featured Daily Fantasy Expert Advice

Doug Norrie

Daily Fantasy Football Picks for FanDuel and DraftKings Week 1 - 9/10/17

It's been 209 days (who's counting?) since the Patriots rallied back for the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history. That's how long we've been forced to live without football. Seems gross right? Why should anyone deprive themselves of this glorious Sunday magic? But wait no longer my friends because opening Sunday is upon us, just a few days away. And we need to prepare for our DFS contests.

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Aaron RodgersAaron Rodgers FD 8300 DK 7000
Opponent SEA
Proj Points FD - 22.24 DK - 22.73
Quarterbacks are already the most consistent position in fantasy football and Rodgers was near the top of that group last season. He tied for second in coefficient of variation among the top ten fantasy quarterbacks with a .30 mark (along with Luck and Cousins, behind only Matt Ryan) and finished as the top overall fantasy quarterback on the season by a not particularly close margin. It’s easy to see why. He’s the perfect combination of accurate passer (66% completion percentage) and out-of-the-pocket runner (369 rushing yards). Rodgers returns basically all of his weapons from last season including a possibly more stable run game with Ty Montgomery looking to see a majority of the work out of the backfield. Though he heads into a less than desirable Week 1 matchup against the Seahawks who ranked fourth in non-weighted defensive DVOA last season, Vegas still sees this as a high-scoring affair. The Packers have an implied total pushing towards 27 (one of the highest on the main slate of games). Rodgers isn’t cost-prohibitive on either site and again should be among the most reliable week-to-week fantasy options around.

Cam NewtonCam Newton FD 7900 DK 7100
Opponent SF
Proj Points FD - 20.42 DK - 21.26
It’s tough to imagine the 49ers being much worse on defense than they were last season, but it’s equally difficult to imagine they’ll be much better. The Panthers enter the game as the second biggest favorite on the main slate (-5.5 on the road) and Cam should be the motor that drives this offense. He’s coming off a disappointing season that saw his completion drop off a cliff to 53% (down from about 60% for his career). This isn’t a welcome number for a player this far into his career though there were definitely some injury and concussion issues as well as an inconsistent receiver core. The team didn’t do a ton to upgrade that group though we hold out eternal hope Kelvin Benjamin makes the leap to WR1 for an entire season (we can dream). They did add Christian McCaffrey to catch balls out of the backfield which should provide at least some pressure relief in later downs. The big upside for Newton is his ability to run. He ranked third among quarterbacks in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. I’m concerned with his cash game viability because of the accuracy issues, but in this matchup he has as much upside as any quarterback on the slate.

Carson WentzCarson Wentz FD 7100 DK 5300
Opponent WAS
Proj Points FD - 16.96 DK - 17.81
He’s much more of a DraftKings play than FanDuel as the former’s pricing makes him a great way to get in the running back combo of LeVeon Bell and David Johnson (see below) if you want to go that route. Wentz has some things going for him leading into the season. The Eagles replaced Jordan Matthews with an upgrade at WR1 and 2 in the forms of Alshon Jeffrey and Torrey Smith. They should also see a more consistent running game with LeGarrette Blount taking over first and second down duties. Wentz averaged more than a point more fantasy points per game (DK) over the second half of the season thanks to a 7 passing attempts per game bump over that time frame. This could be interpreted as the Eagles becoming more comfortable with his ability to work in the pocket. Washington was a bottom third defensive DVOA team last year and the Eagles enter the game as a road favorite. This is a solid opportunity to pay down at QB on DK.


Running Back

David JohnsonDavid Johnson FD 9400 DK 9400
Opponent DET
Proj Points FD - 22.19 DK - 24.98
Le'Veon BellLe'Veon Bell FD 9300 DK 9800
Opponent CLE
Proj Points FD - 24.1 DK - 27.01
These two are at the top of every list from every single source so it’s not like we are going out on any kind of limb recommending the runway favorites for most running back fantasy points this season. But we wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t mention them. Bell and Johnson ranked 1 and 2 in fantasy points per game for running backs. Johnson scored the most on the season and Bell was fourth despite missing 4 games early in the season. That’s simply just nuts.

You may be forced to pick between the two on DraftKings where you’ll need to allocate close to 40% of your salary cap to jam them into lineups. On FanDuel, it’s much easier (and possibly necessary) to roll them both out in cash games. If needing to make the choice, I’d lean Bell. Even with the “rust” of missing most of the preseason thanks to the holdout, he has so much going in his favor here. The Steelers are the runaway highest favorite on the slate (-8) which greatly boosts running back expected production. The Browns ranked 27th in the DVOA against the rush last season. And though they are a team making moves to improve over the long term, that change won’t happen this season.

Meanwhile, Johnson gets a Lions’ D that ranked in the bottom third of the league against the rush, but played at one of the slower paces in the league. This causes expected volume to drop on the other side of the ball and the Cardinals are coming in as a road dog. Still, this is David Johnson we are talking about and you can only downgrade his expectation so much. Both are elite plays in Week 1 and likely the two highest owned players in cash games.

Todd GurleyTodd Gurley FD 7300 DK 6000
Opponent IND
Proj Points FD - 15.34 DK - 17.02
Let me think of how to sum up Gurley’s 2016 campaign. Hmm, well, it sucked. After coming out of the gate as a rookie and averaging 4.8 YPC in 13 games, he had a big sophomore slump in only racking up 3.2 YPC and 885 rushing yards in a full season. It was a major disappointment. Here’s to projecting a bounce back this season. The Rams do see an improved offensive line, another year of Goff under center and some additions to the receiving corps which should help them spread the field a little more. He’s also gifted a Week 1 matchup that looks great on paper. It’s looking increasingly unlikely that Andrew Luck will play in Week 1 which actually could shift the line in the Rams favor considering they’re playing at home. The Colts ranked dead last in DVOA against the run last season and allowed 4.7 yards per rush. While I’m concerned about the problems last year, I do see Gurley as something of a value going into Week 1 and he makes for an interesting price play on DraftKings if you don’t play the two big boys above.

Carlos HydeCarlos Hyde FD 6800 DK 4600
Opponent CAR
Proj Points FD - 11.82 DK - 12.96
He could end up being a popular play on DraftKings where he’s coming in at a crazy low price of $4600. Few other running backs with his expectation on usage come in this low and that could make him a chalkier play over there for cash games. It’s not a great matchup considering the 49ers are underdogs (never a good place for running backs) and Carolina’s been stout against the run in the past. But Hyde should be the feature back early and often for San Fran. When healthy he's been able to average over 4 yards per carry (4.6 last season) and will catch balls out of the backfield (2 receptions per game last year). The FanDuel price is likely out of bounds unless you think the 49ers are favorites to run down hill here, but DraftKings could see him as majorly owned.


Wide Receiver

Antonio BrownAntonio Brown FD 9100 DK 8800
Opponent CLE
Proj Points FD - 17.49 DK - 21.07
It must be NFL season, because Antonio Brown is topping our big money WR values once again. FanDuel in particular refuses to price the top end skill position players as aggressively as they need to to make it not worth it, so each week the question is not whether we'll play the top priced guys, but which ones we want to prioritize. With David Johnson and Le'Veon Bell in absurdly good match-ups we might wind up not leaning this way, but Brown remains a top play nonetheless. With Joe Haden out of the picture in Cleveland, an already precarious secondary becomes even more speculative. Brown's statistical performance was less impressive last year than in years prior, but that was largely due to Roethlisberger's injuries - to say nothing of his own little ailments. With both Brown and Ben healthy this season, I'm confident that we see a resurgence from both, starting with their season opener.

Jordy NelsonJordy Nelson FD 7700 DK 7600
Opponent SEA
Proj Points FD - 15.68 DK - 18.52
Nelson took a season off due to injury in 2015, but in 2016 he came back with a vengeance. He returned back to being one of the elite pass-catchers in the NFL, gobbling up the 5th most receptions in the NFL on the back of the 6th most targets. He was a huge presence in the red zone as well, hauling in a league leading 14 touch downs thanks to Green Bay's lack of a real short yardage back and his own sizable red zone presence. 2 of those touchdowns happened to come in Nelson's only game against Seattle last season. The Seahawks can't be called a good match-up for opposing receivers, even if their much ballyhooed secondary has lost a step or two as the years have gone by. Nelson has been a $9,000 receiver on Green Bay in the past, and even if those days are gone, the $7,700 price tag might be too low to pass up on if he repeats last season's targets and reception numbers.

Larry FitzgeraldLarry Fitzgerald FD 6400 DK 5900
Opponent DET
Proj Points FD - 13.15 DK - 16.42
Old, boring Larry Fitzgerald. As a 33 year old last season, Fitzgerald put up more than 1,000 yards and cashed in 6 touchdowns. He led the league with 107 receptions, converting a ridiculous 71.3% of his targets into catches. That might sound like a statistical anomaly, but it's more a reflection of how the Cardinals are using him than anything else - he converted 75% of his targets into catches in 2015. It's hard to imagine a player his age sustaining this performance forever, but it's equally hard to imagine him falling off a cliff. Detroit was a slightly below average team against the pass last year, but it's really Fitzgerald's bargain-basement prices that drive him into our cash game lineups. He's a great option to pair with high upside RBs like Bell and Johnson.

Alshon JefferyAlshon Jeffery FD 7000 DK 5800
Opponent WAS
Proj Points FD - 14.6 DK - 17.55
Much has been made of Jeffery's arrival in Philadelphia, and he's looked pretty good in limited preseason action so far. But will he return to WR1 form under Carson Wentz? That remains to be seen. What we DO know is that the Eagles' are extremely thin at wide receiver going into the season, and that they've been putting Jeffery into situations where Wentz feels comfortable early in the preseason. He's been running slants and other shallow routes, and Wentz has clearly been looking for him. As for Jeffery, he's been a fantasy force when healthy in the past, even with sketchy QB play. We've seen him settle in around prices in the $8,000 range and pay them off happily in the past - but will that translate to a new team? It remains to be seen. One thing we can say pretty confidently, though, is that if he does return to form these prices won't last. He may have Josh Norman shadowing him this week, but I still like him as a huge upside play on relatively cheap prices.


Tight End

Travis KelceTravis Kelce FD 6500 DK 5600
Opponent NE
Proj Points FD - 11.1 DK - 13.78
Greg OlsenGreg Olsen FD 6600 DK 6200
Opponent SF
Proj Points FD - 12.51 DK - 15.32
Going into week 1, we have a fundamental question to ask ourselves at tight end: do we trust Olsen's sustained excellence, or Kelce's break-out trajectory? Olsen has been the steadiest non-Gronk tight end in the NFL in the last 3 years, topping 1,000 yards in each of them, and being targeted 123, 124, and 129 times. Kelce converted an expanded role in the offense last season into a league leading 1,125 yards, and has added an average of 15 receptions in each of his 2nd and 3rd seasons in the NFL. Kelce's entering his prime, and Olsen is likely on the tail end of his. So which do we choose for week 1? If I'm picking between the 2, I'll take Olsen for one major reason: the match-up. Vegas has the Panthers scoring 7 more points than the Chiefs in week 1, and that's enough for me to tip the needle in his favor. I'll be keeping an eye on this pair as the season progresses, though, and wouldn't be surprised if Kelce winds up out-performing Olsen once again.

Let's talk about Gronk
Rob GronkowskiRob Gronkowski FD 8000 DK 6800
Opponent KC
Proj Points FD - 12.77 DK - 15.02
No matter how high his price, some people get tempted to throw Gronk out there in daily fantasy football games. And it makes sense - you can safely say that no tight end possesses the same upside as the Pats' transcendent star, and he's capable of yardage and touchdown totals that are unrivaled in the modern NFL. But is this really where you want to invest $8,000 on FanDuel this week? I say "no," for a couple of different reasons. First of all, we have access to a ridiculous top end at the less volatile running back position, and plenty of high end value at quarterback and wide receiver as well. So what about for big tournaments? I honestly think I'll pass there as well, though I can see that there's a case to be made. When things are clicking, Gronk can put up true WR1 numbers, which neither Olsen nor Kelce (nor really any other TE) can put up. You can probably get some separation by playing him as well. Me? I'll be passing on Gronkowski until we see that the Pats intend to use him like they have in the past.


Now’s your chance to get DFSR PRO, which will give you access to our NFL optimizer for FanDuel and DraftKings, our MLB Optimizer, and our new Player Lab! Get started for free by clicking the button below.

First time with NFL? Be sure to read our free MLB and NFL Ebooks on building lineups, general strategy and more. We've got you completely covered.

3 Visitor Comments

  1. She’s back! Woo!

  2. What about defense? Leaving it out is like leaving a catcher out in the MLB.

  3. There is a defensive article coming out today. Stay tuned.

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