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Kickoff Thursday, Sep 8th 8:20pm Eastern

Bills (
27.25) at

Rams (
24.75)

Over/Under 52.0

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Notes

Key Matchups
Bills Run D
3rd DVOA/9th Yards allowed per carry
Rams Run O
26th DVOA/31st Yards per carry
Bills Pass D
7th DVOA/10th Yards allowed per pass
Rams Pass O
22nd DVOA/29th Yards per pass
Rams Run D
5th DVOA/4th Yards allowed per carry
Bills Run O
17th DVOA/2nd Yards per carry
Rams Pass D
26th DVOA/9th Yards allowed per pass
Bills Pass O
3rd DVOA/3rd Yards per pass

XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN SLANT

The NFL is back, baby! It’s Week 1 and I have the honor of writing up the first Showdown game of the season as the Bills visit the defending Super Bowl champs, the Los Angeles Rams. This could have easily been the Super Bowl last year and should be an exciting game, coming in as the second-highest total of all Week 1 games at 52.5, and the Bills favored by 2.5 (the dreaded “short road favorite” spot). I don’t bet lines, but if I did, I would take the Rams at home here. Both of these teams are elite, but the Rams are the defending champs and they are playing at home so I’m a bit surprised they’re the underdog. 

FIRST, a note: because OWS releases content early in Week 1, I’m writing this on Friday, September 2nd. There’s some injury news outstanding, and while I’m trying to touch on if/then scenarios in the write-up, if we get information that changes things beyond what I’ve covered as injury possibilities, I’ll come back and update this article. 

Showdown Ownership Projections!

Ownership updates automatically

Let’s talk a bit macro first. Both teams are elite on both sides of the ball, with the Bills having finished 2021 first in overall defensive DVOA and the Rams 5th (note the Bills are also missing top cornerback Tre’Davious White). We also know that it’s Week 1, and in Week 1 we know less than any other week of the season, but that said, these teams look pretty similar to 2021 and so for this game, at least, we should have a pretty solid idea of how they’ll play (at least compared to the rest of Week 1, which . . . well, just wait for it. It’s going to be chaotic). All of that is to say that I think there’s a very wide range of outcomes here, and while I would expect a high-scoring game the majority of the time, if this were played 100 times, there are a lot of other potential outcomes you could consider betting on. 

Los Angeles

Let’s start with the Rams and their run game. This is one area with a lot of uncertainty. Cam Akers returned earlier than expected from injury last year and saw a lot of work in the playoffs with games of 19, 27, 14, and 17 opportunities – a total of 77 running back opportunities against 39 for then primary backup Sony Michel. Darrell Henderson, the current backup, only played in the Super Bowl and saw nine opportunities (with Michel seeing just two). So, the primary running back, Akers, saw 19.25 opportunities per game in the playoffs while the backups combined averaged 12 opportunities. In today’s NFL, that’s a solid RB1 workload but Akers was also not very effective with those opportunities, averaging 2.6 yards per carry for the 2021 season. Akers and Henderson have both been working through soft tissue injuries in the preseason, and Sean McVay has made statements indicating he believes them both to be lead backs. Sooooo, what are we supposed to make of this? Well, first off, remember that coaches lie (ESPECIALLY McVay). McVay’s history has been having a primary RB, not a split backfield, and he was giving Akers an RB1 workload . . . coming off a serious injury earlier than expected . . . in the playoffs. That makes me think that Akers is the guy here, and at a price of just $8k, he isn’t priced for an RB1 type of role. Henderson is a fine value play, or you could certainly bet that I’m wrong and that it is more of a split (or even that Henderson is in the lead – it’s Week 1! Who knows?!). 

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Kickoff Sunday, Sep 11th 1:00pm Eastern

Saints (
24.75) at

Falcons (
19.25)

Over/Under 44.0

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Notes

Key Matchups
Saints Run D
20th DVOA/23rd Yards allowed per carry
Falcons Run O
8th DVOA/6th Yards per carry
Saints Pass D
15th DVOA/17th Yards allowed per pass
Falcons Pass O
15th DVOA/9th Yards per pass
Falcons Run D
24th DVOA/11th Yards allowed per carry
Saints Run O
12th DVOA/13th Yards per carry
Falcons Pass D
28th DVOA/21st Yards allowed per pass
Saints Pass O
24th DVOA/10th Yards per pass

Game Overview ::

By Hilow >>
  • Primary pieces from the Saints pass offense are fundamentally underpriced.
  • Saints are highly likely to control the tempo and flow of this one.
  • Kyle Pitts could emerge as the tight end with the highest ownership on the slate, but there are reasons to consider a leverage fade if that ownership gets out of hand.
  • The Saints are likely to score points here but there isn’t one specific avenue for those points to flow through, meaning ownership is likely to remain relatively low.

How New Orleans Will Try To Win ::

After a season that saw the Saints establish the run (second-highest overall rush rate and second-highest rush rate when playing from behind), primarily due to injuries to Jameis Winston and a pass-catching corps consisting of Marquez Callaway, Deonte Harris, Tre’Quan Smith, Kenny Stills, and Ty Montgomery (all of whom are either no longer with the team or running with the second unit), we should realistically expect a more aggressive stance through the air from the Saints this year. It seems to have been lost in the turnover with this team that offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael once led this franchise to 14 consecutive seasons finishing in the top 10 in total offense. It also seems like a distant memory, but the Saints ranked top 10 in overall pass rate and third in pass rate when trailing in 2019 with an aging Drew Brees and Pete Carmichael at offensive coordinator. The promotion of previous defensive coordinator Dennis Allen to head coach means we’re likely to see Carmichael regain control of offensive play-calling duties. Another little-known fact surrounding Carmichael is this won’t be his first stint calling plays as Sean Payton routinely relinquished control of those duties throughout their time together, dating back to 2006. All of that should come together to form a situation where we can be confident in Carmichael designing (and calling) an offense best suited to maximize the talent on the field, and that talent on the field now includes wide receivers Michael Thomas, Jarvis Landry, rookie Chris Olave, running back Alvin Kamara, and tight ends Adam Trautman and Taysom Hill. Final note – the Saints offensive line has fallen all the way down to 21st overall in preseason rankings, per PFF.

Primary running back Alvin Kamara averaged a paltry 3.7 yards per tote in 2021, which was a full 0.9 yards per carry less than his previous career low (all the way back in 2018, when he averaged 4.6 yards per carry). That dip in efficiency is much more likely to be attributable to the one-dimensionality of the offense and the predictable nature of play calling, allowing additional emphasis to be placed on stopping the run. As in, there’s a higher percentage chance we see Kamara regain his per-touch efficiency rather than it is that Kamara has reached his career cliff. We can’t rely on net-adjusted line yards metrics (my primary indicator of a team’s matchup on the ground) for the first month of play, leaving us with the makeup of the opposing defense and defensive archetype as our fallback for analysis. The Falcons were ranked dead last in defensive line metrics in 2021 and were dealt an early blow this offseason with the retirement of Eddie Goldman. Other than star Grady Jarrett, there is a lot left to be desired from this defensive front. Primary nose tackle Anthony Rush will be charged with lead run-stopping duties, a player that has bounced around the league during his career. In all, consider this a plus matchup on the ground for the Saints. Behind Kamara, expect veteran Mark Ingram to reprise his role as the primary change of pace back. What remains to be seen is the workload distribution between the two, but I would tentatively expect we see Kamara in the 12-14 rush attempt and 4-6 target range on a standard week.

I alluded to the changing dynamics of this team through the air above, but it bears repeating here. The Saints are one of if not the team with the biggest improvement to pass-catchers in the league. They legitimately played every game last season with players that could barely crack NFL rosters; they now have three pristine route-runners in Michael Thomas, Jarvis Landry, and Chris Olave, the latter of whom is probably the most polished route-runner to come out of this year’s draft. They also see the return of perennial gunslinger quarterback Jameis Winston, who missed 10 games last season with a torn ACL and accompanying MCL damage (suffered in Week 8). I would surmise that this team is going to approach winning games far differently than what we saw last season. The general composition of the offense should see Michael Thomas as the “X’ receiver, Chris Olave as the “Z” receiver, and Jarvis Landry as the “Y” receiver, but Olave’s ability to play both perimeter and slot snaps gives Carmichael a good deal of flexibility when it comes to offensive alignments. The relative lack of talent at the tight end position also should funnel expected production primarily through the wide receivers and Alvin Kamara, which, depending on health, could lead to relatively condensed targets in most weeks.

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Kickoff Sunday, Sep 11th 1:00pm Eastern

Browns (
20.5) at

Panthers (
21.5)

Over/Under 42.0

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Notes

Key Matchups
Browns Run D
32nd DVOA/28th Yards allowed per carry
Panthers Run O
16th DVOA/16th Yards per carry
Browns Pass D
27th DVOA/29th Yards allowed per pass
Panthers Pass O
32nd DVOA/13th Yards per pass
Panthers Run D
21st DVOA/17th Yards allowed per carry
Browns Run O
4th DVOA/9th Yards per carry
Panthers Pass D
21st DVOA/8th Yards allowed per pass
Browns Pass O
7th DVOA/11th Yards per pass

Game Overview ::

By mjohnson86 >>
  • Narratives gone wild in this game: revenge, comeback, scandal, coaching hot seat . . . it’s got it all.
  • Cleveland should lean into their strength on the ground to attack a Carolina defense that is at a big disadvantage up front.
  • The Browns offense with Jacoby Brissett should resemble what we saw last year with an injured Baker Mayfield.
  • Carolina’s offensive line is a question mark but they will likely use the strengths of their offensive personnel to mask that deficiency.
  • Explosive plays may be hard to come by in this game as both teams will lean heavily on their running game and short-area passing.

How Cleveland Will Try To Win ::

Last season, the Panthers were one of the bigger “run funnel” defenses in the league as they played heavy coverage schemes and defended the pass very well, forcing passes underneath, but getting gashed up front often as a result. The Panthers have the same defensive coaching staff in place this year and haven’t significantly changed their personnel, making it likely that their defense looks very similar this year to what we saw last year . . . this is great news for the Browns. 

Cleveland’s offense sputtered through the end of last season as they struggled to get things going with a clearly injured and limited Baker Mayfield. This year with Jacoby Brissett under center to start the year, we should expect a similar approach to last year when they had the 6th lowest pass-to-run ratio in the NFL. The Browns continue to have one of the top 5 offensive lines in the NFL and it should be no secret to anyone on either side of the field that they are going to look to leverage that strength into offensive success. They have a trio of talented running backs who have all shown the ability to carry the load when necessary, but should have the luxury of rotating those backs and pounding the Panthers into submission while protecting their “adequate, but not a world-beater” fill-in QB. 

On the perimeter, the Browns offense will look different this year with explosive downfield options in Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones starting on the perimeter, and the uber-athletic David Njoku taking over as the starting tight end in place of the “catch and fall down” style of his predecessor, Austin Hooper. Long-term, there will likely be some very fun periods from this team. However, this week in a matchup against a high-end pass defense it is unlikely we see anything close to a ceiling performance from the passing game. During the preseason, the Browns did show a propensity to use more misdirection and horizontal concepts than we’ve seen from them in the past. Specifically, they ran some jet sweeps and quick pitches to receivers in motion as a way to try stretching the defense horizontally since they are likely going to struggle to stretch defenses vertically until a QB upgrade happens.

Overall, this side of the ball should be relatively predictable for a Week 1 NFL game. The Browns are going to run the ball at a very high rate, and likely do so in an efficient manner. When they do take to the air, they may take the occasional deep shot but will mostly focus on the short, middle of the field, screen game, and horizontal concepts as a means of moving the chains. The Browns have an above-average defense and clearly based on their actions this offseason they don’t have a lot of confidence in Baker Mayfield’s ability to go out and beat a team so their game plan here will likely be very conservative so as to not beat themselves.

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By Alex88 >>

OVERVIEW

  • Tied for the lowest Vegas game total on the slate (41.5)
  • Live spread is only 2.5 pts
  • CLE’s offensive line is ranked 2nd by PFF (CAR’s defensive line ranked 24th)

Jacoby Brissett

  • In his lone preseason appearance, Brissett was 13/23-109-0-1
  • He’s scored 20+ DK pts once in the past two seasons
  • He costs only $5,200 on DK
  • CAR ranked 4th in DK ppg allowed to QBs (16.5)
  • Only three opposing QBs scored 25+ pts vs. CAR: Dak Prescott, Kirk Cousins, Tom Brady

CLE Passing Attack

  • The CLE WR depth chart is now Amari Cooper ($5,900 on DK), Donovan Peoples-Jones ($4,400), & David Bell ($3,600)
  • After three straight seasons of 15+ DK ppg, Cooper averaged just 13.9 pts last year
  • His YPRR was also at a four year low (1.65)
  • He still managed 20+ DK pts three times
  • DPJ scored 15+ DK pts twice with Baker Mayfield at the helm (including 29.1 vs. ARI)
  • Bell’s preseason line: 6/7-82
  • CAR ranked 6th in DK ppg allowed to WRs
  • Notable opposing WR scores: Antonio Brown 23.1 // Brandin Cooks 23.7 // Mike Evans 26.9 // Adam Thielen 32.8
  • David Njoku ($3,900) signed an extension recently to become the fourth-highest paid TE (per USA Today)
  • He’s scored 15+ DK pts once in the last three years, but that came in a 30.9pt explosion vs. LAC
  • CAR ranked 11th in DK ppg allowed to TEs
  • Only Rob Gronkowski scored 15+ DK pts vs. CAR

CLE Rushing Attack

  • PFF’s #1 ranked RB room
  • Last season, Nick Chubb ($6,500) was tied for 2nd in YPA, 2nd in yards after contact per attempt, & 5th in breakaway percentage
  • He averaged only 1.8 targets per game
  • His 17 DK ppg ranked 11th
  • He scored 25+ DK pts four times in 14 games
  • Kareem Hunt ($5,700) was 9th in YPA, 8th in yards after contact per attempt, & 11th in breakaway percentage
  • He averaged 3.4 targets per game
  • He scored 25+ DK pts twice in 8 games
  • CAR ranked 4th in DK ppg allowed to RBs (20.9)
  • Only three RBs hit 20+ DK pts (Alvin Kamara, Dalvin Cook, & Ezekiel Elliott)

Baker Mayfield

  • In his final season for CLE, Mayfield ($5,300) finished 23rd in PFF passing grade, 16th in YPA, 4th in ADoT, & had the highest percentage of his pressures turned into sacks (29.1%)
  • He averaged 14.5 DK ppg and scored 20+ DK pts once
  • CLE ranked 10th in DK ppg allowed to QBs (17.8)
  • Notable opposing QB scores: Kyler Murray 25.8 // Patrick Mahomes 36.3 // Justin Herbert 45.8

CAR Passing Attack

  • DJ Moore ($6,000) ranked 4th in target share (27.2%), 20th in YPC (12.4), & 11th in YAC/rec (4.8)
  • He averaged 14.4 DK ppg
  • He scored 20+ DK pts three times (21.9 // 23.5 // 34.9)
  • Robby Anderson ($4,800) had a target share of 18.4%
  • He scored 15+ DK pts twice (18 // 21.4)
  • CLE ranked 10th in DK ppg allowed to WRs (34.2)
  • Notable opposing WR scores: DeAndre Hopkins 20.5 // Brandin Cooks 22.8 // Davante Adams 36.4 // Tyreek Hill 40.1
  • Tommy Tremble ($3,100) scored double digit DK pts once in his rookie year (10.7 vs. HOU)
  • CLE ranked 18th in DK ppg allowed to TEs (13.1)
  • Notable opposing TE scores: Mark Andrews 16.5 // Hunter Henry 19.7 // Travis Kelce 25.6 // Andrews 31.5

Christian McCaffrey

  • McCaffrey’s DK game log in every game with 30+ snaps in the past two seasons: 24.7 // 24.8 // 24.9 // 26.1 // 27.7 // 28.5 // 37.1
  • That’s an average of 27.7
  • Take away the 37 pt game, and his average would be 26.1
  • Leaders in DK ppg in the past two seasons (min 10 games): Jonathan Taylor 24.7 // Dalvin Cook 26.1
  • His $8,500 DK salary in Week 1 is the third highest
  • CLE ranked 13th in DK ppg allowed to RBs (22.4)
  • Notable opposing RB scores: Joe Mixon 28 // Austin Ekeler 33.9

Kickoff Sunday, Sep 11th 1:00pm Eastern

49ers (
22.25) at

Bears (
15.75)

Over/Under 38.0

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Notes

Key Matchups
49ers Run D
2nd DVOA/1st Yards allowed per carry
Bears Run O
10th DVOA/1st Yards per carry
49ers Pass D
10th DVOA/5th Yards allowed per pass
Bears Pass O
27th DVOA/16th Yards per pass
Bears Run D
25th DVOA/25th Yards allowed per carry
49ers Run O
21st DVOA/18th Yards per carry
Bears Pass D
30th DVOA/26th Yards allowed per pass
49ers Pass O
5th DVOA/4th Yards per pass

Game Overview ::

By hilow>>
  • Chicago has been busy on the waiver wire over the previous week bringing in seven players, many of whom could immediately fill positions of need in the starting lineup. The only issue is they won’t have much in the way of practice time with their new team.
  • One of the widest range of outcomes games on the main slate.
  • San Francisco should drive the game flow, meaning lower than average total volume and potential fantasy ranges of outcomes driven by efficiency rather than volume.

How san Francisco Will Try To Win ::

Although we have a changing of the guard, so to speak, at the quarterback position for the 49ers this year, we can be fairly certain of how this team will approach trying to win games moving forward. We have a team with an established coaching staff and established identity that will now be adapting that identity to a quarterback with a different skill set than previous iterations, as opposed to say, their opponent in Week 1 that is basically building from scratch. The identity of this team is to aggressively hunt the football on defense (22 forced fumbles and eight different players with an interception in 2021) utilizing complex zone concepts. On offense, they use an outside zone run scheme designed to get the football to its playmakers in space with an overall emphasis on winning the time of possession battle and minimizing mistakes. Now add in the dynamic skillset of Trey Lance and we’re left with an offense that should be heavily biased towards the run and leveraged passing situations, built to maximize the upside of yards after the catch giants George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, and Brandon Aiyuk. It will be interesting to see how often the legs of Lance will be utilized early in the season in conjunction with that offensive shell, how often Deebo Samuel will be aligned in the backfield or utilized on sweeps and end arounds, and how often Kittle will be in a route.

Elijah Mitchell is the unquestioned lead of this backfield after making his mark on the 2021 season, amassing 1132 yards on the ground on 262 carries (a solid 4.32 yards per carry). His combination of vision, decisiveness, and explosion out of the first cut is really the perfect fit for the offensive scheme employed by Shanahan. He should be primarily backed up by Jeff Wilson, Jr. when healthy, followed by third-round rookie Tyrion Davis-Price. Both Trey Sermon and JaMycal Hasty were recently released by the team. They should carry three running backs and fullback Kyle Juszczyk on game day. San Francisco’s heavy 34% 21-personnel usage rate from 2021 (led the league by a wide margin) should carry over into 2022, but it’s a bit misleading from a top-level perspective in that the majority of the time it was the primary running back and Juszczyk on the field together, not two running backs. Add the approximately 10% of snaps from 12-personnel and we’re left with an offense that operates primarily from alignments with only two wide receivers on the field: Deebo and Aiyuk. All of that to say, the primary running back on this offense should be on the field a ton. The other side of that discussion is the historically low pass game involvement from the position, meaning the primary back in this offense should be viewed as a “yardage and touchdown back.” The Bears allowed over 100 yards rushing per game in 2021 but somehow only surrendered nine total rushing scores and 88 targets to the position, more of a nod to the game flows opponents routinely found themselves in.

The San Francisco pass offense is concentrated by necessity (largely due to the personnel groupings they like to run) but lacks any semblance of bankable weekly volume. For example, Deebo saw 120 targets in 2021, Kittle saw 95, and Aiyuk saw 85. The next highest target number over the course of the entire season was Jauan Jennings at 39. That said, this is an offense that threw the ball only 29.4 times per game in 2021 (second fewest in the league ahead of only the Seahawks). Since we can expect the overall identity of the offense to remain rather static heading into the new season, that means we should expect low volume and efficiency to be the name of the game in contests the 49ers are allowed to control or play to neutral scripts. More on the ramifications of these truths below in the DFS+ Interpretation section.

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By Dwprix >>

Overview

  • Tied for the lowest total on the week (41.5)
  • SF is favored by 7 (2nd highest spread)
  • CHI has the lowest team total on the week (17)
  • In 2021, SF rushed on 48.4% of their plays w/ Garoppolo (4th highest)
  • They finished 2nd in pass yds/att (8.5)
  • CHI rushed on 44.2% of their plays (9th highest)
  • These teams faced each other last season in CHI (WK 8): SF-33 CHI-22
  • Kyle Shanahan is 1-4 ATS as HC in WK 1 games

Trey Lance

  • ‘21 stats: Pass (47:71:603:5TDs:2INTs // avg 8.5 yds/comp) // Rush (38:168:1TD // 4.4 yds/att) 
  • ‘22 Preseason: Pass  (4:5:92yds:1TD:0INT) // Rush (1:7yds)
  • In Lance’s two starts last season: 15.6 DK pts (2.74x salary) // 20.1 DK pts (4.19x salary)
  • $6.0k is the 9th highest priced QB on DK // $7.5k is the 8th highest priced QB on FD
  • CHI only faced 1 true “rush” QB: Murray (30.8 DK pts // Rush-10:59:2TDs)
  • They allowed the highest QB rating in the league last season (103.3) but were 4th in sacks (49)
  • CHI D was middle of league in DK pts/g allowed to QBs last season (18.7)

Deebo Samuel 

  • Deebo in Lance Starts  (Rec 6:121:1TD // Rush 8:32:0TDs)
  • $7.4k is the 3rd highest WR salary on DK main slate (Adams-$8.1k // Jefferson-$7.8k)
  • 2021 season: 5 gms w/ 10+ tgts: (12:10:13:11:11) // 4 in the first 7 WKs
  • 4 gms w/ 100+ rec yds: (189 // 156 // 100 // 171 // 159) // 3 others w/ 90+ (93 // 97 // 95)
  • 23rd among WRs in tgts (114) // T-21st in receptions (77) // 5th most rec yds (1,405) // 2nd in YAC (780)
  • In the 1st 7 games of 2021: 117 rec yds/g // 4 rec TDs
  • ‘21 vs CHI: (6 rec/171yds/1TD)
  •  This was his highest receiving yards total of  the season 
  • George Kittle was out & he didn’t have any rush attempts
  • 19 gms played // 16 TDs (7 rec // 9 rush)
  • From WK 10 on incl. playoffs: (7.5 rush atts/g // 44.4 rush yds/g // 8 rush TDs)

Brandon Aiyuk

  • Aiyuk in Lance starts (6:126:0TDs)
  • He played every game last season (20 including playoffs)
  • In the 2020 , as a rookie, Aiyuk finished WR6 (.5 ppr) from WK 7 on
  • He was WR14 from WK 8 on last season (.5 ppr)
  • CHI D allowed 35.7 DK pts/g to WR (middle of league)

George Kittle

  • Kittle in Lance Starts: (1:29:0 TDs)
  • In 17 gms played (including playoffs), Kittle had 3 above 20 DK pts: 24.1 (4.63x) // 42.6 (7.22x) // 37.1 (5.37x)
  • DNP last season vs CHI
  • CHI D allowed the 6th lowest DK pts to TEs last season (8.7)

Elijah Mitchell 

  • Broke SF’s rookie rushing yds record despite missing 6 gms (963)
  • 14 games played // 6 games w/ 20+ atts 
  • He had 5 of 14 games above 3x DK salary: 4.9x (19.4 pts) // 3.9x (19.7) // 4.2x (22.7) // 5.7x (30.8) // 4.0x (24.0) 
  • T-27th priced RB on DK main slate ($5.4k) despite SF being a 7 point fav // 16th priced RB on FD ($6.7k)
  • CHI gave up 22.3 DK pts/g to RBs last season (14th)

Justin Fields

  • In 12 games, Fields had one w/ 20+ DK pts (29.3)
  • He had 4 games above 3x DK salary: (5.9x // 3.3x // 4.1x // 3.4x)
  • Averaged 6 rush attps/g // 35 rush yds/g 
  • 7 pass TDs // 2 rush TDs // 10 INTs on season
  • Fields vs SF ‘21: Pass (19:27:175:1TD:1INT) // Rush (10:103:1TD) // 29.3 DK pts (highest of season) 
  • SF D allowed the 6th most rush yds/g to QBs (22.6)
  • SF vs other rush QBs: (Hurts-21.8 DK pts // rush 10:82:1TD) // (Murray-13.7 DK pts // rush 7:1:0TDs)
  • SF allowed the 15th least DK pts to QBs last season (18.6)

Darnell Mooney

  • 5 games above 20 DK pts in 2021: 21.5 (5.5x) // 20.6 (4.2x) // 26.1 (5.0x) // 20.5 (3.6x) // 27.6 (4.7x)
  • 3 games w/ 10+ tgts (16, 13, 16) & 4 w/ 100+ yds (125 // 121 // 123 // 126)
  • 26.4% tgt share // 134 total tgts // 11th highest among WRs
  • $5.9k was his highest salary on DK in 2021 (WK 18) 
  • He’s $5.7k WK 1 
  • Last season vs SF (12.4 DK pts // 6:64:0TDs)
  • Byron Pringle & 3rd RD RK Velus Jones Jr are Q for WK 1
  • Equanimeous St Brown ($3k DK) could be WR 2 WK 1
  • SF allowed the 10th most DK pts to WRs last season (36.9)

David Montgomery/Khalil Herbert

  • Montgomery DNP vs SF in ‘21
  • Herbert vs SF in ‘21 (Rush 23:72:0TDs // Rec 2:-4:0TDs // 8.8 DK pts)
  • He had 2 games in 2021 with 10+ DK pts (19.2 // 21.3)
  • Montgomery missed both games
  • Montgomery had 5 gms (of 13 played) with 20+ DK pts (3 vs NFC West): @ LAR-21.8 // vs DET-25.6 // vs ARZ-28.1 // @ SEA-23.6 // vs NYG-21.1
  • SF allowed 21.8 DK pts/g vs RBs last season (10th fewest)

Cole Kmet

  • Kmet in 2021:  0 TDs //  0 games w/ 90+ rec yds // 0 w/ 9+ tgts
  • $3.7k is just $100 lower than his season high in 2021 (WK 1)
  • Kmet DK pts in Fields starts (2.1 // 1.6 // 4.2 // 8.9 // 9.3 // 5.4 // 14.7 // DNP // 7.1 // 4.7)
  • He finished 2nd in team tgts with 89 (18% tgt share) 
  • Kmet ran a route on 83.3% of passing snaps
  • SF allowed 9.4 DK pts to TEs last season (7th least)

Kickoff Sunday, Sep 11th 1:00pm Eastern

Steelers (
18.75) at

Bengals (
25.75)

Over/Under 44.5

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Notes

Key Matchups
Steelers Run D
5th DVOA/5th Yards allowed per carry
Bengals Run O
9th DVOA/29th Yards per carry
Steelers Pass D
18th DVOA/32nd Yards allowed per pass
Bengals Pass O
10th DVOA/15th Yards per pass
Bengals Run D
16th DVOA/12th Yards allowed per carry
Steelers Run O
23rd DVOA/23rd Yards per carry
Bengals Pass D
10th DVOA/23rd Yards allowed per pass
Steelers Pass O
21st DVOA/31st Yards per pass

Game Overview ::

By hilow >>
  • The Steelers are sure to carry a wide range of potential outcomes as far as efficiency and scoring are concerned to start the year, considering the multitude of moving pieces and an offensive coordinator that designs his offense to maximize the talent on the field.
  • The biggest change for the Bengals is a complete overhaul and improvement of their offensive line heading into 2022, which should influence their play calling and game plan a good deal.
  • Wide range of outcomes concerning potential game flows, largely dependent on what the Steelers can muster offensively.
  • Very clear optimal plans of attack based on the range of potential outcomes of those game flows.

How pittsburgh Will Try To Win ::

Mike Tomlin enters his 16th season as the Steelers head coach, joined by the second-year offensive coordinator and play caller Matt Canada and new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin via the in-house promotion. There are a few things to take away from the coaches alone – Matt Canada is adept at tailoring an offense to the strengths of his players, meaning we should look to those strengths to get a better feel for how the offense should look; Teryl Austin has been with the organization since 2019 and has previous defensive coordinator experience (Lions 2014-2017 and Bengals 2018); and, finally, the identity of the team should remain with the retention of Tomlin (who has received some backlash from fans over the previous two seasons). That said, the rebuild is in full effect for these Steelers in 2022. Not only has their defense continued to regress over the previous three seasons (22nd-ranked total defense in 2021), but they come into 2022 with a bottom-five ranked offensive line and a new quarterback. Speaking of the new quarterback, Mitch Trubisky has all but assuredly won the offseason quarterback battle, beating out rookie Kenny Pickett. So, when we circle back to Canada and his ability to design an offense around the players on the field, we’re left with a journeyman quarterback behind a poor offensive line and declining defense (which influences play calling). The biggest issue with Trubisky behind a poor offensive line is his slower-than-average processing speed and long release time, which could mean a plethora of sacks taken this year, backing up the offense to long down and distance to go and stalled drives. At the same time, however, the plus arm strength and ability to throw into tighter windows can help offset those discrepancies should Canada place him in the past environment to succeed, which I think he can.

Najee Harris is one of the true bell cow backs remaining in the NFL, and based on the depth behind him at the position; I expect that to remain the case moving forward. The biggest issue is expected efficiency, as Harris is coming off a season of 3.9 yards per carry on 307 totes. The expected and proven pass game involvement, in addition to elite volume, will keep him in weekly consideration regardless of the opponent. The matchup is a net-negative for Najee on the ground against a revamped zone-based Bengals defense, but one of the glaring holes in the defensive scheme for Cincinnati is passes to running backs out of the backfield (filtered 135 targets to the position in 2021, fourth most in the league). Behind Najee, I tentatively expect rookie Jaylen Warren to serve as nothing more than a sparsely utilized change of pace back, with Benny Snell on hand for emergency usage (this situation still isn’t entirely clear, so Snell might start the season in a backup role, but the volume shouldn’t matter, regardless).

In stark contrast to the talent on the roster in the trenches, the pass-catching corps of Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, George Pickens, Pat Freiermuth, and the aforementioned Najee Harris is one of the more dynamic units in the league. One of the more interesting developments with this unit this offseason is the shifting of Claypool from a perimeter role to the slot, which was a product of the release of Juju Smith-Schuster and replacement by George Pickens. That kind of athleticism out of the slot is not something often seen at the NFL level, which will create routine mismatches against typically undersized slot coverage. Considering our exploration of the offensive design above, I would expect we see a re-emphasis on ball-out-quick timing, layered crossing routes designed to stress coverage, high running back route involvement, and the occasional deep shot built off of it all. That means this offense, and Mitch Trubisky in particular is going to have to be efficient in order to sustain drives and put points on the board. It can be done, as we’ve seen in the past, but we’re likely to see a relatively wide range of weekly outcomes from this team to start the season.

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OVERVIEW

  • CIN has the 2nd highest team total on the Week 1 main slate
  • PIT has the 2nd lowest
  • CIN enters the season with a median ranked consensus offensive line ranking
  • PIT’s line is universally ranked in the lowest quartile, among the worst 8 offensive lines if not the worst

PIT QBs

  • Mitch Trubisky’s PFF passing grade/DK ppg each season as a starter:
    • 2017: 71.2 (16th) / 12.3 (23rd)
    • 2018: 57.8 (28th) / 20.7 (6th)
    • 2019: 63.6 (24th) / 14.7 (28th)
    • 2020: 60.5 (33rd) / 16.4 (23rd)
  • Averaged 4.1% TD rate, 2.4% INT rate, & 208 ypg on 6.7 ypa
  • 20.7 rushing ypg along with 8 rushing TDs
  • QBs averaged 19.2 DK ppg vs. CIN last season
  • Kenny Pickett received PFF’s highest passing grade in the NCAA last season
  • Preseason PFF grades/YPA:
    • Trubisky: W1 – 64.7 / 9.0, W2 – 72.6 / 7.5, W3 – 76.7 / 8.4
    • Pickett: W1 – 63.9 / 6.3, W2 – 79.8 / 10.9, W3 – 78.7 / 6.4

PIT Passing Attack

  • PFF receiving grades / yards per route run in the preseason: Diontae Johnson 84.0 / 3.23, Chase Claypool 81.1 / 2.9, George Pickens 75.4 / 1.62, Pat Freiermuth 78.1 / 2.86
  • Diontae led PIT last season with 10.6 targets per game for a 25.5% target share
  • His 18.2 DK ppg ranked 8th, but he only cracked 25 pts twice
  • Last year, Claypool played out of the slot on less than 20% of his snaps
  • In his lone preseason appearance, that figure was 83.3%
  • He averaged only 10.8 DK ppg last year
  • In two seasons, he’s scored 20+ DK pts just twice
  • In college, Pickens averaged 15.0 ypc & 2.35 YPRR
  • All three PIT WRs cost $6k or less on DK in Week 1
  • CIN allowed the 14th fewest DK ppg to WRs last year
  • Three opposing WRs scored 20+ DK pts vs. CIN: Davante Adams 40.6, Adam Thielen 30.2, & Keenan Allen 22.4
  • Freiermuth averaged 9.4 DK ppg, scoring 12+ DK pts four times
  • CIN ranked 29th in DK ppg allowed to TEs (16)
  • Notable opposing TE scores: George Kittle 37.1, Darren Waller 21.6, Travis Kelce 13.4

Najee Harris

  • Last season, Najee led the NFL in snap share and target share
  • He was second in touches per game & opportunities per game
  • His 18.9 DK ppg ranked fourth
  • He scored 20+ DK pts 8 times
  • $6,400 DK salary is the 12th most expensive
  • CIN allowed 24 DK ppg to the RB position last season
  • Opposing RBs averaged 0.8 rushTDs per game & 8.2 targets per game (4th most)

Joe Burrow

  • Led all QBs in PFF passing grade, completion %, and YPA last season
  • 21.6 DK ppg ranked 10th
  • He scored 20+ DK pts 8 times, including two 30+ games & one 40+ game
  • $6,400 DK salary is the 8th most expensive
  • PIT ranked 12th in DK ppg allowed to QBs (18.2)
  • In three games versus PIT, Burrow has yet to hit 20 DK pts
  • Ceiling performances allowed to opposing QBs in 2021: Herbert 38.3, Carr 27.2, Rodgers 24.1, Mahomes 22.3

CIN Passing Attack

  • 2021 WR snap/target shares: Ja’Marr Chase 85.5% / 23.1%, Tyler Boyd 73.5% / 16.9%, Tee Higgins 64.6% / 19.8%
  • Among qualified WRs, Chase ranked 2nd in YPC & YAC/rec, and 5th in YPRR
  • His 19.8 DK ppg ranked 5th
  • He scored 25+ DK pts four times
  • His $7,100 DK salary is the fourth most expensive
  • Higgins ranked 6th in YPC & 8th in YPRR
  • His 16.6 DK ppg ranked 11th
  • He scored 25+ DK pts three times
  • His $6,100 DK salary is the 14th priciest
  • Boyd averaged 11.7 DK ppg
  • He scored 20+ DK pts twice
  • PIT ranked 13th in DK ppg allowed to WRs
  • Only two WRs scored 20+ DK pts vs. PIT
  • Hayden Hurst has averaged fewer than 6 DK ppg in his four year career
  • Last season, C.J. Uzomah managed two 20+ DK scores as the primary TE for CIN
  • Only Mark Andrews & David Njoku scored 12+ DK pts vs. PIT last year

Joe Mixon

  • Mixon was 6th in snap share & 3rd in rush share among all RBs last season
  • He only managed an 8.6% target share (25th)
  • His 18.6 DK ppg ranked 6th
  • He scored 25+ DK pts seven times
  • His $7,100 DK salary is the 7th most expensive
  • PIT ranked 26th in DK ppg allowed last year (26.5)
  • Mixon was one of three RBs to crack 30 DK pts vs. PIT

Kickoff Sunday, Sep 11th 1:00pm Eastern

Eagles (
27) at

Lions (
21.5)

Over/Under 48.5

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Notes

Key Matchups
Eagles Run D
24th DVOA/23rd Yards allowed per carry
Lions Run O
7th DVOA/11th Yards per carry
Eagles Pass D
2nd DVOA/3rd Yards allowed per pass
Lions Pass O
13th DVOA/6th Yards per pass
Lions Run D
27th DVOA/30th Yards allowed per carry
Eagles Run O
1st DVOA/10th Yards per carry
Lions Pass D
23rd DVOA/31st Yards allowed per pass
Eagles Pass O
6th DVOA/6th Yards per pass

Game Overview ::

By hilow >>
  • Not a ton to love in the way of guaranteed points from this one, even with a lofty 49.0 game total.
  • The likeliest game flow has each team running their preferred plan of attack deep into the game.
  • Each team prefers to share the load on the ground, and each passing offense is far from concentrated.
  • Some interesting “alternate game flows” here, designated as such due to the lower likelihood of actually happening (if you’re new to OWS, first of all . . . WELCOME! Secondly, in games that have a fair chance of developing in ways the field might not be employing, we typically provide a full “tributary” write-up that dives into the likeliest way for the game to play differently than public perception).

How Philadelphia Will Try To Win ::

Here’s the thing with the Eagles – we don’t really know how they’re going to try and win games to start the year. We saw the two extremes from this squad last year, showcasing a robust 63% overall pass rate over the first six weeks of the season and then leading the league in overall rush rate the remainder of the season with an insanely low 44% overall pass rate. We know why they chose to approach things differently last year, we know they have the projected top overall offensive line in the league heading into 2022, and we know they went ham in free agency to acquire A.J. Brown to run with DeVonta Smith, Quez Watkins, and Dallas Goedert. Which side wins, the run or the pass? Furthermore, the team has been aggressive through free agency over the previous two seasons on the defensive side of the ball, particularly in the secondary. They’ve brought in Darius Slay, C.J. Gardner-Johnson, Marcus Epps, and James Bradberry during that timeframe, each of whom will begin the season as starters. Add it all up and your guess is as good as mine, but most signs point back to a run-balanced approach and aerial game capable of inflicting massive damage through both yards after the catch ability and deep strike play-making ability. Although pace of play can’t be considered a “sticky” statistic year-over-year, one of the more predictive pace statistics is first-half pace of play, and the Eagles ranked ninth in that category last season (fifth overall). So, my most educated guess is fast-paced, run-focused, with the talent and explosiveness through the air to inflict heavy damage all at once.

Oh man, where to even begin on the ground? The “RB1” on this team is very likely their quarterback, the “RB1 on paper” might miss this contest with a hamstring injury (Miles Sanders), and the team recently brought in ex-49er Trey Sermon to join Kenneth Gainwell and Boston Scott as “more than depth” pieces. On the other side, the Lions did some work this offseason to bolster their 4-3 base defense, drafting Aiden Hutchinson second overall to pair with Michael Brockers, Alim McNeill, and Charles Harris up front. As in, the Lions might not cede 21.4 points per game to opposing running backs like they did last year (second worst in the league), particularly considering they only gave up 57 total receptions to the position last year (tied for the fewest in the league). At best, this Eagles run game is a three-headed monster with Hurts, Sanders (or Scott), and Gainwell, and at worst it’s a four-headed monster.

As I alluded to above, I don’t expect we’ll see volume be the primary contributor to fantasy goodness from the Eagles this season. As such, we want to look for opportunities to target this unit at low ownership and largely fade them if they are expected to carry anything resembling heavy ownership. Any one of Brown, Smith, Watkins, or Goedert can wreak havoc on five to seven targets, which is honestly the likeliest range of targets for each of them on a given week. Brown would be the most obvious player to see volume higher than that range on a weekly basis. Furthermore, this Lions secondary ceded the most yards per pass attempt (7.6) and second most yards per completion (11.6) in the league last season. More on this situation below in the DFS+ Interpretation section.

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OVERVIEW

  • Fifth highest Vegas game total in Week 1
  • PHI’s implied total of 26.25 ranks fifth
  • Each team boasts a top 5 offensive line, per PFF rankings

Jalen Hurts

  • Middle of the pack in PFF passing grade & YPA last year (14th), but finished third in ADoT
  • His 21.9 DK ppg ranked 8th, while his 9.3 rushing attempts per game ranked 2nd
  • He scored 25+ pts six times
  • PHI tied for last in passing attempts per game last season (29.1)
  • However, Hurts had 34+ attempts in 5 of their first 7 games
  • In his only preseason appearance this year, PHI called a pass play on all of his snaps
  • His $6,800 DK salary is the 6th highest
  • DET ranked 20th in DK ppg allowed to QBs
  • Three opposing QBs scored 25+ DK pts vs. DET

PHI Passing Attack

  • DeVonta Smith averaged 6.1 targets per game for a 21.1% target share last season
  • He managed 20+ DK pts twice
  • His DK salary is only $5,500 in Week 1
  • A.J. Brown averaged 8.1 targets (19.6% target share) for the similarly run-heavy Titans
  • He scored 30+ DK pts three times
  • His $6,400 DK salary is the 9th highest
  • DET ranked 21st in DK ppg allowed to WRs
  • Only two WRs scored 20+ pts vs. DET (although Cooper Kupp put up 40.6)
  • Dallas Goedert averaged 5.1 targets per game for a 15.4% target share (10th)
  • His 11.4 DK ppg ranked 7th
  • He scored 15+ DK pts three times
  • Goedert’s $4,500 DK salary is the 8th highest
  • DET ranked 24th in DK ppg allowed to TEs (14.2)
  • Only Mark Andrews scored over 15 pts vs. DET (18.9)

PHI Rushing Attack

  • Team snap share: Miles Sanders 45.6% // Kenneth Gainwell 26.6% // Boston Scott 19.6%
  • Rush share: Sanders 35% // Scott 22.3% // Gainwell 17.4%
  • Target share: Gainwell 10.1% // Sanders 6.9% // Scott 3.2%
  • Red zone touch share: Jalen Hurts 22% // Sanders 16% // Scott 14% // Gainwell 14%
  • Each RB had a single 20+ DK pt game
  • Their DK salaries are all within a $4,500 – $5,400 range
  • DET ranked 30th in DK ppg allowed to RBs (28.3)
  • Five RBs scored 25+ DK pts vs. DET (including two 35+ efforts)

Jared Goff

  • 24th in PFF passing grade, 26th in YPA, & 30th in ADoT
  • 14.9 DK ppg, with four 20+ pt outings
  • PHI’s defensive line ranks 9th per PFF
  • Last season, they ranked 5th in DK ppg allowed to QBs (17.2)
  • Four opposing QBs scored 25+ pts vs. PHI (Dak Prescott, Justin Herbert, Patrick Mahomes, & Trevor Siemian)

DET Passing Attack

  • From Weeks 13-18, Amon-Ra St. Brown ranked 6th in PFF receiving grade, 3rd in total targets, 5th in YPRR, & 12th in YAC/rec
  • His DK log during that stretch: 24.8, 15.3, 23.5, 26, 38.4, 29.1
  • His $6,100 DK salary is the 13th most expensive
  • Newcomer D.J. Chark averaged 15.7 DK ppg for JAX in 2019, then 12 in 2020, & 8.6 in 2021
  • He had one target in the preseason, thrown 15 yards down the field
  • In PFF passing grade on deep targets, Goff has ranked 35th, 34th, 23rd, 8th, 6th, 28th (in reverse chronological order)
  • Chark costs $4,800 on DK to roster in Week 1
  • PHI ranked 2nd in DK ppg allowed to WRs (28.2)
  • Only three opposing WRs scored 20+ DK pts (although Tyreek Hill scored 50.6)
  • T.J. Hockenson averaged 6.9 targets per game last year (5th)
  • His 12.1 DK ppg ranked 5th
  • He scored 15+ DK pts in a third of his games (including 20+ twice)
  • His $4,900 DK salary is the 6th highest on the slate
  • PHI ranked 31st in DK ppg allowed to TEs (16.8)
  • Four opposing TEs scored 15+ pts vs. PHI (Dalton Schultz did so twice)

D’Andre Swift

  • Swift tied with Fournette for most targets per game
  • His 16.8 DK ppg ranked 12th
  • He scored 20+ DK pts in 5/12 healthy games (including 25+ twice)
  • His $6,800 DK salary is the 9th highest
  • PHI ranked 22nd in DK ppg allowed to RBs (25.2)
  • Notable opposing RB scores: Ezekiel Elliott 26.6 // Leonard Fournette 30.7

Kickoff Sunday, Sep 11th 1:00pm Eastern

Colts (
26.5) at

Texans (
19.5)

Over/Under 46.0

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Notes

Key Matchups
Colts Run D
6th DVOA/2nd Yards allowed per carry
Texans Run O
29th DVOA/22nd Yards per carry
Colts Pass D
14th DVOA/7th Yards allowed per pass
Texans Pass O
30th DVOA/24th Yards per pass
Texans Run D
31st DVOA/29th Yards allowed per carry
Colts Run O
32nd DVOA/25th Yards per carry
Texans Pass D
25th DVOA/30th Yards allowed per pass
Colts Pass O
31st DVOA/30th Yards per pass

Game Overview ::

By mjohnson86 >>
  • The Colts offense dismantled Houston’s defense last year and should be more balanced and explosive in 2022
  • The Texans should be much improved from their 2021 season, but have a poor matchup on both sides of the ball to start this year
  • Pace and game flow should be slow, with both teams likely to be run-heavy and the Colts coming off a season where they ranked dead last in pace of play
  • Houston is unlikely to score many points, making this game’s chances of staying close rely on the Colts offense faltering

How Indianapolis Will Try To Win ::

Frank Reich must be in heaven – a REAL NFL QB who doesn’t try to throw the ball with his weak hand from his own end zone!!

In all seriousness, Matt Ryan presents the biggest upgrade to the quarterback situation the Colts have had since Andrew Luck’s surprise retirement on the eve of the 2019 season. After a year with backup types filling in at the last minute, the Colts settled for noodle-armed end-of-career Phillip Rivers in 2020 and then absent-minded Carson Wentz in 2021. While the last two seasons ended in a more than respectable 20-13 record, a quick playoff exit in 2020 and a Week 18 loss to the Jaguars to miss the playoffs in 2022 is an extremely disappointing outcome for a team with the talent, depth, and coaching that this Colts team has. 

Last year the Colts made the move to using Jonathan Taylor as a true feature back and offensive centerpiece about halfway through the season as they were around .500 and fighting for their playoff lives after a slow start to the year. That move proved wise, as Taylor established himself as one of the top RBs in the league and nearly carried the team on his back to the playoffs. This year, with the addition of Ryan, word out of Colts camp is that they will become more balanced and throw the ball more while also likely being more versatile and flexible to adjust to what defenses throw at them. Wentz has always been a very good athlete, but his ability to read defenses both before and after the snap has always been in question. Meanwhile, Ryan is one of the smarter QBs in the game and has done this at a high level for many years. This is also by far the best running attack and offensive line Ryan has played with in years, if not his entire career. For all intents and purposes, this is a match made in heaven (and all for the meager price of a 3rd round draft pick from the Colts!). Big picture, if and when teams sell out to stop Taylor, the Colts will now have a QB under center who can make the pre-snap adjustments needed and then execute what needs to be done to make teams pay. With that in mind, the Colts will almost certainly pass at a much higher rate this season than they did last season – although for this particular matchup we may not see it quite yet.

Looking at this specific game, in two meetings last season the Colts won both games by a combined score of 62-3, with Taylor running for a combined 288 rushing yards and 5 touchdowns. As the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The Texans defense should be improved this season, and they will almost certainly sell out to stop the run in this matchup after last year’s slaughtering, but “containment” would be a victory here for the Texans while “stopping” the Colts running game would be an incredible surprise, even by NFL standards. The Indianapolis offensive line is not quite the juggernaut it has been in past seasons, but it is still a top-10 unit and the Texans have arguably one of the least talented defensive fronts in the league. During the off-season, the Texans used the 3rd and 37th overall picks in the NFL draft on defensive backs – a shrewd move that should provide long-term dividends, but one that will do little to nothing to help the Texans stop the freight train of the Colts running game in this matchup.

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Kickoff Sunday, Sep 11th 1:00pm Eastern

Patriots (
21.75) at

Dolphins (
24.75)

Over/Under 46.5

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Notes

Key Matchups
Patriots Run D
7th DVOA/10th Yards allowed per carry
Dolphins Run O
14th DVOA/27th Yards per carry
Patriots Pass D
3rd DVOA/18th Yards allowed per pass
Dolphins Pass O
1st DVOA/1st Yards per pass
Dolphins Run D
12th DVOA/17th Yards allowed per carry
Patriots Run O
24th DVOA/26th Yards per carry
Dolphins Pass D
25th DVOA/12th Yards allowed per pass
Patriots Pass O
22nd DVOA/19th Yards per pass

Game Overview ::

By Hilow >>
  • The Patriots have a ton of moving parts heading into 2022, less so in the sense of personnel and more so from an offensive scheme perspective.
  • The overall identity of the Patriots should remain intact, likely focused on the suffocating defense and above average offensive line.
  • Very few scenarios in this game lead to the Patriots controlling the flow, potentially leaving New England in uncomfortable, and recently unfamiliar, territory.
  • If I’m Bill Belichick planning for this contest, I’m placing heavy emphasis on the run game in order to exploit the only true weakness of the Miami defense.
  • There are very few avenues to the game environment turning into something favorable for fantasy production.

How New ENgland Will Try To Win ::

The Patriots enter the season with a new offensive coordinator for the first time since 2012 when Josh McDaniels joined Bill Belichick after a short stint with the Rams. Although not yet officially named the offensive coordinator (which seems to simply be a Belichickian ploy), all signs point to Matt Patricia calling plays (as he did for every snap taken by the first team this preseason). With the change in offensive coordinator comes a shift from the usual Patriot power run game to a more outside zone run scheme, at least that’s what we saw this preseason. We also saw this unit largely struggle under second-year quarterback Mac Jones during the preseason, raising questions as to the efficacy of an offense called by Patricia, who hasn’t even worked on the offensive side of the ball since 2005. That is to say, the change from McDaniels to Patricia, and the resulting expectation heading into the season from this offense, should not be understated. What we can say with a high degree of certainty is that this team’s identity is likely to revolve around the defense and an offensive line that PFF has as their seventh-ranked unit heading into 2022. The embarrassment of riches this team possessed on the defensive side of the ball allowed them to move on from Kyle Van Noy and J.C. Jackson, with Jonathan Jones and Raekwon McMillan set to take over. That should mean we see another dominant year after the Patriots held opponents to only 19.4 points per game in 2021, third-fewest in the league.

The departure of James White (retirement) and injury to Ty Montgomery (ankle) leaves the backfield in a likely tight 1A/1B situation split between incumbents Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson. Reports from camp and preseason seem to indicate the backfield will be far less situational and more aimed at keeping each fresh deep into the game, likely indicating we see each rotating in throughout a drive. That should be considered a boost to the weekly floor of each back as they are likely to see increased pass game work. As mentioned above, the most notable shift in this year’s backfield is a transition away from a power-focused rushing attack towards more outside zone elements, which should theoretically benefit Stevenson more than Harris – but that remains to be seen. The bigger issue I see is the relative incompetence we saw from the offense as a whole during the preseason, which could bring into question their scoring efficiency. As in, the Patriots ranked in the top 10 in total offense in nine of the previous 10 seasons, a trend that could be bucked this year.

Based on the composition of the pass-catching corps and weighed against the strengths of Mac Jones, I expect the overall theme of the passing game to remain relatively static heading into 2022. Basically, DeVante Parker, Jakobi Meyers, Hunter Henry, and Jonnu Smith are best suited to short-to-intermediate work where they are asked to win in the first five yards, leaving only Kendrick Bourne to stretch the field vertically to start the season (dynamic rookie wide receiver Tyquan Thornton was placed on injured reserve and will miss the first four games of the season, at minimum). As such, expect the passing game to focus on moving the chains in a methodical fashion, dinking-and-dunking down the field by limiting mistakes and avoiding long down and distance to go situations. This does two things for our understanding of this unit: (1) if effective, it should lead to high time of possession and minimal overall game volume, and (2) if ineffective, it could put additional strain on a “bend but don’t break” defense.

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OVERVIEW

  • Longtime Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels is now gone from NE, to be replaced by a combination of Matt Patricia & Joe Judge
  • Patricia spent six seasons as the Defensive Coordinator for NE before misleading DET for three seasons
  • Judge spent five years as the Special Teams Coordinator for NE before misleading NYG for two seasons
  • Neither has ever served as an Offensive Coordinator in the NFL nor NCAA
  • MIA’s new Head Coach, Mike McDaniel, was SF’s Offensive Coordinator last season (after four seasons as the Run Game Coordinator)
  • He led Jimmy Garoppolo to the NFC Championship game

Mac Jones

  • Jones ($5,400) finished 11th in PFF passing grade in his rookie season
  • He scored 20+ DK pts three times: 22.3 // 24.5 // 25.2
  • MIA has PFF’s 5th ranked secondary
  • MIA ranked 8th in DK ppg allowed to QBs (17.6)
  • Notable opposing QB scores: Matt Ryan 22.4 // Derek Carr 25.2 // Josh Allen 29.5 // Tom Brady 40.7

NE Passing Attack

  • 2021 snap shares: Jakobi Meyers 84.3% // Hunter Henry 67.8% // Nelson Agholor 63.9% // Kendrick Bourne 51.8% // Jonnu Smith 47.6%
  • Target shares: Meyers 23.6% // Henry 14% // Bourne 13.1% // Agholor 12% // Smith 8.4%
  • Meyers ($4,300) scored 20+ DK pts just once, and never hit 100 yards
  • Newcomer DeVante Parker ($4,800) had his worst fantasy output of the past three years in his final season as a Dolphin
  • He never hit 20 DK pts
  • Bourne ($4,200) produced three 20+ DK pt efforts
  • Agholor ($3,400) was the primary deep threat but never hit 20 DK pts
  • MIA ranked 16th in DK ppg allowed to WRs (35.6)
  • Only 2 WRs scored 20+ DK pts against MIA
  • Henry ($3,800) scored 19+ DK pts three times
  • Smith ($2,800) never hit 11 DK pts
  • MIA ranked 17th in DK ppg allowed to TEs (12.9)
  • Notable opposing TE scores: Henry 13.6 // Mark Andrews 18.3

NE Rushing Attack

  • The NE offensive line is ranked 5th by PFF
  • Damien Harris ($5,700) & Rhamondre Stevenson ($5,500) averaged identical YPC (4.6)
  • Stevenson led Harris in yards after contact per attempt (3.26 to 2.75) and in YPRR (1.54 to 1.16)
  • Harris led in TDs 15 to 5
  • Harris’s notable DK scores: 20.1 // 20.8 // 28.3 // 31.3
  • Stevenson’s notable DK scores: 25.7 // 27.4
  • MIA ranked 9th in DK ppg allowed to RBs (21.6)
  • Notable opposing RB scores: Brandon Bolden 20.6 // D’Onta Foreman 22.2

Tua Tagovailoa

  • Tua’s ($5,700) metrics were nothing to write home about last season
  • But under Mike McDaniels, Jimmy Garoppolo ranked 2nd in YPA & 3rd in adjusted completion %
  • Tua managed two notable DK scores: 25.4 // 28.5
  • NE ranked 2nd in DK ppg allowed to QBs (14.7)
  • Notable opposing QB scores: Davis Mills 27.7 // Dak Prescott 31.8 // Josh Allen 34

MIA Passing Attack

  • McDaniels brought in two new weapons for Tua: Tyreek Hill ($6,800) & Cedrick Wilson ($3,900)
  • In his final year as a Chief, Hill was tied for 8th in PFF receiving grade last season & finished 10th in YPRR
  • His 19.1 DK ppg ranked 6th
  • Hill’s GPP winning scores: 27.4 // 27.5 // 35.8 // 40.1 // 50.6
  • In his rookie year, Jaylen Waddle ($6,400) finished 16th in DK ppg (15.7) & 20th in PFF receiving grade
  • Waddle’s GPP winning scores: 25.2 // 29 // 31.7
  • Wilson scored 15+ DK pts four times in his final year as a Cowboy: 18.7 // 18.8 // 20.4 // 31.9
  • NE ranked 4th in DK ppg allowed to WRs (30.3)
  • Notable opposing WR scores: Stefon Diggs 21.5 // Isaiah McKenzie 32.4
  • TE Mike Gesicki ($4,800) finished 12th in DK ppg (10.2), 11th in PFF receiving grade, 9th in YPC, & 12th in YPRR
  • His notable DK scores: 16.7 // 18.6 // 21.5 // 22.5
  • NE ranked 1st in DK ppg allowed to TEs (6.7)
  • No opposing TE scored 15 pts

MIA Rushing Attack

  • McDaniels revamped the RB room as well, bringing in Chase Edmonds ($5,200) from ARI & Raheem Mostert ($4,800) from his days in SF
  • Playing behind James Conner, Edmonds still managed two notable scores last year: 20.9 // 26.7
  • Now age 30, Mostert may have been poised for a strong year last season but he went down after just 4 snaps and never returned to the field
  • He had four 20+ pt DK games in 2019, and one in 2020
  • NE ranked 18th in DK ppg allowed to RBs (23.8)
  • Notable opposing RB scores: Duke Johnson 22.2 // Dontrell Hilliard 22.3 // Jonathan Taylor 26

Kickoff Sunday, Sep 11th 1:00pm Eastern

Ravens (
25.25) at

Jets (
18.75)

Over/Under 44.0

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Notes

Key Matchups
Ravens Run D
9th DVOA/3rd Yards allowed per carry
Jets Run O
21st DVOA/18th Yards per carry
Ravens Pass D
8th DVOA/15th Yards allowed per pass
Jets Pass O
20th DVOA/20th Yards per pass
Jets Run D
8th DVOA/6th Yards allowed per carry
Ravens Run O
2nd DVOA/3rd Yards per carry
Jets Pass D
5th DVOA/6th Yards allowed per pass
Ravens Pass O
7th DVOA/13th Yards per pass

Game Overview ::

By Hilow >>
  • Baltimore attempted 35.9 passes per game in 2021 after attempting 25.9 passes per game in 2020.
  • Ravens could be without their top two running backs to start the season.
  • Perennial underachiever Mike Davis, recent signing Kenyan Drake, and depth piece Justice Hill round out the running back depth chart behind J.K. Dobbins and PUP-lister Gus Edwards.
  • The Jets could be starting backup quarterback Joe Flacco following the knee injury to starting quarterback Zach Wilson in the first preseason game.
  • The question from this one shouldn’t be “what is the likeliest game flow,” the question should be “how do we expect the Ravens to try and win this game knowing the issues with their backfield?”

How Baltimore Will Try To Win ::

The Ravens were the most outlier team in the league last year when compared to how they normally try and win games under Harbaugh. What I mean by that is this – they threw the football 35.9 times per game in 2021 after throwing the football 25.9 times per game in 2020, due in large part to the massive amount of injuries they had both before the season started (their top three running backs were lost for the season) and during the season (multiple offensive linemen and countless members of their defense, including at all three levels). As such, we should expect this team to regress to their norm moving forward as a team whose identity is built from the run game. That said, they are about to start the season without Gus Edwards and potentially J.K. Dobbins, meaning we could see a backfield led by Mike Davis and newcomer Kenyan Drake. Should that be the case (if Dobbins is held out or is limited in Week 1), we have a very interesting discussion on our hands. Would this team try and run an inefficient rusher and a back that has been with the team for less than two weeks or would they place the game in the hands of their otherworldly quarterback Lamar Jackson?

Let’s start with a recent quote from Harbaugh regarding his backfield. “…if J.K. can go out right now, that would be great. I would be excited. He had a good practice today. If not, we have the guys that will play. So, we’re good either way.” Man, talk about a vote of confidence. If ever there were a quote that said absolutely nothing, that would be it. The most troubling thing, for me, was the addition of Kenyan Drake late in the preseason, which likely signals growing concern surrounding their lead running back heading into the year. That supposition garners additional support via recent videos out of Baltimore practices, showing Dobbins with a noticeable limp following individual drills. Regardless, I think it prudent to operate under the assumption we either see Baltimore without their lead back or see him limited in Week 1, which brings us back to the question of “how do we think Baltimore will try to win this game with a backfield consisting primarily of Mike Davis and Kenyan Drake?” Davis is a career 3.7 yards per carry, having played on five different teams over his eight-year career, while Drake was brought to town at the end of August, just 11 days before the first game of the season. With that exploration in mind, this is a good matchup on the ground for the Ravens. The Jets are fresh off a season where they allowed the most DraftKings points per game to opposing backfields on the backs of 28 total touchdowns allowed to the position, 23 of which came via rushing scores.
The departure of Marquise Brown this offseason leaves Baltimore’s primary pass-catchers as newly anointed alpha Rashod Bateman, dynamic tight end Mark Andrews, and third-year return man Devin Duvernay. Baltimore ran 11-personnel only 43% of the time in 2021, behind only two offenses that played tight ends heavily as wide receivers in Miami and Atlanta. One of the biggest offseason storylines regarding Baltimore pass-catchers is fourth-round rookie tight end Isaiah Likely, who many Best Ball drafters assume will garner a large role to begin the year. That said, Likely is a raw prospect that struggles with blocking technique, a notable development considering the identity of this team. As in, how many snaps are the Ravens truly going to allot to a tight end that is a poor blocker considering typical route participation rates from their TE2 (their TE2 last season were Eric Tomlinson (18% route participation rate), Nick Boyle (28% route participation rate), and Josh Oliver (59% route participation rate))? Regardless, Likely is currently listed as the third tight end on the depth chart and should be considered likely to start the season in a minimal role. James Proche should man the slot in what should amount to a part-time role. The reworked secondary of the Jets appears liable to cede major production to opposing tight ends once more after allowing 15.4 DraftKings points per game to the position in 2021 and bringing in D.J. Reed, Sauce Gardner, LaMarcus Joyner, and Jordan Whitehead this offseason.

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OVERVIEW

  • BAL has the sixth highest implied team total, NYJ has the fourth lowest
  • The spread is the second widest
  • BAL’s final score in Week 1 the past few years: 27 // 38 // 59 // 47

Lamar Jackson

  • 8th in YPA & 2nd in ADoT last year
  • 11.1 rushing attempts for 63.9 yds led all QBs in both categories
  • 22.3 DK ppg ranked 6th
  • Scored 35+ DK pts three times (35.6, 37.3, 45.9)
  • Otherwise did not crack 25 pts
  • $7,300 DK salary is the third most expensive
  • NYJ ranked 27th in DK ppg allowed to QBs (20.1)
  • Three opposing QBs scored 25+ DK pts vs. NYJ

BAL Passing Attack

  • Rashod Bateman managed an 11% target share last season with departed Marquise Brown dominating at 23.7%
  • Bateman hit 20 DK pts once (Brown did so three times)
  • His DK salary is only $5,300
  • The remaining WRs (Devin Duvernay & James Proche) averaged fewer than three targets per game
  • NYJ ranked 8th in DK ppg allowed to WRs (33.8)
  • Stefon Diggs was the only WR to hit 20+ DK pts vs. NYJ (twice)
  • Mark Andrews led all TEs in DK scoring with 18.7 ppg
  • He scored 29+ DK pts four times
  • His $6,800 DK salary is the highest at the position
  • NYJ ranked 28th in DK ppg allowed to TEs (15.9)
  • Two TEs scored 20+ DK pts vs. NYJ (Rob Gronkowski & Dallas Goedert)

BAL Rushing Attack

  • As of a week before kickoff, J.K. Dobbins is uncertain to play (while Gus Edwards is on PUP)
  • Remaining RBs Mike Davis, Kenyan Drake, & Justice Hill may have to split the work in Week 1
  • 29 year old Davis hasn’t scored 20+ DK pts since filling Christian McCaffrey’s shoes two years ago
  • 28 year old Drake has scored 20+ DK pts three times in the last two seasons
  • Should Dobbins play, his $5,600 DK salary is the only BAL RB salar above $5k
  • NYJ ranked dead last in DK ppg allowed to RBs (33.9)
  • Five RBs scored 25+ DK pts vs. NYJ last season

Joe Flacco

  • In his lone preseason appearance, Flacco earned a 29.5 PFF passing grade
  • His average DK ppg the past three seasons: 12.4 // 11.6 // 12
  • Flacco costs just $4,800 to roster on DK in Week 1
  • BAL ranked 31st in DK ppg allowed to QBs last season (21.4)
  • BAL allowed 25+ DK pts to QBs on five separate occasions last year

NYJ Passing Attack

  • Target shares last season: Elijah Moore 12.8% // Jamison Crowder 11.8% // Braxton Berrios 10.8% // Corey Davis 9.8%
  • Crowder is no longer on the team, but they did draft Garrett Wilson 10th overall in this year’s draft
  • Moore scored 20+ DK pts three times in 11 games
  • His Week 1 DK salary is $5,100
  • Wilson ranked 19th in PFF passing grade in the NCAA last season & 14th in YPRR
  • In the preseason, Wilson caught 6/8 targets for 52 yds
  • He costs $4,700 to roster in Week 1
  • Berrios scored 15+ DK pts twice last year (15 vs. JAX // 26.7 vs. TB)
  • He costs $4,000 in Week 1
  • BAL ranked 30th in DK ppg allowed last season to WRs (40)
  • Their secondary was decimated by injuries
  • TE1 on the NYJ depth chart is Tyler Conklin
  • In the preseason, he more than doubled C.J. Uzomah in targets
  • Conklin’s scored 12+ DK pts four times in his career
  • His Week 1 DK salary is $3,500
  • BAL ranked 27th in DK ppg allowed to TEs
  • Three TEs scored 20+ DK pts vs. BAL last season (Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, & Uzomah)
  • Uzomah costs $3,600 to roster

NYJ Rushing Attack

  • NYJ drafted Breece Hall (Iowa State) in the 2nd round of this year’s draft to join Michael Carter in the RB room
  • In the preseason, both backs averaged 2.1 YPA with nearly identical PFF rushing grades
  • Carter saw three targets, Hall zero
  • As a rookie last year, Carter scored 15+ DK pts four times (including 32.2 vs. CIN) and averaged 3.9 targets per game
  • PFF ranks the NYJ offensive line as the 12th best
  • Hall & Carter are priced within $400 of each other in DK salary
  • BAL ranked 12th in DK ppg allowed to RBs (22.3)
  • Only Joe Mixon scored over 20 DK pts vs. BAL (31.5)


Kickoff Sunday, Sep 11th 1:00pm Eastern

Jaguars (
20) at

WFT (
23)

Over/Under 43.0

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Notes

Key Matchups
Jaguars Run D
13th DVOA/8th Yards allowed per carry
Commanders Run O
25th DVOA/27th Yards per carry
Jaguars Pass D
30th DVOA/28th Yards allowed per pass
Commanders Pass O
28th DVOA/21st Yards per pass
Commanders Run D
2nd DVOA/9th Yards allowed per carry
Jaguars Run O
22nd DVOA/6th Yards per carry
Commanders Pass D
16th DVOA/25th Yards allowed per pass
Jaguars Pass O
11th DVOA/23rd Yards per pass

Game Overview ::

By papy324>>
  • This game could have a faster pace than people anticipate
  • Jahan Dotson is mispriced for his role
  • Christian Kirk is mispriced for his role
  • Both defenses have weak secondaries

How Washington Will Try To Win ::

Last year the Commanders played slow (20th situational neutral pace) but it’s hard to know how much of that was due to inconsistent QB play. Would you be thrilled about the idea of giving more plays to Taylor Heinicke? This year, the Commanders brought in Carson “Am I an upgrade?” Wentz. Wentz SHOULD (strongly stressing should) be an upgrade, but there is a reason he has struggled to find a consistent home over the past few seasons. Rivera wants to be aggressive. With a competent offensive line (ranked 12th by Sharp football), and a better QB, there is a real chance the Commanders play faster than they did last year.

The Jags were a sieve on defense last season. They were dastardly bad (31st in DVOA) against the pass and almost equally soft (19th DVOA) on the ground. The Jags lost Myles Jack, but added some help in free agency, and used three of their first four draft picks on defense. This unit could improve as the season progresses but should still be a liability. Sharp football ranks poorly both their front seven (22nd) and secondary (27th). The Jags profile as a team that can be attacked through the air, or on the ground. With the tragic shooting of Brain Robinson during a carjacking and the coaching staff’s obvious displeasure with Antonio Gibson, the Commanders could skew pass heavy Week 1, against one of the worst secondaries in the league.

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Kickoff Sunday, Sep 11th 4:25pm Eastern

Giants (
19.25) at

Titans (
24.75)

Over/Under 44.0

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Notes

Key Matchups
Giants Run D
27th DVOA/30th Yards allowed per carry
Titans Run O
14th DVOA/20th Yards per carry
Giants Pass D
28th DVOA/26th Yards allowed per pass
Titans Pass O
12th DVOA/7th Yards per pass
Titans Run D
1st DVOA/3rd Yards allowed per carry
Giants Run O
11th DVOA/12th Yards per carry
Titans Pass D
13th DVOA/16th Yards allowed per pass
Giants Pass O
12th DVOA/24th Yards per pass

Game Overview ::

By mjohnson86>>
  • A battle of teams who will likely play conservatively, although for different reasons.
  • Tennessee’s identity “run and defend” will be tested this season due to offensive line and defensive personnel issues.
  • New York will likely bring a lot of pressure, making things difficult for a Titans receiving corps devoid of separators.
  • By far the biggest X-Factor in this game will be how aggressive head coach Brian Daboll decides to be in his first real game with Daniel Jones under center.

How new york Will Try To Win ::

A new sheriff is in town for the Giants, with Brian Daboll entering his first season as an NFL head coach. Daboll was a hot commodity on the NFL coaching scene this off-season, as teams battled for his services and he had quite a few options. The fact that he chose the Giants is encouraging for their short and long-term offensive outlook. The Giants have several very talented pieces on their roster and Daboll designed the NFL’s most prolific offenses for the Bills over the last several years. 

Looking to this year, we can be cautiously optimistic about this team as Daboll’s scheme seems to fit the personnel already in place. A spread-style offensive scheme should play to the strengths of QB Daniel Jones and the rest of the skill players and give them a chance to play a much more fun, uptempo style than we’ve seen from the Giants in years past. This is a team who ran a QB sneak on 3rd and 8 from their own 5-yard line last season. The Giants have multiple wide receivers (Kadarius Toney and Wandale Robinson) who are very good at creating separation and gaining yards after the catch, along with a finally healthy Saquon Barkley. Jones has struggled with accuracy and consistency during his NFL career but should benefit from a scheme that allows him to see things better and gives him a greater margin for error due to fewer tight window throws.

New York’s approach to this game will be interesting to see against a Tennessee defense that ranked 2nd in the league in 2021 in yards per carry allowed and just lost their 2021 sack leader, Harold Landry, for the season. The Titans also finished in the bottom-5 in the NFL in 2021 in blitz percentage, indicating their preference to sit back and play coverage. On paper, this sets up as a game for the Giants to spread the field and use a pass-heavy game plan to get the ball to their playmakers in space with short area work, scheming them open and looking for holes in coverage to sit down in and create yards after the catch. The Titans will likely maintain what worked for them last year, trusting their front to create pressure from the interior and sitting back in coverage waiting for the Giants to get too aggressive or Jones to make mistakes.

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Kickoff Sunday, Sep 11th 4:25pm Eastern

Chiefs (
30.25) at

Cards (
23.75)

Over/Under 54.0

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Notes

Key Matchups
Chiefs Run D
19th DVOA/13th Yards allowed per carry
Cardinals Run O
27th DVOA/21st Yards per carry
Chiefs Pass D
20th DVOA/11th Yards allowed per pass
Cardinals Pass O
29th DVOA/32nd Yards per pass
Cardinals Run D
23rd DVOA/19th Yards allowed per carry
Chiefs Run O
18th DVOA/10th Yards per carry
Cardinals Pass D
22nd DVOA/12th Yards allowed per pass
Chiefs Pass O
2nd DVOA/2nd Yards per pass

Game Overview ::

By mjohnson86 >>
  • This is an exciting matchup of teams that play at a fast pace, but both teams have a lot of changes on offense to start the year.
  • The strengths of both offenses match up well with the “path of least resistance” provided by their opponents.
  • The Cardinals preference to blitz at a high rate could be attacked and exploited by Patrick Mahomes in this game.
  • This game not only deserves the highest total on the slate, it also has the greatest chance to drastically surpass those expectations due to a variety of matchup factors.

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How Kansas City Will Try To Win ::

The Chiefs enter the 2022 season on a run of four consecutive years making it to the AFC championship game or Super Bowl. Last year ended for them when they fell apart and gave a game away at home to the Bengals, losing in overtime one week shy of the Super Bowl. As they look to make a fifth consecutive deep run into the playoffs, their division has become arguably the most difficult in football and they lost a key piece of their historically good offense.

The biggest change for this year will be the offense’s loss of all-pro wide receiver Tyreek Hill. Hill was used in a dynamic role all over the field and targeted in the short, intermediate, and deep areas of the field as a moveable chess piece that defenses had to account for. The Chiefs will not try to replace the “Hill” role in their offense with just one player, rather Andy Reid will have a somewhat redesigned offense built around the strengths of the players they do have. By all camp accounts, newcomer Juju Smith-Schuster will operate as the de facto WR1 this season – meaning he will have the highest snap count and be the most targeted of the group. As stated earlier, it won’t be a straight one-for-one replacement for Hill as JuJu has a different skill set and doesn’t match Hill’s straight line speed. He will likely be used on a lot of the shorter and intermediate routes and used interchangeably with Travis Kelce as they take turns attacking the seams and in-breaking routes. Marquez Valdes-Scantling was also brought in and will be the “#2” while being used often as a vertical field stretcher on the perimeter. Finally, Mecole Hardman maintains his role as the third receiver of the group and will be used on gadget plays and manufactured touches, with some deep shots of his own mixed in.

As for how this game plays out on this side of the ball, it will be very interesting to see how Arizona approaches the game philosophically. In last year’s playoff loss to the Rams, the Cardinals blitzed on 50% of Stafford’s dropbacks – despite Stafford having the best season of all NFL QB’s against the blitz – and he tore them apart. Mahomes has similarly been much better against the blitz than when facing four or fewer rushers during his career, while Arizona ranked 4th in the league in blitz rate last season. Complicating matters even more for the Cardinals defense will be the fact that they lost Chandler Jones, who was second on the team with 10.5 sacks last year, and linebacker Jordan Hicks, who was second on the team in tackles. There was a portion of last season where the Chiefs offense struggled as defenses had supposedly “figured them out” and began dropping back into Cover 2 and Cover 3 shell coverages while bringing less pressure. Eventually, the Chiefs adjusted their approach and took the easier underneath openings that defenses were giving them and got back on track, but we can unequivocally say that this defensive approach has shown much greater promise against the Chiefs offense. Meanwhile, the Chiefs have continuity and talent on one of the top offensive lines in the league while the Cardinals may have one of the least talented defensive fronts at this point.

The Chiefs won’t completely abandon the run by any means, but they have an all-world QB playing behind an elite offensive line and have been one of the highest pass rate over expectation (PROE) teams in the league since Mahomes took over, so it is safe to say they should be relatively pass heavy. The Cardinals already have a philosophy of bringing pressure through the blitz and are at a heavy disadvantage up front, making it likely that they stay true to themselves here and are aggressive against a team that will have to “prove” that they are the same explosive team without Tyreek Hill. This could line up for a game of fireworks for the Chiefs offense as Mahomes will get single coverage and open spaces to throw his receivers open.

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JM >>
  • As Mike said, this is pretty obviously one of the better game environments of the week; and in a sense, we could copy/paste my notes from the Raiders/Chargers game and the Packers/Vikings game, to essentially say: it’s really not a question that there are good plays from this game; but especially with the fact that this game will likely be popular, it’s less about “whether or not there are good plays” and more about “playing those good plays better than the field is playing those good plays
    • A bit of a mindset/side-trail here :: if you’re considering fading this game, there can be a tendency to want to start defending that stance by searching for (and holding onto) the reasons why this game could fail, but by giving into that tendency, you’re really just wasting your time; this game can underperform expectations, because that’s true for every game/player/situation, etc.; if that’s the bet you want to place here, that’s completely fine, but you also need to realize that you should then place that bet by building your roster in such a way that it ideally benefits directly from the field getting this game wrong
    • Said differently: don’t waste time trying to prove to others that they’re wrong, or trying to prove to yourself that others are wrong; instead, realize that we should always look at games from a standpoint of their ranges of outcomes — and every game has “disappointment” in its range of outcomes; use your time, instead, to design rosters that intelligently take advantage of the space on the leaderboards that would open up if that scenario came our way
    • (If you’re in Inner Circle, of course, you understand the next several layers, regarding how to build that kind of roster; if you’re not in Inner Circle, you can check out the podcasts and content for free this week on the One Week Season podcast feed (search ‘one week season’ on your favorite podcast player) and in The Scroll)
  • If you are building around this game…well, you’re trying to win a tourney; and this means that you’re building for the scenarios that would produce tourney-winners
  • Said differently, I don’t care who you take from this game; if you’re taking multiple players from this game, or anchoring your roster with a QB from this game, you’re essentially betting on this game blowing away the others on this slate — in which case, we would be seeing plenty of touchdowns…in which case, pretty much any piece from this game could be part of the action, and the key is to build intelligently around a particular scenario
  • I’m currently undecided as to whether or not I’ll be building around this game myself on my limited Week 1 entries, but there are plenty of angles to attack this one from, and nearly all of them are in play

By Dwprix >>

Overview

  • Highest total on week (53)
  • KC favored by 4 (opened 3)
  • ARZ started 2021 with a 7-0 record & went 3-0 vs playoff teams (TEN // LAR // SF)
  • KC started 3-4 & went 1-2 vs playoff teams
  • Kingsbury + Murray avg 29.7 pts & are 2-0-1 in WK 1’s 
  • Reid + Mahomes avg 37.4 pts & are 5-0 in WK 1’s 

Patrick Mahomes

  • Finished 5th in pass yds/g (284.6)
  • KC took the 3rd least sacks on 2nd most pass attempts
  • ARZ allowed 17.8 DK pts/g to QBs (11th least)
  • Mahomes reached 3x+ DK salary 7 times in 17 games in 2021 (four came in 1st 4 WKs of the season)
  •  4.5x (36.3 pts) // 3.4x (28) // 3.0x (24.9) // 4.0x (32.7) // 3.4x (28.0) // 5.2x (39.2) // 4.4x (34.6) // 3.6x (26.2)
  • Also scored 5.6x (41.1 pts) & 5.8x (43.0 pts) in the first 2 playoff games
  • ARZ allowed 17.8 DK pts to QBs last season (11th least)

Travis Kelce

  • Kelce in games w/o Tyreek (all in 2019): (7:107:1TD-9 tgts) // (7:89:0TDs-8 tgts) // (7:85:0 TDs-8 tgts) // (4:70:0 TDs-10 tgts) 
  • He saw a 21.7% tgt share // had 131 targets on season (Tyreek, who’s been traded saw a 25.4% tgt share & had 155 tgts)
  • Kelce ran a route on 90.4% of passing snaps
  • 2nd highest priced TE on DK ($6.6k) & highest priced on FD ($8.0k)
  • ARZ allowed 8.0 DK pts/g to TEs last season (3rd least)

KC WRs

  • JuJu only played in 6 gms last season 
  • He averaged 8 tgts/g in 2021 (not incl 19 tgts in their playoff gm that season)
  • MVS played in 11 games & averaged 5 tgts/g 
  • Hardman ($4.6k) needs 13.3 DK pts to pay off 3x 
  • He only did that two times in 2021 (16.6 // 22.3)
  • Hardman played on 52% of KCs offensive snaps & averaged 4.5 tgts/g in ‘21 (incl playoffs)
  • ARZ allowed 38.7 DK pts/g to WRs (4th most)

KC RBs

  • CEH played in 12 total gms in 2021 
  • He had 1 game with 15+ rush attempts & 2 gms w/ 100+ rush yds
  • McKinnon avg 16 touches & 105 scrimmage yards in playoffs last season
  • He’s priced $1.2 below CEH & $1.0k below Jones
  • ARZ allowed 22.1 DK pts/g to RBs last season (11th least)

Kyler Murray

  • This will be Murray’s 1st time facing KC
  • He averaged 25.7 DK pts in 2021’s 7-0 start & 18.2 thereafter (incl playoffs)
  • QB1 in WKs 1-3 in fantasy ppg (29.7)
  • Murray’s cheapest DK price in 2021 was $7k 
  • He’s $7.2k in WK 1
  • Murray DK pts last season w/o Hopkins: (13.6 // 21.9 // 22.9 // 17.1 // 6.1)
  • ARZ was 17th in pass atts/g (33.7) but 5th in pass yds/att (7.6)

Marquise Brown

  • Brown had a 25% target share w/ BAL in ‘21
  • 146 tgts in 16 gms (10 shy of Andrews in 1 less game)
  • He had 7 gms w/ 10+ tgts (10 // 10 // 14 // 12 // 13 // 10 // 14)
  • Brown was $6.2k or higher on DK in only 4 of 16 games last season 
  • He’s $6.2k WK 1
  • KC allowed 36.7 DK pts/g to WRs last season (11th most)

James Conner

  • 16 total games played last season 
  • Conner had 19 TDs (16 rush // 3 rec) 
  • He only had 4 gms without a TD & scored 2 or more in 6 gms
  • Conner had 20+ DK pts in 5 games (20.6 // 40.3 // 20.9 // 33.5 // 27.3)
  • $7k on DK this WK (was never more than $6.4k last season)
  • From WK 9 on (incl playoffs): 4.5 tgts/gm // 43.3 rec yds/g
  • KC allowed 24.3 DK pts/g to RBs last season (middle of league)

Zach Ertz

  • Ertz had 10.5 tgts/g in final 4 games of reg season (11 // 13 // 9 // 10)
  • $4.4k on DK WK 1 ( he was only cheaper in his 1st gm with AZ at $3.9k)
  • Ertz w/o Hopkins: (3:27-5 tgts // 5.7 DK pts) // (4:46-6 tgts // 8.6) // (8:88:2TDs-9 tgts // 28.8) // (6:74-11 tgts // 13.4) // (8:54-13 tgts // 13.4) // (7:41-9 tgts // 11.1) // (7:84-10 tgts // 15.4)
  • KC allowed 12.5 DK pts/g to TEs last season (middle of league)

Kickoff Sunday, Sep 11th 4:25pm Eastern

Raiders (
24.5) at

Chargers (
28)

Over/Under 52.5

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Notes

Key Matchups
Raiders Run D
22nd DVOA/15th Yards allowed per carry
Chargers Run O
31st DVOA/30th Yards per carry
Raiders Pass D
32nd DVOA/15th Yards allowed per pass
Chargers Pass O
19th DVOA/26th Yards per pass
Chargers Run D
30th DVOA/32nd Yards allowed per carry
Raiders Run O
6th DVOA/7th Yards per carry
Chargers Pass D
11th DVOA/22nd Yards allowed per pass
Raiders Pass O
18th DVOA/14th Yards per pass

Game Overview ::

By mjohnson86 >>
  • An exciting Week 1 rematch of last year’s Week 18 “win and you’re in” game these two teams played.
  • The new coaching staff and personnel for the Raiders lead to uncertainty about how they will approach this game.
  • Continuity for the Chargers gives us a good idea of what they will do and how they will try to do it.
  • The tempo and aggressiveness through the air of the Chargers are likely to be the catalyst that gets this game to the levels its game total would lead you to expect.

How las vegas Will Try To Win ::

This year’s Raiders team has a lot of interesting dynamics to consider and evaluate entering the season and as the season plays out. After a season in which they overcame a ton of adversity and made the playoffs, they now have a new coaching staff and front office. They also made a splash with the acquisition of Davante Adams to raise their offensive personnel from average to very good seemingly overnight. The Raiders also committed to Derek Carr with a three-year, $121 million contract extension in April, locking up that duo for the foreseeable future. Change can be a good thing, but there are also often some bumps along the way. One of the bigger questions heading into this season for this team is how the new staff and front office will handle players brought in by the previous regime. Josh Jacobs appears to be on the hot seat as the de facto starting running back, and the team cut 2021 first-round draft pick, offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood, in August.

Heading into the season, we can look at Josh McDaniels’ history and background to guide us in what we expect from the Raiders. The biggest thing to keep in mind is that McDaniels has a background with the Patriots, and their main objective is to play to their personnel and create their offense around the strengths of their players. This is where things get really interesting. The Raiders clearly have a strength in their passing game, with Adams, Darren Waller, and Hunter Renfrow creating a passing attack with multiple weapons whose strengths should seemingly complement each other well. However, the Raiders offensive line is one that has weaknesses in pass protection and personnel that seems better suited to succeed in the running game than in protection.

For this specific game, the Raiders could have some issues on their hands when they try to throw the ball – mainly the dynamic pass rush that the Chargers present that has been bolstered by the addition of Khalil Mack this offseason. The threat of the Chargers pass rush overwhelming the Raiders line, as well as the presence of All-Pro safety Derwin James leading a strong secondary, should make for trouble for Carr and the passing attack. The Chargers ranked near the bottom of the league in nearly every statistical category last season against the run. Given the issues they will have in pass protection, the strengths of their offensive line lying in run blocking, the Chargers clear “path of least resistance” on the ground, and the desire to keep Justin Herbert off the field – it is safe to say the Raiders will have a balanced to run heavy attack to start this season-opening matchup. Adams, Waller, and Renfrow are all very technically sound route runners and can win in short areas of the field, making it likely that the Raiders will have an offense designed for quick hitting passes when they do take to the air and will use a heavy dose of play-action passing to keep the Chargers pass rush honest.

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Overview

  • Tied for 2nd highest total (52.5)
  • LAC favored by 3.5
  • These teams split games last season: (LV-14 LAC-28) // (LAC-32 LV-35 OT)
  • Both teams started 2021 4-1 (LV’s loss was to LAC)
  • Both teams have won 3 straight in WK 1 
  • LAC only scored 20 pts in last season’s WK 1 game 
  • They scored 16 pts in 2020’s WK 1 gm (Tyrod Taylor)
  • LV points last 3 WK 1 games: (33 // 34 // 24)

Derek Carr

  • LV finished 6th in pass yds/g (269.4) 
  • LAC allowed the 10th least (221.2)
  • Carr had 20+ DK pts in 5 of 7 to start last season (28.0 // 27.2 // 25.2 // 15.4 // 8.2 // 24.5)
  • He only broke 20+ DK pts once thereafter incl playoffs (24.0) (10 gms)
  • Last season Carr @ LAC (21:34:196:2TDs:1INT // 15.4 DK pts) // Vs LAC (20:36:2TDs // 15.3 DK pts)
  • LAC allowed 18.6 DK pts to QBs last season (T-13th least)

Davante Adams

  • Carr & Adams played 2 years together at Fresno St: (233 catches:3,031 yds:36 TDs)
  • Adams T-2nd in targets last season: 169 (10.6/g) 
  • He had 9 of 17 games w/ 10+ tgts incl playoffs (18 // 11 // 16 // 14 // 11 // 13 // 13 // 14 // 11)
  • Adams finished 3rd in yds (1,553) // 2nd in yds/g (97.1) // 2nd in rec (123) 
  • He had 8 gms w/ 100+ yds: (121 // 132 // 206 // 115 // 104 // 121 // 114 // 136) 
  • And 9 w/ 10 + targets incl playoffs: (18 // 11 // 16 // 14 // 11 // 13 // 13 // 14 // 11)
  • $8.1k is the cheapest he’s been on DK since WK 10 last season

Hunter Renfrow

  • Renfrow T-17th among WRs in tgts/g in the reg season (7.5/g) 
  • He had 3 games w/ 10+ tgts incl playoffs (10 // 14 // 11)
  • 21% team tgt share last season
  • Renfrow had 4 games w/ 20+ DK pts 
  • One happened when Waller left in 2nd qtr (24.6)
  • 3 others when Waller was out (22.2 // 32.7 // 20.6)
  • Renfrow @ LAC: (6:45:1 TD-8 tgts // 16.5 DK pts) // vs LAC (4:13:2 TDs-5 tgts // 16.9 DK pts) 
  • LAC allowed 30.4 DK pts/g to WRs last season (4th least)

Darren Waller

  • Waller only played 9 games including the playoffs last season 
  • He had 3 games with 10+ tgts 
  • 8.5 tgts/g ranked 2nd among TEs (not including playoffs)
  • Best game by far came in WK 1 vs BAL: (10:105:1TD-19 tgts // 29.5 DK pts)
  • Waller vs LAC in ‘21: (4:50:1TD-7 tgts) // (2:22-9 tgts)
  • LAC allowed 17.5 DK pts to TEs last season (highest in NFL)

Josh Jacobs

  • In the last 7 games of the regular season, Jacobs had 20+ rush attempts 3 times (22 // 27 // 26)
  • He had 100+ rush yds in two of those (his only games w/ 100+ yds)
  • LV was 4th in tgt % to RBs (24%)
  • Jacobs saw 4.3 tgts/g including playoffs
  • LAC allowed 28.4 DK pts to RBs last season (3rd most)

Justin Herbert

  • LAC avg 282.4 pass yds/g (3rd most) 
  • LV allowed 223.0 (12th least)
  • Herbert finished 2nd among QBs in fantasy ppg (23.3)
  • He threw for 300+ yds in 9 of 17 gms: (337 // 338 // 398 // 356 // 382 // 303 // 317 // 336 // 383)
  • 41 total TDs: 38 Pass (3rd) // 3 Rush
  • Herbert vs LV: (25:38:222:3 TDs // 21.3 DK pts) // @ LV (34:64:383:3 TDs:1 INT // 31.4 DK pts)
  • LV allowed 18.7 DK pts to QBs last season (middle of league)

Keenan Allen/Mike Williams

  • Allen had 157 tgts (WR8 // avg 9.8 tgts/g) 
  • Williams had 129 (T-WR14 // avg 8.1 tgts/g)
  • Tgt Share: Allen (24%) // Williams (20%)
  • Allen’s DK price hasn’t been under $7k since WK 11 last season 
  • Williams’ hasn’t been over $6.6k since WK 9 last season
  • Rec TDs: (Allen 6) // (Williams 9)
  • LV allowed 31.7 DK pts/g to WRs last season (5th least)

Austin Ekeler:

  • Ekeler T-1st in RB tgts (94) // T-2nd in RB tgts/g (5.9)
  • He had at least 3 receptions in every game but two
  • Target Share: (14%)
  • RB2 in PPR ppg: (21.5 pts)
  • 20 TDs in 16 gms (12 rush:8 rec)
  • Ekeler had 9 gms w/ 20+ DK pts: (22.5 // 22.7 // 32.5 // 33.9 // 24.4 // 41.5 // 21.9 // 20.2 // 28.9)
  • He’s been at least $8.2k on DK in 6 straight gms // only broke 3x salary once in those 6 (3.44x // 28.9 pts)
  • Ekeler vs LV: (rush 15:117:1 TD // rec 3:28:1 TD-5 tgts // 33.9 DK pts) // @ LV (rush 16:64:1 TD rec 5:35:1 TD-12 tgts // 28.9 DK pts)
  • Scored both a rushing & receiving TD in both games vs LV
  • LV allowed 28.4 DK pts/g to RBs last season (3rd most)

Kickoff Sunday, Sep 11th 4:25pm Eastern

Packers (
22.5) at

Vikings (
24)

Over/Under 46.5

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Notes

Key Matchups
Packers Run D
29th DVOA/21st Yards allowed per carry
Vikings Run O
13th DVOA/17th Yards per carry
Packers Pass D
12th DVOA/18th Yards allowed per pass
Vikings Pass O
23rd DVOA/28th Yards per pass
Vikings Run D
13th DVOA/14th Yards allowed per carry
Packers Run O
5th DVOA/8th Yards per carry
Vikings Pass D
19th DVOA/27th Yards allowed per pass
Packers Pass O
16th DVOA/22nd Yards per pass

Game Overview ::

By mjohnson86>>
  • Both offenses will have new looks to them, as the Packers adjust to life without Davante Adams and the Vikings implement a new, more aggressive scheme.
  • A battle of wills, with the Vikings forging a new, aggressive mentality, while the Packers continue to bleed the clock and slow games down.
  • Both defenses should be more vulnerable on the ground, which plays into the philosophy of the Packers offense at this time perfectly.
  • We should expect a very competitive game throughout, with the potential for a low scoring battle, but a specific scenario which could turn this into the game of the week.

How Minnesota Will Try To Win ::

After an eight year stint of mostly successful and competitive football with Mike Zimmer as their head coach, the Vikings let him go at the conclusion of the 2021 season as they try to get over the hump of disappointing finishes. Their new coach is 36-year-old Kevin O’Connell, the man who was the offensive coordinator for the Super Bowl champion LA Rams last season. O’Connell joins a growing list of young, offensive minded coaches that are sweeping the league, and his arrival brings with it a lot of excitement about what the Vikings and their elite personnel can do with an aggressive coach of his nature, rather than the “defense and ball control” mindset that Zimmer imposed on the organization.

The Vikings did not play their starters this preseason and, as always, preseason play calling and schemes are pretty vanilla, so it is hard to point to specific things on film or in box scores to define their approach. However, from training camp reports, beat writers, O’Connell’s history and the Vikings’ personnel we can paint a pretty clear picture of what to expect this season:

  • First of all, Justin Jefferson appears primed for the “Cooper Kupp role,” which is not just a wide receiver, but rather an offensive centerpiece that is schemed around and found ways to force the ball to. Videos from camp and reports from beat writers showed Jefferson running routes from the backfield and being used in a variety of creative ways to get him the ball downfield, with advantageous matchups and in scoring zones. 
  • Next, we look in the backfield. Dalvin Cook is still one of the most talented backs in the league and O’Connell comes from a Rams system that has historically relied on one bell cow running back to carry the load, only occasionally being spelled for breaks. This philosophy is very similar to what we’ve seen from the Vikings in recent years, with the caveat being that Cook has been rumored to be used in more creative ways, including even being split out wide on occasion. That should open the door for Cook to get the ball in space more often and for elite backup RB Alexander Mattison to be on the field with Cook. 
  • From a pace of play perspective, the Vikings ranked a middling 17th in the league in situation-neutral pace of play in 2021, while the Rams played at a blistering pace to rank fourth in the same category. The Rams also ranked fourth in the league in average depth of target and called pass plays at a higher situation-neutral rate than the Vikings last season.

Putting that all together, we can expect a much more aggressive and fast paced offense (specifically early in games, where the Vikings were previously very conservative and usually had to be “pulled out of their shell” by game script) than we have seen from the Vikings in recent years. We can also expect a large portion of their offense to funnel through their two all-pro skill players, albeit in a variety of creative ways. 

It is worth noting that the Green Bay defense faced O’Connell’s Rams last season at Lambeau in November, a game in which the Packers controlled most of the way and won 36-28. It should be noted, however, that game was played outdoors in the cold Wisconsin weather late in the season. This game will be played in good conditions, at home, early in the season before injury issues become prevalent.

The biggest obstacle for this new look Minnesota offense in its debut will be a ferocious Green Bay defense that performed well last season and has now added more firepower through the draft, free agency and the return of some key players from injury. The Vikings have at best, a middle of the pack offensive line, while the Packers have a pair of high end edge rushers in Rashaan Gary and Preston Smith, along with all-pro DT Kenny Clark who routinely collapses pockets from the interior. This, along with a loaded secondary led by the return of Jaire Alexander – the highest paid cornerback in the NFL – makes the Packers defense anything but a cakewalk, particularly through the air.

The Packers run defense ranked 28th in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric last year and was clearly the easier way to attack this defense. We should expect the Vikings to exploit this area when possible, but not to shrivel up as they would in the past when trying to “establish the run.” I would expect in this Week 1 matchup with a division rival at home, that the Vikings will look to find ways to be aggressive and send a message that things are changing. While running may be the “easiest path,” this is a matchup of strength on strength as the Vikings offense is now primed to attack rather than be pulled along for the ride. Sometimes teams will abandon ship on their philosophies as the season drags along, but at full strength in a high leverage game in front of their home crowd I would expect O’Connell to have an attacking mindset.

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OVERVIEW

  • Per Sharp Football Stats, GB’s offense moved at the slowest pace of play (31.3 seconds)
  • MIN’s offense was 10th fastest (27.9), and their new head coach, Kevin O’Connell, is fresh off a Super Bowl win for LAR as their Offensive Coordinator (LAR was 9th in pace of play at 27.8)

Aaron Rodgers

  • Rodgers’s DK game log vs. MIN in his back-to-back MVP seasons: 33.8 // 23.5 // 36.5 // 20.3
  • His 22.3 DK ppg last season ranked 7th
  • Notable scores of: 26.8 // 29.3 // 32.64 // 36.5
  • $7,000 Week 1 DK salary is the 5th highest
  • MIN ranked 28th in DK ppg allowed to QBs (20.5)
  • Three QBs scored 30+ pts vs. MIN

GB Passing Attack

  • The departure of Davante Adams leaves 28.5% of the team target share available
  • Adams YPRR / catch percentage in his past three seasons as the primary weapon (2019-2021): 2.33/66.9% // 2.96/78.8% // 2.82/74.1%
  • Filling the void are Allen Lazard ($5,600), Christian Watson ($5,100), Sammy Watkins ($4,700), & Randall Cobb ($3,400)
  • Lazard’s YPRR / catch percentage the past three seasons: 1.62/68.6% // 1.74/73.3% // 1.19/67.8%
  • He hit 20+ DK pts twice last season
  • Rookie second-round pick Watson’s YPRR / catch percentage in his final college season: 4.28/67.2%
  • Since his 49.8 DK pt explosion in Week 1 of 2019, Watkins has hit 20 DK pts just once
  • 32 year old Cobb scored 15+ DK pts three times last year
  • MIN ranked dead last in DK ppg allowed to WRs (44.6)
  • Notable scores: Lazard 19.2 // Cooper Kupp 24.3 // Darnell Mooney 27.6 // Adams 33.6
  • TE Robert Tonyan ($3,900) is uncertain to play
  • His stat line in his last game vs. MIN: 5/7-79
  • Backup Josiah Deguara ($2,900) scored 11.7 & 3.1 DK pts vs. MIN last season
  • MIN ranked 10th in DK ppg allowed to TEs
  • Only five TEs cracked double digit DK pts vs. MIN last season, and none hit 15

GB Rushing Attack

  • Aaron Jones ($6,700) and AJ Dillon ($5,300) only played in one game without Davante Adams last season
  • Snaps/rushes/targets/touches/redzone touches: Jones 48/15/11/22/5 // Dillon 29/16/0/16/4
  • Snap share for the whole season: Jones 51.8% // Dillon 42.7%
  • Average targets: Jones 4.3 // Dillon 2.2
  • Jones scored 20+ DK pts four times, including a 40+ pt effort
  • Dillon scored 20+ DK pts three times
  • MIN ranked 23rd in DK ppg allowed to RBs
  • Notable opposing RB scores: Dillon 22.3 // Sony Michel 23.5 // Najee Harris 25.4 // Elijah Mitchell 30.8

Kirk Cousins

  • Cousins ($6,100) finished 5th in PFF passing rank last year
  • Last season, he averaged 20.4 DK ppg
  • Since 2019, his only 20+ DK pt scores vs. GB have come at home (22.8 & 28.2)
  • PFF ranks the GB secondary as 4th best in the league
  • Last season, they finished 25th in DK ppg allowed to opposing QBs (19.14)
  • Notable opposing scores: Matthew Stafford 27 // Cousins 28.2 // Jameis Winston 29.6 // Tyler Huntley 35.9

MIN Passing Attack

  • Snap share: Justin Jefferson (88.9%) // Tyler Conklin 81% // Adam Thielen 73% // K.J. Osborn 67.8%
  • Target share: Jefferson 27.6% // Thielen 15.7% // Conklin 14.4% // Osborn 13.6%
  • Red zone target share: Jefferson 30% // Thielen 19% // Conklin 19% // Osborn 10%
  • Jefferson ($7,800) ranked 3rd in PFF passing grade, 5th in YPC, & 4th in YPRR
  • His 20.5 DK ppg ranked 4th
  • His notable DK scores: 25.1 // 25.9 // 29.8 // 38.6 // 40.2 (vs. GB)
  • Thielen ($5,400) scored 20+ DK pts four times: 22.2 (vs. GB) // 23.2 // 30.2 // 32.8
  • Osborn ($4,900) scored 25+ DK pts four times: 17.3 // 17.8 // 19.8 // 20.1
  • GB ranked 9th in DK ppg allowed to opposing WRs (34)
  • Just two WRs cracked 20+ DK pts: Kalif Raymond 24.4 // Amon-Ra St. Brown 29.1 (both in a meaningless Week 18)
  • Conklin played last season in relief of injured Irv Smith ($3,400), but he is now a member of NYJ
  • Smith’s notable DK scores in his 2020 campaign: 15 // 16.3 // 23.3
  • GB ranked 22nd in DK ppg allowed to TEs (13.4)
  • Notable opposing TE scores: Brock Wright 13.1 // Gerald Everett 14.3 // Mark Andrews 38.6

Dalvin Cook

  • Cook ($7,900) was tied for 5th in YPC and finished 2nd in breakaway percentage
  • He averaged 3.8 targets per game
  • His 17.6 DK ppg ranked 9th
  • The previous two years, he averaged 26 & 22.1 DK ppg
  • Notable scores last season: 22.5 (vs. GB) // 25.3 // 38.2
  • Alexander Mattison ($6,200) only sees meaningful work when Cook is hurt
  • GB ranked 7th in DK ppg allowed to RBs (21.4)
  • Notable opposing RB scores: Cook 22.5 //  Nick Chubb 30.4

Kickoff Sunday, Sep 11th 8:20pm Eastern

Bucs (
26.25) at

Cowboys (
23.75)

Over/Under 50.0

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Notes

Key Matchups
Buccaneers Run D
11th DVOA/18th Yards allowed per carry
Cowboys Run O
3rd DVOA/14th Yards per carry
Buccaneers Pass D
6th DVOA/5th Yards allowed per pass
Cowboys Pass O
17th DVOA/12th Yards per pass
Cowboys Run D
10th DVOA/27th Yards allowed per carry
Buccaneers Run O
30th DVOA/32nd Yards per carry
Cowboys Pass D
2nd DVOA/3rd Yards allowed per pass
Buccaneers Pass O
9th DVOA/27th Yards per pass

XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN SLANT

We get a rematch of the opening Thursday game from last season but this year Dallas is at home. These teams look quite a bit different now and I’m somewhat surprised to see this game at a 50.5 total and equally surprised to see Tampa only favored by two points when Dallas receiving corps is “CeeDee Lamb and….who?”

Dallas

The run game started to see more of a split between Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard as last year’s season went on, and the question is, will that continue over into 2022? Pollard was more effective in both the run game and the passing game, averaging 5.5 yards per carry to Zeke’s 4.1, and catching over 80% of his targets for 8.5 yards per catch vs. Zeke’s 70% catch rate for 6 yards per catch. More importantly, Dallas is incredibly thin on offensive weapons. Amari Cooper is gone and Michael Gallup is injured. We often hear coachspeak in the offseason about teams using multiple running backs on the field at the same time, and generally, I just ignore it because it almost never happens but maybe this is when it will? Given their prices, and given the overall situation with the Cowboys offense, I’m not grouping out lineups that pair Zeke and Pollard together, and I’m including Pollard as a pass catcher in my optimizer rules for Dak captain rosters. I think Zeke might come in underowned in this one because he finished last season so horribly, but despite that, he still rushed for over 1,000 yards and scored 12 total touchdowns. He was also playing hurt so he should be fresher now. Could he recapture his old form? I don’t know, and of course, the matchup is absolutely atrocious against a Bucs defense that is nearly impossible to run against but if all of this causes his ownership to be minuscule, I think it’s worth a bite. 

Showdown Ownership Projections!

Ownership updates automatically

In the passing game, Dallas has CeeDee Lamb as the only locked-in wide receiver, and Dalton Schultz at tight end. Beyond that, rookie Jalen Tolbert has apparently not impressed in camp and I saw beat reporter speculation that he may even be a healthy scratch; it’s hard for me to imagine that given how thin they are but it’s certainly possible that he doesn’t play a lot. Lamb and Schultz should both see as many targets as they can handle, and while Lamb is priced like an alpha WR, Schultz looks a bit on the cheap side relative to the targets he could see. It’s safe to say that it’s a bit of a mess behind Lamb and Schultz. Noah Brown should have a safe role but has never been any kind of special talent, I view him as having a median projection similar to a kicker (and at a similar price) but with a wider range of outcomes. Simi Fehoko should see some run here and at just $200 he makes a reasonable punt option. If Tolbert is inactive we could see . . . good lord, someone like Dennis Houston, Jake Ferguson, or even tiny KaVontae Turpin. This is a tough situation to unravel and it could easily be the case that the offense just flows through Lamb, Schultz, and the running backs with none of the other wide receivers doing much of anything, so personally, I wouldn’t lock-button even a min price guy like Fehoko. I wish I could clarify this for you all, but I think we’re going to have to wait for beat reporter info and inactives to try and figure this one out. This is a game for which I would really, REALLY encourage you to be active in our Discord leading up to it as we try to figure out what the hell the Cowboys are going to do. 

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Kickoff Monday, Sep 12th 8:15pm Eastern

Broncos (
25) at

Hawks (
19)

Over/Under 44.0

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Notes

Key Matchups
Broncos Run D
18th DVOA/26th Yards allowed per carry
Seahawks Run O
20th DVOA/5th Yards per carry
Broncos Pass D
4th DVOA/1st Yards allowed per pass
Seahawks Pass O
4th DVOA/20th Yards per pass
Seahawks Run D
17th DVOA/22nd Yards allowed per carry
Broncos Run O
28th DVOA/28th Yards per carry
Seahawks Pass D
17th DVOA/19th Yards allowed per pass
Broncos Pass O
25th DVOA/8th Yards per pass

XANDAMERE’S SHOWDOWN SLANT

Week 1 closes out with the Broncos visiting the Seahawks in a 44 total game with Denver favored by a whopping seven points (quite a haul for a road team). For those doing the math at home, that means our home team Seahawks have a team total of just 18.5, which is a rare low number, especially for such a brand name team. Of course, Seattle has moved on from Russell Wilson, who is now in Denver. Good job on the scheduling here, NFL, to get us a few grudge matches to start the season!

Seattle

We’ll start with Seattle and their run game. Rookie back Kenneth Walker is surprisingly listed as questionable but nothing I can find makes it look like he has any realistic chance to play so this seems to just be Pete Carroll being a jerk with his injury news power plays once again. Rashaad Penny should be the guy here and we can expect a large workload. After Penny took over last season, he saw 16+ carries in four of five games to close out the year. What he isn’t likely to see is much passing game work so he’s basically a 2-down back albeit with a voluminous role and a coach who is unlikely to tilt to the passing game almost no matter the game situation. Penny’s ceiling is high relative to his salary but his floor is somewhat shaky with no meaningful passing game role unless he gets into the end zone. Behind Penny, some combination of Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas will pick up passing down work and backup snaps, with Homer more likely to be the primary receiving back. Both are in play as punt options at cheap prices.

Final Countdown

(duh-duh-duh-DUH, duh-duh-duh-duh-DUHHH, duh-duh-duh-duh…)

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The Seattle passing attack is likely going to be a mess with Geno Smith at quarterback. Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf are both elite talents, but Smith will hold them back, as will Seattle’s run-first philosophy. Both should be viewed as tourney-only plays in a tough matchup, but both are certainly capable of booming here despite a tough matchup. Dee Eskridge is in play as the WR3 and a cheap punt option. At tight end, we have a confusing situation. Noah Fant has always been viewed as a strong receiving option but Seattle’s preseason use of him was discouraging, to say the least. The Seahawks also gave Will Dissly a big contract, and Dissly is the better blocker, which supports Seattle’s run-first strategy. Fant can be played here, it’s not as if he won’t see the field, but I am very down on him and would prefer Dissly. 

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By Dwprix >>

Overview

  • 3rd lowest total (42) on week
  • DEN favored by 6, the 4th largest spread (opened at 4)
  • DEN hasn’t made the playoffs since the 2015 season (Kubiak + Manning)
  • Nathaniel Hackett hired as HC of DEN, was formerly with GB as OC
  • Hackett + Aaron Rodgers led the league in pts/g in 2020 (31.5/g)
  • DEN avg 19.7 pts/g in 2021 // SEA avg 23.2 pts/g
  • SEA won their division in 2020 (12-4) but lost in the WC round (7-10 last season)
  • Russell Wilson was traded to DEN to work with Hackett
  • SEA HC Pete Carroll has made the playoffs in 9 of 12 years with SEA

Russell Wilson

  • Wilson only had 1 gm w/ 300+ pass yards last season
  • He had 5 300+ pass yd games in 2020 (322 // 315 // 360 // 388 // 390)
  • All five came in the 1st 8 games & SEA started 6-2 during this stretch
  • This was the “Let Russ Cook” season
  • SEA allowed 30.6 DK pts/g to QBs last season (2nd most)

Courtland Sutton/Jerry Jeudy

  • Jeudy only played 10 games last season: (0 gms over 100+ yds // 0 with 10+ tgts // 0 TDs)
  • Sutton had 3 games with 20+ DK pts: (27.9 // 28.0 // 23.4) 
  • All of these came within the 1st 6 WKs
  • These were the only games Sutton had 10+ tgts, 90+ rec yds, or scored a TD (scored 1 TD in 2 of these games, his only 2 TDs on season)
  • SEA allowed 34.8 DK pts/g to WRs last season (T-11th least)

Javonte Williams/Melvin Gordon

  • Williams atts:yds:TDs (203:903:4 TDs) // Gordon (203:918:8 TDs)
  • Williams rec:yds:TDs-tgts (43:316:3 TDs-53 tgts) // Gordon (28:213:2 TDs-38 tgts)
  • Snaps: Gordon (514) // Williams (551)
  • Gordon is 29 years old & in his 7th season
  • Williams is 22 years old & in his 2nd season
  • Expect another timeshare season between the two
  • SEA allowed the 2nd most DK pts/g to RBs last season (30.6)

Geno Smith

  • Geno is 13-21 career as starter
  • He went 1-2 in starts for SEA last season
  • 5 TDs (4 pass:1 rush):0 INTs in those starts 
  • Geno didn’t throw for many pass yds (209 // 167 // 195) or have many rush yds (-1 // 12 // 8) in his starts last season
  • DEN allowed 16.7 DK pts to QBs last season (3rd least)

DK Metcalf

  • In Geno starts: (6:58:0 TDs-7 tgts // 11.8 DK pts) // (2:96:1 TD-5 tgts // 17.6 DK pts) // (6:43:2 TDs-6 tgts // 22.3 DK pts)
  • Metcalf led the team with 129 tgts and had a 27% tgt share
  • He finished last season WR15 in PPR scoring & 11th in non-PPR 
  • He caught 12 TDs, 8 came in the 1st 8 WKs of the season
  • Metcalf’s increased his TD count every year in the league (7 // 10 // 12)

Tyler Lockett

  • Lockett had 6 games without breaking 10 DK pts: (7.1 // 6.4 // 5.5 // 3.2 // 4.3 // 6.0) 
  • But 5 games with 20+ DK pts: (29.0 // 34.8 // 29.2 // 30.2 // 27.0)
  • In Geno Starts: (2:35:0 TDs-7 tgts // 5.5 DK pts) // (2:12:0 TDs-3 tgts // 3.2 DK pts) // (12:142:0 TDs-13 tgts // 29.2 DK pts)
  • He had 107 tgts for a 23% target share
  • DEN allowed 33.5 DK pts/g to WRs last season (8th least)

Rashaad Penny

  • Penny has missed 28 games due to injury in his 4 year career
  • He only played in 10 games last season
  • Final 5 gms of last season: WK 14 (16:137:2 TDs // 29.8 DK pts) // WK 15 (11:39:0 TDs // 6.4 DK pts) // WK 16 (17:135:1 TD // 22.5 DK pts) // WK 17 (25:170:2 TDs // 35.5 DK pts) // WK 18 (23:190:1 TD // 28.0 DK pts)
  • Penny led all RBs with 671 yds & 6 TDs in the last 5 games of season
  • SEA drafted Kenneth Walker in the 2nd round, he’s questionable
  • DEN allowed 22.1 DK pts to RBs last season (T-11th least)

Noah Fant

  • Fant was traded from DEN to SEA in the Russell Wilson trade
  • Geno targeted TEs on 14% of throws in his 3 starts last season
  • DEN allowed 8.6 DK pts/g to TEs last season (4th least)