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Week 1 Start/Sit: Monday Night Football Matchup Analysis


Like every season, we have a double-header to start Week 1 of Monday Night Football. And like every season, one of those games involves the Raiders. But we will get to their game second.

The first game of the night will pit a new-look Houston Texans team against the New Orleans Saints. We will have to wait and see what the Texans have after making a litany of moves all offseason up to and including this weekend with some big trades. They must feel like it was worth it but, if they had a general manager, they may not have gotten fleeced as much as they did on both deals. But I digress. The Saints, on the other hand, return a stellar offense as always. They also bring back a good defense which was only bolstered by their acquisition of Kiko Alonso from the Dolphins. It is difficult to decide what to expect from this game but one thing should be certain - there should be plenty of points scored.

In the second game of the night, the Denver Broncos travel to Oakland to fight it out for last place in the AFC West. The Broncos are the better team, at least in terms of defense and coaching. But there is something about Oakland on Monday night. They always seem to pull out a win somehow. So, it will be interesting to see what Derek Carr and company can do against the Denver defense led by Von Miller and Bradley Chubb now that they are without their top wideout who played all of zero games for them.

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Houston Texans at New Orleans Saints

Game Time: Monday, September 9 @ 7:10 pm EST
Game Line: Saints -7
Over/Under: 53.5

 

Must-Starts

Deshaun Watson (QB, HOU)

We know his arm talent. We have seen it throwing to Hopkins as well as Will Fuller. This will be on display again in this one. It should be a high scoring game. If the offensive line can give him even a little bit of time against a good Saints pass rush led by Cam Jordan, he could be solid. Even if the pass game is not stellar this week, Watson will provide some value with his legs. This makes him still a solid start as he may get you 50 yards and a rush touchdown on top of any pass stats.

Drew Brees (QB, NO)

Brees should have a field day in the Super Dome against a defense which got worse with the trade of Jadeveon Clowney to the Seahawks for a bag of balls. The secondary is bad, and this will be exploited by Michael Thomas on the outside as he catches double-digit passes from the future Hall of Famer Brees.

Alvin Kamara (RB, NO)

Kamara will also have an easier time with the departure of Clowney. For all he did not do great, Clowney was a first-class run stopper. This leaves it up to J.J. Watt to stop Kamara going against one of the top offensive lines in the NFL. Not even Watt at his prime could do this by himself. Kamara will slice and dice in the ground game and be deadly through the air as well and should account for 150 total yards and multiple touchdowns in Week 1 as the Saints look to start the season hotter than they were in the locker room after the NFC Championship game.

DeAndre Hopkins (WR, HOU)

The Texans have some players to start also. Of course, they are the usual suspects in Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins. With the injury to Lamar Miller taking him out for the season, we will want to see what is figured out in the run game for Houston. This means at least for one week; you should sit and wait on the backs here. But start up the pass offense. Watson and Hopkins could light up any defense in the league. This includes a defense with an elite corner back like Marcus Lattimore. There is a chance Lattimore slows him for most of the game, but Hopkins will get his and should still have a score in this one.

 

Sit Them Down

Duke Johnson & Carlos Hyde (RB, HOU)

As stated above, we don’t know yet what to expect in this backfield. Bill O’Brien has a plan for sure. But to paraphrase Bob Uecker from Major League: He must be thinking… I don’t know what the hell he’s thinking. This has gone for the entire team this offseason from the ownership down. Until this mess is settled, it is better to just hold tight and find a better option.

Kenny Stills (WR, HOU)

He arrives from Miami as happy as anyone has ever been to take his talents away from South Beach. He did not like the new coaching staff and the feeling was mutual. He brings a lot of speed to the outside receiver’s group to pair with Will Fuller. If Fuller stays healthy and on the field, they could stretch the field and provide much-needed relief for Hopkins. But he is going to take some time to work into the offense. Until he does Keke Coutee will continue to out snap him in the offense. He will be at best a low-end WR four and if you are waiting until Monday night to start someone, you want it to be a star who can win your week. Not a player who doesn’t have that upside.

 

Potential Sleepers

Latavius Murray (RB, NO)

We have already mentioned the rubbish run defense the Texans will have without Jadeveon Clowney. With Alvin Kamara and Latavius Murray pounding the rock, the defense will be worn out by the end of the night. This will lead to a lot of rushes inside the red zone for the Saints and when the team gets down on the goal line there are not many better short yard backs than Murray. He may not get you 100 yards or even 50. But he may just get you a touchdown or two along with a few receptions.

New Orleans Defense (DST)

The Defense may give up some points for sure. But the amount you get penalized should be far outweighed by the pressure they will get on Watson. Behind his line last season, Watson was sacked 65 times. The New Orleans defense could put him well on him way to eclipsing the number this season. The Last time a quarterback was sacked so much was 2005 when David Carr of again, the Texans was sacked 68. It is not a record to be proud of, but he may get to 70 in 2019. At to this the fact he will be having to get rid of the ball in a hurry and there may also be an interception or two in the mix for the defense of the Saints.

 

Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders

Game time: Monday September 9 @ 10:20 pm EST
Game line: Pick 'em
Over/Under: 43.5

 

Must-Starts

Phillip Lindsay & Royce Freeman (RB, DEN)

The Broncos should be able to get Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman going in the run game. This team wants to establish a run-first identity, so expect plenty of carries for each RB, who will likely see a near-even split in carries. Oakland's defense should show little resistance, making each player a solid top-25 fantasy RB.

Josh Jacobs (RB, OAK)

Josh Jacobs, on the other hand, had no airtime on HBO. This was his own doing as he wanted to focus on getting ready for the season and asked not to be filmed. We will find out in this game if it worked. One this is for sure though. Jon Gruden wants to run the ball a lot. Jacobs is going to be that runner. He should start the season on Monday by seeing at least 20 touches. This is a volume we want a part of. Especially in a week where we are still waiting to see how other situations play out. Not knowing the split between LeSean McCoy and Damien Williams. Hoping Green Bay finally lets Aaron Jones free. And hoping Pete Carrol finally realized Rashaad Penny was a terrible first-round pick and gives Chris Carson the full-time starter's job. These are all things we will wait to see. But Josh Jacobs? As long as he is healthy, he is going to carry the load. So, it might as well be on your fantasy team.

Emmanuel Sanders (WR, DEN)

After tearing his Achilles in December we did not know if we would ever see Sanders again, let alone this soon. But here we are. It is nine months later, and he is already back on the field and looks to be the number one receiver for the Broncos yet again. Before going out last season he was a top 20 receiver for fantasy. No, Joe Flacco is not great. But he is better than Case Keenum whom Sanders was saddled with in 2018. One thing about Joe Flacco is he has a monster arm. He can find Emmanuel Sanders for one big play and if he does spend some time in the slot, the underneath work will also be there. With the Raiders Defense being as bad as their offense, Sanders could be in line for 100 yards on seven or eight catches in this opener.

 

Sit Them Down

The Rest of the Offenses

This game is going to be an ugly one. One you should not want a big part in at all. Sure Jacobs and Sanders will provide a few bright spots. But the rest of the offenses are a black hole of dismay. These teams always play each other hard. Defenses always play better than they should. And when this happens, it is better to stay away from all but the elite guys.

 

Potential Sleepers

Noah Fant (TE, DEN)

Both of the starting tight ends could be sleeper plays. It is tough to think of taking a rookie like Noah Fant in his first game. Joe Flacco loves the tight end, and this means he could have a solid season. He may not break out this game which is why he isn’t a starter. But make sure to watch his production for future weeks.

Darren Waller (TE, OAK) 

Darren Waller is an athlete. Plain and simple he is the same type of player as Fant. At 6’6 and 238 pounds he ran a 4.4 40-yard dash. He is basically a big receiver in the mold of Fant and Evan Engram.

We saw what Jared Cook did in this offense in 2018 will 800 yards and six touchdowns. Waller could be that guy for the offense this season. As Tyrell Williams and Antonio Brown stretch the field, Derek Carr will look to him on check down passes. He should see seven or eight targets a game. In the Game on Monday night? He could get you double-digit fantasy points out of a crappy position.

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