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NFL Fantasy Week 1: Start ‘em, sit ‘em – quarterbacks

There are quarterbacks you start each week and others you hope you never see on your roster. But what about the passers in between? The ones with a weakness that can be exploited or the ones on your streaming radar?

Week 1 is the most difficult week to make rational start and sit decisions. Opening Day emotions run high enough to lift some lesser teams to upset victories. Other teams treat Week 1 like they are in an extended preseason.

That’s not going to stop us from taking a shot at it. Here’s what we came up with:

Start this guy: Jared Goff, Rams (at Raiders)

All preseason long, we heard how the Oakland defense was not good enough even if Khalil Mack ended his holdout. Khalil Mack ended his holdout… and things didn’t get any better.

With Mack now peddling his wares in Chicago and Mario Edwards in New York, the Raiders’ defense could be historically bad. It almost seems unfair to pit them against the high-powered Los Angeles Rams offense.

Last season, Jared Goff played exceptionally well against bad defenses and slightly below average against good defenses. He should be great Sunday.

Sit this guy: Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers (at Vikings)

Yeah, I know. “But Jimmy Garoppolo doesn’t lose!” That myth gets shattered right from the start in 2018.

As bad as things are with the Oakland defense, they are as good in Minnesota. They return the top-ranked defense (by points) from 2017 healthy and with added parts. They are looking forward to meeting the upstart quarterback from San Francisco.

Start this guy: Case Keenum, Broncos (vs. Seattle)

Seattle has gone through significant upheaval on the defensive side of the ball this season. They are a fashionable pick to finish last in the NFC West. I am not nearly as down on them as that.

I am, however, optimistic about Case Keenum. Behind a healthier offensive line and with two exciting rookies in running back Royce Freeman and wide receiver Courtland Sutton, I believe the sneakily-elusive Keenum and Denver’s savvy veterans, Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, can do some damage. Keenum starts off strong in Denver’s opening game.

Sit this guy: Nick Foles, Eagles (vs Falcons)

Nick Foles comes off his MVP performance in Super Bowl LII to lead the Eagles in the NFL season opener. Any expectations of another offensive show like his last game are a bit tempered by injuries and Foles’ own uninspiring performance in the preseason.

It won’t help that the Falcons come in with the same defense that finished as a top-ten unit against the pass and run last season. Foles could be in for a long day, kind of like when you have to work with a hangover… in this case, the dreaded Super Bowl hangover.

Start this guy: Cam Newton, Panthers (vs Cowboys)

Just this morning, I read a piece from a Dallas fan site that explained how the Dallas Cowboys’ defense was finally ready to come into its own. It quoted defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli as saying this was the most talented group he’s worked with in his years in Dallas.

Then the author wrapped up the article talking about injuries and weaknesses at safety and cornerback and how desperately the Cowboys need Earl Thomas. My first thought was, even without a left tackle, I should start Cam Newton on Sunday. You should, too.

Sit this guy: Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs (at LA Chargers)

Andy Reid always gets the most out of his quarterbacks. He thinks enough of Patrick Mahomes to jettison Alex Smith after a career year. Mahomes has weapons galore to throw to. He can also run.

No way I start him against the Chargers. Mahomes had a less-than-perfect preseason. He can rack up some offensive numbers but is a typical rookie when it comes to expected mistakes. He could prove to be this year’s Jared Goff- great against bad defenses and not-so-good against top units like the Chargers.

Bonus comments for those still paying attention:

Khalil Mack might knock Aaron Rodgers down ten times Sunday. That leaves 30-40 pass attempts on the table, which should put to rest any notion of sitting Rodgers against the Chicago defense.

Want to know how good a defender Khalil Mack is? When he left Oakland, he made the offense worse, too. Derek Carr looks like he needs some time to sort things out. If you bought the hype about the Carr/Gruden relationship, it’s a little shaky this week.