Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 1


Fantasy Football Start/Sit: Week 1

Well folks, we made it.

After 221 days without a meaningful NFL football game, real, and fantasy, football is finally upon us when the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers kick off the 2015 NFL regular season on Thursday night. How good does that feel?

Similar to what we've done the past two seasons, we hope to help you fill out your roster every week by providing you with 16 players on that start/sit border that we believe should or shouldn't be in your lineup.

[Fantasy Football: 15 bold predictions for the 2015 season]

We hope you find it helpful and continue to check us out each week. Also, feel free to tweet us @CSNFantasy with any roster questions you may have. We'd be more than happy to help you out. With all that in mind, here's a list of our favorite Week 1 starts and a bunch of guys we recommend staying away from. 


Nelson Agholor, WR, PHI (@ ATL ) - We beat this statement to death in our preseason write-ups and podcasts, but when you're on the fence about who to start...go with the guy who plays in Chip Kelly's offense. I have reservations about starting any rookie in Week 1, but Agholor's situation and opponent is just too tasty to pass up. Sam Bradford looked like Johnny Unitas in the preseason and tight end Zach Ertz is still banged up, though it looks like he'll play. Waiting for Chip's offense is a Falcons defense that allowed the most passing yards a year ago. I temper expectations a bit and put him as a flex play, but I wouldn't hate using him as WR2. (Mark Strotman)

John Brown, WR, ARI (vs. NO) - I don't know if I'm buying the preseason hype of Brown turning in a ridiculous 2015 (looking at you, Matthew Berry). But I know I really like him in Week 1 as the Cardinals prepare for a shootout with the Saints. I can't see Michael Floyd (questionable, fingers) making a major impact, if he plays at all, pitting Brown as the No. 2 alongside Larry Fitzgerald. I wouldn't be surprised to see Brown find the end zone on a deep strike, making him a wonderful flex play this week. (Strotman)

Chris Ivory, RB, NYJ (vs. CLE) - Last year I thought the Browns defense had improved and were flying under the radar. I won't make that mistake again. This defense didn't do a lot to improve in the offseason outside of adding Danny Shelton. While that's a nice start, it's not going to make me change my pick of Ivory having a monster Week 1. I don't think the Jets are nervous about Ryan Fitzpatrick but I think they'll rely on Ivory a lot. He's the main guy in that crowded backfield and should shine against a very weak Browns defense. (John "The Professor" Paschall)

Vincent Jackson, WR, TB (vs. TEN) - Jason McCourty out? Mike Evans possibly out? Jackson owners are screaming "HALLELUJAH!". Jackson didn't quite live up to expectations last year with Josh McCown as quarterback but he should do much better with Jameis Winston back there. The Titans secondary is nothing to be afraid of and expect the rookie signal caller to throw to his massive wide receiver early and often. (The Professor)

Charles Johnson, WR, MIN (@ SF) - Let the year of Teddy Bridgewater begin, and on national TV in the week's last game nonetheless. Kudos if you made the wise decision waiting on Johnson as some rankings slave scooped up Mike Wallace two rounds earlier. You're going to reap the rewards right away as Johnson finds himself against a 49ers defense in a shambles after a turbulent offseason, to say the least. I love the Vikings' top fantasy wide receiver as a flex play. If Bridgewater develops any semblance of a deep ball, Johnson is really going to shine. As it pertains to Week 1, he'll do just that. (Strotman)

Jarvis Landry, WR, MIA (@ WSH) - I absolutely love Landry this season, especially in PPR leagues. He has all the potential to be a monster in PPR formats and he draws a ridiculously-good matchup in Week 1. Washington was 31st in the NFL against fantasy WRs, giving up 28 points per game, including seven games of 30+ fantasy points. The Redskins are still a mess and the Dolphins' arrow is pointing up, especially on offense. Capitalize by getting Landry in your Week 1 lineups. (Tony Andracki)

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Eli Manning, QB, NYG (@ DAL) - It's like Christmas morning for fantasy owners whenever the Cowboys and Giants square off. And if you drafted Manning this year, you're in for an early Holiday present in Week 1. Peyton's baby bro tossed six touchdowns to just one interception and averaged a smidgen under 300 passing yards in his two contests against the Cowboys in 2014. With a returning Victor Cruz, passing-game specialist Shane Vereen added to the mix and ODB back in the fold, you can expect Manning to toe the line of QB1 status all season, starting this weekend. (Scott Krinch)

Doug Martin, RB, TB (vs. TEN) -  Guess who's back, back again. Dougie's back, tell a friend. Guess who's back, guess who's back, guess who's back. Guess who's back. An SOS was sent out for Martin after a two-year hiatus from fantasy relevance, and the man formerly known as the "Muscle Hamster" answered the call loud and clear. He arrived to camp this summer in much better shape and starting running like his old self again. With a lack of solid competition behind him and a cake matchup against one of the league's worst run defenses in Week 1, Martin needs to be in your lineup. (Krinch)

Ryan Mathews, RB, PHI (@ ATL) - Nobody knows just yet how Mathews will be used yet in Philly, but I believe he'll be a big part of this offense. Even if Murray doesn't get hurt in Week 1, he will still need to be spelled in the backfield in Chip Kelly's extremely up-tempo offense. Mathews has an awesome matchup against the league's second-worst defense against opposing RBs in 2014, when they gave up an average of 22.1 fantasy points per game. If you have C.J. Spiller or Le'Veon Bell or any other backs likely out for Week 1, Mathews is a great option. (Andracki)

Heath Miller, TE, PIT (@ NE) - I usually stay away from the tight end position in our weekly start/sit column, but I couldn't hold myself back from diving headfirst into this juicy matchup for Miller. No Le'Veon Bell? Check. No Martavis Bryant? Check. A pending shootout against the Patriots with a vindicated Tom Brady under center? Check. This game should easily surpass the over/under of 52, and with the Steelers likely playing catch-up most of the evening, Ben Roethlisberger is going to need to find somebody to target in the passing game, in addition to Antonio Brown. Big Ben trusts the 11-year veteran and so should you in Thursday's season opener. (Krinch)

Lamar Miller, RB, MIA (@ WSH) - Get Lamar Miller in your lineup every week. Every. Single. Week. Only health can keep him out of the Top 10 RBs this season and I wouldn't be surprised if he finishes as a Top 5 RB. (Andracki)

Eddie Royal, WR, CHI (vs. GB) - Royal might end up being the only guy Cutler can throw to in Week 1 with all the injuries happening. Alshon Jeffery looks like he's going to play but he won't be 100 percent. Kevin White is obviously out for a while. Royal may get the majority of the targets (along with Martellus Bennett) just by simply being healthy. Bears fans may be thinking they hopped in a Hot Tub Time Machine when they watch this game this Sunday because it'll be a lot of garbage time points for (The Professor)

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Alfred Blue, RB, HOU (vs. KC) - I hear Blue's clock ticking because of Foster's impending return and it's frustrating. He's one of the best handcuff options out there and he has the starting job to himself. But unfortunately he faces a stout defensive front with the Chiefs, who gave up only four rushing touchdowns in 2014. Chris Polk also scares me as a touchdown vulture. Sorry, fantasy owners, Blue isn't a great option this week. (The Professor)

Amari Cooper, WR, OAK (vs. CIN) - The Bengals were a Top 5 defense at limiting opposing WRs in fantasy, but this is more about Cooper than the matchup. Rookie receivers almost never explode onto the scene in their first NFL game. Way too many things to manage with emotions, speed of the game, etc. Take Odell Beckham Jr. - the poster boy for rookie WRs making an impact in fantasy. Many people forget Beckham's first two games last year were a combined total of six receptions, 72 yards and a tuddie, accounting for just 12 points in standard leagues. Temper your expectations with this rookie, even if he will find his way into our "Start" more often than not later in the season. (Andracki)

Isaiah Crowell, RB, CLE (@ NYJ) - Is there a reason why Crowell is projected for more points than the likes of Frank Gore, Matt Forte, Chris Ivory, Mark Ingram, Latavius Murray and Justin Forsett? Don't fall for ESPN's projection of 11 standard league points for the Cleveland running back this week. The New York Jets are massive up front, even without the suspended Sheldon Richardson, and Crowell doesn't run with much authority despite his bulky frame. If you want to own a Browns running back for some reason, make it Duke Johnson, who Browns head coach Mike Pettine said could play a role in the passing game against New York. All the signs point towards to a dud output from Crowell. (Krinch)

Devin Funchess, WR, CAR (@ JAC) - The sexiest stock not named Davante Adams in drafts this year, Funchess was quickly anointed the next Kelvin Benjamin because of his similar frame and rookie status when Benjamin tore his ACL. You likely got great value whenever you picked Funchess, and he'll return better-than-ADP value by season's end. But it's going to take some time - he's not even listed as a starter - for him to produce, and even in a solid Week 1 matchup against a poor Jacksonville defense I can't trust him just yet. In deep leagues I can see him being a shaky flex play, but that's about it. (Strotman)

A.J. Green, WR, CIN (@ OAK) - Look, if you drafted Green, there's almost no way you're sitting him Week 1. I realize this also goes against my advice in our podcast to ride your stars in fantasy's opening matchup of 2015. This isn't me actually telling you to bench Green so much as it's a warning about his bad matchup. The Raiders defense is underrated, and they allowed just two touchdowns to opposing receivers in their last six games of 2014. If you have better options than Green (which you probably don't, because there aren't many), go with them. If you have Green and you're going to start him, I'm just saying - don't expect a huge day. That's all. (Andracki)

Carlos Hyde, RB, SF (@ MIN) - I really want to like Hyde. I really do. But what happened to that 49ers offensive line is terrifying. Also, I'm a big fan of the Vikings defense this year. My pick for DROY is Eric Kendricks and he will be all over Hyde in Monday night's matchup. I expect the 49ers to be playing from behind as well, which could take Hyde out of the game and bring in Reggie Bush. Might be a rough start to the season for Hyde owners. (The Professor)

Mark Ingram, RB, NO (@ ARI) - We obviously don't have much to go off right now, but Arizona was a Top 5 run-defense last season, allowing only three games of 20+ fantasy points to opposing RBs in 2014. Now, I know everybody wants to rush out and start Ingram with C.J. Spiller likely out for this week, but I caution you to temper your expectations. The Cardinals have a stout defense and knows (just like everybody else) the Saints want to run a lot this season, so they will be keying on Ingram. If you have other options, go with them over Ingram. (Andracki)

[Fantasy Football Podcast: Draft recap and Week 1 preview]

Andre Johnson, WR, IND (@ BUF) - Most weeks Johnson is going to be in my lineup. I expect the 34-year-old to have a monster season in terms of touchdowns with arguably the NFL's best quarterback not named Aaron Rodgers. However, he draws a Buffalo defense in Week 1 that allowed three total receiving touchdowns in the final nine weeks of 2014. This game should be relatively low scoring and Rex Ryan is going to pull out all the stops to get a victory in his Buffalo coaching debut. Keep Johnson sidelined for this week, and this week only. (Krinch)

Jeremy Maclin, WR, KC (@ HOU) - Another guy I like long-term but have my doubts about in Week 1. The Texans should have Jadeveon Clowney back on Sunday, and that front seven is about to wreak havoc on Alex Smith and the Chiefs' carousel offensive line. Maclin had a stellar preseason and could find some room behind an average Texans secondary, but you're really banking on that deep-play threat in Week 1. This is more an indictment on Alex Smith not being able to find room against the Texans' front seven than it is Maclin. If you took Maclin as your WR3, feel free to find another flex play and come yell at me Sunday night or Monday morning when he goes for 5/145/1. (Strotman)

Alfred Morris, RB, WSH (vs. MIA) - I'm actually a big fan of Morris this season in terms of where his value stands and what you had to pay for him on draft day. He hasn't missed a game in three seasons and the Redskins' quarterback play is as messy as messy gets. But I'm having a hard time figuring out his Week 1 prospects against a Dolphins team I'm equally high on that added Ndamukong Suh to the frontline this offseason. I could see the Dolphins running away with this game, rendering Morris and his stone hands useless. You're probably banking on Morris finding the end zone early before Miami takes control of the game. If you're forced to start him, I get it. He's probably your RB2. But if you have a similar option I'd look there. Morris will get his numbers this year; this matchup won't contribute much to it. (Strotman)

Ravens D/ST (@ DEN) - A start/sit rarity. Seldom do we give you advice on which defense/special teams to start and which one to stay away from, but I feel strongly about this matchup. If you drafted the Ravens, which I'm guessing you probably did since since they are a fringe Top 5 fantasy defense this year, don't drop them just yet. However, stash them on your bench and pick up a defense like the Panthers (@ JAX) for Week 1. The Broncos high-octane offense could push the Ravens into a negative Week 1 total, which you can't afford to have happen from the get-go. (Krinch)

Torrey Smith, WR, SF (vs. MIN) - Can you tell I don't like the 49ers offense this week? My guess is that Xavier Rhodes will be assigned to Smith and that's bad news for the new 49ers wide receiver. Smith may be in line for some garbage time points but that may go to Anquan Boldin or Vernon Davis. Move on from Smith this week if you are eyeing him in your FLEX spot. (The Professor)

Pro Football Focus: Bears could be surprise playoff team in 2018

Pro Football Focus: Bears could be surprise playoff team in 2018

There's a lot of optimism about the Chicago Bears in 2018  because of the incredible offseason had by GM Ryan Pace. It started in free agency with several big-name additions on offense and continued in the NFL Draft with the selection of Roquan Smith, arguably the top all-around defender in the class.

Pace now finds himself in unfamiliar territory. He's entering a season with actual expectations. While those expectations vary, one thing is consistent: Improvement is expected.

According to Pro Football Focus, Chicago should end up challenging for a playoff spot.

No less than five additions on offense this offseason could make key impacts for the Bears, including wide receiver Allen Robinson who was one of the NFL’s best in 2015 before a down year in 2016 and essentially missing all of 2017 through injury. He’s joined at the position by Taylor Gabriel, who had three touchdowns on throws 20 yards or further downfield in 2016 and rookie Anthony Miller, who was tied for fourth among wide receivers in this draft class with 19 missed tackles forced on receptions. Add in tight end Trey Burton, who had three touchdowns from just 16 targets when lined up in the slot and rookie offensive lineman James Daniels from Iowa and it’s easy to see why this offense led by Mitchell Trubisky has the potential to trend upwards big time in 2018.

The Bears were one of five teams PFF listed as a surprise wildcard candidate. The road to the post-season will be challenging, however. Not only do all of the new pieces have to gel, but they have to do it while playing in one of the toughest divisions in football.

The NFC North could have three teams -- not including the Bears --  playing in January. The Vikings may be the most talented club in the NFC and the Packers will always be a contender with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback. The Lions have some vulnerability, but they've had more success than Chicago in recent seasons.

Still, Pace deserves credit for winning the offseason.

How the new kickoff rule may impact the Bears

How the new kickoff rule may impact the Bears

NFL owners voted for sweeping changes to the kickoff play Tuesday, a decision that presents a new challenge for Bears special teams coach Chris Tabor.

Player safety was the focus of the rule change. Collisions will be reduced and the play will look more like a punt than the traditional kickoff fans have become used to. Here's a breakdown of what's coming in 2018:

With less contact and physicality in the play, Tabor's game planning will be tested. Kickoffs won't require as many power players like the ones traditionally seen in the wedge block. Skill players like receivers, running backs and tight ends could be viewed as more valuable special teams pieces, as was suggested by NFL Network's Bucky Brooks.

Tarik Cohen could become even more lethal under the new rules. If kick returners end up with more space to navigate, Cohen will improve on the 583 return yards he managed as a rookie. He'll conjure memories of the recently retired Devin Hester.

The ability to contribute on special teams is critically important for players on the roster bubble. It'll be interesting to see if the Bears apply the approach suggested by Brooks. If they do, undrafted players like Matt Fleming and John Franklin III suddenly have more value and a better chance to make the team. 

For a complete breakdown of the new kickoff rule, click here.