Matchups to target for Week 1 in fantasy football


It is always interesting when a new season starts, and that’s true for NFL and fantasy football alike.

Things are going to change, but at the moment, all we have is last year’s numbers. Plenty of defenses that struggled last year are still going to struggle and we can try to project that forward ahead of Week 1. But with the start of the season finally here, let’s take a look at which Week 1 matchups stand out.



Houston Texans run defense

We will most likely be starting players against the Texans all year long, and it starts in Week 1 with the Jaguars. James Robinson finds himself in a tremendous spot to begin the season. Houston was a laughable run defense last year, and I don’t expect much to change in 2021. 38.5% of the yardage surrendered by Houston came via the run, the second-highest rate in football, while 43.6% of the touchdowns against the Texans came on the ground (fourth worst). Meanwhile, the Texans allowed the most yards after contact per rush in 2020 (3.56), while missing the sixth-most tackles in football. That bodes extremely well for Robinson but Laviska Shenault, too, who will get a few carries per game and forces a ton of missed tackles. Robinson should be viewed as an easy top-15 running back this week and even if Carlos Hyde gets some work, 15-18 touches should be enough for Robinson to produce in this great matchup.

Detroit Lions overall defense

It shouldn’t shock anyone to see two of the worst teams in football headline this column, but here we are. San Francisco sets up very nicely for Week 1, facing a Lions defense that surrendered the most points per drive in football last season (2.98). They also allowed a score on 47.9% of their drives, which was the third-highest rate in the league, while coughing up a league-worst 39.8 yards per drive. George Kittle is obviously in your starting lineup, while Brandon Aiyuk likely is, too. But don’t be afraid to start Raheem Mostert and Deebo Samuel, too.

New York Jets secondary

Over the past few seasons, the Jets have been a serious pass funnel defense, meaning they have excelled against the run but have given up plenty of production through the air. In 2020, New York allowed 2.1 passing touchdowns per game, the second most in the league, while 64.1% of the touchdowns scored against the Jets came via the pass, the seventh-highest rate in the NFL. Meanwhile, just over 71% of the yardage allowed by this defense came through the air, the fifth-highest rate. D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson absolutely need to be in your lineups this week, while Sam Darnold makes for a viable streaming option in two-quarterback leagues.

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Justin Jefferson vs. the Cincinnati Bengals

Yes, you are obviously starting Justin Jefferson. But this article can be helpful for NFL DFS, too, not just season-long. The Bengals defense was already bad last season and they lost arguably their top two players during the offseason in William Jackson and Carl Lawson. Per FTN’s advanced DVP, Cincinnati surrendered the fifth-most fantasy points per game to opposing receivers on the right side of the formation (13.3), which is where Jefferson will line up around half of the time, if not more. Chidobe Awuzie and Trae Waynes are not going to be able to slow Jefferson down and as long as Dalvin Cook doesn’t score all of the touchdowns in this game, Jefferson should thrive. 

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