Week 1 is finally here, and it’s time to make those tough start ’em, sit ’em decisions. And no, we’re not here to tell you to sit Josh Allen (vs. Steelers) because he’s going against one of the league’s best defenses. There might be a time for that, but not Week 1 (and not Josh Allen). We’re also not featuring guys who are so low on the totem pole they may not ever crack your lineup in even deep leagues. Our Week 1 fantasy busts list takes injuries, workload, and matchups into account and warns of possible down weeks from players you probably drafted to start (looking at you, D’Andre Swift, Darrell Henderson, and Zack Moss).
Remember, it’s just Week 1. Someone on this list can — and likely will — be featured in our weekly fantasy sleepers list at some point. Don’t panic if you see a number of your players here. Sometimes you just draw bad matchups from the get-go. And don’t feel that you have to bench these guys. If they’re you’re best options, either because they have the highest likelihood of scoring or they’re the healthiest, then by all means start them. After all, it’s your team!
Check back every week for our picks on who is likely to bust, as well as our sleeper picks.
Week 1 Fantasy Busts: Running backs
Zack Moss, Bills vs. Steelers (Jackson Sparks). The RB position battle between Moss and Devin Singletary has been highly talked about this offseason. In Week 1, it’s tough to envision either emerging. Last season, the Steelers gave up the third-fewest fantasy points per game (FPPG) to RBs (17.1). They’ll be near the top once again, so this timeshare is a stayaway in all formats.
Darrell Henderson, Ram vs. Bears (Vinnie Iyer). Do you really trust Henderson will be the trusted lead man over Sony Michel, even while the latter is getting warmed up in Sean McVay’s rushing attack? Do you really want to take that chance against the Bears’ defense? Nope.
D’Andre Swift, Lions vs. 49ers (Matt Lutovsky). We love Swift’s season-long upside, but Week 1 against a solid 49ers defense while nursing a sore groin? Nah, not excited about that. One of the appeals of Swift is his potential for check-down/short receptions, especially in garbage time, but if Detroit falls behind big in this one, it will likely be Jamaal Williams or Jermar Jefferson in there instead of a gimpy Swift. He’s a threat whenever he’s on the field, but there’s a lot of risk here.
Week 1 Fantasy Football Busts: Quarterbacks
Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins @ Patriots (Sparks). We banged the drum this offseason that Tagovailoa is one of our top sleeper QBs heading; however, it’s just tough luck to get matched up with New England on the road in Week 1. The Patriots should return to defensive dominance with the return of Dont’a Hightower and Kyle Van Noy, and additions of Matt Judon and Davon Godchaux. A number of Dolphins could be featured on this list. Stephon Gilmore (quad) is out, but the Pats will still overwhelm Tua.
Justin Herbert, Chargers @ Washington Football Team (Iyer). Herbert gets a rough sophomore start with Chase Young and the WFT D ready to pressure him, supported by an upgraded back seven with Jamin Davis and William Jackson III.
Jameis Winston, Saints vs. Packers (Lutovsky). The Saints offense is usually a well-oiled machine, but things rarely run smoothly with Winston at quarterback. Maybe he’s changed after two offseasons in the Saints system and extensive off-field work, but even if he’s less of a gunslinger, he has fewer weapons. Alvin Kamara is a stud and Marquez Callaway looks decent, but this isn’t the Drew Brees-led high-flyin’ Saints we’re all used to. Throw in the potential for Taysom Hill stealing short TDs and we’re not interested in Jameis playing a “home game” in Florida.
Week 1 Fantasy Football Busts: Wide receivers
Kenny Golladay, Giants vs. Broncos (Sparks). The Giants brought in a lot of firepower this offseason, but we can expect them to start slow. After all, Golladay (hamstring) hinted at a slow start in a media session after practice. He looks like he’ll play in Week 1, but he’s missed much of the offseason, and Denver’s defense should look a lot better this season under Vic Fangio. Golladay fell down draft boards, so hopefully, you don’t “need” him to start for you.
Marquez Callaway, Saints vs. Packers (Iyer). He’s New Orleans’ top wideout option to open the season with Michael Thomas (ankle) on the shelf, but that doesn’t bode well when he’s likely to see a good chunk of Jaire Alexander.
Courtland Sutton, Broncos @ Giants (Lutovsky). As Sutton (knee) returns after almost a full year off, he will do so with a new, more accurate QB. Great, right? Well, maybe not. Denver has a lot of mouths to feed on offense, and a matchup in New York against James Bradberry and the rest of the underrated Giants secondary isn’t a great “welcome back” situation. Give Sutton a game on your bench to see how he looks and how the target share shakes out.
Week 1 Fantasy Football Busts: Tight ends
Cole Kmet, Bears @ Rams (Sparks). Kmet is a possible breakout candidate this season, but that probably won’t happen while Andy Dalton is the starter in Chicago. In Week 1, a tough matchup against the Rams is a good enough reason to keep him on the bench if you were even considering starting him.
Gerald Everett, Seahawks @ Colts (Iyer). Everett has been buzzing as a possible key third target for Russell Wilson while following offensive coordinator Shane Waldron. That may happen in time and better matchups, but the Colts’ strong tight end defense from 2020 will carry over.
Mike Gesicki, Dolphins @ Patriots (Lutovsky). Gesicki was held to three catches for 30 yards in his lone game against the Pats last year, and New England has new (and improved) LBs across the board this year. It could be a rough game for a lot of Dolphins, with Gesicki being the most significant because he’s one of the few who many owners start with few hesitations. Have some hesitations this week.
Week 1 Fantasy Busts: Defenses
New Orleans Saints vs. Packers (Sparks). New Orleans was a top-seven fantasy defense a season ago, but with a date with Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Jones, and Davante Adams, it’s tough to play them in Week 1. They originally were supposed to play at home (which would’ve helped their case), but with complications from Hurricane Ida, the game has been moved to Jacksonville.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Bills (Iyer). This is why you shouldn’t draft a defense high, even a great one with big-time playmakers. They can still run into a buzzsaw offense on the road and belong on your bench.
Buffalo Bills vs. Steelers (Lutovsky). It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking Ben Roethlisberger is old, slow, and prone to INTs. Well, he’s definitely the first two, but that doesn’t really translate to sacks. Last year, Roethlisberger was dropped just 13 times, and he threw a relatively inoffensive 10 INTs. Buffalo did give the Steelers some trouble last year (one sack, two INTs, 15 points allowed), but that game was in December. A fresh Steelers offense with a new, shiny RB? It will be a low-ceiling day for the Bills D/ST.