After a seemingly-endless offseason, the first week of the 2020 NFL season is right around the corner. Deciding who to start and sit isn’t easy, especially with no preseason. Guys like Sony Michel might have a great opportunity, while someone like Cam Akers might not be ready to take over a lineup. Let’s take a dive into all of the best start em’, sit em’ matchups of the week to put together the best lineup possible.
Note: This article assumes PPR scoring.
Sony Michel, Cam Akers Highlight Fantasy Football Running Back Week 1 Start Sits
Start: Sony Michel
Edit (9/8/20): ESPN’s Mike Reiss reports that the Patriots will use all four running backs in an effort to ease Michel back into action. Do not start Sony Michel.
Starting Sony Michel feels gross, but the opportunity is too good to pass up. Fellow Patriots running back Damien Harris suffered a hand injury and, according to reports, won’t be ready to go for about a month. There’s a very real chance he lands on the short-term injured reserve, leaving Michel all alone in this backfield.
Michel isn’t a special talent, but he is capable of picking up what’s provided by his blocking. The Patriots have arguably the NFL’s best interior offensive line in Shaq Mason, David Andrews, and Joe Thuney, and they’re going up against an absolutely atrocious Miami Dolphins run defense. Additionally, Cam Newton’s rushing ability should help Michel’s efficiency on the ground. He should be able to put up an RB2 performance out of your flex spot.
Sit: Cam Akers
Cam Akers is a talented running back, but he’s going to need some time before you can reliably put him in your lineup. According to reports from the Rams’ beat, Malcolm Brown is going to start at running back Week 1. Sean McVay tends to be honest with the media, so there is every reason to believe that he’s telling the truth.
This isn’t too unusual a situation. Rookie running backs tend to need some time before taking control from the established veteran. This could be a 2019 Miles Sanders situation, where Akers will spend a few weeks behind Malcolm Brown before inevitably stealing the job down the stretch and becoming a star fantasy option.
Start: Tarik Cohen
As of this posting, nobody knows whether or not David Montgomery will play in Week 1. The Chicago Bears running back suffered a groin injury in practice and is expected to miss 2-4 weeks, making him a very real question mark for Week 1. This means that Tarik Cohen should receive all the passing work and a sizable portion of the carries. This volume alone makes him a worthy flex play, but only in PPR leagues.
Sit: Kerryon Johnson, D’Andre Swift
Stay away from the Detroit Lions backfield. As discussed in a previous article, all three are looking like bad starts with Adrian Peterson in town. Even without Peterson, Swift probably wouldn’t have played a big role thanks to time missed to injury. Johnson, meanwhile, will probably have to split carries with Peterson, putting a massive cap on his ceiling. One of these running backs could be fantasy-relevant if they fall into the endzone, but you don’t want to start a touchdown-dependent player in Week 1.
Start: Chris Thompson
Chris Thompson isn’t a sexy pick, but he’s probably the biggest benefactor of the Leonard Fournette release. Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden loves him, and Thompson has proven time and time again that he can be a decent fantasy option in this scheme. Additionally, Gardner Minshew had one of the highest checkdown rates in the league last year, so Thompson should see plenty of targets.
As if that wasn’t enough, Jacksonville’s defense might be the least-talented unit in the league, so the Jaguars should be playing catch-up for most of the contest. DJ Chark is really Jacksonville’s only good receiver, so Thompson shouldn’t have to fight too hard for his target share. He has a genuine shot to be a week-in, week-out RB2 as long as he’s on the field.
Sit: Leonard Fournette
Leonard Fournette has one of the widest range of outcomes of any fantasy football running back. If everything breaks right, he’s the three-down back on one of the best offenses in football. If things go wrong, he’s Ronald Jones’ backup. Bruce Arians said that Jones will still be the starter, and that’s probably true in the short-term. For now, leave Fournette on your bench and see how the team distributes the running back workload.
Auto-Starts (Better Than Sony Michel)
Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, Dalvin Cook, Ezekiel Elliott, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Derrick Henry, Alvin Kamara, Miles Sanders, Joe Mixon, Kenyan Drake, Chris Carson, Nick Chubb, Austin Ekeler
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