Win the Weekend: Fantasy football and betting tips

Sep 17, 2023, 12:07 AM ETWant to know the latest trends, matchups and injury news? We’ve got you. Want to know where the public has money this week? We’ve got you. Want to know which teams to play, who to roster in DFS or who to pick in your Eliminator pool? We’ve got you there,…

Win the Weekend: Fantasy football and betting tips
Sep 17, 2023, 12:07 AM ET

Want to know the latest trends, matchups and injury news? We’ve got you. Want to know where the public has money this week? We’ve got you. Want to know which teams to play, who to roster in DFS or who to pick in your Eliminator pool? We’ve got you there, too. Here’s everything you need to know as you prepare for your fantasy football matchups and potential bets on NFL and college football games this week.

NFL: Injuries | Matchups to exploit | Eliminator Challenge | DFS plays | Analytics Edges | Action Report | Confidence pool picks | Pigskin Pick ’em

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Stephania Bell’s injuries to watch

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  • Jakobi Meyers, WR, Las Vegas Raiders: Meyers is currently in the concussion return-to-play protocol. The progression typically goes from no symptoms at rest to increasingly demanding activity. The athlete typically starts with light cardiovascular activity, then a progression toward strength training and ultimately functional activity. Return to play requires no symptoms with the activity progression. The progression is criterion-based, not time-based and the return following concussion injury can be highly variable. If Meyers is able to move through the various phases without incident, a return for Week 2 at Buffalo is possible.

  • Diontae Johnson, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers: When a team announces up front that a player is expected to miss multiple weeks due to a hamstring strain, as the Steelers did with Diontae Johnson, it lets us know this is a moderate or Grade 2 injury. Moderate strains have a wide range of presentations but involve some structural injury visible on imaging and more bleeding and swelling than a minor strain. As with all hamstring injuries, the key is not returning too soon. For wide receivers, production is often limited when they first return (for two to three games), even when healthy.

  • Mark Andrews, TE, Baltimore Ravens: Andrews missed Week 1 because of a quad injury after being limited in practice throughout last week, marking only the second time in his career he missed a game because of injury. He had acknowledged the quad was “tricky” and seemed to hedge about his availability leading up to last Sunday. This week, Andrews has been again limited in practice, but according to ESPN’s Jamison Hensley, he has been moving better. Andrews sounded more positive Thursday evening, saying he is getting better “day by day” and is “excited” for the offensive game plan. It certainly appears he is trending toward playing, even if not yet 100-percent recovered.

  • Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals: Burrow continues to be listed on the injury report because of his calf, albeit as a full participant. When ESPN’s Ben Baby asked Burrow if this is an injury he will need to manage all year, Burrow’s response was simply, “I don’t know.” This is the tough part about recovery from soft tissue injuries; they are often hovering beneath the surface as the athlete continues to improve functional performance, making risk of recurrence a real concern.

  • For more injury news, click here.

Matt Bowen’s matchups to exploit

  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ zone blitzes vs. QB Justin Fields: Look for the Bucs to bring zone pressure to heat up the pocket versus Fields. The last time Todd Bowles set a game plan versus Fields — in Week 7 of the ’21 season — the Tampa defense registered a blitz rate of 32.1%. And after watching the Week 1 tape of Chicago’s shaky pass protection, Bowles can script blitzes to open up a path for second-level rushers.

  • Detroit Lions’ play-action vs. Seattle’s zone shells: This is a spot for quarterback Jared Goff — on early downs — to find open windows versus Seattle’s Cover 2 and Cover 3 schemes. In 2022, Goff led the NFL with 18 play-action touchdown throws, and his 12.2 yards per attempt off play-action last week was the highest in the league. These are staple throws for Goff, where he can anticipate the coverage void and deliver the ball on time.

  • For more breakdowns, visit Matt Bowen’s Film Room.

Mike Clay’s Eliminator Challenge advice

Expect Josh Allen and the Bills to bounce back in a big way in Week 2. AP Photo/Adrian Kraus

  • Buffalo Bills (vs. Las Vegas Raiders): The Bills return home after an inexplicable road loss against Zach Wilson’s Jets, and it’s a long shot that one of the league’s best teams will open 0-2 (often a death sentence for a team’s playoff hopes). I have Buffalo with an 85% win probability, which is easily highest in the league this week and the second-highest rest-of-season rate for the Bills. Buffalo is an easy pick in a week without any other good options.

  • Follow Clay’s Eliminator Challenge advice all season long and read more here for other tips for Week 2.

Al Zeidenfeld’s DFS plays

  • Bills stacks or bust! Josh Allen is coming off a down week in a tough road game against a division opponent, but this week is a different story. Josh Allen ($7,900) with a double stack of Stefon Diggs ($8,000) and your choice of Gabe Davis ($5,800) or Dalton Kincaid ($3,300) and a bring-back player from the Raiders of Davante Adams ($7,600) or Josh Jacobs ($7,100) is a premium four players to attack through for the core of a super high ceiling tournament lineup.

  • Rachaad White ($5,500) and Puka Nacua ($4,900) offer great value to help make any expensive stack work.

  • More DFS plays here.

Seth Walder’s biggest edges from ESPN Analytics

  • Zach Wilson under 0.5 interceptions (+152): I’m as down on Wilson as they come — Jets, go get another quarterback — but this price is too good to pass up. Even Wilson, as poorly as his career has gone, has thrown an interception in only 11 of his 22 career starts. My model gives him a 44% chance to avoid one Sunday (fair price: +127).

  • Jaguars’ Josh Allen under 0.75 sacks (-145 at DraftKings): This one is simple: Patrick Mahomes doesn’t take sacks. Dating back to last year, Mahomes’ 3% sack rate trails only Tom Brady as best in the league. According to my sack model, the fair price on this bet is -263.

  • Nick Bolton over 8.5 tackles + assists (-111): Bolton is a tackling machine who averaged 10.6 combined tackles per game in 2022. My tackles model projects him for 9.5 on Sunday against the Jaguars, and we’re buying low on this line after he recorded only seven tackles in Week 1.

David Purdum’s Action Report

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  • The Jacksonville Jaguars, who went 5-0 ATS as a home underdog last season, find themselves in that role again this week, with the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs visiting on Sunday. The Chiefs opened as 2.5-point road favorites at Caesars Sportsbook. The line quickly grew to the key number of -3 on Monday and moved to -3.5 on Wednesday. Sportsbooks were reporting lopsided action on the Chiefs earlier in the week. Jacksonville’s 5-0 ATS mark as a home underdog last season was the best such record of any team in any season in the Super Bowl era, according to ESPN Stats and Information.

  • The Indianapolis Colts moved from an underdog to favorite against the Houston Texans early in the week. Indianapolis opened as high as 2-point underdogs at Caesars, but by Tuesday was a consensus 1-point favorite.

  • The Dallas Cowboys were laying 9.5 to the visiting New York Jets entering the weekend. The line opened at Cowboys -3, before Aaron Rodgers went down early with a torn Achilles tendon in the “Monday Night Football” game against the Buffalo Bills. With Rodgers ruled out, the line reopened around Dallas -7.5 and grew to -9.5 by midweek.

Anita Marks’ NFL Confidence picks

  • Jets at Cowboys UNDER 38.5: The Jets have the lowest implied team total in Week 2 at 13.5 points. Zach Wilson has a 30% completion percentage when pressured, and Dallas is looking to get after another New York QB in Week 2 after posting five sacks last week against the Giants. The Jets’ defense isn’t half bad either.

  • Atlanta Falcons -1 vs. Green Bay Packers: The Packers are dealing with a number of injuries to key players, including Aaron Jones, Chris Watson and Quay Walker. The Falcons’ defense is better than advertised, and the offense has the edge at home on a fast track with a good O-line and a fantastic 1-2 punch in the backfield with Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allgeier.

Tyler Fulghum’s Pigskin Pick ’em plays

This is a tough slate of games to pick for Pigskin Pick ’em, Eight of the 16 games in Week 2 have a spread of three points or fewer. I have three underdogs winning outright and eight road teams pulling out a victory. What a tough week to handicap. Good luck!

  • Eagles

  • Chargers

  • Ravens

  • Lions

  • Packers

  • Chiefs

  • Colts

  • Bucs

  • Bills

  • 49ers

  • Giants

  • Broncos

  • Cowboys

  • Patriots

  • Saints

  • Steelers