Ladies and gentlemen, the time has finally arrived. After what seems like one of the longest off seasons in recent memory, we’re on the cusp of kicking off another season of football. I’m extremely excited to be heading the Cheat Sheets for NFL this season, so here we’re going to help you prepare for the upcoming week. Make sure to check this on a weekly basis, as we’ll be adding additional sections as the season progress and stats start to become defined for this season. For this week, we’ll mostly be focusing on stats from last year with some insight on what to expect for this season. I’m truly so excited to for this, so lets jump right into it. As always, you can get me on the ol’ Twitter machine @SBuchanan24.
The Vegas Lines
Highest Scoring Games
Below are the three highest scoring projected games and individual teams based on Vegas Lines.
1) Philadelphia Eagles @ Atlanta Falcons
Over/Under: 55.5 Points
Line: Philadelphia (-3)
Who likes offense!? This Week 1 game is sure to provide PLENTY of fireworks. At a projected combined total of 55.5 points, this game checks in as the highest scoring total of the week. The Eagles were one of the most talked about team during the season and why not? They basically replaced their entire roster! Well, OK, maybe that’s a slight lie, but they have an entire new core to take the helm in 2015. The biggest eye popping factor that jumps out with me is the Murray/Matthews dynamic. Obviously Murray is going to be the number one RB, but with Matthews behind him, I fully expect these two to be sharing a lot of touches this season. Coming off a year where Murray led the NFL in rushing, I can completely see Chip Kelly managing the load on Murray and getting the use out of his new star RB.
With Bradford looking like a brilliant move during the preseason and the addition of their star RB, the Falcons could be in trouble, as they let up the 12th most RuYd/Gm at 118.1. However, with Atlanta, this team is built to score points and score points they will. The Eagles allowed the most passing yards to the quarterback position with 4595 PaYd and a 58% completion rate.
Let’s also not forget, that the team who allowed the second most passing yards just so happened to be the Falcons. Remember that time I asked if you liked offense? The Falcons gave up 4568 PaYd, just 27 yards shy of matching the Eagles. In this game, I’ll be targeting the Falcons wide receivers. I think for the time being, I’ll be off the Eagles RB situation, just until I can get a feel for how the workload will be distributed.
2) N.Y. Giants @ Dallas Cowboys
Over/Under: 51.5 Points
Line: Dallas (-6)
The new look Cowboys (and not in a good way) set to take on the….the….uhhhh…Odell Beckham show, featuring the New York Giants! Coming in with a projected combined score of 51.5, this Sunday night game will be wrapping up a sure exciting day of football. So let’s start off with the Cowboys, as they most likely had the biggest loss of the offseason with DeMarco Murray no longer with the team. They didn’t exactly replace him with anyone menacing and that should put more pressure on Tony Romo and the passing game. Advantage: Dez Bryant. I think it’s fair to say the Cowboys receiving core was completely overshadowed by Murray, as they honestly have a good core that can get the job done. Romo completed 304 passes on 435 attempts last season for a 69% completion rate with 34 touchdown passes, which was the second highest of his career.
It will be interesting to see how Romo fares against the Giants defense, as they were fairly difficult to throw on last season. They ranked 21st against WR allowing only 14 touchdowns on the season. As for the Giants, other than Beckham, we don’t really have any one that can stand out as a big factor for them, but they have a solid team of receivers that CAN produce. Eli Manning had a solid season with a 30-14 touchdown to interception rate while throwing for over 4,000 yard, the fourth time in his career. The focus will clearly be on Beckham in this one, which make me think Larry Donnell could be a sneaky play in week one. The Cowboys allowed 10 touchdowns to TE last season, which I think makes Donnell a prime person to target if Beckham has issues finding openings in week one. The game might not have the most exciting matchup, but it will certainly be one that can help score you some points. I would be taking a good look at this one.
3) Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears
Over/Under: 50 Points
Line: Green Bay (-6.5)
Has anyone been in the headlines more than the Packers? It’s not for a good reason either. In a game projected at 50 points, let’s at least start off with who’s healthy coming into week one. Eddie Lacy, who seemed to be completely off the grid in the beginning of the season, looked like his old self in the end. His per-carry average went up to 4.6 from 4.1 last season will rushing for 13 touchdowns. Add on the fact that he was also effective as a pass catcher, with 170 receiving yard and four touchdowns, and he sounds like he could be one of the all around focal points of the Packers offense to kick off the week. With injuries to Jordy Nelson, the whole dynamic of the offense is seemingly changing. Throw Randall Cobb in the mix, who should assume the number one WR position, and maybe the Packers won’t be missing Nelson that much after all. OK, who am I kidding, yes they will. Even without Nelson, Aaron Rodgers should be in line for a solid game, with the Bears getting destroyed by quarterbacks last season. Those Bears allowed 34 touchdowns last season with the third amount of yards at 4458. That alone, would warrant a high score. Rodgers might have a bit of chip on his shoulder too with Nelson out for the season, so a determined Rodgers is someone I wouldn’t bet against. Unless you like losing.
As for the Bears, well, at least they still have their core players. It will be interesting to see what approach they take this season with John Fox and Adam Gase at the helm. The Bears truly have a good offense, it just a matter of how Jay Cutler can handle it. Leading the league in turnovers last year, Cutler has two players that will certainly have some to prove with Matt Forte and Alshon Jeffery. What exactly do they have to prove? How does contract year sound to you? The Packers DID let up the second most touchdowns to wide receivers last season with 22. Honestly, I’m extremely interested to see how Cutler performs this season, as he could honestly be a sneaky week one play. If Gase and Fox can right the ship, Cutler could be due for a big season.
Lowest Scoring Games
Below are the two lowest scoring projected games and individual teams based on Vegas Lines.
1) Cleveland Browns @ New York Jets
Over/Under: 40 Points
Line: NY Jets (-3)
No surprise here that this is the lowest projected scoring game, with the total points coming in at 40. The Jets project to be one of the best defenses in the league this season. They already had a tough defense to begin with last season, but add Leonard Williams and Derrell Revis in the mix and now were really talking. It will not be easy for the Browns, or quite frankly, any team this season. To make matters worse, the Browns are honestly just a mess this season. They lost Jordan Cameron to Miami, who was by far their top best option (when he was healthy.) His replacements, Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline, are both coming off their worst seasons. Now, can we really blame Bowe for his season? I mean, how bad were the Chiefs wide receivers? So I guess we could say this could be a resurgence for Bowe…..maybe? The only chance the Browns have this season comes with their running back game, but even that will have some issues with the Jets in this one.
Honestly, I don’t see a lot of appeal in this game. This could be a great game to target for defenses, since this game is projected to be such a low scoring game. Even with the Browns defense running in the middle of the road last season, the Jets have too many question marks to really solidify themselves as a good offense this year. The Jets defense, in my opinion, have to be one of the top ones to target for week one.
2) Kansas City Chiefs @ Houston Texans
Over/Under: 40.5 Points
Line: Houston (-1)
The Houston Texans really revamped their defense to go along with JJ Watt this season. With Vince Wilfork and Rahim Moore this season, the Texans are going to be a damn tough team to go against. The Chiefs were the butt of all jokes last season, as their wide receiver core was, well, lackluster to say the least. Not one wide receiver got a touchdown last season, which is honestly mind boggling when you think about it. I mean, how is that even possible?! Well, it is possible. The Chiefs “loaded” back up with Jeremy Maclin on the team now, which instantly shoots him up as the number one receiver on the team. Obviously the appeal with the Chiefs has got to be Jamaal Charles. However, I don’t know how enticing this matchup will be for him, as the Texans only allowed six rushing touchdowns on the season. That was even before the upgrades they made for this season. Again, I think this is a game to stay away from, with the exception of looking at the Houston defense.
Defense vs. Position Matchup Breakdown
Best DvP Matchups – Quarterbacks
1) Seattle Seahawks vs. St. Louis Rams – Unless you live under a rock, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the Seahawks and the Legion of Boom were the top defense against quarterbacks. This dynamic defense allowed a league low 199 passing yards per game, which is going to be a tall task to face for the Rams newest quarter back Nick Foles. The Seahawks will remain one of the elite fantasy options again in 2015.
2) Buffalo Bills vs. Indianapolis Colts – Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like the Bills don’t get enough respect when it comes to defense. Last season, they allowed a league-low 16 passing touchdowns on the season. With Rex Ryan at the helm this season, the Bills will continue to build upon their league leading 54 sacks on the season. It also doesn’t hurt that they had 19 interceptions on the season last year.
3) Cincinnati Bengals vs. Oakland Raiders – The Raiders drew a tough matchup against the Bengals in week one. Hey, at least they can pick up where they left off last season. Allowing only 18 passing touchdowns last season, the Bengals were still one of the top defenses last season, even with a tough schedule last season. If anything, at least they’ll look elite against Oakland regardless.
Worst DvP Matchups – Quarterbacks
1)Washington Redskins vs. Miami Dolphins – Ryan Tannehill, will this be the season!? He has an awfully key matchup in week one to at least get the chatter going. The Redskins were an atrocious mess when it came to quarterbacks last season. Allowing 264 yards to opposing quarterbacks last season, you honestly thought you were watching a high school defense going up against NFL quarterbacks. This looks to be another long season for the Redskins, as we’ll get to watch the Tannehill show in week one.
2) Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers – Oh goodness, the poor Bears. This honestly could be a laughable one. The Bears were right behind the Redskins when it came to “defense” against quarterbacks. Allowing an astonishing 34 touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks, Rodgers is primed to pick these defense apart. It also didn’t help much that the Bears allowed 284 yards per game. Sheesh.
3) Philadelphia Eagles vs. Atlanta Falcons – I’m sure the Eagles defense against quarterbacks has NOTHING to do with this game being one of the highest projected scores of the week. The Eagles, for as good as they can be offensively, does a complete 180 when it came to defense against quarterbacks last season. Allowing a league worse 287 yards per game to quarterbacks, this coms as a huge reason Matt Ryan is being heavily looked upon by us fantasy players for week one.
Best DvP Matchups – Running Backs
1) Baltimore Ravens vs. Denver Broncos – This one could be a true battle in week one. We have the best defense against the run last season with the Ravens taking on C.J. Anderson. The Ravens were an unstoppable force when it came to running backs, as they only allowed 71.8 rushing yards and five touchdowns on the season. Even with a tough schedule this season against some of the top running backs in the game, look for the Ravens to be one of the top in the league.
2) Detroit Lions vs. San Diego Chargers – The Chargers may have lost Ryan Matthews to the Eagles, but they happily found a replacement for him with the explosive Melvin Gordon. Gordon will be able to show what he’s made of this season against a different looking Lions defense. With the loss of Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, a pair that helped lead the Lions with a 61.1 yards per game stat, this number is certainly poised to jump up this season. They may have been one of the best last season, but I think that’s poised to change in 2015.
3) Seattle Seahawks vs. St. Louis Rams – Oh weird, the Seahawks showing up once again. I never expected this. As if the Seahawks just weren’t tough enough against the quarterback, they have to make life difficult against the RB as well. On the season last year, the Seahawks only allowed 70.8 yards per game to running backs with eight touchdowns.
Worst DvP Matchups – Running Backs
1) Oakland Raiders vs. Cincinnati Bengals – Sorry Oakland fans, looks like you’re in for another long season. Luckily for the rest of us, we’ll reap the benefits. The Radiers allowed 107 rushing yards per game with an abysmal 15 touchdowns. To throw salt in the wounds, they also allowed five receptions per game to go with seven receiving touchdowns. To say that 2015 should be more of the same would be an understatement.
2) Tennessee Titans vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 2014 brought us a whole new meaning to “Remember the Titans.” As in, remember the season where they were completely destroyed by opposing players running backs. They allowed a league leading 125 yards per game with 17 touchdowns. I mean, you can’t get much worse than that.
3) Atlanta Falcons vs. Philadelphia Eagles – Remember that time this was the highest projected scoring game of the week? Yeah, I’m just trying to instill that into your head. How am I doing? Giving up 19 rushing touchdowns on the year, they desperately needed a change for this season. Enter Dan Quinn. Quinn should certainly provide an upgrade for the Falcons, but for the time being, running backs against this team should still be a sure thing.
Best DvP Matchups – Wide Receivers
1) Seattle Seahawks vs. St. Louis Rams – Are you getting sick of hearing about how good the Seattle defense is yet? Should I remind you about the Eagles and Falcons being one of the highest projected scoring totals of the week? Sorry. The Seahawks held opposing receivers to just 10 receptions per game last season at just 116 yards. Again, when it comes to Nick Foles making his Rams debut, I think I’ll be staying far far away from this one.
2) Denver Broncos vs. Baltimore Ravens – So for this one, we have one of the best defenses against running backs, the Ravens, against one of the best against wide receivers in 2014, the Broncos. With Aqib Talib and T.J Ward returning to the Broncos this season, we should expect more of the same from this core. The Broncos only allowed 14 touchdowns to wide receivers this season on 13 receptions per game. Talib and Ward ae some of the best in the game, as long as they stay on the field.
3) Cincinnati Bengals vs. Oakland Raiders – It just keeps getting worse and worse for the Raiders, doesn’t it? The Bengals only allowed 11 receiving touchdowns on the season to go with 13 receptions and 145 yards per game. With the Raiders looking like, well, the Raiders, we should see some good performances from the Bengals in week one.
Worst DvP Matchups – Wide Receivers
1) Philadelphia Eagles vs. Atlanta Falcons – I won’t even say it. I won’t! The Eagles were atrocious when it came to “defending” against wide receivers in 2014. They were allowing 13 receptions and 196 yards per game. Think about that for a second. Let me know when you’re ready. Perfect. That week one matchup against Matt Ryan and Julio Jones looks awfully appealing.
2) Washington Redskins vs. Miami Dolphins – If you’re going to struggle against the quarterback, you’ll most certainly struggle against the wide receivers as well. The Redskins allowed 23 touchdowns on the year to wide receivers and 176 yards per game. Hey, at least it wasn’t as bad as the Eagles when it comes to their yards per game. As I mentioned earlier, this will be a great game for Ryan Tanehill to show what he’s made of in 2015.
3) Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Tennessee Titans – If you enjoy winning money, the Tampa Bay Bucs will be a great team to target with opposing wide receivers. Like most of their season, it was met with a lot of disappointment. On the season last year, the Bucs allowed 13 receptions per game for 172 yards. I mean c’mon Mariota, if this was going to be your time to shine, the Bucs in week one is where you want to be.
Best DvP Matchups – Tight Ends
1) Buffalo Bills vs. Indianapolis Colts – I mean, if you don’t have Rob Gronkowski, who do you really have? Regardless, the Bills were one of the best teams when facing TE last season. They only allowed a measly two touchdowns on the season to them with 555 receiving yards.
2) Houston Texans vs. Kansas City Chiefs – Well, at least the Chiefs can feel like they have some sort of chance with Travis Kelce at the helm for TE. Quite frankly, they don’t really stand much of a chance otherwise. The Texans were fantastic against TE last season, even before all the upgrades they made this offseason. The Texas only allowed four touchdown on the season to TE with 621 yards on the season.
3) St. Louis Rams vs. Seattle Seahawks -Hey! How about this! The Rams are in the positive section of this article for the first time today! I’m proud. The Rams were at least good against TE last season, allowing only two touchdowns on the season.
Worst DvP Matchups – Tight Ends
1) Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers – The Bears. The team TE loved to feast on last season. The Bears allowed the second most touchdowns to opposing TE with 13 on the year. Mix that in with the 905 yards receiving anddddd there you have it. Luckily for the Bears, I don’t see Richards Rodgers getting a lot of looks in week one. But then again, maybe we will. Good analysis, right?
2) New York Jets vs. Cleveland Browns – I have funny feeling this won’t be half as bad as it was last season. Call it a hunch, or call it obvious. Either way, the Jets were brutal against TE last season, allowing 14 touchdowns to them on the season with 798 receiving yards. However, with a retooled defense and the Browns running out Rob Housler this season, I wouldn’t worry about that too much in week one.
3) Washington Redskins vs. Miami Dolphins -Are you getting sick of hearing just how bad the Redskins were last season. Well, they were one of the worst against TE, or one of the worst against everybody. On the season last year, the Redskins allowed 11 touchdowns to TE with 1085 receiving yards. The Redskins could be in real trouble in week one, with Jordan Cameron now with Miami.
Lineup Quick Hits
One Quarterback You Should Build Lineups Around…
Matt Ryan vs. Philadelphia Eagles($7500) – This would honestly be a tough matchup to pass up. It slated as the top scoring affair of the week and for good reason. As you’ve seen throughout this article, the Eagles are, and will continue to be, one of the worst defenses against wide receivers. This sounds like a cake matchup for Julio Jones and Roddy White. The price point for Ryan makes him even more attractive, at just $7500. The Falcons running game, I anticipate to be a shaky one, at least to start, which makes the chances of Ryan slinging the ball the majority of the game a reality. Ryan seems like an extremely safe play in cash games, where as I see him to be highly owned in tournaments. But again, at least at quarterback, I’m looking to go safe at this position and take my chances on some prime matchups at WR and RB. Ryan will be my guy for week one.
And the Wide Receiver You Should Pair Him With…
Julio Jones vs. Philadelphia Eagles ($9300) – Jones is the most expensive wide receiver to kick off the NFL week one at $9300. For good reason of course. Jones is coming off a season that saw him catch 103 passes for 1593 yards and a nice 106.2 yards per game. That 100+ yards is always nice to grab, since we get some bonus points on DraftKings for a 100+ receiving yard game. The Eagles gave up the most yards to wide receivers last season and this year certainly won’t be an exception. Jones and Ryan will be a killer pair this season (as long as everyone is healthy) and they should be able to start week one off with a bang.
The Highest Scoring Running Back This Week Will Be…
Eddie Lacy vs. Chicago Bears ($7500) -I like Lacy a lot in this matchup because I truly think this game could be such a high scoring affair, which could really up the touches for Lacy. Add in the fact that he’s great as a receiver as well and Jordy Nelson on the side lines and we could have a fantastic all around game for Lacy. At $7500, Lacy is the sixth most expensive RB on the week, with such a good matchup ahead with the Bears. The Bears are going to continue to struggle on defense and on a game that is certainly going to run up in points, Lacy is going to be a huge part of this game.