The start of the NFL season is upon us and with that, five months of wall-to-wall daily fantasy football action. Are you ready? We’re ready!
Thoughts for Week 1
Setting lineups during Week 1 presents some major challenges we don’t see the rest of the year. With nine months since any competitive football was played, a lot can change. Matchup data is a bit stale and player roles have evolved — and good luck extrapolating information from the preseason.
For Week 1, there are some sexy names atop the list of names, but resist the urge to draft these guys — unless, of course, there is value justification for doing so. As we know, DFS is so much more about getting the best value and output for that value. There’s no better way to do this than picking based on matchups, especially during the first week.
Without further adieu, here are the guys I like for the opening week:
High dollar picks
QB – Tom Brady (DK-$7,200/FD-$8,600).
Brady torched the Texans last season in an epic shootout. The Texans defense will be healthy, but Tom Brady has had plenty of work in the pre-season and Belichek preps well for his opening games. Brady should look the most polished of all the QBs in Week 1, and there should be enough scoring to keep him throwing for a large portion of the game.
RB – Leonard Fournette (DK-$7,100/FD-$8,000)
There’s a reason I chose Fournette over his other counterparts with great matchups. The Jags are closer to a one-dimensional offense than 90% of the teams in the NFL. In Week 1, we go with the certainties. Fournette faces a bad rushing defense in the Giants and there’s a lot of questions between both teams. Fournette is not one of them.
WR – Deandre Hopkins (DK-$8,300/FD-$8,800)
There’s no one on the Patriots who can cover Hopkins. This game should play out to be a high scoring affair, albeit one in which the Texans will be playing from behind. Patriots will be throwing the ball quite a bit. That means there should be plenty of Deandre Hopkins facing prevent defenses once the Pats start to run away with the game. Regardless of the script of how the game plays out, Hopkins has the most favorable matchup among the WRs this week.
TE – Rob Gronkowski (DK-$6,900/FD-$7,900)
As I’ve explained earlier, this game should resemble a shootout. The Patriots are the closest to season-ready among all the teams in the league, and Gronk is the only sure bet for Tom Brady, amidst a cloudy group of receivers. Anticipate heavy volume for the best tight end in football.
D – Baltimore (FD-$4,800)
The Ravens face the Bills and starting QB, Nathan Peterman. You may recall Peterman had a zero TD and five INT performance in his last start. Now, he will travel to Baltimore with a weakened O-line. What’s not to like here? Oh, it’s supposed to be very rainy as well. Enjoy the feast. Start Baltimore.
Best value picks
QB – Philip Rivers (DK-$6,400/FD-$7,500)
Rivers is a historically great opening day option. The Chiefs defense has been a mess all pre-season and outside of Eric Berry, features inconsistent players across the field. Rivers will exploit this. The Chiefs also had the 8th best defense versus the run in 2017, so the likelihood of the Chargers controlling the game on the ground is slim. Expect Rivers to dissect the Chiefs.
RB – Jordan Howard (DK-$5,500/FD-$6,800)
Howard, under new head coach, Matt Nagy, is being touted as a three down back. This is great news for Howard since Nagy’s Chiefs featured the NFL’s leading rusher in 2017, Kareem Hunt. Howard has the talent to accumulate plenty of yards rushing, but the Bears intend to use him more as a pass-rusher in 2018. The Packers were 19th in fantasy against the run in 2017. Remember the Chiefs opening game in 2017 when Kareem Hunt scored over 40 fantasy points against the Patriots? If there’s any coach I trust to properly utilize his RB opening week, it’s Matt Nagy.
WR – Keenan Allen (DK-$7,500/FD-$7,800)
Allen is the only sure thing right now in a Chargers offense without Hunter Henry and a clear number two. The Chiefs defense, as with most defenses vs Allen, will struggle to defend Allen. It should be a clear path for a big day for the Allen-to-Rivers combo.
TE – Delanie Walker (DK-$4,900/FD-$6,100)
Walker is a good bet to have one of the highest floors of the week. He isn’t the most attractive pick, but consider the fact the Dolphins were 31st against opposing tight ends last season in points surrendered. Walker is Mariota’s most trusted target. Go with what you know. After all, it’s opening week.
D – New Orleans (FD-$4,600)
The Saints had a top ten defensive unit in 2017 and averaged 15.5 (ESPN scoring) points in their two meetings versus Tampa. Expect the Bucs to struggle with Fitzpatrick facing a loaded Saints team.
QB – Andy Dalton (DK-$5,800/FD-$6,800)
The Colts were 24th in surrendering fantasy points to opposing QBs in 2017. They have a new coach, offensive-guru, who has been spending the majority of his time focused on getting his QB ready after a year off. Andy Dalton is low on his priority list. Dalton is a veteran who is playing for a coach coming off a train wreck of a season. All signs are pointing to a big day from Dalton.
RB – Dion Lewis (DK-$4,900/FD-$6,200)
Lewis had a magnificent year in 2017 with New England. The Titans really struggled to move the ball in the air last season, so they went out and signed Lewis. Lewis gives the Titans a true pass catching back and adds another dynamic to this fairly one-dimensional offense. The Dolphins were terrible against opposing RBs last season (24th)
WR – Chris Hogan (DK-$6,100/FD-$6,700)
Hogan is the only wideout on the Patriots we’ve seen be effective with Brady. The matchup is ideal for a breakout game from a sleeper. When we consider the price, Hogan should be a steal for Week One. This should be a high scoring affair. Houston was 29th against opposing WRs in 2017. Hogan’s floor is high in this one.
TE – Vance McDonald (DK-$3,200/FD-$4,500)
If he plays, McDonald has an appealing matchup and high ceiling. The Browns were 28th against opposing WRs in 2017, and McDonald drew a whopping 16 targets in the Steelers playoff loss to Jacksonville. This is a low-radar play, due to McDonald’s game-time status.
D – Cleveland (FD-$3,000)
If your budget is low, Cleveland is worth a shot. For one, it’s supposed to be raining. That’s always a good sign for a fantasy defense. Cleveland is carrying plenty of positive energy into this game, a mistake-free QB, and wide array of weapons on offense. Time-of-possession should be much more balanced than their previous matchups. Greg Williams will have this unit fired up against a Pittsburgh team who has yet to see Leveon Bell report to the team (Holdout). If you’re broke at this point, Cleveland isn’t a bad option.
Collin is a former Army Intelligence and Logistics officer who got a little too into Football analysis. Since leaving the Army, he’s practically the Jack Ryan of football analysts. But he spends most of his days with his wife and two daughters, so he is clearly a better father than Jack Ryan.