Trotter's Lists: Fantasy football Week 1 edition

Who to start, who to sit, underrated players, waiver wire additions and stats you didn't know. Isaac Trotter breaks down Week 1 of the fantasy football season.

Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) throws a pass as Houston linebacker Whitney Mercilus (59) closes in during the AFC Divisional Round playoff game in January at Arrowhead Stadium. Mark J. Rebilas / USA TODAY Sports

I was 10 years old when I discovered fantasy football. My dad was reeled in to play with some of his work colleagues. He briefly explained it to me, and I was hooked from the start. He'd hand me his phone and I'd pour over stats figuring out which guy he should play or which guy he should bench.

I don't know if he ever really listened to me, but he pretended to, so I'll take it. Ever since I was 10, I've been playing. In high school, I would only have one or two teams. In college, it grew to four or five teams.

This year, I have six squads. It's probably way too much, but I'm addicted to it and I love it. It makes every game fun, and the group chats are just as entertaining.

If you're a football fanatic, you dream of putting a squad together and being a general manager who's in charge of everything. Fantasy football gives you that ability.

Week 1 starts Thursday. Chiefs vs. Texans. Patrick Mahomes vs. Deshaun Watson. Football is finally back.


Set your lineups and let's have a season. My dad didn't win the fantasy league championship, but maybe I can help you win yours.

1: Three must-start studs for Week 1

WR Tyreek Hill, Kansas City

The Cheetah is going to be unleashed against Houston, and he’s licking his chops to get a piece of Texans’ cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III. According to Pro Football Focus, Hargreaves gave up the fifth-most receptions last year, and he’s just not fast enough to keep up with Hill.

Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs have so much continuity and balance in the offense, but Hill is still arguably Mahomes’ No. 1 option. Hill was quiet against the Texans in the playoffs last year, but in Week 6, he zoomed past the Texans’ secondary for five catches, 80 yards and two touchdowns.

Hargreaves III can’t guard him, and the Chiefs know it. Andy Reid will undoubtedly exploit it.

WR DJ Moore, Carolina

I have all the DJ Moore stock. I have six fantasy teams this year, and he’s on four of those teams. So yeah, huge believer. He better not let me down. Teddy Bridgewater is a huge upgrade over Kyle Allen, and Moore still managed to eclipse 1,000 receiving yards last year. The Carolina defense is atrocious, so expect the Panthers to be throwing a lot. Moore can produce like a WR1 even though you can sometimes draft him in the third round.

Moore should erupt in Week 1. The matchup is super favorable as the Las Vegas Raiders gave up 17 receiving touchdowns last year. Moore didn’t score a ton of touchdowns last year (4) but I’d imagine there’s some positive regression.

Moore should shine bright in Week 1.

WR Kenny Golladay, Detroit

Kenny Golladay absolutely torched the Bears twice last season. In Week 13, he had four catches for 158 yards and a touchdown. Yeah, that’ll play.


He’ll likely be facing rookie Jaylon Johnson. The second-round pick out of Utah was an All-American in college, but Golladay is a super tough task for a rookie in his first ever game after limited practices this offseason.

Golladay flashed a great rapport with Matthew Stafford early last season, and they should get off to a great start.

2: Don't start these three

WR AJ Green, Cincinnati

Sometimes, it’s easy to forget how good AJ Green was a few years ago. He was absolutely worth a first-round pick. Injuries have really handcuffed his career. The Bengals have been so smart with him this offseason. They’ve literally covered him with bubble wrap to try and get him through the preseason healthy.

They’ve accomplished their goal, so it could be easy to insert Green into the starting lineup. Joe Burrow is cool as a cucumber and coming off the best season of any college quarterback ever.

But a matchup with the Chargers and Casey Heyward should put the damper on Green and the Bengals’ offense. Hayward is outstanding and should give Green a ton of trouble. Plus, the pass rush of Melvin Gordon and Joey Boss should overwhelm a bad Cincinnati offensive line. You probably didn’t invest a top-50 pick on Green, so find another WR3 instead.

RB Melvin Gordon, Denver

Melvin Gordon’s not going to get the lion’s share of the carries due to the presence of the underrated Phillip Lindsay. And if you follow the direction of the front office, it’s pretty clear that Denver wants to toss the ball around the yard.

Courtland Sutton and Noah Fant were good last year. They invested early picks in Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler. There’s a lot of mouths to feed. Gordon is talented but he’s clearly on the back end of his career. With questions about the offensive line play and a bad matchup against a feisty Tennessee defense, Gordon seems like an easy tailback to avoid.

QB Carson Wentz, Philadelphia

The Washington Football Team –– that’s weird to type –– has a terrifying front-7. Ryan Kerrigan, Montez Sweat and Chase Young are going to be dominant. Plus, the Eagles’ offensive line is beaten up and thin. And the injuries continue to stockpile for Wentz’s pass-catchers. He won’t have Alshon Jeffrey, and he might not have first-rounder Jalen Reagor. And speedster Marquise Goodwin already opted out of the 2020 season.


This game just sets up to be a grinder, smash-mouth, low-scoring contest. I love Wentz, but there are so many talented quarterbacks so matchups really matter. Wentz dominated Washington twice last year, and they might seem like the laughing stock of the league, but Ron Rivera and Jack Del Rio should give the Eagles signal-caller some issues in Week 1. Look elsewhere if you can.

3: Three underrated guys who could smash in Week 1

WR Will Fuller, Houston

If Will Fuller doesn’t break out this season, then he never will. Everything is set up for Fuller to have a monster Week 1 against Kansas City. Yes, the Chiefs’ secondary is talented, but Fuller is always a threat to go deep.

The Texans are desperately hoping that Fuller becomes their top wideout so that they can justify dealing DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals. He’s got the talent and the speed to make some huge plays. Fuller only needs one play to make inserting him into the starting lineup worth it. Deshaun Watson loves to extend plays and go deep. Odds are high that Fuller breaks at least one monster play in a game that should be a shootout.

WR Michael Gallup, Dallas

Jalen Ramsey is going to have his sights on Amari Cooper and that could give Michael Gallup more attention on Sunday Night Football against the Rams. Gallup averaged almost exactly the same amount of fantasy points per game as Cooper last year. You want to take chances with high-powered offenses. Playcaller Kellen Moore is a rising star, and the Cowboys have every chance to be a special offense. Gallup will benefit from it.

He was drafted far too low in season re-draft leagues, and he’ll make those who scooped him up late look wise.

Diontae Johnson, Pittsburgh

The Steelers’ offense is another one that I’m cautiously optimistic about heading into 2020. Big Ben’s health is the ultimate X-Factor. If Roethlisberger is healthy, then big things could be in the works for Diontae Johnson.


And the Week 1 matchup is everything you could ask for. The New York Giants’ defense is down-right atrocious. JuJu Smith-Schuster is going to get plenty of attention, but Johnson’s got the speed to be a dangerous difference-maker in Week 1.

Roethlisberger called Johnson an “incredible talent.” The Steelers have a knack for finding standout wide receivers from tiny schools, (see Brown, Antonio) and Johnson looks like their next terrific find.

4: Three guys to steal off the waiver wire

RB James Robinson, Jacksonville

James Robinson is rostered in just over 10 percent of leagues, and if you are looking for a fantasy-relevant running back, you should hop all over Robinson. He finished his career as the No. 2 all-time rusher in Illinois State’s history. The man is talented, but he’s oft-overlooked.

Jacksonville is likely going to be the worst team in the NFL this season. They tried all offseason to get rid of Leonard Fournette who was a cancer in the locker room. They also shipped off Yannick Ngakoue to the Vikings. They’re in full tank mode. Fournette leaving and Ryquell Armstead being placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list means that Robinson is going to get a lot of playing time alongside Chris Thompson. Former Nebraska star Devine Ozigbo also was placed on Injured Reserve.

Oh, and one last thing. Robinson’s early-season schedule sets up pretty favorably. The Lions, Dolphins, Texans and Bengals are all on the docket in the first six weeks, and running backs feasted against them last year.

Fantasy football is all about talent and opportunity. Robinson has the talent, and he’s got the opportunity. Add him to the back end of your roster. There’s literally no downside.


RB Malcolm Brown, Los Angeles

9Rookie Cam Akers and second-year man Darrell Henderson are the well-known names in the Rams’ backfield, but Malcolm Brown might get the first carry on Sunday against Dallas. Except he’s only rostered in only five percent of leagues. You can get him.

The Rams’ offense should bounce back in a huge way in 2020, and Brown looks like the frontrunner for goal-line carries. Touchdowns are everything in fantasy.

Brown exploded for 11 carries and 53 yards to go along with two touchdowns in Week 1 last year. I’m not advocating for Brown to replace Alvin Kamara in your lineups, but I’m bullish on the Rams’ offensive upside. If Brown wins the job, he could be a league-winner. Get him while he’s not popular.

RB Chase Edmonds, Arizona

Kliff Kingsbury came into Arizona and reinvigorated the Cardinals’ offense with a rookie quarterback. Now, as Kyler Murray heads into Year 2, they have super high hopes. But the main reason why the Cardinals were so much better last season was because they were one of the most efficient rushing teams. According to Football Outsiders, the Cardinals were No. 2 in football –– behind the Baltimore Ravens –– in rushing efficiency.

When has Kenyan Drake ever been a three-down back? Never.

Oh, and one more thing. Chase Edmonds is really stinkin’ good. The nerd stats love Edmonds (31.7 percent DVOA, or Defense-adjusted Value Over Average. This number represents value, per play, over an average running back in the same game situations).

He’s super available and Kingsbury has noted that Edmonds is going to have a role from Week 1. If Drake underwhelms or gets injured, Edmonds is going to be a top-15 weekly running back.

Stash him.


5. Three stats you probably didn’t know

1. Chargers running back Austin Ekeler scored 11 touchdowns last year. Only three of them were rushing scores. Even after you take out Ekeler’s rushing points, he still managed to outscore Odell Beckham Jr.

2. James Winston averaged more fantasy points per game last year than Patrick Mahomes.

3. The Jets’ savvy slot man Jamison Crowder finished 19th in the NFL with 122 targets last year. More than wide receivers like Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Kenny Golladay and Michael Gallup. Except you can get Crowder in like the eighth round. PPR maven and worth a shot with so many injuries to Sam Darnold’s wideouts.

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