It is here, friends!
All of the storylines we've been yammering about for months finally begin to unfold in real time.
We've got setbacks in Los Angeles, a first-round rookie ready to fly with the Falcons, and Gang Green hosting the Bills Mafia in an island game on Monday Night.
And here we are, Liz and Daniel, to talk about the storylines and betting ramifications.
First, a word from each of us about something we need to address.
Liz: By the way, Daniel, are you going with wings or thin crust for that MNF game? I would bet you're a drummet kind of guy... but then again I'm the kind of person who's about to open this article with an UNDER.
Daniel: Liz, not only is it wings, but they're flats and they're drizzled in hot honey with a little side of ranch. Even you couldn't say no to those! Thin crust is for people who don't like pizza but want to pretend they do because nobody trusts someone who doesn't like pizza.
Okay, now that we've covered that, let's get into our favorite props, starting with a familiar face in a new place.
Aaron Rodgers UNDER 234.5 passing yards (vs. Buffalo)
Daniel: In his debut performance for the New York Jets, Rodgers draws the Monday Night Football card against Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills. I freaking love it. The Bills and Jets were both Top 6 in yards allowed per game last year and even though the Bills were middle of the pack in passing yards allowed, this entire game should be a defensive battle.
So that begs the question, will Rodgers come out on fire in his debut? I don't think so. At least not in a statistical way. Until I see this offense firing as a cohesive unit, I'll assume there's going to be some growing pains -- especially in Week 1 against one of the best teams in football (and a division rival).
Kirk Cousins UNDER 264.5 passing yards (vs. Tampa Bay)
Liz: As promised, it's the UNDER I teased earlier. You love to see it! Almost as much as Kirk Cousins loves borrowing his teammates' drip. While I think a locker room shimmy is in Cousins' immediate future, I'm not sure his passing stats will be ice-worthy on Sunday.
He's facing a Tampa Bay defense that isn't what it once was, but continues to feature brand-name talent. The Bucs recorded the seventh-most sacks (45) and allowed the tenth-fewest passing yards (204 per game) last year. Additionally, the Vikes are 5.5 favorites, suggesting that Cousins won't need to feed his WRs as regularly. Speaking of his pass-catchers, while we're all excited about Jordan Addison's season-long outlook, it's worth remembering that this will be his first professional outing, which is another reason I'm tempering my expectations. Cousins averaged 267 passing yards per game in 2022. I think he opens the season just UNDER that (264.5) in Week 1.
AJ Dillon OVER 42.5 rushing yards (at Chicago)
Liz: I did not expect to be a passenger on the AJ Dillon fan wagon. To be honest, there's plenty of room... especially after last year's lackluster campaign. I'm buying that dip, though! Dillon's total touches and yards may have decreased from 2021 to 2022, but both his snap and target share improved. With Rodgers out the door, I expect Dillon's involvement to increase. Furthermore, he's facing a Bears defense that allowed a whopping 4.9 YPC to opposing rushers last year.
Interestingly, the line on Aaron Jones is over/under 60.5 rushing yards. To me, the better bet is Dillon, who can clear 43 rushing yards on just 11 carries (which was his average tote total last season).
Bijan Robinson OVER 70.5 rushing yards vs. Carolina
Daniel: Good call on Dillon, Liz.
As far as Robinson goes, our fantasy community hasn't been this hyped on a rookie running back in a while and I can't wait to see what he looks like against the Carolina Panthers. Honestly, this game feels like it'll probably lean heavily on both run games and defenses.
Think about it -- Bryce Young's first game with a thin receiving corp. Desmond Ridder is still green as a passer and Arthur Smith should lean on this running game. Bijan was drafted to be leaned on heavily, though I know they still like Tyler Allgeier too. Still, I'm hoping Arthur Smith can't contain himself and we get to see plenty of Bijan in Week 1 because I'm taking the OVER.
Calvin Ridley OVER 62.5 receiving yards (at Indianapolis)
Daniel: Liz, color me optimistic here, but I'm buying in on the Ridley hype. I do have questions: How much will the team use him, who is the odd man out from last year (Kirk, Jones or Engram), what will Trevor Lawrence look like in year 3? I don't have all the answers, but I do think that Ridley will be heavily involved in Week 1.
All offseason we've heard about how good he's looked flying up and down the field; this one is a gut call. It just is. But my gut's been right before, for example: 3 a.m. Taco Bell is always a good idea. See. We can both trust my gut. I'm taking the OVER.
Mike Evans OVER 56.5 receiving yds (at Minnesota)
Liz: I, too, trust my gut and know its limits, Daniel. That's why the only thing I consume at 3 a.m. is ibuprofen, water and maybe a handful of stale Cheerios. Who am I kidding? I haven't been out until 3 a.m. since like 2014. That's also the year that Mike Evans debuted in the league, recording his first of nine consecutive 1,000 yard efforts.
I understand that moving from Tom Brady to Baker Mayfield is a significant downgrade, but Evans averaged a minimum of 66 receiving yards per game with Josh McCown, Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick taking turns under center.
He also opens the season facing a Vikings defense that gave up the most yards (3,266) to opposing wide receivers last year. And that was before Patrick Peterson left for Pittsburgh. Plus, the Bucs are 5.5 underdogs, which should mean a good amount of volume for the team's best red zone weapon. Give me the OVER on 56.5 receiving yards (and a top-20 fantasy WR performance) for Evans.