With training camps and preseason now in full swing, I've been tasked with projecting how certain players will perform in the opening week of the NFL season. There are many variables at play when looking for value picks in week 1. Many factors can impact our week 1 outlook: new coaching staff, scheme change, incorporating new players into a system be it through free agency/trades and rookies with no regular season sample size to date.
Fanduel and DraftKings have taken the market by storm, evident by their relentless commercials last season. The market exposure in Canada (where I reside) has taken form in the NHL , and now CFL (a great starting point to build your bankroll for NFL). NFL preseason games are another option to build your bankroll, but I recommend playing in small cash games or low fee entry GPP formats due to the unpredictability that preseason often presents. Here are 5 Tips For FanDuel GPP tournaments and cash games that may interest you heading into week 1.
Value Versus Sleeper
Unlike in yearly fantasy football leagues, there can be extreme value at or near the top of Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) lineups on a weekly basis. Playing other sports in the DFS community will help you garner and gain experience on value versus sleeper theory. You can pick up on some nuances doing mock drafts and DFS research, but playing other sports forces the bias out of you along with learning where the "value pockets/tiers" pop up in those particular lineups.
Everyone has their own system in everyday life. Magnify that tenfold when trying to suggest how an individual should go about constructing a fantasy football lineup. My week 1 DFS priority listing trends towards:
- Past performance late last year (my tight end selection will reflect this point)
- Stories or blurbs I hear out of training camp, or see with my own eyes during preseason games
- How a certain player trends early in a season if I'm debating on two players at the same position/salary cost
- Feel/gut factor (the best week to run with this line of thought)
- Opponent (as mentioned prior, changes in the offseason need to play themselves out in preseason and even in the first couple weeks of the regular season)
My mission here is to make you ponder a little deeper, possibly take an extra look into a player you've been targeting in your lineups, or maybe even trend towards an underweight player (under owned player percentage wise).
Quarterback Value Picks
Derek Carr @ NO ($7,300 Draftkings - $7,700 Fanduel)
I'm all in on the silver and black attack this year, just don't throw me into the black hole. The Raiders offensive line is a top five caliber unit along with young emerging talents in Latavius Murray and Amari Cooper. Additionally, the news now that the Saints first round pick DT Sheldon Rankins will be out with a broken fibula to start the season is a big blow to last year's bottom ranked defense (29.8 points per game allowed). Not withstanding starting on the road, I project Derek Carr to best his Draftkings 19.1 FPPG and Fanduel 17.8. FPPG averages from last season.
- Strong play: Romo vs. NYG. (31st OPRK) *note: last season ranks* UPDATE: OUT; back injury
- Deep sleeper play: Osweiler vs. Chi. (26th OPRK)
Running Back Value Picks
Devonta Freeman vs. TB ($6,900 DraftKings - $8,100 Fanduel)
The Rodney Dangerfield no respect off-season award goes to Devonta Freeman hands down. Criminally being underdrafted in yearly leagues and now undervalued in DFS formats, he should be primed for another torrid start to the season. A reception beast last year (73 catches) and targeted a lofty 97 times adds to his value. Freeman cooling off a bit at the end of last season plus the threat of Tevin Coleman stealing carries does not really concern me (there are groups of people on the other side of that argument however). A running back who averaged around and even slightly above 30FPPG in DFS formats over the first six weeks last season, not to mention being valued in the same tier as Eddie Lacy and Lamar Miller. Sign me up.
- Strong play: Matthews vs.Cle. (16th OPRK)
- Decent play: McCoy @Bal. (8th OPRK)
- Limit play: Woodhead @KC. (2nd OPRK)
Wide Receiver Value Picks
Mike Evans @ ATL ($7,400 DraftKings - $7,900 Fanduel)
I'm sorry in advance if the Tampa Bay-Atlanta game ends in a 9-6 barn-burner, but I don't see it playing out that way. An open air attack style of game inside the dome should suit Mike Evans game just fine. Evans ranks outside the top six wideouts by a huge margin (in a tier with Randall Cobb, T.Y. Hilton and Golden Tate). Looking over Evans final three games last season (two of those three games were on the road); he averaged 11 targets with over five catches per game. Evans solid play stretches even further back with rookie Jameis Winston finding his form in the second half of the season. The Falcons only allowed 249.9 receiving yards per game that was good for top ten in the NFL last season, but the value is just too good to pass on Evans here.
- Strong play: T.Williams vs. NYG. (27th OPRK) bonus projection: seven targets, four catches, one touchdown with a healthy Tony Romo sprinkled into the equation. UPDATE : with Romo's back injury I would lower Williams targets, but still buy low candidate
- Decent play: Hurns vs. GB. (10th OPRK)
- Camp watch: Boyd @NYJ. (17th OPRK) the young rookie will likely end up in the slot and be an upside WR2; monitor to see how he clicks with Andy Dalton and the first team offense in the preseason.
Tight End Value Plays
Zach Ertz vs CLE ($4,300 DK - $5,700 FD)
As a Dallas Cowboys fan and equal opportunity "hater" towards the Philadelphia Eagles, seeing Ertz highlighted on my DFS lineup might have people taking a second glance at their screens. This matchup makes too much sense. The Eagles are currently favored by six points at home, but I see a blowout in the making with Ertz playing a pivotal role. Ertz's final four game sample size in 2015 likely brings fantasy owners back to the days of prime Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates with 35 catches on 46 targets equating to a whopping 450 yards! The NFL is ever evolving, but the Cleveland Browns are often the one constant (they allowed 27 PPG last season which ranked them 29th overall). Mark the Eagles down for a 1-0 start, and Ertz to continue where he left off last year.
Strong play: Allen vs DET (28th OPRK) Andrew Luck back; Fleener out of the picture and the Colts going with a new 3 WR - 1 TE set to start the year.
Team Defense Value Plays
Selecting a D/ST is pretty straight forward. You need to pull up the Vegas odds and select teams that are projected to win/play with a lead. This increases their opponents pass attempts which inturn leads to errors like sacks and interceptions; ergo, fantasy points. Target teams favored to win and bonus points for home favorites.
Here's some of the early favorties for week 1:
- Seahawks (-10) vs. Dolphins (better DFS value elsewhere)
- Chiefs (-7) vs. Chargers
- Cardinals (-5.5) vs. Patriots
- Eagles (-6) vs. Browns
- Colts (-5) vs. Lions