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An Early Look at Week 1 on DraftKings and FanDuel

By Kevin English 8:08am EDT 8/7/21


I’ve been obsessed with DFS since it hit the fantasy scene over 10 years ago. It’s fun, flexible, and loaded with strategic elements.

The 7-figure prize pools aren’t bad, either...

While 5 weeks separate us from kickoff Sunday, I couldn’t help but take an early look at Week 1 salaries. These are some of the guys who stick out as intriguing options.


Quarterback

Taysom Hill, Saints ($5,200 DK; $6,700 FD) vs. Green Bay

The Saints QB competition looks to be in a dead heat. I’m guessing we won’t get clarity until late in the preseason.

Losing Michael Thomas hurts, but you’re playing Hill for the rushing upside. Hill held a goal line role last year that supported 18 rushes inside the 10. He also posted 18.5+ DK points in 4 starts (each with Thomas in the lineup).

Trey Lance, 49ers ($4,500 DK; $6,300 FD) at Detroit

I think Jimmy Garoppolo is a small favorite to start Week 1. But Lance has garnered plenty of praise for his training camp performance, and it’s not out of the question that a strong preseason earns him the Week 1 job.

If that happens, you have to love his debut opponent. While there’s a new staff (including 1st-time DC Aaron Glenn) and several new pieces, the 2020 Lions allowed the most yards per play and per pass. Their INT and sack rate both ranked bottom-6.

In short: Detroit still looks like a unit to attack. The Lions current 2021 win total stands at 4.5, just ahead of the Texans (4).


Running Back

Aaron Jones, Packers ($6,800 DK; $7,400 FD) at New Orleans

Jones was never priced this low on DK during the 2020 regular season. On one hand, I get the discounted tag — New Orleans allowed the 2nd fewest DK points to opposing RBs last season. They’re probably not a unit we’ll attack frequently this fall.

However, the 2021 Saints will open without DL David Onyemata (suspension), a top-20 performer in Pro Football Focus run defense grades. CB Marshon Lattimore might also earn a suspension following a March charge for receiving a stolen firearm (a fourth-degree felony).

While Jones posted a decent 16.6 DK points against the Saints last year, Green Bay racked up 37 points.

Joe Mixon, Bengals ($6,200 DK; $7,200 FD) vs. Minnesota

Mixon is one of my highest owned players in best ball, and I imagine he’ll feature prominently in my Week 1 lineups.

While Minnesota’s defense should improve, Mixon’s not priced like a 3-down back. And that volume is enough for me.

Travis Etienne, Jaguars ($4,900 DK; $5,500 FD) at Houston

Etienne should at least open the year in a busy passing catching role. The Jags spent the 25th overall pick on the Clemson back, so it’d be a surprise if he doesn’t see 15+ touches out of the gate.

He shouldn’t need high volume to pay off, especially in DK’s full PPR format. Led by new DC Lovie Smith, Houston projects as a bottom-barrel unit.

(For more on Etienne, including college stats, testing numbers, cutups and more, view his DS scouting report.)


Wide Receiver

A.J. Brown, Titans ($7,100 DK; $7,800 FD) vs. Arizona

Back healthy, Brown enters year 3 oozing with upside. I can see it showing immediately against a Cardinals secondary that’’ll feature 32-year-old Robert Alford and 31-year-old free-agent add Malcolm Butler.

This game features 2 teams that ranked top-3 in Football Outsiders’ situation neutral pace last season. There’s also a close spread (Titans -3), along with the slate’s 2nd highest game total (51.5).

Tee Higgins, Bengals ($4,700 DK; $6,000 FD) vs. Minnesota

You’ve probably caught wind of Cincy’s early pass game struggles. It’s noteworthy… but hardly surprising.

- Joe Burrow is coming off a gruesome knee injury (November 2020).

- The O-line is breaking in new pieces.

- WR Ja’Marr Chase didn’t play a single snap last season (opt out).

So take a step back here. We’re still over a month away from Week 1, meaning there’s time for momentum to shift.

Higgins, of course, is coming off a strong rookie year (67-908-6). Chase’s arrival isn’t ideal for Higgins’ year-long upside, but we’re just looking at 1 game here. And I’ll bet on the already-ascending 2nd-year guy to open September as the busier pass catcher.

Marvin Jones, Jaguars ($3,600 DK; $5,800 FD) at Houston

I haven’t drafted much of Jones in season-long. But c’mon — he’s priced alongside names like Zach Pascal and Isaiah McKenzie. The 31-year-old has tallied 9 TDs in 3 of the past 4 seasons, and now he’s reuniting with former Lions OC Darrell Bevell.

If I ever gain faith in Houston putting up points in this one, a Trevor Lawrence-Jones stack might be worthwhile. Laviska Shenault looks fairly priced, too ($5,000 DK; $5,600 FD).

Elijah Moore, Jets ($3,000 DK; $5,000 FD) at Carolina

The DK pricing algorithm clearly doesn’t care about Moore’s dynamite training camp.

He’s dominated in all areas of the field, showing the burst and lateral quickness that allowed him to flourish at Ole Miss.

The guy’s a quick learner, too.

“He’s got a chance to do something pretty cool,” HC Robert Saleh said via USA Today, “and him being able to play the X, the Z, the F and just move around and be versatile, it just opens up the playbook in terms of being able to put him in spots to create matchups.”

Even though the depth chart looks crowded, Moore could still work his way into an immediate role. And an injury to Corey Davis or Jamison Crowder would make him near a cash game lock.


Tight End

Kyle Pitts, Falcons ($4,400 DK; $6,000 FD) vs. Philadelphia

All of that draft hype didn’t really translate into a bloated salary for Pitts. He’s priced as the TE3 on FD but sits TE8 on DK.

The Eagles are breaking in a first-time DC — former Colts DBs coach Jonathan Gannon. Philly looks strong along the D-line, but questions remain at LB and safety, where Rodney McLeod works back from a Week 14 ACL tear.

(For more on Pitts, view his DS scouting report.)

Adam Trautman, Saints ($2,900 DK; $4,600 FD) vs. Green Bay

Here’s your punt TE. With Michael Thomas out to begin the year, Trautman could see 5-7+ targets right away. At 6’5, 255 pounds, recall that he’s a plus athlete for the position.

Again, we’ll see about the QB situation. The Saints are currently 2.5-point underdogs with an implied total of 24.


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