Fantasy football start vs. sit: Line-up advice for the Week 1 NFL slate

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Indianapolis Colts running back Evan Hull (26) celebrates a touchdown with teammate Anthony Richardson during the first half of an NFL preseason football game Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Week 1 of the 2023 NFL season has arrived, and it got started with a thriller when the Detroit Lions pulled off the 21-20 upset over the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday Night Football.

But the reality is, you were always starting most of your fantasy players that played in the NFL opener. Even without tight end Travis Kelce, the Chiefs and Lions had the highest game total of the Week 1 slate.

As we turn our attention to the rest of the weekend, things get a bit more complicated when it comes to start vs. sit decisions. Using a combination of betting odds and projections, we can come up with a game plan for those fantasy rosters ahead of the opening weekend.

Here’s a look at our favorite starts and sits for Week 1 of the NFL season:

Quarterback

Start: Anthony Richardson

Don’t be afraid of rolling with a rookie making his first start this weekend. Head coach Shane Steichen, who was previously the offensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles, should have a game plan that allows Richardson to make an immediate impact in the Colts’ home opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Richardson’s rushing yardage prop has been hovering around the mid-40s this week, which trails only Lamar Jackson and Justin Fields. Those rushing yards are gold when it comes to fantasy, so take advantage of them right away.

Sit: Tua Tagovailoa

It’s easy to be drawn to the explosive Miami Dolphins offense with all their talented playmakers, but consider me a Tua skeptic to start the season. Tagovailoa went 10-for-18 for 145 yards and one touchdown in last year’s meeting against Brandon Staley’s Los Angeles Chargers.

Even with the total climbing, I’d prefer to explore other options at QB this week.

Running back

Start: Deon Jackson

The Jonathan Taylor saga continued into the NFL season, meaning Jackson will get another opportunity to start at running back for the Colts. He did admirably in two starts last year, finishing with 236 yards and one touchdown on 68 carries. The Colts are five-point underdogs to the Jags in Week 1, but the market might be underrating the team that was everyone’s default answer to win the AFC South this time last year.

Sit: Dameon Pierce

Given where Pierce was likely drafted, you probably plan on starting him in Week 1. But temper expectations for the second-year running back, as the Houston Texans are 10-point underdogs to the Baltimore Ravens. It is the largest spread of the slate, suggesting that Houston won’t be in a favorable game script on Sunday.

Wide receiver

Start: Courtland Sutton

While Jerry Jeudy is trending in the right direction, Sutton could have the edge in the Denver Broncos receiving room given he’s been healthy this preseason. Sean Payton should be able to get more out of quarterback Russell Wilson this year, making Denver’s receivers more appealing in the fantasy world. Sutton has produced 40 catches for 505 yards and three touchdowns against the Las Vegas Raiders, so look for him to continue having success against a division rival in Week 1.

Sit: George Pickens

It’s easy to get excited about all the highlight-worthy catches by Pickens, but it’s important to note that he is still the No. 2 WR for the Pittsburgh Steelers. With a vaunted San Francisco 49ers defense coming to town, this could be a classic rock fight on Sunday. Pickens’ reception prop has been set at 3.5, with the under juiced, so oddsmakers are expecting a quiet day for the second-year receiver out of Georgia.

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