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The Script to Fantasy Success – Week 1- Sunday

@CoachStevenP breaks down the game script for the Sunday slate to help you with your Week 1 lineup decisions.

Carolina Panthers vs. Atlanta Falcons

Details of the Script

  • Sunday – 1:00 pm @ Mercedes-Benz Stadium
  • Weather – Indoors 🙂
  • What Vegas is saying – Line (ATL -3.5) & Over/Under 39.5

Identifying the Game Script 

Our first division rival script is between the Panthers and the Falcons. Over the last four games, these teams averaged 48.25 combined points in games. Whenever these teams play in Atlanta, the score seems to be higher than when they play in Carolina. Indoor games do make some solid outings since weather is not involved. I expect a run-heavy game for both teams with inexperienced young quarterbacks starting. The passing game is questionable for both sides due to the quarterback’s play. While the average has been high, I expect this to be a low-scoring outing.

Quarterbacks

Desmond Ridder is being trusted to lead this Falcons team in 2023. While Ridder didn’t get a chance to play the Panthers last year, his four starts were nothing to be impressed with. The Panthers have a new defensive coordinator who should help out a young secondary to make it hard for Ridder. Ridder is a tough sell to start as a QB2 in Superflex leagues until he shows he can be productive. The Panthers were one of the better teams vs. mobile quarterbacks.

On the other side of the offense, first-overall pick Bryce Young is also making his debut for the Panthers. While the Falcons added some underrated depth to their defense, they still were one bottom half in stopping quarterback for fantasy. Since 2008, rookie QBs to start week one have averaged 260 passing yards, two touchdowns, and a pick. While Young has some tremendous passing traits, his size is still a concern, and I’m not starting him in many dynasty leagues if I don’t have to in Week 1. 

Running Backs

RSHRSHYDRSHTDTARGRECRECYDRECTD
Tyler Allgeier1439033461
Caleb Huntley169100000
Tyler Allgeier820033-170
Caleb Huntley53200000
ATL running backs in games last year vs. Carolina
Courtesy of Icon Sportswire

Another rookie is making his debut in Bijan Robinson, and you should be starting him in this game. The Panther’s defense lacks talent in the middle of the field outside of Brian Burns. Atlanta continues to make improvements to the offensive line. Robinson should see a 60/40 split in his first game. Tyler Allgeier should also see some work, but it’s uncertain how many touches he gets in the offense as the backup. Last year, the running back duo in Atlanta split 14 to 12 touches per game. Robinson should be the lead back and start with an RB1 week, but Allgeier should not be in a starting lineup yet. 

Eyes will be on Miles Sanders as he may come off as a risky play in week one. Atlanta was decent against the run last year and added a few pierce to that defensive line. Sanders is banged up already, so we are unsure if that will affect his production. He is, at best, a flex option for me in week one with concerns. Chuba Hubbard could see some action specifically as a passing down back but should not be in lineups either.

Pass Catchers

Between Drake London and Kyle Pitts, it will be up to Ridder to do well. The Panthers allowed the fifth most fantasy points to receivers last year. London didn’t play too well last year vs. the Panthers but played better with Ridder on the field. He should be a low-end WR2 from week one. KhaDarel Hodge or Scott Miller, whoever plays the slot, is a sneaky play for week one. Last year, Flacons slot guy Damiere Byrd put up over 100 yards and a touchdown against the Panthers. Pitts is a start because how can you sit him? His upside gives him confidence enough to play him in this matchup. 

The Panthers have a log jam at WR. Adam Thielen looks to be the WR1 on the team. DJ Chark is the field-stretching big-bodied receiver. Jonathan Mingo is an electric young rookie. Last year, only one Panthers’ receiver had over 50 receiving yards against the Falcons, and he is now in Chicago. In week one, it’s hard to tell who will see the targets in the offense. If you need someone to flex in PPR, I go with Thielen in the slot. Chark and Mingo are better to watch and see how their involvement is.

Keep your eyes on the injury report, as Thielen and Chark did not practice on Thursday. This could lead Mingo and Terrace Marshall to step up in the offense. Both would be WR4s at best. Hayden Hurst also has his first game as a Panther and has a fantastic matchup. Falcons allowed the third most fantasy points per game to tight end. Head coach Frank Reich always uses his tight ends well, especially in red zone situations, so Hurst has some sleeper appeal to start the season.  

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Cleveland Browns

Details of the Script

  • Sunday – 1:00 pm @ Cleveland Browns Stadium
  • Weather – Potential Rain Early – Sunshine later in the day
  • What Vegas is saying – Line (CIN -2.5) & Over/Under 47.5

Identifying the Game Script 

Our next game is the Cincinnati Bengals and the Cleveland Browns. This one should be a very good game. Their average total points in the last five games is similar to what Vegas says. The Browns haven’t lost at home to the Bengals since 2018. The last time they played at home, the Browns won in big fashion 32-10. Joe Burrow is returning from the calf injury that knocked him out of training camp. We must watch how he responds to not getting much work in the offseason. The Browns are looking to get competitive again with DeShaun Watson at quarterback. We’ve seen some competitive games, and this one should also be for fantasy.

Quarterback

Joe Burrow should be a start in week one. Even after the injury, everything seems fine, and he’ll be good to go. The Browns were very good vs. fantasy quarterbacks in 2022. Burrow averaged 230 passing yards and two passing touchdowns over the two games vs. Cleveland. I’m leaving him as a QB1 for week one. 

DeShaun Watson is looking to return to his glory days in terms of production for fantasy. The Bengals were in the top four in the fewest fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. Watson had a solid game last time vs. the Bengals with 276 passing yards and a touchdown. He also ran for 33 yards on the ground. Watson is a borderline QB1 since I trust his talent to bounce back in week one. He is a start if you have him. 

Running Backs

Joe Mixon should be a nice high-end RB2 in fantasy. The Browns were bottom ten vs. fantasy running backs last year. Unfortunately, Mixon has his bad game vs. Cleveland on the road. Again, the offensive line improved this offseason, and Mixon doesn’t have competition in the backfield. He should be able to see 18 plus touches in the offense for a week one division matchup. 

Nick Chubb is an RB1 in week one, even in a tougher matchup. The Bengals were top-ten vs. running backs last year. Chubb has the entire backfield to himself basically to start the season. He should be in for 15-plus carries; hopefully, we will see four-plus targets in week one. 

WeeksTargetsWeeksTargets
1451
2466
3771
4485
Nick Chubb’s target share in 2019 pre-Kareem Hunt

Wide Receivers

The Browns were top 10 vs. wide receivers and tight ends in 2022. The Bengals were able to produce still even in a tough matchup. All three of the Bengals’ top receivers had one game that they dominated against the Browns’ secondary. Ja’Marr Chase is a WR1 in this matchup since he dominated the Browns last year; he put up 119 yards and a touchdown. Tee Higgins should be a solid WR2. Higgins is limited with Chase on the field but is good enough to get 12 fantasy points in this matchup. Tyler Boyd is a wild card since the Browns have a solid nickel cornerback. He is likely not worth starting in week one. Irv Smith’s first game as a Bengal isn’t worth trusting in the starting lineup until we see if he gets a decent target share. 

I’m all in on the Browns receiving core for this week. Last year, Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones combined for 360 yards against the Bengals. The Bengals could not stop big plays downfield. Cooper is locked for a high-end WR2 play in week one. He should see the seven-plus targets as the WR1. The next one will be interesting between DPJ and Elijah Moore. DPJ did well as the field stretch receiver against the Bengals. He is a risky flex option. Moore should be in for a game based on the potential he has shown us; he is a better flex option. Cooper is the only one I trust in this matchup for consistent targets. When he played the Bengals with Watson, David Njoku put up 54 yards and a touchdown last time. The Bengals were mediocre vs. tight end in 2022. Njoku should be a low-end TE1 week to start the year. 

Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Indianapolis Colts

Details of the Script

  • Sunday – 1:00 pm @ Lucas Oil Stadium
  • Weather – Indoors 🙂
  • What Vegas is saying – Line (JAX -5.0) & Over/Under 45

Identifying the Game Script 

This divisional game has some interesting stats. Over the last five games, these teams have averaged 40.8 total points. Since 2018, whoever has been the home team between these teams has won the game, which is an interesting stat since the Jaguars are favored. Last year, the game at Indy was a shootout, 27 to 34. We could have a big fantasy day if we get another one like that. Neither defense is elite, so the scoring should be there. Jacksonville is looking to jump into the select group of teams fit to be called contenders for the Super Bowl. We will also see the fantastic Anthony Richardson for his first NFL game.

Quarterback

Courtesy of Icon Sportswire

Trevor Lawrence is great to start week one. He has a good matchup vs. a Colts team that he played well against last year. Adding Calvin Ridley will help Lawrence challenge to reach the elite status of quarterbacks. He doesn’t do well when the Jaguars lose, averaging just one passing touchdown per game. The odds that the home team usually wins could make week one a surprise. Lawrence is good enough to beat those odds and give us QB1 numbers to start the year. 

Rookie Anthony Richardson gets his first start for the Colts. It’s hard to judge how his first game is going to go. The Jaguars were bottom ten vs. quarterback last season. If you plan to start Richardson, you hope he will run the ball more without Jonathan Taylor. If you want a big upside, Richardson is a start because of his rushing ability. Richardson can finish the week as the QB1. 

Running Backs

Travis Etienne looks to be the primary back in the Jaguars’ offense. He looked better when he wasn’t splitting time with James Robinson last year. Etienne should see at least 60% of the workload. Etienne can provide RB2 numbers in our dynasty leagues. Tank Bigsby, who many love, will be on watch to see how important he is to the offense. He shouldn’t be in fantasy lineups until we are confident in his role for the offense. The Colts were bottom ten vs. fantasy running backs, especially allowing 93 receptions to backs last year. Whoever gets the passing work could be in for a great game. 

AttYdsTDTgtRecYdsTD
w/ RobinsonWeek 1-6950032240
w/o RobnisonWeeks 7-181575132160
Travis Etienne’s numbers with and without a solid backup

Reports are that Deon Jackson will be the week one starter, but Zack Moss has been practicing on a limited basis. The last time Jackson played the Jaguars, he had 40 yards, a touchdown, and 10 receptions. The Jaguars do give passing work to the running backs. Jackson won’t get ten receptions with Richardson as the quarterback. Jackson is better suited for high-end RB3 status as he will split time with Evan Hull in the backfield. This could all change if Moss does play in week one.

Wide Receivers

The Jaguars have a log jam for targets with their big four pass catchers. Calvin Ridley looks to be the WR1 for the team, but it’s his first game back from his suspension. Avoid him as nothing more than a WR2 in fantasy for week one as a safe play. Christian Kirk, I still like as WR2; the Jaguars were bad against slot receivers, allowing tons of fantasy points. Kirk put up ten receptions, 103 yards, and three touchdowns over two games. Zay Jones isn’t in starting lineups because his targets could be cut in half. The Colts were top-ten vs. wide receivers last year, so it’s not an easy matchup. For Evan Engram, he averaged 40 yards per game vs. the Colts. He is good enough to get you low-end TE1 numbers to start the year. 

I’ll be cautious with the Colts receivers in week one. Michael Pittman should lead the team in targets and give high-end WR3 numbers. Alec Pierce is an exciting player if you are looking for a boom-bust game, but let’s wait. I’m not playing Josh Downs or Isaiah McKenzie until I see what Richardson can do as a quarterback. Kylen Granson is the starting tight end, with Jaleni Woods out for four games. He is not on my radar for week one. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Minnesota Vikings

Details of the Script

  • Sunday – 1:00 pm @ U.S. Bank Stadium
  • Weather – Indoors 🙂
  • What Vegas is saying – Line (MIN -6.0) & Over/Under 45

Identifying the Game Script 

I’m surprised the spread isn’t more significant for the Vikings. The Bucs have been trashed all offseason, with Tom Brady gone. We will see if Baker Mayfield can give this team some light because they do have pieces to contend. The Vikings are looking to get back on track and get another hot start to their season, like 2022. The Vikings will score plenty of points in this matchup at home. I’m surprised the O/U isn’t lower, but the Vikings should do well in this matchup.

Quarterback

Baker Mayfield gets the starting nod in week one against the Vikings. Mayfield has a favorable matchup against a Vikings team that gave up the seventh most fantasy points to quarterbacks. Unfortunately, Mayfield has given us no confidence to start him in this matchup. He does have the weapons and, realistically, does fit the sleeper appeal. He may have some upside to reach QB2 level play, but many would likely put him on dynasty benches, even in Superflex leagues.

Kirk Cousins should be in the starting lineup vs. the Bucs. Cousins has an elite pass-catching group surrounding him that’s easy to trust. He was elite at home, averaging two touchdowns per game. The Bucs defense fell down the stretch last year. The Cousins should be able to put up high-end QB2 numbers in week one.

Running Backs

Second-year running back Rachaad White will be the starting running back for the Bucs. The Vikings are a decent matchup for White to succeed. White will likely control most of the running back work unless the team wants to shake things up. Sean Tucker is the backup to White, which could cause some concerns. This game could turn bad for the Bucs, allowing White to see an increase in target share in this matchup. White offers RB2 potential for your dynasty lineups. 

Alexander Mattison finally gets his shot as “the guy” in the offense. While Ty Chandler will have some role, Mattison should command the workload in the offense. We’ve seen when Mattison gets the touches, he can produce for us in fantasy. The Bucs prevented running backs from scoring but gave up tons of yardage. Mattison falls into the low-end RB2 range of week one. Chandler looks to be the backup; unless Mattison struggles, he won’t see much work. 

Wide Receivers

Judging the Bucs duo of Chris Godwin and Mike Evans is tough. Both have a favorable matchup vs. the Vikings team that gave up the third most fantasy points to receivers in 2022. Both guys can produce high-end WR3 numbers or even each WR2 if we see better playing from Mayfield. Godwin will be the guy to trust in fantasy due to his PPR ability. A real deep sleeper is Trey Palmer, who has a nose for the end zone, and he played well in preseason. Watch out for the rookie slot receiver to make some noise. Cade Otton is a tight end who doesn’t scream upside for week one. I would love to see his target share after this matchup. 

Justin Jefferson is a lock to be in lineups for week one. The real question is who will be the number two in the offense. The Bucs were bottom ten against wide receivers and tight ends in 2022. TJ Hockenson just signed his big contract this offseason and is looking to be an essential piece for the Vikings. The Bucs allowed big games to elite tight ends last season. Hockenson is a must-start for tight ends. It comes down to KJ Osborn and Jordan Addison, who is next up. Last year, the Vikings had four players to see 90-plus targets. I think either Osborn or Addison can see WR 3 numbers in week one. Addison may see fewer targets early because he is a rookie, but his explosiveness may shine. Osborn could be the WR2 on the team early on because of his veteran presence.

Tennessee Titans vs. New Orleans Saints

Details of the Script

  • Sunday – 1:00 pm @ Caesars Superdome
  • Weather – Indoors 🙂
  • What Vegas is saying – Line (NO -3.0) & Over/Under 41

Identifying the Game Script 

Another indoor game! This is an exciting game for both teams to see how they approach this season. The Titans are close to a complete rebuild but have yet to pull that trigger. They have Ryan Tannehill back with newcomer DeAndre Hopkins in town. The Saints at home have new quarterback Derek Carr to see if he can lead this team. This game could be a wild card on their fantasy production. Both teams’ defense could step up and shut down the offense. Similarly, both defenses could fail and allow the offenses to thrive.

Quarterbacks

Ryan Tannehill is back at quarterback for the Titans after a poor 2022 season. He has a tough matchup on the road for week one. The Saints were a top-ten defense in 2022 vs. quarterbacks, allowing just four quarterbacks to produce more than one passing touchdown. Tannehill was average at best on the road last year. While he has more weapons, I don’t believe Tannehill has the upside in week one to be anything more than a low-end QB2 in a likely close matchup. 

This will be Derek Carr’s first official game as a New Orleans Saint. He has a favorable matchup, as the Titans gave up the fourth most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks in 2022. They have a decent trio in the secondary, but they are beatable. Carr is a quarterback who does better at home than on the road. Carr has the weapons to produce high-end QB2 numbers in week one. 

Running Backs

Derrick Henry has a solid matchup vs. the Saint’s defense. They were average at best last year and allowed running backs to produce. Henry should continue to be a workhorse back for your dynasty roster and see 20-plus touches in this matchup. Tyjae Spears is Henry’s backup, and it would be interesting to see if he sees some opportunity in this matchup. His speed and explosiveness are interesting but insufficient to trust in starting lineups. 

Without Alvin Kamara, the Saints will turn to Jamaal Williams and Kendre Miller as their running backs. Miller is dealing with a hamstring injury, so we’ll have to see if that affects his week one status. Williams should be able to give us low-end RB2 numbers even in a tough matchup. The Titans were third-best vs. fantasy running backs last year, so it will be challenging for Williams. The Saints have always found ways to make their running back produce for us in fantasy, so if there is no Miller, Williams could be in for a big workload. 

Pass Catchers

This will be DeAndre Hopkins’s first game as a Titan. The Saints were a strong team vs. fantasy receivers, but Hopkins, as a Cardinal, dominated them. He had 104 yards in a game last year. If Hopkins can see the WR1 target share, he could be a WR2 in week one. Treylon Burks is coming off his injury but is a wait-and-see player. His target share is what is going to make us trust him in a run-first offense. He is a WR4 but better left on benches. Battling with Burks for the second target share will be TE Chig Okonkwo. He is a risky start as the Saints were the second-best team in the league vs. tight end in 2022, allowing not a single TE over 50 yards and only two touchdowns on the season. Chig showed big play ability, but it’s risky in week one.

For the Saints, Chris Olave should be a must-start in starting lineups. While the Titans have an up-and-coming secondary, they were still the worst team vs. fantasy receivers in 2022. Olave is a deep threat with an actual quarterback in Derek Carr to help with the big plays. Whether or not you trust Michael Thomas, he should be a flex option in week one. He was a good receiver in the three games he played last year. If you drafted him, then you better use him while you can. It’s a favorable matchup to trust him in that regard. 

TgtRecYdsY/RTD
855711.42
966510.831
55499.80
Michael Thomas’s stats from 2022 weeks 1 to 3

With his ability to get downfield, Rashid Shaheed could be a deep sleeper for this game. Likely, not many would start, but he could end up with a good weekend. Juwan Johnson is a starting tight end for me in week one. He is more low-end because of the crowded, tight-end room, but he should be in lineups. 

San Fransisco 49ers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Details of the Script

  • Sunday – 1:00pm @ Acrisure Staduim
  • Weather – Occasional Rains Shows !!
  • What Vegas is saying – Line (SF -2.5) & Over/Under 41

Identifying the Game Script 

It’s Purdy vs. Pickett! One was taken in round one, and the other was taken as the last pick of the draft. This game will be determined by how well the defenses perform. Both are top-ten defenses in the league, but both offenses have serious firepower. Vegas is saying this will be a closer game, which it should be, so there is plenty of opportunity for all fantasy players but lower scoring. It will be interesting to see if the timezone will affect the 49ers coming to the East. This will be one of the better games we see this weekend. Keep your eye on the weather, as that could impact this game.

Quarterbacks

Brock Purdy has been given the key to the 49ers’ offense. Purdy was a consistent 230 passing yards and two touchdown type of quarterback. He should be a low-end QB2 in the offense. The Steelers did well vs. non-elite quarterbacks last season. Purdy has the weapons to be able to put up fantasy numbers. He is a QB2 start in Superflex leagues.

Kenny Pickett looked GOOD during preseason and, like Purdy, has a ton of weapons at his disposal on the offense. Pickett is a tough sell to play in week one since he never threw more than one passing touchdown in a game all last year. The 49ers were top-five vs. fantasy quarterbacks last season. I’m not overly confident to start Pickett, but he could shock some folks in week one. He is likely a low-end QB2, but I wouldn’t mind starting him over Brock Purdy in this week’s matchup.

Running Backs

Christian McCaffrey is a must-start, even though the Steelers allowed the fifth-fewest receptions to running backs. CMC is an RB1 for your dynasty roster. If the 49ers plan to control his workload, does Elijah Mitchell see value as a flex player? Mitchell, in games with CMC, saw about eight to ten touches per game, but does that number increase to 12 to 15? We’ll know how that works in week one.

For the Steelers, Najee Harris is their RB1 in the offense. Unfortunately, the 49ers were the best team in the league vs. fantasy running backs. Not a single running back last year had over 70 rushing yards against the 49ers. Harris should see most of the work in the offense, but it’s a tough matchup. Harris should be considered an RB2 without upside in this week’s matchup. Jaylen Warren is also to be in the mix, but to how much the question. Warren would be desperate to flex play to see if he can break a big run during this game. It could be a tough outing for this Steelers backfield.

Pass Catchers

George Kittle Courtesy of Icon Sportswire

The 49ers pass catchers are the big three. Deebo Samuel is the team’s WR1 for now. Samuel only had one strong game with Purdy as his quarterback. He averaged six targets per game with Purdy under center, so WR1 status likely isn’t there. If the 49ers were to limit CMC touches, would they use Samuel more as a rusher because he has seen success with that? Samuel doesn’t excite me, but he is a solid WR2 play. Brandon Aiyuk is looking to take another step into becoming an elite player. Aiyuk played well with Purdy and should be considered a solid WR2, and I prefer him over Samuel. The Steelers’ secondary can be beat, so both are good plays in week one. George Kittle is dealing with an injury coming into the season. Kittle is a boom-or-bust TE 1 every week.

9.65.8761.510.50.47
10.66.6972.610.90.5
8.655.0651.910.30
Diontae Johnson’s per-game average each of the last three years

The Steelers receivers have a favorable matchup as the 49ers were a bottom-ten team vs. fantasy receivers. Diontae Johnson is a strong WR2 for week one. Johnson is the team’s lead receiver and should command seven-plus targets in the matchup. Geroge Pickens is a wild card as we look for him to step up. Picken is likely a boom-bust flex option in this matchup. Pickens has a big-play ability, but his target share is questionable. He could have a good week if he can see five-plus targets. Allen Robinson saw positive talk in the preseason, but we need to see him back to form before adding to any lineups. Pat Friermuth is likely a boom-bust touchdown player in week one. The 49ers were good against tight ends, and Friermuth’s target share is questionable. A touchdown is possible, but big yardage is unlikely. He is a borderline TE1 in this matchup.

Arizona Cardinals vs. Washington Commanders

Details of the Script

  • Sunday – 1:00 pm @ FedEx Field
  • Weather – Afternoon Thunderstorms
  • What Vegas is saying – Line (WAS -7.0) & Over/Under 38

Identifying the Game Script 

The Cardinals are a hot mess on offense with a rebuilding defense, so things aren’t looking pretty. Conversely, the Commanders with Sam Howell want to make noise against a broken-down Cardinals team. Vegas is saying that this will be the lowest-scoring game of the weekend. We could be surprised how these teams performed for us in week one.

Quarterbacks

The Cardinals expect to have Joshua Dobbs start the first game of the season. I don’t expect much, as there are talks that rookie Clayton Tune could get some reps in this game. The Cardinals may consider this game an extra preseason game for them. They shouldn’t be radars in week one.

It’s Howell time! Sam Howell is the starting quarterback for the Commanders in this week one matchup. Howell has been gaining hype all offseason for a breakout year. The Cardinals were bottom ten vs. fantasy quarterbacks last year, and they’re in a complete rebuild now. Howell has sleeper appeal in this matchup that likely favors the Commanders. In any Superflex league, he should be in your starting lineup. Let’s not forget he has a rushing floor, too, so don’t be shocked if he comes out with a QB1 in week one. Yes, I said it! But it likely should be a solid QB2 in this favorable matchup.

Running Backs

James Conner is one of the few backs that has a workhorse role. Conner is coming into a tough matchup as the Commanders were top-five vs. fantasy running backs and allowed the third-fewest receptions. At the same time, you are likely to start him due to his opportunity in the offense because you never know. Due to the poor offense and lack of talent, Conner may not have an upside in a poor matchup. He is better suited as a flex play, and I hope he sees the end zone in the matchup.

This one will be strictly game script, depending on who will thrive. Both Brian Robinson and Antonio Gibson can be productive. Gibson will play a pass-catching role, and if he is used like Eric Bieniemy used Jerick McKinnon, he should be in for a high-end RB3 week or better. Robinson has RB2 value as he will see the groundwork against the defense that gave up the third most fantasy points to running backs last year. If the Commanders are ahead, expect Robinson to pound the rock down the stretch in the late game.

Pass Catchers

The only Cardinals pass catcher I want to play is Hollywood Brown. While there is no Kyler Murray, Brown was the prominent target leader when DeAndre Hopkins was off the field. Brown should be able to command eight-plus targets in the offense. The field stretch, or WR1, who played the Commanders last year, was able to perform in fantasy. Rondale Moore or Michael Wilson, I’m not starting until they prove it on the field or when Murray returns. Zach Ertz doesn’t seem likely to play in week one, leaving second-year player Trey McBride to start this game. Commanders were a strong team vs. fantasy tight ends last year. McBride is not worth a start, but they could get you five to six points in the game.

The Cardinals’ defense was top-five vs. fantasy receivers last year. Terry McLaurin is coming off a foot injury but is likely to play. I consider sitting him in this matchup, as I don’t expect the Commanders to throw too much. Jahan Dotson is a solid flex option, as I like the upside in the red zone to score a touchdown or make big plays with his legs. He should be able to provide high-end WR3 numbers. Logan Thomas has an excellent matchup, as the Cardinals were the second-worst team vs. fantasy tight ends. They allowed 10.9 fantasy points per game. Thomas has been dealing with injuries but should be back for this matchup. Cole Turner is a deep sleeper at the tight-end position that could surprise many of us. 

Houston Texans vs. Baltimore Ravens

Details of the Script

  • Sunday – 1:00 pm @ M&T Bank Stadium
  • Weather – Scattered Thunderstorms
  • What Vegas is saying – Line (BAL -10.0) & Over/Under 43.5

Identifying the Game Script 

This game should be an interesting one to watch. The Texans are going into this game to stay competitive, with rookie CJ Stroud at quarterback. It will always be challenging for a rookie quarterback in his first game, especially on the road. The Ravens look strong; they have the biggest spread with -10. The Ravens are looking to come in and steamroll the Texans with their new-look offense. This game should give us some solid fantasy production but a possible blowout for week one.

Quarterbacks

The second overall pick, CJ Stroud, is making his debut vs. the Ravens. Rookies starting week one have put up decent fantasy numbers, but the Texans offense lacks big talent. Stroud will have his work cut out for him as the Ravens had an elite defense last year, especially in the back half. The Ravens only allowed three quarterbacks to produce more than one passing touchdown the previous year. Stroud wasn’t overproductive in the preseason, so he could struggle in week one. He wouldn’t be a quarterback I’d want to start in week one.

Lamar Jackson should be in starting lineups for week one, even in this surprisingly tough matchup. The Texans were the best team in the league vs. fantasy quarterbacks. Thanks to their young secondary, the Texans kept quarterbacks in check and did not give up many elite performances. The new scheme in Baltimore will likely throw more under Todd Monken. Jackson’s career average has been 23 pass attempts per game. I expect Jackson to get over 28 pass attempts per game this year, especially in game one. While the matchup is challenging, we still have Jackson’s rushing ability to rely on to give him QB1 stats for week one.

Running Backs

Dameon Pierce is coming in as the Texans’ RB1 for week one. It seems like Pierce is going to lead the workload of the offense. The Ravens were a team you could run on, and they lost Calais Campbell in the offseason. Pierce should give off solid RB2 for fantasy this week. Devin Singletary could be interesting if the team falls behind in the game. Singletary was a solid pass-catching back, something Peirce wasn’t great at last year. Singletary likely isn’t worth playing unless he is more involved than we think. 

The Ravens’ best runner will likely be Lamar Jackson. The Texans were the worst team last year vs. fantasy running backs. They allowed an average of 26.2 fantasy points per game to the position. They did have a few pieces like Will Anderson. This brings us to JK Dobbins, who seems healthy coming into the season. He is likely a strong RB2 in a favorable matchup for fantasy. His touches are something to monitor since he has never had more than 18 touches in a game. Plus, how much involvement does Gus Edwards have as the backup? Last year, Dobbins had 14 to 17 touches, and Edwards had 8 to 11, so it could be a closer split in week one. Dobbins gives RB2 value, while Edwards could be a deep sleeper in this matchup. 

Pass Catchers

It is a mystery who will be the Texans’ target leader. Robert Woods, Noah Browns, and Nico Collins will get the first shot. This could be a sleeper-type game for Nico Collins as the bigger outside receiver. The Ravens last year were not great at stopping those types of receivers in fantasy. We are hoping for a Collins third-year breakout, so he has WR3 vibes. After last year, Robert Woods leaves a bad taste to consider him unless he proves it again. Noah Brown seems to be a trusted target in the preseason with Stroud, so I’d be interested to see if he becomes a PPR guy underneath as the slot receiver. I wouldn’t start any other young Texans receivers this week. Ravens were pretty good vs. tight ends last year, but Dalton Schultz is in line to get starting tight end volume. They say a rookie’s best friend is a tight end, but we’ll see how much they target him.  

The main Ravens pass catcher I’m starting is Mark Andrews. Andrews should be back as an elite tight end with Jackson in the starting lineup. Andrews was TE2 with Jackson on the field and isn’t going to see double coverage with more weapons in the offense. The Texans’ best part of their defense was their secondary, led by Derek Stingley Jr., as they allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to WRs. After week five, they didn’t allow another 100-yard receiver on the season. Zay Flowers underneath is likely my choice of receivers to flex if I had to. All three receivers, Flowers, Odell Beckham, and Rashod Batman, are at best WR3s in this matchup. 

Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears

Details of the Script

  1. Sunday – 4:25 pm @ Soldier Field
  2. Weather – Mostly Sunny
  3. What Vegas is saying – Line (CHI -1.0) & Over/Under 43

Identifying the Game Script 

The Packers and Bears matchup has been one side for many years. Now there is no more Aaron Rodgers to own the Bears every game. Over the past five seasons, the total points scored have been 49.6. This is a different Packers team now, with Jordan Love as their quarterback. The Bears are a team looking upward now with Justin Fields and this new-look offense. This game could be higher scoring, with both defenses not looking great heading into the new year. In the last game in Chicago, they combined for 47 points, so we could have a similar outcome in week one.

Quarterbacks

It’s Jordan Love’s first game as “the guy” in Green Bay. There is a lot of expectation for him to be great, just like the last two Packers’ quarterbacks. Love was inexperienced but had an arm and some mobility that could translate to the NFL. The Bears gave up tons of fantasy points to Packers quarterbacks, but they also gave up the sixth most fantasy points per game to passers. Love has the talent around him to succeed. He has sleeper appeal in week one that you can start in Superflex leagues. It is a favorable matchup; we’ll see how Love is.

Courtesy of Icon Sportswire

Justin Fields will be a must-start in this matchup vs. a questionable Packers’ secondary. They were top-ten last year vs. quarterbacks but allowed quarterback rushing. Last year, when Fields got unleashed, he finished week 13 with 21.3 fantasy points. Fields has been given more offensive talent to help him succeed. Fields should be able to put up QB1 numbers for your dynasty team in week one.

Running Backs

The Packers running back duo of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon have a great matchup. The Bears allowed the second more fantasy points per game to running backs. In the two games last year, Jones and Dillion had a dominant game vs. the Bears. This offense could be leaning on the running backs to produce to take pressure off Love in week one. Jones was the one who dominated early with the ball, so I’m expecting a nice RB2 for your fantasy week. Dillon is more of a sleeper in this game, as Jones is still the RB1 for this team. A 55/45 split in week one makes sense for these running backs, with Jones being the lead guy. 

This three-headed committee for the Bears will be fun to watch all season, but it’s clear, at least for week one. Khalil Herbert has done enough to earn the starting job for the offense. Whenever Herbert has had 12 plus carries, he has produced for us in fantasy. Hebrert should see 15 touches in a more competitive game than in years past. He has an RB2 upside in a favorable matchup since the Packers were bottom ten vs. running backs last year. D’Onta Foreman will likely see a few touches, but not enough to earn starting lineup play. Roschon Johnson could be a sneaky play in week one with his ability in the receiving game. We’ve seen rookies not get used right away in these situations, so I’d sit Johnson as well. Week one will shed some light on how the touches will go. 

Pass Catchers

The Packers pass catchers will do well if Love does well. None of the Packers receivers did well vs. the Bears last year, and that was with Aaron Rodgers. Perhaps Love can try to push the ball downfield more. Christian Watson is a decent flex play because of his big play ability downfield that could mesh well with Love’s arm. I’m interested in seeing how Romeo Doubs fairs in this game since he has been the talk of preseason and his chemistry with Love. Unfortunately, I don’t trust that until I see it. Watch the injury report on Watson and Doubs, as they have been not practicing much all week. Their absence could lead to the rookies Jayden Reed and Luke Musgrave having a bigger target share in week one. Just like the two starters, their production will come down to Love. The Bears allowed the fifth-fewest points to tight ends, so this may not be a game to try out Musgrave. 

The Bears have some heavy hitters for pass catchers. DJ Moore is a locked-in starting lineup. He has gained a strong connection with Fields and should be a high-end WR2 in week one. Darnell Mooney is interesting since the Packers can give up some big gains downfield to receivers. The Packers were pretty good most of the season vs. wide receivers, but they were exposed in the second game against the Bears. Mooney has some deep sleeper appeal. There is no trust in Chase Claypool until I see it on the field. Cole Kmet is interesting since the Packers allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to tight ends. Kmet was one of four tight ends to see five-plus targets as a tight end vs. the Packers, and they all produced. If Kmet can still see the high target share, he may be in for a decent week, but that’s an issue.

Las Vegas Raiders vs. Denver Broncos

Details of the Script

  • Sunday – 4:25pm @ Empower Field @ Mile High
  • Weather – Afternoon Thunderstorms
  • What Vegas is saying – Line (DEN -3.5) & Over/Under 44

Identifying the Game Script 

We have another division rival between the Raiders and the Broncos. Over the last five games, their combined game score has been 48 points. The Raiders have won the previous six matchups between the two. The Raiders are looking to see how they can do with Jimmy G at quarterback, as all their skilled players are back and ready to play the season. Head coach Sean Payton is looking to turn around a terrible Broncos team that played even worse than a disappointing Raiders team. Both teams have strong run games; expect that to be the storyline for most of the day.

Quarterbacks

The Raiders have a new quarterback in town, Jimmy Garoppolo. While the Raiders have owned the Broncos, it may be the changing of the guard with Jimmy G at quarterback. The Broncos were top-ten against quarterbacks last season. Derek Carr had one good game against them, so there is hope for Jimmy G in week one. He has the weapons to produce in this game. Denver is switching up their defense, so some growing pain early on could show sloppy coverage. Jimmy G is a borderline QB2 to play if needed, especially for Superflex leagues.

Russell Wilson is now looking to return to an All-Pro level under head coach Sean Payton. Wilson has a good matchup since the Raiders gave up the fifth most fantasy points to quarterbacks last year. Their secondary has plenty of holes that can be exploited. Wilson did average 240 yards against the Raiders last year but only two touchdowns over those two games. That was a different offense and scheme compared to what we expect to see this year. I’m expecting a full turnaround for Wilson this year, and he should be a solid QB2 in week one so that you can feel confident in superflex leagues. He could be a sleeper in 1QB leagues, but better options exist. 

Running Backs

Fresh off his holdout, Josh Jacobs is back in the Raiders for the 2023 season. He opens the year with a fantastic matchup for week one. Broncos were an average team vs. running backs, but Jacobs made them look silly when he played them. Last year, he averaged over 150 yards in each game he played in Denver. Jacobs should have full control of most of the running back work in the offense, even with Zamir White taking a step. Denver also allowed plenty of receptions to opposing running backs, so Jacobs will be in for a field day. He is an RB1 locked in week one. 

Denver’s running backs will be one to watch early on, especially in week one. Javonte Williams is coming off a severe ACL injury but looked good in his first preseason game. His involvement in the passing game was encouraging for the season. I don’t believe the Broncos want to overwork Williams, especially coming off an injury. Williams will split work with Samaje Perine, an impressive, reliable backup in Cincinnati for years. Perine was also a well-rounded back who thrived in the passing game. They will likely see a 50/50 split in this game, but both can make noise to be fantasy-relevant for us. The Raiders were bottom ten vs. running backs and allowed the fourth most receptions to RBs. Williams and Perine should be flex-worthy play in week one. Watch out for Jaleel McLaughlin, who is getting buzz to see some involvement. 

Pass Catchers

For the Raiders, the only player I confidently start is Davante Adams. Adams torched the Broncos for 22 receptions, 242 yards, and two touchdowns in two games last year. The worst part is the Broncos allowed the second-fewest points to receivers last season. I do question the talent of Jimmy G. to get Adams the ball consistently, but I’m going to have faith that Adams can get it done. He is borderline WR1 for week one action. Regarding Jakobi Meyers and Hunter Renfrow, Jimmy G will not be able to get everyone involved enough to make them consistent for this matchup. Meyers could be a sleeper candidate, as the Broncos’ second corner position is very questionable. Austin Hooper is a tight-end name I’m not worried about playing in week one. This offense runs through Adams and Josh Jacobs again. 

For Denver, it comes down to whether or not Jerry Juedy is available for week one. If he does play, I can’t trust him in week one after a severe hamstring injury. The matchup is favorable, as the Raiders have holes in that secondary. Courtland Sutton should be the target leader, with or without Jeudy. Sutton has looked good during camp and should be in line for seven-plus targets. Sutton played very well in both games vs. the Raiders last year. I like him as a WR2 or flex option in week one. Rookie Marvin Mims is an excellent sleeper for week one if Jeudy doesn’t play. Mims can push downfield and make plays. I’m sitting Adam Trautman and Greg Dulcich until I see how they will be used. Dulcich has an upside, but if his playing time is cut in half, I am not sure how effective he can be. 

Philadelphia Eagles vs. New England Patriots

Details of the Script

  • Sunday – 4:25 pm @ Gillette Stadium
  • Weather – Scattered Thunderstorms
  • What Vegas is saying – Line (PHI -4.0) & Over/Under 45

Identifying the Game Script 

The Eagles travel to New England. The Eagles want to skip the Super Bowl loss hangover and come out of the gate strong. At the same time, the Patriots are looking to be more competitive with an improved offense. This game is likely to favor the Eagles early. They are forcing the Patriots to rely on Mac Jones to solve their issues. The annoying detail about the Patriots is that they always seem to find a way to stick it to great teams and play to their level when needed.

Quarterbacks

An obvious must-start is Jalen Hurts. New England has a solid defense in the front seven and secondary. Hurts averaged 25 fantasy points per game last year with the help of his rushing ability. He averaged 50 rushing yards and almost a touchdown per game. I see improvements coming in his passing, making him a dangerous asset. New England was unable to stop Lamar Jackson and Justin Fields last year. He should be in for a QB1 performance in Week 1. 

Mac Jones continues to be the starter for this Patriots team. New England has given him some weapons, but not enough to trust him in Week 1. The Eagles were a top-sixth team vs. quarterbacks last year. Jones only averaged a touchdown per game last year. He doesn’t offer rushing, so his upside is limited. Jones’s stats were bumped up in losing situations, as I expect to see that happen here, but I still don’t trust him. He is better left on your bench than even as a QB2 in week one. 

Running Backs

The Eagles have a whole new backfield that includes Kenny Gainwell. The preseason didn’t teach us much about how the Eagles plan to use these backs. D’Andre Swift is the starter coming into this matchup. His specialty has been in the passing game, but historically, mobile quarterbacks don’t throw much to their running backs. I’d likely want to sit Swift because I am unsure what role he will have. The Patriots were the second-best team vs. running back last year, mainly due to allowing just five total touchdowns to the position. Rashaad Penny is a sit as well until we know his role. Gainwell could be the one interesting one because he could be trusted in certain situations, especially in the red zone. I’d likely avoid all these Eagles’ running backs in this matchup, but anyone could rip a big gain. 

Courtesy of Icon Sportswire

For the Patriots, Rhamondre Stevenson should be a lock as a borderline RB1 in fantasy. The Eagles defense got young and continues to stay talented. Stevenson is the lead back for this Patriots team, and the only competition is aging Zeke Elliott. Stevenson should see most of the work in week one, especially the receptions, where he averaged at least four receptions per game. The Patriots will likely be behind in this game, which should favor his receiving value. Zeke Elliott will have some role, but how much is yet to be seen. Elliott’s saving grace will likely be if he can score a touchdown. 

Pass Catchers

AJ Brown and DeVonta Smith are no-brainer starts in this matchup. New England is beatable in the secondary, even with newcomer Christian Gonzalez. Both these receivers averaged 10-plus fantasy points per game last year, and I don’t expect that to go away. The only other one I’d consider starting is tight-end Dallas Goedert. He was TE4 for the first nine games last year, even with Brown and Smith on the field. The Patriots’ weak spot was allowing tight ends to score touchdowns, which happened often. It’s necessary to start your stars here.

The one receiver on New England I consider trusting is JuJu Smith-Shuster. JuJu has been Mac Jones’s most targeted receiver all offseason, and if he plays the slot, he should be a nice flex option. The Eagles slot corner Avonte Maddox isn’t someone I’m afraid of stopping him. The Eagles were top-ten against receivers, thanks to their outside corners. I’m leaving any Devante Parker and Kendrick Bourne on my bench in this match. The duo of Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki will be interesting to see who sees the passing work. You would think it’s Gesicki since he is more of a receiving player but is dealing with an injury and may not play. If Gesicki is out, Henry has to be a reliable target for Jones. He could have borderline TE1 production in a come-from-behind matchup. 

Miami Dolphins vs. Los Angeles Chargers

Details of the Script 

  • Sunday – 4:25 pm @ SoFi Stadium
  • Weather – Partly Cloudy
  • What Vegas is saying – Line (LAC -3.0) & Over/Under 51

Identifying the Game Script 

This one could look like a shootout based on the Vegas odds over/under. The Dolphins and Chargers played each other last year in LA and combined for 40 points. While it wasn’t a high-scoring game, the skilled star players did what they needed to do to give us fantasy points. The quarterbacks did not have elite fantasy outputs in this game. Both teams are looking to throw the ball even more in 2023 but have strong defenses that could shaky up this game.

Quarterbacks

Tua Tagovioaloa is back and healthy as we head into week one. The Chargers’ secondary was pretty good last year, but they lost pieces in the offseason. Tua is a decent play as a QB2, as the offensive line still scares me. As long as Tua is on the field, he can put up elite fantasy points with his elite weapons. The Chargers allowed the seventh-fewest passing yards to quarterbacks last year. I expect this game to score high so that Tua will take his shots as a boom/bust QB2 in week one. 

Justin Herbert threw for big yardage last time he played Maimi with 367 passing yards. Even without Jalen Ramsey on the defense, Herbert should be able to put up big numbers against a Dolphins team that allowed the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. New offensive coordinator Kellen Moore will look to open up the passing offense, allowing Herbert to come out the gate swinging. The offensive line for the Chargers should be back at full health after a season where injuries killed it. Herbert is a must-start at quarterback in any format. 

Running Backs

Based on how the last month has gone for the Dolphins backfield, Raheem Mostert looks to be the guy. The backfield has been hit with injuries to Jeff Wilson (PUP), DeVon Achane, and Salvon Ahmed. Mostert seems to be the only healthy back. While I’d expect one of them to return by game day, it’s Mostert’s backfield for week one. The Chargers allowed the fourth most fantasy points per game and the second most rushing yards in 2022. Mostert should see the bulk of the carries in the offense and be a solid flex option in lineups. If Achane plays, he may have some sleeper appeal as a boom/bust play, but Mostert will lead the team in week one.

The Chargers’ side of the ball is all about Austin Ekeler, a must-start. Ekeler had 15-plus fantasy points last time he played the Dolphins. Miami allowed the seventh most receptions to running backs last season, and Ekeler had eight receptions in their game. Ekeler should be a must-start play in any format, even with upgrades to the Dolphins front seven. 

Pass Catchers

Miami will likely only have two pass catchers who will be start-worth in fantasy during week one. As long as they are healthy, Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle are must starts in this matchup. The Chargers were pretty good vs. receivers last year but lost pieces in that secondary. Hill and Waddle had better points per game with Tua on the field last year. Hill is the most trusted, while Waddle could be considered more boom/bust. They combined for a 51% target share among all pass catchers. Regarding Miami tight end Durham Smythe, he isn’t on anyone’s radar to start in lineups.

The Chargers’ top two pass catchers, Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, make for good WR2s or flex options in week one. They combined for 18 receptions, 208 yards, and a touchdown vs. the Dolphins’ secondary last year. The Dolphins’ secondary is solid, but I expect these two receivers to give a solid fantasy outing.

TgtRecYdsY/RTD
Allen1412927.670
Williams6611619.331
Chargers Star WRs last year vs. MIA

Joshua Palmer is the third receiver, but I don’t trust his target usage yet, especially with rookie Quentin Johnston’s attempt to jump in on the depth chart. Neither one would make for a good flex option in week one. Gerald Everett has deep sleeper appeal to a team with little at tight end. Miami allowed the fourth most fantasy points per game to tight ends. He is labeled a deep sleeper because the matchup could be favorable, but his usage is still questionable. Kellen Moore has done well with a tight end, so something to watch out for in week one. 

Los Angeles Rams vs. Seattle Seahawks

Details of the Script 

  • Sunday – 4:25 pm @ Lumen Field
  • Weather – Partly Cloudy
  • What Vegas is saying – Line (SEA -5.0) & Over/Under 46.5

Identifying the Game Script 

After dominating the Seahawks in 2021, the Rams lost both games to Seattle in 2022. Over the last five games, these division rivals averaged 41.6 points in games. Seattle will continue their success from 2022 under Geno Smith and this highly talented offense. The Rams have some of their stars back and healthy as they look to get back on track to their 2021 Super Bowl year. Vegas is predicting these two offenses are going to score some points. Seattle will be interesting to watch since they have such an elite passing attack, but we all know Pete Carroll wants to run the ball, and they have stars to do that. The Rams are mostly a two-headed monster, but we’ll see if Matthew Stafford can lead this team.

Quarterbacks

Matthew Stafford is looking to return to his 2021 form, where he was a strong fantasy quarterback option. Stafford struggled in 2022 with seven of nine games with a touchdown or less. Seattle was middle of the pack vs. quarterbacks last season, but Stafford was already out of the year with an injury, so he didn’t play them. In 2021, he only threw three passing touchdowns against the Seahawks but had over 600 passing yards. According to camp reports, Stafford is again looking healthy and like his old self. I’m not confident in his play for week one on the road. If Kupp is out, I’d likely want to sit the aging quarterback in a mediocre matchup. 

Coming off a career season, Geno Smith played well vs. the Rams last year. He averaged 270 yards and two touchdowns vs. a solid secondary. Now that Jalen Ramsey is out, that secondary isn’t as good. Smith has received complete confidence from the team with new young additions to the offense. I expect him to come out at home in week one and ball out for your dynasty roster. I’d give him borderline QB1 potential in a matchup that should favor Seattle. 

Running Backs

The Rams want to take advantage of a Seattle run defense that allowed the fourth most fantasy points in 2022. While Seattle did bring back Bobby Wagner, he isn’t the same type of player he once was when he left. Cam Akers should take the majority of the groundwork in this backfield. He played well against Seattle, with 168 yards and two touchdowns in two outings last year. This may be the first year that Akers doesn’t have a backup that we believe will compete for the groundwork in the offense. The Rams may run the ball to keep the pressure off Stafford. Akers could carve out 15 to 20 touches and give RB2 numbers in this week one matchup.

AttYdsY/ATDTgtRecYdsY/RTD
17603.53211000
211044.950332480
Cam Akers games vs. SEA in 2022

A name to watch out for is Kyren Williams, who has been mentioned multiple times as the pass-catching back. Seattle has allowed the fifth most receiving yards to running backs, so Stafford could be looking Williams’ ways to start the season. 

On the flip side of the field, Seattle has two outstanding young running backs they plan to show off in week one. Ken Walker is recovering from a groin injury he suffered over the summer, but he is ready for week one. The last time Ken Walker played the Rams, he carried the ball 29 times for 114 yards. The Rams’ defense faded down the stretch without Aaron Darnold, and running backs took advantage. It is tough to judge if the Seahawks will trust Walker to fill the workload in week one, especially coming off injury. Walker is likely a decent flex option for week one, as I expect him to split time with rookie Zach Charbonnet. The rookie was decent during preseason games, but Walker’s health would determine his workload. Unless Walker is to miss week one, Charbonnet should be on the bench until we can evaluate his usage.

Pass Catchers

Van Jefferson could make a case with Kupp out, but even considering him in your lineups is risky. Seattle held all but one Rams receiver in two games under 50 yards. Granted, there was no Kupp or Stafford in those games. Seattle was the third-best team vs. fantasy receivers in 2022. If you faded all the other receivers, you shouldn’t be scared to play Tyler Higbee. Higbee didn’t do well vs. Seattle last year, even though they gave up the most fantasy points per game to tight ends. The return of Stafford gives me enough confidence that he can be a sleeper in week one. Puka Nacua would be a deep sleeper, with Kupp missing this game. 

Seattle found great success vs. the Rams secondary, even with Jalen Ramsey there in 2022. Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf combined for 349 yards and three touchdowns in two matchups. They both should be WR2 options or, at worst, flex options for starting lineups. You should feel even better if rookie Jaxon-Smith Njigba were to miss game one due to wrist surgery a few weeks ago. If JSN plays week one, he will be a boom/bust sleeper since we aren’t sure what his target share will be like coming off an injury. Noah Fant played well vs. the Rams last year, but his target share will likely drop with JSN on the field. Fant only had one game last year over 50 yards, so I can’t rely on him in week one. 

Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants

Details of the Script

  • SNF – 8:20 pm @ MetLife Stadium
  • Weather – Potential Day Time Thunderstorms
  • What Vegas is saying – Line (Dal -3.5) & Over/Under 46.5

Identifying the Game Script 

It’s a classic Sunday night football action between the Cowboys and Giants. These division rivals have seemed very one-sided over the last six years. The Cowboys have lost to the Giants just once over that span. The average score in their previous five games has been 44 total points. We hope the game is more entertaining than last year’s SNF. The Cowboys threw up three points, and it was a snooze feast. The Cowboys are looking at life post-Kellen Moore to see if this will be more of a run-first offense instead. The Giants hope to open up the offense after Daniel Jones’s career season in 2022. This game should be very competitive, as most of these matchups usually are. I’d expect the Cowboys to get an early lead in the game.

Quarterbacks

Dak Prescott is taking his first game without Kellen Moore as his offensive coordinator in four years. Prescott had put up two of his best seasons under Moore. The good thing is Prescott has been solid vs. the Giants over his career. Prescott has averaged 262 passing yards and just about two touchdowns in 12 games vs. the Giants. The Giants’ defense is very young, especially in the secondary, with rookies starting. Prescott should be a decent QB2 in fantasy for week one, but we know he has been a wild card.

Daniel Jones was coming off a career-efficient year in 2022. The addition of Brian Daboll got the most out of the former first-round quarterback in a critical year. For Jones, he has been terrible against the Cowboys, averaging less than 200 passing yards per game. Last season, Jones was not great vs. the Cowboys, throwing just one touchdown in two games and under 250 passing yards each game. While Jones didn’t have the weapons he had last year, I’m still concerned about his potential this season. Jones is an upside QB2 if he can play better ball and continue to use his legs to run the ball. 

Running Backs

First-time starter Tony Pollard is ready to make his name now that Zeke Elliott is gone. Pollard is a must-start in week one against a questionable Giants run defense. Last year, the Cowboys’ backfield dominated the Giants, rushing for over 150 yards in both games. As head coach Mike McCarthy wants to run the ball more often, Pollard should be in for 18-plus touches. The Giants were good at not allowing running backs to be involved in the passing game, as they only allowed 47 receptions on the year. Pollard will have to do his damage ground and will have RB1 upside. The backup job belongs to Rico Dowdle, who won it in the preseason. The Cowboys have used backup running backs in the last few years, so Dowdle may have a shot. Unfortunately, he’s not enough to trust in any lineup, and let’s not forget Deuce Vaughn as a wild card in this backfield. Pollard is the only start in this Cowboys’ backfield in week one.

The Cowboys were a strong unit vs. running backs last year. Saquon Barkley was able to define the odds and play well vs. the Cowboys. Barkley managed to have two games as a top-17 back in fantasy. Barkley is the primary weapon, so I expect him to see the most carries and targets he can handle in the offense. He doesn’t have a backup that will keep him off the field. Barkley, in a tough match, has borderline RB1 numbers for week one. 

Pass Catchers

The Giants’ likely top target will be Darren Waller. Waller is coming off an injury season but has looked fantastic in preseason. The Cowboys were the third-best team vs. tight ends. That shouldn’t matter in this matchup. Waller should see 6-10 targets in this week’s matchup. There aren’t a ton of tight ends to start with confidence, but Waller is one. The Giants WRs are a different story. Darius Slayton, Isiash Hodgins, and Parris Campbell are the week one starters. Any could be considered a sleeper in this matchup, but target share will dictate who can produce in fantasy. I’m not trying to start any of them in week one. If I had to flex one, it would likely be Darius Slayton. Slayton has proven to be a solid downfield threat, and we know the Cowboys allow big plays. They allowed the fourth most points to receivers in 2022.  

On the Cowboys side of the ball, CeeDee Lamb should be a must-start in your dynasty leagues. He is the team’s WR1, who should command close to double-digit targets. Lamb averaged 18 fantasy points in two games last year vs. the Giants’ secondary. He should be a WR1 in the first week of fantasy football.

TgtRecYdsY/RTD
1288710.881
11610617.670
CeeDee Lamb games vs. NYG in 2022

It will come down to the targets for Brandin Cooks and Michael Gallup. Last year, the number two pass catcher for the Cowboys gave us a solid 10-plus-point performance. Gallup was one of those performances, but it’s been hard to trust Gallup in fantasy for a while. You can’t trust him with Brandin Cooks on the field. Cooks, on the other hand, looks like a flex option for week one. Cooks will likely see a five to seven range in targets. He can be a solid flex option in week one. Jake Ferguson could be a solid sleeper among tight ends in week one. The Giants were not great vs. tight ends, mainly when they played Dallas. In one game, Ferguson had three receptions for 57 yards last year. While Ferguson may be the fourth or fifth option, he still presents some sleeper appeal for the tight position.

The fantasy season is in full swing. How are you going to reward the league champ? I’ll tell you – go to Trophy Smack and get that Championship hardware. Use promo code NERDS for a free ring when you order a trophy or belt.

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