4 Daily Fantasy Football Players to Avoid in Week 1

We have a lot of pieces on numberFire geared toward helping you figure out which players you should roster in your DFS contests on FanDuel, but an important aspect of the DFS process is figuring out who you shouldn't play.

Narrowing down your list of potential plays by avoiding those who are destined to underwhelm can go a long way toward helping you create winning lineups.

Zigging when the masses are zagging is part of giving yourself an edge in DFS, so you'll sometimes be able to make a case for using a player in this piece in an effort to be contrarian -- especially if said player is really good. Inevitably, some of the players I feature in this article will blow up and pop for a big game, but that just comes with the territory of doing a piece like this one -- unless I'm just going to tell you to avoid playing dudes like Derek Carr. I'm not going to do that. I want this piece to be useful.

Here are four players I'm avoiding this week.

Saquon Barkley, RB, Giants

FanDuel Salary: $8,500

Saquon Barkley is a guy I just can't get behind this week.

Coming off an ACL injury, Barkley only recently completed his first contact practice and may not get his usual workload in Week 1, with beat reporters saying as much last week. That's obviously a big concern.

On top of that, Barkley has a tough matchup against the Denver Broncos, a defense our numbers project to be the 11th-best in the league. Von Miller and Bradley Chubb -- the latter of whom isn't a lock to play but did get in a limited session Thursday -- could wreck a New York Giants offensive line that PFF ranks as the NFL's worst. The Giants' 19.25 implied total is the slate's second-lowest.

If Barkley can't volume his way to good numbers, he'll likely need some chunk plays to have a big day. While he's certainly capable of that, it's not something I want to count on.

Our model doesn't hate Barkley, as we project him for 16.7 FanDuel points, the fifth-most among backs. But we also have him as the worst point-per-dollar play among the top nine running backs. With other high-salary backs like Dalvin Cook ($9,400), Christian McCaffrey ($10,400), Derrick Henry ($8,900) and Alvin Kamara ($8,600) in much better spots, that's where I'll be going.

Jonathan Taylor, RB, Colts

FanDuel Salary: $7,900

If I'm forking over a hefty amount of salary for a running back, I want a guy who plays a lot of snaps and is a significant factor in the passing game -- because I crave upside. Jonathan Taylor rarely checked either of those boxes as a rookie, and while Taylor's matchup is decent enough against the Seattle Seahawks, it's not good enough to make me want to use him on Sunday.

In 2020, Taylor only once played more than 70% of the snaps in a game. Even when he had it rolling late in the year, he logged snap rates of 48%, 56% and 58% in Weeks 13, 14 and 16, respectively. The really troubling thing is the Indianapolis Colts won two of those three games and lost by just four in the other, so it's not like he was game-scripted out of things.

As far as the passing game, Taylor had more games with zero or one target (three) than he did with five-plus targets (two). He hauled in 36 of 39 looks, so he might be a capable pass-catcher, but he just didn't get much opportunity to show it as a rookie with Nyheim Hines operating as the preferred pass-game back. And the coaching staff has already said they want to get Hines more touches this year, so it doesn't seem like Taylor's role is going to be much different than it was last season.

The Colts have a blah 23.75 implied total as 3.0-point home 'dogs to the Seahawks. Seattle was basically a middle-of-the-road D against running backs last year. We rate Taylor as the RB10, but he's our worst point-per-dollar play among the top 19 running backs.

Marquez Callaway, WR, Saints

FanDuel Salary: $5,200

Marquez Callaway was one of the darlings of the preseason, and with Tre'Quan Smith banged up, Callaway looks like he'll be the New Orleans Saints' number-one wideout this week. There's obvious value in that, especially at a salary this low, and the Saints are taking on the Green Bay Packers in a game with a 49.5-point total, the third-highest.

But Callaway figures to see a lot of Jaire Alexander, and that's a no-go for me. Alexander is one of the game's elite corners, and while Callaway could end up having a nice campaign, he's a second-year receiver with 21 catches and 213 yards to his name for his career. This profiles as a mismatch in favor of Alexander, who -- per PlayerProfiler -- finished 2020 with the second-best coverage rating and a 0.0% burn rate. He gave up the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game and the seventh-fewest fantasy points per target.

In the same salary range, I much prefer DeVonta Smith ($5,300), Laviska Shenault ($5,600) and Michael Pittman Jr. ($5,300). I'll get my Saints exposure via the aforementioned Kamara.

Brandon Aiyuk, WR, 49ers

FanDuel Salary: $6,500

The San Francisco 49ers are probably going to dumptruck the Detroit Lions. San Fran is a 7.5-point favorite, the biggest on the slate, and their 26.00-point implied total is a number worth targeting. We rank the Lions as the league's third-worst team.

My fear with Brandon Aiyuk is that the Niners could have a lot of success on the ground and may not offer much passing volume.

Back in 2019, when San Francisco was good, they were the second-most run-heavy team, passing on just 48.6% of their plays. Even last season, when they went 6-10, the 49ers were the 15th-most run heavy team.

In addition to that, Aiyuk is going to have more target competition this year with George Kittle and Deebo Samuel back in the fold. Samuel notched 81 targets as a rookie before his injury-plagued 2020, and Kittle had 136 and 107 targets in the two seasons prior to his injury-shorted campaign last year.

It all adds up to too much uncertainty for my liking, so I'll steer clear of Aiyuk in Week 1.