DraftKings Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Week 1
The daily fantasy football games offered on FanDuel and DraftKings have many similarities, but one distinct difference is that DraftKings uses full PPR scoring. Much like you would in season-long leagues, that means we must evaluate players slightly differently on each site. In this space, we'll help you on the DraftKings side of the equation.
While we shouldn't get too many surprises in Week 1, be sure to pay particular attention to inactives prior to Sunday's games. Similar to late scratches in the NBA, injuries can have a huge impact on playing time, and great values can open up for you at the last minute. At a position like running back, a low-priced backup can suddenly find his way into 15-20 carries in a feature role and crush his value.
Also, be sure to use numberFire's premium tools at your disposal! In particular, the heat map is a great way to get a general overview of the slate's implied team totals, and every team's strengths and weaknesses.
Now, let's check out the top plays on this week's DraftKings main slate.
Marcus Mariota ($6,800): As the sixth-highest priced quarterback on the board, you're not exactly getting a discount to roster Marcus Mariota. But he's a home favorite for a Tennessee Titans team sporting a 26.50 implied team total against the Oakland Raiders, who ranked just 25th in Adjusted Defensive Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per play last season. The Titans are favored by only 2.5 points, so we could have a shootout on our hands between two prolific offenses. Between Mariota's matchup, new offensive weapons, and rushing ability, he has all the ingredients for a big performance come Sunday.
Carson Wentz ($5,300): Given the added PPR value at the other positions, paying down at quarterback is often ideal on DraftKings, and as some late-round quarterback guy often reminds us, this is one of the easiest positions to predict week-to-week performance. One such value is Carson Wentz against a Washington team that ranked just 24th against the pass per our metrics last year. Wentz attempted the fifth-most passes in 2016, and with a suspect running back corp, we shouldn't expect that volume to change. His 0.06 Passing NEP per drop back wasn't very efficient, but with a full year under his belt and a true number-one wide receiver in Alshon Jeffery, that should improve. Likely to be one of the higher-owned quarterbacks on the slate, the game's 47.5-point total isn't the highest, but with a tight spread and two offenses that like to throw, there's some sneaky shootout potential.
DeShone Kizer ($4,800): A Cleveland Browns quarterback? Have you lost your mind? The Browns are a big underdog to the Pittsburgh Steelers with just a 19.25 implied team total, and it sounds totally counterintuitive to consider using a rookie quarterback making his first-ever NFL start. But plenty of folks are seeing the value in a cheap Jared Goff this weekend, so why not DeShone Kizer? Despite the poor implied team total, the Browns are at home, and Kizer brings the great equalizer to the party -- his legs. Kizer scored 18 rushing touchdowns in two seasons at Notre Dame, and while we don't know just how often he'll run yet, it's hard to imagine him not including that as a big part of his repertoire. Given how cheap Wentz is, you don't need to take the overall uncertainty in cash, but Kizer's rushing ability gives him a higher floor than you may think, and he won't need to do much to hit value.
Le'Veon Bell ($9,800) and David Johnson ($9,400): Okay, you don't need me to tell you why Le'Veon Bell and David Johnson are listed. Here on numberFire, and any other fantasy site worth its URL, you'll see these guys getting two enthusiastic thumbs up this week. Due to their consistently high volume of touches, involvement in the passing game, and goal-line work, they're about as game-script and matchup-proof as you can find. There's a reason they were the universal top-two picks in season-long drafts, after all. Even at their exorbitant salaries, you may be able to fit both of them in your lineup, but don't force it at the expense of using a punt play you don't like. At the very least, you should have one in your cash-game lineups -- no other plays on the board match their high floors.
Todd Gurley ($6,000): Ugh, I know, not exactly everyone's favorite name in fantasy. But as a home favorite against an Indianapolis Colts team rolling out Scott Tolzien at quarterback, if Todd Gurely can't get it going this week, then we may officially need to stick a fork in him. The Colts defense ranked 26th against the run per our metrics last season, and Gurley should have immense volume as a true bell-cow back in game where the Los Angeles Rams should lead most of the afternoon. By our projections, he's the top value at running back.
Carlos Hyde ($4,600): Much like his average draft position in season-long drafts, DraftKings isn't giving Carlos Hyde a whole lot of love at his low salary. Being a home underdog against the Carolina Panthers isn't an ideal situation, but between his high usage with the first-team offense during the preseason and lack of competition behind him -- who else are they going to give the ball to anyway? -- makes him an attractive option. Barring a surprise injury, you won't find a cheaper running back with this much guaranteed volume in Week 1.
Doug Baldwin ($6,700): Sometimes we can overthink wide receiver versus cornerback matchups in DFS, but other times the answer is crystal clear. This decidedly falls under the latter category. Doug Baldwin lines up most often out of the slot, which pits him against Damarious Randall, who last year graded 107 out of 110 ranked cornerbacks according to ProFootballFocus. And ESPN's Mike Clay states that among this weekend's starting cornerbacks, Randall allowed the most fantasy points per route in 2016. Any way you slice it, it's a great spot for Baldwin. Best of all, the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers have the highest game total (51.0) on the slate, and with the Packers only favored by three, we have a great chance for both teams to go off.
Larry Fitzgerald ($5,900): The matchup is just too good for Larry Fitzgerald, and he comes in at a nice mid-range price point. The Detroit Lions ranked 30th against the pass by numberFire's metrics in 2016, and he'll avoid their top cornerback, Darius Slay, who rarely lines up in the slot. You may remember the Fitzgerald that faded down the stretch last year, but don't forget he started hot out of the gate. Fitzgerald comes in as one of numberFire's top projected values at wide receiver.
Robby Anderson ($3,800): First a Brown, then a Ram, and now a New York Jet? Hear me out. Yes, we can all agree that the Jets should (will?) be terrible this season, and their slate-low 15.50 implied team total certainly reflects that. But the Jets have to throw the ball to somebody while they inevitably play catch-up, and Eric Decker, Brandon Marshall and Quincy Enunwa ain't walking through that door. Targets are king for wide receivers, and Anderson should get plenty against a revamped Bills secondary. And if you're worried about Josh McCown's quarterback play, don't forget that he popped off for a pair of 300-yard games with the hapless Browns last year, so he's capable of the occasional big performance.
Delanie Walker ($4,300): If you played NFL DFS last year, you likely remember the mantra that you should always play tight ends against the Oakland Raiders. Well, as it turns out, we may be in store for more of the same in 2017, so it's a great time to fire up Delanie Walker. With touchdown-machine Eric Decker joining the team, it's difficult to say how the red zone targets will shake out in the long run, but Walker should get his opportunities in an offense on the upswing. He would potentially be the top tight end play on the board if it weren't for how cheap the next guy is.
Zach Ertz ($3,500): It's going to hard leaving Zach Ertz out of your cash-game lineups, who comes in as our top projected tight end value. With Jordan Matthews no longer in Philadelphia, Ertz should be the primary beneficiary of those missing targets in an offense we can expect to throw the ball a lot. This isn't to say that Ertz will necessarily outscore someone like Delanie Walker, but he'll go a long way towards getting your big studs like Le'Veon Bell and/or David Johnson secured in one lineup. As a bonus, with Wentz as one of top quarterback values, you can get a nice little quarterback-tight end stack, as well.
Houston Texans ($3,900): While you can certainly consider the Buffalo Bills against the Jets and their pitiful implied team total, DraftKings has them priced up, which takes some of the wind out of their sails. Thus, for the same price, it's worth considering the Houston Texans instead, a defense that's actually strong on their own merits, and gets to face Blake Bortles, who you may have heard has some, uh, issues playing quarterback. In 2016, the Texans defense ranked fourth overall by our metrics -- and that was while missing J.J. Watt for most of the season.
Los Angeles Rams ($3,200): In cash games, the top value is the Los Angeles Rams, who faces Scott Tolzien and the Colts. Following the news of Andrew Luck missing Week 1, the Colts' implied team total has plummeted by nearly a touchdown to just 18.75 points. If Vegas doesn't have any faith in Indianapolis, then neither should you.