Fantasy stats to know for every Week 1 game
It’s all about the matchup in the NFL. As fantasy players, we know this. Playing the matchups is how we get an edge. Here at PFF, we collect detailed information on every single player on every single play in every single game. The result is a wealth of data provides insights you simply can’t get by looking at a chart that shows fantasy points yielded by team to specific positions.
Each week I’m going to sift through this data to give you the matchup stats from each game that you need to know before you set your lineup. We have 15 games left on this week’s slate. Here are the stats to know for Week 1:
Buffalo @ Baltimore
Great week for Sammy Watkins
Opposing wide receivers were targeted 23.5 times per game against the Bills last season, which led the league. The Bills also yielded the fifth-most fantasy points per game to the position. Not to be outdone, the Ravens gave up the third-most fantasy points per game to opposing wideouts. This has the makings of a big day for Bills WR Sammy Watkins, but the receiver to target on the Ravens isn’t as obvious. Steve Smith, Mike Wallace and Kamar Aiken are all worth a play in DFS tournaments, but it’s tough to endorse starting this trio in season-long until we get a better sense of how the targets will be distributed.
Chicago @ Houston
Hold off on using Will Fuller, even in DFS
Surprisingly, the Bears saw the third-fewest targets to opposing wide receivers per game (16.9) and consequently allowed the second-fewest catches per game (10.4) to the position. If you own DeAndre Hopkins, you’re starting him no matter what. But this may not be the week we see Will Fuller’s coming-out party. It’s more likely we see a ton of Lamar Miller in this contest.
Cleveland @ Philadelphia
Use all the prime running backs
Both the Eagles and Browns yielded 4.6 yards per carry to opposing running backs last season. Only the Saints and Chargers were worse against the run. That’s good news is you have any piece of Ryan Mathews, Duke Johnson or Isaiah Crowell. Mathews and Johnson make for RB2 plays, with Crowell as more of a flex option.
Green Bay @ Jacksonville
Consider Jared Cook in your DFS lineup this week
The Jaguars yielded an average of 5.1 catches, 60.3 yards and 0.6 touchdowns per game to opposing tight ends. That was good enough – or bad enough, depending on your perspective – to rank fifth in fantasy points allowed to the position. While it’s still unclear as to how the targets will break down between Jared Cook and Richard Rodgers, the former flashed athletic upside in the preseason. Cook is still too risky to trust as a TE1, but he’s a very appealing differentiation play in DFS.
Tampa Bay @ Atlanta
Charles Sims looks like a strong PPR play
Opposing running backs were targeted a league-high 8.5 times per game against the Falcons, catching 7.4 balls per game, which also was tops in the league. Paging Charles Sims. Last season, Sims saw 65 targets, which ranked seventh among running backs. He also was incredibly efficient with a PPR fantasy points per opportunity of 0.52. Only David Johnson and Todd Gurley were better on a per opportunity basis. Sims may not be the best play in standard leagues, but he’s worth a look as a flex option in PPR.
Minnesota @ Tennessee
Close to an ideal situation for Adrian Peterson
Last season, the Titans faced the seventh-fewest targets to opposing wide receivers (17.7). Translation: Adrian Peterson is going to get fed in this contest. It has yet to be determined if the Vikings are going to go with Shaun Hill or Sam Bradford under center, but there isn’t likely to be a lot of passing out of this offense regardless. That makes Stefon Diggs a risky play this week. On the other hand, Peterson is a top-two running back in Week 1.
Cincinnati @ NY Jets
This isn’t the week for the Cincinnati RBs in DFS
The Jets gave up the fewest rushing yards and rushing touchdowns to opposing running backs last season. Opposing runners averaged just 3.3 yards per carry against the Jets. That’s not good for Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard. While the Jets aren’t the exact same defense as last year’s iteration, they’re still loaded with talent, especially in the front-seven, where they feature Muhammad Wilkerson and the ascending Leonard Williams. It’s tough to recommend either Bengals running back as anything more than a flex option this week.
Oakland @ New Orleans
Start your Raiders, start all your Raiders
New Orleans gave up 2.8 passing touchdowns per game, and also yielded a league-high 5.1 yards per carry to opposing running backs. In other words, start your Raiders this week. This one has the potential to be an Oprah Winfrey-like bonanza of fantasy scoring. You get a touchdown, and you get a touchdown. Everybody gets a touchdown! All of the fantasy-relevant Raiders should be in your season-long lineups. As for DFS, just be aware that people are keyed in on this matchup. Oakland players make for strong cash-game options, but they’re likely to have high ownership in GPPs.
San Diego @ Kansas City
Spencer Ware should be a strong play
The Chargers gave up an average of 5.0 yards per carry to opposing running backs. Sorry, Jamaal Charles owners. Hopefully you were able to grab Spencer Ware off the waiver wire. Ware makes for a strong RB2 play this week, but don’t go too nuts. San Diego should be improved on the defensive side of the ball with Denzel Perryman now anchoring the linebacker position. Also, don’t overlook Charcandrick West. He’s going to have a role as a receiver and should be sprinkled in as a runner.
Miami @ Seattle
Good situation for Seattle RBs, but good luck picking one
The Dolphins faced the most carries per game and allowed the second-most rushing yards per game to opposing running backs last season. This is a tricky one to navigate, as Thomas Rawls is expected to be on a pitch count, but that plan could change if he feels good. As of now, Christine Michael is the better fantasy option, but both are risky plays this week.
Detroit @ Indianapolis
Get the Detroit receivers in your lineup
The Colts faced the deepest average depth of throw, with opposing passers targeting receivers an average of 11.9 yards downfield. That’s a good thing if you have a piece of the Lions’ passing game. Both Marvin Jones and Golden Tate are back-end WR2 plays this week, and Matthew Stafford is an intriguing DFS option in what has the makings of a track meet in Indy.
NY Giants @ Dallas
Maybe wait before using Sterling Shepard
Opposing wide receivers were targeted an average of just 12.1 yards downfield against the Cowboys last season. Only the Rams saw a shorter average depth of target. This is an interesting stat, but not a reason to panic if you own Odell Beckham Jr. He’s still going to get his regardless of where he’s targeted on the field. Likewise, Sterling Shepard has good run-after-catch ability and offers upside. While the rookie receiver is tempting, he’s still should be considered a WR4 option in Week 1.
New England @ Arizona
Good week to fade Julian Edelman
The Patriots gave up the sixth-most receiving yards per game (178.9), and the Cardinals gave up the sixth-fewest receiving yards per game (138.6) to opposing wideouts last season. In other words, start your Cardinals receivers, and try to avoid Julian Edelman. Not only will the Patriots be relying on Jimmy Garoppolo, but Edelman is also going to be blanketed by Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu all day.
Pittsburgh @ Washington
DeAngelo Williams should be in good shape
Washington led the league in yards after contact per attempt yielded (2.82) and forced missed tackles allowed (4.5 per game) to opposing running backs. With Le’Veon Bell suspended for the first three games of the season, DeAngelo Williams will be back in the starting role and figures to be a very strong fantasy play this week. In the 11 games he started last season, Williams was the No. 1 fantasy running back.
Los Angeles @ San Francisco
Good times ahead for Todd Gurley
San Francisco was the only defense to yield more than one touchdown per game (1.1) to opposing running backs last season. They also faced the second-most rushing attempts by running backs. It’s a great week to be a Todd Gurley owner. The young phenom is in line for a huge workload on Monday night. He’s locked in as this week’s top fantasy running back option.