7 Daily Fantasy Football Tournament Plays for Week 1
Unlike cash games, you're not always looking for safe bets in tournaments. You want a little more volatility. You're looking for players with high ceilings that can bring you the top prizes.
So while we gave some daily fantasy football values earlier in the day, let's take a look at guys you may want to play in tournaments this week.
Let's get it.
Week 1 Tournament Plays
Geno Smith, New York Jets – Smith’s ranking of 20th among fantasy quarterbacks last season may scare some people off, but if you look at how he reached that number, he becomes a very viable tournament play, especially this week against a lackluster Raiders defense that gave up the third-most fantasy points to quarterbacks last year.
Last season, Smith’s poor ranking didn’t come from consistently below-average performances. His scores each week were polarized – he had some incredibly bad weeks, but also managed to record over 20 points six times, finishing among the top-six quarterbacks in three different games. Playing against the weak Raiders defense that ranked fourth-to-last against the pass according to our Net Expected Points metrics has him primed for one of his ‘boom’ weeks. And with such a low price tag across daily sites, he’s a solid tournament play.
Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints - Our Week 1 projections have Pierre Thomas finishing as the number 10 back in fantasy within DraftKings' scoring system. This makes him an excellent value pick with his low price tag (only the 27th-most expensive running back over there). Thomas provides high upside, especially in a PPR format – he was the Saints’ primary goal-line back last year, too, and also finished fourth on the team in receiving targets. In a matchup against the Falcons that promises to be high scoring, Thomas has a high ceiling without much risk. Other payers may be turned off due to his sliding on the depth chart, too, making him a unique option.
Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills – Jackson is appealing for much of the same reason Pierre Thomas is this week: a low price tag to go along with goal-line opportunity and plenty of receiving looks.
Like Thomas, Jackson finished last season fourth on his team in targets, and is the primary goal-line back. The Bills were the most run-heavy team in the league last year, meaning there will be plenty of opportunities for Jackson, even with C.J. Spiller healthy. Jackson provides huge touchdown potential (only two backs finished 2013 with more goal-line touches than him), and he has a favorable matchup against a Bears defense that, while they made a few moves to attempt to shore up their run defense, gave up the second-most fantasy points to running backs in 2013.
Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts – While he was healthy last year, Wayne was having an excellent fantasy season, and was still the clear number-one receiver in Indianapolis. Through the first seven weeks of the season, he led the team in targets and receptions, and was second on the team in red zone targets. His 38 receptions had him ranked 16th among all wide receivers. His matchup against the Broncos this week is a favorable one - Vegas odds-makers have this game projected as the highest-scoring of the week, with an over/under of 55.5. The opportunity to grab a team’s number-one receiver with such a low price tag in a game that promises to be high scoring is hard to pass up.
Eric Decker, New York Jets – Decker is an interesting stack with Geno Smith this week. If Smith is going to have a good fantasy week, Decker is going to put up good numbers (and still might even if Smith’s numbers are lackluster). Decker is far and away the top receiver on the Jets, and while we can’t expect Decker to replicate the red zone numbers he had in Denver, he's a solid red zone threat and should be the Jets’ primary target there as well. Only one wide receiver has more touchdown than Decker over the last two seasons, and if he can produce at even a fraction of that rate in New York, he’s in for a big week.
Ladarius Green, San Diego Chargers – Green is a risky play this week, and it's still unsure what percentage of snaps he will see with Antonio Gates healthy. But Green’s incredibly low price tag and high ceiling make him worth the risk. Few tight ends have the ability to create explosive plays every time they touch the ball like Green does, and even on limited snaps, Green can provide you with a lot of points.
Since 2010, Green is one of only four tight ends to be targeted at least 20 times and record a Reception NEP per target greater than 1.0. Green finished 2013 with a huge 22.12 yards per reception, and the Cardinals gave up the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. Green doesn't need to see many looks this week to be able to give you elite numbers at tight end for a minimal price.
Philadelphia Eagles Defense – The Eagles find themselves matched up against the lowly Jacksonville offense this week. Our projections have Philadelphia ranked seventh among defenses, while their DraftKings salary puts them 14th. This value comes with a ton of upside. Chad Henne is starting for the Jaguars, and in his 25 games played with the team (including game in which he didn’t play the entirety of), he's thrown 25 interceptions. This combined with Jacksonville giving up the third most sacks in the league last year makes the Eagles defense a good value pick with high upside.