NFL Week 1 | Everything You Need to Know

by Matt Babich · Matchups Start/Sit

The NFL is a constant flood of headlines. There’s ample information that can be used to your advantage, but sifting through the signal and the noise can be difficult. That’s why we at PlayerProfiler set out to filter out the noise and give you all of the headlines, trends, and factoids you need to know heading into each week of the NFL season. Without further ado, let’s break down¬†everything you need to know for the NFL Week 1 slate of games!

Rookie QBs are 0-13-1 in Their 1st Start Since 2002

David Carr is the last rookie quarterback to win his first start. That’s quite the stat. Three rookie quarterbacks will take the stage on Sunday, all with stout opponents. Bryce Young will travel to Atlanta to face a Falcons’ team who vastly improved as a defensive unit, adding Calais Campbell, Bud Dupree, and Jessie Bates in the offseason. Atlanta’s bolstered front-7 will put the pressure on Young, who doesn’t have much talent to throw to. Carolina should struggle against their divisional rival.

C.J. Stroud travels to Baltimore to get his first taste of NFL action. His opponent lost defensive talent in the offseason, particularly in the pass-rush department, and still presents a suspect secondary. However, the Ravens offense is going to provide the true challenge. With Todd Monken now directing a Lamar Jackson-led offense, Stroud is going to have to go blow-for-blow with (potentially) one of the best offenses in the league. While I like Stroud in 2QB leagues this week, I don’t think he breaks this trend.

Anthony Richardson will defend Lucas Oil Stadium against division rival Jacksonville Jaguars. Last season, the Jaguars finished top-5 in pressure rate, QB knockdown rate, and hurry rate (per Profootballreference). Richardson must be able to navigate the pocket if he’s going to move the chains against this defense. He will also have to go blow-for-blow with another offensive powerhouse, led by Trevor Lawrence. He’ll have a solid day on the ground, but this matchup will be too much for the rookie.

Sean McVay is 5-1 ATS in Week 1 Games

Sean McVay is a master against the spread in season openers, which explains the discount on Seattle’s spread this week. Despite missing their best offensive weapon and wielding one of the worst defenses in the league, the Rams are only 4-point underdogs on the road versus the Seahawks and their high-powered offense.

Scoring 24 points per game in 2022, Seattle’s dangerously powerful offense grows even stronger with the addition of Jaxon Smith-Njigba. The pass-catching trio of D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and Smith-Njigba will line up against a secondary that would struggle to guard a college offense. There is only one player in the Rams secondary that was drafted before the 4th round. In fact, a majority of LA’s defense is either inexperienced, untalented, or both.

Don’t get lost in the narrative of McVay’s Week 1 dominance and Matthew Stafford‘s return to the field. The Seahawks have one of the juiciest matchups of Week 1. Seattle is a great pick to cover the now 4.5 point spread, and their implied team total of 25.5 points (5th highest this week) suggests their offense is going to feast for fantasy purposes.

Injury Updates: George Kittle is On Track to Play

George Kittle logged his second straight limited session on Thursday, nursing his groin injury ahead of Week 1. According to Deepak Chona of SportsMedAnalytics, Kittle’s trajectory in conjunction with his history of playing through injuries suggests that the veteran tight end will suit up for Week 1 versus the Pittsburgh Steelers.

He also mentions that this injury should provide a “low performance impact”, meaning that if/when he does play, his performance should not be overly hindered by the injury. The Steelers were one of the better teams versus the tight end last season, but gave up solid games to Mark Andrews, Darren Waller, and David Njoku. Don’t panic with Kittle and keep him in your lineup for Week 1. Check out Deepak’s thread to catch up on other injury situations around the league.

Implied Team Totals You Need to Know

As much as us gamblers hate to admit it, Vegas knows a thing or two about setting their lines. This is why implied team totals, which is Vegas’s projected point total for a given team, are a great source when deciding who to place in your weekly lineups. If you’re deciding between players, you may want to lean towards the players on teams likely to score more points. The full game totals also a great source for picking games to target in DFS. So, let’s look at the team totals to know.

Highest Implied Team Totals

  1. LA Chargers (27)
  2. Baltimore Ravens (26.25)
  3. Jacksonville Jaguars (25.75)
  4. Seattle Seahawks (25.5)
  5. Minnesota Vikings (25.25)

With a game total of 51, LA/Miami is, understandably, DFS chalk this week. Jacksonville is a sneakier play on the slate, with a slew of playable weapons and the chance to put up the most points in week 1. Your fantasy and DFS lineups should be flooded with these teams.

Lowest Implies Team Totals

  1. Arizona Cardinals (15.5)
  2. Houston Texans (17.25)
  3. Carolina Panthers (18)
  4. Tennessee Titans (19.5)
  5. Pittsburgh Steelers (19.5)

Vegas is suggesting that Pittsburgh, who’s filled with offseason fantasy darlings, is a team to avoid this week. While the 49ers were elite at holding quarterbacks, running backs, and tight ends to horrid fantasy performances, they were very susceptible to big games from wide receivers. While I’m fading Kenny Pickett (in 1 QB leagues) and Najee Harris, I’m starting Diontae Johnson and George Pickens with confidence.

Primetime Game Totals: A Tale of Two Trends

The Giants and Cowboys are set to take over the season premiere of Sunday Night Football, and we can expect electricity in East Rutherford. When paired against each other, these two teams have cleared their current 45-point game total in five of eight matchups since Daniel Jones and Dak Prescott have both captained their respective offenses, clearing 55 points three times. Both of these teams are loaded with fantasy-relevant firepower while also possessing weak-points on defense. We’re in for another high-scoring matchup in primetime. Be sure to have as much exposure to this game as you can. This is also a good week to attack DFS Showdown lineups (put Darren Waller in your captain slot and thank me later).

On the other side of this trend, the Jets and Bills have struggled to put points on the board when lined up against one another. The AFC East rivals have gone under their Vegas point total in six of their last eight contests. This has mostly been due to the Jets’ inability to score 21 points or more, a mark they’ve missed in all eight contests. With that being said, the Aaron Rodgers era has arrived in New York. The dawn of a new day. The Jets’ roster has plenty of offensive talent to put points on the board, with Garrett Wilson and Breece Hall leading the charge. Vegas clearly believes Rodgers was the missing link, as the games’ 45.5-point total is the league’s No. 6 highest, and the Jets are only 2.5-point underdogs. I’m not buying the Aaron Rodgers overcorrection and expect Buffalo to take care of business in another slow matchup.

Conclusion

Now that you’ve digested the important news and notes prior to week 1, it’s time to dominate your fantasy opponents and crush your sports books. Happy hunting!