Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens 1 p.m. EST
An intriguing matchup as the Texans come in with new head coach DeMeco Ryans and rookie QB C.J. Stroud. They come in as 10-point underdogs to a Ravens team that is going to be healthy with many new weapons for QB Lamar Jackson’s arsenal.
I really like Texans RB Dameon Pierce, but do I like him in this game? The Texans did get better on the offensive line and could open some holes early, but I fear that if the heavy favorite Ravens get a commanding lead the run game will be abandoned. As for the passing game, this is a tough spot for rookie QB C.J. Stroud to start in a hostile environment in Baltimore. I’m not banking on much from the Texans’ offense, but someone will emerge. My top two candidates are WR Nico Collins and WR Tank Dell, with Dell being a very sneaky DFS option. TE Dalton Schultz could also emerge as Stroud’s security blanket.
The Ravens’ offense comes in with heavy expectations with new OC Todd Monken and the additions of WR Odell Beckham and rookie WR Zay Flowers. The new up-tempo offense could make QB Lamar Jackson the best fantasy player in the land. He is expected to have a huge game and will be used in all formats. Unfortunately, he may be the highest-owned player in DFS. Also, we can’t forget about TE Mark Andrews or WR Rashod Bateman, who can both make big plays down the field. As for DFS purposes, you can see there are a lot of mouths to feed, so picking the right weapons to pair with Jackson will be tough. I am going to lean on Bateman as I think Odell will see a ton of corner Derek Stingley Jr. RB J.K. Dobbins is very sneaky as the Texans’ run defense was one of the worst in the league in 2022 but should be slightly improved.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Minnesota Vikings 1 p.m. EST
The Buccaneers come in as touchdown underdogs vs. a Viking team that is trying to defend their NFC North title. The game total is 45.5 and this game does have a sneaky chance to be a very high-scoring game. Baker Mayfield will open the season as Tampa’s starting QB and could be an under-the-radar solid DFS play as the Vikings’ pass defense was lousy a season ago. The Vikings have made changes in the secondary and have a new defensive coordinator in Brian Flores, so there is some hope that there will be improvement with the pass defense. The players I like the most for Tampa Bay are WR Chris Godwin and RB Rachaad White. Godwin has been noted to have developed a connection with Mayfield during camp, plus the Viking’s best CB Byron Murphy figures to be traveling with WR Mike Evans, making Godwin the prime target vs. big young corners. As for White, I expect there to be running room, as I think the Vikings’ run defense will be in the bottom 10 in the league in terms of yards per rush. The defensive line appears to be soft in the middle and they have young inexperienced linebackers. I also expect White to catch a minimum of five passes, as I don’t think the Viking linebackers can keep up. Another positive about White is that it doesn’t matter the game script. He will be playing ahead or from behind, and if the Vikings get a nice lead, he may get closer to double-digit receptions. For those who play many DFS lineups, get TE Cade Otton and WR Trey Palmer in a lineup or two, as both could surprise with a big day.
The Vikings are going through some changes on offense as well. Gone are veteran RB Dalvin Cook and WR Adam Thielen. RB Alexander Mattison will now get the majority of carries, and rookie WR Jordan Addison gets penciled in as the starter. I look for the Vikings to try and beat Tampa through the air using their strengths of WR Justin Jefferson and TE T.J. Hockenson. Don’t be surprised if WR K.J. Osborn, who came on strong late last season, gets involved as well. The ideal situation is that the Viking pass defense allows Tampa to get a lead, making the Vikings have to pass the majority of the second half. As for RB Alexander Mattison, I may look to other options if I have them as Tampa’s run defense figures to be in the upper half of the league, and the Viking’s interior offensive line struggles at times. I expect both teams to get into the 20s as this game may be a little closer than most think.
San Francisco 49ers at Pittsburgh Steelers 1 p.m. EST
I think this is going to be a really good game, and can’t wait to watch it. Both teams have high expectations as the 49ers have been near the top of the NFC for a few years now, and the Steelers have retooled and are my pick to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, so I am expecting them to come out and take care of business on Sunday.
The 49ers will come in with QB Brock Purdy under center and I am interested to see if last season’s success was a fluke. He will have his hands full against what I expect to be a swarming defense. I expect a lot of dump-offs to RB Christian McCaffrey and quick throws to WR Brandon Aiyuk. I am not expecting much from WR Deebo Samuel or TE George Kittle as I think this is a long day overall for the 49ers’ offense. The Steelers’ offense could also be in trouble vs. the 49ers’ front, but they did improve immensely on the offensive line and I expect much bigger things from QB Kenny Pickett this season. My pick to click for the Steelers is going to be WR George Pickens. I think he will make some big plays and will be a sneaky, low-owned DFS play. RB Najee Harris could also be used a ton in the passing game as well. The game total is 41, and I do expect a low-scoring game, but if you play a ton of lineups like I do, it would be prudent to game-stack this one a few times in case a shootout transpires. Both teams are very good defensively but they also have a lot of stars on offense who could win battles.
Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons 1 p.m. EST
This is another interesting game, as I think both teams have improved. Carolina has a very underrated defense and has added veteran position players to rookie QB Bryce Young’s arsenal. As for the Falcons, all eyes will be on rookie RB Bijan Robinson to see if he is as good as advertised. This is another game where you just don’t know what to expect from either side.
Carolina’s offense will most likely try to get RB Miles Sanders involved early, but the Falcons’ front seven is above average in my opinion, and running could be tough sledding. Their receiving corps is banged up as DJ Chark has been ruled out and Adam Thielen has been missing practice, but I expect Thielen to suit up Sunday. Thielen is the receiver I would favor in DFS formats, as he has seemed to develop a connection with Young this preseason. Rookie WR Jonathan Mingo would be very sneaky in DFS for the player who plays many lineups. But the best DFS play very well could be TE Hayden Hurst. Atlanta wasn’t very good against the TE last season, and if you listen to Dr. Roto on Sirius XM Channel 87, he always says that the TE is a rookie QB’s best friend. So, I’m just saying, watch him fall into the end zone on Sunday.
As mentioned, all eyes will be on rookie RB Bijan Robinson as he is expected to be the next generational talent at the running back position. I think he will have a solid game, but I am not expecting a huge game against what I think is an improving underrated Carolina defense. I instead think the Falcons have to find a way to win this game through the air. The Panthers do have good corners so I am not expecting huge games from either WR Drake London or Mack Hollins, so it has to be TE Kyle Pitts. So, if the Falcons want to win this game, Kyle Pitts needs at least a six-catch 80-yard performance. I am convinced he will get open, we just need QB Desmond Ridder to get him the football, something QB Marcus Mariota could not do last season.
Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns 1 p.m. EST
Does anyone think that the Cleveland Browns will be good this season? I sure do, and they open as only two-point underdogs against a high-flying Bengal team that looks to get back to the Super Bowl after a sour loss in the AFC Championship game last season.
QB Joe Burrow has missed most of camp and preseason with a calf strain but he is all systems go to start Week 1 fresh off of signing a five-year, 275-million-dollar deal. Of course, he has a ton of weapons, but who is going to excel this week vs. what I think will be a very good Browns defense? I think only of Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd could have a good game, but I am not expecting a high-scoring performance. In other words, I am fading the Bengals in DFS as I am expecting a lower-scoring performance.
I am also fading the Cleveland Browns’ passing offense as I don’t have a ton of confidence in QB Deshaun Watson. He can change my mind, but I have to see it first. He wasn’t very good last season, and it has been reported that he has had accuracy issues in camp. If I had to lean one way, I think I may roster WR Elijah Moore in some DFS lineups as he is dirt cheap. RB Nick Chubb is the guy we are all anticipating to have a big season, and if he becomes more involved in the passing game then he could be the top fantasy back. I think this is just a low-scoring game and doesn’t offer a lot of appeal outside of Chubb and Moore.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts 1 p.m. EST
Oh boy, this game could be the sneakiest on the slate for big-time fantasy goodness. We get a highly explosive Jaguars offense and a Colts offense led by rookie QB Anthony Richardson that may be better than anyone thinks.
QB Trevor Lawrence is on my shortlist as an MVP candidate, as I am expecting huge numbers from him this season. He has a ton of weapons at his disposal, although picking which weapon is going to be tough on a weekly basis. I am expecting WR Calvin Ridley to be front and center this week. I think they show off their shiny new toy and reports are that he had a tremendous camp. Do not forget about WR Christian Kirk or TE Evan Engram, who plummeted on draft boards as people overcompensated for the Ridley factor. It would not shock me if either had a huge game at low DFS ownership. RB Travis Etienne also fell down draft boards. He should be a solid seasonal play, but I don’t think he is the piece you need in DFS. Let’s watch and see how much volume rookie RB Tank Bigsby gets this weekend, and we may get a better understanding of Etienne’s volume going forward.
As for the Colts, it’s all about QB Anthony Richardson. The game script should be in his favor, as I expect the Colts to be playing from behind. If he can connect on some passes downfield, he could have a huge game as far as fantasy production. I already expect 80 yards rushing, and if he runs one in, then he is a steal. I am still not starting him in Seasonal, because as big as Richardson’s ceiling is, he also comes with a low floor if he were to be corralled. RB Deon Jackson gets the start and is very cheap in DFS, and he did score 28 fantasy points last season vs. the Jaguars, as he does catch passes. Will Richardson check down? WR Michael Pittman and WR Alec Pierce are better than people think but can the rookie get them the ball? Hopefully, we get an idea on Sunday to plan for future weeks.
Arizona Cardinals at Washington Commanders 1 p.m. EST
This is going to be a quick preview. There is absolutely nobody I feel comfortable playing for Arizona in DFS. I expect Washington’s defense to smother Arizona and be a phenomenal DFS option despite high ownership. If you have RB James Conner in seasonal, there isn’t much you can do, you have to play him unless you have a stacked roster. As for Washington, I like two players and there is one player I am focusing on in both Seasonal and DFS. I am expecting a big game from WR Jahan Dotson. I think it’s his year to shine, and he gets a fabulous matchup vs. what appears to be a bad Arizona defense. WR Terry McLaurin is dealing with turf toe but will be signing up for this one. Still, I expect Dotson to catch 7 for 90 with a TD. The next player I like is RB Brian Robinson. He is coming into the season 100% healthy, and he should get the bulk of the carries. I know many are worried about RB Antonio Gibson taking away the third-down opportunities, but Robinson showed he can catch during the preseason. I expect the game script to be in Robinson’s favor, and I expect 20 touches. QB Sam Howell’s $4,900 DraftKing’s price could make someone a million dollars. Don’t forget he can get 40 yards on the ground and account for three, maybe even four touchdowns in this matchup. Washington in a rout.
Tennessee Titans at New Orleans Saints 1 p.m. EST
The Saints look to rebound offensively as QB Ryan Tannehill missed the last several weeks of last season, making their passing game anemic. They added a big-time weapon and will still rely on the legs of RB Derrick Henry. The Saints meanwhile have upgraded at QB with Derek Carr, and he should catapult the Saints to the front of the NFC South.
As mentioned, the Titans really rely on the legs of RB Derrick Henry, and he is often matchup-proof. His ability to score from anywhere on the field separates him from most backs. He will be a low-owned DFS option, and he should fall into the endzone at least once. Now the passing game could leave a bit to be desired in this one as the Saints have an above-average secondary that starts with CB Marshon Lattimore, which means I am backing off from newly acquired WR DeAndre Hopkins. I may lean to WR Treylon Burks and TE Chigoziem Okonkwo in the passing game as both should emerge this season and will be extremely low-owned.
The Saints, on the other hand, should have a ton of fantasy goodness in the passing game. The Titans were horrible vs. the pass last season and really didn’t get much better, even though they have a tremendous pass rush. I am looking for big games from QB Derek Carr and both receivers Michael Thomas and Chris Olave, with Thomas being a DFS focus because he is healthy and cheap. There is nobody I want to start in Seasonal or DFS from the Saints’ running game; if the optimizers I use are right, RB Jamaal Williams is the highest-owned running back on the slate, which makes me feel better about fading him.
Los Angeles Rams at Seattle Seahawks 4:25 p.m. EST
These are two teams that appear to be headed in different directions. The Rams have a roster on which I defy anybody to name five players other than Matt Stafford, Cam Akers, Cooper Kupp, and Aaron Donald. The defense is in complete retooling, and Kupp, unfortunately, is injured. Seattle, meanwhile, appears to be competition for the NFC West. They are loaded offensively at every position, except maybe tight end.
QB Match Stafford needs to find somebody somewhere, or will they lean on Cam Akers in the running game? I think that the Rams fall behind early and will be in com back mode for the second half, which means their lesser-known receiving options could provide fantasy value. Seattle was poor against the tight end in 2022, so Tyler Higbee becomes my number-one focus. He should see a ton of targets and will be rostered in many of my DFS lineups. I also like Tutu Atwell and Puka Nacua as sleeper DFS options. One of them should emerge.
As for the Seahawks, you can play anybody. I like both DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, as the Ram’s secondary could be the worst in the NFL. Stacking them with QB Geno Smith with Higbee coming back could be ideal. I will use running back Kenneth Walker in many lineups that don’t have the Seattle passing game, as he can score from anywhere on the field and should score a touchdown, maybe two. His ownership will be lower because they drafted Zach Charbonnet, but I expect Walker to dominate in volume Week 1.
Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears 4:25 p.m. EST
The Jordan Love era officially begins as the young quarterback takes over an offense that is talented but lacks experience at the receiver and tight end positions. Meanwhile, the Bears have made several additions on both offense and defense and feel confident that they can finally prevail over their hated rivals.
I don’t really know what to expect from the Packer offense in this game. One could make a case for any of their starting players. I might be more inclined to lean to WR Romeo Doubs as he is cheap option and Christian Watson is out with an injury. RB Aaron Jones should get the bulk of the work, but RB AJ Dillon just gets in the way of the volume that would make him an elite fantasy back. TE Luke Musgrave figures to develop, but I don’t expect a whole bunch from him in Week 1.
As for the Bears, I think they will need to establish a running game as the Packers have been poor defensively in that area for quite some time. RB Khalil Herbert is an interesting option and is my back of choice. QB Justin Fields is going to need a big day on the ground if the Bears expect to win. He is simply not going to march down the field through the air against a good Packer’s defense. I think WR Chase Claypool could be a heavy target, depending on whether Packer CB Jaire Alexander travels with WR D.J. Moore or not. At any rate, I expect a lower-scoring game.
Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos 4:25 p.m. EST
An early AFC West matchup involving another two teams who I think are headed in different directions. I think the Raiders might be one of the bottom five teams in football as I think their defense will be bad, and do not understand the signing of QB Jimmy Garoppolo. The Broncos, meanwhile, have higher expectations with new head coach Sean Payton at the helm.
Last season the Raiders’ offense was all about running back Brandon Jacobs and wide receiver Davante Adams. I would expect that to be the case again this year and in this game. Adams will be lower-owned in DFS than usual because of the perceived downgrade at quarterback, but remember, he scorched Denver twice last year, and he could have another big game if Jimmy G can get him the ball. Jacobs is matchup-proof and should get a ton of volume even though he missed all of camp.
The Broncos are interesting because we don’t know what to expect from quarterback Russell Wilson. Was last year an anomaly, or is he declining in skill? Also, they have what appears to be a split backfield between Javonte Williams and Samaje Perine to start the season. Rookie receiver Marvin Mims Jr. may be my shining star and a good third receiver or flex option in DFS. I think WR Courtland Sutton will garner the most attention from the Raiders’ secondary, and Jerry Jeudy will still be limited. Also, don’t forget about TE Greg Dulcich, who I expect to have a big season by tight-end standards.
Miami Dolphins at San Diego Chargers 4:25 p.m. EST
This game features the highest game total on the board at 51, so a ton of points are expected from both sides. I am a little shocked that Miami is a three-point dog, as I think they have the better defense. Let’s get into it.
Miami has the ability to throw the football on anyone with stud receivers Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. I favor Waddle in DFS a little more because of his cheaper price and because he will not get coverage like Hill will. A stack with Tua, Waddle, and Hill can give you great leverage if this game turns into a shootout. But I think the Dolphins have the single most sneaky DFS play on the slate, and that is RB Raheem Mostert. The Chargers’ run defense gave up almost five yards per carry last season, and Mostert runs well when he is healthy. Also, Mostert can catch passes as well, and if he scores, he should reach 20 fantasy points. If he is somehow on a waiver wire, I would not hesitate to pick him up.
Onto the Chargers, QB Justin Herbert is 100% healthy, and they get back LT Rashawn Slater, who was desperately missed in 2022 as Herbert was under tons of pressure. They figure to push the ball upfield in new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore’s up-tempo, passing offense. They do catch a break as Miami Pro Bowl corner Jalen Ramsey will miss this one due to injury. All facets of the Charger offense are in play, and I really like WR Keenan Allen to be targeted early and often. Look for eight catches for 100 yards and a TD from him.
Philadelphia Eagles at New England Patriots 4:25 p.m. EST
This game intrigues me because of the lines. The Eagles are only four-point favorites, but they appear to be much better on paper than the Patriots. Both teams have very good defenses, but in my opinion, only one team has a good offense, and that’s the Eagles. So am I missing something from this game?
QB Jalen Hurts is the gem in this game, but I don’t expect them to just go up and down the field on that Patriots’ defense. His legs should keep his fantasy value strong, but I am not expecting a huge performance either. He will have other games with much higher ceilings. WR DeVonta Smith is my receiver of choice over A.J. Brown. Smith really came on last year, and now, in his third season, he could explode against opponents’ number-two corners. I think he is the matchup of choice for the Eagles on Sunday. I am not too keen on playing any Eagle running backs, but I hope to see who they give the volume to. I am hoping it’s D’Andre Swift, as I may be a bit overweight with him in Seasonal leagues.
As for the Patriots, I am avoiding everybody on offense, even RB Rhamondre Stevenson. I think it will be tough sledding for him and I’m looking at other options in both Seasonal and DFS leagues. The Patriots’ passing game the last time I checked stunk. It may be a good day for tight end Hunter Henry, though, and he could crack a few of my DFS lineups.