The 2020 NFL schedule is here! That means we can now take a closer look at fantasy matchups for the coming season. There will still be moves made, but with free agency and the draft over, teams have their core assembled for the year. Coronavirus restrictions will likely hurt teams with new coaches and key new players, giving us yet another factor to consider for fantasy football this season. Also, best case scenario right now is for teams to play without fans, which would road teams a boost in the odds and fantasy upside.
Below we take a look at the Week 1 schedule with a fantasy eye. Each matchup includes the point spread for the favorite.
Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs (-10)
The kickoff to the season should be a good one, as the Chiefs and Texans face off a few days earlier than the rest of the league on Thursday night. The last time these two met was in the playoffs and there were plenty of fantasy points to be had. The Chiefs came back from an early 23 point deficit to win 51 to 31 and this game has that same kind of potential. Deshaun Watson did lose DeAndre Hopkins, but should have a healthy Will Fuller, Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb to start the season along with David Johnson, who will get a good matchup against the Chiefs middling run defense. We know what Patrick Mahomes and company can do and they won’t need as much time together in the offseason to get on the same page, while Watson will have new receivers that will need to get on the same page.
Seattle Seahawks (-1) at Atlanta Falcons
Both of these teams should feel good about the start of the season, as they should be on the same page offensively, with Russell Wilson and Matt Ryan both established quarterbacks with their No. 1 and 2 receivers returning. The Falcons defense lost a key player in Desmond Trufant and will need to incorporate rookie A.J. Terrell into their pass defense. That should give Wilson a good shot at putting up big numbers with Tyler Lockett, D.K. Metcalf and new face Phillip Dorsett, if Pete Carroll and company let him throw the ball.
Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens (-8)
The Ravens and Browns both had strong offseasons but the Ravens were already strong and should have the upper hand at home to start the season, even if there are no fans. The question for this game is, how quickly can the Browns get their new offensive line to gel, as they picked up two strong players in Jack Conklin and Jedrick Willis to man the ends. They’ll be put to the test against the Ravens, who added Calais Campbell, Derek Wolfe and Patrick Queen to a group that underperformed at getting to the quarterback last season, but does have talent.
New York Jets at Buffalo Bills (-6.5)
The Jets didn’t do enough in the offseason to say they are ready to compete, but they did beef up their offensive line and added some receiving help for Sam Darnold. But, will it be enough, especially in Week 1, to compete with the Bills top pass defense? I’d expect the lack of offseason work will hurt the Jets offense to start, while the Bills have a formula with Josh Allen to win without a big passing game. But, the Bills did add Stefon Diggs and should have upgraded their passing game to go along with a sound running game that added rookie Zack Moss to Devin Singletary and Allen, as strong running options against an overall weak Jets defense.
Las Vegas Raiders (-1) at Carolina Panthers
The newly moved Las Vegas Raiders won’t get to play in their new home to start, but did upgrade their passing options in the draft while the Panthers have changed their head coach and quarterback, as Matt Rhule and Teddy Bridgewater join the group. Maybe the biggest upgrade will be LSU’s offensive coordinator from last season, Joe Judge, who now has Christian McCaffrey and D.J. Moore to use in his explosive schemes. Of course, the Panthers also will have trouble getting on the same page by Week 1, giving the Raiders some advantage as the “veteran” team of the two.
Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions (-1)
The Lions will have Matthew Stafford back while the Bears will likely have Nick Foles making his first start for the team. Neither of these teams made moves in the offseason that push them to the next level, but Stafford’s presence is a huge shot in the arm for the Lions offense as they take on Khalil Mack and the Bears. With Foles in the fold, we could see a better offense in Chicago, but Week 1 might not be the best time to test that theory, as any improvement likely won’t be drastic.
The Jaguars defense should be a punching bag this season, as they let go of the bulk of their veteran defenders over the last two seasons. The Colts on the other hand hope to make a run this season after adding veteran QB Philip Rivers, RB Jonathan Taylor and WR Michael Pittman to an already strong offensive line and the talents of T.Y. Hilton. Rivers and company will need time to get on the same page, but Rivers is a veteran in a spot he should be able to fit in quickly.
Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings (-3.5)
Neither the Packers or Vikings did much to upgrade their offense this offseason, as the Packers didn’t add any receiving help to an overall weak group and the Vikings had to replace Stefon Diggs with rookie Justin Jefferson, albeit a first round rookie in a deep wide receiver draft. Adam Thielen will still be the go-to receiver for Kirk Cousins, especially early in the season, as they already have good chemistry and the same can be said for Davante Adams and Aaron Rodgers. Going in on veterans in Week 1 over rookies and players who moved in the offseason is likely your best bet in fantasy this season.
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots (-7)
It seems Bill Belichick is worth a lot more than Tom Brady, as they come into this game as heavy favorites despite Jarrett Stidham leading the way. The Dolphins have a ton of new faces, with Tua Tagovailoa the most noteworthy, as he takes over at quarterback. This game will likely come down to Belichick’s defense vs. a very young Dolphins team on the road and until we see Tua and company start to move the ball.
Philadelphia Eagles (-5) at Washington
The Eagles offense last year could not get going without a receiver to stretch the field, so the team went out and got speedster Jalen Reagor in the draft and will also get DeSean Jackson back. Their presence should help Carson Wentz while we get the second year of Miles Sanders at running back. Plus, the Eagles added some secondary help, giving them a strong team on paper while Washington is still in the nascent stages of a rebuild.
Los Angeles Chargers (-3.5) at Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals start anew with first overall pick Joe Burrow while the Chargers look like they’ll sit their first rounder Justin Herbert for Tyrod Taylor to start the season, especially considering the lack of offseason work. This matchup is set up to be low scoring, as the Chargers should lean on their strong defense to disrupt the rookie Burrow in his first start and Taylor won’t be asked to win games on his arm. If you can skip this game from a fantasy perspective, you might be on the right path.
This might be the premiere game of Week 1, as we get to see the new-look Buccaneers take on the veteran Saints in New Orleans. Will Tom Brady make as big a difference for Tampa Bay as the oddsmakers believe? The Saints offense was already one of the best in the league, and they added receiver Emmanuel Sanders to the mix while getting a fully healthy Alvin Kamara back. The Tampa Bay offense is set up perfectly for Brady to step in and produce quickly, so this game could be a shootout, as the 49.5 point over/under attests.
Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers (-8.5)
The Cardinals played the 49ers well last season, playing them close, but ultimately losing both games. But, Kyler Murray showed he can play against the top defenses in the league and his team upgraded with DeAndre Hopkins and offensive lineman Josh Jones. Playing in San Francisco might not be the best place for these new additions to make their mark in eek 1, but Hopkins is one of the best in the business and should upgrade the offense as a whole. The 49ers are poised to make another run this year, but again have multiple options offensively and will use them all. George Kittle will be a popular DFS play in Week 1, as he’s one of the few players we know will get good usage no matter what.
Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams (-2.5)
These two teams didn’t live up to expectations last season, but still were able to put up good offensive numbers last season. The Rams lost Brandin Cooks and Todd Gurley, likely giving the team an offensive hit, especially to start the season, while the Cowboys look to build off their strong offense after adding CeeDee Lamb in the draft. The Cowboys also lost defensive playmaker Byron Jones and should be worse against the pass than last season, pushing Dak Prescott and company to do even more. This game has a 50.5 point over/under, with the Rams as favorites, likely due to home field advantage, which might not be pronounced if there are no fans in the stands.
Pittsburgh Steelers (-3) at New York Giants
The Steelers get Ben Roethlisberger back in this Monday night matchup, which should make a big difference for an offense that was lost without him last season. Daniel Jones will get the start for his second season in the league and looks to take a step forward after an inconsistent but promising rookie season. The Steelers defense was great last season and make for a tough matchup for all of the Giants skill players. This matchup looks best to see how far Roethlisberger has come from his injury. On paper, he should be able to help himself and his offensive skill players to good fantasy games.
Tennessee Titans at Denver Broncos (-1.5)
The Broncos are favorites in this matchup, which is a little surprising after how well the Titans did last season with Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry leading the way. This game will be the first for Drew Lock with his new receivers, Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler along with new running back Melvin Gordon. Lock had some good games to end the 2019 season, but he’s still very much a question mark in this, his first season as the starter. The Titans will be a good test for him and should help us see how quickly he might make this Broncos offense viable for fantasy.