15 must-read fantasy football stats for Week 1

Each week, NFL Media analytics expert Cynthia Frelund will provide you with her 15 must-read stats for the week. These might not be an end all, be all stat for making a start or sit decision, but they're here to help you understand the matchups and make the most informed lineup decisions possible.

1) Adrian Peterson was first in the NFL in yards after contact in 2015 with 629.

Fantasy impact: His 327 carries for 1,485 yards were also both good for first in the NFL last season. Meanwhile, his 11 touchdowns were only good enough to tie for first in the league. It doesn't matter who his quarterback is, A.D. is elite. To help with future matchup issues, add tracking YAC for running backs to your list of quick metrics.

2) The Bucs allowed the second-fewest yards per rush (3.4) in the NFL last season.

Fantasy impact:Julio Jones nabs my top wide receiver projection this week.

3) The Falcons defense had a league-low 19 sacks last season

Fantasy impact: That's the fewest for any team since 2009. The point? Linebacker Vic Beasley (No. 44) had four of those sacks last year and could add to that total now that he's healthier (labrum). look for him to line up as a defensive end on third down.

4) Last season the Bills led the league in yards per rush (4.8), yards per game (152), 10-yard rushes (70) and tied for league lead in rushing touchdowns with 19.

Fantasy impact: Greg Roman dialed up running plays often in 2015, resulting in LeSean McCoy averaging 4.4 yards per carry over 12 games, and Tyrod Taylor averaging 5.5 yards per carry (568 total yards) over 14 games last season. Look for the Bills offense to continue to rely on the run game in 2016, starting in Week 1. However, we can't overlook the fact that the Ravens defense ranked 10th in yards allowed per attempt in 2015. In the two seasons prior to that, they finished second and fourth in that same category. Fantasy owners will have to decide if the Bills' strength (running the football) is greater than the Ravens' strength (stopping the run). I have Shady slated for 16 carries, 62 rushing yards, two receptions and 18 receiving yards. I have Tyrod with 20 completions, 230 passing yards, one passing touchdown and five carries for 28 yards.

5) From 2008 to 2014, Aaron Rodgers completed 69.9 percent of his passes to Jordy Nelson, scoring 45 touchdowns

Fantasy impact: Last year, Rodgers' career-low completion percentage (60.7) came with a career high in passing attempts per game (35.8 in 2015 versus 33.1 2008-2014 combined) and a career-low in yards per attempt (6.7 in 2015 versus 8.3 in 2008-2014 combined). Nelson has caught 400 of the 596 (67.1 percent) total targets he's seen since 2008 for a career average of 15.3 yards per reception. Looking only at receivers with 500 or more targets over this time period, Jordy's catch rate of 67.1 is the second-best (Wes Welker), while his 15.3 yards per reception is the fifth-best. He's the only wide receiver to finish among the top-five in each group, too. With Nelson back to full health, the deep ball (and the threat of the deep ball, which changes defenses) is back for the Pack this season.

Nelson is likely to see fewer snaps than what I project his per-game average will be due to the heat (think about running several deep routes in 10,000% humidity). The beneficiary of his absence this week against the Jaguars from a targets standpoint is probably tight end Jared Cook. Though I'm not recommending playing him in fantasy unless you are really looking to be different.

6) Eric Decker's 28 red-zone targets led the league last season and were five more than any other player.

Fantasy impact: I project Brandon Marshall and Decker to have similar stat lines this week, with five to six catches and 60 to 70 yards for each receiver. My model gives Marshall a slight edge in all categories, including a better chance of finding the end zone, despite Decker's past usage inside the 20-yard line.

7) Derek Carr improved his completion percentage on throws of 20-plus yards last season by 15 percent from 2014

Fantasy impact: He went from completing 22 percent of his throws of 20-plus yards in 2014 (last in the league) to 37 percent in 2015. For reference, the league average was 35 percent in 2015. His TD:INT ratio went from 2:2 to 10:3 year-over-year as well. Sidebar, I really like Carr versus the Saints defense this week.

8) Saints tight ends have seen the second-most targets since 2011 at 819, with 110 going Benjamin Watson's way last year

Fantasy impact: You know who is three inches taller and eight years younger than Watson? Coby Fleener. Fleener also ran a 4.45 40-yard dash and had a 37-inch vertical jump at the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine. Fleener only saw 83 targets last season while sharing duties with Dwayne Allen in Indy, so I'm thinking Fleener is in a great spot for a breakout year. For Week 1, I like Fleener as a top-five tight end.

9) The Dolphins defense was on the field for five minutes, 15 seconds more than their opponents last season which, the third-largest differential

Fantasy impact: Look for Miami to ask Arian Foster to play a pivotal role in keeping the offense from becoming one-dimensional this week on the road in Seattle. And on the flipside ...

10) ... the Seahawks possessed the ball for three minutes and 23 seconds more than their opponents last season (fourth-largest differential)

Fantasy impact: It follows that the Seahawks relied on the run last season, rushing the ball on 48.3 percent of their offensive plays. That was the fourth-most in the league (the league average was 40.9 percent). Look for Thomas Rawls to be the No. 1 back in upcoming weeks.

11) Allen Robinson was targeted 47 times (33 percent of his targets) 20 or more yards down the field, catching 19 passes of that variety

Fantasy impact: Of Blake Bortles' 35 touchdowns last year, 29 came when the Jaguars were trailing. I understand the logic that the improvements to the defense will temper the fantasy returns of the Jaguars offense, but I don't think that logic works with this matchup ... come on, they're playing Aaron Rodgers.

12) Spencer Ware averaged 5.6 yards per carry and 3.2 yards after contact from Week 6 on in 2015

Fantasy impact: If Jamaal Charles doesn't play on Sunday, go all-in on Ware.

13) The Washington defense allowed 4.83 yards per carry in 2015, the second-highest mark in the league

Fantasy impact:DeAngelo Williams is my No. 1 projected running back this week.

14) Chandler Jones recorded 12.5 sacks as a Patriot last season and has recorded 10-plus sacks in two of the last three seasons

Fantasy impact: Remember, he now plays for the other team in the Patriots vs. Cardinals matchup on Sunday Night Football.

15) DeSean Jackson leads the NFL with 33 receptions of 50-plus yards since 2008

Fantasy impact: He's also recorded 100-plus receiving yards in three of his last four Monday Night Football matchups.

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-- Cynthia Frelund is the NFL Media analytics expert who appears regularly on NFL Fantasy LIVE and GameDay Morning. Follow her on Twitter @cfrelund

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