Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em Wide Receivers: Week 1

Fantasy Football start em sit em Week 1 wide receivers

Getty Odell Beckham Jr. #13 of the Cleveland Browns runs off the field after their 19-10 win over the Atlanta Falcons.

Welcome to Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em Wide Receivers for Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season. In this week’s column, we examine the return of one of the position’s former elite talents, plus a big-ticket free agent in New York gearing up to be a risky play.

* Reminder: Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em is intended to present you with the non-obvious choices for your fantasy lineup. We dig deep into player matchups, scoring trends, and other factors to best help you with your fantasy decisions. Superstars such as Tyreek Hill will not be found in this column. If you’re looking for players of their caliber check out our weekly fantasy football wide receiver rankings.

Start-Sit [ RBs | WRs]

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WR: Start ‘Em

Tee Higgins vs. MIN

Tyler Boyd surpassed 72 receiving yards just three times last season, while Ja’Marr Chase is starting to give off Markelle Fultz-esque vibes in his ability to catch an NFL football (via Higgins, on the other hand, saw eight-plus targets in nine of his 15 games last season and averaged double-digit points over the final six games of 2020 — with Brandon Allen under center. The Vikings were one of just nine teams to surrender more than 40.0 points per game to wideouts last season.

Deebo Samuel at DET 

Samuel has been targeted at least nine times in each of his past two games where he logged more than one offensive snap and at least six targets in four of his last five. Brandon Aiyuk has returned to practice but is dealing with a hamstring injury. The Lions allowed the second-most points to wideouts last season (44.0).

Laviska Shenault at HOU

Shenault looks to be the receiver to own in Duval. A versatile playmaker who thrives with the ball in his hands, the second-year pro should excel in Urban Meyer’s offensive system — especially with Travis Etienne sidelined. The Texans allowed 1.4 touchdowns per game to receivers in 2020 (tied for third-most). They also ranked within the bottom-12 in both receptions and yards surrendered. Vernon Hargraves, who will likely draw Shenault for much of the game out of the slot, allowed a passer rating of 117.5 last season (h/t Casey Kamholz of RotoBaller). Brandin Cooks is also worth firing up in this game. 

Don’t Sleep: Odell Beckham Jr. at KC

I appeared to be going against the grain here even before Beckham was deemed a game-time decision by head coach Kevin Stefanski, via The Athletic. However, considering word out of Cleveland all summer had been overwhelmingly good revolving around OBJ, we’ll proceed with the idea that he is playing unless told otherwise. Yes, the matchup isn’t dreamy. However, as we noted in our receiver rankings, 13 receivers were targeted eight-plus times against the Chiefs in 2020, 10 of them either recorded 80-plus receiving yards and/or found the endzone. Beckham was targeted eight-plus times in three of his six full games last season, scoring three touchdowns. I’ll gamble on Beckham in a likely shootout. 

WR: Sit ‘Em

Sit of the Week: Kenny Golladay vs. DEN

Golladay has been hobbled by a hamstring injury for the majority of the summer. He’s gotten minimal work in with quarterback Daniel Jones. Furthermore, Denver allowed the eighth-fewest receiving touchdowns to wideouts in 2020. Sterling Shepard is quickly looking like the most trustworthy receiver in East Rutherford.

Courtland Sutton at NYG

Sutton hasn’t suited up since 2019. And while chatter out of Denver has been very good surrounding the big-bodied receiver, a matchup with James Bradberry and a sneaky-good Giants secondary isn’t as promising. New York allowed the 11th-fewest points to the position in 2020 and just 13 receiving touchdowns (fourth-fewest in NFL). Chances are Teddy Bridgewater also limits his ceiling.

Marquez Callaway vs. GB 

The Packers allowed the eighth-fewest points to receivers and the ninth-fewest net-yard passing average (6.1) last season. Callaway could be Jameis’ top option at wideout — but he also could not. Alvin Kamara is still the top target in the passing game.

Buyers Beware: Allen Robinson at LAR

Depending on your drafting strategy, there’s a strong possibility that A-Rob is your WR1. In which case, sitting him would be less than ideal. Having said that, the Rams are a dreadful matchup. Los Angeles allowed the fewest points to receivers in 2020 and were the lone team in football to allow single-digit touchdowns to the position. Plus Andy Dalton under center doesn’t exactly add optimism to the situation.

Start-Sit [RBs | WRs]

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