Ladies and gentlemen: We made it. It's game day. The NFL season kicks off tonight with a game rich with intrigue and the potential for points as the Texans and Chiefs will face off in the first game of the NFL season. Thursday's edition of the Fantasy Football Today newsletter — which you can subscribe to here — features a preview of the season opener, an update on injuries from around the league, and everything else you need to set your lineup.
Jamey Eisenberg's Start 'Em & Sit 'Em is the centerpiece of our weekly preview content, and we'll have it right here for you every Thursday morning. Jamey has his start and sit calls ready to go, as well as some sleepers and a bust alert for each position, and that isn't the only help we've got for you — Dave Richard's Week 1 preview, with his own start and sit calls for every game on the NFL schedule for Week 1 is here too.
If that doesn't answer all of your lineup questions, send them my way at Chris.Towers@CBSi.com with the subject line "#AskFFT" and they'll get included in our mailbag this week — plus, you can catch our Twitch channel Sunday morning where Adam Aizer and I will be answering all of your lineup questions.
Get ready for Week 1 with all of our preview content here:
- Week 1 Start 'Em & Sit 'Em: QB | RB | WR
- Starts and sits, sleepers and busts for every game
- Week 1 Position Previews: QB | RB | WR | TE
- Week 1 Rankings
And here's what the rest of today's newsletter has in store to help you get ready for Week 1:
- 🏈Start 'Em & Sit 'Em
- 📺TNF Preview
- 🚒Mike Evans in doubt for Week 1?
- 📰News and notes
🔍TNF Preview: Chiefs vs. Texans
We'll have previews for the rest of the games on the schedule Friday, but we've gotta take a special look at the season opener. Here's what you need to know for Thursday night's big matchup between Patrick Mahomes' Chiefs and Deshaun Watson's Texans:
All odds are via William Hill Sportsbook.
- Line: Chiefs -9.0; 54.5 Over/Under (highest in the league for Week 1)
- Implied total: Chiefs 31.75, Texans 22.75
What to expect: A high-scoring game with the Chiefs ultimately winning comfortably. When these teams met in last year's playoffs, that meant 37.2 Fantasy points for Watson and 48.1 for Mahomes.
Key injuries: Brandin Cooks (Quad) — Questionable. Cooks was limited at practice Wednesday. As a boom-or-bust flex play in a deeper league, he's fine if he plays, but I might prefer Randall Cobb in PPR.
What to watch for: How does Will Fuller look as the Texans No. 1 WR? Do the running backs get more involved in the offense now with DeAndre Hopkins out of the picture? On the Chiefs side, we're looking to see how much Clyde Edwards-Helaire plays, as well as whether Mecole Hardman is playing ahead of Sammy Watkins. He has top-30 potential if he's the third option in the passing game.
Notable player props
- David Johnson: O/U 21.5 receiving yards — I would take the over, given how good Johnson still was as a receiver last season and the likely pass-heavy game flow, but this speaks to how low expectations for Johnson are.
- Clyde Edwards-Helaire: O/U 13.5 rush attempts, 2.5 receptions — That's right around what the No. 1 RB averaged for the Chiefs last season. Darrel Williams should still have enough of a role to be a flex option.
Evans did not practice Wednesday with a hamstring injury, putting his Week 1 availability very much into doubt. Adam Aizer and Dave Richard discussed Evans' injury on Thursday's episode of the Fantasy Football Today In 5 podcast, so go check that out and subscribe via Spotify, Apple, or anywhere else you get your podcasts.
Here's everything you need to know:
How worried should I be? Pretty worried! Not panicking yet, but definitely worried. After all, Evans missed the last three weeks of the 2019 season with a hamstring injury. We'll need to monitor practice reports the next two days very closely, but I wouldn't be surprised at all if he doesn't play. Hamstring injuries are tough to come back from that quickly.
Who might benefit if Evans is out? Scotty Miller figures to see a larger role, and he has the speed to make plays deep, though he isn't the physical presence Evans is. O.J. Howard or Rob Gronkowski could benefit near the end zone if Evans is out.
Should I add Miller, or look elsewhere for help? If Anthony Miller (56% rostered) or Allen Lazard (54%) are available, I would add either (even if I didn't have Evans!). I would also start Will Fuller Thursday over Evans even without knowing whether the latter will play. I like the spot for Fuller that much.
Does this hurt Tom Brady's value? Sure, a bit. But the matchup against the Saints figures to be a high-scoring one, and with Chris Godwin, Howard, Gronkowski and three running backs who can make plays out of the backfield, there should be enough here for Brady to remain a starting option for Week 1.
📰News and notes
Injury report updates
- D'Andre Swift is dealing with a hip injury and was limited at practice. Prior to this, we had only known Swift was dealing with a "leg" injury, so this is a bit more detail. We'll see if he gets up to full speed by Friday, but you probably want to use more trustworthy options until Swift proves he has locked up a significant role.
- David Montgomery (groin) was limited at practice. This is a good sign, though obviously no guarantee he will play Week 1. That would be on the short end of the 2-4 week timetable Montgomery was given, so we'd like to see him get a full practice in before you plan on relying on him.
- Kenyan Drake (foot) was not on the practice report Wednesday. He told us he'd be "fine" back when we learned he was in a walking boot in camp, and he is. He's ready to roll for Week 1 and he should be in your lineup.
- Miles Sanders (hamstring) was limited. All along, the expectation has been that Sanders would be ready for Week 1, but you'd still like to see him get a full practice in over the next few days. Either way, if he's well enough to play, you're starting Sanders — even if there might be some limitations on his touches at first.
- Darrell Henderson (hamstring) practiced in full. You might do best to just avoid the Rams backfield for Week 1, at least until we get a sense of how Henderson, Cam Akers, and Malcolm Brown will be used. There seem to be too many mouths to feed.
- Jalen Reagor (shoulder) was limited at practice. This comes as a surprise, because there was some thought Reagor might miss a game or two. If he plays Sunday you won't want him in your lineup, but Reagor is a must-add if he's on your waiver wire.
- Amari Cooper (hamstring) practiced in full. The reports from practice lately had been somewhat ominous, so this is a great sign. Cooper has a tough matchup with Jalen Ramsey in Week 1, but you'd be braver than me to sit him.
- Denzel Mims (hamstring) and Breshad Perriman (knee) practiced without limitations. It's not clear Mims will have a role right away after missing much of training camp, but if Perriman plays, he's a low-end starting option with upside in deeper lineups.
- Brandon Aiyuk (hamstring) and Deebo Samuel (foot) did not practice. It seems like a longshoremen either will play against Arizona, but both should be on rosters because they may not miss much longer. Kendrick Bourne is an interesting play for Week 1 if both sit.
- Devine Ozigbo is dealing with a hamstring injury, and the Jaguars signed Dare Ogunbowale. Ogunbowale might just be insurance in case Ozigbo has to miss time, but James Robinson and Christ Thompson figure to split work in Week 1 as things stand. Thompson is a worthwhile PPR starter, while Robinson is worth considering if you're short on running back help.
Jamey Eisenberg is rolling with Josh Allen as his Start of the Week for the matchup against the Jets, and he's got Stefon Diggs as a start as well, so you know he's buying into that offense. Here are some other notable calls from Jamey for Week 1:
- Starts: Matt Ryan — "Ryan at home is always a good play, especially against a defense like the Seahawks, who could have a questionable pass rush. Ryan has top-five upside this week"; Ben Roethlisberger
- Bust Alert: Kyler Murray
- Starts: Raheem Mostert, Marlon Mack — "I'm going with Mack over Jonathan Taylor if you rostered both, but I have no problem starting both Colts running backs this week against the Jaguars."
- Bust Alert: Le'Veon Bell
- Starts: A.J. Brown, Stefon Diggs
- Bust Alert: Amari Cooper — "Cooper has proven to struggle when he faces elite cornerbacks, and Jalen Ramsey, based on his new contract, is clearly one of the best in the NFL."
- Starts: Tyler Higbee — "The last time we saw Higbee in 2019 he closed the season with at least 18 PPR points in five games in a row, including a 23-point outing against Dallas in Week 15."
- Bust Alert: Evan Engram
So who should you start and sit this week? And which surprising quarterback could lead you to victory? Visit SportsLine now to get Week 1 rankings for every position, plus see which QB is going to come out of nowhere to crack the top 10, all from the model that out-performed experts big time last season.