NFL Week 1 Eagles at Patriots: DFS & Fantasy Preview
Betting Line: Eagles – 5
Philadelphia comes a sensational season in 2022, but they finished one step short of greatness. Jalen Hurts offers power running with developing value in the passing game. The Eagles have a top offensive line, and their defense created plenty of pressure on the quarterback last season. Philly has three excellent receiving options (A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, and Dallas Goedert) while adding D’Andre Smith in the offseason.
New England is struggling to find their offensive identity after losing Tom Brady a few seasons ago. The Patriots have talent on defense, and they want to run the ball to control the clock. Mac Jones is a much better player than most believe. He can’t reach elite status without better play and production from his receiving corps. Rhamondre Stevenson will get plenty of touches this season, while Ezekiel Elliott brings experience off the bench.
Note: The fantasy points per $1,000 are based on the early projections for Week 1.
The above grid shows the top players excepted to contribute in Week 1 in the fantasy games. I listed each player’s salary at DraftKings and FanDuel, plus their fantasy points expected per $1,000 of salary invested. In GPP (grand prize pools) events, the goal is to find players with a chance to score four times their salary at DraftKings ($50,000 salary cap and three times at FanDuel ($60,000 salary cap).
- Hurts continues to be a beast in the run game, highlighted by his stats in 2022 (165/760/13) despite missing two weeks.
- The improvement in his receiving options last year led to career-highs in completions (306), pass attempts (460), passing yards (3,701), passing touchdowns (22), yards per pass attempts (8.0), and completion rate (66.5).
- He passed for 300 yards or more in five matchups (333/1, 340/3, 380/3, 315/0, and 301/1), lifting him to third in quarterback scoring (423.05) in four-point passing touchdown formats.
- Hurts scored more than 30.00 fantasy points (37.35, 31.00, 30.05, 31.25, 31.35, 38.20, 32.55, 39.5, and 45.20) in nine of his 18 starts (including the postseason).
- New England ranked seventh defending quarterback (19.16 FPPG), with failure in two matchups (30.70 and 35.50 fantasy points).
- Quarterbacks rushed for 322 yards on 70 carries vs. the Patriots with two scores.
- To reach a winning score in Week 1, Hurts must score more than 30.00 fantasy points. It’s not the best matchup, but he is still a coin flip in any week due to his high floor in the run game and his exceptional receiving options.
- Swift appeared to kick down the fantasy door in Week 1 (15/144/1 with three catches for 31 yards) of 2022. Unfortunately, Detroit only gave him 17 touches over the following two games, leading to 133 combined yards with one score and five catches.
- A shoulder issue cost him three weeks plus a shallow role over the next five matchups (23/61/2 with 16 catches for 109 yards and one touchdown).
- Swift gained 453 yards with three touchdowns and 24 catches on 73 touches over his final six games. He finished the year ranked 21st in running back scoring (191.10) in PPR formats, with three weeks of success (26.50, 21.10, and 27.70 fantasy points).
- The Lions only had him on the field for 34.7% of their plays in 2022, which invites a higher ceiling with a higher role and a healthy season.
- The Eagles running backs had only 48 catches for 262 yards and no catches on 61 targets last season.
- Philadelphia should give the most touches in Week 1, but Swift doesn’t appear to have upside in scoring in close or catching many balls.
- To score 22.00 fantasy points, he needs a touchdown with more than 100 combined yards and about five catches. A three-back rotation isn’t his friend.
- With the Eagles’ abandoning the running back position in the passing game last season, Gainwell finished with 409 combined yards with four touchdowns and 23 catches.
- His only fantasy game of value (12/112/1 with one catch for nine yards) came in the first round of the postseason.
- There has been positive talk about Gainwell over the summer, but his role/opportunity is unclear. More of a gamble while needing 16.00 fantasy points at DraftKings to pay off.
- The Eagles threw the ball 81 more times than I expected to their wide receivers in 2022, giving Brown a much better opportunity.
- He finished with career-highs in catches (88), receiving yards (1,496), and targets (145) while scoring 11 touchdowns and gaining an impressive 17.0 yards per catch.
- Brown gained 20 or more yards on 26.1% of his catches. His best output came in five games (10/155, 6/156/3, 8/119/2, 9/181, and 6/103). He averaged 8.5 targets last year.
- Based on his salary and outcomes in 2022, Brown would have filled his salary bucket 20% of the time over his 20 games played.
- Wide receivers had 207 catches for 2,688 yards and 15 touchdowns on 338 targets against New England in 2022.
- I don’t expect a 30.00 fantasy game, so I’ll look for upside elsewhere.
- Last year, Smith saw his opportunity grow by over 30%, leading to an exceptional year (95/1,196/7 on 136 targets).
- He caught 69.9% of his chances while being an impact player from Week 15 to Week 17 (5/126, 8/113/2, and 9/115) when fantasy championships were on the line.
- Smith gained more than 100 yards in three other matchups (8/169/1, 5/102/1, and 7/100). His season started with a goose egg on four targets, with emptiness in three other contests (3/17, 5/23, 2/22, and 2/36).
- Over his final 12 starts (including the postseason), Smith had 70 catches for 951 yards and six touchdowns on 105 targets.
- Smith needs about 29.00 fantasy points at DraftKings to finish as an edge play in Week 1. He reached that threshold twice (30.90 and 31.30 – 10% of the time) last season.
- I expect more big plays in 2023, giving Smith a better chance to post impact games.
- The Eagles started to give Goedert a higher opportunity from Week 4 to Week 9 in 2022 over his five games (5/72, 8/95, 2/22, 6/64, and 8/100/1 on 36 targets).
- Unfortunately, he came out of Week 10 with a shoulder injury, costing him five weeks of action.
- Philadelphia looked his way 31 times over his final five starts, leading to 25 catches for 232 yards and one touchdown with one winning game (5/58/1).
- Goedert averaged 5.8 targets over his 15 matchups while posting a stellar catch rate (81.6).
- Tight end had 73 catches for 686 yards and 11 touchdowns on 108 targets vs. the Patriots last year.
- Coming into this week, New England’s coaching staff has to focus on slowing Hurts down in the run game with a spy, plus take away one of the Eagles’ top wideouts.
- Goedert scored over 20.00 fantasy points once last year, but I sense he’ll have a prominent role in this matchup. Possible multi-touchdown game with an active role in catches and yards.
Here are some notes from my preseason write-up for the New England Patriots Defense:
- The Patriots improved to 7th in rushing yards (1,793) while allowing 4.1 yards per carry. Their defense gave up seven rushing touchdowns (tied for the lowest in the league). Offenses ran the ball 25.9 times against them.
- New England fell to 17th vs. quarterbacks (3,681 yards with 28 touchdowns and 19 interceptions). Their defense finished with 54 sacks (3rd).
- LB Matthew Judon turned into a sack beast (28) over his 34 starts for New England while also chipping in with 60 tackles and help in run support. On the other side of the field, LB Josh Uche also developed into an elite pass rusher (11.5) in his limited snaps.
- The Patriots have the talent, coaching, and experience to be one of the better defenses in the league.
New England Patriots
- In 2022, Jones started the season with two quiet games (213/1 and 252/1) before throwing the ball better vs. the Ravens in Week 3 (321/0 and five rushed for 31 yards and a score with eight completions over 20 yards).
- Unfortunately, he suffered a high ankle sprain after his third interception, leading to three missed games and minimal excitement for the rest of the season.
- Jones averaged 221 passing yards over his final 10 starts (including the postseason) with 12 touchdowns and six interceptions while gaining only 6.4 yards per pass attempt. His only game of value (382/2) came in Week 12.
- Philadelphia finished last year ninth in quarterback defense (17.30 FPPG), with one poor showing (32.45 fantasy points). They led the NFL in sacks (70).
- Jones had one playable game (27.10 fantasy points) while passing for more than 300 yards twice in his 13 full starts. For him to have any chance, New England would have to fall behind by two touchdowns early. The lack of star power at wide receiver leaves a daily gamer wondering how the Patriots will score via the pass this season.
- After a slow start over his first two games (78 combined yards and three catches on 20 touches) last season, Stevenson pushed his way up the running back ranking over the next 10 games (18.69 FPPG in PPR formats), helped by a much higher floor in the passing game (53/377/1) over this span.
- The injury to Damien Harris in Week 5 created his improved opportunity. Stevenson averaged 19.7 touches while delivering six winning games (20.10, 19.50, 25.10, 23.80, 21.10, and 20.20 fantasy points) over his hot run.
- The addition of Ezekiel Elliott does lower his overall opportunity and brings a possible sniper for some touchdowns.
- The Eagles were just above league average (14th) defending running backs last season.
- Game flow gives Stevenson a chance to pad his stats in catches, but he needs 28.00 fantasy points. A plateau he didn’t reach once in 2022. Possible against in Philly game stack.’
- Last season, he landed in a primo passing offense with an elite quarterback, but Smith-Schuster failed to be a difference-maker.
- The Chiefs look his way only 6.3 times a game with minimal scoring (3). On the positive side, he had a high catch rate (77.2) with a rebound in his yards per catch (12.0 – 8.6 in 2020 and 2021) with minor injury news.
- His best play came over three games (5/113/1, 7/124/1, and 10/88) from Week 6 to Week 9. Kansas City gave Smith-Schuster double-digit targets in three games (12, 11, and 10).
- Wide receivers had 191 catches for 2,274 yards and 16 touchdowns on 316 targets against Philadelphia in 2022.
- His salary is more than fair out of the gate, but Smith-Schuster has much to prove this year. If he couldn’t regain his stardom with Patrick Mahomes throwing him the ball, what is his floor and ceiling with Mac Jones?
- The Patriots used Parker as a deep threat last season, leading to a career-high in yards per catch (17.4).
- He finished with 31 catches for 539 yards and three touchdowns on 47 targets over 13 games, with two highlight outcomes (5/156 and 6/79/2).
- Parker missed four games with knee and concussion injuries.
- The Patriots list him as questionable with an unknown injury in Week 1, but they expect him to play.
- At best, a low-value hookup for a weak-rated passing offense in Week 1 while having a below-par matchup.
- Last year, Bourne seemed to fall out of favor with the coaching staff, resulting in a disappointing season (35/434/1) despite maintaining a high catch rate (72.9). His only game with more than five targets came in Week 16 (6/129/1).
- In 2020 and 2021, Bourne developed into a sneaky backend wide receiver despite receiving only 144 combined targets. In 2021, he set career-highs in catches (55) and receiving yards (800) with five touchdowns and some value in the run game (12/125).
- The changes at wide receiver for New England this season give Bourne a chance to be much better, at least out of the gate.
- Priced low enough to be a flier in Week 1.
- Over 27 games at LSU, Boutte caught 131 of his 205 targets for 1,782 yards and 16 touchdowns.
- His game was on the fast track to the NFL over his first six games in 2021 (38/509/9 on 53 targets), highlighted by three games (9/148/3, 4/85/2, and 6/127/1), but a right ankle injury that required surgery ended his season.
- Over his final three games (8/111, 5/108/1, and 14/308/3) in 2020, Boutte showed his potential.
- Last year, he only had 48 catches for 538 yards and two touchdowns on 74 targets over 11 games at LSU.
- There is something here, but his usage is in question out of the gate.
- The Patriots struggled to get Henry the ball over the first four games (2/20, 0/0, 1/8, and 2/13 on nine combined targets) in 2022, crushing any fantasy supporters.
- Over the next nine games, he caught 23 of his 33 targets (3.7 per week) for 365 yards and two touchdowns. Henry scored more than 10.00 fantasy points in only four contests (4/61/1, 3/63/1, 5/52, and 6/42) all season.
- New England added Mike Gesicki in the offseason, who is an upgrade in pass catching over Jonnu Smith. A two-way split for chances makes it difficult for Henry to rank higher than a midtier TE2 in 2023.
- Tight ends had 73 catches for 731 yards and four touchdowns on 110 targets vs. the Eagles last season.
- The Patriots will need their tight ends to block to slow down Philly’s pass rush.
Here are some notes from my preseason write-up for the Philadelphia Eagles Defense:
- The Eagles slipped to 16th in rushing yards allowed (2,068 yards), with opponents averaging 26.2 rushes. They allowed 4.6 yards per carry with 15 touchdowns.
- Philly led the NFL in passing yards allowed (3,057) while allowing 6.4 yards per pass attempt. Quarterbacks tossed 22 touchdowns with 17 interceptions while leading the league in sacks (70 – 29 in 2021).
- The first two levels of the Eagles’ defense have star power, depth, and upside. They need a couple of young players to emerge to help their off-season losses.
- Their pass rush helps close the passing window for their talented cornerbacks. Philadelphia has questions at safety and potentially one linebacking spot.
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