Fantasy football owners know it is going to be quite the odd week for start 'em, sit 'em decisions.
All it took was Thursday Night Football between the Houston Texans and Cincinnati Bengals to reinforce this notion. There, in a victory for the visitors, only one player scored above the 10-point mark—Houston rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson, of course.
Guys like A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert and DeAndre Hopkins? Duds. Not world-ending duds, but enough to put owners in a bad spot ahead of the weekend.
Speaking of the weekend, let's take a look at matchup comparisons before diving into start 'em, sit 'em calls on notable names.
|Tom Brady (@NO) vs. Aaron Rodgers (@ATL)||Aaron Rodgers|
|Jameis Winston (CHI) vs. Carson Palmer (@IND)||Jameis Winston|
|Derek Carr (NYJ) vs. Russell Wilson (SF)||Derek Carr|
|Matt Ryan (GB) vs. Matthew Stafford (@NYG)||Matt Ryan|
|Kirk Cousins (@LAR) vs. Carson Wentz (@KC)||Carson Wentz|
Start: Jameis Winston (CHI)
This one is going to get ugly in the best way for Jameis Winston owners.
Winston finally makes his season debut in Week 2 and sits in a near-perfect matchup against the Chicago Bears. Those Bears coughed up 17.94 points to Matt Ryan in Week 1 during a game more focused on the run, so Winston should find some success at home.
After all, Winston not only has Mike Evans this year—his offense added DeSean Jackson, rookie wideout Chris Godwin and rookie tight end O.J. Howard.
To top it all off, there is history here. Winston has faced the Bears in each of the past two seasons and thrown a pair of scores in each encounter. He's good for two more against a hobbled Bears team on the road.
Sit: Dak Prescott (@DEN)
Owners can do better than Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott this week.
Prescott posted only 17.12 points against the New York Giants in Week 1 despite playing at home and attempting 39 passes in a win. Now he faces an even tougher task by hitting the road and needing to spar with the Von Miller-led Denver Broncos.
Those Broncos weren't perfect in Week 1, coughing up three touchdowns to Philip Rivers. But Prescott isn't Rivers, and the key to a road win rests in the running game, not through the air. At the easiest position to stream on a weekly basis, Prescott is a sit.
|Ezekiel Elliott (@DEN) vs. Kareem Hunt (PHI)||Ezekiel Elliott|
|Jay Ajayi (@LAC) vs. Ty Montgomery (@ATL)||Ty Montgomery|
|Frank Gore (ARI) vs. Marshawn Lynch (NYJ)||Marshawn Lynch|
|Leonard Fournette (TEN) vs. Dalvin Cook (@PHI)||Leonard Fournette|
|LeSean McCoy (@CAR) vs. Jordan Howard (@TB)||Jordan Howard|
Start: Ty Montgomery (@ATL)
It is quite understandable if owners are a little shaky on Green Bay Packers running back Ty Montgomery.
The converted wideout still doesn't have a ton of experience at the position and even in Week 1 suffered a minor injury that saw him miss some snaps. He still totaled 15.30 points, but the injury concerns remain.
Still, Montgomery has one of the best overall matchups of the week against the Atlanta Falcons. Those Falcons were notorious for coughing up big numbers to running backs last year—especially through the air—and did so again in Week 1 by allowing Tarik Cohen of the Chicago Bears to tally 17.30 points.
Cohen, by the way, is a rookie complement to Jordan Howard. Montgomery is a former wideout with surefire hands in a passing offense led by Aaron Rodgers. Easy start.
Sit: Frank Gore (ARI)
Formerly a reliable weekly workhorse freeing owners from the task of thinking about it at all, Frank Gore is now an iffy play.
This rang true enough in Week 1 when Gore's Indianapolis Colts took a 46-9 whipping at the hands of the Los Angeles Rams while he tallied 5.20 points on 10 carries for 42 yards.
Opportunities equal production still rests as a reliable rule at running back in most cases, but this isn't most cases. Gore's offense will go without Andrew Luck yet again in Week 2 against the Arizona Cardinals, one of the league's stronger defensive fronts coming off a good performance.
With nothing else to worry about, Arizona will focus on Gore and clog the running lanes.
|Doug Baldwin (SF) vs. Amari Cooper (NYJ)||Doug Baldwin|
|Keenan Allen (MIA) vs. Stefon Diggs (@PIT)||Stefon Diggs|
|Antonio Brown (MIN) vs. Odell Beckham (DET)||Odell Beckham|
|Brandin Cooks (@NO) vs. Sammy Watkins (WAS)||Brandin Cooks|
|Golden Tate (@NYG) vs. Mike Evans (CHI)||Mike Evans|
Start: Larry Fitzgerald (@IND)
On the flip side of the Arizona-Indianapolis encounter, veteran Larry Fitzgerald is about to have a big day.
Carson Palmer's top target only posted 7.40 points on six catches for 74 yards in Week 1. But most encouraging of all for owners is the fact he saw 13 targets, meaning the usage will be there and owners simply need to pick the right matchups.
It doesn't get much better than a woeful Colts team missing top corner Vontae Davis.
Sans Davis, the Colts coughed up 24.50 points to Rams wideouts in Week 1, good for the seventh-highest number in the category. Fitzgerald should see his normal usage and hit on a big day.
Sit: Sammy Watkins (WAS)
The Rams wideout who wasn't making a ton of noise against the Colts happens to be one of the bigger sits of the week.
This is Sammy Watkins, who only mustered five catches on as many targets for 58 yards, good for 5.80 points. Jared Goff simply preferred rookie Cooper Kupp more and even hit Todd Gurley out of the backfield with more targets.
Which isn't to say a surefire trend is about to start here. But expecting Watkins to have his breakout game with Goff against the Washington Redskins and a corner by the name of Josh Norman isn't how owners go about winning fantasy championships.
For now, Watkins needs to sit on the bench in most scenarios.
|Rob Gronkowski (@NO) vs.Greg Olsen (BUF)||Rob Gronkowski|
|Jimmy Graham (SF) vs. Jordan Reed (@LAR)||Jimmy Graham|
|Travis Kelce (PHI) vs. Cameron Brate (CHI)||Travis Kelce|
|Charles Clay (@CAR) vs. Evan Engram (DET)||Charles Clay|
|Delanie Walker (@JAX) vs. Zach Ertz (@KC)||Zach Ertz|
Start: Charles Clay (@CAR)
We highlighted Buffalo Bills tight end Charles Clay last week, and he went on to touch up the New York Jets in a supposed defensive battle for four catches, 53 yards and a score on nine targets, good for 11.30 points.
Owners might as well roll Clay out again in an encounter with the Carolina Panthers.
Clay clearly remains the top passing option by a mile after Watkins' departure, and he's long been an underrated player. And the matchup is great—the Carolina Panthers didn't have a tall task in Week 1 against the San Francisco 49ers, but last year the unit finished the season coughing up the second-most points to tight ends on average.
Usage assured, Clay can exploit a defense still searching for ways to stop tight ends.
Sit: Eric Ebron (@NYG)
It is still easy to fall into the Eric Ebron trap.
For whatever reason, owners still trusted Ebron enough to gift him an average draft position of 13.5, higher than notables like Antonio Gates and Cameron Brate.
Ebron still has all the upside in the world, yet it isn't hard to figure out where he stands in Detroit's pecking order. With wideouts like Golden Tate, Marvin Jones and rookie Kenny Golladay on the roster, not to mention strong pass-catching backs, it wasn't hard to see his three-target day from Week 1 coming.
Granted, the New York Giants gave up 11.90 points to Jason Witten in Week 1. But he's Jason Witten and received nine targets. Owners can see where Ebron stands in Detroit.