Welcome back, NFL. Oh, how we have missed you.
This weekly segment deals with players whose matchup is too hot to resist. And those players who’s matchup may want you to look for another fantasy partner for the week.
Let’s repeat, this is not an indictment of the player(s) prospect for the fantasy football season, just for the weekly matchup.
And away we go.
HOT = JALEN HURTS, PHILADELPHIA @ ATLANTA FALCONS
Okay, first, it has been declared that the Eagles have the ‘softest’ schedule of any receiving corps. That’s nice. But what makes Hurts hot for this week is his opponent, the Atlanta Falcons. While it is true that the defense became better towards the end of the season, that didn’t stop Pro Football Focus from ranking their defensive line 31st, heading into the 2021 season.
And then, of course, the secondary was ranked the worst headed into the 2021 season.
Hurts is hot going against a defense that in 2020 was 31st in fantasy points allowed to the quarterback position. They allowed 34 total touchdowns on 11 interceptions. But what helps bring up the heat for Hurts is the six rushing touchdowns and 344 rushing yards the defense allowed to the running back position.
The Falcons ended up giving up an average of 23.7 fantasy points per game to the QB position.
Hurts couldn’t have asked for a better matchup for the first game of the season.
NOT = JUSTIN HERBERT, LAC @ WFT
The reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year could not have asked for a more formidable opponent for his first game of the 2021 NFL season.
He is dealing with a new head coach and new offensive coordinator. He will be rudely introduced to Chase Young and Company.
Last season, the WFT was ranked third in fantasy points, giving the quarterback a measly 15.7 average fantasy points per game. They allowed 21 total touchdowns while grabbing 11 interceptions. This while racking up 47 sacks for the season.
The Chargers’ offensive line will have four new starters. Quality, all of them, but this will be their first game as a unit.
HOT = JAMES ROBINSON, JACKSONVILLE @ HOUSTON TEXANS
While all the attention will be focused on quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the fantasy gods will be smiling on Robinson.
Robinson was hot, then Urban Meyer and the Jaguars drafted Travis Etienne, and he was cold. Then Etienne injured his foot, requiring surgery, and is out for the 2021 NFL season, and Robinson was hot again.
Now for the first game of the season, he is hot. It isn’t simply his 4.5 yards per carry from last season, 60 targets, or 37 red zone touches. No part of the heat is due to his week one opponent, the Houston Texans.
The Texans enter this season with a dysfunctional vibe surrounding the team. It doesn’t help that they were 31st in fantasy points to the running back position last season, generously giving an average of 26.8 fantasy points per game.
NOT = AARON JONES, GREEN BAY @ NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
The Saints’ defense ranked fourth against the run and allowed the second-fewest rushing touchdowns in 2020. Running backs averaged 3.9 yards per carry against them. And they have allowed less than 88 yards rushing over their last 48 regular-season games.
All of which equaled them being first in fantasy points allowed to the running back position. The Saints allowed only nine total rushing touchdowns, and running backs averaged 14.0 fantasy points per game against them all of 2020. They will have to make up for serious defensive and secondary losses, but their core remains.
The Packers ran the ball on 43.77% of offensive plays last season. That was the 11th most in the league. Who believes that number will decrease with Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams out to prove their worth?
HOT = TYLER HIGBEE, LAR v CHICAGO BEARS
Not only is Gerald Everett gone, but there is a new quarterback under center, Matthew Stafford. Stafford is known to target his tight ends. Last season the Detroit Lions’ tight ends had a 23% share of the targets.
With Everett in the lineup last season, Higbee had 62 targets, 44 receptions, 521 yards, and five touchdowns.
Now he and Stafford go against a Bears’ defense that gave up 12 touchdowns to the tight end position while allowing tight ends to average 10.2 fantasy points per game.
NOT = T.J. HOCKENSON, DETROIT v SAN FRANCISCO 49ers
It is not only that Hockenson is recovering from a shoulder injury. Or the fact that he traded Stafford for Jared Goff. It is all about the San Francisco 49ers, who only allowed four touchdowns to the tight end position last season and 4.6 average fantasy points. And that was with an injury-depleted defense.
HOT = BRANDON AIYUK, SAN FRANCISCO v DETROIT LIONS
Speaking of the Lions, Aiyuk (and Raheem Mostert, for that matter) are all hot going against the Lions’ defense. The Lions’ defense gave up an average of 29.0 fantasy points to the wide receiver position. They also allowed 19 total touchdowns.
NOT = KENNY GOLLADAY, NEW YORK GIANTS v DENVER BRONCOS
Indications are that Golladay will play. He is recovering from a hamstring injury. That is never good. But what is worse is that he will go up against a much improved Denver Broncos defense.
And then there is what NFL Network’s Cynthia Frelund calls one of the top 10 cornerback duos entering the 2021 NFL season: Bryce Callahan, Ronald Darby, Kyle Fuller, and rookie Patrick Surtain. Okay, so she named four. That’s how deep the Broncos’ secondary is.
It’s the first week of fantasy football. Teams got better, teams got worse, and some just stayed stagnant.
Play your studs or play the matchups, but play confidently and have some fun whatever you do.