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Week 1 Fantasy Football Matchups and Game Breakdowns + NFL Player Props Picks

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The best Yahoo NFL Picks for Week 3 Sunday Night Football 49ers vs. Packers single game contests using expert projections, rankings & ownership

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Los Angeles Chargers (21.5) at Washington Football Team (22.5)

The Washington Football Team was one of only two playoff teams to give Tom Brady and the Buccaneers any kind of legitimate fight during 2020 and enters 2021 with new receiving weaponry and a gunslinger quarterback in Ryan Fitzpatrick. The addition of Fitzpatrick is a substantial one, particularly due to his drastic differences in playstyle compared to his predecessor Alex Smith. Coach “Riverboat” Ron Rivera should give Fitzpatrick the opportunity to take plenty of downfield chances, but they will be facing a formidable defensive opponent in the Chargers, who have one of the best pass rushers in the league in Joey Bosa and get back one of the best all-around defensive playmakers in the league in safety Derwin James, coach by new head coach and defensive coordinator Brandon Staley. The Chargers are expecting equally great things from their offense, led by standout quarterback Justin Herbert, who dazzled in his first season, ranking top 10 in the NFL in fantasy points per game as a rookie. Though the Vegas line indicates a defensive struggle, there are certainly enough playmakers on each side of the ball that this game could easily become one of Week 1’s sneaky shootouts. Let’s break down the top NFL DFS picks for this matchup.

The Austin Ekeler Equation

Austin Ekeler’s availability is one of the most important aspects of this contest. Ekeler missed multiple practices this week with what is being described only as a “hamstring injury,” Recall that Ekeler suffered a severe hamstring injury in Week 4 of last year, missing 8 weeks, making this injury all the more concerning. If he is unavailable, expect an uninspiring committee of Joshua Kelley and Justin Jackson to receive the bulk of the Chargers’ backfield workload.

With Ekeler at less than 100%, Keenan Allen gets a boost in projected usage. The Awesemo Player Props Tool projects Allen to go over his 5.5 receptions prop line. He could easily see 10-plus targets in this matchup.

Can we Trust Justin Herbert & Ryan Fitzpatrick?

Over the final 10 weeks of 2020, Washington’s defense ranked third best in success rate, and was particularly strong against opposing passing attacks. Even though Los Angeles’ offense features a completely revamped offensive line, the Awesemo projections are bearish on Herbert’s passing yardage compared to his prop line of 261.5.

The same can be said about quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick facing the Chargers’ defense. Los Angeles ranked below-average as a defensive unit a season ago, but the re-addition of all-pro Derwin James makes this a significantly stronger overall unit. Fitzpatrick’s projected for just under his passing yards prop of 264.5.

Washington & Chargers Injury News

Washington may be without Curtis Samuel for Week 1, which would give a boost to Terry McLaurin and tight end Logan Thomas’ opportunities. Acquired from Carolina over the off season, Samuel has been injured for much of the preseason and has not been able to build a rapport with his new quarterback much at all, which could lead to a slow start to his season even once he is able to make it back to the field.

Will Antonio Gibson Get a Full Workload?

Antonio Gibson should get a bulk of the early-down work for Washington, with J.D. McKissic still likely to mix in on third downs. However, Gibson has all the physical abilities to be a three-down back, and if he were given a majority of the backfield receptions, he could see a massive production increase in 2020. The Player Props Tool sees projects Gibson for well over his rushing yards prop line of 57.5.

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The Bottom Line

With both offenses dealing with injuries, and both defenses expected to be above average or better, it makes sense that the Vegas total for this game is quite low. But the injuries on both sides of the ball also mean that the offenses may be quite consolidated, particularly in the Los Angeles passing game. If the game does shoot-out, we likely know who the best performances are coming from, making the top players viable in DFS tournament lineups. Do not be surprised, however, if this game turns into a milquetoast showcase of punts and field goals, either.

Prediction: Washington 24, Chargers 23 (OVER)

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A middling athlete who was offered his first sports analytics position at age 14, I've been working on NFL and fantasy football data science since 2017. With a particular passion for data visualization and dashboard building, I love to make data accessible by using graphs and charts to communicate ideas that are difficult to explain with words alone. You can contact me by e-mailing [email protected]

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