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NFL fantasy football Week 1: Start and sit, including Deshaun Watson

Our first fantasy football start and sit is now live for Week 1 of the NFL season. Fake football owners must be going through it right now, not exactly knowing how unproven players and defenses on the other side are going to perform early in the 2023 NFL season.

We’re here to help you throughout the 18-week schedule. Whether it’s standard or PPR fantasy football leagues or daily fantasy football contests, you’ll find information on who to start and who to sit with analysis that is backed up by advanced stats and much, much more.

Without further ado, here’s our fantasy football start and sit for Week 1 of the 2023 NFL season.

Related: Unlock Fantasy Sports Success! Get FREE Insights & Tips From Dr. Roto and His Team Of Big-Money Fantasy Winners!

Fantasy football Week 1 starts


fantasy football week 1 start and sit
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  • Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers: The Miami Dolphins yielded the second-most fantasy football points to quarterbacks a season ago. Miami figured it had solved these issues by acquiring All-Pro Jalen Ramsey from the Los Angeles Rams in the offseason. He’s now sidelined to injury. Herbert found himself as a bottom-end QB1 in 2022. He’s now primed to take that leap. Start the newly minted highest-paid player in the NFL and don’t look back.
  • Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars: How bad was the Indianapolis Colts’ pass defense last season? It yielded 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while giving up the eighth-most fantasy football points to quarterbacks. That was with Stephon Gilmore and Isaiah Rodgers doing their thing. They are no longer with the team. Meanwhile, Lawrence broke out at the end of his sophomore campaign to the tune of 16 total touchdowns and two interceptions in his final eight starts. Do the math from there.

Related: Week 1 fantasy football rankings

Running backs

fantasy football week 1 start: bijan robinson
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  • Raheem Mostert, Miami Dolphins: With Jeff Wilson out the first four weeks, the onus is going to be on Mostert to do his thing in the backfield for Miami. From a fantasy perspective, it’s good news for those who rostered Mostert. Despite being a part-time back last season, the former undrafted free agent found himself as a decent FLEX option in 12-team PPR-heavy leagues. Mostert is also set to take on a Chargers defense that yielded the fifth-most fantasy points to backs a season ago.
  • Khalil Herbert, Chicago Bears: We love Herbert as a Week 1 fantasy play. He was tremendous as a sophomore last season, going for nearly 800 total yards and five touchdowns at a clip of 5.7 yards per touch. Now RB1 in Chicago, Herbert will benefit from Justin Fields’ running ability in Chicago’s backfield. It also doesn’t hurt that his opening matchup is against a Packers defense that yielded north of 1,900 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns to this position in 2022.
  • Bijan Robinson, Atlanta Falcons: Some might be wary about playing Robinson in his NFL Debut. Don’t even overthink this. The stud former Texas product has been elevated to the RB1 role in Atlanta. With Cordarrelle Patterson battling through injuries, the touches will be there. We’re also expecting high reliance on the running game in Atlanta with young quarterback Desmond Ridder starting.

Related: 2023 fantasy football running back handcuffs

Tight ends

fantasy football week 1 start: tyler higbee
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  • Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams: Touches have to go somewhere in Los Angeles with star wide receiver Cooper Kupp sidelined to injury. There just isn’t a lot of talent when it comes to the skill positions for the Rams. That’s where Higbee comes into play. He hauled in 72 passes with a 67% catch rate last season. Matthew Stafford will be relying on the veteran. It doesn’t hurt that the Rams are taking on a Seahawks squad that gave up the most fantasy football points to tight ends last season and is still without safety Jamal Adams.
  • Michael Mayer, Las Vegas Raiders: A rookie start in Week 1? Let’s explain. Dating back to his days with the San Francisco 49ers, Jimmy Garoppolo has relied on tight ends as safety valves. Meanwhile, Mayer is expected to be TE1 for the Raiders out of the gate. There is a talent vacuum that must be filled here. We like his matchup against a Broncos team that gave up 99 receptions for 1,047 yards to tight ends in 2022.

Related: NFL Week 1 injury report

Wide receivers

fantasy football week 1 start: garrett wilson
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  • George Pickens, Pittsburgh Steelers: Despite San Francisco’s overall brilliance on defense a season ago, wide receivers were able to put up some big-time fantasy numbers against this unit (221 receptions, 2847 yards, 16 TD). Pickens was a standout as a rookie last season, hauling in 51 receptions for 801 yards. He seems to have taken his game to a new level heading into the receiver’s sophomore season. He’s a nice Week 1 play.
  • Garrett Wilson, New York Jets: Speaking of being a nice Week 1 play, Wilson already connected with new Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers during the preseason. He’s also coming off earning NFL Rookie of the Year honors despite having to catch passes from less-than stellar Jets quarterbacks (15 TD, 14 INT). Taking on a Bills defense that surprisingly yielded the eighth-most fantasy football points to wide receivers a season ago, Wilson is a solid play.
  • Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco 49ers: If you think Aiyuk’s performance in 2022 (78 receptions, 1,015 yards) was a breakout, wait until 2023. Reports from 49ers camp concluded that he was nearly uncoverable. That’s not great news for a Steelers defense which gave up 2,644 yards and 16 TD to receivers last season. Add in the fact that 49ers quarterbacks boasted a 115.9 passer rating when targeting Aiyuk in 2022, and that’s magnified further.

Related: 2023 fantasy football rankings

Fantasy football Week 1 sits


fantasy football week 1
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  • Deshaun Watson, Cleveland Browns: It’s hard to know exactly what we’re going to get from Watson in his first full season with the Browns. He struggled last year, throwing just seven touchdowns in six starts. What we do know is that the Bengals don’t represent a good play. They gave up the fourth-fewest fantasy football points to quarterbacks a season ago (17 TD, 12 INT). Sit Watson in Week 1.
  • Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh Steelers: Opposing quarterbacks threw just 20 touchdowns compared to 19 interceptions against the 49ers last season. San Francisco has Nick Bosa returning after signing a record-breaking contract. Fred Warner is among the best cover linebackers in the game. While Pickett will certainly get some numbers in Week 1, we don’t expect him to be a QB1.
  • Daniel Jones, New York Giants: Surprisingly, Jones finished as the ninth-best fantasy quarterback a season ago. Not-so-surprisingly, he struggled against the Cowboys with one touchdown pass in two games. Dallas has the corners and pass rush (eight sacks of Jones last season) to hold him in check. We’re not looking at a good QB1 play here.

Running backs

fantasy football week 1: jamaal williams
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
  • Jamaal Williams, New Orleans Saints: Owners are streaming Williams with Alvin Kamara suspended to open the season. While that might be a good bet from a broader perspective considering he scored 17 touchdowns last season, Week 1 doesn’t make sense. Williams and his Saints are taking on a stout Titans run defense that yielded just 1,068 rushing yards in 17 games last season. New Orleans will likely be relying more on Derek Carr and the passing game in this one.
  • Breece Hall, New York Jets: Coming off a torn ACL, we expect the Jets to take it slow with this stud young running back. The addition of Pro Bowler Dalvin Cook adds another layer to that. It doesn’t help that the Jets are taking on a Bills team that ranked in the top 10 in fantasy points allowed to running backs. If pressed, Cook is probably the best play here.

Related: Ranking all 32 NFL defenses and Week 1 fantasy football matchups

Tight ends

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Chicago Bears
Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports
  • Cole Kmet, Chicago Bears: Kmet is an interesting case study after Chicago handed him a lucrative extension during the summer. He’s averaging less than 500 receiving yards through three seasons. Meanwhile, the Bears added another elite receiving threat for Justin Fields in D.J. Moore. We do not like this Week 1 matchup with Kmet taking on a Packers defense that yielded a mere six fantasy points per game to tight ends in 2022.

Related: 2023 fantasy football cheat sheet

Wide receivers

NFL: Preseason-Philadelphia Eagles at Baltimore Ravens
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
  • Odell Beckham Jr., Baltimore Ravens: It will take some time for OBJ to mesh with Lamar Jackson. But once that happens, watch out. We’re just not expecting this in Week 1. Baltimore has a favorable Week 1 matchup against Houston. With that said, the Texans gave up the fourth-fewest fantasy points to receivers last season. Derek Stingley Jr. and Co. were tremendous in this regard (six total TDs allowed).
  • Amari Cooper, Cleveland Browns: Noticing a theme here? We’re not too friendly to the Browns’ possibilities on offense against Cincinnati in Week 1. There are several reasons for this. From a fantasy football standpoint, it should be more about Cleveland trying to pound the rock with Nick Chubb. Cincinnati yielded north of 1,800 total yards to this position in 2022.

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