Startability Index: Week 1 Start 'Em or Sit 'Em
By: The Football Girl | Posted: September 05, 2012
Selecting a starting fantasy lineup for Week 1 is significantly more difficult than in subsequent weeks. Or maybe it’s easier. It all depends on your drafting prowess. Decisions are often made based on last season, this preseason, or even a college career. In a lot of cases, those are all irrelevant factors. But for the most part you should try and base your Week 1 starting lineup on health, momentum, matchups and sheer talent.
A lot of you will simply go the first players drafted for each spot, often the best move. However if you are having some questions at the margins, I proudly present our Startability Index.
Here’s how it works: I select a bevy of players at each individual position that either readers have requested or whom I believe are not slam dunk starts or sits either way. (For some people they may be, but don’t forget how great the disparity between two leagues can be.)
Each player is assigned a number from 1-10. (10) means they are an unquestionable start. (7) means you should be very comfortable starting them but don’t necessarily expect spectacular numbers. (5) means I’m on the fence; usually the player has both significant upside and downside. And anything below (5) is an indication that they should be benched if you have better options
The Startability Index basically like any Start ‘Em/Sit ‘Em except each suggestion comes with a little weight. And numbers can (and will) shift greatly each week based on a number of factors.
Even if your lineup is already set for Week 1, check it out, come back in subsequent weeks when the decisions are more difficult, and put in your player requests at any time.
Likewise, if you’d like a Week 1 Startability number assigned to any player not listed here, please ask away!
Robert Griffin III at New Orleans (3): RG3 has more hype than…well just about anyone, ever. He has showed off his speed and ability to make plays in the preseason. However, he has also overthrown the ball a lot, in some case by several yards, and his WRs are Santana Moss, Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan. The Saints defense, ranked 24th overall last year (368 yds allowed/game), is by all accounts faster and smarter under new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. Let RG3 play like Cam Newton before we call him Cam Newton.
Ben Roethlsiberger at Denver (7): Other than the “super elite” quarterbacks, Big ben is one of the safest starts out there. He threw for over 4,000 yards last season, with at least 200 passing yards in 14 of 16 games. Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller will bring the pressure, but Big Ben can handle it. (Even against the pressure of the SF defense last year, Big Ben threw for 330 yards.) I also tend to think Hines Ward’s retirement will help Roethlsiberger’s numbers as he can solely focus on the speedier Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown.
Tony Romo at New York Giants (7): Romo put up big numbers in two games against the Giants last season (610 yards, 6 TDs, 1 INT). Expect that trend to continue. The Giants have improved their secondary, but this is still likely to be a high scoring affair. The only reason Romo’s score isn’t higher is to allow for a quarter of first-game rust, which would obviously lower his overall numbers.
Matt Schaub vs. Miami (8): This could be a big start to a big year for Schaub and the Texans. Sure, there are constant injury concerns with Andre Johnson but the reality is Schaub has a nice arsenal to start the season with Johnson, Owen Daniels, Kevin Walter and, of course, Arian Foster. Miami’s secondary, which gave up 250 yards/game in the air last year, lost Vontae Davis via trade and is struggling headed into Week 1.
Ronnie Brown at Oakland (4): Brown, the nucleus of a Ryan Mathews injury inspired RBBC, isn’t a terrible option. Sporting News reports Brown could see about 20 touches Monday night. And the Raiders were near the bottom in rushing defense last season, giving up 136 yards per game, although they did add five new linebackers.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis at Baltimore (5): Green-Ellis ended his Patriots career with a successful showing (68 yds, 1 TD) against the Ravens in the AFC Championship. While Week 1 may not be his best statistically, the new Bengal should get plenty of touches and brings his goal line efficiency of over 50% for under five yards.
Roy Helu at New Orleans (3): Mike Shanahan hates fantasy football and you should hate starting his running backs in return. Shananan has stated he is going with the hot hand, which is Alfred Morris. But Evan Royster is listed as #1. And Helu was the most productive of the three last year. Stay away from this situation for now if you can avoid it.
Mark Ingram vs. Washington (2): Beware of Ingram. The Saints kept five running backs on their roster and there is no guarantee that Ingram will get a starring role…or even a major supporting role, really. With Darren Sproles and Pierre Thomas in the mix, you should really wait to see how the Saints divvy up the running back duties, and how Ingram performs, before inserting him as a starter. He could be the goal line back and bring value in future weeks, so don’t chuck him, though, even if he has an unproductive Week 1.
Adrian Peterson vs. Jacksonville (3): Peterson got the green light for a full-contact practice today, and how he responds over the next couple of days will determine his potential value for Sunday. Assuming he does play, it’s hard to imagine the team putting him out there for more than 15-20 carries max. And there’s still a chance he doesn’t play. Love AP, but he is coming off two torn knee ligaments and needs to be tested in game action before receiving confidence as a fantasy threat.
Trent Richardson vs. Philadelphia (6): Richardson was officially listed as questionable, although all signs indicate a start on Sunday. Obviously it’s a major risk starting a rookie coming off two knee surgeries who has yet to see an NFL down. But the talent is so great he is worth a start in most leagues. You didn't draft him in Rounds 2-3 just to sit him, did you?
Kevin Smith vs. St. Louis (8): Smith is one of my favorite running back starts this week. Sure, a good reason is because he’s facing a still abysmal Rams rush defense that gave up 152 yards/game on the ground last year. But Smith also benefits from Mikel Leshoure’s suspension and Jahvid Best still being out with concussions. And lost in the mix is that high ankle sprain Smith suffered last Thanksgiving (which lowed his productivity after) is fully healed, as he explained in an interview with us last month.
Beanie Wells vs. Seattle (5): As much as people assume Wells is on his way to the bench because of Ryan Williams, he did muster 1,047 yards and 10 touchdowns in 14 games last year. Reports say that Wells will start and get touch the ball 60% of the time to Williams’ 40%. I’m higher on Wells than most for the season, but not necessary this week against a Seattle defense which ranked in the Top 10 in points allowed last year
Justin Blackmon at Minnesota (5): Blackmon is a seemingly attractive start because of his sheer talent and productivity this preseason. With Jones-Drew in a supporting role this week, Blackmon could get more targets than usual. (John Oehser of Jaguars.com thinks Blackmon goes over 80 catches this season.) However, Blaine Gabbert has some clear accuracy issues and I don’t love starting any rookie on the road in his first game.
Randall Cobb vs. San Francisco (3): Cobb had his breakout game in Week 1 last year with a kickoff return for a touchdown and a receiving touchdown. The Packers want to get him more involved in the offense in 2012 and he should see more targets, especially on three and four WR sets. But the chances of Cobb producing a donut hole vs. a surprise like Kevin Ogletree had for Dallas on Thursday night is too likely to chance.
Denarius Moore vs. San Diego (3): It looks like a decent possibility Moore will play after injuring his right hamstring, but that doesn’t mean he’s a solid start. There is too much inconsistency in the Raiders passing game, as evidenced by Moore’s uneven targets and yardage last year. I would see if Carson Palmer shows a clear preference between Moore and Heyward-Bay before starting either.
Randy Moss at Green Bay (2): Lost in the all the excitement about Moss being named a starter is the fact that his chances for fantasy success are slim. Moss has not had a game with over 100 yards since November 2009! And he joins a run-first team that is near the bottom of the league in 3rd and long situations (which, in theory, should be Moss’s wheelhouse). Sit him until he proves me wrong.
Kendall Wright vs. New England (6): Wright is getting a big opportunity this week with Kenny Britt suspended. And I like his chances for decent numbers. Wright has already proven to be in sync with Jake Locker in the preseason; the Patriots secondary continues to be an uneven puzzle; and the Titans may very well be coming from behind in the 4th. But Nate Washington will cut into his potential targets.
Titus Young vs. St. Louis (6): It’s hard not to be high on Young this week. He finished up his rookie season with 17 catches and 4 touchdowns over his last four games, and is clearly poised for a breakout season. He faces a Rams secondary that was actually ranked in the Top 10 in pass defense in 2011; however, not many of their opponents were passing in the second half, so the passing yards allowed stat is misleading.
Vernon Davis at Green Bay (7): Davis comes off a postseason in which he had two touchdowns each game, and has been Alex Smith’s favorite receiver of the preseason. He should get a decent number of targets this week (8-10), and fair well against a Packers secondary that ranked last in the league 2011, and has done little to improve.
Tony Gonzalez at Kansas City (5): Gonzalez has been a solid option for Matt Ryan with at least 6 touchdowns in all three of his seasons as a Falcon. He could receive some decent targets, especially lining up against a depleted Chiefs secondary. However, Gonzalez’s numbers really started to taper off toward the end of last season, and Ryan will be under pressure to get Roddy White and Julio Jones their fair share of carries.
Aaron Hernandez at Tennessee (6): Hernandez finished last season with momentum to the tune of over 50 yards in each of the last four games, along with 3 touchdowns. Gronk gets all the fanfare but Hernandez gets far more targets than an average TE. They should both be productive against the Titans.
Reminder: If you have any players you’d like a Startability score for please request below.
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