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Fantasy football insights with Watson for Week 1

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Bell: Sanders 'knocked my socks off' (1:41)

Stephania Bell ranks Emmanuel Sanders as a WR3 in Week 1 based on the speed and quickness Sanders showed in Denver's last preseason game. (1:41)

For those who are looking for a tool to concentrate various web opinions into one location in order to help make roster moves, IBM offers Watson's Insights as an unsupervised, quantitative supplement to the more in-depth, personalized analysis that you would normally expect from an ESPN analyst.

IBM Insights uses Watson AI to analyze thousands of fantasy articles, blogs, websites and podcasts, and provide support data to assist with fantasy football decisions. Watson outputs an estimated scoring range for each player and projects the chances that a player will exceed the upside estimate (e.g., "boom") or fall short of the low-end estimate (e.g., "bust") in any given week.

The following article points out a few notable insights from Watson for Week 1 of the 2019 NFL season, as of early Friday afternoon.


Wide receiver decisions

While wide receivers can provide some of the best fantasy value in a given week, it can be difficult to decide beforehand which receivers to start. Because most of the 32 teams in the NFL regularly run three-wide receiver sets, there are a plethora of options available each week with the potential to score. IBM Insights provides information that can help make these decisions easier. Let's take a closer look at a few of the wide receivers whom IBM Insights projects with the best value for this week.

Projections higher than rank

Dede Westbrook, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Kansas City Chiefs

  • Weekly rank: 95, 32nd among eligible WRs

  • High projection: 21.6 fantasy points

  • Low projection: 8.8 fantasy points

  • Boom chance: 0.20

  • Bust chance: 0.18

Westbrook picked up some offseason buzz when the Jaguars brought in Nick Foles to upgrade their quarterback position, and that buzz only intensified when Foles targeted Westbrook on seven of his 10 passing attempts during their preseason debut, during which Westbrook scored a touchdown. The Jaguars look to have to throw early and often this week in the attempt to keep up with the high-powered Chiefs offense, so Westbrook should have the opportunity to start the season with a bang.

Watson's insight: Westbrook is a moderate-risk/high-reward play this week who could potentially produce WR1 volume, according to Insights.

Emmanuel Sanders, Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders

  • Weekly rank: 100, 34th among eligible WRs

  • High projection: 22.7 fantasy points

  • Low projection: 9.0 fantasy points

  • Boom chance: 0.24

  • Bust chance: 0.17

Sanders had quietly been one of the most consistently productive receivers in the NFL during the past several seasons before going down with a torn Achilles tendon in December of last season. The late-season injury with a traditionally long recovery period has kept Sanders under the radar this season, but he has returned to action and looked good in the preseason with new quarterback Joe Flacco. On Monday night, Sanders faces a Raiders defense that allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to opposing receivers last season.

Watson's insight: Sanders is a very good player whose injury status lowered him on draft boards, but if he's healthy, he has a good Week 1 matchup. Insights identified him as a potential WR1/WR2 option.

Most likely to go boom/Least likely to bust

Tyrell Williams, Oakland Raiders vs. Denver Broncos

  • Weekly rank: 147, 52nd among eligible WRs

  • High projection: 20.0 fantasy points

  • Low projection: 7.8 fantasy points

  • Boom chance: 0.25

  • Bust chance: 0.06

With all of the craziness and drama surrounding the Antonio Brown situation for the Raiders, Williams is the player whose production is most benefited by a potential Brown absence this week. Williams would then slot in as the primary receiving threat for a Raiders squad that doesn't have a lot of experience on the outside.

Watson's insight: Williams is slated to start for the Raiders on Monday, and if Brown sits, Insights tabs Williams with the upside to generate WR1 production and a solid floor.

DK Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks vs Cincinnati Bengals

  • Weekly rank: 144, 49th among eligible WRs

  • High projection: 16.7 fantasy points

  • Low projection: 4.8 fantasy points

  • Boom chance: 0.25

  • Bust chance: 0.08

Metcalf is only a few weeks removed from having arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, but he practiced fully Thursday in preparation to play Sunday. The rookie has all of the physical tools to be a success at this level, and he makes his NFL debut against a Bengals defense that was 30th in the NFL in points allowed last season and finished middle-of-the-pack in fantasy points allowed to opposing receivers.

Watson's insight: Metcalf makes his NFL debut against a Bengals defense that was poor in 2018, and Insights identifies him with a solid likelihood to outproduce expectations if he's healthy enough to go.

Insights provided by IBM Watson in partnership with ESPN