Must Starts and Sits – NFL Week 1

by Aditya Fuldeore · Matchups Start/Sit
Start Sit Week 1

Point Scoring Season!

Every week of the NFL season, fantasy gamers juggle players to insert into lineups at each position. Are you questioning which players face easy matchups and which players face tougher paths to production? You are in the right place! Outside of the obvious starts, Week 1 can be more difficult than usual to differentiate who faces an easier or tougher matchup. For seasonal leagues, DFS, and more, this week’s must start and sit picks can give you some guidance on setting your lineups. Good luck!


Start: Sam Howell

It’s Week 1 and the Sam Howell hype train could not have asked for a better start than against Arizona. The Cardinals are a certified tanking team that allowed the third-most fantasy points to QBs via the pass last season.

With either Clayton Tune or Joshua Dobbs at the helm, the Cardinals offense will struggle and put pressure on a so-so defense. Howell put up 8.9 Yards Per Attempt in his single start last season, coming out of college with 10.3 (96th-percentile) Yards Per Attempt. He can also run the ball, which will come in handy for scrambling and run-pass options. Facing a team that seems to want to be the worst in the league, Howell could not get a softer beginning to his career as the Commanders’ starter.

Sit: Deshaun Watson

Deshaun Watson enters the season attempting to return to Pro Bowl form after a disappointing 2022. He faces the Bengals at home Week 1 in what will be a tough divisional matchup.

QBs scored the 28th-most fantasy points against the Bengals via the pass and 27th-most via the rush last season. As a mobile QB, Watson faces a tough task against a strong defensive line. Last season, Watson completed 58.2-percent of his passes coming off an 11-game suspension. He finished as a top-8 QB twice, in the last two weeks of the season. Prior to that, Watson did not get above 18 fantasy points in a game. Many fantasy players dislike him for his off-the-field issues, but even on the field, this is a tough week to play Watson.

Running Back

Start: J.K. Dobbins

One can argue whether J.K. Dobbins is a good season-long fantasy investment with his history of injury and light workloads. However, in Week 1, with the only prior data coming from previous seasons and everyone starting fresh, Dobbins is an intriguing play.

Facing the Houston Texans, Baltimore’s revamped offense is heavily favored to put up points. The Texans, with rookie C.J. Stroud, will struggle against an AFC contender and give Dobbins a favorable Game Script. Houston allowed the most rushing fantasy points to RBs last season and Will Anderson won’t change that overnight. When healthy, Dobbins has been top-5 among RBs in True Yards Per Carry and Juke Rate. Count on J.K. breaking loose Week 1 in a favorable matchup.

Sit: Najee Harris

In Week 1, Najee Harris faces a good 49ers defensive line. San Francisco allowed the 23rd-most fantasy points to RBs last season via the rush, with Fred Warner, Nick Bosa, and company stonewalling opposing running games.

Harris has been one of the league’s most inefficient backs since entering the league, averaging less than 4.0 True Yards Per Carry in both of his seasons. With Kenny Pickett at QB, Harris’ receiving usage also decreased from his rookie season to last season. His workhorse role is intact, but a more efficient Jaylen Warren is nipping at his heels. Touchdown opportunity will be where Harris makes most of his fantasy points up. However, San Francisco is a more complete team than Pittsburgh and will limit Steeler scoring opportunities. Between the inefficiencies and a tough matchup, Harris is a sit this week.

Wide Receiver

Start: Chris Godwin

Many slid Chris Godwin down draft boards with Baker Mayfield entering at QB. However, Godwin is still an elite receiver with back-to-back 1000-yard seasons the last two years despite not playing full seasons. He and Mike Evans are an elite tandem that will get their share of production regardless of offensive struggles.

Mayfield has not hurt the production of slot receivers like Jarvis Landry in his career, so reports of Godwin’s demise are greatly exaggerated. He faces a subpar Vikings secondary with little depth behind Byron Murphy, PlayerProfiler’s No. 43 CB. Godwin will be able to slice through Minnesota’s defense in what should be an offense-driven game. Start the elite Tampa Bay receiver to begin your season.

Sit: Gabe Davis

Stefon Diggs is an obvious start in Buffalo’s receiving corps, but no one else stands out. Gabe Davis has had his fair share of hype the last couple seasons but has yet to separate himself as the Bills’ WR2.

He has not developed into an elite target-earner in a plus passing offense yet. Dalton Kincaid and Deonte Harty were also added in the offseason to challenge Davis for targets. With an 18.2-percent (No. 43) Target Share, Davis only needed a couple big plays to splash for fantasy, but that is less likely to happen against the Jets. Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed are an elite CB duo and dominated non-elite talent last season. Both are top-15 PlayerProfiler CBs. While the Monday Night Football Bills-Jets matchup will bring fireworks, Davis is a risky play this Week 1.

Tight End

Start: Tyler Higbee

The Rams are an icky offense to invest in outside of Cooper Kupp. However, with Kupp out for Week 1 and potentially longer, Tyler Higbee jumps to the top of the Rams’ targets list.

Last season, Higbee earned a 20.9-percent (No. 4) Target Share and brought in a career-high 72 (No. 5) receptions. He faces the Seahawks in Week 1. Seattle allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to TEs last season, with most of its defensive prowess on the outside rather than over the middle of the field. Travis Kelce managers may be looking for a streaming option this week and Higbee fits the bill. Consistently drafted outside the top-12 TEs, it is worth checking if he is available on waivers. Higbee has the combination of matchup and volume to make him a start this week.

Sit: Chigoziem Okonkwo

Bursting onto the scene as a rookie last season, Chig Okonkwo was rocketing up draft boards this offseason. Until DeAndre Hopkins signed with the Titans. Tennessee is a low-volume passing offense with an elite target hog in Hopkins now leading the way. As a result, Okonkwo’s projected volume takes a big hit. Last season, Weeks 12-15 were his only weeks getting at least five targets. The Saints are a difficult matchup for him as well. They allowed the 30th-most fantasy points to TEs last season. New Orleans is a solid defense that Mike Vrabel will feel more comfortable bashing in with Henry. Without a touchdown, Okonkwo is headed for a disappointing Week 1 finish.

Set Your Lineups!

It has been months since we have had to say it, but it is time again to set lineups! Fire up those fingers and plug in your productive players (and bench the sits!). Check back for weekly must starts and sits based on the action that unfolds this season. It’s time again for a season full of ups and downs Buckle up!

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