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Drew Brees/Alvin Kamara/Michael Thomas
The New Orleans Saints featured one of the better offenses in the NFL in 2018, ranking eighth in the NFL in total yards (379.2) and third in points (31.5) per game. They recorded 510 yards and 30 points on Monday against the Houston Texans. The Saints get a decent matchup against the Los Angeles Rams, who allowed 258.6 yards and 24.0 points per game last season. They also gave up 343 yards and 27 points to the Carolina Panthers this last week. New Orleans is a +2.5 underdog in a game set at 52 points, giving them an implied team total of 24.8 points.
Drew Brees looked outstanding throughout the 2018 season, starting 15 games for New Orleans. He averaged 266.1 yards and 2.1 touchdowns on 32.6 pass attempts per game. In his only games this season, Brees threw for 370 yards and 2 touchdowns on 43 attempts. Michael Thomas was his favorite targets last season, posting 125 receptions for 1,405 yards and 9 touchdowns on 147 targets. He was an ultra-efficient receiver throughout last season, and he recorded 10 receptions for 123 yards on 13 targets in his only game this season. He’ll continue to see plenty of targets, and his efficiency makes him an elite option, regardless of the matchup. Alvin Kamara is the other focal point of the New Orleans offense. He played in 15 games (13 starts) last season, averaging 58.9 yards and 0.9 touchdowns on 12.9 carries per game. He is also averaging 5.4 receptions for 47.3 yards and 0.3 touchdowns on 7.0 targets per game. Kamara continued that duel role in his only game in 2019, as he recorded 169 yards on 13 carries and 7 receptions. This trio is the “Big Three” for New Orleans, and they should be heavily involved in the game plan in a battle of two of the best teams in the NFC.
Jared Goff/Robert Woods/Cooper Kupp
The Los Angeles Rams possessed one of the higher upside passing attacks in the NFL last season, ranking fifth in the league in passing yards (281.7) per game. They also totaled 32 passing touchdowns in 2018. They get a plus matchup against the New Orleans Saints, who allowed 268.9 passing yards per game last season, while also giving up 30 passing touchdowns. The Rams are currently -2.5 point favorites in a game set at 52 points, and they feature an implied team total of 27.3 points.
Jared Goff is coming off of a dominant season, throwing for 4,688 yards and 32 touchdowns on 561 attempts over 16 games. His numbers tailed off a bit at the end of the season, but he threw for 300+ yards in 8 of his 16 games. In his only game in 2019, Goff threw for only 186 yards and 1 touchdown. With that being said, he saw 39 pass attempts, suggesting he’ll have a similar role to what he had last season. Cooper Kupp was a massive part of the offense in 2018, although he only played in 8 games. In those games, he posted 40 receptions for 566 yards and 6 touchdowns on 55 targets. Over 16 game span, Kupp was on pace for an 80/1,132/12 line on 110 targets. There were some questions about his health coming into this season, but he ranked second on the team with 10 targets against the Carolina Panthers. He turned those into 7 receptions for 46 yards, although he failed to find the end zone. Robert Woods was the focal point of the offense last week, recording 8 receptions for 70 yards on a team-high 13 targets. He also led Los Angeles in targets (130), receptions (86), receiving yards (1,219), and receiving touchdowns (6) in 2018. Woods averaged 5.4 receptions for 76.2 yards and 0.4 touchdowns on 8,1 targets per game last season, and it seems as if he is going to continue to be used in somewhat of a featured role in 2019. Furthermore, Woods and Kupp get the better matchups in this game, as Brandin Cooks is expected to spend the majority of his time against Marshon Lattimore.
Patrick Mahomes/Sammy Watkins/Travis Kelce
The Kansas City Chiefs were the unquestioned top offense in the NFL in 2018, and they ranked third in the league in passing yards (309.7) per game. They also threw a league-high 50 touchdowns in 2018. The Chiefs get a matchup against the Oakland Raiders, who only gave up 240.8 passing yards per game last season. With that being said, they allowed a league-high 36 passing touchdowns in those games. Kansas City is a -7.5 point favorite in a game set at 52.5 points, and they own an implied team total of 30 points this weekend.
I likely don’t need to sell you on this stack, but I will regardless. Patrick Mahomes was the most fantasy-friendly quarterback in the NFL last season, averaging 318.6 yards and 3.1 touchdowns on 36.3 attempts per game. He also added 272 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground in 2018. Mahomes dominated what should be a solid Jacksonville Jaguars offense in his first game in 2019, throwing for 378 yards and 3 touchdowns on 33 attempts. Sammy Watkins was a bit of an afterthought last season, as he only played in 10 games (9 starts). Excluding his two one target games (vs DEN, at LAR), he recorded 39 receptions for 515 yards and 3 touchdowns on 53 targets. Over a 16 game span, those numbers would be extrapolated to a 78/1,030/6 line on 106 targets. In his only game this season, Watkins saw 11 targets, turning those into 9 receptions for 198 yards and 3 touchdowns. He’ll benefit from the injury to Tyreek Hill, as Watkins has now taken over as the WR1 on the NFL’s best offense. Travis Kelce was one of the true focal points of the Kansas City offense last season, as he led the team in targets (150) and receptions (103), while ranking second in receiving yards (1,336) and touchdowns (10). He’s another player that is likely to benefit from the absence of Hill. Last week, Kelce only caught 3 of 8 targets, but he turned those into 88 yards. Mahomes also missed him on an easy touchdown, making him a prime “buy low” target. Keep in mind, Kelce’s “low” is still higher than most highs.
High Upside GPP Stack
Lamar Jackson/Mark Ingram/Mark Andrews
The Baltimore Ravens were an elite stack last week, and I’m going back to the well with the same stack this weekend. They averaged 374.9 total yards and 24.3 points per game last season, but the team scored 52 points with the starters against the Miami Dolphins last weekend. Baltimore gets a matchup against the Arizona Cardinals, who allowed 358.8 total yards and 26.6 points per game last season. They are playing at a significantly faster pace in 2019, though, adding to the Ravens upside. Baltimore is currently a -13 point favorite in a game set at 47 points, and they possess an implied team total of 30 points.
In seven games in 2018, Lamar Jackson ran the ball 147 times for 695 yards and 5 touchdowns. In turn, he only threw for 1,201 yards and 6 touchdowns on 170 pass attempts. It was noted throughout the offseason that he was going to throw the ball significantly more in 2019, and that happened in his first game. In a blowout win over the Miami Dolphins, Jackson completed 17 of 20 passes for 324 yards and 5 touchdowns. He only recorded three carries for six yards on the ground. While I don’t expect Jackson to keep that large of a difference between his passing and rushing production, it will be interesting to see how his splits unfold as the season progresses. Mark Andrews played in 16 games (3 starts) as a rookie, posting a 34/552/3 line on 50 targets. He was a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses, and it was expected that he’d take a step forward in his second season. He’s off to a great start, as he caught 8 of 8 targets for 108 yards and 1 touchdown. His touchdown came with Robert Griffin at quarterback, but Jackson was pulled after the third quarter. He’ll continue to be a matchup nightmare, and Jackson will likely continue to key in on his tight end. Mark Ingram split carries with Gus Edwards and Justice Hill, although he was the clear starter in the game. Ingram needed only 14 carries to post 107 yards and 2 touchhdowns. Most importantly, both of his touchdowns came within the two-yard-line, meaning he’ll continue as the Baltimore goal line back. The only concerning part is that Ingram didn’t record a single target in that game, although the Ravens didn’t target any of their backs, aside from their fullback, Patrick Ricard, who caught a touchdown. It could have been the game plan or the game script, but I expect Baltimore to find more success in this matchup again this weekend.
Follow Justin Bales on Twitter (@BalesSJustin)