2023 Fantasy Football: Targets, Fades for NFL Week 1

Giants vs. Cowboys

With NFL regular season action on the horizon, Samantha Previte breaks down two players to target (love) and two players to avoid (hate) for your Week 1 fantasy football lineups based on matchups, injuries, strategies and more.

Love/Hate for NFL Week 1

Players We Love This Week

Washington Commanders WR Jahan Dotson

Jahan Dotson, WR (vs. ARI)

Based on the Arizona Cardinals‘ decisions of late, it would be hard to blame someone for assuming the team is already looking toward 2024. The team released veteran wideout DeAndre Hopkins in May – presumably to free up cap space towards their rebuild – and will be starting 2017 fourth-rounder Joshua Dobbs at quarterback with Kyler Murray sidelined for at least the first four weeks on the PUP list.

As far as Jahan Dotson goes, I love him as a potential breakout star in 2023. Something of a surprise as the 16th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, Dotson finished as WR50 in half-PPR (points per reception) leagues. He should have a nice opportunity to shine right out of the gate in Year 2 with Terry McLaurin listed as day-to-day while dealing with turf toe.

Even if McLaurin suits up, there is a chance he could end up being used on a snap count or even as a decoy. Dotson should be the team’s WR1 while McLaurin recovers in this juicy matchup against the Cards, whose secondary (even before the Isaiah Simmons trade) was one of the worst in the league. I fully expect Dotson to put up top 24 numbers in Week 1, which is quite good considering where you probably nabbed him in your drafts.

Bonus note: Any defense squaring up against the Murray-less Cardinals this season should be stream-worthy. The Washington Commanders D/ST should be a top play this week, as will the New York Giants D/ST in Week 2 if you are looking ahead.

Tyler Higbee, TE (at SEA)

Tyler Higbee is far from the sexiest name at the tight end position, though he could have some legitimate value in Week 1. The eighth-year veteran had his second-best season to date in 2022. He appeared in all 17 games and reeled in 72 passes on a team-high (and career-high) 108 targets for 620 yards and three touchdowns. He finished as the TE9 in half-PPR formats, and fantasy owners drafted him as the TE15 this season.

Higbee should get a nice share of looks from quarterback Matthew Stafford, with star wideout Cooper Kupp’s status up in the air. Kupp is listed as day-to-day after suffering a setback to his hamstring injury last week and seems unlikely to appear in the season opener.

That leaves the Los Angeles Rams’ receiving corps very lean, with just Van Jefferson, Tutu Atwell, Puka Nacua, Ben Skowronek and Demarcus Robinson left on the depth chart. Stafford should be expected to lean heavily on his veteran pass catcher, whether or not Kupp is active for this game.

Furthermore, their matchup this week in Seattle is excellent for Higbee. Although he has not enjoyed much success against the team in the past, the Seattle Seahawks have been particularly weak against tight ends and allowed the second-most fantasy points to the position last season.

Based on the matchup and opportunity, he is a top 10 play for Week 1, easily ahead of guys like Pat Freiermuth (vs. San Francisco), Chigoziem Okonkwo (at New Orleans) or Dalton Schultz (at Baltimore) – all of whom were drafted earlier than Higbee, according to FantasyPros ADP.

Players We Hate This Week

Javonte Williams

Javonte Williams, RB (vs. LV)

Javonte Williams shot onto the scene as an early second-round pick in 2021, and fans expected him to be an immediate difference-maker for fantasy. He posted a solid rookie campaign, tallying more than 1,200 scrimmage yards and seven touchdowns. He finished as the RB17 in half-PPR formats. 

Williams had a slow start to his 2022 season, which ended prematurely after suffering a torn ACL, LCL and PLC in Week 4. Some NFL players can bounce back quickly from catastrophic knee injuries. But others, such as J.K. Dobbins, take more time to heal and cannot give their teams more than tepid production out of the gate.

Williams still has plenty of time to reach his potential as a workhorse running back, though the Denver coaching staff will likely exercise caution while easing him back into play.

“I was encouraged, I thought that he ran hard … Running back is a hard position to really know what you’ve got until you’re playing full contact football and was really encouraged with what we saw,” offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi told reporters on Aug. 24. “I think when you say a full [work] load, I don’t know exactly what that means, but I think with the other runners that we have in that room that he’ll be able to get into that mode. It might not be the first game, but I think by the end of the season, we’ll be able to manage his workload where he’ll be feeling good.”

Lombardi’s comments would suggest more early playing time for offseason addition Samaje Perine, rendering Williams a risky play early in the season. He sits somewhere in the low-end RB3 tier against the Las Vegas Raiders

Daniel Jones, QB (vs. DAL)

Daniel Jones is coming off of a breakout season in which the fourth-year quarterback finished top-seven for fantasy. He racked up 3,205 passing yards, a 67.2 completion rate, 15 touchdowns, five interceptions and rushed for 708 yards and seven touchdowns.

Jones has a fantastic chance to finish as a top-12 fantasy quarterback this year. Still, he could struggle in Week 1 against the Dallas Cowboys, who seem to have Jones’ number. The Giants’ signal-caller has won just one of seven career games against Dallas and is averaging a sub-60 completion rate, 171 passing yards, 0.6 touchdowns and 0.4 interceptions per game. 

Even in the teams’ two most recent meetings, Jones averaged approximately 14 fantasy points per game and threw just one touchdown. He is a low-upside QB2 with bust potential in this brutal NFC East matchup, which is not exactly how you want to kick off your 2023 fantasy season.

If, for example, Geno Smith (vs. LAR) or Kirk Cousins (vs. TB) happen to be available in a shallower league, fantasy owners should strongly consider starting either of them instead of Jones this week.

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