NFL Fantasy Forecast Week 1: Busts, Breakouts, Sleepers, and More

At long last, the NFL is back. And for millions, including a few of us pigskin Poindexters around here at Sportscasting, that also means the return of fantasy football.

Each and every week throughout the 2022 campaign — or at least most of it, as the vast majority of leagues have crowned a champion before the final week of the season — our esteemed group of NFL writers will offer up some fantasy tips for you, from the quarterback to even the kicker.

So without further ado, let’s get after it.

Sportscasting’s Week 1 NFL Fantasy Football Forecast

NFL Fantasy Forecast Week 1
NFL Fantasy Forecast Week 1 | Mike Calendrillo/Sportscasting

Quarterback Bust of the Week: Justin Fields

Luke Norris: While Chicago Bears sophomore signal-caller Justin Fields likely isn’t a QB1 for many, those who have him in two-QB leagues will be sorry – at least in Week 1. Well, likely for the entire season, but I was trying to be nice. 

Chicago, who made it clear it’s already looking at next offseason, when it’ll have a ton of cap space, did nothing to help Fields over the past few months, and the San Francisco 49ers defense is going to eat him alive.

Sure, he’ll scramble his way to a few rushing yards, but don’t be surprised if he doesn’t throw a single touchdown pass in front of his home crowd at Soldier Field on Sunday.

Player Prop of the Week: Juju Smith-Schuster OVER 12.5 PPR points

Jack Dougherty: JuJu Smith-Schuster is one of my favorite fantasy football sleepers heading into the 2022-23 season, and I think he wastes no time establishing himself as a borderline WR1. There are 159 targets up for grabs in Kansas City this year thanks to the departure of Tyreek Hill.

Who’s the most likely Chiefs wideout to pick up the slack? Marquez Valdes-Scantling? I don’t think so. Skyy Moore? Maybe down the road, but not as early as Week 1. Mecole Hardman? Justin Watson? No and no.

The Chiefs aren’t going to stop airing it out as long as Patrick Mahomes is under center. Arizona is expected to have one of the worst secondaries in the NFL this season, so the Kansas City offense should be in for a big day in Week 1. Smith-Schuster should have no problem surpassing 12.5 PPR points even if he doesn’t find the end zone in his Chiefs debut.

Breakout Rookie of the Week: Dameon Pierce

Tim Crean: For Week 1, it’s best not to get too fancy. That goes for fantasy lineups, betting, survivor pools, and picking breakout rookie picks. There is one rookie running back who earned a no-doubt, No. 1 starting job this preseason, and that’s former Florida Gators RB Dameon Pierce (Round 4, pick No. 107). 

Pierce will get more work this week than almost all rookie RBs combined, and his matchup against the Indianapolis Colts isn’t bad. The Colts could beat up on the Texans, so Pierce likely won’t be pounding the ball up the middle and protecting a lead. Still, he’s a versatile modern back, so running or catching the ball, he’ll get his numbers in the regular-season opener.

Defensive Disaster of the Week: Houston Texans

Mike Thomas: Matt Ryan isn’t done. He’ll prove it by playing behind an offensive line that will keep him upright this year. He’s out to prove he can still play and will show it in his first real game with his new team. Not too many fantasy football owners should have the Houston Texans as a starting defense, and Ryan and the Colts will show why.

When Ryan isn’t chucking the ball all over the place in his Indianapolis Colts debut, running back Jonathan Taylor will pick up where he left off a year ago. Taylor and Ryan will lead the new-look Colts offense to a lopsided win by putting plenty of points on the board.

Kicker Sleeper of the Week: Cade York

Adam Fromal: If you didn’t land an elite kicker on your fantasy squad, you’re only hurting yourself by not taking a rookie in Week 1. Breakouts come out of nowhere at this position, and rookies are true mystery bags until they prove their mettle — or lack thereof — during games that matter. Worst case, you drop one who doesn’t work out in favor of the kicker du jour during the first waiver period. 

Cade York drilled all 39 extra points and 15 of the 18 field goals he attempted as a junior at LSU during the 2021 season, adding to his school-record 15 makes from at least 50 yards. He drilled a 70-yarder during warmups before a preseason game for the Cleveland Browns.

He’s facing a Carolina Panthers team that allowed more points than average to kickers last year. And perhaps best of all, he plays for a team that can lean on Nick Chubb to move the ball but will have trouble punching it into the end zone.

Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference

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