The NFL Week 1 Gambling Extravaganza is beginning. It’s been a wild and wacky road to Week 1 of the NFL season. We still have a holdout (Zeke just got paid, Melvin not so good, I honestly have no idea what Antonio Brown is doing). We’ve had trades on trades (Miami, yeesh, at least pretend you’re going to compete, the Marlins are bad enough), and even surprise signings (McCoy to the Chiefs, Clowney in a sign-and-trade).

After all the dust settled, were left with Week 1 and can finally watch the games play out, instead of insane “how hasn’t football started yet, I’m so bored” projections like a certain Eastern Sports Propaganda Network recently put out that had the Chiefs missing the playoffs, the Dolphins finishing one game behind the Patriots, and the Packers having the 1 seed in the NFC. I understand hot takes, I do. Mine at least had truth to them and actual possibilities of them happening. So, here’s what we’re going to do. I’m going to cut through all the preseason buzz and give you (fingers crossed) the winners of the NFL Week 1 slate, some college football insight, and a few fantasy options that are snap calls for daily players and targets in season long leagues.

Lay the Points & Lock It In

Baltimore Ravens: I cannot express enough how much of a slam dunk this game is. The Dolphins have traded everything and are in no way going to be competitive this season. I got my bet in early and got Baltimore at -5 which is a steal, but the line is still just -7. I know, a touchdown in the NFL is hard to cover, but it’s not double digits and Miami is not going to ruin their Tank for Tua strategy in their first game. The -320 money line isn’t worth it on its own, but it’s certainly a great parlay fluffer.

Kansas City Chiefs: How this line hasn’t moved is beyond me. Run to your sports book and take the Chiefs -4. The NFL’s best offense, one that may break a multitude of records this season, is at LEAST winning by a touchdown against Jacksonville. Now there’s a caveat here, the weather isn’t going to be great with Hurricane Dorian rolling through. The under at 52 looks great if they do keep the game in Jacksonville. Kansas City’s defense isn’t great, but it will be helped by the weather, and rain isn’t stopping the Mahomes/Kelce connection.

Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks made a splash with signing Jadeveon Clowney to bolster the defense. The offense features an incredibly underrated Chris Carson and with Russell Wilson at the helm, they can be a playoff team this year. Week 1 they have the Bengals, sorry, Bungles. No AJ Green either. There’s no way for them to produce points on the road outside of Joe Mixon, and the box will be stacked. -9.5 is a hefty margin, but given the circumstances, I think Seattle covers. I don’t see Cincy getting much more than 10 points, and in a run-happy Seahawks scheme, the under at 44 looks decent if you want to double up.

Oct 7, 2018; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) jogs off the field prior to the game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Los Angeles Rams at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Take the Points, Make Money

Atlanta Falcons: I absolutely love this as a Week 1 spread. The Falcons +4 in a game that’s going to be a shootout will be a fun one to watch. Devonta Freeman, Julio Jones, and Matt Ryan in a dome against a Vikings team that likes to stumble out of the gate (including that tie last year against Green Bay and the thumping from Buffalo). Even as a parlay pick, at +175 I love that to add some major juice. It’ll be a real test to see if Minnesota is going to be an NFC contender or not. If they struggle against Atlanta, they’re not going to succeed in their division either.

Indianapolis Colts: HEY WAIT A MINUTE! The Colts don’t have Andrew Luck! They’re doomed to lose every game. The sky is falling. If the Chargers were at full strength, I’d agree with everyone shaking their heads right now. However, with the Colts getting +6.5 and maybe shifting to +7 if the money gets it there, I really don’t see the Chargers covering. Jacoby Brissett isn’t Andrew Luck, we all agree, yes? Jacoby Brissett also isn’t Jim Sorgi (throwback reference!). He’s a capable middle of the league starter with Marlon Mack and T.Y. Hilton at his disposal against a banged up LA defense and an Austin Ekeler lead running attack. Don’t be shocked whenever this game comes down to the wire.

Houston Texans: This is more of a gut pick on my part, but I like Houston getting +7 here. It’s another dome team on the road in a dome, DeShaun Watson has Will Fuller (his favorite over the top target) back and some guy named DeAndre Hopkins. Sure, the running back spot for the Texans is a question mark right now, but against the Saints in the highest scoring game of Week 1 (Yes, I’m taking the over at 53.5) running the ball will not really be a priority anyway. The Texans aren’t a slouch either, most spreads this high are mismatches, but this definitely isn’t. New Orleans at home is certainly formidable, but covering a touchdown in the NFL is difficult against a playoff team.

College Bonus Picks

Collegiate sports are so incredibly unpredictable. If you don’t believe me, look no further than Georgia State besting Tennessee last Saturday THEN the Vols had to hand over a $950,000 check. Ouch. Not a good look for the SEC (Missouri lost to Wyoming, Ole Miss lost to Memphis, Alabama didn’t score in the 1st Quarter). That being said, there were some games that went to according to plan. Kansas (UNDEFEATED!!) won and covered their spread, Clemson did what they needed to do, Louisville proved that Notre Dame has a paper ranking, and Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor is in Ron Dayne mode. So, with all that in mind, here’s some college picks I like for Saturday.

  • Oklahoma -36.5 vs South Dakota
  • UCF -10 vs Florida Atlantic
  • West Virginia +14 vs Missouri
  • Virginia Tech -28.5 vs Old Dominion
  • Nevada +23 vs Oregon

wHeRe ArE cLeMsOn AnD kAnSaS, nIcK??

NFL Week 1 Gambling

Obviously I’m putting my own money on Clemson and Kansas most weeks, do I think that’s smart for the general public to do? Probably not. Does everyone want me to rationalize and listen to be a Jayhawk apologist every week? Definitely not, I do that on Twitter already so catch those takes on there @Rellihan51. Back to our regularly scheduled NFL Week 1 program.

Daily Fantasy Player Picks

If you’re in a season long fantasy league, you probably have your lineups set for the most part, but for those of you in a daily league or just looking for a trade target to pick up after Week 1, these are the players I like going into Sunday and some I’d rather not play. Side Note: I really hope you don’t need me to tell you to start quarterbacks like Mahomes, Watson, & Rodgers. You’re starting them every week. Same with other positions. Don’t overthink your blessing to have those players.

Start Them

QBs: Carson Wentz, Lamar Jackson, Philip Rivers

NFL Week 1 Gambling

Wentz has a rebuilding Redskins team that is going to compete for last in the division. With how crowded the Philadelphia backfield is, Wentz is going to throw all over Washington and spread the wealth around to 5 or more Eagles this week for a cool 350+ yards. Lamar Jackson isn’t an every week starter by any means, but going against the Miami Tanks, he will put up good numbers on the ground and in the air. I’m thinking around 75-100 yards rushing and a score complimented by 200-250 passing and a score. I personally have a vendetta against Phyllis Crybaby Rivers, but the man puts up fantasy stats. The Colts are going to be in flux the whole season, and with a “home” (seriously you play in a soccer stadium, you have no advantage) game for the Chargers, and the Melvin Gordon fiasco, Rivers will whine his way to a 300+ yard, 2+ TD day.

RBs: Leonard Fournette, Kerryon Johnson, Chris Carson

Leonard Fournette has two things going for him this week. The Chiefs defense and the weather. If they keep the game in Jacksonville, it’ll be pouring and he will get 25-30 touches, if it’s moved (possibly to Houston or Atlanta’s stadium) it’s a dome and conditions are perfect against a bad defense. Kerryon Johnson is going against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 1 and they aren’t good. It’s really that simple. Detroit isn’t great either, but I think Johnson will get plenty of touches and score a couple times. Chris Carson is disrespected in fantasy, he’s described as a RB2 and fringe top 12. Newsflash, he’s in one of the most run happy offenses and going against Cincinnati. He’s going for 150+ total yards and 2 touchdowns in his opening week.

WRs/TE: Julian Edelman, DJ Moore, Amari Cooper, Mark Andrews (TE)

NFL Week 1 Gambling

The Patriots have a stout opponent Week 1 against Pittsburgh, but Tom Brady absolutely loves throwing it to Edelman. With Josh Gordon presumably getting his legs back and getting timing down, Edelman will be the security blanket with 8+ catches against a Steelers squad that struggles defending the pass. For DJ Moore, it’s put up or shut up time. He’s the #1 in Carolina and against the Rams, it’ll be a night to watch the point total (I’m taking the over at 49.5). He’s a big body target for Cam who needs to prove he can still throw the ball consistently after surgery, so look for Moore to build a rapport with Newton.

Amari Cooper has to be chomping at the bit at his matchup against the Giants this week. So Zeke just signed and everyone is supposed to assume he’s totally in football shape, you’d have to think that he will see a boost in targets if Zeke was less than 100% honest about being strictly business while in Cabo. It’s a divisional game with Dak wanting more money, he’s out to prove a point and Cooper will be the beneficiary. For a low key tight end this week, I have to go to the guy playing the Miami Tanks. Mark Andrews’ competition for the number one receiver in Baltimore is….Willie Snead. There’s plenty of speed in the outside receivers, but if Snead draws coverage, it’s more likely than not Andrews will be open underneath and in the red zone.

Sit Them

QBs: Jimmy Garoppolo, Sam Darnold, Joe Flacco

Jimmy G is back and action, and I think he will have a good year overall, but this matchup against Tampa Bay isn’t ideal. Again, it’ll be raining in Florida most likely, and coming off an ACL tear and missing a lot of time, I wouldn’t be surprised if Sam Francisco plays it safe Week 1 with a lot of conservative play calling. The Jets play the Bills, and maybe in the rematch later in the season, Darnold will have more opportunities to throw.

For now, Le’Veon Bell is going to be featured in a low scoring affair as the divisional opponents feel each other out. Jamison Crowder will catch balls underneath, but I don’t think there will be many over the top plays. As for Joe Flacco, I hate the Raiders more than anyone and think every quarterback can destroy them. Joe Flacco is just so incredibly average, though. He also is working with almost no weapons and in a place where the backup QB is already being rooted for to start. Flacco will have a decent day, but he is not going to win anyone a daily fantasy league. This offseason Flacco also stated he isn’t interested in helping an understudy.

RBs: Aaron Jones, Austin Ekeler, Duke Johnson Jr.

NFL Week 1 Gambling

I’m hesitant on starting Jones consistently until I see the Matt LaFluer offense in action, and see who’s actually in charge. Aaron Rodgers wants to call audibles and LaFluer isn’t exactly happy with that. Couple that with Green Bay’s historical lack of usage for the running back position AND the Chicago defense, I’m looking for other options Week 1. Los Angeles doesn’t even know what they’re doing at the running back position right now.

First they’re talking to Gordon, then they’re denying trade requests, then they’re tabling contract discussions, and allowing trade offers. I’m not sure how many gameplans include a huge touch share for Ekeler at this point. It seems safer for them to have Rivers and Keenan Allen secure the offense for now. Everyone needs to slow down on Duke Johnson. Just because he’s the “starter” in Houston doesn’t mean he’s ready for that this quickly. He has to learn a completely new offense, so it’ll probably be a lot of run left/right and swing routes for the most part. Also, the Texans are playing New Orleans. Running the ball will more than likely be a product of Watson tactically scrambling. It’ll be a pass happy game with a back who is brand new. Look elsewhere for a running back.

WRs/TE: Tyler Boyd, Alshon Jeffery, Jarvis Landry, Eric Ebron (TE)

The Bungles are a mess. Joe Mixon is going to get his touches and his normal production, but Seattle isn’t stupid. They’ll double Boyd most downs and stack the box. They won’t let Tyler Boyd open and instead will force Cincinnati to rely on John Ross and (I seriously had to look up the depth chart) Alex Erickson or (double checks depth chart) Damion Willis to beat them. They will not.

Alshon Jeffery, as a local radio host eloquently put it, is a guy. He’s wildly overrated and essentially vultures touchdowns. He hasn’t even eclipsed 900 yards since 2015 and his last 1000 yard season was 2014 as a Bear. Sure, they got the Redskins Week 1, however, Doug Pederson is a pupil of the Andy Reid school of offense, which means he will spread the ball around and utilize speed and pre-snap motion to get athletes in space. Jeffery will be relegated to red zone target status, as he is not as explosive as he used to be. Landry is on this list because it’s the very beginning of the NFL season.

The Browns have so many new weapons and new coaching, I have no idea how the offense is going to be run yet. Also, it’s safe to say that Nick Chubb will get a steady dose of carries and Odell Beckham will be the featured target for Baker Mayfield. While Landry will be involved, I’m not quite certain of the actual volume just yet, especially as a #2 wide out, so I’d look for another lead receiver to start for now.

Eric Ebron’s success last year is simply not going to happen again this year. That statistical fluke was a product of Andrew Luck loving him in the red zone and Jack Doyle being hurt. Doyle is back and Luck is gone. It’ll be back to status quo for Ebron, who was booed out of Detroit. That is hard to do.

Whew, if you’ve gotten this far, I really appreciate you reading and hope you’ve enjoyed it. For those of you who decided TLDR and scrolled here, I’m guessing you saw the all caps. So ha, tricked ya into reading just a little more. Anyway, before I conclude, it wouldn’t be a proper NFL Week 1 article without giving my playoff predictions! I’ll go into more detail as the season progresses, and you can also take a look at my hot takes article for a few teams on this list, but to cap this baby off, here’s my 2019 playoff picture:

NFC:

  • (1) New Orleans
  • (2) LA Rams
  • (3) Dallas
  • (4) Green Bay
  • (5) Philadelphia
  • (6) Atlanta

AFC:

  • (1) Kansas City
  • (2) New England
  • (3) Cleveland
  • (4) Houston
  • (5) LA Chargers
  • (6) NY Jets

I have New England versus Kansas City in the AFC Championship with the Lamar Hunt Trophy finally making its rightful trip home to Arrowhead to reside. In the NFC, I have New Orleans over Green Bay to set up a Drew Brees versus Patrick Mahomes Super Bowl that will shatter the offensive records for that game. In an absolute fireworks display of explosive plays and timely a defensive stand sprinkled in, the Kansas City Chiefs will win Super Bowl LIV with a final score of 56-49.

I believe that’s everything! As always, if you agree with me or disagree, please hit me up on Twitter @Rellihan51. You don’t have to tell two friends to read what I have to say, I just ask that you tell one. Of course, tell them the Jets will make the playoffs to grab their attention, or after you win your fantasy game this weekend, tell them where you got all that secret intel. I really do wish the best for all your teams this season (except you Oakland, go 5-11 just to miss a top 10 pick before you leave for Vegas with your tails between your legs).

Happy Football New Year!!

Nick Rellihan (@Rellihan51)

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