Week 1 sees Zach Ertz providing fantasy football managers with a nightmare scenario. Whenever a player is questionable, having them playing in the late afternoon or evening slate of a Sunday is the worst possible situation. With decisions to be made this morning regarding starting lineups, is Ertz set to be on the field this week, and should fantasy managers trust him?
Is Zach Ertz playing in Week 1 against the Kansas City Chiefs?
Ertz started the week limited with his calf injury on Wednesday. He was then a non-participant Thursday, but it is not certain if that was related to a worsening of the injury or just a planned maintenance day. He then returned to practice in a limited fashion on Friday, carrying a questionable status on the Arizona Cardinals injury report into the weekend.
Sunday morning saw both ESPN’s Adam Schefter and NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport report that Ertz is expected to be active for Week 1. Of course, for that to be the case, Ertz has to avoid suffering a setback in pregame warmups. With Ertz expected to suit up but not guaranteed, what should fantasy managers do when setting their lineups?
Should fantasy managers trust Ertz in Week 1?
Ertz’s questionable status provides quite a head-scratching decision for fantasy managers. With DeAndre Hopkins suspended and Rondale Moore missing with a hamstring injury, the stars have aligned for Ertz. If he was fully healthy, you could expect him to be at least the second receiving option in the offense, alongside Marquise Brown.
However, the uncertainty in his health means we cannot be sure how much Ertz will play or be utilized. Given the lack of talent available to the Cardinals in terms of pass catchers, there is always the risk that Ertz is simply suiting up to be a decoy. Ertz’s presence should help open things up for the likes of Brown, A.J. Green, and the other pass-catching options. However, that would be somewhat of a disaster for Ertz’s fantasy managers if he sees minimal targets.
Do fantasy managers have another option if Ertz is ruled out?
If Ertz does get ruled out after the 1 p.m. ET window has started, then fantasy managers could be left scrambling. However, there are a number of intriguing options still available in that window and later into the weekend.
If Ertz is out, the natural thought might be to turn to the next tight end on the roster. While both Trey McBride and Maxx Williams are intriguing options, the fact both of them are on the Cardinals’ depth chart could prevent either of them from being a significant fantasy asset. Williams is listed second on the depth chart, so if you had to choose one, he would be the choice.
Elsewhere in the 4 p.m. ET window, there are other options. Austin Hooper, Daniel Bellinger, Robert Tonyan, and Irv Smith Jr. are all clearly atop their respective depth charts. All four are widely available in 10 or 12-team leagues. Additionally, Albert Okwuegbunam, playing on Monday, is available in more than 75 percent of ESPN leagues. In deeper leagues, there is also Cameron Brate or Kyle Rudolph, who play on Sunday Night Football.
The beauty of having this many options available is fantasy managers can wait on Ertz. At this point, the biggest risk is that he could be a decoy or on a limited snap count. However, those outcomes are tough to predict. Ertz presents a huge risk-reward outcome potential this week. Therefore, it is up to fantasy managers whether they want to take the risk of starting Ertz or looking elsewhere this week.