Paddy Power Fantasy Primer: Wentz looks an NFL Week 1 winner

Fly Eagles, fly!

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We are here, folks. Week 1 of the NFL kicks off in two days, and with that, we officially have real football back in our lives for the next five months.

We are ready to rock and roll with a full slate of daily fantasy football. Week 1 is always a different animal compared to other weeks due to player salaries being released super early during training camp. There have been some minor injuries and some big-time holdouts from Ezekiel Elliott and Melvin Gordon that will have a strong impact on the slate. As of Tuesday morning, both of those guys are still holding out, and if they miss Week 1, players like Tony Pollard, Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson – none of whom are mentioned in this piece – will be super valuable.

The plan here is to dive into the weekly main slate and touch on guys at each position to help get you started on your weekly research. As always, we recommend checking out all of our premium tools. Specifically, the heat map is a great way to get a general overview of the slate’s implied team totals as well as the strengths and weaknesses for each team. We also offer weekly projections to help you decide between players as well as providing you with the slate’s top values.

Nov 11, 2018; Cincinnati, OH, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals in the first quarter at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

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Week 1 shouldn’t bring many surprises in terms of inactives, but make sure to pay attention to the news if anything does happen. With salaries being released nearly a month ago, there are plenty of values across all positions on this slate, which should make it interesting in terms of player ownership.

Let’s break down Week 1 and some of the players who stand out on the fantasy main slate.

PHILADELPHIA, PA – AUGUST 22: Carson Wentz #11 and Josh McCown #18 of the Philadelphia Eagles react from the bench in the fourth quarter of the preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens at Lincoln Financial Field on August 22, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Quarterbacks

Carson Wentz (£7,600): In his 24 regular-season games over the past two seasons, Wentz has averaged 20.4 fantasy points per game and has tossed multiple touchdowns in 18 outings, something he has done in all three of his games against Washington. Since Doug Pederson became the head coach in 2016, 69.2% of the Philadelphia Eagles’ offensive touchdowns have been passing touchdowns. If we throw out the first year, that number increases to 76.1%. The Eagles have the second-highest implied total on the main slate and face a Washington defence that projects to finish in the middle of the pack this season, according to numberFire’s metrics. Our models rank Wentz as the fourth-best quarterback on the slate.

Jameis Winston (£7,500): There aren’t many better spots for the first glimpse of Bruce Arians and Jameis Winston than a high-paced, high-scoring game against the San Francisco 49ers, a matchup with an over/under of 49.0. Arians’ offences have ranked in the top half of the league in plays per game in five of his six seasons, including three years in the top 10. The 49ers’ defence has been generous of late, ranking 27th and 29th in schedule-adjusted pass defence, based on numberFire’s metrics, the last two years. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers ranked 28th in adjusted D last season, which could lead to this game being a shootout. Our projections have Jameis throwing for the most yards on this slate.

Dak Prescott (£7,500): In nine games with Amari Cooper, Prescott averaged 19.7 fantasy points per game, which was an increase of 3.1 from his output sans Amari. With or without Zeke, Dak carries high touchdown equity because of his usage around the goal line. He has just one fewer rushing touchdown than Elliot over the last two years. The Dallas Cowboys enter this week with the third-highest implied team total on the main slate, and the matchup looks ripe for Dak against the New York Giants, who are our 27th-ranked defence. Our projections have Prescott finishing as a top-10 QB this week, and he may go a bit under-owned if the masses flock to Wentz, Jameis and Kyler Murray (£7,300).

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – AUGUST 18: Chris Carson #32 of the Seattle Seahawks carries the ball against the Minnesota Vikings during the first quarter of the preseason game at U.S. Bank Stadium on August 18, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Running Backs

Nick Chubb (£7,400): From Week 7 to Week 16 last year, Chubb averaged 20.6 touches per game and parlayed them into 16.9 fantasy points per outing. The Cleveland Browns are nearly a touchdown home favourite, and with no real threat to take touches on the current roster, our projections have Chubb continuing to see heavy volume, forecasting him for 22.8 touches against the Tennessee Titans. We have Chubb as the top point-per-dollar value among running backs in Week 1.

Dalvin Cook (£7,400): Kevin Stefanski took over as the offensive coordinator for the final three games of 2018, and over that span, Cook handled 18 touches per game. Cook can’t ask for a better matchup to kick off 2019 as he’s at home against the Atlanta Falcons. The opposing team’s top running back averaged 20.2 fantasy points per game last year against the Falcons, and while that’s a tad skewed because Atlanta’s 2018 D dealt with a lot of injuries, that number has been 16.2 since 2014. Our projections have Cook finishing as a top-five running back in Week 1.

Chris Carson (£6,600): The Seattle Seahawks are the biggest favourites in Week 1 at home against the Cincinnati Bengals. Cincinnati enters 2019 with the fifth-worst rush defence, per our numbers. Last year, they gave up the fourth-most rushing yards and tied for fifth-most rushing touchdowns allowed. Seattle gave Carson 21.7 touches per game in their nine wins last season, and he scored a touchdown in seven of those nine games. Our projections show Carson as the second-highest scoring back under £7,000.

KANSAS CITY, MO – AUGUST 24: Tyreek Hill #10 of the Kansas City Chiefs catches a warmup kick prior to the preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers at Arrowhead Stadium on August 24, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)

Wide Receivers

Tyreek Hill (£7,600): Hill is the definition of a tournament play as one of the most volatile assets in the league. In a perceived bad matchup against Jalen Ramsey’s shadow coverage, his ownership should be depressed, and numberFire’s projections predict it as a good time to jump on. Last year, facing tougher secondary matchups, Hill dropped 38.8 fantasy points against the Los Angeles Chargers, 35.7 at the New England Patriots, and 38.5 at the Los Angeles Rams. The Chiefs-Jaguars game has the highest total in Week 1, and at $7,600, this has a chance to be one of Hill’s lowest salaries of the year, so take advantage of who our models rank as the third-best receiver value of the week.

Chris Godwin (£6,900): In six games without DeSean Jackson, Godwin averaged 13.1 fantasy points. Now entrenched as the Bucs’ number-two receiver, he has a chance to be peppered with targets in a favourable matchup against the Niners. In 2018, only one team gave up more passing touchdowns than San Francisco did and entering 2019 they own numberFire’s 30th-ranked pass defence.

Tyler Lockett (£6,800): Russell Wilson has 194 career completions to Lockett and just two to the rest of the Seahawks’ receivers who will be active for Week 1. With the fourth-highest implied team total, Seattle is expected to put up a good amount of points against the Bengals. Wilson’s and Lockett’s chemistry has been well documented, and they have a chance to kick off the season on a big note. Our projections have Lockett with the third-highest receiving touchdown probability, and at his price, he projects to be the top receiver value of Week 1, according to our numbers.

Dede Westbrook (£5,900): Being able to grab the Jacksonville Jaguars’ top receiver in the week’s highest total game for under £6,000 seems like a bargain. Westbrook racked up the third-most slot receptions in 2018, and now he is paired with Foles, who has targeted slot receivers at the sixth-highest rate over the last two seasons. The Chiefs gave up the second-most passing yards per game a year ago and tied for allowing the seventh-most passing touchdowns.

TAMPA, FL – OCTOBER 21: O.J. Howard #80 and Jameis Winston #3 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers celebrate after a touchdown in the third quarter against the Cleveland Browns on October 21, 2018 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. The Buccaneers won 26-23 in overtime. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

Tight Ends

Travis Kelce (£7,800): With Jacksonville’s defensive strength coming with its boundary corners, featuring Kelce in the middle of the field might be the path of least resistance for KC. Last year, opposing tight ends scored eight touchdowns against Jacksonville, which was tied for the fourth-most. Kelce was 10th in targets per game and third in targets from within the 10-yard line last year amongst all pass catchers (not just tight ends). Our projections have Kelce with the highest touchdown probability of any skill-position player on the main slate.

O.J. Howard (£6,500): In his first two seasons, Howard has been on the field roughly 60% to 65% of the offensive snaps. His preseason usage suggests that will significantly increase in 2019. Howard has been a prolific touchdown scorer, tied for the seventh-most amongst tight ends in the last two years despite missing 10 games. The 49ers have allowed 13 receiving touchdowns to tight ends over the past two seasons. Howard has averaged 3.2 fantasy points per reception on just 2.5 receptions per game, and this is the first chance to take advantage of what appears to be his increased role. Howard is numberFire’s fourth-highest projected tight end in Week 1.

Feb 1, 2018; Bloomington, MN, USA; Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson during a press conference in advance of Super Bowl LII against the New England Patriots at Mall of America. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Defence

Philadelphia D/ST (£4,600): The formula is simple for the Eagles. Philly is arguably one of the best defensive fronts, and they’re at home as a big favourite against Washington, who owns numberFire’s 30th-ranked offence and a bottom-third offensive line. Expected to be playing with a lead, the Eagles’ D should have opportunities to create big plays against Case Keenum, who had the second-most interceptions in the league a season ago.

Detroit D/ST (£4,100): The Lions averaged 2.2 sacks per game after Damon Harrison joined them in Week 8 and have only strengthened the defensive line for 2019. Right out of the gates, they square off against a rookie quarterback making his debut behind a bottom-three offensive line, one that gave up a touch more than three sacks per game a season ago. Detroit could be a sneaky play, and they come in as a top-seven value, according to our projections.

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