The fantasy football season is finally here, and ideally, you shouldn’t need to get ahold of anyone to bolster your roster at this point. But, maybe you punted a tight end or quarterback, or went zero RB, or pulled a reverse Matt Millen & plain forgot to draft a wide receiver. Or, maybe you just stupidly drafted Travis Kelce because you couldn’t predict the future. Just like every other week for the last half-decade, I am here to help you separate the wheat from the chaff to find some weekly sleepers.
To qualify for this article, a player must be unrostered in at least 50% of Yahoo! leagues. For you deep leaguers, as always, I have a player available in at least 90% of leagues. Let’s get started on week one!
Jordan Love at Chicago (30% rostered)
While we aren’t quite sure how good Jordan Love could be (which is why he has a 30% roster rate), he’s getting his first career start with an extremely cushy landing in Chicago. While they drafted Gervon Dexter, Tyrique Stevenson & Zacch Pickens all on day two to address their defensive woes, they have a long way to go to be league average against quarterbacks on a per-play basis, both in the QB run game and the passing game. In 2022, they ranked second in fantasy points per rushing attempt by quarterbacks (if you strip out kneels). While Love has rushing upside, the Bears were also chewed up by quarterback passing as well, allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks.
Sam Howell versus Arizona (22% rostered)
While Howell is unlikely to have Terry McLaurin, I really don’t care too much for these purposes. He still has Jahan Dotson, Curtis Samuel, and Antonio Gibson as targets in the passing game, with Eric Bienamy controlling the offense, and he gets an extremely nice opening opportunity against the woeful Arizona Cardinals. Arizona ranked eighth in fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks last season, and that includes single-digit output from Baker Mayfield, John Wolford, Mac Jones, Brett Rypien, and Desmond Ridder. The Cardinals are a Ludacris franchise, as in, they’re coming for that number one spot (in next year’s draft), and the Howell Commanders will run roughshod all over them in week one.
Baker Mayfield at Minnesota (10% rostered)
Well, I’m guessing this is where I lose all credibility, but the Minnesota Vikings already did that this offseason. They lost starters at every level, with DL Dalvin Tomlinson moving to Cleveland, LB Eric Kendricks heading to the Chargers, and Patrick Peterson now a Steeler. They added Byron Murphy to the mix and drafted Mekhi Blackmon to bolster their secondary. They improved the secondary, but it still has a long way to go after allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks last season. Baker isn’t the best quarterback in the universe, but he has a bevy of weapons at his disposal, including future Hall of Famer Mike Evans, and his fellow wide receiver Chris Godwin. Those two alone should be able to cobble together 250 passing yards and two touchdowns for Baker.
De’Von Achane at L.A. Chargers (48% rostered)
With De’Von Achane looking to possibly end up on the shelf this weekend (though practice reports are making that look unlikely), this is more of a long-term stash than a one-week stream. And in week one, that’s what you need, especially considering that you should already have your starting running back on your roster. Achane was one of my favorite backs in this class behind the one-man Bijan Robinson tier of running back. Achane is a fast one-cut-and-go runner who ran a 4.32 40-yard dash at the combine. This is the perfect type of back for the Mike McDaniel system, and with Jeff Wilson on the shelf, it’s likely that we see Achane grab ahold of the #2 role in Miami sooner rather than later. Plus, given Mostert’s predilection for injuries, that’s a short leap to the RB1 role in Miami.
Deon Jackson versus Jacksonville (32% rostered)
Unlike Achane, Deon Jackson is a one-week desperation play, or a speculative add to thwart the Jonathan Taylor manager. With Zack Moss unlikely for week one, and Jonathan Taylor existing somewhere between injured and holding out, it looks like it will be Deon Jackson and Evan Hull’s time to shine in week one. Jackson has two career games with at least 15 touches, and in those games, he averaged 106 total yards, scoring one touchdown in two games. His usage is doubly promising, as he caught ten of ten targets in one of those two games getting starter touches. The team he got those ten targets against? The 2022 Jacksonville Jaguars.
Sean Tucker at Minnesota (2% rostered)
I loved Sean Tucker going into the draft season, as he was a top-five back for me coming out of Syracuse. I am a huge fan of his running style, speed, and burst. He plays a lot like Marshawn Lynch, but so did Marlon Mack. So, there is a wide range of outcomes here, but we want to take a shot on a guy who has Marshawn Lynch in his range of outcomes. Currently, Tucker is behind only Rachaad White in the pecking order in Tampa Bay, and no amount of coach speak will lead me to believe that this won’t be his backfield, sooner or later. The Buccaneers get the Vikings this week, who
Tyler Boyd at Cleveland (46% rostered)
This Tyler Boyd rostership rate is one of the biggest travesties in fantasy football. He’s walking four catches for 50 yards per game, which isn’t the best but is also more than getting nothing out of desperation in your WR3 slot this week, especially in PPR. The Browns are a bottom-five matchup, but this is more about the Bengals than it is about the Browns. They’re going to throw a ton, especially since Joe Burrow is going to be running less due to his calf injury. I’d put the chances of Boyd getting at least 7 targets at about 75%, meaning that he is well within his ability
Marvin Mims versus Las Vegas (35% rostered)
This is Marvin Mims’ chance to justify the Broncos taking him in the second round this draft, as the Jerry Jeudy injury thrusts Mims into a prominent role as the #2 wide receiver behind incumbent Courtland Sutton. Mims should fit well into the Broncos’ offense in the deep threat role, something both Russell Wilson and Sean Payton have gone out of their way to feature in the past. Mims reminds me of a former Russell Wilson teammate (Tyler Lockett), so the moment Russ & Mims get on the same page, they should be able to make sweet music. The Raiders make for an amazing first test, as they are a dreadful defensive unit that has only gotten worse this off-season. They were especially bad against wide receivers last season, allowing six games of 16.5 PPR fantasy points or more last season (three of which were to deep threat, big play receivers Parris Campbell, George Pickens, and Christian Kirk, which fit Mims’ role well).
Wan’Dale Robinson versus Dallas (3% rostered)
Remember Wan’Dale Robinson? The former second-round pick is the most talented receiver on the Giants, but he is coming back from a knee injury that made him a shaky selection all offseason. He’s now back to practicing and is likely to play this weekend on Sunday Night Football against the Dallas Cowboys. He had just two games last season with more than three targets, and in those games, he finished with a total of 15 receptions for 150 yards. Robinson has the upside to be a league winner, should he and Daniel Jones get on the same page. He’s worth a speculative add to get ahead of the waiver wire, at least.
Gerald Everett versus Miami (42% rostered)
Gerald Everett was secretly a solid under-the-hood fantasy football stud last season, posting all the things we would like to see in opportunity metrics (targets, routes run, slot snaps, red zone targets, and yards after the catch). He finished the season with 58 receptions (8th at TE) for 555 yards (11th at TE) but finished just 11th at TE thanks to his four total touchdowns. This should all tack toward the middle, and he should end up somewhere around TE8 when all is said and done (the top of The Blob), and this week he gets a top-five matchup. The Dolphins last season allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends, meaning that Everett could not ask for a better debut game in 2023. If you’re short a Travis Kelce, this is about as good a streaming matchup as you’re going to get in week one.
Taysom Hill versus Tennessee (14% rostered)
There’s no better time to get as weird as humanly possible with it than week one. The Saints will be without Jake Haener for the first six weeks of the season as the NFL suspended him for PEDs, and the Saints listed Hill as a quarterback for their week one tilt. Granted, I don’t entirely believe that he is going to get quarterback snaps, but he could. However, the reason I like Taysom Hill is the cast around him. The Saints will have no Alvin Kamara, a compromised Kendre Miller, and the only valid end zone weapons are oft-injured Michael Thomas and 70-year-old Jimmy Graham. Taysom has a great shot at a touchdown, so I am going to get stupid with this right off of the bat in week one. It’s Taysom Time!
Zach Ertz at Washington (7% rostered)
While the whole world has their eyes turned on Trey McBride, we forget that Zach Ertz will be healthy in week one, and he was still Zach Ertz when he was on the field last season. In weeks one through nine (not including his injury), Ertz had a higher average depth of target, target rate, air yards share, targets per route run, and catch rate than McBride did in weeks eleven through eighteen (after Ertz’s injury). It’s clear that Trey McBride is the future, but we all just sort of forgot about Zach Ertz. The Commanders don’t make for a particularly juicy matchup based on last year’s numbers, but Ertz should more than makeup for it by volume alone.