Fantasy Football Week 1 Start Sit Decisions
All of my start/sits will be geared toward 12-team, .5 PPR leagues. For a more comprehensive list of how I’m viewing every fantasy-relevant player this week, check out my rankings along with the rankings of Matthew Berry, Patrick Daughtery, and Lawrence Jackson. Feel free to ask me Start/Sits on Twitter (X?) and drop me a follow as well.
Start: Geno Smith
Geno opens the 2023 season versus an LA defense that was gutted in the offseason. They lost five full-time starters including Jalen Ramsey and Bobby Wagner, Pro Football Focus’s No. 4 corner and No. 1 linebacker in 2022. They did not give a defensive player more than $1.1 million dollars per year in free agency. Perennially light on draft capital, LA didn’t spend a top-75 pick on their defense either.
Last year, Smith ranked 14th in EPA per dropback and led the league in completion rate over expected. He also finished top-10 in touchdown rate and yards per pass attempt. Vegas now has them with the fifth-highest implied team total of the week. Geno is going to pick apart the corpse of LA’s Super Bowl defense en route to a strong QB1 finish on the week.
Start: Anthony Richardson
Fantasy managers drafted Richardson as a low-end QB1, but I suspect many of them will want him to prove it once before they put him in the lineup. Don’t be that guy/girl. Richardson is Derrick Henry with a cannon strapped to his back. You’re playing him.
I suspect Shane Steichen’s offense in Indy looks strikingly similar to the Eagles’ offense in 2021. Philly was balanced to a fault, holding Jalen Hurts to just 210 passing yards per game. On the other hand, part of the aforementioned balance involved loading Hurts up with the second-most designed runs of any quarterback. He paced all quarterbacks by a laughable margin in expected fantasy points on the ground. Hurts finished the year as the QB6 on a per-game basis. Steel your resolve and start the best athlete to ever play the quarterback position.
Sit: Daniel Jones
Jones sits just behind Richardson in my weekly rankings, so he’s far from a bad start, I just think you can do better. As he typically is when he faces the Cowboys, Jones is in for a long Sunday to start the year. Jones and the Giants are road dogs with an implied team total of 21.5 points. That’s a single point higher than Mac Jones facing the Eagles.
Jones averaged nearly five fewer fantasy points per game versus the Cowboys last year and you can find a similar split to be true for most of the quarterbacks Dallas faced. The Cowboys’ defense is just that good. Dallas ranked first in pressure rate and second in sack rate in 2022. Conversely, PFF graded Jones as their No. 23 passer when under pressure. Jones should still post usable, QB2 numbers versus Dallas, but better days are ahead for the handsomely-paid quarterback.
Sit: Aaron Rodgers
Speaking of quarterbacks with low totals and difficult matchups: Aaron Rodgers. No team allowed fewer fantasy points to opposing passers than the Bills last year. Even after adjusting for their relatively easy schedule, NumberFire had Buffalo ranked as a top-five defense in adjusted fantasy points per dropback.
There’s also the minor issue of Rodgers being stunningly mediocre in his final season in Green Bay. He ranked 21st in EPA per dropback and 17th in CPOE. Combined with a slow pace that is seemingly endemic to Rodgers himself, the lack of efficiency resulted in the four-time MVP posted only two weekly QB1 finishes in 2022 and he never landed higher than 10th.
Start: Jamaal Williams
This start is as quick and simple as it gets. Alvin Kamara is suspended and Kendre Miller is not practicing because of a hamstring issue after missing previous chunks of the offseason with knee issues. If Miller can’t go or is limited, Williams’ only competition for reps will be Tony Jones Jr., who is currently on the Saints’ practice squad. Williams is a proven goal line back and was a pass-catching specialist in Green Bay. An three-down role is in the works until Kamara returns.
Start: Raheem Mostert
The Dolphins/Chargers matchup has game-of-the-week potential written all over it. Vegas has it tabbed for the second-most points of Week 1 with a 51-point total. The Chargers ranked second in situation neutral pace last year and the Dolphins sat at 12th. With Jeff Wilson on injured reserve, Mostert will be competing with De’Von Achane, a 5’9/188 back who was regularly playing deep into preseason games while Mostert rested with the starters. We should expect a strong workload for Mostert until Wilson returns and his Week 1 matchup is teeming with touchdown potential.
Sit: Breece Hall
This won’t last long as I expect Hall to slowly work himself back into the elite role he held before tearing his ACL last year, but it would be foolish to expect him to immediately be thrust into a 20-touch gig. For now, it looks like we’re set for a backfield-by-committee between Hall and Dalvin Cook. This is not a game to be playing committee backs from. The Jets are underdogs against the No. 5 run defense by EPA per play in 2022. Breece comes out as a viable FLEX option but not an RB2 in my Week 1 rankings.
Sit: Antonio Gibson
Gibson, a former college wide receiver, is finally set to be used as a pass-catching specialist in the Washington offense. He said he expects to play a “third-down back” role and likened his new job to J.D. McKissic’s role from years past. That will maximize his skill set, but it won’t result in many fantasy points this week. The Commanders are touchdown favorites over a rudderless Cardinals roster, making Week 1 a Brian Robinson week.
Start: Rashod Bateman
Bateman was on the precipice of a breakout campaign before going down with a season-ending foot injury in 2022. He was averaging a stellar 2.38 yards per route run as a full-time outside receiver. Bateman earned a 21 percent target share and a 31 percent air yard share on the back of a 13-yard aDOT. This game sets up perfectly for Bateman to hit the ground running. The Texans ranked 22nd in pressure rate and allowed the second-highest rate of 1+ EPA plays—explosive gains—to opposing passing attacks. Lamar Jackson and the entire Baltimore offense are set for a massive debut this year.
Start: Jordan Addison
Rookie receivers generally ramp up their fantasy production as the season goes on. That will probably be true of Addison as well, but it’s not a reason to fade him early in the year. Addison was an elite prospect with freshman and sophomore seasons that featured a 30 percent College Dominator rating. Now he joins an offense that played the fourth-most 11-personel in 2022 and is without lineup mainstay Adam Thielen. The Vikings also attempted the third-most passes per game. Addison is going to see plenty of routes in Week 1 and those reps will come against a Tampa Bay defense that allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing wideouts.
Sit: Jaxon Smith-Njigba
A wrist injury and subsequent surgery threatened to sideline JSN for Week 1, but a week of full practices indicates he’s ready to go. The greater concern isn’t his health directly. It’s the potential for him to be eased back into the lineup. In the preseason, JSN was often subbed off the field when the Seahawks weren’t in 11-personnel and he wasn’t competing with Tyler Lockett or DK Metcalf for routes at the time. Coming off an injury that cost him the final few weeks of camp, I expect him to open the season only playing in three-wide sets. Last year, Seattle ran 12-personnel at the third-highest rate and 13-personnel at the second-highest rate.
Sit: Gabe Davis
Davis was far more palatable to draft at his deflated ADP this year, but that ADP also reflected the volatility and weekly downside of his game. There are going to be plenty of dud games from Gabe and Week 1 looks like one of them. The Jets allowed the third-lowest rate of explosive passing plays and were the No. 5 defense in EPA per play versus the pass. They also generated pressure at a strong clip, giving Josh Allen less time in the pocket and Davis less time to get open. This matchup is a nightmare for the already-risky Davis.
Start: Gerald Everett
In addition to the high total and great pace of the Miami/Los Angeles game, both teams should look to move the ball through the air. The Chargers’ and Dolphins’ offenses ranked top-10 in pass rate over expected in 2022. Everett won’t be an every-week fantasy starter, but, in a game with loads of scoring potential, he is a good bet for a touchdown and four to five catches.
Start: Tyler Higbee
The Rams’ offense is going to be a mess without Cooper Kupp, but that mess is going to run through Higbee. The veteran tight end saw elite usage when Kupp wasn’t on the field last year.
I filtered LA's plays to only include ones where Cooper Kupp was off the field and Tyler Higbee was on the field.— Jacob Gibbs (@jagibbs_23) September 4, 2023
- 190 routes (roughly 6.3 games)
- 25% target share
- 42% red zone target share
- 76 PPR points ≈ 12 PPR per game
Top-5ish Fantasy TE volume: pic.twitter.com/lA0GD4B8Bn
He earned a 24 percent target share over the final eight games of the season. Only four tight ends topped that mark over the course of the year. As RotoPat would say, we have a potential PPR Scam on our hands.
Sit: Dalton Schultz
Throughout the preseason, the Texans appeared to have no interest in using Dalton Schultz as a full-time player. He played in all three preseason games and ran a route on just 60 percent of all dropbacks with the starters. He was platooned with Teagan Quitoriano among other Houston tight ends. Offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik may have simply been testing things out with players who won’t be factors in the regular season, but do you really gamble when the payout is more routes on the team with the second-lowest implied team total of the week?
Sit: Greg Dulcich
Like Schultz before him, we’re waiting a week to see what Dulcich’s role looks like. For now, the outlook is grim. Dulcich played behind Adam Trautman in both of his preseason appearances and was listed as a backup tight end on the Broncos’ depth chart. Trautman is a good blocker and has some juice as a pass-catcher. Denver traded for him in the offseason and, like many current Broncos, he played for Sean Payton in New Orleans. Dulcich will be more than strictly a backup, but he may not see enough snaps to provide usable fantasy numbers.