Last week marked the first week of the 2023 football season, and we’re already knee deep in the injuries, excitement, and upsets. The strongest showing came from the Dallas Cowboys in their routing of the New York Giants. Dallas won that contest 40–0, a victory featuring seven sacks and three takeaways.
Week one wasn’t all good though — Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow gave the worst performance of his career leading his team to a 24–3 loss. That’s better than the Jets, however, as their Monday night game saw Aaron Rodgers, highly regarded as the Jets’ big chance to make the playoffs, out with a season-ending Achilles tear after only four plays.
More than just NFL teams’ playoff chances, week one has big implications. For those who don’t know, Fantasy Football is a game where people form leagues and draft various players that make up their fantasy team. These players will earn or lose points depending on how they do in their games, and those points are added up as the total for a fantasy team. Teams in a league will compete throughout the NFL regular season, eventually culminating in a champion manager. Every week, managers have the opportunity to take players from waivers (a list of undrafted or dropped players). Paying attention to waivers is crucial in the first week to see if any rookies busted out or any veterans did particularly poorly. Nothing is set in stone, but the first week is often a good indicator of what is to come.
Coming out of week one, Aaron Rodgers and the Ravens’ running back J.K. Dobbins are out for the season. Both were rostered at almost 100 percent, so waivers will be essential for anyone who drafted those players. Rodgers’ backup is Zach Wilson, who would usually be an easy pick, but Wilson struggled a lot last season, and didn’t show any signs of improvement Monday night. Though Wilson could still have value as a waiver claim, mostly undrafted LA Rams QB Matthew Stafford might be a better pick. Mathew Stafford led his team to a 30-13 win with 334 passing yards, and his ESPN report shows a similar projection for week two.
For running backs, LA Chargers backup Joshua Kelley is a favorable pick. Kelley is Austin Eckler’s backup, but Eckler suffered an ankle injury in Sunday’s game. If Eckler misses any time, Kelley will see a significant increase in value, but Kelley also did well as a second running back while Eckler was still in the game. Kelley is a good option regardless of Ecklers’ status, and would do well on any fantasy team.
Kyren Williams (RB), Gus Edwards (RB), Kendrick Bourne (WR), Puka Nakua (WR), Romeo Doubs (WR), Jordan Love (QB), and Hunter Henry (TE) also present solid options for teams that are struggling, each with either impressive week one performances, or plans to fill in for an injured starter. Early waiver selection can make or break a team, helping fantasy coaches survive early season stumbles or take advantage of unexpected rising stars. Fantasy coaches should pay attention to who’s up for grabs; no one wants to leave 20 points on the bench — or worse, let one of your friends beat you to a future all pro on the waiver wire.