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Fantasy Football Week 1 Start/Sit Selections: Geno Smith & More

Start, Sit & Part of It

by Seth Woolcock

“Start, Sit & Seth” is the original column of In-Between Media, bridging feel-good lifestyle advice with redraft fantasy football analysis. Consistently following Seth Woolcock’s journey as a young creator, this series is now in its sixth season. Join him in this edition as he explains the biggest lesson learned this summer & his Week 1 start/sit decisions, including Russell Wilson, J.K. Dobbins and more.

It’s Aug. 12, a tick after 1 p.m. ET. I’m finally catching my breath – standing at a second-floor bar in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Village – sipping on the bottom of a drink.

Per usual, my mind is running a million miles per hour. 

“We could’ve done X or Y better. Next year, I’m definitely doing Z differently.”

It was almost as if, for a minute, I totally forgot where I was: a live fantasy football draft party with 200-plus people present.

Until I heard a familiar voice from down the bar.

“What are you drinking, Jim?” Eric Romoff, my podcast co-host, asked.

“Vodka Sprite,” I replied.

I don’t remember exactly how that conversation went (blame it on the nerves, not the liquor), but it resulted in me doing a 180, looking around and seeing so many people so happy, live drafting at our event.

We had done it. We really pulled it off. Sure, it wasn’t seamless. But that’s part of it.


Always Shooting for the Stars

Being average, living an average life, was never enough for me growing up.

I used to think that drive is what gave me a competitive advantage. Realistically, it’s likely just the aftermath of some pretty fucked-up childhood trauma.

In high school, I was somehow an honors student. I played sports, and I partied… a lot. I worked three jobs in college, ran the student newspaper before I could get into the pubs uptown and graduated a semester early. The day after being furloughed from my first full-time job (thanks, COVID-19), I applied for a business bank account, taxpayer identification number and fictitious name license. 

Enough was never enough.

I don’t write this to crow, but rather to make the point that I was and very much still am what others would label a “try-hard.” Sometimes there’s nothing wrong with that. Trying hard in life is usually a trait most successful people share. Still, it’s a slippery slope. Sometimes, when you try too hard, and things don’t go seamlessly (let’s be honest, they usually don’t), you can get lost in the details and find it difficult to enjoy the fleeting moment.

Every mistake, every miscalculation is just simply part of it. 

And that’s something I’ve always had the hardest time coming to terms with, until this summer, that is.

Moving Mountains or Boxes?

After spending the past three years in State College, Pa., my girlfriend, Katie, and I decided it was time for a change of scenery. 

I originally moved to Happy Valley in 2020 after I was hired to work at the university. January will mark two years since leaving to pursue freelance media and fantasy sports full-time.

See, I’m from the sticks – rural northwestern Pennsylvania, to be exact. Katie is from the Lehigh Valley, a suburban area on the complete opposite side of the state. When you both work remotely and aren’t tied to one town, the opportunity to choose where you want to live can be a bit overwhelming.

With my aunt and uncle nearby in Central Pennsylvania and having enjoyed the area for the few months I had been there previously, we settled on the Lancaster, Pa., area. The only problem was finding a house. Much of the early NFL offseason was spent scrolling Facebook marketplace or Craiglist for listings that usually ended in a dead end or a scam. There were multiple occasions when we just missed out on what we thought was “the one.”

Eventually, we stumbled across an old house in the countryside. It had more land and square footage than anything we had seen prior and checked nearly every box we had. 

As with most moves, there were so many times I was ready to give up: When my bookshelf collapsed or my first attempt at a studio background failed miserably. But eventually – mostly thanks to Katie – things got put away, boxes got broken down and we settled into our new home.

It’s slower here, reminding me of where I grew up. However, there’s still an array of cultures around found in the nearby cities and charming small towns. 

It’s the best of both worlds, a lot like we strive to be here at In-Between Media (IBT).

The Fast Lane

As the company has continued to grow over the past three-plus years, so has our emphasis on NASCAR betting & DFS content. Enough so that Elliot Hicks, my co-host of “The Backroad,” and I were permitted press credentials for the races held at Pocono Raceway July 23-35. 

The access was unreal, but so was the pressure. I had interviewed some pretty awesome people before — readers have met a lot of them in the words of this very column. However, trying to get a question out to a top-level driver while amid a media scrum is a whole other ballgame.

Throughout the first day, I felt as if I stumbled on the delivery or totally missed the mark on a question. There were a select few moments that first Saturday – while brief – that left me wondering if I even belonged there. 

However, there were also strokes of brilliance, reminding me that those early mistakes were bumps to slow me down and learn from, not deter.

I eventually found my footing, specifically when speaking with former actor and current ARCA Menards driver Frankie Muniz or catching up with Cup Series driver Erik Jones on the grid after finishing eighth. 

Draft Night Out

Shortly after returning, a new race was on, this time with all roads leading to Canton, Ohio.

Earlier in the summer, IBT made the investment to acquire Draft Night Out, a live draft party hosted each year as part of The Fantasy Football Expo. Per usual, expectations were high – mainly put there by myself. With just over two months turnaround to the event, my team and I worked tirelessly to not only host a serviceable time but make it a true experience.

The amount of kind words and feedback we received from Draft Night Out was honestly a bit overwhelming. 

Taking on this challenge was always about bringing the fantasy football community together for an afternoon in August. But to also have the chance to showcase the talented and amazing humans we have at IBT was a real honor and a day I’ll maybe never forget.

It’s All Part of It

Fast forward to present day. School bells have rung, East Coast shores have all but cleared and fantasy football teams have been drafted.

I sit here, writing – overlooking a field of sun-dried crop fields – wondering if my first-round pick in the Kane’s Extraordinary Gentlemen’s (KEG) League, Travis Kelce, will suit up for the season opener tonight. I’ve never had Kansas City’s big man in the league before. But I was more than excited to take at the 1.07 in our live draft over the weekend. Two days later, he hyperextended his knee in practice.

But, hey, isn’t that just all part of it?

Whether it’s in fantasy football or life, we’re not always going to be perfect; it’s not always going to go our way. You live, you learn and time marches on.

But someday, somewhere, you’ll learn why. 

Alright, and here we go for the first time of the 2023 NFL regular season.

Fantasy football CTA

The following Week 1 start/sit selections are based on stats, trends and film research, reflecting value in Points Per Reception (PPR) Redraft Leagues.

Quarterback I’d Start in Week 1:

Geno Smith (Seattle):  Here’s a fun game to play. Name any starting defensive player on the Rams aside from Aaron Donald… You probably can’t, considering he is the only round one or two NFL Draft pick in their first 11. Donald and Sean McVay should’ve probably walked away when they could. This defense is about to get whacked. And with Cooper Kupp out Sunday, don’t expect the offense to be much better.

That means all Seahawks, all the time. Geno Smith led the NFL in completion percentage (69.8%) last season. He also finished fourth in passing TDs (30), fifth in Quarterback Rating (100.9) and eighth in passing yards (4,282). The Seahawks have since added standout Ohio State WR product Jaxon Smith-Njigba and dual-threat RB Zach Charbonnet out of UCLA. With now offensive tackles Abraham Lucas and Charles Cross both now in their second year, we should also see an improved Seattle front. All lights are green for Smith to be on the right side of your Week 1 start/sit selections.

Quarterback I’d Sit in Week 1:

Russell Wilson (Denver):  There’s been some low-key optimism for Russell Wilson and the Broncos here in Week 1 against the Raiders. I want to shut that down before it gets any louder.

Wilson was the QB19 last season on a points-per-game basis (minimum three games played). Sure, the Broncos add Sean Payton to man the ship. However, Jerry Jeudy, Wilson’s most-reliable target from last season, could either be out or not at 100% in this one. That leaves a rather uninspiring pass-catching group is now led by Courtland Sutton, who has four TDs since 2020. He is joined by second-year tight end Greg Dulcich who had flashes and rookie WR Marvin Mims Jr.

The Raiders’ defense was one of the friendliest to opposing QBs last season, but they did add cornerback Marcus Peters from the Ravens and safety Marcus Epps from Philadelphia. And with Payton overhauling this offensive line, it could cause initial instability, opening up lanes for Maxx Crosby to get to Wilson. This is a full Broncos fade.

Running Back I’d Start in Week 1:

J.K. Dobbins (Baltimore Ravens):  The Texans have allowed the most rushing yards to opposing running backs the past two seasons and gave up the second-most in 2020. Demeco Ryans is that dude, but I don’t believe he and No. 3 overall pick Will Anderson Jr. can solve those issues overnight. This creates a massive opportunity for J.K. Dobbins out of the gate.

Dobbins has been incredibly efficient throughout his two active seasons for the Ravens, averaging 5.9 Yards Per Carry (YPC) over 226 career carries. Though I don’t believe in the Todd Monken magic wand like everyone else investing in this Baltimore offense, this should be a massive day for Dobbins, with the Ravens needing to run out the clock on the Texans. No. 27 is as easy as it comes for Week 1 start/sit decisions.

Running Back I’d Sit in Week 1:

D’Andre Swift (Philadelphia Eagles):  Man, how the tables have turned for my man D’Andre Swift. Aside from Jonathan Taylor, Swift was my favorite running back in the 2020 class. However, injuries and inconsistencies in short-yardage situations got him booted from Detroit. He’s been drafted as the Eagles RB1 this offseason, but I don’t believe he is. Kenneth Gainwell quietly rested with the starters in Week 1 and Week 3 of the NFL Preseason and took the first touches in Week 2 when the first unit played.

Meanwhile, New England allowed the ninth-fewest PPR points to opposing running backs last season, including just two receiving touchdowns. I also don’t expect game-flow to work in favor of Swift’s pass-catching the chops. The Eagles were No. 1 in positive game script last season, meaning they got out to leads. I expect more of the same in Foxborough, Mass., on Sunday, likely leading to more carries for between-the-tackle back Rashaad Penny and jack-of-all Boston Scott.

Wide Receiver I’d Start in Week 1:

Jahan Dotson (Washington):  Despite missing five games to injury as a rookie, Dotson averaged more than that many targets per game and totaled seven TDs. That is volume and scoring upside. Offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy came from Kansas City to call the shots with second-year QB Sam Howell. I believe Howell will be at least an upgrade to Carson Wentz and Taylor Heinicke. If there’s no Terry McLaurin on Sunday, Dotson’s potential volume increases substantially.

Dotson and the Commanders have the gift of playing the hapless Arizona Cardinals in Week 1. In addition to having no real threat at quarterback to keep the ball away from Howell, the starting cornerback for Arizona is 2021 fourth-rounder Marco Wilson. And if McLaurin is active, Dotson likely sees more than sixth-round rookie CB Kei’Trel Clark and 2022 seventh-round Christian Matthew. Needless to say, even a less-proven Howell should be able to carve up this Cardinals secondary, featuring Dotson frequently along the way.

Wide Receiver I’d Sit in Week 1:

Gabriel Davis (Buffalo): Bills WR Gabriel Davis had just five games of double-digit PPR points last season. None of them came in the Bills’ six divisional games. Against the Jets specifically, Davis totaled five receptions for 64 yards… combined in two games. Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed are the best cornerback duo in the NFL. They’ll make life hard for Davis, who struggles against top cornerback talent.

If you have a feel-good story that you would like to share for an opportunity to be featured in an upcoming edition of “Start, Sit & Seth,” please reach out.

And for more fantasy football and uplifting content, especially start/sit advice, you can find me on Twitter @Between_SethFF.

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