Rich Hribar

The Worksheet

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The NFL Week 1 Worksheet

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

We made it. Months and months of fantasy preparation were poured in over the summer and all that work is about to be put to the test as Week 1 of the NFL season is finally upon us. The NFL is inherently a fluid game, with things in constant motion. What was yesterday isn’t always tomorrow and then will be different in the middle of the season. So with a fresh start to a new season, taking an evidence-based approach is easier said than done. For those that have followed this article for the previous four seasons, you’ll know the accuracy ramps as we roll on. Still, that doesn’t mean we must throw everything out from the past when looking ahead.

For those that are new here, the goal of this article is to provide a top-down, statistical snapshot for each game each week, running down weekly point spreads, team totals, play calling splits, and statistical bullet points on the players and teams involved. Although we’re focusing strictly on PPR league scoring here as a baseline, there’s more than enough to spread around across formats and daily leagues. The reason we’re operating under a PPR umbrella is it allows us to cover a larger portion of the players involved in action weekly.


Lastly, as the author, it’s imperative that I note that this is NOT a start/sit column, rather an expectations column. The labels for each subset of players for each game is simply the vehicle for those expectations and have a different context for each player that you can find at the end of the column. I encourage that you use the game by game tables and data points here in conjunction with the Start/Sit column posted weekly by Nick Mensio, Pat Daugherty’s rankings in the Goal Line Stand, Evan Silva’s Matchup’s column, Ray Summerlin's Waiver Wired and most importantly, your own information and thought process. With that out of the way, let’s hit all the Week 1 games with a PPR light…


Chiefs @ Patriots


Kansas CityRank@New EnglandRank
8.5   Spread -8.5  
19.8   Implied Total 28.3  
61.1 28 Plays/Gm 67.7 3
66.4 26 Opp. Plays/Gm 61.9 4
41.0% 14 Rush% 43.6% 6
59.0% 19 Pass% 56.4% 27
41.7% 21 Opp. Rush % 36.5% 5
58.3% 12 Opp. Pass % 63.6% 28


  • New England allowed the fewest points per play (.264) while Kansas City ranked fourth (.291) in 2016.
  • The Chiefs were second in the league in points scored off turnovers in 2016. New England was tied with Atlanta with a league-low 11 turnovers in 2016.
  • The Patriots led for 68.2 percent of their plays in 2016, the highest mark of the past five seasons.
  • Rob Gronkowski has been a top-12 scoring tight end in 44 of his 56 games played over the past five seasons.
  • The Chiefs have allowed just four top-12 scoring tight ends over the past two seasons, the fewest in the league.
  • The Patriots have allowed just eight, which is tied for second in the league over that span.
  • Tyreek Hill was targeted on 31 percent of his routes in 2016, the highest rate for all wide receivers in the league.
  • The Patriots allowed just 8.8 rushing points per game to opposing backfields in 2016, the fewest in the league.
  • New England did allow 12.6 receiving points per game to opposing backfields (fourth highest) and 58.8 percent of the fantasy points scored by running backs against the Patriots were through receiving output, the highest rate in the league.
  • 42.8 percent of the rushing attempts versus Kansas City went for five or more yards in 2016, the highest rate in the league.


Trust: Tom Brady (the last time that Brady opened the season versus Kansas City didn’t quite go as planned, but retributions are in order as the short passing game should thrive as well as picking on the right side of the Chiefs' defense), Brandin Cooks/Chris Hogan (both should move around all over the field and split time squaring off versus the stationary Marcus Peters on the right side, but each will have the opportunity for splash plays against Phillip Gaines and Terrance Mitchell)


Bust: Mike Gillislee/Rex Burkhead/Dion Lewis (as a large home favorite, this would’ve been a desirable spot to hone in on the lead back, but without clarity on the situation things are murky for weekly lineups. I believe all three get touches as New England finds a hot hand. My bet would be that Burkhead gets the most touches and that Gillislee has the highest odds at reaching the paint if you feel the need to chase a score), Alex Smith (as a low total, road dog, Smith is a floor play for 2QB leagues), Travis Kelce (New England has the corners to individually matchup with Tyreek Hill, allowing Bill Belichick the opportunity to devise a game plan around stopping Kelce’s ability to move the sticks with yards after catch)


Reasonable Return: Rob Gronkowski (the league’s premier touchdown scorer posted a 7-82-2 line when he last faced Eric Berry and the Chiefs' defense in the 2015 playoffs, so no need to fret in weekly lineups. But I do believe the Patriots’ passing game finds the most success through the slot, left side and the backs in this one, making Gronk a tougher option to pay up all the way for in DFS), James White (the one New England back for which we have some clairvoyance on usage, White is a PPR floor flex option), Danny Amendola (he should be matched with Gaines the most often when New England goes three wide, but will get the lowest snap share of the receivers), Tyreek Hill (target volume should be in his favor and he should find one-on-one opportunities to turn in a WR3 line with upside if they manufacture touches for him), Kareem Hunt (not concerned about a committee as Hunt is the best player in this backfield, but still entering Week 1 with pedestrian RB2 expectations. The Patriots inherently are good versus the run and the fact that they lead and win often compounds a negative outlook for production on the ground from backs, but enhances those that can catch the ball well, something Hunt can do). 

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Jets @ Bills


NY JetsRank@BuffaloRank
9.5   Spread -9.5  
15.3   Implied Total 24.8  
62.7 24 Plays/Gm 63.2 18
62.5 10 Opp. Plays/Gm 63.7 17
41.7% 12 Rush% 48.6% 2
58.3% 21 Pass% 51.4% 31
42.8% 24 Opp. Rush % 46.0% 30
57.2% 9 Opp. Pass % 54.0% 3


  • The Bills allowed 67 runs of 10 or more yards in 2016, tied with San Francisco for the most in the league.
  • 18.3 percent of Bilal Powell's carries in 2016 went for 10 or more yards, the highest rate of all running backs with at least 100 attempts.
  • 31.5 percent of the runs against the Jets failed to gain positive yardage, the highest rate in the league.
  • 24 percent of McCoy's carries failed to gain positive yardage, the fifth highest rate in the league.
  • McCoy has averaged 23.6 points per game in seven games as a home favorite with Buffalo.
  • Buffalo averaged 30.8 points per game at home in 2016, the third-most in the league.
  • 32.4 percent of Tyrod Taylor's fantasy output has come from rushing over the past two years, the highest in the league.


Trust: LeSean McCoy (The Bills have returned their entire starting offensive line from 2016 and although the Jets' run defense will still be their strength as a team even with the loss of Sheldon Richardson, game script paired with McCoy being the one certainty on an offense filled with uncertainty will have him in line for a strong game even if he has more than a handful of negative runs)


Bust: Josh McCown (the Bills have turned over their entire secondary, but that’s about where the silver lining ends for McCown’s fantasy expectations), Jordan Matthews/Zay Jones (Matthews hasn’t even logged time working with Tyrod Taylor yet and Jones’ volume should be stifled by the Bills controlling the game), Matt Forte (there’s a chance that Forte gets the bulk of the backfield split early in the season as he closed the preseason as the feature back, but I don’t see how you can blindly use him to begin the year)


Reasonable Return: Tyrod Taylor (Even though it was a miserable preseason for Taylor and his weapons have taken the shine off this once tasty matchup, he still carries a safe floor through rushing as a high QB2 this week), Charles Clay (a low TE1 streamer, he’s the most stable of the Buffalo pass catchers going against a pair of rookie safeties while the Jets allowed a touchdown once every 11.6 targets to opposing tight ends in 2016, the third highest rate in the league), Bilal Powell (with New York as big road dogs and Matt Forte still lurking to take away touches, it’s tough to have more than a RB2/flex outlook to start the year, but Powell is currently the most talented player on this offense), Robby Anderson (the only Jets’ wide receiver I would entertain using to start the year, Anderson has the splash-play upside and potential volume as Buffalo has three new starting cornerbacks)


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Jaguars @ Texans


5.5   Spread -5.5  
17.0   Implied Total 22.5  
65.8 8 Plays/Gm 67.0 6
64.4 20 Opp. Plays/Gm 60.3 1
37.3% 26 Rush% 43.4% 7
62.7% 7 Pass% 56.6% 26
43.3% 25 Opp. Rush % 41.0% 18
56.7% 8 Opp. Pass % 59.0% 15


  • No team ran fewer red zone plays (6.1 per game) in 2016 than Jacksonville.
  • Houston averaged 1.2 red zone touchdowns per game in 2016, which was 31st in the league ahead of only the Rams (1.0 per game).
  • Blake Bortles has finished as the QB15 or lower in five of his six games played against the Texans and scored just 12 fantasy points twice in those meetings.
  • Of the 41 wide receivers with 100 or more targets in 2016, Allen Robinson ranked 40th in catchable target rate (56.9 percent) while DeAndre Hopkins ranked 38th (59.4 percent).
  • Hopkins has finished as a WR1 for fantasy in just five of his past 26 games with just four 100-yard receiving games.
  • Tom Savage targeted Hopkins on 31.5 percent of his passes (23-of-73) a year ago. Mike Evans led the NFL in target share in 2016 at 29.9 percent.
  • Lamar Miller averaged a career-low 4.2 yards per touch in 2016 after averaging 5.1 yards per touch through four seasons.


Bust: Allen Robinson/DeAndre Hopkins (I believe in Robinson slightly more and he’s been a top-20 scoring WR in three of his past four versus Houston, but both are in a similar bucket this week as high-volume, poor matchup plays, entering with WR3 expectations, which is below their initial investment), Tom Savage (Jacksonville allowed the third-lowest yards per attempt to opposing passers in 2016 and upgraded defensively while Savage will be without his starting left tackle Duane Brown), Blake Bortles (a road dog that has not run into much of any success versus Houston through his career), Leonard Fournette (he should hold volume-based RB2 value in Week 1, but he’s a road dog with an uncertain pass catching role, which places him at the lower end of that group)


Reasonable Return: Lamar Miller (a significant home favorite has the lights on. He was the RB26 and the RB13 in his two meetings with Jacksonville a year ago and remains a volume-based RB2 that will need to run into a short scoring opportunity), C.J. Fiedorowicz (he tallied seven or more targets in nine games on the season --which was tied for the fourth-best mark at the position—and Hopkins should find trouble versus the Jacksonville corners)



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Rich Hribar is a husband, father, sports meteorologist and a slave to statistics. A lifelong sports fan and fantasy gamer. You can find him on Twitter @LordReebs.
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