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Fantasy Football: Top smash plays, upgrades and fades for Week 1

Nov 8, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) runs with the ball in the second quarter against the Detroit Lions at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

I will outline the top smash, upgrade and fade plays by integrating NFL totals, spreads, implied points, and proprietary PFF matchup data each week. Essentially, we are looking for players that score highly or poorly across all of the metrics.


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Key: 

OL Pass Block Advantage (OL PBA): offensive-line pass blocking matchup; derived from the OL/DL Matchup tool (pass blocking advantage – the higher the percentage, the better the matchup for the offensive line, and vice versa)
OL Run Block Advantage (OL RBA): offensive-line pass blocking matchup; derived from the OL/DL Matchup tool (run blocking advantage – the higher the percentage, the better the matchup for the offensive line, and vice versa)
WR/CB Matchup Advantage (WR MU): wide receiver versus cornerback matchup; derived from the WR/CB Matchup tool (matchup advantage grade – the higher the grade, the better the matchup for the receiver, and vice versa)
TE Matchup Advantage (TE MU): tight end versus linebackers and safeties; derived from the TE Matchup tool (matchup advantage – the higher the percentage, the better the matchup for the tight end, and vice versa

QUARTERBACK

For quarterbacks, we are looking for big point totals and implied points. The spread doesn't matter as much for pass-heavy teams, but we are looking for trailing scripts that could cause coordinators to throw more than usual for run-heavy offenses.

Smashes
Player Team Opponent Location Total Spread Implied Points OL PBA
Lamar Jackson Ravens Raiders Away 50.5 -4.5 27.50 27.00

Jackson is the only quadruple-box stuffer for Week 1 (Brady played Thursday), as he has a top-five implied game total and top-three pass-blocking matchup.

Near Smashes
Player Team Opponent Location Total Spread Implied Points OL PBA
Patrick Mahomes Chiefs Browns Home 54.5 -6.5 30.50 -33.00
Kyler Murray Cardinals Titans Away 52.5 3.0 24.75 39.00
Josh Allen Bills Steelers Home 48.5 -6.5 27.50 -62.00
Russell Wilson Seahawks Colts Away 49.5 -2.5 26.00 -1.00
Aaron Rodgers Packers Saints Away 50.0 -4.0 27.00 -18.00

If you have someone from this group on your roster, you are starting them in managed leagues. So, this is more for DFS decision-making purposes.

Mahomes narrowly missed the smash play due to the offensive line matchup, but the unit could be much better this season with the upgrades.

Allen was pressured often last year versus the Steelers and didn't have a great game.

Upgrades
Player Team Opponent Location Total Spread Implied Points OL PBA
Matthew Stafford Rams Bears Home 47.5 -7.5 27.50 -31.00
Matt Ryan Falcons Eagles Home 48.0 -3.0 25.50 -33.00
Baker Mayfield Browns Chiefs Away 54.5 6.5 24.00 15.00
Kirk Cousins Vikings Bengals Away 47.5 -3.0 25.25 2.00
Trevor Lawrence Jaguars Texans Away 44.5 -3.0 23.75 21.00
Sam Darnold Panthers Jets Home 45.0 -5.5 25.25 1.00

This group doesn't quite meet the smash criteria, but all could be in more favorable conditions than usual. If you are streaming or playing DFS, these are players to consider.

Stafford's implied points are in the top four this week, but the team may not need to throw as much late since the Rams as heavy favorites. If the Bears make it a game, he could smash.

Darnold could still be terrible given his historical outputs, but his other data points meet the upgrade criteria.

Fades

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