Week 1 – Thursday Night Football
Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots
Kansas City Chiefs
Quarterback – While the NFL is back with “real” games, we may not really be able to scratch our itch until Sunday. Though this game checks in with the fourth highest projected point total of the week at 48.5, it will be tough figuring out where the fantasy points will specifically come from.
Starting off we have Alex Smith who is supposedly going to “be more explosive” and look to attack opposing defenses. Color me less than enthused with someone who has six TOTAL 300+ passing yard performances through his 143 career games and with just one outing with more than three aerial scores we are being a little silly looking to him in most formats this week (except for BOOM Fantasy where they are able to offer ONE DAY contests on Thursday click here to find out more).
Running Back – With Spencer Ware suffering a major injury during the preseason, we are looking at the unproven Kareem Hunt who is appropriately priced as a mid-tier running back and Charcandrick West who is at a more favorable price point and the veteran, though it seems like Kansas City would rather have anyone getting carries except the former Abilene Christian star. Lastly there is C.J. Spiller who is on the roster fringe, but likely suiting up and muddying the waters even further.
My guess is that West will see nearly as many snaps as Hunt, regardless of who is tabbed as the “starting back” on Thursday. With the increased popularity of the rookie from Toledo, I am happy leaving others to take a chance while I look at the myriad of other options available from the other games on the slate.
Wide Receiver – We all have fond memories of Tyreek Hill taking the league by storm last season, we need to understand that his touchdown rate is completely unsustainable 39 punt returns – 2 TDs, 14 kickoff returns – 1 TD, 24 rushing attempts – 3 TDs and 61 receptions – 6 TDs… okay, maybe the receiving to touchdown ratio could be replicated, but all in all he scored a dozen times on 148 combined touches. It has been inferred that he will not be involved as much in the return game, outside of special circumstances – so if we project him for 6-8 total offensive touches and 60-70 yards with a 40% chance of scoring, the luster wears off rapidly. Chris Conley is nothing more than an afterthought for daily fantasy purposes on the full slate of games.
Tight End – Clearly Travis Kelce is going to be someone we can look to at various points this season as one of the more reliable options from the Chiefs, we are all painfully aware of Coach Bill Belichick doing his dandiest to neutralize the oppositions best weapon. In this case it will likely be a long night for Kelce, particularly when taking into account who is tasked with getting him the ball. If pressed, Kelce would be the one KC option that I may see on my rosters outside of a few dart throws. A realistic line for the Chiefs talented tight end would be 5-6 receptions, 50-60 yards and a 50/50 shot at reaching pay dirt.
Defense/Special Teams – We will have our chances to roster the Kansas City D/ST, however, on the road in Foxboro is not one of those times.
New England Patriots
Quarterback – Tom Terrific turned 40 at the beginning of August and he still is one of the top handful of quarterbacks taking the field on Week 1. While we know that the loss of WR Julian Edelman hurts the depth, we do not want to forget that former Saints standout Brandin Cooks will be sliding into that role along with late season emerging talent Chris Hogan, oh and TE Rob Gronkowski is healthy for the moment. Yeah, Brady is likely to end the week among the top three fantasy options at this position and there really is not much else to say other than the ceiling is probably something along the lines of 300/3 with Coach Bill Belichick looking to work four different running backs into the game plan and there is a good chance that the Patriots are up by 10 points at the end of the first quarter and don’t look back.
Running Backs – Speaking of those running backs, good luck figuring out who is going to get more than cursory fantasy production on any given Sunday. Mike Gillislee is coming over from division rival Buffalo where he was a solid counterpunch to LeSean McCoy ending the year with 101 rushes for 576 yards and nine total touchdowns. However, he is competing with James White who can contribute in all facets of the game, Rex Burkhead who is a shifty back that can also work out of the slot as a wide receiver and Dion Lewis who looked like he was going to be the guy that finally consolidated all of the Patriots running back production, before getting injured and missing the second half of the 2015 season and the first half of last year. This backfield is Coach Belichick’s wildest dream come true.
Wide Receivers – Newcomer Brandin Cooks will likely see 6-8 targets as Brady and Belichick will want to see what they have in their new speedster. We also need to remember that Brady is very loyal to “his guys” that he is used to counting on and it may take time for Cooks to have a more stabilized role on a week-to-week basis. Chris Hogan is also in play and while it would be reasonable to project 10-12 receptions, 160 yards and 1.5 touchdowns to this duo, good luck figuring out who is likeliest to come out ahead. Playing a solo Tom Brady may be the way to go on Thursday.
Tight Ends – But wait, can we really use Brady as a solo option when Rob Gronkowski is finally firing on all cylinders for the first time in seemingly forever?! Yes, we actually can. This duo’s popularity is going to be sky high and with the soft pricing on FanDuel, the roster flexibility on FantasyDraft and general tournament strategy on DraftKings, it is probably wise to just let THE MASSES try to figure out the riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside of Evil Genius Belichick’s mind.
Defense/Special Teams – Okay, other than Brady, this is the one position where we can unequivocally give a strong recommendation if you just HAVE TO HAVE a rooting interest in this game, then look to roll with the Patriots D/ST. Just keep in mind that Alex Smith has not has a season with double digit interceptions since 2010 and he averages one fumble every three games for his career. The key here will be can the Patriots sack Smith, between 2013-2015 he was sacked 129 times or 43 per season, however last year that number dropped to 28… so we are going to need to hope for some sort of defensive touchdown to be the difference maker.
New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys
New York Giants
Quarterback – With Odell Beckham highly doubtful for this contest, Eli Manning is going to be a little hamstrung and while we can look to some of his receiving options who should 1) be overlooked and 2) be able to produce just fine against their own salaries. This will be the 26th time that Eli has faced the Cowboys and in his career he is averaging 250 passing yards, 2 touchdowns and one interception. Yeah, things have changed over that decade of work, but it demonstrates what his likely outcome is in this game on the road against the ‘Boys who will look to hog the time of possession.
Running Backs – There is not much to see here with Paul Perkins the likely starter and lead back, but he is pretty uninspiring. If you are looking for a swerve play, then Shane Verreen could see some action as the pass catching back and he is going to be a sub-10% option on the prime time slate and his low salary across the board will allow for some flexibility at other positions.
Wide Recievers – It will be interesting to see how Brandon Marshall meshes with Manning and we know it is tough for receivers heading to new teams, but this is Marshall’s fifth team, so he is no stranger to new situations and has had some pretty awful quarterbacks during his time in the NFL. If you joined some earlier leagues and have “late swap” he is a viable tournament option if you have the flexibility to get him in your locked lineups. For the newer contests, we can consider him a top five option on the late slate. Sterling Shepard at least has some history with the youngest Manning brother and he is also fairly priced for his somewhat advanced role which should see him with 6-8 targets.
Tight Ends – While he is not sneaky for anyone aware of the Beckham news in the upcoming contests, he is definitely a salary saver and could see 3-4 catches for 35ish yards and a 20-30% chance of a touchdown. His best “value” is giving you salary to spend elsewhere.
Defense/Special Teams – In 16 games last year, opposing field general Dak Prescott coughed up six fumbles, but only four interceptions and he was sacked just 25 times. If you think this will be a slugfest, this defense is in play for their discounted price point.
Quarterback – There are a lot of quarterbacks on this slate and Dak Prescott comes in towards the back of the pack in this ball control offense, let others make the mistake of rostering him as he had only five games above 250 passing yards last season with 23 passing touchdowns and six on the ground.
Running Backs – Well, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell $#*(@#!’d up another investigation and punishment. That said, there is not much to get fired up about from Ezekiel Elliott or Darren McFadden in this matchup. Run DMC is a major swerve play as he is healthy and it would not be a shock to see him sneak into the end zone in some fashion Sunday night.
Wide Receivers – While a lot of gamers will look to Dez Bryant just know that he has topped 70 yards just six times in his thirteen games against the G-men and he has scored half a dozen times in those tilts. Yeah, he has been dinged up in some of those games, but as mentioned above, this is likely to be a clock churning affair, without many aerial fireworks. Cole Beasley
Tight Ends – The “Dad Runner” (props to J.J. Zachariason for that very inventive and oh so appropriately descriptive nickname) is always a threat to catch one and fall into the end zone. The FanVice projections do like him and I am on board with the salary savings – on the flipside, someone like Hunter Henry or Colby Fleener probably have more upside for a similar pice.
Defense/Special Teams – If you remember the “Eli Manning Face” you know that the Cowboys are definitely in play at home in what will likely be a 26-20 slog.
New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings
New Orleans Saints
Quarterback – Okay, now we are talking! Here is a game that should see some decent fantasy production. While we know that Drew Brees does have issues when on the road, at least this is a covered field, though the Vikings are no pushover on defense. Cool Brees does check in as the top play at this position, but he has broken our hearts before. He will be without receiver Willie Snead (three game suspension) but he has many alternative options in Michael Thomas, newcomer Ted Ginn Jr (assuming he can catch balls that will likely hit his hands) and tight end Colby Fleener. Of the half dozen signal callers on the prime time slate, Brees has the best chance of topping 300 yards which will get you a bonus on DraftKings and FantasyDraft.
Running Backs – Hey-yo, we have Adrian Peterson getting a shot against his former team in his first game. While we know that he is not much of a threat in the passing game where it would be a shock to see him with more than two targets in a time share with Mark Ingram he should be in the mix for 14-16 total touches and of course he will be a red zone threat. Ingram on the other hand seems to NEVER get the love from the ‘Aints coaching staff, but he is the better all-around threat and as long as this game is up-tempo – and it should be from the New Orleans side, he too should see 14-16 touches and is the better “home run” threat from the backfield.
Wide Receivers – Second year Ohio State Buckeye Michael Thomas has the talent to be special and he should see double digit opportunities in this matchup, though it will be a tough row to hoe as the Vikings will be looking to keep him in check. He is my favorite play in tournaments with the best chance to get two touchdowns. Ted Ginn Jr will be wide open behind the defense at least twice in this game, but there is a reason this is his fifth team in eleven seasons. The price is right, but a bagel is in play with Señor Manos de Piedra.
Tight End – While Coby Fleener has hair that I am beyond jealous of, he is a hit or miss option. Tournaments only – though if he gets a couple red zone looks he will be a slate breaker.
Defense/Special Teams – Last year in 15 games, Sam Bradford only had five picks, though he did lose the ball nine times via fumbles. This squad is a tournament wildcard at best.
Quarterback – ONLY because this is the Saints defense that we have not had a chance to see if there has been any improvement with, we can look to Sam Bradford as a very contrarian option (it is a three game late slate) because he should be able to approach 270 yards and a couple of scores with his incredibly talented receiving corps. The key will be to have the Saints putting up numbers on the score board to loosen the reins of the Minny play calling strategy.
Running Backs – Rookie Dalvin Cook is a very intriguing option and as long as he doesn’t do anything foolish, Latavius Murray should be an afterthought in this affair.
Wide Receivers – We have a terrific duo here with all-world talent Stefon Diggs and Mr. Steady Eddie Adam Thielen the only worry is who will get more targets as we also have…
Tight End – Kyle Rudolph in the mix. The FanVice projections really like Rudolph and I do as well. This position has a lot of question marks and Rudolph does have 15+ fantasy point upside on full-PPR sites. The volume is the only question mark.
Defense/Special Teams – Drew Brees does an admirable job of protecting the rock along with avoiding sacks and if the Saints are firing on all cylinders this is not a team I want to tangle with.
Los Angeles Chargers at Denver Broncos
Los Angeles Chargers
Quarterback – While Philip Rivers is one of my favorite overlooked players on the afternoon slates playing the bulk of his games on the 4pm ET slates – this is a VERY DIFFICULT MATCHUP. In 23 games against the Broncos he has topped 270 passing yards just five times and we know this is one of the best defenses in the league. We will have our time to play Rivers, but this is not the spot (though on the Monday-Thursday slates he will be ignored so he has wild card status in low dollar GPPs).
Running Backs – Well what do we do with Melvin Gordon in this road matchup in the thin air of the Mile High City? After scoring ZERO TDs in his rookie season, he ended up with 10 rushing and two receiving in his second campaign. Because he is really the only option in the Bolts backfield, he is a top three option on these abbreviated slates. Backup Branden Oliver will spell Gordon, but he only has value in the event of a (knock on wood) early exit for Gordon.
Wide Receivers – There are a lot of options for Philip Rivers and he tends to not play favorites. Keenan Allen is healthy for the time being and will draw the focus of the Denver secondary. The unknown commodity in Tyrell Williams is intriguing because 5-6 catches, 60-70 yards and a score is well within his realm of outcomes.
Tight End – This is a bit of a mess because Antonio Gates has tied HOF tight end Tony Gonzalez with 111 career touchdowns. He is a shell of his former self, but he is still a redzone option. Narrative says that the Chargers will not force the record in Denver and would rather have it happen in their empty home stadium in Los Angeles (hint it is not going to bring in fans) and Hunter Henry is more than ready to receive the torch from future HOFer Gates.
Defense/Special Teams – We don’t take defenses on the road in Denver.
Quarterback – Just say no!
Running Backs – Well, C.J. Anderson is the veteran, but he is not really “trusted” by the GM John Elway so we could see some Jamaal Charles. I am still good with pairing Anderson and the Broncos D/ST because there is no need for Denver to force the ball to Charles.
Wide Receiver – Here is where we can look for Demaryius Thomas who should be back to his slant and bubble screen ways and he can score from anywhere on the field. Fellow wide out Emmanuel Sanders is not getting much love and they really are the 1A and 1B options so both have merit in all formats.
Tight End – NEXT (well let’s at least say his name, Virgil Green)
Defense/Special Teams – The Broncos will be pricy, but we know that Philip Rivers can melt down at any time and the thin air of Denver does help accentuate the struggles of opposing teams.