While most people are looking for a high-scoring affair to kick off the 2018 NFL season, we could be in for a slow start out of the gate. Tonight’s Over/Under total is currently sitting at 44.5, via FanDuel, with the Eagles favored by a mere 1.5 points to start the day and now a 1 point underdog.
The Eagles will be lead by Super Bowl hero Nick Foles, as Carson Wentz still isn’t healthy enough to go for the opener. Alshon Jeffrey and Mack Hollins are both unable to suit up for the defending champs as well.
Nelson Agholor is the key player to watch on offense tonight for the Eagles. With Jeffrey missing the game, Agholor should be peppered with targets at an overwhelming rate, and he also fits schematically in how the Eagles will attack offensively.
With Alshon Jeffery and Mack Hollins OUT Thursday night, Nelson Agholor will be featured. I asked Nelson what Nick Foles showed him in playoffs last year— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) September 4, 2018
“What did he not show the world? I’ve always had faith in him. He’s a great guy.... A true leader”#FlyEaglesFly pic.twitter.com/JJfl7W8iFf
The Falcons are similar to the Eagles from a defensive perspective in that they’ll both allow more short-yardage passing, and that should allow Agholor to rack up the yards after catch with some timely spacing.
This is even further elevated by the fact that the Eagles only other legit receiving option, tight end Zach Ertz, could be held in check by a Falcons defense that allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to tight ends last season.
Philly's backfield has fantastic depth, which is a nightmare for fantasy purposes, but also an area the Eagles can attack Atlanta with the most success.
Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement, Darren Sproles, and Wendell Smallwood all combine to form a fresh rotation that should be filtering in-and-out all night long. It's worth noting that Atlanta was quite generous in terms of allowing running back receptions last season, so look for Clement and Sproles to benefit the most in that area.
OUT vs. Atlanta: WR Mack Hollins (groin), WR Alshon Jeffery (shoulder), QB Carson Wentz (knee) ...No one else is on injury report for the game. So Jay Ajayi, Michael Bennett will play.— Zach Berman (@ZBerm) September 5, 2018
The Falcons offense got a slight makeover last year under first-year coordinator Steve Sarkisian, as they became more of a running team that slowed down the pace, ranking 24th in plays per game.
Philly held their opponents to the sixth-fewest plays, elevating them to the sixth-best defense against the run last season, but they are dealing with some key absences on that side of the ball from last year.
Matt Ryan is a top quarterback in this league, and he'll look to redeem himself against an Eagles defense that ranked third in yards allowed per pass attempt last season. The defending champs did a great job limiting big passing plays under defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz last season, and their elite pass rush forced more short throws than long balls.
Look for Julio Jones to have a big night in the reception department. The Falcons will look to find him early and often, and possibly find him in the end zone more as the season goes on. Jones finished 2017 with only three touchdowns, and the red zone is where most of that frustration came from. On 30 red-zone targets, Jones only came down with nine receptions with only two of those going for touchdowns.
Julio Jones says they have a lot of new wrinkles in the red zone. Won’t give anything away, but did say there are new wrinkles pic.twitter.com/jzc9Lnz6L3— Kelsey Conway (@FalconsKelsey) September 3, 2018
The Falcons will be holding on to the ball a lot, and any scoring drives will likely take significant minutes off the clock working toward the end zone.
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Al Walsh is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Al Walsh also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username 14AdotWalsh. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.