Week 1 of the NFL season is finally here, and that means it’s time to set our fantasy football lineups in the hopes of starting out on the right foot. We’re going to need to make some tough decisions on who to start, and who to sit, based mostly on offseason information and past performances. I’m here to help you go through some of the better matchups and the players to avoid in IDP leagues for this first week of the fantasy football season.
One of the most important things to keep in mind when setting a Week 1 lineup is to not get cute when deciding who to start. An old adage in fantasy football is “start your studs” — meaning to be steadfast in your approach to your starting lineup. The players you drafted highly were drafted that way for a reason. Do not waver in your thinking just because some rookie, or unproven talent, is getting a little bit of hype just before the season. We’re always starting Cory Littleton over T.J. Edwards, and it's important not to overthink it. Remember, no fantasy team is desperate for a win in Week 1, so keep it simple.
What I will do in this weekly column is look at players who are mostly outside of the obvious choices for our starting lineups and provide reasoning why they may be a strong play for the coming week or a weaker option to avoid.
START – Melvin Ingram III, DE, Los Angeles Chargers (vs. CIN)
Both Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram are in for a juicy matchup against PFF’s 31st-ranked offensive line to open the 2020 season. While Bosa is an obvious start for any fantasy team, even coming in as my No. 1 overall DL for Week 1, Ingram may not be as obvious to some. Ingram has a history of playing a ton of snaps along the Chargers' defensive line, given their thin pass-rushing unit, and that gives him more than enough opportunity to produce fantasy-relevant numbers.
The Bengals’ offensive tackles are set to be Bobby Hart, who allowed 38 total pressures last season (among the 15 worst tackles in the NFL), and Jonah Williams, who has yet to play an NFL snap. This, combined with rookie quarterback Joe Burrow getting his first taste of live NFL action should create for ample opportunity among the Chargers’ defensive front to put up some decent numbers.
SIT – Chase Winovich, DE, New England Patriots (vs. MIA)
Playing against a bad offensive line doesn’t always make for an automatic start in IDP, and that should be the case for Chase Winovich in Week 1. He was incredibly efficient last season as a rookie, managing seven sacks on under 300 snaps. The belief among a lot of IDP players is that Winovich is now a starter, so he will continue that efficiency on more snaps. I’m here to say “pump the brakes” on this one because that level of efficiency is so often unsustainable.
We want to be realistic about player outcomes for the season, and the truth is that Bill Belichick likes to use a heavy rotation along his defensive front. This means that while Winovich may start the game, he may not see the 50-60 snaps per game that we tend to hope for from regular starters. With Winovich coming in as my DE38 for the week, my thinking is that we’re better off waiting until we see it from him, as opposed to putting him out there and hoping.