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NFL Week 1 fantasy football start ’em, sit ’em

2RH806P New Orleans Saints running back Jamaal Williams (30) warms up before an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs in New Orleans, Sunday, Aug. 13, 2023. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Geno Smith should dominate the new Los Angeles Rams: Smith played well against the Rams last season, and now they don’t have several of their once-great players.

Take advantage of wide receiver injuries: Injuries to Terry McLaurin and Jerry Jeudy should lead to Courtland Sutton and Jahan Dotson having big games.

See where these players rank: Our weekly rankings landing page will show where all of these players rank relative to each other and everyone else to help you with all of your start-sit decisions.

Estimated Reading Time: 16 minutes

Deciding who to start or sit in fantasy football can be as easy as looking at the PFF rankings and going with the higher-ranked player. This start’em, sit’em column digs a step deeper, looking into why someone you might typically start might not have a good week, or why someone overlooked might have a good week. In many cases, it’s the usual starters who should star, but we want to explore the borderline players, too.



Geno Smith, Seattle Seahawks
  • Smith finished last season with 314.9 fantasy points, which ranked fifth among quarterbacks.
  • The Seahawks are the only team with a perfect matchup for quarterbacks this week, according to PFF's strength of schedule tool. They face the Los Angeles Rams defense.
  • Smith faced the Rams' defense twice last season, gaining 580 passing yards and 54 rushing yards and throwing for four touchdowns.
  • He was QB3 and QB13 in the respective weeks.
  • The Rams' defense had six players last season with 500 or more snaps and a PFF defensive grade of 65.0 or better. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald is the only one still on the roster.
  • Los Angeles is going from Jalen Ramsey (86.4) and Troy Hill (65.4) at outside cornerback to Ahkello Witherspoon (45.4) and Derion Kendrick (43.7).
  • The Seahawks are clear favorites in this game. The only concern is if they build a big lead, after which they could run too much in the second half.

Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings
  • Cousins finished last season with the eighth-most fantasy points but was inconsistent as a weekly fantasy starter.
  • He had five games as a top-six fantasy quarterback but also six games outside of the top 16.
  • Minnesota plays the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week — a good enough matchup for Cousins, who should have one of his better games.
  • Cousins has played much better against zone defenses than man defenses in his career, including last season. He achieved an 80.3 passing grade against zone compared to a 64.2 mark against man.
  • His completion percentage is over 20 percentage points higher against zone compared to man.
  • The Buccaneers played zone at the seventh-highest rate last season.
  • Cousins should also benefit from the Buccaneers' lack of pass rush.
  • The Vikings' offensive line has the eighth-best matchup against the Buccaneers' defensive line in terms of pass protection and pass rushing, according to PFF's offensive line matchup chart.
  • Tampa Bay recorded the fourth-lowest team pass-rush grade in 2022.
  • The Buccaneers added some rookies, but they might not make an immediate difference.
  • This all adds up to a relatively safe situation for Cousins in Week 1.


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