By Logan Garrett, Editor-In-Chief—
This is the second installment of The Echo’s weekly fantasy football column, which is intended to provide insight into how to prepare for a draft and manage a roster. Student input is encouraged and appreciated. Ideas and feedback can be provided to Jake Moore, Assistant Sports Editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In this week’s column, Echo Editor-In-Chief Logan Garrett will be providing personal predictions on which players at each skill position that you should start (keep in your starting lineup), sit (don’t give up on these players despite bad streaks), stash (place on your bench for later in the season or until they emerge as a solid fantasy play), or sell (trade them). The opinions expressed are based on both PPR (points per reception) and non-PPR criteria, but stats and scores will be expressed as PPR.
Start Austin Ekeler, LAC. I believe this goes without saying, but Ekeler should be in every starting lineup as long as Melvin Gordon remains in a contract dispute. The 24-year-old back made the most of his 18 touches in week 1 (12 carries for 58 yards & one TD, six catches for 96 yards & two TDs) and ended up with the second most running back fantasy points. Ekeler is in a great position to maintain the volume that made Melvin Gordon a top 10 RB, so plug him into your starting lineups for as long as you can.
Sit David Montgomery, CHI. I was high on Montgomery this offseason, but Thursday night’s game against the Packers was far from encouraging. The main question surrounding Montgomery this summer was how he would fit into that offense with Tarik Cohen, but no one imagined Cohen would essentially shift into a WR and that Mike Davis of all people would outsnap Montgomery by 15 snaps. This appeared to be more of a committee backfield than most realized, but it’s only week 1. Don’t panic on Montgomery, because he might end up being the top 20 back you expected him to be, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable starting Monty until this backfield clears up a little.
Stash Ito Smith, ATL. This was an atrocious game for the Falcons offense, particularly for Devonta Freeman. Ito Smith, on the other hand, looked very solid with his limited opportunities, going for 31 yards on six carries and nine yards on one catch. It just makes sense that Smith transitions into the Tevin Coleman role in this offense, which would thrust him into flex consideration in deeper leagues.
Sell Derrick Henry, TEN. Henry will have a solid season this year, but his 28.9 fantasy points this week is not a number he will put up consistently. In games the Titans lost last year, Derrick Henry averaged a measly 7.2 fantasy points per game, which just further diminishes his performance this week considering the Titans clobbered the Browns by 30 points. Derrick Henry also didn’t have a game with more than two catches last year, so his 75-yard receiving TD was yet another fluke. If you can sell high on Henry for a strong WR2 or RB2 with another bench player, I encourage you to utilize his great first week to make that deal.
Start Sammy Watkins, KC. I have never been a fan of Watkins due to his lingering injury woes, but when he is on the field and healthy, the man just produces. It also doesn’t hurt to be the number one wide receiver in a Pat Mahomes-led offense (at least as long as Tyreek Hill is out). Based on his otherworldly production yesterday against one of the best defenses in football, Watkins has to at least be a top 15 WR until Hill comes back.
Sit Larry Fitzgerald, ARI. At 36-years-old, Larry Fitzgerald isn’t getting any younger, but at 36, he continues to prove me wrong. Fitz will surely fall off within the next couple of years, but it doesn’t appear that this season will be his last productive one. Fitz led the Cardinals in receiving yards, targets and receptions, and on top of his great stat line (8/113/1), he managed to save his team in clutch moments with his go ahead score that sent the Cards into overtime and a pivotal 45-yard reception in OT. It looks like geriatric Fitz will remain the WR1 in Arizona, but I don’t feel comfortable starting him against a strong Ravens’ defense in week 2.
Stash John Brown, BUF. I am buying into Brown’s production in week 1. The newly signed Bill went for seven catches and 123 yards on nine targets, and he saw 15 more snaps than every other pass catcher on the team. Last year on the Ravens, Brown was the 22nd power ranked WR through the first nine weeks, which means he could play at that level consistently for your team. He also fits into the Bills’ offensive scheme incredibly well as a deep-ball wideout. 70 percent of Josh Allen’s TD passes last season were 20 yards or longer, and a speedster like Brown, who has averaged 15.4 yards per catch on his career, could burn secondaries all year long. He needs to be rostered in every league.
Sell DJ Chark, JAX. There was a ton of buzz surrounding Chark throughout training camp, and he showed why on Sunday. Unfortunately, I doubt Chark will be able to maintain this level of production considering Nick Foles broke his clavicle on Chark’s sensational 35-yard TD reception, meaning either Gardner Minshew or Josh Dobbs will take his place under center. It’s a long shot that either of those two maintain the fantasy value for Chark, Westbrook, and Chris Conley. If you can springboard his amazing week one showing into a solid RB or TE, pull the trigger.
Start Mark Andrews, BAL. I think you should temper your expectations for the Baltimore offense following a monster first week considering the Dolphins are arguably the worst team in the league. Although the Ravens won’t play Miami every week, it looks like their offense will be more pass-heavy than most anticipated. This bodes well for Andrews, who hauled in all eight of his targets this week for 108 yards and a score. The ravens will look to keep him involved as their top TE option, and with the easy schedule the Ravens have the rest of the season in terms of defensive strength, Andrews stands to end the year as a top 10 TE.
Sit Eri Ebron, IND. We all knew Ebron’s fantasy value was going to plummet following Andrew Luck’s retirement, but I had no idea it would happen so quickly. Both Ebron and Doyle were underwhelming, but Doyle was on the field significantly more than the former lottery draft pick. Doyle outsnapped Ebron by 17 snaps and even had four more snaps in the red zone, where Ebron thrived last season. I would look to the waiver wire for other TE options.
Stash T.J. Hockenson, DET. The eighth overall pick out of Iowa ended up with six catches on nine targets for 131 yards, which happened to be the most receiving yards by a tight end in their first game in NFL history. The Lions won’t face secondaries as friendly as Arizona’s every week, but Hockenson looks to be locked into a high volume role with a strong passing offense. Hockenson will most likely return to earth next week against a solid Chargers’ D, but he should be targeted on the waiver wire by anyone with TE woes.
Sell nobody. Who is going to trade you for a TE in week one?