Monday - Jan 25, 2021

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DFS Value Plays: Week 1

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Week 1 is finally here which means it is time to dive into as many DFS contests as you can! So much can happen in fantasy football so I like to hedge with several lineups each week. Often times I’ll have many of the same key components across the board with a few tweaks at certain positions. I find the key to DFS is to identify the sweet spots at each position, leveraging your contest’s budget to its greatest potential. Week one is always tricky since we are using mostly 2016 data but lets dive into it and take a look at a few guys I’m high on in week 1.


Carson Palmer (DraftKings $6,000 / FanDuel $7,300)

The Detroit secondary got absolutely abused by Tom Brady in their pre-season week 3 “dress rehearsal” Seeing the way  Detroit was picked apart must have the Cardinals licking their chops heading into week 1. We know about Palmer’s weapons including Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown and David Johnson (who is excellent catching out of the backfield) but the main reason for the recommendation is the match-up. Detroit gave up the second most passing touchdowns last season (33) finishing only behind the Browns – you don’t have to be from Cleveland to know that’s not good company to keep! Carson for the price is easily the best value at quarterback this week.

Carson Wentz (DraftKings $5,300 / FanDuel $7,100)

I’ve been banging the Carson Wentz drum all off-season and see no reason to stop now. Week one has Wentz facing off against a banged-up Washington secondary that allowed the 8th most passing yards in the NFL last season. The Washington secondary is middling at best once you get past Josh Norman so while I look for Alshon Jefferey to have a less than stellar afternoon, the rest of the WR and TE corps should be running free. Speaking of defensive secondaries, you know who has one of the worst in the league talent-wise? Philadelphia. The over/under is at a reasonable 48 points but this could be a sneaky shootout if one of these defenses can’t step up.

DeShone Kizer (DraftKings $4,800 / FanDuel $6,000) 

This is the play for those who blow the budget everywhere else and just need a guy with upside. Kizer definitely has that! This week the rookie faces the Pittsburgh Steelers at home. Last we saw the Steelers (in games that count) they were getting smoked by Tom Brady to the tune of 384 yards and 3 scores through the air. Now Kizer is obviously not Tom Brady and likely never will be but this matchup at home isn’t terrifying. Given that it’s his first real action, I’d expect a good bit of running as the pocket closes in on him. Rushing counts – a lot in fantasy! Pittsburgh is of course a heavy favorite so we should get plenty of Garbage time, which also counts in fantasy! He’s a wildcard for sure but Kizer could really free up your budget and just might put you in the big money this week.

Running Backs

Christian McCaffrey (Draftkings $5,400 / FanDuel $6,500)

Jonathan Stewart (DraftKings $5,000 / FanDuel $6,100)

The 49ers gave a up a league worst 2,320 yards and 24 touchdowns to opposing rushers last season and that’s not counting any passes caught out of the backfield! These backs are cheap due the unknown split but you have to think in a matchup this juicy, that both will get good runs and both might score. These guys will be widely owned due to the match-up so this is far from a contrarian play. I just don’t see a way I can keep these players out of many of my lineups at this price. It is anyone’s guess as to who will get the better end of the split this weekend, my money is on McCaffrey having the bigger overall day  yardage wise with Stewart scoring the touchdowns. This could easily turn into a Chris Johnson / Lendale White situation with a little less speed and a lot less heft!

C.J. Anderson (Draftkings $4,600 / FanDuel $7,200)

This has to be our locked-in, best value at running back this week. The Chargers were the fifth most generous defense to opposing running backs in 2016 giving up 1,317 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground.  This current price has to be attributed to last seasons let down by CJA where he only played in 7 contests but make no mistake, he’s back at full strength and ready to roll! Jamaal Charles might steal a couple of touches but this is C.J.’s backfield. Given the match-up, he should dominate this contest. Who doesn’t love a Monday night ace-in-the-hole?

Dalvin Cook (DraftKings $5,900 / FanDuel $6,500)

So maybe you aren’t a C.J. Anderson fan but you still want a running back in the Monday night double-header, look no further than Dalvin Cook. He has looked great in pre-season action and now draws the generous New Orleans Saints “defense.” Its no secret that the Saints are soft against the pass but they sure can’t stop the run either! New Orleans gave up 1,426 yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground good for 3rd worst in the league last season. In addition, they also surrendered 868 yards and 5 touchdowns receiving to opposing running backs. You know know who’s pretty good catching it out of the backfield? Dalvin Cook. You know who is a check-down champion? Sam Bradford. Lock him in at $5,900/$6,500.

Todd Gurley (DraftKings $6,000 / FanDuel $7,300)

I expect the Rams to be in this game all the way and in order to be “in it,” Todd Gurley needs to eat. The Colts were the 9th most generous defense to opposing rushers in 2016 so the match-up is enticing. Scott Tolzien is far from competent so there is a good chance the Rams are up in this one, running out the clock. Even if it is a good contest, Gurley is involved in the passing game a decent amount so game-flow shouldn’t effect him too much. He is not an amazing value but he’s certainly an amazing talent in that mid-range where he may be owned a bit less than the top end guys or the bargain priced players. New regime, new year – I’m betting on Gurley in week 1.

About David Olivarez

David has been writing fantasy football content steadily since 2012 on the web and has been a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association since 2014. He focuses on Daily Fantasy Sports and Trade Analysis. Feel free to ask him questions on Twitter!