Week 1 - Players to Start and Sit

Wednesday, Sep 6, 2023 at 4:24 pm ET


This is the Fantasy Nerd's look at the best and worst matchups for Week 1 of the 2023 NFL season. Analysis is aggregated from multiple sources including FN. Rankings are based upon PPR (point per reception) scoring. Given the known conditions, these matchups are the ones to watch and/or avoid.

Please Note: This list does not generally include the elite players that you are going to start regardless of matchup. You don't need us to tell you to start Justin Jefferson, Patrick Mahomes, or Christian McCaffrey. Instead, we take a look at other players on your team that we believe either have great matchups or should be avoided for multiple reasons. Factors like opposing defense, performance trending, and peer comparisons may influence our decisions.

Start 'em Geno Smith (SEA, QB)
The matchup might not look great on paper, but Geno Smith did fairly well against the Rams in their two meetings last year throwing for four scores, 580 yards, and three picks. Without Jalen Ramsey, the Rams may struggle to contain Geno and the Seahawks receiving corp.
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7th Fewest Pts to QB
Start 'em Kirk Cousins (MIN, QB)
Kirk Cousins just doesn't seem to get much love from fantasy managers. Many don't consider him a prolific passer though he did throw for multiple scores in ten games last year and he does have some incredible weapons at his disposal including the reigning WR king in Justin Jefferson. Tampa Bay ranked in the middle last season in points allowed to opposing QBs. He should be a nice fringe QB1 in this matchup.
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15th Most Pts to QB
Start 'em Russell Wilson (DEN, QB)
We know - 2022 was awful for Russell Wilson, but if you're OK with the risk, we think that he has a few things going for him this week. First, he's got a new head coach in Sean Payton and that should help him quite a bit. Payton's track record with Drew Brees is well-documented. Second, he's got a nice matchup to start the season. The Raiders ranked in the bottom 10 last year in points allowed to QBs. Wilson is ranked 16th this week on Fantasy Nerds, so he's not an automatic start, but if you waited on QB, perhaps he can help contribute to your Week 1 win.
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6th Most Pts to QB
Start 'em James Conner (ARI, RB)
This one could go either way, but we're going to recommend a START for James Conner. Yes, it's a tough matchup. Yes, Kyler Murray is sidelined. Yes, the Commanders surrendered the 5th-fewest fantasy points to running backs last year. OK - now we're second guessing ourselves... Washington may very well stack the box against him, but Conner actually did quite well in Murray's absence last season averaging 66 yards on the ground and scoring 5 touchdowns in 5 games. This will be a tough matchup, but the volume will certainly be there making Conner an RB2/Flex for Week 1.
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5th Fewest Pts to RB
Start 'em Rachaad White (TB, RB)
Ranked 16th this week on Fantasy Nerds is RB Rachaad White who finally sits atop the depth chart with Leonard Fournette gone and still sitting in free agency. With new QB Baker Mayfield under center, White can provide the type of safety valve that Mayfield will appreciate in his first game as a Buccaneer. He also gets to face a Vikings defense that was very favorable to running backs last year ranking inside the Top 10 in most points allowed. Minnesota was even more generous to pass-catching backs - of which White certainly fits that description.
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9th Most Pts to RB
Start 'em Cam Akers (LAR, RB)
Cam Akers is going to look to pick up where he left off last season after producing three straight 100-yard games. In the last two games where he faced Seattle, he put up 164 yards and two scores against them. We're expecting Cooper Kupp to miss this game, so the Rams may lean on the run game just a bit more than normal. Akers should fill in nicely as an RB2/Flex option in Week 1.
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3rd Most Pts to RB
Start 'em Christian Watson (GB, WR)
The Jordan Love era officially starts this week and we expect Christian Watson to remain the top option for Love. The matchup isn't great, but it isn't scary either. The Bears were middle-of-the-pack (pun intended) against receivers last season. There's no reason to think that he won't be able to finish as a solid WR2/3 for fantasy owners in Week 1.
UPDATE: Christian Watson will be INACTIVE for Week 1.
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12th Fewest Pts to WR
Start 'em Jahan Dotson (WAS, WR)
Few names were mentioned as often as Jahan Dotson during drafts this year. "Scary" Terry McLaurin comes into the season dealing with a toe issue that could prove bothersome which could mean some additional targets for Dotson who has largely made the most of the targets that he has seen in the past. The matchup isn't great, but we've been able to see some of the rapport between Dotson and QB Sam Howell this preseason. Dotson could outperform his #36 ranking on Fantasy Nerds making him a solid WR3/Flex option.
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10th Fewest Pts to WR
Start 'em Courtland Sutton (DEN, WR)
The receiving corp in Denver is damaged and we haven't even played a single regular season game yet. Jerry Jeudy is banged up and Tim Patrick is out for the season, making Sutton a great option for fantasy owners. The Broncos may end up needing him to step up, and he should be able to do so against a Raiders secondary that ranked in the bottom ten in most points allowed to receivers last year. At his #29 ranking, he should fill in nicely as your WR3.
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13th Most Pts to WR
Start 'em Tyler Higbee (LAR, TE)
It's likely that you didn't draft Tyler Higbee to be your TE1, but low and behold, Higbee should fit that bill in Week 1. If Cooper Kupp misses this game (seems likely given that he's still seeing a specialist in Minnesota), Higbee could see some extra targets. It also doesn't hurt that the Seahawks gave up the most fantasy points to tight ends last season.
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Most pts to TE
Start 'em Evan Engram (JAC, TE)
We're excited to see what Evan Engram can do this year. Trevor Lawrence is emerging as a stud QB and Engram provides that kind of safety blanket that can help him move the chains. The Jaguars believe in him as evidenced by the fact that they offered him a long-term contract. His size and speed make him an ideal fantasy TE. When Engram faced the Colts last year, he put up 12 catches in two games.
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12th Fewest Pts to TE
Start 'em Washington Commanders (WAS, DEF)
The Commanders defense sits atop our Week 1 Defense rankings. Washington will bring the pressure against Arizona and their QB Josh Dobbs. Look for the Commanders to walk away with a solid defensive outing in this one.
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10th Most Pts to DEF
Start 'em Jason Myers (SEA, K)
Coming off a career best 34 field goals last year, Jason Myers should continue racking up points - especially against a Rams defense that gave up the 3rd-most fantasy points to kickers last year.
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3rd Most Pts to K
Sit 'em Deshaun Watson (CLE, QB)
Deshaun Watson comes into the Fantasy Nerds rankings this week inside the Top 12, but he comes with some risk. He underwhelmed in his return last season where his six games left fantasy managers disappointed. This time around he's had the opportunity to go through a normal preseason and should be better prepared to lead this team. Unfortunately, his matchup is very tough. The Bengals ranked inside the Top 10 last year in fewest fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. Watson could certainly return to form, but we'd love to see a solid outing from him first.
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9th Fewest Pts to QB
Sit 'em Aaron Rodgers (NYJ, QB)
Expectations in New York couldn't be higher when Aaron Rodgers makes his Jets debut on Monday night. He's got a whole new cast (other than all of the guys that he brought with him of course), so perhaps we can't put as much weight on his awful 2022 season, but it is the first time playing in a game situation with this corp. He's also going to do it against the Bills who gave up the 4th-fewest fantasy points to QBs last year. There's so much working against him that the future HOFer is better suited for your bench in this one.
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4th Fewest Pts to QB
Sit 'em Jimmy Garoppolo (LV, QB)
Like Rodgers above, this will be the first time that we see Jimmy Garoppolo in a new uniform with a new receiving corp. It's tough to know what to expect - especially against a Denver defense that gave up the 2nd-fewest fantasy points last year. On a positive note, we're excited to see what Jimmy G can do now that he's reunited with Josh McDaniels. We're just not excited to watch it this week.
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2nd Fewest Pts to QB
Sit 'em Deon Jackson (IND, RB)
How many fantasy owners rushed out to pick up Zack Moss, Evan Hull, or Deon Jackson after hearing about Jonathan Taylor's situation? We know of quite a few. It's difficult to know how this situation will shake out, but the team has indicated that they plan to employ a RBBC (running back by committee) approach. The Colts will ride the hot hand in this one. That's not exciting, and it leaves fantasy owners scrambling to read the tea leaves. This is a situation that we want to stay away from in Week 1.
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12th Most Pts to RB
Sit 'em Breece Hall (NYJ, RB)
It's tough to sit Breece Hall, but perhaps it's best to lower expectations. The team is likely to ease him back into action after his ACL tear last season. The Jets have also brought in veteran Dalvin Cook who is more than capable of carrying the workload. If Hall's touches are limited, the combination of the Bills giving up the 5th-fewest yards on the ground and the Bills surrendering the 11th-fewest fantasy points makes Breece Hall a sit for us.
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11th Fewest Pts to RB
Sit 'em D'Andre Swift (PHI, RB)
Like Breece Hall above, this one is similar in that you're likely going to start him anyway, but we're controlling our expectations here. Swift is talented and will be used by the Eagles, but there are lots of concerns here that we should call out. For example, Jalen Hurts is a legitimate factor in the run game, Swift will have to share time with Rashaad Penny and Kenneth Gainwell, and the matchup is very difficult. The Patriots gave up the 4th-fewest fantasy points to the RB position last year. There will be brighter days ahead for Swift. Week 1 may not be one of them.
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4th Fewest Pts to RB
Sit 'em Marquise Brown (ARI, WR)
It's going to be Josh Dobbs under center for the Cardinals this week. While Hollywood will be the top option, the QB situation lowers his potential contributions. If you're counting on him to be your WR1/2, he's likely to disappoint you. If you have lower expectations (WR3/Flex), then he should still deliver for you.
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16th Fewest Pts to WR
Sit 'em Odell Beckham (BAL, WR)
The sun may still shine on Odell Beckham, but the nights tend to get longer and longer. Metaphors aside, OBJ hasn't been the same guy since injuries started chipping away at his explosiveness. If he was drafted, it was likely on name recognition. He's got a one-year deal to prove himself, but that may be more difficult than many of us can imagine. Houston's secondary was tough last season, OBJ likely still has some rust to shake off, and it's a fairly crowded receiving corp in Baltimore. He's ranked 54th this week on Fantasy Nerds, and is probably best left on your bench.
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4th Fewest Pts to WR
Sit 'em Allen Lazard (NYJ, WR)
Allen Lazard followed Aaron Rodgers to New York this offseason, but despite the chemistry that he has with Rodgers, there's already a top dog in New York. Garrett Wilson is an exceptional receiver, and if history is any indication, Rodgers is going to force feed him the ball - not Lazard. Lazard will need to see the endzone to have fantasy relevance in this one.
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7th Most Pts to WR
Sit 'em Dalton Schultz (HOU, TE)
Dalton Schultz is one of our favorite tight ends to outperform his ADP, but we'll likely have to wait a bit to see that happen. He's on a new team and the matchup here is tough. Baltimore gave up the 7th-fewest receptions and 7th-fewest fantasy points to TE's last season.
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7th Fewest Pts to TE
Sit 'em Dalton Kincaid (BUF, TE)
The fact that the Bills took Dalton Kincaid in the first round of this year's NFL Draft speaks volumes about what role they plan to have for him. The challenge here is not talent, but rather lack of NFL experience and a viable competitor for targets in Dawson Knox. This isn't the week to take a gamble on him.
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10th Most Pts to TE
Sit 'em New England Patriots (NE, DEF)
Normally the Patriots are a must-start at Defense, but not this week. It's only Week 1, but you'll want to stream a different defense in Week 1. Jalen Hurts and the Eagles offense is so strong that we can't count on the Pats to stop them.
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5th Fewest Pts to DEF
Sit 'em Matt Gay (IND, K)
The man with the biggest free-agent deal for a kicker in NFL history probably shouldn't be in your lineup this week. We're not sure if Indy will be able to move the ball with efficiency given that their QB is playing his first NFL game and Colts owner Jim Irsay has torpedoed his star RB Jonathan Taylor.
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5th Fewest Pts to K

Join the Discussion

If asking a sit/start question, be sure to provide your scoring format and contribute to answering questions from other FN members as well.

Ed Chan CommentedSep 7, 2023 1:07 pm

First comment/question of the season...:-)

With Cupp out, who should I start at WR? Currently have Pittman as the other starter, and Cooks, Juju, M. Thomas and V. Jefferson on the bench.

In another league, I have Pacheco to flex. Should I consider replacing him with Khalil Herbert or even Skyy Moore?

Any suggestions is appreciated!

Nerd CommentedSep 7, 2023 1:33 pm

Way to kick off the season!

For me, I'd start Pittman and Cooks in the first one.

In the other league, I'd keep Pacheco in. Good luck!

jamisdiablo CommentedSep 7, 2023 1:39 pm

agree with nerd here

Ed Chan CommentedSep 7, 2023 2:03 pm

Thanks guys! In your above start 'em, you've got Dotson as a recommend. I have him in a 3rd league on the bench. Should I start him over Khalil? I have Herbert in all 3 leagues I'm in. I'm hoping he'll be my breakout player...

Nerd CommentedSep 7, 2023 2:13 pm

In standard scoring, I'd probably go with Herbert, but I'd go Dotson in half and PPR.

JessDee CommentedSep 7, 2023 1:47 pm

Thinking of picking up Tutu Atwell or Puka Nacua...which one of the two do you think will be the standout WR2 behind Van Jefferson this week? I see people saying Atwell but others saying Nacua has better upside potential. Thanks!

Nerd CommentedSep 7, 2023 2:14 pm

For me, it's Puka. Good luck!

drcharlie CommentedSep 7, 2023 2:49 pm

Puka

Frank Magliocco CommentedSep 7, 2023 2:30 pm

Who should I start James Conner or Tyler Lockett in a PPR league. Thanks

drcharlie CommentedSep 7, 2023 2:49 pm

Tyler Lockett

dvdsls CommentedSep 7, 2023 2:40 pm

I need a wr, who Could I trade James Connor for? Hopkins? Dotson? Scary Terry? Jeudy

drcharlie CommentedSep 7, 2023 2:50 pm

I think you could probably get any of those guys. Maybe not DHOP because people think he's still a WR 1.

Nerd CommentedSep 7, 2023 3:12 pm

Agreed with Dr Charlie

FourPutt CommentedSep 7, 2023 2:58 pm

I'm in a huge jam here. Who do I start at RB week 1 NON-PPR:
Deon Jackson or Zach Charbonnet?

drcharlie CommentedSep 7, 2023 6:22 pm

Charbonnet

Tedd bh CommentedSep 7, 2023 3:08 pm

Hi guys!

I have JK Dobbins, Miles Sanders, Godwin, Toney and Watson for a open spot for WR and a Flex

Who should i start?

King Sam CommentedSep 7, 2023 3:16 pm

JK Dobbins

drcharlie CommentedSep 7, 2023 6:22 pm

Dobbins for me too

King Sam CommentedSep 7, 2023 3:16 pm

& Godwin

Lamiv Patel CommentedSep 7, 2023 3:35 pm

I need to start 2 of these 3 this week in a PPR league: James Connor, Dameon Pierce, or David Montgomery. Any suggestions?

Nerd CommentedSep 7, 2023 6:20 pm

For me, I think Conner is a must start out of that bunch, but I could go either way on the other two. I'd probably lean Montgomery and hope that he truly does become the goal line back. Good luck!

drcharlie CommentedSep 7, 2023 6:23 pm

Connor and Montgomery

TimmyT CommentedSep 7, 2023 6:03 pm

With Kelce out and Mahomes as my QB, should I play Sky Moore or K Toney over C Watson, Brandon Cooks, Lazard or E Moore? I lost Kupp as my WR1. PPR .5 pt.Thx.

drcharlie CommentedSep 7, 2023 6:26 pm

Wow that sucks.

Watson > Cooks > Moore > Toney > Moore > Lazard

That is a whopper. You should import your team into the lineup thing dude. That's a lot of players to try and juggle around.

drcharlie CommentedSep 7, 2023 6:22 pm

With Kelce out, I can go Chigoziem Okonkwo or Dalton Schultz. Full point PPR. Who do I start?

Ed Chan CommentedSep 9, 2023 9:22 pm

Okonkwo is ahead of Schultz in all the who-to-start player-vs-player comparisons I've seen. Average something like 60% to 40%. And Okonkwo is ahead in overall TE rankings over Schultz for this week by 3-4 spots. Maybe lean toward Okonkwo b/c of his potential? Tough call to make though.

Nerd CommentedSep 10, 2023 8:59 am

Agreed with Ed Chan

Ed Chan CommentedSep 9, 2023 8:50 pm

So, I currently have Khalil Herbert to flex and Lockett, Dotson, and Deon Jackson on the bench in a 1/2 PPR league. Should I consider putting Lockett or Dotson in over Khalil? I know you guys are high on Dotson this week, but looks like McLaurin is a full go now, which should eat into Dotson's looks?

Nerd CommentedSep 10, 2023 8:59 am

I would absolutely consider putting Tyler Lockett in over Herbert.

It will be interesting to see how Dotson does with Scary Terry a full go.


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