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Welcome to Week 1 of the NFL! The “Cheat Sheet” is a feature that will be released every Friday throughout the season. It will be a fluid article (so check back often!) that will encompass everything you need to set your lineups for the NFL. We will go game by game, discussing the most relevant players on each team.
DraftKings strategy and pricing is front of mind, but these can also help you set your season long lineups. I love action, so we will go in order of Vegas point totals, highest to lowest! Let’s do it!
Philadelphia (-2) @ Atlanta – o/u 54.5
So much fantasy juiciness in this game! You should be licking your chops to get as much exposure to this game as possible. Based on last year’s numbers, there is no Week 1 matchup where teams gave up more fantasy points to opposing QBs, RBs, or WRs! That’s the ultimate trifecta!
Sam Bradford ($6,900) is the 14th highest priced QB on the board, but has absolutely tremendous upside. He is certainly high risk considering we have seen him play so little over the course of the last few seasons and we’ve never seen him in a Chip Kelly offense. However, what we do know about Chip Kelly’s offense is that it is dynamic, high scoring, and the QB can put up big time numbers. You may have read the ESPN 100 Facts article, but what it points out is that whoever plays QB can put up fantasy points. If the “Eagles QB” was a player, it would of been the fourth highest scoring QB last season behind Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck and Drew Brees. Additionally, Vegas is expecting this game to be an absolute shootout. A total of 54.5, which is the highest of the week! Not to mention the Eagles being a tiny 1 point favorite, Vegas expects both teams to score quite a bit! On top of everything, ATL was the leagues WORST pass defense last year in terms of yards per attempt!
The biggest question marks appear to be DeMarco Murray ($6,700) & Ryan Mathews ($3,600). I actually think both are under-priced as DraftKings is hedging their bets on both. Murray was never less than $6,800 last season (week 1) and his average salary was $8,439. Needless to say this is a significant discount on the League’s Rushing Leader last season. The concern around the league is that these two will eat into each other’s carries. That’s fair speculation, but no team runs more plays than the Philadelphia Eagles (70.7 last year) so there may be plenty of carries to go around.
Mathews showed plenty of promise last season despite only playing in six games. Never garnering more than 16 carries in any other game, Mathews racked up 11.7 DK points per game. If he were to have that exact game in Week 1, he would provide 3.25x his salary, the 6th best value on the board.
I think the industry is taking a “wait and see” approach, but this is an opportunity to buy both of them before the industry figures out what’s going on. A little more risk, but plenty of upside. Remember that this game has by far the largest total from Las Vegas and a 1 point spread would indicate an absolute shootout.
Jordan Matthews ($7,200) and Nelson Agholor ($5,700) should be big time beneficiaries of this Eagles offense. Matthews really hit his stride after the BYE week last season, averaging 13.9 DK points after the BYE, compared to 9.6 before the BYE. Matthews now steps into the WR1 role for the departing Jeremy Maclin. Agolor is that Maclin replacement, very similar in stature and skill. He is becoming a redzone target and may see even more targets in that department if TE Zach Ertz does not play in Week 1. Both WRs have tremendous upside in this game.
Matt Ryan ($7,500) might be the overlooked QB in this matchup. The whole world wants to see what the Eagles are going to do, but Vegas certainly believes the Falcons will score plenty of points themselves. The Matt Ryan home/road splits are well documented. Four of Ryan’s best five games last season (by Fpts) came at the Georgia Dome. The offensive line is certainly a concern as they have done little to protect Ryan in the preseason and the Eagles were 2nd in the NFL in total sacks last season. However, I think the reward much outweighs the risk. The world is expecting a shootout and I certainly agree.
I am not going to spend much time on Julio Jones ($9,300) because I shouldn’t need to say much. He’s my #1 receiver for many reasons. He averaged 21.3 DK points per game last season (5th most in the league). He was incredibly consistent, returning double digits points in all but two games. In the two that he didn’t, he scored exactly 9.8! He scored over 20 points on eight occasions, over 30 in three different games and 40 or more in two games! He’s the best receiver in the game with the highest total. BUY BUY BUY!
Denver (-4) vs. Baltimore – o/u 52
Are you concerned about Peyton Manning ($8,200)? I think you should be. It was a tale of two seasons for Peyton last year. He was hot out of the gate averaging 23.55 DK points in the first 11 games of the season. The concern is that he completely fell off the face of the Earth and averaged only 11.9 DK pts/gm in the final six games. Six games is a pretty extended period of time for an elite QB to have a bad run. I don’t have the numbers but it’s probably the worst stretch of six games in Peyton’s fantasy career. On the plus side, this game has a massive total and Denver should have little resistance scoring. If you have Peyton in season long formats, you are certainly starting him, but I would exercise caution in weekly games. I will be in “wait and see” mode with Peyton for the first few weeks.
On the flip side, the emergence of CJ Anderson ($7,000) might have led to the decline in Peyton’s numbers. Anderson was an absolute beast down the stretch, averaging 24.28 DK points per game in the final nine games of the season (playoffs included). The Broncos made an effort to force-feed CJ the ball and it worked like a charm. Early reports seem to indicate that using Anderson early and often will be the Broncos game-plan moving forward. I see Anderson as a true 3-down back who also gets the goal line work. You can’t ask for much more from a RB in this pass heavy league.
In my opinion, the only “safe” WR for the Broncos is Demaryius Thomas ($9,100). I think we are far removed from this Broncos offense that can sustain three or four different fantasy relevant pass catchers. Thomas, on the other hand, will get his no matter the situation. He was able to provide ridiculous numbers last season even when Manning was at his worst. A massive 116 catches led to 11 games where he scored 20 or more DK points. The Ravens secondary surrendered the 5th most FPts to opposing WRs last season. Thomas is a must-start in season long formats and one of the safer cash game plays for DFS.
There’s nothing sexy about Justin Forsett ($6,200), which is why he’s often over-looked. However, his fantasy production is very sexy. Forsett was the 8th best DK running back last season, averaging 16.4 DK points per game. Of those RBs, two won’t be playing week 1 (Foster & Bell) so Forsett becomes even more appealing. The matchup is less than ideal against the Broncos but Vegas is expecting quite a few points being scored (o/u 52) in the game. It’s also interesting to note that Forsett is a decent pass catcher, tacking on 44 receptions last season. I expect that number to go up, as new offensive coordinator Marc Trestman comes to the Ravens. Trestman oversaw the Bears offense last season that led to Matt Forte catching 102 balls, an NFL record for a RB.
The 36-year old Steve Smith ($6,400) continues to defy logic and reason. Still a very useful receiver, hauling in 79 passes last season, which was his highest total since 2007. I am a big believer that rest is very important to Smith at this point in his career. He was hot out of the gate last season while his legs were fresh, then he hit the doldrums in the middle of the season before catching his second wind after the BYE week. With that logic, there is no better time than Week 1 to roster Smith who will be Flacco’s main target in potentially the second highest score game of the week.
Dallas (-5) vs. New York Giants – o/u 51
Let’s start with the Cowboys running situation. About a month ago, I was a big fan of Joseph Randle ($5,900). I thought he was going to step right in and run behind a dominating offensive line vs. the Giants who surrendered 135.1 yards per game on the ground last season, third worst in all of football. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Randle will get the bulk of the carries. It doesn’t look like any Cowboys RB will and they will go with a true RBBC (running back by committee). It would be really risky to roster any Cowboys RB in this situation until it becomes more clear what they will do.
Again, don’t overthink Dez Bryant ($8,900). You are obviously starting him in season long formats and you should be getting as much exposure as possible in DFS. He’s a stud receiver, basically the only offensive option on his team, and playing in a game with a massive o/u total. He torched the Giants last season, scoring 27.6 and 27.1 DK points in the two games they played.
My favorite “Boom or Bust” play might be Larry Donnell ($3,200). Donnell provides the combination of opportunity plus a good matchup. Donnell led all TEs in redzone targets last season with 24 (tied with Martellus Bennett) so Eli looks for the big body of Donnell when they get close to the endzone and he had at least one RZ target in every game last season. The matchup with the Cowboys is great on paper, as the Cowboys surrendered the 6th most fantasy points per game to opposing TEs last season. Vegas has this game at a 51 point total which is the third highest total of the week.
Broken-record here with Odell Beckham Jr ($9,200). He was the highest scoring player based on average game last season. Not receiver, but player! He averaged 26.4 DK points per game in the 12 games he played last season. Smoked Dallas for 20.70 and 39.40 DK points in their two meetings. I think there is some more risk with ODB than some other receivers. Simply, it hasn’t been proven that he can repeat his success from last year and with Victor Cruz back in the mix, will ODB lose some targets? Either way, the reward is worth the risk. I am heavily targeting ODB in Week 1.
Update: According to RotoWorld, Victor Cruz may not play before Week 4.
Green Bay (-6.5) @ Chicago – o/u 50
I’ll have to speak about Randall Cobb ($8,000) and Davante Adams ($4,400) together. With Jordy Nelson missing the entire season, both of these guys are expected to see a big boost in opportunity and production. It’s simple, Jordy’s 151 targets are going to have to go somewhere. Many will immediately flock to Adams for his deep value and that’s justified. Adams flashed his brilliance at times last season even with limited work. His 46 receptions led to 570 yards. However, what will be overlooked is how this impacts the new #1 WR in this offense. Randall Cobb was already a big time WR in the league and averaging 19.4 DK points per game last season (8th most in the league). It’s easy to believe that his whopping 106 catches will go up even more without Jordy in the lineup. Cobb is unbelievably consistent scoring over 16 DK points in 14 of 18 games last season (playoffs included). His biggest game (33.3 points) came @CHI. Guess where the Packers will travel in Week 1? Bingo. Chicago. Only Atlanta surrendered more passing yards per game than the Bears last season.
My favorite value play, by far, is Eddie Royal ($3,900). Royal was more than servicable last year, averaging 12.5 DK points per game. However, he was boom or bust, scoring 20+ on four occasions and 7 or less, seven times. That type of production scale is ideal in GPPs and there’s reasons to justify a very good situation for Royal in Week 1. The injury to Kevin White and the departure of Brandon Marshall has vaulted Royal to the #2 WR for the Bears. The pass happy Bears (9th most attempts last season) will open with the Packers in a game featuring a total of 50 set by Vegas. Royal will also be reunited with QB Jay Cutler. The two played one season together, Royal’s rookie season in 2008 for the Denver Broncos. It was by far the most productive season of Royal’s career, tallying 91 catches for 980 yards. They are in a great situation to rekindle that magic in Week 1.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned about Matt Forte ($7,800). With the departure of Marc Trestman, his receiving numbers should take a significant hit. Forte’s PPR value was through the roof considering he broke the RB reception record last season. He will more than likely be confined with a smaller pass-game roll and will have to provide the majority of his value on the ground. He’s still a three down back who will get goal line work, but I cannot imagine him having close to the same season he did last year.
New England (-3) vs. Pittsburgh – o/u 48.5
I suppose we have to talk about Tom Brady ($7,700) No surprises here, you are rostering him just as much as you’d expect. It’s a prime matchup with the Steelers who surrendered the 6th most fpts to opposing QBs last season. If you want the narrative, it’s that Brady and the Patriots have a massive chip on their shoulder this week and will take it out on the Steelers.
The value continues with DeAngelo Williams ($5,100). LeVeon Bell will be suspended the first two games of the season, meaning it’s the DW Show. We haven’t seen Williams outside of a timeshare in quite some time and he never saw more than 14 carries in a game last season. It also doesn’t help that he missed 10 games last season due to injury. I think he is a high risk, high reward play with a relatively low floor. I’d only roster him if I was desperate.
Finally, a stud! It’s Antonio Brown ($8,900)! This guy is insanely good. At least five catches in every game last season and he led his team in receiving a whopping 14 times (by far the most in the league). He’s the only option for the Steelers in this game and he should be rostered accordingly. One of the safer cash game plays of the week in weekly games.
Arizona (-2) vs. New Orleans – o/u 47
I think the only fantasy relevant player for the Cardinals is John Brown ($4,500). He showed some flashed on brilliance with 5 double digit DK point games and twice eclipsed 21 points. I think Brown is in line for a big boost this season with the decline of Larry Fitzgerald, a banged up Michael Floyd and a finally-healthy Carson Palmer. Floyd is a flex play at best in season long leagues, but a nice value flier in DFS. Also, worth noting that his five best games came at home last season, which is where this game will be played vs. NO.
There is a lot of intrigue surrounding Brandin Cooks ($7,100) this season. I love him in season long formats, but this price might be *just* a bit too high for DFS. Being priced at WR17 is aggressive but Cooks’ upside cannot be denied. He went for 15+ DK points in half the games he played last season (5 of 10). The loss of Jimmy Graham & Kenny Stills will open up 209 targets and Cooks is the top beneficiary. I can see a scenario where he is force-fed the ball and he can create some serious matchup issues for a lot of teams. I prefer him in GPPs to cash games.
Indianapolis (-2.5) @ Buffalo – o/u 46.5
Andrew Luck ($8,300) tops my value charts today, despite being priced as the second most expensive QB on the board. That’s a pretty incredible feat, but makes sense since we are using his fantasy outputs from last season. Luck averaged 25.2 DK points per game last season, the most in the league. At his current price, he would return 3.04x his price. On paper the match-up is a bit concerning since the Bills allowed the 3rd fewest yards per passing attempt last season. On the plus side, Luck has additional weapons in his offense in the form of Frank Gore and Andre Johnson. Vegas predicts this to be a fairly high scoring, close game with a total of 46.5 and the Colts being a 2.5 point favorite.
One of the biggest beneficiaries of a change of scenery is Frank Gore ($5,400). I have been expecting a decline in production from Gore for years, but he continues to churn out 1,000 yard seasons. He surpasses the 1100 yard mark against last season and finished as the 20th ranked RB despite only 4 rushing TDs, the fewest he’s had since 2010. Gore would appear to be the primary running option in a high powered offense in Indy. Gore could also receive a nice boost from the IND system that favors RBs as a receiving target in the redzone. Ahmad Bradshaw had 13 RZ targets last season for the Colts, which was second in the league.
If there is such a thing as a “contrarian, value play” it has to be Tyrod Taylor ($5,000). The min-priced QB has earned the starting role for the Buffalo Bills. He will get to make his debut at home in a game with a rather large total of 47 points. Vegas thinks that the Bills can keep it close and are only a 2.5 point underdog. Taylor has been really impressive this preseason. The article makes a really great point. Taylor is not a run-first quarterback, but he has the ability to run. As discussed with Russell Wilson, an extra 40 rushing yards can go a long way for a QB.
San Diego (-2.5) vs. Detroit – o/u 46
It’s very difficult to find a fantasy relevant Charger for week 1. Mostly, it’s a matchup problem with the stout Lions defense that ranked 2nd in total defense last season. No team surrendered fewer rushing yards last season and they were third in the league in INT.
I have very little confidence in Philip Rivers ($7,100) who struggled mightily after a hot start last season. Out of the gate, Rivers averaged 22.05 DK points per game in the first eight games but slipped to 15.15 in the final eight games. The most concerning stat was that he threw exactly 0 or 1 TD pass in 6 of the final 8 games.
The running back situation is also a concern for the Chargers. It appears that the Chargers will commit to a RBBC with Melvin Gordon ($5,500) and Danny Woodhead ($3,700) sharing carries. In this bad matchup with no clear distribution of carries, I am staying away from all RBs.
The most interesting player is Ladarius Green ($3,500). Green has been boasted as a tremendous talent for a few years now, but has been sitting behind the HOFer, Antonio Gates. However, Gates has been suspended for the first four games of the season. That gives Green all the opportunity he can handle. Green isn’t on my radar this week, but he should be on yours early in the season.
Update: Green is being evaluated for a concussion. Status uncertain for Week 1.
Matthew Stafford ($7,000) always makes for an interesting GPP play since he is so volatile. He put up six games of 22+ points last season, but backed that up with seven games of 13 or fewer points. His inconsistency is concerning and the Chargers are about middle of the road in all defensive categories that would impact Stafford.
Another interesting running back situation in Detroit, focused around Joique Bell ($5,200) and Ameer Abdullah ($4,000). It appears that the Lions are sticking with Bell as their #1 back at least this week. I feel it’s only a matter of time before the dynamic Abdullah takes over that role, but for now, both will be eating into each other’s production. The Lions ranked 25th in rushing attempts last season so there wasn’t many carries to go around anyway. I am avoiding both players this week and will evaluate moving forward.
I feel the need to endorse Calvin Johnson ($8,500). I can’t remember a time where there has been so little buzz about Megatron. The emergence of other star receivers in Antonio Brown and ODB, combined with Calvin not playing the entire preseason, has kept him under the radar. I actually think he could be a contrarian play in Week 1 which is shocking to even fathom for one of the best WRs to play the game in a long time! Despite being frustrating, Calvin was outstanding last season. Let’s throw out the games that he was a “decoy” and look at the games we know he was healthy. He averaged 18.35 DK points in his twelve “healthy” games with tremendous upside going for 32 or more in three of those games. I’m curious to see his ownership numbers but I wouldn’t be shocked to see him as low owned as he’s ever been in a Week 1.
Cincinnati (-3.5) @ Oakland – o/u 44
Give me all the Jeremy Hill ($7,100)! A great player in a great situation here. Despite a timeshare last season, Hill emerged as one of the top fantasy RBs. It’s clear that he feasted when we received the bulk of the work, averaging 22.4 DK points per game, in the seven games that he saw 15+ carries. It’s safe to assume that Hill will see 15+ carries in this game as he has cemented himself as the starter in Cincy. Hill should also get all the goal line work and there is no matchup better than OAK. The Raiders surrendered the most fantasy points to opposing RBs last season. He is safe to deploy in all formats.
Okay, I’ll bite. I think Tyler Eifert ($3,500) makes for an interesting play here in Week 1 and potentially moving forward. He only played on game last season before getting hurt, but the reports from Bengals camp are glowing. Some of the phrases being thrown around include “uncoverable” and that Andy Dalton throws to Eifert “whenever he’s in a jam or needs a big play”. Eifert is certainly a high upside player at a position that is incredibly thin. It’s not unrealistic to think that Eifert could see the second most targets this season behind AJ Green.
I am all aboard the Latavius Murray ($5,700) hype train. It may not be in Week 1, but I think Murray is prime for a breakout year. The Raiders have gotten rid of all his competition in Darren McFadden and Trent Richardson (hehe), so it’s the Murray show whether it works or not. He started to really show some chops when he received 68 carries over the final four games. He averaged 11.8 DK points per game against the stout run defenses of SF, KC, BUF, and Den. I think he is a nice value play in Week 1 but I am cautiously optimistic. I am looking forward to seeing how the Raiders use him.
I am also optimistic on Amari Cooper ($6,700). This is the best skilled WR the Raiders have had in a long time. He really passed the eye-test in the preseason, and his route running is as good as it gets for a 21 year old. I think he is going to be a PPR monster as he has quickly become Derek Carr’s favorite target.
Miami (-3.5) @ Washington – o/u 43.5
Ryan Tannehill ($7,400) seems to be the sexy pick to have a breakout season. It’s certainly justifiable praise considering Tannehill’s consistency last season. According to ESPN’s 100 Facts, no QB posted a double-digit fantasy point game (ESPN standard) in all 16 games last season. There were five QBs that accomplished that feat in 15 games. They were Andrew Luck, Drew Brees, Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger and Ryan Tannehill. Many would argue that Tannehill upgraded his WR corp with another year of Jarvis Landry while adding Kenny Stills, Davante Parker and Jordan Cameron to the mix.
The never-ending Quarterback Saga for the Washington Redskins took another turn when the team announced that Kirk Cousins ($5,000) will start Week 1 vs. the Dolphins. That makes another minimum priced QB who will be getting the nod this week. During Cousins small sample as a starting QB, he appears to be completely matchup dependent (see below). Unfortunately for Cousins in Week 1, he takes on the Dolphins who allowed the 9th fewest fantasy points to opposing QBs last season. Cousins should certainly be on your radar moving forward, but I will be hard pressed to start him this week.
Seattle (-3.5) @ St. Louis – o/u 43
One of the safest options on the board is Russell Wilson ($7,800). Not only is he one of the highest scoring QBs in terms of fantasy, averaging 21.9 DK points per game last season, but his rushing ability tends to provide a nice floor. Wilson rushed for over 40 yards, 8 times last season. It may not sound like much, but that’s the equivalent of throwing an extra touchdown pass. It’s scary to think about Wilson on the turf in St. Louis. The game he played in STL last season was his highest scoring total of the season, for a massive 43.12 DK points.
The most expensive option is going to be Jimmy Graham ($5,600). I think the unknown surrounding Graham certainly lends to him being more of a GPP play. We have yet to see how he will work into the Seahawks offense. I suspect that his total number of catches will decline since the Seahawks are prone to running the ball. I do believe he will quickly be the redzone favorite for Russell Wilson so I don’t think his TDs are in any real danger. Fantasy-wise, he may become too dependent on TDs for scoring, but only time will tell. He’s one of my favorite GPP plays this week, but I wouldn’t touch him in cash games.
I don’t want to make a habit or starting RBs versus the SEA defense, but Benny Cunningham ($3,000) needs to be on your radar. The minimum priced RB may be in line for a massive workload in Week 1. Todd Gurley won’t be ready and Tre Mason’s status is in doubt. If both sit out, Cunningham will have to shoulder a large percentage of the running duties. Cunningham had a nose for the endzone last season and scored double digit DK points on five occasions, despite never seeing more than 9 carries in any game. He would make a GPP play at best and his status might not be confirmed until close to game-time.
Tampa Bay (-3) vs. Tennessee – o/u 42
Let’s talk about Marcus Mariota ($6,000) and Jameis Winston ($6,000) together. They are both in very similar situations. They have the same price and both will be making their NFL debut against one another in Week 1. I slightly prefer Marcus Mariota in GPPs because of his upside. He is similar to Russell Wilson in that his legs can pick him up some additional points on the ground. He’s a dynamic athlete who has tremendous upside against TB who surrendered the 8th most yards per attempt last season. He rarely turns the ball over so he should avoid the negative score more often than Winston.
On the other hand, Winston has a much better WR unit in Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson. Winston has looked very impressive during the preseason, improving significantly from his first start to his second. Even so, Winston is always an INT risk, so I think his floor is lower than Mariota’s floor.
It’s clear that Vincent Jackson ($6,000) is no longer a top fantasy option, but he could be primed for a big game in Week 1 depending on the health of teammate Mike Evans. Evans is questionable for Week 1, and did not play in either of the final two preseason games. If he doesn’t go against TEN, Jackson’s value will jump. He was certainly serviceable last season, racking up 70 catches and 1,002 yards despite being overshadowed by Evans. The Bucs should benefit from a much improved QB situation. Keep an eye on Evan’s status but V-Jax could become the number one option for a mid-tier price.
Are you a glutton for punishment? If so, consider rostering Doug Martin ($4,500). To say last season was a disappointment would be an understatement. Despite his flaws, Martin did show some double digit upside later in the season. I’ve been cautiously optimistic watching him break off some decent runs in the preseason and looking strong and healthy. I would rarely roster him in season long formats because of Charles Sims and Bobby Rainey breathing down his throat. However, it seems the Bucs coaching staff has locked Martin in as the #1 RB and he should see the bulk of the work. It’s a great matchup with the Titans who surrendered 137 yards per game on the ground last season, second worst in the league. I don’t think 3x value is out of his range of outcomes.
Minnesota (-2) @ San Francisco – o/u 41.5
Of the top notch running backs, my favorite is Adrian Peterson ($7,700). I am buying into the narrative that he has a massive chip on his shoulder and has had a year to stew and think about this game. He has a lot to prove and in my mind, he will be considered the best running back in football until he proves me otherwise.
After the BYE week last season, Charles Johnson ($4,900) really hit his stride with QB Teddy Bridgewater. Johnson averaged 11.77 DK points per game in those 7 contests. I think it’s pretty clear that Johnson will be the #1 WR on this team despite the big contract of Mike Wallace. The 49ers are trying to plug the gaps of lost starters on the defensive side of the ball. It’s not unreasonable to think they could take a few weeks to form a defensive identity. They could be susceptible to surrendering big games in the meantime.
It’s finally Carlos Hyde ($5,300) time for the 49ers. The second year back will be unleashed as the starting RB for SF. His role is still TBD and it’s reasonable to think that Reggie Bush will spell Hyde on third downs or passing situations. However if you are willing to take on a little risk, you could reap the benefits. MIN allowed the 9th most rushing yards to opponents last season. The Niners love to run the ball, ranking 9th in rushing attempts per game last season (29.4).
Houston (-1.5) vs. Kansas City – o/u 41
One of the most popular picks of the week will be Alfred Blue ($3,600), and for good reason. The pricing was released for Week 1 before the Arian Foster injury. So that shoots a very cheap Blue into the starting role. The Texans led the league in rushing attempts last season and there’s little reason to think they would significantly change their strategy this season. In the five games where Blue saw significantly workload last season (13 or more carries), he averaged 13 DK points per game. That would be more than enough to pay for himself at his current price point. The matchup with KC is great as well. The Chiefs surrendered 127.2 rushing yards per game last season, 5th worst in the league. Don’t think you’ll be the only one on him, Blue will be very highly owned.
The big “Boom or Bust” player is DeAndre Hopkins ($7,400) who will become the #1 WR (if he wasn’t already) for the Texans this season. The departure of Andre Johnson will open up a whopping 147 targets. The problem is, those targets mostly came under Ryan Fitzpatrick who is also no longer with the Texans. It is still TBD what type of chemistry Hopkins will have with starter Brian Hoyer. Hopkins went for double digits in 11 of 16 games last season. I think he is a risky play at $7,400 without knowing how the Texans will use Hoyer, but the upside is tremendous.
I don’t need to spend much time on Jamaal Charles ($7,900). He’s a stud and one of the safest plays on the board. The Chiefs offense starts and end with Charles. He has guaranteed touches, catches the ball well and should see goal-line work. Everything you want in a #1RB. Roster generously!
A total x-factor in KC will be Jeremy Maclin ($6,900). Coach Reid definitely knows how to use Maclin after spending four years together in Philadelphia. Maclin proved he was healthy last year throwing up 85 catches and 1,318 yards, ranking him the 12th best DK WR last season. Maclin has been extremely impressive in the preseason and appears to have a nice rapport with QB Alex Smith.
A really sexy TE pick this year is Travis Kelce ($4,800). It’s certainly logical considering the lack of other pass catching options on this team. Kelce appears to be a tremendous talent and upside. Kelce has been described as a “bully” when it comes to catching the ball and his redzone numbers back up that claim. Kelce caught 10 of his 13 redzone targets last season, the 2nd highest completion % of any TE with more than 10 targets. The TE position is wide open this season. Kelce’s ceiling is the 3rd best WR while his floor is about WR15.
Carolina (-3.5) @ Jacksonville – o/u 41
I believe people know that Jonathan Stewart ($5,800) was good last year, but don’t realize HOW good. Stewart averaged 14.6 DK points per game over the last 9 games (including playoffs). It gets even better when Stewart didn’t have to share the workload with DeAngelo Williams, averaging 17.3 DK points in games he saw 15 or more carries. With Williams out of town, it’s the J-Stew show. With no clear, proven backup Stewart should be in line to be on the field a ton including third downs and goal line situations. That should lead to a significant increase in his ceiling. The matchup should be plenty to feast on. Jacksonville surrendered 127.1 rushing yards per game last season, 6th worst in the league.
The Jordy Nelson injury has over-shadowed the Kelvin Benjamin injury. In turn, the biggest beneficiary in Devin Funchess ($3,800) hasn’t gotten much press time around the industry. Very similar situation for the Panthers, where Kelvin’s 146 targets are now up for grabs. Expect a lot to go to tight end Greg Olsen, but Funchess is really the only wideout the Panthers have! The Rookie out of Michigan will be hurled into a position of great opportunity. His size should lend to plenty of redzone targets. The Panthers take on the miserable Jaguars in Week 1, so keep an eye on Funchess before his price jumps.
The cash game play is Greg Olsen ($5,300). As discussed, the injury of Kelvin Benjamin really opens up a ton of targets (146 to be exact). Olsen is already coming off an 84 catch season and broke the 1,000 yard mark for the first time in his career. He’s certainly in line to improve those numbers as he will take on the vast majority of the red zone targets. Benjamin and Olsen dominated the RZ targets last season, garnering 39 targets compared to 18 combined for the other 7 pass catchers.
Allen Robinson ($5,400) is an interesting play for the Jaguars. It’s safe to assume this team will have to throw a ton this year after throwing 34.8 times a game last season. Robinson projects to be the biggest beneficiary of these targets especially while TE Julius Thomas is sidelined. Robinson was solid in the ten games he played last season before injury. He averaged 11.7 DK points per game and has looked like the top receiving option in three preseason games, racking up 103 yards on seven grabs. I believe he is the only JAX player worth mentioning for Week 1.
New York Jets (-3) vs. Cleveland – o/u 40
Ryan Fitzpatrick ($5,500) gets the opportunity to start after first stringer, Geno Smith, broke his jaw during an altercation with a teammate. Fitzpatrick is no stranger to the starting role, starting twelve games for the Houston Texans last season. He only threw for 2 or more TDs in 4 of those starts, but flashed his upside with a 6 TD performance in week 12 vs. the Titans. You could argue that he has a better receiving corps this season in New York with Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker as his receiving options. Fitzpatrick might have his hands full with a Cleveland defense that surrendered only 6.1 yards per pass attempt last season, but for a near min-priced QB, you don’t need much of a return.