Fantasy Football Week 1 Start 'Em & Sit 'Em: Tight ends, kickers, and DST

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Editor's note: Welcome to Week 1! We're handling Jamey Eisenberg's Start 'Em & Sit 'Em column a bit differently this season. You're still getting the same in-depth analysis as always, we're just presenting a bit differently, in an effort to get it out to you earlier in the day. This column takes a long time to write, and in the past, we've usually gotten it out to you in the evening. This year, we're going to publish it position-by-position, to get it into your hands quicker. Here's Jamey's take on tight ends, kickers, and DSTs for this week. 

Don't worry: If you want the classic Start 'Em & Sit 'Em, we'll still be publishing that at the end of the day with every position included. For now, here's tight ends, kickers, and DSTs. 

Tight ends

Note: Projections are provided by SportsLine.

Start 'Em
11.5 projected points
Trey Burton Chicago Bears TE
Burton should be considered a must-start Fantasy tight end, but I just wanted to write about him in his first game with the Bears. I'm expecting Mitchell Trubisky to lean on Burton quite a bit, and he looked good in his third preseason game against Denver with four catches for 45 yards and a touchdown. Chicago is going to move Burton all over the offense, and he should have the chance for plenty of positive performances, including this week against the Packers. Burton is headed for a big year and a big week at Green Bay.
10.2 projected points
Jordan Reed Washington Redskins TE
Reed is healthy for the first time since Week 8 of last season, and hopefully he won't have any setbacks with his toe injury all year. When healthy, Reed is among the best Fantasy tight ends, and he should see plenty of targets from Alex Smith this week. We have yet to see how Smith and Reed will look on the field together in game action since Reed didn't play in the preseason, but Smith has a good track record with his tight ends (see Vernon Davis in San Francisco and Travis Kelce in Kansas City). This could be the start of Reed re-establishing himself as a premier tight end in the NFL.
8.1 projected points
Tyler Eifert Cincinnati Bengals TE
Let's hope Eifert stays healthy all season because it would be fun to see him perform as he did in 2015 when he had 52 catches for 615 yards and 13 touchdowns in 13 games. He's healthy now, and he's worth using as a streaming option in Week 1 at the Colts. As always, Eifert will likely be touchdown or bust, but I like the Bengals passing game in this matchup behind Dalton, who likes leaning on Eifert when he plays. Consider Eifert a No. 1 Fantasy tight end this week.

Sleepers

  • Eric Ebron (vs. CIN): I like both Colts tight ends this week with Ebron and Jack Doyle, and Andrew Luck should lean on these guys as primary targets behind T.Y. Hilton. Rookie safety Jessie Bates could be someone Luck tries to pick on if he's in coverage, and the Bengals are without linebacker Vontaze Burfict (suspension). Ebron could come up big in his first game with the Colts at home.
  • Antonio Gates (vs. KC): Gates is back with the Chargers as the replacement for Hunter Henry (ACL), and he should benefit if Berry is out. He will likely need to score to help your Fantasy team, and he does have two touchdowns in his past three games against the Chiefs overall.
  • Dallas Goedert (vs. ATL): With Alshon Jeffery (shoulder) out, look for the Eagles to be creative and use plenty of two tight-end sets with Zach Ertz and Goedert. He had a strong preseason with nine catches for 149 yards and a touchdown and is worth using as a streaming option in deeper leagues.
Sit 'Em
7.6 projected points
David Njoku Cleveland Browns TE
Njoku should have the chance for a big season in 2018, but he could struggle this week against the Steelers. Pittsburgh was fantastic against tight ends in 2017, allowing the fewest touchdowns to the position with just two. Njoku, in a limited role with a worse quarterback situation, only had four catches for 58 yards on five targets against the Steelers as a rookie last year, but don't expect a quality performance this week. He's a No. 2 Fantasy tight end in Week 1.
6.4 projected points
George Kittle San Francisco 49ers TE
Kittle isn't even guaranteed to play coming off his preseason shoulder injury, although the early practice reports are positive. However, he might want to sit this one out against the Vikings, who were dominant against tight ends last year. Only three tight ends scored against Minnesota in 2017 and none in the final 11 games. This defense will be difficult for most tight ends again this season, and Kittle at less than 100 percent isn't worth the risk of starting in most leagues.
8.1 projected points
Charles Clay Buffalo Bills TE
We'll see how the Bills do with Peterman starting, but I don't have much confidence in any of Buffalo's players in this matchup on the road at Baltimore. Clay comes into this game with a 10-game streak without a touchdown. Now, he is more viable in PPR leagues since he should see plenty of catches, and he had four receptions for 24 yards on six targets in the third preseason game against Cincinnati. But that's the typical stat line for Clay, so start him at your own discretion in Week 1.

Bust Alert

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Evan Engram NYG • TE • 88
WEEK 1 PROJECTION9.7

Engram is expected to play this week after dealing with a concussion in the preseason, and we'll finally get to see how this Giants offense looks when everyone is healthy. We've yet to see Engram on the field with Odell Beckham, Sterling Shepard and Saquon Barkley at the same time, and that's my concern for Engram this year because he should struggle for targets. And in a tough matchup against the Jaguars on the road, you might want to consider other options. It's difficult to bench Engram since he's likely your only tight end, but he will likely have minimal production against Jacksonville this week.

Defense/Special Teams

Start 'Em

Lions (vs. NYJ) – 12.1 projected points

I've been saying all summer to draft the Lions DST for their Week 1 matchup at home against the Jets, and I'm hopeful they will deliver a quality performance. It's a great situation for them against Darnold in his first NFL start on the road in a prime-time game. We'll see how he handles the pressure, and the Lions defense wasn't exactly stellar in the preseason. But I expect this DST to be a top-10 unit for Week 1. And last year the Lions started the season with at least 14 Fantasy points in each of their first four games.

Sleepers

  • Falcons (at PHI): I expect the Falcons DST to be a breakout candidate at the position this year, and this has become a favorable matchup for the unit in Week 1. With Carson Wentz (knee) and Jeffery out, Philadelphia could struggle to move the ball, and Nick Foles has not looked good in the preseason. Maybe Foles re-creates his postseason magic from last year, but his worst playoff game was against Atlanta when he passed for just 246 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions in a 15-10 victory. I'm trusting the Falcons DST this week.
  • Titans (at MIA): We'll see how Ryan Tannehill does in his first real game since Week 14 of the 2016 season, but the Tennessee defense could be tough on him. The Titans DST closed last season on a high note with at 12 Fantasy points in four of their final six games, and the defense should be improved under new coach Mike Vrabel. This should be a good week to trust the Titans, even on the road.
  • Packers (vs. CHI): This will be Trubisky's first trip to Lambeau Field, and we'll see how he performs in a tough stadium in a prime-time matchup. The Packers sacked Trubisky five times in their lone meeting last year in Chicago, and despite the revamped offense for the Bears, the Packers DST is a good play for Week 1.

Sit 'Em

Texans (at NE) – 5.9 projected points

The Texan DST should return to prominence this season with J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus healthy, as well as the addition of Tyrann Mathieu. But this could be a tough week to trust them against the Patriots on the road. While we've seen New England get off to slow starts before, and there is plenty of turnover with this offense in the offensive line, backfield and at receiver, it's still going against Tom Brady in his building. If the Texans DST is the only one on your Fantasy team and you can't afford to carry another option, then just take your chances and see what happens. But I'm not confident in the Texans DST performing at a high level this week.

Kicker

Start 'Em

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Mason Crosby GB • K • 2
WEEK 1 PROJECTION7.7

The last time Crosby faced the Bears was in Week 10 last year, and he made 3-of-4 field goals, including one from 50 yards, and two extra points. He played in that game without Rodgers, so the offense should be better this time around, and Las Vegas has this game as one of the highest totals for the week at 48 points. Most of the scoring should come from Green Bay, and Crosby is coming off a solid preseason with 6-of-6 field goals. If you haven't bought back in on Crosby this season with Rodgers back, there's still time to add him and start him in all leagues for Week 1.

Sleepers

  • Adam Vinatieri (vs. CIN): Like Crosby with Rodgers, Vinatieri will benefit with Luck coming back from injury, and he's worth starting this week against the Bengals. Last year, despite the offense struggling with Luck out, Vinatieri still made all 15 field goals he attempted at home, including two kicks of 50-plus yards.
  • Graham Gano (vs. DAL): Gano was great at home in 2017, making all 16 of his field goal attempts at Bank of America Stadium. He also was 8 of 8 on field goals in September last year. Hopefully, he'll remain perfect again this week against Dallas, and I expect the Panthers offense to be explosive in this matchup, leading to plenty of points.
  • Ryan Succop (at MIA): Succop didn't do much in last year's trip to Miami, making just one field goal and one extra point in Week 5. But he should do better in the rematch. Last year, Succop got off to an amazing start with 10 field goals and eight extra points in his first three games, and I'm counting on another hot streak to open the season in 2018.

Sit 'Em

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Jake Elliott PHI • K • 4
WEEK 1 PROJECTION8.5

Elliott made three field goals against the Falcons in the playoffs last year at home, although he missed his only extra point. He could finish with about nine Fantasy points again in the rematch, but the Eagles offense could struggle this week with Wentz and Jeffery out and Foles starting. Foles didn't perform well in the preseason, and this offense could be in trouble against a good Falcons defense without Wentz.

Senior Fantasy Writer

Jamey Eisenberg has been a Senior Fantasy Writer for CBS Sports since 2006 with a focus on Fantasy Football. A University of Florida grad (class of '98), Jamey got his start in the newspaper business and... Full Bio

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