4 NFL DraftKings Bargains for Week 1
Fantasy value can be defined in so many ways. In season-long leagues, one might determine value by looking at output compared to draft position. In daily leagues, we're often looking at output per $1,000 in salary.
Everyone has their own idea of where the salary cutoff for a value player is. For DraftKings, this article looks at quarterbacks who are priced under $6,000, running backs and wide receivers priced under $5,000, and tight ends priced under $4,000.
Some value players jump out and will have wildly high ownership, while others aren't as obvious. To make your decisions easier, we're here to crunch the numbers and do our best to point out those bargains to you.
So, what are we waiting for? Let's go digging for value!
Kirk Cousins, QB, Minnesota Vikings
DraftKings Price: $5,500
Projected Points: 18.6
Projected Value (points per $1,000): 3.37
Few players are likely as ready to shake off the preseason rust as Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins. The eighth-year veteran out looked solid in limited action in the Vikings' first two games, but in Game 3's extended appearance against the Arizona Cardinals, Cousins completed just 3-of-13 passes for 35 yards and a 39.6 rating, getting sacked twice in the process before relinquishing duties to Sean Mannion. Fortunately for Cousins and those who wish to use him this week, he gets one of the juiciest matchups on the slate.
The Vikings will play host to the Atlanta Falcons in a game that's 48-point total is the sixth-highest of Week 1. The Falcons come into this week's game as numberFire's projected sixth-worst passing defense (and third-worst overall D), which would be an improvement over where they finished last year. The Dirty Birds gave up the fourth-most passing yards and fourth-highest completion percentage to opposing passers in 2018, which plays right into Cousins' strengths. Only Drew Brees and Nick Foles had higher completion percentages than Cousins' 70.1% clip last year among quarterbacks with over 100 attempts.
No team gave up more DraftKings points to opposing quarterbacks last year than the Falcons, who allowed more than 20 DraftKings points 11 times. The ever-improving Cousins will be ready to pounce, especially with a healthy Dalvin Cook at his disposal. Cook will be delighted to face a defense that has given up the most receptions to running backs four years running.
Cousins' 2018 was inconsistent, but he set a career high with 30 touchdowns, a career low with a 1.7% interception rate, and finished as the QB9 on DraftKings. Our models have him bringing that success over to Week 1 as we have him projected for 3.37 DraftKings points per $1,000, the fourth-best projected quarterback value on the slate.
Matt Breida, RB, San Francisco 49ers
DraftKings Price: $4,000
Projected Points: 13.0
Projected Value (points per $1,000): 3.26
The third-highest total on this week's slate belongs to the matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This shouldn't be all that surprising for those who watched these teams play last year. Few teams were as generous, which showed as the Niners and Bucs gave up the fifth- and second-most points per game. A slew of players have the opportunity to provide big value in this game, and our models are pointing to Matt Breida as one of the best options.
Breida was an unlikely addition to many fantasy teams last season. Projected to be Jerick McKinnon's backup last year, he got a chance for a bigger-than-expected workload as McKinnon tore his ACL right before the start of the season. He rewarded those who picked him up with a RB2 or RB3 season, depending on the format. He'll look to pick up where he left off last year, though he'll have some competition in Tevin Coleman.
The addition of Coleman is likely one reason why Breida's Week 1 DraftKings price is only $4,000 after hovering in the mid-$5,000 range most of last season. (It was $4,200 in Week 17, but then again, he was facing the Chicago Bears.) Though Coleman will indeed cut into Breida's work, the team's first unofficial depth chart lists Breida as the starter. As such, Breida should have no trouble at least matching the 12.9 touches he averaged last season.
Our models project him to see the ball just over 13 times on Sunday, expecting him to put up roughly one DraftKings point per touch against a Bucs defense that gave up the fifth-most DraftKings points per game to opposing backs last year. We have him leading all backs this week with a projected value of 3.26 DraftKings points per $1,000.
Dede Westbrook, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
DraftKings Price: $4,800
Projected Points: 12.0
Projected Value (points per $1,000): 2.50
It would be hard for the Kansas City Chiefs' defense to be much worse than it was last year. They gave up the fifth-most DraftKings points to opposing quarterbacks, third-most to running backs, ninth-most to wide receivers, and the most to tight ends. The additions of Frank Clark and Tyrann Mathieu will certainly help shore things up, but it's hard to imagine that even a defense full of Pro Bowlers wouldn't be getting tired and giving up significant yardage when they're playing with an offense that can legitimately score 40 points per game.
The Chiefs, 3.5-point away favorites in this week's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, are likely to get out to big leads as they did last season, causing others to try to play catch-up. There will be plenty of opportunity for Jags players to take advantage of such a fruitful situation this week, and one of the players most primed for success is Dede Westbrook.
Westbrook took a big leap forward in his sophomore season, catching 66 passes for 717 yards and adding another 98 on the ground, though calling it a breakout would be premature. It would have been difficult for him to get to breakout status anyways, given that Blake Bortles was doing his best to find the other team's players. Fear not for Westbrook, however, because he'll get someone throwing him the ball who actually understands the definition of a completion.
Nick Foles, whose 72.3% completion rate in 2018 was second only to Drew Brees, will be throwing to Westbrook, and they've already formed a strong rapport in the preseason. Westbrook was targeted seven times in the third preseason game, catching a touchdown from Foles in the process.
Westbrook's $4,800 salary is in line with where he hovered last season, but it could prove to be a bargain if the Foles connection is as strong as the two anticipate. We have him starting the year off on a solid note from a value perspective, projecting him for 12.0 DraftKings points. The projected return of 2.50 points per $1,000 is the fifth-highest value at receiver on the slate.
Hunter Henry, TE, Los Angeles Chargers
DraftKings Price: $3,900
Projected Points: 11.0
Projected Value (points per $1,000): 2.82
Some players need a few games to ease back into the swing of things after spending a year off rehabbing from an ACL injury. Our models project that Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hunter Henry is not one of those players.
Henry caught 12 touchdowns from Philip Rivers in his first two seasons and looked poised for a breakout 2018 before injuring his knee in a spring practice. In 2017, Henry pleased PPR fantasy owners with double-digit output in seven of his 12 games, including four games of 15-plus points. We see that already-proven track record to carry itself over to 2019 as if last year never happened.
Henry enters this week as our fifth-ranked tight end for the season. He'll get a choice matchup to kick off his campaign. The Colts made major strides defensively from 2017 to 2018 in the passing game. An Indy team that had allowed the third-most passing yards per game in 2017 gave up just the 11th-fewest last year. Opposing tight ends, however, continued to be a struggle. The Colts gave up 103 receptions for 1,194 yards to opposing tight ends last year -- both league highs -- en route to giving up the third-most DraftKings points per game to the position and ranking fourth-worst to the position in DVOA.
With so many weapons at his disposal this year (sorry, MG owners), Rivers will almost always have an option open. Teammate Keenan Allen thinks Henry is a "threat that’s going to be open 90% of the time." Whether he's open that often remains to be seen, but we have him kicking off the campaign with a solid 11.0 DraftKings points and the second-highest value at the position this week.
Ian Goldsmith is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Ian Goldsmith also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username zoidbergs_revenge. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his/her personal account. The views expressed in his/her articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.