2014 Fantasy Football: Week 1 Start/Sit
Below are the guys I like or dislike in week 1 compared to the other experts on FantasyPros.com. I’m focusing on guys that are actually on that start/sit bubble in 12-team leagues. For quarterbacks and tight ends, that means I’m focusing on guys I have on one side of 12th at the position while the consensus is on the other side. For running backs and receivers that means guys I have on one side of 24th at the position while the consensus is on the other side. For example, There’s no need to tell you I’m lower on Matthew Stafford when I have him ranked #9 and the expert consensus rank (ECR) has him ranked #3. Both rankings have him in the top 12 and tell you to start him.
If you have specific start/sit questions, leave them in the comments.
Geno Smith / vs. Oakland / ECR: 21 / My rank: 12
Before discussing Geno, let’s talk about how guys typically end up in the start section. Sometimes they’re guys who were expected to be regular start-worthy players who have disappointed but are due for some positive regression to the mean. Other times it’s guys that have recently had a breakout performance that I’m buying that others are not.
But most often the guys who end up in the start section of this post are guys who regularly sit right on the bubble who happen to have a favorable matchup that week. The problem this early in the season is that we don’t know a whole lot about matchup data. The data from last year just isn’t that reliable. Just as one example of that, there is almost no correlation between Football Outsiders’ defense DVOA from year-to-year. So don’t go nuts playing matchups this early in the year. The number one consideration at this point has to be who the best players are.
All that said, I love Geno in this matchup against Oakland. They’ve finished outside the top 25 in defense DVOA for three straight years. They added Justin Tuck but only after they lost Lamarr Houston in free agency. Both were solid last year per ProFootballFocus grades, so let’s call that a wash. And the addition of Tarell Brown is an upgrade, but it doesn’t seem like enough to revolutionize a defense that has been bad for years..
Aside from the matchup, I just like Geno. He has big upside as evidenced by the five games of 20+ fantasy points he had last year, one of which was against Oakland. He obviously has to cut out the horrendous games as he had six games last year with fewer than five fantasy points. But that’s more of an issue he has to fix if he’s going to flirt with being a top 15 quarterback at year end. He can clearly be a top option at the position in certain weeks. I’ll talk about this more tomorrow in my daily fantasy preview for the weekend, but I love his upside in daily tournaments this weekend.
Steven Jackson / vs. New Orleans / ECR: 27 / My rank: 21
The consensus on Jackson in the preseason was that his ADP was rightly depressed to RB3 territory because of fear of injury. Four games missed last year and a hamstring early in training camp this year raised legitimate concerns about Jackson’s health in the post-30 phase of his career. But there haven’t been too many people saying Jackson is going to be bad when he’s on the field. Unless you think SJax is not capable of being effective when on the field, there’s no reason not to use him as your RB2. And if you don’t think he can be effective when healthy, you probably didn’t draft him. Devonta Freeman does not appear to have a large role in the offense yet, and we know Jacquizz Rodgers is no threat. So use Jackson while you’ve got him.
Eric Decker / vs. Oakland / ECR: 25 / My rank: 18
I’ve discussed why I like Decker recently (and Jackson, too), but the long story short is that he’s good and not just a product of a Peyton Manning-led offense. He’s a WR2 this year, meaning he should be started every week unless it’s a tough matchup. As discussed above, I like this matchup for the Jets passing game.
Cecil Shorts / at Philadelphia / ECR: 38 / My rank: 24
Editor’s Note: Cecil Shorts has been ruled out with a hamstring injury this week.
Everyone realizes Shorts is pretty good, right? He was tenth in the league in yards per pass route run in 2012. A hernia hampered him last year, and a complete lack of a second receiver after Justin Blackmon was lost didn’t help either. Seriously, the second leading receiver in Jacksonville behind Shorts last year was Ace Sanders with only 484 yards. With better health and the additions of Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson to take some of the attention, Shorts’ 2014 could be more like 2012 than 2013. Shorts was productive in 2012 with Chad Henne at the helm, and Henne will start the season as the Jags quarterback again this year. Shorts has proved he can produce with below average quarterback play. But he has a little upside if Blake Bortles eventually takes the job.
Ladarius Green / at Arizona / ECR: 17 / My rank: 12
As hesitant as you should be about matchup data from last year, it’s hard to ignore the fact that Arizona allowed four more fantasy points per game to tight ends than any other team. Their 13.1 fantasy points allowed per game to tight ends is over three and a half standard deviations above the mean of 7.45 points per game allowed. There is definitely a chance that it’s Antonio Gates that eats in this game, but based on their career trajectories, bank on Green having the bigger year.
Tony Romo / vs. San Francisco / ECR: 12 / My rank: 14
The Cowboys defense is going to be a complete dumpster fire this year, and the San Francisco offense is sure to take advantage of it. Which means the Cowboys will probably be chucking it quite a bit. And San Fran’s defense may not be as scary as it has been in recent past. But there are just too many guys to be put ahead of Romo. Geno being in my top 12 is obviously not a usual thing and so someone is going to have to be displaced. Also, the cut off for usable quarterbacks this year is is more like 15 as opposed to the 12 or so it has been the last few years. Every week a few guys will have to be left out. With a little uncertainty about how healthy Romo’s back really is and an at least less than ideal matchup, Romo is on the outside looking in this week.
Reggie Bush / vs. New York Giants / ECR: 20 / MY rank: 25
That’s how Bush and Joique Bell fared each week last season. One of the two is likely to have a start-worthy game, but they only produced start-worthy games in the same week three times. You can’t count on that happening. And there doesn’t appear to be a good reason to expect one or the other to have the bigger week. So why is Bush ranked 20th by the consensus and and Bell 25th? They should be ranked essentially right next to each other. If you own Bush, odds are good he’s your RB2. In that case you may have to start him. But if you got someone like Jackson or Shane Vereen planning on them being your RB3, use them primarily as your RB2 unless they have a terrible matchup or Bush has a great one.
Cordarrelle Patterson / at St. Louis / ECR: 21 / My rank: 27
This post has already been linked to here, but I’ve discussed my dislike of Patterson recently. I just can’t get over a guy who didn’t average 30 yards receiving per game last year being a consensus WR2. The quarterback play hasn’t improved with Matt Cassel returning to start the year, and who knows if Teddy Bridgewater will be any good right away whenever he takes the job. The potential for big plays and a monster game is certainly there, but it’s a risky proposition. There are so many plays that are much, much safer.
Kyle Rudolph / at St. Louis / ECR: 10 / My rank: 15
This wasn’t mentioned when discussing Patterson, but St. Louis’ defense is pretty good, and they were the best in the league at defending the tight end last year. Again, matchup data from last year shouldn’t be a huge factor this early in the year. But when it comes to the extremes, it can be useful. While St. Louis might not be the best team against the tight end again this year, it seems safe to assume they’ll still be above average in that department.