Football is officially back. With no sports at Grand Valley State University this fall, the Lanthorn sports staff has you covered with fantasy football advice every week.
Start: Ben Roethlisberger – Future hall of fame QB Ben Roethlisberger is back for 2020. After injuring his right elbow in week two of the 2019 season, Big Ben is finally healthy and ready to take the Steelers back to the playoffs. This week Pittsburgh will play the New York Giants, not exactly a juggernaut on defense. A healthy receiving core with JuJu Smith-Schuster, Dionte Johnson and James Washington, Roethlisberger should be poised for a big game against the Giants. I’d start the veteran quarterback with something to prove against a lousy defense.
Sit: Jimmy Garoppolo – In week one the San Francisco 49ers will face the Arizona Cardinals. The 49ers will most likely win this game with their absurd defense and excellent play calling, but there are a few factors against Garoppolo having a good fantasy week. San Francisco’s wide receiver corp has been decimated by injuries. Jalen Hurd is out for the year with an ACL injury, Deebo Samuel has a foot injury and Brandon Aiyuk has a hamstring issue. Garoppolo won’t be completely alone, as TE George Kittle will most likely have a dominant performance. With little wide receivers, the 49ers will likely lean on their run game for the majority of their production week one. All and all, Garoppolo won’t have a terrible performance, but there are other quarterbacks like Josh Allen, Derek Carr, and even Tyrod Taylor that have a better upside for week one.
Start: Antonio Gibson – At the beginning of training camp, few thought Antiono Gibson would be the leading running back for the Washington Football Team. Washington took the rookie Gibson out of Memphis in the third round to join a crowded backfield. However Adrian Peterson and Derrius Guice were cut, leaving Gibson a top of the depth chart. Gibson may see some of his touches go to J.D. McKissic, Peyton Barber or even Bryce Love, but Gibson should see the majority of the carries and be the bell cow for week one. I’d roll the dice on him in a FLEX spot.
Start: Josh Jacobs – RB Josh Jacobs should have a great game against a Carolina Panthers defense that is filled with rookies. With no preseason games and limited training camp, the Los Vegas Raiders should be able to run all over the Panthers. Jacobs was great as a rookie last season and was an obvious choice to take in the first round of fantasy drafts for some. This week Jacobs should prove his league owners correct and have a big first game.
Sit: Broncos and Buccaneers RB’s – For the past two seasons, Phillip Lindsay has been the leading back for the Denver Broncos. This offseason however, Denver signed Melvin Gordon to the roster. While both players can have good fantasy seasons, it’s best to let both of them sit for week one to see how the share of the carries goes. Same goes for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With Ronald Jones, LeSean McCoy, and recently signed Leonard Fournette, it’s safe to sit on any of these players for week one until we see how many carries and opportunities each player gets.
Sit: Rookie RB’s – For the same reasons running back committees should sit in week one is the same case for rookie running backs. Jonathan Taylor, D’Andre Swift, and J.K. Dobbins all have potential to have great fantasy seasons, but for now they’ll be sharing carries to begin the season. Taylor is behind Marlon Mack, Dobbins is behind Mark Ingram, and Swift is behind Adrian Peterson and Kerryon Johnson. Until any of these rookies overtake their veteran partners on third down plays and at the goal line, it’s better to play it safe in week one with a back that’s more established with a team.
Start: Keenan Allen – Allen has been the type of guy that fantasy players take in early rounds and ultimately disappoints. For the past few years he has had great games followed up by duds in the fantasy world. For week one in 2020, I expect him to have a great game for the L.A. Chargers against the Cincinnati Bengals. First off, Allen has looked healthy and in good shape during training camp, and just signed his new four year $80 million extension. Second, he should have great production out of the slot this week against a lousy Bengals secondary. Third, he’s really the only healthy and reliable wide receiver for the Chargers this week. Fellow receiver Mike Williams has a shoulder injury and is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game. Allen should have a good afternoon for fantasy owners.
Start: DeSean Jackson – The Philadelphia Eagles are already hampered by injuries heading into the inaugural week of the 2020 season. WR Alshon Jeffery is out, RB Miles Sanders is out, and Jalen Reagor is still a question mark with a shoulder injury. Enter DeSean Jackson, who had a huge week against Washington last season in week one with eight catches, 154 yards, and two touchdowns. Jackson most likely won’t have the same huge statistics in this game, but he should still have great numbers being one of two weapons healthy for QB Carson Wentz. TE Zach Ertz should have a good fantasy game as well.
Sit: DeAndre Hopkins – Just hold up and listen. We all know Hopkins is one of the best receivers in the game and he is in an extremely creative offense with the Arizona Cardinals. However, it is week one with a limited training camp, no preseason games and he’s on a new team with a new quarterback. It will take time for Hopkins and QB Kyler Murray to develop chemistry and become lethal in the passing game. Perhaps it will only take a few meager weeks, but for their first game together, I don’t expect Hopkins to have a dominant game. The Cardinals are also facing the San Francisco 49ers defense featuring lockdown cornerback Richard Sherman. I’d be cautious starting Hopkins on my team if I had other solid wide receivers on my bench.
Start: Hunter Henry – L.A. Chargers tight end Hunter Henry should have a good fantasy performance against the Cincinnati Bengals this week. For the same reasons as Keenan Allen, Henry should be a target as one of the only healthy options for the Chargers against a bad Bengals defense. Henry is playing this season on franchise tag and has something to prove to get him a big contract. Expect Henry to start the season hot week one.
Sit: Hayden Hurst – Atlanta Falcons TE Hayden Hurst should have a good season this year in Atlanta. He should take Austin Hooper’s production from 2019, who was a top fantasy tight end last season. In week one however against the Seattle Seahawks, I don’t see much production coming his way. With a good Seattle secondary and newcomer safety Jamal Adams potentially matching up with Hurst one on one in man coverage, it may be a rough week for him.
Defense: This week I like the New England Patriots and the Buffalo Bills defense. The Patriots face the Miami Dolphins and their lackluster offense. While it is true that the Patriots defense has suffered the worst in terms of player opt-outs and has a ton of new players stepping up, they should still force a few turnovers with star CB Stephon Gilmore and a loaded secondary. The Bill will match up against the New York Jets. The Jets don’t have a number one receiver and have an offensive line that is still under construction. The Bills have one of the best defenses in the league and will start the season strong against the Jets.
Kicker: Justin Tucker should have a good week with the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens are facing the Browns, and both teams should score a fair amount of points. In a close scoring game, Tucker should have plenty of opportunities to make field goals.