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From the Slot: Week 1 NFL DFS DraftKings Picks Based on Awesemo’s Grades

Geoff Ulrich

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Week 1 of the NFL is here, and Awesemo has a ton of great tools and NFL DFS strategy to help you tackle all the largest contests in DFS. This article will take you through and highlight some of the week’s highest-projected plays at each position on the Week 1 main slate, all based off Awesemo’s projections and models. We will also provide insight into ownership projections and provide some other matchup information for you to make optimal NFL DFS picks for DraftKings and FanDuel lineups each week.

Week 1 sets up like no other slate on the season, as there are no recent usage stats to go off. That is another good reason to have access to Awesemo’s premium projections, as they look back at historical data. The main slate consists of 13 games this week, with the highest game totals belonging to the Chiefs vs. Browns (54.5) and Titans vs. Cardinals (52.5). As for games to be wary of, some of the lowest game totals include the Giants vs. Broncos (42) and Patriots vs. Dolphins (43.5).

Week 1 NFL DFS Picks for DraftKings & FanDuel

QB Kyler Murray | Grades: A, Values: A

Murray and the Cardinals square off against the Titans on the road in Week 1. Both the Cardinals and the Titans ranked inside the top 10 in pace, making them two of the faster-paced offenses in the league. The game total is 52.5, which also makes it the second-highest total on the main slate. While the Cardinals have hinted at trying to get Murray to run less this year, he enters Week 1 completely healthy and with fresh legs, meaning he should at least approach his 8.3 attempts per game from last season.

Murray did not rank as high in yards per attempt as some of the other elite quarterbacks last season, but his running volume and great matchup should offset questions about his passing volume. He projects as the third-highest projected quarterback on the slate but also comes in with half the projected ownership of the highest-owned player at his position. The ownership and leverage here are substantial, setting him up as a terrific large-field tournament target in Week 1.

Projected NFL DFS ownership: DraftKings: 5.1%

RB Derrick Henry | Grades: A, Values: B

It is close at the top between the top three running back plays on Awesemo this week, but Henry seems to pop the most. He is the third-most expensive running back but carries the second-highest points projection at his position and carries the best value score of any running back over $7,000. All things considered, some of the best running backs on DraftKings are underpriced in Week 1, and Henry may be the best of that bunch.

Henry is potentially facing 10% ownership or lower in large fields. The Titans ran the ball 31.4 times per game last year, the second most in the league, and Henry himself averaged around 28 rush attempts in the first three games of 2020. The Titans and Cardinals were two of the fastest-paced teams in the league last year, so the red zone opportunities for Henry figure to be plentiful. Despite his lack of PPR upside, he is still one of the best pay-up options at running back in Week 1.

Projected NFL DFS ownership: DraftKings: 9.9%

WR Calvin Ridley | Grades: A, Values: B

Ridley led the Falcons with 143 targets last year, averaging 9.53 targets per game, which was seventh best in the league. With Julio Jones gone, there is every reason to think that number may go up significantly in 2021. The Week 1 matchup with Philadelphia is a strong target for DFS, as both teams were top 10 in pace last season. Moreover, the Eagles project to again be one of the classic pass-funnel defenses in the league. In 2020 they allowed the ninth-most yards per completion and do not feature any cornerbacks who graded in the top 30 on Pro Football Focus.

Despite the great matchup, Ridley is another player who projects with very palatable ownership at under 15%. Not only does he have less projected ownership than almost every other wide receiver in his range, but Ridley also projects for the most points in the Awesemo model. The Eagles – Falcons game looks like a good game for stacking in Week 1, with Ridley standing out as the best play of the bunch.

Projected NFL DFS ownership: DraftKings: 13.9%

TE George Kittle | Grades: B, Values: B

Kittle returns to action in Week 1 after an injury-plagued 2020. Despite only playing eight games last year, he showed no signs of slowing down as one of the most prolific after-the-catch receivers in the game, averaging 79 yards per game and 13.2 yards per reception, the second-highest mark of his career. Kittle cannot compete with Travis Kelce in terms of volume — Kelce outpaced everyone in the league in targets except Stefon Diggs — but the price gap between them on DraftKings (Kittle is $2,000 cheaper) means Kittle has the better value score on Awesemo this week.

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The matchup here also counts for something. San Francisco is a -7.5 favorite and has a 26.50 team total, the third highest on the main slate. The Lions also ranked last in opponent yards per pass attempt last season, making this one of the best possible matchups for San Francisco’s pass catchers. While he still trails Kelce in the projections by a few points, Kittle’s matchup and price point make him every bit as good of a play this week.

Projected NFL DFS ownership: DraftKings: 15.9%

Top NFL DFS Stack: Kansas City Chiefs

The Awesemo Top Stacks Tool is a unique concept, as it provides the ability to look at both the top-projected stack and the likelihood that said stack will be the highest-scoring quarterback/ receiver combo of the week. This week Kansas City is sitting very high, over 21%, which is 7 points higher than the next stack on the main slate.

Kansas City is expensive, as Patrick Mahomes, Kelce and Tyreek Hill all project at over $8,000 on DraftKings. Still, Awesemo’s ownership projections also show that a Mahomes/Hill stack is not likely to be highly owned, as both Hill and Mahomes project at 6% ownership. The high pricing looks like it will keep the highest-projected stack on Awesemo low owned, making it a great target for GPPs.

Projected NFL DFS ownership: quarterback Ownership DraftKings: 5%


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