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If you were heavily invested in the Bills for your Fantasy Football team, you probably came out of Thursday’s NFL season opener feeling pretty good. They passed the ball effectively and spread it around enough that Gabe Davis and Isaiah McKenzie were both good enough to be worth starting — this week, at least.
If you were heavily invested in the Rams … well, let’s hope you had Cooper Kupp, because he might just be the best player in Fantasy again. If you had anyone else in your starting lineup, my condolences, because it wasn’t the debut you wanted to see from anyone there.
You can read my full recap of Thursday’s opener in today’s newsletter before we get to my Week 1 game previews. And if that doesn’t answer all of your lineup questions — and how could it, really? — send them my way at [email protected] with the subject line “#AskFFT” and they’ll get included in my Sunday morning mailbag. Plus, you can catch our YouTube stream Sunday morning at 11:30 EDT where Adam Aizer, Frankl Stampfl and I will be answering all of your lineup questions.
Get ready for Week 1 with all of our preview content here:
And here’s what the rest of today’s newsletter has in store to help you get ready for Week 1:
This was a sloppy game, but the Bills certainly looked like a Super Bowl favorite.
There’s something to watch in every game on the NFL schedule every week, even if you have to squint to see it sometimes. This week, however, there are so many unanswered questions that it’s hard to settle on just one thing for each game. Here’s a look ahead at every Week 1 game, with some notes on what Vegas is expecting to see, some lineup help and one thing to watch for from each game:
All odds are via Caesars Sportsbook.
The Saints have a new head coach, but most of the infrastructure from the Sean Payton era remains in place. That doesn’t mean I expect this offense to look like last year’s though — Michael Thomas, Jarvis Landry, and Chris Olave are all better than any receivers the Saints had last season, so I expect them to be more aggressive. If not, this one could be pretty low-scoring, because the Falcons probably aren’t going to force the issue through the air until they have to.
Injuries: Michael Thomas (hamstring) — Thomas has been limited so far, but he has sounded a positive note when asked about his chances to play. I’m assuming he will … Drake London (knee) — London has been limited at practice this week, and I’m expecting him to make his debut. However, this is a tough matchup for a guy who missed much of training camp with an injury, so don’t be surprised if he gets off to a slow start.
The 49ers should be able to handle this one fairly easily; the Bears project to be one of the worst teams in the league. I’m expecting to see a Bears offense that takes advantage of Justin Fields‘ prodigious talents, but the 49ers shouldn’t have too much trouble with them. The wild card is Trey Lance, who has prodigious talents of his own but reportedly struggled with consistency in camp. It’s a nice soft landing, but I still have a lot of questions about the 49ers offense.
It’s the first game of the post-Roethlisberger era for the Steelers, and that means we don’t really know exactly what to expect here. Ben Roethlisberger peppered Diontae Johnson and Najee Harris with quick, short-area targets because he wasn’t willing to stand in the pocket and risk getting hit, and Mitchell Trubisky‘s mobility changes a lot about how this offense looks as a result. Whether that proves ruinous to Harris and/or Johnson’s Fantasy appeal remains to be seen, but it’s not out of the question both could benefit from a more functional offense, even if their usage doesn’t look quite like it did a year ago.
Expectations are incredibly high for the Eagles, but we’re still not 100% sure what this offense looks like. They found success by becoming the most run-heavy team in the league in the second half, and while the addition of A.J. Brown figures to change that, we don’t know that for a fact. Especially in a game they should be able to win pretty easily.
The vibes around these two teams could not be more opposite coming out of training camp. The Dolphins are all optimism with new coach Mike McDaniel and new superstar receiver Tyreek Hill, while the Patriots had what was, by all accounts, an incredibly frustrating camp as they tried to install a new offense. You generally don’t want to bet against Bill Belichick, but I can’t help but feel like this could be the worst season for the Patriots in a long time, and I’m not sure I want to start anyone from this offense right now.
The Ravens still likely won’t have their two lead backs, but I’m not sure you should expect that to mean they’ll be as pass-heavy as they were last season. At least, not against a Jets team they should be able to handle pretty easily. The Jets won’t be total pushovers with Joe Flacco at QB, and I have pretty high expectations for Elijah Moore in particular, but the Ravens should still be able to win comfortably enough that the running game should get plenty of reps.
Both of these teams went out of their way to overhaul their struggling offenses this season, but it still feels like middle of the pack is a best-case scenario for both. By all accounts, Christian Kirk was the lead target for the Jaguars, but it feels like he’ll be a Jakobi Meyers-esque No. 1 WR — good enough to be worth rostering, but a pretty fringe starter. Terry McLaurin is more proven as a No. 1, but with Jahan Dotson added and Curtis Samuel healthy, it’s fair to wonder what his target share is going to look like. I’m not particularly excited about either of these passing games for Week 1.
The Baker Mayfield revenge game narrative will be the dominant one in the lead up to the game, but I’m mostly just excited to see D.J. Moore play with an actually competent passer for once. Moore represents the end of a tier in my WR rankings at No. 11, and if he’s not a top-12 option this season, I’ll be disappointed. On the other side of the ball, well … I’d be shocked if anyone on the Browns was a top-12 player at any position except maybe tight end until Deshaun Watson is allowed to play. That won’t be until Week 13.
The Colts have talked a lot about not wanting to lean as heavily on Jonathan Taylor as they did last season, but I’d be pretty surprised to see him get fewer than 20 carries in this one. He rushed for 288 yards and four touchdowns in two games against the Texans last season, and there really isn’t much reason to expect them to be significantly better on defense. The question is whether their offense can at least put up a fight after being outscored 62-3 in two games.
The Giants are hoping Brian Daboll can help the offense reach another level — competence, would be nice. The Titans are hoping Robert Woods and Treylon Burks can combine to make up for the loss of A.J. Brown. There are good reasons to be skeptical in both regards, but there are also some undervalued players in these offenses who should be worth using. Woods is a WR3 for me, but if you want to give him a week to show he’s back to full speed, that makes sense.
The numbers for Aaron Rodgers when he has played without Davante Adams over the past few years have been tremendous — 26.98 points per game without Adams vs. 23.0 with him. However, I’m assuming there’s a difference between seven games scattered over three seasons and having to play without Adams full time. The Vikings offense should play at a faster pace than we’re used to with new coach Kevin O’Connell in place, which increases the chances of a shootout, but it’s still fair to be skeptical of Rodgers.
The line has moved pretty significantly toward the Chiefs since the start of the week, which is weird because the Cardinals usually don’t collapse until November. Jokes aside, the Cardinals are playing the first six games without DeAndre Hopkins and have had multiple injuries to other pass-catchers, so the line movement makes sense. It lends a bit of uncertainty to the Cardinals offense, but it also makes it easier to project significant targets for Marquise Brown and James Conner.
The Chargers have basically all of their key pieces returning from last season. The Raiders have a new coach and a new No. 1 wide receiver — and that WR has been the biggest target hog in the league over the past half-decade. Which is to say, we pretty much know exactly what to expect from the Chargers, but the Raiders enter the season with a lot of unknowns.
Seems pretty odd that the Cowboys and Buccaneers are opening the season against one another for the second season in a row, no? Both of these teams enter Week 1 with pretty big question marks around their receiving hierarchies. Or, more accurately, the Buccaneers have questions about their receiving hierarchy and the Cowboys don’t necessarily have a receiving hierarchy.
The Russell Wilson revenge game carries quite a bit of intrigue beyond that narrative, mostly because we just haven’t seen Wilson with this offense yet. Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy were both mediocre last season, and that’s putting it kindly, so I’m not really sure what to expect here. Reports out of camp indicated Sutton was Wilson’s favorite target in camp, but that’s a different thing than being the No. 1 option in games. Both are worth starting, but I’m being cautiously optimistic with both.
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