Week 1 Fantasy Mailbag: Start Joe Mixon & Allen Robinson II, Roster Ty’Son Williams If Possible
Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Joe Mixon.
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John writes: “Ja’Marr Chase, Marvin Jones, or DeVante Parker?”
Samantha Previte: Chase, and it’s not particularly close for me. Preseason chatter has been super down on the rookie wideout, which led to a sharp drop in his ADP, but rookie struggles are common. We heard similar things from camp last season about Justin Jefferson, who had an absolutely phenomenal year. Also worth noting that Chase is probably shaking off the dust from the year he took off due to COVID-19. It may take a couple of games for Chase to begin to crest his full potential, which is sky high given his production at LSU and chemistry with Joe Burrow.
Chase’s upside is much higher than the latter two. I’d much rather him — the second or third man on the Bengals’ depth chart — over Jones — who is the third man on the Jaguars’ depth chart or Parker — who might have a slightly better situation than Chase or Jones in terms of competition but, in a Tua Tagovailoa-led Dolphins offense, cannot be relied on for consistent production.
Aaron writes: “0.5 PPR league. Quick start or sit question in my flex spot for you: Joe Mixon or Brandon Aiyuk?”
Previte: Mixon by a landslide — and no, this isn’t just the “Mixon truther” in me speaking.
Mixon gets such a bad rap given his injuries, but he’s played more games than Dalvin Cook who’s being drafted as a consensus top-three pick. He hasn’t put up Cook production, but all signs point to this being his breakout season, especially without the threat of competition from Giovanni Bernard.
The Aiyuk matchup against the lowly Lions is juicy, but there are also concerns that Aiyuk may not be 100% for Week 1. Mixon’s matchup is arguably even better. I think Jeff Okudah will be all over Aiyuk and Mixon is going against a Minnesota defense that allowed the sixth-most rushing yards per game last year.
Phillip writes: “I drafted both Philly receivers after drinking too much on draft day. 0.5 PPR [DeVonta] Smith or [Jalen] Reagor?”
Previte: Friends don’t let friends drink and draft … or draft both Eagles receivers.
In all seriousness, you have to respect Howie Roseman going back-to-back with first-round wideouts. Someone has to pan out, right?
Given you’re in this suboptimal pickle and presumably have to start or keep one (not specified), I would roll with Smith. Despite concerns about his stature and durability, he was extremely productive during his Alabama tenure and was the first receiver to win the Heisman Trophy in nearly 30 years. I’m excited to see how he performs with his former Crimson Tide teammate, Jalen Hurts.
Reagor, on the other hand, is nothing but a dart throw at this point. He didn’t produce during his first season and was probably the biggest bust of the 2020 WR class. Toss him back on the wire where he belongs.
Ian writes: “Is there a player either returning from injury, like Saquon Barkley, or a player who is holding out … who’s worth starting on my Week 1 fantasy squad?”
Previte: For what it’s worth, I’m starting Barkley where I have him. I understand the concerns he could see a limited workload this week, but a limited Barkley offers much more upside than a waiver wire-caliber guy, or someone on most people’s benches.
Other guys coming off of major injuries I feel comfortable starting in Week 1 include Christian McCaffrey (duh), George Kittle, and Dak Prescott.
Brad writes: “Best Week 1 tight end streamers? I have Noah Fant, but I’m getting concerned about this mysterious injury.”
Previte: Fant is expected to play, and while the dearth of information regarding his injury from the Broncos is concerning, none of the waiver wire guys are going to be worth starting — unless someone like Logan Thomas is sitting on the wire for some reason. Continue to monitor the situation going into Sunday, but it looks like he’s going to play, which means you should play him absent better options.
To answer the first part of your question, of the waiver wire tight ends under 50% rostered, I would take a look at Zach Ertz, who is 33% rostered on Yahoo. Atlanta’s secondary is atrocious and allowed the most passing yards per game in the NFL in 2020. I think he and Dallas Goedert will both see snaps and either one (or both) could end up in the end zone.
Thomas writes: “At the moment I don’t have a defense rostered. To pick up a defense I’d have to drop one of the Moore brothers (Elijah or Rondale) or Ty’Son Williams. Would you go ahead and skip a defense in Week 1?”
Previte: First, let me just say that drafting a defense or kicker is a sucker move so I’m super happy you understood the assignment.
That said, unless you’re projected to absolutely annihilate your Week 1 opponent, it seems too risky to not play a defense — and I don’t trust projections. Why risk a win now for a potentially viable RB3 or WR3 down the road? It’s not worth it. Pick up a defense.
But, for what it’s worth, I’d probably drop Rondale Moore of those three. Elijah Moore has less competition — albeit in a more anemic offense — and Williams could emerge as a serviceable running back without Gus Edwards, J.K. Dobbins or Justice Hill on the Ravens’ depth chart. There’s a good chance Williams is the top Week 2 waiver add, especially after facing off against the Raiders defense.
Jeremy writes: “Who do you think the top waiver wire pickups will be after Week 1, that players can stash now if they have an empty roster spot?”
Previte: I love Ty’Son Williams at 35% rostered against the Raiders in Week 1 as a bench stash. Las Vegas’ defense is subpar, which could mean a productive game for Williams. Consider adding him before the mad rush to waivers ahead of Week 2.
Amon-Ra St. Brown at 7% rostered is super interesting. He’s a guy I’ve been pumping up all offseason as a sleeper since he has nearly no competition from the Lions’ receiver corps, which has been decimated after the loss of Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr. during free agency. He has a clear path to becoming the team’s No. 1 wideout (and maybe No. 2 target behind T.J. Hockenson).
Lastly, Zach Ertz at 34% rostered is also an intriguing bench stash. He’s going up against Atlanta’s pass defense that allowed the most passing yards per game in the NFL last season which could certainly boost his stock and turn heads. And in spite of offseason turmoil, Ertz plans to finish out his career in Philadelphia. He will have a role in this offense alongside Dallas Goedert.
@CatfishM4 writes: “We playing [Justin] Herbert this week in a rough matchup? What about Allen Robinson?”
Previte: Your concern about both is more than warranted.
Herbert has a brutal Week 1 matchup on the road against Washington, who allowed the second-fewest passing yards in the NFL last year. Their front seven is nothing to sneeze at either. However, unless you have better options, I think you have to play Herbert. In that same range, I’d play Tom Brady, Jalen Hurts, Ryan Tannehill and Matt Stafford over Herbert, for what it’s worth.
As far as Robinson goes (and without knowing your other receivers), I’d say you have to start him. It’s a less-than-ideal matchup going up against Jalen Ramsey and the Rams’ secondary, which allowed the fewest passing yards in the NFL last year, but most managers won’t have better options given he was a top-12 receiver in drafts. I still think he finishes inside the top 24 this week.
John writes: “I finally did it — in one of my .5 PPR leagues with one RB slot and an extra flex position, I went Zero RB and ended up with Chase Edmonds and Darrell Henderson. My question is, do I start Chase Edmonds or Darrell Henderson?”
Previte: First, mazel tov on trying “Zero RB.” If I were to ever test out the strategy, this would be the ideal format.
As for your running back dilemma, I would lean Henderson over Edmonds but it’s fairly close. I think Henderson has less competition out of the Rams’ backfield than Edmonds has with James Conner. Henderson’s season-long concerns are more related to wear-and-tear, but he should be the three-down back over guys like Sony Michel.
The Arizona situation is tricky, and obviously complicated by the offseason signing of James Conner. People are quick to fade Conner after his last season with the Steelers, who couldn’t seem to get anything going on the ground last year. Conner is only 26, and I think he has a lot of miles left in the tank. There’s a good chance he and Edmonds end up in a 50/50 timeshare.
Alex writes: “Start Kareem Hunt or Trey Sermon? Half PPR.”
Previte: The matchup for Sermon is better against a bad Lions defense (versus Hunt against the Chiefs), but I’m going to go with Hunt in any format that awards points per reception.
Hunt is a much safer play in my opinion as a veteran who you know will see touches and have a fairly significant role in the Browns offense — much to the dismay of managers with Nick Chubb rostered.
Meanwhile, with Raheem Mostert healthy (at least for now), there’s significantly more risk playing the rookie over Hunt. Kyle Shanahan lives to make our lives as fantasy managers hell, and it’s really difficult to trust any 49ers running back — especially one making his NFL debut.
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