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Slant Pattern: Who to Start at Wide Receiver Week 1

The NFL is back! With a lot of familiar faces in new places, @THEtristancook is here to help break down which WRs you want in your starting lineup this week

Hello and welcome to the 2022 season, Nerds! The Dynasty Nerds writers are here to provide you with weekly starts and sits. I will be doing the WR starts and sits for the 2022 season! As a group, we will make our recommendations based on weekly consensus PPR rankings from FantasyPros. Here is our squad and the position groups they will be covering to help you each week. Follow us, DM us, and tweet us; we look forward to hearing from you! 

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

One thing to keep in mind when making your start/sit decisions, it will ALWAYS depend on who your other options are. The players listed below are WRs that I expect to finish above/below their respective rankings. But, it doesn’t mean you need to take them out of (or put them into) your lineup unless your alternatives are worth it. 

NOTE: Rankings are based on a 12-team PPR league. So, saying WR2 means top 24, or TE1 means top 12, etc., and are pulled from Fantasy Pros consensus expert rankings.

RECAP

There have been a lot of changes in the fantasy landscape since the end of the 2021 season. The 2021 season was a solid success for my start/sit calls. I either hit or pushed on 62.0% of my calls for last season. That was actually a slight decrease from 65.4% in 2020. However, my isolated hit % increased by 8.2%, so I’m calling that solid progress. My goal this year is to continue that upward trend in 2022 and hopefully help you win some matchups. Let’s get to it.

STARTS

Michael Thomas @ ATL – WR23

2021 Stats | WR 0 | FPts: 0.0 | Tgts: 0 | Rec: 0 | Yds: 0 | TDs: 0

My first ‘start’ for 2022 is a player we haven’t seen on the field in quite a long time. That’s right, Thomas is my top ‘start’ for week 1. I know that Thomas has many unknowns, including a “minor” hamstring injury. His history of missing time is enough that may have some people spooked, but not me. 

Thomas is in a prime position to not only bounce back but bounce back in a big way. This ATL secondary wasn’t particularly well last year, and MT has traditionally done well against the Falcons. Plus, he’s playing with Jameis Winston, who is known for heavily peppering his top WR. I’m expecting big things this week and this year from Michael Thomas. 

Christian Kirk @ WSH – WR34

2021 Stats | WR 26 | FPts: 207.6 | Tgts: 103 | Rec: 77 | Yds: 982 | TDs: 5

My next ‘start’ is Trevor Lawrence’s new favorite target and one of the highest-paid WRs in the NFL, Kirk. I have been a fan of him as an undervalued WR for most of his career. However, I was shocked by his monster contract with the Jags. Kirk finished as the WR 26 last year rather quietly and now has an opportunity to improve upon his career-best year. 

Like the Thomas situation, Kirk has several unknown variables heading into 2022. I expect him to see a career-high in targets, as this Jacksonville team has improved but will likely still be trailing in many of their games. The matchup with the Commanders is also favorable as they allowed the fourth most passing yards per game in 2021. I’m playing Kirk this week.

Hunter Renfrow @ LAC – WR35

2021 Stats | WR 10 | FPts: 259.1 | Tgts: 128 | Rec: 103 | Yds: 1038 | TDs: 9

Renfrow is my third ‘start’ for Week 1. I was shocked to see him ranked as the WR35 going into the weekend. The Raiders added Adams, but to see Renfrow as a low-end WR3 was shocking. I certainly expect him to fall off a bit from the WR10 season he had in 2021, but he should be in your lineup every week. 

If you are worried about Renfrow, don’t be. Over the years, we know how the Patriots’ offenses have highlighted the slot-WR position. I think he’ll still be the security blanket for Carr and should see plenty of targets in an above-average offense. Play him with confidence. 

Amon-Ra St. Brown VS PHI – WR27

2021 Stats | WR 21 | FPts: 227.3 | Tgts: 119 | Rec: 90 | Yds: 912 | TDs: 5

My final ‘start’ is St. Brown. He had a surprising rookie season last year for the Lions, including a dominating stretch at the end of the season where he averaged 25.2 points per game in the final six weeks. I know the biggest knock on St. Brown is his competition. He saw his biggest output during a timeframe when there weren’t many other options for Goff and the Lions to throw to. 

There is some validity to that, and I think his production won’t stay at such a torrid pace. However, the Lions still don’t have much competition for St. Brown at the WR position until Jameson Williams is on the field. So, in Week 1, if I have St. Brown on my roster, I’ll ensure he’s in my lineup. 

SITS

AJ Brown @ DET – WR9

2021 Stats | WR 32 | FPts: 180.9 | Tgts: 105 | Rec: 63 | Yds: 869 | TDs: 5

There is a theme here with both of my ‘sits’ for the week. First, I have Brown as a player I’m trying to get out of my lineup. It should be said that I’m not blindly removing him from every single lineup. It will depend on who else I have to play instead, potentially. I have Brown as a ‘sit,’ which means I don’t think he will finish near his ranking for this week (WR9).

There are two main reasons why I’m hesitant about Brown. First and foremost, is that he moved to a new team. I know I advocated for playing Kirk, and I firmly believe he’s a start. But the big difference is that he’s ranked as WR34, not WR9. But as for Brown, I’m lowering my expectations for him until we see it on the field. My other reason for skepticism is his QB, Jalen Hurts. I have to admit that Hurts has looked better than I expected. But, I am not sure he’ll be able to support both Brown and Devonta Smith. So, I’m waiting to see how he’s integrated into this offense before calling him a must-start. I’d look elsewhere if you’ve got a better option at WR.

Tyreek Hill VS NE – WR12

2021 Stats | WR 6 | FPts: 296.5 | Tgts: 159 | Rec: 111 | Yds: 1239 | TDs: 9

My final ‘sit’ is Hill. I know it’s surprising to see his name on the ‘sit’ list, but it was just as surprising to see him traded to the Miami Dolphins. The reasoning for having Hill as a ‘sit’ is similar to that for Brown. Hill is on a new team with an unproven QB, with serious questions about how the offense will look. There’s no questioning the talent of Hill, but until I see that Tua can support two WRs, I’ll be playing other options if I have them. On top of that, the Dolphins are playing the Patriots, and I expect to see Belichick try to lock down Hill as best he’s able. If you have other options, consider playing them this week. 

That’s it for week 1; feel free to contact me on Twitter (@THEtristancook) if you have any specific questions about who I would start. 

Are you interested in joining the #NerdHerd? Use the code “tcook” for 15% off any membership. Sign up here and get an edge on all of your league mates today! You can access the DynastyGM tool (including our Trade Calculator and new Trade Finder), the Prospect Film Room, an extra weekly podcast, full rankings, and much more!

There are also weekly office hours in the Facebook group and on Twitter each Sunday morning before the early games kick-off. A handful of writers will answer all the questions posted, so you can usually get a few different takes on your situation. Make sure to come back next week to see how these picks turned out. Good luck!

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