For my weekly article during the 2019 season I’ll be presenting statistics, data, and charting information that I’ve extracted that is relevant for the upcoming slate of games. My goal is that this information gives readers a new piece of the puzzle for the week that they may have been missing. I was excited to present the idea to our glorious leader MB for many reasons, but the greatest being that it is universally useful information. Readers who play season long fantasy, DFS, simply bets games, or play in office pools should be able to use the information to confirm plays that they were already considering, use it as an opportunity to dig deeper, or challenge my evaluation of the information. During the season I will present a top 10, but for week 1 I thought it would be a good chance to provide a piece for every game, and honestly, I just can’t stop thinking about football being back. Today we dive into opening night and the early Sunday slate.
This is a really tough game to dig into because there is a load of turnover. The Packers have 4 new projected defensive starters, a new offensive philosophy, and the Bears have a new defensive coordinator. However, a few constants that the Packers might be able to take advantage of is the Bears defensive right side.
Overall Rush YPC Allowed by Chicago:
Versus Packers (25 attempts):
This could certainly be scheme based but I would lean more due to the effectiveness of David Bakhtiari. The Bears have the same personnel there and did get gashed on the ground a few times last year. If I wear rating confidence in how predictive this is towards the effectiveness of a player like Aaron Jones I would rate it low. Take this data morsel with a grain of salt.
The Titans will be without left tackle Taylor Lewan. The Browns have a bevy of talent upfront and added Olivier Vernon this offseason. Denzel Ward was #3 in success rate allowed on passes in his direction last year. He often shadows. It is not guaranteed that Davis is at a status that shadowing would be considered, and the Browns have a defensive coordinator change. Davis needs to be removed from lineups for this one, unless it is a last resort.
As if anyone needed another reason to fire up Lamar Jackson. Jackson broke 27 tackles on 147 rush attempts last season (18%). The Miami Dolphins allowed a broken tackle on 12.8% of plays in 2018, the second worst rate in the league. They return almost every starter from last year’s defense. You can change coaching staffs, you can change philosophy, but you can’t often change the talent of the players from year-to-year without changing the actual player. Jackson has a chance to be the top QB in fantasy in a week 1 positive game script.
The Vikings were 29th in the NFL in explosive play rate in 2018 (23rd rush/26th pass) while the Falcons were 28th in explosive play rate allowed versus the rush and 8th against the pass. At first glance some might think that Kirk Cousins is a decent streamer play this week, but the lack of explosive passing plays, combined with a pace down offense, and the Falcons getting Deion Jones and Keanu Neal back after lost 2018 seasons makes this a risky play. The Vikings overall pass game should be downgraded in week 1.
This might sound like confirmation bias after pitching Cole Beasley as my guy in last weeks article. However, the argument is compelling. Brian Poole was the NFL’s third worst coverage cornerback in terms of success rate in 2018. He was the 5th worst in the NFL in 2017. The Falcons declined his option, and he has moved on to the Jets. He now plays for a defensive coordinator known to leave the middle of the field open and put cornerbacks on islands. Often, the toughest thing about taking advantage of a known poor slot corner is trying to figure out the number of routes run by the specific receivers in the slot. That isn’t a problem with the Bills. We know Beasley will be in the slot nearly every snap, and Josh Allen will be targeting him.
The Washington Redskins allowed the 2nd fewest fantasy points per game to tight ends in 2018. They did lose a few starters off the 2nd and 3rd level, but they were primarily replaced in house. The other additions were Landon Collins and Jon Bostic, who should be considered positives. The defensive coordinator has carried over as well. This may not only effect Zach Ertz directly, but Carson Wentz overall with a potential run-heavy script. Probably still a QB1 play in season long, but it’s fringier than people may think.
The Rams had the NFL’s #1 play-action (PA) percentage of pass plays in 2018, and were #2 in PA/Yards per play. The Panthers were #28 in PA Yards/play allowed in 2018 and have a large core of the same defensive starters returning with a positive addition in Tre Boston and arguably a negative addition in Bruce Irvin. We know Todd Gurley will be healthy for week 1 so this might be a scenario ripe for a Jared Goff explosion even on the road.
Kendall Fuller was one of the top slot corners in football in 2017 with the Washington Redskins when playing the role full time. He was #2 in the NFL in success rate when targeted. He was traded to the Chiefs in the Alex Smith deal, and last year the Chiefs bounced him around between slot and outside corner. When he moved inside to slot corner, he struggled, but was strong on the outside. I believe this might be a role change issue throughout the game, and the Chiefs stated that Fuller will be in the slot full-time this season. One of the Razzball robot’s favorite WR values of the season is Dede Westbrook. Westbrook received 92% of his targets from the slot in 2018. He could be in line for a great game, and this could be a sneaky shootout, but be weary of a return to form for Fuller, and the effect it may have on Westbrook week 1.
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