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Broncos Start Em, Sit Em: Week 1 vs. Raiders

Week one is here and I will let you know which Denver Broncos players you should start or sit this weekend against the Las Vegas Raiders.

Denver Broncos v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Football has returned and so has fantasy football!

This week, the Denver Broncos host their divisional rival Las Vegas Raiders in a week one matchup. On the fantasy side of things, this one is tough to predict for the Broncos. We have seen a major overhaul in coaching on both sides of the ball and there and many unknowns when it comes to the Broncos offense. So, if you drafted any Broncos in your fantasy draft, you may want to proceed with caution in the opening week.

With that said, here are my start em and sit em’s for the Broncos in week one of the regular season.

Quarterback Russell Wilson - SIT

On paper, this is a great matchup for the Broncos quarterback, but for now, I would leave him on your bench (if he was even drafted in your league). The Broncos are expected to be run heavy this year which will likely limit his passing upside. Add in the injuries at receiver and we may not see a great fantasy showing for Wilson.

However, if he is available in your leagues, I would pick him up. He should improve this season under Sean Payton and we could see some more explosive weeks once Jerry Jeudy returns to the field. However, Russell Wilson is nothing more than a wait-and-see bench stash for me right now.

Running Back Javonte Williams - START

I would start Javonte Williams, but proceed with caution.

Most fantasy experts are fading Williams since he is coming off a serious knee injury and will likely be eased back into action. However, the Broncos only kept three backs on their roster which is a sign that they may lean on him a little bit more than expected in week one. He is expected to share the backfield with veteran Samaje Perine, but Williams will likely get the first nod in scoring situations.

He is another wait-and-see candidate because of his injury and usage but is facing a Raiders defense that struggled vs. the run last year. So, if you drafted him, I would put him in as an RB2 or FLEX and roll with the punches in week one.

Running Back Samaje Perine - START

With Javonte Williams coming off a serious injury and potentially being eased back into things, veteran Samaje Perine has a shot to lead the Broncos backfield in touches. He’s a powerful back who can also catch the ball and play all three downs for the Broncos. So, he figures to be a valuable member of their offense.

Like Williams, you should proceed with caution here. We do not know how many touches and snaps each back will play in this offense, but we do know that they’re both going to be used. The Broncos will be run heavy and this makes both Broncos backs valuable in fantasy.

I would not start Perne as anything more than an RB2 because of the unknowns, but I would start him as a high-upside FLEX vs. the Raiders defense.

Wide Receiver Courtland Sutton - START

With Jerry Jeudy sidelined due to a hamstring injury, veteran receiver Courtland Sutton will be your number-one wide receiver. He appears to be in the best shape of his career and appears to be fully recovered from the ACL injury he suffered in 2020. Sutton should lead the team in targets and could benefit from having head coach Sean Payton draw up some plays to get him open.

The Raiders defense is not great on paper and Sutton should be able to make some plays vs. that secondary. I would play him as a high-upside WR3 or FLEX play this week with the hope that he is able to find the end zone vs. the Raiders.

Wide Receiver Marvin Mims Jr. - SIT

This is a tough one because we saw the big-play ability he possesses, but for now, he is on my bench this week. He will likely be splitting duties with Brandon Johnson who figures to see action opposite of Sutton in two receiver sets. He is a better blocker and that is something Payton covets from his receivers. Mims will be the Broncos' deep threat, but until we see him in this offense, he is too risky to play in week one.

Down the road, Mims has a chance to become the Broncos' top receiver in this offense, so if he is available in your leagues, he is a good bench stash candidate.

Tight End Greg Dulcich - START

Second-year tight end Greg Dulcich was not featured much during the preseason, but now that the games count, I believe that will change.

Earlier in the offseason, head coach Sean Payton told reporters that Dulcich would fill the “Joker” role in his offense. So, while he may not be an every-down starter, he has a role as a pass-catching mismatch on offense who will be used in multiple different ways. I think we will see Dulcich featured in the Broncos offense, especially in the red zone area, and could be a scoring threat at the tight end position.

He is a risky play, but unless you have any of the two or three safe plays at tight end, they are all risky plays so I would roll the dice on the Dulcich upside. If he somehow went undrafted in your leagues after his ADP fell this offseason, I would pick him up.

Broncos Defense/Special Teams - START

The Raiders released longtime starting quarterback Derek Carr this offseason and replaced him with veteran Jimmy Garopollo. This is a clear step down in talent and likely gives the Broncos' defense the upper hand in this one. The Broncos defense had their way with Jimmy G. last year when he was with the 49ers and I expect that to happen again this Sunday.

Running back Josh Jacobs has burned the Broncos in the past but he has missed the entire offseason, training camp, and the preseason. So, it remains to be seen how effective he will be come week one. I would not expect him to be a workhorse back for them in this one as they likely will ease him back into things.

At the end of the day, I think the Broncos sack Jimmy G. 3-4 times in this one, keep them under 20 points, and force a few turnovers as well. So, if you have the Broncos defense, I would start them this week.

Kicker Wil Lutz - SIT

The Broncos traded for the longtime former Saints kicker during the cutdown period and now, he is the team's starting kicker. He is coming off a career-worst year with the Saints and I do not foresee this one being a high-scoring game, so you could probably do better at kicker this week.

Other notable Broncos

  • Tight End Adam Trautman is listed as the Broncos' starter but is likely not fantasy-relevant
  • Wide receiver Brandon Johnson will likely start this weekend but is a deep bench stash at best right now
  • Undrafted rookie running back Jaleel McLaughlin is a player to keep an eye on, especially if any of the other backs get hurt in front of him. If available, he is worth a roster spot in PPR leagues as a bench stash.