The wait is OVER. After months and months of not waking up with a full slate of football on Sundays, the NFL regular season is finally upon us!
This season, we will have rankings, free articles, premium articles, podcasts and the weekly pre-lock live stream every single week throughout the entire season. On top of this, cheat sheets and an NFL optimizer will also be available to FanCave premium members.
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With that being said, the NFL DFS Quick Hits will be formatted the same way they were for the MLB season. I will go game-by-game (even the Thursday and Monday games) and highlight one pertinent piece of data, a play that sticks out, or something I think that should be noted, to help you cut the fluff and condense your player pool. I will look to get the Quick Hits articles released by Tuesday at the latest so that they cover every game from Thursday to Monday.
So, let’s get to it; Happy Week 1!
*Thursday Night Football games denoted in BLUE, Monday Night Football games denoted in GREEN*
Atlanta Falcons @ Philadelphia Eagles
Fresh off of a Super Bowl victory, the Eagles are coming into their week 1 tilt against the Falcons a bit more depleted than they would’ve hoped. QB Carson Wentz is conceding the start to Super Bowl hero Nick Foles as he finalizes his recovery from an ACL tear, while #1 wideout Alshon Jeffery is slated to miss the first couple of weeks of the season. This has, however, created opportunity for Nelson Agholar. The wideout is nursing a lower-body injury himself, but is expected to start week 1. With Jeffrey out and a hobbled running game (both Ajayi and Clement are DTD), Agholar could see a heavy workload in a game that could be a shootout, as him and Zach Ertz are really the only two reliable pass catchers at full health for Philly. He makes for a solid WR3 with upside in season-long formats this week.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cleveland Browns
If you’re slapping yourself feeling like you’re having deja vu, it’s because the Steelers’ week 1 storyline this season is almost identical to last season. They come into week 1 slated to take on the Cleveland Browns with star running back Le’Veon Bell holding out. An exact repeat of last season. While there have been reports of Bell returning on Labor Day, he quickly squashed the reports, calling them “fake news”. While many fully expect him to suit up week 1, it may be wise to wait another week to roster him. Last season, he only received 13 carries in the week 1 tilt with the Browns and I’d expect a similar workload this week due to his offseason holdout. At his price, you want at least 20 touches, something that may not be extremely realistic this week, making it a perfect week to pivot to another top-tier back. In the chance that Bell does NOT suit up, James Connor should carry the highest ownership on the slate as a min-priced RB in a high octane offense.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Indianapolis Colts
Last season, the Colts defense gave up the 5th most passing yards, 8th most 40+ yard receptions, and the most 20+ yard receptions in the entire NFL. Frankly, things don’t look like they’ll improve this season, highlighted by a recent tweet from NFL’s Mike Clay:
Colts Cornerback room:
Kenny Moore, Pierre Desir
Quincy Wilson, Nate Hairston
Lenzy Pipkins, Chris Milton
No joke – they will start player(s) who many teams would cut
— Mike Clay (@MikeClayNFL) August 28, 2018
If you don’t recognize a single name in that tweet, I don’t blame you. This makes Andy Dalton and AJ Green a very intriguing GPP stack. After playing all 16 games last season, Green recorded 143 targets (highest mark since 2013), 75 catches (highest mark since 2015) and 8 touchdowns (highest mark since 2015). The downside was the fact that he was the only threat on offense. With Tyler Eifert back, John Ross developing and a run game featuring Joe Mixon, that should expectedly change this season. Look for the Bengals to get off on the right foot against a cupcake defense in week 1 as they bring GPP-winning upside to the table.
Tennessee Titans @ Miami Dolphins
After receiving virtually no action in the first half of 2017 (19 total carries), Kenyan Drake was able to finish the season with 644 rushing yards and 239 receiving yards, averaging 4.8 YPC. Following the Jay Ajayi trade, Drake saw roughly 17 touches per game, a number he should be able to maintain throughout this season. The addition of Frank Gore might cap his touchdown potential, but with Gore unable to average more than 4 yards per carry last season, he shouldn’t knock Drake’s workload too much. His week 1 matchup with the Titans is far from ideal (only allowed 3.6 YPC and 88.8 rushing yards per game last season), but if Miami is going to move the ball at all, it’s going to be because of Drake. He makes for a fine GPP play that should come with little to no ownership.
San Francisco 49ers @ Minnesota Vikings
While the 49ers offense has been on the steady rise over the last half season, the loss of Jerick McKinnon will leave a large hole in a pivotal part of their offense. It also came on the heels of a matchup with a top-tier defense in the Vikings. The led the league in yards allowed per game last season (275.9) and also only allowed a 25% conversion rate on 3rd downs. They added George Iloka to their secondary, looking to build on their 28 total interceptions over the last two season. While Jimmy G has looked impressive since joining the 49ers, the Vikings secondary should be able to shut down the passing attack and the loss of the dynamic RB in McKinnon should only ease the assignment of the defensive line, making the Vikings an intriguing D/ST to use this week.
Houston Texans @ New England Patriots
Well on his way to a Rookie of the Year award through the first 7 weeks of the 2017 season, DeShaun Watson‘s season was cut short due to a torn ACL. Even with a shortened season, he was able to amass 21 total touchdowns and average 243 passing yards per game in those 7 weeks and this success was seen throughout the entire offense; specifically DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller, shown below:
*per-game averages with Watson as QB in 2017:
Hopkins: 10.8 targets / 6.4 catches / 86.6 yards / 1 TD / 17.9 FDP
Fuller: 5.5 targets / 3.75 catches / 69.75 yards / 1.75 TD / 19.3 FDP
With Watson healthy and ready to go for Week 1 against the Pats (an expected shootout), all three of these players make for phenomenal options this week. Watson is viable in all formats as is Hopkins, will Fuller may be best used in GPPs given his reliance on big plays.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints
This game may get very out of hand, very fast. Last season, the Bucs gave up the most yards per game in the entire NFL (378.1) and specifically, the 10th most rushing yards per game (117.5) and the 3rd most rushing touchdowns (17). That’s an average of a rushing touchdown every, single, game. With Mark Ingram suspended, this makes Alvin Kamara arguably the top play of the entire slate. He posted 1,554 all purpose yards last season and 13 total touchdowns WITH Mark Ingram in the fold. Against the Bucs specifically, he averaged 5.9 yards per carry and 14 yards per reception last season. While much of the attention may be on Ezekiel Elliott and Le’Veon Bell, Kamara may be the perfect pivot.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ New York Giants
Tight Ends against the Giants; get used to hearing it. In 2017, the Giants allowed 13 touchdowns to the TE position along with 965 total yards. On average, that’s 60 yards and 0.81 TDs per game. For a position that’s so thin, those are great numbers to chase in DFS. 25-year old TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins had reportedly developed into one of Blake Bortles favorite targets throughout camp and with Marqise Lee out for the season, his ceiling only goes up. He comes in at $4,600 on FanDuel in the best matchup a TE can possibly get. Look for him to carry heavy ownership alongside his immense upside.
Buffalo Bills @ Baltimore Ravens
After receiving almost no action in the preseason, it is assumed that Ravens RB Alex Collins will be the workhorse back this season with Buck Allen taking over on passing downs. While not a household name, Collins posted 973 rushing yards while not taking over as the full-time starter until Week 5. On top of that, he also rushed for 6 touchdowns. He comes into week 1 with a chip on his shoulder, recently saying “Draft me now before it’s too late, guys” when referring to his RB26 ranking according to NFL.com. The Bills allowed the 4th most rushing yards per game last season (124.6) and the most rushing TDs in the entire league (22). For a salary of $6,700 on FanDuel, you may not find a better value at the position this week.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Los Angeles Chargers
Once a menacing opponent, the Chiefs secondary was miserable last season, allowing the fourth most passing yards in the NFL. Ron Parker was released this offseason and on top of that, Marcus Peters was traded to the Rams. That’s not good when your week 1 matchup is an offense that averaged the most passing yards in the entire NFL last season. Both Philip Rivers and Keenan Allen come in with some of the highest ceilings on the slate, as Rivers could chuck it 50 times and Keenan Allen can soak up anywhere from 10-15 targets, or more. The floor and ceiling combo these two provide make them some of the best options in all formats.
Seattle Seahawks @ Denver Broncos
After finishing as the top overall D/ST unit in 2015, the Broncos have seen a steady decline in defensive production since, finishing 3rd in 2016 and 13th in 2017 in defensive fantasy points. While the offseason loss of Aqib Talib may hurt, they still have Von Miller, Brandon Marshall, and recently drafted Bradley Chubb. These three alongside defensive back Chris Harris and Bradley Roby should be able to propel them to a bounce-back 2018 and it could start week 1 against the Seahawks.
While many may be hesitant to pick on Seattle based on years passed, this is a great spot to go against the grain. Big play threat Paul Richardson departed for Washington while red-zone monster Jimmy Graham signed with the Packers. OC Brian Schottenheimer has been open about maximizing the run game this season, but is that much of a threat? Last season, the offensive line struggled, as the Seahawks posted the 12th lowest YPC for RBs (4.0) and the least amount of rushing touchdowns in the entire league (4). Rookie Rashad Penny has also struggled with pass protection throughout his stint at San Diego State. The Broncos D/ST has a very strong shot at overwhelming this line and disrupting both the pass and run game this week.
Washington Redskins @ Arizona Cardinals
After dislocating his wrist in Week 1 last season and eventually sitting out for the remainder of the year, it seems like too many are writing David Johnson off. He hurt his wrist, not his ankle, not his knee. His wrist. By no means am I minimizing his injury, but when it comes to affecting his gameplay, I frankly don’t expect it to. He posted over 2,000 all-purpose yards in 2016 with 20 (TWENTY!) total touchdowns. You cannot write that off. He comes into a week 1 tilt with a Redskins defense that allowed the most rushing yards per game last season (134.1) and 14 rushes of 20 yards or more. He comes in as one of the top plays of the week and should have rather suppressed ownership.
Dallas Cowboys @ Carolina Panthers
While it may not actually happen, Panthers Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner said it is realistic to believe that Christian McCaffrey could see 25-30 touches per game this season. This report came a week after Head Coach Ron Rivera said the same thing. If one thing is evident, it’s that they want CMC to be a workhorse. While the Cowboys front 7 is healthy now with Sean Lee back in the fold, the sheer volume makes McCaffrey a nice GPP target. The addition of CJ Anderson has led some people (initially myself included) away assuming he would get the red zone looks, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. He’s been receiving red zone carries all preseason ahead of Anderson and looks poised for an every down role. The matchup is not ideal, but on a site like DraftKings where receptions carry more weight, he’s a phenomenal play.
Chicago Bears @ Green Bay Packers
The best quarterback of all time is back, no, not Uncle Rico. Aaron Rodgers. He also returns to the field with arguably his favorite matchup, the Chicago Bears. In his 19 career games against Chicago, he has amassed 15 wins and thrown 42 touchdowns with only 9 interceptions. The task may get a bit more difficult with the recent addition of Khalil Mack to the Bears, but the addition of Jimmy Graham gives Rodgers one more red-zone threat to work with. He, along with Davante Adams, will likely draw the attention from the Bears D, leaving a large window of opportunity for Geronimo Allison. His speed and size allow him to break presses and also make him a phenomenal red zone threat. Starting opposite of Adams, don’t be afraid to punt with Allison on the primetime slate.
New York Jets @ Detroit Lions
If you had to name the top 10 scoring WRs last season, would you have said Marvin Jones Jr.? I wouldn’t have either, but he’s one of them. He led the entire NFL in yards-per-catch (18.0) and topped 1,000 receiving yards for the first time in his career. With the uncertainty in the backfield, the Lions are a sure-fire bet to throw 40+ times per game, making last season extremely repeatable. Last season, the Jets allowed the second-most passing TDs in the league (30) and the 2nd most catches of 20+ yards (61), catering right to Jones’ strengths.
Los Angeles Rams @ Oakland Raiders
Short-term, there may not be anyone happier (aside from Bears fans) about the Khalil Mack trade than Todd Gurley. With Mack last season, the Raiders were a middling run defense, ranking in the middle-half of the league in TD allowed, rushing yards per game, and yards per carry. Those numbers are all expected to get worse with Mack’s departure. Not only does this aspect help Gurley, but the fact that the Rams are likely going to be the heavy favorites here means garbage time production. Look for the Rams to have complete and total control of this game from start to finish, with Gurley being the expected key cog.
Thank you for reading all 2,500 words of my NFL Quick Hits! Find me on Twitter (@JMetz34) and shoot me any questions you may have. Good luck!