With the always-difficult first week coming to a close, let’s take a closer look at some players you should consider starting — or sitting — heading into Week 2 of the NFL season.
Start ‘Em and Sit ‘Em picks for Week 2 of the 2023 NFL season
The first week of the NFL season is always a little rough, but my call to start Mike Evans and sit down with Drake London was a success, while some other plays had mixed results.
Well, with season openers for teams across the league in the books, it’s time to take an early look at some of my favorite starter/sit options heading into Week 2.
Geno Smith, QB, Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks laid a whole egg on every aspect of the game in an embarrassing 30-13 home loss at the hands of a Cooper Kupp-less Los Angeles Rams.
Smith really struggled against one of the less experienced secondary units, as his most notable play came from the season opener with some sound from a near-death experience involving Aaron Donald.
— CJ Fogler’s account may or may not be notable (@cjzero) September 10, 2023
While his 112 yards passing for one score was a very disappointing performance, he does have another favorable matchup this coming week against the Detroit Lions’ secondary, which gave up 226 yards — which would have been much more if not for multiple drops — to Travis Kelce less Kansas City Chiefs.
In what could be a high-scoring game, expect rebounding from Smith and the rest of the Seahawks offense.
Ramondre Stevenson, quarterback, New England Patriots
It was tough sledding on the ground for the Patriots in their Week 1 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Fortunately, they will see a much more positive game in Week 2 against the Miami Dolphins, who gave up 234 yards to the Los Angeles Chargers.
Although Stevenson struggled to get much on the ground against the Eagles, he still led the team in carries and receptions. Expect a more efficient day in Stevenson’s office in Week 2.
Travis Etienne, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars’ offense looked the part of an improved unit in their season-opening 31-21 win over the Indianapolis Colts.
One thing worth noting is how the back split between Etienne and Tank Bigsby played out.
Well, Week 1 heavily favored Etienne, who saw 23 total touches to Bigsby’s seven. Etienne also won the first round in the total yardage division, with 104 total yards to Bigsby’s 13.
Both found the end zone on the ground, but we can expect that backfield to lose Etienne heading into the Week 2 game against the Chiefs, who gave up 118 yards to the Lions.
David Montgomery, RB, Detroit Lions
Speaking of the Lions, Montgomery had 21 total touches to Jahmir Gibbs’ nine in the team’s upset win over the Chiefs to start the 2023 season.
Montgomery also scored the only rushing TD of the contest, collectively giving D’Andre Swift a real taste of their experience with Jamaal Williams constantly swiping TDs from his more efficient and dynamic counterpart in the backfield.
I will admit, Gibbs has looked great with his limited work and should see his role expand as the season progresses. However, if last season taught us anything, as long as Montgomery continues to get this kind of work in the backfield, he should start until usage swings significantly in the other direction.
Z Flowers, WR, Baltimore Ravens
Flowers exploded into the season in his professional debut, pacing comfortably with the other Ravens receivers in targets, receptions and yards.
You could make an argument that Flowers was the best aspect of Baltimore’s entire offense in the season opener.
Flowers looked dynamic when he got the ball in his hands and looked like the featured player in this revamped offensive system.
While some may question his Week 1 target share, I would caution against putting a playmaker of his caliber who looked like a clear WR1 in Baltimore in his first professional game. The flowers look like the real deal.
DJ Moore, WR, Chicago Bears
Speaking of debuts, Moore’s first regular season appearance in a Bears uniform was anything but exciting.
His disappointing stat line of two receptions for 25 yards paralleled the Bears’ passing attack’s overall struggle against the Green Bay Packers.
His next matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should be a little friendlier, considering the Bucs gave up 344 yards through the air to Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings last week.
Brandon Aiyuk, WR, San Francisco 49ers
When people talk about all the weapons used in the Niners offense, Aiyuk’s name is commonly mentioned after Christian McCaffrey, George Kittle, and Deebo Samuel.
Well, after catching eight passes for 129 yards and two TDs against the Pittsburgh Steelers, maybe we should mention his name first.
Aiyuk looked every bit the part of a wide receiver in an explosive offense during his first appearance of the 2023 season.
The Rams’ defense may have slowed down the Seahawks’ passing attack last week, but the 49ers’ offense under quarterback Brock Purdy appears to be a well-oiled machine. Expect another big game from Aiyuk in this game.
Luke Musgrave, TE, Green Bay Packers
The Packers’ passing offense generated three TDs against the Bears without Christian Watson was one of the biggest surprises of the opening week of the NFL season.
And while the rookie didn’t find the end zone in Week 1, he finished second on the team in receptions and receiving yards.
Quite frankly, it could have been a bigger debut for Musgrave if a few throws had been a little better…
Luke Musgrave is very close to making his big debut. Shish pic.twitter.com/lHg8kHjkrd
-Ian Hartetz (@eartitz) September 11, 2023
Musgrave will face a Falcons secondary in Week 2 that gave up five receptions for 41 yards and a TD against Hayden Hurst and the Carolina Panthers. Start Musgrave with confidence in week two.
Sit ’em down
Aaron Rodgers, QB, New York Jets
Betting against a future Hall of Fame quarterback isn’t something I particularly enjoy, but going up against the Dallas Cowboys’ defense on a short week gives me some hesitation about including Rodgers in my lineup.
The Cowboys’ defense was stellar in their first appearance of the season against a superior New York Giants offense, giving up zero points and limiting quarterback Daniel Jones to just 104 yards while recording two INTs.
Rodgers has the ability to make anyone look stupid for benching him, but I’d rather stay away from a Cowboys defense that looked incredibly formidable in Week 1.
James Conner, RB, Arizona Cardinals
This is nothing personal against Conner, but I still find it difficult to trust any player in the Cardinals’ skill position with Joshua Dobbs starting at center fielder.
Conner was far from terrible in his 2023 debut, recording 70 total yards on 19 touches against the Chiefs in Week 1. Unfortunately, the offense didn’t generate a quick score or pass last week and will face a Giants defense that was just humiliated. National TV.
I’d rather go in other directions at the running back position this week.
Raheem Mostert, RB, Miami Dolphins
Mostert appeared in several of my DFS and redraft lineups last week but failed to make much of an impact with his 12 total touches in a high-scoring game against the Chargers to start the season.
The game won’t get any easier in Week 2 when Miami’s pass-heavy offense will face a Pats defense that has held the Eagles’ potent offense to just 97 yards on the ground.
I’m okay investing in the Dolphins passing attack but I don’t see quite the same upside with their group of running backs as this backfield continues to improve in the coming weeks.
DeAndre Swift, quarterback, Philadelphia Eagles
It hurts, but Swift’s two total touches for three yards means you have to take him out of the starting lineup until further notice.
George Pickens, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers offense got off to a rocky start last week. Although the matchup against the Niners defense was never ideal, producing only 7 points is never good for skill position players.
The road ahead doesn’t get any easier against a Browns defense that held Joe Burrow and the Bengals’ high-powered offense to just 82 yards through the air to hold them to just 3 points.
Not to mention, the cornerback duo of Denzel Ward and Greg Newsome could give Pickens some extra attention this week if Dionate Johnson is unavailable due to injury.
Pickens is a great talent, but it might be wise to avoid starting him this week.
Terry McLaurin, WR, Washington Commanders
It’s not often that McLaurin sees legitimate competition for goals during his time in a Commanders’ uniform, but Jahan Dotson could challenge for the leadership role in this passing attack sooner than many expect.
Dotson accounted for five receptions compared to McLaurin’s two, while Curtis Samuel led all Washington pass rushers with 54 yards.
Their matchup against the Broncos in Week 2 means McLaurin could see a lot more of cornerback Patrick Surtain II, who did a great job of holding Davante Adams to just six receptions for 66 yards in the season opener.
Tyler Higbee, TE, Los Angeles Rams
The Rams passing offense turned a lot of heads in Week 1 when not one but two pass rushers surpassed the 100-yard mark against the Seahawks.
Unfortunately, none of those players were Higbee. Another unfortunate development is that Higbee’s Week 2 game featured a Niners defense that held talented Steelers end Pat Freiermuth to just one catch for three yards.
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Yes, that was the only reception for a touchdown, but the overall efficiency of the job simply wasn’t there against the Niners’ stingy defense.
Higbee should continue to be involved, but I’d rather go in other directions to avoid this talented group of linebackers and safeties altogether.