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Week 1's fantasy playbook
Your guide to avoiding misery on Sunday.
Hello friends of 5th Down,
Thanks again for being a loyal reader and patreon! I hope you find this run-down of fantasy analysis useful. I’m excited to share the best of what my team has worked on this week, along with my own takes on what you should know heading into Sunday.
A reminder that you can access our complete and just-updated, player rankings via the password provided.
Thank again for reading,
Justin Sablich, Managing Editor, 5th Down Fantasy
But first, about last night …
The Bills ran over the Rams on opening night, 31 - 10. Josh Allen cashed in for the fantasy managers who chose to pay up for him with 297 passing yards and 3 TDs, plus 56 yards and a TD on the ground. That’s eight more yards than Devin Singletary had, though he was more efficient than Zack Moss, who led the backfield in touches but did very little with them. Stefon Diggs had a big night, while Gabriel Davis was targeted five times, catching four for 88 yards and a TD in his debut.
On the Rams’ side, Buffalo’s defense gave Matthew Stafford trouble all night, sacking him seven times and picking him off three times. Cooper Kupp was the lone bright spot for the offense. Allen Robinson was targeted just twice, and Darrell Henderson Jr. got the bulk of RB work, rushing for 47 yards on 13 carries.
More news you can use
George Kittle’s groin injury is “not good” and could force him to miss Sunday’s game against the Bears.
Michael Gallup’s Week 1 availability is definitely in doubt, and should Gallup miss Week 1, rookie Jalen Tolbert should see an increased target share.
It seems to be trending in the direction that J.K. Dobbins will either be out or limited in Week 1. Mike Davis and Kenyan Drake should see additional touches.
Diontae Johnson is still dealing with a shoulder injury. Chase Claypool and rookie George Pickens should see a bump in targets if he is unable to suit up.
Chris Godwin’s status against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday Night will likely come down to a game-time decision.
Player rankings update
Our Week 1 fantasy football rankings for PPR, Half-PPR, and Standard scoring formats will update frequently up until kickoff on Sunday. Click here, and then enter the password: Week1&$Hdy&Rh
Things are looking good for…
Elijah Mitchell dismantled the Bears last season on 7.61 yards/carry, finishing with 137 yards and a touchdown. Expect more of the same in Week 1. The Niners love to establish the run in road games, and I think they’ll take some heat off Trey Lance and allow him to hand off the ball.
We need to figure out the depth chart for the Eagles this year, but I don’t think their matchup against the Lions is going to help us. The Lions are just so bad. Go ahead and start Miles Sanders if he’s healthy, and Kenneth Gainwell in DFS. There will be many touchdowns to claim.
One of the teams that looked really good this preseason was Jacksonville, who were able to move the ball effectively and now that Trevor Lawrence has upgraded pass-catchers, a second year in the league, and, most important, a functional head coach, he’s posed to make a leap. Who better to start that against than last year’s No. 32 team against QBs (WAS)?
These guys, not so much…
A top receiver who may struggle this week is DJ Moore. He’ll be going against Denzel Ward and will have Baker Mayfield throwing him the ball. The Browns will want nothing more for the first 11 games to turn games into three quarters and grind it out. This usually does not procure a ton of fantasy points.
If we can harken back to last year, we remember that Ezekiel Elliott produced 33 yards on 11 carries against the Buccaneers. Fast forward and this is the initial game without Tyron Smith at left tackle, so suffice it to say I don’t expect that number to dramatically change.
There’s a lot of hype around Dameon Pierce in Houston, and he has the potential to be good this season. It’s not going to start against the Indianapolis Colts, the 5th best fantasy defense against the run last year. We have not seen Pierce yet as a receiver out of the backfield, so his ceiling is limited this week.
Above are two lineups I’m going with for the Sunday slate of DraftKings this week, the left being for cash games, and the right for tournaments. Here’s why I’m going with certain plays, based on advice from 5th Down’s DFS guru Ryan Pickard.
Lamar Jackson QB, BAL $7,300: Don’t overthink it. Lamar Jackson is facing the Jets in a game they are heavily favored to win. Several QBs in other matchups will take a lot of ownership away. Jalen Hurts for $6,800 in a matchup versus the Detroit Lions squad (which he eviscerated 44-6 last season) is the chalk.
Najee Harris RB, PIT $6,400: The game plan will be simple for the Steelers. Play keep away with the ball or die a death of a thousand paper cuts by Joe Burrow. When head coach Mike Tomlin selects an RB, they are blessed as the bell cow.
Vikings DST, MIN $2,200: Aaron Rodgers has had an average stat line when facing the Vikings in his career, with 252 yards and 2 TDs a game. But two of his WRs are currently dealing with injuries. He has been publicly vocal about the receivers not being where they should be with routes and dropped balls and the Vikings finished second in sacks last season and 11th in QB hits.
Vegas line game picks
5th Down’s Bruce Ewing is already 1-0 this season. On Sunday, he’s taking the 49ers and the points against the Bears, the Panthers to cover at home versus the Browns, and the Colts to win and cover in Houston. Read more.
Player prop picks
Jameis Winston (NO) o1.5 passing TD – Sun 1 pm EST: He gets a cupcake matchup to open the year as the Saints visit the lowly Falcons and their 29th-ranked passing defense (DVOA) along with the return of his number one wide receiver. Michael Thomas, along with star running back Alvin Kamara and newly drafted first-round pick Chris Olave, should give Winston the weapons to carve up Atlanta.