Fantasy Football Week 1: Lineup Cheat Sheet with starts, sits, risky starters and sleepers

Week 1 Rankings: Standard | PPR  

The Lineup Cheat Sheet combines Fantasy analysis and game-flow predictions with a confidence scale to give you a definitive answer on who to start in your leagues.

The higher the number next to a player's name, the more confident you should be to start him. If a player isn't listed, don't start him. 

To find a specific player, use your search function -- CTRL-F on PCs and Command-F on Macs. If neither of those are options, or if you're on a mobile device, you can scroll by game.

If you're still unsure, just send a note on Twitter (@daverichard) and I'll give it a look, time permitting.

Chiefs at Patriots

Chiefs
Patriots
Alex Smith (3.8) Tom Brady (9.6)
Kareem Hunt (7.9) Mike Gillislee (7.1)
Charcandrick West (3.9) James White (6.1)
Tyreek Hill (6.8) Rex Burkhead (3.3)
Travis Kelce (7.1) Dion Lewis (3.2)
Chiefs DST (5.8) Brandin Cooks (9.3)


Chris Hogan (6.5)


Danny Amendola (3.3)


Rob Gronkowski (9.4)


Patriots DST (9.5)

Sneaky Sleepers

With Chiefs cornerback Steven Nelson on the shelf, the Patriots will probably go after cornerbacks Phillip Gaines and Terrance Mitchell. Stud corner Marcus Peters tends to stick to one side of the field (the right of the quarterback), so expect to see plenty of Hogan in the slot and to Tom Brady's left as the Patriots mix and match. Brandin Cooks might pop off for a huge game, but Hogan should see enough work to be a good No. 3 option.

Whether it's by design or by game flow, expect the Patriots run game to grind down the Chiefs defensive line with a power run attack. That should fit Mike Gillislee like a glove, but James White, hero of Super Bowl LI, could get the first nod and is a mortal lock to work in passing situations too. Expect over 100 total yards between the two of them, but Gillislee should be penciled in for a short-yardage score.

Cardinals at Lions

Cardinals
Lions
Carson Palmer (7.6) Matthew Stafford (7.0)
David Johnson (9.8) Ameer Abdullah (6.7)
Larry Fitzgerald (8.2) Theo Riddick (4.3)
John Brown (6.7) Golden Tate (6.1)
Jermaine Gresham (3.8) Marvin Jones (4.1)
Cardinals DST (6.8) Kenny Golladay (3.6)


Eric Ebron (5.0)


Lions DST (3.0)

Start Them

Expect a solid start for the Cardinals offense. Detroit's pass rush is a big question mark with Ziggy Ansah only now beginning to practice and no one truly dangerous playing alongside him. The Lions also really only have one good cornerback -- Darius Slay -- and John Brown can ditch him by moving into the slot. Expect Palmer and Brown to hook up for at least one big play and a touchdown.

Falcons at Bears

Falcons
Bears
Matt Ryan (9.1) Mike Glennon (4.8)
Devonta Freeman (9.3) Jordan Howard (8.6)
Tevin Coleman (7.4) Tarik Cohen (4.9)
Julio Jones (9.4) Kendall Wright (3.2)
Mohamed Sanu (3.0) Kevin White (3.1)
Taylor Gabriel (2.8) Bears DST (3.4)
Austin Hooper (5.4)

Falcons DST (7.2)

Start Him

We'll give Coleman the green light for Week 1 given the likelihood of a Falcons win. Last year Coleman scored in 9 of 11 wins and averaged 9.7 carries per game for Atlanta including the postseason. Figuring the Falcons offense should roll, bank on Coleman picking up some work.

Ravens at Bengals

Ravens
Bengals
Joe Flacco (4.0) Andy Dalton (6.4)
Terrance West (7.3) Jeremy Hill (6.8)
Danny Woodhead (5.6) Joe Mixon (5.9)
Jeremy Maclin (6.2) Giovani Bernard (4.2)
Mike Wallace (5.4) A.J. Green (9.6)
Benjamin Watson (4.4) Tyler Boyd (2.3)
Ravens DST (6.0) Tyler Eifert (8.2)


Bengals DST (8.2)

Start Him

Terrance West has an intriguing matchup as the Bengals will play their first three games without weak-side linebacker Vontaze Burfict. Without him for five games last season, the lead rusher against Cincinnati had at least 11 Fantasy points in four matchups, including Kenneth Dixon last January. With Joe Flacco just now getting back into football shape, it's obvious to expect a big dose of West.

Jaguars at Texans

Jaguars
Texans
Blake Bortles (4.6) Tom Savage (3.2)
Leonard Fournette (6.6) Lamar Miller (8.4)
Chris Ivory (4.4) DeAndre Hopkins (7.4)
Allen Robinson (5.3) Bruce Ellington (3.7)
Marqise Lee (2.9) C.J. Fiedorowicz (4.8)
Jaguars DST (5.0) Texans DST (8.6)

Sit Him

Historical fun fact: Jaguars running backs have failed to rush for a touchdown in seven straight against the Texans. They also haven't had a rusher amass over 50 yards in five of those seven, including four straight duds. I know these are the kinds of skids a player of Fournette's talent is supposed to break, but it's not a great situation for his debut behind a bad O-line. Particularly against a real good Texans run defense playing at home in a feel-good spot for the city of Houston. It sure doesn't help the Jags have lost six straight to the Texans.

Jets at Bills

Jets
Bills
Josh McCown (3.4) Tyrod Taylor (5.4)
Bilal Powell (6.9) LeSean McCoy (9.5)
Matt Forte (5.1) Jordan Matthews (4.5)
Robby Anderson (6.3) Zay Jones (4.4)
ArDarius Stewart (2.6) Charles Clay (5.8)
Jets DST (3.6) Bills DST (9.4)

Start Him

Aside from LeSean McCoy, Powell is the only interesting Fantasy player in this game. He's the Jets' best offensive player, and proved as much when he jolted Buffalo for over 130 total yards and a receiving score last year. Game script might actually favor Powell, and while the Bills run defense is going to be tough between the tackles, they could be susceptible to some big plays along the edges, where Powell is best suited to run compared to Forte.

Raiders at Titans

Raiders
Titans
Derek Carr (8.0) Marcus Mariota (9.0)
Marshawn Lynch (7.5) DeMarco Murray (9.2)
DeAndre Washington (3.1) Derrick Henry (5.4)
Amari Cooper (9.1) Eric Decker (6.4)
Michael Crabtree (8.4) Rishard Matthews (5.9)
Seth Roberts (3.8) Corey Davis (4.3)
Cordarrelle Patterson (2.7) Delanie Walker (7.0)
Jared Cook (5.2) Titans DST (5.2)
Raiders DST (4.2)

Sneaky Sleeper

The Raiders' pass rush is pretty good, but their secondary is a mess. Sean Smith and slot corner T.J. Carrie figure to get picked on plenty by Marcus Mariota. In their meeting last season, Mariota had a lot of success throwing to the slot, so expect that to continue in 2017. Decker, believed to be the odds-on favorite to play in the slot for the Titans, will benefit.

Eagles at Redskins

Eagles
Redskins
Carson Wentz (6.2) Kirk Cousins (8.4)
LeGarrette Blount (6.3) Rob Kelley (7.2)
Darren Sproles (5.7) Chris Thompson (5.5)
Wendell Smallwood (5.3) Terrelle Pryor (8.6)
Alshon Jeffery (7.7) Jamison Crowder (8.1)
Zach Ertz (7.9) Jordan Reed (8.3)
Eagles DST (6.4) Redskins DST (4.4)

Start Him

Washington's running backs ran the ball well on Philadelphia last year, averaging 166 rush yards per game with three total scores. Kelley was among those benefiting, totaling 88 yards and a score in start late last season. Figure the Redskins lean on the ground-and-pound as long as they can.

Steelers at Browns

Steelers
Browns
Ben Roethlisberger (8.2) DeShone Kizer (4.2)
Le'Veon Bell (9.4) Isaiah Crowell (8.2)
Antonio Brown (9.8) Duke Johnson (4.7)
Martavis Bryant (7.9) Corey Coleman (5.7)
Vance McDonald (3.6) Kenny Britt (5.5)
Steelers DST (9.0) Browns DST (2.8)

Sneaky Sleeper

I'm curious if the Browns will test former cornerback Joe Haden over on the right side of the field. If they do, Britt seems like the best bet to put up numbers based on his size (6-foot-3). Plus it's not like Pittsburgh's other corner, Artie Burns, has shut-down powers either. Britt should get some decent targets playing from behind.

Colts at Rams

Colts
Rams
Scott Tolzien (3.0) Jared Goff (5.2)
Frank Gore (5.8) Todd Gurley (9.0)
Marlon Mack (3.8) Sammy Watkins (8.3)
T.Y. Hilton (5.2) Cooper Kupp (4.6)
Donte Moncrief (3.5) Tyler Higbee (4.2)
Jack Doyle (6.6) Rams DST (9.3)
Colts DST (3.2)

Sit Him

I can't get behind Hilton as a reliable option at this point. Colts backup quarterback Scott Tolzien completed one pass longer than 18 yards last season. It was to Hilton and it accounted for 32 of his 54 yards in the same game. The Rams secondary doesn't have a bunch of great players, but the pass rush is very solid and Wade Phillips should create havoc against poor Tolzien. That'll hurt Hilton, who has just five career touchdowns in 28 career games on natural grass outdoors in 22 career games.

Panthers at 49ers

Panthers
49ers
Cam Newton (7.4) Brian Hoyer (4.4)
Christian McCaffrey (8.5) Carlos Hyde (7.7)
Jonathan Stewart (5.0) Matt Breida (3.7)
Kelvin Benjamin (7.6) Kyle Juszczyk (3.5)
Greg Olsen (8.1) Pierre Garcon (5.8)
Panthers DST (5.6) Marquise Goodwin (4.2)


George Kittle (3.4)


49ers DST (4.6)

Sit Him

New 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan has plenty of experience playing the Panthers, beating them in three straight games while with the Falcons. But this Niners squad isn't nearly as good as his Falcons were. Obviously. You could talk yourself into starting Garcon in a PPR league since he should get big targets from week to week, but Shanahan typically utilized tight ends and the incomparable Julio Jones to dismantle Carolina in the past. There might not be as much room for Garcon to shine.

Seahawks at Packers

Seahawks
Packers
Russell Wilson (7.2) Aaron Rodgers (9.2)
Thomas Rawls (6.4) Ty Montgomery (6.2)
Eddie Lacy (4.8) Jamaal Williams (2.9)
C.J. Prosise (3.6) Jordy Nelson (8.5)
Doug Baldwin (7.8) Davante Adams (8.0)
Jimmy Graham (7.3) Randall Cobb (6.0)
Seahawks DST (8.8) Martellus Bennett (6.4)


Packers DST (5.4)

Sit Him

Montgomery scored and collected over 80 total yards in his last game against the Seahawks, but he was helped along by five Packers interceptions to help set up some sweet field position and extra possessions. Seattle's defensive reputation is well known, and the addition of Sheldon Richardson will only make it harder for anyone to run on them. Montgomery's receiving skills will help his value in PPR formats, but it's hard to expect a big game in standard formats against this matchup.

Risky Starter

You didn't draft Wilson to sit him, but his track record against the Packers suggests a tough game ahead. In five career games against Green Bay he's hit 20-plus Fantasy points just twice and topped 22 Fantasy points once. He's also thrown two touchdowns and nine interceptions in his last two games against the Pack, including a playoff game the Seahawks managed to win despite his four picks. Expect Wilson to get tested constantly by the Packers' aggressive blitz schemes.

Giants at Cowboys

Giants
Cowboys
Eli Manning (6.8) Dak Prescott (6.0)
Paul Perkins (6.0) Ezekiel Elliott (9.7)
Shane Vereen (4.6) Darren McFadden (3.4)
Orleans Darkwa (3.0) Dez Bryant (7.2)
Odell Beckham (9.5) Cole Beasley (3.9)
Brandon Marshall (7.0) Jason Witten (5.6)
Sterling Shepard (4.7) Cowboys DST (3.8)
Evan Engram (4.6)

Giants DST (7.8)

Risky Starters

The Giants had Prescott's number twice last season, holding him to one touchdown in two games. Big Blue has also kept Bryant under 50 yards and scoreless in three straight. The secret formula is in New York's strong pass rush and quality secondary -- bank on Janoris Jenkins running hip-to-hip with Bryant to try and take him away from Prescott. That doesn't leave a lot of great options for Prescott to turn to offensively.

Sneaky Starter

This is the first of many games where Marshall will see more single coverage than he has in years. One such matchup might wind up being Marshall on cornerback Anthony Brown, who's coming back from a hamstring injury. Or he could go one-on-one with Nolan Carroll, who's earned negative grades from Pro Football Focus in five of his last six years. Point is, Marshall should see beatable coverage and should be worth starting.

Saints at Vikings

Saints
Vikings
Drew Brees (8.8) Sam Bradford (5.6)
Mark Ingram (7.0) Dalvin Cook (8.1)
Adrian Peterson (6.5) Latavius Murray (4.5)
Alvin Kamara (5.2) Stefon Diggs (6.6)
Michael Thomas (9.2) Adam Thielen (5.0)
Ted Ginn (4.9) Kyle Rudolph (7.2)
Coby Fleener (6.9) Vikings DST (7.0)
Saints DST (4.0)

Risky Starters

Adrian Peterson RB •

Let's not try to act like this is some other game for Peterson. For crying out loud, the NFL planned this game for prime time in Week 1 because he's coming back to play his former team! Peterson has talked about how important this game is for him, and the Saints will probably give him chances to score and stick it to his old squad. Any work Peterson gets takes numbers away from Ingram, who might be more skilled but doesn't have the narrative working for him. A tough Vikings run defense makes the prospects for both rushers even muddier.

Sneaky Sleeper

If you need a tight end for Week 1, Fleener's worth chasing. Willie Snead's three-game suspension should give Fleener more playing time and more targets. The matchup isn't perfect, but he did cash in for at least eight Fantasy points in three of five games with seven-plus targets last year. That sounds like a safe expectation for him in Week 1.

Chargers at Broncos

Chargers
Broncos
Philip Rivers (6.6) Trevor Siemian (3.6)
Melvin Gordon (7.8) C.J. Anderson (8.3)
Keenan Allen (7.5) Jamaal Charles (4.1)
Tyrell Williams (4.8) Demaryius Thomas (6.9)
Travis Benjamin (3.4) Emmanuel Sanders (5.6)
Hunter Henry (6.8) Broncos DST (8.0)
Antonio Gates (4.0)

Chargers DST (7.6)

Start Him

Philip Rivers has tossed a touchdown to a tight end in each of his past three games against the Broncos. It makes sense -- Denver's toughest defenders against the pass are going to be lined up on receivers, not tight ends. You better believe the Chargers will test rookie safety Justin Simmons, who should draw Henry in coverage a good amount since Henry is faster than Antonio Gates. Henry scored one of those touchdowns against the Broncos last year.

Senior Fantasy Writer

Dave Richard has spent nearly his entire career covering the National Football League. Beginning with NFL.com at the boom of the Internet, Richard was that site's first Fantasy Football writer before transitioning... Full Bio

Show Comments Hide Comments
Our Latest Stories