Week 1 DraftKings Cash-Game Picks
Confession: I suck at DFS tournaments. I’m more science than art when it comes to fantasy prognostication, so I don’t have the creativity required to win tournaments. (Or at least that’s when I’m telling myself.)
So we’re switching things up this year. I’m ceding the DraftKings tournament picks to Tyler Siracuse, a high-stakes DFS player who’s actually won tournaments. A lot of them, in fact. And I’m sticking to what I am good at: DraftKings cash games (50/50s, double-ups and head-to-heads).
I’ll be talking through my strategy and player targets at each position for the main slate every week. Let’s kick it off with the Week 1 picks.
Expect to see cheapies here more often than not. Outside of Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson, the range in QB scoring isn’t nearly as wide as it is at the other positions. QB production also tends to be more predictable than at least WR and TE. So we can usually get quality numbers at QB for a discount.
Our cheapie for Week 1 is Tyrod Taylor ($5,600), who combines rushing upside with a plus matchup.
Let’s start with the rushing, which gives us the elevated fantasy floor we’re looking for in cash games. Taylor has averaged 6.4 carries, 36 yards and .3 TDs across 46 career starts. That’s a full-season pace of 103 carries, 578 yards and 5 TDs — marks that would have ranked 3rd, 2nd and 4th among QBs last year. Those per-game averages would also score us 5.4 DK points.
Then there’s the cushy matchup. The Bengals ranked bottom 8 in points allowed, yards allowed, yards per play allowed and Football Outsiders’ defensive DVOA last year. And they don’t project to be much better in 2020. WR Keenan Allen, TE Hunter Henry and RB Austin Ekeler all have edges in their respective matchups.
If you’re not comfy with Taylor, I’d go up to Jimmy Garoppolo ($5,800), who tallied 31.88 and 34.66 DK points in 2 games vs. the Cardinals last year.
Christian McCaffrey ($10,000) was a regular in this space last year. We’re going right back to him in Week 1 of 2020 — especially with so many question marks around the league after no preseason.
McCaffrey is playing with a new QB and under a new coaching staff. But Teddy Bridgewater is a virtual lock to be an upgrade over Kyle Allen. And HC Matt Rhule has no plans to limit McCaffrey’s workload.
"I think anybody playing that much is a lot, as many people haven't done it,” Rhule said in August. “But we're certainly not going to say, 'Hey, let's limit Christian.’ He's still the focal point of our offense, so it's always going to be a high number. I just think the biggest thing is using him in the right ways at the right times to maximize his production.”
Even at this big price tag, McCaffrey’s combination of floor and upside makes him worth getting into cash lineups. The plus matchup against the Raiders is just a bonus.
The biggest reason we like to go cheap at QB is to jam multiple workhorse RBs into our lineups. That’s what we’re doing this week with McCaffrey and Dalvin Cook ($7,900).
Cook had a healthy summer, and the holdout talk has disappeared. He opens with a favorable matchup against a Packers squad that ranked 27th in Football Outsiders’ rush defense DVOA last year. Green Bay coughed up 4.9 yards per carry to RBs and got smoked for 154 yards and a score on 20 carries by Cook in their lone meeting.
Cook is a bit underpriced here. His average DraftKings salary in 14 regular-season games last year was $8,307.
For your flex spot, consider Antonio Gibson ($4,000). I won’t pretend he’s a safe play. Gibson is making his NFL debut after totaling just 77 touches as a RB/WR hybrid over the past 2 seasons at Memphis; he’s playing on a shaky Washington offense; and we don’t know exactly how the backfield touches will be divvied.
But Gibson had a strong camp, which reportedly played a big part in Washington’s decision to dump Adrian Peterson. Considering the competition is J.D. McKissic and Peyton Barber, we’re projecting the rookie to lead the way in touches right out of the gate. Even something like 8-10 carries and 3-5 targets would make him a nice play at this price tag.
Terry McLaurin ($5,600) checks in as the top dollars-per-point value at WR. He’s tied for just 24th among WRs in DraftKings salary but sits 9th among main-slate WRs in our Week 1 Rankings.
Competing for looks with guys like Steven Sims, Dontrelle Inman and Logan Thomas, McLaurin is as strong a target bet as anyone outside Michael Thomas and Davante Adams. And he gets an Eagles defense that he smoked for 7-125-1 and 5-130-1 lines last year. Philly added CB Darius Slay, but he’s not a guy to run away from. Last season, Slay ranked 86th in Pro Football Focus’ coverage grades among 121 qualifying CBs.
DeSean Jackson ($4,900) doesn’t feel like a cash-game play. His downfield role definitely adds volatility to his weekly production. But projected volume and matchup make him a strong Week 1 value.
WR Alshon Jeffery is out for the opener. We’ll see if WR Jalen Reagor suits up, but it’s tough to imagine the rookie playing a full allotment of snaps after hurting his shoulder less than 2 weeks ago. So D-Jax is the favorite to lead Eagles WRs in targets this weekend.
And he gets a burnable Washington secondary. The Football Team’s 2 outside CBs — Ronald Darby and Fabian Moreau — were both bottom 32 in PFF’s 2019 coverage grades.
If you’re looking to spend up at WR, go with Davante Adams ($7,300). He’s cheaper now than he was for all but 4 weeks last season. Adams is an excellent target bet. And he’s had no trouble against the Vikings. His last 4 lines vs. the division rival: 13-116, 7-106, 5-69-1 and 8-64-1.
Chris Herndon ($3,300) is the best dollars-per-point value not just at TE, but at any position on the main slate. He actually has a tough matchup against a Bills defense that’s ranked top 11 in adjusted fantasy points allowed to TEs in all 3 seasons under HC Sean McDermott.
But this is a price, talent and volume play. Herndon ripped up Jets camp, earning praise from both HC Adam Gase and the New York media. Remember that this guy tallied 502 yards back in 2018 — the 10th most by a rookie TE over the past 10 seasons.
So expect Herndon to be a big part of the Jets’ passing game this season. That’s especially true in Week 1 after WRs Breshad Perriman and Denzel Mims missed most of training camp with injuries. One of those guys will also be dealing with stud CB Tre’Davious White. Herndon (and Jamison Crowder) should be the focal points of New York’s passing game on Sunday.
If you find the salary to spend up at TE, Zach Ertz ($5,800) looks underpriced. He’s a strong target bet with Philly’s WR injuries and gets a Washington defense that finished 31st in Football Outsiders’ TE coverage rankings last year.
The Chargers ($2,800) are easily the top dollars-per-point value at DST. We’re as high on QB Joe Burrow as anyone — but this is a tough spot to debut. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram against this Bengals offensive line looks like 1 of the biggest mismatches of Week 1.