Well, that was…something. Week 1 of the 2021 NFL Season is in the books, and there were plenty of surprises. Week 1 is always the hardest to predict and often produces strange results. After Week 1 in 2020, the Jacksonville Jaguars were 1-0. They wouldn’t win another game. So, we have to take some of it with a grain of salt.
That being said, Week 1 is also where our off-season thoughts and predictions meet the cold light of reality. Much as NFL teams have to adjust when things change, we have to adjust as fantasy players. This week’s Sit/Start recommendations take some of that into account, but before we get to them, it’s time to see how I did in Week 1. As mentioned last week, these columns will include accountability.
For transparency purposes, we’ll measure quarterbacks and tight ends against Top 12 finishes (QB1 and TE1), and we’ll measure running backs and wide receivers against Top 24 finishes (RB1-2, WR1-2). All finishes come from Fantasy Pros PPR scoring leaders lists found here.
Week 1 Review
QB: Baker Mayfield QB27, Miss. I thought the Browns would need to score to keep up with the Chiefs, and they did. But the touchdowns came on the ground, capping Baker’s value.
RB: James Robinson RB37, Miss. In fairness, my original selection was Gus Edwards, but when he tore his ACL, I had to pivot. I liked Robinson’s potential in a run-heavy offense against a bad Texans team. It turns out the Texans were better than expected, while Robinson was in some kind of split with Carlos Hyde…yikes.
WR: A.J. Brown WR33, Miss. I liked Brown against the Cardinals secondary in a high-scoring game. Brown was OK, but the Titans look a mess.
TE: George Kittle TE9, Hit. I thought Kittle would be a big part of the 49ers’ passing game, and he was. He didn’t finish as high as I expected, but he did finish as a TE1.
Start Record: 1-3
QB: Joe Burrow QB18 Hit. I thought Burrow would be good but not great. I had him ranked as QB19 on the week, and he finished as QB18.
RB: Saquon Barkley RB53, Hit. I thought Barkley would be slow and rusty coming off an injury against a tough defensive front. He didn’t even finish Top 50.
WR: Ja’Marr Chase WR15, Miss. Like Burrow, I thought Chase would start slow. Instead, he had more than 100 yards and a TD.
TE: Chris Herndon, TE52, Hit. I thought Herndon would get off to a slow start, and he did. He didn’t have any points or crack the Top 50.
Sit Record: 3-1
So, not a great Week 1, but it could have been worse. On to Week 2, where I’ll hope to improve.
Start: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
About: Yes, I know Aaron Rodgers finished as QB34 last week. I thought he’d be better, but it didn’t happen. This week an angry Rodgers and the rest of the Packers host a weak Detroit Lions defense at home on Monday Night Football. I’m more cautious—ranking Rodgers as QB11—but last week didn’t scare me. I think Rodgers finds Davante Adams and Aaron Jones and gets a Week 2 win.
Sit: Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
About: The Falcons hosted the Eagles last week, and it seemed logical that he would connect with Calvin Ridley and Kyle Pitts and have a big game. It didn’t happen. The Falcons didn’t even score a touchdown at home, as Ryan finished as QB30. I don’t expect much better in Week 2 as the Falcons travel to play a better defense in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I’m staying away from the Falcons in Week 2.
Start: Elijah Mitchell, San Francisco 49ers
About: Third Round selection Trey Sermon was a healthy scratch in Week 1, while sixth-round pick Elijah Mitchell got 19 carries, rushing for more than 100 yards and a touchdown. He finished as RB16. Raheem Mostert is out for the year, so the 49ers have Mitchell, Sermon, and JaMychal Hasty all active. Mitchell was the top waiver add this week, and I think he’ll continue to lead the committee. I ranked him as RB12 and like his chances of being a potential league winner in 2021.
Sit: Zack Moss, Buffalo Bills
About: Moss was also a healthy scratch in Week 1 despite being a favorite of many to lead the backfield for the Bills. He could be active in Week 2, but I’m not banking on it. Devin Singletary, as the lead back in Week 1, only finished as RB29. If Moss is even active, at best, he’s in a split. The Bills appear to be a pass-heavy offense and will be playing a stout defense in the Dolphins.
Start: Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers
About: Week 1 changed our perception of the 49ers, both in the backfield and passing game. Samuel finished as WR3 in Week 1, seeing a team-high 12 targets and catching nine passes for 189 yards and a TD. The next closest receiver—George Kittle—saw five targets. Samuel has something going with Jimmy Garoppolo and seems to be healthy. I have him as WR12 this week and expect his excellent start to continue.
Sit: Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco 49ers
About: Aiyuk was active in Week 1 and even played 26 snaps, but you wouldn’t know it. He didn’t see a single target in a game where his team scored 41 points, and his quarterback threw for more than 300 yards. That combined with Kyle Shanahan’s tepid comments about Aiyuk’s role should have everyone concerned. I like Aiyuk’s talent and potential, but something isn’t right with him in the offense. I’m staying away for the time being.
Start: Juwan Johnson, New Orleans Saints
About: The Saints only threw the ball 20 times in a win during Week 1. Three of those targets went to Johnson, who caught all three for 21 yards and two TDs. It doesn’t sound like a huge performance, but it was in relation to the Saints’ passing game. Johnson seems to be a focal part of the offense, especially in the Red Zone. Given the state of TEs, getting looks in the end zone can mean all the difference, so I’m firing him up in Week 2.
Sit: Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons
About: As I mentioned above, when discussing Ryan, I don’t trust the Falcons this week. Pitts might be one of the few decent weapons in the Falcons’ arsenal, and he saw eight targets in Week 1, but that only led to four receptions for 31 yards. That left him as TE23. If Pitts gets a touchdown, he could vault into the Top 12, but I’m not counting on it. For now, he’s out of my lineup.
Matthew Fox is a die-hard NFL fan and Broncos’ homer. He’s a member of the FSWA. You can find more from him on Twitter @knighthawk7734 or as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast, a part of the Campus2Canton Network.