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Favorites & Fades

Week 1

By: Nick Caron | HC Green | Eli Mack | John Fessel
Updated: 9/10/23



Sunday Early:



Sunday Late:





- Lines and totals updated Sunday morning
- Green highlight indicates plus matchup (top eight) - begins Week 2
- Red highlight indicates negative matchup (bottom eight) - begins Week 2

Lions @ Chiefs - (Fessel)
Line: KC -4.5
Total: 51.5

No Brainers: WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, RB Jahmyr Gibbs

Favorites: QB Jared Goff

Goff is coming off what was arguably his best season, and certainly near his peak fantasy production of 2018 (4688-32-12). The Lions had a productive off-season and are maturing around Dan Campbell. While Goff won’t have access to the services of Jameson Williams just yet, the receiving group of star Amon-Ra St. Brown, Josh Reynolds, Kalif Raymond, Marvin Jones and rookie Sam LaPorta is ample. The running back tandem of Gibbs and Montgomery offer a receiving boon over former Lions D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams. Most importantly, Goff is walking into a potential shootout (highest total of the week) against a Chiefs team that was absolutely scalded by QB’s last season, and is without fierce pass rusher Chris Jones.

On the Fence: RB David Montgomery

Montgomery should have more than his share of high-quality matchups this season, stepping into Jamaal Williams shoes, but his production in this game may largely hinge on whether the Lions can keep the offense in the positive game script or not. The workload split with Gibbs is still an unknown but we can safely project more early-down and perhaps goaline work for Montgomery. With Chris Jones out, and Travis Kelce likely joining him, the Lions have a great shot to play from ahead in this game. But there’s certainly significant risk, as the Chiefs are still run by Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes and could easily force the Lions hand into playing the electric Gibbs in catchup-mode.

Fade: N/A

No Brainers: QB Patrick Mahomes

Favorites: RB Jerick McKinnon

As Clyde Edwards-Helaire faded to black for the Chiefs last year, Jerrick McKinnon began to emerge as an important piece of the offense – most particularly in the passing game. By season’s end, he had played about half of the team’s offensive snaps, and collected career high’s with 56 catches, 512 receiving yards, and 10 total touchdowns. Along the way, he had some big late-season performances, including back-to-back RB1 efforts in Weeks 14 and 15. He’s poised for a great opportunity to enter that territory in Week 1 versus a Lions defense that is vulnerable, even while improved. Patrick Mahomes also appears to have an extra 8 to 10 targets to distribute sans Kelce, and McKinnon makes for a strong check down. To top it off, the Lions could gain in the edge this game and force Pacheco off the field for much of it, meaning McKinnon could see a 60-70 percent snap rate.

On the Fence: TE Noah Gray

Gray is likely to start this week, with Kelce having hyperextended his knee. The backup tight end has been respectably productive throughout his early development, with Mahomes posting 109 and 113 passer ratings on his targets through his first two years, plus adding a 1-yard touchdown rush. But Kelce’s shoes are too big to expect Gray to fill, and the Chiefs have a boatload of young talent at receiver, creating a murky situation where any one (or number) of Skyy Moore, Kadarius Toney, Rashee Rice and Justyn Ross emerging as a go-to. There’s also the previously mentioned Jerick McKinnon, and Patrick Mahomes always has his legs to turn to as a last resort. Gray is a roll-of-the-dice start for fantasy managers who came up short at the tight end position in the draft.

Fade: RB Isiah Pacheco

There’s a lot to like about this Chris Carson-esque back, especially in an offense that is likely to see a lot of the red zone this year. But the Chiefs could find themselves in the unusual position of being behind on opening day, and there’s a very real risk that Pacheco spends a lot of time on the bench as a result. In such a scenario, starting him could cost you the week.

Prediction: Lions 27, Chiefs 24 ^ Top

Texans @ Ravens - (Green)
Line: BAL -9.5
Total: 43.5

No Brainers: RB Dameon Pierce

Favorites: TE Dalton Schultz

Somebody needs to catch passes for the Texans this season, and with the top three being unproven (Nico Collins), past their prime (Robert Woods), or a career special teamer with one decent season (Noah Brown), Schultz could be that guy. The former Cowboy is just one year removed from a 78-808-8 effort, and he’s seeking to rebuild his value on a make-good contract after his production fell off in 2022. Motivation and opportunity are an attractive combo for fantasy production, and garbage-time yards count the same as any other.

On the Fence: N/A

Fade: QB C.J. Stroud

Having played at a high-profile program and being selected second overall, Stroud carries a lot of name recognition into his first NFL start. Don’t get tempted. The rookie is already behind the fantasy eight-ball by virtue of not being a running quarterback, and the talent around him at the skill positions is in the discussion for worst in the NFL. Add a road start against a tough defense and Stroud could be in for a long day.

No Brainers: QB Lamar Jackson, RB J.K. Dobbins, TE Mark Andrews

Favorites: N/A

On the Fence: WR Zay Flowers

Baltimore sunk a lot of resources into providing Jackson with better talent around him, and that includes Flowers, who was selected in the first round of this year’s draft. While it’s still very much to be determined as to how the pecking order forms up behind Andrews, the rookie garnered a lot of positive feedback during training camp, and his short-area quickness could make him a frequent target. Flowers is no better than a WR4, but if you want to roll the dice on a Ravens receiver on Sunday lean toward him.

Fade: WR Odell Beckham Jr.

While Flowers and, to a lesser extent, Rashod Bateman, are unknown commodities, everyone knows Beckham. At one point, OBJ was in the conversation for best receiver in the NFL. That was several years ago, however, and the 30-year-old hasn’t even played a snap since tearing his ACL in the Rams-Bengals Super Bowl following the 2021 season. It’s plausible that Beckham will bounce back and at least resemble the player he once was, but you’d be wise to take a wait-and-see approach before starting him.

Prediction: Ravens 30, Texans 12 ^ Top

Panthers @ Falcons - (Mack)
Line: ATL -3.5
Total: 39.5

Update: D.J. Chark has been ruled out.

No Brainers: N/A

Favorites: N/A

On the Fence: RB Miles Sanders

As a member of the Eagles, Sanders entered last season as a lead back and rewarded his owners with the best rushing season of his career, finishing with 1,269 rushing yards and 11 scores. Now he brings his talent to Carolina where he will once again be the lead dog in the backfield. The Panthers’ wide receivers are struggling to get healthy enough to play. Neither Adam Thielen nor D.J. Chark practiced on Thursday, bringing into question their availability for the season opener. But even if Thielen and Chark play, Sanders’ production could be stunted. The Falcons were middle-of-the-pack (17th) against RBs in fantasy points per game last season and the low game total (39.5) doesn’t inspire fantasy confidence. If you’re forced to start Sanders as a low-end RB2, you might want to do so with tempered expectations.

Fade: QB Bryce Young

Placing rookie QBs in your starting lineup in their first NFL game is the kind of on-the-edge fantasy playing I’d personally rather not indulge in. Bryce Young’s prospects for success on Sunday would be slim even if Thielen and Chark were healthy. Both being question marks further renders Young a healthy fade. Young may become a viable low-end QB2 this season, but it won’t begin in Week 1. Look elsewhere while remaining patient with the talented rookie signal-caller.

No Brainers: RB Bijan Robinson

Favorites: TE Kyle Pitts

I get it. Kyle Pitts underperformed last season. Like many of you, I drafted him in 2022 and expected solid production, only to join the long line of fantasy owners feeling disenchanted about the promising TE’s usage in the offense. I subscribe to the notion that Marcus Mariota’s limited skillset at QB contributed mightily to head coach Arthur Smith’s leaning more on the run than any other team in the league. While Desmond Ridder won’t remind folks of Dan Marino, he is considered a more advanced passer than Mariota and thus should be called upon to open the offense a bit more this season. Expect Pitts to rebound nicely from last season and deliver, at worst, a low-end TE1 in 2023.

On the Fence: WR Drake London

While I expect Atlanta’s offense to be more open this season, I do not anticipate it being to the degree that it will consistently support two startable pass-catchers—at least not in Week 1. In the run-dominate offense of last season, Drake London had a 28 percent target share. I believe London will again be the top dog in the passing game, but I also suspect Atlanta’s passing offense won’t be needed for the full 60 minutes on Sunday. The Falcons should separate themselves at some point, giving them the luxury of leaning on a run game that should be one of the league’s best.

Fade: QB Desmond Ridder

The good news: Desmond Ridder is an upgrade over Marcus Mariota. The bad news: he remains an inexperienced QB in an anticipated run-first offense. Ridder finds himself on the waiver wire in most one-QB leagues, which is where he should stay for now. But he’s a wait-and-see candidate for rostering. Nonetheless, the offense still needs competent play under center; the jury remains out as to whether or not Ridder is the answer. Time will tell.

Prediction: Falcons 24, Panthers 14 ^ Top

Bengals @ Browns - (Green)
Line: CIN -2.0
Total: 47.5

No Brainers: QB Joe Burrow, RB Joe Mixon, WR Ja’Marr Chase, WR Tee Higgins

Favorites: N/A

On the Fence: TE Irv Smith

A season ago, the Cincinnati passing game was essentially six players. Two of them are gone, with Hayden Hurst (52-414-2) and Samaje Perine (38-287-4) collectively taking 90 receptions and a half-dozen touchdowns with them. Hurst’s direct replacement is Smith, a former second-round pick of the Vikings that flashed during his tenure in Minnesota but was ultimately undone by injuries -- he played in just eight games over the past two seasons combined. His upside is interesting, and if you’re looking for a plug-and-play option for this weekend, Smith could fit the bill.

Fade: WR Tyler Boyd

Entering his age-30 campaign, Boyd is the elder statesman among Burrow’s primary receiving options. The veteran’s output has gone down each of the last three seasons, dipping from a 90-1046-5 effort in 2019 all the way to a 58-762-5 this past year. Boyd caught three passes for 38 yards and a score in two games against the Browns in 2022, though it’s worth noting he got injured early in the second meeting. The veteran will flash here and there, but he’s not worth starting in Week 1.

No Brainers: RB Nick Chubb, WR Amari Cooper

Favorites: QB Deshaun Watson

Without question, Watson failed to impress in his six-game stint to close last year. Flush it and forget it. The Clemson product spent all of 2021 embroiled in a contract dispute with the Texans, and then he was suspended for 11 games to open 2022. A layoff of that length will adversely affect anyone. Arguably his most effective performance in a Browns uniform came against the Bengals in his second start, passing for a season-best 276 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for 33 yards. Watson was a dynamic weapon before his off-field issues, and at 28 he should still have time to recapture that form.

On the Fence: TE David Njoku / WR Donovan Peoples-Jones

We’ve waited years for Njoku, the highly paid former first-round pick, to deliver as a pass catcher. We’re still waiting. The hope is that a reinvigorated Watson will elevate those around him, including Njoku, who had a 7-59-1 effort against the Bengals with Watson under center. Peoples-Jones, meanwhile, had a season-high 114 yards on eight receptions in that same game. He had 81 yards on four grabs in the earlier meeting between the two clubs, so DPJ excelled against his rivals last year.

Fade: N/A

Prediction: Browns 24, Bengals 20 ^ Top

49ers @ Steelers - (Green)
Line: SF -2.5
Total: 41.5

No Brainers: Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, George Kittle

Favorites: N/A

On the Fence: QB Brock Purdy

In five regular-season starts as a rookie, Purdy averaged 220 yards, 2.2 TDs, and 0.4 INTs per game through the air. That’s decent production if it was being supplemented by some ground yardage, but the Iowa State alum isn’t a runner -- he ran for 16 yards and a touchdown in a Wild Card win over Seattle, but beyond that he never reached double-digits in a game. With so many weapons surrounding him, Purdy should be useable at times, but with such a small sample size it’d be aggressive to deploy him here.

Fade: WR Brandon Aiyuk

There’s an argument to be made for Aiyuk being the steadiest pass catcher on the 49ers, but he lacks the weekly upside of Samuel, and he’s not among the best options at a shallow position like Kittle. With Pittsburgh boasting a good defense with legitimate impact players in both coverage and the pass rush, it’s far from clear there’ll be enough value this Sunday to support three receivers -- not to mention whatever level of involvement McCaffrey has. You can try Aiyuk as a low-end WR3, at best.

No Brainers: RB Najee Harris, TE Pat Freiermuth

Favorites: WR Diontae Johnson

For as good as the 49ers are, they can’t cover everything. As an addendum to that, they’re more likely to concede the short and intermediate throws versus deep balls, and that’s where Johnson excels. Everyone knows the veteran wideout went the entirety of 2022 without scoring a touchdown, and that has artificially devalued him. Only six players were targeted more than Johnson last year, and he should be busy again this Sunday. He can be plugged in as a solid WR3.

On the Fence: WR George Pickens

Without question, Pickens has gotten more love during the preseason than Johnson, being tabbed in national media as a possible breakout target. He flashed as a rookie while leading the team in yards per reception (15.4) and touchdowns (4), and his 17 catches of 20 yards or more was more than double Johnson (7). As noted, however, the 49ers are likely to prioritize keeping Pickens from working downfield, which could lead to a disappointing opener. Then again, if he’s really grown like many have suggested, perhaps this will serve as his coming out party. He’s a risk/reward WR3/WR4.

Fade: QB Kenny Pickett

Pickett was nearly flawless in limited burn this preseason, and like Pickens, the young quarterback has been discussed as a second-year leap candidate. The 49ers know how to make life miserable on young passers, though, especially now that Nick Bosa has worked out his contract stalemate. Pickett may indeed become a viable QB1 this season, but you’d be wise to keep him benched in the opener.

Prediction: 49ers 23, Steelers 19 ^ Top

Cardinals @ Commanders - (Caron)
Line: WAS -7.0
Total: 38.5

No Brainers: N/A

Favorites: RB James Conner

It’s tough to be too excited about anything happening in this Arizona offense that is projected to be amongst the worst in the league, but one thing we should feel at least relatively confident in is that running back James Conner will continue to be a featured asset. Conner was wildly lucky in the touchdown department in 2021 when he scored 18 times on just 1,127 total yards, which caused many to believe that he was suddenly the second coming of Marcus Allen at the goal line. His ADP skyrocketed as a result and this led to disappointed fantasy owners, many of whom are now off of Conner because he had a more reasonable eight touchdowns on just slightly fewer yards this past season. Even despite the dramatic drop-off in scores, Conner finished the 2022 season as a top-10 fantasy back in fantasy points per game in half-point PPR formats and there’s plenty of reason to believe that he’ll see a similar workload here in 2023. Sure, his high-end potential isn’t quite as strong, but he’s facing a Washington team in Week 1 that isn’t likely to set the scoreboard on fire, so there’s a good chance that Conner will see one of his higher touch totals of the season and that should make him a viable RB2.

On the Fence: WR Marquise Brown (hamsting)

Fantasy managers have every reason to avoid this entire passing game as long as Kyler Murray is sidelined, but one thing that history tells us is that inexperienced quarterbacks tend to lean heavily on one specific target in their passing game, oftentimes delivering a high enough target share to make those players solid fantasy options even if the quality of the targets is drastically lower than what they’re used to seeing. That could be the case early this season as the Cardinals settle in with either Joshua Dobbs or Clayton Tune behind center, and the player who’s most likely to see that increased target share is wide receiver Marquise Brown.

Brown is coming off of the worst fantasy season of his career, in large part due to some nagging injuries that kept him off the field during the middle of 2022. He also seemed to struggle to find his usual explosiveness down the stretch while being stuck behind DeAndre Hopkins on the depth chart.

With Hopkins now gone, Brown is really the only receiver in this offense who’s ever produced any sort of usable fantasy numbers. He has a 1,000-yard season under his belt and should be the clear-cut WR1 in this offense. He’s not a sexy option and certainly not without risk, but you could do worse than Brown against a Commanders defense that gave up 15 receiving touchdowns to opposing wide receivers this past season.

Fade: QB Joshua Dobbs (or QB Clayton Tune)

The fact that the Cardinals still have not officially announced their starting quarterback just goes to show that they are not convinced that any of their options are actually worthy of being on the field here in Week 1. But even with that being the case, someone is going to be out there calling plays and probably throwing interceptions.

Whether it’s Dobbs or Tune, this is not a situation we want any part of for fantasy purposes. Stay away.

No Brainers: N/A

Favorites: WR Jahan Dotson

He hasn’t yet shown himself to be the WR1 in this offense, but 2022 rookie Jahan Dotson began to skyrocket up the draft board late this summer when it was revealed that Terry McLaurin (toe) was already dealing with an injury. Dotson himself dealt with injuries during his rookie season and that limited what could have potentially been a breakout season for him, but it’s worth considering that Dotson was highly effective in his limited playing time, particularly with his ability to score touchdowns. Dotson scored seven touchdowns despite playing in just 12 total games as a rookie and the team really didn’t invest much at wide receiver this offseason, so it makes sense to expect that Dotson will be a focal point in this Washington passing game.

There’s also a decent chance that the Commanders will have plenty of opportunities on Arizona’s side of the field, which could actually give him a higher-than-usual opportunity for a touchdown even though the game is not expected to become a shootout.

On the Fence: QB Sam Howell, RB Brian Robinson Jr.

One of the better under-the-radar late-round QB2s this season is Washington’s Sam Howell, who quietly rushed for 35 yards and a touchdown to go along with 169 passing yards, a passing touchdown, and only one interception in a victory against an excellent Cowboys defense in Week 18 of the 2022 season. Many fantasy managers are unaware that Howell was actually quite effective as a runner in college, particularly in his final season as a junior at North Carolina when he rushed for an impressive 828 yards and 11 touchdowns. No, he’s not Lamar Jackson, but Howell could very well provide a rushing floor that makes him a solid QB2 this season and he’s someone who fantasy managers should be keeping an eye on.

The running back situation in Washington is expected to be a committee again and while it’s always risky to project game scripts, it’s tough not to look at the Cardinals and think, “this is a Robinson game.” The Cardinals are expected to be absolutely terrible, which could mean an early lead for the Commanders, which would almost certainly lead to a heavy workload for Robinson. The Cardinals conceded the third-most fantasy points to opposing running backs during the 2022 season and there’s a real chance that they’re even worse here in 2023.

Fade: WR Terry McLaurin (toe), RB Antonio Gibson

With Jahan Dotson and Brian Robinson being players that we can reasonably put into our lineups here in Week 1, it makes sense that their counterparts - Terry McLaurin and Antonio Gibson - are not giving us quite as much confidence.

McLaurin has been a solid WR2 throughout most of his career, but much of that has been due to his ability to stay on the field as he’s missed just three regular-season games throughout his four-year NFL career. He’s expected to play here in Week 1, but the fact that he’s already been dealing with a sprained toe is certainly cause for concern. It’s also worth considering that the Commanders could get out to an early lead and end up giving McLaurin some additional rest time to prepare him for a more difficult matchup against the Broncos in Week 2.

Gibson is a player who just screams potential, but the Commanders have never quite committed to him being their every down back. With Brian Robinson Jr. having a stranglehold on the early-down work, Gibson has been relegated to primarily being a change-of-pace runner as well as a target in the passing game. That’s not a bad role, but it’s not necessarily one that we want to be targeting here in Week 1 for fantasy purposes, as Washington could very well end up running away with this game and just feeding Robinson rather than Gibson.

Prediction: Commanders 23, Cardinals 16 ^ Top

Buccaneers @ Vikings - (Green)
Line: MIN -4.5
Total: 45.5

No Brainers: RB Rachaad White

Favorites: N/A

On the Fence: WRs Mike Evans / Chris Godwin

Last season, Evans (77-1,124-6) and Godwin (104-1,023-3) were 1,000-yard receivers for Tom Brady. This year, the jury is out. To be fair, both players experienced success before the arrival of TB12, most notably Evans, who has finished with more than 1,000 yards in each of his nine seasons. Still, Baker Mayfield has put up pedestrian numbers for most of his career, and that could obviously trickle down to Godwin and Evans, who is also involved in a contract dispute with the club. You can insert the wideouts into your lineup as WR3s in Week 1 and hopefully we’ll get a sense of what the passing game is going to look like in 2023.

Fade: QB Baker Mayfield

Over the past two seasons, Mayfield has topped 250 yards passing in a game exactly twice, with the last one coming on Oct. 10, 2021, against the Chargers. He’s appeared in 21 games (19 starts) since then. It’s about this time every year that people start to think maybe things will be different. He was the No. 1 overall pick after all. Until Mayfield strings together multiple games with some meaningful production, however, he can’t be trusted in a QB1 slot.

No Brainers: RB Alexander Mattison, WR Justin Jefferson, TE T.J. Hockenson

Favorites: N/A

On the Fence: QB Kirk Cousins

Here’s what we know. Cousins is a steady triggerman, Jefferson is an absolute star, and Hockenson looks like a top-five pass-catching tight end. Here’s what we don’t know. Is Jordan Addison and/or K.J. Osborn ready to step up and fill the role Adam Thielen handled over the last several seasons since Cousins arrived from Washington. There were also rumblings during the offseason of an increased focus on the running game this year, so we’ll see if that bears out in Week 1. Cousins is a fringe QB1 candidate.

Fade: WR Jordan Addison

Addison got some buzz early in camp, and there’s no doubt he’ll get to see plenty of single coverage with defenses focused on limiting Jefferson and, to a lesser extent, Hockenson. Still, we don’t know what his chemistry level is with Cousins, or whether the quarterback will favor him or Osborn in that tertiary role. It’s always tempting to roll with rookie wideouts based on upside, but keeping Addison on the bench looks like the safer play here.

Prediction: Vikings 24, Buccaneers 17 ^ Top

Jaguars @ Colts - (Mack)
Line: JAX -4.5
Total: 46.5

No Brainers: QB Trevor Lawrence, RB Travis Etienne

Favorites: WR Calvin Ridley

I hate that I missed out on Calvin Ridley in my home league. He was taken one pick before my selection, and I ended up with Chris Olave. I targeted Ridley because I had him on my team during his last full season in 2020, when his 1,374 receiving yards were 6th in the league. Ridley arrives in Jacksonville as the team’s WR1, but he has solid complementary pieces in Christian Kirk and Zay Jones who both should attract enough defensive attention to make Ridley’s navigation in the secondary a bit less daunting. Start Ridley with confidence.

On the Fence: TE Evan Engram

I firmly believe that QB Trevor Lawrence will be in the MVP conversation this year. That will require some supporting players to have productive seasons—chief among them, TE Evan Engram. The Jags expressed belief in Engram with a three-year extension in the off-season, giving Lawrence one of the top pass-catching groups in the NFL. Engram should control the middle of the field while giving Lawrence a big target down the seam. I expect Jacksonville to control this contest, getting up big with downfield throws while milking the clock on the ground late in the second half. Hopefully Engram can put up numbers before the Jaguars take the air out of the ball.

Fade: WR Zay Jones

Compared to some NFL teams, Jacksonville has an embarrassment of riches in the WR room. With so many solid options as targets, there will be times when someone will be the odd man out. This week it might be Zay Jones. Moving from WR2 on Jacksonville in 2022 to WR3 this season should pay dividends for the team while perhaps rendering Jones to nothing more than a high-end fantasy WR4.

No Brainer: N/A

Favorites: N/A

On the Fence: QB Anthony Richardson

To those with the courage to start a rookie QB in his first NFL action, I say Godspeed. Anthony Richardson has tremendous upside, but the bulk of the reasoning behind thinking Richardson will buck the trend of rookie signal-callers amassing startable productivity is his running prowess. And, indeed, there is something to be said about what Richardson will do on the ground, but I personally exercise caution when deciding to start a rookie QB. Besides, what happens if the Colts find themselves behind early in the game, as most are predicting? Richardson will probably be a thing in 2023; just not in September.

Fade: WR Michael Pittman Jr.

For many of the same reasons above, I would fade Pittman in this contest. I suspect he will have a number of down weeks due to what’s anticipated to be Richardson’s penchant for running and head coach Shane Steichen’s more conservative approach. The Colts offense is without a game-changing skill players, which will further limit Pittman’s ceiling. Buyer beware.

Prediction: Jaguars 30, Colts 17 ^ Top

Titans @ Saints - (Mack)
Line: NO -3.0
Total: 41.5

No Brainers: RB Derrick Henry

Favorites: WR DeAndre Hopkins

It’s easy to forget just how good DeAndre Hopkins has been, although the previous two seasons has left some fantasy owners wanting more. We can expect Hopkins to be peppered with targets as the only pass catcher on the Titans roster with any history of productivity in the league. When healthy, Hopkins has historically gotten more than 150 targets. Being the focus of the offense to that degree should continue for Hopkins in the Music City.

On the Fence: N/A

Fade: QB Ryan Tannehill, WR Treylon Burks

Ryan Tannehill is probably not under consideration to start in most one-QB leagues but may be an option in Superflex leagues. The Saints have typically been stingy on defense and gave up the 4th fewest fantasy points to QBs last season. Either way, Tannehill is a middling option at best and should be best left on your bench.

There simply isn’t enough meat on the offensive bone in Tennessee to support two pass catchers, and Treylon Burks is the odd man out in that scenario. He played 11 games last year during his rookie campaign and scored but one TD. His sophomore season may only get a notch or two above that, which translates into a fantasy player who may have difficulty making your starting lineup.

No Brainer: WR Chris Olave

Favorites: RB Jamaal Williams

Jamaal Williams will have the backfield to himself on Sunday, with Alvin Kamara sitting out the first of three games and rookie RB Kendre Miller (hamstring) unable to practice so far this week. Williams was a scoring machine last season in Detroit, breaking Barry Sanders’ franchise record with 17 rushing TDs. He should get all the goal line and short yardage carries but nothing through the passing game. That’s okay. Williams is a serviceable low-end RB2 to start the 2023 campaign.

On the Fence: WR Michael Thomas

Michael Thomas was an absolute ball hog in the heyday of his productivity. Problem is, we haven’t seen that level of production since 2019 when he was getting an eye-popping 32 percent of targets. We have no idea if Thomas can find glimpses of his old self. What we do know is Thomas is now a 30-year-old receiver with a recent history of lower body injuries. Not a great formula for success. No longer does the passing game go through Thomas in New Orleans; it’s now Chris Olave’s party, and Thomas is just hoping to get an invitation.

Fade: QB Derek Carr

Derek Carr is as average a QB as you will find in the NFL. Not horrible, not great, but okay. A solid player. Such a pedestrian overview does not bode well for one’s fantasy potential. This is not the Saints from the previous decade with an explosive offense and options aplenty. This version of the Saints, I suspect, will be a middle-of-the-road group outside of Olave. Plan accordingly.

Prediction: Saints 20, Titans 17 ^ Top

Raiders @ Broncos - (Fessel)
Line: DEN -3.5
Total: 43.5

No Brainers: WR Davante Adams, RB Josh Jacobs

Favorites: N/A

On the Fence: WR Jakobi Meyers

Jakobi Myers reunites with Josh McDaniels, and appears to have upgraded at quarterback (Jimmy Garoppolo > Mac Jones) – at least as long as Jimmy G stays healthy. In an offense that could find itself throwing the ball 50-100 more times than the Patriots did last season, Meyers could finally break 900 yards receiving and a 90-reception season is possible.

Facing the Broncos defense poses serious challenges, though. Denver moved some parts around on defense, but their core unit remains intact and did a solid job of filling in the gaps where they could have taken losses (ie. losing Dre’Mont Jones but adding Zach Allen). Denver was also the second most injured team in the NFL last year, according to, and had the most “key games lost” according to In short, the Broncos should boast another very tough defense, and FFToday’s Fantasy Points Allowed indicates that they were the second most cruel defense to wide receivers. Myers is a borderline Flex option against this unit, even with the Raiders playing in a negative game script for much of the day.

Fade: TE Austin Hooper, TE Michael Mayer

The Broncos were vulnerable against tight ends last year, giving up over a 100 combined receptions and rushes, 1075 combined yards, and 8 total touchdowns. It’s not apparent that they’ve made the kind of changes to resolve this issue, though they’ll pin some of those hopes on 3rd round selection LB Drew Sanders. Still, it’s going to be hard for the Raiders to see the red zone. All told, the veteran Hooper and rookie Mayer are both fringe plays even without the snap competition and it’ll be hard for either to get enough traction to count on this week.

No Brainers: N/A

Favorites: RB Javonte Williams

Williams was the toast of the fantasy world just a year ago before an injury derailed his 2022 season. It’s very easy to over correct for a previous injury, especially following a lot of hype. Most often, though, the injury past does not predict the injury future. Shrug off any particular concerns about Williams, as navigating the running back position is always like swimming through a sea of knives, no matter who you put out there. Trust in the fact that no team in recent memory has appeared more dedicated to having a beatable defense year after year than the Raiders, and 2022 saw them surrender nearly 25 FPts/G to RBs. Samaje Perine should see his share of action, but the Broncos are favorites in this game and that likely means a lot of pounding the ball with Williams.

Update: Jerry Jeudy is not expected to play.

On the Fence: QB Russell Wilson, WR Jerry Jeudy (hamstring)

Not long ago, Wilson would have been in the No-Brainer column. Unfortunately, both a loss of mobility and the possibility that Wilson needs strong coaching and a long learning curve to succeed, has seen his fantasy status fall from the stars. While Sean Payton coming to town could solve some of the problems and spark a revival, there are still questions surrounding the Broncos QB situation. Russell Wilson of 2022 was very capable of missing out on ripe opportunities against weak match ups, such as when he failed to throw a touchdown in Week 11 against the Raiders. Add in the fact that Jerry Jeudy’s status is up in the air, and it puts Wilson (and Jeudy) squarely on the fence.

Fade: n/a

Prediction: Broncos 23, Raiders 17 ^ Top

Dolphins @ Chargers - (Fessel)
Line: LAC -3.0
Total: 51.5

Update: Devon Achane (shoulder) is expected to be inactive.

No Brainers: WR Tyreek Hill, WR Jaylen Waddle

Favorites: RB Raheem Mostert

The Chargers were vulnerable to the running attack, and while their defense is poised to be healthier this year, the gains – most specifically in Joey Bosa - appear to be far more significant in defending the pass than in defending the run. Only the Texans allowed more rushing yards than the Chargers did last year, despite Los Angeles outscoring their opponents and enjoying 10-win season. Despite drafting Devon Achane, the Dolphins should at least compete well enough to keep Mostert on the field and see plenty of carries. Interestingly enough, five of seven games in which Mostert saw a 60%+ snap rate came in Dolphins’ losses. Fire him up.

On the Fence: QB Tua Tagovailoa

Entering his third year in the league, blessed with an elite wide receiver pairing, Tua blossomed. The only snag in his season was the serious damage he repeatedly took from concussions. Durability is a real concern for him both as a player and in terms of his life prospects, and that may be quickly tested by the Joey Bosa-led Chargers pass rush and a defense that promises to be better if healthier, themselves. It’s poised to be an interesting battle to see who gets the upper hand, but with the injury-laden 2022 Chargers still holding opposing QB’s to just 16.8 FPts/G and the Fins going on the road, it could be a tough enough matchup to keep a QB1 day out of Tua’s reach.

Fade: Devon Achane (Shoulder)

Achane looks more likely than not to get his first career action against the Chargers this week, but whether he’ll be at a hundred percent is a fair question. The Dolphins may find themselves in more negative than positive game script in L.A., but how much the rookie will be worked in remains to be seen. The Chargers allowed the 6th fewest receiving yards and 5th fewest receptions to running backs last season. The fact that the Chargers defense can be very stiff against receiving running backs makes Achane an iffy play.

No Brainers: QB Justin Herbert, RB Austin Ekeler, WR Keenan Allen

Favorites: TE Gerald Everett

The Dolphins gave up 100 receptions and 10 touchdowns to tight ends last year, and they didn’t particularly address that issue in free agency or the draft. Unless someone steps up in-house, Everett could have a lot of opportunities to hurt their defense this week. With the Dolphins bolstering a secondary that was tougher than average on wideouts and – even with Ramsey not ready to suit up - could be tougher with 2nd round rookie Cam Smith also added, Justin Herbert may be inclined to attack the Dolphins weakness. Herbert calling Everett’s number more than usual is worth banking on, particularly in a game where the Chargers are favored and Herbert may want to avoid forcing throws towards Xavien Howard.

On the Fence: WR Mike Williams

With Ramsey on the IR, it might seem like a great spot for Mike Williams. Yet, undrafted rookie Kader Kohou held his salt last year, allowing just an 81 rating to opposing QB’s. Williams did have a strong showing against the Dolphins last year, amassing 116 yards and a score on 6 targets. But with potential help added in Cam Smith – a 6’ tall corner – the streaky Williams may be no more than a coin flip to have a productive day.

Fade: WR Quentin Johnston

Johnston is likely to have his days, but may not be one of them. He is likely to see limited snaps early in the season as many beat reporters have noted that Josh Palmer has been running ahead of him in practice. Plus, the Dolphins have the secondary talent to keep up with his raw, unpolished game.

Prediction: Chargers 23 Dolphins 21 ^ Top

Rams @ Seahawks - (Fessel)
Line: SEA -4.5
Total: 46.5

No Brainers: N/A

Favorites: WR Van Jefferson

Matthew Stafford is a unique quarterback in that he’s managed to find a fair amount of success in his career despite particularly latching onto one target. Calvin Johnson was great, and so is Cooper Kupp, but that is not the sole reason either receiver was an epic target monster with Stafford. Flashback to 2014, when an injury to Calvin Johnson saw Golden Tate suddenly raking 10+ targets a week (and 144 on the year). It’s apparent that Stafford, when in doubt, has one man on his mind. Van Jefferson is not Golden Tate, but as the next man up he is capable enough (15.0 yards per catch and 8.5 yards per target, to-date) to turn a ton of targets into a decent day. He’ll have his work cut out for him against an improving Seattle defense (reuniting with Bobby Wagner, selecting CB Witherspoon in the 1st round, and Dre’Mont Jones strengthening the pass rush), but who else does Stafford have – or want – to turn to in a game where it is likely going to be negative game script all day long.

On the Fence: RB Cam Akers

Cam Akers had a disastrous return from an ACL tear salvaged somewhat by a great finish – going over 100 yards rushing in each of his final three games last season. The good news is that one of those games was against the Seahawks. The bad news is that the Rams have practically emptied their roster of plus talent, and the Seahawks are reasonably improved on defense. Without Kupp, the odds of this being a lopsided game where Akers lacks opportunities to produce – having yet to surpass 13 receptions in a season – is substantial.

Fade: TE Tyler Higbee

The Seahawks were torched by TE’s last season, making their average opponent look nearly as good as Travis Kelce. With nearly 1300 yards and 11 touchdowns allowed, Cooper Kupp out and the Seahawks likely being well ahead for much of this game, it might seem like Higbee is a great play. But Bobby Wagner is back in Seattle, and his previous team – the Rams – were tough on TE’s while Wagner was in Los Angeles. Expect that to be the case in Seattle this year. To top it off, Higbee’s receiving average has fallen under 10 in both seasons since Stafford’s arrival (and just 8.6 last season), without a boost in touchdowns – a steady average of 4 touchdowns over the last four seasons. How much Stafford has left in the tank is anyone’s guess, and that could put Higbee’s production in even more peril.

No Brainers: WR DK Metcalf, WR Tyler Lockett, RB Kenneth Walker

Favorites: QB Geno Smith

Geno Smith is coming off an incredible comeback story – finishing as the QB5, after last being a regular starter in 2014. He’ll get to springboard off of that success by facing a gutted Rams roster sans the likes of Jalen Ramsey, Bobby Wagner, Leonard Floyd and just about any impact starter not named Aaron Donald. Outside of safety Jordan Fuller, the Rams other three starters in the secondary have a combined seven career starts. This may not be a long day for Smith, but it should be a field day.

On the Fence: WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba (wrist)

The Rams don’t appear to have the secondary to keep up with Seattle’s passing game, but Geno Smith may not need that many attempts to put away the Rams. That doesn’t leave Smith-Njigba with a lot of time to fill the stat sheet, especially when playing behind Metcalf and Lockett (258 combined targets in 2022). He may also cede a significant amount of time to Pete Carroll’s Tight-End-Go-Round, especially in a match up that should feature a lot of positive game script. Fant, Dissly and Parkinson all played at least 398 snaps last season and each finished among the top 45 tight ends in targets. How many targets will be left Smith-Njigba is hard to say. He may have to break off a long touchdown to salvage his fantasy day.

Fade: N/A

Prediction: Seahawks 31, Rams 17 ^ Top

Eagles @ Patriots - (Caron)
Line: PHI -3.5
Total: 44.5

No Brainers: QB Jalen Hurts, WR A.J. Brown, WR DeVonta Smith

Favorites: TE Dallas Goedert

Tight end Dallas Goedert was targeted 31 times over his final five games, leading to 25 catches for 232 yards. He was also one of the team’s top producers during their playoff run in 2022, catching 16 of the 18 targets that came his way for 141 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, the Patriots were bottom-12 in defending against opposing tight ends in 2022, giving up 11 touchdowns to the position on the year, which tied for the second-most in the league. Much of that tight end production came against high-end players at the position, including touchdowns conceded to Pat Freiermuth, T.J. Hockenson, Darren Waller and two scores to Mark Andrews. The tight end position is looking shakier by the minute, with Travis Kelce dealing with a knee injury, which only serves to make reliable players like Goedert even stronger for fantasy purposes this week and going forward.

On the Fence: RB D’Andre Swift

D’Andre Swift was one of the most frustrating and disappointing fantasy players from the 2022 season, which has caused many to sour on him heading into 2023. A first-round pick in many leagues in 2022, Swift was more of a mid-round player this year despite now being in Philadelphia as part of the league’s most efficient overall rushing offense from 2022. Swift’s less-than-workhorse usage could still lead to plenty of fantasy production in this high-powered offense. The Eagles led the league in success rate on runs even if you remove quarterback Jalen Hurts.

The most physically talented player in the current Philadelphia backfield, Swift could still come off the field some on passing downs in favor of veteran Kenneth Gainwell and even running downs in favor of Rashaad Penny. Swift has averaged an impressive 5.5 yards per attempt over his three-year career, but injuries have really hampered his ability to produce like an elite fantasy option.

Swift would be considered a “favorite” against most defenses, but unfortunately, he’s matched up against an excellent Patriots run defense that held opposing running backs to just three rushing scores throughout the entire 2022 season. They did, however, struggle to contain opposing backs in the passing game, conceding nearly 40 receiving yards per game to the position during the regular season. We should see Swift on the field plenty early in the year, so fantasy managers might as well ride this train until the wheels come off.

Fade: RB Rashaad Penny

Penny could end up being the best option in this backfield in the long run, but indications are that Swift will be given the first opportunity to be the lead back in this high-powered Philadelphia offense. Penny has been a highly productive runner throughout his career and actually provides the best EPA per rush in the backfield, but he’s been one of the most injury-prone players in the league since being drafted back in 2018. Penny has also been rarely utilized as a pass catcher, meaning that he’s the most likely player on the team to come off the field on passing downs. The Eagles do target their backs at among the lowest percentage of any team in the league so that’s not necessarily a death blow to his fantasy production, but it does mean that he’s someone we need to see it on the field before we trust that he’s going to see enough work to be a weekly fantasy contributor given the committee approach that the Eagles are likely to utilize.

No Brainers: N/A

Favorites: RB Rhamondre Stevenson

Stevenson accounted for just shy of 50 percent of the Patriots’ rush attempts in 2022 and it was looking like he might end up being one of the most-utilized backs in the league this season before the Patriots decided to sign veteran Ezekiel Elliott late in the pre-season. Elliott was extremely unimpressive as a runner this past season which played a part in the Cowboys not re-signing him, but he does remain an excellent goal-line producer and a very strong pass protector, which could end up leading to some frustrations for fantasy managers who are starting Stevenson.

Still, with the Patriots lacking serious outside pass-catching weapons, there’s a good chance that they will continue to rely heavily on Stevenson both as a runner and a receiver early in the year. He has shown the ability to shoulder a heavy workload in the past and there’s no reason to believe that Elliott will approach an equal split in the backfield.

The Eagles defense is a tough one, but this is a player who should see enough volume to remain relevant in almost any matchup.

On the Fence: WR JuJu Smith-Schuster

It’s tough to paint a positive picture about JuJu Smith-Schuster going from being Patrick Mahomes’ top wide receiver to Mac Jones’ top wide receiver, but he may still be being overlooked by fantasy managers this season. JuJu actually led his Super Bowl-winning team in the big game with seven receptions against this very same Eagles defense so there’s at least some history of him being able to get open against them.

One positive thing to consider is that while Mahomes was typically looking for tight end Travis Kelce in the short-to-intermediate areas of the field, Smith-Schuster’s strong skills in that section could actually end up being utilized more often in New England as Mac Jones tends to target that area heavily and the team is not full of playmakers who can command targets.

No one in the New England passing game is a must-start by any means, but if you’re looking for someone who could provide some WR2 numbers to start the year, JuJu is worth taking a chance on.

Fade: RB Ezekiel Elliott

One of the biggest “touchdown-or-bust” players from the 2022 season, Elliott has now moved from one of the most explosive offenses in Dallas to one of the least explosive in New England. While Elliott himself can still be an effective runner, particularly near the goal line, being the RB2 in this New England offense is almost certainly going to limit his goal-line touches.

The Eagles’ defense looks like one of the most ferocious in the league so it’s tough to be too excited about playing anyone against them, let alone a veteran backup running back who showed serious signs of decline. Nevertheless, if you’re forced to start Elliott and looking for a bit of hope, it’s worth noting that Elliott did score in each of his two games against this Eagles defense last season. Still, he’s a player who we should probably wait to see usage on before we’re willing to throw him in our lineups against good defenses.

Prediction: Eagles 27, Patriots 20 ^ Top

Packers @ Bears - (Green)
Line: CHI -1.0
Total: 41.5

Update: Christian Watson has been ruled out. Romeo Doubs is expected to play but could be limited.

No Brainers: RB Aaron Jones, WR Christian Watson (hamstring)

Favorites: TE Luke Musgrave

Rookie tight ends don’t typically move the needle for fantasy owners, but Musgrave has a chance to be different. He was regularly targeted during the preseason, and there were a lot of glowing reports emanating from camp about his talent and ability to stretch the field. Week 1 always means loads of unscouted looks, and with Green Bay’s top-two wideouts battling hamstring injuries, the Packers might need to rely on the likes of Musgrave and fellow rookie Jayden Reed. We’re talking a risky flier, but the path to value is there.

On the Fence: QB Jordan Love

All eyes will be on Love in this one. After spending three years learning behind Aaron Rodgers, the former first-round pick gets his chance. The team seems to believe they have something. Fans and pundits are split. It’ll take time to render a verdict, but Love will create his first impression, positive or negative, this Sunday. He’s looked cool and composed in the preseason. Can he carry it forward? We’ll see. If Love is without both Watson and Romeo Doubs (hamstring), that undercuts his potential and makes him less likely to deliver decent value. If one or both are in uniform, and you’re feeling adventurous, you could pull the trigger on Love in a plus matchup.

Fade: WR Romeo Doubs (hamstring)

The first question with Doubs is whether he’ll even suit up; he’s been dealing with a hamstring issue since right before their final preseason game. And the follow-up to that is, if he does play, will he play on a “pitch count”? The second scenario is the more dangerous for fantasy owners, and while there are several reasons to be bullish on Doubs over the 2023 campaign, this is a week to hold him out, even if he does recover enough to make the start.

No Brainers: QB Justin Fields, WR D.J. Moore

Favorites: N/A

On the Fence: RB Khalil Herbert

With Fields commanding a lot of attention, Chicago’s backfield is more dangerous as a group than individuals. And therein lies the problem with Herbert. We have no idea how the Bears play to divvy up touches between the third-year pro and newcomers D’Onta Foreman and rookie Roschon Johnson. Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy is a product of the Matt LaFleur coaching tree, and he has always used multiple backs. Until we know how Chicago views their backs in terms of usage, Herbert is no better than a flex.

Fade: WRs Darnell Mooney / Chase Claypool

There’s been no shortage of hype/hope that Fields will take a big step in Year 3, but until we see it in the regular season, it should be taken with a grain of salt. With D.J. Moore stepping into the WR1 role, holdovers Mooney and Claypool will be battling with Cole Kmet for attention. Mooney was struggling last year before he got hurt, and Claypool was a nonfactor after being acquired from Pittsburgh. Maybe Fields develops into a dangerous passer. Maybe not. Just know your best bet is to keep any receiver not named Moore on your bench until further notice.

Prediction: Packers 24, Bears 19 ^ Top

Cowboys @ Giants - (Caron)
Line: DAL -3.5
Total: 44.5

No Brainers: WR CeeDee Lamb

Favorites: RB Tony Pollard

Nobody is benching Tony Pollard in seasonal leagues, so certainly he could be considered a “no-brainer,” but I wanted to make sure to explain that Pollard needs to be started across the board and even strongly considered as a DFS option here in Week 1.

We’ve been waiting for this for years now - a Cowboys backfield without Ezekiel Elliott and lacking any other true spoiler for Pollard’s usage - and suddenly some fantasy managers are having cold feet about one of the league’s most explosive running backs. I simply don’t get it.

Pollard and Elliott absolutely crushed this Giants defense in 2022, combining for a ridiculous 330 rushing yards in their two contests. Even while being the backup, Pollard has had at least 60 rushing yards in four straight games against the Giants, making him an extraordinarily safe option while still providing strong potential for a truly monster game. The Cowboys could end up being more run-heavy this season and with a much stronger share of the backfield work, that makes Pollard a must-start.

On the Fence: TE Jake Ferguson

The Cowboys tight end position remains a bit of a mystery and could very well end up being a gross committee in which we don’t want to roster any of them, but Ferguson has seemingly secured the role as the team’s top tight end heading into 2023. Ferguson had 70 yards receiving in his two games against the Giants in 2022 while playing in a committee as a rookie. He’s not a particularly great athlete and he’s likely never going to ascend to the level of being a strong weekly TE1, but the position as a whole is very banged up to start the season and those rostering Travis Kelce could find themselves looking for a plug-and-play option to add off of waivers. Ferguson looks like a decent bet here in Week 1.

Fade: WR Brandin Cooks

Cooks may just be exactly the type of player the Cowboys have been looking for - a down-field option who can stretch the defense and provide a threat that defenses have to account. However, from a fantasy standpoint, it’s unlikely that Cooks will see a strong enough target share to make him a good fantasy option as long as CeeDee Lamb is healthy.

We don’t exactly know what this Cowboys offense is going to look like now that former offensive coordinator Kellen Moore is gone and there’ve been rumors that the team is looking to be more run-heavy from what we’ve seen in recent seasons. That could bode well for keeping the pressure off of Dak Prescott, but less volume in a more crowded offense makes Cooks a risky play to start the season.

Update: Darren Waller is expected to play.

No Brainers: RB Saquon Barkley

Favorites: TE Darren Waller (hamstring)

We’ve all heard the narratives out of New York that Waller looks to not only be reenergizing his career but that he has become the clear top target for quarterback Daniel Jones. Certainly, we need to see it on the field before we start projecting him to get back to his ranking as an elite fantasy producer, but the lack of other high-end pass-catching weapons in this offense certainly makes it believable that Waller could be one of the true difference-makers at an ugly tight end position.

The Cowboys were excellent against opposing tight ends this past season so this isn’t a great matchup, but Waller is healthy and should see heavy usage, particularly near the end zone, as long as he’s on the field. With Kelce potentially out or very limited, Waller is a strong candidate to lead all tight ends in fantasy points here in Week 1.

On the Fence: QB Daniel Jones

Jones broke out in 2022 largely due to his rushing ability and the Giants seemed to recognize that he needed more pass-catching weapons if they ever truly wanted to see him become a complete quarterback. To their credit, they made moves to bring in more options for him, including a dynamic tight end in Darren Waller who has reportedly been the star of training camp.

The Giants will almost certainly remain a very balanced offense as long as Saquon Barkley is on the field, but there’s some real potential here for increased passing game efficiency. The Giants lost both games to the Cowboys in 2022 and Jones failed to throw for 230 yards in either contest, so there’s certainly some risk in starting him here in Week 1, but Barkley rushed for just 130 total yards in the two games against Dallas, so it would make sense that the Giants will look to air the ball out more in order to keep pace on the scoreboard.

Fade: All Giants WRs

While we have to like tight end Darren Waller and even quarterback Daniel Jones to an extent, one place where fantasy managers need to take a “wait and see” approach is their wide receiver group. The Giants have listed Darius Slayton, Isaiah Hodgins, and Parris Campbell as their starters, but other receivers like Wan’Dale Robinson (knee), Sterling Shepard, and even rookie Jalin Hyatt have made their cases for playing time.

This has all the signs of a wide receiver by committee situation, with no player ever establishing himself as a true must-start. That could be fine for the offense as a whole but it’s an absolute no-go for fantasy purposes until we get a better picture of the snap and target breakdown coming out of a real game.

Prediction: Cowboys 24, Giants 20 ^ Top

Bills @ Jets - (Caron)
Line: BUF -2.5
Total: 45.5

No Brainers: QB Josh Allen

Favorites: WR Stefon Diggs

Diggs is normally a no-brainer and still is in seasonal formats, but his DFS outlook is a little shakier than normal here in Week 1. Diggs will likely be matched up often with Sauce Gardner, one of the NFL’s top defensive backs. Gardner was a thorn in the side of practically every receiver he played against in 2022, and Diggs struggled in his two opportunities against the Jets this past season, catching just eight passes for 130 yards and no touchdowns.

Still, Diggs is a target hog in one of the league’s best offenses and there’s a much better chance that this game turns into a shootout between Josh Allen and Aaron Rodgers than what we saw in 2022 when the Jets were rolling out Mike White and Zach Wilson at quarterback.

On the Fence: RB James Cook

One of the darlings of late-summer fantasy drafts, James Cook shot up fantasy draft boards when it became apparent that the Bills were not going to sign a big-name veteran back to compete with him for touches. The Bills moved on from 2022 starter Devin Singletary and only brought in Damien Harris and Latavius Murray, so now Cook looks like the clear starter heading into the season. We can’t be completely sure that he’s going to get the lion’s share of the rushing work, but Cook should be a lock to lead the team in passing down snaps which should help him provide a decent floor to go along with his upside.

Unfortunately, while we want to project huge things for an all-purpose-skillset back like Cook, the reality is that the Bills have historically been one of the least fantasy-friendly offenses for running backs while Josh Allen has been on the roster. In fact, in the two games they played against the Jets in 2022, the Bills running backs carried the ball just 25 total times. Even if Cook does see 60 percent or more of the carries, that could still end up being around eight to 12 carries along with only a few targets in the passing game at most. Add in the fact that Josh Allen is a goal-line rushing touchdown specialist and it’s tough to make a case for Cook being someone who fantasy managers can actually rely on here in Week 1. Still, given the lack of options at the position as a whole, Cook will likely be a low-end RB2/Flex option in most leagues.

Fade: WR Gabriel Davis

Gabe Davis was one of the biggest risers during the 2022 fantasy draft season, but there’s no doubt that he was a huge disappointment for those who took a chance on him in the early rounds despite the fact that he had by far his most productive fantasy season. While his price has dropped significantly, his overall fantasy outlook appears to be less enticing overall as well. Rookie TE Dalton Kincaid will be making his debut and could become a key target in the red zone, thus limiting Davis’ potential touchdown upside. Not only that but there’s almost no way that Davis ever overtakes Stefon Diggs as the team’s most highly-targeted outside option.

Davis does bring the type of explosiveness that makes him an ideal option for best ball formats, but he caught just five passes for 64 yards and no touchdowns in the two games he played against the Jets in 2022. The lack of volume makes him an extremely volatile WR3/Flex here in Week 1 and not someone who fantasy managers should be excited about dropping into their lineup.

No Brainers: WR Garrett Wilson

Favorites: RB Dalvin Cook

The Jets backfield has been one of the most difficult to predict heading into the season, as 2022 rookie Breece Hall looked every bit the elite talent that he was forecasted to be before suffering a season-ending knee injury early in the year. While he’s had nearly a year to get back on the field, ACL injuries can cause players to struggle even after they return to the field. The Jets recognized this and added veteran Dalvin Cook late in the offseason, paying him relatively big money in a move that seems to indicate that they’re not quite comfortable with where Hall is at.

Cook was not good as a runner in 2022, but he was also playing behind a bad Minnesota offensive line. The situation in New York projects to be better and new quarterback Aaron Rodgers reportedly played a big factor in getting Cook on the roster, so there’s a good chance that he’ll play heavily here in Week 1 while the team ramps up Hall’s usage.

Look for Cook to lead the backfield in snaps this week, making him a decent low-end RB2/Flex option.

On the Fence: TE Tyler Conklin

While the Jets brought in some former Aaron Rodgers teammates in Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb to fill out the depth chart, one player who seems to be being forgotten is tight end Tyler Conklin. Conklin himself is not a special talent or a player who is likely ever going to become an every-week fantasy contributor, but he’s not facing much competition in the pass-catching role at his position and Rodgers has a history of targeting his tight ends heavily in the end zone. Of course, he’s facing a Bills defense that was exceptional at containing opposing tight ends a season ago, but this is a team that’s seriously lacking in quality pass-catching weapons despite the desire to lean heavily on Rodgers early in the year. Conklin is more of a TE2 in seasonal leagues, but he’s a decent cheap DFS option who could score.

Fade: RB Breece Hall

As mentioned above, this backfield is almost certainly going to be a committee to start the season and reports seem to indicate that Hall will be “eased into” the offense while the team leans on Cook to start the season.

This is no criticism as Hall as a talent as he might be one of the most physically gifted backs in the league even after his knee injury, but the Jets scored just 32 points in two games against the Bills in 2022 and while having Aaron Rodgers means a quarterback upgrade and a much higher ceiling, this is still an offense that needs time to gel before we get excited about a matchup against a good Buffalo defense.

You might not have better options given the landscape of the position as a whole, but you’ll probably be happy if you take a wait-and-see approach on Hall before you put him in your starting lineup.

Prediction: Bills 24, Jets 21 ^ Top