Welcome to week 1! I’m excited football is back and we get to finally set lineups. With the season kicking off we also get to jump right into Daily Fantasy where both DraftKings and Fanduel are shelling out big prizes. DraftKings main slate features the NFL $5.55M Fantasy Football Millionaire where first place gets $1 million. On top of that they are giving $1 billion if you set a perfect lineup. Odds of that are pretty slim as you would have to have everything go your way. The thing about football is that anything can happen so I won’t be surprised if it doesn’t happen. Every week if you look at the optimal scoring lineup you will always have players that were completely off everyone’s radar. FanDuel is featuring the $4M NFL FanDuel Sunday Million which also awards a $1 million to first. There’s nothing like a big pot of money to stir up the hype train.
This week will be tricky as we have 4 games that will not be included in the main slate which is Sunday only. We have the season opener between the Chiefs and Patriots. Monday night has two games as the Saints play the Vikings and the Chargers take on the Broncos. In addition, the Buccaneers vs Dolphins game has been rescheduled to week 11 due to Hurricane Irma. That is a significant amount of fantasy players that will be unavailable to you for Sunday’s main slate. Let’s look at each position to narrow down the best value plays.
This position takes a big hit as we won’t be able to use two of the three top priced quarterbacks in Tom Brady and Drew Brees. We had good match-ups for Jameis Winston, Philip Rivers and Sam Bradford but will be unable to use them as well. In addition, Jay Cutler would have been one of the top value picks as his salary is almost at a minimum price for quarterbacks.
Looking at the the top priced quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger is most expensive on DraftKings for the main slate while Matt Ryan is the highest priced on FanDuel. Roethlisberger tends to struggle on the road and faces the Browns where he put up just 167 yards passing and no touchdowns at Cleveland in 2016. Perhaps the return of Martavis Bryant and the addition of Joe Haden‘s knowledge of the Browns defensive plays will lead to a big fantasy day? Expect high ownership for him.
The Falcons are projected to be in one of the highest scoring games of the week with a team total of 28.25. Matt Ryan will be popular facing a bad Bears team and having both Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman healthy to start the season. Aaron Rodgers is the only true elite quarterback option on the main slate that has a team total of 27 points. Rodgers’ matchup against Seattle isn’t ideal but people will look to last season where he had 246 passing yards and 3 touchdowns against them. He should be the highest owned quarterbacks on the slate so there is some merit to fading him and that Vegas total screams must play.
Two quarterbacks I made the most money with are Drew Brees and Cam Newton. These guys helped me in a number of weeks so I always make sure to at least have one team with them. With Brees unavailable I am looking at Newton as a top option. Carolina played one of the hardest schedules last season and this year they have one of the easiest. He is the 2nd highest priced quarterback on the slate and might go slightly overlooked with Rodgers and Ryan a little cheaper on DraftKings. On Fanduel he is a bigger value as the 6th highest price quarterback. He and Kelvin Benjamin looked in sync during the preseason and Newton is always a threat to run the ball in the red zone. Even though they have talked about limiting his running, you can’t change a players style of play that has worked for him so well.
$DPP Value Plays
Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals (DK: $6,000/$261 DPP — FD: $7,300/$365 DPP)
Palmer last season threw for 4,237 yards. It was the 4th time in the last 5 season that he has thrown for over 4,000 yards. He was injured in 2014 which limited him to 6 games. Palmer is often overlooked on slates and gets a good discount as he is the 16th highest priced quarterback. He has a great match-up against the Lions who in 2016, allowed the third-most fantasy points per game and second-most touchdowns to Quarterbacks.
Eli Manning, New York Giants (DK: $5,600/$329 DPP — FD: $7,300/$429 DPP)
Manning is closer to min salary on DraftKings then he is on FanDuel but is a good option if you are going cheap at the position. Last year in the season opener against the Cowboys he threw for 207 yards and 3 touchdowns. He now has more weapons around him with Brandon Marshall and rookie TE Evan Engram. The big concern will be the health of Odell Beckham Jr.
As with the quarterbacks, there will be be a significant impact to the position as 8 of the top 25 priced running backs will be unavailable. Jay Ajayi is the only running back in the top 5 priced on DraftKings that will be unavailable. The debate will be to load-up on Le’Veon Bell in a prime match-up against the Browns or spend $400 less on David Johnson on DraftKings who is in a decent match-up. He is $100 more on FanDuel. This slate will not feature the preseason draft favorites such as Kareem Hunt and Dalvin Cook and both were priced favorably when salaries had dropped.
$DPP Value Plays
Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons (DK: $7,000/$333 DPP — FD: $8,300/$437 DPP)
I like Freeman the most among the top priced running backs who gets a great match-up verses the Bears. He will be in line for a ton of touches and comes in over $2,400 cheaper than Bell or Johnson with just as much upside. On FanDuel he is $1,000 cheaper so the bigger discount is on DraftKings. If you look at the $DPP he is 3rd behind Darren Sproles and Frank Gore for lowest $DPP but Freeman has the potential to put up a three touchdown game.
Bilal Powell, New York Jets (DK: $4,900/$350 DPP — FD: $6,300/$525 DPP)
The top value option I like in the Tier 1 DPP is Bilal Powell. I think the higher ownership will go to Carlos Hyde who is $300 less but will face a very tough Panthers defense. Powell on the other hand will get overlooked because of how bad the Jets are going to be this season. However, the team has been looking to move Matt Forte this preseason and he is still dealing with a hamstring injury. The Jets passing game is poor which will require them to lean on the running backs. Powell will catch a ton of balls in this game. The Bills have traded away some of their defense and are already looking to 2018.