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Fantasy Football Start/Sit Week 1: Should You Start D’Andre Swift, Jahan Dotson, James Cook?

The preseason is over, and the majority of our fantasy football drafts have been completed. We enjoyed all the drafts both online and in person. We got to talk to our friends that we might not have seen since last year’s draft. We had fun talking about this year’s rookie class and who our sleepers are for this year. We hopefully got a couple shout shoutouts of “nice pick bro” for some of our selections.

Now that all that research and the fantasy drafts are complete, we are good to go. We can just relax, kick back in our chair, and watch some NFL football this season. The players we drafted will be out there every week scoring lots of points and leading us to many fantasy victories, right? Well not exactly, we forgot about one major thing. We must decide who to start and who to sit each week of the fantasy football season.

The season can be a grind at times, from doing waiver claims to looking at rankings and then finally deciding who to start. It can seem difficult, but that is where the staff at comes in to help you. We have everything you need to make the tough decisions here in one place. I will be writing this start/sit article each week to help you make the tough lineup decisions. You can also join our Members-Only Discord channel and ask us specific questions anytime you want on there.

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Keep in mind before I get into my starts and sits this week that certain players should always be in your starting lineup. Please don’t try to get cute and sit the likes of Justin Jefferson, Christian McCaffrey, or Patrick Mahomes. They are in your lineup regardless of matchups. The decisions I am here to help you with are for the players drafted in the middle to late rounds of your draft. These players could be an RB2, a flex play, or might end up on the waiver wire eventually. So, let’s get started with Week 1 starts and sits.

For more help setting your lineups, check out our Weekly Fantasy Football Rankings, updated daily by Chris Kennedy, one of FantasyPros’ Top 15 Football Rankers!

Week 1 Quarterback Starts

Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Kirk has a lot of talented weapons this year so opposing defenses will not be able to focus all their attention on Justin Jefferson. The Vikings traded for T.J. Hockenson last year and drafted Jordan Addison in the first round of this year’s NFL draft; adding these two will help free up Jefferson a lot more each week. Kirk should have no problem getting the ball to his receivers against a Bucs defense that I feel will be better against the run than the pass this year. It could be another “you like that” game from Cousins.

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Russell Wilson, Denver Broncos vs. Las Vegas Raiders

Russell Wilson had a disappointing season to say the least last year, but I believe a lot of that had to do with the head coach. So, what did Denver do? They went out and got the best head coach that was available in Sean Payton. Payton will help Wilson get back to where he was just a couple of seasons ago in Seattle. Wilson has a great Week 1 matchup against the Raiders. During his poor 2022 season, two of the better games he played were against the Raiders. I know he won’t have Jerry Jeudy for the first few weeks of the season, but I believe Marvin Mims, Courtland Sutton, and Greg Dulcich will be playmakers in Payton’s offense.

Week 1 Quarterback Sits

Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks

Stafford missed parts of last season with a bad elbow, and I am not sure how well it has healed since the end of last season. He played poorly in the games he played last season without Cooper Kupp, and it looks like Kupp may be out for Week 1 this year. Stafford’s Week 1 receivers will mainly consist of Tyler Higbee, Van Jefferson, Tutu Atwell, and Puka Nacua. That is enough for me to say no to starting him in Week 1 in Seattle.

Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. San Fransico 49ers

Pickett had a great preseason. He led the Steelers’ offense to a touchdown in every preseason game he played in. He has a lot of good young weapons, but I cannot trust him in Week 1 against a top-five defense with Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada still being in charge of calling the plays. I will need to see him carry over his preseason success for a couple of weeks before I trust starting him in 1-QB leagues.

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Week 1 Running Back Starts

Brian Robinson, Washington Commanders vs. Arizona Cardinals

I expect the Commanders to get out to a big lead in this game and Robinson will be one of the reasons why. Head Coach Ron Rivera is going to want to run the ball early and often with Sam Howell being named the Week 1 starting quarterback. I believe Robinson will be the workhorse between-the-tackles runner and goal-line back. The Arizona defense will probably be a bottom-five overall defense this season so I can see Robinson running for over 100 yards with a touchdown.

Miles Sanders, Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons

Frank Reich has said all offseason that Sanders is going to be a bell-cow running back this season and I believe him. The Panthers do not have someone to challenge him for carries and the Falcons’ run defense is not the most imposing unit in the league. I can see Sanders getting over 150 total yards with four receptions and a touchdown.

Week 1 Running Back Sits

D’Andre Swift, Philadelphia Eagles at New England Patriots

I have no idea how the running back touches are going to be split in the Eagles’ backfield. They have Swift, Rashaad Penny, Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott that are going to play, and good luck figuring out when and how much each will play from week to week. I believe Swift is the most talented, but will he get enough touches to make an impact in Week 1? It doesn’t help that he will be facing a tough Patriots defense on the road as well.

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James Cook, Buffalo Bills at New York Jets

This will be an unpopular opinion, but I do not think Cook is a must-start in Week 1 against a very strong Jets defense. He will also be splitting time with Damien Harris. Harris will be the goal-line back (along with Josh Allen) for this offense, so Cook will not have many chances to score when inside the red zone. I can see Cook breaking a long run and catching some passes, but I do not project enough production for me to automatically start him in Week 1.

Week 1 Wide Receiver Starts

Jahan Dotson, Washington Commanders vs. Arizona Cardinals

The Commanders are not sure if Terry McLaurin will be active for Week 1, and if he is not active then Dotson will be a top-25 receiver this week. The Arizona defense is going to be one that we want to start all our guys against each week. The only player in their secondary that scares me is Budda Baker, and he will not be covering Dotson. I do not see how the Cardinals will slow down Dotson and the Commanders’ offense.

Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos vs. Las Vegas Raiders

Sutton is going to play the Michael Thomas role in Sean Payton’s new offense. He is going to be the number-one receiver while Jerry Jeudy is out for the first couple of weeks of the season, and he is going to get a lot of targets. I do not see anyone in the Raiders’ secondary who can match up one-on-one with Sutton.

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Week 1 Wide Receiver Sits

Marquise Brown, Arizona Cardinals at Washington Commanders

The Cardinals are going to be without starting quarterback Kyler Murray to start the season and newly acquired Joshua Dobbs will be the starting quarterback in Week 1 at Washington. The Cardinals’ offensive line is weak, and I do not see Dobbs having much time to get the ball downfield to Brown or any of the other receivers. Brown will have to take short passes and screens to get most of his production, and I do not see Dobbs being accurate enough to make Brown a viable Week 1 option.

JuJu Smith-Schuster, New England Patriots vs. Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles’ defense could be a top-five unit this season and the secondary still has two shut-down cornerbacks in Darius Slay and James Bradberry. I do not see JuJu being able to get open against this secondary. It could be a long day for the Patriots’ offense in general.

Week 1 Tight End Starts

Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks

Higbee is going to be targeted often in this game if Cooper Kupp is out. He is one of only a handful of receivers that Matthew Stafford has a rapport with to start the season. The Seattle defense was bottom half against tight ends last season, and I can see that continuing in Week 1 against Higbee.

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Juwan Johnson, New Orleans Saints vs. Tennessee Titans

All the reports out of the Saints’ training camp say Derek Carr and Johnson have been building some good chemistry and trust in the passing game. Johnson was a college wide receiver that the Saints converted to a tight end when they drafted him, so he knows how to make contested catches and run routes better than your average tight end. The matchup against Tennessee is excellent as Tennessee was a bottom-half defense against tight ends last year and I do not see anyone that can match up with Johnson, especially in the red zone.

Week 1 Tight End Sits

Chigoziem Okonkwo, Tennessee Titans at New Orleans Saints

Okonkwo is a big, fast athletic tight end that is still learning to play the position in the NFL. I will like him in other matchups going forward, but I do not like him going against Tyrann Mathieu, Demario Davis, and company in Week 1.

Dalton Schultz, Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens

Schultz is a savvy veteran that knows how to work the field to get open, but I believe he is going have a tough time finding any space against these Ravens Linebackers. Schultz is also going to have rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud making his first NFL start in Baltimore, and that does not sound like a scenario where I want to start any Texans this week.

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Week 1 Defense Starts

Washington Commanders vs. Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals are starting newly acquired Joshua Dobbs at quarterback at Washington. Dobbs has been with the team for about two weeks, so he doesn’t know the offense and they won’t be able to use the entire playbook. The Commanders will have their first home sellout crowd in about ten years and the stadium should be loud in favor of the home team for a change in Washington. The defense should get plenty of sacks and turnovers in this game.

Seattle Seahawks vs. Los Angeles Rams

This should be a low-scoring divisional matchup. If Cooper Kupp is out, then I could see Matthew Stafford taking more chances on throws downfield and that could lead to turnovers for the Seattle defense. I would also expect the Seattle defense to get a few sacks in the game as well.

Week 1 Defense Sits

New England Patriots vs. Philadelphia Eagles

I included the Patriots’ defense as a sit for two reasons. The first reason is that the Eagles have a potent offense that can score at any time. The second reason is everyone seemed to be drafting them as their only defense and Week 1 starting defense. I know Bill Belichick is a great defensive mind, but there are so many other defenses that you should draft and start over the Patriots in Week 1 based on matchups. I am someone who likes to stream defenses from week to week, so I would not have a chance to draft the Patriots’ defense in most drafts as they go early, and I pick my defense late in the draft.

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Indianapolis Colts vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

The Colts have some good players on defense, but the whole team is just a mess right now. I could see Trevor Lawrence going to Indy and having a career day. It could be a long day/season for the Colts players and fans.