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FANTASY FOOTBALL: 15 Fun Facts to celebrate for NFL Week 1

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This week's star-studded Fun Facts breaks down the purported greatness of Saquon Barkley, Davante Adams, Joe Mixon, Odell Beckham Jr., Travis Kelce and Ezekiel Elliott, among others, relative to the Week 1 matchups.

FUN FACT #1
Let’s start with Sunday’s blockuster matchup of Saquon Barkley vs. Ezekiel Elliott.

Charting the tailback tandem’s last 44 combined NFL games, including the playoffs, Barkley (2,028 total yards, 15 TDs as a rookie) and Elliott (three straight NFL rushing crowns) are absurdly responsible for 41 outings of 100 total yards and/or one touchdown.

So, in that vein, who cares if Elliott (ended holdout on Wednesday) logs only 20-25 reps for Dallas this weekend?

Or, who cares if the Giants’ passing game could be in tatters without Golden Tate (four-game PED suspension) during the month of September?

The odds of Barkley and Elliott impacting the fantasyworld in Week 1 remain astronomically high.

FUN FACT #2
Packers wideout Davante Adams’ four games against the Vikings and Bears could have major consequences in fantasyland.

Green Bay opens the season against Chicago (road) and Minnesota (home) … and then faces the Bears and Vikings again for Weeks 15 and 16 — universally the semifinal and final rounds of the fantasy playoffs.

Which brings us to this: Charting his last eight outings against Chicago and Minnesota, Adams has been a perfect 8 for 8 in amassing 100 yards receiving and/or scoring one touchdown.

Here’s one more thing to celebrate: Last season, Adams was the lone NFL wideout to reach the elite-level threshold of seven catches, 95 yards and/or one touchdown in 15 different games. That’s the definition of bedrock consistency.

FUN FACT #3
Rams quarterback Jared Goff (60 total touchdowns since 2017) might be the highest-paid player in NFL history (at least for this week), but he’s hardly a lock for big-time fantasy numbers against the Panthers.

Charting his five career outings in the Eastern Time Zone, including the Super Bowl debacle from last February, Goff owns painfully ordinary averages of 205 yards passing and 1.4 touchdowns per game.

FUN FACT #4
Texans wideout DeAndre Hopkins boasts world-class numbers against non-conference competition, averaging seven catches, 113 yards and 0.7 touchdowns in his last nine outings versus NFC defenses.

Of equal importance, during this stretch, Hopkins (24 TDs since 2017) racked up 100 yards receiving and/or one touchdown eight times.

FUN FACT #5
How’s this for an odd streak: The Falcons and Vikings have squared off eight times during the month of September since 1966 … and Minnesota owns a perfect 8-0 mark for that time span.

Of the eight September outings, the Vikings’ average margin of victory also comes to 15.3 points.

(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

FUN FACT #6
Go ahead and bet the farm on Lions tailback Kerryon Johnson racking up monster fantasy numbers on Sunday.

The Cardinals had the NFL’s worst rushing defense last year, and it’s hard to foretell instant improvement on new coach Kliff Kingsbury’s offense-focused watch.

What’s more, citing his final eight games as a rookie last year, Johnson stealthily averaged 94 total yards and 0.5 touchdowns per outing — supreme numbers for someone who merely averaged 16 touches during this prolific stretch.

FUN FACT #7
It’s difficult to predict how Odell Beckham Jr. will fare with the Browns early on, given the change in environment and Cleveland’s deep arsenal of playmakers.

However, here’s something that can be neatly extrapolated for the future:

Charting his last nine regular-season outings on grass, Beckham owns elite-level averages of 7.2 catches, 94 yards and 0.9 touchdowns. It’s also worth noting: Beckham logged multiple TDs four times during this span on grass.

FUN FACT #8
Tight end Hunter Henry (torn ACL last year) has likely been counting down the seconds until the Chargers-Colts clash on Sunday afternoon; and for good reason:

Against opposing tight ends last season, the Indy defense ranked 31st in targets surrendered, dead-last in receptions allowed and dead-last in receiving yards surrendered.

What’s more, in his only career meeting with the Colts, Henry (9 TDs as a rookie) notched a perfect catch-to-target ratio (5 for 5).

FUN FACT #9
Tailback Joe Mixon enjoyed a nice finishing kick with the Bengals last year, averaging 117 total yards and 0.5 touchdowns in his final six outings.

This kind of success could replicate itself on opening weekend, with Mixon facing a Seahawks defense that posted bottom-10 tallies with targets, catches, receiving yards and receiving TDs allowed to opposing tailbacks last season.

FUN FACT #10
In lieu of Antonio Brown’s high-profile exodus from Pittsburgh, the Steelers subsequently CLAIM that no playmaker will log the vast majority of touches/carries this season … but we’re calling b.s. on such a statement.

Why is that?

As Pittsburgh’s No. 2 wideout last year (behind Brown), JuJu Smith-Schuster (111 catches, 1,426 yards, 7 TDs) was just one of three NFL wideouts to post 13 or more games of eight-plus targets.

The other wide receivers on that list: Julio Jones and Davante Adams.

(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

FUN FACT #11
The Jaguars might have a top-five defense in fantasyland, but they’re hardly an impenetrable force in one respect.

Last year, Jacksonville surrendered the fifth-most receiving touchdowns to tight ends — a curious stat, considering the Jags fostered above-average rankings with targets, catches and receiving yards allowed to that same position.

This bodes extremely well for Travis Kelce (two-year averages: 93 catches, 136 targets, 1,187 yards, 9 TDs) heading into Sunday.

Charting his last 28 games, including the playoffs, Kelce has easily reached the elite-level threshold of seven catches, 95 yards and/or one touchdown 21 times; and this includes a five-catch, 100-yard performance against the Jaguars last October.

FUN FACT #12
Jaguars wideout Dede Westbrook (career highs with catches, targets, yards and TDs in 2018) should be an excellent sleeper candidate in Week 1, taking on a Chiefs defense that recently ranked dead-last in passing yards allowed.

For starters, new Jacksonville quarterback Nick Foles notched a completion rate of 72.3 percent last season with Philadelphia. Plus, Kansas City’s defense posted bottom-5 tallies with targets, receptions and receiving yards allowed to opposing wideouts last year.

FUN FACT #13
The Ravens (No. 2 rushing offense last year — 153 yards per outing) couldn’t have asked for a more attractive Week 1 matchup, facing the rebuilding Dolphins.

Last year, Miami posted bottom-5 rankings with rushing yards allowed (31st overall) and rushing touchdowns surrendered (29th overall).

FUN FACT #14
Jets receiver Robby Anderson (50 catches, 752 yards, 6 TDs last year) collected seven-plus targets in seven of his final eight games last year, suggesting he’ll be Sam Darnold’s go-to target this season.

Of course, there’s a significant hurdle to clear regarding this week’s matchup:

Charting his last four outings against the Bills, Anderson has notched only four receptions each time (with two total touchdowns).

That’s hardly the track record of an undisputed WR1.

And last but not least …

FUN FACT #15
There are three certainties in life: Death, taxes … and Drew Brees carving up AFC South opponents at home.

Citing his last five Superdome outings versus the AFC South, the future Hall of Famer owns staggering averages of 408 yards passing and 3.6 touchdowns.

The fun doesn’t end there, though.

Brees — the only quarterback in NFL history with multiple seasons of 5,000 yards passing — has amassed 300 yards passing and/or three touchdowns in six of his last seven regular-season home games, with sterling averages of 322 yards passing and three touchdowns.

Jay Clemons, the 2008 Fantasy Football Writer of the Year and 2015 Cynopsis Media award winner for “Sports Blog Of The Year,” has previously served as the lead fantasy analyst for Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports South, Bleacher Report and Fanball.com.

About The Managing Editor

Jay Clemons remains the only sports writer on the planet to capture Cynposis Media’s national award for Sports Blog Of The Year (beating out NBA.com, MLB.com, PGATour.com, The Players’ Tribune in 2015), along with the Fantasy Sports Writers Association’s pre-eminent award for Best Writer (2008). Through the years, Mr. Clemons has been a key figure with numerous blue-chip sports/media brands, namely the Detroit Lions, Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report and the NBC/Universal family. With Sports Illustrated (2006-11), Clemons served a triple role with SI.com‘s heralded football coverage—editing Peter King’s famed ‘Monday Morning Quarterback’ column, penning award-winning pieces for NFL and then writing/narrating scripted videos within the NFL and baseball realms. In 2013, Clemons’ first year with the company, FOX Sports South enjoyed a monumental increase of approximately 34 million Web hits in a 12-month cycle—merely posting 11 million hits the previous year. 

Then, over a two-month span in 2014, FOX Sports South amassed 19.5 million Web hits—a 60-day record for any FOX affiliate. And in 2015, Clemons claimed the aforementioned Cynopsis Media award on FOX Sports’ behalf, the company’s only national writing award during that period. Clemons, a graduate of Michigan State University  and Wayne State University, has been an on-camera Web-TV host for Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report and FOX Sports. In 2015, he also became the first-ever sports journalism professor at Kennesaw State University in suburban Atlanta.

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