featured Daily Fantasy Expert Advice

09/05/2018
Doug Norrie

Daily Fantasy NFL Picks for FanDuel and DraftKings Cash Games - Week 1 - 9/9/18

Considering NFL news is basically on a full-year long news cycle, it doesn't feel like Week 1 snuck up on us at all. But it's still exciting to finally be here. With FanDuel and DraftKings releasing their pricing very early, we could be looking at major cash game chalk at a few positions. Let's dive into some values for Week 1.

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Quarterback

Tom BradyTom Brady FD 8600 DK 7200
Opponent HOU
Proj Points FD - 20.73 DK - 21.56
Ever heard of him? Brady enters his 19th season, coming off a 2017 in which he led the league in pass attempts (581), passing yards (4,577) and was third in TDs (34). Some of those season-long comparisons are a little skewed because of injuries to Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson, but it’s still a testament to Brady’s consistency. He’s played all 16 games in eight of the last nine seasons and enters Week 1 as probably the *safest* cash game play on the board. With so many question marks on quarterbacks returning from injury (Watson, Tannehill, Luck), switching teams (Cousins, Smith) or rookies/newly minted starters/quasi-backups (Mahomes, Keenum, Bradford, Tyrod, Darnold, Peterman-lol, Foles, Fitzpatrick) we are suddenly left with less than half of the main slate quarterback player pool walking into relatively similar situations as last season. Brady is playing at home in the game with the highest over/under of the week (51.5) and the Patriots as solid -6.5 favorites. The biggest “concern* with Brady is how the receiving options look. He’s getting Chris Hogan back, and Gronk is still there of course, but after that Phillip Dorsett and Cordarelle Patterson round out the receiving corps. Brady has pass-catching backs in Rex Burkhead and James White which helps. But Brady has shown the ability to make the best with what he’s given. Because there are so many other cheap options at the skill positions this week, I think paying up for Brady in cash games gives you a higher (safer) floor even if he doesn’t run which I often like to see from my cash game QBs.

Ben RoethlisbergerBen Roethlisberger FD 8000 DK 6600
Opponent CLE
Proj Points FD - 19.62 DK - 20.46
Like I said with Brady, for Week 1 cash games I’m willing to put a premium on the known quantities and wait a week for some of the other QB situations to shake themselves out. Understanding of course that with GPPs you’d much rather be a week early than a week late, with cash, going out on too far of a speculative limb can cause some issues. Roethlisberger threw for the 5th-most passing yards in the league last season and returns most of his primary cast and crew with LeVeon Bell probable for Week 1 and the best receiver in football, Antonio Brown, still the primary target. He’ll also now get a full season of Juju Smith-Schuster who averaged 7.5 targets and 98 yards a game over his last seven in 2017. This group is among the best in football, a three-headed monster of pass catchers who make up for Big Ben’s increasing lack of mobility. He’s not the most accurate thrower, but makes up for it in volume. The Steelers are -5.5 road favorites against the Browns who ranked 26th in DVOA against the pass last season. It’s reasonable to expect Bell to have some rust in the running game to start the season after not playing the preseason and the Steelers could rely more on their passing weapons.

Marcus MariotaMarcus Mariota FD 7200 DK 6300
Opponent MIA
Proj Points FD - 18.49 DK - 19.32
We can’t go with all of the most expensive quarterbacks, and depending on your risk tolerance, there are plenty of middle-tier arms worth a look in cash games this week. I do like Mariota against the Dolphins who ranked 28th in overall DVOA and 29th against the pass in 2017, allowing the 4th most points in the AFC. The defense doesn’t have much in the way of tangible upgrades and it’s unclear if bringing Tannehill back under center is a significant upgrade over what they trotted out there last season (in terms of keeping opposing offenses off the field). Meaning, the opposing team could once again have the ball a lot this season. The Titans come in as -1.5 road favorites with 23.5 implied points. It won’t blow you away, but neither will Mariota’s price. The Titans theoretically get an upgrade in their scheme, bringing on Matt Lafleur to oversee the offense which at worst is a neutral shift and at best, a massive upgrade in how they’ll attack opposing defenses. Mariota isn’t overly accurate but makes up for it some with his rushing ability. He averaged over 20 rushing yards a game and had the second-most QB rushing touchdowns (5). Again, here I’m valuing (possibly overvaluing) Mariota’s lack of question marks around his health and returning personnel.

Running Back

Alvin KamaraAlvin Kamara FD 8700 DK 8500
Opponent TB
Proj Points FD - 21.58 DK - 24.37
I’m not in the mode of giving out “sure things” because that’s a dangerous precedent when it comes to football where it seems like everything is up in the air, all of the time. But man, what scenario exists where Kamara doesn’t just get the lion share of carries in this game? Sure, they signed Mike Gillislee on Sunday but expecting him to get any significant work this early is pure conjecture. And obviously, Mark Ingram is suspended for the first four games of the season, taking out the worries of the RBBC variety. The Saints waived Jonathan Williams, at the 13th hour and the only other RB to touch the ball in the preseason for New Orleans is rookie Boston Scott. Kamara ran as hot as humanly possible for a running back last season, scoring eight rushing touchdowns in only 120 total attempts. That pace can’t continue. But he’ll surely make up for the TD regression in just overall rushing usage. He also saw a whopping 100 passing targets, the third-most among running backs in 2017 so it’s reasonable to expect he just is the every-down back until Ingram returns. Maybe Gillislee sees some goal line usage and Scott seeing a series or two, but I’m not counting on it. New Orleans also checks the box as the biggest home favorites on the day (-9.5) a situation moderately correlated with running back success. He just checks every box for me in Week 1 and is a cash game lock for both sites.

Christian McCaffreyChristian McCaffrey FD 7500 DK 6400
Opponent DAL
Proj Points FD - 17.27 DK - 20.02
Jonathan Stewart is gone, and the Panthers added C.J. Anderson in the offseason. But for all intents and purposes, this is now McCaffrey’s backfield show. He dominated preseason touches which is only something you do (unless the team is just insane) if you are working someone to a full workload to start the season. He led all running backs in passing targets last season with 113, an astounding number for a rookie. But the rushing numbers weren't always there. McCaffrey only carried the ball 117 times in 2017 for an underwhelming 3.72 ypc. He’ll have to improve on that to be a legit workhorse and there’s some concern that the Panthers losing left tackle Matt Kalil to a knee injury will severely impact their O-line. Let's hope they piece it together. The Panthers are slight (-2.5) favorites at home against the Cowboys in what could be a grind-it-out game (it opens at a 42.5 o/u). But what I’m looking at here is the potential opportunity for McCaffrey who would almost definitely be priced higher had salaries come out a week ago rather than a month ago. His draft stock shot up boards because of the preseason usage which in this case I think does correlate with the Week 1 fantasy value. The$6400 DraftKings price is the real win considering his full point PPR scoring and the addition of the flex on FD has him a great cash game option there as well. I’m a little concerned with the goal line usage because of Anderson and Cam’s ability to get into the end zone, but everything else lines up for McCaffrey here.

David JohnsonDavid Johnson FD 8600 DK 8800
Opponent WAS
Proj Points FD - 20 DK - 22.44
The nature of the (very) soft Week 1 pricing on both sites, combined with preseason injury news, makes it easy to fit three (maybe four) upper tier plays into cash games this week. So I don’t think it’s intellectually mathematically dishonest to recommend this many expensive plays for Week 1. We’ll get to plenty of cheaper value when we talk about receiver and tight end. DJ burned up hard and bright in Week 1 last season with a wrist injury that left many a draftee running for the liquor cabinet. There was some thought he’d be able to return before the end of the season, but it wasn’t to be. I’m often discouraged with running backs coming back from injury this early in the season, but because this wasn’t a leg issue we can be bullish on Johnson returning to 2016 form.  He finished that season with more than 2.100 all-purpose yards. Look, if you are here, you know Johnson is a stud. That much really isn’t news. The question now becomes whether you want to pay top dollar for him in Week 1  as opposed to some of the other running backs in this tier. The Redskins were garbage against the run last season (29th in DVOA) and considering the question marks around Bell (no preseason), I think stacking Kamara, DJ and McCaffrey in cash is completely reasonable and feasible with the pricing as it is.

Quick note: As of Wednesday morning, Le'Veon Bell hadn't reported to Steelers' camp. If he were to sit, then James Conner instantly becomes one of (if not the) best value on the slate at RB

Wide Receiver

Keenan AllenKeenan Allen FD 8000 DK 7500
Opponent KC
Proj Points FD - 16.22 DK - 19.77
Allen finished 2017 as the 5th-most targeted WR in football with the second-most red zone targets at 24. That he converted only six into touchdowns could mean we are looking at some significant TD regression this season considering the Chargers are bringing almost the entire band back. He’ll open the season against the Chiefs who jettisoned Marcus Peters in the offseason though they did bring in Kendall Fuller in the Alex Smith trade. Fuller grades out well as a slot cover cornerback and that’s where Allen runs a majority of his routes. But there’s no denying the KC pass defense took a hit in the offseason and considering some of the other question marks around the other big-name WRs, there’s a lot of safety in running a guy with relatively the same opportunity as the season before. He’s coming 10-15% cheaper than DeAndre Hopkins and Antonio Brown who both have some question marks (Hopkins with Watson returning from injury and Brown possibly taking a targets’ hit with Smith-Schuster around full time). Allen is still such a target monster that he comes with a high floor, especially on DraftKings in the full point PPR.

Marquise GoodwinMarquise Goodwin FD 6400 DK 4600
Opponent MIN
Proj Points FD - 13.19 DK - 15.37
Pierre GarconPierre Garcon FD 6200 DK 4900
Opponent MIN
Proj Points FD - 7.59 DK - 9.28
The bad news on these guys is they open the season against the Vikings who rated out as one of the best pass (and overall) defenses in 2017. They’ll look to continue that into this season. The good news though is both Goodwin and, to a lesser extent, Garcon now gets a full season of Jimmy G. under center. They are both priced cheap to start the season and it stands to reason the 49ers will have to pass a lot in this game after losing Jerick McKinnon for the season to an ACL tear. San Fran could be looking at a lot of catch-up situations and coming in as -6 road underdogs only points to that for Week 1. Goodwin should be the biggest winner here. In the five final weeks of the season with Garoppolo under center he averaged nine targets and averaged 5/64 despite a game against Jacksonville and a blowout win against the Rams in Week 17 that didn’t call for much in the way of passing. Despite the tough matchup, it’s really tough to pass up the potential volume at these prices for Goodwin.

And then there is Garcon who is very much a possession receiver. He didn’t play from Week 9 on because of injury, but returns fully healthy this season and should be a clear WR2 with the chance at WR1 status if the 49ers end up valuing those routes. He was averaging nearly 10 targets per game before going down and that was with vastly inferior QB play to what they’ll get now with Garropolo. Because of the track record, I’m much more in favor of Goodwin, but Garcon draws a better matchup (potentially) seeing more Trae Wayns on the right side.

Keelan ColeKeelan Cole FD 4500 DK 3800
Opponent NYG
Proj Points FD - 10.33 DK - 12.35
Dede WestbrookDede Westbrook FD 5300 DK 3900
Opponent NYG
Proj Points FD - 6.71 DK - 8.19
When Marqise Lee went down in the third preseason game, we got (another) sense of why sometimes the Week 1 pricing can just come out too damn early. Now it’s not like we are rostering some receivers in an explosive passing offense here, but there’s still enough opportunity to spread around even for the Jaguars. With Lee out, plus the offseason losses of Allen Hurns and Marcedes Lewis, the Jaguars are looking to replace roughly 200 targets from the 2017 receiving corps. Cole is the obvious guy to take over a majority of the possession receiving duties considering he finished second on the team last year with 83 looks. He could draw a lot of Janoris Jenkins in this matchup but I think considering the punt price and likelihood that he enters the season as Jacksonville’s clearcut WR1, I think we see him as one of the highest-owned cash game plays of Week 1. He’s priced at the minimum on FanDuel and close to the bottom on DraftKings.

There’s also a ton to like about Dede Westbrook. After coming back from injury in Week 11, he averaged more than seven targets per game. His issue, especially down the stretch, was conversions. He netted only seven catches on 18 targets in his last three games. It will always be an issue with Blake Bortles hucking balls your way, but even for the latter, those conversion rates are garbage. That being said, Westbrook should see plenty of time on the field and even though Jacksonville will be committed to the run, there’s simply too much volume to go around for how these WRs are priced.

Tight End

Delanie WalkerDelanie Walker FD 6100 DK 4900
Opponent MIA
Proj Points FD - 9.31 DK - 11.53
Walker was the third-most targeted tight end in football last season with 111 looks and the fourth-most yards (824). He easily led the Titans in targets as Mariota’s favorite option in the passing game with no other receiver within 20. He was also the leader in Tennessee red zone targets with 12. Of course, the Titans were a ground-heavy attack but with a newer Lafleur-led offense we could see more emphasis on the passing game which will only help Walker. He’s not exactly a cheap TE play on either site, but is priced fairly enough that makes for a nice middle ground in between the top end studs (Gronk, Kelce) and the total gamble punt plays. Miami got crushed over the middle of the field last season, ranking 25th in that area of coverage and 28th against tight ends.

Jack DoyleJack Doyle FD 5600 DK 3600
Opponent CIN
Proj Points FD - 8.92 DK - 11.04
For Week 1, I’m not wanting to have too much exposure in cash games to situations that still have a lot of question marks around them. The Andrew Luck return to under center for the Colts would definitely qualify as one of those spots where a “wait and see” approach is prudent. But for a cheaper TE like Doyle, I don’t mind throwing a little caution to the wind. Doyle was second on the team in targets in 2016, the last time Luck played QB and definitely developed more of a connection as the season wore on. Even with Jacoby Brissett last season, Doyle was the 5th-most target TE in football and one would think that even a 75-85% Luck is an upgrade there.

 

Defense

Pittsburgh Steelers FD 4200 DK 3400
Opponent CLE
Proj Points FD - 8.69 DK - 8.69

Baltimore Ravens FD 4800 DK 3800
Opponent BUF
Proj Points FD - 8.47 DK - 8.47

 

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.

5 Visitor Comments

  1. So are you guys going to be doing any big gpp articles for football or just cash is there somewhere I can go for big tourney pics

  2. I will be doing a weekly GPP stacks article looking at some correlation plays and trying to concentrate on lower owned/high upside plays. It will be out Thursday afternoon/evening.

  3. And I’ll be putting out some off-beat / possibly underowned plays on Friday

  4. I still want to receive your mlb articles
    Thanks

  5. Thoughts on Brees at home for FD cash games?

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