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BOOM vs BUST: Top NFL Daily Fantasy Picks to Roster & Avoid for Week 1

Eric Lindquist

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Week 2 NFL Survivor Pool Picks

For years, the NBA Boom Bust Tool has been perhaps the most popular tool Awesemo has to offer. And now, with the help of the incredible data team at Awesemo (including Alex Baker himself), the NFL Boom Bust Tool is making its debut just in time for the 2021 NFL season. Just like its NBA predecessor, the Boom Bust Tool helps identify the strength of a player based on their probability of putting up an elite score (boom) as well as the odds of them crushing lineups with a subpar score (bust). By then comparing those numbers to their projected ownership, it becomes easy to identify which plays may be going over- or under-owned. Let’s take a look at the top player to boom — as well as the most relevant player to bust — at each core position for Week 1 NFL daily fantasy contests when building DraftKings and FanDuel NFL DFS lineups.

Week 1 NFL Daily Fantasy: Boom Bust Top Plays & Fades

Top Quarterback to Boom: Josh Allen

If it were not for Aaron Rodgers‘ play last season, Allen would have been firmly in the 2020 NFL MVP conversation. His 4,544 yards passing and 37 touchdowns were all significant jumps in production, surely a biproduct of the Bills acquiring an elite weapon for their star quarterback in wideout Stefon Diggs. Expect more of the same for Allen in Year 4, beginning with a date with the Steelers on Sunday. Despite garnering the most ownership at the position on DraftKings (9.4%), Allen is still garnering the highest boom odds on the slate (13.5%).

Top Quarterback to Bust: Justin Herbert

As incredible as Herbert’s rookie campaign was, a Week 1 start against a formidable Washington Football Team defense is not what the doctor ordered to begin his sophomore season. Considering there is no discount for the matchup at $6,700 on DraftKings and $7,600 on FanDuel, it should be no surprise that his bust odds are north of 40% on both sites. Even more troubling, his chance of booming is just 2%, making him one of the more difficult quarterbacks to justify rostering in Week 1.

Top Running Back to Boom: Christian McCaffrey

After a lost 2020 season, McCaffrey should be back to his old slate-winning ways in 2021. His 16.7% boom potential is the top mark at the position on DraftKings, and that even factors in his hefty $9,500 salary. He is two years removed from 1,000 yards rushing and receiving, the matchup against the Jets is elite, and McCaffrey is 100% healthy. If prioritizing one back to spend up on, the Boom Bust Tool indicates it has to be McCaffrey.

Top Running Back to Bust: Nick Chubb

There are a number of low-owned running backs in Saquon Barkley and D’Andre Swift with higher bust percentages than Chubb. But considering Chubb is actually appearing in lineups (only 4% ownership on DraftKings), he is the play to focus on fading here. The Browns draw the Chiefs on Sunday, which screams negative game script for Chubb. They will try to run the ball in an attempt to keep Patrick Mahomes off the field, but at $7,200 on DraftKings and with no clear path to receiving work on a PPR site, Chubb is dead if the Browns fall behind (which is likely). All of this is why Chubb sports a massive 54.1% chance to bust in Week 1.

Top Wide Receiver to Boom: Stefon Diggs

The top overall player on the board to outperform salary-based expectations, Diggs is too cheap based on his projected volume in Week 1. Coming off a 2020 season where he caught an astounding 127 passes for 1,535 yards and eight touchdowns, Diggs should again receive as much work as he can possibly handle in 2021. The Steelers’ Ahkello Witherspoon was PFF’s No. 6 corner in 2020 and will do everything he can to slow down Diggs, but a discounted $7,600 tag from other studs on DraftKings mitigates those concerns. Diggs’ 23.4% boom chance against only 18.3% ownership stands out as one of the best leverage spots on the slate.

Top Wide Receiver to Bust: Adam Thielen

This is a reflection of what happens when salaries do not match up with role and game environment. At $7,000 on DraftKings, it would take a major outlier game for Thielen to be a must-have on this slate, and that is backed up by his paltry 4.7% boom chance. He did have a pronounced red-zone role in 2020, catching 14 touchdowns despite less than 1,000 yards receiving. But with elite skill position players in Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson lining up alongside him, regression should in store for that total in 2021. Thielen’s 52.3% bust chances make him a tough play to stomach despite a solid Week 1 spot against the Bengals.


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If you’re interested in other NFL DFS news for multiple game slates, head over to NFL DFS ownership projections, Awesemo's NFL Data Central, DFS NFL rankings, and NFL DFS stacking. Take a look at our depth charts for NFL games, inactives list and starting line-ups.
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