Week One is historically the most challenging of weeks to figure out. For fantasy or real football. No one has shown their cards yet, and it seems to take a few weeks for most teams to sync up. Now imagine how volatile it would be if you threw no preseason and a pandemic into that blender.
Oh, wait. You don’t have to imagine it.
Luckily, we’ve got some things to lean on to help us steer a few defenses through these opaque waters. Mainly consistency, experience, and talent. Not mine; the dudes in pads.
Los Angeles Chargers (@ Cin, 46%)
Peyton Manning was a pretty QB, wouldn’t you say? He threw 28 INTs in his rookie season. What about Andrew Luck? He had 18 INTs. Joe Burrow has a chance to be that great, but he will throw his fair share of INTs as a rookie. QBs who jump right into game action without a year or two of seasoning as a backup tend to do their learning on the field. Burrow’s teaching staff in his debut is filled with monsters up front (Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram), and Pro-Bowlers Casey Hayward and Chris Harris locking horns with his receivers.
Not only is Burrow’s turnover probability comfortably high, Cincy’s expected point total is hovering around 20. That combination make the Chargers one of the top streaming options this week.
Green Bay Packers (@ Min, 13%)
There’s not much these two teams don’t know about each other, but Green Bay was able to add an important piece to their otherwise strong defense last season: play-making LB Christian Kirksey. Kirksey’s aggressive style in the middle should help plug some run gaps that the often-hesitant Blake Martinez was a step slow on last season. Adding Kirksey to the elite pass-rush duo of Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith, along with top corners Jaire Alexander and Kevin King will make it hard for the Vikings to post big numbers. Minnesota’s expected point total is around 24.
While Kirk Cousins is generally careful with the football, he served up 3 INTs, 2 fumbles, and was sacked 6 times last season in his two games against Green Bay. A middling point total and solid expectation of some sacks and turnovers make the Packers a sneaky play this week.
Detroit Lions (vs. Chi, 6%)
Mitchell Trubisky is starting for the Chicago Bears. That’s it. That’s the tweet.
Mr. Trubisky - owner of the 2.5 sacks and almost an INT per game last season - has been a favorite target of DST streamers since he entered the league in 2017. And while the Lions were a poor defense last season, they’re returning most of their unit, so Matt Patricia’s complicated defense should work more smoothly this season. It will also help to have his star QB Matthew Stafford back from injury and back in charge of the offense so his defenders can catch their breath.
At home, favored, and against a “work in progress” QB, Vegas likes the Lions. So do we.