Fantasy Football Start 'Em Sit 'Em: NFL Week 1 lineup advice, best matchups, DFS picks

Fantasy Football Start 'Em Sit 'Em: NFL Week 1 lineup advice, best matchups, DFS picks

Welcome to another year of “The Decider,” where Sporting News Fantasy offers up season-long and DFS lineup advice every week throughout the 2022 NFL regular season. The opening week brings a clean state, and it’s important to get off to a good start. A few critical Week 1 fantasy start ’em, sit ’em calls can be the difference between starting 1-0 and 0-1. 

There’s a lot of excitement over prominent veterans playing for new teams (Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill, Russell Wilson, Chase Edmonds),  and plenty of buzz about promising rookies across positions (Breece Hall, James Cook, Dameon Pierce, Drake London, Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson). There’s also boundless optimism that everyone you drafted will come through with the expected health and production.

WEEK 1 FANTASY PICKS: Sleepers | Busts

Navigating through the deep pool of starting options, here are our must-starts and start ’em sit ’em recommendations for Week 1. If you have a specific lineup questions, check out RotoBaller’s industry-leading “Who To Start?” tool below and compare up to four players across all positions.

MORE: Click here to become a RotoBaller subscriber and receive exclusive access to their lineup tools, rankings, and analysis! Use discount code SPORTING.

Fantasy Football Week 1 Start ‘Em: Quarterbacks

QB must-starts

  1. Lamar Jackson, Ravens (at NYJ)
  2. Justin Herbert, Chargers (vs. LV)
  3. Jalen Hurts, Eagles (at DET)
  4. Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs (at ARI)
  5. Josh Allen, Bills (at LAR)
  6. Tom Brady, Buccaneers (at DAL)
  7. Kyler Murray, Cardinals (vs. KC)
  8. Russell Wilson, Broncos (at SEA)
  9. Dak Prescott, Cowboys (vs. TB)
  10. Joe Burrow, Bengals (vs. PIT)

Stronger starts

Trey Lance, 49ers (at CHI). The Bears’ defense is remixing its front and secondary for a new coaching staff, and the Niners will want to let Lance loose running and passing in his first full-time start.

Aaron Rodgers, Packers (at MIN). Rodgers tends to rip them and even though the Vikings have made some improvements vs. the pass.  He’ll find the guys to put up at least 250 yards and two touchdowns.

Kirk Cousins, Vikings (vs. GB). The Packers’ pass defense is daunting, but Cousins delivers when home in this series and has the weapons to get the job done in either shootout or comeback mode.

Matt Ryan, Colts (at HOU). The Colts will want to pass to score early with their immediate QB upgrade before turning the game over to Jonathan Taylor in the second half.

Jameis Winston, Saints (at ATL). The Falcons have a tricky secondary with A.J. Terrell and others, but Winston won’t see much pressure and New Orleans will be tempted to show its new-look aggressive passing game.

DFS Target

Trevor Lawrence, Jaguars ($5,600 on DraftKings, $7,000 FanDuel). Lawrence will have a strong opener against a still struggling Washington defense that’s without Chase Young (knee).

Streamer Special

Jared Goff, Lions (vs. PHI). Jalen Hurts should light up the Lions on the other side, and Goff is headed to heavy second-half volume throwing to diverse targets behind fine protection 

QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | D/STs | Kicker

Fantasy Football Week 1 Sit ‘Em: Quarterbacks

Weaker starts

Matthew Stafford, Rams (vs. BUF). Some throwing troubles for a co-leader in interceptions last season isn’t promising when facing old teammate Von Miller and a swarming defense at home.

Derek Carr, Raiders (at LAC). Carr took some major dents in both meetings against the Chargers last season, and although the Raiders got Davante Adams, the opponent’s pass defense upgraded more with former Raiders edge rusher Khalil Mack.

Justin Fields, Bears (at SF). Fields will eventually have his big rushing days and passing flashes, but it won’t come against Nick Bosa and Fred Warner.

Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins (vs. NE). Bill Belichick lost J.C. Jackson and others, but he will still find a way to scheme to stymie Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins’ new diverse offense.

Ryan Tannehill, Titans (vs. NYG). He’s no longer that reliable QB1. Think of him as a limited QB2 play against a defensive-strong team with a limited offense.

Carson Wentz, Commanders (vs. JAX). Wentz didn’t handle a lesser Jaguars defense twice as a Colt, so it won’t work out in Washington against a much-improved group either.

Daniel Jones, Giants (at TEN). Don’t step into the trap. The Titans, even without a healthy Harold Landry (knee) on the pass rush, still have plenty of guys who contain and frustrate Jones.

QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | D/STs | Kicker

Fantasy Football Week 1 Start ‘Em: Running backs

RB must-starts

  1. Jonathan Taylor, Colts (at HOU)
  2. Derrick Henry, Titans (vs. NYG)
  3. Austin Ekeler, Chargers (vs. LV)
  4. Dalvin Cook, Vikings (vs. GB)
  5. Christian McCaffrey, Panthers (vs. CLE)
  6. Najee Harris, Steelers (at CIN)
  7. Joe Mixon, Bengals (vs. PIT)
  8. Alvin Kamara, Saints (at ATL)
  9. Nick Chubb, Browns (at CAR)
  10. Javonte Willilams, Broncos (at SEA)
  11. Aaron Jones, Packers (at MIN)
  12. D’Andre Swift, Lions (vs. PHI)
  13. Travis Etienne, Jaguars (at WAS)
  14. James Conner, Cardinals (vs. KC)
  15. Leonard Fournette, Buccaneers (at DAL)
  16. Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys (vs. TB)
  17. Saquon Barkley, Giants (at TEN)
  18. Elijah Mitchell, 49ers (at CHI)
  19. Antonio Gibson, Commanders (vs. JAX)
  20. David Montgomery, Bears (vs. SF)

Stronger starts

AJ Dillon, Packers (at MIN). He is almost a plug-and-play in the way Aaron Jones is at this point given his strong complementary all-around usage, which will be leaned on even more.

Miles Sanders, Eagles (at DET). He may not last long as the lead ahead of Kenneth Gainwell, but he should have that role coming back from his hamstring injury at least for this primo spot.

Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson, Patriots (at MIA). They are still the bread and butter of New England’s offense to support Mac Jones, as it’s smart to fade passing game elements in the opener.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Chiefs (at ARI). With the backup mess being sorted behind him, CEH still is in line for the most touches and should be busy helping out as a receiver more in a wild West game.

Rashaad Penny, Seahawks (vs. DEN). With rookie Kenneth Walker (hernia) ailing, there should be every thought Penny will maintain his workhorse-like role, at least for the opener.

Melvin Gordon, Broncos (at SEA). The Seahawks’ run defense stinks, and Gordon should pile on what Williams does as a 1-2 punch to lift Russell Wilson to victory back in Seattle.

Devin Singletary, Bills (at LAR). The matchup isn’t great, but he’s kind of like Rashaad Penny for now — at least until Buffalo gives more definition on how much volume rookie James Cook will get.

Mike Davis, Ravens (at NYJ). If you need someone from this backfield with JK Dobbins (knee) ailing, go with Davis, who’s been in the system much longer than Kenyan Drake.

DFS targets

Dameon Pierce, Texans (vs. IND, $4,800 on DraftKings, $5,400 on FanDuel). The red-hot rookie leader of this backfield won’t be this cheap the rest of the season, so take advantage of it with good volume and production on the Colts.

Chase Edmonds, Dolphins (vs. NE, $5,200 on DraftKings, $5,800 on FanDuel). Miami made some splashier offseason additions, but he was the first one with a sizable contract. Expect him to have an Austin Ekeler-light type role in Mike McDaniel’s attack.

WEEK 1 DFS LINEUPS: DraftKingsFanDuel | Yahoo

Fantasy Football Week 1 Sit ‘Em: Running backs

Weaker starts

Cam Akers, Rams (vs. BUF). The injury mystery is concerning, and the matchup isn’t great for good returns, either, especially given how the Bills can contain backs in the passing game, too. This is also an anti-Darrell Henderson spot.

Breece Hall, Jets (vs. BAL). The Ravens are a tough draw for the rookie, whose initial workload in relation to Michael Carter is hard to read. Also, don’t play Carter.

Josh Jacobs, Raiders (at LAC). It’s hard to know how much of the key touches he will get vs. Zamir White and Ameer Abdullah, as Josh McDaniels brings the Patriots’ conundrum to Vegas.

Kareem Hunt, Browns (at CAR). The Panthers were solid against the run last season and also contain backs well as receivers with their second-level play. The game script should also call for more Nick Chubb.

Cordarrelle Patterson, Falcons (vs. NO). Cord has been banged up all preseason, and the team is expected to start shrinking his rushing workload. This isn’t the matchup with which to go against that grain.

Tony Pollard, Cowboys (vs. TB). There’s not room for two backs to produce against the Bucs’ front seven.

WEEK 1 DFS: Best values | Best stacks

Fantasy Football Week 1 Start ‘Em: Wide receivers

WR must-starts

  1. Cooper Kupp, Rams (vs. BUF)
  2. Justin Jefferson, Vikings (vs. GB)
  3. Stefon Diggs, Bills (at LAR)
  4. Ja’Marr Chase, Bengals (vs. PIT)
  5. Mike Evans, Buccaneers (at DAL)
  6. A.J. Brown, Eagles (at DET)
  7. Davante Adams, Raiders (at LAC)
  8. Deebo Samuel, 49ers (at CHI)
  9. CeeDee Lamb, Cowboys (vs. TB)
  10. Michael Pittman Jr., Colts (at HOU)
  11. Tyreek Hill, Dolphins (vs. NE)
  12. Keenan Allen, Chargers (vs. LV)
  13. Mike Williams, Chargers (vs. LV)
  14. Courtland Sutton, Broncos (at SEA)
  15. D.J. Moore, Panthers (vs. CLE)
  16. Diontae Johnson, Steelers (at CIN)
  17. Tee Higgins, Bengals (vs. PIT)
  18. Terry McLaurin, Commanders (vs. JAX)
  19. Jaylen Waddle, Dolphins (vs. NE)
  20. Brandin Cooks, Texans (vs. IND)
  21. D.K. Metcalf, Seahawks (vs. DEN).
  22. Darnell Mooney, Bears (vs. SF)
  23. Marquise Brown, Cardinals (vs. KC)
  24. Gabriel Davis, Bills (at LAR)
  25. Allen Robinson, Rams (vs. BUF)
  26. Michael Thomas, Saints (at ATL)

Stronger starts

Amari Cooper, Browns. Cooper has shown great chemistry with Jacoby Brissett on his latest new team and will be there often with his hands and routes to bail out his QB via volume.

Amon-Ra St. Brown, Lions (vs. PHI). He can avoid former Lion Darius Slay working out of the slot, and with other issues in the new-look wideout corps, he will pick up where he left off as a rookie.

Hunter Renfrow, Raiders (at LAC). With J.C. Jackson (ankle) expected to be out, the Chargers are weaker in other coverage spots inside and out.

Adam Thielen, Vikings (vs. GB). He tends to burn the Packers, and he’s a good bet to find the end zone on another short ball from Kirk Cousins.

DeVonta Smith, Eagles (at DET). A.J. Brown can go off with Jalen Hurts, and there’s nothing scary for Smith against lesser coverage, either.

Christian Kirk, Jaguars (at WAS). The Commanders’ coverage isn’t good with a limited pass rush, and Trevor Lawrence will get his new weapon going.

Jerry Jeudy, Broncos (at SEA). The Seahawks’ secondary should be destroyed by Courtland Sutton and Russell Wilson, but Jeudy also can have a decent 6-for-80 line.

DFS targets

JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chiefs (at ARI, $5,200 on DraftKings, $6,400 on FanDuel). JuJu has had the right mojo with Patrick Mahomes in camp and the preseason, and he should make his impact felt as a big slot and outside against a weak Cardinals cornerback corps.

Brandon Aiyuk, 49ers (at CHI, $5,200 on DraftKings, $5,600 on FanDuel).  Aiyuk had a great offseason and should be deployed for big-play juice now that Trey Lance is starting. The Bears have one good corner and not much else with a lot of secondary inexperience.

Fantasy Football Week 1 Sit ‘Em: Wide receivers

Weaker starts

Rashod Bateman, Ravens (at NYJ). The player is fine for the Ravens, but the Jets did improve their secondary with Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed. Baltimore shouldn’t need to throw much beyond Mark Andrews.

Elijah Moore, Jets (vs. BAL). Moore faces an elite Ravens’ secondary outside and inside, so avoid this other side if you can.

Chris Godwin, Buccaneers (at DAL). Godwin might have a shot to go in recovering from his ACL, but the Bucs are bound to give him limited snaps to ease his knee into action.

Tyler Lockett, Seahawks (vs. DEN). Lockett does get Geno Smith, but the Broncos’ secondary has Pat Surtain.

Drake London, Falcons (vs. NO). Take a wait-and-see approach with this passing game.

Chris Olave, Saints (vs. ATL). Olave is primed for a big outside role, but A.J. Terrell is a brutal “welcome to the NFL” matchup.

Tyler Boyd, Bengals (vs. PIT). The Steelers do good work in the slot, so give Boyd a rest.

Chase Claypool, Steelers (at CIN). We’ll see how they use George Pickens ahead of him for real against the Bengals.

All Patriots (at MIA). Don’t buy into the DeVante Parker “revenge game” narrative.

All Titans (vs. NYG). Robert Woods or Treylon Burks? We’ll pass at first against a sneaky defense.

All Giants (at TEN). We need some feeling out here, too, but it’s hard to be high on anyone except for the rookie Wan’Dale Robinson.

All other Chiefs (at ARI). Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Skyy Moore, and Mecole Hardman aren’t lineup-worthy yet.

All other Cardinals (vs. KC). After “Hollywood”, you’re just rolling the dice on A.J. Green or Rondale Moore or anyone else.

Fantasy Football Week 1 Start ‘Em: Tight ends

TE must-starts

  1. Mark Andrews, Ravens (at NYJ)
  2. Travis Kelce, Chiefs (at ARI)
  3. Kyle Pitts, Falcons (vs. NO)
  4. Darren Waller, Raiders (at LAC)
  5. George Kittle, 49ers (at CHI)
  6. Dalton Schultz, Cowboys (vs. TB)
  7. T.J. Hockenson, Lions (vs. PHI).
  8. Dallas Goedert, Eagles (at. DET)

Stronger starts

Zach Ertz, Cardinals (vs. KC). Ertz (calf) was huge when DeAndre Hopkins was out last year, and assuming he’s a full-go, he’ll remain in a key role to complement Hollywood.

David Njoku, Browns (at CAR). He’s gotten some worthy, late breakout buzz, and here’s his chance to flex in a fair spot.

Irv Smith Jr. Vikings (vs. GB). The Packers’ secondary is pretty good, but there is a hole against tight end and inside coverage.

Albert Okwuegbunam, Broncos (at SEA). Start all the pass-catchers of Russ you can in his revenge game against an awful defense.

Gerald Everett, Chargers (vs. LV). Somebody will be busy behind Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, and with Donald Parham Jr. (hamstring) on the mend, Everett has a good chance for a good first impression.

DFS target

Pat Freiermuth, Steelers (at CIN, $4,300 on DraftKings, $5,300 on FanDuel). He scored as a rookie in both matchups last season, and whoever is the quarterback will give him another key red-zone target.

Fantasy Football Week 1 Sit ‘Em: Tight ends

Weaker starts

Dawson Knox, Bills (at LAR). Knox runs into a tough linebacker and safety matchup, as Josh Allen will be better off spreading the ball to his wideouts away from Jalen Ramsey.

Cole Kmet, Bears (vs. SF). The 49ers have the back-seven to be tough on tight ends, and Kmet likely will see his TD drought continue.

Hunter Henry, Patriots (at MIA). The Jonnu Smith factor is real, and it makes Henry hard to trust.

Mike Gesicki, Dolphins (vs. NE). The new offense hasn’t been kind to his receiving role, as he’s not longer a default slot.

Austin Hooper, Titans (vs. NYG). The Giants can also disrupt this part of Tennessee’s passing game.

Tyler Higbee, Rams (vs. BUF). The Bills cover tight ends as well as backs.

Fantasy Football Week 1 Start ‘Em: Defenses

Defense must-starts

  1. Ravens (at NYJ)
  2. 49ers (at CHI)
  3. Broncos (at SEA)
  4. Colts (at HOU)
  5. Saints (at ATL)
  6. Dolphins (vs. NE)
  7. Patriots (at MIA)
  8. Titans (vs. NYG)

Stronger starts

Bills (at LAR). Buffalo will want to make some statement against Matthew Stafford, and Von Miller and the secondary will be a big part of it.

Buccaneers (at DAL). Tampa Bay will come out flying for Todd Bowles with some key sacks and takeaways.

Bengals (vs. PIT). Whoever is at quarterback for the Steelers presents a Black and Gold(en) opportunity at home.

DFS bargain

Browns (at CAR, $3,800 on DraftKings, $4,300 on FanDuel). Myles Garrett will be the No. 1 overall pick having the big game, not Baker Mayfield.

Fantasy Football Week 1 Sit ‘Em: Defenses

Weaker starts

Cowboys (vs. TB). Not against the GOAT.

Eagles (at DET). Not against a solid line and a safe passing game.

Packers (at MIN). Not against this particular new-look offense.

Chargers (vs. LV). Not against this particular new-look offense.

Rams (vs. BUF). No way against Josh Allen, even with Jalen Ramsey and Aaron Donald.

Get more of Vinnie Iyer’s in-depth fantasy football advice for Week 1 by subscribing to the Locked On Fantasy Football podcast.