Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Fantasy Football Week 1: Wide Receivers - Fades, Sleepers, Matchups, DFS Bargains

Your top two receivers are start 'ems, but we are here to help if you can't decide on a WR3 or flex option in Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season

Start ‘Em, Sit 'Em is the ultimate look at the best and worst matchups based on a PPR scoring system in fantasy football. This column will not cover the elite players in the NFL like Patrick Mahomes, Christian McCaffrey, Davante Adams, or Travis Kelce. Instead, I'll look at the players you have the most questions about to help you set the most effective starting lineup possible. For all of your final fantasy lineup decisions, be sure to check out my weekly player rankings which will be updated daily throughout the 2021 NFL season.

UPDATED: September 12, 2021

Week 1 Start ‘Em: Wide Receivers

Start of the Week

Bengals Tee Higgins

Tee Higgins vs. Vikings (1 p.m. ET, FOX): This week's matchup between the Vikings and Bengals could be a high-scoring affair, so I'm high on several players from both teams. That includes Higgins, who should be able to make waves against a Minnesota defense that allowed 24 touchdown catches and the sixth-most fantasy points to wide receivers a season ago. Higgins, Ja'Marr Chase, and Tyler Boyd are all nice options.

Week 1 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em


MORE: Week 1 Hub: Rankings, Articles & More

Start ‘Em

Brandon Aiyuk at Lions (1 p.m. ET, FOX): Aiyuk has a sweetheart of a matchup this week, as the Niners head to the Motor City to face the Lions. Last year, their defense allowed an average of more than 44 fantasy points per game to wideouts. Aiyuk has been dealing with an injured hamstring, so be sure to keep tabs on his status. If he is unable to start, Deebo Samuel will become an even better option in fantasy land.

Laviska Shenault Jr. at Texans (1 p.m. ET, CBS): One of my favorite sleepers of the season, the versatile Shenault should be considered a viable No. 3 fantasy wideout or flex option when the Jaguars face the Texans. Their pass defense was terrible against wideouts last season, allowing 22 touchdown receptions and the seventh-most fantasy points. This unit could be even worse in 2021, so start Shenault in the opening week.

DeVonta Smith at Falcons  (1 p.m. ET, FOX): Smith should be one of the top two or three options in the Eagles pass attack this season, and an opening week matchup in Atlanta makes him a viable fantasy starter. Last season, opposing wideouts scored 20 touchdowns and averaged the most fantasy points per game as a unit when facing the Falcons. That’s good news for the rookie, who should be on the flex starter radar.

Brandin Cooks vs. Jaguars (1 p.m. ET, CBS): In the category of “someone has to catch the football for the Texans,” I like Cooks this week as a No. 3 wideout or flex. He has a great matchup against the Jaguars, who allowed more than 41 fantasy points a game to home wideouts a season ago. Cooks also scorched them for a combined 47.4 fantasy points in two meetings last season, so Tyrod Taylor should look to him often.

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More Starts

  • Robby Anderson vs. Jets (1 p.m. ET, CBS)
  • Deebo Samuel at Lions (1 p.m. ET, FOX)
  • Jakobi Meyers vs. Dolphins (4:25 p.m. ET, CBS)

DFS Bargains

  • Jerry Jeudy at Giants (DraftKings: $4,800)
  • Tee Higgins vs. Vikings (DraftKings: $4,700)
  • DeVonta Smith at Falcons (DraftKings: $4,500)

Week 1 Sit ‘Em: Wide Receivers

Sit of the Week

Odell Beckham Thumb

Odell Beckham Jr. at Chiefs (4:25 p.m. ET, CBS): It’s tough to sit a player like OBJ, but keep these few things in mind. He hasn't played in a meaningful game in awhile, and he could start the season off slowly after coming off a major knee operation. The matchup in Kansas City isn't favorable either, as the Chiefs allowed an average of just 135.2 receiving yards and the second-fewest points to wideouts in 2020.

Sit ‘Em

Allen Robinson at Rams (5:15 p.m. ET, NBC): I get it. You very likely have to start Robinson, who was drafted as a WR1 in most leagues. So, consider this a warning. This week's matchup against the Rams and shutdown CB Jalen Ramsey is one of the worst in the league for a wideout. Robinson is also catching passes from a new quarterback, Andy Dalton. Beware of the talented veteran in this contest, especially in DFS action.

Kenny Golladay vs. Broncos (4:25 p.m. ET, FOX): Golladay missed a lot of playing time last month with an injured hamstring, so he's had limited time to build rapport with his new quarterback, Daniel Jones. Golladay himself even said he thinks the Giants could have a slow start on the offensive side of the football, which isn't what you want to hear as a fantasy fan. He'll be tough to trust in the first few weeks, so buyers beware.

Marquez Callaway vs. Packers (4:25 p.m. ET, FOX): Callaway saw his value go into the stratosphere in the preseason, scoring multiple touchdowns while earning a bigger role in the Saints offense without Michael Thomas (ankle). However, he has a difficult game this week as Callaway will face CB Jaire Alexander and the Packers. Their defense allowed 13 scores and the fourth-fewest points to opposing wideouts in 2020.

Chase Claypool at Bills (1 p.m. ET, CBS): Claypool figures to be a weekly WR3 or flex starter in most fantasy leagues, but I would temper expectations this week when the Steelers face the Bills. Last season, Buffalo held him to just three catches for 15 yards. Their defense was one of the toughest units against wide receivers overall as well, allowing just 13 touchdowns and the fifth-fewest fantasy points to the position in 2020.

More Sits

  • Ja'Marr Chase vs. Vikings (1 p.m. ET, FOX)
  • Marquise Brown at Raiders (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN)
  • Henry Ruggs III vs. Ravens (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN)

DFS Fades

  • JuJu Smith-Schuster at Bills (DraftKings: $6,200)
  • Jarvis Landry at Chiefs (DraftKings: $6,000)
  • Kenny Golladay vs. Broncos (DraftKings: $5,600)

Michael Fabiano is an award-winning fantasy football analyst on Sports Illustrated and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Click here to read all his articles here on SI Fantasy. You can follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram for your late-breaking fantasy news and the best analysis in the business!