For the first week of the fantasy football season, managers may have some tough start/sit decisions when it comes to running backs, wide receivers, or the flex position. Typically, the players drafted earlier in the draft are those that are going to start in Week 1, but that is not necessarily a given. Maybe you drafted a rookie in a later round that you want to take a chance on this week because the season is long. Maybe you are worried about the injury status of a starter. Either way, be sure to check the injury reports and practice reports before setting your first lineup of the 2022 season.
START These Running Backs
Dameon Pierce, Houston Texans vs. Indianapolis Colts
It’s tough to trust a rookie in Week 1, but when the No. 2 running back is Rex Burkhead (and he beat out Marlon Mack for the job), Pierce seems like a good guy to put some stock into. He looked good in the preseason and this should be unquestionably his job. Whether that happens or not is anyone’s guess, but fantasy managers that drafted him ought to put him in their lineups for RB2 value with the potential for more.
Michael Carter, New York Jets vs. Baltimore Ravens
Until Breece Hall immediately gets more touches than Carter, start him while you can. Carter will likely be given the opportunity to keep the RB1 job for the Jets, but it's also his to lose. They drafted Hall to either have the pair split carries or to have the rookie take over. This should be motivation for Carter, which can translate to fantasy points for managers. In the preseason, Carter saw more work than Hall. While that continues, start him as an RB2.
SIT These Running Backs
Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles at Detroit Lions
Sanders has been dealing with a hamstring issue, but will be good to go for Week 1. However, the team will likely not give him a full workload. Whether they blame the hamstring or something else, Sanders had been drafted as an RB1 in previous years, but not this season. He hasn’t been able to stay healthy and he didn’t even score a touchdown in 2021. Sanders isn’t a bad player to have on your bench, but don’t count on his production in Week 1.
Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers
Jacobs is being drafted on name value at this point. He has had successful seasons in the past, but in 2022, he is part of a committee. He played in early preseason games (which typically the starters do not do). He regressed in 2021, not hitting 1,000 rushing yards and scoring only nine touchdowns. Ameer Abdullah and Zamir White (and Brandon Bolden, but not as much) are going to cut into Jacobs’ work – and fantasy value. Until we see what the Raiders do at running back, leave Jacobs on the bench.
START These Wide Receivers
Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco 49ers at Chicago Bears
Aiyuk was a tough fantasy pick for managers last year, as he started the season slow and many gave up on him by the time he was truly fantasy relevant (the last third of the season). However, in looking at the team for Week 1, Deebo Samuel is banged up already. George Kittle was injured in practice on Monday and his status is in doubt for the game. Yes, Trey Lance is still the quarterback, but Aiyuk should put up solid WR2 numbers in Week 1.
Chris Olave, New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons
Will he or won’t he? Not Olave – he’s good to go, but rather Michael Thomas. The oft-injured wide receiver is still questionable for Week 1. Fantasy managers should sit Thomas and start Olave. He looked good in the preseason, scoring a touchdown (although it wasn't from a pass thrown by Jameis Winston). Thomas is still dealing with a hamstring injury, and given his history, it doesn’t seem likely that he’ll have a full workload even if he’s active in Week 1. This gives Olave the opportunity to take on a bigger role this season.
SIT These Wide Receivers
Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks vs. Denver Broncos (MNF)
With Geno Smith the starting quarterback (now official), the Seahawks' pass catchers are all downgraded. DK Metcalf is ranked higher than Lockett, and he’s only a low WR2. Lockett, who can go deep, is going to have a tough time maintaining week-to-week fantasy value. He had a career-high 1,175 yards last season, but it will be hard for him to match that going from Russell Wilson to Smith. Until we see what the Seahawks' offense looks like, Metcalf is the only wide receiver on the team to start unless you are in a deep league.
DeVante Parker, New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins
The Patriots' offense is not what it once was. With Mac Jones at quarterback, no wide receiver is a must-start each week. Jakobi Meyers would be ranked higher despite Parker’s success at times. Parker is 29 years old and likely won’t be seeing time in the slot. He used to be a target hog, but those days are over. He may have flex value this season, but hold off in Week 1.
— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.