Each week there are some obvious starts and sits in fantasy football. Other decisions are not quite so simple. Here are some of my picks for Week 1 in the first edition of Studs, Duds & Sleepers of the 2023 season.
QB: Tua Tagovailoa (MIA): No Week 1 matchup has a higher total on it from oddsmakers than the Dolphins at the Chargers. Tua likely wasn’t drafted as a top 10 quarterback in most leagues, but he’s a good bet to wind up as one in this road title as the Dolphins will need to keep pace with Justin Herbert and company.
RB: Alexander Mattison (MIN): With Dalvin Cook out of the picture expect big things this year from Mattison in Minnesota. Fantasy managers should expect a nice start to the campaign. If the Vikings get an early lead as I expect Mattison should be in line for a huge workload in Week 1 as the Bucs make a stop in the Twin Cities.
WR: Keenan Allen (LAC): With plenty of fireworks expected between the Chargers and Dolphins in the opener, a ton of targets should be headed Allen’s way. In the nine games Allen played last year after returning from an injury in Week 11 he averaged 10.6 targets per contest although some of that was with Mike Williams out. Even with him and Williams both healthy, Allen should approach WR1 numbers in PPR formats this week.
TE: Darren Waller (NYG): Few players saw their ADP’s soar in August like the veteran tight end did. Although I am a bit concerned about his durability over the course of the season, Waller is absolutely a must play in a key NFC East matchup with Dallas as the Giants are expected to pepper their new weapon with targets.
Get ready for this week’s NFL action with Dan Clasgens & James Adams…
QB: Anthony Richardson (IND): As bullish as I am on the rookie long-term, fantasy managers need to be patient with the inexperienced signal caller. Not only does he have to face the division front runners in the Jags, but the Colts are without their best offensive weapon, Jonathan Taylor, who will start the year on the PUP list. His rushing stat line should give him a decent floor any week, but let Richardson play his way into your lineup.
RB: James Conner (ARI): The Cardinals are a train wreck, but James Conner should definitely see volume as long as he stays healthy. I avoided him mostly in drafts this summer, but still projected him inside my top 30. However, with the Cards’ mess at quarterback and a Week 1 matchup vs. a Commanders’ defense that ceded the fourth fewest fantasy points to the position a year ago is enough for me to advise leaving him on the bench to start the year.
WR: JuJu Smith-Schuster (NE): Still just 26, you would think Smith-Schuster has something left in the tank. However, recent reports swirling around the health of his knee and a brutal matchup vs. the Eagles’ secondary should have his fantasy managers looking elsewhere for starting options here. Only four wideouts hit the century mark vs. Philly a year ago and that defense only got better in the offseason.
TE: Cole Kmet (CHI): Only four tight ends hit double digits vs. the Packers in 0.5 PPR leagues a year ago and in his six career contests versus Green Bay Kmet has yet to find the end zone eclipsed 50 yards receiving just one time.
QB: Geno Smith (SEA): The Rams’ defense isn’t what it used to be and the Seahawks should have their way with them in their home opener. Smith broke 30 fantasy points in a game vs. LA last year and he could approach that number again as DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett present big challenges for the NFC West counterparts.
RB: Rachaad White (TB): Even though I do think the Vikings will be playing from ahead on Sunday, White is game script agnostic. He will get a decent amount of touches whether Tampa Bay is trailing or ahead. The Minnesota defense isn’t great either, so touches should transition into top 20 fantasy production. Fire him up as a RB2 with confidence.
WR: Courtland Sutton (DEN): Sutton didn’t live up to the hype last year and that was reflected in his ADP all summer long. However, the risk was baked into the draft position so he was worth considering at the right spot. With Jerry Jeudy sidelined and the Raiders on tap the stars are aligning for Sutton to be a viable Week 1 fantasy starter.
TE: Tyler Higbee (LAR): With Cooper Kupp dinged up Higbee could be in line for additional targets as the Rams travel to Seattle. Add to it the fact no team allowed more fantasy points to tight ends than the Seahawks and I’m locking Higbee in my lineups.
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