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Favorites & Fades


Week 1

By: Gravy Collins | Ken Ilchuk | Nick Caron | HC Green
Updated: 9/9/22

Thursday:

BUF @ LAR


Sunday Early:

PHI @ DET | IND @ HOU | CLE @ CAR | SF @ CHI

JAX @ WAS | NE @ MIA | PIT @ CIN | BAL @ NYJ


Sunday Late:

NO @ ATL | KC @ ARI | NYG @ TEN | GB @ MIN

LV @ LAC | TB @ DAL


Monday:

DEN @ SEA

Notes:
- Green highlight indicates plus matchup (top eight) - begins Week 2
- Red highlight indicates negative matchup (bottom eight) - begins Week 2

Bills @ Rams - (Collins)
Line: BUF -2.5
Total: N/A



No Brainers: QB Josh Allen, WR Stefon Diggs

Favorite: WR Gabriel Davis

It is time for the Gabriel Davis fans to have their day, on prime-time no less. We last saw Davis scorching the Chiefs defense in the divisional round of the playoffs in the wildest game of last season - 8 catches for 201 yards and 4 TDs. Of course, that isnít sustainable. Right?!? The Rams allowed the 7th most fantasy points (36.6 Fpts/G) to wide receivers last year, so no reason to play it cautious here. This is the chance prove all the doubters wrong, soak off the guard rails and punch it!

On the Fence: RB Devin Singletary

Ok, put the guard rails back up. The backfield is muddy to start the season. Sure, Singletary is the starter, but that is about all I can say for him. The Rams were stingy against RBs last year, allowing the 10th fewest fantasy points (15.6 FPts/G) to the position. More problematic, the Bills backfield is crowded with Zack Moss and newcomer James Cook. Even more problematic is the arrival of Bobby Wagner to the second tier of the Rams defense. Singletary will have to get dirty if he wants to stand out, but this matchup is not in his favor.

Fade: TE Dawson Knox

The Rams are the champs, so they get to play host Thursday, however, you should limit the expectations on how far they let the TEs inside. Los Angeles allowed only four TD’s and the arrival of the aforementioned Mr. Wagner only throws folding chairs in the path of Knox. I expect a shoot-out, but Knox will be TD dependent, which is not ideal. LA has a nice, spacious new place, but Knox may get stuck hanging out in the foyer to start the season.

No Brainer: WR Cooper Kupp

Favorite: WR Allen Robinson

Does this sound familiar? Good player leaves bad midwestern team and finds success out west with an offensive-minded coach. Thatís the plot of ďStranger ThingsĒ right? A healthy Robinson walks into an offense that finished 5th in passing yards last year, averaging 273 yards a game, a slight uptick over the 188 yards the Bears averaged. Matthew Stafford put everyone on notice in primetime Week 1 last year and expect Robinson to do the same.

On the Fence: RB Cam Akers

A shared backfield is on the horizon for the Rams. I have been cool on Akers this off-season because of his situation and the presence of Darrel Henderson. Last season, the Rams averaged 99 rushing yards per game and finished 30th with 10 rushing TDís. That isnít an entire pie you are dividing; it looks more like a slice. I think both RBs are going to be scrapping for crumbs this entire season so set your expectations properly and please clean up after yourself.

Fade: TE Tyler Higbee

Sure, wideout Van Jefferson (knee) will miss this game leaving the Rams down one of their better pass catchers, but the Bills were mighty stingy last year to the TE position allowing only 7.9 FPts/G which placed them 3rd in the league. Higbee is in a favorable position as the season progresses, but thereís probably a better streaming idea on your waiver wire.

Prediction: Bills 38, Rams 31 ^ Top

Eagles @ Lions - (Green)
Line: PHI -4.0
Total: 48.5



No Brainers: QB Jalen Hurts, WR A.J. Brown, TE Dallas Goedert

Favorite: RB Miles Sanders

A year ago, the Eagles ran for 236 yards and four TDs against the Lions in a 44-6 win... and that was without Sanders, who missed the game due to injury. In his stead, the pair of Boston Scott (12-60-2) and Jordan Howard (12-57-2) did major damage. While itís a new season, this matchup still shades to Phillyís advantage, and Sanders possesses more talent than either of the backs that went off in 2021. Sanders is close to a weekly start anyway, but his upside is higher than normal this Sunday.

On the Fence: RB Kenneth Gainwell

As it happens, Gainwell was the only back that didnít have success against Detroit in the aforementioned meeting as his 12 carries covered only 27 yards. Heís higher on the depth chart now, however, and could offer value if the Eagles once again canít be stopped on the ground in Week 1. Gainwell is still more of a flier type in deeper leagues, though he boasts some interesting potential.

Fade: WR DeVonta Smith

With 64 receptions, 916 yards, and 5 TDs, Smith enjoyed a solid rookie campaign. While receivers typically make a jump in Year 2, the acquisition of Brown pushes the Alabama alum into more of a secondary role in the passing game -- it might even be tertiary based on Goedertís involvement. His season-long outlook is decent, but if the Eagles feature the ground attack again, Smith may not have many chances to make things happen with the ball after catching just one pass versus Detroit in 2021. Smith looks like a weak WR3 and could be benched depending on your receiver depth.



No Brainers: RB DíAndre Swift, TE T.J. Hockenson

Favorite: WR Amon-Ra St. Brown

Like Sanders, St. Brown is on the cusp of being a no brainer. His reputation is largely built off a six-week kick to close out his rookie campaign, however, so he still needs to put up some numbers to earn that spot. Expect St. Brown to start doing that in Week 1 against the Eagles, which registered six sacks against the Lions last year and should lead to Detroit prioritizing getting ball out of Jared Goffís hands quickly. When you think short passes in Motown, you think Hockenson and St. Brown, and the latter has the look of a low-end WR2 or high-end WR3.

On the Fence: None

Fade:
RB Jamaal Williams

Over the course of the 2022 season, expect Williams to get a workload that isn’t too far below that of Swift, who needs to prove he can stay healthy. For the opener, however, look for the lead back to get more run, especially since he’s the superior pass catcher and Detroit couldn’t get the ground attack working against Philly last year (18 carries, 57 yards). Williams is a fringe flex play most weeks. This Sunday, the bench is the preferred destination.

Prediction: Eagles 34, Lions 23 ^ Top

Colts @ Texans - (Ilchuk)
Line: IND -7.0
Total: 46.0



No Brainers: RB Jonathan Taylor

Favorite: QB Matt Ryan

I really donít understand why people arenít more excited about Ryanís move to Indy. I realize that Jonathan Taylor will be the focus of the offense, but so does every defensive coordinator in the NFL. The box will be stacked every week, and while Taylor will carry a significant load, donít be surprised to see a jump in his targets and receptions, especially with a poised vet like Ryan under center. Hereís a passer who put up nearly 4,000 yards and 20 TDís last season in Atlanta with a struggling o-line, no real running game, and a passing attack without Julio Jones or Calvin Ridley. Here, heís got a full stable of young, talented receivers, Taylor, and an excellent pass catcher out of the backfield in RB Nyheim Hines. I think Ryan has top ten QB potential this season, and it starts this week against that Lovie Smith Tampa-2 defense heís seen a thousand times before.

On the Fence: WR Michael Pittman Jr.

Pittman has all the tools and attributes of a WR1, and despite coming off his first ever 1,000-yard season, it still feels like he hasnít really broken out yet. That could be a function of average QB play, but that wonít be the case this season with Ryan under center. Now he gets his chance to really shine with a QB who can get him the ball, and a system that allows him to align all over the field. The NFL is a ďprove itĒ league. I think he will, but until he does, Iím in wait and see mode.

Fade: TE Mo Alie-Cox

The Colts have taken TEís in the 3rd and 4th rounds of the NFL draft each of the last two years. To me, that screams that he not giving the Colts what they need. With that being said, the Colts paid him this offseason and Jack Doyle is gone, leaving the starting role to Cox for the first time. But, listening to reports out of Colts camp, that may just be because of the struggles of the young guys behind him.

No Brainers: WR Brandin Cooks

Favorite: QB Davis Mills

Mills was solid as a rookie in a struggling offense that didnít provide him with much of a supporting cast, and he got better as the year went on, completing 68% of his passes for over 1200 yards, with nine touchdowns and just two interceptions over his last five games. The surrounding talent isnít really improved, but heís a smart player, with a strong arm who should make a big jump in development from year one to year two.

On the Fence: RB Dameon Pierce

Pierce is fast, tough, explosive, quick, and has ability and versatility to make plays all over the field. He was impressive this preseason in winning the job over Rex Burkhead and the departed Marlon Mack. But he was never a starter in college, so I have questions about his ability to truly carry the load at the NFL level. This week, against a Colts team that struggled against the run a year ago, he has a chance to emerge as a strong RB2 candidate. But over the course of the season his value remains to be seen.

Fade: TE Brevin Jordan

It looks like Pharaoh Brown is out for Week 1, which should have meant a boost for Brevin Jordan as the TE1. He might still be on paper, but the signing of O.J. Howard makes it seem like Jordan isn’t really the guy they want out there. I don’t expect Jordan to play much of a factor at all against the Colts.

Prediction: Colts 27, Texans 17 ^ Top

Browns @ Panthers - (Ilchuk)
Line: CAR -1.0
Total: 42.5



No Brainers: RB Nick Chubb

Favorite: TE David Njoku

Fellow TE Austin Hooper is gone and Njoku has this job to himself for the first time in his career. Coupled with the fact that QB Jacoby Brissett is playing in place of the suspended Deshaun Watson, Njoku figures to be a primary target in whatever the Brownsí passing game amounts to in the next few weeks. No doubt, HC Kevin Stefanski will lean on his running game, but when Cleveland does have to pass, look for them to play it close to the vest. Njoku is that security blanket and a big target in the red zone, especially with RB Kareem Hunt finding his way into Stefanskiís doghouse this summer.

On the Fence: RB Kareem Hunt

Hunt is clearly second fiddle in this rushing attack to Nick Chubb, so while Chubb is healthy early in the season, expect Huntís looks to be limited. He does have some PPR value as an excellent receiver out of the backfield, but with his training camp griping, and the emergence of DíErnest Johnson, I see limited opportunity for Hunt until one of his fellow backfield mates, namely Chubb gets sidelined by injury.

Fade: WR Amari Cooper

Some will argue, as the teamís most (maybe only) viable receiver, Cooper should be in play. But in a run-first offense, with QB Deshaun Watson on the sideline, Cooperís value takes a big hit. Iíve never been a big Cooper fan anyway, but I thought he under-performed, particularly last season, in an offense that was much more prolific than the one heís joined in Cleveland. Iím not looking at Cooper until Watson is back on the field.

No Brainers: N/A

Favorite: QB Baker Mayfield

Mayfield has always played on emotion, and anyone whoís heard a single interview with him in his career knows that he is amped for this one! Healthy in his own right, with a chip on his shoulder against the team that gave up on him, with a healthy McCaffrey in the backfield, playing for a coaching staff that NEEDS him to play well, I expect Mayfield to pop this weekend if the re-vamped o-line can hold up against Browns DE Myles Garrett and company.

On the Fence: RB Christian McCaffrey

I donít know if weíre allowed to put a ďno-brainerĒ player in the ďon the fenceĒ category, but personally, just being honest here, Iím on the fence about McCaffrey. You donít need me to tell you how good he is and all the great and versatile things he can do. He single-handedly makes QBís better when heís on the field. But heís played just ten games over the last two seasons. My biggest question this week is, will he still be on the field at the end of the game? If he is, then we can have a different discussion next week.

Fade: WR D.J. Moore

Moore’s production over the last three years with some less than elite QB play is impressive, and his ability to make plays after the catch will make him a valuable asset for Mayfield. But this week, against a stellar pass rush led by Myles Garrett, the game plan will call for a lot of McCaffrey, both as a runner, and as a quick outlet in the passing game. Moore will be fine, but I think it will be several weeks before we see he and Mayfield coming together for significant production.

Prediction: Panthers 16, Browns 10 ^ Top

49ers @ Bears - (Green)
Line: SF -6.5
Total: N/A



No Brainers: RB Elijah Mitchell, WR Deebo Samuel, TE George Kittle (groin)

Favorite: N/A

On the Fence: QB Trey Lance

Although he made a couple of starts a year ago, this Sunday marks the true start of the Trey Lance era in San Francisco. Expectations are high for the second-year QB, and he has a good matchup on deck to kick off the 2022 season as the Bears figure to be among the worst teams in the NFL. Still, Lance has limited experience, and you have to wonder how much Kyle Shanahan will ask of him in the early going. Heís a borderline QB1 with risk/reward potential due in large to his running ability.

Fade: WR Brandon Aiyuk

You know Samuel is going to get his touches, but if you think Shanahan is going to bring Lance along slowly there may not be a ton of balls to go around in the passing game, at least in the early part of the season. Aiyuk caught four passes for 45 yards against the Bears last October, and it might be optimistic to expect more than that on Sunday.

No Brainers: RB David Montgomery

Favorite: WR Darnell Mooney

There arenít a lot of weapons in Chicago these days, but Mooney clearly sits atop the pecking order after posting an 81-1,055-4 line a year ago. Six catches and 64 yards came against the 49ers last season, which are fairly modest totals, though they easily led the club in both departments. While heís not quite at ďno brainerĒ status, Mooney would have to be staring donít a particularly harsh matchup to be left on the bench. Heís safe to use as a WR3 this weekend.

On the Fence: TE Cole Kmet

Kmet managed just 24 yards on three catches against San Francisco in 2021, but his six targets trailed only Mooney (9), and fellow tight end Jesse James scored Chicagoís lone passing touchdown that day. Although Kmet isnít a bulletproof TE1 for Week 1, he feels like the most likely player to contribute after Mooney, and heís someone whose role could really grow as the season progresses. If heís out there on the waiver wire, Kmet might be a savvy grab and stash.

Fade: QB Justin Fields

Despite having one of his better all-around days against the 49ers on Halloween when he threw for 175 yards and ran for a career-high 103, Fields is staring down the barrel of a tough 49ers defense this Sunday. The second-year quarterback took a beating as a rookie, and it’s far from clear the team did enough to address its shortcomings in the blocking and receiving departments. That running ability does give Fields a little juice, but the downside here looks to be significant.

Prediction: 49ers 27, Bears 16 ^ Top

Jaguars @ Commanders - (Caron)
Line: WAS -2.5
Total: 44.0



No Brainers: N/A

Favorite: N/A

On the Fence: RB Travis Etienne

Both Jaguars running backs, James Robinson and Travis Etienne, enter the 2022 season with questions about their health following season-ending injuries in 2021. For Robinson, the teamís starter over the past few seasons, it was a devastating Achillesí injury that only recently allowed him to get clearance to play in Week 1. Etienne, on the other hand, suffered a foot injury prior to ever taking a regular season NFL snap as a rookie. Now recovered and practicing in full, Etienne will certainly have to battle with Robinson for playing time, but the reality is that he is the more physically skilled player who possesses a more diverse skill set. The Commanders also gave up a league-most 9 receiving touchdowns to opposing running backs in 2021. Etienne is definitely a gamble, but his versatility gives him a lot more upside than most backs who are projected to be in a committee.

Fade: RB James Robinson

We do expect this to be a committee situation heading into Week 1, but if thereís one back who will end up seeing a majority of snaps in this backfield, itís probably going to be Etienne and not Robinson. Robinson was only cleared to play recently whereas Etienne has been playing in the preseason and getting acclimated with the new Jaguars offense. Robinson has been a great fantasy player for a few years now, but donít let that cloud your judgment here in Week 1.

No Brainers: N/A

Favorite: WR Terry McLaurin

The Commanders invested heavily in their passing game this offseason, including spending a first-round NFL Draft pick on wide receiver Jahan Dotson, but this remains an offense that operates around Terry McLaurin until proven otherwise. The quarterback change to Carson Wentz, who loves to pass the ball deep down the field, should give McLaurin even more upside than heís had throughout his first few years in the league.

On the Fence: RB Antonio Gibson, RB J.D. McKissic

The Washington backfield became a huge contention point late in fantasy draft season, with rookie Brian Robinson Jr. being selected before 2021 starter Gibson in some drafts. With Robinsonís recent injury, however, the backfield now looks almost identical to how it did a season ago. Many people have pivoted so hard toward Robinson that itís difficult to remember that Gibson finished as the overall RB8 in PPR scoring in 2021. Weíd like more from him before we consider him a true must-start, but Gibson has the upside to be a big-time producer, especially against bad defenses.

Those looking for a deep PPR option to replace an unexpectedly injured back might also look toward J.D. McKissic. McKissic averaged five receptions per game over his final six games in 2021 prior to getting injured and should get a handful of carries out of the backfield to go along with it. Heís a deep option with a low ceiling, though.

Fade: QB Carson Wentz

Now on his third team, Wentz might actually be the quarterback who gives Washington the highest ceiling they’ve had in quite a few years. Unfortunately, in what is expected to be a fairly low-scoring matchup, in his first game with the team, it’s tough to trust that he’s going to deliver for fantasy purposes. Let’s see what the Commanders’ offense looks like before we start using Wentz in starting lineups.

Prediction: Commanders 24, Jaguars 20 ^ Top

Patriots @ Dolphins - (Caron)
Line: MIA -3.5
Total: 46.0



No Brainers: N/A

Favorite: TE Hunter Henry

Tight end fell off a cliff quickly in fantasy drafts this offseason and that meant that at least a few teams probably ended up with some ugly options at the position to start the season. He might not be a sexy option, but Hunter Henry quietly finished tied for the league lead in touchdown receptions at the tight end position in 2021 and while his 50 catches for 603 yards were not anything spectacular, he did go for five receptions for 86 yards - his highest yardage total of the season - when these teams met in Week 18. This isnít an offense with many locked-in options, so this is more of a low-end TE1 option but heís someone who should be owned and probably started in most leagues to start the season.

On the Fence: RB Damien Harris

Reports this preseason continue to point toward more of a split backfield for the Patriots in 2022 and that will undoubtedly have major fantasy ramifications. Damien Harris quietly finished just outside RB1 range for the season in 2021, despite rushing for just 929 yards and catching just 18 passes on the season. It was his whopping 15 rushing touchdowns - tied for second-most in the league - that carried him to fantasy glory. We do have to be worried that he will lose work, but Harris should still remain the teamís primary goal line back, which has had tremendous value in New England for a long time.

Fade: RB Rhamondre Stevenson

The committee backfield situation is normally an ugly one for fantasy purposes and while we have to assume that Stevenson is going to see more touches this season, itís too early to be trusting that heíll see enough work to be fantasy relevant right away. Some are way too quick to immediately anoint Stevenson as the teamís ďnew James White,Ē taking over the pass-catching role in the backfield, as we just havenít seen that play out yet. Not only that, but the team retained Ty Montgomery who seemingly doesnít fill much of a role in the offense at all if heís not going to play on passing downs. Stevenson is a fine season-long bet, but donít bank on him just yet.

No Brainers: WR Tyreek Hill

Favorite: WR Jaylen Waddle

Adding another high-end WR to the offense probably means fewer targets for second-year wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, but the quality of those targets should also go up given that the offense is expected to be better as a whole. Waddle was targeted an average of over nine times per game over his final six contests, so expect him to see the ball coming his way plenty of times in this one.

On the Fence: RB Chase Edmonds

Edmonds was one of the most unfortunate stories of the 2021 fantasy season as the running back was significantly more efficient on a per-touch basis than his Cardinals teammate James Conner, yet he was massively outscored by Conner in fantasy due to touchdowns. Now in Miami, Edmonds finds himself in another potentially difficult situation in a loaded backfield. Fortunately, however, Edmonds is the back that the Dolphins invested in most this offseason and most reports seem to indicate that he will be the teamís primary passing down back along with getting a decent number of carries per game.

Fade: TE Mike Gesicki

While the Dolphins offense should be better this season which would theoretically give Gesicki more opportunities for touchdowns, the glaring issue here is his potential usage in this new Mike McDaniel-coached offense. McDaniel comes from San Francisco and is expected to implement a 49ers-style offense, much of which was predicated on utilizing athletic tight ends in the passing game.

Unfortunately, in order for the 49ers’ offense to work effectively, they also needed those tight ends to be able to block. That’s the problem for Gesicki, who has not proven to be an effective blocker yet in his career and thus might find himself playing significantly fewer snaps than he has in previous seasons. Gesicki is a fun player, but we need to see his usage in this new offense before we trust him in our weekly fantasy lineups.

Prediction: Dolphins 27, Patriots 23 ^ Top

Steelers @ Bengals - (Green)
Line: N/A
Total: 44.0



No Brainers: RB Najee Harris, WR Diontae Johnson

Favorite: TE Pat Freiermuth

With Mitchell Trubisky officially QB1 in Pittsburgh, expect the recent Steelers trend of lots of short, low-risk passes to continue. That approach should be good news for their young tight end after Freiermuth caught 60 passes as a rookie, including seven TDs. While the Bengals dominated their two meetings with the Steelers a year ago by a combined score of 65-20, both of Pittsburghís touchdowns were scored by Freiermuth. Thatís a positive trend and one that should earn the second-year tight end a long look as a decent TE1 here.

On the Fence: WR Chase Claypool

Claypool topped 80 yards receiving in a game five times in 2021. Two of those outings came against the Steelers as he turned 12 catches into 178 yards -- one caveat, however, is that Johnson missed the first meeting due to injury, thrusting Claypool into the top spot. With both Johnson and rookie George Pickens available, the Notre Dame product becomes more of a hit-or-miss option as no better than a WR3.

Fade: None

No Brainers: RB Joe Mixon, WR JaíMarr Chase, WR Tee Higgins

Favorite: N/A

On the Fence: QB Joe Burrow

Burrow (appendix) hasnít played since the Super Bowl, having been brought along slowly in camp after undergoing an appendectomy. That certainly brings the possibility of rust into the equation for the opener. Despite the lopsided season score in favor of Cincy, Burrow had two quiet performances against the Steelers, passing for fewer than 200 yards in each game, though he did manage three TDs in Week 3. If your backup has a strong matchup, it might be a good week to keep Burrow on your bench.

Fade: WR Tyler Boyd

Chase and Higgins each had one big game against Pittsburgh last year, but Boyd had just six combined receptions, including one TD. As the young receivers continue to ascend, it makes sense that weíll see less and less from Boyd, who turns 29 this November. He can still be a flex play in plus matchups, but this Sunday he should ride the pine.

Prediction: Bengals 24, Steelers 14 ^ Top

Ravens @ Jets - (Caron)
Line: BAL -7.0
Total: 44.5



No Brainers: QB Lamar Jackson, TE Mark Andrews

Favorite: WR Rashod Bateman

Second-year wide receiver Rashod Bateman became the de facto top receiver for the Ravens when Marquise Brown left for Arizona this offseason. Bateman was a first-round NFL Draft pick in 2021 and while he had a quiet season in comparison to the monster year that fellow first-rounder JaíMarr Chase delivered, Bateman was still good enough to give his coaches confidence.

On the Fence: RB Mike Davis (if Dobbins is out)

The Ravens signed both running backs Mike Davis and Kenyan Drake in recent weeks, leading to speculation that starter J.K. Dobbins will miss Week 1. If Dobbins does miss the game, most reports close to the team, including their official depth chart, have Davis ahead of Drake. Itís always risky to trust a situation like this, but those who invested in Dobbins might need to pivot to Davis on the waiver wire. The Ravens are about a touchdown favorite in this one and theyíre a run-heavy team to begin with, so there should be some good scoring opportunities for whichever back ends up seeing more playing time against the Jets.

Fade: RB J.K. Dobbins

Dobbins missed the entire 2021 season after tearing his ACL in the preseason, but he is expected to be back early this season - we’re just not sure exactly when. Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said that Dobbins “has a chance” to play in Week 1, which certainly doesn’t sound very confident and even if he does play, there’s a pretty decent chance that he splits touches with at least one other back, if not multiple. It might feel gross to bench a player of Dobbins’ skill level this early in the year, but you don’t want to get left with a donut in your lineup.



No Brainers: N/A

Favorite: WR Elijah Moore

Reports in camp are that wide receiver Elijah Moore has established himself as the clear WR1 for the Jets. The second-year receiver will be working with veteran Joe Flacco, who might be an upgrade from the inexperienced Zach Wilson who will miss at least the first three weeks. Itís not a great offense, but the Jets could find themselves behind multiple scores in this one and thus leaning heavily on their passing game. Look for Moore to be the primary beneficiary of some garbage time production if thereís any to be had.

On the Fence: RB Breece Hall

Itís difficult to start a running back whoís never played a meaningful NFL down, whoís likely splitting touches, on a bad offense, but many fantasy managers backed themselves into an early-season corner by selecting Breece Hall with an early-round draft pick. Unless you have other quality options, it probably makes sense to take a chance on Hallís physical talent as opposed to rolling with a lesser-talented player from your bench whoís also probably splitting touches in his own backfield.

Fade: RB Michael Carter

This looks like a potentially low-scoring game for the Jets offense and that doesn’t bode well for their players who are further down the depth chart. The quarterback situation is likely to be bad and that could lead fantasy managers to lean more heavily on the Jets running game, but this is more than likely to be a split backfield. We put Hall as “on the fence,” almost exclusively because of his pure physical talent and if there’s one back who does end up getting the lion’s share of touches in this backfield, it’s probably going to be him. Carter isn’t bad himself, but it’s going to be tough for the Jets to take Hall off the field.

Prediction: Ravens 28, Jets 20 ^ Top

Saints @ Falcons - (Ilchuk)
Line: N/A
Total: 43.0



No Brainers: RB Alvin Kamara

Favorite: WR Jarvis Landry

Landry has landed in a great spot back home in Louisiana. Working out of the slot, he has always been a high-volume receiver and with Michael Thomas coming off two years on the sideline and Chris Olave playing in his first ever NFL game, Landry figures to be an early look in Jameis Winstonís progressions in what we expect will be a controlled passing attack. I think this week, and the next few weeks, Landry is a high end WR2 while the rest of the offense gets back up to speed.

On the Fence: QB Jameis Winston

Coming off a torn ACL, Winston is going to need a minute. Heíll take his shots downfield, but I expect HC Dennis Allen and staff to take it slow with the QB. I expect a heavy dose of Alvin Kamara and Jarvis Landry this week, taking a page from the Bucsí Tom Brady offense and using the short passing attack to play the possession game and get the ball out of Winstonís hands quickly. He showed signs of QB1 material before his injury last year, but this is a quick turnaround from a serious knee injury and Iím going to have to see him back in action before jumping back on the wagon.

Fade: WR Michael Thomas

Thomas hasnít played a game in two years. Itís going to take some time for him to get back in rhythm and become the NFLís leading receiver again. Heís also playing with a QB he hasnít played with, who is coming off his own serious injury. Bothered by a hamstring issue late in camp adds to concerns for Thomas.



No Brainers: TE Kyle Pitts

Favorite: RB Tyler Allgeier

At 5-11, 224 pounds, Allgeier is a physical presence in the backfield and a perfect fit for what HC Arthur Smith wants to do in the run game. Remember, Smith is the guy who built the Titans offense around Derrick Henry. Allgeier brings an element the Falcons havenít had, and heíll have opportunities early in the season. Cordarrelle Patterson is expected to move back to more of a receiving role, and Damien Williams, though physical like Allgeier, hasnít played a full season since 2018. Expect Allgeier to be the one to carry the load.

On the Fence: QB Marcus Mariota

Iím a Marcus Mariota fan, and Iím rooting for his to find success in Atlanta, but heís playing for the coach who gave his job to Ryan Tannehill in Tennessee a few years back. I donít expect HC Arthur Smith to ask Mariota to do a lot, especially early in the season. Heíll be a game manager with some upside as a dual threat QB early in the season. The matchup against the Saints-D which was stingy against QBs last season (only 1.4 TDs per game allowed) isnít the best.

Fade: RB Cordarrelle Patterson

No one should be expecting Patterson to put up the numbers he posted in 2021 (153 rushing attempts, 205 touches). At 31 years old, he can’t carry the load at RB. The Falcons are expected to use him more as a receiver this season (his original position) and align him all over the field to create mismatches. He’ll be an important part of the attack, but don’t expect him to have the same impact as last year.

Prediction: Saints 24, Falcons 18 ^ Top

Chiefs @ Cardinals - (Collins)
Line: KC -6.0
Total: 54.0



No Brainers:
QB Patrick Mahomes, TE Travis Kelce

Favorite: WR JuJu Smith-Schuster

Speculation abounds for who will be the one to replace Tyreek Hill on the Chiefs offense. I believe there will be a cobbling together of different receivers to account for his departure, a kind of Frankenstein-like player, but with better lateral speed. JuJu will try and be the player exploiting the middle of the field. He flew out of the gate early in his career, peaking in 2018, posting a career high 81.8 PFF receiving grade and producing a top-ten PPR season. Injuries have limited his production since, but he is still only 25. He has a path to catch a lot of balls in a potent offense and is on a one year prove-it contract. If this doesnít happen for him this year, in this offense, Iím sure there will be a few sarcastic TikTokís about him dancing on the Mayflower logo.

On the Fence: Clyde Edwards-Helaire

Another season, another year of diminished expectations for CEH. The former first-rounder has gone from being a first-round pick and fantasy pixie dust to the guy down in the mine getting dirty and just doing his job. His PFF grade has fallen from 75.3 his rookie year to 64.3 last year. The lead back role is his for the moment with several others coming for the gig. He will have to find his way to get back on the right track, but this game is not going to be the breakthrough for him. The Cardinals only allowed six rushing touchdowns last season, which tied for the fewest in the league, so he will have his work cut out for him. Bring a lunch pail.

Fade: WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling

In my player-cobbling replacement of Hill theory, MVS is the Tyreek field-stretcher. Iím sure every person who drafted him imagines a scrambling Patrick Mahomes turning his hips and uncorking a long pass to a wide open MVS downfield. It is called fantasy football for a reason. The dream is to return to 2020 form where he scored 6 times and averaged 20 yards a catch, but is this the match-up where he gets on the good foot again? The Cardinals allowed the most TDís to WRs last year with 27, but were 7th in yardage allowed giving the impression that most at the TDís catches were not of the field stretching variety. I think you have to sit MVS this week and dream of a better matchup.



No Brainers: QB Kyler Murray

Favorite: WR Marquise Brown

Thatís nice you get to work with your friends, but will you get anything accomplished? The Cardinals traded a 2021 first-round pick to acquire Brown and reunite him with his friend and former Oklahoma teammate Kyler Murray. Getting together seemed like the hard part, so what next? Baltimore struggled to utilize his downfield ability as he never averaged more than 13 yards per catch. Arizona was 8th in passing yards last season, so letís hope the situation and chemistry can ignite Brown and help his game find another gear. The Chiefs allowed the 10th most passing TDs last season (19), so they can be had. Like any new pairing, the question is how long will it take for them to click? Itís coming, but I would like to see it first.

On the Fence: RB James Conner

How do you follow up a career year in touchdowns? Regression usually. That sounds anti-climactic and a bring-down, but that usually is the case. Regression doesnít need to be the end of world, there is plenty of good news to appreciate as well. Connor scored 18 times last year and his main competition in the backfield moved on to Miami. A 25 percent regression will place him around 15 scores which makes him a RB1 and a must-start every week. It wonít be easy against a KC defense that only allowed 7 rushing TDs, which was tied with the 2nd fewest in the league. His path might be through the air as the Chiefs allowed the 4th most reception to RBs. You canít sit this guy. Let him run! Or catch! Just keep moving forward!

Fade: TE Zach Ertz

If he can stay healthy, Ertz (calf) is going to be a good get for this team. After trading birds in a Week 6 trade from Philadelphia, he settled right into the offense. He reached double digits six times, including four in a row to finish the season. The dilemma is that a calf strain has limited him in training camp and might keep him from making an impact in Week 1. The check the IR status because you will receive the bird by having an injured or limited player in your lineup.

Prediction: Chiefs 41, Cardinals 34 ^ Top

Giants @ Titans - (Ilchuk)
Line: TEN -5.5
Total: 43.5



No Brainers: N/A

Favorite: QB Daniel Jones

Jones is going to be the biggest beneficiary of new HC Brian Dabollís offense. Long known as a sort of QB whisperer, Daboll will take advantage of Jonesí better than advertised athleticism and help him limit some of the mental mistakes that have haunted him in recent seasons. I expect to see Jones a little more under control and showing as more of a driving force for the Giants this season. Look for better than average production in his coming out party this week against a defense that gave up the 6th most passing yards last season.

On the Fence: RB Saquon Barkley

Much like Carolinaís Christian McCaffrey, Barkley has not done enough for me to jump on him early this season, despite the fact that our own rankings have him at RB4 for Week 1. This is a guy who has struggled to stay healthy, and wasnít particularly impressive in 2021 when he was. This week he goes up against a physical defense that allowed the second-fewest total rushing yards in the NFL last season and yielded just 3.9 yards per carry. I see tough sledding for Barkley this week.

Fade: Kadarius Toney

Toney is another Giant who has struggled to stay healthy throughout his brief career. There are expectations that he could be a valuable, versatile weapon in a Brian Daboll attack. But heís missed most of camp with multiple leg injuries, and doesnít appear to be ready to contribute in a meaningful way in Week 1.



No Brainers: RB Derrick Henry, TE Austin Hooper

Favorite: WR Robert Woods

Despite tearing his ACL in November, Woods seems to have made a remarkable recovery by all accounts out of Tennessee and is practicing and playing without a brace. He is also the clear number one option in a passing attack that no longer has AJ Brown or Julio Jones. A reliable veteran, look for Woods to be QB Ryan Tannehillís security blanket early in the season.

On the Fence: WR Treylon Burks

It seems Burks has really struggled in his early transition to the NFL and has spent most of the preseason working with the second and third offensive groups. While heís an explosive talent with a laundry list of physical tools, heís got to put it all together. Heís likely not going to be a huge fantasy factor until the second half of the season at the earliest.

Fade: QB Ryan Tannehill

There’s little question that this will be a Derrick Henry game against a Giants rushing defense that was the 6th worst in the NFL in 2021. With the receiving corps still evolving, and Tannehill needing to rebound from his worst game as a Titan in the team’s playoff loss to the Bengals last season, expect a slow start for the QB. I am excited to see what TE Austin Hooper’s role becomes in this offense. He could be the catalyst for a revitalized Tannehill in the weeks to come.

Prediction: Titans 20, Giants 10 ^ Top

Packers @ Vikings - (Green)
Line: GB -1.5
Total: 46.5



No Brainers:
RB Aaron Jones

Favorite: RB AJ Dillon

Dillon ran the ball effectively against Minnesota last year, turning 25 carries into 116 yards and a pair of touchdowns in two meetings. Expect a larger role from the third-year back in 2022 with Jones likely getting more work in the passing game. There are a lot of questions right now as to what a post-Davante Adams offense will look like in Green Bay but leaning on both halves of arguably the best backfield in the NFL seems like a decent way to go. The bruising Dillon is a midrange RB3 this week with upside.

On the Fence: QB Aaron Rodgers

A year ago, Rodgers lit up the Vikings for 673 yards and 6 TDs without a pick. Based on that, the reigning two-time MVP should be an easy QB1, right? Well, much of the damage was done by Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, neither of whom will be suiting up for the Packers this season. Nominal No. 1 receiver Allen Lazardís status is up in the air as well, which could lead to more running and short throws, perhaps similar to what we saw from Green Bay in Arizona last year when Adams, Lazard, and MVS were all out due to injury -- Rodgers threw for 184 yards and 2 TDs in that one. You can start No. 12, but with so much offseason change there is some uncertainty.

Fade: WR Allen Lazard

Lazard (ankle) missed the first meeting with Minnesota last year, and it looks as though he might do so again this year as he was the only player on the 53-man roster not to practice this week due to injury. He played well in the rematch, catching six passes for 72 yards and a score, but even if he answers the bell in Week 1, he wonít be at 100 percent. Rodgers figures to spread the ball around regardless, and itís probably better to take a wait-and-see approach with all Green Bayís wideouts.

No Brainers: RB Dalvin Cook, WR Justin Jefferson

Favorite: None

On the Fence:
WR Adam Thielen

Over the last three seasons, Thielen has put together one strong game against Green Bay... but only one. So, which will be getting this Sunday? Thatís hard to say, but the Packers look to boast one of the best (if not the best) secondaries in the NFL right now, and that includes the return of Jaire Alexander, who missed most of 2021, including both games against the Vikings. Weíll see if Alexander shadows Jefferson, but even if he does Eric Stokes and Rasul Douglas are no joke. Thielen is still savvy enough to make things happen, but he looks like a hit-or-miss play this weekend.

Fade: QB Kirk Cousins

For as much grief as Cousins seems to take, he’s actually a solid quarterback. He can get rattled, however, and on paper Green Bay’s defense looks like it might one of the nastier groups out there -- an ESPN piece from earlier this week projected the Packers to allow the fewest points in the league this year. Cousins played arguably his best game of 2021 against the Packers, but with Green Bay adding even more pieces while not losing anyone that played significant snaps last year this is a week to keep him out.

Prediction: Packers 23, Vikings 17 ^ Top

Raiders @ Chargers - (Collins)
Line: LAC -3.5
Total: 52.0



No Brainers:
WR Davante Adams

Favorite: WR Hunter Renfrow

Something bigger and better has come along, but do you think that will change Renfrowís approach? I donít. Always underappreciated, I think he is going to be the key beneficiary of Adams having coverage rolled his way. Renfrow improved as 2021 went along, and after the bye in Week 8, he scored more than 16 points seven times. The Chargers allowed the 8th fewest number of receptions last season and the addition of J.C. Jackson (ankle) will give them more depth to cover the likes of Adams. Plenty of routes will be available underneath, so I think itís not the size of the dog in the fight, itís the size of the Renfrow in the Renfrow.

On the Fence: TE Darren Waller

Is it the contract or is it an injury? A chicken-and-contract situation has arrived early this season for Wallerís hamstring and the Raiders. He would like to get paid for being one the best in the league, which is fair. Has that hamstring strain been amplified due to the fact that deal hasnít been consummated yet? He is missing his chance to do some scoring if he doesnít come back in time for Week 1. The Chargers were not efficient against the TE position last year. They allowed 13 TDs which was the 2nd most in the league and their 12.3 FPts/G to the position put them 26th overall. Letís keep an eye on this situation and hope everything gets put to bed regarding his contract.

Fade: RB Josh Jacobs

Sometimes the roster moves work against you, other times, they work in your benefit. I am trying to exude confidence for Jacobs. He was a solid RB2 last season after scoring 9 TDs and catching 54 passes. He was rewarded by not getting his 5th year option picked up and having the team draft Zamir White in the 4th round. This added to a full backfield, but as the pre-season progressed, he saw his main competition for touches, Kenyan Drake, get released. And now he draws the Chargers run defense in Week 1. Los Angeles allowed 25.8 points to RBs, which was 31st and surrendered 19 TDs which was 31st as well. I feel like Jacobs might be catching a break, so letís enjoy the positive moment with him, until he gets a really bad papercut or something.

No Brainers: QB Justin Herbert, RB Austin Ekeler

Favorite: WR Keenan Allen

Is Father Time clamping down on Allen or is FT just a savvy pro with tight coverage and a small handful of jersey? A look at Allenís career, in particular the past seven years, certainly tells an interesting tale. Starting in 2015 and peaking in four seasons later, his PFF receiving grade rose gradually every year from 78.8 to his career high of 90.5 in 2018. That was the height, but his descent has been equally balanced since, with grades of 81.7, 85 to the 77.5 he posted last season. He is a must-start here. Allen has always been a master of running the route and keeping his guy guessing, however, it is starting to look like we all know which direction he is going in.

On the Fence: WR Mike Williams

Which Mike Williams are we going to get this season? Hopefully it will be the fast-starting version from last year. He flew out of the gates by opening with two 22-point games and had two 33-point games in Weeks 4 and 5. In his next 11 games, he failed to reach 8 points in six of them. What gives? Letís live in the present and think positive. Did we mention Las Vegas was 3rd against WRs and only allowed 25.1 FPts/G and also tied for 7th with 12 TDs surrendered for the season? I want to be positive and encourage a fast start, but Iím too pragmatic for that.

Fade: TE Gerald Everett

Everett has done everything right to start his career. He has only missed five games in five years, he increased his receptions and yards each season and set a career high in TD receptions last year with 4. He also won a ring with Rams last year. The Raiders allowed 10 TDs, the third most in the league to TEs, so I believe in incremental progress. This places him on the outside of the TE1s this week but he will continue to grow so keep your eyes on him as the year moves along.

Prediction: Chargers 34, Raiders 28 ^ Top

Buccaneers @ Cowboys - (Caron)
Line: TB -2.5
Total: 50.5



No Brainers:
WR Mike Evans

Favorite: RB Leonard Fournette

The Buccaneers moved on from running back Ronald Jones this offseason, solidifying Fournette as their starter for 2022. Fournette finished as the sixth-highest-scoring running back in fantasy in 2021 despite only playing in 14 games. Heís a true three-down back who should play most of the snaps for the Bucs in Week 1, especially with the teamís offensive line likely needing a bit of help in pass protection to deal with the Cowboysí pass rush. Yes, Rachaad White is a fun prospect who has big upside, but this is Fournetteís backfield and thereís no reason to be worried about him.

On the Fence: QB Tom Brady

A banged-up Buccaneers offensive line could have problems protecting veteran quarterback, as the Cowboysí high-level pass rushers Micah Parsons and Demarcus Lawrence look to get after him. Brady obviously has been incredible throughout his career, but when heís struggled, itís often when opposing teams are able to get to him quickly without needing to bring additional help. A banged-up Chris Godwin doesnít help the situation and while the Cowboysí secondary is still weak overall, weíve seen Trevon Diggs make some impressive plays on the ball and cause turnovers when opposing quarterbacks start to get flustered in the pocket. Itís tough to bench Brady given his high-end upside, of course, but if you happen to have another viable option, this might be the week to bench the future Hall of Famer.

Fade: WR Chris Godwin

Anytime a player is this much of a game-time decision heading into Week 1, itís always a cause for concern. Godwin tore his ACL in Week 15 of the 2021 season and hasnít yet played a snap of football since. We all know what type of talent he possesses and the level of upside he brings to a fantasy lineup, but thereís a real chance that the Buccaneers activate him and then only allow him to play a few snaps. Add in the fact that this is a Sunday night game, leaving fantasy managers in bad shape if he ends up not playing, and this is one of the easier fades of Week 1. Hopefully, heíll get out there and show that heís ready to play and weíll never have to put him in this section again this season.

No Brainers: QB Dak Prescott, WR CeeDee Lamb

Favorite: TE Dalton Schultz

Schultz could probably be considered a ďno-brainer,Ē but letís elaborate on why this is a great situation. Not only did Schultz catch six passes against the Buccaneers when these teams played in 2021, but he did that in a game in which the Cowboys had more target competition. Now with Amari Cooper gone, Michael Gallup injured and likely missing this contest, and the offensive line banged up, look for Dallas to lean on Schultz even more as the second weapon in their passing offense behind CeeDee Lamb. Heís a top-five option at the tight end position in Week 1.

On the Fence: RB Ezekiel Elliott

It seems weird not to have Ezekiel Elliott in the ďno-brainerĒ section, but after seeing how fantasy managers treated him this draft season, itís apparent that he is no longer viewed as a top-end fantasy RB. Elliott finished the 2021 season as the RB7 overall with 10 rushing touchdowns and nearly 50 receptions on the season. The Cowboys havenít changed their offense significantly and there are no real reports of pulling back Elliottís role in the offense, so look for him to continue to see significant work. The main concern with Elliott, is the offensive line. After losing Tyron Smith this preseason, the former star-studded Cowboys offensive line now looks like a shell of its former self. Not only could that affect the running game, but it could affect the pass protection for Dak Prescott and ultimately lead to a less effective offense overall, which would mean fewer scoring opportunities for Elliott who delivers much of his fantasy points in the form of touchdowns.

Fade: RB Tony Pollard

As tempting as it is to start putting the nails in the coffin of Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott and make room for Pollard, the truth is that the coaches in Dallas just don’t see things that way…at least not yet. We saw that down the stretch when the team was making a late-season playoff push, and even on into the playoffs themselves. Whether Pollard was more efficient than Elliott or not, the Cowboys just kept leaning on Zeke to be their primary back and that’s what we should expect heading into 2022. Perhaps we’ll see things change at some point this season, but unless fantasy managers are looking for about seven to 10 PPR points out of their Flex spot, then there’s not much reason to be starting Pollard this early in the year.

Prediction: Buccaneers 30, Cowboys 24 ^ Top

Broncos @ Seahawks - (Collins)
Line: DEN -6.0
Total: 44.5



No Brainers:
RB Javonte Williams

Favorite: QB Russell Wilson

Revenge, as the saying goes, is best served cold, but we still want Wilson to cook, right? I think the consensus is that he got out of town right on time and landed in a favorable setting with strong receivers. He makes his return to Seattle Week 1 on Monday night, so if you want to send a message, here you go. The fact that Seattle allowed a whopping 4766 passing yards, the second most in the NFL last season, only sets the table for what should be a triumphant return. Wilson is a must-start and must wash his hands after drubbing his former team.

On the Fence: RB Melvin Gordon

People seem to be casting Gordon aside like he is yesterdayís news. Letís not forget the 1,100 combined yards and the 10 total TDs from last season. He isnít washed yet. Will he defer to Javonte Williams? It sure looks that way but Week 1 brings a Seattle rush defense that allowed the most fantasy points to RBs last season at 27.5 per contest. The split hasnít been figured out yet, but slightly less than half of that number looks pretty good to me.

Fade: WR Jerry Jeudy

So who gets to be who here? The assumption is that with Wilsonís arrival, things will turn into high-altitude Seattle. Cortland Sutton will instantly be DK Metcalf, which he is not. Jeudy will try to fill the Tyler Lockett role, which he hasnít shown he can do yet. Crummy QB play has plenty to do with it and injuries last year shut him down for six games early in the season. He draws a Seattle-D Week 1 which surrendered plenty of yards, but only gave up 26.5 points to receivers per game, 5th fewest in league and they tied for 3rd by only allowing 10 TDs. I think Denver fans would be happy with Jeudy just growing into the player who was drafted 15th overall, but high expectations also abound and this isnít the start you want for him this week.

No Brainers: Raingear

Favorite: WR DK Metcalf

After signing a new contract in the offseason, Metcalf can put his mind at ease regarding his financials. The new QB situation is the next mental hurdle to deal with. Metcalf has increased his touchdowns every year, finishing with a career high 12TD last season along with 75 catches for 967 yards. Even comparing his PFF grade of last year to his Pro Bowl season of 2020, 82.5 to 82.7, the team just has to find a way to get him the ball. You can be creative about what to call Geno Smith, but he is smart enough to know that finding Metcalf is their best chance to win. Expect Metcalf to be force fed Week 1.

On the Fence: RB Rashaad Penny

Penny impacted many a fantasy championship last season with a flurry of huge games down the stretch, scoring more than 25 fantasy points in three of the last five weeks. This included a 32.5 bomb in Week 17 to seal the deal for many league championships. He got a new contract in the off-season, a new QB and a new offensive system. Two of those things were welcome I bet. Penny gets to be the bell cow for a team that will try to control the clock. However, the team takes a large step back with the loss of Wilson. Penny will get the carries Monday, but Denver only allowed 7 rushing TDs last season, which doesnít bode well. I give him a punchers chance on prime-time, but the new chapter of career starts now.

Fades: WR Tyler Lockett

If Metcalf is going to be force fed, I think Lockett will be left with the scraps. Coach Pete Carroll has finally wrestled control of the team’s identity and it will be ball control and low risk. Lockett, the recipient of many a lovely moonball from Wilson, will be impacted the most. His is still frisky, leading the team last year in receiving yards with 1175 and registering his second-highest PFF receiving grade of his career with a mark 81. He might be spending this season wondering when is it his turn to eat at the table.

Prediction: Broncos 38, Seahawks 24 ^ Top