As we head into the weekend, be sure to check out all the content rolling onto the Rotoworld Daily page. Here’s a list of articles looking at the FanDuel NFL Week One slate. I will be updating as new columns are added, so consider this section as the DFS Table of Contents.
FanDuel NFL Primer by Stephen Keech
FanDuel NFL GPP Pivots by Spencer Limbach
FanDuel NFL Grind Down: QB/RB by Stephen Young
FanDuel NFL Bargains by Renee Miller
QB/WR/TE Tournament Stacks by Spencer Limbach
FantasyLabs Ownership & Pivots by Matthew Freedman
VIDEO: FanDuel NFL 6-Pack hosted by Chris Prince
FanDuel Fades by Renee Miller
Rankings vs DFS Pricing by Rich Hribar
WR/TE Grind Down by Josh Lewis
Now onto the FanDuel NFL Must Plays for Week 1!
Just a reminder, this column includes only Sunday games, as that’s considered the main slate on FanDuel.
PLATINUM: Build your lineup around these guys
Le’Veon Bell – RB – Pittsburgh (FanDuel Price: $9,300)
It’s only fitting we begin a column titled “Must Plays” with some ambiguity. The irony is not lost on me. There’s a logjam atop the running back rankings, as David Johnson ($9400) and LeSean McCoy ($8500) also make strong bids at platinum status. I’m ultimately landing on Mr. Le’Veon Bell in this spot, and here’s why: 1) He has the best combination of talent, matchup, game script, floor, and upside of any running back this weekend. 2) Johnson contends from a talent/floor/upside point of view, while McCoy challenges the game script/matchup aspect. However, Le’Veon carries whole package here. 3) The Browns ranked bottom five in rushing defense last season. Their hopeful upgrade, top pick DE Myles Garrett, is sitting with an ankle sprain … Look for Bell to feast within the range of 150 all-around yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Todd Gurley – RB – LA Rams (FanDuel Price: $7,300)
As much as I want to roster Bell alongside Johnson or McCoy, lineup configuration is pushing me in a different direction. Instead, I’m looking towards Todd Gurley for a nice $1200-$2000 discount, stabilizing the rest of my lineup with that leftover cash. The absence of Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck really helps Gurley’s stock this weekend. Los Angeles now checks in as solid home favorites against a turnover-prone offense that could struggle sustaining drives under the leadership of backup QB Scott Tolzien. That means better field position theoretically leading to more scoring opportunities for the Rams undisputed best offensive player. Luck’s absenteeism flips the game script in Gurley’s favor, and he should see plenty of carries with LA looking to hold a heavy time of possession advantage.
GOLD: Next wave to consider in terms of priority
Marcus Mariota – QB – Tennessee (FanDuel Price: $7,800)
There’s no shortage of quality QBs on this slate, but I keep landing on Mariota. He provides a marginal discount from Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers without skimping on upside. The matchup looks pretty good too, as Tennessee is hosting a potential shootout (one of the highest over/unders on this slate) against a Raiders’ team that ranked 28th in pass defense last season. Mariota’s ability to rack up 5-6 fantasy points on the ground doesn’t hurt either. Even though this game was a disappointment for both offenses early last season, it’s hard to ignore the potential fantasy goldmine this time around … You’ll hear more from this game throughout the column.
Doug Baldwin – WR – Seattle (FanDuel Price: $7,500)
Speaking of shootouts, Green Bay-Seattle stands alongside Tennessee-Oakland as the highest projected scoring matchup on this slate. I absolutely love Baldwin’s inflated market share within the Seattle passing game as well as the ever-present rapport with QB Russell Wilson. Even though Wilson has struggled against the Packers in recent meetings, Baldwin has come through with 19 catches, 244 yards, and a TD on 27 targets through the past three vs GB. Imagine his upside if Wilson brings more efficiency to the table! The matchup against a Packers’ pass defense that ranked dead last in 2017 inspires plenty of confidence.
SILVER: Good options that narrowly rank ahead of similar players
Michael Crabtree – WR – Oakland (FanDuel Price: $6,900)
I promised we’d resume the Titans-Raiders talk, and here we are! I really like both Oakland receivers, Crabtree and Amari Cooper ($7600). However, the price discrepancy makes this decision much easier. Sure, Cooper possesses more upside, but he’s also spotty in terms of targets and overall reliability. I’ll gladly look towards Crabtree for a shorter price tag, especially considering the real possibility he’ll see more total targets and red-zone looks. As mentioned earlier, this game could turn into a back-and-forth scorefest between two vulnerable defenses. If that’s the case, Crabtree will almost certainly get in on the action.
Delanie Walker – TE – Tennessee (FanDuel Price: $6,100)
Walker is an extension of the Marcus Mariota recommendation, serving as his most reliable receiving option. Mariota loves to spread the ball around, so you don’t necessarily have to pair him with any Tennessee pass catchers. Having said that, the individual matchup looks promising for Delanie Walker. Also, the opportunity cost at tight end is pretty low on this slate, so settling on Walker’s mid-range salary isn’t a bad move.
BRONZE: Not 100% necessities, but they mix well into a quality lineup
Larry Fitzgerald – WR – Arizona (FanDuel Price: $6,400)
This is a comfortable salary to deploy Fitzgerald as a WR2/WR3 when rounding out your lineup. The matchup isn’t too shabby either, as Detroit’s secondary is exploitable outside of lockdown corner Darius Slay. Working out of the slot, Fitz will likely see a less intimidating draw against Quandre Diggs, who held a poor 43.7 grade last season (Pro Football Focus).
Terrelle Pryor – WR – Washington (FanDuel Price: $6,200)
I already outlined three priority targets at wide receiver, so consider Pryor more of a “fallback” acquisition when seeking more salary relief. I don’t mind exchanging him for Michael Crabtree ($700 in savings) if it makes the rest of your lineup work … While Pryor was unimpressive throughout the preseason, I’m still daydreaming about upside with a quality QB throwing to him. There’s some risk in the unknown of this new connection, but the mid-range price point eases those concerns from a DFS perspective. The outside chance of catching WR1-like numbers helps too.
PARTICIPATION RIBBONS: Fell just short of a featured spot
Christian McCaffrey – RB – Carolina (FanDuel Price: $6,500)
How many touches will he get? I’m treating McCaffrey as more of a tournament RB2, paying up for Gurley (or Johnson/McCoy) for cash games. However, the upside drawn from matchup potential, game script, and pure playmaking ability is not lost on me.
Amari Cooper – WR – Oakland (FanDuel Price: $7,600)
I briefly touched on Cooper when showcasing his teammate, Michael Crabtree. As you’ve probably noticed, I’m really high on the shootout potential of this game, and Cooper stands a chance to flex some upside here. The price is somewhat tricky to blend within certain lineup configurations, but Amari is certainly on my short list at WR.
Randall Cobb – WR – Green Bay (FanDuel Price: $5,900)
Cobb’s consistency took a hit with Jordy Nelson healthy and Davante Adams jumping him in the pecking order. However, he’s a value candidate in this high-scoring matchup. Seattle boasts an intimidating pass defense, but Cobb could see more targets than usual with the Seahawks devoting more resources to Nelson and Adams.
Zach Ertz – TE – Philadelphia (FanDuel Price: $5,900)
Full disclosure: I’m a Zach Ertz truther. Our kind seems to be growing in number upon WR Jordan Matthews getting traded away. The hype around Ertz makes plenty of sense, as more underneath targets become available with Matthews out of the picture. I’m mostly looking towards Walker and Ertz as my tight ends this weekend.
LA Rams Defense (FanDuel Price: $4,600)
The Rams provide a nice place to save money against a turnover-prone backup QB (Scott Tolzien) while stepping in as a home favorites. The Texans ($5100), Bills ($4700), and Panthers ($4800) look good in their respective matchups as well, but the Rams defense looks like the best bang for the buck.
The Kicker Conundrum
I was really hoping FanDuel would eliminate the kicker position, subsequently curing the headache that comes with it. They didn’t, so here we are!