Rich Hribar

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The NFL Week 1 Worksheet

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Steelers @ Browns


-3.5   Spread 3.5  
24.8   Implied Total 21.3  
26.4 5 Points/Gm 14.6 32
20.8 11 Points All./Gm 25.6 31
66.4 5 Plays/Gm 63.0 16
58.9 1 Opp. Plays/Gm 64.1 18
40.3% 22 Rush% 38.1% 28
59.7% 11 Pass% 61.9% 5
42.0% 14 Opp. Rush % 45.5% 29
58.0% 19 Opp. Pass % 54.5% 4


  • The 2017 Browns were the first team to fail to win the turnover battle in any game over a 16-game season.
  • The Browns have covered just 7-of-32 games (21.9 percent) under Hue Jackson. The rest of the league average over that span is covering 50.2 percent.
  • Pittsburgh has hit their implied team total just twice over the past 10 years on the road in Cleveland.
  • Over the past five seasons, the under has hit in 18-of-22 early road starts for the Steelers.
  • Over that span, Ben Roethlisberger has been inside of the top-10 in fantasy scoring in just two of his past 21 road games with early start times and has thrown two or more touchdowns in just five of those games.
  • Five of those starts have come in Cleveland, where he's thrown five touchdowns to five interceptions and averaged 6.7 yards per pass attempt.
  • 31.6 percent of the rushing attempts against Cleveland failed to gain positive yardage, the highest rate in the league.
  • Antonio Brown averages 8.6 receptions for 124.6 yards and 24.7 fantasy points per game over his past eight games versus the Browns.
  • Brown has averaged 9.1 receptions for 130 yards and 27.2 fantasy points per game over 16 career games with Le'Veon Bell inactive since Bell joined the Steelers in 2013.  
  • Jarvis Landry has five or more receptions in 17 consecutive games played, the longest such streak since Brown went 36 games over 2013-2015.
  • In 2017, the Steelers allowed 5.1 yards per carry and 51.6 percent success rate on rushing plays without Ryan Shazier in the lineup as opposed to 4.1 yards per carry and a 39.5 percent success rate on runs with him in the lineup.


Trust (spike starting production): Antonio Brown (the early road split bugaboos for his team and quarterback haven’t impacted his bottom lines and he’s especially lived to torment the Browns), James Conner (he's locked in as an RB2 with upside as lead backs have averaged 20.5 touches per game over the 18 games that Bell has missed over his career),  Carlos Hyde (preseason showed that there’s no immediate split in early-down opportunities while Hyde looked sensational and the Steelers still have concerns in how they’re going to replace Shazier after struggling to defend the run with him absent to close 2017)


Bust (underperformance): Ben Roethlisberger (he’s been a steady let down on the road in early starts over a large sample, leaving him in QB2-land to start the year), Josh Gordon (we know he’ll play in some capacity and is only a play away from relevancy, but he still has only practiced on limited availability and has unknown usage to start the year)


On the Cusp (proxy of a player’s baseline): JuJu Smith-Schuster (he’ll mainly operate out of the slot for half of his routes, but will also move around the formation most of the Steeler receivers and is a red zone presence), Tyrod Taylor (a safe floor option due to his rushing ability, he has reached 15 fantasy points in 30-of-43 starts over the past three seasons and now has the best offensive personnel he’s ever been attached to), Duke Johnson (steady RB3/FLEX option, but should be due for touchdown regression after scoring seven times a year ago after three times over his first two seasons), Jarvis Landry (for as much excitement we had with the potential increase of him working on the boundary more in Cleveland, he still ran 74 percent of his routes from the slot this preseason, leaving him still as a floor-play option firsthand until we see those perimeter opportunities open up), David Njoku (after playing just 47 of the team snaps a rookie, Njoku played 86 percent of the first-team snaps this preseason, establishing himself as a player with more immediate opportunity as the second-best weapon in Cleveland to start the season as Josh Gordon works his way back to a full allotment of snaps)


If You Must (Swing on a bench option/deep league play): Jesse James (began 2017 as the TE1 in this matchup that we targeted weekly for opposing tight end play, James will get a boost with Vance McDonald still questionable to play after missing the entire preseason with a foot injury)


Chiefs @ Chargers


Kansas CityRank@LA ChargersRank
3   Spread -3  
22.5   Implied Total 25.5  
25.6 7 Points/Gm 22.2 13
21.2 15 Points All./Gm 17.0 1
61.1 28 Plays/Gm 63.8 15
65.2 23 Opp. Plays/Gm 62.3 10
40.6% 21 Rush% 41.1% 17
59.4% 12 Pass% 58.9% 16
42.8% 15 Opp. Rush % 43.1% 17
57.2% 18 Opp. Pass % 56.9% 16


  • The Chiefs have beaten the Chargers in eight consecutive games, matching their longest win streak versus them in franchise history (1990-1993).
  • The Chargers haven't allowed more than two touchdown passes in 23 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the league.
  • The Chiefs allowed 12.7 yards per completion in 2017, ranking ahead of only the Colts (12.9 yards).
  • Opposing teams targeted their wide receivers 64.7 percent of the time versus the Chiefs in 2017, the highest rate in the league.
  • Over his final seven games in 2017, Allen saw 30.7 percent of the team targets, posting 8.3 catches for 113.9 yards per game with five touchdowns, closing the season as the WR1 over those weeks.
  • Kareem Hunt handled 86.6 percent of the carries from the Kansas City backfield in 2017, the highest individual rate in the league.
  • Travis Kelce has failed to score a touchdown in eight career games versus the Chargers and has reached 50-yards receiving in just two of those games.


Trust (spike starting production): Keenan Allen (primed to roll over his end of season usage from a year ago, he draws a juicy matchup against a secondary that was exploitable regularly a year ago and only was weakened personnel-wise this offseason), Melvin Gordon (being a high-workload back as a home favorite is enough, but he has also averaged 20.1 fantasy points over his three meetings versus the Chiefs since his rookie season with a touchdown on all three), Kareem Hunt (the Charges were a natural run-funnel defense a year ago, ranking 23rd in rushing points allowed per game to backfields but third in passing points allowed per week, while Hunt offers a receiving boost to tack on while finishing as the RB5 and the RB2 when these teams played a year ago), Philip Rivers (the last time that he was a QB1 versus the Chiefs was Week 17, 2013, but as a home favorite in a matchup we’ll be targeting early in the season as a potential exploitable one, he’s easily on the QB1 radar)


Bust (underperformance): Antonio Gates (a touchdown-chasing option only as he’ll begin the season a package player), Travis Kelce (the target opportunity paired with talent always makes him a locked in starter at his position, but he’s found no success against the Chargers, finishing as a TE1 in just 2-of-8 career games with single-digit output in five of those games), Sammy Watkins (he showed no rapport with Mahomes to start things off this preseason and if the Chargers play things straight up defensively, Watkins will find Casey Hayward’s coverage the most of the Kansas City wideouts), Patrick Mahomes (the Chargers have a few key defensive players that were dinged up this preseason, but are a still a matchup to proceed with caution on after ranking third in passing points allowed per game and not allowing ceiling passing touchdown totals dating back to two years ago)


On the Cusp (proxy of a player’s baseline):  Tyreek Hill (was by far Mahomes’ favorite target this preseason and is used in a far more versatile fashion for target opportunity than that of Watkins, Hill also found success against the Chargers secondary a year ago, catching 10-of-14 targets for 165 yards and two touchdowns a year ago)


If You Must (Swing on a bench option/deep league play): Tyrell Williams/Mike Williams (the Chiefs ranked 31st in yardage surrendered to opposing wide receiving units in 2017 with Marcus Peters on the roster, they are going to be a matchup we target for wide receiver play until they prove us otherwise. Of the L.A. Williams, Tyrell has more of a bettable target share, but Mike will be involved in some capacity in the red zone)


Cowboys @ Panthers

3   Spread -3  
19.8   Implied Total 22.8  
22.1 14 Points/Gm 22.9 11
20.8 9 Points All./Gm 21.1 13
62.8 18 Plays/Gm 64.5 12
62.5 11 Opp. Plays/Gm 59.4 2
47.8% 3 Rush% 47.0% 4
52.2% 30 Pass% 53.0% 29
40.3% 8 Opp. Rush % 37.2% 2
59.7% 25 Opp. Pass % 62.8% 31


  • Christian McCaffrey played 89 percent of the first-team snaps this preseason. He played 69.9 percent of the team snaps as a rookie with only three games of reaching 80 percent of the team plays.
  • Ezekiel Elliott ranked third for all running backs in routes run per game (26.9), but was targeted on just 14.1 percent of them, ahead of only Lamar Miller (13.4 percent) for all 45 backs to run at least 150 pass routes on the season.
  • Since entering the league, Elliott has rushed for 100 yards in 48 percent of his games played, the highest rate in the league.
  • Over that same span, the Panthers have allowed just two running backs to reach 100-yards rushing in a game, tied for the fewest in the league.
  • 54.2 percent of the fantasy points scored by skill players against Carolina was from wide receivers, the highest share in the league.
  • Cam Newton rushed for at least 50 yards in nine games in 2017, the second-most by a quarterback in a season behind Michael Vick's 11 games in 2006.
  • Newton threw the second-most interceptions (11) in the second half a year ago while Dak Prescott ranked third (10).



Trust (spike starting production): Christian McCaffrey (already established with a high-floor due to his receiving ability, he jumps into the weekly RB1 bucket if his usage in the preseason is an indication that he will be a workhorse option while the Cowboys were 28th in receptions allowed per game to backfields a year ago), Cam Newton (he has a high floor due to his rushing ability and Dallas ranked 23rd a year ago in passing points allowed per game, the only potential issue here is pace as both of these teams force opponents to play slowly)


Bust (underperformance): Devin Funchess (his average weekly rank with either Olsen or Benjamin in the lineup was WR47 a year ago while the Cowboys ranked fourth in the league in yards per target allowed to opposing wide receivers), Dak Prescott (has a rushing floor himself to turn in a usable line, but comes along with more red flags attached as a road dog, unknown receiving unit and the way he closed 2017 for fantasy purposes. Over his final eight games of 2017, Prescott was the QB23 in overall scoring, throwing just six touchdowns to nine interceptions while averaging 188.3 passing yards per game and 6.5 yards per attempt)


On the Cusp (proxy of a player’s baseline): Greg Olsen (he’s the favorite to lad the team in target opportunity outside of McCaffrey while Dallas ranked 22nd in receptions allowed per game to tight ends a year ago), Ezekiel Elliott (the volume will certainly be here, but we can’t count on a receiving spike until we see it in action while Carolina has been the best team at limiting ceiling rushing performances for two years running)


If You Must (Swing on a bench option/deep league play): Michael Gallup (if there’s a Dallas receiver to sell yourself on, Gallup is the most appealing as he played all but six snaps with the first-team offense this preseason and will line up the most often against fellow rookie corner Donte Jackson)


Washington @ Cardinals


0   Spread 0  
22.0   Implied Total 22.0  
21.4 16 Points/Gm 18.4 24
24.2 27 Points All./Gm 22.6 18
61.4 26 Plays/Gm 66.2 7
65.3 24 Opp. Plays/Gm 63.0 13
40.8% 18 Rush% 38.7% 25
59.2% 15 Pass% 61.3% 8
45.2% 27 Opp. Rush % 40.4% 9
54.8% 6 Opp. Pass % 59.6% 24


  • Washington has failed to cover in five consecutive season openers, the longest streak in the league.
  • Alex Smith averaged 9.6 yards per attempt against the blitz last season, highest rate in the league.
  • Steve Wilk's Carolina defense a year ago blitzed on 42.7 percent of dropbacks a year ago per Football Outsiders, the highest rate in the league.
  • 84 percent of the rushing attempts versus Washington gained positive yardage a year ago, the highest rate in the league.
  • Ricky Seals-Jones led all tight ends in yards per catch (16.8) and target rate per route run (41.2 percent) in 2017.
  • Seals-Jones played 87 percent of the snaps with Sam Bradford in the game this preseason.
  • Washington ranked 28th in targets faced (7.9), 26th in receptions (5.0) and 29th in receiving yardage (61.4) per game to opposing tight ends in 2017.


Trust (spike starting production): David Johnson (the do-it-all option for this offense at home against a defense that ranked 26th in yards from scrimmage allowed to opposing backfields), Larry Fitzgerald (he’s going to lead this team in targets and gets a favorable draw against second-year corner Fabian Moreau who is taking over the slot for Kendall Fuller)


Bust (underperformance): Adrian Peterson (a road dog without receiving appeal against a defense that was second in yards per carry allowed and third in rushing yards allowed per game to opposing backfields a year ago)


On the Cusp (proxy of a player’s baseline): Sam Bradford (a proxy of having interest in his primary targets, he’s on the table as an option in 2QB leagues to start the season), Alex Smith (he will surely have some regression in play this season compared to a year ago, but is a stable-floor QB2 that can use his legs), Jamison Crowder (he’s still the most trustworthy option of the Washington pass catchers, Crowder will work against second-year safety Budda Baker in the slot), Jordan Reed (as healthy as he’s been in over a year, he’ll start off against a defense that faced tight end targets at the eighth-highest rate in 2017), Chris Thompson (admittedly not 100 percent, his initial is a concern, but he maintains FLEX status against a defense that defends the run well and may blitz at a high rate), Paul Richardson/Josh Doctson (both will have chances to make plays outside of his clutches against Jamar Taylor, who allowed the fourth-highest rating when targeted a year ago, but it’s hard to elevate either over FLEX options given each will also run a third of their snaps in the direction of Patrick Peterson)


If You Must (Swing on a bench option/deep league play): Ricky Seals-Jones (his role is expected to jump to full-time player in his sophomore season and he gets a matchup that was on our short list to target when looking for plug and play tight end options)

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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.
Email :Rich Hribar

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