Kickoff: Sunday, September 13th at 1:00 PM ET
Location: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA
Betting Odds: NE -6.5, 43 total via Oddsshark
Ryan Fitzpatrick (Sit)
This week Dolphins head coach Brian Flores confirmed what most fantasy managers expected, Ryan Fitzpatrick will be the Week 1 starter for the Dolphins. Miami’s first overall draft pick Tua Tagovailoa will start his rookie season on the sidelines while he gets up to speed. Fitzmagic closed out the 2019 season in typical fashion, with fantasy peaks and valleys including a four-touchdown game in Week 16. However, don’t expect much out of the gates. New England is tough at home and held Fitzpatrick to less than 100-yards passing last season in Foxboro. Look for a streamer with a better matchup this week.
Jordan Howard (Start, Flex), Matt Brieda (Sit)
Jordan Howard wrapped up the starter role in Miami, and he should have little competition for early-down carries and will likely give way to Matt Brieda on passing downs. However, Dolphins running backs draw a tough matchup in Week 1. New England did lose several defensive starters from a unit that allowed the least amount of fantasy points to backs but managers should not expect this team to fall off the map. Howard should get a heavy workload early and if the Dolphins can keep the game close, could get some opportunities to punch one in at the goal line. Managers should wait and see what role Brieda has before considering him in the lineup.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
DeVante Parker (Start, Flex), Preston Williams (Sit), Mike Gesicki (Sit)
2019 was a breakout season for veteran wideout DeVante Parker, setting career highs in receptions, yards, and touchdowns. Much of Parker’s success is tied to volume, as Parker collected 128 targets and should be in line for a similar role heading into the season with Parker as the lead dog. Parker is a decent flex starter in Week 1 but he does draw a tough matchup in Stephon Gilmore. Fitzpatrick will not shy away from putting the ball in the air and targeting Parker, but managers should lower expectations.
Preston Williams will be playing in his first game in Week 9 in 2019 when he tore his ACL. Now 10 months removed from surgery, reports out of camp are the Williams hasn’t skipped a beat. However, too many questions remain for managers to feel comfortable starting Williams in Week 1. Give it a week to see his role before slotting him into your lineup.
Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki was being drafted as a fantasy sleeper in the pre-season but news out of camp has been quiet. Gesicki is a glorified slot receiver, not often used as a blocker. News broke this week that Gesicki is not listed as the tight end ‘starter’ in the team’s first official depth chart. That could mean that the Dolphins are planning a more conservative approach and a heavy run game workload. Until this is clarified, managers cannot start Gesicki with confidence.
New England Patriots
Cam Newton (Start, QB1)
When news broke that Cam Newton signed with New England, this analyst immediately slotted him in as the team’s starter. Reports have been mixed on Newton, some claiming that he is slow to pick up the offense or worse. Other days it is reported that Cam is in full control of practice reps. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. However, Bill Belichick made it clear that Newton is the team’s starter and that means fantasy gold for managers. A healthy Cam Newton has dominated fantasy lineups for a decade. Expect the old Newton to show up on Sunday with something to prove, and healthier than he has been in years. Ride Newton until the wheels fall off.
James White (Start, RB2), Sony Michel (Start, Flex)
James White is a favorite sleeper heading into the season but managers should also not sleep on Sony Michel. White is expected to play a heavy role in the passing game but just how prevalent remains to be seen. Newton’s usage of a pass-catching back has been hit or miss and mostly that usage was based on scheme and play design. Early in his career, Newton used his back mostly on check-downs but this expanded when he had a dynamic pass catcher and solid offensive coordinator. White should have a clear role out of the gates, with plenty of opportunities to produce as a flex play.
Michel is much more of a question mark heading into the season but he appears to be healthy and eying a solid matchup against a Dolphins team that allowed 22 points to fantasy backs last year. Michel has never been a dynamic back but managers often overlook Michel’s rushing floor simply because other flashier options are waiting in the wings. Michel has collected 456 carries in just two seasons, and there are generally not levels of availability for teams. If Michel is healthy he can handle a full workload, with goal-line opportunities. Michel has little competition to open the season and this may be one of his stronger matchups all season.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Julian Edelman (Start, WR2), N’Keal Harry (Sit), Devin Asiasi (Sit)
While he did tail off towards the end of last season Julian Edelman continued to dominate targets, collecting 150+ targets for the third time in his career. Edelman quietly finished the year WR9 in fantasy points per game. Edelman again looks to be the only viable fantasy option on a slim depth chart, which bodes well for his fantasy outlook in Week 1. Newton will lean on the savvy veteran as he becomes acclimated to the office, and trust that Edelman will do enough to get open. Miami allowed nearly 30 fantasy points to receivers last season, and while the secondary is improved the pass rush still leaves much to be desired. Start Edelman with confidence this week.
The remaining pass catchers on the Patriots roster still have much to prove before they can be trusted in weekly lineups. N’Keal Harry, last year’s first-round pick, catch just twelve passes in his rookie season but reports out of camp have been positive. These early weeks will tell us all we need to know about his fantasy viability this season. The remaining pass catchers on the roster are nothing to write home about. Pay attention to how tight ends will be used, in particular Devin Asiasi, especially around the red zone.
-Marc Salazar (@dingwog on Twitter)