Eliminator advice for Week 1 -- Go with the chalk play?
There are a million reasons to be excited for the new NFL season. New fantasy rosters. Intriguing rookies. Getting to watch your favorite team or players take the field again. Football food.
Oh, and a fresh start in eliminator contests.
So which teams should you consider in your Week 1 eliminator pool? (If you’re new to it, an eliminator pool asks a simple question — who is going to win each week? Pick a winner. Once you’ve picked a team, you can’t pick that team again. Last one standing wins.) This is arguably the toughest week of the year, since there are so many unknowns (and many of the game this week are actually surprisingly even.) Let’s run through some of the top options, with a big assist from the projected box scores in our fantasy toolkit.
Seattle Seahawks over Miami Dolphins
This is the most obvious choice — and certainly the chalkiest — but that doesn’t make it a bad one. The Seahawks are favored by more than 10 points (10.5), and our projected box scores have Seattle winning by more than a touchdown — the largest projected margin of victory this week.
Per SurvivorGrid.com, the Seahawks are being used in about 35 percent of pools this week, so you definitely wouldn’t be taking the contrarian route by going with Seattle. But Seattle offers a near-certain way for you to navigate through the unknowns of Week 1 and live to fight another day in the eliminator pool.
Houston Texans over Chicago Bears
Yeah, the Texans are debuting a brand-new offense in Week 1 with Brock Osweiler at quarterback, Lamar Miller at running back, and Will Fuller as the No. 2 wideout, but they are still well ahead of the Bears in terms of overall talent thanks to a far superior defense.
The Bears gave up the 10th-most rushing yards last season and the seventh-most rushing YPC. The Texans have one of the best running backs in the league in Miller. Houston gave up the 10th-fewest rushing yards. Chicago has one of the worst starting running backs in the league in Jeremy Langford.
Houston ranked sixth with 6.6 pass yards allowed per attempt. Chicago ranked 20th at 7.5. Quarterbacks tossed 31 touchdowns against the Bears last season, tied for 25th. The Texans gave up 24 passing scores, tied for 11th. We could keep going, but the picture is clear: Chicago’s defense can be sieve-like, and Houston has the offensive weapons needed to take advantage.
Green Bay Packers over Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars seem to be trending in the right direction (that phrase could have been copy/pasted each year for the past five years, no?) — and there’s no denying that their offense has firepower — but they won’t be able to keep pace with Green Bay’s finally healthy offense. Our projections like the Packers over the Jaguars by nearly five points, thanks to big outings from Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson.
Nelson will likely face rookie cornerback Jalen Ramsey often, but he’ll also draw some Aaron Colvin and maybe even a few snaps against Prince Amukamara. No matter how you slice it, though, the matchup favors Nelson and the Packers.
Beware of … choosing the Arizona Cardinals to topple the New England Patriots on Sunday Night Football. The Cardinals are favored by a whopping six points, and they are one of the top 10 most-used teams in eliminator pools in Week 1 as a result.
The Patriots are without Tom Brady, but they still have Bill Belichick calling the shots, Rob Gronkowski at tight end and a strong defense of their own. Our projections have this game pegged as a push, with New England actually coming out on top by fractions of a point. The Cardinals are riskier than the big spread suggests; I’d save them for when they aren’t playing the Patriots.
My pick: Seattle Seahawks. Boring. But I’d rather still be in the hunt come Tuesday morning. Week 1 is not the time to get cute.