Each Friday during the 2023 NFL and fantasy football season, Eric Karabell will bring his always-reasonable perspective to highlight the biggest storylines heading into the weekend's games.
There is ample reason the first Monday night game of the 2023 football season features Aaron Rodgers and the New York Jets hosting their AFC East rivals, the Buffalo Bills. Everyone wants to see how Rodgers performs in his debut and if he can lead a team with a strong defense into relevancy and deep into the playoffs. Rodgers is a future Hall of Famer and four-time MVP -- most recently in 2020 and 2021 -- and some believe he can match what Tom Brady did by winning a Super Bowl in his first season with a new organization.
Of course, it all starts Monday, and fantasy football managers seemed rather tepid in investing in Rodgers for this season, perhaps due to his modest play in his final year in Green Bay. OK, so Rodgers was not so awesome last season, as 22 quarterbacks with more than 1,000 passing yards averaged more than his 14.1 fantasy points per game. Marcus Mariota was one of them until he lost the starting job, as was Sam Darnold. Carson Wentz averaged 14.1 fantasy points, and he is currently without a team to play for.
The Jets are obviously not going to move on from Rodgers if he struggles against the defensively responsible Bills, but fantasy football managers, they tend to be rather overreactive, you know. Rodgers is not among the top 10 quarterbacks in ESPN average live drafts -- and yes, you can still draft! -- but he is clearly on the proverbial hot seat for fantasy, and he is not alone. A whole bunch of quarterbacks you have heard of need to start quickly this season or risk fantasy irrelevance.
For example, Year 2 of the Russell Wilson era in Denver starts Sunday against the Las Vegas Raiders. Year 1 went rather poorly, but former New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton has arrived to fix everything. What if he cannot do so against the Raiders, who don't exactly feature a top defense of their own? Jimmy Garoppolo will be the starter for the Raiders this season after spending six years with the San Francisco 49ers. What if Garoppolo outshines Wilson? It could happen!
Regardless, this weekly Friday feature during the fantasy football season focuses on players on the hot seat for fantasy purposes, as in a strong performance might be necessary to shield them from the waiver wire in a myriad of leagues. A poor outing, and fantasy managers might move on. It is tougher to move on from a struggling running back than a quarterback, as supply greatly outshines demand in ESPN leagues for the passers. Some quarterback will pull a Geno Smith and become valuable. A struggling running back -- especially with a high ADP -- is tougher to move on from.