Deshaun Watson – HOU ($6800)
As the 2nd-most expensive QB, he’s priced just a tad higher than I like to spend, but I think it’s worth paying up this week. I always stack QBs with WRs in GPP (and usually cash), and three of the Houston receivers are excellent plays themselves (if Keke play). New Orleans gave up the most fantasy points to WRs a season ago and 2nd-most to QBs. This game is also projected to go over 52.5 points with New Orleans as significant favorites. With no real ground game, Watson and company would have been forced to throw even without Lamar Miller’s injury. Watson has so many weapons that it’s time to pay up for this high-priced, highly-owned play.
Kyler Murray – ARI ($5600)
Week 1 is the best time to play rookies as they are generally conservatively priced. We all have high expectations for this player’s career, even if we don’t have high expectations for the 2019 Cardinals. His price is low enough that I’m going to throw my hat in there on the chance that the draft’s first overall selection booms, rather than busts. Detroit is pretty weak-sauce against opposing QBs and are only close favorites, meaning Murray will have to play from behind for most of this game. The most difficult thing about this decision is who to stack him with. WRs are the typical stack as they score by FAR the most DK points, but it looks like you might have to swing for David Johnson with this pick.
Alvin Kamara – NO ($8500)
Of the top five RBs this week, only two are projected to win their game, but I don’t like Zeke for two reasons: price and limited play. Zeke’s new deal is great for him and anybody else Jerry Jones attempts to haggle with in the future, but the star running back’s lack of face time with the team in recent weeks isn’t a good start to what should be a stellar season. The matchup looks amazing and people are excited to have him back, which is why Zeke will draw far higher ownership than my favorite play, Kamara. A one TD favorite is the ideal week for a team’s starting RB. Even though the Texans 2018 RB defense was quite stingy, opportunity is king. Some people believe Latavius Murray is better than Mark Ingram, but I’ll believe it when I see it. What I do know is that Kamara averaged 36.3 DK points in 2018 without Ingram and 19.8 with.
Kerryon Johnson – DET ($5800)
This will probably be a highly owned play, but the opportunity is tough to pass up. As slight favorites, Detroit will find themselves in plenty of rushing situations, indoors, against the single worst team against running backs in 2018. There’s no new narrative or injury to chase here with Theo Riddick off to Denver, but it’s an important difference to what could really be Johnson’s breakthrough year. Riddick’s absence will open up a few more targets in DK’s PPR scoring. As well, CJ Anderson isn’t the same level bruiser that LeGarrette Blount (who SOMEHOW carried the ball more than Johnson) was. Minus those two players and Johnson is an easy lock for RB2 on the season and could come away this week as a low-end RB1.
Josh Jacobs – OAK ($5200)
I’m not as big on Jacobs in either redraft or dynasty as most people, but I love playing rookies in Week 1 DFS. Rookies always carry risk, but DK fairly conservatively projects their opportunity and efficiency, and there’s always a surprise rookie splash somewhere. Jacobs is by no means a sleeper, but we just don’t know HOW good he is, and unknowns with high ceilings make for great GPP plays. Denver is a close favorite, but most bettors are siding with Oakland. What we don’t have to gamble on is the guaranteed opportunity Jacobs will receive. As well, the Raiders continue to have Antonio Brown troubles and Denver’s CBs are notorious, funneling the ball through the ground. Will the rookie explode in his debut?
Bonus: Justin Jackson – LAC ($4000)
Melvin Gordon isn’t playing.
Julio Jones – ATL ($8000)
According to DraftKings, Minnesota ranks first against wide receivers, but if you read my DraftKings primer, you should know that this isn’t necessarily useful information. Instead, individual matchups and situations are more important. While we should expect shadow coverage from Xavier Rhodes, this is a matchup Jones easily wins. I think 2017 leaves a sour taste in fantasy players’ mouths when Jones only scored three TDs, but he turned it around (like we expected him to) and led the league in yards. There’s no doubting his talent, but the strong Minnesota defense, Ryan’s terrible away splits, and the high price means Jones will be a rare top-five WR with low ownership. To top it off, Jones isn’t nearly as afflicted by Ryan’s away splits. Over his career, Jones has both better yards per game and TD efficiency in away games and plays better in the first and last four games of the season. Jones GPP plays all the way.
Update: Jones may not play over a contract dispute. Sub Calvin Ridley in place.
Tyler Lockett – SEA ($6000)
Lockett is being priced absurdly low, and I think it’s due to the very likely case that Seattle will be one of the most run-heavy teams in 2019, but he’s often been a better DFS play than redraft (and he wasn’t bad there either). While we have to expect his insane 2018 TD efficiency to drop off, the fact that he doubled Baldwin’s TDs on three fewer targets is evidence that this perimeter receiver can score. Sure his efficiency will drop, but he is the clear cut top receiver on a team struggling to find healthy WRs. Seattle are heavy favorites against one of the worst teams against the receiver.
Will Fuller – HOU ($4900)
This is an excellent choice for either your flex or WR3. I feel like I could describe how impressive Fuller is when healthy, but I’ll just make a list of facts to justify this pick.
Keke Coutee is injured
Nobody gave up more points to WRs than New Orleans
New Orleans is favored by 7
The over/under is 52.5 and climbing
Delanie Walker – TEN ($3500)
Walker fits neatly into my ideal price point for the tight end as I typically like to spend even less on them than my flex. Of course, your chances of a TE in this range scoring a TD are typically very low, but when they do, they far outperform their price-point, regardless of yardage. We only have one 2018 game to judge him by, but in 2017 he averaged over 11 DK points per game with four games over 15 points. Both numbers are significantly higher than his listed 9.2 points per game. As long as he lost form, it won’t be hard at all for Walker to outperform his price against one of the league’s softest teams against the TE.
Noah Fant – DEN ($3400)
It was a tough choice here between Fant and Kyle Rudolph, but I have to stick to my “Week 1 is the time to play rookies” guns and write in another one. This is strictly a GPP play, and we’ve all heard how rookie TEs don’t produce. But sometimes they do. Remember Evan Engram? Fant was one of the highest-graded rookies, appears to have the start, and is playing one of the weakest teams against the tight end, and he barely costs more than a punt play.
Seattle Seahawks ($3100)
This is my ‘pricey’ option for the week as they play Cincinnati in Seattle. The over/under for this game is in the low forties and Seattle is nearly a double-digit favorite. Yes, the Bengals often have studs like Green, Mixon, and Boyd. But one of those studs is out for an unknown period of time and the rest of the team is just… bad. Cincinnati is bad.
Los Angeles Chargers ($2600)
Spending down on D/ST is one of my key takeaways from 2018. One thing we’re going to learn by the end of this year is that the final season leaders in D/ST are going to be all crazy compared to their ADP. The short of it is, we have no idea what’s going on with defense and it’s super random. The Chargers are inexpensive and they play the Colts who suddenly saw their star QB retire. A QB changeup is one of my absolute favorite defensive plays as just about nothing is a surer D/ST play (and there are no sure things) than taking on a QB who is highly susceptible to sacks and INTs.
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