All that planning and studying that you did — or didn’t! — do this offseason has been leading to today. The NFL season kicks off tonight at 8:20, with the Bills and Rams going face to face in a potential Super Bowl preview. And I’m hyped!
This is the start of my 12th season covering the NFL for CBS Fantasy, and the first day of the season is always a great day. If for no other reason than I haven’t gotten any of my predictions wrong yet. Yet.
Happily, I’m not the only person helping you set your lineup. subscribe to the Fantasy Football Today YouTube channel and join Adam Aizer and I (and maybe some guests) at 2 p.m. ET today for our start/sit live stream. We’ll be discussing all of the latest news and answering your toughest lineup questions, and we’ll be there every week to make sure you’re ready for the first lineup lock of the week.and today’s newsletter will bring you Dave Richard’s start and sit picks as well. But hey, maybe you don’t have time for all that reading and you want to get your questions answered directly. Well, then make sure you
In tomorrow’s newsletter, I’ll have previews of every game on the Week 1 schedule, including the latest injury updates for everyone you need to know about, plus all of the key takeaways from tonight’s season opener between the Bills and Rams.
Get ready for Week 1 with all of our preview content here:
Here’s what else today’s newsletter will cover:
I’m planting a flag on Miami’s offense being a top-five unit, and I have 13 other bold predictions for the upcoming season., but here’s a taste. Watch out; it might be spicy:
1. D.J. Moore scores 10-plus touchdowns
When the argument against a player essentially boils down to something like, “They can’t score touchdowns,” that’s typically a good player to bet on. Moore has been good at everything in his career except getting into the end zone, with just 14 touchdowns in four seasons – including just four in three straight. However, it’s worth noting that the Panthers haven’t had more than 17 touchdown passes in any of their past three seasons, so he’s actually scored more than one-quarter of their passing touchdowns in that stretch. With Baker Mayfield at QB, I expect the Panthers offense to be much more functional, and that gives Moore a much better chance to find the end zone. Here’s hoping he does it a whole bunch more.
2. Kyle Pitts is the No. 1 tight end
For me, it’s not a question of “if” but “when.” Pitts is going to be the No. 1 tight end in Fantasy at some point. Does he surpass Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews this season? Given Kelce’s age and the decline we saw last season plus Andrews’ numbers with and without Lamar Jackson – he averaged more than 5 PPR points per game more without Jackson active last season – I think there’s a pretty good chance it happens this year. 90 catches, 1,300 yards, and six-plus touchdowns? It’s well within his grasp.
Patrick Mahomes apologized in advance to Fantasy players for his expectation that the Chiefs won’t have a true No. 1 WR this season, and Matt LaFleur made similar comments about the Packers wide receivers in the preseason. I don’t mind the idea of taking JuJu Smith-Schuster as your No. 3 wide receiver or a late-round flier on the likes of Skyy Moore, Christian Watson, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, or Romeo Doubs, but I expect these to be pretty ambiguous situations for much of the season. If I had a lot invested in anyone in these passing games besides Travis Kelce, I wouldn’t feel good about it.
4. Najee Harris isn’t a top-12 RB
Harris is going to get as many snaps and touches as he can handle, but there are real reasons to be concerned about how good this Steelers offense is and whether he’s going to get the same passing workload he got last season with the more mobile Mitchell Trubisky. But the thing that really scared me off Harris was the news that he dealt with a Lisfranc injury during camp. He’s supposedly fully past it now, but if it slows him down at all or even gets worse, things could go really south.
There are the obvious calls, and then there are the ones you need help with. Dave Richard goes through each game to identify the most interesting matchups and biggest lineup dilemmas for Week 1. Here are some of his top picks for this week.:
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🆚TNF Preview: Bills at Rams
All lines from Caesars Sportsbook
The Bills are the Super Bowl favorites, and that’s reflected in them being favored on the road against the reigning Super Bowl champions. The Bills don’t really have an obvious weakness, and with questions about Matthew Stafford‘s elbow and Cam Akers‘ health in general, the Bills should have an edge here. We also broke down the game on the FFT podcast.
Key injuries: Van Jefferson has already been ruled out after undergoing preseason knee surgery, and he’s the only notable absence expected. Isaiah McKenzie was a full participant in practice all week with his groin injury, and neither Akers nor Darrell Henderson was listed on the injury report after missing much of training camp with leg injuries.
What to watch for: I’m expecting Stafford to be more or less fine, but I don’t know with 100% certainty that he will be. But he played through this elbow injury without much concern for much of last season, so why can’t he do the same, at least to start the season? Maybe it’ll become more of an issue moving forward, but I think the bigger question for the Rams is what the running back split looks like. Sean McVay historically doesn’t split carries much, but there were reports in camp of Akers and Henderson being used relatively interchangeably. It’ll be hard for either to be a must-start Fantasy option if that’s the case. On the Bills side, I’m expecting to see three running backs active on game days, a notable change from how they operated for much of last season, but I still think Devin Singletary will be the clear lead back — the question is whether Zack Moss steals enough short-yardage and James Cook enough passing situation usage to render Singletary unusable for Fantasy. We’ll also be keeping an eye on McKenzie’s snap share — he’s going to be the primary slot receiver, but he also saw some time with the first team in two-WR sets. If he’s on the field for nearly every pass play, I love his chances of emerging as a viable PPR start, even if Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis are high-end options as well.
🚑Week 1 Injury Watch
The Big News: Chris Godwin was listed as a full participant in Wednesday’s practice for the Buccaneers. That raised a lot of eyebrows on Twitter when it was announced, though a little extra digging revealed he was still wearing an orange non-contact jersey. So, I’m gonna throw a little asterisk there. Saying Godwin practiced in full is “technically correct” — the best kind of correct — but it’s likely the Bucs did a lighter, walkthrough-type practice, in which case, the more relevant news is that Godwin still hasn’t taken contact. Maybe he will Thursday or Friday and that’ll be enough for him to be cleared for Sunday’s opener against the Cowboys, but at this point, I’m still betting against him playing. And, even if he does, I’d probably prefer not to start him even in what should be a shootout — it’ll just be impossible to know if he’s going to play a full complement of snaps. Give him a week even if he is healthy. You should have the depth for it.
I’ll have a full breakdown of the injury report in Friday’s newsletter along with my preview of each game, but here’s a look at the first practice participation reports of the season:
Injuries to watch for Week 1
It’s not clear what these injuries mean quite yet.
Trending up for Week 1
This doesn’t mean they will play, but we got good news about them Wednesday.
Trending down for Week 1
This doesn’t mean they won’t play, but they aren’t moving in the right direction yet.
This content was originally published here.