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Rookie RBs Struggle and More Week 1 Bold Predictions

It’s time for another season of bad bets based in good process, better known as Bold Predictions.

In this series, we’ll look at weekly matchups, using history as a contextual backdrop – as well as in-season trends – in order to unearth unexpected events that have a chance at coming true.

As always, our goal is to hit around 15-20 percent of our predictions.

For Week 1, we check in with our crop of rookie running backs and lay a bet on a big game from Keenan Allen.

Keenan Allen Goes for 150+ and is the Overall WR1

Get used to seeing streamers, DFSers, and Bold Predictors targeting the Chiefs defense this year.

Likely to be without Eric Berry, K.C. may have the weakest secondary in the league after it traded away cornerback Marcus Peters in the offseason, and the Chargers get the first crack at lightning them up.

Things are so desperate that K.C. traded for undrafted rookie CB Charvarius Ward, who may actually be an upgrade over what they already have. The Chiefs kept an incredible 10 defensive backs on their 53-man roster as they try co cover up considerable deficiencies with sheer numbers.

Enter Allen, who went over 150 yards twice last year and eclipsed 130 yards on four occasions. His RACR1 of 0.94 was bettered only by Jarvis Landry and Tyreek Hill among top-10 WR scorers last year.


Allen also happens to hold the record for the most receptions in a season opener with 15.

Allen week 1

The Chiefs have enough firepower on offense to turn most games into a track meet. That will keep Allen heavily involved and put him within reach of overall WR1 status.

No Rookie RB Hits 100 Rushing Yards

Three rookies rushed for at least 100 yards in Week 1 last year.

  • Kareem Hunt tied Cadillac Williams for the the Week 1 rookie debut rushing record with 148 yards.
  • Dalvin Cook and Leonard Fournette also cracked 100 yards in their debuts.

However, historically, it’s less of a sure thing. Including last year, only nine rookies have made a 100-yard rushing debut in Week 1 since 2000.

rookie RB

This rookie class may be even more loaded with premier prospects than last year’s. A total of seven RBs went in the first two rounds of the draft, compared to just four last year. Here are the best bets to join this list:

  • Saquon Barkley faces a Jacksonville defense which was incredible against the pass but just middle of the road against the run, ranking 17th in the league with 111.5 rushing yards against last year.
  • Royce Freeman has been named the starter in Denver and is at home against Seattle, a team which gave up 114 rushing yards per game last year.
  • The Lions get a nice matchup against last year’s ninth-worst rush defense, but Kerryon Johnson may be starting the year in a committee.

Any one of those guys has a chance to join the 100-yard debut club, but they’ll need to buck the historical trend to do so.

Alex Collins – Top 6 RB

Collins was the 20th RB drafted in fantasy leagues this summer, so expectations for a breakout are certainly tempered among the public.

But Collins is locked in as the lead back in a great spot at home versus a what was a brutal run defense in 2017.

Lat year, the Bills:

  • Gave up the most fantasy points per game to RBs at 23.3 — 11 percent more points than the second-closest team.
  • Surrendered the fourth-most rushing yards and the fifth-most rushing attempts.
  • Had more rushing TDs scored on them than any other team in the league.

In the past two seasons, the Bills have been gashed for 20 or more fantasy points by an RB on 14 occasions. They gave up 25-plus points ten different times.


Opponents have mercilessly attacked Buffalo on the ground in games where they are significant underdogs. Since 2016, teams have averaged 40.8 rush attempts and 2.4 TDs in games where they were at least four-point favorites over the Bills.


The Ravens are -7.5 favorites at home against the Bills. Nathan Peterman’s last NFL start for Buffalo produced five interceptions, so a few extra possessions for the Ravens isn’t out of the question.

Collins was a workhorse for Baltimore down the stretch in 2017 and posted two games over 23 fantasy points. I love his chances to break out in a big way against the Bills.

  1. RACR is a measure of how efficiently a receiver converts an air yard thrown his way into a receiving yard.  (back)

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