Fantasy is a speculative game. Predict the future, and you look like a genius. Don't, and you're painfully human. Gazing into the crystal ball, here's our view on 10 intriguing over/unders for the upcoming season.
Yahoo DFS Bargain Bin. What cheaply priced QB/RB/WR/TE will turn the biggest profit in Week 1?
Brad – TYROD TAYLOR. There are a number of cheap WR options I love (e.g. John Brown, Davante Adams, Allen Hurns), but the freshly minted Bills starter should pack the most bang for the buck. Off a dynamite preseason in which he completed 77.4 percent of his passes and ran for 108 yards on 11 carries, he's a dual threat with tons of profit potential. Against an average Indy defense he has 215-1-40-1 appeal. His Yahoo minimum price ($20) certainly gives you the flexibility to afford the Gronks ($29) of the world.
Andy – MATTHEW STAFFORD at $32 is silly. He's had a wonderful preseason, Calvin is as healthy as he's been in forever, plus Detroit's offense has a fun new PPR weapon in Abdullah. It wasn't so long ago that Stafford was a 5,000-yard quarterback. If you build a lineup around him, you're saving $10 off the typical QB price.
Scott – Is BISHOP SANKEY ($11) ready to shock the world? You can build a case. There's less Tennessee gridlock now that David Cobb is on IR. The rushing chops of new quarterback Marcus Mariota will likely keep defenses honest, and spread wide - hello, rushing lanes. And although Sankey had a modest 3.7 YPC last year, he actually scored well with respect to breaking tackles and success rate on runs (h/t, Mike Salfino). Get out the post-hype sleeper log, it's time to make another entry.
Liz – CARSON PALMER. Opening the season at home, Palmer will face the Saints. This matchup should be high-flying with the Cardinals' QB airing it out against a secondary that’s missing its best cornerback. While he's taken a few sacks throughout the preseason the 35-year-old vet has proven to be resilient. At $40 Palmer is outside of our top twelve most expensive signal callers. I'm confident that he can stay upright through the first week of the season and is a steal at that price.
Brandon – DAVANTE ADAMS. Love the $19 price tag for the No. 2 target in the juggernaut Green Bay offense. Last season, Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson combine for 7 TDs and three 100-yard efforts in the two meetings with Chicago, and the Bears don't look like they'll be appreciably better at defending the pass.
Dalton – JORDAN MATTHEWS. He's at a modest $22, with 25 wide receivers more expensive. The Falcons allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing wideouts last season, and this game's over/under is 56 points, which is the highest among all games in Week 1. Matthews looks like a steal at this price.
Conversely, what player, at any position, are you fading hard in Week 1?
Andy – BEARS, everywhere. I really don't understand Jay Cutler at anything close to $40. He's experienced nothing but misery against the Packers, and he's hardly had a chance to work with any of his receivers recently. This has the makings of a notable Week 1 disaster.
Dalton – JOE FLACCO. There's a chance this game becomes high scoring, but Flacco is actually $2 more than Andrew Luck, and he's facing a Broncos defense that allowed an NFL-low 6.0 YPA last season (next closest yielded 6.3) and the eighth fewest fantasy points to opposing passers. I don't get this price.
Scott – MIKE EVANS has been hurt most of the summer, and his rookie quarterback is still looking for any semblance of pocket awareness. I'm not expecting either to get off to a quick jump in 2015. Heck, let's call it now - Tennessee wins outright.
Liz – TORREY SMITH. In 2014 Smith had a case of stone hands, dropping the second most balls (11) behind Mohamed Sanu. This season, he’ll be attempting to generate chemistry with a QB not exactly known for his accuracy. Furthermore, In Week 1 he’ll be seeing the Vikings, who, according the Pro Football Focus, were the ninth best overall defense in the league last year. Smith certainly has playmaking ability, but it won’t show up immediately.
Brandon – JOE FLACCO. Agree with Dalton on this one. I have Flacco ranked as my No. 20 QB this week, yet he's tied for the sixth-most expensive DFS buy for Week 1. I think Denver will be much improved against the pass this season, as this is a group that can put all kinds of pressure on the QB.
Brad – JAMAAL CHARLES. As the fifth-priciest RB on the board ($30), the Chief is not for the frugal. His undesirable matchup at Houston combined with Andy Reid's occasional absentmindedness getting him the ball say don't invest. The Texans allowed three touchdowns and a bland 4.0 yards per carry to visiting RBs last year. Now with space eater/Farmer's Only model Vincent Wilfork in the trenches, they should be even stiffer. You could do much better with far less.
Ryan Tannehill, blessed with an ultra-friendly paper matchup against Washington, standard fantasy points scored (4 pts/pass td, 1 pt/20 pass yds) 22.5.
Dalton – OVER. I have plenty of incentive to root against Tannehill this year, but Washington allowed the most fantasy points to opposing QBs last year, including an ugly 35:7 TD:INT ratio. Tannehill's matchup couldn't be much better here.
Scott – OVER has to be the call. The Redskins were capable in the run-stopping game last year, but the league had a firework display any time it went to the air (108.3 rating, 8.2 YPA, 35 TDs, just seven picks). Tannehill's cupboard has been stocked with plenty of new gadgets, and he's also likely to run for 20-35 yards in any week.
Brandon – OVER. In a typical week, most top 10 QBs will reach that number, and I have Tannehill No. 5 on my QB list for Week 1, so I have to take the OVER here. Love the mathcup, love the way this Miami offense has been trending in the three seasons under Joe Philbin and I love the weaponry at Tannehill's disposal, which sounds like it will include dynamic rookie wideout DeVante Parker.
Elder rushing statesman, Frank Gore, combined rush/receiving yards at Buffalo 89.5.
Scott – UNDER. This Buffalo front seven is not to be trifled with, and Gore is no longer a push-the-pile, punish-a-defense back. The Colts offensive line is an ordinary-at-best group, too. I would not be at all surprised if Buffalo sprung the mild upset.
Brandon – UNDER. I had him down for 80 total yards in my Fearless Forecast video this week, so I'm obviously not overly bullish about his prospects this week against one of the best defenses in the league. But I'll be very curious to see how/if Gore is employed in the passing game, because I have been touting that aspect of his game this preseason, and this game sets up as one in which Gore would likely have some receiving opportunities as the Bills will likely shut down the running game.
Liz – UNDER... by just a hair. I love Gore this year and own a lot of him. In Week 1, however, he'll see a top five run defense. Plus, I doubt the Colts will want to run their stud workhorse into the ground this early in the season, especially at his advanced age. Look for rookie RB Josh Robinson to spell the Inconvenient Truth in order to keep the vet's legs fresh down the stretch.
Endlessly discussed RB Joseph Randle touches against division rival New York 14.5.
Brandon – OVER. I just can't bring myself to believe that Randle is going to ultimately take a backseat to Darren McFadden when it comes to workload. I'm pretty sure we stuck a fork in that guy a long time ago. I'm guessing the hot hand wins the day on Sunday, and I'm going to assume that's going to be Randle and not the guy that has averaged 3.3 yards per carry over his past three seasons.
Liz – UNDER. I've maintained for a long time that McFadden was being undervalued. The elder of the two backs certainly has his red flags, but can absolutely operate effectively behind a line as stout as the Cowboys'. This is going to be an equal time-share with the hotter hand leading the way. Randle may take the first snap, but I'm not confident enough in his abilities to believe he'll pull ahead of DMC out of the gate.
Brad – OVER. Much has been made about Darren McFadden and the incredibly overhyped Christine Michael, but I still feel Randle gets first crack at heading up Dallas' murky RBBC. The Giants should rank at or near the bottom in several defensive categories this season, including run defense. They gave up 4.83 yards per carry to RBs last year. On 15-16 touches, Randle has a fair shot at 80-yards and a score.
Amari Cooper receptions in his regular season debut versus Leon Hall and the Cincinnati Bengals 5.5.
Liz – OVER. In the regular season dress rehearsal, Cooper played just 45 percent of snaps and still hauled in four balls. And that was against Patrick Peterson - who may not have Hall's dukes - but is still a formidable CB from which to find separation. The Raiders offense may not strike fear into the hearts of opposing defenses, but Cooper will be a ball hog regardless. His route running is fantastically crisp and he's phenomenal after the catch.
Brad – UNDER. Full disclosure, I adore the guy. His quick sticks, acceleration, size and reliable hands should elevate him to superstar status in no time. However, the Bengals secondary is no joke. Hall took a step back last year, but still has enough gas in the tank to get the job done. And Adam Jones is no slouch. It will be a good, but not galactic debut Cooper. Sharpie me for 5-75-0.
Scott – OVER, because he's going to be the apple of Derek Carr's eye from the word go. I'm expecting somewhere between 11-14 targets, and many of them will be in the medium and short areas, making a big reception game a virtual certainty. The Raiders want to give Carr some easy throws early in the game, and they also want to engage Cooper as soon as possible.
Rookie Wrangle. What RB not named Ameer Abdullah will post the biggest numbers in Week 1: Tevin Coleman (vs. Phi), Melvin Gordon (vs. Det) or T.J. Yeldon (vs. Car)?
Brad – TEVIN COLEMAN. Opportunity knocks for the Indiana product, a slashing, one-cut back who fits Kyle Shanahan's system perfectly. Devonta Freeman's availability is very much in doubt as he continues to recover from a hamstring strain. If inactive, Coleman will surely tote a sizable load. He looked spectacular in Atlanta's final preseason game displaying plus vision and off-the-edge burst. Philly surrendered just 3.58 yards per carry to RBs a season ago, but the youngster's versatile skill set and hefty workload suggest 85-95 total yards and a TD are within reach.
Dalton – MELVIN GORDON. He's coming off a lackluster preseason, but this is still someone who was a top-15 draft pick tied to what should be a very good offense. Detroit was tough against the run last year, but they did lose Ndamukong Suh during the offseason.
Andy – COLEMAN has the cleanest path to a significant workload, though his matchup isn't the best. He's a wonderful system fit and a big talent. Freeman's health is a significant question as of this writing, which further helps build the rookie's case. I'd want to wait and see with both Gordon (job-share) and Yeldon (matchup).
Davante Adams, recently elevated to WR2 post-Jordy Nelson knee shredding, receiving yards against the woeful Bears 79.5.
Andy – OVER. Chicago's defense was a disaster last season, and it shows no signs of substantial improvement. Even if Adams doesn't quite reach 80 receiving yards, I love his odds of finding the end-zone. He'll give his owners a 12-plus point week when all the numbers are in.
Dalton – OVER. The Bears allowed a whopping 8.1 YPA last season (only two teams were worse, and they finished at 8.2), and this game's over/under is 50. I have Adams as a top-15 fantasy WR for Week 1.
Scott – OVER. When Aaron Rodgers faces the Chicago defense, he basically gets whatever he wants (935 yards and 12 scores over the last three, and it could have been worse if Mike McCarthy were an evil man). Adams is forced into a primary role - who's to say what James Jones, Ty Montgomery and Jeff Janis are ready for? - and Rodgers looks like a lock for another 300-plus yards and 3-4 scores.
Tight End Tussle. Pick one: Heath Miller (at NE), Larry Donnell (at Dal), Tyler Eifert (at Oak) or Owen Daniels (vs. Bal)?
Andy – These guys are all in play for Week 1, and I'm a big fan of Eifert in particular. But I gotta take OWEN DANIELS, the guy attached to Peyton Manning.
Dalton – OWEN DANIELS. Health is an issue here over the long term, but give me Daniels tied with Peyton Manning and a Gary Kubiak offense while both are good to go, even if it's not the best matchup on paper this week.
Brandon – EIFERT. I think Eifert, among this group of tight ends, can make the best case that he is the No. 2 receiving option in his offense. And I like the matchup with an Oakland defense that allowed 10 tight end touchdowns last season (tied for seventh most). I've always been a big fan of Eifert's talents and, now that he has the uncontested starting gig in Cincy and is healthy, I find myself heavily invested.
Fill in the blank. The one under 50-percent owned wide receiver everyone will be scurrying to acquire come Tuesday is __________.
Brad – ALLEN HURNS. Without much fanfare, Hurns was outstanding in his rookie season catching 51 balls for 677 yards and six touchdowns. He earned high praise throughout training camp and the preseason for his work ethic and across-the-board improvements. Similar to last year, gut says he storms out of the gate, this time against Carolina. I'm banking on roughly 70 yards and a score.
Andy – Can I give you two? I feel like DANNY AMENDOLA's percent-ownership is curiously low (9%), considering his situation. It's Gronk, Edelman and Danny at the moment, and Tom Brady is at the controls. I also think it's likely that Seattle will find a way to get TYLER LOCKETT in a position to succeed this week, even if he's not playing every offensive snap. That kid is silly. He won the preseason, no question.
Liz – DEVANTE PARKER. Parker is a playmaker with outstanding hands and concentration. He’s admittedly missed valuable time while recovering from foot surgery, but his matchup in Week 1 is pretty darn tasty. Kenny Stills has done little to impress in the preseason, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Parker lands on a highlight reel in his first regular season action. His ability to high-point the ball is exactly what Ryan Tannehill needs in a deep threat. Currently owned in 37 percent of leagues, Parker will be a factor as the season progresses.