Week 1 DFS is unique.
DraftKings pricing came out about a month ago, so there are a bunch of guys that are underpriced. They’ll be chalky, of course.
It’s also unique because we know as little now as we’ll know all year. How will carries be distributed for all 32 teams? How about targets? Which defenses will be better or worse than last season?
We’re all taking educated guesses at this stuff in Week 1 — more than we are on a normal week.
So our opponents will cluster around a handful of chalky plays … despite having less information than usual. It makes Week 1 a perfect time to be contrarian and play a bigger percentage of your bankroll in tournaments.
Whether you’re playing tourneys or cash games, I’ll have you covered all year with targets at every position. And don’t forget to check out the DFS Lineup Builder.
Carson Wentz, Eagles ($5,700)
We don’t need to look anywhere else for our cash-game QB this week. Wentz sits 1st in our Week 1 main-slate QB rankings but just 13th in DraftKings price. The Lineup Builder shows him as the top dollars-per-point value — not just at QB, but at any position.
Wentz’s cupboard is chock-full of weapons; he’s playing behind an elite offensive line; and he brings some rushing upside.
His last 3 passing lines vs. the Redskins: 306-2-1, 268-4-1 and 307-2-1.
The Eagles’ 27.5-point implied total is the highest on the main slate.
Jameis Winston, Bucs ($6,600)
Winston is a bit overpriced, which will hopefully keep his ownership down. Because he has the upside to lead all QBs in DK points this week.
Winston averaged 23.7 DK points in his 8 full games last year, including 4 games of 25+. He’s in a smash spot this week at home in a potential shootout vs. the 49ers. This game sports the 2nd highest over/under (51) on the main slate.
The ‘Niners ranked 27th in Football Outsiders’ pass defense DVOA and 25th in DK points allowed to QBs last year. They don’t project to be significantly better in 2019.
Dak Prescott, Cowboys ($5,900)
We were higher than consensus on Dak all summer, and we’re higher than consensus on him for the opener. He sits 4th among QBs in our main-slate rankings but just 11th in DK salary.
Prescott opens in a nice spot at home for the Giants. He averaged 21.1 DK points at home last year vs. 17.7 on the road. Dallas might lean on its passing game a bit more than usual in this one with RB Ezekiel Elliott likely to be limited after his summer-long holdout.
The Cowboys’ 26.5-point implied total is 4th highest on the main slate.
Matt Stafford, Lions ($5,400)
We’ll probably be picking on the Cardinals’ pass defense a bunch early on this season. CB Patrick Peterson is suspended for the first 6 games, and CB Robert Alford is out for at least 8 games with a fractured tibia. Those guys were slated to be the team’s top 2 CBs this year.
On top of that, Arizona’s offense is expected to be 1 of the fastest-paced in the league. That means more snaps for the opposing team, too.
Stafford is the 1st QB to get a crack at this excellent spot. He makes a particularly cheap stack with WR Marvin Jones ($4,800).
Dalvin Cook, Vikings ($6,000)
He’ll be 1 of the most popular players at any position on the slate — and for good reason.
Cook is healthy and in a juicy Week 1 spot. His Vikings are 4-point home favorites with a nice 26-point implied total. And they’re facing a Falcons defense that bleeds PPR points to RBs. In fact, no team allowed more DK points to RBs last year.
HC Dan Quinn’s defensive scheme funnels passing-game action to RBs. Atlanta has allowed the most receptions to RBs to 4 straight seasons.
Chris Carson, Seahawks ($5,700)
At home? Check.
Big favorite? Check.
Big implied total? Check.
Carson checks all the boxes we want checked by a cash-game RB, with the Seahawks 10-point home favorites with a 27-point implied total.
And the matchup is prettay, prettay good. The Bengals ranked 26th in Football Outsiders’ run defense DVOA and 22nd in DK points allowed to RBs last year. They allowed 4.95 yards per carry to RBs.
Carson is also expected to play a bigger role in the passing game this year, which will boost his weekly floor.
Leonard Fournette, Jaguars ($6,100)
He’s healthy (for now) and looks set to play a feature role this season. In QB Nick Foles’ lone preseason appearance, Fournette played 17 of 18 snaps, carried 7 times and was targeted on 3 of Foles’ 10 pass attempts.
He’s 1 of the best volume bets on the slate and gets a Chiefs defense that finished dead last in Football Outsiders’ run defense rankings and 30th in fantasy points allowed to RBs last year.
Mark Ingram, Ravens ($5,100)
The only reason Ingram isn’t a cash lock is because his pass-catching projection is a little low. But he boasts monster rushing upside in the opener.
I’m expecting Ingram to operate as Baltimore’s clear lead ball-carrier after he got a 3-year, $15 million deal in free agency. The Ravens, of course, are a strong bet to be the league’s most run-heavy offense. And they’ll be able to run it plenty on Sunday as 6.5-point favorites against the tanking Dolphins.
Miles Sanders, Eagles ($3,900)
DraftKings tournaments are exactly where we wanna be using Sanders this week. We don’t know exactly how big a role he’ll play out of the gate. But we know the Eagles spent a 2nd-round pick on him this spring. We know Sanders was 1 of the buzziest players this summer. And we’re pretty sure he’s the most talented guy in this backfield.
It’s also a prime spot with Philly 10-point home favorites with the highest implied total on the main slate. We could see the Eagles nursing a big 2nd half lead and feeding their rookie RB.
Even 14 or 15 touches would makes Sanders a strong bet to smash his DK price tag.
Adam Thielen, Vikings ($6,800)
He’s simply underpriced. Thielen was cheaper than $6,800 just once all last season. His average salary: $7,913.
Minnesota is expected to be run the ball quite a bit more this year than last. But Thielen should remain a strong target bet. And he might see an even bigger piece of the pie with Stefon Diggs dealing with a hamstring injury.
Thielen gets a Falcons defense that allowed the 3rd most DK points to WRs last year.
Chris Godwin, Bucs ($6,200)
Godwin is expected to play the old Larry Fitzgerald slot role in HC Bruce Arians’ offense. That means more short, high-percentage routes — and a higher weekly floor in DK lineups.
Godwin has a plus draw this Sunday against 49ers slot CB K’Wuan Williams, who missed the entire preseason after a knee scope and ranked 55th among CBs in Pro Football Focus’ 2018 coverage grades.
Curtis Samuel, Panthers ($4,200)
Here's a guy who would probably be $1,000 more expensive if DraftKings had released salaries a week ago instead of a month ago. Samuel was a standout throughout training camp and even has some Panthers beat writers projecting him as the team’s #1 WR this year.
The matchup isn’t ideal against a strong group of Rams CBs (Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib and Nickell Robey-Coleman). But Samuels is still a strong value as a talented dude with a good shot at 6+ targets.
Sammy Watkins, Chiefs ($5,000)
No one likes this guy. He was a value in fantasy drafts all summer and figures to be under-owned on DraftKings this week — especially in a tough matchup vs. the Jaguars.
CB Jalen Ramsey is expected to shadow Tyreek Hill, though, giving Watkins the slightly easier matchup against CB A.J. Bouye.
In last year’s Chiefs-Jags game, Watkins tied with Travis Kelce for the team lead with 8 targets and posted a 6-78 line.
Marvin Jones, Lions ($4,800)
Here’s our stack with Matt Stafford.
Everyone is hyped for Kenny Golladay, who’s $1,500 more expensive than Jones this week. But Jones actually saw 1 more target and scored just 7.3 fewer DK points in their 9 games together last year.
I’m expecting these guys to be more 1A and 1B than a clear #1 and #2 this season. Jones is certainly the better Week 1 value.
Evan Engram, Giants ($4,800)
He’s as good a target bet as any TE this week. OBJ is gone, and Golden Tate is out on suspension.
Engram draws a Cowboys defense that allowed the 10th most DK points to TEs last season, including 19.7 and 21.1 to Engram in their 2 meetings.
Hunter Henry, Chargers ($3,900)
This is probably the cheapest we’ll see Henry all year.
He’s a clear breakout candidate with Antonio Gates out of the picture. And he opens against a Colts defense that finished 29th in Football Outsiders’ TE coverage rankings and 27th in DK points allowed to TEs last season.
The Chargers’ 25.5-point implied total is the 8th highest on the main slate.
Zach Ertz, Eagles ($6,100)
Based on early tag numbers on FanShare, it looks like Ertz will be relatively low-owned this week.
He’s crushed the Redskins recently, posting lines of 9-83, 5-89-1 and 8-93 in their last 3 meetings. Pro Football Focus’ TE matchup chart gives Ertz the 2nd biggest advantage of the week (behind only George Kittle).
Austin Hooper, Falcons ($3,200)
The Vikings boast a strong group of CBs. But they finished 30th in Football Outsiders’ TE coverage rankings last year.
It’d make sense for Atlanta to feature Hooper in the passing game this Sunday. And while he’s generally viewed as a floor play, note that he topped 15 DK points 5 times last season.
With so much value at the skill spots, we can afford to pay up at DST this week.
The Ravens get a Dolphins team trotting out the shakiest O-line in the league (especially after trading away LT Laremy Tunsil last week) and turnover-prone QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Miami’s 15.5-point implied total is easily the lowest of the week.
If you can’t get up to Baltimore, pivot to Seattle.
The Seahawks are 10-point home favorites against the Bengals, whose 17-point implied total is the week’s 2nd lowest. Cincinnati will be without WR A.J. Green — plus OT Jonah Williams and potentially OT Cordy Glenn (concussion).
Missing S Derwin James hurts, but this is still a super talented Chargers defense.
They open as 6.5-point home favorites against a Colts squad that might still be reeling from Andrew Luck’s retirement.