Start or Sit Andy Dalton
The 2018 fantasy football season is upon us. That means fantasy football owners get up on Sunday morning and proceed to rearrange their lineup six-or-seven times before begrudgingly hitting submit, and hoping for the best. Here at Football Absurdity would like to cut that process down to just impotently rejiggering your lineup four-or-five times. Each week, we will highlight multiple players at each position (ignoring Kicker and DST, as one should) and we ask the question: start or sit <player>? I wish I could take it easy on myself and say to start Aaron Rodgers and sit Christian Hackenberg every week, but life isn’t easy (and neither are fantasy football start or sit questions), so we take a look at players on the periphery. This week, we kick it off with quarterbacks. We start by asking ourselves: should you start or sit Andy Dalton in Indianapolis?
The Cincinnati Bengals had a bold strategy going into the 2016 and 2017 seasons: ignore the offensive line entirely. What’s the worst that could happen? Well, the answer to that question was “going a combined 13-18-1, with running backs getting hit in the backfield on every play and Andy Dalton running for his life.” They’ve bolstered the offensive line, adding Cordy Glenn and drafting Billy Price in the first. They seem to have one goal: get Andy Dalton sacked less than twice a game (he averaged 1.75 sacks his first two seasons), after getting him sacked five times every two games last season. If they can keep Andy Dalton upright, it will go a long way toward answering the weekly question: Start or sit Andy Dalton?
Andy Dalton’s 2017 overall statistics are not great: 3320 yards, 25 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. This was good for just 14.4 fantasy points per game over the course of the season. However, a full one-third of his interceptions came week one last season (four against Baltimore), and he did not throw a touchdown until week three. That definitely skewed the numbers. Down the stretch, Dalton became better with the football. He threw fourteen touchdowns and just four interceptions in the second half of the season, and the +20 touchdowns over interceptions would have been good for the sixth-highest if you prorate his second half out to a full season.
Then there’s the matchup: the Colts allowed the ninth-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks last season, and that includes wet farts from T.J. Yates, Tom Savage, and Marcus Mariota. All respect to those players and their bloodlines, but Andy Dalton is far above them. In games last season with bottom-ten fantasy points per game defense opposing him, Dalton averaged 235 yards, 2.5 touchdowns, and nary an interception. Those 19.55 fantasy points are more than the worst team against quarterbacks last year (the Giants allowed 19.4 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks last season). Their preseason efforts thus far have shown little hope of changing this in Indy.
If you’re thinking of loading up the Red Rifle, lock and load. His season-end numbers were not as bad as they appeared, and he has a bolstered offensive line, will likely actually target John Ross this year to go alongside A.J. Green and has the pass-catching ability of Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard. The answer to the question, “should you start or sit Andy Dalton” is: Start.