Fantasy Focus – Week 1 Matchups
This is a new weekly series, breaking down fantasy value for a selection of NFL matchups. Form, occasion, conditions, individual matchups and game script will all be considered aspects in these short fantasy focus write ups. Here are our favourite week 1 NFL Matchups:
Bills @ Rams (TNF – Friday 1.20am BST)
There is no better way to start the 2022 season than to have the reigning Super Bowl champs vs this years’ bookies favourites! (01:20BST Friday 9th Sept).
This will be a battle of two elite offences – and the respective defences trying to keep up. The only concern in this game from stopping it becoming the absolute spectacle we expect would be early season starters’ rustiness.
Allen vs Rams Defence
The Bills aim to bounce back after experiencing January heartbreak last season. Josh Allen (the bookies favourite for 2022 MVP) is going to be the heartbeat for this team. Many expect an elite season provided Allen stays fit and healthy. The high scoring potential this game has should result in a busy day for the Rams secondary, the most notable match up being Jalen Ramsey and Stefon Diggs.
Stafford’s Injury and New Weapon
Stafford is returning from an offseason elbow injury, which he is adamant he is on track and ready to go for week 1. Stafford is notorious for playing through pain and injuries so I believe we should all feel re-assured this won’t affect his production. After losing Robert Woods the Rams have been able to replace him with Allen Robinson the ex-Chicago wide receiver. Allen Robinson is a top tier play maker and will certainly help this offence and take pressure from Kupp as well as offer more options for Stafford this season.
Tre’Davious White is on the PUP list, this is a big concern for the Bills as their secondary could be placed under pressure all game long. This could result in big passing productivity for an already pass heavy Rams offence.
- High Scoring Game
- Receiver Friendly – Gabe Davis/Allen Robinson to be fantasy relevant
- Akers to be kept in check
Chiefs @ Cardinals (Sunday Night – 9.25pm BST)
I have chosen this matchup this week, as I believe Mahomes and Murray both have points to prove this season.
Mahomes has lost one of the most explosive wide receivers in the game and Murray has had to deal with a lot of contract drama over the offseason. Murray has finally put pen to paper on a 5 year contract worth around $230 million, so I think Cardinals fans now have every right to expect him to perform and expect him to beat the other elite teams in the NFL.
No Hill and No Hopkins
In the offseason Tyreek Hill was traded to the Miami Dolphins, and this has subsequently freed up a large volume of targets in this pass heavy Chiefs offence. Hardman, Valdez-Scatling, Smith-Schuster and rookie Moore will all be competing for these targets, whilst I also envisage Kelce receiving an increased number of targets in 2022. All four of these receivers, one can argue have a point to prove, and it is anyone’s guess at the moment who could be the breakout number 1 in Kansas but I believe Juju Smith-Schuster is the receiver to keep an eye on.
DeAndre Hopkins has been suspended for 6 games in the NFL for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy. At the 2022 NFL Draft the Cardinals sent their first round pick to the Ravens for Marquise “Hollywood” Brown. Brown and Murray have a relationship dating back to their college days at Oklahoma. I believe Brown will hit the ground running (“receiving”) and become one of the key offensive threats for the Cardinals in 2022.
Chiefs open Backfield
One of the big fantasy debates and discussions over the offseason has revolved around the Chiefs Running Back “committee”/depth chart. When the Chiefs drafted Clyde Edwards-Helaire (CEH) at pick 32 in the 2020 NFL draft the fantasy football community responded by labelling him as a ‘must-have’ for the 2020 fantasy season and beyond. CEH has largely disappointed against his ADP and, as a result, has opened up opportunities to question his role as the Chiefs’ lead back. Isaiah Pacheco is the new kid on the block in Kansas and has received a huge amount of offseason hype. It’s really put his name into the discussion as a possible threat to CEH’s volume. I don’t believe Pacheco will take over from CEH this year, thus I see CEH as the lead back in KC and an RB to target this year as a result of his sliding ADP.
- Mahomes to still be a tier ahead of Murray
- Kelce to have an elite season and big night
- Hollywood Brown to announce himself in fashion as a Cardinal
Browns @ Panthers (Sunday Night – 6pm BST)
Is revenge for Baker on the cards here?
Rewind 12 months and if this was a week 1 game in 2021, the majority of NFL viewers would be skipping this match. But now after a year and a half of drama surrounding Watson, the Browns and Baker as collateral damage, we can all finally attempt to move on.
The McCaffrey effect
Carolina had a dismal 2021 season ending with the 6th worst overall record. The 2021 season started promisingly at 3-0 with Christian McCaffrey (CMC) surpassing 130+ scrimmage yards in both week 1 and 2 before suffering a hamstring injury. It essentially derailed his and the Panthers’ season. During this brief period CMC was able to make Sam Darnold a top QB week on week. CMC is an elite talent and when fit he is a consensus top 3 running back if not fantasy asset. Having only laced up for 10 games over the previous two season fantasy football fans will be hoping he can stay fit in 2022. Then he can contribute as effectively and efficiently as he did in 2018 and 2019.
Will Baker get revenge this week?
Baker is the talking point this week. He was treated relatively poorly in a public manner with his exit from Cleveland. What better way than to start new with a win against the franchise that publicly humiliated you? Baker is going into a wounded system here at Carolina, with Matt Rhule needing a good year to save his job. Baker will need to rely heavily on CMC and DJ Moore on the offensive side of the ball. And he hopes his young aggressive defence can give him an eagerly anticipated revenge win over the Browns.
Will Chubb rain on the Mayfield Parade?
The key players for the Browns this week will be their ever present and trusty wrecking ball Nick Chubb. Chubb has passed 1000 rushing yards in the last 3 regular seasons and there has been very little sign of this slowing down. Even last year with Kareem Hunt’s injury Chubb was still able to carry an increased workload. I predict the Browns to be incredibly run dependent until the return of Deshaun Watson so Hunt and Chubb should both be fantasy relevant.
- Low scoring
- Running Back Masterclass – CMC/Chubb/Hunt
- Tough day for Baker – (Garrett and Clowney to be busy)
Broncos @ Seahawks (MNF – Tues 1.15am BST)
Wilson, already back in Seattle!
I can’t see Seattle being able to compete against the Broncos this week. They will need something incredibly special from Geno Smith and their offence to keep up with the now Russell Wilson led Broncos.
The Broncos with Wilson under centre
The Russell Wilson trade this off season was one of the few big blockbuster trades. Denver have been on the hunt for a franchise quarterback for a number of seasons and they can finally safe they have acquired one. Wilson will love to return to Seattle and show Pete Carroll what he will be missing going forward. Wilson should improve the passing efficiency for Denver this year. The likes of Sutton, Jeudy and possibly Albert O and/or Hamler should be the beneficiaries.
With Wilson under centre I think it will also be an advantage for Williams and Gordon out of the backfield.
The Geno experiment
With the news out of Seattle that Geno Smith will be the week 1 starter ahead of Drew Lock the fantasy football community will all be quite unsure of what to expect. At Running back, Wide Receiver and Tight End you could put together the case that the Seahawks have a lot of talent ready to help Geno. But it will come down to whether or not he is able to unlock this offence. Losing Bobby Wagner in the offseason will hurt the Seahawks defence and thus they will need the offence to click early to keep up with the Broncos. Metcalf and Lockett are going to have to have good seasons in order for the Seahawks to win games. There are expectations of a high volume of targets, the big debate will be the quality of these targets.
- Broncos in full control
- Wilson looking like he has been in Denver his whole career
- Jeudy breakout
- Penny to have a high volume or carries
Nathan – @MountainDrew92