You can feel it.  There’s a different breeze blowing through the streets.  The grass smells better outside your front door.  Your morning coffee tastes like it was made fresh in Colombia.  You haven’t quite arrived in heaven, but it is FOOTBALL SEASON.

Welcome to the first of many fantasy football weekly previews!  This is my first year writing for GoingFor2, and these previews will be my first in-season assignments.  In this preview, I will cover every Week 1 game by highlighting my favorite matchups and the ones I’m avoiding.

We just had a little tease of the NFL on Thursday with the Falcons and the Eagles, but now I’m ready for the real thing.  I have been ready for Week 1 since the Super Bowl ended and I have never been more excited for an NFL season, so let’s jump into the games and see some of my favorite matchups and storylines!

Bengals at Colts

At first, this game had “shootout” written all over it.  But some recent news has me concerned about the Colts offense.  I’m all in on the Bengals in this one, though.

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Favorite Matchups

A.J. Green and John Ross figure to line up against Kenny Moore for most of the game.  Moore was abysmal on deep routes last season, particularly go-routes, posts, and corners.  Green was terrific on these downfield routes, and while we didn’t see much from him, Ross will likely be solid on these with his NFL-record 4.22 speed.  Bill Lazor should open up the downfield passing playbook and take advantage of Moore’s weaknesses.  Plus, Dalton has looked great in the preseason.  He is just a few years removed from a top-five quarterback campaign, so crazier things have happened.

Matchups to Avoid

The Bengals actually gave up the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing receivers last year, and a big part of that was CB William Jackson.  Jackson is the only defensive back on the Bengals that has the speed to keep up with Hilton, so I expect him to be everywhere Hilton goes.  Hilton ran a solid 23 percent of his routes from the slot, per Player Profiler, and Jackson traveled there on only .9 percent of his cover snaps, so that’s likely where the meat of Hilton’s fantasy value will come from.

It also might be difficult for the Colts to generate any downfield passing.  Luck’s didn’t throw a ball further than 20 yards in the preseason.  In addition, LT Anthony Castonzo might be inactive, letting the Bengal’s pass rush tee-off on Luck.  Hilton is the only receiver I would feel comfortable starting.

Bills at Ravens

The Ravens are a solid favorite here and for good reason.  The Bills offensive line struggled to open running lanes and failed to protect any of their turnover-prone quarterbacks at all during the preseason.  The Ravens defense is in a great spot.

Favorite Matchups

I’m all in on Alex Collins.  The Bills defense is great against quarterbacks, but Collins is going to be leaned on in the second half.  I could easily see him approach 25 carries by the end of it.  The Bills also gave up the most fantasy points to running backs last season, all the more reason to buy into Collins.

Matchups to Avoid

The Bills.  Yeah.  The entire offense.  It just doesn’t look good for any of their quarterbacks to get thrown to the wolves like this.  And we have seen what the absolute worst of Nathan Peterman can be.

Because of game script, I can’t see LeSean McCoy having a good game.  The Ravens were average against the run last season, but I don’t expect McCoy to have much room to run to run if the Ravens elect to stack the box and let Nathan Peterman try to beat them with his arm.

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On positive on the Bills’ side is that Ravens corner Jimmy Smith is sidelined due to a suspension.  If and when they get down in this game, Josh Allen could use Kelvin Benjamin’s size to bully Smith’s replacement and probably get a cheap touchdown in the process.  Benjamin has actually looked like the best player on the Bills this past month.

Buccaneers at Saints

This game is gonna be rough for the Bucs.  They have to go on the road and take on the Saints at full power.  And they don’t even have their starting quarterback leading the charge.

Favorite Matchups

I have Alvin Kamara as my top overall player with Mark Ingram sidelined.  Kamara also averaged 22 points per game in matchups that the Saints were favored in last season, and that was with Mark Ingram around.  Sign me up.

Mike Gillislee could also be a nice play here.  The Saints shockingly released his only competition and he and Kamara will be the only RBs touching the ball (because they are the only two on the roster as of right now).

Brees should have a field day, but I doubt they keep airing it out the whole game.  Last year when they got up against the Bills, they ran the ball (successfully) 22 times in a row to close out the game.  Just like last season, Brees may not see the volume we know and love.

Matchups to Avoid

Mike Evans struggled mightily against Marshon Lattimore last season.  I expect shadow coverage the whole game and little wiggle room for the Bucs receiver.  Not to mention his quarterback is Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has a love affair for Chris Godwin.  Even though Ken Crawley is no slouch, I wouldn’t be surprised if Godwin finishes with more catches than Evans due to their matchups.  The Saints also signed the former Eagles slot CB, Patrick Robinson.  Even if the Bucs go three-wide to put Evans in the slot, it’ll be slim-pickens.

Texans at Patriots

This game holds Vegas’ highest over /under at 50 (last time I checked).  Obviously, that means you should want as many pieces of this game as possible.  But the “consensus chalk” play might not be as good as people think.

Favorite Matchups

Hogan and Gronk are going to be incredibly good plays.  I could easily see Hogan finish top 10 at his position in this game.  He’s seen more end zone targets than Gronk over the last two seasons, so he is actually a better bet to score a touchdown in this game.

I also think Phillip Dorsett is a sneaky good play.  Cooks torched the Texans last year, and while I don’t think they are near each other in terms of talent, they play the exact same role.  Dorsett is dirt cheap in DFS and is probably at the bottom of your league’s waiver wire.  Fire him up and pray for a couple long strikes.

Matchups to Avoid

I don’t love the Pats running backs.  I get it.  Burkhead is free in DFS with Sony Michel isn’t likely to suit up.  But Gillislee only turned 12 carries into 31 yards and no touchdowns against the Texans last year.  You might be thinking, “Burkhead catches passes though!”  And you’re right, but the Texans gave up the second fewest receptions to running backs last season.  Now they have a retooled defense with J.J. Watt back AND Burkhead has a slight tear in his knee.  Fade the “chalk”.

49ers at Vikings

RIP Jerick McKinnon.  I loved this guy last year and early this summer until his price got out of control, but you hate to see anyone go down with an injury.  I wasn’t a huge fan of his matchup, but I was excited to see him in a workhorse role.

Favorite Matchups

Kirk Cousins and the Vikings receivers should have a field day with the 49ers’ secondary, and I really expect them to pick on Richard Sherman.  He is coming off of an Achilles injury and Stephon Diggs excels against slower corners.  I’m jamming him into a lot of GPPs.

I also am pretty confident in Kyle Rudolph.  We’ve seen Cousins favor his tight end, and I would put Rudolph in that borderline elite company.  All it takes is a red zone touchdown for him to be a top 5 tight end, and I think he gets one.

Matchups to Avoid

None of the 49ers have the best matchup here.  Minnesota plays lights out at home, has an elite pass rush, a terrific secondary, and athletic linebackers to cover running backs and tight ends.

I also have some concerns about Dalvin Cooks workload with Latavius Murray in the fold.  Nobody really knows how the touches will be distributed, but you still have to start Cooks with confidence.

Titans at Dolphins

This is one of those games that I’m really not too excited about, but I seem to have a lot of exposure to.

Favorite Matchups

I loved Mariota at the start of the summer, but his preseason did not inspire much confidence.  He has a cupcake matchup, so maybe he can put some concerns to bed for me.

The Dolphins are heading into this game without DeVante Parker because of a finger injury, so I’m all over Kenny Stills and expect him to see a massive target share.  This will be Tannehill’s first game back from his ACL tear, but I think he’ll be a solid play.

Matchups to Avoid

I’m terrified at how the Miami backfield will be split.  Gore and Drake are listed as co-starters and I can just imagine a scenario where Gore gets more work because he picks up the “tough yards” that the coaches love.  I’m terrified to see what happens.

Jaguars at Giants

This one is hands down my favorite game to watch of the week.  We get to see one of the most explosive offenses against one of the most stout defenses of all time.  I truly have no idea how this one will go.

Favorite Matchups

Odell is CB immune.  He really is.  I’m not saying he is going to put up 200 yards and a couple touchdowns, but I could see a 7/80/1 stat line.  Antonio Brown was able to beat this secondary twice and I would put them in the same tier.

Many people are in on Seferian-Jenkins because the Giants routinely struggle against tight ends, but I’m in on Keelan Cole in this one.  The last time we saw Eli Apple, he was the worst CB in the NFL and Cole has done nothing but deliver splash plays.

Matchups to Avoid

The running backs in this game aren’t my favorite.  Just two years ago we saw the Giants as one of the best run stopping defenses behind the girth of Damon Harrison.  I could see them bottling up Fournette and having Bortles try to sling it to beat them.

Barkley can easily take an outside zone run and cut back and burst upfield for a 60-yard score, so this one might blow up in my face.  But I’m terrified of this Jags front 7.  When they added Marcell Dareus late in the season last year, it was like if the Warriors traded for LeBron right before the playoffs.

Steelers at Browns

UPSET ALERT.  I don’t think Bell makes that big of a difference to this offense, but I absolutely believe that the Steelers should be afraid of the Browns.  We already know that Big Ben struggles on the road and the Browns are easily the most improved team in the NFL.

Favorite Matchups

I love Carlos Hyde in this game.  Ever since the Steelers lost Shazier, their run defense has plummeted.  Hyde has looked like a man on a mission in the preseason and he should get the opportunity.

Antonio Brown and JuJu are also in great spots.  Brown routinely shreds the Browns and sometimes kicks their punter in the face when he feels like.  JuJu dominated the Browns last year as well.

Matchups to Avoid

Big Ben obviously struggles on the road, but the Browns have a disgusting pass rush.  They also have a much better secondary, and maybe Todd Haley can help the game plan with his history with the Steelers.

I am also avoiding Josh Gordon, and mainly because Hue Jackson is an idiot.  He came out and said that Gordon would not start and would likely not play a full game because he missed time in training camp.  Jackson loves to lose for some reason, and not playing your best receiver is the stupidest because he was concerned with his own mental health sounds like a great move.

Chiefs at Chargers

I love the scoring potential in this game.  The Chiefs are the quintessential high scoring offense to make up for their crappy defense, and the Chargers are routinely dominant offensively.

Favorite Matchups

Play any Charger you can find.  Literally anyone.  The Chiefs made the Bears second unit look like a combination of Fergie and Jesus, so I think a bonafide offense will walk through this team with ease.

I’m all about Kareem Hunt in this game too.  The Chargers have a great secondary and a good pass rush, but their linebackers are very slow.  I think the best way to take advantage is to funnel targets to your backs, and Hunt is the only capable pass catcher.  He should be able to exploit them in coverage.

Matchups to Avoid

I’m off of Tyreek Hill in this one, which could easily blow up in my face.  I just think it will be hard for him to get loose and then Mahomes is going to have to extend the play to have time to chuck it downfield.  It could easily happen, but I wouldn’t risk it if I didn’t have to.

Same thing with Sammy Watkins, but he just hasn’t looked like he’s developed a connection with Mahomes yet.

Cowboys at Panthers

It’s #McCaffreySZN.

Favorite Matchups

Jam Christian McCaffrey into every lineup you can.  He has been a bell-cow in the preseason and he is ready to be the next top-five running back for the next five seasons.  The Cowboys are going to struggle to cover him in space and he should feast.

To that same note about the linebackers, I also think Greg Olsen will be a great play.  He’s looked good in the preseason and he’ll be a mismatch for the Cowboys linebackers and safeties.

Matchups to Avoid

You’ll have your hands tied, but I’m not in on Zeke in this one.  The Cowboys line is banged up and is in serious trouble.  The Panthers also give up the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs.

Dak will struggle because of the same offensive line issues and his lack of receiving talent.  I expect Cole Beasley to get peppered with quick targets as much as possible in this game.

I’m not too excited about the Panthers receivers.  I don’t know how the target distribution will favor any of them with McCaffrey and Olsen getting their fair share.

Redskins at Cardinals

This is another “not very exciting” matchup on paper because I am not super intrigued by any of these players outside of the obvious names.  I am ready to see if David Johnson will step into the same 2016 role with a new coaching staff, though.

Favorite Matchups

Larry Fitzgerald is a dominant slot guy these days and Josh Norman rarely travels there.  I fully expect him to have double-digit targets as he avoids a tough shadow situation.

David Johnson looked terrific in the preseason and he didn’t take any big hits.  If he slides right back into his 25+ touch role, he’ll be the top overall player.  The Redskins also gave up the fourth-most points to opposing running backs.

I think that Crowder and Jordan Reed could be solid plays with the outside receivers matching up with Patrick PetersonAlex Smith should be throwing to the middle of the field often.

Matchups to Avoid

The Cardinals actually gave up the third-fewest rushing yards to opposing running backs despite losing a lot last season.  Because of this, I am off of Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson.  Thompson has a decent floor with his receiving capabilities, but I really don’t think he is fully healthy (and even he doesn’t think so).

I’m not a fan of Paul Richardson or Josh Doctson.  We don’t know what their roles will be and they’ll be going up against Patrick Peterson every play.

Seahawks at Broncos

These defenses used to be two of the most feared in fantasy football.  Oh, how the mighty have fallen.  Now they are somewhat exploitable through the air.

Favorite Matchups

Case Keenum should be an excellent play this week.  The Seahawks are not what they once were and Earl Thomas finally reported to camp, but I not expected to play.  This defense is easily exploitable through the air.

For that reason, I really like Demaryius Thomas.  I feel like everyone is on Emmanuel Sanders because of how good he has looked in the preseason, but Seattle’s slot corner Justin Coleman is actually their best guy.  He’ll be the one matching up with Sanders, so I’m pivoting to Thomas.

I also think Tyler Lockette could be a solid play.  Aquib Talib is in LA and the Broncos only solid corner is Chris Harris, who plays mostly out of the slot.

Matchups to Avoid

I really don’t like Doug Baldwin.  It’s good to see him practicing fully, but he’s been banged up and will face off against Chris Harris, arguably the best slot corner in the NFL.  I think he’ll have a hard time getting free, especially if he is playing at 85 percent like he said a few weeks ago.

The Bronco’s pass rush actually improved, so I don’t think Wilson is the best play.  He’ll be flushed out of the pocket often, which is not good for his numbers.  He actually one of the best passers from a clean pocket in the NFL.

Bears at Packers

Everyone’s favorite bounce-back teams are squaring off week one.  We get to see a healthy Rodgers with an improved defense and a fully reimagined Bears team from top-down.

Favorite Matchups

Davante Adams exploited the Bears last year in limited action.  He is now the top dog for Rodgers and should see plenty of action.

Nobody will be able to match up with Jimmy Graham for the Bears defense.  Once they get into the red zone, I think Rodgers will utilize him against the Bears smaller safeties.

I do like Jordan Howard in this game.  With Kalil Mack on defense, the Bears should absolutely keep this game close.  That means more rushes for Howard against what should be a run-funnel defense.

Matchups to Avoid

I’m off of the Bears receivers in this game.  The Packers nailed the draft by taking two talented rookie corners that balled out in the preseason.  I think they’ll continue their dominance in week one and Trubisky will have to use his tight end and running backs.

I also think Rodgers is a risky play.  Odds are, you drafted him early in your leagues, so you’re going to start him no matter what, but the Bears have a seriously talented defense, and Vic Fangio is as good of a defensive coordinator as they come.

Jets at Lions

I love that the Lions hung onto Jim Bob Cooter.  Not only is his name elite, but he’s done an incredible job at maximizing Stafford’s strengths.

Favorite Matchups

Stafford is in a great spot.  The Jets aren’t scaring anyone with their pass rush and the Lions have an improved line to give him protection.  He’ll have plenty of time to extend plays and find his downfield receivers.  That is why I’m also super high on Marvin Jones.  He is just so good and nobody respects him enough.

The Jets receivers also have a nice matchup, as the Lions defense hasn’t done much to improve in the offseason either.  I could see Robby Anderson burning by for a long touchdown.  We just need to see how Sam Darnold will perform in his first NFL game action.

Matchups to Avoid

I have no idea what is going on in this Lions backfield.  I like Kerryon Johnson, but his work is limited to between the 20s on first and second down.

I also think I would avoid Darnold.  He could light the world on fire, but the line defending him isn’t the best and pressure usually gets to rookies more so than veteran QBs.  I’m passing for now.

Rams at Raiders

John Gruden is trying to retire nine years early and live off of the $100 million guaranteed he stole from the Raiders.  I haven’t seen someone botch an offseason this bad in a long time.

Favorite Matchups

I’m in on every Ram.  Gurley is in a prime spot.  Without Mack, the Raiders defense is truly terrible.  The Rams will get up big and Gurley will have plenty of second-half carries to kill the clock.

The last two times Cooks played the Raiders, he’s tallied over 300 yards with three scores.  I’m firing him up.

I like Kupp in this one as well.  He dominated red zone work for the Rams last season and there should be plenty of scoring opportunities in this one.

Matchups to Avoid

Anyone on the Raiders should probably be benched.  They are going to be facing one of the best combos of pass rush and secondary play.  Even if they try to travel Amari Cooper to the slot to avoid Talib and Peters, he’ll still have to face off against Nickel Robey-Coleman.  He only allowed a 55 percent catch rate and an 85 passer rating in his coverage.

That’s all for this week!  I hope these thoughts will help you with your lineup and DFS decisions.  This is my first year as a fantasy football writer, and I have already learned so much from this great community.  I look forward to improving throughout the year and having a great time.

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