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NFL Week 1 fantasy football IDP start ’em or sit ’em

Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals linebacker Zaven Collins (25) during the Red and White training camp practice at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The 2021 NFL season is finally here! This means fantasy football lineup decisions once again become a significant stressor in our lives as we agonize over which players to start and which to sit. To help ease some of this anxiety, we will help you through some of the less obvious IDP decisions every week as the regular season rolls on.

The Week 1 mantra should be something along the lines of “start your studs” or “don’t get cute.” Nobody wins or loses their leagues in Week 1, but there’s also no reason to take unnecessary risks and start 0-1, either. 

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With a long offseason of hype surrounding rookies, this week’s start/sit guide is going to focus heavily on which rookies you can trust to start immediately versus those you should wait on to get a clearer picture of their roles. 


START: DE Kwity Paye, Indianapolis Colts vs. Seattle Seahawks

Paye would have been an automatic Week 1 sit for me back in May after the draft due to the Colts' likelihood to run a heavy rotation. That has changed as this offseason. In two games on just 32 total snaps, Paye earned a 94.2 overall grade and 93.6 pass-rush grade to go along with three pressures and two sacks. While the Colts certainly have some solid pass-rushers, there isn’t anyone who has the potential of Paye. That could be the key to him leading the way in terms of snap opportunities on the defensive line in Indianapolis.

The other key is a matchup against Russell Wilson and the Seahawks. Since entering the NFL in 2012, no quarterback invites more pressure or takes more sacks than Wilson. While sacks are always going to be very difficult to predict, Paye's preseason work combined with Wilson’s sack totals are some pretty favorable predictors. If you want to start a rookie defensive lineman, then Paye is the one to feel most comfortable about for Week 1.

SIT: DE Jaelan Phillips, Miami Dolphins vs. New England Patriots

As a big fan of Phillips, this is a difficult decision to make, but it feels like the right one as he enters Week 1 against the Patriots. For starters, the Patriots have one of the better offensive lines in football heading into this season, recently ranked third overall by PFF’s Steve Palazzolo. This includes starting tackles Trent Brown and Isaiah Wynn — both have career pass-blocking grades in the mid-70s — which is to say they are no easy matchup. Even with a rookie quarterback out there, the confidence levels shouldn’t be too high for Phillips just yet. 

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