Its hard for me to believe that football is actually happening after how crazy the last year has been. I’m beyond excited to get started with fantasy football and DFS. For the 1st DFS article of the season, I’ve discussed three players per position that I think will be a stud, a budget baller, and someone I would avoid. As of right now, these suggestions are based off of FanDuel lineup prices.
Stud: Matt Ryan ($7,800)
- The SEA-ATL game has the highest over-under of any week 1 game of the Sunday day-games (Per VI Consensus). With a depleted Seattle pass rush, Matt Ryan should have all of the time he needs to hit Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and newly acquired TE Hayden Hurst for big plays. The Seahawk’s offense should be able to drive up the score against the average Falcon’s defense in what should be a shootout. While Ryan didn’t play in their last matchup, Julio Jones torched Seattle’s largely unchanged secondary for 10 catches and 152 yards (Ryan-Jones/Ridley stack should be relatively popular this week).
- Matt Ryan and Russell Wilson both should benefit from playing in ATL’s dome. In fact, 70% of Matt Ryan’s highest scoring games have occurred in a dome.
Budget Baller: Jimmy Garoppolo ($7,400)
- He may not be the most attractive fantasy option, but against AZ last season Garoppolo put up 28.9 and 29.7 fantasy points (Without Kittle for 7/8 quarters). AZ Kliff Klingsbury was able to generate offense against a typically stout 49er’s defense last season and should be able to keep the game competitive and the 49ers out of a run-heavy script. TE George Kittle ($8,000) put up 17 FanDuel points in the one quarter he played against AZ (Injured in the other) and should be a worthwhile stack as a premier tight end. Depending on the status of WR Deebo Samuels and WR Brandon Aiyuk, training camp star Dante Pettis could be a massive steal at only $5,000.
Avoid: Josh Allen ($7,900)
- While the Bills are expected to dominate this game, I wouldn’t advise having many Bills for your DFS lineups. As the 4th most expensive quarterback, Josh Allen leads the Bills in the game with the lowest over-under of any game by 4 points (For those of you who don’t follow over-unders, that’s a lot). Against the Jets last season, Josh Allen only put up 18 points. That isn’t terrible, but for the 4th-highest price QB I would want more.
- I have a feeling Devin Singletary and Zack Moss are going to be running out the clock for a lot of this game once the Bills get up. Josh Allen also stated that both he and his coach want to reduce his rushing attempts this season, which will hurt his fantasy floor on a week-to-week basis.
Stud: Joe Mixon ($7,300)
- If you can afford Christian McCaffery, do it. But, $10,000 is a lot to spend on one position and can end up diminishing the rest of your lineup. I think Joe Mixon is set to have a fantastic start to the season against the Charger’s defense. The newly-extended Mixon is a lock to be the Bengal’s workhorse back and has proven to be dynamic (even with the lack of surrounding talent). With #1 pick Joe Burrow leading the offense and the return of WR A.J. Green, the Bengal’s offense is on its way to surprise a lot of people. That being said, with no preseason, Joe Burrow is going to be facing his first NFL action. I wouldn’t be surprised if Mixon gets a huge chunk of work to slow down the game for Burrow and help him adjust. While the Charger’s defense was great last season, their run defense was below average. With the diminishing loss of hybrid safety Derwin James, the run defense should stay relatively weak. With a 46.5 point over-under, I think Mixon should have a very good week and pay off his RB8 price tag.
Budget Baller: James White ($5,300)
- I think that, both as a fantasy asset and as a DFS asset, James White is being horribly undervalued. With Lamar Miller cut, Damien Harris on IR, Burkhead relegated to special teams, and Sony Michel recovering from a foot injury, White can very easily be the primary back to a new Cam Newton-led offense. In 2018, a whopping 26% of his targets went to the RB. That trend continued before his season-ending injury in 2019. The Dolphins have quietly built a CB duo of Xavien Howard and Byron Jones, who should be able to limit the damage of Julian Edelman. Past Edelman, the Patriots have no proven receiving threats. White could very easily lead the team in rushing and receiving against the Dolphins. If he is able to grab a touchdown, he should become an extreme value at his near-minimum price tag.
Avoid: Le’Veon Bell ($6,500)
- As previously mentioned, the Bills-Jets game isn’t projected to have a lot of points. To make things worse, Frank Gore has being getting the bulk of redzone work under HC Adam Gase in training camp. The Jet’s offensive line is completely rebuilt with no preseason to play together. I wouldn’t expect Bell to have a good game on the ground, especially when he averaged a little over 3 YPC against the Bills last year. If you start Bell, you probably have to hope for a lot of receptions and a possible touchdown, but at a $6,500 price tag, I would rather find another RB to start.
Stud: Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf ($6,800 and $6,400)
- If you happen to take Matt Ryan as your QB, I would heavily advise drafting Julio or Ridley (Or stack all 3). That being said, with the highest over-under of the Sunday games I would be completely fine with taking a Seahawk receiver. The Falcon’s secondary is depleted with the loss of CB Desmond Trufant, starting rookie CB A.J. Terrell and second year CB Isiah Oliver. I expect Wilson to have a good game (especially with the dome setting), with Metcalf and Lockett as the primary beneficiaries. I think Metcalf has a higher chance of snagging a touchdown or two due to his freakish size and athleticism, but Lockett tends to be the more consistent receiver. Either way, you can’t go wrong with these two at their price.
Budget Baller: DeSean Jackson ($5,700)
- I expect Jackson to have a pretty high ownership % this week. While the PHI-WAS game has the 2nd lowest over-under of the Sunday games, the Eagles are projected to blow WAS out. With rookie WR Jalen Reagor coming off an injury and still questionable for Sunday, DeSean Jackson should slot in as the #1 option for QB Carson Wentz. WAS also traded away star CB Quentin Dunbar, who was the best coverage back in the NFL according to PFF. Last season, in week 1 against WAS, Jackson caught 8 targets for 154 yards and 2 TDs. While he likely won’t achieve that same level of production, Jackson is the cheapest #1 option for a quality quarterback and should see his fair share of targets. He seems to be a lock to outperform his already extremely cheap price.
Mike Evans ($7,500)
- Evans goes up against CB Marshon Lattimore for the majority of the Saints-Bucs game. While Evans has had success against Lattimore, his hamstring injury worries me. While he hasn’t suffered a hamstring injury since his rookie year, those types of soft-tissue injuries tend to linger. I would rather find an extra $200 and acquire his teammate Chris Godwin, who should be a valuable target as Tom Brady’s slot receiver.
- (Mike Evans downgraded to doubtful as of Friday afternoon so I would completely fade him out)
Stud: George Kittle ($8,000)
- I spoke about the upside of Jimmy Garoppolo earlier in this article. Likewise, as Garoppolo succeeds, so will his favorite target. Anyone who played fantasy football last year would know that Arizona was by far the absolute worst defense against tight ends in the league last season. Kittle played only one quarter against AZ due to an injury, but racked up a 6-79-1 statline. With their first round pick, Isaiah Simmons, their defense over the middle should be much improved. That being said, starting your NFL career covering one of the most physical players in football won’t be easy, and Kittle should be the primary target with Deebo likely out and Aiyuk questionable to play.
Budget Baller: Chris Herndon ($4,800)
- I genuinely don’t like drafting players from games with low projected point totals, especially on the losing side. But I think Chris Herndon is the best cheap tight end this week for FanDuel. The hype on him has been growing all offseason as he has put together a solid camp with QB Sam Darnold and should be the #2 option behind Jamison Crowder. Drafting him is merely a volume play in hopes that he gets a few catches and a possible touchdown. Against a stout Bill’s defense, I don’t expect the Jets to have much offense. That being said, the Bills have been vulnerable to tight ends before, giving Herndon a decent shot at having a good week. For $4,800, I think he is a worthwhile play.
Avoid: Rob Gronkowski ($5,500)
- I’ve spoken about my worries for Gronk in previous articles, and they extend to DFS this week. I would advise against spending your money on the 8th-most expensive TE this week until we know what sort of usage Gronk will see. HC Bruce Arians has explained that he wants to use all three of the Buc’s TEs and keep a constant rotation. I can’t imagine the Buc’s giving Gronk consistent usage, especially during his first game in two years. If you do start him, you are essentially hoping for a touchdown. I would rather start Herndon and upgrade a position elsewhere.
- (With Evans now doubtful, Gronk gets a slight boost but I’m still wary about him)
Defense: Indianapolis Colts ($3,700)
- The Colts play the Jacksonville Jaguars, who released their star runningback Leonard Fournette less than a week ago. With no proven receivers outside of D.J. Chark, and QB Garnder Minshew who has proven to be wildly inconsistent, the Jags are appearing to be the team to stream defenses against. With the acquisition of DeForest Buckner, Xavier Rhodes, and Justin Houston, the Colts defense should trend upwards this season. While the over-under is relatively high, the spread has the Colts winning by over a touchdown, which implies that this game should be largely dominated by Indianopolis. With an improved defensive line, the Colts defense should be able to force a few sacks and hopefully tack on some turnovers. If you can afford a premium defense after locking in your picks, go for it, but the Colts offer a cheap defense with good upside.