No More Thursday Night Snoozers
The NFL Schedule was released May 11. A newly minted 2023 slate of NFL games is another data point fantasy gamers will pore over to gain an edge, especially in best ball. The NFL, ever focused on maximizing viewership, changed their approach to schedule-making this season, including changes to the primetime slate. Teams are no longer guaranteed a spot in primetime during the season, per Adam Schefter. That means we will no longer be subject to some of the stinkers we’ve been forced to endure in the past, especially on Thursday nights. Instead, we will be treated to some killer island games on Thursday, Sunday and Monday nights. Below we lay out the primetime games that are going to be straight fire for fantasy and a few that will fizzle.
Primetime Fire: SNF Week 1 – Lions at Chiefs
The NFL season will kick off with a bang, showcasing the current World Champs versus the NFL’s darling franchise, the Lions. Some of the Lions’ charm wore off on draft day when they selected a running back (Jahmyr Gibbs) in the first round. The Lions also grabbed middle linebacker Jack Campbell from Iowa and Alabama standout safety Brian Branch in the top fifty, but those defensive picks are probably not enough to immediately shore up a leaky defense from a year ago.
That’s just what we’re looking for to bring on a primetime shootout in the first game of the 2023 season. The Lions will showcase their new offensive weapons, Gibbs and second round tight end Sam Laporta in a faceoff with Patrick Mahomes and his bevy of toys in Week 1. The NFL got the season premiere right this time.
Primetime Fire: TNF Week 2 – Vikings at Eagles
In what will prove to be another banger, the Vikings and Eagles will face off in a Week 2 Thursday Night Football matchup. The Eagles shut down the Vikings’ offense the last time these two teams met (Week 2 last season), holding them to only a touchdown. It’s Kevin O’Connell’s second season in Minnesota and he will have the Viking offense cooking with new weapons T.J. Hockenson and Biletnikoff winner, first round receiver Jordan Addison. In Kirk Cousins‘ contract year, the Vikings will be pushing toward the playoffs in the down NFC. This Week 2 matchup will give us some idea how serious those aspirations are. The Eagles, with another winning draft class, will seek to capitalize in their championship window.
Primetime Fizzle: MNF Week 5 – Packers at Raiders
Week 5 Monday Night Football offers up one of the first primetime duds of the season, giving us a Packers/Raiders matchup. Both teams have multiple questions to answer about their futures as franchises. The Raiders downgraded at QB, releasing Derek Carr and signing Jimmy Garoppolo to a three-year deal which they can get out of easily after 2023. Garoppolo has a history with Josh McDaniels from their New England days, but McDaniels’ system will not hold up Garoppolo the same way Shanahan’s scheme did in San Francisco.
Green Bay will bring a characteristically solid run game, but the passing offense is young and untested. QB Jordan Love has thrown only 83 total passes in his two seasons as an NFL player. The Packers’ receiving corps is made up of second-year WRs Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs as well as rookie wide receiver Jayden Reed. They also added two rookie tight ends: Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft. The Packers will still be figuring things out in Week 5. There are some fantasy assets to watch in this one, but don’t expect a shootout.
Primetime Fizzle: TNF Week 8 – Buccaneers at Bills
The Buccaneers are another rebuilding offense. Baker Mayfield will be the starting quarterback in Tampa Bay. He is a vast downgrade from having the GOAT under center. Mayfield has a knack for making good receivers look bad despite Bruce Arians’s complimentary words. Mayfield under center is not good news for Mike Evans, Chris Godwin or this Bucs’ offense in general. The Josh Allen-led Bills, on the other hand, are one of the league’s best offenses. They added Dalton Kincaid as the first tight end off the board in the NFL Draft to an already powerful offense that was unstoppable in the first half of the 2022 season. This Week 8 matchup in Buffalo could wind up getting ugly for the Bucs.
Primetime Fire: SNF Week 9 – Bills at Bengals
The primetime schedule will see an uptick in Week 9 with a rematch of the Bills-Bengals playoff matchup from last season, which the Bengals won easily 27-10. This contest will be another edition in a series to determine the AFC’s second best team. There will be lots of fireworks in this one – with two hungry teams intent on reaching the AFC Championship and, ideally, the Super Bowl.
Primetime Fizzle: TNF Week 9 – Titans at Steelers
The Titans and Steelers match up on Thursday Night Football in Week 9. Both teams perennially over perform their roster talent. The Titans’ win total is at 7.5 on DraftKings and Steelers’ is at 8.5. It will not be surprising if they both eke out winning seasons in 2023, but neither franchise looks to be able to compete seriously in the playoffs. Both teams also typically rely on their defenses, have average QBs, and little firepower on offense. The Steelers averaged 1.6 offensive TDs per game in 2022 and 18.1 offensive points per game. Tennessee averaged 2.6 TDs and just 17.5 PPG.
Primetime Fire: MNF Week 11 – Eagles at Chiefs
One of the hottest primetime tickets in the coming season will be a Super Bowl rematch in Week 11. Both the Eagles and Chiefs will be even better than they were last season when they faced off in the Super Bowl. The Eagles received high marks for their 2023 draft. This has become customary for GM Howie Roseman. Mahomes apparently can win a Super Bowl with a mediocre receiver corps, and this will be his second season with Skyy Moore, Kadarius Toney and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Additionally, his tried and true target Travis Kelce shows no signs of slowing down. You can be assured both teams will be ready to get after it after a hard-fought Super Bowl matchup that could have gone either way.
Just a Few Short Months till Kickoff
The NFL schedule release does nothing but whet fantasy gamers’ appetites for Primetime NFL action.
Now that the NFL doesn’t have to squeeze every team into a primetime spot, there are relatively few duds on the primetime slate. The schedule-makers will be dishing up some juicy matchups. The fireworks are just a summer away!