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Fantasy Football Starts and Sits: Matchups Analysis for Week 1

Dalvin Cook - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Injury News, DFS Lineup Picks

Welcome back RotoBallers to our Week 1 matchup analysis and start/sit column for fantasy football. It's great to have the NFL season back, and I'm here to help make sure that you secure the dub in Week 1!

For those who are not familiar, each week we'll be analyzing every game from the Sunday slate, helping you optimize your fantasy lineups and take down your opponent. Be sure to check back regularly for any updates on player injuries or other pertinent information.

This year I will be covering the entire Sunday slate games this season, and we will have separate articles for the Thursday Night Football and Monday Night Football games as well, so be sure to read those as well. Join me as I help get your fantasy teams off to a strong start.  If you have any additional lineup questions, follow me on Twitter @FAmmiranteTFJ and feel free to ask away. Let's get on to the matchups!

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Matchups Analysis - 1:00 PM ET Games

Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans

Matchups We Love:

Trevor Lawrence (QB, JAX)

We finally get the long-awaited debut of Trevor Lawrence, who is considered by many to be a generational prospect. He has a fantastic matchup against a porous Texans defense that gave up 8.02 yards per attempt (29th) last season. Lawrence immediately jumps into the "Love" section even though he's a rookie making his debut at the deepest position in fantasy football. The Texans defense is that bad. We can consider Lawrence a Top-10 option in Week 1.

James Robinson (RB, JAX)

It was unfortunate to see dynamic rookie Travis Etienne suffer a season-ending Lisfranc injury. This thrusts James Robinson back to the lead role in this Jaguars' backfield. We won't see Robinson get the massive workload he saw in 2020 with perennial coach's favorite Carlos Hyde in the fold, but the second-year back will lead the way on early downs while taking over passing game work and red-zone carries. Robinson has a fantastic matchup against a Texans defense that allowed 5.55 yards per carry (32nd) last season and didn't really improve at all. The Jags are three-point favorites, so this projects as a positive game-script for Robinson. He looks like an RB1 in Week 1.

Laviska Shenault Jr. (WR, JAX)

The loss of Etienne means that this promising second-year wideout could be slated for a larger role. While I was already bullish on Shenault, we now could see him getting more of the shorter targets that would have gone to Etienne. Shenault is excellent at breaking tackles and can really make it happen after the catch. He has a great opportunity to lead the Jags in targets this season. Shenault looks like a WR2 in Week 1 in a plus matchup against a Texans defense that allowed 8.84 yards per target (23rd) last season and remains as one of the worst in foootball.

Matchups We Hate:

Tyrod Taylor (QB, HOU)

Taylor takes over as the starting quarterback for a tanking Texans team. While he does offer rushing upside, having rushed for 427 yards in 15 games in his last full season as a starter (2017), there's really no reason to be starting him in any format. The matchup against the Jaguars is good, but there are so many better options at the quarterback position. Taylor is merely a desperation play in SuperFlex or 2-QB leagues. The Texans are an absolute dumpster fire this season.

Texans RBs

The Texans running backs: Phillip LindsayDavid Johnson, and Mark Ingram, are grouped together because it's unclear how their usage will look. This smells like a three-man committee, with Lindsay and Ingram vying for work on early downs in Johnson assuming pass-catching duties. Taylor at quarterback is bad news for Johnson, as scrambling quarterbacks tend to suppress running back targets. Each of these backs are reasonable stashes considering that it's an ambiguous backfield with no clear-cut starter, but you need to leave them on your bench, even in the exploitable matchup against the Jags.

Other Matchups:

Marvin Jones Jr. (WR, JAX)

Marvin Jones rejoins offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell in Jacksonville. Jones is coming off a solid season where he put up 76 receptions for 978 yards and nine touchdowns. He absolutely has a chance to emerge as the top option in this offense, but entering his age-31 season, my money's on the younger and more dynamic player in Shenault. Jones can be considered a WR3 in this exploitable matchup.

D.J. Chark (WR, JAX)

D.J. Chark is one year removed from a 73-catch, 1,008-yard, and eight-touchdown season. He gets a massive upgrade at quarterback with Lawrence, which is good news for his outlook this season. You also have to love the matchup here against the Texans. The problem is that Chark missed the entire preseason with a hand injury, so you have to wonder if that puts him a bit "behind the 8-ball" in this offense. He's the riskiest play among these wideouts in Week 1. We can consider Chark on the WR3/4 fringe.

Brandin Cooks (WR, HOU)

Brandin Cooks is one of the more consistent and underrated wideouts in football. He's coming off a solid season where he caught 81-of-119 targets for 1,150 yards and six touchdowns. The problem is that he gets a significant downgrade at quarterback with the move from Deshaun Watson to Tyrod Taylor. This projects as a low-volume offense which really lowers Cooks' floor. The good news is that Cooks should see a massive target share with Will Fuller and Randall Cobb now out of the picture. Cooks has a great matchup against a Jaguars' defense that gave up 8.91 yards per target (25th) last season. He's not in the 'Love' section because we need to see how this offense looks first, but Cooks is absolutely a WR3 this week.

Additional Notes: 

Texans rookie WR Nico Collins is an athletic freak. Keep an eye on him in this game. If he shows some promise, you could see him emerge as a potential waiver wire add after this game.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills

Matchups We Love:

Josh Allen (QB, BUF)

Josh Allen is coming off a monster year where he completed 69.2% of his passes for 4,544 yards, 37 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. He also added 421 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground. Simply put, this is a matchup-proof, elite QB1. The Bills project to be one of the most pass-heavy teams in the NFL. Allen has a tougher matchup against the Steelers, who allowed 6.72 yards per attempt (5th) last season, but the sheer passing volume plus rushing upside keeps him as a player to love in Week 1.

Stefon Diggs (WR, BUF)

Stefon Diggs really exploded in his first year with Allen, catching 127-of-166 targets for 1,535 yards and eight touchdowns. In his last eight games, he posted 67 receptions for 901 yards and six touchdowns. That's an absurd pace and really shows how his chemistry with Allen improved as the season went along. Diggs is an elite WR1 every single week, even in this tough matchup against a Steelers defense that gave up 7.82 yards per target (10th) last season. We could see Diggs emerge as the overall WR1 this year.

Najee Harris (RB, PIT)

Rookie Najee Harris has a path to a monstrous workload as the bell-cow in this Steelers backfield. We've seen how head coach Mike Tomlin likes to feed his backs, just look at Le'Veon Bell and James Conner when they were Steelers. Harris is a good receiver out of the backfield too, which really raises his upside as a rookie. The Bills defense gave up 4.5 yards per carry (19th) last year, so this is an exploitable matchup. Perhaps we could see the Steelers try to play a little more run-heavy than usual in an attempt to keep this explosive Bills offense off the field.

Matchups We Hate:

Bills RBs

There's really no need to consider starting Zack Moss or Devin Singletary in this matchup. For one, there's no real clarity on the usage in this backfield - we're not sure if Moss or Singletary will be the lead back. Secondly, this is a tough matchup against a Steelers defense that gave up 4.06 yards per carry (10th) last season. Add in the pass-heavy nature of this offense and you have an easy avoid here.

Bills WRs

It's also really tough to decide on which ancillary wideout out of Emmanuel SandersCole Beasley, and Gabriel Davis to start. Beasley looks like the best bet, but we could see him lose some targets to Sanders this season. I would only consider starting them in DFS if I'm making a Bills stack with Allen and Diggs. I'd go with Davis in that case because he's the most explosive option of the bunch. It looks like one of these players needs an injury in order to really become fantasy-relevant in most formats.

Ben Roethlisberger (QB, PIT)

Ben Roethlisberger posted a career-low 6.3 yards per attempt last season, leading some to believe that the 39-year old future Hall of Famer is on his last legs. While we could see some improvement under new offensive coordinator Matt Canada, it's hard to really like Ben's outlook against a tough Bills pass defense (6.88 yards per attempt, tied for 9th last year). Even in a shootout where the Steelers might have to play catch-up, I'm not considering Roethlisberger in this spot.

Other Matchups:

Diontae Johnson (WR, PIT)

Diontae Johnson had a breakout season last year, catching 88-of-144 targets for 923 yards and seven touchdowns in 15 games (three of which he left early). Johnson struggled with drops, but his separation skills are promising. I expect him to remain Roethlisberger's favorite target this season. The volume will help against a tough Bills pass defense that gave up 7.48 yards per target (4th) last year, but consider Johnson a lukewarm option this week.

Chase Claypool (WR, PIT)

Chase Claypool is an explosive wideout with an alpha physique, leading some to believe that he supplants Johnson as the top target in this offense. He definitely has the most upside out of this group of wideouts. At the same time, he's the riskiest of the bunch because of how we've seen Ben continue to check it down to Johnson or Smith-Schuster. I'd consider Claypool a low-end WR3 in this tough matchup. If you're stacking Bills in DFS and want to bring it back with a Steeler, Claypool is the best option because of his big-play ability.

JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR, PIT)

JuJu surprisingly returned to the Steelers on a one-year deal this offseason. We could see him play with more of a chip on his shoulder as he tries to re-establish himself as one of the best young wideouts in football. He has stated that he'll play on the perimeter more this season, which could help with more big plays. However, he's often struggled to beat man coverage, so his role in the slot is likely more suitable. Smith-Schuster has limited upside in this tough matchup, making him the third-best option of this group in Week 1.

 

New York Jets at Carolina Panthers

Matchups We Love:

Christian McCaffrey (RB, CAR)

Christian McCaffrey is back to full health after an injury-plagued season that limited him to only three games. He's an elite RB1 every week, no matter the matchup. The Jets' run defense was stout last year (4.09 yards per carry, 11th), but that doesn't matter given McCaffrey's pass-catching ability and monster workload. We'll likely see some improvement on this defense with new head coach Robert Saleh's impressive track record as a defensive coordinator, but consider CMC a Top-3 option in Week 1.

Matchups We Hate:

Jets RBs

This is another backfield with no real clarity on usage, with Ty JohnsonMichael Carter, and Tevin Coleman vying for touches. While the running game has upside with new offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur (comes from Shanahan coaching tree), we're likely to see a frustrating committee throughout the season. The matchup doesn't really matter here because of this lack of clarity. Bench your Jets RB for at least a week to see how the usage plays out.

Other Matchups:

Zach Wilson (QB, NYJ)

Zach Wilson makes his NFL debut against the Panthers after showing a ton of promise throughout the preseason. The Panthers pass defense was actually solid last year, allowing 6.88 yards per attempt (T-9th). They also used their first-rounder on promising cornerback Jaycee Horn, so we can expect some improvement here. Wilson has a bit of rushing upside, which keeps him as a lukewarm option even in the tough matchup. Monitor how he looks though because if he performs well, he'd become a potential waiver add in deeper formats.

Sam Darnold (QB, CAR)

Sam Darnold gets a much-needed change of scenery, joining the Panthers to play under bright offensive mind Joe Brady. This is a revenge game against his former team, a defense that gave up 7.57 yards per attempt (25th) last season. However, even in this good matchup, it's hard to feel comfortable with Darnold unless you're in a SuperFlex or 2-QB league. We need to see how he looks in this new offense. Still, we have to put him in this section because of the exploitable matchup.

D.J. Moore (WR, CAR)

D.J. Moore has a fantastic matchup against a Jets defense that 8.64 yards per target (22nd) last season. The risk here is that there are several mouths to feed in Carolina and we're not sure about Moore's chemistry with Darnold. Remember that Darnold played with Robby Anderson with the Jets. Still, Moore has the most upside out of this group of wideouts because he has the highest average depth of target on the team, which means that he gets targeted downfield most often. Consider Moore an upside WR2 this week.

Robby Anderson (WR, CAR)

Anderson is reunited with Darnold just in time to take on an exploitable Jets' defense. While he doesn't have the same upside as Moore, we could see Anderson lead the team in targets as Darnold goes with the familiar option. Anderson just agreed to a two-year extension, so it's clear that he's firmly in the Panthers' plans going forward. He looks like a high-floor WR3 in this matchup.

Corey Davis (WR, NYJ)

Davis has emerged as the top option on the perimeter for the Jets. The problem here is that the Panthers' defense only gave up 7.79 yards per target (9th) last season. We also could see Horn matched up with Davis here, which is bad news. However, the good news is that the projected high volume could outweigh this risk. Davis looks like the low-end WR3 in this matchup.

Additional Notes:

Jets rookie WR Elijah Moore looks like a future stud who could have an increased opportunity with Jamison Crowder on the COVID list. Keep an eye on him, but he's too risky to start in his first game.

Panthers rookie WR Terrace Marshall also looks like the real deal. He has the better matchup than Moore, but there are more mouths to feed in Carolina. Keep him on your bench because he's not trustworthy yet.

 

Arizona Cardinals at Tennessee Titans

Matchups We Love:

Kyler Murray (QB, ARI)

Kyler Murray is an elite QB1 every week because of his massive rushing upside. His ceiling gets even higher when he plays in projected shootouts like this one against the Titans. The Titans gave up 362 rushing yards to quarterbacks last season (23rd). There will be several opportunities for touchdowns in this game. Let's not forget that Murray was the clear-cut QB1 before his shoulder injury suppressed his production in Week 12. Fire him up with confidence in this one.

DeAndre Hopkins (WR, ARI)

DeAndre Hopkins has a plus matchup to start the season in a high-scoring affair against the Titans. Hopkins should remain one of the leaders in targets this year, so he's virtually matchup-proof. While the Titans' defense can't get much worse than last year, this is still an exploitable matchup. We can consider Hopkins an elite WR1 in this game. He's one of the most consistent wideouts in the NFL, so set it and forget it with Nuk.

Ryan Tannehill (QB, TEN)

Ryan Tannehill is one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the NFL, especially in fantasy football. This is a player who finished as QB9 in fantasy points per game in each of the last two seasons, yet consistently falls out of the Top-12 in fantasy drafts. He now gets another stud wideout in Julio Jones, so we could see a career year. Tannehill takes on a Cardinals defense that allowed 6.92 yards per attempt (T-11th) last year, but they've lost top corner Patrick Peterson.

A.J. Brown (WR, TEN)

A.J. Brown is one of the most explosive wideouts in football. The Julio addition will benefit Brown because the future Hall of Famer will draw away coverage. We don't have to worry too much about a decrease in volume because Brown was already competing with Corey Davis (23.47% target share in 2020) for targets. Julio can slide right into the Davis role. Brown gets a fantastic matchup against the Peterson-less Cardinals secondary.

Julio Jones (WR, TEN)

Julio Jones makes his Titans debut in a projected high-scoring game. The Cardinals allowed only 7.63 yards per target (7th) last season, but we don't need to be too concerned about that with how good Julio and Brown are. This is a case where you should prioritize the game-script, which projects as a high-scoring game, over the success that either of these defenses had last season. Jones looks like a rock-solid WR2 this week.

Derrick Henry (RB, TEN)

The 2,000-yard man is back for an encore, this time with a future Hall of Fame wideout opening up more room for the Big Dog to go to work. While it's likely that the Titans pass a bit more given their stud wideouts, Henry still looks like a strong bet for 300+ touches. Perhaps we'll even see a bit more work in the passing game with the new offensive coordinator Todd Downing. Henry takes on a Cardinals defense that allowed 4.39 yards per carry (17th) last season, but that doesn't matter too much. What matters most is that this is a game that will have a ton of scoring opportunities. Consider Henry an elite RB1 here.

Matchups We Hate:

There aren't any matchups to hate in this game. This is a projected shootout, so you can consider using any of the skill players here.

Other Matchups:

Cardinals RBs

Both Chase Edmonds and James Conner are fantasy-relevant for this game. Edmonds looks like a safer RB2/FLEX because of his pass-catching ability, while Conner is more of a desperation FLEX worth using because of his touchdown upside. It's unclear how the running backs will be used, but I'd project Conner to slide right into at least 70% of the role Kenyan Drake played last year. That means some early-down and red-zone work. If you're in a pinch, they're worth starting, but if you have the depth, I'd leave them on the bench until we see more clarity on the situation.

Additional Notes: 

Titans TE Anthony Firkser has some sleeper and DFS appeal in this game. Keep an eye on him.

Cardinals WR Rondale Moore has a ton of upside and looks like a solid DFS option.

Cardinals WRs A.J. Green and Christian Kirk aren't worth starting at this time. We need more clarity on usage.

 

Los Angeles Chargers at Washington Football Team

Matchups We Love:

There aren't any matchups to love in this game. Both defenses project to be among the best in the NFL. This game has defensive slugfest written all over it.

Matchups We Hate:

Justin Herbert (QB, LAC)

Justin Herbert turned in an absolutely phenomenal rookie season, but it's hard to like him in this spot given the tough matchup and the depth of the quarterback position. Washington has a ferocious pass-rush led by Chase Young and Montez Sweat. They also signed cornerback William Jackson to help out their pass defense. Washington gave up 6.6 yards per attempt (fourth) last season. I don't consider Herbert a QB1 this week because of this avoidable matchup.

Austin Ekeler (RB, LAC)

Austin Ekeler is a matchup-proof RB1 every week because of his elite upside in the passing game. It doesn't matter if the opposing rush defense is tough because Ekeler can just rack up check-down receptions. Ekeler's status is in question for this game, as he's missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday with a hamstring injury. Check in to see if he practices on Friday. If he doesn't play, Justin Jackson should be the lead back mixed in with Larry Rountree and Joshua Kelley. Jackson would be a flex option. If Ekeler plays, you need to fire him up as a lukewarm option as we could see him get a ton of looks here as Herbert deals with that nasty Washington pass-rush.

Mike Williams (WR, LAC)

Mike Williams has been talked up during camp, as new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi has called him the X-receiver in his offense, a role that is lucrative for fantasy production. The problem is that this Washington defense is dominant, allowing 7.52 yards per target (fifth) last season. There's really no need to consider starting Williams here. Let's wait to see if the camp fluff about his increased usage is true.

Ryan Fitzpatrick (QB, WAS)

Ryan Fitzpatrick makes his Washington debut against a Chargers defense that will be vastly improved with new head coach Brandon Staley, who did a phenomenal job as defensive coordinator for the Rams last year. We also have to consider the return of safety Derwin James, who will have a significant impact on this unit. Fitzpatrick could have some streamer appeal in certain matchups this year, but this is definitely not the case against the Chargers.

Curtis Samuel (WR, WAS)

Curtis Samuel has missed the entire preseason with a groin injury, which really limits his upside in Week 1 for his new team. The good news is that he's familiar with offensive coordinator Scott Turner's offense, having played with him in Carolina. However, we can't really start him due to the lack of playing time in August. We could see him rusty or even with a limited workload if he does suit up. Leave him on your bench this week.

Logan Thomas (TE, WAS)

Logan Thomas burst onto the scene last year, catching 72-of-109 targets for 670 yards and six touchdowns. He gets a ton of usage and runs a lot of routes, which makes him an appealing mid-to-late round tight end. The problem is that this is a tough matchup against the Chargers, who allowed 7.14 yards per target (15th) to tight ends last year and now get Derwin James back. Points will be hard to come by in this game, so I'd steer clear of Thomas.

Other Matchups:

Keenan Allen (WR, LAC)

Keenan Allen is another safer play because of his elite route-running ability and lower average depth of target, as he can rack up receptions in the short-to-intermediate passing game. Allen looks like more of a high-end WR2 this week, but you're not benching him because of his high floor. Having said that, I'm not even considering rostering any skill-players in this game if I'm playing DFS. There's just not enough upside.

Washington RBs

Antonio Gibson addressed any concerns about his running ability in his first year as a running back after spending his college years as a wideout. If Gibson gets increased usage in the passing game like we're hearing out of camp, the sky is the limit for him in Year 2. He has a tough matchup against this improved Chargers defense and we need to see how he's used in the passing game before ranking him as an RB1 in a spot like this. Consider Gibson more of a high-end RB2 here. I'm not considering the Chargers' performance against the run last year because this is a totally new defense. J.D. McKissic is a desperation FLEX in PPR formats. He'll see a decrease in targets with Fitz at quarterback.

Terry McLaurin (WR, WAS)

Terry McLaurin is a stud with the ability to beat man coverage. You have to love the improvements on offense for Washington, which should really help McLaurin. Fitzpatrick loves to chuck it deep, which raises McLaurin's upside. The problem is that this is an improved Chargers defense in a projected low-scoring game, so we need to leave McLaurin as a lukewarm option. Consider him a mid-tier WR2 here.

Additional Notes:

Chargers rookie WR Josh Palmer has some potential and is worth monitoring.

Washington rookie WR Dyami Brown has shown flashes in camp. Keep an eye out.

 

Minnesota Vikings at Cincinnati Bengals

Matchups We Love:

Dalvin Cook (RB, MIN)

Dalvin Cook starts off the season in a smash-spot against a Bengals defense that allowed 5.34 yards per carry (31st) last season. Mike Zimmer is too good of a defensive head coach for the Vikings defense to be as bad as it was last year, so we could see more favorable game scripts for Cook this season. Cook is locked into a major workload while in a fantastic matchup, which makes him the overall RB1 for this week.

Vikings WRs

Justin Jefferson had a historic rookie season, catching 88-of-125 targets for 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns despite not playing a full workload until Week 3. Jefferson has emerged as the alpha WR1 in this offense. He takes on a Bengals defense that gave up 7.99 yards per target (T-14th) last year, but they lost top corner William Jackson to free agency. Starting corner Trae Waynes is also out for this game. Jefferson has a chance at a spike week in this matchup. The one risk is that the Vikings go run-heavy, but Jefferson's explosive ability helps mitigate this. Fire him up as a WR1. Adam Thielen is also an upside WR2 against this questionable Bengals secondary that is missing their best corner. Kirk Cousins loves to target Thielen in the red zone, so this is a great chance at a touchdown in an exploitable matchup.

Joe Mixon (RB, CIN)

Joe Mixon was in the midst of a true breakout season before it was derailed by a mid-foot sprain after only six games. Mixon was averaging over 22 touches per game last year and he'll no longer have Gio Bernard taking away work in the passing game, as the veteran is now in Tampa Bay. Mixon could be among the league leaders in touches, so volume keeps him as an RB1 here, especially against a Vikings defense that allowed 4.7 yards per carry (26th) last season. We can project the Bengals to lean on Mixon with Joe Burrow making his return from a torn ACL.

Tee Higgins (WR, CIN)

Tee Higgins had an impressive rookie season, catching 67-of-108 targets for 908 yards in six touchdowns. Imagine what his numbers would have looked like if Joe Burrow didn't suffer the ACL injury in Week 13. Higgins looks like the best bet to emerge as the top wideout in this offense. He jumps into the "Love" section even with the improved Vikings defense and projected conservative approach on offense because the Vikings still have beatable corners, even with Patrick Peterson. Higgins is my favorite wideout out of this group and looks like he's a low-end WR1 for this game.

Matchups We Hate:

Joe Burrow (QB, CIN)

It's really tough to trust Joe Burrow in his first game coming off a torn ACL, facing a Vikings defense that should be improved with the return of pass-rusher Danielle Hunter and addition of corner Patrick Peterson. We could see head coach Zac Taylor go with a more conservative approach here in Burrow's return. Add in the fact that quarterback is so deep and you have an easy decision to bench Burrow unless you're in a SuperFlex league.

Ja'Marr Chase (WR, CIN)

Rookie Ja'Marr Chase is widely considered to be a generational wide receiver prospect, but he's really struggled in camp and missed the entire 2020 season after opting out. Add in a projected conservative approach with the passing game and you have to bench Chase here. We're also not sure about how the usage will play out with these Bengals wideouts. You have to think that Chase is the clear WR3 in the pecking order right now, so you'll have to leave him on your bench until further notice.

Other Matchups:

Kirk Cousins (QB, MIN)

Kirk Cousins really balled out down the stretch last year, throwing for 23 touchdowns with only 3 interceptions in his last nine games. He takes on a Bengals defense that allowed 7.28 yards per attempt (19th) last season. We already mentioned the loss of William Jackson, which will have a negative impact. The risk with Cousins here is that this is still a run-heavy offense, so we might not get enough volume for a Top-12 finish. Still, Cousins is firmly on the streaming radar for this matchup.

Tyler Boyd (WR, CIN)

Tyler Boyd was one of the better values in fantasy drafts this season, as players tended to gravitate towards flashier options like Ja'Marr Chase. Boyd had a solid season, catching 79-of-110 targets for 841 yards and four touchdowns. He'll rack up more of the short-to-intermediate targets as the slot man in this offense, which aligns well with the fact that we could see shorter passes from Burrow, at least early on, as he finds his legs and deals with this porous offensive line. Boyd looks like a solid WR3 in this matchup.

Additional Notes:

Vikings TE Chris Herndon just joined the team after Irv Smith Jr's season-ending injury. Monitor Herndon's usage.

 

San Francisco 49ers at Detroit Lions

Matchups We Love:

49ers RBs

The San Francisco 49ers project to have one of the best running games in the NFL this season. Kyle Shanahan is one of the brightest offensive minds in football, the offensive line is stout, and rookie quarterback Trey Lance will open up running lanes with his legs once he takes over. They're in a smash-spot against a Lions defense that gave up 4.63 yards per carry (T-24th) last season. Raheem Mostert is my preferred play, as rookie running backs tend to get eased in, especially when they weren't selected in the first round. Mostert is an upside RB2 this week. Rookie Trey Sermon is more of a FLEX play, as he'll likely have limited usage, but you can still fire him up in this plus matchup. It's also a projected positive game script with the 49ers favored by 7.5 points.

George Kittle (TE, SF)

George Kittle is an elite tight end each and every week. He's coming off an injury-plagued season where he caught 48-of-63 targets for 634 yards and two touchdowns in only eight games, but he's healthy now. The Lions gave up 7.23 yards per target to tight ends (18th) last year. We should see the 49ers be able to move the ball easily against one of the worst defenses in football. Kittle is a Top-3 option here.

Matchups We Hate:

49ers QBs

While the 49ers have a great matchup here, you can't consider starting Jimmy Garoppolo or Trey Lance. Garoppolo is projected to start the game, but there are reports that Lance will come in for some snaps. This dual quarterback system would be a fantasy nightmare. If Lance is inactive, Garoppolo is still a risky play given the potential for an extremely run-heavy approach. On the other hand, if Lance is surprisingly announced as the starter, he becomes a must-play because of his rushing upside. Keep an eye on this situation.

Jared Goff (QB, DET)

Jared Goff is a desperation streamer or QB2 on a good day, but definitely not in this one against one of the best defenses in the NFL. The 49ers get pass-rusher Nick Bosa back, which will have a significant impact on this unit. This defense gave up 5.84 yards per attempt (3rd) last season, so it's an absolute no-brainer to bench Goff if you roster him in a deep league. Goff might be the worst fantasy quarterback out of each of the starters this week.

Lions WRs

The Lions have quite possibly the worst receiving core I've ever seen. Veteran Tyrell Williams projects as the top target, but he didn't even play one game last year after opting out. Rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown has shown flashes in camp, but he's still just a fourth-round rookie, so it's hard to expect much, especially early on. This is a situation to avoid, especially in this tough matchup.

Other Matchups:

Brandon Aiyuk (WR, SF)

Brandon Aiyuk was another one of the promising rookies in last year's draft class, catching 60-of-96 targets for 748 yards and five touchdowns in 12 games. Aiyuk showed elite ability to beat man coverage. He runs deeper routes downfield, so he projects as the potential top wideout in this offense. Aiyuk is ready to rock for this game, so you can fire him up as a WR2/3 option against one of the worst defenses in the NFL.

Deebo Samuel (WR, SF)

Deebo Samuel has become the forgotten man in this offense with the emergence of Brandon Aiyuk. However, Samuel is a productive wideout in his own right, possessing the unique ability to rack up yardage on the ground (159 rushing yards in 2019). Samuel was limited to only seven games last season, but he's healthy now. Since Aiyuk is playing in this game, we can consider Samuel more of a mid-tier WR3, even in a good matchup.

Lions RBs

D'Andre Swift is one of my favorite breakouts at running back this season because of his elite pass-catching upside, racking up 57 targets in only 13 games last year. This helps make him matchup-proof, as he can rack up check-downs even against tough defenses. Swift is confirmed to be playing this game, so we need to fire him up as an RB2. Jamaal Williams will see some work, but not enough to warrant a start unless your desperate.

T.J. Hockenson (TE, DET)

T.J. Hockenson looks poised to lead the Lions in targets with this limited receiving core. He's coming off a solid season where he caught 67-of-101 targets for 723 yards and six touchdowns. Hockenson is one of the more obvious tight end breakouts this season, looking like a virtual lock to set career-highs across the board. This is a tough matchup against a 49ers defense that gave up 5.84 yards per target last season, but the volume could outweigh those concerns.

 

Philadelphia Eagles at Atlanta Falcons

Matchups We Love:

Jalen Hurts (QB, PHI)

Jalen Hurts was one of my favorite mid-round targets in fantasy football because of his high rushing upside, having rushed for 240 yards in his three full starts last year. Hurts takes on a Falcons defense that gave up 344 rushing yards (T-20th) and 5.29 yards per carry (28th) last season. The second-year quarterback will also get several key pieces on the offensive line back, like Lane Johnson and Brandon Brooks. The Eagles offense is underrated right now. Hurts looks like a clear-cut Top-7 option at quarterback in Week 1.

Eagles TEs

Dallas Goedert was looking like a popular breakout candidate with Zach Ertz expected to be traded, but that didn't happen, which caps both player's upsides. However, Goedert still looks a mid-range TE1 in this potential shootout, with Ertz as an upside TE2. The Falcons gave up 7.84 yards per target (26th) last year, so this is a good matchup.

Matt Ryan (QB, ATL)

Matt Ryan has become one of the forgotten veterans in fantasy football as he enters his age-36 season. This is for good reason, as Ryan has traditionally struggled mightily without Julio Jones in the lineup. However, the addition of Kyle Pitts could help mitigate this loss. Ryan takes on an Eagles defense that gave up 7.74 yards per attempt (26th) in a projected shootout, so this is a great matchup. Ryan is firmly on the streaming radar here.

Calvin Ridley (WR, ATL)

Calvin Ridley looks ready to hit the moon with Julio Jones now in Tennessee. Ridley put up 143 targets last year and it's easy to see him eclipsing the 150-mark without Julio. The Eagles allowed 9.08 yards per target to wide receivers last season (T-27th), so this is an exploitable matchup for Ridley. He looks like an elite WR1 in this projected high-scoring affair. It wouldn't surprise me to see Ridley finish as the top wideout this week.

Kyle Pitts (TE, ATL)

Kyle Pitts is widely considered to be one of the best tight end prospects of all time, so his NFL debut should come with a lot of hype. This kid is basically Calvin Johnson at tight end. While rookie tight ends traditionally take longer to develop and don't make much of an impact in their debut seasons, Pitts is a unicorn. We can consider him a Top-4 option in this projected shootout.

Matchups We Hate:

There aren't any matchups we hate here, as this projects as a high-scoring game. There will be several scoring opportunities for everyone here, it's just harder to project which supporting players will have big games.

Other Matchups:

Miles Sanders (RB, PHI)

You have to love the fact that the Eagles offensive line is now healthy and Jalen Hurts is starting, opening up running lanes for Sanders to go to work on the ground. The issue here is that it's unclear how the usage will look in this backfield, especially with rookie Kenneth Gainwell garnering praise throughout camp. Gainwell is a terrific pass-catcher, so he could eat into Sanders' workload here. The Falcons were stout against the run last year (3.87 yards per carry, 6th), but that's mitigated by Hurts' elite rushing ability opening up room for Sanders. Consider Sanders a solid RB2 in this one.

DeVonta Smith (WR, PHI)

Rookie wideout DeVonta Smith makes his NFL debut in a plus matchup against a Falcons defense that gave up 9.28 yards per target to wideouts last season (30th). Smith projects as the top option on the perimeter for the Eagles, so he should have a good opportunity for a strong debut here. I'd consider him an upside WR3 only because we haven't seen him on the field yet, but there's a chance that he puts up Top-24 production. If you roster Smith, you should absolutely fire him up for this game.

Mike Davis (RB, ATL)

Mike Davis looked slated for a big workload as the only reliable running back for the Falcons, but the team signed Wayne Gallman once he was released from the 49ers. While Davis should still have the lead role, it remains to be seen how the team will use Gallman. This is also a tough matchup against an Eagles defense that allowed 3.7 yards per carry (2nd) last season, but the volume for Davis should help outweigh this challenge. Consider Davis an RB2 here.

Russell Gage (WR, ATL)

Russell Gage is coming off a solid season where he caught 72-of-109 targets for 786 yards and four touchdowns. He could be in line for more usage with the departure of Julio, but I don't see that as likely as others because of Kyle Pitts. Gage looks like a WR4 with limited upside, even in this strong matchup. I would only consider using him if I'm stacking Falcons or if I'm in a deep league.

Additional Notes:

Eagles rookie RB Kenneth Gainwell is a good pass-catching back. Keep an eye on him.

 

Seattle Seahawks at Indianapolis Colts

Matchups We Love:

Russell Wilson (QB, SEA)

Russell Wilson looks primed for a big season under new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron, who is looking to emphasize tempo along with more short-to-intermediate targets. Playing at a faster pace means more volume for Wilson with more opportunities to air it out or rack up yardage on the ground. The Colts defense gave up 7.4 yards per attempt last year (22nd). Wilson looks like a Top-7 quarterback in Week 1 in this exploitable matchup.

D.K. Metcalf (WR, SEA)

The Seahawks targets are narrowly distributed between D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, so both players are terrific options, especially in this exploitable matchup. The Colts' defense allowed 8.98 yards per target (26th) last season. This game has one of the highest game totals on the slate, so we could see some fireworks here, especially from the Seahawks. Fire up Metcalf as a WR1 here.

Tyler Lockett (WR, SEA)

Tyler Lockett has developed a reputation for volatile production after totaling 36 receptions, 390 yards, and eight touchdowns in three games, but this isn't sticky year to year, which means that it's essentially coincidental. Lockett is not merely a deep-threat like DeSean Jackson, so we can expect more consistent production this year. You also have to like how Waldron will incorporate shorter targets, which could help Lockett get more receptions. He's a safe WR2 with upside in this game.

Matchups We Hate:

Colts QBs

It appears that Carson Wentz will be able to suit up for this game, but there's no way you can consider using him coming off an injury in a likely run-heavy approach on offense. The Seahawks defense really improved down the stretch after trading for pass-rusher Carlos Dunlap last year, so this isn't the exploitable matchup that it was earlier in the year. I'm expecting this improvement on defense to trickle over to this season, making Wentz (or whoever else starts) one of the worst fantasy quarterback options for Week 1.

Colts WRs

Michael Pittman Jr. projects as the top option on the perimeter in Year 2 for the Colts. Parris Campbell is also back healthy, while T.Y. Hilton will be out for a while with a neck injury. While this opens up more opportunities for Pittman and Campbell, there's no way that you can rely on them with Wentz making his return from a foot injury. I expect the Colts to go with a run-heavy approach to try to keep this Seahawks offense off the field.

Other Matchups:

Chris Carson (RB, SEA)

Chris Carson is a safe RB2 as the lead back in a prolific offense, but this is a really tough matchup against a Colts defense that gave up 3.75 yards per carry (3rd) last season. While this could be a favorable game script with touchdown opportunities, as the Seahawks project to control this game, I'd rather look towards the passing game for value in this game. This keeps Carson as a lukewarm play against the Colts.

Jonathan Taylor (RB, IND)

Jonathan Taylor looks poised for a big season as the lead back in a run-heavy offense after an impressive rookie season. The Colts have a strong offensive line with their best player Quenten Nelson expected to be back from injury. The problem here is that the Seahawks defense has been good against the run (3.96 yards per carry, 7th). We also need to see how head coach Frank Reich utilizes this backfield. I would consider Taylor a lower-end RB1 in this game.

Nyheim Hines (RB, IND)

Nyheim Hines loses value with Philip Riversretirement, as Rivers loved to check it down to his backs. It's also a tough spot with Wentz returning from injury against a good Seahawks defense. However, we could see Hines rack up some check-down receptions as the Colts play catch-up in this game. That keeps Hines on the FLEX radar, especially in full-PPR formats.

Additional Notes:

Keep an eye on Seahawks TE Gerald Everett, who was the talk of training camp. He reunites with offensive coordinator Shane Waldron in Seattle.

Colts TE Mo Alie-Cox has some touchdown upside. He can emerge as a potential pick-up if we see an uptick in usage.

 

Matchups Analysis - 4:00 PM ET Games

Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots

Matchups We Love:

There aren't any matchups to love in this spot. Both defenses are good and there are several players with unclear roles.

Matchups We Hate:

Tua Tagovailoa (QB, MIA)

Tua Tagovailoa was one of my favorite breakout targets at quarterback in fantasy drafts. I love how the Dolphins have prioritized speed, adding Will Fuller and Jaylen Waddle. The problem here is that this is a much-improved Patriots defense with the return of Dont'a Hightower and Kyle Van Noy, as well as the addition of Matt Judon. The Patriots will be run-heavy, likely playing at a slow pace which will limit opposing passing volume. With so many quarterbacks available, this is not the week to start Tua.

Mac Jones (QB, NE)

Mac Jones showed a ton of poise throughout the preseason which earned him the starting role over Cam Newton. While the Dolphins allowed 8.04 yards per attempt last year (30th), it's tough to start Jones outside of SuperFlex leagues because of the run-heavy approach on offense. Jones looks like nothing more than a streamer in good matchups during his rookie season.

Other Matchups:

Myles Gaskin (RB, MIA)

Myles Gaskin projects as the lead back for the Dolphins after a surprising sophomore season that saw him rack up an impressive 47 targets in only 10 games. While he's likely to cede some touches to Malcolm Brown, Gaskin still looks like an RB2 because of his receiving upside. The Patriots allowed 4.63 yards per carry (T-24th) last year, but as I've mentioned, this is an improved defense. Consider Gaskin a lukewarm play here.

Dolphins WRs

Both DeVante Parker and Jaylen Waddle have more of an opportunity here with Will Fuller suspended for this game, especially with Patriots top cornerback Stephon Gilmore out, but it's tough to see how their usage will shake out, making both players lukewarm plays. Waddle has more upside due to his big-play ability, while Parker looks like the best bet to lead the team in targets for Week 1. Parker looks like a WR3 while Waddle is an upside WR4.

Mike Gesicki (TE, MIA)

Mike Gesicki also has a chance for a larger role with Fuller sidelined. He's coming off a solid season where he caught 53-of-85 targets for 703 yards and six touchdowns. He essentially functions as the slot receiver in this offense, which is great because he's rarely used for blocking. You want your tight end to run as many routes as possible, which is what Gesicki does. The issue is that there are now more mouths to feed. Consider Gesicki a borderline TE1.

Patriots RBs

Damien Harris gets a big bump in value with Jones starting at quarterback. The third-year back now has much more opportunities for touchdowns with Newton no longer taking away goal-line carries. Harris looks like a solid RB2 against a Dolphins defense that gave up 4.41 yards per carry (18th). James White also got a bump in value, as Jones will check it down much more than Newton would have. He looks like a potential FLEX in deeper PPR formats.

Patriots WRs

Jakobi Meyers is my favorite Patriots wide receiver. I expect him to emerge as the top target in this passing game. He has shown strong separation skills while commanding a 20+% target share in his second year in the league. Meyers looks like a solid WR3, especially in PPR leagues. Nelson Agholor is more of a risky play, but he does have the ability to get loose downfield. The Dolphins allowed 9.08 yards per target (T-27th) last year, so this is an exploitable matchup.

Patriots TEs

Jonnu Smith has terrific ability to rack up yards after the catch. He's also a major threat in the redzone. Hunter Henry is also one of the better receiving tight ends in the NFL, so there's a good chance that both of these players will eat into each other's fantasy values this season. I prefer to start Smith in this game, but it wouldn't surprise me to see Henry outscore him.

 

Cleveland Browns at Kansas City Chiefs

Matchups We Love:

Nick Chubb (RB, CLE)

Nick Chubb is one of the best pure runners in football. He's playing in a run-heavy offense with an elite offensive line. We could see the Browns try to play an especially run-heavy game as they try to keep this explosive Chiefs offense off the field. The Chiefs gave up 4.59 yards per carry (23rd) last season, so this is an exploitable matchup. Lock and load Chubb as one of the top RB1s this week, even with Kareem Hunt taking away some touches.

Patrick Mahomes (QB, KC)

Patrick Mahomes is an elite QB1 every week, as he has the best combination of floor and upside in the NFL. The Browns defense is much improved with the additions of safety John Johnson and pass-rusher Jadeveon Clowney. They also attacked defense in the draft, taking cornerback Greg Newsome with their first-rounder. Still, Mahomes is Mahomes and this is a projected shootout. Don't overthink this one.

Tyreek Hill (WR, KC)

Tyreek Hill is an elite WR1 every week, even in a tough matchup against cornerback Denzel Ward. The Browns gave up 8.21 yards per target (18th) last year, but we can expect improvement with the additions they've made on offense. We could see Hill set a new career-high in targets this year, as there's no clear-cut WR2 on this Chiefs team. It's the Hill and Kelce show.

Travis Kelce (TE, KC)

Travis Kelce is in a league of his own at tight end, putting up an absurd 105 receptions for 1,416 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. The matchup simply does not matter for such an elite player. You're obviously starting him every week. As for DFS, it's harder to roster Kelce because of how high is salary is, but his upside is unmatched, putting him in play in tournaments.

Matchups We Hate:

There are no matchups we hate in this game. This one has the highest total on the slate, so we should see fireworks.

Other Matchups:

Baker Mayfield (QB, CLE)

Baker Mayfield really improved down the stretch last year, showing that he became comfortable in Kevin Stefanski's offense. While this is a run-heavy offense, we could see Mayfield be forced to air it out to keep pace with this elite Chiefs offense. The Chiefs allowed 6.92 yards per attempt (T-11th) last season, but the projected increase in volume keeps Mayfield in play as a streamer here.

Kareem Hunt (RB, CLE)

An uptick in passing volume would bode well for Kareem Hunt, as he racked up 38 receptions last season. If the Browns fall behind, we could see an increase in snaps for Hunt while the team plays catch-up. We've also seen him vulture some touchdowns from Chubb around the goal-line, so the touchdown upside is there. Hunt looks like an upside FLEX in this high-scoring game.

Odell Beckham Jr. (WR, CLE)

Odell Beckham Jr. makes his return from a torn ACL. The offense he'll find now is much better than the one he left, as the Browns really improved down the stretch. The elite offensive line should help Mayfield find time to find OBJ downfield. This game should see a ton of fireworks, which is good news for Beckham. The issue here is that it's his first game coming off the torn ACL, so temper your expectations.

Jarvis Landry (WR, CLE)

Jarvis Landry has been perenially underrated. He's coming off another solid season where he caught 72-of-101 targets for 840 yards and three touchdowns. Landry is a strong bet to lead the Browns in targets in this game as OBJ tries to regain his form coming off the lengthy absence. I'd consider Landry a solid WR3 in this game, especially in full-PPR formats.

Austin Hooper (TE, CLE)

Austin Hooper is only one year removed from a 75-catch, 787-yard, six-touchdown season. He's entering his age-27 season, so it's not like he's getting up there in age. While there's risk because he's in a run-heavy offense, Hooper could emerge as a steal with how late he went in fantasy drafts. He's absolutely on the streaming radar in this projected shootout.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB, KC)

CEH is coming off a disappointing rookie season, especially considering that he was drafted in the first round in fantasy drafts. The good news is that Le'Veon Bell is gone, so we could see CEH set a career-high in touches. He was an excellent receiver in college, so perhaps the Chiefs try to feed him more here. The problem is that they signed Jerick McKinnon, who is known for his receiving work. This caps CEH's upside. Still, the matchup here is very good in a projected shootout. Consider CEH an upside RB2.

Mecole Hardman (RB, KC)

Mecole Hardman has a path to emerge as the WR2 in this offense with the departure of Sammy Watkins. Hardman is an explosive downfield threat with high upside, especially if Hill were forced to miss time. Still, we can't start Hardman in this game because we're not clear on his role yet. He's better suited for DFS tournaments where you hope that he catches a bomb downfield.

Additional Notes:

Browns WR Donovan Peoples-Jones has flashed in camp. Monitor him in this game.

 

Denver Broncos at New York Giants

Matchups We Love: 

There aren't any matchups we love in this game. This game projects as a defensive slugfest.

Matchups We Hate:

Teddy Bridgewater (QB, DEN)

Teddy Bridgewater takes over as Broncos' starting quarterback. He makes his debut against a Giants defense that allowed 7.19 yards per attempt (17th) last season, but this is an improving unit. There's no reason to stream Bridgewater or use him in DFS here, as this game projects to be low-scoring given the strength of both defenses. Still, Bridgewater should emerge as a potential streamer in the right matchup.

Daniel Jones (QB, NYG)

Daniel Jones has rushing upside, but this is a horrible matchup for him. The Giants' offensive line is a mess right now and the Broncos defense should be among the best in football. Pass-rusher Von Miller is back in the lineup and the team added cornerbacks Kyle FullerRonald Darby, and Patrick Surtain II. This is an elite defense and Jones looks like one of the worst fantasy quarterbacks for Week 1.

Giants WRs

New addition Kenny Golladay looks ready to suit up and his contested-catch skills align nicely with Jones' skillset as a quarterback. The problem is that Golladay missed a lot of camp due to a hamstring injury. It's also tough to see Jones finding enough time to hit Golladay downfield with this weak offensive line facing this nasty pass-rush. Sterling Shepard looks like the best bet at wide receiver here, as he'll rack up short-to-intermediate receptions.

Other Matchups:

Broncos RBs

Rookie Javonte Williams had a promising camp and looks poised to take over this backfield, but rookie running backs tend to be eased in, so it's tough to predict how the usage will look in Week 1. Consider Williams an upside FLEX for this game. Veteran Melvin Gordon is still here and will take away touches from Williams. While I prefer to start the rookie, Gordon is still in play as a lower-end FLEX. The Giants defense allowed 4.23 yards per carry (14th) last season.

Broncos WRs

Second-year wideout Jerry Jeudy looks set for liftoff. He has elite separation skills and fits nicely with Bridgewater at quarterback. Expect Jeudy to lead the Broncos in targets this season. The problem is that the Giants have a very good corner in James Bradberry, which could limit Jeudy's upside. I'd still consider him an upside WR3 in this game. Courtland Sutton makes his return from a torn ACL. He's a beast at contested catches, but he's more of a risky play since it's his first game back.

Noah Fant (TE, DEN)

Noah Fant is one of my favorite mid-to-late round targets at tight end. He got in a full practice on Thursday, so it's all systems go for Fant, as there were some concerns about his knee injury.  Fant has terrific yards-after-catch and downfield ability, so his upside makes him worth a look, especially since tight end is such a weak position. Consider Fant a Top-12 tight end this week.

Saquon Barkley (RB, NYG)

Saquon Barkley looks ready to make his return in Week 1. While he's facing a tough defense and running behind a weak offensive line, we have to consider him at a Top-15 option, even if he has a limited workload. This is because of his elite pass-catching ability. We could see Barkley peppered with targets as the Giants try to play catch-up against the Broncos in this game.

 

Green Bay Packers at New Orleans Saints

Matchups We Love:

Davante Adams (WR, GB)

Davante Adams is an elite WR1 each and every week. He's coming off an insane season where he caught 115-of-149 targets for 1,374 yards and 18 touchdowns in 14 games. Adams should be in line for another monster workload in what could be his last season in Green Bay. The Saints' defense is strong at all facets of the game, but you're not thinking about the matchup with Adams because he's matchup-proof. Cornerback Marshon Lattimore was added to the injury report on Thursday. If he misses the game, it's great for Adams' outlook.

Alvin Kamara (RB, NO)

Alvin Kamara is in line for monster usage with Michael Thomas out until at least midseason. Kamara is going to see a ton of targets, likely leading the team here. It was great news to see the Saints announce Jameis Winston as the starter because Taysom Hill would have been bad news for Kamara's value. The Packers allowed 4.34 yards per carry (16th) last season. Kamara looks like the overall RB2 behind Dalvin Cook this week.

Matchups We Hate:

There aren't any matchups that we hate in this game. This projects as a high-scoring game.

Other Matchups:

Aaron Rodgers (QB, GB)

Aaron Rodgers surprisingly decided to stay in Green Bay. He'll likely remain a Top-8 fantasy quarterback, even with some projected touchdown regression following a year where he posted the highest touchdown rate of all time. The Saints allowed a 6.79 yards per attempt (7th) last season, but we could see some fireworks in this game, resulting in a favorable game script for Rodgers. Don't overthink it here, just fire him up.

Packers RBs

Aaron Jones is in line for a career-high in targets following the departure of Jamaal Williams. While A.J. Dillon is a promising runner, he doesn't make much of an impact in the passing game, so this is good for Jones. The Saints run defense is strong, giving up only 3.84 yards per carry (5th) last season, but I'd still consider Jones as a Top-10 back. Dillon is more of a touchdown-dependent FLEX play that should be only started in half or standard scoring formats.

Packers WRs

Randall Cobb is back in the fold and he looks like the safe bet to finish second in targets among wideouts. Marquez Valdes-Scantling is a better play in BestBalls or DFS tournaments due to his volatility, although he did look good in camp. Allen Lazard tore up these Saints on Monday Night last year. He looked like he was in the midst of a breakout year before getting hurt. Each of these players are risky this week, but one of them is likely to provide fantasy-relevant production.

Robert Tonyan (TE, GB)

Robert Tonyan scored an impressive 11 touchdowns last year. While we could see some touchdown regression, it's likely that he'll still make an impact in the red zone, especially since this offense figures to remain among the most efficient in the league. The Saints were very good against the tight end last year, allowing 5.61 yards per target (2nd), but Tonyan's touchdown equity keeps him in play for this potential shootout.

Jameis Winston (QB, NO)

Jameis Winston is back as starter after looking fantastic this preseason. While we won't see the gunslinger we saw in Tampa Bay as we can expect a more tempered Winston with this stout defense, Winston still looks like a potential streamer here. The Saints will need to air it out to keep pace with this Packers offense. The matchup doesn't really matter here, as the game script is much more important. We'll see a bump in passing volume for the Saints in this game.

Marquez Callaway (WR, NO)

Marquez Callaway has emerged as the top wideout for the Saints with the injury to Michael Thomas. Callaway showed outstanding chemistry with Winston this preseason. This is a terrific game script, but Callaway will have to deal with one of the top corners in football in Jaire Alexander. While we should temper our expectations, we can still consider Callaway as a Top-40 wideout in this game. Tre'Quan Smith missed Thursday's practice, which puts his status in question for this game. If he can't go, Callaway could see a bump in volume.

Additional Notes:

Monitor the Saints TE situation with Adam Trautman and Juwan Johnson.

 

Matchups Analysis - Sunday Night Football

Chicago Bears at Los Angeles Rams

Matchups We Love:

There are no matchups we love in this game. This game has a 46.5-point total, so we could see a low-scoring game.

Matchups We Hate:

Andy Dalton (QB, CHI) 

You likely weren't considering Dalton anyway, but if you play in SuperFlex or 2-QB, you might be forced to start him. I'd even think about benching Dalton for another position player in SuperFlex, that's how bad this spot is. The Rams defense ranked 4th in pass DVOA last season. The Bears offensive line is a concern heading into this year, so we could see Dalton having a tough time with Aaron Donald and company.

David Montgomery (RB, CHI)

This Rams defense was also stout against the run last year, ranking 3rd in run DVOA. If you're starting Montgomery here, you're going to need him to get a lot of volume with check-down receptions, as it's going to be tough for him to be efficient here, especially with Dalton under center. The Bears will likely be forced to play catch-up in this game and it could get really ugly. I'd consider benching Monty if you have depth at running back.

Bears WRs

Allen Robinson is a stud but he goes up against Jalen Ramsey in this game. Ramsey is the best corner in football. Last year, Robinson put up four receptions for 70 yards against these Rams. While the Bears will likely have to air it out as they play from behind, Robinson has a low ceiling this week. Consider him a low-end WR2 here. Darnell Mooney is a popular breakout candidate, but we'll have to wait until Justin Fields is under center.

Matthew Stafford (QB, LAR)

Stafford makes his Rams debut in a terrific situation under coach Sean McVay. The Bears were more susceptible to the pass than run last year, finishing 13th in pass DVOA, but this is still a good defense. In a projected low-scoring game, Stafford looks like more of a QB2 here. Quarterback is such a deep position and I'd consider benching Stafford if you have a player like Trevor Lawrence on your bench.

Rams RBs

This game projects as a positive game script for the Rams running game with the team as 7.5-point favorites. We're likely to see the Rams control this game, resulting in an uptick in rushing volume. The problem is that the Bears have a good run defense, finishing 4th in run DVOA last season. The other issue is that the usage will be unclear. Darrell Henderson Jr. was slated to be the lead back, but the team traded for Sony Michel. The fact that they surrendered picks in a trade speaks volumes to me. It's clear that they like Michel and want him to play a role. Because of this, we need to consider Henderson as a mediocre flex this week. Leave Michel on your bench here.

Other Matchups:

Rams WRs

Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp get a massive upgrade at quarterback with Stafford under center. We can expect most of the target distribution to be funneled between these two players. While the matchup against the Bears is tough, we need to consider both as WR2s here because of their target shares. The Bears lost cornerback Kyle Fuller this offseason, so perhaps one of these two wideouts can have a spike week.

Tyler Higbee (TE, LAR)

Tyler Higbee could be slated for a larger role with Gerald Everett now with the Seattle Seahawks. You also have to love the upgrade at quarterback that he gets with Stafford. This is a tough matchup in a potential low-scoring game, but Higbee is still in play as a TE1 due to it being a thin position. Fire him up here and hope that he finds the endzone against a tough Bears defense.

 



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Julius Randle6 hours ago

Dominant In Win Over Hawks
Romeo Langford8 hours ago

Probable For Thursday
Dansby Swanson8 hours ago

Four Teams Showing Serious Interest In Dansby Swanson
Andrew Wiggins8 hours ago

To Miss Next Two Games
Dejounte Murray8 hours ago

Won't Return On Wednesday
Chris Paul8 hours ago

Returns On Wednesday
Dejounte Murray8 hours ago

Questionable To Return On Wednesday
Xander Bogaerts8 hours ago

Six Teams Talking With Xander Bogaerts
Myles Turner8 hours ago

To Play Wednesday
Tyrese Haliburton9 hours ago

Available On Wednesday
Javonte Green9 hours ago

Ruled Out For Wednesday
Mike Conley9 hours ago

Won't Return On Wednesday
Alex Caruso9 hours ago

Available On Wednesday
Ziaire Williams9 hours ago

Available On Wednesday
Pittsburgh Pirates10 hours ago

Pirates Take Jose Hernandez In Rule 5 Draft
Kevin Porter10 hours ago

Jr. In Doubt To Play On Thursday
Lauri Markkanen10 hours ago

Has Been Ruled Out Against Warriors
Ryan Noda10 hours ago

A's Pluck Ryan Noda Away From The Dodgers
Herbert Jones10 hours ago

Will Not Play On Wednesday Night
Boston Red Sox10 hours ago

Red Sox Reel In Masataka Yoshida On Five-Year Deal
Cole Hamels10 hours ago

Wants To Pitch In 2023
Josh Jacobs10 hours ago

Questionable For Thursday Night Football
New York Mets10 hours ago

Mets Remain Involved With Kodai Senga
Carlos Rodón10 hours ago

Yankees Remain In On Carlos Rodon
Mike Williams10 hours ago

Set To Practice This Week
Carlos Correa10 hours ago

Giants Have Talked With Carlos Correa
Thad Ward10 hours ago

Nationals Select Thad Ward With First Rule 5 Pick
Zach Hyman11 hours ago

Set To Return Wednesday
James Van Riemsdyk11 hours ago

James van Riemsdyk Returns To Flyers Lineup
Craig Smith11 hours ago

Back For Bruins Wednesday
James Reimer11 hours ago

Misses Another Game
Nico Sturm11 hours ago

Back In Action Wednesday
Jack Eichel11 hours ago

Sits Out A Second Game
Filip Chytil11 hours ago

Ready To Go Wednesday
Jimmy Garoppolo12 hours ago

A Long Shot To Return In Playoffs
Joe Mixon12 hours ago

A Full Participant In Practice
Los Angeles Rams13 hours ago

Aaron Donald Ruled Out For Thursday Night
Trevor Lawrence13 hours ago

Expects To Play In Week 14
Brooks Raley13 hours ago

Mets Acquire Brooks Raley From Rays
Casey Sadler14 hours ago

Mariners Sign Casey Sadler To Minors Deal
Tucker Barnhart14 hours ago

Pirates Interested In Tucker Barnhart
Seth Lugo14 hours ago

Drawing A Lot Of Interest To Start
Courtland Sutton14 hours ago

Unlikely To Play In Week 14
Xander Bogaerts14 hours ago

Red Sox In Heavy Discussions With Xander Bogaerts
David Njoku14 hours ago

Ready To Play
Aledmys Díaz15 hours ago

Aledmys Diaz Agrees With The A's
Kenley Jansen15 hours ago

Agrees With The Red Sox
Willson Contreras15 hours ago

Cardinals, Willson Contreras Agree On Five-Year Deal
José Quintana15 hours ago

Jose Quintana Chooses The Mets
Buffalo Bills16 hours ago

Von Miller Undergoes Surgery, Out For The Year
Mark Ingram II16 hours ago

Likely Done For The Season
Trevor Lawrence16 hours ago

Up In The Air For Week 14
Tua Tagovailoa16 hours ago

Expected To Be Limited In Practice
Davis Mills16 hours ago

Texans Going Back To Davis Mills At QB
Magomed Ankalaev17 hours ago

Can Realize His UFC Dream
Jan Blachowicz17 hours ago

Set For Title Redemption
Jared Gordon17 hours ago

Has An Opportunity For A Huge Victory
Paddy Pimblett17 hours ago

Set To Showcase In UFC 282
Matt Murray20 hours ago

Records A 44-Save Shutout
Pierre-Luc Dubois20 hours ago

Extends Hot Streak With Three Assists
Anze Kopitar20 hours ago

Collects Three Assists
Sidney Crosby20 hours ago

Extends Point Streak With Two Goals
Dougie Hamilton20 hours ago

Picks Up Three Points Tuesday
Vitek Vanecek20 hours ago

Records His Second Shutout
Dricus Du Plessis20 hours ago

Hoping To Continue To Rack Up Wins
Darren Till20 hours ago

Looking For A Key Victory At UFC 282
Adam Pelech20 hours ago

Exits With Injury
Ilia Topuria20 hours ago

Meets Fellow Top-15 Undefeated Featherweight
Bryce Mitchell20 hours ago

Set To Open UFC 282 Main Card
Nathan MacKinnon20 hours ago

Out For Four Weeks
Greg Dortch1 day ago

Cardinals Hopeful Rondale Moore, Greg Dortch Return This Week
Jimmy Garoppolo1 day ago

Will Avoid Surgery, Could Return In Playoffs
Baker Mayfield1 day ago

Claimed By The Rams
Shane Wright1 day ago

Set To Re-Enter Seattle Lineup
Sean Monahan1 day ago

Questionable For Tuesday
Derick Brassard1 day ago

Rejoins Senators Lineup
David Njoku2 days ago

Browns Expect David Njoku To Play In Week 14
Lamar Jackson2 days ago

Dealing With PCL Knee Sprain
Courtland Sutton2 days ago

Deemed Day-To-Day
Hayden Hurst2 days ago

Doubtful For Week 14
Lamar Jackson3 days ago

Week-To-Week With Knee Injury
Kevin Holland3 days ago

Takes The Loss In Saturday's Main Event
Stephen Thompson3 days ago

Earns Victory In Main Event
Bryan Barberena3 days ago

Unable To Secure A Win Saturday
Rafael Dos Anjos3 days ago

Rafael dos Anjos Takes Co-Main Event By Submission
Matt Schnell3 days ago

Matthew Christopher Schnell Takes The Loss Saturday
Matheus Nicolau3 days ago

Continues Run With TKO Victory
Tai Tuivasa3 days ago

Suffers Second Straight Loss
Sergei Pavlovich3 days ago

Earns Fifth Straight Victory With Knockout Win
Jack Hermansson3 days ago

Ends 2022 With Losing Record
Roman Dolidze3 days ago

Makes Most Of Opportunity With TKO Victory
Kyle Daukaus3 days ago

Has His Night Come To An Early End
Eryk Anders3 days ago

Gets It Done With A Second TKO Performance
Kevin Holland5 days ago

Hoping To Rebound With Main-Event Victory

RANKINGS

QB
RB
WR
TE
K
DEF
RANKINGS
C
1B
2B
3B
SS
OF
SP
RP