The sprint to the end of the Fantasy Football season begins in two days when the Lions and Chiefs kick off the 2023 season, and today's edition of the newsletter is here to continue to help you get ready for Week 1. If you still have a draft coming up in the final few days before the season kicks off, make sure to head to our , where you can find all of the rankings, position previews, sleepers/breakouts/busts, and more from the Fantasy Football Today squad, including my top-200 rankings.
Here's what today's newsletter has in store for you:
- Week 1's Toughest Rankings❓
- Injuries, News, and Notes🚑
Tomorrow, we'll have Heath Cummings' position previews for you in the morning and then Jamey Eisenberg's Week 1 Start 'Em & Sit 'Em calls in the evening. Yep, it's really time to start setting our lineups. I can't wait.
Jamey's top waiver-wire targets for Week 1 also doubles as a late-round sleeper target list for those of you still drafting, so definitely. Here are his top picks at each position:
- Quarterbacks: Derek Carr (66%), Brock Purdy (64%), Kenny Pickett (62%), Jordan Love (48%), Kyler Murray (40%)
- Running backs: Jerick McKinnon (66%), De'Von Achane (66%), Tank Bigsby (66%), Roschon Johnson (61%), Kenneth Gainwell (50%)
- Wide receivers: Jakobi Meyers (65%), Nico Collins (64%), Elijah Moore (63%), Romeo Doubs (63%), Treylon Burks (63%)
- Tight ends: Tyler Higbee (62%), Sam LaPorta (61%), Chigoziem Okonkwo (56%)
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Week 1's toughest players to rank
These are the 10 players I'm having the most trouble pinning down heading into Week 1:
- Aaron Rodgers, Jets – QB14: The big question with Rodgers is, how much of last year's decline was due to age vs. a nagging thumb injury vs. a lackluster group of playmakers surrounding him. The Jets are betting big that the latter two were the bigger culprits, and that Garrett Wilson in particular can give Rodgers a reliable, Davante Adams-esque alpha WR he can lean on – if not, the rest of this skills group doesn't look that much better than what Rodgers had in Green Bay. It's a reasonable enough bet, and Rodgers could very well return to the ranks of the must-start QBs, but I'm not putting him there yet. The other New York quarterback might prove to be a better bet, according to Heath Cummings' Week 1 projections.
- Anthony Richardson, Colts – QB16: It's funny, I looked back at last year's version of this list for Week 1 and I had Trey Lance listed as one of the toughest players to rank that week, and there's a lot of similarities between Richardson and Lance. Richardson actually has more experience against high-level competition than Lance did, but the general theory about their Fantasy outlook was very similar – that they'd be elite rushers who do enough as passers to be worth trusting in Fantasy. Lance, of course, played in monsoon conditions in Week 1 and then got hurt in Week 2, so we don't know how he would've panned out. I wrote about my concerns with Richardson in my QB rankings piece, and I'd try to go with a more predictable option for Week 1 if I had the choice.
- Jahmyr Gibbs, Lions – RB15: Gibbs has a skill set tailor-made for Fantasy dominance, but it's unclear what the workload is going to look like right away. He should have a significant role in the passing game already, but we might see more like a 70-30 split in terms of carries between him and David Montgomery. That might be enough to keep Gibbs as a solid RB2 in PPR, but if it's more like a 50-50 split, Gibbs might already be a top-12 RB.
- Dalvin Cook/Breece Hall, Jets – RB25/33 – It sounds like both Cook and Hall are going to play in Week 1 against the Bills, which is a good sign. The bad news is, Cook has barely practiced coming off a late signing and shoulder surgery, while Hall has been limited while recovering from a torn ACL. Jets coach Robert Saleh wouldn't commit to a specific snap count for either back, but said, "we are gonna be smart with them." I'd expect this to be a committee, with even Michael Carter mixing in occasionally, at least in Week 1. I'd prefer to avoid both, but I expect Cook to be the "lead" back, if there is one.
- Javonte Williams, Broncos – RB24 – Williams actually got some preseason action, which seems to indicate he's ahead of Hall in his recovery. Does that mean he's ready to be the lead back in Denver himself? I think there's at least a chance, though Broncos coach Sean Payton also alluded to having "a minutes plan or a play plan" for Williams, which suggests he could be limited. Williams should start, and I'd bet on him leading the Broncos RBs in touches, but we should also anticipate a relatively slow start, with a lot of Samaje Perine being worked in. If Williams truly is as far ahead of schedule as he seemed, he might end up being one of the best values in Fantasy this season.
- Calvin Ridley, Jaguars – WR15 – Ridley got a few reps in during the preseason, but he hasn't played a full NFL game since October of 2021 – almost two full years. The situations are very different for a lot of reasons, not least of which is the position they played, but you saw how rusty Deshaun Watson looked when he came back from a similarly lengthy absence last season. Ridley has drawn positive reviews out of Jaguars practice since training camp, but full-speed game action is a different beast, and a slow start wouldn't be totally unexpected here. I remain bullish, but I also have nagging doubts.
- Skyy Moore, Chiefs – WR29 – Speaking of "bullish," I've been higher on Moore than the consensus, and that remains true for Week 1 – it's a bet on a player I liked a lot as a prospect who has an opportunity to be a legit top target for Patrick Mahomes. Maybe I'm too high – the Chiefs will likely have a rotation at wide receiver, and that is expected to include Kadarius Toney, who was limited in practice Monday after missing basically all of training camp due to knee surgery. Was Moore's ascension to a starting WR role because of Toney's absence, or would it have happened regardless? That's an impossible question to answer right now, but it's going to determine whether I end up being too high on Moore or not.
- Michael Thomas, Saints – WR33 – I have no idea. Thomas has played three games over the past two seasons and 10 total since his record-breaking 2019, and reports out of camp suggested he didn't quite look like his peak self. Of course, even 70% of his peak self could still be a useful Fantasy option, and Thomas still looked quite good last season, catching 16 passes for 171 yards and three touchdowns in three games. I'd be surprised if I ranked Thomas around this same range the rest of the way – he'll either shoot way up if he looks great or way down if he looks washed. This is just splitting the difference, I suppose.
- Chris Godwin/Mike Evans, Buccaneers – WR19/WR34 – I'm operating under the assumption that the groin injury that limited Mike Evans over the past week is more about his lingering contract negotiations than an issue that is likely to keep him off the field this week, but I'll grant that may not be the right conclusion to draw. Either way, the issue with ranking these two comes down to questions about how much the Buccaneers are going to throw and whether Baker Mayfield can be even competent. I still expect the Bucs to have a pass-heavy lean, though obviously less so than a year ago, when Tom Brady set the single-season pass attempts record. I've been higher on both Godwin and Evans than the consensus throughout draft season, and I'd feel a lot better about that if they came out aggressively against a suspect Vikings defense this week.
- Dalton Kincaid, Bills – TE14 – You could throw Sam LaPorta and Luke Musgrave here, too. Historically, rookie tight ends have been extremely bad bets for Fantasy, but there are a lot of reasons to suspect this season might be different thanks to an unusually talented NFL Draft crop. Week 1 won't prove or disprove anything about the viability of these guys, of course, but you'd still rather see them get off to a good start. Kincaid is the most expensive of that trio in drafts, and also is the only one with another significant name at tight end on his own roster, so the stakes are highest for him. Let's find out if those reports about him playing significant snaps at slot wide receiver were real or not.
Injuries, news and notes
The Rams are still calling Cooper Kupp "day to day," but it increasingly sounds like his hamstring injury is going to keep him on the sidelines for Week 1 – at least.
Kupp, who had a setback with the hamstring recently after initially injuring it during training camp, is visiting with a specialist in Minnesota this week to try and figure out the nature of the injury. We haven't received many specific details, but coach Sean McVay did explicitly say he "wouldn't rule Kupp out for the opener." However, ti sounds like the setback has the team's doctors concerned, so I'm personally not expecting to see Kupp out there for Week 1. And, the way McVay talked about the injury Monday didn't exactly lower my level of concern. "We're hopeful that this will give some clarity once he goes and talks to these doctors," McVay said. "Because it doesn't fall in alignment with some of the things that have ended up occurring relative to the standard strains of the hamstring, just based on what's occurred over the last month and a half."
The Rams will officially begin preparations for Week 1 against the Seahawks on Wednesday, and McVay said he hopes to have more details by then. We could get a timeline, but I'm expecting Kupp to be held out of practice. Van Jefferson is a decent roll-of-the-dice play for Week 1, though I also wouldn't be surprised if Puka Nacua was the guy everyone was rushing to add on waivers next week – the rookie's after-the-catch abilities could help replace Kupp in the offense if he gets the opportunity.
Jerry Jeudy (hamstring) still isn't practicing
Jeudy has been spotted at practice a few times since suffering a hamstring injury, but he hasn't been able to do more than just stretch to the side. We won't get our first official report on his activities until Wednesday, but I'm not expecting Jeudy to play this week. That pushes Courtland Sutton up in the WR ranks – he's averaging 15.4 points per game in nine games without Jeudy over the past three seasons, compared to just 7.7 in 24 games with Jeudy. I also have Marvin Mims as a viable Flex option if Jeudy is out.
George Kittle (groin) didn't practice Monday
Kittle could actually miss Week 1 against the Steelers, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, which comes as something of a surprise. He suffered the injury three weeks ago, and while it was initially downplayed, it looks like it might actually keep him out this week. That would be a boost for Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, but it would force those of us who drafted Kittle to find an alternative. Tyler Higbee (62% rostered in CBS Fantasy leagues ) would be my top option if available, while Jake Ferguson (30%) might be the more realistic alternative in most leagues.
Kadarius Toney (knee) was limited at practice
Toney was declared "good to go" by coach Andy Reid on Sunday, so this doesn't come as much of a surprise. The lingering question is what kind of role Toney will have for Week 1 – and beyond, obviously. He's a talented playmaker who has shown no ability to stay healthy since getting to the NFL, and I'm betting the Chiefs will be pretty cautious with him, especially early on. Toney should be rostered in all leagues, but I'm not planning on starting him in Fantasy in Week 1.
Jaylen Waddle (abdomen) was back at practice
Waddle has been dealing with an injury to his midsection over the past few weeks, but he looks in line to play in Week 1. De'Von Achane is also "on track" to make his NFL debut this week, though I wouldn't want to trust him for Fantasy – he's likely to be the No. 2 back behind Raheem Mostert, but it wouldn't surprise me if Salvon Ahmed also opened up the season ahead of him on the offensive depth chart, at least at first. The one big concern for the Dolphins is that Terron Armstead still isn't practicing and looks legitimately questionable for Week 1 at this point. That would be a blow for the offense as a whole, though not enough to cause a significant, across-the-board downgrade yet.
Zack Moss (arm) is 'progressing well'
The Colts had a walkthrough session Monday, with coach Shane Steichen saying Moss is "progressing well," which feels like exactly the kind of vague answer coaches give when they don't have a real update. Moss is recovering from a broken arm, and while Week 1 was within the range of his reported timeline for returning, it still doesn't look like a slam dunk. I'm expecting Deon Jackson and Evan Hull to be the lead backs for the Colts in Week 1, with Jackson the better bet of the two in Fantasy as a low-end RB3 in PPR. If Moss plays, he'd slot into that low-end RB3 range instead.