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NFL Fantasy 2023 Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 1: Defenses

You have lineup questions. We have answers. At least we hope. Start 'Em, Sit 'Em is here to help fantasy managers make those pressing lineup decisions. And you know what is a good decision? Starting Patrick Mahomes. But that's too obvious, so you won't see that here. Instead here are some of the most-pressing questions. And, if you can't find a player you are looking for, please check out the latest NFL Fantasy lineup rankings.

Start 'Em

Look, I am going to be streaming against the Cardinals a lot this season. We still don't know whether it’ll be Joshua Dobbs or Clayton Tune starting for Arizona, but either way, it's a favorable matchup for the defense playing them. The Commanders started off slow last season, but from Week 6 on they looked like the top-end unit they were in 2021. They are a must-start in Week 1 and have what is possibly another favorable matchup against the Broncos in Week 2.

EDITOR'S UPDATE: Dobbs is expected to start for the Cardinals in Week 1, per NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport.

The Saints were one of my favorite defenses to target in drafts. You can set it and forget it for the first six weeks, as they face the Titans, Panthers, Packers, Bucs, Patriots and Texans. They then face the Jags (a bit tougher) before getting the Colts and Bears. The streaming opportunities are nearly endless. Last year, Tennessee allowed the seventh-most fantasy PPG to opposing defenses. Start the Saints in Week 1.

The Bucs were not a great opponent to stream defenses against last season, but Tom Brady is (really) retired now. There will obviously be a drop-off in offensive production with the G.O.A.T. gone, and the Bucs' offensive line is already banged up to boot. We could see the Vikings get a lot of pressure on Baker Mayfield, which leads to sacks and turnovers. They are a streaming option this week.

I am excited to see what Bryce Young could be this season and in his career. However, this is the rookie's first start in the NFL. Plus, the Panthers' receiving corps is one of the thinnest in the league. The Falcons' defense is not one I want to start weekly, but they are in play as a streaming option in this matchup.

Sit 'Em

The Browns defensive unit could be very fantasy relevant this season. However, Week 1 against Joe Burrow, Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Co. is not the time to get them into your starting lineup. Last season, the Bengals allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy PPG to opposing defenses. It's a pass for me.

The Chargers' offense should be much better this season than it was last year. In 2022, Justin Herbert was banged up and his top pass-catchers missed time. They are healthy heading into Week 1, and the Chargers added even more firepower in the offseason (including first-round rookie wideout Quentin Johnston). Plus, new OC Kellen Moore's arrival should lead to a more explosive passing attack. Even at less than 100 percent last season, the Chargers still allowed the ninth-fewest fantasy PPG to opposing defenses. And the Dolphins' defense is missing some key pieces. Get away from them in Week 1.

I don't like to play defenses against explosive, high-powered offenses. That's why I'm avoiding both defenses in this matchup. The Dolphins allowed just 6.1 fantasy PPG to opposing defenses last year, and that’s including all the games without Tua Tagovailoa. Their offense obviously operates at a higher level with him healthy. Start all your offensive players in this one, but fade the defenses.

The Chiefs' defense is one we typically feel confident plugging into lineups. However, this week that would be a mistake. The Lions allowed the third-fewest fantasy PPG to opposing defenses last season, while Jared Goff logged a 4:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio, best in the NFL. Add in that the Lions have a strong offensive line, Chris Jones might be absent (contract holdout) and a lot of points are expected in this Kickoff Game, and you can see why the Chiefs are a fade.

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