It’s estimated that the average adult in the United States makes 35,000 decisions per day. On a weekly basis, that’s 245,000 decisions. In a four-month time span – the length of a fantasy football season – that number is roughly 3,920,000.
And you’re having trouble with a few of them for your fantasy football lineup?
Why is it so difficult? Why are there CEOs managing million-dollar purchase determinations who can’t decide whether to start Darren Sproles or Ryan Mathews? Why is it easier for people to pick a dog from a breeder than a quarterback off the wire for their fantasy team?
Because fantasy football matters.
Pretend pigskin is a part of our culture. And it’s becoming a bigger part each and every day. It’s fine if you’re struggling more with your lineup decisions than which college to attend (kind of). All it means is that you’re like the millions of Americans having trouble with the exact same decisions.
Each week, I’m here to make those decisions easier. I’m here to allow you to focus on the bigger things in life, like whether or not you want to accept a promotion that would move you to Anchorage, Alaska. Fantasy football doesn’t need to be so difficult when in-depth algorithms are involved.
So here we go: The first start or sit column of the year. Here’s to 16 more.
Don’t Get Cute: Plug-and-Play Starters
Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons
Matty Ice is in our top 3 at quarterback this week, as he faces the porous, awful-looking Saints defense. His last meeting against them didn’t go as planned, as he threw for just 165 yards and a score, but in Week 9 against the Saints in 2012, Ryan lit up the scoreboard with 411 yards and three touchdown tosses. He should be in everyone’s lineup this week.
Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints
I feel the need to point out Drew Brees because I’ve already gotten questions as to whether or not folks should bench him for their backup fantasy quarterbacks. Like I mentioned yesterday, don’t bench your studs, even if the matchup is against the seventh-best defense in terms of adjusted defensive passing NEP.
Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Only the Bills and Saints had a worse adjusted rushing NEP per play last season than the Jaguars, Jamaal Charles’ Week 1 opponent. To put this another way, on each play in 2012, the Jaguars were surrendering more real points on the ground than all but two teams. We like Charles a lot in his debut with Andy Reid this week.
Reggie Wayne, WR, Indianapolis Colts
I don’t know if you’ve heard, but the Raiders aren’t very good. Reggie Wayne is our sixth-best standard-scoring option this week, ahead of studs like Andre Johnson and Demaryius Thomas. It shouldn’t surprise you if he sees seven receptions for 90 yards and a score.
Jessie Spano on Caffeine Pills: Don’t be Scared. Just be Excited.
Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders
You want to bench him, I know you do, but you can’t. Not against Indianapolis. Though the Colts’ defense looks improved from last year, they were just as bad as Jacksonville (mentioned above) in terms of giving up points to opposing team’s running games. You may have drafted DMC as your RB3, and in that case, he’s a solid flex play in Week 1.
Mike Williams, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
We love Mike Williams here at numberFire, and he’s got a juicy matchup against the Jets this week. His teammate, Vincent Jackson, will see Antonio Cromartie, leaving Williams with a favorable matchup on the other side of the field. We think Williams is a capable low-end WR2 in standard formats this week.
Eric Decker, WR, Denver Broncos
Decker barely edged out Wes Welker in our Week 1 rankings, coming in as our 18th-best wide receiver option for the opening week of the season. We’re not expecting an incredible amount of yards from the Broncos receiver, but have him slotted as a likely candidate to score a touchdown against the Ravens.
Owen Daniels, TE, Houston Texans
You may have stolen Owen Daniels late in your draft, and that’s good news: He’s a great play against San Diego this week. As I’ve noted, you want to go safe at the beginning of the season with your lineup, and Daniels has a good mix of being a security blanket with a high ceiling. We’re expecting eight non-PPR fantasy points from the Texans tight end on Monday night.
Groundhogs in the Winter: Digging Deep
Alex Smith, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
Oh no. Alex Smith? As your Week 1 fantasy starter? If you need to dig deep – sure. He’s going up against the Jacksonville defense, who were one of the worst teams against the pass a season ago. If you’re looking to stream a quarterback, Smith, albeit not a stellar passer, isn’t a bad option against the Jags.
Isaac Redman, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
We’ve been talking about the Steelers running game a lot over the last month, and with Le’Veon Bell sidelined, Isaac Redman looks to be the guy getting the starting nod in for the Steelers against the Titans. We think he’s capable of putting up flex, RB3 numbers, so if you’re in desperate need of a running back, snag Redman off the wire if he’s available.
Kenbrell Thompkins, WR, New England Patriots
Thompkins soaring ADP (now ahead of Cecil Shorts, by the way) has placed him as a WR2 or WR3 on plenty of fantasy teams this season. Luckily for his owners, he has a lot of upside against the Bills during Week 1. If you have no better obvious option, you could do worse than our 32nd-ranked Week 1 wideout.
Ed Dickson, TE, Baltimore Ravens
Owned in just 2.3 percent of ESPN leagues, Ed Dickson is going to play against Denver on Thursday night, and should be effective. Denver didn’t defend the tight end position well last year, and with a somewhat depleted defense, Dickson may find space in the middle of the field. He’ll see plenty of targets in a pedestrian passing game, giving way to a high fantasy floor. He could easily be a top-10 tight end this week.
Defense to Start: St. Louis Rams (vs. Arizona)
The Kindergarten Cop: Stop Whining!
Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals
With his new weapons, Andy Dalton could end up being a surprising fantasy option this season. But against Chicago in Week 1? Not so much. We have Dalton as our 28th-best option at quarterback this week, behind guys like Geno Smith and Ryan Tannehill. There are better passers out there.
Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers
It's going to be tough for San Diego to keep up with Houston on Monday night, forcing the Chargers to go into passing mode. The Texans defense can stop the run, and that's forced us to list Ryan Mathews as our 30th-best running back option this week. Ugh, here we go again.
Daryl Richardson, RB, St. Louis Rams
The Cardinals really weren’t bad on defense last year. They ranked 10th in defensive rushing net expected points per play in 2012, an underrated rank for such a bad team. Daryl Richardson, the Week 1 starter in St. Louis, could see a harder matchup than it appears. He’s a risky play this week.
Jermichael Finley, TE, Green Bay Packers
Many are on board the “Jermichael Finley is finally going to be a consistent tight end option in fantasy this year” train, but it’s going to be hard trusting him Week 1 against the 49ers defense. We have Brent Celek and Fred Davis ahead of him, two tight ends you can probably get off your waiver wire. There’s no need to go with Finley.
Joey Gladstone: Cut. It. Out.
Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens
Sorry, Ravens fans: Flacco isn’t a good fantasy bet this week in Denver. The Broncos may be hurting on defense, but Flacco’s hurting just as much on the offensive side of the ball with no true number two wide receiving threat. We’re not high on the Ravens passer throughout the season, let alone against a team that ranked third in defensive passing efficiency a year ago.
Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears
Cutler’s opening the season against a solid Cincinnati Bengals defense, and even in Marc Trestman’s interesting offense, he shouldn’t be started in leagues with 24 or fewer teams. Cutler is our 26th-ranked passer this week – there are better options off your waiver wire.
DeAngelo Williams, RB, Carolina Panthers
We’re not big fans of DeAngelo Williams here at numberFire, and against the Seahawks Week 1, we like him even less. The Hawks were middle-of-the-road against the run in terms of efficiency last year, but they could be even better on defense this year. If Seattle goes up early, which is entirely possible, DeAngelo could see a smaller volume than desirable. To us, he’s a flex play at best.
Giovani Bernard, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
His value goes up a tad in PPR leagues, but against Chicago, Bernard’s a risky play. We don’t see him having as high of a ceiling this early in the season as others may, as he’s ranked as our 45th-best option at running back this week. The volume ambiguity could play into this low rank, but again, you have to play it safe early in the fantasy season.
Coby Fleener, TE, Indianapolis Colts
Fleener is going to be interesting to watch during Week 1, as his preseason has been anything but pretty to watch. I’m expecting Dwayne Allen to see the field more because he’s the superior blocker, giving him more opportunity. And our rankings agree: Allen is our 21st-ranked tight end, while Fleener is ranked in the 28 spot. Stay away from this sleeper until we know more about his usage.
Defense to Sit: San Francisco 49ers (vs. Green Bay)
For any other start or sit questions, visit numberFire’s Questions section and take a look at our weekly rankings.