I am back for my second season writing the “Offensive Tendencies” article here at DailyOverlay. Once again this year I will be writing a weekly preview article analyzing each NFL matchup to try to give you some predictive data on game flow, play calling tendencies and tips to help find where there are increased opportunities that you can exploit. The basis for the tips is data, and “reading the tea leaves” to try to predict possible outcomes based on game flow and play tendencies.  I will also mix in a little bit of my own gut calls for good measure.

As an added feature this year I will highlight my top increased opportunity plays at each position for the week at the end of the article which will also be included in the DailyOverlay Industry Expert Consensus rankings and grading.

Also as a reminder, I use a “+” rating system with one (+) indicates only a slight increased opportunity, up to three (+++) which indicates a significantly increased opportunity.

So let’s get right to the numbers and analysis for Week 1 of the NFL season!

Carolina Panthers @ Denver Broncos

Projected Plays Pass Pass% Pass Yards Pass TD Run Run% Rush Yards Rush TD Score
Carolina Panthers 66 34 51.5% 204 1.6 32 48.5% 120 1.0 22.6
Denver Broncos 67 37 55.2% 226 1.1 30 44.8% 122 0.9 18.7

Look for the Panthers to try to duplicate the same mix that helped bring them to the Super Bowl last season with an emphasis on the ground game. However, while they will focus on the running game they will have limited success compared to their typical output with fewer rushing yards and scores than they averaged last season. The passing game will also be limited on the road against a strong Broncos pass defense resulting in fewer passing yards and touchdown passes than normal. The Panthers ran the ball over 58% of the time in the red zone last season.

The Broncos offense could have a new look this season with Trevor Siemian making his first NFL start following the retirement of Peyton Manning. The Broncos will look to ease Siemian into life as an NFL starter by focusing more on the running game than in the previous season.  With the increased focus on the ground game, the Broncos running game should see a slight increase in rushing yardage and the likelihood for a rushing touchdown. Meanwhile, the passing game with fewer opportunities will see a decrease in overall production. The Broncos threw the ball over 58% of the time in the red zone last season but that could shift to more to the ground game this season.

Increased Opportunities:

  • CJ Anderson (+)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Atlanta Falcons

Projected Plays Pass Pass% Pass Yards Pass TD Run Run% Rush Yards Rush TD Score
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 62 36 58.1% 262 1.4 26 41.9% 121 1.0 21.6
Atlanta Falcons 67 40 59.7% 287 1.8 27 40.3% 103 0.8 24.0

The Buccaneers will see a slight increase in plays this week against the Falcons with a similar play distribution to last season. The passing game will perform in line with their typical results passing for similar yardage with a slight chance for more than one touchdown pass. Meanwhile, the running game will see a slight decrease in rushing yards but will be more likely to score a rushing touchdown. The Buccaneers passed just over 53% in the red zone last season.

The Falcons will run the ball a little more often than usual this week at home against the Bucs. However, the increase in rushing attempts will not result in an increase in yardage or their chance for any more than one rushing score. The passing game despite a few fewer attempts will perform better than usual with a slight increase in passing yards and a significantly increased chance for two touchdown passes.  The Falcons ran over 50% of the time in the red zone last season so there is a chance the Falcons touchdown passes will come from distance.

Increased Opportunities:

  • Doug Martin or Jameis Winston rushing TD (+) – Winston scored a rushing TD in both games against the Falcons last season
  • Matt Ryan and the Falcons passing game (Julio Jones) (++)

Minnesota Vikings @ Tennessee Titans

Projected Plays Pass Pass% Pass Yards Pass TD Run Run% Rush Yards Rush TD Score
Minnesota Vikings 62 33 53.2% 218 1.4 29 46.8% 125 0.9 22.0
Tennessee Titans 63 34 54.0% 221 1.4 29 46.0% 124 0.7 19.1

The Vikings offense doesn’t change much with the loss of Teddy Bridgewater, as they will remain a run-heavy offense again this season and this week. The passing game will have some success with their limited opportunities with a slight increase in passing yardage and a significant likelihood of at least one touchdown pass. The running game will perform close to their typical production in yardage with a slightly decreased chance for any more than one rushing score. The Vikings ran the ball almost 60% of the time in the red zone last season.

Look for the Titans to focus more on the ground game this season with the addition of DeMarco Murray and rookie Derrick Henry. With the increased attempts the running game will see a slight increase in rushing yardage and their chance for a rushing touchdown. The passing game will also maintain their typical level of production from last season this week against a solid Vikings defense. The Titans passed the ball over 58% of the time in the red zone last season but look for a shift to the running game this year.

Increased Opportunities:

  • Shaun Hill and the Vikings passing game chance for multiple TD passes (Kyle Rudolph) (++)
  • DeMarco Murray (+)

Cleveland Browns @ Philadelphia Eagles

Projected Plays Pass Pass% Pass Yards Pass TD Run Run% Rush Yards Rush TD Score
Cleveland Browns 69 38 55.1% 230 1.4 31 44.9% 124 0.6 19.5
Philadelphia Eagles 65 34 52.3% 228 1.6 31 47.7% 130 0.9 22.3

The Browns will be more ground-oriented this season with new coach Hue Jackson and Robert Griffin under center. As a result, the Browns running game will see a slight increase in rushing yardage and their opportunity for a rushing score this week. The passing game will still throw for their typical passing yardage but have an increased chance for at least one touchdown pass. The Browns passed over 63% of the time in the red zone last season but I expect that to shift more to the running game this year.

The Eagles will play at a slower pace this season with the exit of Chip Kelly and will focus on the running game and short passing game with rookie QB Carson Wentz. The running game will see an increase in rushing yards with their typical chance for one rushing score. The passing game will put up their typical passing yardage but have an increase chance for multiple touchdown passes. The Eagles had an even pass-to-run ratio in the red zone last season which I expect to stay the same this year.

Increased Opportunities:

  • Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson (+) – Similar to the Jeremy Hill/Giovani Bernard split in Cincy last year
  • Robert Griffin chance for multiple TD passes (+)
  • Ryan Matthews (+)
  • Carson Wentz and the Eagles passing game chance for multiple TD passes (Darren Sproles) (++)

Cincinnati Bengals @ New York Jets

Projected Plays Pass Pass% Pass Yards Pass TD Run Run% Rush Yards Rush TD Score
Cincinnati Bengals 64 35 54.7% 234 1.7 29 45.3% 110 0.7 22.0
New York Jets 67 39 58.2% 238 1.4 28 41.8% 116 0.7 19.8

Look for the Bengals play distribution to be similar to last season. The passing game will be less effective than normal with a decrease in yardage and their chance for multiple touchdown passes. The running game will produce their typical rushing yardage but have a decreased chance of a rushing score. The Bengals ran 55% of the time in the red zone last year.

The Jets will have a similar play distribution to last year against the Bengals this week. The passing game will have a slight decrease in yardage and their chance for multiple touchdown passes. Meanwhile, the running game should perform at their typical level of production. The Jets passed over 55% of the time in the red zone last season.

Increased Opportunities:

  • None – maybe the kickers (Mike Nugent and Nick Folk) as both teams should move the ball okay but have a hard time getting into the end zone (+)

Oakland Raiders @ New Orleans Saints

Projected Plays Pass Pass% Pass Yards Pass TD Run Run% Rush Yards Rush TD Score
Oakland Raiders 64 41 64.1% 286 2.7 23 35.9% 98 0.4 25.3
New Orleans Saints 69 44 63.8% 309 1.9 25 36.2% 105 0.9 24.8

This should be a fast-paced game with each team going to the air often and getting in a few extra plays. The Raiders will have their typical pass-heavy play distribution and have great success with a significant increase in both passing yards and touchdown passes. The running game will see a slight increase in rushing yardage with their typical low chance for a rushing score. The Raider passed about 55% of the time in the red zone last season.

The Saints will also pass at a high rate this week in a potential shootout. The passing game will be equally productive to their typical output for yardage with a chance for multiple touchdown passes. The running game will see a slight increase in rushing yards with their typical chance for one rushing score. The Saints passed just over 50% in the red zone last season.

Increased Opportunities:

  • Derek Carr and the Raiders passing game (Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, Clive Walford) (+++)

San Diego Chargers @ Kansas City Chiefs

Projected Plays Pass Pass% Pass Yards Pass TD Run Run% Rush Yards Rush TD Score
San Diego Chargers 66 42 63.6% 267 1.7 24 36.4% 94 0.4 18.8
Kansas City Chiefs 61 33 54.1% 241 1.4 28 45.9% 142 1.3 24.0

Look for the Chargers to continue a similar play distribution this year with a focus on the passing game. Despite the passing game focus, the Chargers will see a decrease in passing yards and touchdowns with a tough matchup in Kansas City. The running game will make see a very slight improvement in rushing yardage with their typical small chance for a rushing score. The Chargers threw over 65% of the time in the red zone last year.

The Chiefs will be even more run-focused than normal this week as they are expected to be working with a lead at home. The running game will see an increase in both yardage and their opportunity for at least one rushing score. The passing game will also have a slight increase in both passing yards and their chance for more than one touchdown pass. The Chiefs ran the ball over 65% of the time inside the 10 yard line last season.

Increased Opportunities:

  • Spencer Ware (++) – assuming Jamaal Charles is out or very limited
  • Alex Smith and the Chiefs passing game (Travis Kelce) (+)

Buffalo Bills @ Baltimore Ravens

Projected Plays Pass Pass% Pass Yards Pass TD Run Run% Rush Yards Rush TD Score
Buffalo Bills 64 33 51.6% 211 1.4 31 48.4% 130 0.9 21.6
Baltimore Ravens 66 41 62.1% 281 1.7 25 37.9% 111 0.6 21.9

The Bills will remain run heavy this season but could be forced to pass a little more often this week against the Ravens. Despite the increased pass attempts the Bills’ passing game will see a slight decrease in passing yards with their typical opportunity for at least one passing touchdown. The running game will also have a more difficult time this week with a decrease in rushing yardage and a lower chance for any more than one rushing touchdown. The Bills ran the ball over 60% of the time in the red zone last year.

The Ravens will have their typical play distribution this week and will find success through the air with an increase in passing yardage and their opportunity for more than one touchdown pass. The running game will also have a slight increase in rushing yardage and their chance for a rushing score. The Ravens passed over 62% of the time in the red zone last year.

Increased Opportunities:

  • Joe Flacco and the Ravens passing game (Kamar Aiken/Justin Forsett) (++) – if not Forsett then Buck Allen
  • Justin Forsett (+) – A little bit of gut call that Forsett still works at the primary back for the Ravens this week despite his cut and resigning

Chicago Bears @ Houston Texans

Projected Plays Pass Pass% Pass Yards Pass TD Run Run% Rush Yards Rush TD Score
Chicago Bears 64 36 56.3% 215 1.3 28 43.8% 109 0.7 19.6
Houston Texans 66 36 54.5% 254 2.0 30 45.5% 131 0.6 23.1

Expect the Bears to execute a similar play distribution as last season. The passing game will struggle with fewer passing yards than normal with their typical chance for at least one touchdown pass. The running game production will fall in line with their typical level of performance for yardage and chance of a rushing score. The Bears passed over 56% of the time in the red zone last season.

The Texans will look to show off their new offensive weapons with a typical play distribution as last season. The passing game will have a slight increase in yardage with a significantly improved chance for multiple touchdown passes. The running game will also show increase production with more rushing yards than normal and an increased chance for a touchdown on the ground. The Texans passed the ball over 56% of the time in the red zone last season.

Increased Opportunities:

  • Brock Osweiler and the Texans passing game (DeAndre Hopkins) (++)
  • Lamar Miller (++)
  • Texans Defense (+) – I think this one has the potential to be a blowout

Green Bay Packers @ Jacksonville Jaguars

Projected Plays Pass Pass% Pass Yards Pass TD Run Run% Rush Yards Rush TD Score
Green Bay Packers 68 39 57.4% 264 2.0 29 42.6% 123 0.8 24.9
Jacksonville Jaguars 64 42 65.6% 276 1.9 22 34.4% 100 0.4 20.7

The Packers should have their typical balanced play distribution this season. The passing game will have an increase in yardage and likelihood for multiple touchdown passes. The running game will also have a slight increase in yardage to go along with a significantly increased chance for a rushing score. The Packers passed almost 70% of the time in the red zone last season.

The Jaguars will continue to pass at a high rate again this season including Week 1 as they try to keep up with the Packers offense. The passing game will throw for their typical passing yardage but will have a decreased chance for multiple scores through the air. Meanwhile, the running game will have a slight increase in yardage and the potential to get a rushing score. The Jaguars threw over 65% of the time in the red zone last season.

Increased Opportunities:

  • Aaron Rodgers and the Packers passing game (Jordy Nelson) (+)
  • Eddie Lacy (+)
  • Packers Defense (+)
  • Chris Ivory (+)

Miami Dolphins @ Seattle Seahawks

Projected Plays Pass Pass% Pass Yards Pass TD Run Run% Rush Yards Rush TD Score
Miami Dolphins 62 40 64.5% 248 1.2 22 35.5% 88 0.7 16.6
Seattle Seahawks 67 34 50.7% 262 2.1 33 49.3% 148 0.8 25.8

The Dolphins will be forced to go to the passing game more often than normal this week as they are expected to be trailing the Seahawks most of the game. Despite the increased pass attempts the Dolphins’ passing game will still be limited to their typical passing yardage and have a decreased chance for any more than one touchdown pass. The running game will suffer from the lack of attempts and have a decrease in both yardage and their chance for a touchdown on the ground. The Dolphins passed over 62% of the time in the red zone last season.

While I expect the Seahawks to pass more often this season, they will likely not need to this week with a lead at home against the Dolphins. With fewer pass attempts, the passing game will fall short of their typical level of production for yardage and touchdown passes. Meanwhile, the running game will see a slight increase in both yardage and their opportunity for a rushing score with the extra workload. The Seahawks ran over 53% of the time in the red zone last season.

Increased Opportunities:

  • Christine Michael (++) – Tough call between Michael and Thomas Rawls this week but with Rawls questionable health and the chance the Seahawks take a big lead; I expect Michael to get the bulk of the carries this week
  • Seahawks Defense (+)

New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys

Projected Plays Pass Pass% Pass Yards Pass TD Run Run% Rush Yards Rush TD Score
New York Giants 66 40 60.6% 274 1.8 26 39.4% 106 0.6 22.4
Dallas Cowboys 67 34 50.7% 224 1.2 33 49.3% 155 1.0 22.4

Look for the Giants to execute their typical play distribution this week against the Cowboys. The passing game will gain their typical yardage but will have a decreased chance for multiple touchdown passes. The running game will have their typical yardage but a significantly increased chance for a rushing touchdown. The Giants passed over 65% of the time in the red zone last season.

I expect the Cowboys to feature a run-heavy game plan with rookie Dak Prescott at quarterback this week. The passing game will still have some success with their typical passing yards and a slightly increased chance for at least one touchdown pass. The running game will have a lot of success with a significant increase in rushing yards and likelihood for a rushing touchdown. The Cowboys passed over 66% of the time in the red zone last season but I expect that to shift more to the ground game this year.

Increased Opportunities:

  • Rashard Jennings chance for rushing TD (++)
  • Ezekiel Elliott (++) – I only expect the focus to shift from Elliott to Prescott if the Giants jump out to a big lead (which is possible but not likely)

Detroit Lions @ Indianapolis Colts

Projected Plays Pass Pass% Pass Yards Pass TD Run Run% Rush Yards Rush TD Score
Detroit Lions 67 44 65.7% 296 2.1 23 34.3% 95 0.6 22.9
Indianapolis Colts 65 41 63.1% 288 2.0 24 36.9% 106 0.8 24.3

The Lions may be forced to go to the air a little bit more than normal in a potential shootout with the Colts. The passing game will see a slight increase in passing yards with their typical chance for two touchdown passes. The running game will be slightly more productive than normal with an increase in rushing yards and a chance for one rushing touchdown. The Lions passed over 64% of the time in the red zone last season.

The Colts will run the ball a little bit more often than their typical play distribution this week. However, the decrease in pass attempts will not slow down the passing game as it will have an increase in both yardage and the likelihood for multiple touchdown passes. The running game will also see an increase in production with more rushing yards and a significant increase in their chance for a rushing score. The Colts threw the ball over 57% of the time in the red zone last year.

Increased Opportunities:

  • Ameer Abdullah (+)
  • Andrew Luck and the Colts passing game (Donte Moncrief/Dwayne Allen) (++)
  • Frank Gore (+)

New England Patriots @ Arizona Cardinals

Projected Plays Pass Pass% Pass Yards Pass TD Run Run% Rush Yards Rush TD Score
New England Patriots 64 40 62.5% 252 1.6 24 37.5% 87 0.8 21.9
Arizona Cardinals 65 37 56.9% 282 1.9 28 43.1% 126 0.9 24.6

While the Patriots may want to run the ball more to protect Jimmy Garoppolo in his first start the will likely still need to throw the ball at their usual rate to keep up with the Cardinals’ offense. The passing game will see decreased overall production in both yardage and opportunity for multiple touchdown passes. The running game will also suffer from a decrease in yardage and their chance for a rushing score. The Patriots passed over 57% of the time in the red zone last season.

Look for the Cardinals to run the ball a little bit more than normal this week. The passing game will fall a little short of their typically high level of passing yardage and chance for any more than two touchdown passes. The running game will see a slight increase in rushing yardage with their typical chance for a rushing score. The Cardinals threw the ball over 59% of their plays in the red zone last year.

Increase Opportunities:

  • None – might want to give the kickers (Stephen Gostkowski and Chandler Catanzaro) a look in the warm weather with offenses that should move the ball but might have a harder time getting in the end zone than normal

Pittsburgh Steelers @ Washington Redskins

Projected Plays Pass Pass% Pass Yards Pass TD Run Run% Rush Yards Rush TD Score
Pittsburgh Steelers 65 40 61.5% 310 1.9 25 38.5% 121 0.9 24.8
Washington Redskins 66 40 60.6% 287 2.0 26 39.4% 102 0.4 22.2

The Steelers will maintain a similar play distribution as they had last season. The passing game should continue to perform at a high level with their typical passing yardage and an increased chance for multiple touchdowns through the air. The running game will see a slight increase in yardage with a slight decrease in their opportunity for a rushing score. The Steelers ran the ball over 50% of the time inside the 10 yard line last season.

Look for the Redskins to throw the ball more often than normal this week in a potential shootout against the Steelers. As a result, the passing game will see a slight increase in both yardage and their opportunity for multiple touchdown passes. The running game will fall in line with their typical production for yardage with a limited chance for a rushing score. The Redskins passed over 57% of the time inside the 10 yard line last season.

Increased Opportunities:

  • Ben Roethlisberger chance for multiple TD passes (Antonio Brown) (+)
  • Kirk Cousins and the Redskins passing game (DeSean Jackson) (+)

Los Angeles Rams @ San Francisco 49ers

Projected Plays Pass Pass% Pass Yards Pass TD Run Run% Rush Yards Rush TD Score
Los Angeles Rams 64 34 53.1% 246 1.1 30 46.9% 143 1.3 21.3
San Francisco 49ers 69 41 59.4% 288 1.4 28 40.6% 126 0.4 18.9

The Rams project to execute their typical run heavy play distribution this week with an increased number of plays due to Chip Kelly’s high-paced offense. With the additional opportunity both the passing and running game should see increase production. The passing game will have an increase in passing yards with their typical low chance for any more than one touchdown pass. Meanwhile, the running game should flourish with a significant increase in both yardage and their chance for at least one touchdown on the ground. The Rams ran the ball over 53% of the time in the red zone last year.

The 49ers offense will run more plays this season with their new up-tempo style. With the increase in plays the passing game throw for more yards than usual with a slight increase in their chance for more than one touchdown pass. The running game will also have a slight increase in yards but a less than 50% chance for a rushing score. The 49ers passed over 60% of the time in the red zone last season but could shift more to the run this season.

Increased Opportunities:

  • Todd Gurley (++)
  • Rams Defense (+)
  • Blaine Gabbert and the 49ers passing game (Vance McDonald) (+)

Top Plays

QB

  • Derek Carr (OAK)
  • Andrew Luck (IND)
  • Matt Ryan (ATL)
  • Brock Osweiler (HOU) – GPP special
  • Joe Flacco (BAL) – GPP special

RB

  • Todd Gurley (LA)
  • Ezekiel Elliott (DAL)
  • Lamar Miller (HOU)
  • Spencer Ware (KC)
  • Justin Forsett (BAL) – GPP special
  • Christine Michael (SEA) – GPP special

WR

  • Julio Jones (ATL)
  • DeAndre Hopkins (HOU)
  • Amari Cooper (OAK)
  • Michael Crabtree (OAK)
  • Donte Moncrief (IND)
  • Kamar Aiken (BAL) – GPP special
  • DeSean Jackson (WAS) – GPP special

TE

  • Dwayne Allen (IND)
  • Kyle Rudolph (MIN)
  • Clive Walford (OAK)

D

  • Texans
  • Seahawks
  • Rams
  • Packers

Hopefully, this gives you some potential fantasy football sleepers for the week or gets you to think about some of your own favorite plays based on the data and analysis.

 

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