The first week of the NFL season
is one of my favorite weeks for DFS, as there are numerous opportunities
to exploit because DraftKings and Fanduel set player values well
before NFL teams make final roster moves. In addition, late training
camp injuries, like the unfortunate ACL tear of Jerick McKinnon,
create discounted player options that don’t typically occur
as the season progresses.
I like to find two or three foundation players with high floors
and high ceilings to begin my roster, then fill in open spaces
with players like Cole and Barber who are priced at a significant
discount. Assuming my foundation players hit and a few of the
upside players come through with big games, I should have a decent
chance of cashing.
Here are a few other DFS plays I am targeting this week:
Even on the road, Leonard Fournette represents
a solid cash game play at a reasonable price.
Of the three quarterbacks priced over $6,800 on DraftKings -
Tom Brady, Cam Newton & Drew Brees, the latter is the one who
is worth paying up for in cash games. Yes, Brees enters 2018 on
the heels of his worst fantasy season during his time with the
Saints, and yes, Alvin Kamara is fantastic and could take away
a rushing touchdown or two from Brees. But Sean Payton is a coach
who loves to exploit weaknesses in his opponents, and the secondary
is without a doubt the weakest link of the Buccaneer defense.
Only the Colts own a worse secondary according to ProFootballFocus,
with only veteran cornerback Brent Grimes earning a grade higher
than 80 (82). When you compare that to a run defense for Tampa
Bay that ranks fifth in the NFL according to the same ranking
system, it will behoove Payton to rely on his future hall of fame
quarterback to attack the Bucs.
Rivers was surprisingly bad against Kanas City last season, with
one touchdown and six interceptions in two losses against the
Chiefs. Although the Chiefs finished the season allowing the second-most
points to opposing quarterbacks, Rivers threw 60% of his season
total of interceptions against his divisional rival.
Although his recent history suggests that Rivers should be a
fade against the Chiefs, a positive game script in what could
be a high scoring game may make Philip an excellent GPP play to
open the season. ProFootballFocus.com ranks the Chiefs as the
No.28 ranked secondary to enter the season, continuing a recent
trend of struggling to stop the pass for the Kansas City defense.
Add in the fact that Chiefs boast a potent offense with a rookie
quarterback who may present the Chargers with numerous short fields,
and you have a recipe for a massive ceiling game for Rivers.
While I certainly think Wilson is capable of putting up big points
in any matchup, a road game against the Broncos is not one that
I would target when there are other solid plays for similar salaries.
The Bronco pass rush of Von Miller and Bradley Chubb is going
to be a rough first game for the rebuilt Seattle offensive line,
and Doug Baldwin’s inability to play in the preseason due to a
knee injury makes me apprehensive to play Wilson, even at a discounted
A foundation player that will be in my lineup in all cash games
is Leonard Fournette. Not only is the matchup attractive based
on opponent and game script, but Fournette also looks to be in
great shape in the preseason and should build upon his streak
of four touchdowns and 185 rushing yards combined in his last
two playoff games in 2017.
With the Bengals finally pulling the plug on Jeremy Hill, second-year
running back Joe Mixon now assumes the full starting role for
Marvin Lewis in Cincinnati, with Giovani Bernard working in for
Mixon’s preseason stats are a bit of a concern, as the
former Oklahoma Sooner averaged a paltry 1.8 yards per carry in
his three games of action this summer. But Mixon has shined in
the passing game at times, and the plus matchup against a Colts
defense that allowed 4.0 per carry to their opponents is too attractive
to pass up. The boom/bust threat that Mixon possesses makes him
a risky play in head-to-head formats, but his home run potential
is perfect in GPP.
Pairing Thomas with Brees is an excellent stack in cash games
and an easy way to give your roster a strong based to build upon.
The Bucs boast a top-five run defense and one of the worst secondaries
according to ProFootballFocus.com, leading me to believe that
Sean Payton will lean on Brees and the passing game to gain an
edge on Tampa Bay.
Thomas gave owners a nice floor of at least 10 fantasy points
in all but two games last season and should continue to be a target
monster for Brees in 2018. Although the $7,800 price tag is a
bit hefty and will require finding discounts at other roster positions,
the level of production that he will provide, and the high floor
is well worth the investment. Owners who go with Thomas should
consider pairing inexpensive cash game running backs like Carlos
Hyde and Peyton Barber.
Ross at $3,900 is the perfect boom or bust wide receiver that
should be considered in GPP contests. The former first-round pick
in 2017 is healthy entering the season and flashed the game-changing
speed and agility that made him a star in college, while the Colts
secondary allowed the 22nd-most points to opposing wide receivers
last season and projects to be the worst unit in 2018 according
I don’t typically stack quarterbacks and wide receivers
in GPP formats, but I am going with Dalton and Ross in the millionaire
maker Week 1.
I anticipate that Bill Belichick will focus his attention on
taking away Hopkins as the No. 1 option in the Texans offensive
attack while forcing Deshaun Watson and Lamar Miller to beat the
Patriots. Hopkins may reach the end zone, but I doubt he will
have a monster game worthy of his price tag.
The 49ers finished in the middle of the pack last season in points
allowed to tight ends, allowing 70 catches for 645 yards and eight
scores in 16 games in 2017. Although no opposing tight end managed
a monster game against San Francisco, teams who targeted their
tight ends heavily last season, like Philly, New York Giants,
and the Tennessee Titans all managed to give them at least six
targets against the 49ers.
The 49ers allowed the 7th-most red zone touchdowns last year,
many of which came on play action passes to tight ends like Rudolph.
Look for Kirk Cousins to target his new tight end at least six
times on Sunday with the chance of 60 yards and a touchdown.
If you are comfortable spending a premium on Gronk, he is without
question to the best cash game play at tight end in Week 1. With
Julian Edelman out due to a suspension and the Patriots going
against a solid defensive line, Gronk will likely lead all TE’s
in targets and points, as Brady will lean on his best receiving
No team allowed more points to opposing tight ends in 2017 than
the Giants, and based on the production the G-Men permitted to
David Njoku Week 2 of the preseason, it looks like New York once
again will struggle against mobile tight ends in the passing game.
ASJ signed a two-year $15 million contract over the offseason
to become the starting tight end for the Jags after an injury-riddled
two years with the Jets. When healthy, Seferian-Jenkins was a
viable fantasy tight end with multi-touchdown upside in the right
matchup. Sunday’s game against the Giants falls in line
as a good matchup, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see ASJ
catch a TD in his first game with his new team.
As a Walker owner in season-long leagues, I hope I am wrong in
my prediction that he will have limited production against the
Dolphins on Sunday. Sure, the Dolphins allowed the second-most
points to tight ends last season, and the Miami defense once again
looks to be terrible in 2018. But Walker missed most of the preseason
with a leg injury and only came back to practice in a limited
capacity, making me a bit skittish at the start of the season.
Defense & Special Teams
Baltimore vs. Buffalo ($3,800)
Nathan Peterman has been given the starting role for the Bills
as they kick off the 2018 regular season in a tough road matchup
against the Ravens. The same Nathan Peterman who threw five interceptions
when he made his first career start on the road against the Chargers
last year. Don’t overthink this one and go with the Ravens
against the Bills. If you can’t fork up the $3,800 for the
Ravens, the Titans against the Dolphins are a sneaky sub-3k play.