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  • Writer's pictureJoe Daley

Week 1 Starts!

Updated: Dec 14, 2023

Each week, I'll provide you with a handful of players that I am confident will perform at a high level for your fantasy squads and should be in your starting lineups. Here are my STARTS for WEEK 1:


Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) vs Giants

This one is pretty easy. The Giants secondary is atrocious. Coming into the 2020 season, their defensive backfield is ranked 27th by Pro Football Focus. Roethlisberger will be on a mission in his first game back from elbow surgery. I think the Steelers score big at home, sending a message that the rest of the league who will be watching on Monday night. Look for Juju to have a big game along with him.

Dak Prescott (DAL) @ Rams

As a fantasy manager, I'll take as much of a stake in high scoring games as I can possibly have. Which brings me to Prescott, who will be starring in Sunday's matchup with the highest over/under of the Sunday games (51.5). I'm listening Vegas - there will be a lot of points scored in this one. Whereas I do think Zeke has a nice game, when it comes down to it, the Cowboys will have to keep pace with the Rams scoring as well (the Cowboys defense is not exactly known as being of the "shutdown" variety). I think this matchup hits the over, and I see Dak with at least 2 passing scores and 275+ yards. Don't be surprised if he runs one in too, really boosting up his floor.

Russell Wilson (SEA) @ Falcons

Remember what I said about high over/under totals (I hope so, it was a few seconds ago...). Anyways, let's go to the game with the 2nd highest total for Week 1 with the Seahawks visiting the Falcons with the o/u coming in at 49 points. There will be a lot of scoring in this one, as well...and I think Seattle will #LetRussCook, as it were. Wilson will face off vs the secondary ranked 30th entering 2020 by Pro Football Focus. There top corner Desmond Trufant is now a member of the Detroit Lions, and outside of drafting A.J. Terrell of Clemson to replace Trufant, they haven't done much to improve their defensive backfield. Expect big things from Wilson and his receivers in this one!

Wide Receivers

Marquise "Hollywood" Brown (CLE) vs Browns

The electrifying Baltimore Ravens are set to host the division rival Browns on Sunday. The Browns suffered some huge blows to their secondary with starting cornerbacks Kevin Johnson and Greedy Williams both out with injuries in Week 1. I think this sets up Hollywood for a big time statement game. He's out to prove he can be the true number 1 for a team most people think could make a deep playoff run and challenge the Chiefs in the AFC. He packed on some weight in the offseason to build upon his frame, and I'm projecting he'll pack on the points for your fantasy squads this weekend. Put him in your starting lineups.

CeeDee Lamb (DAL) @ Rams

Some may think I'm crazy to put CeeDee on the start list for Week 1, as he is a rookie entering his first NFL game of his career with no preseason games under his belt. Well, I don't care. Call me crazy, but I think Lamb explodes for a big game Sunday Night. Here's my reasoning. Jalen Ramsey, the star Rams corner who just got paid, will be giving Amari Cooper the shadow treatment. I don't love that. In his Week 15 matchup against Ramsey last season, Cooper was held to 1 reception for 19 yards. One catch for a star wide receiver is a hard feat to accomplish, but he did it. Ramsey is a true shutdown corner, and though Cooper was battling injury at the end of last season, I don't love the outlook for him this weekend. Starting on the other side for the Rams is Troy Hill, who has proven to be no slouch as a defensive back. He'll be covering Cowboys standout Michael Gallup. I think Dak looks CeeDee Lamb's way often as he projects to be running most routes out of the slot. Oh yeah, and you know Jerry Jones. He'll want to show the world why he took CeeDee in the first round, who they felt they couldn't pass up once he fell to them. This is a perfect recipe for an surprise breakout performance. Enjoy the show.

DJ Chark (JAX) vs Colts

Simply put, Chark will be the number 1 pass catching target for a team that will be behind on the scoreboard for much of the 2020 season. The connection between QB Gardner Minshew and Chark was on full display last year, and I fully expect it to afford Chark some big games this year. He has Minshew's trust and he can make plays when the Jags need it...and they will. Expect at least 1 garbage-time touchdown for the add on to what he does in the first 3 quarters of the contest.

Running Backs

Josh Jacobs (LV) @ Panthers

Don't sleep on Jacobs this week, or for the rest of the year for that matter. I had a lot of stock in him last season, and it paid off for the most part. I went back to the well in many of my own drafts this year, and I am so excited for his potential this year in his sophomore season. He gets a fantastic match in Week 1 to get the ball rolling, so to speak. In 2019, the Panthers rush defense was ranked 29th, giving up an average of 143.5 yards per game. They also were dead last in the league in rushing touchdowns allowed (31). This was with Luke Kuechly, who has since retired. I expect a monster game for Jacobs - easily over 100 yards on the ground and a TD, maybe 2. Start him.

Todd Gurley (ATL) vs Seahawks

As I mentioned earlier, the Falcons and Seahawks game will be a back and forth, high scoring affair. I want Todd Gurley in my lineup this week. This may be the healthiest he'll be this season, so take advantage of that now. I think he'll get over 20 touches and we'll be the guy they use down near the end zone. He's still versatile, so expect a few catches to get him in space, as well. Some numbers to keep in mind: In 2019, the Seahawks rushing defense ranked 22nd in the league, giving up the 11th most rushing yards per game and 3rd most rushing touchdowns per game. Todd Gurley will shine big in Week 1.

Kenyan Drake (ARI) vs 49ers

The matchup for Drake out of the gate looks scary (...wasn't the SF defense really good last year?), but I am not shying away from starting him in Week 1. In Week 9 last year, Drake made his Cardinals debut against, you guessed it, the 49ers. Arizona lost the game to the eventual NFC winners, but Drake put on an absolute show with 110 rushing yards in 15 carries, 52 yards receiving on 4 catches, and a touchdown. I think the Cardinals keep this game close, which will allow them to keep their running game going throughout the game. Kenyan Drake will get the rock and it will pay off for fantasy teams.

Tight Ends

TJ Hockenson (DET) vs Bears

Hockenson gets a boost against the Chicago Bears in Week 1, as the defense struggles to defend the tight end position. Beyond this, Kenny Golladay is looking doubtful to suit up for the game, leaving plenty of targets up for grabs. Look for Stafford to find a healthy Hockenson throughout the game, and especially down near the end zone.

Zach Ertz (PHI) @ Washington

He will be Carson Wentz's number 1 target against a bad Washington Football Team. I expect a lot of targets going his way...and he'll cash in. Ertz is a no-brainer start in Week 1.

Noah Fant (DEN) vs Titans

If Courtland Sutton (game-time decision) can't go on Monday night, plug in Noah Fant. It is a risk, being as it is the last game of the week, but I don't think that it's a risk with a ton of downside. Even if Sutton CAN go, I expect Fant to be a big part of this offense. The coaching staff has talk about using him in different spots of the formation and taking advantage of his athleticism. If you took him late in your drafts, Week 1 can be an immediate payoff.

- JD

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