Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Football is finally back! It seems like the preseason took forever, but with the regular season kicking off tonight in Seattle the wait is finally over. I’m back again this year to give you my start’em/sit’em picks for this season. For those of you who didn’t read last year, this is more off an over/under column. You can all see the weekly projections from whatever site is hosting your league and we all know that those projections are a bit of a crap-shoot. Some are grossly inaccurate (NFL, ESPN), while some sites do a little better job at predicting weekly scoring (Yahoo, CBS) but it is a difficult job and plenty of errors are made every week.
A lot of fantasy players use these projections to set their lineups and it can lead to some tragic mistakes. It’s hard to trust your gut when you want to start Joique Bell, but NFL.com is only projecting 6 points, while Trent Richardson is projected to get 12. I’m here to give you a second opinion on which projections are accurate and which are full of it. I’ll be listing both players that i think will outperform their projections (start’em) and those that will under perform and disappoint (sit’em). For the purposes of consistency I will be using Yahoo’s projections in a default scoring league with .5 PPR.
I’m not going to waste your time and tell you to start Peyton Manning or LeShon McCoy every week. Most teams have four or five core players they are going to start every week and that is a solid strategy. You paid a premium for those players for a reason. This column is for those tougher decisions like who to start at your flex or in your 3rd wide receiver slot.
I will track how my picks fare each week so you can decide for yourself if my opinions are worth a damn. For the record I finished with 57% percent success rate (209-157-55) last season which crushed Yahoo’s Brad Evans 50% success rate in his very similar Flames / Lames column. More importantly, I was over .500 for 16 weeks in a row after a brutal week one (uh, you may want to skip my week 1 picks). My point isn’t to knock Evans, it’s to explain that its a hard gig projecting fantasy outcomes on a weekly basis. I like to think I’ve been pretty good at it for a while now, but we will see if the results back that up again this year! Feel free to rip me in the comments when I make a mistake. I do feel bad about it, but sometime a little criticism makes me work harder. Also if you have a specific player that you are on the fence about, hit me up on Twitter or in the comments and I will do my best to get you a quick answer.
Note: Only players started in less than 75% of Yahoo league will be eligible for the start’em category and only players above 15% for the sit’em suggestions. As I mentioned above, this is for advice on players that you are unsure of not the no-brainers like Manning and McCoy. My “Deep Sleeper” picks are players started in less than 10% of Yahoo league.
Russell Wilson GB (36% started, 18 projected) – Did you see Wilson play at all this preseason? I don’t think I saw him off target on one pass in the two games I saw him play. Wilson looks locked in and even more comfortable than last year. Green Bay’s defense is nothing to worry about and if the GB offense can keep it close, Russell could be throwing more than usual.
Colin Kaepernick @DAL (35%, 18) – The Cowboys defense is BAD. Kaepernick started off last year with his best game of the season and I think there are good odds for a repeat. The Niners D is missing some starters so Dallas may keep this one close enough that the Niners have to throw all game.
Carson Palmer SD (6%, 16) – The Chargers secondary is one of the least talented in the league and Palmer and the Cards offense has looked sharp for most of the preseason. They have more weapons on offense than you think (Ellington, Fitz, Floyd, Brown). Plus it’s always fun to have someone playing on Monday night.
Shane Vereen @Mia (53%, 11) – Ridley can’t hold on to the Ball and rookie James White has averaged less than 3 yards a carry in the preseason. Vereen is the only back on the roster that Belichick trusts right now and he could come close to 20 touches on Sunday. 10 points+ is a lock.
Toby Gerhart @PHI (73%, 12) – The Jags offense will look a lot like Seattle’s as ex-Seahawk coach Gus Bradley tries to implement a ball-control scheme. Gerhart will be a big part of that and should see 20+ touches per game. The Eagles D was solid last year, but has plenty of holes and I think Gerhart will find the end zone this week.
Joique Bell NYG (40%, 10) – Reggie Bush had a 85-yd TD in the preseason so all of a sudden he is the Lions RB everyone wants, but Bell is going to get more carries as well as the goal line work. Bell also caught 53 passes last year so it’s not like he is a one-dimensional back. I think Bell is going to get 60% of the touches in Detroit this year and against a Giants D with a lot of new faces, J-Bell could have a big game on Sunday.
Jeremy Hill @BAL ( 3%, 6) – I mentioned earlier in this post that NFL.com sucks at projections right? They have Hill projected for 0 points. BJGE is gone and Hill is taking over his role; BJGE got 220 carries last year and Bengals coaches said Hill should get around 200, that is 12-13 carries per game. Hill is WAY more talented than BJGE, can also catch the ball out of the backfield, and should be a regular double-digit fantasy guy this year. If he is available in your league, go get him.
Bishop Sankey @KC (16%, 5) – Do you really think Shonn Greene is going to get all the carries in Tennessee? The Titans didn’t use a 2nd round pick on Sankey to have him watch slow, injury-prone Shonn Greene from the sidelines. Sankey is a solid receiver out of the backfield and much more dynamic than Greene. He should get 10+ touches at least and has the talent to make something happen. I am starting him at Flex in 2 12-team leagues.