Fantasy Fallout Week 1 | Fantasy Football 2023

by Emerson Beery · Fantasy Football

Week 1 of the NFL season brought with it a whirlwind of fantasy football storylines. From the heart-wrenching injury to J.K. Dobbins, the emergence of rookie sensation Anthony Richardson, to the underwhelming performances of star players like Deshaun Watson, Drake London, and Kyle Pitts. As fantasy managers scramble to make sense of these early developments, it’s clear that the 2023 season is off to an unpredictable start.

In this article, we delve into the most significant Week 1 storylines that are reshaping the landscape of fantasy football. There will be insights into player values, injury impacts, and unexpected surprises that will undoubtedly influence fantasy football leagues moving forward.

Week 1 Fantasy Football Fallout

J.K. Dobbins Suffers Torn Achilles

After a hot start to what appeared to be a great comeback, J.K. Dobbins suffered a torn Achilles shortly into Baltimore’s Week 1 game. His season is over, and he can be safely dropped in 2023 redraft leagues. However, the larger question is what to make of Dobbins in dynasty fantasy football leagues?

Unfortunately, Achilles injuries require a long recovery period, leaving him with little value left long term. This is the type of recovery that will leak into 2024, and this is his second season-ending injury in three years. It is estimated that 30 to 40-percent of NFL players never return from Achilles tears, with an average recovery time of 10-12 months (Pro Football Network). Dobbins will be a hold in dynasty fantasy football leagues only because he won’t garner any trade value on the open market at the moment. This is a bitter end for a player who had a bright fantasy football future just a short time ago.

<a href=

Moving forward, Justice Hill and Gus Edwards will split the workload in what figures to be a running back by committee approach. While Hill will be the hot waiver wire target after two touchdowns, he only averaged a little over a yard per carry. He will more than likely be the pass-catching back while Gus Edwards takes the early-down work.

Neither should be considered budget breakers this week though because this is also a prime destination for Leonard Fournette or Kareem Hunt. Both players have held out for this situation and will likely sign in the coming weeks. However, it should be noted that the Ravens have expressed a desire to find their replacement in-house. They are expected to add Melvin Gordon to the active roster in the near future as well. Regardless, neither Edwards nor Hill is more than a low-end flex play in a matchup against the Bengals next week.

Pittsburgh Pipe Dream

After an impressive preseason, the Pittsburgh offense fell flat against a tough 49ers defense. Kenny Pickett faced 23 pressures and was sacked five times, which was to be expected. What wasn’t though, was the accuracy and timing issues that Pickett had during the game. Most notably he missed an easy touchdown pass to Diontae Johnson down the middle of the field.

<a href=

Diontae Johnson Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

This game was always going to be a difficult matchup, but Pickett didn’t offer many positives in a poor performance. He faces the Cleveland Browns and Los Angeles Rams over the next two weeks, whose pass rush terrorized their respective Week 1 opponents. Pickett remains far off the fantasy radar in 1QB formats and is a low-end QB2 in superflex leagues.

The big story of the game though is Johnson suffered a hamstring injury, and he is expected to miss at least a few weeks according to Adam Schefter. Players with hamstring injuries miss an average of 13 days, so the initial diagnosis suggests a fairly severe strain (Strive.Tech). What makes matters worse is this is an injury that can be reaggravated (see Keenan Allen last season). Johnson still had six targets through the opening minute of the third quarter though and will be a WR2 when he returns.

George Pickens Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

<a href=

George Pickens Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

George Pickens also disappointed with five receptions for 36 yards on seven targets. He notably looked displeased after the game too and reportedly took that frustration to social media. Regardless, despite ranking No. 3 in average depth of target in 2022, he was only No. 53 in yards per route run. Unless he begins to establish chemistry with Pickett, he will be hard to trust in fantasy formats. Nonetheless, with Johnson slated to miss time, Pickens is a borderline WR2 for the foreseeable future. It’s hard to rank him much higher unfortunately due to the sudden presence of Allen Robinson and Calvin Austin. They accounted for over 30-percent of Pickett’s targets and figure to get an increasing role as well.

Anthony Richardson Rolls

After many (including myself) thought the offense would be a disaster early on, Anthony Richardson had one of the most impressive rookie debuts in recent memory. He finished as the QB4 on the week and had an Adjusted Completion Percentage of 75.8-percent. Add on 10 rushing attempts for 40 yards, and Richardson already appears to have QB1 upside.

<a href=

Anthony Richardson Advanced Stats & Metrics Profile

Regardless, I still expect Richardson to face his fair share of struggles this season. There will be defenses that he simply won’t be able to figure out, and Richardson could have some dud fantasy performances as a result. He looked like a poised quarterback yesterday though and made a number of impressive throws. Richardson should be rostered everywhere if you happen to be in the 16-percent of remaining Sleeper leagues he’s available.

Another positive from yesterday’s game was Michael Pittman‘s impressive performance. He caught eight passes on 11 targets for 97 yards and a touchdown. Pittman is the clear top target in this offense and will be one of the steals of the summer if that 29.7-percent target share holds. A borderline WR3 in most fantasy football drafts, many worried about Richardson’s ability to maintain a consistent fantasy receiver. Pittman will have his up-and-down weeks along with Richardson, but Pittman’s talent will put him in the WR2 conversation every week.

Deshaun Watson Weathers Storm

Deshaun Watson‘s much-anticipated 2023 debut had its fair share of ups and downs. He had a horrible interception and missed on a number of easy throws as well. Ultimately, he finished with just 16 completions on 154 yards passing. The good news for fantasy football managers is that Watson still finished as the QB5 on the week. The weather was horrible, which led to Joe Burrow having a terrible day in his own right.

<a href=

Most notably though, he added 45 yards rushing and a touchdown with his legs. After returning from suspension in 2022, Watson had over six rush attempts in five of six games. He also established a quick rapport with Elijah Moore in what is one of the more talented offenses in the league. Even if he isn’t what he once was, he is going to be a productive fantasy player and is my QB7 for the remainder of the season.

Despite the poor weather, Amari Cooper and Moore still garnered seven targets apiece as well. Neither finished inside the top 40 fantasy receivers this week. However, not a lot can be taken from this performance. Cooper remains a low-end WR2, and Moore will be a WR3 against Pittsburgh next week. David Njoku was the disappointment of the group with only a 10.3-percent target share and lost out on a touchdown to Harrison Bryant. Similar to the wide receivers, I want to see this offense in a better game environment next week. Njoku will still be a top-12 option at the position when he lines up against the Steelers.

London is in the Pitts

The Atlanta offense is not what I hoped it would be and everything I feared it would become. Desmond Ridder was under pressure most of the day and failed to generate any success against the Carolina defense. He ranked second to last in average depth of target for the week and only threw for 115 yards. The rushing attack dominated the opportunities, with the Falcons’ offense running the ball on 58.1-percent of their plays. Ridder is far from the starting radar, even in superflex leagues, and should firmly remain on benches. In dynasty leagues, he’s unlikely to be a starter beyond this season. This is especially true in what appears to be a deep 2024 quarterback class.

This spells disaster as well once again for two of the most talented players in the league, Drake London and Kyle Pitts. Despite London playing 90-percent of the offensive snaps, he did not catch a single pass. Pitts didn’t fare much better and was on his way to a total dud performance until he made a big play with five minutes to go in the game. In a surprise, he also had only a 60-percent snap percentage against the Panthers.

Talent isn’t Everything

Both of these players make a number of plays downfield that show they are unique talents. However, how long can their potential drive up their fantasy value? The head coach and quarterback combination are going to crush their 2023 fantasy football production. The Falcons are going to keep opposing offensive drives limited and grind the clock with their two workhorse running backs. They are too good to not have some breakout performances, but fantasy managers may never know when to start them. London is a boom-or-bust WR3, and Pitts is just a borderline TE1 as a result.