It’s not easy to handicap Week 1 with zero games of data to work with. However, that makes the edge even bigger for those who can logically dissect the slate and get access to as many of the best players as possible. Commentary based on DraftKings strategy and scoring.
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 47 and the Colts being a 2.5 point favorite.
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 53, 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!
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.
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 core 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.
The deep value is going to be Ryan Fitzpatrick ($5,500). Fitzpatrick will step into the starter’s role for Geno Smith. He played admirably last season, averaging 16 DK points per game last season including 4 of his 12 starts going for 19 or more points. He also flashed some tremendous upside in his 42 point, 6 TD game versus the Titans in Week 13. I certainly don’t expect 42 more points from him in Week 1, but he would need to do very little to pay for his meager salary this week.
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.
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).
Kirk Cousins’ 2014 splits vs. top-half and bottom-half pass defenses. I think he’ll be a very useful streamer. pic.twitter.com/54iUn9GJme
— C.D. Carter (@CDCarter13) August 31, 2015
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.