Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 1: Top Matchup Plays and Sleepers for Opening Games

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistSeptember 3, 2019

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (11) during a combined NFL football training camp at the Broncos' headquarters Friday, Aug. 16, 2019, in Englewood, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

The Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears will kick off the 2019 season Thursday, which pulls fantasy football managers to the screen. They'll monitor several high-end contributors, including Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Jones, Davante Adams, Tarik Cohen and the defending NFC North champions' defense.

Although most owners will plug familiar names into their lineups, nothing feels better than inserting a sleeper into your starting group and watching him rack up points. 

Some player roles and workloads remain a mystery, but Week 1 matchups provide intriguing options for managers hovering over the waiver wire.

Along with under-the-radar picks, we're ready to roll out the first start 'em, sit 'em, selections for the 2019 season. At positions with typically more than one starter, we've avoided obvious matchup decisions like inserting running back Saquon Barkley or wide receiver Antonio Brown into your starting set.

All sleeper options are owned in fewer than 40 percent of Yahoo point-per-reception leagues as of Tuesday at 1 a.m. ET.


Top Matchup QB Plays:

1. Deshaun Watson vs. New Orleans Saints: Start 'Em 

2. Patrick Mahomes vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: Start 'Em 

3. Carson Wentz vs. Washington Redskins: Start 'Em

4. Philip Rivers vs. Indianapolis Colts: Sit 'Em 

5. Ben Roethlisberger vs. New England Patriots: Sit 'Em

Rick Osentoski/Associated Press


Smart Sleeper: Matthew Stafford vs. Arizona Cardinals (27 percent owned) 

Typically, it's difficult to predict how Week 1 pans out after months of practices and exhibition games, but Matthew Stafford has one of the most favorable matchups on the slate because of the absences in the Arizona Cardinals secondary.

Cornerback Patrick Peterson will serve a six-game suspension for violating the league's performance-enhancing drug policy. Fellow cover man Robert Alford landed on injured reserve with a fractured tibia; he could return after eight weeks. 

Going into Week 1, Stafford will look downfield and see his wide receivers matched up against Tramaine Brock Sr., who's handled backup duties for a majority of his career, and rookie second-rounder Byron Murphy or Chris Jones—a second-year cover man out of Nebraska with two pro games on his resume.

Stafford should have a field day with wideouts Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. against backups and unproven talent.


Top Matchup RB Plays: 

1. Dalvin Cook vs. Atlanta Falcons: Start 'Em  

2. Chris Carson vs. Cincinnati Bengals: Start 'Em 

3. Leonard Fournette vs. Kansas City Chiefs: Start 'Em

4. Marlon Mack vs. Los Angeles Chargers: Sit 'Em 

5. Derrius Guice vs. Philadelphia Eagles: Sit 'Em


Smart Sleeper: Carlos Hyde vs. New Orleans Saints (33 percent owned) 

The Houston Texans lost running back Lamar Miller for the regular season because of a torn ACL and MCL. The front office traded offensive lineman Martinas Rankin in exchange for Carlos Hyde Saturday.

In the worst-case scenario, Hyde will share carries with Duke Johnson, who hasn't logged more than 104 rush attempts in a single season. Because of the uncertainty surrounding the latter as a lead ball-carrier, the former could take on a decent role in the Texans offense. 

Hyde will suit up for his third team in a year. At 28 years old, he's headed toward the sunset of his career if he's unable to maintain a significant role in Houston. Nonetheless, the five-year veteran can catch and run out of the backfield. In 2016 and 2017, with the San Francisco 49ers, he eclipsed 1,100 yards from scrimmage. 

Hyde may not usurp Johnson for the lead position, but he's worth a flier because of the potential for the running back workload to change on a weekly basis.


Top Matchup WR Plays:

1. Tyreek Hill vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: Start 'Em 

2. Kenny Golladay vs. Arizona Cardinals: Start 'Em 

3. Adam Thielen vs. Atlanta Falcons: Start 'Em

4. D.J. Moore vs. Los Angeles Rams: Sit 'Em 

5. Robby Anderson vs. Buffalo Bills: Sit 'Em


Smart Sleeper: Marquise Goodwin vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (26 percent owned)

After a breakout 2017 campaign with the 49ers, logging 56 receptions for 962 yards and two touchdowns, Marquise Goodwin battled hamstring, quad, knee and Achilles injuries last year; he also took time away from the team for personal reasons. The 28-year registered 23 catches for 395 yards and four scores last year. 

Despite the disappointing numbers from last season, Goodwin averages a career 16.7 yards per reception. He's a speedy deep threat capable of putting a quick six points on the board with chunk plays.

The 49ers will face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who will start an inexperienced secondary. Aside from safety Darian Stewart, none of the defensive backs have played more than 26 games. Vernon Hargreaves III, the most seasoned of the cornerback group, has missed 22 contests over the last two years because of shoulder and hamstring injuries.

The 49ers listed Goodwin as a starter, and he'll likely see plenty of opportunities to gash a pass defense that may rank in the bottom fourth of the league for the 2019 term.


Top Matchup TE Plays:

1. Zach Ertz vs. Washington Redskins: Start 'Em 

2. George Kittle vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Start 'Em 

3. Travis Kelce vs. Jacksonville Jaguars: Start 'Em 

4. David Njoku vs. Tennessee Titans: Sit 'Em  

5. Kyle Rudolph vs. Atlanta Falcons: Sit 'Em


Smart Sleeper: Will Dissly vs. Cincinnati Bengals (3 percent owned)

In 2018, Will Dissly made a strong statement in his debut performance, recording three receptions for 105 yards and a touchdown on the road against the Denver Broncos. In the following week, he snagged three receptions for 42 yards and another touchdown.

Unfortunately for Dissly, he tore his patella tendon in Week 4, ending what could've been an impressive rookie season. Despite the severity of the ailment, the Seahawks expect him to play against the Cincinnati Bengals in the season opener.

DK Metcalf continues to recover from a knee scope, and David Moore broke his arm during practice in August. Because of those injuries at wide receiver, we could see quarterback Russell Wilson rely on the tight end group early in the season.

Furthermore, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer spoke highly of Dissly to reporters. "Just an unbelievable competitor, a great player, can do so many different things," he said. "I am more at ease when he's out there, so it's great to see him out there."

Wilson and Dissly could re-establish their chemistry in the passing attack, challenging the Bengals' intermediate pass coverage.


Top Matchup DEF Plays:

1. Baltimore Ravens vs. Miami Dolphins: Start 'Em 

2. Philadelphia Eagles vs. Washington Redskins: Start 'Em

3. Seattle Seahawks vs. Cincinnati Bengals: Start 'Em  

4. New England Patriots vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: Sit 'Em 

5. New Orleans Saints vs. Houston Texans: Sit 'Em


Smart Sleeper: Detroit Lions vs. Arizona Cardinals (3 percent owned)

The Lions have the honors in welcoming rookie quarterback Kyler Murray to the NFL.

In 2018, Detroit's defense ranked 10th in yards and 16th in points surrendered. During the offseason, general manager Bob Quinn acquired defensive end Trey Flowers and selected linebacker Jahlani Tavai in the second round of this year's draft. Both defenders will strengthen a solid unit this season. 

Murray can only hope to line up behind a better offensive line than Josh Rosen's five-man group that allowed constant pressure. The latter took 45 sacks with the Cardinals last season. 

Although Murray could move the pocket to escape the pass rush, Patricia will likely challenge him to go through his reads. If the rookie struggles to dissect varied, complex coverage, he could experience a rough outing in Week 1. 

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