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Week 1 Thursday Night Football NFL DFS Showdown Breakdown for DraftKings & FanDuel | Cowboys vs. Buccaneers

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Optimal NFL DFS picks for Week 1 Thursday Night Football Showdown lineups on DraftKings & FanDuel from Awesemo's lineup optimizer & projections

Welcome to the NFL Showdown Matchups Showdown Highlights for Week 1 Thursday Night Football. Here we will provide a quick overview of the game’s key storylines and highlight some of the key insights from Awesemo’s world-class suite of tools to find the best NFL DFS picks for DraftKings and FanDuel showdown lineups. Let’s dive into the NFL DFS picks today for the Week 1 Cowboys vs. Buccaneers Thursday Night Football matchup.

Week 1 Thursday Night Football NFL DFS Picks

Dallas Cowboys (23) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (29)

The 2021 NFL season kicks off with a bang, as quarterback Dak Prescott makes his highly anticipated returned following his devastating ankle injury last year. However, Pro Bowl guard Zack Martin will miss this contest due to his placement on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. Tampa Bay, meanwhile, returns all 22 starters from their championship roster and could be even more lethal offensively, with a new pass-catching back in Giovani Bernard and the return of tight end O.J. Howard. Facing Tom Brady at home to the open the season is a tough draw for Dallas’ subpar defense, meaning it will likely take a herculean offensive performance from the offense to keep pace.

Dak Prescott Will Be Popular, and For Good Reason

Despite being touchdown underdogs, Prescott’s projected ownership and Captain ownership look to be nearly as high as Brady’s. This is not too surprising, as Prescott can affect the game as a rusher as well. Still, Brady looks like the safer option where affordable, facing a Dallas defense that ranked 27th in PFF’s team coverage grade.

The Safest Receiver Bets

At $5,600 on DraftKings, Antonio Brown comes in as the highest-value skill position player for either team and ranks second in that metric on FanDuel. CeeDee Lamb comes in as Awesemo’s top-value skill position play on FanDuel and is a strong MVP option in tournaments.

Running Back by Committee in Tampa?

If Leonard Fournette earns more playing time after his excellent performance during last year’s playoff run, then he is a great NFL DFS pick at $7,000 on DraftKings and $11,000 on FanDuel. However, the Awesemo projections show that Fournette is far from a sure thing. Ronald Jones is projected for nearly identical production but comes in at significantly lower salary on both FanDuel and DraftKings.

Do Not Forget About Tom Brady’s Auxiliary Weapons

In large-field tournaments, Howard and Bernard make for fine NFL DFS picks this Thursday. Bernard will not be a particularly popular player, as most fantasy gamers assume Tampa Bay will be playing with a lead and therefore utilizing Fournette and Jones, but Bernard should have some guaranteed looks right off the bat. And if the Buccaneers have early success passing, expect Brady to start to spread the ball around, looking to get in sync with as many receivers as possible. Howard has decent touchdown upside and ranks eighth among all skill position players in Awesemo’s Value metric on DraftKings.

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Michael Gallup, the Forgotten Man in Dallas

Do not forget about Michael Gallup. Even with a hodge-podge group of quarterbacks in Dallas last season, Gallup ranked in the top 40 at his position in expected receptions and just outside the top 40 in expected yards receiving per game. Gallup presents a solid combination of floor and ceiling as the seventh-highest-salary skill position player on DraftKings.

Contrarian Ezekiel Elliott Is Not the Worst

Elliott has a terribly difficult matchup against Tampa Bay’s top-ranked rushing unit and carries the highest salary of any non-quarterback on the slate. But this may ultimately push his ownership slightly below where it should be, as he is the only running back in the game who should get 12-plus touches. He projects to be the fifth-most popular MVP on FanDuel, making him a solid MVP option in small-field tournaments that do not require as much differentiation.

The Bottom Line

It is hard to imagine a scenario where Tampa Bay does not crush the Cowboys, especially if the Dallas defense remains as atrocious as it did last season. Seek alternatives if playing in large-field tournaments, but the Buccaneers running backs should have strong games if the game goes one of two ways: Dallas hangs with Tampa in a shootout, or the Buccaneers get up big. Unless the Cowboys struck gold multiple times in their defensively focused 2021 draft, the Buccaneers should win this game handily at home.

Week 1 Thursday Night Football Prediction

Buccaneers 34, Cowboys 21 (OVER)


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Looking for more NFL DFS picks content? We have loads of daily fantasy football articles, data, DraftKings and FanDuel cheat sheets and more on the Awesemo NFL DFS home page.

A middling athlete who was offered his first sports analytics position at age 14, I've been working on NFL and fantasy football data science since 2017. With a particular passion for data visualization and dashboard building, I love to make data accessible by using graphs and charts to communicate ideas that are difficult to explain with words alone. You can contact me by e-mailing [email protected]

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