Week 1 Matchups to Avoid
In my previous article, I wrote about a handful of games that offer potential shoot outs. The goal of this one is to identify matchups that don’t offer high scoring affairs for week 1. We want higher ceilings for our season long and daily fantasy players and the hope is to avoid these types of matchups. Conversely, if you’re looking for unders to bet, these games may be just what the doctor ordered.
NO @ ATL
The first matchup is between the New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons. The over/under is currently set at 40.5, the lowest in the NFL for week 1. In 2021, the Falcons and Saints hit their over just 41% of the time. Good for 26th and 28th, respectively. While there’s been some change of scenery for both teams, the offensive outlook hasn’t changed much. The Falcons project to be a bottom 5 offense in 2022 with the Saints middle of the pack. The Saints also figure to pick up where they left off on defense. Only the Buccaneers have allowed fewer yards per run play since 2019 and in the secondary they swap out Marcus Williams and Malcolm Jenkins for Tyrann Mathieu and Marcus Maye. All of these factors combined has me lower on players in this matchup.
TopProp Play: Travis Kelce > Kyle Pitts, Austin Ekeler > Alvin Kamara
SF @ CHI
The next matchup is between the San Francisco 49ers and the Chicago Bears. Their implied point total is currently at 42. Last season, the 49ers finished with a 40% success rate at beating their over which was good for 27th in the league. The Bears weren’t much better beating their over 41% of the time. Coming into 2022, both teams have undergone significant changes. The 49ers project to start Trey Lance which is likely to lead to a continued emphasis on the run game. San Francisco ranked 4th in the NFL in 2021 running the ball 48% of the time and there’s no reason to believe Kyle Shannahan deviates from that with a young/inexperienced QB under center. The Bears moved on from Matt Nagy and hired Matt Eberflus and find themselves in a bit of a transition phase with holes on both sides of the ball and an anticipated win total under 6.5 (-150). Taking all of that into consideration, I’m lowering the ceiling for players in this matchup.
TopProp Play: Darren Waller > George Kittle
CLE @ CAR
The final matchup I’m avoiding in week 1 has the Cleveland Browns traveling to Carolina to take on the Panthers. The over/under is at 42.5. The Panthers were top half of the league in beating their over with a 47% success rate last season but are now led by Baker Mayfield. The Baker led Browns were 26th in the NFL in 2021 beating their over just 41% of the time. Jacoby Brissett was named the starter in Deshaun Watson’s absence and that indicates to me that Kevin Stefanski will continue to lean on the run with Nick Chubb and friends. In 2021, the Browns were 6th in the NFL running the ball 46% of the time. This has the makings of a low scoring game that will be won on the ground and not by Mayfield or Brissett. I feel better about the running backs on both sides vice the pass catchers. However, I’m still projecting lower ceilings across the board.
TopProp Play: Jonathan Taylor > Christian McCaffrey
While these three matchups are games I’m avoiding, there does exist some opportunity if you’re looking for unders to bet with confidence. Players on both sides have capped ceilings with the lower implied point totals which means you can find better options for daily fantasy elsewhere. However, guys like Alvin Kamara, Christian McCaffrey, and Nick Chubb should still be started every week in season long fantasy.