Week one is here, and that means agonizing over every single fantasy football position. We hope to help you make at least one of those decisions a little easier. Below, we analyze the pros and cons of three players and answer the question: should you start or sit Delanie Walker, Mark Andrews, or Austin Hooper?
Start or Sit Delanie Walker at Cleveland?
I hate to start this off by saying “throw out 2018,” so I won’t Instead, you should remove last season from your mind. Delanie Walker played a part of one game before losing a season to an ankle injury. He’s back, fully healthy, and ready to help Marcus Mariota lead the aggressively middling offensive unit in Tennessee. In his five years in Tennessee before his lost 2018, Delanie finished as a top-12 TE 50% of the time, and a top-5 TE 23.68% of the time. Walker finished as a top-five tight end each season between 2015 and 2017. Of still-active tight ends, he ranked #1 in tight end targets between 2015 and 2017. You’re seeing the picture here: if Delanie plays, he produces.
The Titans start with the league’s most-hyped squad this offseason, the Cleveland Browns. While the Browns are stronger offensively, they traded Safety Jabrill Peppers to obtain Odell Beckham, Jr. Peppers is a CB/S/small LB hybrid and did a ton to help cover tight ends for the Browns in 2018. Even with Peppers, the Browns still allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to tight ends and the most receptions. Without Peppers? It should be open season for tight ends. That is if Marcus Mariota can actually get him the ball before Myles Garrett kills Mariota.
Start or Sit Mark Andrews at Miami?
Mark Andrews went in the same range as Austin Hooper and Delanie Walker. Now that draft season is over, I am going to make a big confession: I don’t get it. People hype Mark Andrews and his incredible production with Lamar Jackson under center. He had 308 yards in seven games. 74 yards or 24% of those yards came on an extremely broken play by the Raiders defense that found Mark Andrews wide-freaking-open. After that reception against Oakland, he had 215 yards and a touchdown in the next five games. I don’t get it.
Sure, the defensive opponent is awful. It’s the Dolphins, the next, newest NFL whipping boys. The matchup could be the one that allows Mark Andrews to absolutely feast. Or Hayden Hurst.
Or Nick Boyle.
Or Miles Boykin.
(It’ll probably be Miles Boykin).
There’s too much uncertainty in an offense that ran the ball more than anyone else last season. People want to act like Mark Andrews is locked-and-loaded headed into week one, but I want to see it first before starting him if I can help it.
Start or Sit Austin Hooper at Minnesota?
We saw the upside for Austin Hooper last season, as he had at least five targets in nine games last season, and had double-digit targets in three of those games. That tied him with Jimmy Graham for eleventh last season. Here’s the rub: the Falcons were 3-6 in those contests, meaning that they were chasing points in eventual losses. Last year, the Falcons had a great defense heading into the year that quickly fell apart thanks to injuries. In week one, they’re at full strength, so I don’t anticipate the Falcons chasing points.
Minnesota is also an extraordinarily difficult passing matchup, as they’ve allowed just 27 passing touchdowns over the last two seasons (per Mike Clay). That means that it’ll need to be a high target game for Hooper to have fantasy football relevance, and as we’ve seen above, he’s unlikely to get targets.
Go with Old Man Walker this week in your fantasy football leagues. He has a guaranteed target floor in an offense mostly bereft of reliable talent. He also has the best matchup for hitting fantasy football paydirt. While Austin Hooper provides the appearance of a decent floor with his target production, those targets last year came in a situation we are unlikely to see Sunday. Mark Andrews has a crowded and mostly unestablished group of offensive weaponry around him. He’s as likely to fade into the background as he is to score a touchdown this weekend. For my money, you should start Delanie Walker in your fantasy football leagues this weekend, then Austin Hooper, and finally, Mark Andrews.
Other fantasy football week one start or sits:
Start or Sit Jameis Winston, Matthew Stafford, or Jimmy Garoppolo?
Start or Sit Will Fuller, Alshon Jeffery, or Dede Westbrook?
Start or Sit Marlon Mack, Tevin Coleman, or Josh Jacobs?