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Week 1 FanDuel Tournament Picks

By Corey Buschlen 6:09pm EDT 9/11/21


Week 1 tournaments are tricky. It’s very difficult to predict who the surprises will be. We have no data from 2021 to work off and pricing reflects that. It’s very difficult to get an edge in your lineup construction, but there is still plenty of money to be made this week.

Let’s ride.

For reference, here was the winning lineup for last year’s “Sunday Million” contest on FanDuel in Week 1.


QBs

Ryan Tannehill ($7,700)

5.8% projected ownership

Tannehill has a top 5 ceiling on the week given the Cardinals’ reeling pass defense. Tannehill has freaky pass catching options with AJ Brown and Julio Jones .Both WRs boast a top 7 matchup advantage according to PFF this week. This game has a projected over under at 53 points, the second highest of the slate.

I also really like the differentiation aspect of fading Kyler Murray (9.2% projected ownership), stacking the Titans passing game and running it back with DeAndre Hopkins in a GPP lineup.

Kirk Cousins ($7,200)

2.0% projected ownership

Following a similar theme to the Cardinals/Titans game, I think Kirk is a perfect GPP pivot to differentiate your lineups from the chalkier Joe Burrow (6.7% projected ownership) on the other side of the ball. The Viking defense should be much improved in 2021 (Hunter/Pearce/Tomlinson) which should give the Vikings more opportunities on offense as their defense won’t be giving up first downs at will.

Kirk Cousins, Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen have a chance to run the score up on a depleted Bengals secondary with Trae Waynes out. My absolute favorite stack this week that you can run back with Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd or Ja’Marr Chase.

If you’re looking to really go cheap, Zach Wilson (6,500) with 1.5% projected ownership is in a good spot vs Carolina.


RBs

As a principle, I tend to eat the chalk on high-end RBs because I trust my ability to find value at QB and WR. Christian McCaffrey ($10,400), Dalvin Cook ($9,400), Derrick Henry ($8,900) and Alvin Kamara ($8,600) are all great plays, but here are some other ones in case you can’t quite make these high-end guys work.

Jonathan Taylor ($7,900)

5.8% projected ownership

The Seahawks were a strong run defense last year, but with a new QB in the fold I expect Frank Reich to pound Jonathan Taylor to the tune of 20+ carries in a slugfest/run heavy type of game. JT should be one of the lower owned high-end RBs because for a little more, you can get up to Kamara and the truly elite guys.

Najee Harris ($6,500)

9.8 % projected ownership

We all love a big workload, and based on the 45-of-51 first-team snaps Najee saw in the preseason, I expect this to be the cheapest you’ll ever get the Steelers bell cow. Last year the Bills were a run funnel defense — a lot of teams opted for run heavy game plans to avoid their great secondary.

Najee should have a good chance to get into the end zone as well. In 2020, the Bills gave up the 9th most rushing TDs to RBs.

If you’re looking for some cheap RB options, Javonte Williams ($5,600) and Trey Sermon ($5,200) are great budget options that many will overlook due to uncertainty in their backfields as rookies. This makes them great tournament swings.


WRs

DeAndre Hopkins ($8,200) & Tyreek Hill ($8,500)

10.1% projected ownership & 11.8% projected ownership

These are the two big spends for me at the WR position this week. With pricing being a little easy this week, you can fit these guys into lineups more frequently as well.

Hopkins facing the Titans secondary is a mismatch in what should be a high scoring game. Janoris Jenkins is set to be his primary matchup and his play has been up and down for years, especially against big, physical WRs like Hopkins.

Hill may have high ownership, but I believe this is a smash spot.This game has the highest over/under on the slate (54.5) and the Chiefs have the highest implied point total at 30 points. Troy Hill is set to be the primary matchup for Tyreek Hill in the slot, and he ran a 4.55 at the combine.Safe to say that Hill should have a field day in this one.

Jerry Jeudy ($5,500)

7.0% projected ownership

This one’s simple.Courtland Sutton is coming off a torn ACL, so it may take him a few weeks to regain his full form. Both WRs are expected to be shadowed, according to PFF, with James Bradberry vs. Courtland Sutton & Adoree’ Jackson vs. Jeudy. Bradberry had a top 7 PFF coverage grade in 2020 and was great at shutting down big physical WRs like Sutton. So I’ll venture that this is a big Jerry Jeudy game vs. the inferior Jackson.

Brandon Aiyuk ($6,500)

5.4% projected ownership

The single highest matchup advantage, according to PFF, with a 95.0 in favor of the 2nd-year WR. Between Jeff Okudah and AJ Parker, Aiyuk should have a field day beating up on an inferior Lions pass defense in this game. A good pivot away from some of the chalkier options in GPPs as well.

Other Plays I like: Elijah Moore ($5,000), Justin Jefferson ($8,000) & Chase Claypool ($6,000)


TEs

Logan Thomas ($5,600)

6.2% projected ownership

With the news of Curtis Samuel heading to IR, Thomas sees a big boast from all facets. Thomas ran 65.7% of snaps from the slot and 404 routes last year with Washington thin at slot receiver. The Samuel signing spelled the end of that role … but with him out, Thomas has a chance to regain the high target volume role in this offense. The Chargers were below average against TEs last year, allowing 10 receiving TDs (T-4th most).

Jared Cook ($5,200)

1.8% projected ownership

A difficult matchup for the Chargers offense, but the Washington defense was better against WRs (3rd best) than they were against TEs (8th best) a year ago. Jared Cook could be the one productive Charger in this matchup and a good contrarian play in GPPs.

Austin Hooper ($5,100) is also a fine play in a potentially high scoring game.


DST

Houston Texans ($3,400)

4.0% projected ownership

Trevor Lawrence looked a little shaky and hesitant in preseason action. I’ll take the Texans at home vs. a rookie QB as one of the cheapest defenses on the slate.

Lions ($3,300) vs. Jimmy Garoppolo could also yield some turnovers if you’re spending down.


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