NFL Grind Down: Week 1
Written by Chris Gimino
Welcome to the RotoGrinders NFL Grind Down, an all-encompassing preview of the week ahead in the NFL from a daily fantasy sports perspective. We’ll provide all the statistics, insights and analysis you need to set your lineups for this week’s contests.
NOTE: Games will be published as they are completed. Primetime matchups are free for all users. Main slate breakdowns can only be accessed by Premium subscribers.
Every game will be broken down statistically, with several key elements highlighted in our charts. Vegas lines are broken down to show projected team totals, to give you an idea of who is favored to win, and often more importantly, how many points they’re expected to score. Each contest is then analyzed team-by-team, with a focus on finding matchups to exploit and trends to follow.
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|GBP @ CHI||Team||Spread||Total||Implied||Moneyline|
Spread Quick Take: The public betting money is favoring the Packers +3, but I don’t agree. I think this spread is both efficient and unlikeable, and I’d really rather not bet it at all. Several key matchups in the game favor the Bears, but a difference-maker QB like Aaron Rodgers can quickly dissolve even the most noteworthy matchup advantage. I expect the Bears to win, but they won’t clear -3 often enough for me to place a bet. My confidence level is just a 5 out of 10. You can find a better spot.
Over/Under: This is also an efficient line, but you can make a case for the “under” at 46.5. The Bears run defense is a huge challenge for the Packers rushing attack, and they don’t allow big plays in the passing game. This should force a lot of methodical offense, and Aaron Rodgers is still good enough to move the ball. We’re likely looking at clock-killing drives that yield punts and field goals for GB. I envision plenty of punts from Chicago as well, and I lean towards the under in this spot. Confidence Level: 6.5 out of 10.
|Equanimeous St. Brown||GBP||WR||O||Ankle||5|
Injuries to Monitor:
— Burton was limited Monday. A reduced role for him will be good news for Adam Shaheen, who was already in the plans for 2019.
— Graham has a finger issue that has him limited, but he should play.
— On defense for the Packers, Kevin King was LP (Hamstring). He’s not a game-changer for Green Bay’s defense, but he helps when healthy.
Other News and Notes: 84 Degrees with 8 MPH winds at Soldier Field. Hard to find better conditions than this in Chicago, and I consider that a very very minor plus for the Packers. With a defense like this, your chances improve as the temperature drops.
Matchup Factors, Team Identity Metrics, and Game Flow Expectations
Expected Game Pace and Tempo: Both 2018 games between these two teams yielded a modest play volume, with at least one of the two teams failing to reach 60 plays in each. The strength of the Bears D and a game that should feature sustained drives is not a good recipe for high pace and tempo. This one should be on the slower side. Our projections model expects roughly 62 plays each, which is nothing special.
Chicago Bears Offense vs. Green Bay Packers Defense:
This matchup can best be described as average for the Chicago running game. Some of that is self-imposed, as run blocking is not a big strength for them. Only Kyle Long finished with a positive run blocking EPA in 2018. They do deploy former lineman Bradley Sowell at TE, which could help. They will match up with a few well-rated run defenders (Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry, Preston Smith, Adrian Amos) but it’s basically a non-threatening Packers run D.
The opportunity for CHI backs could be respectable in the passing game, if last year means less than zero. Week 1 vs. GB we saw 8 receptions to Howard and Cohen combined. In Week 15, Cohen went for 5/31/1 receiving. The upside for Chicago backs is likelier to come via receptions at this point, and the broader tendency of the Packers to allow more WR targets didn’t come to fruition in their H2H battles.
The rest of the passing game matchups are better on paper for the Bears. Top cornerback Kevin King may play, but he is not 100% with a hamstring issue. The available DBs include Jaire Alexander, Tramon Williams, and Josh Jackson. All three players were heavily targeted against in 2018. Per PlayerProfiler.com, Jaire Alexander’s 29% rate of targets was one of the highest in the league. This could be a nice spot for the Chicago WRs.
Unlike their run blocking, pass blocking is something close to a strength for CHI. This is evidenced by a 6th lowest 30% pressure rate allowed and 10th best sack rate in 2018. Across from them, Green Bay has made efforts to bolster their pass rush. They were already capable of getting to the QB last season, and they added names like Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, and Rashan Gary in the offseason. I tentatively have faith that the Bears can keep Trubisky clean more often than not. If that is the case, look for him to have a better than average night.
Green Bay Packers Offense vs. Chicago Bears Defense:
This is a bad spot for the Packers run game. Both Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams have been invisible during the preseason due to hamstring injuries, and will get thrown into the fire Week 1 against a top-flight Bears unit. Perhaps the best run defense in the league, they have multiple ELITE run defenders led by Akiem Hicks. The Bears allowed just a 44.07% Early Down Success rate in 2018, which was second-lowest in pro football. This was one of the worst matchups possible for your fantasy RB last season, and should be again this year.
The Bears pass rush is perhaps more dangerous than their run defense, further complicating the situation for the Packers new offense under Matt LaFleur. Khalil Mack is the lead story in that department, helping thrust the Bears to a #1 rank in blown pass blocks forced, #5 in pressure rate, and #1 overall Pass DVOA. Explosive plays were rare, as Vic Fangio’s scheme went to great lengths to prevent them. I don’t expect them to be any easier to come by under Chuck Pagano.
Al that said, the chances are that Aaron Rodgers is good enough to figure out a way to move the ball. They’ve had all offseason to scheme a game plan here, and I don’t expect a nothing burger for the Packers passing game. In fact, I envision a game plan that is heavily focused on #12 and his diverse weaponry. It’s a sturdy pass-blocking unit that has survived this challenge before, allowing Rodgers to go for 286/3 last Week 1. Perhaps a more fair expectation is the 42 attempts, 274 yards, and zero TDs from Week 15. It’s absolutely not a great matchup, but for fantasy, we can at least expect the Packers to attempt a lot of passes.
Chicago Bears Projections Breakdown
GBP Schedule Adjusted QB DVP (‘18): Rank #11
2018 Opportunity Metrics:
Att/Gm: 31 (Rank 29)
RuAtt/Gm: 4.9 (Rank #6)
DeepBall/Gm: 5.1 (Rank #7)
2018 Efficiency Metrics:
Accuracy: 2.9 (Rank #17)
Air Yards/Att: 9.4 (Rank #5)
AdjYPA: 6.9 (Rank #16)
The aspect of Trubisky’s fantasy game that goes overlooked is his ability to generate yardage on the ground. His rookie season saw him tuck it 3.4 times per game and in 2018 he followed up with 4.9 carries per contest. The sum total of his rushing efforts (including 3 rushing TDs) led to roughly 4 fpts per game tacked on his total. This is important, because his attempts per game have typically been low. You can survive with him in weeks where it is difficult to project efficiency, and thrive with him when the matchup allows for upside. This matchup is closer to favorable.
The Packers have a beatable secondary, and when combined with healthier weaponry it puts Trubisky in a solid position for Week 1 production. I would call him the best fantasy play on Thursday’s single-game DFS slate from a raw points perspective, and a difficult fade even at what I expect will be the highest ownership on the slate.
Quick Summary: We’re playing Trubisky in single-game contests, but can certainly do better on full week slates.
Running Back Projections
GBP Schedule Adjusted DVP (‘18): Rank #18
2018 David Montgomery Opportunity Metrics: N/A
2018 David Montgomery Efficiency Metrics: N/A
David Montgomery isn’t special. He’s a third-round draft choice from Iowa freaking State. His athletic testing is far from impressive: 50th percentile speed, 55th percentile agility, and just a 15th percentile SPARQ-x score. He’s not some kind of electric size/speed specimen absolutely destined for the hall of fame. However, he is something that matters very much for fantasy football: He’s available. He’ll be on the field, and that’s the ability that matters more than anything. RotoGrinders has projected a 45% share of rush attempts and 6% of targets during his playing time, which seems both conservative and fair to me given his treatment during preseason as a starter for this team. Such a projection makes him a high floor option in single-game contests, and the presence of Cohen should keep his ownership in check.
Tarik Cohen was fairly busy out of the backfield in both contests vs. the Packers in 2018, and a 13% share of targets indicates we’re still expecting him to play a role in that capacity again in 2019. Cohen was effectively a receiver last year anyway, with 89 targets compared to just 99 carries. An overall opportunity share of just 37.8% would concern us more on larger slates, but taking shots with him in single-game contests is probably going to be required. His ownership will be fairly high, and the best rationale for avoiding would be to differentiate your roster. Any player with his profile will have games in which you are sorry: You’ll either be sorry you played him or sorry you didn’t.
Quick Summary: Montgomery should be considered a more stable asset with upside due to his 3-down skill set and expected usage near the goal. Cohen is best deployed where full PPR is awarded, with a wide range of outcomes possible due to his profile.
Wide Receiver Projections
GBP Schedule Adjusted DVP (‘18): Rank #3
2018 Allen Robinson Opportunity Metrics:
Target Share: 21.9% (Rank #26)
RZ Target Share: 18.8% (Rank #40)
Route Participation: 85.4% (Rank #27)
2018 Allen Robinson Efficiency Metrics:
Yards Per Route: 2.02 (Rank #39)
ADOT: 12.5 (Rank #37)
YAC per Reception: 2.4 (Rank #46)
Robinson is one of the league’s most undervalued players in 2019, as he owns the clear WR1 status on a capable offense. Perhaps it was his lackluster RZ opportunity last season or the minuscule YAC production from a season ago. Yards per route is one of the most predictive stats around, and even by that metric he wasn’t in the top 24 league-wide. The one thing all of these stats have in common is that they were accumulated in a season fresh off a serious injury.
We’re now well past that point… and if his playoff performances are any indication, we’re making a big mistake by ignoring him. Reminder: We saw 10/143/1 vs. Philadelphia in the wild card round. That’s just a glimpse of his upside. This matchup and game environment won’t likely allow for that kind of explosion, but his 22% median target share and 7.5 expected targets should allow him plenty of runway to get it done on single-game slates.
I love Anthony Miller, and think a 16% target share is conservative. The Packers struggled to cover with the same cast of characters last year, and that was a contributing factor to their high rate of targets allowed to the WR position. Particularly if Robinson’s pal and former teammate Adrian Amos rolls coverage in his direction a few times, we could be looking at plenty of opportunity for Miller. Ownership considered, he’s one of my favorite plays in DraftKings showdown format.
Gabriel, Patterson, and any other active WR for Chicago is a single game dart throw that won’t get substantial text here. The Bears do have gadgetry in mind for Patterson, and this is the dart most suitable to throw at a price of just $1,000 on DK. I don’t know if or how much I’ll throw it, but I can certainly understand the approach if you decide to.
Quick Summary: Robinson is bound for a better 2019, and a top option in single-game slates. Miller is a top leverage option who should also be expected to perform much better in 2019.
Tight End Projections
GBP Schedule Adjusted TE Points Allowed (‘18): Rank #15
2018 Trey Burton Opportunity Metrics:
Target Share: 15.3% (Rank #67)
RZ Target Share: 19.2% (Rank #35)
Route Participation: 77.9% (Rank #27)
2018 Trey Burton Efficiency Metrics:
Yards Per Route: 1.43 (Rank #88)
ADOT: 8.5 (Rank #92)
Considering the current injury situation at TE for the Bears, I would take the under on where Burton’s projection currently sits. He’s been banged up all summer and is not yet fully cleared for Week 1. I do think he’ll be in uniform, but I don’t think he’ll be a featured player in the game plan. As it stands he’s bouncing back from a weak 2018 campaign in which he saw very few and very low-quality targets. It’s very easy to not play Burton this weekend, and probably more suitable to roll with the ridiculously low price point for Adam Shaheen instead. The volume of work won’t be high, but he’s every bit as likely to catch a TD as Burton from my vantage point. Such an event would make him necessary to win Showdown contests at just $400. Certainly a risk worth taking.
Teams were not successful vs. CHI (43.01% Success Rate, Rank 31), did not produce explosive plays at a high rate (5.79% Explosive Pass Rate, Rank 32), felt the wrath of their talented front seven on passing downs ( 36.99% QB Pressure Rate, Rank 5), and were often smothered by the rush (7.52% Sack %, rank 10). There is no doubt Aaron Rodgers will have a plan to limit the damage here, but it’s very difficult to find anything bad to say about this defense. You can certainly use them in single-game DFS.
Quick Summary: The Bears are nasty and completely acceptable anywhere you want to play them.
Green Bay Packers Projections Breakdown
CHI Schedule Adjusted DVP (‘18): Rank #27
2018 Opportunity Metrics: Att/Gm: 37.3 (Rank 7)
RuAtt/Gm: 2.7 (Rank #30)
DeepBall/Gm: 5.4 (Rank #3)
2018 Efficiency Metrics: Accuracy: 2.8 (Rank #28)
Air Yards/Att: 8.6 (Rank #14)
AdjYPA: 7.5 (Rank #8)
QB21 is far from a typical projection for Rodgers, but the matchup pushes his efficiency in that direction. We have almost 39 attempts projected, but just 265 yards. I think that is on point on two counts: 1) They’ll have to throw a lot against this team 2) They won’t be breaking off too many chunk plays when they do. The Bears allowed the lowest EPA (expected points added) in the league last season against the pass, and the offseason didn’t bring enough change to expect different results. They also checked in with the #1 ranking in Pass DVOA. The volume alone puts Rodgers in a space where you have to consider his use on these single-game slates, but it’s a lukewarm endorsement. The ownership will be inflated, and there are enough zero TD games in the range that fades are well within reason.
Quick Summary: I’m using Aaron Rodgers more on FanDuel’s single-game format than DraftKings, and I do not think it will happen in the Captain’s slot very often.
Running Back Projections
CHI Schedule Adjusted DVP (‘18): Rank #30
2018 Aaron Jones Opportunity Metrics: Opportunity Share:
56.9% (Rank #19)
RZ Opportunity Share: 46.7% (Rank #25)
2018 Aaron Jones Efficiency Metrics:
Yards Created: 180 (Rank #38)
YPC: 5.5 (Rank #4)
Yards Per Route: 1.53 (Rank #32)
As noted above, this is not a good matchup for Aaron Jones or Dexter Williams. Jones, in particular, isn’t great at creating yards on his own (rank 36 on a per-carry basis in 2018), and that is almost surely needed in this situation. Volume-wise, Jones is the far superior fit should his hamstring remain healthy through the entire game. We can’t expect production on the ground, but it has been stated several times over the summer that the Packers want to get their backs more involved in the passing offense. The Bears were not friendly to RB receivers last season, yielding a lower tier 19% target share per game. Still, we get awarded at least half a point per reception depending on site. The reception points could be enough to get Jones where he needs to go, and the matchup could help to keep his ownership in check. I can’t endorse Jones as one of the first players into my lineup, but in large fields there are a limited number of outs to success.
Quick Summary: It’s a tough matchup for Jones and you can’t use him on full slates. He does have limited merit in large field single game GPP contests.
Wide Receiver Projections
CHI Schedule Adjusted DVP (‘18): Rank #20
2018 Davante Adams Opportunity Metrics:
Target Share: 29.1% (Rank #3)
RZ Target Share: 44.3% (Rank #1)
Route Participation: 91% (Rank #8)
2018 Davante Adams Efficiency Metrics:
Yards Per Route: 2.54 (Rank #15)
ADOT: 11.7 (Rank #51)
YAC per Reception: 2.7 (Rank #4)
Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara represent two of the better DBs in the league, but not even they can truly eliminate the kind of production Davante Adams is capable of with Aaron Rodgers on a football field. The conservative 24% target share suggests there is room for Adams 14.6 PPR projection to be even higher. I wouldn’t dream of fading him on any 1 game slate, and this really isn’t an exception just because the matchup is tough. Adams does NOT have to be “open” for Aaron Rodgers to throw in his direction. If he has a bad game, I would suspect it is not 100% due to the coverage skills of the opponent.
One of the reasons Adams could underwhelm would be the targets flowing elsewhere. The 2019 Packers are ripe with young receivers that their QB has glowing endorsements for. One of those players is Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who lined up slot left or slot right 56% of the time in 2018. His likely opponent there is Buster Skrine, who is clearly the weakest link in this Chicago secondary. MVS will move around the formation, but figures to get the better matchup enough to call him a favorite of mine on this Thursday slate. Alternatively, Geronimo Allison could be the guy who gets the most slot snaps, and is an equally interesting option to see volume beyond the typical.
Finally, I want to make mention of Jake Kumerow. He’s practically the son of Aaron Rodgers, or at least you’d think so for how glowingly he speaks about the guy. Do not be surprised if the Packers trot him onto the field near the end zone. They have been quoted regarding how much they love his ability to toe the line and keep his feet in bounds. That widens the field for him, and I believe there is a growing report between QB1 and Kumerow that could lead to quite a few touchdowns during the season.
Quick Summary: You don’t need anyone’s permission to play Davante Adams ever, and the slot guys MVS and Allison could be in line for more work than usual thanks to the matchup.
Tight End Projections
CHI Schedule Adjusted DVP (‘18): Rank #16
2018 Opportunity Metrics:
Target Share: 14.7% (Rank #13)
RZ Target Share: 14.3% (Rank #15)
Route Participation: 65.3% (Rank #10)
2018 Efficiency Metrics:
Yards Per Route: 1.52 (Rank #78)
ADOT: 9.6 (Rank #10)
YAC per Reception: 3 (Rank #8)
We have Sternberger in projections right now, but I can easily see him missing this game. I don’t think the same is true for Jimmy Graham, but I can also hardly imagine a matchup in which I want to play him less. The Bears finished 31st in TE Success Rate allowed in 2018, with limited reason to think this will change without seeing it first. They were only mid-pack in adjusted fantasy points allowed, so it’s not as if they are unbeatable with the TE. It’s just that Jimmy Graham looks well past his prime, and ranked #78 in yards per route last season. That’s not very good, and he’s not very good. I’m not interested at all in his 3 to 4 target expectation, but you’re welcome to dabble if you think he can box somebody out for a TD while standing in the end zone. I’ll put my chips elsewhere.
Quick Summary: We can find ways to make rosters without Jimmy Graham this week.
|Green Bay Packers||GBP||5.73||DST30||1.99||0.72||25.45||N||N|
Almost nobody drops back to pass less often than Mitchell Trubisky, or least not in the past two seasons. He averaged 31 last season, and his 86.1% protection rate was 7th best in the league. Sacks aren’t the number one way you’d get to him, but rather interceptions. He was 6th in terms of interceptable passes thrown, and that represents a fantasy defenses best ticket to success. So how did the Packers do in that department last season? How about tied for last… if you remove the unheard of outlier season the 49ers had with just two all year. The Packers tied with Arizona and Detroit with 7 picks, and let’s just say this spot isn’t brimming with opportunity for them as road underdogs in Chicago.
Quick Summary: You can always play DSTs in Showdown, but this matchup is a strict avoid for full week contents.