Welcome to the 1st ever Draft Sharks DraftKings advice article!
We covered FanDuel strategy last year but had a ton of folks ask for DraftKings advice. You got it!
I actually prefer DraftKings to FanDuel for a few reasons.
- No kickers!
- Full PPR scoring
- A flex position
- Players aren’t locked until their game kicks off
That last point is the most important. It means we can roster guys who might be game-time decisions in later games and swap them out if needed. It also means we should fill the flex spot with the player with the latest start time. That keeps that spot flexible (pun!) for the longest time possible.
One more cheat code: Enter Thursday-start contests on DraftKings, even if it’s with a “dummy” lineup that you’ll change later. You’ll see some other owners load up on Thursday players, even in a bad game. (Like Carolina-Denver this week.)
So that’s some general strategy. In this weekly article, we’ll be digging into the matchups and the pricing to find money-making targets. We’ll cover every position and highlight players in the following categories:
Play of the Week: This will be our favorite play based on price, projected DraftKings points and projected ownership. This guy will usually be worth considering in both cash games and tournaments.
Pay up for: A high-priced guy who’s worth spending on.
Value option: A low-priced guy in a good spot to return value. This will more often be a cash-game target.
Tournament target: A high-upside guy who figures to have low ownership.
Let’s get to the Week 1 picks.
Play of the Week: Matt Stafford, Lions ($7,200)
As usual, there’s no shortage of quality QB options. Stafford looks like the best mix of floor, ceiling and price.
He draws a Colts defense missing its top CB (Vontae Davis) and best DL (Henry Anderson). CB Darius Butler and SS Clayton Geathers are also iffy. A shaky defense to begin with is extremely short-handed heading into Week 1.
Lions-Colts has an over/under of 50.5 — the 2nd highest of the week. Expect big numbers from Stafford in what should turn into a shootout.
Pay up for: Andrew Luck, Colts ($8,300)
Speaking of that Lions-Colts game, the QB on the other side is also worth considering.
The Colts project as 1 of the pass-heaviest offenses in the league anyway. This matchup should mean an even stronger lean toward the pass. The Lions offense will put points on the board. And their defense finished higher in Football Outsiders’ run defense rankings last year (14th) than they did against the pass (19th).
Luck sits 1st in our Week 1 QB rankings but is priced $200 below Aaron Rodgers and just $200 more than Drew Brees.
Value option: Dak Prescott, Cowboys ($5,000)
We’re generally looking for players to score 3 times their salary for DraftKings cash games. That means Prescott needs just 15 points to return value at his minimum-priced salary.
What would it take for 15 points? Just 200 passing yards, 1 passing TD and 30 rushing yards. Or 175 scoreless passing yards, 20 rushing yards and a rushing TD.
You get the point: Prescott just needs to not implode to meet his asking price. And based on his preseason play, he’s capable of returning huge value. A matchup with a Giants defense that gave up the 2nd most fantasy points to QBs last year should help.
Tournament target: Russell Wilson, Seahawks ($7,900)
Prescott will be a popular Week 1 play. So will Stafford. And Derek Carr vs. the Saints. Luck figures to be the highest-owned QB in the upper price range.
That’ll all leave Wilson’s ownership much lower than it should be in a pristine matchup vs. the Dolphins. Miami will trot out a starting CB tandem of Byron Maxwell and Xavien Howard. The former was a frequent burn victim last year in Philadelphia. The latter is a raw, 2nd-round rookie who missed most of August after undergoing knee surgery.
Wilson should have his way through the air and always raises his ceiling with rushing potential. There’s 3- or 4-TD upside here.
Play of the Week: Spencer Ware, Chiefs ($4,400)
If you’re not using Ware in your cash games this week, you’re doing it wrong. Assuming Jamaal Charles is out, of course. Ware is dirt-cheap and is set to operate as his team’s lead back. Against a defense that allowed the 9th most DraftKings points to RBs last year. In a home game in which his team is favored by 7 points.
It’s a perfect setup. There’s even a chance Ware does a bit more passing-down work than last year. He caught 8 balls this preseason. (Charcandrick West went catch-less in his lone preseason appearance.)
Ware will definitely be highly owned, so he’s not a must-play in tournaments. He’s also not a must-avoid, though. You can diversify your roster elsewhere.
Pay up for: Todd Gurley, Rams ($7,800)
He’s the most expensive RB on DraftKings. He also has the highest Week 1 ceiling.
Gurley gets a juicy matchup with the 49ers. No team allowed more PPR points to RBs last season. And it could be an even better draw for RBs this year thanks to HC Chip Kelly.
Kelly’s fast-paced attack means more snaps for both his offense and defense. Under Kelly the last 3 years, the Eagles ranked 1st, 2nd and 1st in defensive snaps and 3rd, 5th and 12th in rushing attempts against.
The Rams are favored in this game — something we won’t be able to say often this year — so game flow should favor Gurley. He smoked the ‘Niners for 133 yards and a score on 20 totes in his lone game vs. San Francisco last year.
Value option: Jeremy Langford, Bears ($4,700)
Tough matchup? Yep. But volume is king at RB, and Langford has it. He operated as Chicago’s 3-down back this preseason and should open the regular season in the same role. So even if Chicago falls behind the Texans — and we expect them to — Langford will remain involved as a receiver.
Note, too, that 2 of Langford’s 3 starts last year came against the Rams and Broncos, who finished 7th and 4th, respectively, in Football Outsiders’ run defense rankings. Langford scored 40.2 DK points vs. the Rams and 13.2 vs. the Broncos.
He’s just the 31st most expensive RB on DraftKings and sits 19th in our PPR rankings.
Tournament target: Ameer Abdullah, Lions ($4,900)
Everyone is gonna be on the Lions passing game — and rightfully so. But what if it’s Abdullah who does most of the damage?
It’s not like the Colts are tough against the run. They finished 16th in Football Outsiders’ run defense rankings and 18th in fantasy points allowed to RBs last year. Four RBs topped 20 DraftKings points against Indy.
Detroit’s committee backfield makes Abdullah risky in cash games, but he’s the type of pivot off popular opinion that could win you a big tournament.
Play of the Week: Marvin Jones, Lions ($4,600)
If Spencer Ware is the #1 must-play of the week, Jones is a close 2nd.
He was hyped up all summer and looked good in preseason action, hauling in 8 balls for 106. Jones makes his regular-season Lions debut against a Colts secondary missing top CB Vontae Davis. CB Darius Butler is also banged-up.
Jones, for some reason, is just the 50th most expensive WR on DraftKings.
Pay up for: Julio Jones, Falcons ($9,400)
Antonio Brown figures to see a bunch of Redskins CB Josh Norman on Monday night. Odell Beckham gets the slow-paced Cowboys, who held him to lines of 5-44 and 4-35 last year.
Jones, meanwhile, gets a home game against a Bucs defense he’s obliterated for an average of 29.4 DraftKings points in their last 4 meetings. This year’s Bucs will start a pair of 5’10 CBs in Brent Grimes and rookie Vernon Hargreaves.
Value option: Tajae Sharpe, Titans ($3,000)
A #1 WR for the minimum price? Sign us up!
There’s certainly risk in a 5th-round rookie making his NFL debut against a strong defense. But Sharpe’s cost negates much of that. Rostering him allows you to load up the rest of your roster with studs.
Tournament target: DeSean Jackson, Redskins ($6,100)
D-Jax won our very own Kevin English $100K in a DraftKings tournament a couple of years ago and could be a money-maker again this week.
He enjoyed a healthy offseason and looked good in August. The big-play threat opens against a holey Steelers secondary that allowed the 2nd most fantasy points to WRs last year. That included yielding the 7th most pass plays of 40+ yards.
Play of the Week: Julius Thomas, Jaguars ($3,800)
The individual matchup isn’t great for Thomas. The Packers finished 14th in fantasy points allowed to TEs and 4th in Football Outsiders’ TE coverage rankings last year.
But this Jags-Packers game has shootout potential. Its over/under of 48 is the 4th highest of the week. And Jacksonville is a 5-point underdog, which suggests lots of passing in catchup mode.
Thomas, just 13th among TEs in DraftKings price, is a cheap way to get exposure to the Jags’ passing game.
Pay up for: Jordan Reed, Redskins ($6,600)
Rob Gronkowski is dealing with a hamstring issue, no Tom Brady and a tough Cardinals defense this week. Reed is in a much better spot.
He’s healthy and gets a home game against a Steelers defense that allowed the 7th most points to TEs last year. Reed boasts the highest ceiling and floor among TEs this week — and he’s not crazy-expensive.
Value option: Delanie Walker, Titans ($4,500)
Walker is as good a target bet as any TE besides Gronk and Reed. And he costs about $3,000 less than Gronk and $2,000 less than Reed.
Walker failed to reach 12 DraftKings points just twice all last season. Minnesota was just average against TEs in 2015, ranking 16th in fantasy points allowed.
Tournament target: Jared Cook, Packers ($2,900)
If you were scared to propose to Cook in your season-long leagues, try a 1-night stand with him on DraftKings.
He makes his Packers debut against a Jaguars defense that finished 27th in fantasy points allowed to TEs and 28th in Football Outsiders’ TE coverage rankings last year. Seven different TEs topped 14 points vs. Jacksonville.
Cook is the 28th TE in DraftKings pricing.
Play of the Week: Texans ($3,200)
Chicago will have 4 new starters on their offensive line, including G Josh Sitton, who joined the team a week ago. Not a great way to be heading into Houston for a date with J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney and crew.
Pay up for: Seahawks ($3,900)
If you’re gonna go pricier than Houston, it should be for Seattle. They’re big favorites at home against a questionable Dolphins offensive line. Miami’s implied point total of 17 is the lowest of the week.
Value option: Packers ($2,800)
Green Bay is just the 16th most expensive defense for a matchup with a Jaguars offense that gave up the 2nd most fantasy points to opposing defenses last year.
If the Packers can get out to a lead, Blake Bortles should be good for a handful of sacks and turnovers.
Tournament target: Browns ($2,300)
Who the hell is gonna roster the Browns defense?! I might.
Defensive scoring is largely matchup-based. And Cleveland gets a good one in the opener. The Eagles will start QB Carson Wentz, who will be making his pro debut after just 1 preseason outing. He completed just 12 of 24 passes for 89 yards, 0 TDs and 1 INT in that game.
There’s turnover upside here. And Philly probably won’t be lighting up the scoreboard.