NFL Week 2 is upon us, and I’m getting some plays out early this week. I’m actually only writing up a side in one game, and while I’m sure I’ll add more throughout the week, I think this is a good week to get invested in the futures market. DraftKings Sportsbook essentially keeps the futures board open throughout the season, and I think a couple of results from Week 1 warrant placing some futures, without overreacting, of course.
Almost all of my football futures and week-to-week plays will be posted in article form, but as always follow along on Twitter, as some will just be posted here — @julianedlow.
CIN -6.5 (-110) — 1.5-units
This was one of the last lines to pop up this week, for obvious reasons. Dallas was embarrassed in a 19-3 home loss on SNF, but more importantly, lost Dak Prescott for an extended period. The QB will have surgery on this throwing hand, leaving major concerns for Dallas.
I put this one out of Twitter pretty quickly, and am fine playing this one up to -7. Frankly, this should be a blowout.
This reminds me of the situation the 2020 Cowboys went through when Prescott suffered a serious injury early in the season. Dak went down in Week 5, and after that the Cowboys lost six of their next seven games. They were blown out at home the week following the injury, 38-10, and their average loss during that seven-game span was by 18.5 points.
While Dallas managed fine on defense in Week 1, the offense was dreadful (with and without Prescott in there). Between Dak and backup Cooper Rush, the Cowboys were just 21/42 for 173 passing yards. Prescott threw an interception, and each QB was sacked twice. And while 4.7 yards per attempt through the air was pathetic, the 3.9 yards per carry on the ground didn’t help. Maybe Dallas looks for a solution in the QB market, but for now Cooper Rush isn’t going to cut it.
Enter the Bengals, fresh off a tough 23-20 home loss as touchdown favorites over the Steelers. Embarrassing loss, yes, but the box score tells us that the Bengals really just hurt themselves all game. Joe Burrow committed five turnovers, while Pittsburgh took care of the ball. And yet still, Cincy was a blocked extra-point and a missed field goal in overtime away from winning the game.
Whether you’re someone who thinks the Bengals are for real, or are in position to take a step back this season, you have to admit that we should see some positive regression in the turnover department in Week 2. Cincy should roll here, and make for a terrific teaser leg if you need one.
NFC East: Philadelphia Eagles (-140) — 1.5-units
Another play off the Prescott news is going in another direction for the division winner. Sure, it would’ve been nice to just buy into the hype and bet the Eagles before the season, but we also couldn’t predict Prescott sustaining an injury that should cost him a month or two in the first game of the year. Given what we know now, I think backing Philly is the way to go before the price rises in coming weeks.
The Eagles have the most talent in the division by a pretty wide margin, and with the Cowboys no staring down a pretty bad start, I don’t think they’ll have time to makeup enough ground — just look at that awful stretch I highlighted when Dak went down in 2020. I can’t buy into Washington being real, which leaves the 1-0 Giants as the competition here. I think the G-Men really could be in the mix, and if you want to sprinkle there too, that’s fine. But the Prescott injury clears an obvious path for the Eagles to take control here, and I feel they will.
NFC North: Minnesota Vikings (+150) — 1-unit
This is another division play that I considered before the season, but almost had to see the change from the Vikings to believe it. Welp, now we’ve seen it. The Vikings appeared balanced in the run/pass game on offense, and capable on the defensive side of the ball. Moving on from Mike Zimmer should really help this team get over the hump.
Justin Jefferson is “that dude,” hauling in an insane 9-184-2 line for over 20 yards per reception. He’s going to be a major problem this season, and the running backs were still able to combined for 28 carries and post 4.5 yards per.
Now, I don’t want to overreact to how bad the Packers were. They lost 38-3 in Week 1 last year and Aaron Rodgers went on to win MVP and get prime playoff seeding once again. While Allen Lazard would’ve helped on Sunday, that passing game was ugly. No WR had more than 37 yards, and the offense looked completely incapable. It will improve, likely on Sunday night at home against Chicago. But with Davante Adams out of the picture, I think Green Bay ultimately loses an element it needs to remain elite.
All the changed on both sides, Minnesota has more to make a run at the division.
Another play I was very close to putting out before the season at +450, and now at +650 I just can’t pass. It sort of makes sense that we’re getting a better number on this one, as some players in Week 1 started to shape their narratives to win the award. Obviously, Robinson can’t do that. In fact, Robinson wasn’t even on the board until a couple of weeks ago. So how can a rookie that’s never played an NFL game win a “comeback player” award?
For those not familiar with the tragedy, Robinson was trending toward winning the starting RB job with the Commanders, but was shot in an attempted robbery just days before the season started. Fortunately, nothing was life threatening in the end, and Washington kept Robinson on the roster and hope to see him on the field later this season.
A lot of times this award does wind up going to a player that suffered a serious injury and returned to a high level of play, but Alex Smith also changed the narrative a bit. Smith had multiple surgeries following a gruesome leg injury, and while he didn’t have a big season in 2020, just the fact he stepped on the field to play it all was enough to win him the award.
While Robinson doesn’t have the past in the NFL that Smith does to “comeback” from, it would be a remarkable story if he could see the field. And while just playing would have to feel great for Robinson, he could probably put together some good numbers if healthy! He was a terrific player at Alabama, and Antonio Gibson managed 130 combined yards on 21 touches in the RB1 role in Week 1.
So, while guys like Saquon Barkley, Jameis Winston and Michael Thomas all had nice Week 1’s in their returns from injury, Robinson’s comeback could trump all if he’s able to complete it. Love betting on this narrative, and wishing Robinson the best in his return to the football field.
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