NFL Week 1 Fantasy Preview

Browns at Chiefs 

The last time these two clubs played was in the AFC playoffs last year. The Browns come in with a more explosive offense led by Baker Mayfield and a nasty defense. Kansas City maintains control of the rematch, however, as the Chiefs return with Patrick Mahomes, an elite complement of weapons in Tyreek Hill and Jason Kelce, and an improved offensive line. Browns hang on for a while, but Chiefs prove to be too much in the end.

Pick: Chiefs win 31-23.

Cowboys at Buccaneers 

Tom Brady will face a leaky Cowboys defense, headed by seasoned DC Dan Quinn, in his return to a Super Bowl championship team that didn’t lose any important players from the previous season. Ronald Jones, AB, Godwin, and Evans will prove to be too much for Dallas. With the uncertainty surrounding Dak Prescott’s shoulder injury, Dallas has another major question mark to go along with his surgically repaired ankle. Dallas’ O-line is also a major question mark against a ferocious Tampa defense. It will be interesting to see how the weapons on Dallas’ offense perform. 

Pick: Buccaneers win 34-17.

49ers at Lions

San Francisco’s explosive rushing game and dangerous passing game, with mismatches in Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, and George Kittle, are too much for the Lions’ developing defense to handle. Jimmy G is expected to start the game, while Trey Lance waits in the wings for a couple weeks. The Niners will hopefully avoid the bad injury luck that plagued them last year.  The Niners have the defense to shut down the Lions attack, let be D’Andre Swift and TJ Hockenson, who should be benched in your fantasy lineup for this game. 

Pick: 49ers win 31-13.

Bengals over Vikings 

Joe Burrow is expected to return for Cincinnati’s home opener, and he will return to a loaded offense full of skill players, including former LSU teammate Ja’Marr Chase, who has struggled in the preseason. Both defenses have considerable potential, but the Bengals’ offensive line continues to be a problem heading into week 1. The Vikings will try to win by running the ball a lot, as well as use play-action to second-year receiver Justin Jefferson and veteran Adam Thielen. Burrow will spread the field effectively and out-duel Kirk Cousins and the Bengals will pull off a mild upset. 

Pick: Bengals win 25-24.

Jaguars at Texans

Trevor Lawrence, the Jaguars’ rookie quarterback, is the talk of the town, even with an up and down preseason. He comes into a team returning fantasy star James Robinson as well as a solid complement of receivers in Laviska Shenault, Marvin Jones, and DJ Chark. Urban Meyer is a far more experienced coach than David Culley, who is making his debut. Houston is a complete dumpster fire, and none of their weapons should be trusted. The Jaguars’ defense will go above and above for their new-look system, and the Jaguars should win this going away.

Pick: Jaguars win 27-21.

Chargers at Washington 

The Chargers should be confident in rookie coach Brandon Staley’s ability to manage their new defense, as well as second-year quarterback Justin Herbert’s ability. The Chargers have some talented pieces for Herbert to throw to in Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. The injury to RB Austin Ekeler will be a huge loss, but Justin Jackson will try to fill the void. Washington signed quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who will be distributing to talented weapons. Recently signed Curtis Samuel joining Antonio Gibson, JD McKissic, Terry McLaurin, and rookie Dyami Brown. This will be a close game, but I believe Herbert pulls it out in the end for Los Angeles. 

Pick: Chargers win 20-17.

Seahawks at Colts 

The Seahawks are a team that always seems to start hot to begin the year. Russell Wilson is leading a new-look offense under Shane Waldron, and he should be the more reliable quarterback with established great weapons in Lockett and Metcalf. Wilson can better assist Seattle’s running game, led by Chris Carson. The Colts are optimistic that Carson Wentz and Quenton Nelson will be available to lead their offense in Week 1, but question marks still abound. Jonathon Taylor and Nyheim Hines lead the rushing attack, and Michael Pittman should be the main target on the outside. The Seahawks are too explosive, however, and pull off the victory. 

Pick: Seahawks win 24-17.

Jets at Panthers 

Zach Wilson is the latest attempt by the Jets to fix a QB position that hasn’t been settled since Chad Pennington. The Jets signed Corey Davis in the offseason, and he is the only known constant that is gonna be healthy for this game. He is the only Jet you should think about starting. The return of Christian McCaffrey is going to be a boon for this offense. Darnold will have an easier day at work against his former club, and he has some quality targets to throw too in DJ Moore and Robbie Anderson. 

Pick: Panthers win 31-20.

Cardinals at Titans 

Kyler Murray and Ryan Tannehill are at the helm in this game, which should be a high-scoring affair. To limit Ryan Tannehill and Tennessee’s play-action passing game, Arizona has more impact players, while Tennessee will struggle on the back end against DeAndre Hopkins, a revitalized A.J. Green, and RBs Kenyan Drake and James Conner. The debut of Julio Jones will only help AJ Brown and Derrick Henry, and all three should have excellent fantasy numbers. 

Pick: Titans win 35-31.

Steelers at Bills 

Last season, the Bills dominated the Steelers, and the game wasn’t close. Josh Allen won’t have an easy time passing downfield against T.J. Watt and Minkah Fitzpatrick, but Ben Roethlisberger will have a worse difficulty facing a Bills defense that has improved from last year, even with the services of Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and JuJu Smith-Schuster. The Bills will do enough to restrict rookie Najee Harris’ running, while Allen finds enough mismatches to take advantage of, especially with Stefon Diggs returning after a breakout year last year. 

Pick: Bills win 30-24.

Eagles at Falcons 

Nick Sirianni, the Eagles’ new coach, is calling the plays. With Jalen Hurts at the lead, Philadelphia’s rushing and the passing game are more volatile, though they have talented pieces in Miles Sanders, Devonta Smith, and Dallas Goedert. The Falcons are also breaking a new coach, and return solid offensive pieces as well.  Wide receiver Calvin Ridley and coveted rookie tight end Kyle Pitts along with a running game starring Mike Davis should be enough to beat an Eagles defense with a ton of question marks.

Pick: Falcons win 27-21.

Packers at Saints (Jacksonville, Florida)

Aaron Rodgers will start another season for Green Bay. The Saints are breaking in Jamies Winston in the first year of the post-Drew Brees era. Davante Adams and Aaron Jones are the cogs in the Green Bay machine for another year, but old friend Randall Cobb could provide value. With Winston starting and no Michael Thomas in the lineup, New Orleans is a wild card that will be overly reliant on Alvin Kamara and preseason sensation Marquez Callaway in a hostile environment. Rodgers proves to be too much, but it should be an offensive light show. 

Pick: Packers win 42-35.

Broncos at Giants

It’s the battle of the questionable quarterbacks. Teddy Bridgewater is a good placeholder for now, but he limits the weapons on the offense. With rookie Javonte Williams in the backfield, Denver will be even more reliant on the run for defensive-minded Vic Fangio. Jerry Jeudy and the healthy Courland Sutton form a great receiver tandem with athletic tight end Noah Fant. A healthy Saquon Barkley and a big-play Kenny Golladay lead the Giant’s offense, which should open up more for Daniel Jones. Denver has a reputation for defense, but New York has made significant strides in this area this offseason. It should be a low-scoring affair, but the safety of Bridgewater pulls it out for the Broncos. 

Pick: Broncos win 17-10.

Dolphins at Patriots 

In Tua Tagovailoa’s first full season as a starter, the Dolphins are retooling their offensive weaponry. They drafted Jaylen Waddle to go along with Will Fuller, Mike Gesecki, and Myles Gaskin. Going back in time, the Patriots will rely on a complementary passing game with TEs Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry. Nelson Agholor and Jakobi Meyers round out a decent supporting cast for rookie QB Mac Jones. They have a strong running game to round out the offense led by Damian Harris. This should be a low-scoring game, with the potential to be more. Patriots use their defense and run game to squeak out a victory. 

Pick: Patriots win 17-13.

Bears at Rams 

The Bears have chosen Andy Dalton over Justin Fields, despite the fact that Fields is clearly the better option. This is basically a death trap for the Bears offense, as Aaron Donald is going to wreck the Bears offensive line. Allen Robinson will be tough sledding against all-pro corner Jalen Ramsey but is still worth the start in volume alone. Matthew Stafford will make his Rams debut against a familiar NFC North opponent, and he will be bringing a stellar offense led by Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp.

Pick: Rams win 27-17.

Ravens at Raiders

The Raiders defense is spotty, but the injury-plagued Ravens will not be able to take advantage. All of their WRs have been injured, and they have lost their top 3 RBs to injury for the season. Lamar Jackson still has a decent rushing floor and TE Mark Andrews, but that’s it. Derek Carr will feel the heat from the Ravens defense, but still have Darren Waller, Bryan Edwards, Josh Jacobs, and Henry Ruggs for support. At full strength, Ravens would take this, but as of now, Raiders will win.

Pick: Ravens win 32-20.