Green Bay Packers vs. Seattle Seahawks
The Packers have finished outside the top 10 in scoring only once in the Aaron Rodgers era (2015, the Jordy-less season), but they’ve been top-10 in pass/run ratio only twice in the last nine years. They finished second in pass/run ratio in 2017, but it was also the only time the offense hasn’t been top-10 in neutral pace since Jordy Nelson’s breakout in 2011.
The Seahawks have averaged the second-highest run/pass split in the NFL from 2012-2015. Last season was the only time Darrell Bevell has called plays for a team not in the top-10 in rushing attempts or faster than 26th in neutral pace (18th).
The over/under sits at 51 points, highest of the week (per the Vegas Dashboard), and the spread favors the Packers at home by just three points. Both teams have seen a 0.8 implied point increase since the line opened — the largest movement so far on the week. While underdogs cover the spread more often than favorites do, I don’t see much advantage in betting against the Packers given the current lines; the Packers went 9-6-1 ATS in 2016.
Rodgers should be in attack mode, and the Seahawks were eighth in yards and third in touchdowns allowed through the air in 2017. That said, we shouldn’t expect an exceedingly high-paced game: Seattle struggled to run the ball behind an offensive line ranking 26th in adjusted line yards and 25th in adjusted sack rate, but if they can get a lead, we know they would prefer to change that and play slowly.
The Rodgers-Nelson stack will be chalky. Rodgers has a fantasy points correlation value of 0.47 with Nelson and a 0.56 ownership correlation (per our NFL Correlations page). One way to differentiate this stack could be to roll it back with Doug Baldwin on the other side of the ball. Here are the correlation values for actual fantasy points versus the ownership values:
The ownership correlation between Rodgers, Jordy, and Baldwin will be low, despite the fact that they have very correlated outcomes. If you want to stack Rodgers with Nelson, do it with our Lineup Builder. Correlations provide a huge edge in GPPs, as they provide free upside, and there are many secrets yet to be found within the FantasyLabs Tools.
Aaron Rodgers, QB
Rodgers had the perfect combination of volume and efficiency in 2016, throwing a career-high 610 passes with an absurd 71 percent completion rate during the Packers’ season-ending win streak. The last time he faced the Seahawks he was even better, completing 78 percent of his passes and throwing three touchdowns. Two of those went to Nelson, and the Seahawks rated 16th against opposing No. 1 wide receivers in 2017.
Jordy Nelson, WR
Nelson led the league with 29 and 15 targets inside the 20- and 10-yard lines in 2016. His average separation spiked from 2.3 yards to 3.3 from Week 12 on (Next Gen Stats); now further removed from his 2015 preseason ACL tear, that dominance could continue in 2017. The addition of Martellus Bennett could result in fewer high-value targets for Jordy near the end zone, but the Seahawks gave up the second-fewest touchdowns (3) to tight ends, so that trend may not start this week. Since 2013, Nelson’s averaged 13.7 targets per season inside the 10-yard line and is one of the most likely touchdown scorers in Week 1.
Ty Montgomery, RB
Montgomery has the build (6’0″ and 221 lbs.) of a feature back and the skills of an elite slot receiver. The Seahawks were third-best against the run last year and fifth-best against running backs in the passing game (Football Outsiders). They allowed the fifth-fewest receptions, seventh-fewest receiving yards, and surrendered zero touchdowns through the air. Regardless, Montgomery has a strong reception floor in Week 1 with upside in an offense that slants toward the pass.
Russell Wilson, QB
Ankle and knee injuries led to a career-low in rushing (259 yards) and a career-high in pass attempts (546) for Wilson in 2017. In Week 14 against Green Bay, Wilson completed just 56.4 percent of his passes and threw a career-high FIVE interceptions. Green Bay was 31st in yards and 29th in touchdowns allowed through the air last year, but allowed only one rushing touchdown and the sixth-fewest rushing yards to quarterbacks. Over the past three seasons, Wilson has actually been better and lower-owned on the road (21.35 PPG, 5.1 percent).
Doug Baldwin, WR
Over the past two seasons, the only wide receivers to score more touchdowns than Baldwin (21) are Antonio Brown (22) and Odell Beckham Jr. (23). The Packers were 28th against No. 1 wide receivers last year and allowed the most FanDuel PPG to the position (35.5).
Jimmy Graham, TE
Just Rob Gronkowski (17.69) and Greg Olsen (13.87) have a higher yards-per-reception mark — among tight ends with 75 or more targets — than the Seattle version of Graham (13.52), but he has just eight touchdowns through 27 games. The Packers allowed the 13th-fewest touchdowns (5) and ranked seventh-best in TE DVOA, and Graham has been significantly worse on the road (11.58 DraftKings PPG) than at home (14.0). Without an ownership discount, Graham could be a decent fade in Week 1.
Tennessee Titans vs. Oakland Raiders
Last season was Mike Mularkey’s slowest offense in six seasons, finishing in the bottom-eight of neutral pace, but the Titans wouldn’t have signed Eric Decker or drafted Corey Davis with the fifth-overall pick if they didn’t want to boost the passing game. It’s possible Tennessee seeks more balance than they did last season and could certainly pick up the pace as well, but don’t expect them to get away from their power-running identity.
Last season was the first time in 10 seasons that a Todd Downing-coached offense didn’t finish in the top-14 in pass/run ratio. The effectiveness of Marshawn Lynch remains to be seen, but the Raiders likely don’t plan on straying too far from the conservative and balanced West Coast offense. They also prefer to move at a snail’s pace: They ranked 17th and 22nd in neutral pace over the past two seasons, per Football Outsiders.
The over/under sits at 50.5 points, second-highest of the week, featuring two teams implied for top-10 point totals on Sunday with a tight spread of just two points in favor of the Titans at home. The Raiders actually opened as a one-point favorite. Both defenses underwhelmed last season, so betting the over is firmly in play, but this game is also unlikely to be played at a fast pace. The Raiders spent two premium draft picks on a secondary that ranked 25th in DVOA against the pass last season, but we don’t yet know how much impact Gareon Conley and Obi Melifonwu will have.
On the other side, Tennessee was the second- and third-worst defense in average DraftKings points per game (PPG) and Plus/Minus allowed to wide receivers in 2017. PFF’s 17th-ranked corner, Logan Ryan, and LeShaun Sims (top-25 cornerback SPARQ score in 2016) are probably an upgrade over Jason McCourty (ranked No. 57 by PFF) and Perrish Cox (perennial DFS target), but the secondary is still a clear weakness for Tennessee.
Delanie Walker could easily be the top cash-game play at just $4,300 on DraftKings (just $100 more than Rishard Matthews and $700 cheaper than Decker), but the player I am most interested in pairing Mariota with in tournaments is DeMarco Murray. I also like the idea of rolling it back with Amari Cooper for even more of a unique lineup construction. Here are the correlation values for actual fantasy points versus the ownership values for these players:
The QB-RB1 stack allows you to potentially access all the Titans touchdowns — on the ground and through the air — with an actual points correlation value of 0.32. Further, that stack has a much lower ownership correlation (0.30) than the one between Mariota and his WR1 (0.56), WR2 (0.46), or TE1 (0.43). Murray and Cooper don’t necessarily correlate well in regards to actual points, but the combination is definitely a unique differentiator in tournaments.
Marcus Mariota, QB
The Titans’ 504 pass attempts were the fifth-fewest last year, but Mariota has completed 60 of his 94 red zone attempts with 33 touchdowns to zero interceptions in his career. The Raiders tied for the 10th-most passing touchdowns allowed (27), but they also allowed the fourth-fewest rushing attempts to the quarterback position (35). New additions on offense and the potential for more pass plays could give Mariota further upside.
Eric Decker, WR
Decker is a perennial scoring machine. In his three years with the Jets, he scored a touchdown in 19 of his 33 games and converted 10 of his 25 targets inside the 10-yard line into touchdowns. Rishard Matthews and Delanie Walker are established touchdown scorers as well, but Decker could still be a strong tournament option against PFF’s 49th-ranked corner T.J. Carrie in the slot (per our NFL Matchups Dashboard).
DeMarco Murray, RB
The Raiders allowed the fewest receptions to running backs (76). The presence of Derrick Henry and the potential of a more pass-happy offense hurts Murray’s ceiling, but his workload is relatively safe. In Week 1, he faces a Raiders defense that allowed the 10th-most points and rushing touchdowns to running backs.
Delanie Walker, TE
His targets per snap decreased from 20.6 percent in 2015 to 14.4 in 2016, and he averaged just 0.74 YPR when lined up as a tight end compared to 2.01 when in the slot. It’s a good matchup as the Raiders allowed the eighth-most touchdowns (7), fifth-most yards (64.19 per game), and ranked 23rd in DVOA versus tight ends in 2016.
Amari Cooper, WR
He’s a legitimate threat for the 100-yard bonus on DraftKings — topping 100 yards in 27.3 percent of 33 career games — and the Titans gave up the most receiving yards (190.81 per game) in the NFL last year. In the futures market, Cooper is probably a bargain at +1,800 to lead the NFL in receiving yards and a fade at +2,500 to lead the league in receiving touchdowns.
Michael Crabtree, WR
Crabtree received a team-high 21 red zone targets last season, and he’s finished ninth, 17th, and seventh among all wide receivers in combined receptions, yards, and touchdowns, respectively, over the past two seasons. Crabtree was considerably better and lower-owned on the road last season (13.74 FanDuel PPG, 4.4 percent) than at home (10.49 PPG, 8.7). He carries week-to-week touchdown equity.
Good luck, and be sure to read our positional breakdowns later in the week!
After this piece is published, FantasyLabs is likely to provide news updates on a number of players herein mentioned, as well as keep you up to date with our NFL Week 1 Injury Dashboard. Be sure to stay ahead of your competition with our industry-leading NFL News feed: