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Week 1 of the fantasy football season can be the most difficult week of the year. A lot can change from one season to the next, and there are no previous games to base decisions off of. That was especially the case in 2020, as there was no preseason, and it wasn’t clear who may get off to a slow start because of it.
Now there will be some on-field results to consider when making lineup decisions. Sure, it was only one week of games, but it’s more than we had this time last week. And there are sure to be some players on the waiver wire who impressed in their season debuts that you’ll want to try to add to your roster.
Even if Week 1 of the fantasy football season didn’t go your way, there’s a long season ahead, and it’ll be possible to get back on track in Week 2.
Here’s a look at some key players you should consider starting and sitting, along with sleepers for Week 2.
Start: New England Patriots QB Cam Newton at Seattle Seahawks
A trip to Seattle is not nearly as daunting with no fans in attendance. And the Seahawks may have won in Week 1, but they allowed 506 yards of total offense to the Falcons, including 434 through the air.
Newton may not have had the biggest Week 1 against the Dolphins, but he showed that he’s getting comfortable in the Patriots offense. Most importantly, he showed that he’s healthy as he led the team’s rushing attack with 15 carries for 75 yards and two touchdowns. And although New England relied on its ground game, Newton was still efficient through the air, going 15-of-19 for 155 yards.
When Newton plays at a high level, he becomes a must-start fantasy quarterback every week. He may not be at that point yet, but this Sunday night matchup should be a good opportunity for him to do that. If the Pats establish their running game again, it could allow Newton to put up some bigger numbers through the air.
Unless you also have a clear top-tier quarterback on your roster, Newton is a good option to start as he looks to lead the Patriots to a win in their first road game of the season.
Sit: Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz vs. Los Angeles Rams
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In Week 1, Wentz spent a lot of time on the ground. Washington continually ran over Philadelphia’s offensive line, collecting eight sacks. Now, the Eagles have to try to contain a Rams pass rush led by two-time Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald.
Los Angeles had a solid showing in Week 1 against Dallas, not allowing running back Ezekiel Elliott to break 100 rushing yards and preventing quarterback Dak Prescott from having a huge night. The Rams had three sacks, but they might do more damage against the Eagles, who were missing tackle Lane Johnson in Week 1 as he recovered from ankle surgery.
It’s possible that Johnson and running back Miles Sanders will make their 2020 debuts this week, but it’s still not a favorable matchup for Wentz to have a big game. In the Eagles’ season opener, Wentz threw two interceptions against a lackluster Washington secondary and struggled in the second half.
There are better matchup plays out there this week, so leave Wentz on the bench in Week 2.
Sleeper: San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo at New York Jets
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Garoppolo is never a top-tier fantasy quarterback, which is why he was rostered in only 40 percent of ESPN leagues in Week 1. However, he had a solid start to the year, going 19-of-33 for 259 yards and two touchdowns in the 49ers’ season-opening loss to the Cardinals.
In Week 2, San Francisco will be looking to get back on track. After winning the NFC title last season, it won’t want to start 0-2. And it has a favorable matchup to pick up its first win as it travels to take on the Jets, who lost to the Bills 27-17 in Week 1.
Buffalo aired it out against New York. Josh Allen passed for 312 yards and two touchdowns. Now, it’ll be Garoppolo’s turn to have a big showing against the Jets’ secondary, which had trouble stopping most of the Bills’ offensive weapons.
It’s not always a great idea to start Garoppolo, but this is one of the weeks where he should have a strong fantasy output, making him worth a start if you’re looking to pick up a matchup quarterback this week.
Start: Indianapolis Colts RB Jonathan Taylor vs. Minnesota Vikings
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It was a slow start to the season on the ground for Taylor, who had nine carries for 22 yards. But the rookie had six receptions for 67 yards in the Colts’ loss to the Jaguars, and he’s going to continue to be an integral part of their offense. Especially now that fellow running back Marlon Mack is out for the season with a torn Achilles.
That’s going to increase the opportunities in the running game for both Taylor and Nyheim Hines, who had seven carries for 28 yards and a touchdown in the opener. But Taylor should be the lead back, as he’ll also be a target for quarterback Philip Rivers in the passing game.
The Vikings defense struggled against the Packers in Week 1, allowing 522 yards of total offense, including 158 on the ground. It should be a good opportunity for the Colts to have another strong offensive game after putting up 445 total yards against the Jags.
Although Taylor didn’t do much on the ground in Week 1, keep him in the lineup this week as he should have better success and get even more touches as he adjusts to the NFL level.
Sit: Buffalo Bills RB Devin Singletary at Miami Dolphins
This isn’t because of the matchup, as the Dolphins allowed 217 rushing yards against the Patriots in Week 1. It’s just that Singletary may not be the Bills running back who you want in your lineup moving forward.
Buffalo’s running game got off to a slow start, as Singletary (nine carries for 30 yards) and rookie Zack Moss (nine carries for 11 yards) couldn’t get going against the Jets. But there were signs that Moss may have a higher fantasy value than Singletary during the 2020 season.
Moss got into the end zone on a 4-yard reception in the first quarter. And of his nine carries, seven came when the Bills were in the red zone. Only one of Singletary’s nine carries came in the red zone.
If Singletary doesn’t break off a big play and the Bills instead move down the field in another fashion, it could limit his fantasy value if they continue to turn to Moss when they get close to scoring. Singletary isn’t a bad fantasy option if you don’t have two other running backs worth playing, but if you do, leave him on the bench for now until Buffalo’s backfield situation is a bit clearer.
Sleeper: Washington RB Peyton Barber at Arizona Cardinals
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None of the running backs in Washington’s backfield are must-start players. But if you’re in need of a sleeper who might find his way into the end zone, Barber isn’t a bad option based on his performance in Washington’s season-opening win over Philadelphia.
Although Barber had only 29 yards on his 17 carries, he had a pair of rushing touchdowns. That’s because Washington consistently turned to him when it reached goal-line situations, making it clear that he’ll be the bruising back it looks to get into the end zone in short-yardage spots.
Rookie Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic will also likely continue to get carries in Washington’s offense, but if Barber is the red-zone back, that makes him a worthy fill-in play if you need somebody to take the spot of an injured player or to play during a bye week.
Arizona allowed 123 rushing yards against San Francisco in Week 1, so it’s possible Washington will get some decent yards on the ground this week. But all of Barber’s value relies on scoring touchdowns.
Start: Detroit Lions WR Kenny Golladay at Green Bay Packers
First off, this is dependent on Golladay’s health. He missed the Lions’ season opener against the Bears with a hamstring injury, so fantasy managers will need to keep an eye on his status ahead of this week’s road contest against the Packers.
As long as Golladay plays, he should be in lineups. Although he’ll need to shake off the rust and get back in the groove following his injury, quarterback Matthew Stafford should continue to find ways to get his top receiver involved against a Green Bay defense that allowed 382 total yards against Minnesota in Week 1.
Golladay had no trouble against the Packers last season. He had 193 receiving yards combined between his two games against them in 2019. And one of those contests was without Stafford.
Despite the early injury, Golladay is going to be a must-start receiver every week upon his return, and he’ll show why as long as he lines up against the Packers this week.
Sit: Seattle Seahawks WR DK Metcalf vs. New England Patriots
In Seattle’s season opener at Atlanta, Metcalf was among the numerous Seahawks to have a strong offensive day as he had four receptions for 95 yards and a touchdown. It was a strong start for the second-year receiver after he was a bit inconsistent at times during his rookie campaign.
However, Metcalf and Seattle’s receiving corps will have a much tougher matchup in Week 2. New England’s secondary is one of its biggest strengths, with cornerback Stephon Gilmore, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, leading the unit.
If Gilmore covers Metcalf, there may not be a lot of opportunities for Russell Wilson to successfully get the ball in that direction. But even if Metcalf is covered by another Patriots cornerback, it could be difficult for him to have a big night.
Metcalf is likely going to have a bigger year than 2019, but this isn’t the matchup to rely on him for a top performance. If you have other receivers with more favorable matchups to plug into your lineup, go that route instead.
Sleeper: Indianapolis Colts WR Parris Campbell vs. Minnesota Vikings
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It’s clear that Campbell could be a go-to target for Rivers this season. In the Colts’ season opener, Campbell was targeted nine times, which tied top receiver T.Y. Hilton for the most on the team.
Although Campbell didn’t have a huge season debut (six receptions for 71 yards against Jacksonville), he could be poised for a breakout season, which could begin against a Vikings defense that was picked apart by the Packers in Week 1. Last year, Campbell had 18 receptions for 127 yards and a touchdown in seven games as a rookie, but now Rivers is leading the offense and should get him more involved.
Campbell also has the talent to capitalize on those opportunities. And with Hilton dealing with some injuries in the recent past, it’s certainly possible that Campbell will only get more chances later on if he starts off the season playing well.
It’s worth taking a risk on Campbell in the flex spot this week as this matchup has the potential to be the start of a great year for him.