The 2022 fantasy football season is finally set to begin. Decisions will only get more difficult from here on out. Let’s take a look at our Week 1 RB start/sit plays.
Week 1 fantasy football RB start ’ems
Elijah Mitchell, San Francisco 49ers (at CHI)
After not practicing for most of August, Elijah Mitchell is ready to rock in Week 1. The 49ers are touchdown road favorites over the Bears. There’s a very real chance the Bears are the worst team in the NFL.
Last season, the 49ers ran the ball 49% of the time in neutral game script situations. It marked the fifth-highest rate in the league. This week, San Francisco should see neutral to positive game script throughout the game. This is a team that wants to run the ball that should be able to do exactly that against the lowly Bears.
Mitchell carried the ball at least 17 times in all but three games he played in 2021. Look for the 49ers to lean on him and the running game, making Trey Lance’s first game as the true starter as easy as possible. I’d be surprised if Mitchell didn’t find the end zone at least once.
Tony Pollard, Dallas Cowboys (vs. TB)
I love Tony Pollard this year, but unless he pushes Ezekiel Elliott into a timeshare, he’s going to be a bit dependent upon splash plays and matchups. We can’t predict splash plays, so matchups it is. And I like this one for Pollard.
The Cowboys once again open the season against the Bucs. Last year, they did the same, and the two produced a 60-point thriller decided by two points. In that game, Dak Prescott attempted a season-high 58 passes.
Last year, the Bucs were a pass-funnel defense. Of course, we can’t just assume what happened last year will happen this year. Nevertheless, this should be a game with plenty of offense, and the Cowboys should have to throw to move the ball against the Bucs.
Pollard only produced 8.3 fantasy points a year ago against this team, but this is a different Pollard. I’m expecting offensive coordinator Kellen Moore to utilize him much more this season as he’s now firmly entrenched as a key part of the offense.
With the Cowboys missing Michael Gallup and James Washington, Pollard could very well be third in targets behind CeeDee Lamb and Dalton Schultz. Pollard will need a bit of good fortune to score on any given week, but he feels like a good bet for 12-14 opportunities this week. Consider him an RB2 for fantasy football.
Week 1 fantasy football RB sit ’ems
Breece Hall, New York Jets (vs. BAL)
Let me preface this by saying I love Breece Hall as a talent. I think he’s the best running back to come out of the past two classes. He is going to be a star … just not in Week 1 of the 2022 season.
There are a couple of reasons to be bearish on Hall this week. The Jets are touchdown underdogs at home against the Ravens. They likely won’t be able to move the ball effectively or efficiently on the ground. Hall will struggle to surpass 40-50 rushing yards. So, he’ll need to produce through the air or find the end zone.
The problem there is Michael Carter is going to start, and the two should split work relatively evenly. It’s also possible Carter is the primary passing-down back. While Hall certainly has the talent to do it all and likely will be the main guy eventually, he won’t be to open the season, which is why he’s a Week 1 sit.
Fantasy managers would be better served to take a wait-and-see approach with the Jets’ backfield. Let’s see what the split is in Week 1 and, more specifically, how the team deploys its two talented backs. Hall is more of a touchdown-dependent RB3 this week against the Ravens.
Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts (at HOU)
It’s not often you will see players in great matchups as sits. Yet, here we are with Nyheim Hines.
Head coach Frank Reich has stated multiple times the team intends to utilize Hines more this season. He went so far as to say to draft Hines in fantasy football. I agree with him. Just don’t start him this week.
The Colts are touchdown road favorites against the Texans. They had the seventh-highest positive game script rush rate in the NFL last season. When leading by at least a touchdown, the Colts ran the ball 57% of the time. I’m expecting Indy to pretty much control this game wire-to-wire.
There will be weeks where the Colts are in shootouts and can’t just impose their will on the ground. In those games, you’ll probably see Hines on the other side of the RB start/sit column. But this week feels like a Jonathan Taylor 25+ carry week. He should dominate the Texans, and the Colts just shouldn’t have much of a need for their satellite back. As a result, fantasy managers should leave Hines to ride the pine in their first matchup of the season.