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.
Mike Williams finished with just four catches for 45 yards on five targets against the Dolphins. It was disappointing, but it’s also worth mentioning that he was in the locker room for a bit after taking a big hit early in the game. Regardless, there is no way I am getting away from Williams against the Titans. Not only did they allow the most fantasy PPG to receivers last season, but they’ve also allowed by far the most yards (1,234 -- one of just two teams above 1,000) and touchdowns (11) to receivers on deep passes. Williams can win downfield with the best of them. This is a get-right spot for him.
Mike Evans made this column as a start last week and finished as a top-15 wide receiver, scoring 18.6 fantasy points. But even without the solid production, the usage would have been extremely encouraging. Evans saw 10 targets, good for a 30 percent target share. He was also Baker Mayfield’s first read on 38 percent of passing plays, according to FantasyPoints data. That is top-tier attention. This week, he faces the Bears, who are just outside the top 10 in yards allowed to receivers since last season. The matchup does not scare me, and the usage is far too good to ignore. Start Evans again this week.
Rookie wideout Zay Flowers went off for nine catches and 78 yards on 10 targets in Week 1 -- all of which far and away led the team. No one else had more than three targets. In fact, Flowers ran 25 routes and was targeted on 40 percent of them. The only receivers who earned a higher target rate in Week 1 were Tyreek Hill, Puka Nacua and Jakobi Meyers (each at 44 percent). He was also the first read on a league-high 60 percent of pass plays. Not bad for a rookie in his NFL debut. His 2.7 air yards per target is concerningly low, but he is dangerous with the ball in his hands and could almost be used as an extension of the run game. This week, he faces the Bengals in what could be a high-scoring affair. If you took a shot on the rookie, elevate him into your starting lineup.
Recommending a receiver who just caught three passes for 13 yards the week prior might seem crazy, but let me explain. Jaxon Smith-Njigba tied for the team lead with five targets in Week 1, despite being limited to just 59 percent of the snaps. He should get more opportunities as time goes on, especially considering he’s a rookie working his way back from a preseason wrist injury. Moreover, the matchup is too good to pass up. The Lions allowed the third-most fantasy PPG to receivers last year, and they have especially struggled against the slot, allowing 1,411 yards to slot receivers since last season -- the next-closest team is at 1,152. They even allowed the third-most yards to slot receivers in Week 1, despite the infamous struggles of the Chiefs' receiving corps. Smith-Njigba led the Seahawks with 15 slot routes in Week 1. I’m starting all Seahawks receivers in this great matchup, and that includes the rook.
If you need a deeper option on the waiver wire:
Puka Nacua is certainly in play in deeper leagues this week. He exploded for 10 catches and 119 yards on 15 targets in Week 1. His 44 percent target share was tied for the largest in the NFL. Everyone is going to claim they always loved Nacua -- I have receipts. He has a much tougher matchup against the Niners this week, but their weakness is slot receivers, as they’ve allowed the second-most yards to the slot since the start of last season. Nacua and Tutu Atwell divvied up time in the slot, so Atwell (who also had 119 yards) is also in play in deeper leagues. Texans WR Nico Collins had a 30 percent target share and went for 80 yards in the opener. He is the top target in Houston and is in play against the Colts if you’re in need.
I am worried about Drake London after his goose egg in Week 1, especially given the one major difference between his egg and that of, say, Tee Higgins. Higgins was targeted eight times, while London was targeted only once and had a five percent target share. That’s not good. I don’t know why, but it’s like Arthur Smith wants to squeeze out wins without involving his top weapons. Last season the Packers ranked just outside the top 10 in yards allowed to outside receivers -- which is where London ran 18 of his 20 routes on Sunday. He also could see a whole lot of Jaire Alexander. Don’t drop him (yet), but get him out of your lineup if you have other options.
It’s going to be a rough go for Marquise Brown this season. He was targeted five times in Week 1, catching three passes for 28 yards. He also had a 29-yard rush. Brown can stretch the field with the best of them, but I simply don’t trust Joshua Dobbs to consistently take advantage of his abilities. Especially not this week, as the Giants have allowed the eighth-fewest yards on deep passes since the start of last season. Brown is likely going to be very boom-or-bust in 2023, making him difficult to start with confidence on any given Sunday. This feels like a safe week to send him to the bench.
Brandin Cooks was targeted four times and logged just two catches for 22 yards in Week 1. Granted, it was largely because the defense scored a ton of points early, and the Cowboys never really had to throw against the Giants. But this week, he faces a much tougher matchup. The Jets have allowed the sixth-fewest yards on deep passes and the fifth-fewest yards to receivers lined up out wide since the start of last season, where Cooks ran 15 of his 19 routes. Also, with Zach Wilson starting at QB after Aaron Rodgers’ season-ending injury, forecasts are calling for another Cowboys blowout. There will be weeks to start Cooks, but not against this secondary.
Bleh. Kadarius Toney had his worst game as a pro in one of the most high-profile games of the year. Everyone is going to come away with a strong opinion on him -- but he did earn a target on 50 percent of his routes (the highest rate among players with 10 or more routes) and tied for the team lead in targets, despite playing just 26 percent of the snaps. Do not drop him, and if anyone does, scoop him up. Still, coming off that performance (with the Chiefs mixing in seven receivers), he should not be started. Meanwhile, Skyy Moore led the Kansas City wideouts in snaps but earned a target on just 13 percent of routes. And he did not catch any of his three targets. An inability to earn targets is far more concerning, and Moore should be benched -- if not dropped -- immediately.