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Andrew Swanson | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer

DFS Targets for Week 1
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.

Some examples to exploit are Adrian Peterson taking over the starting RB role for the Redskins after Derrius Guice suffered a knee injury. Peyton Barber is priced lower than Ronald Jones despite Barber earning the starting role in Tampa over the rookie, and Keelan Cole moving up the depth chart in Jacksonville with Marqise Lee on injured reserve with an ACL tear.

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.

Note: Salary amounts are Draftkings pricing


H2H/Cash - Drew Brees vs. Tampa Bay ($6,800)

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.

Other options to consider - Cam Newton vs. Dallas & Kirk Cousins vs. San Francisco

GPP - Philip Rivers vs. Kansas City ($6,400)

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. 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.

Other options to consider - Andy Dalton @ Indianapolis & Blake Bortles vs. N.Y. Giants

Fade - Russell Wilson @ Denver ($6,200)

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 price.

Running Backs

H2H/Cash - Leonard Fournette @ N.Y. Giants ($7,100)

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.

Other options to consider - Melvin Gordon vs. Chiefs & Christian McCaffrey vs. Dallas

GPP - Joe Mixon @ Indianapolis ($6,100)

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 pass-catching duties.

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.

Other options to consider - James White vs. Houston and James Conner @ Cleveland

Wide Receivers

H2H/Cash - Michael Thomas vs. Tampa Bay ($7,800)

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, 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.

Other options to consider - Stefon Diggs vs. San Francisco & Chris Hogan vs. Houston

GPP - John Ross @ Indianapolis ($3,900)

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 to

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.

Other options to consider - Keelan Cole @ N.Y. Giants & Mike Williams vs. Kansas City

Fade - DeAndre Hopkins @ New England ($8,300)

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.

Tight End

H2H/Cash - Kyle Rudolph vs. San Francisco ($4,500)

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 option.

Other options to consider - Greg Olsen vs. Dallas & Jack Doyle vs. Cincinnati

GPP - Austin Seferian-Jenkins ($3,200)

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.

Other options to consider - Ricky Seals-Jones vs. Washington & Mike Gesicki vs. Tennessee

Fade - Delanie Walker vs. Miami ($4,900)

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.