So much changes from week to week around the NFL, and we're here to make sure you're on top of it all heading into the first week of the 2022 NFL season.
The weekly fantasy football cheat sheet provides a rundown of the best tips from all of the fantasy football content that ESPN has posted over the last seven days. You'll find answers to the biggest start/sit questions of the week and other pertinent matchup advice from our team, including Field Yates, Mike Clay, Eric Karabell, Tristan H. Cockcroft, Matt Bowen, Seth Walder, Al Zeidenfeld, Eric Moody, Liz Loza, ESPN Insiders Jeremy Fowler and Dan Graziano, plus all of NFL Nation. It's all the best advice in one handy article.
Here's what our experts are saying about Week 1 in the NFL:
Welcoming some winning wideouts
Every year, fantasy managers are faced with a whole batch of new names that they'll need to get familiar with as a gaggle of rookies who are ready to prove themselves worthy of having been drafted join the NFL ranks. This season is no exception, but of particular note are the large group of potential candidates considered by NFL Nation to become fantasy breakout stars from the WR position. Here's a look at some of this year's "most likely to succeed."
Drake London, Atlanta Falcons: With the 6-foot-4 frame to play as a boundary X receiver or bump inside as a big slot target, London is the pick here, given the volume he should see opposite tight end Kyle Pitts. Stretch the seams, work the outside matchups and win in the red zone. Bet on traits and skill with the rookie here. -- Bowen
Chris Olave, New Orleans Saints: Temper expectations for all of the Saints' pass-catchers since Thomas, Alvin Kamara, Olave and Jarvis Landry will have to share the pie. But Olave is a smooth route-runner who looks polished for a rookie -- and Jameis Winston will love his downfield ability. Olave is an especially good choice in dynasty formats. -- Mike Triplett
Romeo Doubs, Green Bay Packers: The rookie wideout seemed to earn the trust of Aaron Rodgers and had a big preseason. That might be all it takes to supplant one of several ordinary veteran wide receivers. -- Karabell
Jahan Dotson, Washington Commanders: It is fair to say that Dotson had one of the best performances among offensive skill players during OTAs and minicamps, and that has continued into training camp and the preseason. Dotson will play a key role in the offense, finally giving Washington an outside receiver to complement Terry McLaurin. -- Moody
Join the Jacksonville bandwagon?
Perhaps it's a bit too much to consider the Jacksonville Jaguars as potential playoff darlings in the NFL, but that doesn't mean fantasy value can't be found in the team's huddle.
In Week 1, the Jaguars will face the Commanders, and Mike Clay likes the matchup between new Jacksonville WR Christian Kirk and Washington's Benjamin St-Juste: "Perhaps St-Juste will make a leap in his second season, but the 2021 third-round pick was heavily targeted and struggled in coverage on 178 coverage snaps as a rookie. St-Juste aligned outside on 98% of those plays, which is notable considering he's expected to man the slot between Kendall Fuller and William Jackson III in 2022. That's enough evidence to think Kirk (79% slot with Arizona in 2021) is set up for a big day in his debut as Trevor Lawrence's top target."
It's not just with the pass that the Jaguars might succeed in Week 1. Matt Bowen sees good things ahead for RB Travis Etienne Jr.: "Anyone who watched Etienne this preseason knows what I'm talking about here... You could feel his speed. Dynamic versatility. And the dual-threat traits in a new Jacksonville offensive system that will deploy Etienne as a pass-catcher, like we saw during his time at Clemson, where he logged 102 career receptions. James Robinson (Achilles) is slated to play in the Jacksonville backfield on Sunday versus Washington, too. While that will cut into Etienne's total volume, I still have him ranked as my RB16 this week in PPR formats against Will a zone-heavy Commanders defense."
Looking for the latest injury news leading up to kickoff? Check out all of the Week 1 inactives here.
Over the Hill?
If you don't follow the NFL offseason all that closely, you may have missed the fact that the Kansas City Chiefs traded WR Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins for a bevy of draft picks. Our experts weigh in on how that deal will impact both teams going forward.
Hill goes to Miami, where his quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has thrown just one touchdown pass of more than 30 yards in his career. Hill leads all NFL players in receiving touchdowns of at least 30 yards since entering the league, so something has to give. I'm optimistic Hill will make Tagovailoa a better deep-ball passer, and Hill's game goes far beyond just vertical presence. -- Yates
Who will be Patrick Mahomes' go-to guy in the receiving game now that Hill is in Miami? The uncertainty of the target distribution might be a concern for those who roster JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Skyy Moore and Mecole Hardman. ... Valdes-Scantling is one of Week 1's best bang-for-the-buck picks, a big-play, deep-threat type who matches up brilliantly against an Arizona Cardinals defense that allowed the third-most vertical catches (54) in 2021 and made minimal offseason moves to improve on that front. -- Cockcroft
Smith-Schuster ($5,200 DraftKings, $6,400 FanDuel) is a terrific mid-range value play at wide receiver, playing in the game with the highest total of the day. The Cardinals allowed a touchdown on 7.9% of passes thrown to wide receivers, the second-highest total in the league in 2021. They also allowed the third-highest TD rate to the slot. -- Zeidenfeld
Backs in a New York groove
Be it Big Blue or Gang Green, our experts seem to think quite highly of the running back options playing for the two New York teams this season.
According to Yates, Breece Hall of the New York Jets is the most talented back in this year's class and has a real chance to be the fantasy rookie of the year: "The Jets will be without Zach Wilson and are tied as the largest underdog of Week 1 (+7 at home against the Ravens, per Caesars Sportsbook). Hall might defer some passing-game work to Michael Carter, which is why I have Hall as RB27 for Week 1. By season's end, it would not surprise me if he was closer to a top 15-18 weekly play."
Saquon Barkley of the New York Giants is back, says Al Zeidenfeld: "He looks as healthy as he's looked since returning from his 2020 ACL injury. There is absolutely nobody to challenge Barkley for snaps and touches in 2022 and, in the new offensive scheme the Giants are running, he has the potential to be the overall RB1 for the season. Specific to Week 1, the Titans allowed the fifth-most RB yards-per-catch (after the reception) last season This could be a massive boost to Barkley's fantasy potential this week, given how prolific he is in the passing game."
Quick hits, starts and sits
Keenan Allen of the Los Angeles Chargers struggled in two games against the Las Vegas Raiders in 2021, totaling a 13-88-0 receiving line on 19 targets. He managed only 23 yards on three targets on 32 routes against CB Nate Hobbs. The Raiders allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to the slot in 2021, so we're downgrading Allen this week. -- Clay
In his Week 1 FF Next Gen Matchup Advantage, Seth Walder points to Nico Collins of the Houston Texans: "Indianapolis Colts defensive coordinator Gus Bradley uses by far the most Cover 3 in the league (48% last year with the Raiders). If the Colts are running Cover 3 almost half the time, then Collins (6% go routes, 9% deep fades) ought to get some one-on-one routes deep."
I tend to overlook tight end in most of my fantasy drafts (mainly because the "main" league I've played in for 27 years lumps WRs and TEs together, so we don't use many of them), so I'm always looking for streamers. I kind of like Austin Hooper this week against the Giants. Someone has to catch the ball for the Tennessee Titans, and with Robert Woods working his way back from injury and Treylon Burks still getting acclimated to the NFL, Hooper should be able to feast on that Giants defense. -- Graziano
If you're looking for a tight end sleeper, Hayden Hurst qualifies. The Cincinnati Bengals are anticipating him to get opponents' fourth-best cover man on a lot of snaps, due to Cincinnati's talented trio of receivers, and he'll be able to win those matchups. I'm not expecting massive numbers from him, but enough to get you by on some dry weeks. -- Fowler
In a week full of intriguing matchups due to quarterbacks changing teams and immediately facing those former teams (Russell Wilson, Baker Mayfield), Justin Fields gets to face Trey Lance. ... I think Fields (47% rostered in ESPN leagues) is a future star in the making -- and perhaps the top QB added in advance of Week 2 if he shreds the San Francisco defense Sunday. If he struggles, he might end up the most-dropped QB. Hot seat, baby! -- Karabell
I'm debating Rashod Bateman at the Jets or Smith-Schuster at the Cardinals. Both have solid matchups, but the Kansas City at Arizona game figures to be full of fantasy fireworks (O/U of 52.5). Lots of question marks for both players making debuts in roles/spots. I think I'm leaning toward ranking JuJu slightly higher for the week because ... volume. -- Loza
Michael Thomas of the Saints is likely to play in Week 1 against the Falcons after consecutive limited tags on Wednesday and Thursday. Fantasy managers can view him as a high-end flex option. We have barely seen Thomas since his record-setting season with 149 receptions, 1,725 receiving yards, and nine touchdowns in 2019. Despite missing the entire 2021 season due to injury, Thomas played just seven games in 2020. It will be great to see him back in action. -- Moody