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NFL Main Slate Week 1 Thoughts and Notes

As I do every Sunday morning for the NFL season, this pieces will be a set of notes on every game on the main slate. It'll include thoughts on the best and worst plays from each game, the leverage to be had, and some circumstances related to the players involved. If I don't end up mentioning a player in the top or bad plays sections, it's because I either don't have a strong lean or they need more context. At the end I'll give my top plays and top fades as well!

Let's get it.

Browns vs. Chiefs (O/U 54.5, Chiefs -5.5)

  • Top Plays: Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Odell Beckham Jr.
  • Bad Plays: Nick Chubb

Mostly think this game is going to be dictated by the Chiefs. The line is relatively close so it should be (Or at least Vegas believes) that this one should be competitive. Focusing on the passing game is the best way to attack things here for obvious reasons and it's kind of looking like people won't be exposing themselves to the expensive pieces the way they should be.

The reason that Nick Chubb is a bad play is simply because he's gamescript dependent. It's hard to think that the Browns are in a position to grind away on the ground against a team like the chiefs, so Chubb shouldn't have as much opportunity as he needs to get there in GPPs.

Preferred Lineup construction

This is an exceptionally expensive stack, but the upside is obvious. You can drop from Tyreek Hill to Mecole Hardman if you want to save some cash in GPPs to afford some better running backs.

This is the top stack on the slate and definitely something you should aim to have in your portfolio no matter the amount of lineups that you have.

Cardinals vs. Titans (O/U 54, Titans -3)

  • Top Plays: Kyler Murray, Deandre Hopkins, Derrick Henry
  • Bad Plays: Rondale Moore

This game has actually been bet up quite a bit. It opened at an O/U of 51 and is sitting at 54 as of now which is right behind the Chiefs/Browns game for highest on the slate. With the addition of Julio Jones, the Titans have one of the most talented groups of skill players in the league, but it's still of question as to how they plan to utilize the group.

There are a couple ways that we can see this game going. If you believe that the Titans are going to be in control here you definitely want a piece of Derrick Henry who will be coming in at less than 10% in GPPs. If you are like me and think that Kyler is going to be incredible this year, the Cardinals stack of Murray/Hopkins makes a lot of sense.

Rondale Moore is a bad play here simply because I don't know how he ends up making an impact in GPPs. Like, maybe he gets some snaps and maybe he ends up with a line of 3-45-0 or something? But the chalk on him is weird.

Preferred Lineup Construction

I really like trying to attack this game. The only issue that I think you have to reconcile is whether to use Julio Jones or A.J. Brown in your stack and that might end up being a coin flip regardless of how you look at it.

Another top stack for me that I think you should have exposure to.

Steelers vs. Bills (O/U 50.5, Bills -6.5)

  • Top Plays: Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, Diontae Johnson
  • Bad Plays: Najee Harris

This game has the highest potential for a shootout on the slate with two teams that will feasibly allow their QBs to pass 45 times each and just abandon the RBs all together. The single question that you need to ask yourself is if you think that the Steelers, and specifically Big Ben, are healthly enough to keep up with the Bills. I personally don't know that he is and that's where my hesitation lies in this spot.

The nice thing here is that there is a very clear and clean route to how to attack this game and you don't really have to worry much about the context or any coin flips. You are stacking up the Bills side, since Allen has considerably more upside than Big Ben, and you are bringing it back with alpha WR Diontae Johnson. The running backs are a non-factor here no matter how much people want to say that Najee Harris will touch the ball 30 times a game. With Zack Moss a healthy scratch, Devin Singletary might see 85% of the snaps in this game makes for an intriguing value proposition at RB. I don't love him, but it's interesting.

Preferred Lineup Construction

With how much cheaper this stack is than the Chiefs stack and the ownership discount we are getting, this is definitely a stack that I will have in my Power Sweep entries.

Eagles vs. Falcons (O/U 49, Falcons -3.5)

  • Top Plays: Matt Ryan, Calvin Ridley
  • Bad Plays: Kyle Pitts

The O/U on this game is actually pretty wild considering the prices of the stacks and the players involved. Props absolutely love Matt Ryan and think he's pretty far underpriced and Calvin Ridley is an obviously high value stud on this slate even at relative ownership. The hardest part of this game is making a decision on the PHI WRs in your stack since there's no clear answer to who they want to utilize as their WR1 and, likewise, if they will even have a fantasy relevant WR to use.

The one thing that I am pretty firm on here is that Kyle Pitts is a bad GPP play. He's gotten his ownership ramped up over the last couple days and everyone is making assumptions about not only his role but his ability to be a top scoring TE on this slate. Sure, he's a physical specimen, but that doesn't automatically lead to fantasy points and if he ends up having issues as a rookie? Which, ya know, is likely! He's going to be shaky. I much prefer Russell Gage as a piece of this stack with Ridley instead.

Preferred Lineup Construction

The only reason that I prefer the Falcons side here is because I don't know how to attack the Eagles or if the Eagles will be a stackable team this year. The Falcons are much easier to figure out and I don't think that you need to take unnecessary risks in week 1.

This one is a bit riskier and not a top stack but definitely something that I will be trying to make work.

Packers vs. Saints (O/U 49, Packers -3.5)

  • Top Plays: Davante Adams, Aaron Jones, Alvin Kamara
  • Bad Plays: Marquez Callaway

This game has a bunch of potential to be the make or break of the entire slate and I think you really have to think through how you want to approach it if you are going to find success. Marquez Callaway is going to be uber chalk at like 30%+ in large field tournaments as a super cheap WR with, what people assume to be, a significant portion of the passing upside for the team. The Saints have basically no WRs available and should have to use Callaway, Harris, and Humphrey as their top options. The Packers on the other side have godmode Aaron Rodgers who will have another season of feeding Davante Adams along with a healthy Aaron Jones against a team that might not put up a fight. There's a lot to digest here.

The main reason for Callaway being a bad play is simply because we have no idea if he will actually be valuable in terms of opportunity and we definitely don't know if that opportunity will be valuable in and of itself. For the ownership and unknown factors here, Deonte Harris is a considerably better play and one of the top leverage plays on the slate by a longshot.

Perferred Lineup Construction

Now, I don't actually think that I want to stack this game. I think I much prefer Aaron Jones at really low ownership in a spot where the Packers should dictate the entire game. And I think that combining him with the Packers defense is a natural move to further take advantage of the field on Callaway. That said, the Packers have a pretty potent offense (obviously) and there are a lot of ways to stack them.

Whatever you do, just fade Callaway.

Seahawks vs. Colts (O/U 47.5, Seahawks -3)

  • Top Plays: DK Metcalf, Jonathan Taylor
  • Bad Plays: Russell Wilson

Looks, man, The Seahawks are not going to let Russ cook. They don't want him to cook. they think that his cooking is bad. He can't scramble eggs, in their eyes. So I don't understand the hype around him once again when Pete Carroll has come out and said that they want to be a more run heavy team this year. so stacking the Seahawks is going to be mostly off the table this year until I've been proven otherwise.

The Colts are not any easier to deal with, because we have no idea who they will be with Wentz at the helm. I think that it's probably fair to think they will likely be the same team that they were last year: A team that would rather run than pass and spread the ball around a bunch when they do end up airing it out. So even with no TY Hilton the opportunity will likely be lacking.

So after thinking through all of that, I really don't want to stack this one. I do like DK Metcalf, because he's got upside independently. I also really like Jonathan Taylor. If you take a look at the “Paydirt vs. VPM” model (found in the range of outcomes) it projects Taylor for 23.2 fantasy points, which at his price is definitely in play in GPPs.

So, yeah, just one offs here!

Jaguars vs. Texans (O/U 47, Jaguars -3)

  • Top Plays: James Robinson
  • Bad Plays: Almost everyone else

I can mostly be short and sweet here: the Texans are likely to be the leagues trashcan and realistically won't win a single game this year and the Jaguars might have an idiot as their HC. This is evidenced by the Jags, facing the leagues trashcan, being only three point favorites. It makes it really, really hard to have any confidence in the Jags as a fantasy option, and I obviously have no interest in the Texans.

So, what are we to do? Well we need to consider James Robinson as a midrange RB with a lot of opportunity upside against a team that should give up a bunch of opportunity to RBs this year. Sure, the Jaguars have wanted to have his workload curtailed this year with the Etienne pick, but he's out for the season and they have just Carlos Hyde to really pull work away. I think you can be modest with Robinson and still project him very well, so he's definitely the best play here.

The only other play you are truly considering from this game is Marvin Jones Jr., who is going to be pretty heavy chalk. He actually projects okay (16.8 in the VPM model, 13.1 for my model) but for the ownership I'm not sure I'm stoked on the play. If you have built a lineup that can take on a decent amount of negative leverage, you can plug him in as a one off, but make sure that you aren't pairing him with any of the other super heavy chalk.

Vikings vs. Bengals (O/U 47, Vikings -2.5)

  • Top Plays: Justin Jefferson, Dalvin Cook, Tee Higgins
  • Bad Plays: Joe Mixon?

Hey a game I wanna stack! I really like the upside here for both of these teams and the cost to stack them is relatively low when we consider what we can get from them. Tee Higgins projects as one of the best values on the slate and depending on how you view Ja'Marr Chase you can get a full stack from well under $20k in salary. And if you don't want to stack this for any number of reasons, Dalvin Cook projects as one of the best plays on the slate in both median and leverage.

Joe Mixon is the only question mark for me. I think that he has a hold on the workload we want, and I think that his upside is really good, but there's just something about this team that makes him unappealing. the projections don't like him because I'm projecting a heavy pass ratio on their plays, but maybe he will be heavily involved in those passing plays! He's kind of a polarizing player for me in the projections overall.

Preferred Lineup Construction

The reason for taking the Bengals side here as the stack is because I don't think that the Vikings will end up passing unless the Bengals force their hand. that context combined with their price and the upside of Justin Jefferson as an alpha WR makes it an easy choice for me. I much, much prefer Dalvin Cook to a Vikings stack here if you think the Vikings have things their way.

Jets vs. Panthers (O/U 47, Panthers -4.5)

  • Top Plays: Christian McCaffrey, DJ Moore
  • Bad Plays: Elijah Moore

There's kind of a bunch of hype on this game as people buy into Sam Darnold being reborn in Carolina and Zach Wilson coming off a hot preseason, but Vegas doesn't really see it and neither do I. The vast majority of the offense for the Panthers comes from Christian McCaffrey and DJ Moore, with some spread out targets around them, but are we sure that they don't just treat Darnold like they did Bridgewater and make him a checkdown machine with low upside?

And for the Zach Wilson side, I think he looked pretty impressive in the preseason, but it's the preseason! they went out and got a defensive minded head coach to rebuild the teams identity and it's not going to be a pass heavy one. It's fair to say that Corey Davis might be a target monster, but a single receiver does not a stack make! The last thing to say is that there's a lot of confidence that is being placed on Elijah Moore that I don't really think is deserved, and I wouldn't be surprised if he ended up playing less than 10 snaps.

Should be obvious that I'm not into stacking this game. Play McCaffrey or Moore as one offs, or as a secondary correlation with Corey Davis but leave the QBs out of it.

49ers vs. Lions (O/U 46, 49ers -8.5)

Mostert. that's it. Play him.

Chargers vs. Washington (O/U 45.5, Chargers -2)

  • Top Plays: Keenan Allen, Austin Ekeler, Antonio Gibson, Terry McLaurin
  • Bad Plays: Jared Cook/Donald Parham

I do actually like this game quite a bit from a stacking perspective, but Vegas doesn't agree and that makes me a bit apprehensive. The Washington defense is, or at least was, really good and that's what is holding this over under down I think, because Justin Herbert and Ryan Fitzpatrick are both gunslingers and the upside here is obvious.

Both RBs for these teams are well in play in GPPs and both have upside in the passing game which opens up some possibilities in terms of including them in stacks as well. I'm more into Gibson for the price than I am Ekeler, but both are viable GPP options for sure. My biggest thing here I think is that if you believe this is a lower scoring game, the RBs are more valuable, but I think it can be a shootout which makes me like them a bit less.

Preferred Lineup Construction for WAS
Preferred Lineup Construction for LAC

I'm including a lineup construction for both sides here because I like both sides a lot. the WAS gives you a TE in the stack which is really valuable, and that's likely the side that I would lean, but it's more preference than anything.

Dolphins vs. Patriots (O/U 43.5, Patriots -3.5)

  • Top Plays: Mac Jones
  • Bad Plays: Everyone else

The only reason that I am even mentioning Mac Jones is because he's basically free and that makes him an exceptionally valuable cash game QB. Especially considering the VPM model has him as by far the top value on the slate, it's worth considering him as a one off in your cash builds. He's obviously not an option for GPPs because of lack of both ceiling and stacking correlatives, but he's worth mentioning here.

Broncos vs. Giants (O/U 41.5, Broncos -3)

Nothing to be said here, it's the lowest O/U on the slate with two lame duck QBs. The only real play is going to be Saquon Barkley as a low owned stud who projects well in the VPM model.

Top Plays:

  • Raheem Mostert
  • Calvin Ridley
  • Travis Kelce
  • Tee Higgins
  • Kyler Murray

Top Fades:

  • Marquez Callaway
  • Kyle Pitts

Cash Game Core:

  • Jalen Hurts
  • Raheem Mostert
  • Christian McCaffrey
  • Marquez Callaway
  • Kyle Pitts
  • Elijah Moore

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