There were plenty of surprises in Week 1 of the NFL fantasy football season with multiple members of the Los Angeles Rams putting up big numbers while quarterbacks Joe Burrow of the Cincinnati Bengals and Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills had forgettable season debuts.
The season-ending injuries to New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Baltimore running back J.K. Dobbins dominated the NFL news cycle.
Welcome to the time of the year when waiver-wire maneuvering can make the difference between being a championship contender in your league or leagues or struggling to make the playoffs.
Those making NFL picks need to be careful not to overreact after one strong week or freak out when a player is underperforming.
When it comes to the NFL odds, defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City (+700) is tied with the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers in the odds to win the Super Bowl. Buffalo (+1000) and Dallas (+1000) aren’t far behind.
We will be keeping tabs on the fantasy football landscape each week heading into the Thursday night games, so feel free to follow along. Week 2 begins with the Minnesota Vikings heading to play the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night.
Painful Start to the Season
When the 2023 NFL season kicked off, the biggest concern was whether Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce would play in the season opener after suffering a knee injury in practice. (He didn’t).
On Sunday, bigger things happened to impact fantasy football teams as Aaron Rodgers suffered a season-ending Achilles injury on the fourth play of his Jets debut.
— Video from: @TSV__1 (@TSV__1) September 12, 2023
Baltimore lost running back J.K. Dobbins to the same injury.
Rodgers was the 16th quarterback in the average draft position breakdown in points per reception leagues while Dobbins was the No. 20 running back. Rodgers’ draft position didn’t change in non-PPR leagues, but Dobbins had moved up to the No. 17 RB spot.
J.K. Dobbins injury
Hard to tell when injury occurs, but just brutal on what looks like a pretty routine play pic.twitter.com/h20EnMLqdr
— Kevin Oestreicher (@koestreicher34) September 10, 2023
Zach Wilson, a former No. 2 overall pick, takes over as the starting quarterback for the Jets with Tim Boyle as the backup. Rodgers’ injury could hurt the value of the pass catchers for the Jets. The NFL odds do not hold Garrett Wilson in the same regard without Rodgers.
Gus Edwards and Justice Hill now become running backs to watch in Baltimore. Edwards is the more proven of the two backs, but Hill was the one receiving carries near the end zone after the injury to Dobbins.
Miami Dolphins Duo Erupts
Owners with either Tua Tagovailoa or Tyreek Hill in the lineup were rather happy in Week 1.
The Miami Dolphins stars were the top two scorers in points per reception leagues.
Tagovailoa threw for 466 yards and three touchdowns in a 36-34 win over the Los Angeles Chargers, with Hill catching 11 of his 15 targets for 215 yards and two touchdowns.
— First Take (@FirstTake) September 14, 2023
Enjoy those numbers while you can, because they may not be repeated again.
Christian McCaffrey of the San Francisco 49ers led the way with 152 rushing yards, but he was edged out by Green Bay’s Aaron Jones and Austin Ekeler of the Chargers when it came to the highest-scoring running backs in PPR formats during Week 1.
The ultimate irony is that those who hesitated to take McCaffrey among the first few picks in the draft did so because of his injury history. Yet, it is Jones and Ekeler who came out of Week 1 with injuries to monitor.
Christian McCaffrey = RB1
22 rushes, 152 rushing yards, 1 TD 🔥 pic.twitter.com/xyjWg2nqQZ
— OurSF49ers (@OurSf49ers) September 11, 2023
Week 1 Surprises
When Jakobi Meyers played for the New England Patriots, the knock on him was a lack of big plays and his inability to get into the end zone.
In his first game with the Las Vegas Raiders, all Meyers did was get into the end zone twice.
He was just one of the surprises in Week 1.
— Last Take™ (@TheRealLastTake) September 10, 2023
Having Hill and Minnesota’s Justin Jefferson at the top of the receiving yards list is pretty much expected. However, Tutu Atwell and Puka Nucua of the Los Angeles Ram, along with Rashid Shaheed of the New Orleans Saints, all rank in the top 10 in receiving yards.
As for the backfields, the dreaded running back by committee could be playing out at various places around the NFL, with Tyler Allgeier of the Atlanta Falcons and David Montgomery of the Detroit Lions among the top 10 rushers in Week 1.
What About the Rookies?
More than a few owners who used early picks on Atlanta running back Bijan Robinson and Detroit’s Jahmyr Gibbs had to be a little frustrated with their usage in the season opener.
They did finish first and second in rushing yards among rookies in Week 1. However, their 17 combined carries had to be a little concerning. Robinson is still priced by the NFL odds at +250 to win the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
Patience could be a virtue as rookie running backs usually hit their stride in the second half of the season. Coaches are more likely to rely on veterans early on as they know the playbook better and, perhaps more importantly, are more comfortable in pass-blocking responsibilities.
Fellow rookies Roschon Johnson of the Chicago Bears, Tank Bigsby of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Deuce Vaughn had quiet openers. Johnson did catch six passes, however.
Speaking of pass catchers, Baltimore’s Zay Flowers had as many catches (nine) as the other three receivers taken in the first round combined.
Nacua, the 20th receiver taken in the 2023 draft, led the way with 10 catches and 119 receiving yards. Green Bay’s Luke Musgrave’s 50 receiving yards topped the rookie tight ends.
Three of the top four picks in the 2023 NFL Draft were quarterbacks and they all started – and lost – in Week 1.
Houston’s C.J. Stroud led the way with 242 passing yards while Anthony Richardson of the Indianapolis Colts edged out Stroud (263-262) in total offense.
No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young was just 20 of 38 for 146 yards for Carolina.
On defense, top-10 pick Jalen Carter of the Philadelphia Eagles looked unblockable at times while fourth-round pick Jakorian Bennett of the Las Vegas Raiders led the way with seven solo tackles.
— The Football Scout (@NFLTrenchBattle) September 11, 2023
Working the Wire
Leagues can be won and lost with the ability to add players via the waiver wire.
The two most added players after Week 11 have been Hill and New England Patriots receiver Kendrick Bourne. They were followed by Nacua, running back Kyren Williams of the Los Angeles Rams, Los Angeles Chargers RB Joshua Kelley, Atwell, and Edwards.
New Jets starting QB Wilson is another popular add.
Injuries to Monitor
It can be risky to read too much into mid-week injury reports. However, it is wise to keep tabs on the ailing players, especially before submitting waiver claims.
Ekeler did not practice on Wednesday and that is not good news considering that he was one of the first running backs off the board in fantasy drafts.
Kenneth Gainwell of the Philadelphia Eagles has been ruled for the Thursday night game.
Miami’s Raheem Mostert also missed practice, but perhaps it was just a case of managing his reps. Green Bay’s Jones and James Conner of the Arizona Cardinals have questionable tags as well.
Injury updates for Week 2! Week 1 was a brutal week for injuries with Aaron Rodges and J.K. Dobbins rupturing their Achilles and seasons being over, Dionte Johnson suffering a hamstring injury and expected out for a couple weeks, plus the guys shown here. Follow us for more news! pic.twitter.com/BfP5bSXa38
— Benchwarming Banter Podcast (@BenchWarmingBan) September 13, 2023
Zack Moss of the Indianapolis Colts and Miami rookie Devon Achane both returned to practice after not playing in Week 1.
Meyers, teammate Davante Adams, DeAndre Hopkins of Tennessee, Miami’s Jaylen Waddle, Brandin Cooks of Dallas, and Green Bay’s Romeo Dobbs are among the receivers currently listed as questionable.
Tight ends Pat Freirmuth of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Darren Waller of the New York Giants are questionable with Denver’s Greg Dulcich doubtful to suit up this week.
Another thing to keep an eye on is that both starting offensive tackles for the Seattle Seahawks are trending in the wrong direction. Leep that in mind if you are on the fence when it comes to Seattle players not named DK Metcalf or Kenneth Walker III.