Hungry For More: The Fantasy Footballers’ Predictions for Week 1

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Week 1 of the NFL season is finally here and with it comes our new segment for the season “Hungry for More” presented by Uber Eats! 

Each week the Ballers will pick a player who super-sized their game in the past week and decide if they’ll continue to eat at the big guy’s table or go back to the kid’s table. Of course, I’ll give you an extra side dish or two to go along with Andy, Mike, and Jason’s main course! Let me know if you think we’re cooking up a high-end meal or if it’s more like gas station sushi!

Since it’s just Week 1, this time we’re going to be cooking up winners from what we saw at the end of the 2022 season and throughout the offseason!

WR – Christian Watson (GB)

Jason serves up the first course with the Green Bay Packers’ second-year WR, Christian Watson. Even though he was basically useless for most of the year, Watson put together a tremendous final two months. From Week 10 on, Watson saw a 22.3% target share, averaged 2.58 yards per route run, and tallied eight total TDs. On the list of rookie WRs who finished with 50+ targets since 2014, only Odell Beckham Jr., AJ Brown, Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase, Chris Olave, and Tyreek Hill finished with a better yards per route run metric. That’s some tasty company!

The Big Shimmy argues that despite the change at QB in Green Bay, Watson’s elite athletic ability is what should have fantasy managers finding a way to work him into their winning recipe every week. Luckily, we’ve already seen Watson translate to the NFL level as a valuable fantasy asset, so as long as the Packers offense continues to keep him involved he should continue to cook up big weeks for fantasy managers.

RB – AJ Dillon (GB)

Staying with the Cheeseheads, Mike is ordering up some AJ Dillon to wet his whistle in Week 1. Dillon didn’t return for fantasy managers quite like they’d hoped in 2022, but he did have a very strong end of the season. From Weeks 12-18, Dillon held pace with the team’s lead back Aaron Jones in attempts per game and targets per game while punching in six rushing TDs to Jones’ zero. With a change at QB, it’s likely the Packers could lean more on the running game to get the Jordan Love era started, which should mean more opportunities to start the year.

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At the end of the day, getting an RB who had 229 opportunities last year and finished the season with top-24 RB finishes in five of his last six games is a chance worth taking for fantasy managers. Week 1 could be a tasty opportunity for Dillion. In 2022, the Bears gave up the second most rushing yards (2674), the sixth most rushing yards per carry (4.9), and the most rushing TDs in the league (31).

RB – Dameon Pierce (HOU)

Andy’s tasty treat for Week 1 is second-year RB Dameon Pierce. Pierce shot up draft boards last season after landing in Houston with very little competition for snaps. As a rookie, Pierce took full advantage of being the main chef of the Texans’ depleted backfield, finishing as a top-24 RB nine times before missing the last three games of the season due to injury. 

Entering into 2023, Pierce seems to still be the lead RB in Houston, but Andy argues there’s room for him to fill his belly more in the receiving game. From Week 4 on, Pierce was on a 43 reception pace, which is pretty strong considering Rex Burkhead siphoned targets from him throughout the year. Now with Burkhead gone, the Texans’ usage of their RBs throughout the preseason suggests that he may be the only one they’re planning to use heavily, which could mean big things for fantasy managers. Over the last decade, there have been 20 second-year RBs who saw 275 touches, and all 20 finished as the RB18 or higher, with 17 of them finishing inside the top-12 RBs on the year.

RB – Javonte Williams (DEN)

I’ll throw some special spices into the pot this week with Broncos RB, Javonte Williams. Williams was a huge disappointment last season, missing most of the year due to injury. Still, there were bright spots to the limited work that fantasy managers got to see with Williams on the field. While he saw plenty of work in the running game, it was Williams’ passing work that was a sweet aroma wafting from the kitchen. In just four games, Williams saw 22 targets, including 11 in one game. That’s the elite kind of passing work along with steady rushing usage that should make fantasy managers drool!

With Sean Payton coming to town to help fix the Broncos’ bland offense, if Williams is as healthy as he’s being talked from in Denver, there could be huge things coming for fantasy!

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