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NFL Matchups - Week 1 Preview

Atlanta Falcons vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Venue: Lincoln Financial Field(Philadelphia)Thu. 9-6 @ 8:20 pm EDTOver/Under: 45

   Weather

Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles (-2), Thursday, 8:20 pm EST.

Last meeting (1/13/18; Divisional Playoffs): The Eagles won 15-10. Matt Ryan threw for 210 yards and a touchdown. Tevin Coleman rushed for 79 yards on 10 carries. Julio Jones caught nine passes for 101 yards. Nick Foles threw for 246 yards. Jay Ajayi rushed for 54 yards on 15 carries. Alshon Jeffery caught four passes for 61 yards.

Atlanta Falcons

  • Matt Ryan - Ryan starts the year versus the reigning NFL Champions, but has a completely healthy offense and gets an Eagles defense that allowed the 10th fewest fantasy points per game to opposing QBs last season. The Eagles will be missing linebacker Nigel Bradham , who is suspended for Week 1, which means the Falcons could attempt to pound the Eagles defense with the run game. Ryan has a new shiny weapon in Calvin Ridley , but it still remains to be seen if he will be able to do enough to attract defenses. Ryan is a stable QB2 with some upside.
  • Devonta Freeman - Freeman didn’t play in the preseason, so he should be ready to go versus an Eagles that allowed the second fewest points per game to opposing running backs last year. With Bradham, who led the Eagles in tackles last season, out for the game and the loss of defensive tackle Bennie Logan in free agency, expect Freeman to get a big workload to help set up the play action. Freeman is a low-end RB1.
  • Tevin Coleman - Coleman will likely spend most of the game catching things out of the backfield. While the Eagles are great against the run, they allowed five passing touchdowns to running backs last year which was tied for second most in football last year. Coleman is a flex-worthy RB3.
  • Julio Jones - The Eagles will double Jones, but no worry, he should be just fine and is an obvious WR1.
  • Mohamed Sanu - This will be our first real indication of who will be the #2 in Atlanta. Sanu will run most of his play out of the slot and should be able to carve up Sidney Jones . He is a low end flex play in deeper formats, but a sneaky DFS play in a GPP.
  • Calvin Ridley - Ridley will see a lot of a lot of Jalen Mills which should be a nice matchup and barometer of what the rookie can do. Ridley is a risky play Week 1 and should be left on the bench in most formats.
  • Austin Hooper - Hooper is a low-end TE2, but has ahad outbursts before. Not really a guy you want to be starting until we see something.

Philadelphia Eagles

  • Carson Wentz - Will not play Week 1.
  • Nick Foles - Foles was great down the stretch as he led the Eagles to the promiseland and a Super Bowl Championship. However, he has been atrocious in preseason and is going to be missing Alshon Jeffery and potentially have a limited Ajayi. Foles will need to be able to throw to propel his team to victory as the Falcons run defense is stout and added Dontari Poe in the middle this offseason. Foles is a low-end QB2 and should be avoided in 1QB formats.
  • Jay Ajayi - Was limited in practice to start the week and could be limited or even sit out Week 1. With a strong run defense versus Atlanta, Ajayi is a RB3 and kind of a risky flex option Week 1.
  • Corey Clement - Clement was a popular sleeper during drafts and could be in for an increased workload in Week 1 if Ajayi is limited or out for the game. However, up against the stout run defense of Atlanta, he isn’t more than a desperation flex play.
  • Darren Sproles - Still in the NFL, but doesn’t deserve to be on you radar.
  • Alshon Jeffery - Out until Week 3.
  • Nelson Agholor - Agholor jumps into the #1 receiver role for the Eagles with Jeffery out for at least the first couple of games. The Eagles did a good job of getting him the ball down the stretch last year with slants and screens and will likely do the same against Robert Alford and the Falcons. Agholor has a chance to have a big week if the Eagles are forced to throw due to score or inability to rush the ball, so he is a volatile WR2.
  • Mike Wallace - Wallace won’t have a huge role week-to-week, but he is always good for a big game or two and with Jeffery out, he should see added targets. WR4.
  • Mack Hollins - Hollins showed flashes last season and could easily pass Wallace on the depth chart at some point, but it likely won’t be before Alshon returns from injury. He is a watchlist kind of player for now, but one we should keep an eye on.
  • Zach Ertz - Ertz is an easy TE1 in spite of the fact the Falcons only allowed four touchdowns to opposing tight ends last season. He will be the outlet for Nick Foles fairly often and as long as he is healthy, he is a must start.
  • Dallas Goedert - With Jeffery out and Foles starting, the Eagles are expected to play in a ton of two-tight end sets to start the year. That give Foles a bit more protection and allows the Eagles to get a bigger push upfront. However, Goedart isn’t going to be expected to only block and is an interesting play as a contrarian pick in a GPP. TE3.

Prediction:  Falcons win 24-10.

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Indianapolis Colts

Venue: Lucas Oil Stadium(Indianapolis)Sun. 9-9 @ 1:00 pm EDTOver/Under: 47.5

   Weather

Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts (-3), Sunday, 1:00pm EST

Last Meeting (10/29/17): The Bengals won 24-23. Jacoby Brissett threw for 233 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. Frank Gore rushed for 82 yards on 16 carries. Jack Doyle caught 12 passes for 121 yards and a touchdown. Andy Dalton threw for 243 yards and two touchdowns. Joe Mixon rushed for 18 yards on 11 carries. Tyler Croft caught five passes for 46 yards.

Cincinnati Bengals

  • Andy Dalton - Dalton is coming off of a down season in which the entire offense struggled, but the Bengals get one of the worst secondaries in the game in Indianapolis who allowed the 10th most fantasy points per game to opposing QBs last year and have already lost defensive ends Tyquan Lewis and Chris McCain to IR. Dalton is mainly reserved for 2QB leagues, but is a nice play in GPPs this week as a contrarian play with some upside.

  • Joe Mixon - Mixon should be the lead dog in the Bengals backfield this season, but the Bengals still have one of the worst offensive lines in football which will make finding running room a problem. His workload makes him an RB2 and the Colts defense is nothing to fear as they allowed the 7th most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs last season, but there is considerable downside as we saw last year.

  • Giovani Bernard - Bernard will be the change of pace back and receiving back this season, but there is talk that Mixon won’t leave the field in passing situations as often this season which could leave Bernard out in the cold. RB4.

  • Mark Walton - Walton is a stash right now in deeper and dynasty formats in case there is an injury ahead of him.

  • A.J. Green - In spite of a down year, Green still finished as a top 10 WR in fantasy. He gets a great matchup against Kenny Moore II. WR1.

  • John Ross - Ross showed some of the huge upside in preseason this year that made him a first round pick in 2017. However, he also showed some of the reasons he has yet to breakout with some poor routes and drops. If the breakout is coming, Week 1 will be a good opportunity against corners Nate Hairston and Quincy Winston who were consistently burned last year. WR4.

  • Tyler Eifert and Tyler Kroft - Both have shown upside when on the field individually, but the question remains how they will both work together on the field. Both are low end TE2 until we see snap counts and target share.

Indianapolis Colts 

  • Andrew Luck - Speaking of unknown quantities, no one really knows what we will get out of Luck who missed all of last season with injury. Luck did not air it out and played a more conservative game in the preseason, but gets secondary that added second round pick who impressed enough to make George Iloka expendable this summer. The Colts will likely to start Luck’s first game back by running the ball versus weaker Bengals front seven. QB2.

  • Marlon Mack - Mack appears to be questionable heading into Week 1 as he struggles to return from a hamstring injury. If he can play and not be limited, he would easily be an RB2, but that appears to be unlikely at this point. RB3.

  • Jordan Wilkins - If Mack is out this week, then Wilkins should handle the load for Indy and be a very interesting play as an RB2. If not, he is a lower end flex play in deeper leagues.

  • Nyheim Hines - Hines really struggled to hold on to the football in preseason and has gone from sleeper to watch list player in fantasy. RB5.

  • T.Y. Hilton - With Andrew Luck not yet opening up the offense, Hilton is kind of stuck in fantasy limbo until we know how this Colts offense will proceed. He gets a touch matchup with Williams Jackson, so he is likely a lower end WR/high end WR3 this week.

  • Ryan Grant - Grant doesn’t have a ton of upside, but that may work in his favor if the Colts play a more conservative game offensively. Grant does a lot of his damage in the short and intermediate routes and could be a nice target for Luck if he isn’t ready to let it loose. WR4.

  • Chester Rogers - Rogers has nailed down the #3 WR role in Indy which won’t be extremely valuable except in league that gives points for return yardage and scores. Rogers is expected to be the punt and kick returner for the Colts to start the year.

  • Jack Doyle - Doyle doesn’t get a ton of love in the fantasy industry, but he is a very reliable target for the Colts and should be heavily relied upon by Luck as the offense gets going, especially in the red zone where his 6’5” frame makes him an excellent target. TE1.

  • Eric Ebron - Ebron couldn’t figure out how to flourish as the #1 TE in Detroit. What makes people think he will be able to do so as the #2 in Detroit? I don’t get the love for him personally. TE3.

Prediction: Bengals win 23-18.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints

Venue: Mercedes-Benz Superdome(New Orleans)Sun. 9-9 @ 1:00 pm EDTOver/Under: 49.5

   Weather

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints (-9.5), Sunday, 1:00pm EST

Last meeting (12/31/17): The Saints won 31-24. Drew Brees threw for 245 yards and a touchdown. Alvin Kamara rushed for 44 yards and a touchdown on nine carries. Michael Thomas caught six passes for 94 yards. Jameis Winston threw for 363 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions. Peyton Barber rushed for 71 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. Chris Godwin caught seven passes for 111 yards and a touchdown.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Jameis Winston - Suspended through Week 3.
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick - Fitzpatrick takes the reigns for the Bucs with Winston out, but he has a poor offensive line in front of him that may be missing starting left guard in DonoVan Smith . He faces a Saints defense that was tied for 7th in the league in sacks and third in the league in interceptions. Fitzpatrick is nothing more than a desperation play for 2QB leagues. QB3.
  • Peyton Barber - Barber appears to be in line for the lead role in Tampa because Ronald Jones has just looked so bad. That being said, Barber is not a special player, but he is a running back with a starting role which makes him somewhat interesting especially since the Bucs will try and establish the run to keep the Saints offense off of the field. RB2/3.
  • Ronald Jones - Jones should see some action, but until he improves in all aspects of the game, he is just a stash in fantasy.
  • Mike Evans - Evans is coming off of a disappointing season, but he should be the focal point of the offense. The question becomes whether Fitzpatrick can get him the ball. I am not so sure. WR3.
  • DeSean Jackson - Jackson is still technically the #2 receiver in Tampa, but he is getting older and second year player Chris Godwin appeared to be passing him down the stretch last year. WR5.
  • Chris Godwin - Godwin posted his best game of the season last year in Week 17 versus the Saints. However, it is hard to believe given the competition for targets and Fitzpatrick under center that he will have a huge game in Week 1. WR5.
  • O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate - The tight end role was divided between both players last year to the dismay of fantasy owners. Howard has a ton more upside, but may still relinquish time to Brate. Both are TE2’s until we see one take the larger target share.

New Orleans Saints

  • Drew Brees -  The Bucs have a revamped defense, but there secondary is still mediocre at best. Brees is off of a disappointing year from a volume perspective, but he was actually better in terms of efficiency than in 2016. With Mark Ingram out, Brees will be expected to do more, so this should be a fun start to the season for Brees owners. QB1.
  • Mark Ingram - Suspended through Week 4.
  • Alvin Kamara - Kamara was a popular bust pick coming into drafts this season as many were afraid that he could not handle a full load alone. The Saints will ask more of him through the first four games, but there is no reason to think that Sean Peyton won’t get the most out of his second-year back. Kamara gets a Bucs defense that should be better with the additions of rookie Vita Vea , Jason Pierre-Paul , and Vinny Curry . However, the Bucs still gave up the fourth most fantasy points per game to opposing RBs and Kamara will get a lot of work. RB1.
  • Mike Gillislee - The additions up front for the Bucs will hopefully help in the red zone as the Bucs allowed the second most rushing touchdowns last year. That being said, Gillislee was impressive enough to the Saints that they cut “sleeper” Johnathan Williams. Gillislee will handle the short yardage and goal line work for the Saints with Ingram out, so he becomes an interesting deeper league flex play.
  • Michael Thomas - Thomas has a nice matchup versus Vernon Hargreaves and should get plenty of targets as Brees opens it up. WR1.
  • Cameron Meredith - Meredith looked awful until the last preseason game. He was a popular sleeper last year, but lost the season to a torn ACL. He could turn into something in New Orleans, but he is no more than a lottery ticket Week 1.
  • Ted Ginn Jr.- Ginn is a low ceiling player that can be very hit or miss at this point of his career. Like Meredith , he is nothing more that a dart throw.
  • Tre’Quan Smith- Smith was great in preseason and should work his way into a regular role at some point with the Saints. When he does, he could become a very valuable fantasy piece. That being said, we will need to see it develop first. WR4.
  • Benjamin Watson - Watson is an interesting tight end in fantasy because the overall state of the position is atrocious. That being said, he finished inside the top 12 last year at the position and could be a bigger part of the passing offense as Smith and Meredith get accustomed.

Prediction: Saints win 31-13.

Tennessee Titans vs. Miami Dolphins

Venue: Sun Life Stadium(Miami Gardens)Sun. 9-9 @ 1:00 pm EDTOver/Under: 43.5

   Weather

Tennessee Titans at Miami Dolphins (+1.5), Sunday, 1:00pm EST

Last Meeting (10/8/17): The Dolphins won 16-10. Matt Cassel threw for 141 yards and a touchdown. DeMarco Murray rushed for 58 yards on 14 carries. Rishard Matthews caught three passes for 34 yards. Jay Cutler threw for 92 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Jay Ajayi rushed for 77 yards on 25 carries. Jarvis Landry caught five passes for 44 yards and a touchdown.

Tennessee Titans

  • Marcus Mariota - Mariota did not take a step forward last season and some would argue that he actually regressed in 2017. Both his QBR and quarterback rating dropped from his 2016 numbers and his rushing yards per game dropped as well. The only thing that saved his value was the five rushing touchdowns he scored, but considering he threw half the touchdowns he did than in 2016, it was pretty much a total loss. While the Dolphins spent their first round pick on safety Minkah Fitzpatrick , he has missed too much time with injury during the preseason and is unlikely to make an impact in this contest. However, the Dolphins gave up more on the ground than through the air, so it would be surprising to see Tennessee really air it out. QB2.
  • Dion Lewis - Lewis will becoming the primary receiving back in Tennessee this season, but should also get some work in the running game as well. The Dolphins were truly atrocious versus running backs who catch the ball last season. They allowed the fourth most receptions to opposing RBs and the second most points. Lewis should get a nice workload in Week 1 and be a high upside RB2.
  • Derrick Henry - Henry is going to be the thunder to Dion Lewis ’ lightening. The middle of the Dolphins defense is a bit soft and if the Titans are going to be able to throw the ball, it will have to come off of the play action. Henry should get a fair amount of work on early downs, but is also a deceptively good pass catcher. Getting to run behind one of the best lines in all of football should make for a nice day for Henry. He is a high-end flex. RB2/3.
  • Rishard Matthews - Matthews spent most of training camp on the PUP list, but the Titans felt good enough about his health to give him an extension this offseason. That is good enough for me. While Davis has the upside and all the hype, Matthews is a safe WR3 that will provide consistent value when he is on the field. 
  • Corey Davis - Davis has been all the rage this draft season and for good reason. He has great hands and good blend of size and speed. He has all the tools to breakout in 2018, but there are questions about his consistency and Mariota’s ability to get him the ball. He draws a nice matchup in Xavien Howard, so this should be a spot in which he can exploit Miami if Mariota is on target. He is a boom or bust WR2. 
  • Delanie Walker - Delanie Walker has been dealing with an undisclosed lower body injury through preseason, but he has been pretty adamant that he will be ready to start the season. The Dolphins gave up the most points per game to opposing tight ends, so expect him to get a lot of love on Sunday. TE1.

Miami Dolphins

  • Ryan Tannehill - Tannehill is a crapshoot coming into 2018 after missing all of last season with an ACL tear. He did enough in preseason to be encouraged, but faces a defense that added Rashaan Evans , Bennie Logan , Malcolm Butler , and Kenny Vaccaro . He should be left on the bench outside of 2QB leagues. QB2.
  • Kenyan Drake - Drake was a polarizing player in drafts this season. While I was not as down on him as many, this is not a great situation for him Week 1. He faces a Titans team that gave up the 8th fewest fantasy points per game to opposing RBs last year and they have added to that defense. Until we know the spilt in carries between him and Gore, he is a bit risky as well. He falls outside my top 24 at running back this week. RB3.
  • Frank Gore - This will be a telling week in terms of knowing what Gore’s role will be. Until we know for sure, it’s hard to rank him. RB4?
  • Kalen Ballage - Just a stash play at this point.
  • DeVante Parker - Seems doubtful to play in Week 1. Wouldn’t be highly ranked even if he did.
  • Kenny Stills - Stills is similar to Matthews as an underrated receiver without much upside. He will return WR3 numbers week-to-week with the occasional big game. However, this isn’t the week I would rely heavily on him. More of a flex/WR4.
  • Danny Amendola - It will be interesting to see how Amendola fairs this week. He should be employed out of the slot where he will draw attention from Logan Ryan. Ryan is the worst of the top three corners, but the Dolphins may not run a ton of 3-wide sets in order to give Tannehill more protection. WR5.
  • A.J. Derby and Mike Gesicki - gesicki is the future, but Derby may steal some time as Gesicki gets accustomed to the NFL. Don’t particularly like either this week in fantasy.

Prediction: Titans win 22-13.

San Francisco 49ers vs. Minnesota Vikings

Venue: U.S. Bank Stadium(Minneapolis)Sun. 9-9 @ 1:00 pm EDTOver/Under: 46

   Weather

San Francisco 49ers at Minnesota Vikings (-6.5), Sunday, 1:00pm EST.

Last Meeting (9/14/15): The 49ers won 20-3. Teddy Bridgewater threw for 231 yards and an interception. Adrian Peterson rushed for 31 yards on 10 carries. Mike Wallace caught six passes for 63 yards. Colin Kaepernick threw for 165 yards. Carlos Hyde rushed for 168 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries. Vernon Davis caught three passes for 47 yards.

San Francisco 49ers

  • Jimmy Garoppolo - Jimmy G was an absolute stud after assuming the starting role in San Francisco. He had the second highest QBR in the league in 2017, first after becoming the starter in Week 13. That being said, he faces one of the best defenses in the league with some of the worst offensive weapons. There will be good days ahead for Garoppolo, but Week 1 won’t likely be one of them. QB2.
  • Jerick McKinnon - Out for the season.
  • Alfred Morris - Morris will split time with Matt Breida following the loss of McKinnon. He knows the Shanahan offense from back in his Washington days, but he is not the player he was. Once Breida is back to full strength, it would not be surprising to see him leapfrog him in touches. The Vikings allowed the fewest points per game to opposing running backs last season, so this may be a long day for Alf. RB3.
  • Matt Breida - Breida may have gained a ton of long term from the McKinnon injury, but there are questions about his ability to carry a full load and he is already injured coming into the season. He definitely is the better pass catcher, so at worst he could be the Tevin Coleman to Alfred Morris ’ Devontae Freeman. However, there is no reason to believe he can do much against the purple people eaters in Week 1, even if he is 100%. RB4.
  • Marquise Goodwin - Goodwin really took off after the arrival of Jimmy G last year. He scored double digit fantasy points in four of his last five games in PPR scoring and was often the first look of Garoppolo. While the Vikings weren’t as good against the pass as they were the run, they still allow the 8th fewest points last season to opposing wide receivers in fantasy. A matchup against Xavier Rhodes should make for a long day for Goodwin. WR4.
  • Pierre Garcon - Garcon will have an easier matchup with Trae Waynes following him, but that doesn’t mean that it will be productive. Garcon is still developing his rapport with Jimmy G, so it may take a few weeks for them to get on the same page. WR5.
  • George Kittle - The Vikings were the best team against the tight end in fantasy last season allowing a paltry 4.8 fantasy points per game in 2017. Kittle is coming off of a shoulder separation, so he may not even be 100% anyways. TE2/3.

Minnesota Vikings

  • Kirk Cousins - Cousins finally got his huge payday and will look to impress the home crowd in his first game. The Niners were one of the worst defenses against opposing QBs in fantasy last season allowing the third most points in fantasy to the position. The Niners went out and got former rival Richard Sherman , but he may not play due to an achilles injury, but even if he does, he won’t be 100%. Cousins should be able to carve up this defense for a huge fantasy day, which would help take the pressure off of Dalvin Cook . QB1.
  • Dalvin Cook - Cook saw limited action in preseason, so we haven’t yet seen what he looks like in game speed. However, Cook was dynamic before losing his season to a torn ACL in 2017 and if he is fully back, he will be highly feature at some point. However, in Week 1, he may be more closely monitored and protected. RB2.
  • Stefon Diggs - Diggs showed good rapport with Cousins through the preseason and appears to be ready to really breakout. Cousins has an affinity for taking shots, but doesn’t always have the best deep ball accuracy so Diggs could find himself being more hit or miss this year than people think. Still, the talent at QB is a big upgrade and the Niners pass defense is mediocre even with Sherman. WR1/2.
  • Adam Thielen - Thielen was slowed at the end of the preseason, but he will continue his role out of the slot this season after Kendall Wright was cut. That was the bread and butter targets for Cousins in Washington. If Thielen dominates the short and intermediate routes again, then he should easily be a WR1 all season. WR1.
  • Laquon Treadwell - Treadwell won the #3 receiver role, but needs to show something to be worth anything in fantasy.
  • Kyle Rudolph - Rudolph gets a huge bump in value from the arrival of Cousins. He was already a TE1, but this could jump him in value into the elite tier. TE1.

Prediction: Vikings win 41-20.

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. New York Giants

Venue: MetLife Stadium(East Rutherford)Sun. 9-9 @ 1:00 pm EDTOver/Under: 42.5

   Weather

Jacksonville Jaguars vs New York Giants (+3), Sunday, 1:00pm EST.

Last Meeting (11/30/14): The Jaguars won 25-24. Eli Manning threw for 247 yards and a touchdown. Rashad Jennings rushed for 91 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries. Odell Beckham caught seven passes for 90 yards. Blake Bortles threw for 194 yards and a touchdown. Denard Robinson rushed for 44 yards on 11 carries. Marqise caught six passes for 75 yards and a touchdown.

Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Blake Bortles - Bortles is still Blake Bortles and while the Giants sport one of the worst defenses against opposing quarterbacks once again, the Jaguars won’t ask him to do too much. That being said, the defense is so good it could put him in spots for cheap fantasy points if they create turnovers in scoring positions. Still, he is no more than a QB2.
  • Leonard Fournette - While the Jaguars won’t rely heavily on Bortles, they will feed Fournette as much as humanly possible. Fournette crossed the 1,000 yard plateau last year in only 13 games played and it would be surprising for him not to outdo his rookie season. There is even talk that he won’t come off the field much on third downs. RB1.
  • Marqise Lee - Out for the season.
  • Keelan Cole - Cole broke out in the second half last year and developed into one of Bortles favorite targets. He does a lot of damage in the short and intermediate routes which are Bortles favorite to throw. He should be able to continue the growth we saw last season especially with Lee out and Allen Robinson gone. WR2.
  • Donte Moncrief - Moncrief appears to be the #2 receiver in the Jacksonville offense, but he looked awful in preseason and hasn’t been relevant in fantasy in quite a while. He is watch list material only due to his role.
  • D.J. Chark - Chark is a much more interesting player heading into the season. Chark has a nice blend of size and speed and impressed in camp. It won’t be long before he is the #2 receiver in Jacksonville, but for Week 1, he is a lottery ticket.
  • Dede Westbrook - Westbrook missed the first half of the season last year with an injury, but appeared to be developing a chemistry with Bortles before falling off at the end of the year. He has an opportunity to jump ahead of Chark and Moncrief, but until we see if he can and if this offense can support two receivers, then he is best left on waivers.
  • Austin Seferian-Jenkins - Seferian-Jenkins appeared to be breaking out with the Jets last season, but then didn’t much of anything down the stretch. He gets a Giants defense that is notoriously bad versus opposing tight ends and gave up the most touchdowns to the position last year, but he is a TE2 until we see what kind of targets he can get with the Jaguars.

New York Giants

  • Eli Manning - The Giants rebuilt the left side of their offensive line, added Barkley in the draft, and get a paid Beckham back! That should make Eli better, right? Umm… probably not much. Manning has struggled over the last two seasons in larger part to declining skills and the offensive line is still pretty bad. That being said, he has some of the best weapons in the league surrounding him, so he should be able to provide mid-level QB2 numbers. However, versus the elite defense of the Jaguars, it is best to stay away unless desperate in a QB league. QB3.
  • Saquon Barkley - Barkley is supposedly 100% heading into Week 1 and if your work is ok with NSFW videos, go check out his tape on Youtube. However, the Jaguars have one of the best defenses in all of football and Barkley is going to be seeing his first NFL action. If the Giants are to beat the Jaguars, it will likely be on Barkley's back though. This will be fun to watch, but I would feel uneasy in Week 1 if I used my first round pick on Saquon. RB2.
  • Odell Beckham Jr.- Beckham makes his return to the field after losing last year to injury and he is welcomed by Jalen Ramsey . That is no gift and it is hard to rank Beckham outside the top 10 at WR, but I will be this week. WR2.
  • Sterling Shepard - A.J. Bouye is no Jalen Ramsey , but he is closer to that than Shepard is to Beckham. WR4.
  • Evan Engram - The Jaguars allowed the 4th fewest points last season to opposing tight ends, but they didn’t see many TE’s like Engram. He is dealing with a concussion, but appears to be working his way back. Hopefully we will get some clarity prior to the weekend. If he plays, he is a TE1.

Prediction: Jaguars win 19-13.

Buffalo Bills vs. Baltimore Ravens

Venue: M&T Bank Stadium(Baltimore)Sun. 9-9 @ 1:00 pm EDTOver/Under: 38.5

   Weather

Buffalo Bills at Baltimore Ravens (-7), Sunday, 1:00pm EST.

Last meeting (9/11/16): TyRod Taylor threw for 111 yards. LeSean McCoy rushed for 58 yards on 16 carries. Sammy Watkins caught four passes for 43 yards. Joe Flacco threw for 258 yards and a touchdown. Justin Forsett rushed for 41 yards on 10 carries. Mike Wallace caught three passes for 91 yards and a touchdown.

Buffalo Bills

  • Nathan Peterman - Peterman is awful. He is just a placeholder for Allen until the Bills say he is ready. The Ravens allowed the second fewest fantasy points last season to opposing quarterbacks and the defense may outscore the Bills offense in this game. QB3.
  • Josh Allen - Allen will get the starting role sooner rather than later.
  • LeSean McCoy - McCoy will be heavily relied upon with Peterman as QB. However, expect defenses to stack the box against him until Peterman can make them respect the pass. The Ravens were beatable on the ground last season, so McCoy may be able be productive. RB2.
  • Kelvin Benjamin , Zay Jones , Corey Coleman -  I can’t trust any receiver from Buffalo unless Peterman shows he can be productive behind center.
  • Charles Clay - Clay could be heavily involved in the game plan running the short dump off routes for Peterman and the Ravens weren’t strong against the tight end last season. TE2.

Baltimore Ravens

  • Joe Flacco - Flacco looked like his vintage self in the preseason for the first time in a while. He may be feeling the pressure of the Ravens bringing in free-agent Robert Griffin III and first round pick Lamar Jackson . However, neither poses a big threat to Flacco in the near future unless he gets hurt. He gets a Bills defense that allowed the fifth fewest points per game to opposing QBs and is much more easily attacked through the ground, so expect an unspectacular game from Joe Cool in Week 1. QB2.
  • Alex Collins - It was slow going in the beginning of the season for Collins, but following the bye week in Week 10, he put up double digit fantasy points in each game except one. The Bills were the worst defense in football against the run last season, so Collins should feast in this game. RB1. 
  • Javorius Allen -  Just a handcuff.
  • Kenneth Dixon - Dixon was supposed to be the future, but injuries have prevented that from happening. Now he is buried on the depth chart. He would be interesting if something happened to Collins.
  • Michael Crabtree - Crabtree headlines an entirely new receiver corps for the Ravens, but is coming off a disappointing season in Oakland, Crabtree will lock up with Tre’Davious White which is a awful matchup for the 31-year-old. Given that we don’t know that he is even Flacco’s favorite target, he is more of a WR4 this week.
  • John Brown - Brown got a lot of buzz this offseason and appears to final be healthy. He will offer Flacco the ability to stretch the field and could be headed for the breakout we always thought we would see in Arizona. It is hard to believe he will be able to stay on the field all season, but as long as he is healthy he is a WR3 with some upside.
  • Willie Snead - Snead is the third wide receiver in this offense. That won't win any fantasy matchups against a Bills defense that allowed the 6th fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers last season. WR6.
  • Hayden Hurst - Doubtful for Week 1 with a foot injury.

Prediction: Ravens win 24-3.

Houston Texans vs. New England Patriots

Venue: Gillette Stadium(Foxborough)Sun. 9-9 @ 1:00 pm EDTOver/Under: 49.5

   Weather

Houston Texans vs New England Patriots (-6), Sunday, 1:00pm EST.

Last Meeting (9/24/17): The Patriots won 36-33. Deshaun Watson threw for 301 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. Lamar Miller rushed for 56 yards on 14 carries. DeAndre Hopkins caught seven passes for 76 yards. Tom Brady threw for 378 yards and five touchdowns. Mike Gillislee rushed for 31 yards on 12 carries. Brandin Cooks caught five passes for 131 yards and two touchdowns.

Houston Texans

  • Deshaun Watson - Watson was on an amazing pace before getting injured last season. He had the league’s best QBR and 19 touchdowns in just the first seven games of the season. He looked good in limited exposure in the preseason, but will be a high risk high reward player due to the health and his ability to leave the pocket. That being said, he can’t possibly repeat what he was doing, but we have seen the tremendous upside. The Patriots gave up a lot of points to opposing QBs last year and even if it is in garbage time, that makes Watson an easy QB1.
  • Lamar Miller - Miller was about to lose the starting job to D’Onta Foreman last year when Foreman tore his achilles tendon. Foreman was placed on the physically unable to perform list and will be out six weeks, which give Miller time to reestablish his hold on the role. The Texans will try and establish the run to keep Brady off the field, but unless the Texans defense can hold the Patriots in check, the Texans will be forced to abandon the run. RB2.
  • D’Onta Foreman- Out until after Week 6.
  • DeAndre Hopkins - Hopkins is one of the most gifted receivers in the game and will love having Watson back. He is a WR1 every week regardless of matchup.
  • Will Fuller - Fuller is coming off of an injury riddled campaign, but put on some muscle this offseason to avoid injuries. Hopefully that doesn’t slow him down any as he is best as a deep threat that can go up and get a ball. The Patriots gave up a lot of big plays through the air last season, so expect Fuller to have a lot of opportunities. WR3.
  • Bruce Ellington - Ellington is a decent slot guy, but won’t be on the field much unless the Texans fall out of it and when he does, he will lineup against Patrick Chung most of the time. WR6.

New England

  • Tom Brady - Brady continues to be one of the best quarterbacks in all of football, but without
  • Sony Michel , Rex Burkhead , James White , Jeremy Hill - Both Michel and Burkhead are dealing with injuries and while Burkhead seems more likely to play this week, neither are safe plays. White will likely get a lot of the receiving touches and Hill should handle a fair amount of the early down work, but the Patriots are notoriously frustrating when it comes to predicting workloads. If both Burkhead and Michel are out, then Hill and White become flex plays, but if one or both are active, then it may be best to avoid the whole situation Week 1.
  • Julian Edelman - Suspended through Week 4.
  • Chris Hogan - With Edelman suspended and Brandin Cooks gone, Hogan becomes the top wide receiver for the Patriots. He struggled in the second half with injuries that prevented him from truly breaking out, but he appeared to have put it all together in the first half of the season. Entering 2018 healthy, Hogan should have a big season starting with Week 1. WR2.
  • Phillip Dorsett - Dorsett will start the year as the #2 wideout in New England, but has yet to deliver on the potential that made him a first round pick in 2015 for the Colts. The Patriots have had weirder turn arounds than this and if he is ever going to succeed, it will need to be before Edelman is back from suspension. WR4.
  • Cordarrelle Patterson - There is a ton of speed and potential in Patterson, but he has never been much more than an explosive returner in fantasy. He will get some opportunities while Edelman is out, but there is no telling when they will come.
  • Rob Gronkowski - With Edelman out and Cooks gone, Gronk should soak up even more targets than he is used to. Health is always the bugaboo with Gronk, but he appears healthy...for now.

Prediction: Patriots win 27-23.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns

Venue: FirstEnergy Stadium(Cleveland)Sun. 9-9 @ 1:00 pm EDTOver/Under: 41

   Weather

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns (+4), Sunday, 1:00 pm EST.

Last Meeting (12/31/17): DeShone Kizer threw for 314 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Isaiah Crowell rushed for 21 yards on 15 carries. Josh Gordon caught four passes for 115 yards. Landry Jones threw for 239 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Steven Ridley rushed for 80 yards on 17 carries. JuJu Smith-Schuster caught nine passes for 143 yards and a touchdown.

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Ben Roethlisberger - If Le’Veon is not going to sign his tender and play, then Big Ben will carry a lot of extra weight for the Steelers, which could result in a pretty big day for the veteran QB. With the Browns sporting a virtually brand new defensive secondary (outside of Jabrill Peppers ,) expect Ben to test them early and deep especially if rookie Denzel Ward lines up against Antonio Brown . QB1.
  • Le'Veon Bell - We should know pretty quick whether Bell will be on the field on Sunday or not, but if he is, he is an elite RB1.
  • Antonio Brown - The Browns improved on defense, but there is no reason to think they can hold down Brown. WR1.
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster - Smith-Schuster should get a lot of love over the middle a weaker Browns linebacking corps and inexperienced corners. If Bell is out, the Browns won’t need to stack the line as much, so that would be a negative for him. However, he is still a WR2/3 this week versus Cleveland.
  • James Washington - Washington looked really good in preseason, but we shall see if that continues in actually games that matter. He could get a big play or two, which makes him an interesting play in deeper formats and GPP’s as a lottery ticket.
  • Jesse James - Too many targets on Pittsburgh for James to get constant looks. There will be a big game or two, but they’re too hard to see coming. TE2.

Cleveland Browns

  • Tyrod Taylor - Taylor will finally get to play with some weapons, so he may get a little bit of hype coming into Week 1. That doesn’t necessari.ly mean that he will be someone to rely on week-to-week. Taylor can struggle with his accuracy and even with the additions to the backfield in Cleveland, teams aren’t going to need to stack the box against the Browns. He has some running ability which makes him a bit more intriguing in fantasy, but he is still a QB2 until he eventually hands over the reigns to Baker Mayfield .
  • Carlos Hyde - Hyde will begin getting the majority of the early down work, but with Duke Johnson and Nick Chubb in tow, it is hard to believe that this won’t be more than the strong side of a committee. Pittsburgh gave up the eighth most points in fantasy to opposing RBs and didn’t do much to bolster the run defense in the offseason, so if Hyde does get a lot of work early on, he could be very productive. Still, until we know what the split will be in the backfield, he is just a risky flex play.
  • Duke Johnson Jr.- In spite of the rotation in the Cleveland backfield, Johnson will get his touches through the air. He was top five in targets last year for running backs and the addition of Taylor shouldn’t change that. He is a PPR RB2.
  • Nick Chubb - Chubb is the future in Cleveland, but he will likely have the small share of the workload until Hyde struggles or gets hurt. He needs to be rostered, but he stays on you bench until something happens.
  • Jarvis Landry - Landry was a polarizing player in drafts, but Taylor tends to lean on the receiver out of the slot and on those short and intermediate routes. He will draw a lot of Mike Hilton from the slot which is a tough matchup, but Landry should register enough targets to be a WR2.
  • Josh Gordon - Gordon may be worked in a bit more slowly after missing time in preseason. However, he will likely play quite a bit opposite of an older Joe Haden, so if the Browns fall behind, it could be a big day for Gordon. He is a high risk/high reward WR2.
  • Antonio Callaway - Callaway will likely play a bit more than he normally would as the Browns work Gordon in, which makes him an underrated lottery ticket play in deeper formats or in a GPP. WR5.
  • David Njoku -Njoku has a ton of talent and the ability to be a difference maker in the passing game. Taylor has a tendency to look for the TE in those short route, so this could be a breakout season for him. Low-end TE1.

Prediction: Steelers win 27-17.

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Los Angeles Chargers

Venue: StubHub Center(Carson)Sun. 9-9 @ 4:05 pm EDTOver/Under: 48

   Weather

Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers (-3.5), Sunday, 4:05 pm EST.

Last meeting (12/16/2017): The Chargers won 30-13. Philip Rivers threw for 227 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions. Melvin Gordon rushed for 78 yards and touchdown on a 19 carries. Keenan Allen caught five passes for 54 yards. Alex Smith threw for 231 yards and two touchdowns.

Kansas City

  • Patrick Mahomes : Mahomes is the man in KC now that the Chiefs have traded Alex Smith to the Redskins. However, in spite of apparent tools and the starting gig, it is hard to access what Mahomes and this offense will be. The Chargers may have lost Jason Verrett already to an achilles injury, but they still have one of the best defenses in the league. The Chargers allowed the fourth fewest fantasy points per game to opposing QBs, so Mahomes is a QB2 until we see more.
  • Kareem Hunt : Hunt was one of the best players in fantasy last season, yet somehow he came into drafts  bit underrated. In 2017, he scored at least 9.3 fantasy points in 15 of his 16 games and broke the 20 point mark six times including Weeks 14-16. He should be heavily relied upon early in the season to take some pressure off of Mahomes. The way to beat the Charger defense is through the run game. They allowed the most rushing yards to running backs last season (tied with the Bills.) Hunt is an elite RB1.
  • Tyreek Hill : The Chargers sported a top 10 defense against fantasy wide receivers last season, but that didn’t stop Hill from torching them i both divisional games against Los Angeles. Hill should benefit from finally having another wideout worth paying attention to lining up across from him in Watkins. WR1.
  • Sammy Watkins : Watkins will be an interesting player to watch early in the season. I have never been a big fan of his as he struggles to stay on the field. He did play in 14 of 16 games last year, but was never able to connect with Goff with the Rams. He is still very young and could final blossom into the player the Bills thought they were getting in the first round years ago. The matchup with Casey Hayward may be too great however. WR4.
  • Travis Kelce : The Chargers were very good against the tight end last season, but Kelce is still an elite option no matter the matchup. TE1.

Los Angeles Chargers

  • Philip Rivers - Rivers isn’t a stud by any stretch of the imagination at this point of his career, but he has put up at least 4,250 yards and 28 touchdowns in each five seasons. The Chiefs were awful against the pass last season and even with the addition of Kendall Fuller , they don’t project to be a ton better. High-floor QB2.
  • Melvin Gordon - Gordon had a few struggles last year, but was otherwise great once again. He is one of the few true workhorse backs and as long as he is healthy he is a RB1.
  • Keenan Allen - Allen rebounded from a lost 2016 to put up his best season as a pro in 2017. He is a PPR monster that still has room to grow considering he only scored six times last year. WR1.
  • Mike Williams - Williams flashed the upside that made him the seventh overall pick last year. He struggled to get on to the field in 2017, but now appears to be fully healthy and could be a big red zone threat for Philip Rivers . The Chiefs gave up the most fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers last year and while they added Kendall Fuller , he will likely follow Allen. Williams is a high upside WR3.
  • Antonio Gates - Gates is back! He will likely be a target for Rivers, but may need to work himself back into playing shape early on in the season. He may not even be active Week 1. 

Prediction: Chargers win 20-17.

Washington Redskins vs. Arizona Cardinals

Venue: University of Phoenix Stadium(Glendale)Sun. 9-9 @ 4:25 pm EDTOver/Under: 43.5

   Weather

Washington Redskins at Arizona Cardinals (0), Sunday, 4:25 pm EST.

Last Meeting (12/4/16): The Cardinals won 31-23. Kirk Cousins threw for 271 yards, one touchdown, and an interception. Rob Kelley rushed for 63 yards on 14 carries. Pierre Garcon caught seven passes for 78 yards. Carson Palmer threw for 300 yards and three touchdowns. David Johnson rushed for 84 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. Larry Fitzgerald caught 10 passes for 78 yards.

Washington Redskins

  • Alex Smith - Smith finally broke out in 2017 after years of mediocrity. He is best when he doesn’t stretch the field so it will be interesting to see if the Redskins, who pushed the ball more with Kirk Cousins , will turn him loose. Arizona’s secondary is nothing to write home about, but it may be easier to attack than the very good front seven of the Cardinals defense. Smith is a QB2 with a pretty safe floor and an unknown upside in his first game with his new team.
  • Adrian Peterson - After losing rookie Derrius Guice for the season the Redskins went out and signed former superstar Adrian Peterson . Peterson struggled to start thee year in 2017 with the Saints, but had some moments with the Cardinals that looked vintage AD before getting hurt. He looked good in his preseason action with the Redskins and has the early down work lock down at this point. He gets a strong Cardinals run defense that allowed the fourth fewest fantasy points per game to opposing RBs last year. He is a low end RB2.
  • Samaje Perine - Just a handcuff.
  • Chris Thompson - Thompson was on his way to a breakout season with Washington last year before breaking his leg in Week 11 versus the Saints. Through the first 10 games he posted seven double digits point totals in PPR scoring. He is questionable for Week 1, but will be an important piece of this Redskins offense once he is fully healthy. RB3/4.
  • Jamison Crowder - Crowder gains the most value out of the receivers from Mr. Smith coming to Washington. Smith loves the routes that Crowder runs out of the slot and he could become a favorite target for Smith. Budda Baker is a pretty good slot corner for the Cardinals, but if Crowder gets a good target share, he is bound to break something. WR2/3.
  • Josh Doctson - Doctson has all the talent in the world, but has yet to deliver on the potential Washington saw in him when they took him in the first round. With a new QB in tow, it remains to be seen if he will develop into the player that we think he can be and if Smith will be willing to push the ball down the field to him. He did see a marketable uptick in snaps over the second half of the season, so Washington is trying to put him in a position to succeed. WR4.
  • Paul Richardson - Richardson signed a big deal with the Skins in the offense making on think he will be a big part of the offense. That being said, like Doctson, he is largely unproven and we will need to see chemistry with Smith before he starts moving up the ranks. WR4.
  • Jordan Reed - Reed has been one of the best tight ends in the league when healthy. The problem with that is that he rarely is on the field. He appears to be on track  for Week 1. Low-end TE1.

Arizona Cardinals

  • Sam Bradford - Bradford did enough to win the starting jobin Arizona over rookie Josh Rosen , however, he hasn’t played in a regular season game since Week 5 of last year and he is clearly just keeping the seat warm for Josh Rosen . The Redskins were good against the pass last year but did lose Kendall Fuller in the Alex Smith trade. With the return of David Johnson , the Cardinals will likely attack what was one of the worst rush defenses in the league last season instead of putting pressure of Bradford. QB3.
  • Josh Rosen - Waiting in the wings...
  • David Johnson - Johnson returns after tearing his ACL to face a rush defense that allowed over 20 points per game to opposing running backs last season. He would be an elite RB even if he didn’t have this cake matchup.
  • Larry Fitzgerald - Fitzgerald will continue to be the leader of the passing game as he has for over a decade. The loss of Fuller, who played out of the slot for the Redskins, creates a nice mismatch even if Josh Norman slides over to shadow Fitz. WR2.
  • Christian Kirk - Kirk impressed in camp, but still has a ways to go before he is fantasy relevant other than a stash. WR5.
  • Jermaine Gresham - Gresham had moment last year that reminded people why he was a first round pick years ago. However, they were very few and far between. Gresham is nothing more than a low-end TE2, if that.

Prediction: Cardinals win 24-23.

Seattle Seahawks vs. Denver Broncos

Venue: Sports Authority Field at Mile High(Denver)Sun. 9-9 @ 4:25 pm EDTOver/Under: 42.5

   Weather

Seattle Seahawks at Denver Broncos (-3), Sunday, 4:25 pm EST.

Last Meeting (9/21/14): The Seahawks won 26-20. Peyton Manning threw for 303 yards and two touchdowns. Montee Ball rushed for 38 yards on 14 carries. Emmanuel Sanders caught 11 passes for 149 yards. Russell Wilson threw for 258 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. Marshawn Lynch rushed for 88 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries. Doug Baldwin caught four passes for 56 yards. 

Seattle Seahawks

  • Russell Wilson - Wilson has been a miracle worker behind an awful offensive line for years. 2018 will need to be no different as he returns with a poor line and even less weapons this year. Wilson continues to do a lot with very little, so I am not worried by the marks against him.  The Broncos are much easier to throw against than run, so expect Wilson to hoist the team on his small shoulders once again. QB1.
  • Chris Carson - With Penny missing so much time in the preseason, Carson was able to grab the starting running back role and run away with it. However, the Broncos allowed the 6th fewest points per game last year to opposing running backs making him a tough play this week. RB2/3.
  • Rashaad Penny - Penny is expected to be ready for Week 1, but will just be a backup for now. The Seahawks spent a high pick on him, so he could become the starter pretty quick. RB4.
  • Doug Baldwin - Baldwin is supposedly not 100% and won’t be for the entire season. That being said, he is one of the few remaining weapons for Wilson and will be highly involved in the passing game. There is no corner on the Broncos that can cover him all game so expect a big game from him. WR1.
  • Tyler Lockett - The Seahawks believe that Lockett is now ready to take a big leap and rewarded him with a big contract extension. Lockett is the clear #2 receiver in the offense, but can be very boom or bust for fantasy. This is a defense he could do damage against, but it is very risky. WR4.
  • Brandon Marshall - I am surprised he made the roster, but he could be an interesting guy once he acclimates to the offense and is completely healthy. The reports were good coming out of camp. Ignore him Week 1.

Denver Broncos

  • Case Keenum - Keenum comes over to Denver after a big year for the Vikings, but while he was good for Minnesota down the stretch it is hard to believe he will be able to repeat the success he found behind one of the worst offensive lines in football. With Earl Thomas not reporting and the loss of Richard Sherman , the Seahawks secondary is no longer the Legion of Boom. However, Keenum is no more than a QB2 in fantasy.
  • Royce Freeman - Freeman appears to be the starter heading into Week 1 and impressed in camp, but the Broncos will face some stacked boxes as defenses force Keenum to prove 2017 wasn’t a fluke. The workload alone keeps him as a RB2, but it remains to be seen if there is enough firepower in this offense to make him anything more than that.
  • Demaryius Thomas - Thomas’ season in 2017 was a bit uneven, but while he didn’t have monster games he delivered 11 double digit fantasy games last year. He gets a Seattle secondary that is on the decline, so he should be able to return WR2 numbers.
  • Emmanuel Sanders - Sanders was very hit or miss last year, but that was largely due to poor quarterback play the plagued the entire offense and injury which forced him to miss four games. He will see a lot of Dontae Johnson which could be great for him in Week 1, but until we see a rapport with Keenum, he is mostly a flex option at best.
  • Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton - Both are talented rookies, but until we see that this offense can support multiple wide receivers, they are dynasty stashes for now.
  • Jake Butt and Jeff Heuerman -Butt is an interesting sleeper after missing all of 2017. However, we need to see him on the field and what the target share for both tight ends look like before either of them can be more than a TE3.

Prediction: Seahawks win 16-13.

Dallas Cowboys vs. Carolina Panthers

Venue: Bank of America Stadium(Charlotte)Sun. 9-9 @ 4:25 pm EDTOver/Under: 42

   Weather

Dallas Cowboys at Carolina Panthers (-3), Sunday, 4:25 pm EST

Last Meeting (11/26/15): Panthers won 33-14. Cam Newton threw for 183 yards. Jonathan Stewart rushed for 68 yards on 21 carries. Greg Olsen caught five passes for 70 yards. Tony Romo threw doe 106 yards and three interceptions. Darren McFadden rushed for 11 yards on 10 carries. Cole Beasley caught six passes for 44 yards and a touchdown. 

Dallas Cowboys

  • Dak Prescott - Prescott took a major step back last season once Ezekiel Elliott was suspended, but with Zeke back for a full season, Prescott should be able to be the kind of player he was in 2017. However, he has a hodgepodge group of wide receivers and the Cowboys will feature a run heavy attack that helps limit his upside. The Panthers have a pretty darn good run defense, so he may need to shoulder a bit more of the load Week 1. QB2.
  • Ezekiel Elliott - Elliott will likely receive one of the largest workloads in the NFL this season as the Cowboys try to ride him into the playoffs. This week is a tough matchup versus a Panthers defense that allowed the third fewest points per game to opposing RBs. However, you cannot bench Zeke in any format. RB1.
  • Michael Gallup , Allen Hurns , Cole Beasley , Terrance Williams - Who knows who is going to emerge from this group of wide receivers? Gallup looks polished for a rookie and Hurns had some rapport with Prescott, but your guess is as good as mine until we see them in action. The Panthers struggled against opposing wide receivers last year, allowing the fourth most fantasy points per game to the position. All are worth as cheap GPP options.

Carolina Panthers

  • Cam Newton - The line was already bad before losing Matt Kalil for the season to a knee injury. Now, the Panthers are likely to be missing Daryl Williams as well for Week 1. It is a good things that Cam can move in the pocket because he is probably going to have to. The Cowboys secondary is going to have their own problems though as they will likely be without Xavier Woods and have gotten inconsistent play from their corners. Newtion is still a QB1, but we will need to see what he looks like behind that offensive line.
  • Christian McCaffrey -  McCaffrey was great in his rookie season for the Panthers, but with Jonathan Stewart gone, he will look to increase his workload within the offense. McCaffrey gets a Dallas run defense that held running backs to the 7th fewest points per game last year, but they were torched by receiving backs. Dallas gave up the fifth most receptions and yards to running backs last season. McCaffrey is a RB1 this week in spite of the line concerns. 
  • C.J. Anderson -  Anderson will be the goalline and short yardage back this year and while that has value in some offenses, Cam Newton tends to steal a lot of that thunder. RB5.
  • Devin Funchess - Funchess made strides a route runner last season, but still struggles with drops and consistency. He is a great red zone target, but Cam will take some of those away with his own ability. Dallas gave up the ninth most fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers. Funchess is a WR3 this week.
  • D.J. Moore - Moore has a ton of raw ability and it was on show during the preseason. He has the talent to be the best receiver in Carolina since Steve Smith. The Panthers will likely look for him fairly often as he can make game changing plays and against a weak Dallas secondary he should have some nice opportunities.
  • Greg Olsen - After a season derailed by injury, Olsen appears to be back and ready to be Newton’s favorite target once again. TE1.

Prediction: Carolina wins 20-14.

Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers

Venue: Lambeau Field(Green Bay)Sun. 9-9 @ 8:20 pm EDTOver/Under: 45

   Weather

Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers (-7.5), Sunday, 8:20 pm EST.

Last Meeting (11/12/17): The Packers won 23-16. Brett Hundley threw for 212 yards and a touchdown. Jamal Williams rushed for 67 yards on 20 carries. Davante Adams caught five passes for 90 yards and a touchdown. Mitch Trubisky threw for 297 yards and a touchdown. Jordan Howard rushed for 54 yards on 15 carries. Dontrelle Inman caught six passes for 88 yards.

Green Bay Packers

  • Aaron Rodgers - Rodgers is the top quarterback in the game and while this is a tough matchup, you are never sitting him in fantasy.
  • Aaron Jones - Suspended through Week 2.
  • Jamaal Williams - With Jones suspended, Williams will be the bell cow for the first two weeks. Williams has been praised by the organization this summer and could grab the role if he plays well enough. The Bear allowed the 10th fewest fantasy points per game to opposing running backs last year, but that was in  larger part to amount because they were very good against receiving backs, so it is not as tough a matchup as it would seem. RB2.  
  • Ty Montgomery - The Bear were great against receiving backs as mentioned above. They allowed only one receiving touchdown to running backs last year and 621 yards out of the backfield which was 7th best in the league. This is not a good week to gamble on Montgomery.
  • Davante Adams - Adams is one of the best receivers in the league and with Rodgers throwing to him he is bound to make plays. WR1.
  • Randall Cobb - Cobb went from “on the block” to the #2 receiver overnight in Green Bay. It remains to be seen what his target share will be this year, so until that time, he is a flex play at best.
  • Geronimo Allison - Allison was expected to be the #2 receiver in Green Bay and he still may be, but until we see it, he is a lower end flex play.
  • Jimmy Graham - There has been a lot of talk that Green Bay has not historically been a great place  for tight end, but Aaron Rodgers has never had a Jimmy Graham type of talent at tight end. He should be fine. TE1.

Chicago Bears

  • Mitchell Trubisky -  Trubitsky has a lot of sleeper hype attached to his name and with new weapons in Robinson and Burton, he won’t have many excuses. The Packers were atrocious versus the pass last year allowing the 6th most fantasy points per game. That being said, Trubitsky needs to show massive improvement before he should be trusted outside of 2QB leagues.
  • Jordan Howard -  Howard didn’t have to share the load much in 2017 and has established himself as the lead back coming into the season. Head coach Matt Nagy has said he will keep him on the field more on third downs, so this could be another big year for Howard. RB2.
  • Tarik Cohen - Cohen definitely benefited from a coaching change as he went from breakout to forgotten man in huyst a few short weeks. If the Bears struggle, he could be put in as a receiving option over the less inept Packers.
  • Allen Robinson - Robinson got used to playing from behind and racking up the fantasy points in garbage time. That will likely happen often in Chicago including this week. Maz Tolev!
  • Anthony Miller - Miller showed off a ton of upside in the preseason and camp, but may take a bit to adjust to the pros. He is a interesting lottery ticket considering the Packers gave up the second most fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers last year. WR3/4.
  • Trey Burton - The Packers were great against the tight end last season, but Burton should get a lot of attention after signing a big free agent deal over the spring. TE1.

Prediction: Packers win 24-13.

New York Jets vs. Detroit Lions

Venue: Ford Field(Detroit)Mon. 9-10 @ 7:10 pm EDTOver/Under: 44.5

   Weather

New York Jets at Detroit Lions (-6.5), Monday, 7:10 pm EST.

Last Meeting (9/28/14): The Lions won 24-17. Matthew Stafford threw for 293 yards and two touchdowns. Reggie Bush rushed for 46 yards on 12 carries. Golden Tate caught eight passes for 116 yards. Geno Smith threw for 209 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Chris Ivory rushed for 84 yards on 17 carries. Greg Salas caught two passes for 60 yards.

New York Jets

  • Sam Darnold - The Jets were impressed enough by the rookie to throw him to the wolves. With a lack of talent in the backfield and on the offensive line, he will need to be very good early on if the Jets want to be decent. This is a bad situation for the rookie and he should be avoided outside of the deepest of formats.
  • Isaiah Crowell - Crowell is expected to get a lot of the early down work in New York, but expect teams to stack the box adn force the rookie Qb to beat them early in the season. The Lions did allow the fifth most fantasy points points to opposing running backs last year making him an interesting flex play Week 1.
  • Bilal Powell - Powell will likely just be the change of pace and receiving back for the Jets. Though the Jets will likely be down often spo that could have some decent value in  PPR formats. While the Lions gave up a ton of points last year to opposing running backs, it was not to receiving backs. The Lions only allowed two receiving TDs to opposing RBs last year. RB5
  • Robby Anderson - Anderson may be the only usable fantasy piece on the Jets Week 1. Anderson has game breaking ability and he gets a will likely be heavily targeted especially once the Jets are down. Over his last 11 games last year, he had at least double digit fantasy points in eight games for the Jets. He and Darnold will likely become garbage time friends. WR3.
  • Jermaine Kearse - Doubtful for Week 1.
  • Terrelle Pryor - Pryor has a chance to cement himself a role in New York, but that isn’t worth gambling on in fantasy. WR6.

Detroit Lions

  • Matthew Stafford - Stafford has been one of the steadiest quarterbacks in the game in spite of having a reputation for injury. He threw for over 4.000 yards in 2017 for the seventh consecutive time and registered 29 touchdowns to only 10 interceptions. He did not have a game in which he was held under double digit fantasy points which shows his amazing floor. He gets a rebuilding Jets team that allowed the fourth most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, so he is easily a QB1.
  • LeGarrette Blount - Blount likely starts with the larger share of the workload to begin the season, but the 31-year-old is past his prime and it is only a matter of time before the rookie Kerryon Johnson leapfrogs him. The Jets gave up the ninth most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs last year RB2/3.
  • Kerryon Johnson - Will start as the handcuff, but that won’t last long. RB5. 
  • Theo Riddick - Riddick will be the main receiving back for the Lions once again. The Jets really struggled versus the pass when it came to RBs. They allowed the second most touchdowns (5) and the seventh most yards (795) to opposing running backs. Riddick is an interesting flex play in PPR formats.
  • Golden Tate - Tate will once again be the slot receiver for the Lions, but because they run three-wide sets for almost the entire game, he should continue to be Matthew Stafford ’s favorite receiver. Tate has managed to haul in 90 receptions in four straight seasons and he has broken 1,000 yards in three of the last four years. While he doesn’t rack up the touchdowns, he is steady WR2 in PPR. 
  • Marvin Jones - Since coming to Detroit, Jones has surpassed the 50 catch mark and 900 yards plateau in back-to-back seasons. Add in that he added nine scores last year and it is surprising he isn’t getting more love. That may because second year player Kenny Golladay is getting all the attention. Either way, even with some regression, Jones should be a WR3 most of the season including Week 1.
  • Kenny Golladay - Golladay struggled with injury last season, but showed a ton of game changing ability when he was on the field. He has good size, speed and hands and should pass both Tate and Jones in terms of targets at some point. It is better to be a bot more conservative early on, so Golladay is a WR4 this week.
  • Luke Willson - We waited for him to break out in Seattle. We will need to see it first before we buy in at this point.

Prediction:  Lions win 31-12.

Los Angeles Rams vs. Oakland Raiders

Venue: O.co Coliseum(Oakland)Mon. 9-10 @ 10:20 pm EDTOver/Under: 0

   Weather

Los Angeles Rams at Oakland Raiders (-4.5), Monday, 10:20 pm EST.

Last Meeting (11/30/14): The Rams won 52-0. Derek Carr threw for 173 yards and two interception. Darren McFadden rushed for 27 yards on 11 carries. James Jones caught six passes for 33 yards. Shaun Hill threw for 183 yards and two touchdowns. Tre Mason rushed for 117 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. Stedman Bailey caught five passes for 100 yards.

Los Angeles Rams

  • Jared Goff - The Raiders completely revamped their defense so last year’s stats don’t really apply. However, the revamping does not look promising as the recently jettisoned their star player in Khalil Mack . The Rams will likely just run the ball down the Radiers throats with Gurley, but Goff should be able to use that to take some shots via the play action, so he has a chance to be a QB2 this week.
  • Todd Gurley - Gurley is the #1 player in fantasy. Never sit him.
  • Brandin Cooks - While Cooks didn’t have the huge games in New England last year, he provided consistent week-to-week production. He scored at least double digit fantasy points in over half of his games including four games of 20+ points. Cooks will have some struggles at times in LA, but is still a WR2 versus a rebuilding Raiders secondary.
  • Robert Woods - With Cooks in tow, it is hard to imagine that Woods is as productive. While the matchup seems prime, I would avoid using Woods outside of a contrarian play in DFS until we see the target share. WR5.
  • Cooper Kupp - Kupp figures to still get a lot of work out of the slot for the Rams. Goff appeared to really build a connection with the rookie last season and now in his second year, Kupp has the chance to really blossom as the Rams have added more pieces to distract the defense. WR3.
  • Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett - Both are talented, but the precedence of both means one doesn't stand out.

Oakland Raiders

  • Derek Carr - Carr was mediocre last year in his return from serious injury at the end of 2016. Another year removed from the injury will hopefully help him settle down more. However, the Raiders will likely return to a run happy offense with Lynch and behind a very good offensive line. The Rams have one of the best defenses in the game. They allowed the eighth fewest points per game to opposing quarterbacks last season and that was before they added Ndamukong Suh , Marcus Peters , and Aqib Talib . QB3.
  • Marshawn Lynch - If the Raiders are going to beat the Rams, it’ll have to be by running the ball. The Rams allowed the second most points per game to opposing running backs in the league last season, so the Raiders will likely attempt to chase the rainbow with Marshawn. RB2.
  • Doug Martin - Just a handcuff unless we see a largely workload week 1.
  • Amari Cooper - Cooper has been a trick I have fallen for year after year, but this season I finally cut the cord. The matchup isn’t awful for him this week, but he continuously underperforms with drops and poor routes. WR3.
  • Jordy Nelson - Nelson is coming off of a disappointing season. HE is a shell of his former self at this point in his career, but he still is an elite route runner and has good hands. The Raiders will likely be down at some point, so he should provide WR3 numbers in garbage time.
  • Jared Cook - The Rams were mediocre versus the tight end position last year, but did allow eight passing touchdowns to the position which was tied for eighth most in the league in 2017. Cook has size and speed, but has never been able to get that to translate for more than a few games. TE2.

Prediction: Rams win 27-7.

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