Best and worst fantasy football matchups for Week 1 NFL games

The most commonly asked questions fantasy football analysts receive during the season are of the start/sit variety. This weekly article will give fantasy managers an overview of the best and worst fantasy football matchups for the upcoming week based on fantasy points allowed by position.

For the first couple of weeks, we will be using 2020 data until we get enough of a 2021 sample size.

Best fantasy football matchups in Week 1

Let’s go position by position and take a look at which players have favorable Week 1 fantasy football matchups.

Quarterback

Here are the five teams that allowed the most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks in 2020:

Detroit Lions (23.83)
Atlanta Falcons (23.32)
New York Jets (22.01)
Jacksonville Jaguars (21.68)
Tennessee Titans (21.23)

Here are the players that stand to benefit from the favorable fantasy football matchup:

Jimmy Garoppolo | San Francisco 49ers at DET
Jalen Hurts | Philadelphia Eagles at ATL
Sam Darnold | Carolina Panthers vs. NYJ
Tyrod Taylor
| Houston Texans vs. JAX
Kyler Murray
| Arizona Cardinals at TEN

Murray and Hurts were both likely starters this week based on where they were drafted. However, these favorable matchups could elevate Garoppolo, Darnold, and Taylor into the conversation in a superflex league.

Garoppolo and Darnold come with concerns around game script (Garoppolo) and previous poor play (Darnold averaged 11.9 PPG last season). However, Taylor is an intriguing potential start in his matchup with the Jaguars. In a 1QB format, all three are unlikely to be cracking starting lineups unless you punted the position on draft day.

Running Back

Here are the five teams that allowed the most fantasy points per game to running backs in 2020:

Detroit Lions (32.47)
Houston Texans (32.28)
Jacksonville Jaguars (30.14)
Las Vegas Raiders (28.88)
Green Bay Packers (26.93)

Here are the players that stand to benefit from the favorable fantasy football matchup:

Raheem Mostert | San Francisco 49ers at DET
James Robinson
| Jacksonville Jaguars at HOU
David Johnson
| Houston Texans vs. JAX
Ty’Son Williams
| Baltimore Ravens at LV
Alvin Kamara | New Orleans Saints vs. GB

Mostert is in a smash spot in Week 1 with only the potential of a crowded backfield situation and his injury history preventing him from being a must-start every week. Robinson became a virtual must-start on a weekly basis following the injury to Travis Etienne. Kamara is always a must-start.

Johnson is sharing a backfield with Phillip Lindsay and the remains of Mark Ingram. The matchup is great for fantasy football, but you can’t trust any of these running backs until we clarify how touches will be divided up. Following the injuries to J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, and Justice Hill, Ty’Son Williams could be the back to own in Baltimore. However, with Le’Veon Bell and Latavius Murray also in the mix, things could quickly get messy.

Wide Receiver

Here are the five teams that allowed the most fantasy points per game to wide receivers in 2020:

Atlanta Falcons (45.2)
Tennessee Titans (45)
Detroit Lions (44.11)
Seattle Seahawks (43.24)
Dallas Cowboys (41.99)

Here are the players that stand to benefit from the favorable fantasy football matchup:

DeVonta Smith | Philadelphia Eagles at ATL
DeAndre Hopkins | Arizona Cardinals at TEN
Brandon Aiyuk & Deebo Samuel | San Francisco 49ers at DET
Michael Pittman Jr. | Indianapolis Colts vs. SEA

Hopkins is a must-start, but the others on this list are intriguing. Smith may be a rookie, but he steps into an immediate high-volume role as the Eagles’ WR1. The upside for Samuel and Aiyuk could be limited by the potential success the 49ers may have on the ground. We have also not seen them play much together, making it tough to know how they will be utilized. Pittman is the new WR1 in Indianapolis as T.Y. Hilton is on IR. With Parris Campbell dealing with an Achilles issue, its wheels up for Pittman in Week 1.

Tight End

Here are the five teams that allowed the most fantasy points per game to tight ends in 2020:

New York Jets (18.01)
Chicago Bears (15.7)
Cleveland Browns (15.42)
Atlanta Falcons (15.41)
Buffalo Bills (14.83)

Here are the players that stand to benefit from the favorable fantasy football matchup:

Dan Arnold | Carolina Panthers vs. NYJ
Tyler Higbee | Los Angeles Rams vs. CHI
Travis Kelce | Kansas City Chiefs vs. CLE
Dallas Goedert | Philadelphia Eagles at ATL
Eric Ebron | Pittsburgh Steelers at BUF

Kelce has been the best TE in fantasy for five straight years — you know what to do. Higbee is now the clear TE1 in Los Angeles with Gerald Everett off to Seattle. Higbee is a back-end TE1 this week.

The situation for Goedert is complicated, with Zach Ertz remaining in Philadelphia. Hard to pass up the talent, but this could be a wait-and-see situation.

Arnold is not a reliable option, with Robby Anderson, DJ Moore, and Christian McCaffrey dominating targets. Ebron is what he is — he’ll pop up here and there, occasionally catch a touchdown, but he’s never trustworthy. With several fantastic receiving options available for the Steelers, look elsewhere in Week 1 for fantasy football despite the favorable matchup.

D/ST

Here are the five teams that allowed the most fantasy points per game to defenses in 2020 and their Week 1 matchups:

New York Jets (9.13) | at Carolina Panthers
Philadelphia Eagles (8.81) | at Atlanta Falcons
Denver Broncos (8.69) | at New York Giants
New York Giants (8.63) | vs. Denver Broncos
San Francisco 49ers (8.44) | at Detroit Lions

Four out of these five teams are starting different quarterbacks than they did for the majority of the 2020 season. I would advise starting the Panthers’ defense against the Jets and the Broncos’ defense against the Giants. I would not recommend starting the Falcons’ defense against the Eagles, the Giants’ defense against the Broncos, or the Lions’ defense against the 49ers.

Worst fantasy matchups this week

Let’s go position by position and take a look at which players have unfavorable Week 1 fantasy football matchups.

Quarterback

Here are the five teams that allowed the fewest fantasy points per game to quarterbacks in 2020:

Los Angeles Rams (13.52)
Pittsburgh Steelers (14.17)
Washington Football Team (15.74)
New Orleans Saints (16.0)
Green Bay Packers (16.1)

Here are the players that could struggle due to the unfavorable fantasy football matchup:

Andy Dalton | Chicago Bears at LAR
Josh Allen
| Buffalo Bills vs. PIT
Justin Herbert
| Los Angeles Chargers at WFT
Aaron Rodgers
| Green Bay Packers at NO
Jameis Winston
| New Orleans Saints vs. GB

Let’s get the obvious out of the way — you are starting Josh Allen and Aaron Rodgers regardless, while Andy Dalton should really not be in your fantasy lineups in Week 1. It’s hard even to contemplate benching Herbert after his superb rookie season, but expectations should be tempered in a tough matchup on the road.

Winston is what he is — he will air it out, take shots downfield, and not really care which team catches the ball. You shouldn’t have to start him in Week 1 in 1QB formats. In superflex, he is a boom-or-bust type option in this matchup.

Running Back

Here are the five teams that allowed the fewest fantasy points per game to running backs in 2020:

New Orleans Saints (17.84)
Pittsburgh Steelers (18.73)
Washington Football Team (18.78)
Los Angeles Rams (19.96)
Miami Dolphins (20.03)

Here are the players that could struggle due to the unfavorable fantasy football matchup:

Aaron Jones | Green Bay Packers at NO
Zack Moss & Devin Singletary | Buffalo Bills vs. PIT
Austin Ekeler | Los Angeles Chargers at WFT
David Montgomery | Chicago Bears at LAR
Damien Harris | New England Patriots vs. MIA

Jones is a first-round pick with a premier matchup. You’re starting him. Ekeler is dealing with a hamstring issue, but if he suits up, his receiving numbers will keep his floor high. Montgomery was drafted in a spot where you probably have to start him. Yet, I’d be very concerned about a dud here in an unfavorable fantasy football matchup.

The Bills are very pass-heavy, and Moss and Singletary split time. They do not belong in fantasy football lineups regardless of matchup. The new-look Patriots are going to feature Harris as their primary runner. His fantasy value will be tethered to how frequently he finds the end zone. He’s an RB2.

Wide Receiver

Here are the five teams that allowed the fewest fantasy points per game to wide receivers in 2020:

Los Angeles Rams (28.28)
Kansas City Chiefs (30.53)
Washington Football Team (31.71)
Buffalo Bills (32.13)
Green Bay Packers (32.55)

Here are the players that could struggle due to the unfavorable fantasy football matchup:

Allen Robinson | Chicago Bears at LAR
Odell Beckham & Jarvis Landry
| Cleveland Browns at KC
Keenan Allen & Mike Williams | Los Angeles Chargers at WFT
Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, & JuJu Smith-Schuster | Pittsburgh Steelers at BUF
Marquez Callaway
| New Orleans Saints vs. GB

Unless your receiving group is loaded, you’re not sitting Robinson. But he could draw a lot of Jalen Ramsey — expectations should be tempered. Both Beckham and Landry are fringe starting options. The Browns should have to throw in this one to keep pace, so I wouldn’t worry too much about the unfavorable fantasy football matchup. You’re never sitting Allen, but the bad matchup makes Williams a sit in fantasy football lineups this week.

The Steelers are likely to face a negative game script in this one. The Bills’ fantasy points allowed are more of a product of their weak division than an elite secondary. Johnson and Claypool belong in lineups. Smith-Schuster is a fringe flex option. In a game that should be high scoring, I’d roll the dice on Callaway this week as a WR3.

Tight End

Here are the five teams that allowed the fewest fantasy points per game to tight ends in 2020:

San Francisco 49ers (8.16)
Pittsburgh Steelers (9.11)
Green Bay Packers (10.26)
New England Patriots (10.52)
Indianapolis Colts (10.63)

Here are the players that could struggle due to the unfavorable fantasy football matchup:

T.J. Hockenson | Detroit Lions vs. SF
Dawson Knox |
Buffalo Bills vs. PIT
Juwan Johnson |
New Orleans Saints vs. GB
Mike Gesicki |
Miami Dolphins at NE
Gerald Everett |
Seattle Seahawks at IND

Hockenson is a consensus top-six tight end and should be a start regardless of matchup most weeks. In contrast, Knox and Johnson are players you likely were not starting this week anyway.

Gesicki and Everett are tougher. Gesicki was a viable TE1 just five times last season. Until we see a higher usage, look elsewhere for a starter. Everett is a new arrival and possibly splitting time with Will Dissly. I’d take a wait-and-see approach in fantasy football lineups, especially with an unfavorable matchup.

D/ST

Here are the five teams that allowed the fewest fantasy points per game to defenses in 2020 and their Week 1 matchups:

Green Bay Packers (2.0) | at New Orleans Saints
Tennessee Titans (2.13) | vs. Arizona Cardinals
New Orleans Saints (2.88) | vs. Green Bay Packers
Kansas City Chiefs (3.13) | vs. Cleveland Browns
Buffalo Bills (3.19) | vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Realistically, the only option that is viable here with these matchups is the Packers’ defense. This year, turnover-prone Winston is under center for New Orleans, making the Packers a decent Week 1 streaming option. Of the other four, the toughest to bench is probably the Browns, but starting a defense against Mahomes is not a smart call.

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