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 this week.
With Arian Foster expected to be eased back in, Ben Tate could take on a larger than normal role in a possible going-away win at San Diego. Rushing yards for the elevated backup 69.5
Dalton – UNDER. I love Tate this year and think there's a good chance he's a common denominator on a bunch of winning fantasy teams, but Foster is currently healthy, and even if Tate is mixed in, this will be tough to reach on the road against a not bad Chargers defense that allowed just 3.8 YPC last season.
Brad – OVER. The Chargers yielded a mere 3.8 yards per carry to opposing rushers a season ago, but Tate is an absolute hammer running behind arguably the best offensive line in the NFL. Look for him to eclipse this number with ease salting away the clock late.
Scott – UNDER. I know I've been banging the Foster Fear drum all summer, but so long as he's in uniform, he's the bell cow. Tate still can get to 40-60 yards, but I'm not projecting past that in Week 1.
Cam Newton, matched against a daunting Seattle secondary that surrendered a mere four 20-point QB performers a season ago, total fantasy points in standard leagues (4 pts/pass TD, 1 pt/20 yards passing) 19.9
Brad – UNDER. The 'Hawks humiliated Cam a season ago in Charlotte. No two games are ever the same, but odds are strong another futile effort is in store for the Panthers' newly anointed co-captain. Browner and Sherman only surrendered four 20-point fantasy QBs in standard formats last year.
Scott – UNDER. Although the game is in Carolina, this is a Seahawks defense you do not mess with. And as usual, the Panthers have added nothing to the weapons Newton has at his disposal.
Brandon – UNDER. Newton's looked out-ofsync in the passing game this preseason, and Seattle has as much speed on the defensive side as any team in the league, making them well-suited to handle Newton's scrambling ability. Newton had less than 10 fantasy points in the Yahoo default format when they met last year, so he could improve by a wide margin this time around and still be under this number.
Jordy Nelson, who’s on track to start against San Fran though three weeks removed from minor knee surgery, receiving yards by the Bay 74.5
Scott – An injured player against that ridiculous defense? Easy UNDER, and this is coming from someone who usually loves all things Green Bay. Look for a half-Nelson performance.
Brandon – UNDER. I think Nelson will have one big catch that will result in a score, but I'm not sure he'll get more than 3-4 catches, and the low volume will likely keep him under this mark.
Andy – OVER. Jordy has been practicing for the past week, so it's not as if he just limped back onto the field. Start with confidence.
Buzzy preseason tight end Jordan Cameron, who should benefit with suspended WR Josh Gordon in street clothes, receiving yards against the Dolphins 54.5
Brandon – OVER. With Gordon out, Cameron is the most dangerous weapon the Browns have in the passing game, and he's versatile enough to be moved around so he can be put in advantageous match ups. And it should be noted that Miami allowed the third-most receiving yards to tight ends last season.
Andy – OVER. By no means am I one of the Cameron zealots — I haven't been wowed by this kid's hands, nor do I love his quarterback. But this is such a low number; if you assume Weeden can throw for 200 yards, the stats have to go somewhere.
Dalton – UNDER. I'm a Cameron fan, and there's a good chance he scores in this game, but I'll say he finishes with 50 receiving yards. Trent Richardson is going to be given 30+ touches in a game that turns into a defensive battle.
RB2 Tango (Standard scoring). Pick one: David Wilson (at Dal), Lamar Miller (at Cle), Reggie Bush (vs. Min), Darren McFadden (at Ind)
Andy – WILSON, and it's not particularly close. For me, none of these other players belong in Wilson's tier.
Dalton – WILSON. He's one of the most explosive backs in football now slated for a full workload with Andre Brown sidelined, and he gets to face a Dallas front seven that projects to be among the easiest to run against in the NFL. The Over/Under for this game is 48.5, so plenty of points should be scored. Wilson is a top-12 RB start for me in Week 1.
Brad – MILLER. Everyone expects Wilson to bolt out of the gate, but Dallas' reconstructed 4-3 isn't exactly comprised of pushovers. Yes, brain surgeon Joe Philbin hinted Thursday he plans to 'split' carries between Miller and Thomas, however, that was probably another motivational ploy. Against a barkless Browns defense, the incumbent will prove once and for all he's light years better than Thomas. Bank on near 100 total yards and a TD in C-Town Sunday.
Pick a passer: Robert Griffin III (vs. Phi) or Michael Vick (at Wash)
Brad – RGIII. Please, haters, keep doubting Griffin. He quieted those who questioned he would transition flawlessly to the NFL. And now he's about to silence those who feel he rushed back to quickly. If the Eagles first-string D is as dreadful as it looked in preseason, RGIII has reasonable odds of topping the QB ranks after Week 1. Roughly 300 combined yards with 2-3 TDs are in my fearless forecast.
Scott – VICK, because I'm not sure how much Griffin is going to run right away. I hate to be worried about RG3, but bet with your head, not with your heart.
Brandon – VICK. Both have lip-smackingly good matchups, but Vick has the higher ceiling because there's no doubt he's going to run often. I expect RGIII to be reined in a bit when it comes to the running game, even if Mike Shanahan says otherwise. It's what you expect a head coach to say so that Philadelphia at least has to prepare RGIII's legs.
As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, dual threat Terrelle Pryor is expected to draw the start Sunday in Indianapolis. Combined passing/rushing yards for Ohio State’s tattoo enthusiast 229.5
Dalton – OVER. I expect a bunch of sacks and turnovers from the Raiders, but Oakland will be playing in catch up mode against a below average defense, resulting in Pryor recording plenty of garbage stats.
Brad – OVER. Garbage. Time. All. Star. His Tebow-like mechanics are flawed, but bank on him running wild late against the Indy prevent. Thoughts of 190 passing and 50 rushing yards aren't lunacy in a game of catch-up.
Scott – OVER, though it will be ugly. Garbage Time, sponsored by the awful Raiders. And this isn't the 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers defense on the other side.
Andy – What are the two threats? Fumbling and getting picked? Take it easy here, Evans. I'll be impressed if Pryor dazzles, now that he's facing varsity defenses playing at regular season speed. (Note: Brad didn't originally assign this question to me, but I had to intercede.)
Discussed little this preseason, Hakeem Nicks, presumably healthy and motivated to put together a monster season, receiving yards against Dallas 69.5
Scott – OVER. These are often pinball games, Cowboys and Giants. Nicks has trouble staying on the field at times, but he's usually reliable when he does play.
Brandon – UNDER. Nicks has been under 80 yards in nine of his past 12 games last season, and under 50 in both meetings with the Cowboys. Until Nicks shows us some of his old magic on a consistent basis, I'll keep shorting him.
Andy – OVER. It's really a great sign that we weren't discussing Nicks throughout the preseason, because it meant that he wasn't damaged in any obvious way. Hopefully folks haven't forgotten what a dangerous weapon he is, when he's right.
In a favorable matchup against the Raiders, Ahmad Bradshaw, who ran with the second team in practice earlier this week, total Week 1 touches 13.5
Brandon – UNDER. The Colts won't need to use Bradshaw, who is coming off foot surgery and was very limited in the preseason, that much against the Raiders. I expect Indy to lean more on Vick Ballard in this one as they'll be in preservation mode with Bradshaw.
Andy – OVER. Don't assume that Indianapolis is going to manage Bradshaw's workload this year, out of kindness. They signed the guy to a one-year deal, with no commitment beyond the current season. They'll run him into the ground, if necessary. That's life in the league.
Dalton – OVER. I know it's a bit of a leap of faith, but a healthy Bradshaw is a much better option than Vick Ballard, and the Colts should run a ton of offensive plays against an overwhelmed Raiders defense. Even despite a possible committee approach, I ranked Bradshaw as a top-20 RB this week. The matchup is just too good.
PPR Pick ‘em. Which WR3: Andre Roberts (at StL), Alshon Jeffery (vs. Cin), Kenbrell Thompkins (at Buf), Emmanuel Sanders (vs. Ten) or Chris Givens (vs. Ari)
Andy – THOMPKINS. Great preseason, great team context, stellar matchup. I can understand the enthusiasm for Sanders, too, but I still expect Markus Wheaton to emerge as a more useful fantasy asset.
Dalton – GIVENS. I was close to saying Thompkins, especially with Stephon Gilmore out, but despite the tougher matchup, I'm going with Givens, whom I'm apparently all in on in 2013.
Brad – THOMPKINS. Roberts is a close second here, but the undrafted rookie should continue his storybook rise from obscurity. With Danny Amendola not quite at full-strength due to a groin injury, Gronk sidelined and given Tom Brady's track-record to statistical domination over the Bills, the youngster grabs at least seven passes for 80-plus yards in his regular season debut.
Scott – GIVENS. He looked like a potential game breaker at times last year and that carried over through the summer. I'd take him over Tavon Austin, too, in a second.
Brandon – SANDERS. I'll give him the slight nod to Thompkins, as the Pats should run up the score against the Bills (the O/U line in this game is 51 – how many of those points do we really expect an E.J. Manuel led offense to take from that pie?).
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