Each week I will preview a couple of games that are ripe with fantasy juice for us to squeeze. Highlighting which players have a path to eat, DFS plays, and studs that should be faded.
Bonus content – The 50/50 Club: Seeking streaming options, managing through roster injuries, filling bye weeks, or looking for bargain DFS plays? This year I will select, what I’ve coined as, the 50/50 club. A weekly fantasy roster (QB, RB/RB, WR/WR, TE, DST) comprised of players that have ownership numbers less than 50% across major fantasy platforms. The following week we’ll review how we performed. At the end of the year, we will see how we stack up cumulatively at each position. Can we field a top 12 QB or TE, or top 24 RB/WR over the course of the season?
Kansas City Chiefs @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Over/Under 52 , KC -4
The reigning NFL MVP QB, Pat Mahomes, heads south to take on former Super Bowl MVP, Nick Foles, and the new look Jacksonville Jaguars under OC John Defilipo. The 2nd highest point total for week 1, expect enough juice for both sides to get their drank on.
Rudy projects Mahomes to finish QB1 this week, with 2.18 TDs and over 300 yards passing. Last year Big Red’s offense posted 30 points against the Jags who lost a bevy of starting defensive players, at each level, this offseason. Even though the NFLs top cornerback, Jalen Ramsey, is expected to shadow Tyreek Hill, don’t get cute and sit your studs. Jalen’s 4.41 speed will have his work cut out for him as he chases Tyreek’s 4.28 around the field. Hill opening up the defense allowed Kelce to break free for 100-yards on 5 catches last year. Rudy gives Kelce an 80% chance of hitting pay-dirt, the highest of any TE in week 1. With the Jags focus on shutting down Hill and Kelce, Sammy Watkins is an interesting WR3-flex play after leading the Chiefs receiving core in their 2018 matchup against the Jags, with 6 catches for 78 yards. If you’re playing DFS, I’m fading all KC running backs until we have a better idea of how things shake out after LeSean McCoys arrival. In season long re-draft leagues, at the price you paid, you should start Damien Williams unless you have a viable RB2 on your bench. Owners should find solace in the fact that Williams is still the projected starter for week 1. McCoy is familiar with Andys scheme back from their time in Philly, but give McCoy 2-3 weeks to get fully acclimated with nuances of this Chiefs offenses, lineman tendencies, verbiage of the play call, and playing with Mahomes. Our senior editor, MB, has Williams ranked as RB18 which is inline with Rudys projected RB20 finish this week.
Facing a Chiefs defense that ranked 31st in passing yards allowed last season, new OC John Defilipo brings over his 4th highest passing rate offense in 2018 over from Minnesota. This is a juicy spot for the Razzball A.I. heartthrob, Dede Westbrook, going up against one of the leagues worst slot corners from last season, Kendall Fuller. Rudy has Dede projected to finish week 1 as WR14. DeFilippo went as fas as saying Westbrook “..is the best route runner he’s ever been around.” That’s saying something when he coached both Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs last season. Look for Westbrook to slide into the Thielen role in this offense. Westbrook was targeted a whopping 92% out of the slot last season, and now has an upgrade at QB and OC. #Dede4TDs
The Jags will still put an emphasis on the run game, with bruiser Leonard Fournette toting the rock. Fournette will benefit from improved QB play and a pass friendly OC, allowing him to see fewer stacked boxes. Head Coach, Doug Marone was quoted during training camp about getting Fournette involved in the passing game, which would be a huge boosts to Fournette’s value this season. “..he’s someone we can use in the passing game and he has skill. Any time we can get him the ball, whether it’s throwing him the football, pitching him the football, whatever it may be … we have an opportunity to break tackles, and obviously he can run very well.” Even with a potential negative game script, KC is vulnerable on the ground. After backup running back, Alfred Blue, was placed on IR, Lenny has little competition for touches. MB has Leonard ranked as his RB13, a few spots behind Rudys RB7 projected finish. Without a clear cut WR2, it is hard to trust DJ Chark, Keelan Cole, and Marquis Lee in our lineups until we see who establishes themselves as a viable option. Chark is an interesting deep league bench stash.
Nick Foles targeted Dede Westbrook on 7 of his 10 throws last night. Meanwhile, Jaguars OC John Defilippo told Troy Aikman Westbrook is the best route runner he's ever been around. pic.twitter.com/RVZPsn9kKl
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) August 23, 2019
Washington Redskins @ Philadelphia Eagles
O/U 45.5 , PHI -9.5
Tied for the 9th highest (6th lowest) point total, but the highest point spread for week 1. Look for the Eagles to dominate this matchup, with Washington forced to play catchup from the opening kick-off.
Rudy’s projected QB2 for week 1, Carson Wentz is projected to finish with 2.1 passing TDs and just under 300 yards passing (293). The Redskins defensive unit surrendered 52 points combined in their matchups against the Eagles last year, we can expect more of the same in 2019. A homecoming for DeSean Jackson, look for Dougie P and Carson to make a couple of attempts to DJax over the top of this Redskins defense. I’d love for someone to post seismic readings from the Linc when Desean finds the end zone. Josh Norman is aging, lacks the speed he once had, and is expected to shadow Alshon Jeffery for the game. This puts 2nd and 3rd coverage options on Jackson. New safety, Landon Collins, is more of an “in the box” safety and we’ll have trouble if he’s forced to run with Jackson on the back end. Look for him to stay with the TE and help up front in the run game. The Redskins allowed the 2nd fewest points per game to tight ends in 2018, and Zach Ertz failed to eclipse 85 yards passing nor score a touchdown in either matchup last season. Look for Wentz to still target Ertz, his favorite record breaking target from last season. Rudy has Ertz projected as TE2 on the week with 18.00 fantasy points. I would take the under on Ertz, but I do not suggest sitting your 3rd/4th round TE draft pick. Unfortunately, Alshon Jeffery popped up late in the week on the injury report with a bicep issue. This is something to monitor as Jeffery was a full participant earlier in the week and down graded on Thursday. Jeffery said he would be “fine,” when asked about it on Thursday. The trick will be deciphering which running back will get the majority of the carries in week 1 when Philly has the lead and is milking the clock. Washington gave up over 129 yards on the ground in both meetings last year (129 week 13, 130 week 17). Rudy has Miles Sanders winning the battle this weekend, finishing in the RB3/flex range with huge upside. In Doug Pederson’s presser this week, he said “This is why you draft those guys and I don’t think you hold back. You plug them in and you go,” when asked about his rookies for this weekend. Look for Pederson and the Eagles to give the people what they want this weekend against a Redskins offense that will struggle to possess the ball.
Alshon Jeffery entered the locker room as reporters were leaving. Didn't have time to ask in depth about his listing on the injury report (limited/biceps) but I asked if he was OK and he said he was fine. Then he said I would BE fined for asking a question as locker room closed.
— Les Bowen (@LesBowen) September 5, 2019
Unfortunately for the Redskins, they will be playing from behind the majority of the game with a projected spread of -9.5. This means a lot of garbage time passes and a negative game script for the running backs. Jay Gruden and Washington are ramping up for Guice to take over as the lead back, but we need to pump the breaks these first few weeks with matchups against PHI-DAL-CHI, their first 3 games out of the gate. The Eagles tout one of the best and deepest defensive lines in the league, the Redskins are without their best offensive lineman Trent Williams (contract holdout). Keep Guice on the bench this week. This game lineups for pass catching back, Chris Thompson, to get a lot of dump off passes from Case Keenum. Someone has to catch the ball in this offense, if you’re looking for a dart throw DFS spot this week on DraftKings, Trey Quinn is projected to be Washingtons leading fantasy receiver. Don’t expect fireworks, but if you’re trying to fit in top heavy players into your lineup then Quinn makes for an interesting bargain price option @ $3,400, with a projected 8.8 fantasy points. Fade Washington skill players in season long lineups and fire up the Eagles D/ST unit in every spot that you can.
The 50/50 Club
QB: Jimmy Garoppolo (ownership %: 28.7 ESPN / 46.1 NFL / 56 Yahoo )
Projected 17.73 fantasy points. The third highest point total in week 1, look for Garoppolo and Kyle Shanahan to carve up the bottom of the league Tampa Bay Bucs defense. If Jimmy Grapes goes off in week 1, he’ll be a top waiver add before week 2.
RB: Justin Jackson (own %: 34.8 ESPN / 20.7 NFL / 39 Yahoo)
Projected 10.72 fantasy points. This is an easy one, Melvin Gordon continues to hold out and Jackson is expected to split touches with Ekeler. Jackson will most likely handle goal line and early down situations. The Colts are without Andrew Luck and the Chargers boast a top flight NFL defense, this will play nicely for the Chargers running backs.
RB: Dion Lewis (own %: 45.8 ESPN / 21.3 NFL / 47 Yahoo)
Projected 7.93 fantasy points. The Tennessee Titans go up against NFL hype-team, the Cleveland Browns this Sunday. Derrick Henry will dominate carries in this backfield, but if Cleveland takes off like everyone is expecting then when can see a heavy dose of pass catching back Dion Lewis. In PPR formats, he offers a safe floor but lacks huge upside with Henry leading the charge. Henry has been nursing a calf injury that’s lingered this trainman camp and the Titans are without their top 2 offensive tackles. If Henry goes down or Titans are playing catchup, Lewis’ ownership numbers will jump after this week.
WR: John Brown (own %: 34.3 ESPN / 5.1 NFL / 49 Yahoo)
WR: Albert Wilson ( own %: 26.8 ESPN / 14.3 ESPN / 8% Yahoo)
Projected 11.33 fantasy points. Rudy has Wilson as a fringe WR3 this week. Wilson is the slot man for MIA this year and is projected to lead the receiving core for the Dolphins. No proven, nor reliable, receivers left on the roster, after Kenny Stills was shipped off to Houston, look for Wilson to get his fair share of targets this weekend. Keep in mind the coaching staff, head coach and offensive coordinator, comes over from New England where the slot receiver will see plenty of action.
TE: Darren Waller ( own %: 20.4 ESPN / 5.5 NFL / 26 Yahoo)
Projected 7.40 fantasy points: If you have been living under a rock, you missed Antonio Brown trying to pick a fight with his General Manager, and now finds himself suspended from the team. This creates a lot of value for Tyrell Williams, but also Hard Knocks inspiration TE Darren Waller. Waller looks to bounce back from a rocky start to his NFL career and won’t be fighting Brown for targets this weekend. His ownership numbers will jump once he finds pay dirt against Denver.
D/ST: Detroit Lions DST ( own % 3.0 ESPN / 6.8 NFL / 4 Yahoo)
Projected 8.9 fantasy points. A defensive coach against one of the worst offensive lines in the league, paired with a rookie NFL coach and rookie QB this has turnovers written all over it. Sure, Kingsbury offense is new and will be “slightly” unpredictable but that doesn’t mean this defense can’t string together a couple of sacks and force a a few bad decisions by Kyler Murray, I like Detroits chances this weekend..
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