Week one of the fantasy football season is FINALLY upon us! I’m thrilled to be providing you with the NFL Cheat Sheet each and every week this season, as it’s one of my favorite articles to write. As always, you can get me on the ol’ Twitter machine @SBuchanan24.
Highest Scoring Game
Oakland Raiders vs. New Orleans Saints
Projected Point Total: 51 points
The Oakland Raiders visit the New Orleans Saints as one of the early games on Sunday. 2015 was full of “target against the Saints” narratives last season and I don’t expect that to change this year. In case you need a refresher, the Saints allowed 45 passing touchdowns (1st in the league) on 4,755 yards (2nd in the league) with a 66% completion rate. Before you even ask, no, they didn’t do much to upgrade in the offseason. With a talented group all around, the Raiders hope to capitalize on a Saints defense that was almost dead last in every defensive category last season. The Saints were last in points allowed (29.8 PPG) and 31st in total yardage (413.4 YPG), rushing yards (129.4 PG) and passing (284 PG.) With Derek Carr ready for a great season, he could most certainly get off on the right foot, with the Raiders owning 26 implied points.
Lowest Scoring Game
Minnesota Vikings vs. Tennessee Titans
Projected Point Total: 41 points
I wasn’t surprised to see this game check in as the lowest projected point total of the week. The Titans are tabbed for 19.5 points while the Vikings have 21.5. The big story coming into this one is newly acquired quarterback Sam Bradford joining the Vikings after Teddy Bridgewater endured a season ending injury with a torn ACL and dislocated knee. As I write this Tuesday morning, an official decision hasn’t been made on who will start under center, although the consensus seems to be Shaun Hill at the moment.
The Titans look vastly different from last season, as 22 of the 53 players on their active roster were not with them in 2015. Offensively, their biggest upgrade was DeMarco Murray, although he already has Derrick Henry seemingly breathing down his neck for carries. All in all, this game doesn’t exactly excite me in terms of DFS play, and as usual, I’m steering clear of the game with the lowest projected point total of the week.
(All rankings are based off of 2015 stats)
Worst QB Matchups
1. Carolina Panthers vs. Denver Broncos – Remember how good this Broncos defense was last season? With the core of this defense returning in 2016, it could be more of the same. The Broncos only allowed 19 passing touchdowns with 14 interceptions on a 60% completion rate.
2. Miami Dolphins vs. Seattle Seahawks – The Seahawks did a fantastic job at suffocating the QB positon last season, allowing just 14 passing touchdowns which was the lowest in the league. On top of that, they nabbed 14 interceptions while holding teams to a 60% completion rate.
3. New York Jets vs. Cincinnati Bengals – The Bengals will be without Vontaze Burfict for the first three games, so they hope to not lose out on too much with their new acquisition in Karlos Dansby. Last season, the Bengals held opposing quarterbacks to 18 passing touchdowns while intercepting 21. Of the top three defenses, the Bengals allowed the highest completion rate at 64% on 646 targets.
Best QB Matchups
1. Oakland Raiders vs. New Orleans Saints – We all know the story here from last season, as the Saints were one of the favorite defenses to pick on. Last season, they allowed 45 passing touchdowns, which lead the league by nine. The Saints allowed a 60% completion rate on 650 targets.
2. Cleveland Browns vs. Philadelphia Eagles – This Eagles defense is full of “let’s hopes” and “if they return to form” coming into this season. Allowing the second most passing touchdowns at 36, the Eagles did manage to grab 15 interceptions on the season. Opposing quarterbacks completed 62% of their 632 targets.
3. Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants – The Giants made some major upgrades to their defense over the off-season, so we may not see them on this list much longer. They added Olivier Vernon, who will provide their biggest boost, averaging 7.5 sacks in his four-year career thus far. In 2015, the Giants allowed 31 passing touchdowns while grabbing 15 interceptions on a 66% completion rate.
Worst RB Matchups
1. Miami Dolphins vs. Seattle Seahawks – The Seahawks have been in the top three for toughest defense against the run frequently, and last season they were ranked number one. The Seahawks allowed only five rushing touchdowns on an average of 3.5 YPC.
2. Cincinnati Bengals vs. New York Jets – Only two rushing touchdowns were recorded against this Jets defense last season. Unfortunately for the rest of the league, the majority of their core, minus Damon Harrison, will be returning in 2016. Aside from the touchdowns, the Jets held opposing running backs to just 3.3 YPC.
3. Washington Redskins vs. Pittsburgh Steelers – The Steelers were fantastic against the run last season, which was lost a bit in the shuffle when compared to their pass “defense.” The Steelers allowed just four rushing touchdowns on the season while holding opposing running backs to 3.8 YPC.
Best RB Matchups
1. Seattle Seahawks vs. Miami Dolphins – Another defense that most certainly has the potential, but didn’t live up to the hype as many had hoped last season. The Dolphins allowed 13 rushing touchdowns last season while allowing an average of 4.1 YPC on 450 attempts.
2. Los Angeles Rams vs. San Francisco 49ers – With the loss of Ian Williams, the 49ers could be facing yet another year of poor run defense. Last season, a league leading 18 rushing touchdowns were allowed with an average of 4.1 YPC.
3. Oakland Raiders vs. New Orleans Saints – Ah yes, another blurb about the Saints defense. 10 rushing touchdowns were had last season on an average of five YPC.
Worst WR Matchups
1. Carolina Panthers vs. Denver Broncos – So many weapons on this Broncos defense, it’s hard not to think they’ll be back to their dominant ways in 2016. Giving wide outs all sorts of trouble last season, the Broncos allowed just seven touchdowns on 284 targets with a 58% completion rate.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Atlanta Falcons – I don’t think enough credit was given about how good the Falcons were against opposing wide receivers last season. Tied with the Broncos with only seven touchdowns allowed, only 58% of the 267 targets (the lowest attempts in the league) were completed.
3. Miami Dolphins vs. Seattle Seahawks – The Seahawks allowed the least amount of touchdowns to wide receivers last season with six. Along with the Falcons and Broncos, they were the only three teams to allow less than 10 TDs on the season. The Seahawks allowed just 56% of the 301 targets to be completed.
Best WR Matchups
1. Philadelphia Eagles vs. Cleveland Browns – The Browns are hoping their draft is the answer to this horrific defense last year, as it ranked as the worst against opposing wide receivers. 22 touchdowns were allowed last year with a 60% completion rate on 329 targets.
2. Washington Redskins vs. Pittsburgh Steelers – As I mentioned earlier, the Steelers were great against the run, but not so much in the air. With 19 touchdowns allowed, the Steelers saw 64% of the 368 targets completed.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Washington Redskins – The Redskins are coming off a season that saw them allow 23 touchdowns with a 58% completion rate on 317 targets.
Worst TE Matchups
1. San Diego Chargers vs. Kansas City Chiefs – Tight End matchups are such a fickle beast in my opinion. The Chiefs were number one in this spot last season allowing three touchdowns with a 54% completion rate on 121 targets.
2. Cincinnati Bengals vs. New York Jets – The Jets check in at number two in these matchups, allowing just two touchdowns with a 63% completion rate on 108 targets.
3. Buffalo Bills vs. Baltimore Ravens – The Ravens allowed only three touchdowns to opposing tight ends last season with 68 of the 104 targets being completed for a 65% completion rate.
Best TE Matchups
1. Oakland Raiders vs. New Orleans Saints – Last time we have to speak of this Saints defense from last season (at least for this week). The Saints allowed 11 touchdowns with an absurd 75% completion rate on 128 targets.
2. Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants – The Giants saw nine touchdowns go to opposing tight ends with a 72% completion rate on 139 targets.
3. New Orleans Saints vs. Oakland Raiders – The Raiders were tied with the Detroit Lions for the league lead in touchdowns to opposing tight ends last season with 12. All that damage was done on a 60% completion rate on 133 targets.
Lineup Quick Hits
QB To Build Lineups Around…
Derek Carr ($7,300) – It’s only Week 1, so I’ll admit, I’m playing it a bit safe here. As I showcased earlier, this is the highest projected point total of the week, so we can obviously expect a lot of offense in this one. Also, the Saints defense was poor last season (I doubt you needed that reminder). At just $7,300, Carr not only brings some nice value in week one, but I fully think he’s capable of returning value and then some. As a reminder, the Saints allowed the most passing touchdowns in the league last season with 45, which led the league by nine.
WR To Pair Him With…
Amari Cooper ($7,200) – Cooper is quite expensive here in Week 1, but his matchup most certainly justifies it. Coming off a 2015 season that saw him average 14.3 FPPG on 72 receptions with six touchdowns certainly shows that he has a bright future ahead of him with the suddenly scary looking Raiders. In this matchup, Cooper should find plenty of opportunities and will be a fine Week 1 play in my opinion.
The Top RB Will Be…
Spencer Ware ($4,400) – Do I think Ware can be the top scoring running back of the week? I’m not exactly sure about that, but I don’t think you will find better value on this slate. Priced as an RB2, Ware is not only going to grab the majority of touches, he’ll be on goal-line duty as well. If that doesn’t entice you enough, he’ll be taking on the San Diego defense. The Chargers were the ranked 29th in run defense last season, allowing 14 rushing TDs while allowing an average of 4.9 YPC. In three games where Ware had at least 10 rushes last season, he averaged 6.2 YPC with four touchdowns.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is Steveazors) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.