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NFL DFS First Look: Week 1 DraftKings and FanDuel Plays | Michael Thomas

Matt Gajewski



Matt Gajewski gives out his top NFL DFS picks at QB, WR, TE and RB plays on DraftKings + FanDuel for Week 1 of the daily fantasy season.

With the NFL season quickly approaching, both FanDuel and DraftKings released their Week 1 salaries well ahead of the season. With injuries, depth chart shifts and COVID-19 affecting playing time, a few players enter Week 1 underpriced. With that said, here is a first look at a few salaries to exploit across platforms in Week 1 for your NFL DFS lineups.

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NFL DFS Week 1 First Look | DraftKings + FanDuel

NFL DFS Picks: Quarterback

Lamar Jackson ($8,100 DraftKings/$9,400 FanDuel)

Providing a difficult decision at the quarterback position, both DraftKings and FanDuel priced up Jackson for Week 1. On DraftKings he comes in as the third-most expensive quarterback, while he remains second on FanDuel.

Jackson provides week-winning upside at the position after passing for 36 touchdowns and adding 1,206 yards with his legs. However, spending this much at the quarterback position significantly limits roster construction. With other studs like Christian McCaffrey and Michael Thomas on the slate, rostering Jackson could hinder lineups.

Potentially carrying high ownership as well, Jackson probably remains best-suited to cash games in Week 1. However, his elite upside always warrants considerations in tournaments.

Matthew Stafford ($6,200 DraftKings/$7,300 FanDuel)

Priced as the QB10 on DraftKings and the QB11 on FanDuel, Stafford draws a sneaky matchup against the collapsing Chicago Bears. Widely perceived as one of fantasy’s top defenses, Chicago actually provides a leverage point for Stafford on the Week 1 slate.

Prior to injury last year, Stafford threw for 2,499 yards and 19 touchdowns. Extrapolated over the course of an entire season, these numbers climb to 4,998 passing yards and 38 scores. Stafford also ranked second in yards per attempt, while completing an absurd 64.3% of his passes.

Looking at the Bears’ secondary, Chicago let Prince Amukamara walk in free agency. Making matters worse, former first-rounder Artie Burns landed on injured reserve and rookie Jaylon Johnson will reportedly be eased into the season. This leaves just Kyle Fuller, Kevin Tolliver and Buster Skrine to man the corner positions for Chicago.

Cam Newton ($6,100 DraftKings/$7,300 FanDuel)

Now with New England, a discounted Newton faces the Dolphins in Week 1. Despite only playing 16 games the past two years, Newton’s dual-threat ability makes sense as a potential punt play. With Miami struggling up front, Newton’s rushing could provide a nice floor for cash games.

Looking at Newton’s recent play, the former MVP has actually recorded some solid stats. In a 14-game 2018 season, Newton completed a career-high 67.9% of his passes for 3,395 yards and 24 scores. Newton also was a running threat, rushing 101 times for 488 yards and four scores.

While Miami improved this offseason, the Patriots remains 6.5-point home favorites here. At just $7,300, Newton looks like a top value for your NFL DFS lineups on this slate.

Teddy Bridgewater ($5,900 DraftKings/$6,800 FanDuel)

Digging deeper yet, Bridgewater enters Week 1 as the QB13 on DraftKings and the QB20 on FanDuel. Bridgewater and the Panthers also matchup against the Raiders in a potential Week 1 shootout. Already projected for 47 points, this total continues to climb ahead of this game.

For DFS purposes, Bridgewater provides a solid floor and potential ceiling in this matchup. Last year, he completed 67.9% of his passes for 7.1 yards per attempt. He also is teaming up with Joe Brady. Brady’s most recent stop in LSU resulted in the No. 1 offense in the country, one that ranked 14th in overall pass attempts.

On defense, the Raiders remain very young and now will rely on first-year corners Damon Arnette and Amik Robertson to start. Vegas already ranked 25th in passing yards allowed per game last year (256.7), creating a shootout environment for Bridgewater.

NFL DFS Picks: Running Back

Christian McCaffrey ($10,000 DraftKings/$10,000 FanDuel)

The most expensive player on each platform, McCaffrey still figures to carry heavy ownership in Week 1. With potential values at multiple other positions, eating some chalk in this spot could make some sense.

McCaffrey just posted an absolutely ridiculous season with 1,387 rushing yards and 1,0005 receiving yards. While the Panthers brought in an entirely new coaching staff and a new quarterback in Bridgewater, McCaffrey’s role still appears secure.

Looking at offensive coordinator Joe Brady, he formerly coached with the Saints and LSU at the college level. In New Orleans Alvin Kamara notched 81 receptions and Clyde Edwards-Helaire snagged 55 last year with the Tigers. Even at $10,000, McCaffrey provides the best floor in DFS.

Miles Sanders ($6,300 DraftKings/$6,800 FanDuel)

Priced as the RB10 on DraftKings and the RB13 on FanDuel, Sanders and the Eagles face the Washington Football Team to kick off their season. Already pegged as 6.5-point favorites, the Eagles should find themselves in favorable game script in this contest.

Sanders also looks like a standout play based on projected workload. The Eagles moved on from Jordan Howard this offseason and vacated 150 carries as an offense. Without Howard in the lineup, Sanders ranked ninth in the NFL with 20.8 touches per game. With the Eagles also avoiding additional running backs this offseason, Sanders finds himself in a potential bell-cow role.

Kenyan Drake ($6,400 DraftKings/$6,600 FanDuel)

Similar to Sanders,  Drake enters Week 1 as the RB9 on DraftKings and the RB14 on FanDuel. He also projects for an increased workload after the Cardinals dealt David Johnson to the Texans this offseason. While Drake faces a stout 49ers defense in Week 1, he showed the ability to take on an increased workload down the stretch.

Last year, Drake came over to Arizona via midseason trade. A valuable role for DFS, Arizona fed 7.1 targets per game to their running backs. On top of the passing game involvement, Arizona averaged the 10th-most rushing yards per game last year (124.4). With a full workload, Drake provides a clear path to value in Week 1.

NFL DFS Picks: Wide Receiver

Michael Thomas ($9,000 DraftKings/$8,800 FanDuel)

The most expensive receiver on both sites, Thomas remains DraftKings’ second-most expensive player overall and FanDuel’s third. Similar to Jackson and McCaffrey, rostering Thomas brings opportunity cost in Week 1.

Looking at 2019, Thomas recorded 185 targets and 28 more targets more than Julio Jones. Thomas also recorded an absurd 1,725 receiving yards and nine scores as Drew Brees go-to receiver. With only Emmanuel Sanders entering the picture as competition, Thomas remains the favorite to lead the NFL in targets in 2020.

However, Week 1 provides a unique opportunity to leverage ownership. Players like Kenny Golladay and Adam Thielen remain significantly underpriced at the same position. While they may not see the same overall target volume, they could lead to a leveraged roster construction. Thomas remains solid in cash builds, but looking elsewhere in tournaments could provide an edge over the field.

DeAndre Hopkins ($6,800 DraftKings/$7,800 FanDuel)

More of a DraftKings play, Hopkins remains the fourth-most expensive receiver on FanDuel but the sixth-most expensive receiver on DraftKings. On FanDuel he is only $1,000 cheaper than Thomas, but that difference climbs to $2,200 on DraftKings.

Over the last five seasons, Hopkins has at least 150 targets. Heading to Arizona, many believe his target volume will decrease. While that may occur with Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk in the picture, the overall offensive efficiency should help Hopkins. Historically, Kingsbury runs four-wide receiver sets, and his offense led the NFL in seconds per snap over the first half of the 2019 season.

With Kyler Murray now entering his second year in the offense, an efficiency boost could help Hopkins here as well. Hopkins never fell below $7,200 at any point on DraftKings last year and he opens 2020 at $6,800.

Marquise Brown ($5,100 DraftKings/$5,900 FanDuel)

After an injury riddled rookie season,  Brown opened Week 1 with a sub-$6,000 price tag on both platforms. Despite the pricing discount, Brown showed elite play-making ability when healthy in Baltimore’s offense. A potential slate-breaking GPP target, Brown remains a value in the mid-price range at wide receiver.

Prior to a Week 4 ankle injury, Brown racked up 18 catches for 304 receiving yards and a pair of scores on 34 targets. This equated to a 24% target share and a 36-% air yards share in Baltimore’s offense. As an overall unit, Baltimore ranked first in the NFL with 31.9 points per game last season. Finally healthy, Brown reportedly bulked up this offseason as well. A premier stacking option with Jackson, this pairing could break the slate.

NFL DFS Picks: Tight End

Zach Ertz ($5,800 DraftKings/$6,600 FanDuel)

Last year, Ertz pulled off a 916-yard, six-touchdown season on just 88 receptions in Philadelphia’s offense. Despite the productive season, Ertz enters Week 1 as the TE4 on DraftKings and FanDuel. Facing the Washington Football Team in Week 1, Ertz provides a ceiling and floor for DFS contests.

From a matchup perspective, the Eagles remain 6.5-point favorites over Washington in Week 1. Last year, Washington allowed the seventh-most catches to tight ends in all of football (86). While Thomas Davis enters the fold at linebacker, he is 37 years old this year. Outside of Davis, Washington simply doesn’t possess the skill to stick with Ertz in this contest. For those looking to pivot off George Kittle and Mark Andrews, Ertz looks like a solid value in Week 1.

Hayden Hurst ($4,300 DraftKings/$5,200 FanDuel)

Heading to Atlanta this offseason, Hurst looks likely to walk into elevated volume with the Falcons. Atlanta lost Austin Hooper earlier this offseason, vacating 97 targets along the way. With a league-leading 258 targets up for grabs, Hurst should remain a focal point of Week 1 builds in DFS.

Playing in a part-time role in Baltimore, Hurst still managed 349 yards and a pair of scores on 30 catches last year. He also notched an impressive 2.44 yards per route run, 8.7 yards per target. With little behind Jones and Calvin Ridley, Hurst should provide a solid floor at the tight end position in your NFL DFS lineups for Week 1.

Ian Thomas ($3,400 DraftKings/$5,100 FanDul)

Stuck behind Greg Olsen for a majority of his career, Thomas finally looks like Carolina’s clear starter at the tight end position. More of DraftKings play, Thomas remains egregiously priced on their PPR platform.

Last year, when Olsen missed a pair of games, Thomas averaged 98.5% of Carolina’s snaps. Importantly, Carolina brings in Matt Rhule as head coach and Joe Brady as offensive coordinator to rebuild this team. At LSU last year, Brady’s offense ranked 23rd in pass rate (54.3%) and 25th in plays per game (74.3). Mentioned above, Carolina finds themselves in a potential shootout with Las Vegas in Week 1. Rostering Thomas in this spot opens your NFL DFS lineups to multiple studs at other positions.

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Matt Gajewski graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in Economics. Matt has worked in the fantasy industry for the past four years, focusing on DFS and Sports Betting. Matt specializes in NFL, College Football, College Basketball, XFL, and MMA. With GPP victories across the major sports, Matt also qualified for the DraftKings 2020 Sports Betting Championship and won a seat to the College Basketball Tourney Mania final.

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