It’s now August, and training camps are in full swing. Before we know it, we will be watching the third preseason game and making our final judgements on teams and players. I’m sure most of you readers are salivating for the official start of the NFL season. For us DFS fanatics, DraftKings has already released their Week 1 pricing. It’s the perfect time to start browsing through the players, and constructing some lineups. You had better be paying close attention to camp reports to have a definitive edge over the public once contests are open for business. We can easily identify which teams and players are getting the most hype right now and this will change as the preseason moves along. Try and separate yourself from the crowd with some overlooked and undervalued players. Let’s dive into some general observations about player pricing so you are ready for September 8th.
A lot of the higher end fantasy players are not on the main slate. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to anchor our lineups with some of the better offenses in the league. It would be nice to start Week 1 with some players from the Saints, Texans, and Steelers. I’m especially disappointed that I can’t use rookie RBs Josh Jacobs or David Montgomery. Using rookies early in the season is a favorite strategy of mine; they tend to carry lower ownership, and you get them at reduced salaries. I was looking forward to using them early on before potential breaking out and garnering higher ownership but it is not to be.
Once again, player salaries are closely tied to ADP for opening weekend. The only exception is the QB position. Lots of QBs seem priced up, and just as many RBs appear priced down. It’s almost like DraftKings is begging us to pay down at RB and pay up at QB. I’m very suspicious of this tactic, as Sportsbooks are not in the business of losing money. Your process is going to be very important in deciding how to attack this slate.
Let’s take a look at the individual positions and their pricing.
Wow, I was not expecting this at all. There are only three RBs priced above $8,000 on the main slate. While I don’t necessarily understand it, I won’t be complaining about it either. With so much value at the position, spending up at RB could actually be a contrarian play Week 1. Having Saquon Barkley and David Johnson in the same lineup might be super unique and offers massive upside. Right now, I expect RB ownership to be saturated below this price point. It can be very beneficial to pivot off higher owned players, but in this case, some of the value is too good to ignore.
Some guys in this mid-range that should catch your eye are Leonard Fournette, Kerryon Johnson, Chris Carson, Marlon Mack, and Mark Ingram. All these players are reasonably priced, in plus matchups, get the majority of the snap counts, should see goal line work, and are game script proof. They each offer a nice baseline for cash contests, and the upside to compete for winning a GPP. Barring anything drastic between now and the season opener, I expect players in this range to carry a lot of ownership.
There are a few RBs priced below $5,000 that could be dynamite value for your rosters. For example, Matt Breida is a player who’s been virtually ignored all offseason. The Tevin Coleman signing has overshadowed what was a tremendous year for Breida last season; he had several good games last year despite playing through injury. A highly efficient runner with big play pop, he offers nice upside in the receiving game as well. The matchup against an awful Tampa Bay defense is a huge plus.
Another option at $3,500 is Chris Thompson. With all the attention focused on Derrius Guice and Adrian Peterson, he’s the forgotten man in Washington. Fully healthy as of now, we have seen through several seasons that Jay Gruden loves using Thompson on third down; he can be dynamic in the open field and a PPR machine in the right game script. His matchup against a dangerous Eagles team, as well as Trent Williams’s absence fits the narrative perfectly; he could see upwards of ten targets while Washington plays catch up. I’m willing to take a shot on Thompson at this price before he inevitably goes down with an injury.