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.

Packers @ Bears (-3) – Chicago Defensive Right (Source: SharpFootballStats)

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.

Titans @ Browns (-5.5) – Corey Davis Downgrade (Source: SportsInfoSolutions)

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.

Ravens @ Dolphins (+5) – Miami Dolphins Run Defense (Source: SportsInfoSolutions)

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.

Falcons @ Vikings (-4) – Explosive Play Rate (Source: SharpFootballStats)

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.

Bills @ Jets (-3) –Jets slot corner Brian Poole (Source: SportsInfoSolutions)

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.

Redskins @ Eagles (-8.5) – Redskins fantasy points allowed vs. Tight Ends (Source: Football Reference)

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.

Rams @ Panthers (+3) – Rams play-action offense vs. Panthers play-action defense (Source: SportsInfoSolutions)

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.

Chiefs @ Jaguars (+4) – Kendall Fuller Full-Time Slot Role (Source: SportsInfoSolutions & Football Outsiders)

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.

You Can Follow Me on Twitter @Razzball_Pat

  1. The Scrant Dog

    The Scrant Dog says:
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    What do you think of giving 5 points on the road in Miami? Do the Ravens cover?

    I’ve already locked in CLE at -5.5 and got the Eagles in a Promo Straight up at +money.

    I’m eyeing Ravens -5 and Colts + 7 (waiting for line to move even further on Luck news) as my other two bets to round out Week 1

    • Pat

      Pat says:
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      Thanks for the comment. Just a disclaimer we are fantasy centric so take this as a conversation not a recommendation.

      The Colts are a very good team overall. I think there has been an extreme over-reaction to Luck retiring and the view of the entire team. We have seen mediocre to below average quarterbacked teams succeed multiple times in recent years when the talent around them is at a high level. They have weapons, a potentially top tier line, and the best defense the Colts may have had in recent memory. Frank Reich is a good coach and he will make an adjustment in terms of game planning that will make them competitive. Some really interesting stuff on the Chargers defense is that Football Outsiders looked at their defensive personnel groupings and they were actually below average in all personnel grouping except dime, in which they case they were #1… By a lot… Like 2x as good as almost everyone else. This can be attributed to Derwin James basically being the most diverse defensive player in the NFL. Derwin won’t be playing in this one and I think it will have an effect. That said the Chargers did add to the defensive personnel in the off-season. I think what this comes down to is do you think the Colts can control the line of scrimmage on both sides and it certainly seems like they have an advantage.

      As for the Ravens. They are better than the Dolphins there is not a doubt in my mind. However, road favorites are something I typically have a really hard time dealing with. There are two red flags for me in this situation. #1) the total is 37.5 to get to 5 with that low of a total you are basically saying that the dolphins aren’t going to score. There isn’t much wiggle room here and one long play can tilt the scale #2) do the ravens play in a manner offensively that you can see them breaking away to a lead of more than 10 points in the 4th. You can have a second half of hammer, hammer, hammer, kick a field goal. Personally, I think the Ravens can overwhelm them with talent but I’m not sure the defense is as “elite” as they are getting credit for.

      Let me know what you think.

      • The Scrant Dog

        The Scrant Dog says:
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        Hmmm

        Think I’m going to follow through on the Colts but I have to agree with the Ravens assessment. If Albert Wilson suits up thats an especially scary wager.

        • Pat

          Pat says:
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          Good to hear. Good luck week 1.

          • The Scrant Dog

            The Scrant Dog says:
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            Also yeah, I know this is fantasy centric lmao. I’m just full degen

            • Pat

              Pat says:
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              I respect the hell out of it.

  2. Zach

    Zach says:
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    Fantastic piece. Can’t wait to follow along with this series this season

    • Pat

      Pat says:
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      Appreciate it Zach!

  3. Nic Romero

    Nic Romero says:
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    great stuff Pat, i’ll be using for sure.

    • Pat

      Pat says:
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      Going to be a great year for Razzball Nic!

  4. Adam says:
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    Just had ESPN 10 team draft
    Qb Rodgers
    RB Kamara,Cook,D Williams,Ekeler,D Thompson
    WR Hilton ,Boyd,Gallup,MVS,Pettis,Allison
    TE Kelce
    DST Rams and Eagles
    K Gould
    Thoughts??
    Thanks

    • Pat

      Pat says:
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      Looks good. I’ll admit, I don’t play a ton of 10 teamers but that RB depth is a thing of beauty. Some good stacking opps with Rodgers. Hopefully one of MVS and Allison clearly becomes the #2 target to make your weekly lineup choice easier. You know I love some Boyd and Gallup is one of my late round targets as well. I think Pettis is being toyed with by Shanny. He is the best wr talent they have and will rise to the top. Only suggestion is not sure if there is a need to hold two defenses. Could have another rb/wr to add even more depth, but up to you. Looks great though and based on my gut you are going to have a great year.

  5. Ron Pridgen says:
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    Just finished my draft and I got a big fat C- for my efforts in a 12 team 1pt PPR.

    QB: Rivers
    RB: McCaffrey, Fournette, Michel, Murray, Pollard, J. Jackson
    WR: Allen, Woods, Davis, DJ Moore, M. Jones, AJ Green
    TE: Graham

    Thoughts?

  6. Pat

    Pat says:
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    Ahhhh… Those draft rankings don’t mean anything anyways. It looks like you will be spending a lot of time streaming qbs and tight ends, but that’s alright I do it all the time. Try to find that uptick in volume for a tight end early in the season and catch your kittle in a bottle. It might just be Graham and you drafted gold, but keep an eye out. Find the targets to the tight ends and follow. Your rbs look great. Specifically if Zeke sits for a while or even just a week or two… We take what we can get in fantasy football. Pollard could at the very least jump start your season. I like your wide receivers as well a ton of great options maybe not a glaring #1 but Allen is good enough and the depth is outstanding. Really focus in on qbs and tight end best available plays every week and this is a playoff squad at the very least. Once you get there anything can happen.

  7. Alvaro Mendez says:
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    Hi, I have a superflex draft coming up, never done one before.

    Im 11th pick

    where should I start looking at QB, Im think 3rd/4TH rd turn (soomething like Gofff), Then depending on whats available take on in the 5/6th (winston) or wait for the next turn (something like Darnold)

    is the first superflex for everyone involved so Im guessing there will be a lot of QB picks early

    thanks!

    • Pat

      Pat says:
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      Hi Alvaro. I think one of two things is going to happen because it is a first time for everyone. Either quarterbacks and going to get pushed up really high like you mentioned, or people are not going to understand the change in value and they will let guys fall way to far. So be ready to be reactive. First thing, if Pat Mahomes makes it to you in the 1st round there is an argument he is a top end 1st rounder. If that’s your style and you are comfortable with it it is more than a defensible move and your league mates may not understand that. Second thing, I think being at/near the turn in superflex/2 Qb league is a huge advantage. Many times what I do in this situation is go back to back on quarterbacks and my qb1 will be towards the “back end” of that group with a guy like Goff as you mentioned and then a thigh level qb2 for the superflex immediately after. Then you have been gaining a competitive advantage in rb/wr/te while waiting on qb then you play at a slight disadvantage at qb1 (the points scored are pretty flat so the disadvantage is small) and an advantage at superflex. I think you might be able to pull this off around 5/6 or even 7/8 if the league doesn’t adjust. Make sure to grab a qb3 late, it’s worth it and also keep in mind that the advantages of the double tap at the turn can also hurt you because a lot of those guys can get taken in between your picks going the other direction.

      • Alvaro says:
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        thanks!

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