It’s NFL season now, which means you have a chance at $100,000 Sunday night 7. Predict what’s going to happen in Sunday night football and see if you’re going to be the next big winner. Click here to get started with the NBC Sports Predictor app.
Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em is geared for season leagues, but can also be used for everyday fantasy purposes. As anyone who’s been reading this for the past few years knows, I’m trying to avoid obvious drama. Anyone can come forward and say we should start guys like Kyler Murray, DeAndre Swift, Tee Higgins and Mark Andrews. I tried to dig a little deeper.
WEEK START: Russell, Seahawks Wilson – After the first 10 years with the Seahawks In his career, the 33-year-old Wilson got his wish and was traded in the offseason. Fittingly, he’ll make his Broncos debut Monday night on his way to the stadium he’s called home for a decade. Wilson is coming off a QB13 fantasy season and joining rookie head coach Nathaniel Hackett on offense is expected to cater to Wilson rather than suppress him. The rebuilding Seahawks ditched 2021 firing leaders Carlos Dunlap (8.5) and Raheem Green (6.5) and hoped to join veteran Sidney Jones in the fourth round this season Rookie Kobe Bryant and fifth-round pick Tariq Woolen got minutes. , Arty Burns and Justin Coleman. Look for Wilson to dunk on his former team. Denver’s implied total of 25.75 was tied for seventh-highest in Week 1.
Joe Burrow and the Steelers – Burrow had a league-high 51 dismissals last season, while the Bengals were in free agency by signing C Ted Karras, RG Alex Cappa and RT La’el Collins before drafting new LG Cordell Volson in the second round. 2019 first-rounder LT Jonah Williams is the only returning starter and should be an improved blocking unit. Despite taking some hits, Burrow posted a QB10 fantasy season last year, leading the league in yards per attempt and second only to Aaron Rodgers in passing scoring. When asked to describe head coach Zach Taylor’s offense, Burrow said: “Horses thrown at us from a long way off the field.” Burrow owns the sport in Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and slot machine Tyler Boyd One of the best trios in the world. Last year’s Bengals ranked in first 10 Pass rate exceeded expectations , which skyrocketed to the top five when in the red zone. When the Bengals score, Burrow is usually the one to do it. Burrow threw 3 touchdown passes over Pittsburgh in the clubs’ first meeting last season and then finished 20 for 24 in the Bengals’ 41-10 victory over the Steelers in the second. Cincinnati’s implied team score of 25.25 was the ninth-highest in Week 1.
Drake Carr in Chargers – Karl ended a fantastic QB17 season last year, but he was one of the big winners of the offseason, the Raiders hired new head coach Josh McDaniels, then traded Alpha WR1 Davante Adams to join Slots specialist Hunter Renfrow and stud TE Darren Waller. The Raiders are expected to pick up the pace of their offense under McDaniels, and Karl remains one of the top passers in the league. Last season, he was in the top five for both passing and passing yards, and now he has a better support lineup. The Raiders-Chargers had the second-highest score of the week at 52.5, which is a good atmosphere to target when trying to make close lineup decisions. Karl isn’t bringing anything with his legs, but I’d be willing to bet he’s setting a new career-best in passing touchdowns this season, as he’s only had one season in eight years with more than 28 passing touchdowns. It’s the only way he can flirt with the top 12 numbers in this position. In Karl’s favor this week, the Chargers could miss top CB JC Jackson after undergoing ankle surgery a few weeks ago. Karl should be locked in two QBs and a Superflex lineup.
Jaymes Winston, Falcons – Winston recovered very well from his ACL tear in Week 8 last week, and he went through a normal training camp and preseason. After failing to sign Deshaun Watson, the Saints brought back Winston and upgraded his legacy by signing Jarvis Landry, first-round pick Chris Olaf and the return of Michael Thomas Ball group. A year ago, the Saints had an all-new starting trio after Marquez Callaway, Deonte Harty and Tre’Quan Smith led the Saints to goals. New head coach Dennis Allen is also considering making Winston the third-worst passer after the Saints passed expectations last year. Last season, the Falcons ranked 28th in quarterback fantasy points and second-to-last in adjusted dismissal rate. Atlanta is now without a top-four sack player from 2021, and New Orleans has one of the best offensive lines in the league. Winston should have plenty of time to drive some long shots from outside speeder Olaf. Winston is one of my favorite streamers and one of my favorite fantasy tournaments of the week.
Dak Prescott vs. Bucs ) – Prescott completed a season-high 58 pass attempts this week in 1 game with the Buccaneers last season as This week’s QB7 threw for 403 yards and threes. Amari Cooper led the Cowboys 13-139-2 on 17 goals that night, and WR Michael Gallup (4-36) and Cedric Wilson (3-24) saw 10 more. Prescott will replace Cooper, Gallup and Wilson, throwing instead to CeeDee Lamb and a bunch of Just-A-Guy WRs like Noah Brown, Simi Fehoko and Jalen Tolbert. Prescott will also be without All-World LT Tyron Smith (knee, hamstring) against Bucs coach Todd Bowles’ lightning-fast defense. Rookie Tyler Smith will protect Prescott’s blind spot, likely with the help of tight end. Owner Jerry Jones continues to hype Ezekiel Elliott as the engine of the offense. With Gallup (knee) a week or two away, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Cowboys try to ride Elliott in September. Prescott also used his legs less than ever last season, failing to elevate his fantastic bottom line to an overall QB9 in 2021. The game finished third with 50.5 points over the weekend, but Prescott was more of a fringe QB 1/2 with a lot of hurdles to clear.
Justin Fields vs. 49ers – Fields enters his second season with one hand still tied behind his back. Bears hired defensive-minded rookie head coach Matt Eberfroth, who made first-timers OC Luke Getsy runs the offense. Chicago has one of the two or three worst offensive lines in the sport and will start fifth-rounder Braxton Jones from the southern Utah elementary school in Fields’ blind spot. Nick Bosa could set a single-season record for dismissals in a game Sunday. Brandon Thorn, the line guru who built the Run, named the 49ers DL vs. Bears OL as the biggest mismatch of the week. The offensive line sucks, and the tech team isn’t much better behind Darnell Mooney. They will roll out the duo of Equanimeous St. Brown, Byron Pringle, Dante Pettis and rookie Velus Jones behind Mooney. Jones had the highest ceiling, but he barely practiced all summer due to a hamstring problem that also kept him from practicing Wednesday and Thursday. The Bears may struggle to get a touchdown on Sunday. Chicago’s implied overall score of 16.75 was the lowest in the first week. The only thing that saved Fields was his leg productivity.
Mike Jones at the Dolphins – No People start Mac Jones in a single QB league, but that’s more for a double QB and a Superflex player after I saw managers pick Jones as their QB2 this summer. Jones’ rookie year OC Josh McDaniels left to take over Raiders job, Patriots didn’t name a replacement but hired veterans Matt Patricia and Joe after being fired by Lions and Giants Judge. The two and head coach Bill Belichick are expected to be a three-headed OC. Things didn’t go well over the summer, and Jones’ training camp was inconsistent. The Patriots remain one of the heaviest offense, and Jones’ perimeter group is aided by Devante Parker, Jacoby Meyers, Kendrick Byrne and Nelson Aglore still very weak. Look for the Patriots to have a ton of two TE episodes with Hunter Henry and Jonu Smith. The Patriots-Dolphins was one of the slower-paced, run-heavy games in Week 1, scoring just 46.5 points overall. New England’s total score of 21.5 points is 10th from the bottom. Jones produced QB23 and QB25 weeks last year in two meetings with the Dolphins’ DC Josh Boyer defense.
WEEK START: Antonio Gibson vs. Jaguars – Gibson looked like one of the biggest losers of the summer when rookie Brian Robinson showed up for his job. But Robinson, who was shot in the leg in a carjacking attempt before cutting the 53-man roster, will miss at least the first month of the season, putting Gibson back in the driver’s seat in Washington. He really couldn’t ask for a better record in Week 1 against the Jaguars running back as the home favorite. Jacksonville ranks 20th in fantasy points allowed by running backs, 19th in running backs DVOA and 30th in rushing touchdowns surrendered last season. JD McKissic will be actively involved in the Commander’s passing, but Gibson should eat up most of the early and short-yard passes, although there were rumors on Twitter late in the summer that Jonathan Williams could mix in some of the early-passing work. That’s obviously not ideal for a Gibson player. However, we should expect Gibson to have 15+ carries, putting him safely into the RB2 combo.
Miles Sanders Lion – Sanders missed most of August with a hamstring injury but returned to practice last week, this week in Sunday’s opener Before becoming a full contestant. Notoriously, despite being second among all running backs with 5.5 YPC averages and losing to Jordan Howard in the process, Sanders failed to hit the ball last season with 163 touches. Can get a touchdown. Howard didn’t re-sign this offseason, but the Hawks did add a 6’/215 3-point sermon waiver when they cut their 53-man roster. We suspect he’s not fast enough on offense, and so far, Thelmon has never put anything good in an NFL movie. Sanders is considered the leader of Philadelphia’s ultra-efficient, high-running offense. Brandon Thorn, the line mastermind who established the Run, ranked the Eagles OL with the Lions’ DL as the biggest mismatch of Week 1, clearly favoring the Philadelphia side. The Lions were 31st in DVOA a season ago, ceding the third-most fantasy points and sixth-most rushing points to opposing guards. Sanders missed last week’s Week 8 date with the Lions, when all three of Howard, Boston Scott and Kenneth Gainwell saw 12-plus carries, and Howard and Scott both times. Found the end zone.Philadelphia went 46-236-4 in that game come up. If we can confidently project Sanders as a 15-18 carry, he’ll be in the top 15 with an uptick in RB1. We just have to expect Gainwell and Scott to still be involved in some way.
Elijah Mitchell at Bears – This guy doesn’t feel safe or interesting at all, but we have to assume that Mitchell is out of a hamstring injury that forced him to miss nearly all of training camp and the entire preseason. He returned to practice on Aug. 28 and is not on the Week 1 injury report. The Niners are the touchdown favorites on the road against the hapless Bears in a game that San Francisco could win by three points. Coach Kyle Shanahan eased Trey Lance in and threw the ball through the ground into Chicago’s throat, which was beautiful on paper. The only real concern is that we don’t really know what Shanahan’s backcourt rotation will look like. This time last year, Mitchell was a complete unknown until he popped up in the first-week opener. Jeff Wilson got some preseason performances and is the veteran No. 2, behind him and Mitchell are rookie third-rounder Tyrion Davis-Price and UDFA Jordan Mason. Mason was the star of the preseason, and he knocked Trey Seymon off the roster. We shouldn’t be shocked if we see all four playing snaps on Sunday. Mitchell didn’t inspire much confidence, but he played against Chicago’s defensive line in RB2, losing Akiem Hicks and Eddie Goldman in the offseason.
Melvin Gordon at Seahawks – Javonte Williamstruthers won’t like to see this, but all signs this summer point to Gordon staying with Williams. Rookie OC Justin Outten has already said Williams and Gordon will be “pitching counts” throughout the season. Gordon has said the coach wants Williams to be “the guy”, but Gordon still gets plenty of practice reps in the first-team offense. First-time head coach Nathaniel Hackett came over from the Packers, where they were able to tandem Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon as 1A-1B. This could be Williams and Gordon’s plan. Denver is a 6.5-point favorite against the rebuilding Seahawks, which lost LB Bobby Wagner of the world in the offseason. The Broncos should be able to do whatever they want on Monday night. They’ll want Russell Wilson to get “his” against his former team, but we should expect a big dose of both running backs, especially in the second half. Seattle ranked 31st in fantasy points allowed by running backs last season, with a league-high 127 catches over 1,000 yards. Gordon has excelled in the passing game and will likely still see his fair share of goal-line opportunities. This is a great place for both Williams and Gordon to enter the first 24 weeks.
Cordarrelle Patterson vs. Saints – One of the biggest breakout players of 2021, some may be shocked to remind that Patterson is 31 years old and entering in his 10th professional season. Last year was his first real opportunity to be a rushing and receiving playmaker, flying more than 500 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground and in the air. However, the Falcons don’t want Patterson to carry such a big burden again this year, and added veteran Damien Williams and rookie Tyler Allgeier to the backcourt mix when they drafted WR Drake London in the first round. Kyle Pitts is also entering his second season with huge lift-off potential. The Falcons shouldn’t rely too much on Patterson. The Saints ranked first among running backs in DVOA and allowed the second-fewest fantasy points against running backs a season ago. Patterson struggled as a runner in two meetings with New Orleans, posting 9-10-0 and 4-11-0 dashes, though he did have a 6-126 in Week 9 -0 catch day and a polar opposite 1-0 catch line for the Week 18 Finals. Look for the Falcons to make some touches on Patterson’s plate, but still keep him in key positions and close to the end zone. He’s forming a touchdown-or-break RB2/3 game, and Atlanta is scoring just 18.25 points.
Brishall vs Ravens – The Jets selected Hall with the 36th overall pick in the April draft, but he played 1B in the Jets’ backcourt to Michael Carter’s 1A in training camp and preseason. Show or not, with the Jets missing starting QB Zach Wilson (knee), RT Mekhi Becton (knee) and now LT Duane Brown (shoulder), it’s simply impossible to believe that Hall is a fantastic leader Server, who was signed to replace Becton in the starting lineup, but missed practice all week. Hall and Carter could form a near-even timeshare with the Jets, with Joe Flacco at center as a significant seven-point underdog. The Ravens are 4th in running back DVOA, 2nd in opponent yards per carry, and 7th in fantasy points allowed by running backs last season. They have since traded 33-year-old Northern Territory Brandon Williams for the glacial 345-pound Michael Pierce. Chosen as a fantasy linebacker in the top 18 in the summer, Hall’s players will have to wait for that.
Josh Jacobs of Chargers – The Jacobs thing has been well documented throughout the offseason. Mike Mayok-Jon Gruden lost in the first round of their long list, and Jacobs is arguably one of the duo’s top picks, but his 2023 option has already been swept away. The new Dave Ziegler-Josh McDaniels regime refused, before seeing the Raiders sign RB Brandon Bolden and Ameer Abdullah before drafting Zamir White and Brittain Brown. The Raiders have made it clear that Jacobs is not in their future, and he certainly won’t let Bolden and Abdullah pick passes for those roles. The Chargers had a terrible game a season ago, but to fix that, they made major additions in the frontcourt, signing DT Sebastian Joseph Day and Austin Johnson and off-ball LB Kyle Van Noy , the latter performed very well in the game. This week, Jacobs may have to score by luck to bring back the RB2 numbers. If the Raiders trail by 3.5 points, we probably won’t see a lot of Jacobs in chase mode.
Fantasy football guru Matthew Berry joins the team with two shows to keep you entertained all season report. Participate in Fantasy Football Happy Hour at noon on weekdays, then prepare for the Pre-Fantasy Football kickoff every Sunday at 11am. Watch both shows on Peacock and reruns of NFL weekdays on the NBC YouTube channel.
START THIS WEEK: Commander’s Christian Kirk – We all laughed when the Jaguars gave Kirk a four-year, $72 million free agency deal He’s one of the 20 highest-paid players in the NFL, but if the preseason is anything to go by, Jacksonville has pretty big plans for the 26-year-old. In his only preseason appearance, Kirk went 32-for-39 with Trevor Lawrence and was Lawrence’s 38 percent from the field. He hit half snaps in the slot and caught five passes in about half the action. Zay Jones was signed primarily for his ability to block, and Marvin Jones is now 32 years old. Kirk’s target competition is not fierce. Washington ranked 28th in pass defense DVOA and 28th in fantasy points allowed against the perimeter last season. The arrival of new coach Doug Pederson should inject much-needed energy into the Jacksonville locker room, and Pederson brings a proven NFL offense. Lawrence should have more time to deal with the fact that commander EDGE Chase Young (knee) isn’t ready to address his torn ACL. The Jaguars-Commanders have a combined score of just 44 points, but Kirk should be nailed in the lineup as a WR3 with room to rise.
DeVonta Smith at the Lions – I don’t have much fantasies about Smith this season, but Week 1 looks like a let down Great place for all of our Eagles techs to play. As a rookie, Smith led the Hawks with 104 goals, but still finished with only half-PPR points per game as a fantasy overall WR41. New alpha WR1 AJ Brown and Jalen Hurts are best friends in real life, and Brown dominates the Eagles camp. In the league’s heaviest offense, Smith’s ceiling has been significantly lowered and goals have been difficult to achieve. There’s a situation where Smith is third in goals this season for the Hawks, behind Brown and even Dallas Goldett. But Detroit doesn’t have the talent to connect with any of these Philly passers on the back end, especially Smith and his speed. No. 1 CB Jeff Okudah is recovering from a torn Achilles in 2021. Last season, Amani Oruwariye was the No. 125 cover corner on Pro Football Focus. Nickel corner Mike Hughes is a former first-round bust for his third team in five years for the Vikings. Smith is unlikely to see loud volume, but he’s an all-around perimeter with sky-high ceilings. Detroit was 27th in pass defense DVOA last year and 20th in fantasy scoring. The Eagles are fourth in scoring with 26.5 points.
Jahan Dotson vs. Jaguars – Dotson received little attention all summer, and despite being the 16th overall pick in April, he could have entered the final round of the fantasy draft. Terry McLaurin is Washington’s WR1 alpha, But Dotson will be his partner in every failure at the Z spot. Reports from the Commander’s camp suggest that Dotson has a good bond with new QB Carson Wentz, possibly even better than Wentz-McLaurin. Dotson will have his first NFL experience against the Jaguars, which ranked 31st in pass-defense DVOA, had the second-worst opponent completion percentage, 27th in yards per attempt, and was 27th in yards per attempt allowed a season ago. Fantasy scored 24th. As a backend WR3/4 or FLEX we can do much worse than Dotson in week 1, and he can be a cheap source of volume in DFS.
AJ Green VS Chief – We really want to do this, don’t we? Green is now 34 years old, but he looks ready to open the season as a well-rounded perimeter in the desert this season. DeAndre Hopkins was suspended for the first six games of the season, and sophomore Lawrence Moore suffered a hamstring injury in practice Thursday that required an MRI. It would be shocking if Moore were to play on Sunday, and we could even see an IR tour depending on the severity of the pressure. With those two out, the Cardinals have a big room with Marquise Brown, Green, Andy Isabella and Greg Dodge. Green averaged 15.7 yards per catch for the Cardinals last season, his highest YPR average since his rookie season in 2011. He also said he was more aligned with Kyler Murray in their second season, as the two were significantly different in points last year. Chiefs-Cardinals is one of the premier fantasy environments, with the highest total of 54 points in Week 1. It’s hard to imagine Green not seeing 6-8 targets if Zach Ertz (Mavericks) is also sidelined. This will firmly give him more of an advantage in the WR3/4 combination.
Drake London vs. Saints ) – London is expected to play in a week after a knee injury early in the preseason forced him to miss the remainder of training camp and exhibition games . He hasn’t really gone there to form a strong bond with Marcus Mariota, and it wouldn’t be a complete shock to see the Falcons get London back in the game in some quick fashion. On the field, look for London to see plenty of Saints top CB Marshon Lattimore, Pro Football Focus’ No. 12 cover last season and one of the position’s major suspended players. Not an ideal Week 1 location, using London as WR3 for fantasy. The Saints are 4th in pass-defense DVOA in 2021, while the Falcons’ 18.25 points are the second-fewest in Week 1.
George Pickens at Bengals – If Diontae Johnson (shoulder) is forced to miss, I could be influenced to play the Pickens opener, but Johnson has been in limited practice all week and currently appears to be on the suspicious right side. Pickens was a summer of hype, making a splash in the preseason. He will play in three games, but Johnson and Chase Claypool are expected to be the first and second in a 12- or 21-man team. With the Steelers OL struggles, we should expect Pittsburgh to use a lot of multi-TE sets. Pickens could pay off on low sales, but I’d really like to take a wait-and-see approach to this rookie phenomenon. The Steelers will be relying on their running game, and Mitchell Trubisky will be under constant duress behind this swinging-door offensive line. When Trubisky doesn’t have enough time to pitch, it’s going to be hard for the game to get to the frontcourt. Steelers OL vs. Bengals DL was one of the biggest mismatches of the week. Pittsburgh’s implied total of 18.75 is the third-lowest.
Treylon Burks vs. Giants – Burks’ spring and summer issues are well documented on Twitter. The Titans traded AJ Brown for the 18th pick Burks in April. Burks attended spring training and failed a fitness test on his first attempt due to asthma and heat. He then played second- and third-line offense in preseason games and was in and out of practice with minor “injuries.” Head coach Mike Vrabel wanted Burks to be consistent all summer, and now it looks like he’ll start the year with a full rotation after Robert Woods and staff favorite Nick Westbrook-Iakin. Rookie Kyle Philips is expected to get most of the slot snaps. The Titans are sure to have the package ready for Burks, but the offseason hasn’t been a good one for him, with his fantastic ADP plummeting into the final rounds. We’ll have to see Burks do something on the court before blindly throwing him into a fantasy lineup as a WR4/FLEX. It also looks like a place where the Titans could get Derrick Henry out of the Giants’ throats with an easy win.
WEEK START: Dallas Goldett at the Lions – If I miss Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews and Kyle Pitts in the fantasy draft, Goedert is the tight end I’ve been waiting for in the mid to late game. After the Zach Ertz trade in Week 6 last season, Goedert was an all-around tight end and produced a 41-614-2 record in 10 games before going on 12 goals in a playoff loss to the Bucs won 6-92-0. Goedert has been Fantasy’s overall TE5 since Week 7. AJ Brown will be a clear target for Philly, but Goedert is likely to be No. 2. He’s an elite talent at the position, ranking first in yards per route last year. The Lions are 24th in fantasy points allowed into the position in 2021, with Goedert posting a 6-72-0 line in Week 8. All of our Eagles deserve to start in Week 1.
Gerald Everett vs. Raiders – Donald Parham (hamstring) has missed most of training camp and will be out this week on Wednesday and Not looking ready to play after back-to-back DNP support on Thursday. Everett signed in the offseason and rested with the rest of the Chargers’ starters in the preseason. He’s familiar with Rams head coach Brandon Staley and provides Justin Herbert with a younger, more athletic replacement for Jared Cook, who last season The Chargers are fourth in goal behind Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Austin Eckler. In an extreme passing offense with a lot of football to get around, this team can support a 3- 4 pass catchers. Last season, the Raiders ranked 28th in fantasy scoring. In a game with a total of 52.5 points, we’ll want to be part of this AFC West clash. Everett is actually a well-rounded player.
David Njoku, Panthers – Njoku was oddly branded a franchise and received a four-year, $54.75 million extension in the offseason. The Browns haven’t featured Njoku since acquiring Njoku with the 29th overall pick in the 2017 draft, but it looks like it’s going to be the year we’ve been waiting for an ultra-athletic tight end. Jacoby Brissett hit 33 fast breaks in the preseason finale, and Njoku was involved in 30 of them, even seeing action from position to wing. In a Browns offense that still lacks a passer behind Amari Cooper, Njoku could be Cleveland’s second option and top red zone weapon. Austin Hooper was released in the offseason, opening 61 goals. The Browns would be wise to hand these over to Njoku. When looking for back-round players and streaming options for that position, we wanted those players who would be on the field and see prime targets near the end zone. Njoku checks these boxes.
Commander’s Evan Engram – Fleeing the Giants, Ingram signed a one-year, fully guaranteed $9 million contract to join the Jaguars as a free agent. He bet on himself and connected with head coach Doug Pederson, who showed he knew how to use tight end during his time with the Hawks. Talent has never been Ingram’s problem. It has always been about staying healthy. He’s only missed two games in the past two seasons and just turned 28. We should expect Christian Kirk, Engram and Travis Etienne to be the most distinctive players in the Jaguars’ passing game this season. Washington allowed ninth-plus yards against the tight end last year, and we know Ingram will be on the floor in abundance.