Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 1: Examining Fringe Fantasy Football Flex Starters

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistSeptember 4, 2019

Washington Redskins running back Derrius Guice (29) runs against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half an NFL preseason football game, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)
Mike Stewart/Associated Press

One might assume that standouts will make or break your fantasy football season.

Anyone with a league championship in their collection understands the winning formula is much more complicated. You must ace your early-round picks, sure, but you also must nail your waiver-wire pickups and correctly identify which fringe options to start and which ones to sit.

This trusty guide will help you navigate the choppy waters on the fringes for Week 1. We'll provide 10 start 'em or sit 'em recommendations on the fringe this week, using Fantasy Pros' consensus rankings to identify borderline players. Then, we'll take a closer look at three of those suggestions below.


Start 'Em

QB: Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings (at ATL)

RB: Derrius Guice, Washington Redskins (at PHI)

WR: Marquise Goodwin, San Francisco 49ers (at TB)

TE: Darren Waller, Oakland Raiders (vs. DEN)

D/ST: Kansas City Chiefs (at JAC)


Sit 'Em

QB: Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers (vs. LAR)

RB: Damien Williams, Kansas City Chiefs (at JAC)

WR: Robby Anderson, New York Jets (vs. BUF)

TE: David Njoku, Cleveland Browns (vs. TEN)

D/ST: New Orleans Saints (vs. HOU)


Start: Kirk Cousins at Atlanta Falcons

Bruce Kluckhohn/Associated Press

Kirk Cousins seems like a boring recommendation. He was the 18th quarterback off the board by average draft position, per Fantasy Pros, and finished 13th at the position last season.

But he's more exciting than he sounds. During his first three seasons as a full-time starter, he never finished lower than eighth at the position.

Even last year, his big games were monstrous—which should surprise no one when he's flanked by Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. Cousins cracked 300 yards five different times last season, twice clearing the 400-yard mark. In those five outings, he averaged 2.6 touchdowns and completed 75.2 percent of his passes.

He's an elite option when used at the right time, and the stars are aligning for his season opener. Up first for Cousins and the Vikings is a Falcons defense that allowed the sixth-most passing yards and most fantasy points to quarterbacks in 2018, per Yahoo Sports.


Sit: Cam Newton vs. Los Angeles Rams

Charles Krupa/Associated Press

A healthy Cam Newton is a fantasy goldmine. Since 2012, he has played 16 games in four different seasons. He has finished fourth or better at quarterback in each of those campaigns and was the highest fantasy scorer overall in 2015.

But the injury bug hasn't exactly been his best friend of late. A shoulder injury prematurely ended his 2018 season, and he underwent surgery in January. More recently, he suffered a foot sprain that had him in a walking boot just last month.

While these aren't necessarily long-term concerns, they could have him rustier than usual in a tricky Week 1 matchup.

"Out of the gate, there should be some concern for the former MVP who suffered a midfoot sprain in preseason," NBC Sports Washington's Zach Brook wrote. "He has been cleared and is set to be ready for the opener, but the Rams' pass rush could get the best of Newton, and any additional setbacks may force Ron Rivera to pull him out of the game."

If Newton is at all compromised, it could make for a brutally long day against a pass rush led by all-world superstar Aaron Donald. Even if Newton isn't slowed, he could have a challenging time with a Rams defense that tied for third in interceptions (18) and were just 20th in fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks.


Start: Marquise Goodwin at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tony Avelar/Associated Press

The week-to-week outlook for Marquise Goodwin is fuzzy. The 49ers have added a slew of young pass-catchers recently, and their offensive priorities might start in the backfield and at tight end with the rising George Kittle.

A flier on Goodwin, then, is akin to a Hail Mary, but this might be his best option to haul in a few of those long bombs.

He's a jet-propelled burner with a decorated track and field background and a $1 million 40-yard dash. In other words, he's exactly the kind of player who could give fits to a Tampa defense that allowed 69 completions of 20-plus yards (second-most) and 11 aerial connections of 40-plus (tied for fifth-most).

Assuming Goodwin fends off San Francisco's young receivers for now—none was particularly impressive in the preseason—he could have a field day in Week 1. Last season, the Bucs surrendered the fifth-most passing scores and fifth-most fantasy points to wide receivers.

Still can't figure out your fantasy football lineup for the week? Check out Your Fantasy Fire Drill with Matt Camp, and he'll solve your problems live. Submit your questions and tune in every Sunday at 11:30 a.m. ET, only on the B/R app.


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