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Saturday 19th Aug 2017

Week 1 was not a bad time to be on the sidelines to take in all the action. Now, with at least a little clarity, let’s jump right in.

On the Quarterback side, we have to constantly wrestle with paying up for the near sure-thing versus taking a risk and going cheap with a quarterback in a good matchup. I normally try to play the middle-range quarterbacks, but this week I can’t see passing on Drew Brees or Eli Manning.

Drew Brees 8200 NO Brees vs. Eli was epic last year for fantasy players
Eli Manning 7600 NYG Can get Eli for $600 less than Brees
Derek Carr 7200 Oak Falcons could not stop Winston last week
Kirk Cousins 7000 Was Cousins was sub-par on Monday.  Dallas could not stop Eli
Blake Bortles 6700 Jax Looks like an offensive shoot-out against the Chargers
Philip Rivers 6400 SD Jax defense was better, but far from great
Jimmy Garoppolo 5900 NE Cheap option.  Looked capable against good Cards defense
Trevor Siemian 5200 Den Showed well with the whole world watching last Thursday

The multi-year running back trend held in Week 1 as we had only two 100-yard running backs. Not all was lost as 11 backs caught at least five passes. For those looking to spend up on running backs, please remember that in Week 1, Todd Gurley and Adrian Peterson combined to score the same number of points as Charcandrick West.

David Johnson 7600 Ari 20 touches should be the norm
Lamar Miller 7200 Hou Blew away previous season's touches (32)
Spencer Ware 6100 KC Uber-ly productive with Charles out
DeMarco Murray 5700 Ten Saw the bulk of the work with Henry clearly a backup for now
Danny Woodhead 5200 SD 16 rushing attempts was a surprise.  Still very cheap
Theo Riddick 4300 Det Seems to be a lock for catches.  Lack of rushes need to be considered

The wide receiver group is crowded with an abundance of choices. While you do not need to have the top of the heap to win cash games, you have to avoid the total duds. Players like Dez Bryant and John Brown (each with 1 catch for 8 yards) wiped people out.

 

Odell Beckham Jr. 9500 NYG Saints could not stop Raiders receivers
Brandin Cooks 8000 NO Best of three-headed group.  Could be short targets at times - not this week
Kelvin Benjamin 6500 Car Came back as the clear number one target for Cam
Julian Edelman 6200 NE As close to a guarantee as possible when healthy
Willie Snead 5800 NO A nice pairing with Cooks
Mohamed Sanu 5500 Atl Proved to be a solid compliment to Julio
Stefon Diggs 5100 Min Top target on a low volume team
Travis Benjamin 4400 SD Someone has to take "charge" for the Chargers
Will Fuller 4200 Hou Looked the part of a first round draft choice
Eli Rogers 4100 Pit Very capable complement to A. Brown
Tajae Sharpe 4100 Ten Was clearly the best receiver on the field for Tenn
Jamison Crowder 3600 Was Cheap option.  Had the targets on Monday

TE was a wasteland last week, with only nine tight ends catching at least five passes. Also note that of the eight tight ends that scored, three of those players had only one reception.

 

Greg Olsen 5600 Car Looks like he will maintain his targets with Benjamin back
Travis Kelce 5000 KC Has been good in the past, can he be consistent in 2016?
Jason Witten 4300 Dal Clearly Dak's security blanket
Jesse James 3400 Pit Yes, he can catch
Vance McDonald 3000 SF Only two catches, but had a TD.  Risk on low volume SF offense
Virgil Green 2800 Den Was clearly part of the Broncos game plan

There were only two defensive/special teams touchdowns in Week 1, both coming from the Vikings. While it is almost certain that will change in Week 2, trying to predict defensive scores is a waste of time. Instead, we should focus on the best chance to put pressure on the quarterback.

Panthers 3900 Biggest favorite on the board against below-average offense
Seahawks 3800 The Rams are among the three worst offenses in the NFL
Packers 3200 The Vikings showed nothing on offense last week
Ravens 3000 Any team playing the Browns has to be on this list
Browns 2500 On the flip side, Baltimore did not show much last week either

My projected lineup (predominantly in DraftKings cash games) as of this writing:

Eli Manning QB 7600
Lamar Miller RB 7200
Danny Woodhead RB 5200
Odell Beckham Jr. WR 9500
Kelvin Benjamin WR 6500
Tajae Sharpe WR 4100
Virgil Green TE 2800
Ravens DEF 3000
Eli Rogers FLX 4100
    50000

Welcome to the long-awaited Week 1 of the NFL season! Each Wednesday I'm going to share my top picks for DraftKings with some commentary. This is going to be a unique week since the salaries were set over a month ago and a lot has transpired since they were released. There are obvious bargains based on pre-season developments but keep in mind everyone knows them so you'll need to differentiate your team among the high-priced players.

Be sure to check out our DraftKings section as fellow staff members will be sharing their favorite plays for DraftKings contests throughout the week.

Here's my Week 1 top plays.

andrew luck full

 

QUARTERBACK    
Andrew Luck 8300 Second highest game total on the board
Drew Brees 8100 Highest projected game total on the board
Eli Manning 7500 Been so bad in pre-season that he will be overlooked
Derek Carr 7300 Highest projected game total on the board
Matthew Stafford 7200 Second highest game total on the board
Jimmy Garoppolo 6200 Should be able to dink and dunk into decent numbers
Dak Prescott 5000 The price is right to save money for other positions

 

lamar miller full

 

RUNNING BACK    
Lamar Miller 7000 Bears defense should not have much of a chance
Mark Ingram 6600 Save a few bucks off the top-tier.  Should be just as good
Rashad Jennings 5400 Expected to see a full workload against poor defense
Melvin Gordon 4600 Not a great match-up but cheap.  Coming of strong pre-season
Spencer Ware 4400 Underpriced if Charles is out
Theo Riddick 4000 Lions rushing game showed little in pre-season
DeAndre Washington 3700 Should see all the Raiders passes out of the backfield
James White 3600 Fits right into to the dink-and-dunk approach

 

julio jones full

 

WIDE RECEIVER    
Julio Jones 9400 Easy to construct a roster that fits two of the top WRs
Odell Beckham Jr. 9300 Suggest rostering two of the top-five WRs
DeAndre Hopkins 8800 Nice week one matchup
Dez Bryant 8500 Can he connect with Prescott for real?
A.J. Green 8400 Often overlooked among the elite WRs
Mike Evans 7400 Nice alternative to the very top tier
Jarvis Landry 6000 Tannehill wont have time to look deeper than Landry
Tyler Lockett 5000 Nice price for dynamic playmaker against bad secondary
Marvin Jones 4600 Might be the last time to use him at this price
Chris Hogan 3600 Nice price for week one use
Terrelle Pryor 3000 Worthy of GPP play with Gordon out
Tajae Sharpe 3000 Cheap starter.  Concerned about lack of overall targets

 

rob gronkowski full

 

Tight End    
Rob Gronkowski 7400 Tough to pay this price
Gary Barnidge 4700 Looked good with RGIII
Zach Ertz 4300 Finished 2015 on a roll
Dwayne Allen 3200 Can he excel with Fleener gone?
Jared Cook 2900 New start in pass-happy Green Bay

seattle seahawks D full

 

Defense    
Seahawks  3900 Biggest favorite on the board
Eagles  3300 RGIII has been known to throw the ball to the wrong side
Texans  3200 Texans get to tee off on Jay Cutler.  J.J. Watt likely to play
Browns  2300 Cleveland gets the rookie QB

Week 17 is tricky from a DFS standpoint. Several teams are locked into playoff spots and have every reason to rest starters or severely limit snaps.

Stay off Redskins and Seahawks. No Jordan Reed, no Kirk Cousins. They are locked in the four seed. The Seahawks are locked into the five or six seed. Assuming that they do not care which seed they are, they could limit snaps for their starters.

All other playoff teams have at least seeding in play. The Patriots are playing for the number one seed. The Bengals are still playing for the two seed. The Broncos and Chiefs are still playing for the division/wild card and both play late. Houston and Indy are still playing for the division and both play early. The Jets and Steelers are still playing for a playoff spot and both play early. The Panthers and Cardinals are playing for the number one seed. The Vikings and Packers play Sunday night for the division/wild card.

Several players on non-contenders have a chance for personal milestones or league records. I can see scenarios where teams will force-feed certain players if those milestones come into reach.

Odell Beckham Jr. needs nine receptions to reach 100. I see the Giants making sure he hits that number.

Julio Jones (127 receptions) and Antonio Brown (123 receptions) are both in sight of the single-season record of 143 receptions, although it is a stretch. I believe Julio has a much better chance facing the Saints with nothing on the line for the Falcons.

Julio Jones at 1,722 yards receiving is 242 yards away from the single-season record and 278 yards away from 2,000. While those are huge numbers, don’t you believe that if the Falcons really want Julio to get the record, they could not at least get close?

DeAngelo Williams (101 yards) and Frank Gore (109 yards) are both within range of 1,000 rushing yards. Lamar Miller is 188 yards away, but remember he rushed for almost 200 yards in Week 17 last season.

Lastly, Doug Martin is 64 rushing yards behind Adrian Peterson for the NFL rushing title. The Bucs could force additional carries to Martin if he is having success, but that will be challenging against Carolina.

QUARTERBACK
Cam Newton Car 7500 Cam needs to play so that the Panthers can secure home field all thru playoffs
Ben Roethlisberger Pit 6900 Threw a week 16 dud with huge ownership.  Will rebound with slim playoff hope
Drew Brees NO 6700 Injury was a non-factor.  Falcons offer little defense
Blake Bortles Jax 6700 At least 25 points in five straight.
Matthew Stafford Det 6200 Nice match-up to finish the season
Eli Manning NYG 5600 Beckham returns.
Matt Ryan Atl 5500 Gets the Saints to finish a disappointing season on a high note
Ryan Fitzpatrick NYJ 5400 Keep an eye on Buffalo weather, but Fitz in a good spot and still cheap
Sam Bradford Phi 5300 A little off-the-grid, but the Giants clearly quit last Sunday against Minnesota
RUNNING BACK
Devonta Freeman Atl 7600 Looks to cap off one of the top surprise stories of the season
Todd Gurley StL 7400 No reason for Rams to stop playing
DeAngelo Williams Pit 7100 Up into unchartered price territory.  Only one who showed against the Ravens
Charcandrick West KC 5700 Still cheap enough to consider
Tim Hightower NO 5500 Getting big volume in Saints offense.  A real late season success story
Denard Robinson Jax 5400 Fumbles will eventually get him out of the league, but we only care about this week
Danny Woodhead SD 5000 Woodhead has returned big in the Chargers passing game
James White NE 5000 Tough to watch with low volume, but the pass receptions add up
Darren McFadden Dal 4900 About the only thing that went right for Cowboys this season
Karlos Williams Buf 4800 Split touches but there were plenty against the Cowboys, very iffy this week
Bilal Powell NYJ 4500 Check injury report as he came out late in the Patriots game.
Javorius Allen Bal 4400 Strong game one week after being benched due to early fumble
WIDE RECEIVER
Antonio Brown Pit 9300 Steelers wont disappoint again
Odell Beckham Jr. NYG 9000 Beckham returns with a vengence.  Needs 9 catches for 100 on the season
Julio Jones Atl 8500 Lit up Panthers and now gets the worst defense in the NFL.  Single season records?
DeAndre Hopkins Hou 8400 Dislike QB situation.  Should be low ownership GPP option
Brandon Marshall NYJ 7900 Thought Pats could take him out.  Wrong
Allen Robinson Jax 7800 Coming up huge
Sammy Watkins Buf 6700 Might be first time this season Watkins hits my list.  Five straight solid games
Eric Decker NYJ 6500 Been excellent all season.  Not the volume of Marshall, but scores TDs
Brandin Cooks NO 6400 Red hot lately
Golden Tate Det 6400 Small hiccup in week 16 but not terrible.  Good candidate to rebound
Allen Hurns Jax 5600 Not much statistically different from Robinson but $2200 cheaper
Kamar Aiken Bal 5400 Becoming a viable cash game option.  38 catches in past six games
Martavis Bryant Pit 5300 Loat 80 yard TD that would have looked great in the box score
Jordan Matthews Phi 4700 58 points in past two and faces porous Giants defense
Willie Snead NO 4400 Should score 3x in his sleep
TIGHT END
Rob Gronkowski NE 7400 Has to stay in the mix with limited other options in New England
Greg Olsen Car 6800 Still throws in some clunkers but pretty solid 2x floor
Jordan Reed Was 6500 Great in past three.  Not sure how Redskins use starters in week 17
Delanie Walker Ten 5600 More than 2x price in 12 of 14 games
Julius Thomas Jax 4900 Overshadowed by Robinson and Hurns
Travis Kelce KC 4700 Good in week 16. Inconsistent targets makes him a GPP-only option
Zach Miller Chi 4600 Going up in price but still sold for 2x-3x price
Will Tye NYG 4000 Burned many in week 16 after double-digit points in five straight games
Zach Ertz Phi 3600 26 catches in past three games
DEFENSE
Broncos Den 4000 Broncos need the win
Chiefs KC 4000 KC still playing to win
Panthers Car 3600 Look to rebound off two poor performances
Steelers Pit 3500 Will be highly motivated to rebound
Patriots NE 3200 Dolphins offense has been a mess
Rams StL 3000 Lowest Vegas total I have seen all season
Vikings MIN 2200 Vikings defense has been strong and Aaron Rodgers has not been good

MY CURRENT LINEUP

Ryan Fitzpatrick QB NYJ 5400
Tim Hightower RB NO 5500
Javorius Allen RB Bal 4400
Odell Beckham Jr. WR NYG 9000
Julio Jones WR Atl 8500
Jordan Matthews WR Phi 4700
Zach Miller TE Chi 4600
Martavis Bryant FL Pit 5300
Vikings DST Min 2200

This week, I had the opportunity to participate in Howard Bender’s Mock Draft Army 12-team PPR draft. The draft was slightly different from the upcoming NFFC drafts in that there was no 3rd Round Reversal. I had the benefit (I think) of having the first overall pick. My strategy going in was to take the best wide receivers through at least the first three rounds and see where we end up with running backs.

1) Antonio Brown – WR - This was pretty much a no-brainer selection.

2) Randall Cobb – WR – Expecting a rebound season from Cobb with Jordy Nelson back.

3) Brandon Marshall – WR – Long-time Marshall fan. Expecting Ryan Fitzpatrick back at QB.

4) Jordan Matthews – WR - This was the first real decision point. Is the selection a fourth wide receiver or a first running back? Time will tell. The running back pick would have been DeMarco Murray, who was selected at 4.05.

5) Danny Woodhead – RB – Definitely a player I was looking for at the 4-5 turn. Dion Lewis went at 3.08 and Duke Johnson went at 4.09.

6) Rashad Jennings – RB – Looking for a second running back that has a pretty good hold of a job with regular work.

7) Drew Brees – QB – Another key decision point. Is the pick a quarterback or the next tier tight end? I passed on Delanie Walker, who was taken with the very next pick. There was a run on tight ends, which led me to…

8) Zach Ertz – TE – He was great at the very end of 2015. Still looking for a little consistency. In hindsight, Delanie Walker would have been a better choice than Brees in round 7. I really like Eli Manning to put up big numbers this year and he didn’t go until round 10.

9) Jay Ajayi – RB – Was going in round 6 before the Dolphins signed Arian Foster (who went at pick 7.09). The Dolphins are claiming “time-share”, which is fine with me given Foster’s injury history.

10) Devontae Booker – RB – Time to reach a little. If you are not going to take your first running back until round 5, you better get some guys with big potential.

11) Chris Hogan – WR – Why did it seem so obvious that he would end up with the Patriots?

12) Jameis Winston – QB – Expecting a big sophomore season.

13) Rishard Matthews – WR – As a sixth wide receiver, he has a chance to become Marcus Mariota’s safety blanket.

14) Jerick McKinnon – RB – Has a ton of talent and was well worth a shot in round 14.

15) Andre Ellington – RB – An injury to David Johnson could open the door for really big numbers.

16) Austin Seferian-Jenkins – TE – Has been a huge injury disappointment so far in his career. We will see if he clicks with Winston.

17) Andre Roberts – WR – The number three wide receiver on an offense on the rise.

18) Brandon McManus – K – Gotta have a kicker.

19) New York Jets – Def – And we have to use a defense.

20) Quinton Patton – WR – Has been a pet-pick of mine before. With Anquan Boldin gone and no real replacements, maybe Patton excels in Chip Kelly’s system.

After 15 weeks, my DFS confidence level is as high as ever. While confidence does not guarantee a win, I feel like I now understand the psychology of cash games and have settled on a roster configuration and game choice that seems to make sense.

QB – Sure, the top-tier guys like Tom Brady have great floor values. But the price you pay appears to put too much stress on other parts of your roster. I have been targeting QBs in the $6K-$6.5K range like Blake Bortles and Ryan Fitzpatrick. They don’t have to kill it – 250 yards passing and two TDs is just fine for their price.

RB – Every time I paid top-dollar for what seemed like a guaranteed floor, I got burned. So I have settled on cheap running backs with the emphasis on cheap.  $10K for both would be great. I might be a tad over this week with David Johnson a must play in cash games due to an expected off-the-chart ownership.

WR – Pay up if you can. The majority of top weekly scores come from the WR position. Each week, at least one of the top guys goes over 40. At least $18K (or 36%) of your budget should go here.

TE – Sure, it is great to have the floor provided by Rob Gronkowski, but like Brady, you have to pay a severe price. While there is some risk, there have been plenty of tight ends under $5K that are consistently earning 2-3x price.

Flex – The flex spot should be a wide receiver if at all possible. A wide receiver can earn their value for the week with one TD catch.

Defense – Very much of a crapshoot as I have yet to find a formula that provides any kind of consistency in rostering a defense that will score 8-12 points. I have been trying to stick with favored home teams against what appear to be weakling offenses.

Lineups – I tinkered early in the season with multiple lineups in cash games. That did not work very well for me. The past several weeks, I have focused on fielding one single lineup in all cash games.

Game Selection – Early in the year, I was chasing the million dollar prize, allocating 25-30% of our weekly budget to GPP tournaments. That failed miserably, as you may have figured. The past several weeks, I have played strictly cash games with the focus primarily on single-entry games with good success. I typically enter several $10, 113-entry double up contests, several $5, 227-entry double ups, and the big $25 double up for a total of $100 in entries.

QUARTERBACK
Tom Brady NE 7500 Lack of weapons hurting ceiling. Floor of 18 is pretty solid
Cam Newton Car 7500 No rationale for $300 price drop. Has scored 111 points over past three weeks
Russell Wilson Sea 7200 Offense opened up after Lynch injury. 19 TD passes in past five games
Carson Palmer Ari 7000 Johnson 3 rush TD limited Palmer in week 15. Just bad luck
Drew Brees NO 6800 Great match-up but foot injury is of concern
Ben Roethlisberger Pit 6800 Explosive offense against bad Ravens team
Blake Bortles Jax 6500 At least 25 points in four straight. Another strong matchup
Matthew Stafford Det 6100 Benefits against Saints defense. 12 TDs in past four games
Ryan Fitzpatrick NYJ 5200 Continues to be woefully underpriced
Teddy Bridgewater Min 5200 Need a strong stomach, but coming off big game against weak Giants pass defense
RUNNING BACK
Doug Martin TB 6600 Martin has been racking up yards and Chicago is no run stopper
DeAngelo Williams Pit 6500 16.6 preceded by 23+ points in three straight
Matt Forte Chi 6500 Still split with Langford but dependable receiver
David Johnson Ari 5800 Might have the highest cash game ownership of the season. Was 50% last week
Charcandrick West KC 5700 Solid as long as Ware is hobbled
Denard Robinson Jax 5400 Up $2400 in two weeks. Worth it if he is good to go on Sunday with Yeldon out
James White NE 4700 Won't get a lot of carries, but 21 receptions in past three games. Jets stop the run
Tim Hightower NO 4500 Not a big fan, but he is getting the touches
Karlos Williams Buf 4500 Inexpensive option expected to see 15-20 touches
Cameron Artis-Payne Car 4300 Saw a lot of carries when Panthers were up big. Figure to be up again
Shane Vereen NYG 3900 Cheap option, more of a GPP play
Bilal Powell NYJ 3900 At least 19 points in three straight. Heavily involved in receiving situations
WIDE RECEIVER
Antonio Brown Pit 9300 Top dollar but seemingly unstoppable at this point
DeAndre Hopkins Hou 8400 Dislike QB situation. Should be low ownership GPP option
Allen Robinson Jax 7500 Pretty high floor. Would not be surprised to see Bortles throw 50 times
Mike Evans TB 7300 Evans always scares me due to the drops. No excuse without Jackson
Doug Baldwin Sea 6700 Price up $2700 in three weeks. A four-game monster stretch with 10 TDs
Sammy Watkins Buf 6700 Might be first time this season Watkins hits my list. Four straight solid games
Eric Decker NYJ 6500 Been excellent all season. Pats figure to focus on taking Marshall out of the game
Brandin Cooks NO 5900 Been inconsistent - sometimes below 10, other times over 20. Sounds like a GPP option
Golden Tate Det 5800 Nice five-game stretch with Calvin struggling
Martavis Bryant Pit 5600 Averaging almost 20 ppg and still only $5600
Kamar Aiken Bal 5400 Becoming a viable cash game option. 30 catches over past five games
John Brown Ari 5300 Five straight good games. Might finally be healthy
Michael Floyd Ari 4900 Over 20 points in four of past six. Just missed TD on great catch at the 1-yard line last week
Willie Snead NO 4500 Back in form over past two games
Tyler Lockett Sea 4500 Up $1500 in three weeks. Can score from anywhere. Seeing more targets
TIGHT END
Rob Gronkowski NE 7600 Has to stay in the mix with limited other options in New England
Greg Olsen Car 7000 Still throws in some clunkers but pretty solid 2x floor
Delanie Walker Ten 5600 Finally broke streak of every game with 3+ catches. But both catches went for TDs
Ben Watson NO 5300 Was not heavily involved on Monday until scoring a late TD
Julius Thomas Jax 5100 Heavily targeted in past five. Still reasonable price
Travis Kelce KC 4300 Inconsistent targets makes him a GPP-only option
Zach Miller Chi 4000 Last minute of garbage time last week made his game. Still good price
Will Tye NYG 3500 Double-digit points in five straight games for dirt cheap
Eric Ebron Det 2900 Tough to trust but only needs three catches to earn $2900
DEFENSE
Seahawks Sea 4300 Stop Gurley and they are money in the bank
Chiefs KC 4200 Good chance for big points on turnovers off Manziel
Panthers Car 3700 Expect them to turn over and sack Falcons
Steelers Pit 3100 Not a great defense, but a great situation
Texans Hou 2800 I worry about their offense, but no Mariotta for Tenn
Lions Det 2800 Home vs. SF in low total game

MY CURRENT LINEUP

Blake Bortles QB Jax 6500
David Johnson RB Ari 5800
Denard Robinson RB Jax 5400
Allen Robinson WR Jax 7500
Golden Tate WR Det 5800
Michael Floyd WR Ari 4900
Zach Miller TE Chi 4000
Martavis Bryant FL Pit 5600
Chiefs DST KC 4200
49700

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