One of the best parts of fantasy football is trying to predict what your guys will do in a given week. Since fantasy football has become so popular, everyone is out there with tools and metrics to try to help out, but nothing beats going with your gut. This year, I’ll do a weekly series where I try to pick three things that will happen based on the Vegas lines and spreads, to try to help you be a better fantasy player. So without further ado, here are my fantasy football predictions for Week 1 of the NFL.
Week 1 Fantasy Football Predictions – Overview
Current record: 0-0
Each week I’ll use this section to look back at my previous weeks before looking ahead to what I expect next week. For now, since this is the first week, I’m a fresh 0-0. Let’s get into it!
PREDICTION: Texans WR Will Fuller scores at least 26 PPR fantasy points
Houston Texans vs. Kansas City Chiefs (-9) O/U 54.5
Implied final score: Chiefs 32, Texans 23
Looking at the implied score, Vegas is telling us that this will be a high scoring matchup, with each team scoring at least three touchdowns. This means we should be starting almost any player in this game that matters for fantasy. Chiefs players like QB Patrick Mahomes, WR Tyreek Hill, RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and TE Travis Kelce are all solid plays, and you were starting them anyway. On the other side of the ball, there are more questions to be answered.
QB Deshaun Watson is a worthy start in all formats, and RB David Johnson is a fine RB2 play and should catch some balls out of the backfield. The thing most fantasy managers are waiting for, however, is who will be his WR1?
For now, the depth chart shows both Will Fuller and Brandin Cooks as the two starters on the outside, with Randall Cobb in the slot. Of the three, Cooks is likely the most fantasy-relevant, but in this matchup, my eyes are focusing more on Fuller.
Fuller has a long history of being “injury-prone,” even though that’s a term that doesn’t exist in the NFL. Fuller also tends to blow up in some weeks and be ignored in others. Given this matchup, and since it is on opening night with no other games to watch, I think Fuller shines and lights up the fantasy scoreboard. My first fantasy football prediction for Week 1 is that I’m predicting Fuller scores a minimum of 26 PPR fantasy points.
PREDICTION: Bills RB Devin Singletary scores fewer than 10 PPR fantasy points
New York Jets v Buffalo Bills (-6.5) O/U 39.5
Implied final score: Bills 23, Jets 17
On the opposite end of the scoring spectrum from the Texans vs. Chiefs is the Jets vs. Bills matchup. This one is a divisional matchup between two teams that are trying to turn a corner as they head into 2020.
The Jets have QB Sam Darnold, RB Le’Veon Bell, WR Jamison Crowder, and TE Chris Herndon (when healthy), which don’t impress fantasy players much. If they’re only scoring 17, then I’m likely fading everyone here for a fantasy, especially since it’s Week 1, and I want to wait to see what that team looks like before going too crazy.
The Bills, however, are a team worth watching. They added WR Stefon Diggs and rookie RB Zack Moss to the squad this offseason, making their above-average offense even more threatening. Combine that with WR John Brown, RB Devin Singletary, and QB Josh Allen, and you’re looking at a solid group for fantasy. But there are only so many balls to go around, and I expect a lot of three-and-outs for both teams here.
Lower scoring games tend to favor the running game on both sides of the ball, but the potential split between Singletary and Moss is something fantasy managers have been worried about since the team drafted Moss in April. For my prediction this week, I believe Singletary will feel the brunt of things early here as Moss gets an early chance to prove himself. Therefore, Singletary will finish with fewer than 10 PPR points, disappointing fans, and fantasy players alike.
PREDICTION: Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin scores at least 18 PPR points
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints (-3.5) O/U 49.5
Implied final score: Saints 27, Buccaneers 23
The afternoon game everyone will be watching is the Bucs vs. Saints, which will have two future Hall of Fame QBs facing off in Drew Brees against Tom Brady. This game should be pretty high scoring, but the Vegas linemakers have Tom Terrific and his new team falling to the Saints, meaning they think they will struggle to make a connection out of the gate.
Brees is a solid option, and WR Michael Thomas and RB Alvin Kamara are first-round picks, so no one’s benching them. Behind them, you have RB Latavius Murray and WR Emmanuel Sanders, both of whom could show up, but it’s hard to tell just yet how they’ll be used. I’m willing to wait and see.
The Bucs are a fun team, though, with a lot of fantasy-relevant options. Behind Brady, you have a new four-headed monster at RB with Ronald Jones, LeSean McCoy, Ke’Shawn Vaughn, and new addition Leonard Fournette. I’m avoiding playing all of these guys wherever possible just because they will all eat into each other’s scoring abilities, and we will be better off just waiting to see how HC Bruce Arians deploys them.
As far as TB pass catchers, you have Tom’s favorite target, Rob Gronkowski, WR Mike Evans, and WR Chris Godwin. This week, given the rust factor on Gronk and Brady’s penchant for the short and intermediate route runners, I give the nod to Godwin, who I think will be the top-scoring TB player not named Brady.
My last fantasy football prediction for Week 1 is that Godwin scores at least 18 PPR points in his first game with Brady. I wouldn’t be shocked if Evans gets more yards, but I think Godwin will get more catches and has a higher chance of getting into the end zone as well.
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Andrew Hall is a writer for PFN covering the NFL and Fantasy Football. You can follow him on Twitter: @AndrewHallFF.