Sunday Night Football in Week 1 is set to be a blockbuster, but which of the fantasy football options involved should you start and sit this week? Let’s take a look at which of the fantasy options you can trust to start in your fantasy lineups and who might be better left on the bench.
If you have players from the Buccaneers and Cowboys, there are likely some players you have as automatic starts. For example, Tom Brady, Dak Prescott, Leonard Fournette, Ezekiel Elliott, Mike Evans, CeeDee Lamb, and Dalton Schultz are unquestioned starters.
However, there are a lot of other fantasy options that are less clear. Let’s take a look at what fantasy managers should do when it comes to the likes of Jalen Tolbert, Chris Godwin, Tony Pollard, and Julio Jones.
Sit | Chris Godwin, WR
We now know that Godwin is likely to be active for the Buccaneers this week, but that is not the end of the story. The reports on Sunday indicated that Godwin could be eased back into game action, meaning we could see him on a limited snap count. Of course, that does not mean he cannot provide fantasy value, but the probability of it happening decreases considerably.
It is always risky to start a WR who could be limited in their playing time, and Godwin is no different. For fantasy managers, there are more positives than negatives of Godwin being active this week in longer-term thinking. However, this is a time when it is best to sit, watch, and wait for another week if you can afford to.
Start | Tony Pollard, RB
This game has the potential to turn into a shootout, and that suits a talented, versatile pass catcher like Pollard. Pollard averaged three targets per game last year and caught more than 80% of those targets for around 22.5 receiving yards per game. He has every chance to see returns above those numbers if this game is as electric as the betting lines think it could be.
Pollard was targeted four times in the first game of the season between these two last year, turning it into four receptions for 29 yards. The overwhelming numbers were disappointing, but it was also his lowest snap share on offense of the season. After that week, he only saw a sub-30% snap share in two of his other 14 games.
Start | Julio Jones, WR
The Buccaneers are desperately in need of a second pass catcher in this offense. With Rob Gronkowski gone and both Godwin and Gage expected to be limited, it is Jones’ opportunity to shine. Alongside Mike Evans and Leonard Fournette, he has the opportunity to be one of the top three targets in the offense.
While he had his issues last year with injury, Jones proved that he can still be explosive when healthy. In Week 2 of the 2021 season, he turned eight targets into six receptions for 128 yards. He is talented enough to exploit the Cowboys’ secondary, especially as the second receiver in the offense. He is not a player I am looking at as a long-term solution, but if I need a Week 1 plug-and-play, Jones is a potential answer.
Start | Jalen Tolbert, WR
This is very much buying into the script that this game is going to be high scoring with a lot of passing. Tolbert very easily could be the second WR in the offense with Michael Gallup ruled out. That role last year averaged more than six targets and a touch over 50 yards per game last year.
Lamb and Schultz will likely be the two leading receivers, but if Prescott is throwing the ball around 40 or more times, there should be enough to go around. You likely do not need to start Tolbert in a 12- or even 14-team league, but in those deeper formats, he could be an intriguing play this week and until Gallup returns.
Sit | Cameron Brate and Kyle Rudolph
When Gronkowski retired, there was a ray of hope that Cameron Brate could have fantasy value this year. However, Kyle Rudolph came in and immediately put a stop to that. We have no idea what the snap share will look like for these two, making it close to impossible to trust either of them.
If you need a tight end playing in Sunday Night Football or Monday Night Football, then Albert Okwuegbunam is available in more than 75% of ESPN leagues. If he is not available, the choice between Brate, Rudolph, and the Seahawks’ tight ends is not a pretty one in the slightest.
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