Start 'Em & Sit 'Em is the ultimate weekly look at the NFL matchups and how they'll affect your fantasy football team. Fantasy superstars such as Patrick Mahomes and Christian McCaffrey will not be featured in this column. All player matchups are based on a PPR scoring system. For your final lineup decisions, be sure to check my weekly fantasy football lineup rankings.
Week 1 Start 'Em: Tight Ends
Start of the Week
Tyler Higbee vs. Cowboys
Higbee put up bananas numbers down the stretch last season, and it looks like the Rams will be running a lot more "12" personnel with Gerald Everett back, and Brandin Cooks no longer on the roster. Higbee is in a great spot to find success this week. The Cowboys visit SoFi Stadium after allowing a league-high 104 catches in total, 63.5 yards per game, and the second-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends one season ago.
Hunter Henry at Bengals
Henry is healthy and in a great spot to open the 2020 season on a high note in the stat sheets. That’s due largely to the absence of Mike Williams, which should open up more target opportunities for the veteran tight end. Henry, who ran more than half of his 2019 routes out of the slot, also faces a Bengals defense that allowed more than 14 yards per catch and 19.3 fantasy points per game to receivers lined up in the slot last year.
Hayden Hurst vs. Seahawks
The Seahawks were absolutely brutal against tight ends last year, surrendering the third-most fantasy points while also giving up over 1,000 yards to the position overall. That has to make fantasy fans who have Hurst on their roster smile from ear to ear for Week 1. A potential sleeper/breakout candidate, Hurst worked out with Matt Ryan in the offseason and is in line to see a bigger target share in the absence of Austin Hooper.
Dallas Goedert at Football Team
The Eagles are down a pair of wideouts this week, so look for Zach Ertz (obvious must start) and Goedert to take over a bigger role in the passing game. This week's matchup in Washington is favorable as they allowed nine touchdowns, and the fourth-most fantasy points (14.2 PPG) to enemy tight ends a season ago. So, Goedert fits the bill in this NFC East showdown for those who like to stream tight ends.
- Jared Cook vs. Buccaneers
- Rob Gronkowski at Saints
- Noah Fant vs. Titans
- Hurst vs. Seahawks (DraftKings: $4,300)
- T.J. Hockenson vs. Bears (DraftKings: $4,200)
- Goedert at Football Team (DraftKings: $4,100)
Week 1 Sit 'Em: Tight Ends
Sit of the Week
Austin Hooper at Ravens
Hooper is everyone’s "bust" tight end for this season, it seems. After a dominant 2019 campaign, he signed with the Browns, where targets could be fewer and further between than in Atlanta. He’ll open with a brutal matchup too, as the Browns travel to Baltimore to face a Ravens defense that allowed just three touchdowns and the fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends a season ago. Hooper is a fade for me in this AFC North contest.
Mike Gesicki at Patriots
Gesicki could turn into one of the better draft bargains among tight ends this season, but the slate doesn’t begin with an attractive matchup. Quite the contrary, he’ll go up against Adrian Phillips and a Patriots defense that surrendered just 10.8 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends last season. What’s more, New England also allowed the seventh-fewest points to slot receivers, which is where Gesicki ran a third of his routes in 2019. Unless you’re in a tight end premium scoring league, I will pass on Gesicki this weekend.
Chris Herndon IV at Bills
I like Herndon’s chances of making a solid impact for fantasy fans this season, but a Week 1 matchup in Buffalo isn’t all that attractive. The Bills made life tough for enemy tight ends a season ago, allowing a mere 3.7 catches, 34.8 yards, and the second-fewest fantasy points to the position. The Jets are 6.5 point underdogs, so some garbage time love from Sam Darnold is possible, but overall I’d be fading Herndon in this tough contest.
Jack Doyle at Jaguars
Doyle could see more targets this week in the absence of Trey Burton, but it might not matter based on Jacksonville's matchup. The Jags have had Doyle’s number, as he’s failed to score more than 10 points in all but one of their nine matchups. Their defense was also no pushover against tight ends last season, allowing 4.1 catches and 11.8 points per game. For Week 1 (at least), Doyle is a hard fantasy fade for me.
- Ian Thomas vs. Raiders
- Greg Olsen at Falcons
- Eric Ebron at Giants
- Darren Waller at Panthers (DraftKings: $5,900)
- Hooper at Ravens (DraftKings: $5,100)
- Gesicki at Patriots ($4,500)
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. You can follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram for the latest news and analysis!
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