The 2020 season technically kicked off on Thursday, but as we all know, nothing really gets decided until the game’s kick off on the Lord’s day. There’s something special about that first football Sunday of the year, listening to the blowhards on ESPN blow smoke as you sip your morning coffee, running over your lineup one last time as you sense the last vestiges of summer giving way to the coming autumn crisp that instinctively transports you back to years gone by. Against all odds, that day is here, once again, in the year 2020. In a year where so much has gone wrong, this, at least, has gone right. Football is back. The League is back.
The Brainbusters vs. Del Boca Vista
Our first matchup features two postseason teams from last year vying to take the next step. BJC’s Brainbusters squad finished the 2019 season in 3rd place, rebounding from a last place finish in 2018 to earn his third 3rd place finish in the past 4 seasons. Unfortunately for the Bri Guy, he hasn’t been able to break through the Semi-Final round, and has still not played in a championship game since 2004. He’s hoping that this is the year he puts an end to that 15 season streak, and he’s counting on the Nick Chubb/Aaron Jones duo to be the horses that carry him there. Cooper Kupp and Jarvis Landry highlight a steady if non-flashy receiving crew, with hopes that a resurgent Todd Gurley can prove to be a dynamic presence in the flex slot.
Jay’s Del Boca Vista is likewise hoping that this season will prove to be a breakthrough. Jay Hey has seemingly come a long way since his back to back Anthem performances a few years ago, once again reaching the postseason last year. Armed in 2020 with the first pick in the Draft, Jay selected the other-worldly dual threat superstar Christian McCaffrey, and managed to pair him with other-worldly QB Patrick Mahomes. The WR crew is headlined by Allen Robinson and the explosive Tyler Lockett, to go along with the always reliable Robert Woods in the flex. Evan Engram gives Jay a potential dynamic presence at the TE position if he manages to stay healthy.
In terms of their Week 1 matchup, Jay is projected to have the upper hand, entering the game as a 14 point favorite. However, Mahomes has already come in 5.5 points under projection, narrowing him to a mere 9 point favorite entering Sunday. We should have a good idea at the winner of this one at the conclusion of Sunday’s games, though Jay does have Engram and his kicker going tomorrow night.
Lenny the Fournette vs. So Much Honey
The other East matchup also features a pair of playoff teams from last season. Marky Mark finished 4th last season, but as usual has factored into much of this season’s post-draft drama already. After selecting Michael Thomas in the first round and pairing him with Chris Godwin, Mark took Leonard Fournette, who was promptly cut the next day. After a couple of days of The League holding its breath to see where Fournette landed, the former Jags RB decided to stay in Florida and head down to Tampa Bay, maybe the best possible landing spot. The rest of Mark’s running backs are rookie ball carriers in strong situations, in Jonathan Taylor and JK Dobbins. Keenan Allen slides in nicely in the flex spot.
Cody had to forfeit his championship crown last year, but he put together a solid title defense and proved he’s not merely a one hit wonder. This year he’ll look to climb the mountain once again, and he believes rookie sensation Clyde Edwards-Helaire will be the one to take him there. DeAndre Hopkins, Adam Thielen, and Zach Ertz highlight a stout aerial attack. The RB2 position is in a bit of flux for So Much Honey, however. It looks like Tarik Cohen will get the nod in Week 1, but Cody has to be hoping that one of rookies DeAndre Swift or Antonio Gibson will emerge as a solid option.
These two teams entered Thursday pretty evenly matched projection-wise, with Cody as a slight favorite. CEH’s performance on Thursday gave him a slight boost vs. projection, and is now a 3 point favorite.
The Ebukoo Ooba Ebukams vs. The Midnight Rider
This Week 1 matchup is a rehash of last year’s Week 13 matchup that wound up propelling Diamonds on a shocking run to the title game and finished off another heartbreaking near playoff miss for the Commish. The Commish wound up with the second pick in the draft and used it to select Saquon Barkley, who will pair in the backfield with Seattle ballcarrier Chris Carson. The receiving core is the big story here though, specifically the early season injuries which have put a damper on The Ebukoo Ooba Ebukams short term expectations. 2nd round pick Kenny Golloday will miss the first game with a hamstring issue, while fourth rounder Courtland Sutton is a late Monday night game time decision.
The Midnight Rider returns with a potentially explosive squad. Odell Beckham and Tyreek Hill are potentially The League’s greatest big play tandem, and Mark Andrews looks to continue to break out at the TE position. Josh Jacobs will also look to light up the Las Vegas night. The most drama surrounds Nick’s pair of Tampa players, however, in Tom Brady in Ronald Jones. The Brady story will obviously be interesting to see play out, but the RoJo story just seems like bad luck for the Midnight Rider. With Sutton’s status in doubt, Nick has wisely given rookie Jerry Jeudy the nod in the slot.
The Commish was a 2 point favorite as of Thursday, which has widened to 4 points after DeShaun Watson and Tyreek Hill faced off on Thursday. This matchup figures to feature heavily in some Monday night drama, with Barkley, Sutton, and Jeudy all slotted to play Monday.
Frank The Tank vs. Lobster Beesc
Meade begins his title defense with a tough matchup against Frank The Tank. Frank missed the postseason last year but the early season prognosticators like his chances to return to the dance this year with the solid team he’s seemingly put together. Derrick Henry and James Conner represent potentially the League’s best RB duo, Travis Kelce is one of the two best TEs in the league, and the WR crew features 3 potential breakut players in DK Metcalf, Marquisse Brown, and Will Fuller.
Meade’s squad is certainly not to be brushed aside, however. Dalvin Cook and George Kittle offer a dynamic one-two punch of elite playmaking potential, and Amari Cooper, TY Hilton, and Stefan Diggs are a solid receiving trio, even if it lacks to the consensus top-flight receiver.
Frank entered Thursday as a 7.5 point favorite, and has pushed that advantage closer to 10 as a result of solid performances from Kelce and Fuller. This is another game that could come down to the Monday night wire, as Frank has both of his starting RBs slated for Monday night matchups. If Meade does manage to get out to a lead after Sundays games, he’ll have to sweat it out Monday.
2 Feets In vs. The Knights of Ryan
After a 2018 season that saw Jack nearly pull off back to back titles, Jack was slightly humbled last year by failing to make the playoffs and an Anthem scare. He looks to return to his winning ways in 2020 behind a potential League best receiving attack. Davante Adams, Mike Evans, and DJ Moore are a deadly trio, and Joe Mixon is a steady presence at lead back. Jack is hoping that Melvin Gordon recaptures some of his former glory in his new digs in Denver to round out the squad. Dak naturally handles the reins at QB for The League’s resident Cowboys fan.
Olsen is also hoping 2020 ends better than 2019 for his Knights after another playoff miss. Zeke Elliot and Miles Sanders are an NFC East RB tandem that is among the best in the League, and David Johnson’s performance on Thursday gives Olsen the hope that this could be a three headed monster once Sanders gets healthy. The receiver position lacks the big name but if AJ Brown and/or DeVante Parker can build off their encouraging 2019 seasons that may not matter much. The returning Gronk is intriguing at TE, and Kyler Murray gives Olsen a dual threat QB entering his second year.
Jack entered Thursday as a 6 point favorite, but David Johnson’s performance has nearly erased that projection and cut the difference down to a point. This game features 2 Monday night players on each side in MG3, Diontae Johnson, AJ Brown, and Chris Boswell.
Meat Mavens vs. The Undisputed Era
Rounding out our Week 1 Preview is the matchup between the Meat Maven and Ribby Raf. Ant is hoping that the trend of previous year’s Anthem singers reaching the playoffs continues, and his inspired performance certainly warrants a bit of luck heading his way. Ant went heavy on RBs this year, with Austin Ekeler, Melvin Engram, and Raheem Mostert giving The Mavens a trio of RBs with diverse skill sets. Julio Jones is a known commodity in the WR1 slot, while CeeDee Lamb is the rookie upstart looking to set the league on fire in the WR2 spot. Russell Wilson gives Ant a consistently elite presence at QB.
Vaffy kid is looking to regain his former glory after another missed postseason last year. He avoided the Alvin Kamara holdout, and his first round pick will take the field having successfully secured the bag. Kenyan Drake gives Vaf an explosive 1-2 punch on the ground. Calvin Ridley, DJ Clark, and Michael Gallup are a receiving trio that seems to be on the rise, and of course we all witnessed what Lamar Jackson did to the league last season in his MVP campaign. Called Yahoo’s best draft, Vaf enters the season with high expectations.
The spread in this matchup reflects those expectations, with Vaf as a 9 point favorite. All of Ant’s players will be done at the conclusion of Sunday’s games, while Vaf will have his TE and defense going on Monday night. Vaf would of course love to have this wrapped up before then.