Ah, early September. The sweat from the weather mixes just nicely with the sweat of panicking about what ways you can possibly mess up your fantasy football team this year. As the reigning league loser and therefore personal travel agent for my friends on our trip to Ft. Lauderdale this past Spring, I came away with two lessons. Don’t trade Justin Jefferson for Hayden Hurst straight up no matter how desperate you are for a tight end, and don’t let your friends book flights through Spirit Airlines even if they have a free flight voucher.
The NFL is so back TONIGHT, and the first year with the 17-game schedule is shaping up to be a fun one. A highly-touted rookie QB class has some key members still fighting to overthrow their incumbents, drama surrounded two of the league’s biggest stars in Rodgers and Watson, Saquon, Dak and CMC return from major injuries in 2020, and Wentz, Goff, Stafford, Darnold and Jameis get their chances to right the ship as starters on new teams.
As fun as those storylines are, there’s one thing that can make it better. Winning money on some futures! There are quite a few spots I like both with team win totals and with players. Odds are all via DraftKings Sportsbook.
Passing Yards Leader: Justin Herbert (+1400)
The guy many are anticipating to be the next breakout star QB after Mahomes and Josh Allen before him, Herbo is a certified gunslinger. An entirely new offensive line should make Herbert’s life much easier, includes All-Pro center Corey Linsley from Green Bay and first-round left tackle Rashawn Slater from Northwestern – who has impressed in camp and preseason so far.
Herbert was sixth in 2020 in passing yards as a rookie in just 15 starts, and looks to improve on that number this year. Obviously, he has one of the best wide receiver weapons in the NFL in Keenan Allen, one of the best deep threats in the NFL in Mike Williams, AND one of the best pass-catching backs in the NFL in Austin Ekeler. Word from Chargers’ camp is rookie receiver Joshua Palmer has also looked really good this summer, so chalk that up as another target for Herbert. Expect LA to have quite an explosive offense, so give me +1400 every day of the week and twice on Sundays. P.S. – this is also your chance to sprinkle that Herbert MVP at +1800.
Carolina Panthers: o7.5 wins (-115)
Definitely my favorite win total on the board, I am a firm believer in this Panthers team in 2021. New QB Sam Darnold takes the reigns in his first year and hopeful rebirth outside of New York and the pit of despair that is Adam Gase’s system.
Darnold will have a major upgrade in weapons from what he had with the Jets, as the established skill players in Carolina are definitely in the top third of the league. All-Pro running back Christian McCaffery returns healthy, and receivers DJ Moore and Robby Anderson look to build off of last year where they each had over 1,000 yards. Two rookies in the skill group have been impressing throughout the preseason as LSU wide receiver Terrace Marshall and Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard will find themselves in the fold. The Panthers did lose utility man Curtis Samuel to Washington, but the talent and depth in Charlotte is still very good.
The young defense has a lot of upward projection with the focal points being edge rusher Brian Burns and 2020 DROY runner-up Jeremy Chinn at safety. The secondary shapes up to be the strongest part of the defense as Donte Jackson and 2021 first-rounder Jaycee Horn man the corner spots. The aforementioned Burns has quietly been a star on the edge, expect him to become a household name throughout the league this year. Additions of OLB Haason Reddick and DT DaQuan Jones plug holes in what should be a talented unit.
Houston Texans u4.5 wins (-165)
Coming off a 4-12 2020 campaign, the state of this team couldn’t be any lower than it is right now. Between a front office dilemma, new head coach and star QB demanding a trade but then being accused of 22 sexual assaults, we’ve really seen it all this offseason for Houston.
Tyrod Taylor takes the helm at quarterback this year, and I really don’t expect much from this offense. Outside of Tunsil, the offensive line is dreadful, and the running backs will be a committee made up of David Johnson, Phillip Lindsay and Mark Ingram. WOOF. Brandin Cooks should be a solid player for the offense strictly because they will have to throw a lot and he’s the only weapon. Rookie Nico Collins, and free agent pickups Chris Conley and Anthony Miller make up the rest of the corps. Unless Deshaun Watson gets cleared and brings a spark, don’t expect a happy ending 😉 for this offense.
The linebackers highlight a defense that was very weak in 2020. Zach Cunningham should rack up tackles like he does every year, and Christian Kirksey adds a great veteran presence. The defensive line and secondary are both shaping up to be very weak, and with the offensive struggles this team will see, the defense will likely be on the field quite a bit. If they won four games with Watson, how can we expect them to win one more game without him?
I’m also running with the Texans to have the worst record in the NFL at +350.
Washington Football Team o8.5 wins (-120)
As an Eagles fan, this one hurts. But I like winning money and this is a great spot. The WFT surprised a lot of people in 2020 as they won the NFC East for the first time since 2015 with a combo of Dwayne Haskins, Alex Smith and Taylor Heinicke at quarterback. Anchored by a young defense and quick skill players, this team could and should improve on last year’s season.
Everyone’s favorite magician Ryan Fitzpatrick finds himself under center in DC this year, making it already a more talented position than they had last year. The offensive line is one of the top units in the entire league, highlighted by All-Pro guard Brandon Scherff. Star receiver Terry McLaurin, new pickup Curtis Samuel and rookie Dyami Brown should have electric roles all over the offense. 2020 rookie sensation running back Antonio Gibson and breakout tight end Logan Thomas also look to expand on their success. With how Fitzy likes to sling it, and the targets all over the field, I think this offense can be a problem, but it’s going to come down to the balance of Fitzmagic vs Fitztragic.
The defense is what should be the driving force in winning the WFT games this year, specifically the front seven. A loaded defensive line features guys like 2020 DROY Chase Young, Jonathan Allen and Montez Sweat, and the two-deep is very talented. First-round linebacker Jamin Davis will make an immediate impact, and Kendall Fuller, Kam Curl and Landon Collins hold it down in the secondary.
In what should be an extremely weak division, it could boil down to a similar finish as last year. In that case, I’ll take the best defense out of the four to get the job done. Take the WFT to win the NFC East at +200 also.
Follow me on Twitter to watch me bitch about the Eagles all year!