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    Early Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em Picks for Week 1: Jared Goff, Khalil Herbert, and More

    Week 1 of the NFL always feels unpredictable, but there are still some strong start 'em and sit 'em candidates for your fantasy team to start the 2023 season.

    You’ve done your job and drafted a league-winning championship fantasy football squad, but your team faces some tough decisions for who to start for Week 1 of the 2023 NFL season.

    Don’t worry, we got you covered. Let’s take a closer look at some players you should consider starting — or sitting — heading into the season opener.

    PFN Fantasy Start-Sit Optimizer
    Trying to figure out who to start or sit in your Week 1 lineup? We’ve got you covered with the PFN Start/Sit Optimizer! After reading, click the image to get started!

    Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em Picks for Week 1 of the 2023 NFL Season

    Week 1 of the NFL season is one of the trickiest weeks to predict because of all the changes to rosters, coaching staffs, and player development year over year. However, there are some players who I think we can comfortably project — favorably or unfavorably — heading into the season opener based off of last season.

    Start ‘Em

    Jared Goff, Detroit Lions

    Normally, I wouldn’t recommend going with a starting QB on the road at Arrowhead to start the season. However, I could see this being one of the highest-scoring games of the opening slate.

    If Chris Jones doesn’t dress for this matchup, I do have some concerns about the Chiefs being able to consistently pressure Jared Goff. Expect Goff to keep the Lions competitive in this matchup in a high-scoring affair.

    AJ Dillon, Green Bay Packers

    The Green Bay Packers offense has been flying under the fantasy radar for most of the offseason. That’s because this will be the first time since 2008 that Aaron Rodgers won’t be the starting QB for the Packers heading into the year.

    Well, good thing the Packers can rely on the running game in their season opener. Last year, AJ Dillon saw 18 carries in both games against the Chicago Bears — a team that gave up the second-most rushing yards in the league in 2022 — and should be in line for plenty of work alongside Aaron Jones.

    Raheem Mostert, Miami Dolphins

    The Miami Dolphins RB room has been decimated by injuries this preseason. Jeff Wilson Jr. is on injured reserve (IR), De’Von Achane is dealing with a shoulder injury, and Salvon Ahmed is dealing with a neck injury. That leaves Raheem Mostert and undrafted free agent Chris Brooks as the only healthy options heading into the season.

    With Mostert in line to see a ton of work against the Los Angeles Chargers — who allowed 145 yards per game on the ground in 2022 — in a game that many expect to be among the highest scoring in Week 1… insert him into your lineup with confidence to start the season.

    Khalil Herbert, Chicago Bears

    The Chicago Bears led the league in rushing yards in 2022 and have Khalil Herbert slated as the starting RB to begin the season. His leading role against a Packers defense that struggled at times against opposing rushing attacks, giving up 139 yards on the ground per game, means this is a great week insert Herbert into your starting lineup.

    Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may no longer have Tom Brady under center, but they still boast one of the best WR duos in the NFL.

    Baker Mayfield draws a season-opening matchup against a secondary that gave up an average of 265 passing yards on a weekly basis last year.

    While I understand it’s popular to fade the Buccaneers’ offense in 2023, this matchup against a Vikings pass defense certainly means Mike Evans should be in Flex consideration for your lineup to start the season.

    Jahan Dotson, Washington Commanders

    Jahan Dotson enters his sophomore season coming off of a solid rookie campaign and an encouraging preseason. Terry McLaurin is dealing with a toe injury, which could open up more looks for Dotson to start the season against the Arizona Cardinals.

    MORE: 5 Players To Buy Now in Dynasty Before the Season

    While we don’t quite know what to expect yet from the Commanders’ offense, the Cardinals’ defense — and secondary in particular — don’t exactly strike fear into the hearts of opposing passing offenses.

    DK Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks

    The injury to Jaxon Smith-Njigba has his status for the season opener in question, which means we could see more of what we saw last year from DK Metcalf to start the year.

    Early Fantasy Football Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Picks for Week 1: Jared Goff, Khalil Herbert, and More

    Metcalf torched this Rams secondary in Week 13 of last season to the tune of eight receptions for 127 yards and a touchdown. And that was with CB Jalen Ramsey in the lineup. Now with Ramsey in Miami, I don’t see a cornerback that is going to give Metcalf many problems in this match. Start him with confidence.

    Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams

    The status of leading WR Cooper Kupp is completely up in the air for Week 1 after suffering a setback to his hamstring injury. While this probably won’t do the Rams’ offense any favors as a whole, it could help secure Tyler Higbee’s Week 1 passing game workload to start the season.

    The strength of the Seahawks’ passing defense is at cornerback, meaning I don’t think Higbee will see much of Tariq Woolen or Devon Witherspoon (if he plays at all). Higbee should be a safety blanket for Matthew Stafford in this contest, where the Rams could find themselves trailing for lengthy stretches in the second half.

    Sit ‘Em

    Anthony Richardson, Indianapolis Colts

    Anthony Richardson enters the season as the Indianapolis Colts starting QB, but that doesn’t mean he should enter the season as your fantasy starter.

    Richardson possesses an exciting dual-threat skill set that should generate a handful of monster fantasy performances during the 2023 season. I’m just skeptical of that performance coming in his first-ever NFL start against a playoff team from a year ago.

    Richardson also won’t have the luxury of simply turning around and handing the ball to Jonathan Taylor to get him into manageable third-down situations regularly in this contest.

    Expect there to be some growing pains in Richardson’s NFL debut. Just know that you don’t have to experience those pains with him in Week 1.

    James Conner, Arizona Cardinals

    The Arizona Cardinals offense is a complete question mark heading into the 2023 NFL season, and I mean that quite literally… The team has not even named a starting QB yet for Week 1.

    Whether it’s Clayton Tune or Joshua Dobbs, that doesn’t bode well for Arizona’s offense scoring many points against a very talented Washington defense.

    MORE: Derek Tate’s Top DST Options

    James Conner should see plenty of volume. However, in what should be a low-scoring game, I’d rather go in other directions until we have some sort of idea of what the QB play will look like in Arizona for 2023.

    Breece Hall, New York Jets

    These unsettled committees are sure to give fantasy managers anxiety heading into Week 1, but perhaps none more so than the Jets’ duo of Breece Hall and Dalvin Cook.

    In addition to having no realistic idea of how this timeshare is going to play out, the matchup isn’t exactly favorable either. The Buffalo Bills were fifth in the league against opposing rushing attacks — giving up just 104 yards on the ground per game — which means it could be tough sledding for both running backs.

    While we’ve got some glimpses of Hall looking spry in his return to practice, we still haven’t seen how explosive he looks in full-blown game action yet. I’d prefer to take a cautious wait-and-see approach before deploying him into my lineup.

    Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos

    Speaking of RBs coming off of knee injuries, Javonte Williams is another player I find myself hesitating to trust in Week 1. To be fair, in comparison to Hall, we did see Williams in preseason action, and his matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders isn’t nearly as daunting to start the season.

    Unfortunately, Denver has Samaje Perine, who is fully capable of handling a high volume of work, as their backup RB. It doesn’t help matters that Broncos offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi suggested Williams could be a little limited to start the season. While it’s encouraging that he returned to the field this preseason, I’m concerned about William’s workload and efficiency to start the year.

    Drake London, Atlanta Falcons

    Drake London is a popular Year 2 breakout WR candidate, and I’m mostly on board with that narrative. However, I’m looking to steer clear of deploying London into my lineup for Week 1 for a couple reasons.

    First off, it will be the first start for QB Desmond Ridder having both London and talented TE Kyle Pitts in the lineup together. Then, throw talented all-purpose RB Bijan Robinson into the mix, and I want to take a wait-and-see approach with this passing attack.

    Not to mention, London does draw a matchup against CB Jaycee Horn, who has only given up one TD through his first two seasons. London’s talent is always tempting to put into your lineup, but I’d go in a different direction for Week 1.

    JuJu Smith-Schuster, New England Patriots

    JuJu Smith-Schuster landed with one of the neediest WR teams in the league this offseason, but consider me a bit concerned about his Week 1 outlook against one of the best pass defenses in the league from last season.

    Philadelphia has cornerbacks Darius Slay and James Bradberry, who form arguably the best duo in the NFL. Not to mention the Eagles’ embarrassment of pass-rushing riches along their defensive front, which is sure to make life difficult for Patriots QB Mac Jones. I would look to go in other directions for your Flex spot than Smith-Schuster in Week 1.

    DeAndre Hopkins, Tennessee Titans

    The Titans’ passing game wasn’t exactly a unit that produced a ton of fantasy value in 2022, but the arrival of DeAndre Hopkins has some believing that pure volume alone will produce another WR1 season. But I’m a bit skeptical of his Week 1 outlook.

    First off, Hopkins draws a matchup against CB Marshon Lattimore and a quality Saints defense. Second, Treylon Burks has returned to practice and could be involved to start the season. In an offense that is still expected to be one of the run-heaviest teams in the league and a matchup against one of the most physical players at the CB position, I’d consider fading the talented WR to start the year.

    Pat Freiermuth, Pittsburgh Steelers

    The Pittsburgh Steelers starting unit has looked great throughout most of this preseason, but they draw one of the toughest defenses to start their 2023 campaign.

    I’m not necessarily fading Pittsburgh’s entire offense, but I feel more comfortable attacking the 49ers out on the perimeter rather than the linebackers and safeties who are likely to check Pat Freiermuth throughout this contest.

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