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Changing The Call: Quarterback Start/Sits Week 1

I will be here every week with my starts and sits of the week at quarterback. Let's get straight to business, below are my picks for Week 1.

With the 2023 starting this week, fantasy owners will have many roster decisions to make throughout the season. I will be here weekly with my starts/sits of the week at quarterback.

Be sure to follow our other start/sit articles and authors; they contain great advice to help you each week.

Changing the Call (QB): Mike Hicks
The Cutback (RB): Jake Oliver
Slant Pattern (WR): Tristan Cook
12 Formation (TE): Steven Pintado
Flex on ‘Em (FLEX): Evan Brown
IDP Start/Sit (IDP): Jon Glosser

Let’s get straight to business; my picks for Week 1 are below.

Week 1 Starters

Geno Smith, SEA

Smith went to the Seattle Seahawks in 2022 to try and resurrect his NFL career. And he did just that, finishing as QB6, averaging 18.7 PPG, and was fifth in the league in quarterback FPOE. It is to be seen if his performance last season is a trend or a mirage. Even if Smith doesn’t have a great 2023, that doesn’t mean he can’t have an excellent start to the season in Week 1. Smith did so well that he finished with four top-five and ten top-12 weekly performances. Better yet, Smith only finished one week out of the top 24.

Speaking of Week 1, the Seattle Seahawks are at home against the Los Angeles Rams. During the offseason, the Seahawks have an offensive line with two young tackles who were rookies in 2022. They also have added new offensive weapons in 2023, drafting rookies running back Zach Charbonet and wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba.

The Rams are coming into the 2023 season with one of the worst defenses they have had in years. The Rams’ defense finished 2022 ranked tenth in fantasy points allowed to QBs. The defense this season is very young and inexperienced. Five of the Rams defensive starters are either rookies or only have one year of NFL experience. The only player on the Rams for over four seasons is All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Donald is a primary reason they were tenth against quarterbacks last season, but he can not do it alone.

Smith’s only performance versus the Rams during the fantasy football season was an excellent performance against the Donald-led Rams. He scored 24 points, which landed him as QB3 for the week. It also tied for his second-best weekly performance of 2022. In Fantasy Pros ECR, he is ranked as a borderline QB1, at QB12 for Week 1. However, I believe this projection is too low for Smith against the Rams. I am not thinking twice about starting Smith in all fantasy formats and believe he can finish as high as QB8 in Week 1.

Sam Howell, WAS

SamHowell enters his second year in the NFL as the new starting quarterback of the Washington Commanders. Howell is not the only addition to the offense. The Commanders have a new offensive coordinator in Eric Bienemy. Bienemy, coming from Kansas City, will use his young quarterback in many ways, using his strong arm and ability to be a mobile quarterback when needed.

Howell is taking over an offense with several offensive weapons, including wide receivers Jahan Dotson and Terry Mclaurin, and running backs Antonio Gibson and Brian Robinson. Howell will look to help improve his offense, which averaged 227.8 YPG at quarterback. A quick start to the season is the best thing for a young and inexperienced quarterback. And one of the best ways is to go against a presumably weak team in Week 1.

The Commanders’ Week 1 opponent is none other than the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals were 22nd in points allowed to quarterbacks in 2022, and that ranking will likely be worse in 2023. The Cardinals have an offense that will probably struggle more often than not, which means the defense will be on the field a lot this season. I expect Bienemy to put Howell and the offense in a position to succeed against an expected bottom-five defense. Howell is ranked 20th in Fantasy Pros ECR for Week 1. Facing the Cardinals’ defense Howell should be able to outperform that projection and finish as a top-15 QB and as high as QB12.

Week 1 Sits

Kirk Cousins, MIN

Courtesy of Icon Sportswire

Cousins is entering his sixth year as a Minnesota Viking and second under second-year head coach Kevin O’Connell. Cousins finished as QB9 and had four top QB5 performances. He still weapons in Justin Jefferson and T.J. Hockenson, and they also drafted Jordan Addison. They also resigned Alexander Mattison, the new starting running back since the Vikings cut Dalvin Cook.

The Vikings start the 2023 season at home against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Buccaneers finished towards the middle of the NFL, ranking 20th in points allowed to quarterbacks. According to PFF, they come into the season with the 9th-ranked linebacker group. Besides the linebackers, they will rely on the 13th-ranked secondary to keep Kirk Cousins from having a big game.

The Week 1 matchup is sitting with an over/under of 45.5. With an uncertain Buccaneers team and a Vikings team with a new starting running back, I feel that this game could turn into a back-and-forth in the trenches game, where scoring is slow at first. The Minnesota Vikings will start slow, and even in a possible win, Cousins will need to be more of a game-manager than a game-winner. Due to that and the offense trying to get the running game going, Cousins will finish outside of the top 12 and closer to QB15. In Superflex leagues, Cousins is still a start, but sit him in 1QB leagues. 

Daniel Jones, NYG

Jones had a bounceback season in 2022, finishing as QB7, partially attributed to coach Brian Dabol. In 2022, Jones had three top-five and seven top-12 weekly performances. But even more impressive than that, Jones did not have a weekly performance outside the top 24. And he did all that with less-than-stellar talent at wide receiver. He even had 708 yards rushing, which was ranked fifth amongst QBs.

The Giants upgraded their offensive weapons during this offseason. They have wide receivers Wan’Dale Robinson and Sterling returning from injury, and they drafted Jaylin Hyatt. The Giants also added veteran tight end Darren Waller via trade. But let’s also not forget that Saquan Barkley is coming back one more year healthy and recovered from his torn ACL. Even if Jones has another good season in 2023, that doesn’t mean he has to start that way in Week 1.

Speaking of Week 1, the Giants face off against division rival the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night. The Dallas defense is coming in as a highly talented unit, and they finished tenth against the QB position in 2022. In defensive fantasy points, the Cowboys were ranked second in the NFL. According to Fantasylife, the Cowboys have the second-best defense in the NFL, and they will look to show that against the Giants on Sunday Night. Their strengths are defensive line and secondary. They will look to have a good pass rush against an offensive line that is ranked 28th, according to Fantasylife. Jones will struggle to equal his Fantasy Pro ECR ranking of QB14. I believe he will finish closer to QB20, making him a risky Superflex start and a sit in single QB leagues.

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