless we get a clear answer of who-will-be-the-starter before kickoff. The Bengals aren’t very good against the run, but we just don’t know who to trust. If the Colts declare Mack out for week 1, that helps the cause. Maybe put Wilkins in the flex spot if you’re truly strapped. But consider this: Do you really want to trust a starting slot to a player who could lose touches to Robert Turbin when he comes back from suspension?
Yes, you spent the FAAB or your waiver priority after losing Jerick McKinnon. You might not have another choice.
If you drafted for RB depth instead of taking a QB in the early rounds, you have the luxury to heed my warning: Do NOT start Alfred Morris. Let’s ignore all of the talk coming out of San Francisco that Matt Breida might have the larger role and just hang on to thinking that Alfred Morris is the lead back. They’re playing the Minnesota Vikings…..IN MINNESOTA. They are really good against the run.
Minnesota is going to dominate this game leaving the 49ers to use the pass catching Matt Breida as their focus to try to stay competitive. Alfred Morris could salvage the week by scoring an early touchdown. If not, you’re looking at approximately 5 points, regardless of PPR or Standard because Alf does not catch the ball.
Chris Carson – Seattle Seahawks
Like I mentioned above, the Seahawks will be travelling to Denver to open the season against the Broncos. The same Broncos who gave up the 6th fewest Yards Per Game in 2017. Away game + above average rushing defense = Leave Chris Carson on your bench. It will be the “Russell Wilson and the Receivers” show by the second quarter.
Best of luck to all of you in your week 1 matchups……unless I am your opponent. In that case, a jinx on your team! Jinx!!
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Tight Ends: Start ’em
Jordan Reed – Washington Redskins
They’ve protected him all season. It’s time to put him to work with a Quarterback (Alex Smith) who loves throwing to the Tight End. This combination was hand crafted by the fantasy gods for our enjoyment.
Note: Fine, let’s say Jordan Reed injures himself during the pregame warmups. Substitute Reed for Vernon Davis with confidence. He has chemistry with Alex Smith from their days as teammates on the 49ers.
Austin Sefarian-Jenkins – Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars are playing the Giants. This is a friendly reminder that the Giants stunk last year. Offensive injuries didn’t help, but the offense doesn’t give up points to the opposition (pick 6s aside). Their defense wasn’t very good. Their pass defense, in particular, is ripe for the picking.
The unfortunate injury to Marqise Lee just means that ASJ might get more targets. I like having ASJ here. For people like me, who wait on Tight Ends until the later rounds of the draft or even plan on streaming the position, ASJ is a must start and possibly even a waiver wire add in shallow leagues.
Tight Ends: Sit ’em
Evan Engram – New York Giants
Why oh why did you draft him so high? It’s going to be even worse in week 1. The Giants only saving grace is that it’s a home game. The Jags are going to throttle down on the Giants offense. Odell Beckham Jr. will have his points. Barkley might have a decent game. After that, there won’t be enough production to go around.
George Kittle – San Francisco 49ers
I like Kittle a lot. Unfortunately, they open the season on the road…..against the Vikings. Oh boy. Temper your expectations and hope for a touchdown.
Actually, you might want to start with hoping that he even plays. He was only cleared for practice yesterday (September 2). Will he even be ready to play with any kind of effectiveness in 7 days? He could, but the risk is too high for my tastes.
Best of luck to you all in your week 1 matchups. Unless you’re playing against me. In that case, I wish upon you nothing more than dropped passes and a bunch of snaps where your Tight End is used as a pass blocker.