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NFL Sunday: What to Watch in Week 1

NFL Week 1 is finally here! What games should you tune into today? Fear not, The Turf has you covered.

Ezekiel Elliot, Dak Prescott by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY SA-2.0

NFL Sunday: What to Watch in Week 1

Estimated Reading Time: 3 Minutes

Ohhhh, it’s the most wonderfullll time of the yearrrrr…

COVID be damned, NFL football is back! Football Sundays have arrived, full of beer, food, and the obligatory mid-afternoon nap. For those of you without RedZone, The Turf will look at the Sunday match-ups each week and make sure you know how you should be spending each glorious minute. Big matchups, major storylines, potential fantasy stars for the week – it’s all on the table.

Let’s take a look at Week 1.

Best Match-ups

The Appetizer – SEA vs ATL

NFL will kick-off Sundays in 2020 with a slate full of Divisional match-ups. While some of those excite (Min vs GB, Cle vs Bal, Mia vs NE), my eye goes West towards perennial NFC favorite Seattle. Wilson and the Seahawks will host Matt Ryan’s Falcons in what is sure to be a fantasy favorite. Atlanta rolls into town with a revamped backfield (good bye Freeman, hello Gurley) facing a Seahawks team missing their 12th man. Thanks a lot, COVID.

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Even though the Falcons often under-perform, their games are always entertaining. On top of that, we’ll be seeing teams that haven’t faced live competition heading into Game 1 for the first time in…well, ever? In that chaos, I expect offenses to thrive and Seattle to come out on top in a high-flying affair.

Fantasy Player to Watch – Todd Gurley

Atlanta didn’t pay Todd Gurley almost $6 million for him to split carries. While it’s certainly a prove-it kind of deal, that should only motivate Gurley to make the most of his touches. With a passing game that should thrive, can Gurley create opportunities between the tackles? While I don’t expect him to light the world on fire against a tenacious Seattle defense, we should see whether or not Gurley can return to form a be a true RB1 in fantasy.

The Main Course – TB vs NO

Typically, with only 3 games in the 4 o’clock window, I’d typically plan my nap for this slot. But mid-afternoon, all eyes will turn to the Big Easy as the Tom-pa Bay Bucs come into town. The NFC South will be one of the most exciting divisions in football to watch (insert NFC South preview link) and they kick-off the season with a doozy. New Orleans has added more weapons to Brees’ arsenal with the signing of Emmanuel Sanders. Add Brady, Gronk, and Fournette on the other side – well, there’s a lot to look forward to. Tampa Bay had a surprisingly strong front 7 on defense but it’s hard to imagine they’ll keep up with the Saints. Storylines and excitement abound between this clash of favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.

Fantasy Player to Watch – Rob Gronkowski

TE is inevitably a thin spot every year so people may have reached for Gronk earlier than they should have in drafts. With so many other options in TB, Gronk almost certainly won’t see the same volume that he did in New England. But Gronk always thrived in the red zone so it’s hard to imagine Brady won’t look the big guy’s way near the goal line. If that connection is as strong as it was in NE, Gronk could rocket back to fantasy stardom.

Dessert – DAL vs LAR

In 2019, both DAL and LA underperformed. Both missed the playoffs, despite lofty expectations and what should have been prolific offenses. They’ll have a lot to prove on Sunday night with and I can’t wait to see these two slug it out. Dallas drafted a potential stud in CeeDee Lamb to add to a potent passing game. LA hopes it can return to its Super Bowl form and forget about 2019. With balanced teams, both teams can make winning plays on either side of the ball so expect a close game that could set either team on a path to returned glory.

Fantasy Player to Watch – Robert Woods

The WR duo of Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods helped bring Jared Goff and the Rams to fantasy relevancy. While Kupp will continue to be Goff’s safety blanket, Woods offers big-play upside. One catch and Woods could make your fantasy week. But his consistency simply wasn’t there in 2019 but when he hits, he hits big. Against a Dallas defense built to stop the run, Goff should have some time to create the deep-route opportunities for Woods.

Ryan grew up outside of Boston in Waltham, MA watching the Pats, Celtics, Sox and Bruins. Despite now living in the vastly inferior sports city of NYC, he remains a die-hard Boston sports fan and is often "that guy" in the bar ridiculing NY sports. Ryan works in tech and is the Co-Founder and President of the recently incorporated Emergent TheaterWorks in NYC, a non-profit theater company focused on producing new and underdone works.

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