It’s not easy to handicap Week 1 with zero games of data to work with. However, that makes the edge 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.
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.
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 is 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 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.
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.
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.