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Week 1 DraftKings Cash-Game Picks

By Jared Smola | Updated on Fri, 08 Sep 2023 . 9:20 PM EDT

Top Plays for DraftKings Head-to-Head and 50/50 Contests

As usual, the Week 1 pricing on DraftKings is softer than we’ll get on most slates this season.

There are lots of rock-solid value plays. Deciding where to spend up might be what determines whether we cash.

Here are the guys I’m considering for DraftKings Week 1 head-to-heads and 50/50s:



Sam Howell, Commanders ($4,900)

Howell isn’t a must-play in cash this week because of the soft pricing.

But he pops as the top dollars-per-point value at QB – and allows you to get two high-priced studs in your lineup.

Howell is coming off a strong preseason, completing 75.7% of his passes with 3 TDs and 0 INTs.

He gets a plus matchup vs. the Cardinals, who ranked 21st in adjusted fantasy points allowed to QBs last year and might be even worse this year.

Howell will have his full weaponry, with WR Terry McLaurin back from his toe injury.

And, perhaps most importantly, Howell brings rushing value. He ran for over 1,100 yards in his final college season, tallied 35 yards and a score on the ground in his lone start last year, and ran four times for 25 yards in about a game’s worth of snaps this preseason.

Howell presents a nice floor/ceiling combination for a $4,900 QB.

Also consider: Justin Herbert ($6,900), Geno Smith ($6,100)


Running Back

Austin Ekeler, Chargers ($8,400)

We gotta spend our money somewhere on this loosely priced slate.

Why not on an elite pass-catching back in the week’s most likely shootout?

Chargers-Dolphins sports a slate-high 51.0-point over/under. The Chargers’ 27.0-point implied total is highest on the main slate.

Ekeler boasts big TD upside, on top of his always lofty target projection.

He scored 24.4 DK points vs. Miami last season.

Joe Mixon, Bengals ($6,800)

The two concerns with Mixon during draft season:

  1. His off-field troubles resulting in a suspension.
  2. His inefficiency eventually leading to fewer touches.

Neither is a concern in Week 1. Mixon should dominate carries and see plenty of action in the passing game. 

And he gets a Browns defense that coughed up 5.0 yards per carry last year and finished 30th in adjusted fantasy points allowed to RBs.

Jamaal Williams, Saints ($5,100)

Cash games were made for this spot.

Williams doesn’t have a huge ceiling this week. He’s not an explosive player. And the matchup is tough against a Titans defense that allowed just 3.4 yards per carry to RBs last year.

But volume gives Williams a very high floor. 

RB Alvin Kamara serves the first of his three-game suspension on Sunday. And RB Kendre Miller will be out with his knee injury.

That leaves converted WR Kirk Merritt and likely practice-squad call up Tony Jones behind Williams in the backfield.

Williams is a virtual lock for 15+ touches with a good shot at 20. That makes him an auto-play in cash games at just $5,100.

Also consider: Rachaad White ($5,500), Raheem Mostert ($5,400)


Wide Receiver

Tyreek Hill, Dolphins ($8,200)

We gotta spend our money somewhere on this loosely priced slate.

Why not on a big-play, target hog in the week’s most likely shootout?

Hill obviously carries a lofty weekly ceiling. But his floor is high, too, thanks to big volume. Hill ranked third in the NFL last year with 170 targets.

That helped him tally 15+ DK points in 10 of QB Tua Tagovailoa’s 12 healthy games last season. That included a 24.1-point outing vs. the Chargers.

Deebo Samuel, 49ers ($5,500)

No fancy analysis here. Samuel is simply underpriced. He never dipped below $6,000 on DraftKings last season.

Samuel disappointed last year but is healthy and motivated coming into 2023. Expect him to remain the lead dog in San Francisco’s passing game – and continue to contribute a bit on the ground.

The groin injury that has TE George Kittle questionable doesn’t hurt Samuel’s Week 1 outlook, either.

Courtland Sutton, Broncos ($5,200)

WR Tim Patrick is out. We’ll see about WR Jerry Jeudy, who’s listed as questionable a little over two weeks after suffering what appeared to be a significant hamstring injury.

Even if Jeudy ends up active on Sunday, expect Sutton to operate as Denver’s lead WR in a plus matchup vs. the Raiders.

Sutton has averaged 65 yards and 0.5 TDs in his last four meetings with Vegas.

Also consider: Mike Williams ($5,700), Jonathan Mingo ($3,200)


Tight End

Hayden Hurst, Panthers ($3,000)

If you were with us this offseason, you know we were high on Hurst as a late-round, volume-based fantasy value.

He signed a surprisingly lucrative 3-year, $21.75 million deal with Carolina in free agency and joins a WR corps led by an aging Adam Thielen and a bunch of unproven youngsters.

Hurst should be busy right out of the gate with WR D.J. Chark out and Thielen banged up.

The matchup is good, too, against a Falcons defense that ranked 27th in adjusted fantasy points allowed to TEs last year.

Also consider: Luke Musgrave ($2,900)


Defense/Special Teams

Commanders ($2,800)

Don’t overthink this one.

The Commanders are home against a Cardinals team starting QB Josh Dobbs behind a leaky offensive line.

Arizona’s 15.5-point implied total is easily the lowest on the main slate.

More Week 1 DraftKings Picks

Jared Smola Author Image
Jared Smola, Lead Analyst
Jared has been with Draft Sharks since 2007. He’s now Lead Analyst, heading up the preseason and weekly projections that fuel your Draft War Room and My Team tools. He currently ranks 1st among 133 analysts in draft rankings accuracy.
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