Week 1 is finally here. Instead of hearing about contract holdouts and meaningless watching players light up 2nd or 3rd string defenses in the preason . Every team is looking to start the season off on the right foot and set the tone for what they want to accomplish this season, which in the case of the Miami Dolphins the goal seems to be getting the 1st pick in the 2020 draft.
Game of the Week: Pittsburgh @ New England (NE -5.5)
Fresh off yet another Superbowl win the Patriots open the season in the biggest game of the week when they host the Steelers on Sunday night. This game has a lot of implications for both the NFL and Fantasy Football seasons. In their playoff run, the Patriots were powered by a dominant running game and I expect them to continue the ball control style of offense. It will also be the first look at the Steelers’ offense without Antonio Brown. Whoever emerges as the WR2 in Pittsburgh will have fantasy relevance.
Players to Watch: Sony Michel, Julian Edelman, Juju Smith-Schuster, James Conner
Fantasy Football X Factors: Josh Gordon, Donte Moncreif, James Washington, Vance Mcdonald
Prediction: New England to win and cover. The Patriots have won 4 of the last 5 match ups with Pittsburgh. The Steelers’ offense needs to prove they can function without Brown and the Patriots are not the ideal opponent with their very strong secondary. New England will start their title defense off with a strong display.
Game to Watch 1: Kansas City @ Jacksonville (KC -4)
Kansas City is one of the preseason Superbowl favorites, while Jacksonville is coming off a disappointing season. With Bortles no longer under center, the Jaguars are hoping Nick Foles can be a steady hand and get them back on track. The Chiefs’ offense was a fantasy juggernaut in 2018, there is an expectation there will be some regression in 2019 overall for the offense. The late addition of LeSean McCoy adds more uncertainty around Damien Williams’ value for fantasy. We know the role of being Chiefs’ starting RB is valuable and how the workload shakes out will be an interesting development.
Players to Watch: Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Leonard Fournette
Fantasy Football X Factors: LeSean McCoy, Damien Williams, Nick Foles, Dede Westbrook
Prediction: Kansas City to win and cover. This game has the highest over under of the Sunday games and if it turns into a battle of offenses, then Jacksonville will not be able to hang with the high powered Chiefs. The only way the Jaguars have a chance in this game is to control the ball and keep this a low scoring contest.
Games to Watch 2: Green Bay @ Chicago (CHI -3)
The NFL has chosen to kick off the season with the next installment of this long running rivalry. The winner of this game will have the early advantage in the NFC North division race. The Packers have a new coach who is looking to make a statement, while the Bears are looking to prove everyone who doubts they can repeat their 2018 success wrong. The way the Packers distribute targets beyond Davante Adams is something to watch, as well as how the Bears use Tarik Cohen and David Montgomery out of the backfield.
Players to Watch: Aaron Jones, Davante Adams, Aaron Rodgers, David Montgomery
Fantasy Football X Factors: Mitch Trubisky, Tarik Cohen, Geronimo Allison, Marquez Valdes-Scantling
Prediction: Green Bay for the upset. I expect this to be a close game and ultimately I still trust Aaron Rodgers more than Mitch Trubisky in those situations. Even if the Bears win, since I expect the game to be close I don’t expect them to cover so I would take the Packers with the points.
Games to Watch 3: Detriot @ Arizona (DET -2.5)
This is not a game that has a lot of implications for the NFL playoff picture, but there are a lot of interesting fantasy storylines. Kerryon Johnson is a popular pick to have a breakout 2019; this game gives us the first view at how the Lions will use him. The target split between Golladay and Jones at WR is something to keep an eye on. Kliff Kingsbury, Kyler Murray and the air raid offense are all making their debut for Arizona. Any early success could have a big impact on fantasy this season. This really is one of the most interesting games for me in week 1.
Players to Watch: David Johnson, Christian Kirk, Kerryon Johnson, Kenny Golladay
Fantasy Football X Factors: Kyler Murray, Matthew Stafford, TJ Hockenson, Marvin Jones
Prediction: Detroit wins and covers. Betting on a rookie head coach and QB in the season opener is not something I would do. Stafford coming into the season healthy should be able to lead the Lions past the new look Cardinals.