By now, fantasy football owners have invested countless hours into preparation before agonizing over every pick during their draft – or in many cases, multiple drafts.
But finally, the much-anticipated opening week has arrived and Stats Perform is here to help owners start strong by assisting with some of their first difficult lineup decisions.
Our advanced analytics team has developed fantasy projections based on our proprietary data. We heavily factor in opportunity as well as talent, so our feelings about how many fantasy points a player will score aren’t the same thing as how we feel about them as a player overall.
Stats Perform has pinpointed players at quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end in a standard-scoring format that we project are either higher or lower than other experts’ rankings. For those consensus rankings, we’re using FantasyPros, which aggregates the top major ranking systems, to compare our projections with the others throughout the industry.
So without further ado, here are Stats Perform’s top undervalued or overvalued players:
What likely separates our projections from the consensus is that Newton should have an opportunity to make an impact with both his arm and his legs against the Los Angeles Rams. One of the league’s most mobile quarterbacks in recent years, Newton is projected to run about seven times and have a good chance of taking one into the end zone.
Newton threw for an average of 284.9 yards with 14 touchdowns in his seven road contests last season, though he also had nine interceptions. At Los Angeles, we project the Panthers to put up 23.8 points against the Rams defense, which we rank 11thoverall in Week 1.
It’s not so much about Wentz’s performance against the Washington Redskins as it is about us projecting a grind-it-out-type contest carried by Philadelphia’s defense and running game. Although the over/under on the 1 p.m. kickoff at Lincoln Financial Field continues to drop and is down to 45.0 on bovada.lv, we feel it’s still a bit too high.
Wentz has played well in recent meetings with the NFC East rivals, averaging 293.7 passing yards while totaling eight touchdowns in three straight Eagles victories. We’re expected him to throw for two more scores in this one, but that might be all he can do with his 32 passes – one of the fewest projected attempts of the week.
This obviously comes on the heels of Elliott ending his holdout and agreeing to a reported six-year, $90 million contract extension with the Cowboys. Even though the two-time league rushing leader’s return comes just five days before the opener against the rival New York Giants, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett told ESPN.com that Elliott is in “very good shape.”
We project Elliott to get about 55% of the Cowboys’ run touches, a little down from his usual 60+%, with backup Tony Pollard sharing some of the load, but he should make the most of his carries with about 85 yards and a chance to pound one into the end zone. The two-time Pro Bowler has rushed for 340 yards on 4.0 per carry with two scores in four career meetings with the Giants.
With no end to the Melvin Gordon saga in sight, we’re throwing in Ekeler as a bonus undervalued pick instead of adding an overvalued running back. While it remains to be seen how the timeshare between Ekeler and Justin Jackson will shake out, our projections give the nod to Ekeler this week because of his likely inclusion in the passing game against the Colts. Our data gives him roughly five catches for 44 yards, with only Christian McCaffrey of the Panthers (57) and Alvin Kamara of the New Orleans Saints (51) projected to have more receiving yards.
The Colts often limited opponents to short passes last season, allowing 384 completions (tied for the eighth-most in the NFL) and a 70.8 completion percentage (the second-highest) but only surrendering 10.5 yards per catch (the third-lowest). The Colts’ ‘funneling’ defense keeps everything in the middle of the field, which plays into an increased role by opposing running backs and tight ends.
With A.J. Green reportedly out until at least Week 3, Boyd takes over the No. 1 receiver role on a Cincinnati team that we project will find itself trailing and trying to pass its way back into the opener against the Seattle Seahawks. Boyd is coming off a breakout season after finishing with 76 catches for 1,028 yards and seven scores while Green missed seven games with a toe injury.
While the Seahawks boast a potentially dominant front seven after acquiring Jadeveon Clowney from the Houston Texans, they’re still trying to sort out their young secondary after having to completely overhaul the unit from the Legion of Boom days.
This is pretty much the Boyd analysis in reverse. We project the Seahawks to jump out to a lead and turn to pounding the ball on the ground against the Bengals. Russell Wilson is only expected to have about 25 pass attempts – the second-fewest of the week behind the Baltimore Ravens’ extremely mobile Lamar Jackson, who is projected to run the ball 14 times.
Lockett totaled just 14 catches, 304 yards and two TDs while Seattle topped the NFC with an average of 36.6 rushes and 188.4 yards on the ground over its last five games of 2018. Cincinnati, meanwhile, allowed the fourth-most rushing yards per game (137.8) last season.
Burton is questionable for the Thursday night showdown with the rival Green Bay Packers due to a groin injury. If he does play after sitting out most of the offseason, we expect Burton will be part of the passing attack considering tight end is a weak spot for the Bears.
While Burton’s projected numbers certainly don’t generate excitement, his ranking gives an indication of how much the position falls off after the top couple guys. We’re guessing his low FantasyPros ranking is a sign that most experts believe he will not suit up.
It’s not that we don’t believe Walker will be productive this season as much as we don’t project the Titans to have a big passing day overall against the Cleveland Browns. Marcus Mariota should end up with around 30 attempts through the air, but Walker probably ends up fourth on the team in targets – not likely enough to put up a substantial fantasy effort.