In daily fantasy football, there are two main types of playing formats; head-to-head games (including 50/50 and double-up formats in which half of the entries win and half of the entries are left wondering what went wrong) and large field guaranteed prize pool tournaments (GPPs), in which between 10-20% of the field is paid out.
In this article we will utilize the FanDuel Week 1 NFL contest period, beginning with Sunday’s 1 PM ET games and continuing through the Monday Night Football double header, with the Philadelphia Eagles traveling to Atlanta to take on the Falcons in the matinee and the San Francisco 49ers playing host to the Minnesota Vikings in the nightcap.
Looking through the lens of the FanDuel pricing and scoring system, we will key in on players suited for both H2H and GPP game formats and try to pick out the best options for your NFL lineups.
Editor’s Note: Rotoworld’s partner, FanDuel, is hosting a $5,000,000 Fantasy Football Contest for Week 1’s games. It’s only $25 to join and first prize is $1,000,000. The contests starts Sunday, September 13th at 1 PM ET!
When constructing a H2H roster, the important thing to remember is that you want construct a team that has the highest projected “floor” with regards to projected scoring production. The reasoning behind this is simple; you just need to be better than half of the field. Whether it is mano-a-mano or a whole crowd, the top half are victorious and the others are looking ahead to next week.
For this reason, we will want to focus on players that have the highest projected points per salary cap dollar. The key word to remember is probable. In today’s NFL, just about any offensive player could have a three-TD day, or they may not see the end zone for a month.
As a general rule of thumb, in this format on FanDuel you will need to score about 120 points in order to put your team in a good position to win. Sometimes you will win with less points, other times you will lose with a much higher score, but that is a reasonable target figure.
With an overall in-game salary cap on FanDuel of $60,000, this means we need our players to score 2 points for each $1K of salary. The roster format includes 1 QB, 2 RBs, 3 WRs, 1 TE, 1 K and 1 D/ST.
Now for the fun part. Let’s look at a few players at each position that should be able to “return value” on their FanDuel in-game salary. These will be players that I will be using myself on various iterations of my H2H lineups this week.
Picking quarterbacks depends on the style that best suits your team-building preference and risk-reward potential. One school of thought focuses on anchoring your roster with a premium guy like Andrew Luck or Tom Brady, but another way to approach a week may be with a mid-tier QB who has a great matchup, or perhaps even someone who has come into the starting job after that week’s pricing was already created. The key thing to keep in mind though is that we need to find a production ratio of 2 points/$1K of salary.
Aaron Rodgers – $9,700 at CHI: There is a lot to like about this matchup with the Chicago Bears, who allowed the third most passing yards per game last season. Now, NFL defenses can turn over quite a bit, however, the Monsters of the Midway did little to make me think they have improved on that side of the ball. Even with WR Jordy Nelson lost for the season, Aaron Rodgers spreads the ball around enough that he will still be incredibly effective. This game has a projected 50 O/U on the NFL odds board and the Packers are favored by nearly a touchdown. Rodgers is one of the safest plays on the slate with his upside and reasonable price tag.
Sam Bradford - $7,500 at ATL: There has been a changing of the guard in Philadelphia, and QB Sam Bradford has received a much needed new lease on his NFL life. We have seen what a Chip Kelly offense can do for all players with their particularly quick time between plays leading to a lot of extra opportunity, and even mediocre signal callers have fared well under his tutelage. The key with Bradford is that he never can seem to stay healthy, but in Week 1 he will be without all of the wear and tear that the long NFL season will bring. As a bonus, last year the Atlanta Falcons allowed the most passing yards per game at 280. The 300 passing yard plateau is definitely within sight, and I would expect a couple touchdowns to come with it Monday night.
While QBs are a very important building block for a solid fantasy roster, RBs are absolutely crucial. Running backs have the volume and opportunity to earn points with touchdowns, rushing and passing yards, AND receptions, and this usually makes them the steadiest source of daily fantasy production. Generally it is wise to “pay up” for a premium RB in a good matchup by utilizing your savings from another position such as defense and kicker, which will be addressed in short order.
Adrian Peterson - $9,200 at SF: Off-field behavior aside, this is a nice spot for Adrian Peterson. Yes, he is the most expensive running back of Week 1, however, we know a majority of the Vikings Offense is likely to be funneled through him. The 49ers are an absolute mess, having moved on from Coach Jim Harbaugh in a less than stellar fashion, and their new coach Jim Tomsula already seems overwhelmed and the season has not even started. San Francisco has lost half a dozen players from last year’s squad to retirement and it would not be shocking if their defense was even worse than their fellow Bay Area residents, the Oakland Raiders.
Lamar Miller - $7,300 at WAS: Another team that excels in putting the FUN in dysfunction is the Washington DC area football organization. In this matchup, 100 yards and a touchdown seems quite reasonable, and there is a chance Miller will go for even more, as it is likely that the Dolphins will be in ball control mode with a lead by halftime. This is a great price point for Miller this week.
There are always great WR options at varying price levels and matchups. Typically what you do at the other positions will dictate how you assemble your receiving corps.
Top Shelf Options – Julio Jones - $9,000 vs PHI: The Monday matinee between the Falcons and the Eagles has a projected over under of 55 points, and with both teams liking their aerial attacks, we could conceivably see 8+ touchdowns combined. The main issue with Julio Jones is that he is forever dealing with nagging injuries; well, now is our chance to employ his services at his likely most healthy levels of the season. He is the WR I am most likely to pay a premium for this week.
Mid-Tier Choices – Jordan Matthews - $6,800 at ATL: With WR Jeremy Maclin reunited with Andy Reid in Kansas City, Matthews is now the #1 option in Philadelphia. We saw flashes of brilliance from him last season, and even though he is working with a new quarterback, the target volume will be there. Brandin Cooks - $7,400 at ARI: Another young wideout who as ascended to a prominent role this season is Cooks. Even though his quarterback likes to spread the ball around, there should be plenty of opportunities for Cooks to shine brightly in this matchup.
Bargain Bin Ballers – Davante Adams - $5,500 at CHI: With the contests created so early on FanDuel to provide their advertising acquisitions a place to create teams, there are a few inefficiencies in the pricing for Week 1. The one that stands out the most is of course Davante Adams, who will be stepping into the starting lineup as the replacement for the injured Jordy Nelson. The former Fresno State University star will likely be the most widely held player during Week 1, however, I see no reason to stray from the crowd. Jarvis Landry - $6,900 at WAS: Landry has become a receptions monster and the points do add up quickly on FanDuel. This is a solid matchup, as the Washington defense has a lot of question marks they are working their way through.
Martellus Bennett - $6,200 vs GB - $6,200: As of this writing, we do not have a clear read on the injury status of WR Alshon Jeffery. If he is ruled out or limited, Martellus Bennett should see opportunities in the passing game more on par with a WR1 than a tight end, making him a phenomenal play. If you need to save a little salary cap, look to Tyler Eifert - $5,000 at OAK, as he should see an increased role in the Cincinnati offense and is reasonably priced for his potential production.
Kickers are very tricky to project, so I typically look for the lowest-priced kicker in a decent matchup, ideally in a dome or a fair weather stadium. This week I like the minimum-priced Brandon McManus - $4,500 vs BAL kicking for a top five scoring offense, and if there are any weather concerns, look to Cody Parkey - $5,000 at ATL.
Defense / Special Teams (D/ST)
D/ST is another position that is very hard to predict because so much of their value comes from return touchdowns. The best teams will have 10 return scores on the season and the worst around four, which makes it tough to know which team to roster.
This looks like a good week to find some savings with the D/STs. The New York Jets - $4,400 vs CLE will of course be incredibly popular going against the woefully overmatched offense of the Cleveland Browns. The Seattle Seahawks - $5,000 at STL are definitely in play; though they are on the road in St. Louis this week, they do get to face the Rams’ revamped backfield. In between these two price points we have the Miami Dolphins - $4,700 at WAS, who are in a favorable spot against an “offense” led by QB Kirk Cousins. Enjoy!
Large Field Tournaments - Guaranteed Prize Pools (GPPs)
Depending on the contest, GPPs will generally pay out 10-20% of the field. It will take an outstanding score in order to finish in the money, so your mentality needs to be that you want to be in the top 10% or finish last. Being middle of the pack or even above average does not come with any reward, so don’t be afraid to take a few risks and stray from the herd.
Tyrod Taylor - $5,000 vs IND: In most season long leagues, Tyrod Taylor was drafted as an afterthought, or perhaps is still on your waiver wire. However, in daily fantasy sports, an unexpected player thrust into a prominent role after the week’s pricing has been created is someone worth targeting. While the Indianapolis Colts coaching staff will have had a week to prepare for Taylor’s unique skill set, he is still a minimum priced quarterback on FanDuel. Young signal callers generally look to tuck the ball and run when the offense breaks down or they are overwhelmed, and few quarterbacks have Taylor’s speed and elusiveness. While he is sure to have a few turnovers, it would not be a shock to see him get 40+ rushing yards, scramble for a score and get a 200ish passing yards with another touchdown or two. That is an amazing point per dollar ratio and one worth having on a tournament roster or two.
Tony Romo - $8,700 vs NYG: Is it just me or does it seem like the Giants and Cowboys always end up in a high scoring affair on Sunday Night Football every season? With the departure of RB DeMarco Murray, it would make sense that the Cowboys will once again be leaning on Tony Romo to lead the offensive production. With the experienced Dallas receiving corps, I think this is a nice tournament play, as a lot of gamers are still going to remember Romo’s “game manager” role from last year, hopefully keeping his popularity down in tournaments.
Eddie Lacy - $8,500 at CHI: Lacy is a fine running back option in all formats, however, for Week 1 I am finding him on more of my tournament entries than my H2H rosters. He projects as a top three running back on most projection sites this week so he is a solid play. The one thing to keep in mind though is that he will likely be on a lot of entries in the large-field contests.
Jeremy Hill - $8,600 at OAK: A lot of gamers are not going to like this price for Hill, which ideally will keep him on around 20% of most tournament rosters. He has a great matchup against the Oakland Raiders and should see at least two-thirds of all the running back touches for the Bengals this season.
Ameer Abdullah - $5,900 at SD: Crazy things happen in the NFL every week, and it would not shock me to see Abdullah end the day as the most productive running back for the Detroit Lions. Of course it would also not be out of the question to see him receive single digit touches and have a subpar performance. This makes him a tournament play only.
Generally in a GPP it is a good idea to pair a receiver with your QB so you can double up on your points if they connect for a score or two. Remember you want to go big or go home in this format.
Dez Bryant - $8,700 and Terrance Williams - $5,300 vs NYG: While we should expect to see Dez Bryant on a lot of tournament teams, I do not believe we will see the trio of Tony Romo, Bryant and Terrance Williams on many at all. Based on past games with the Giants, it would not be surprising to see Romo throw for 300+ yards and three scores, with the bulk of the production going to these two wideouts.
Odell Beckham Jr. - $8,900 at DAL: Week in and week out we will likely see this emerging superstar as a top play, so let’s just roll with him from the start. Three is a good chance that teammate Victor Cruz will be limited or even ruled out for this game; if that is the case, Rueben Randle - $5,300 becomes an outstanding option along with ODB.
Amari Cooper - $7,100 vs CIN: Rookie Amari Cooper is a complete wildcard, however, it would not be a stretch to see him among the top scorers at this position, with the NFL getting their first extended look at how the Raiders intend to utilize his talents.
Greg Olsen - $5,900 at JAX: Is a very interesting option this week in all formats as one of the few reliable receiving options in Carolina. In the event you are looking to save a little salary this week, consider Delanie Walker - $5,400 at TB, since rookie quarterbacks tend to lean on their tight ends as safety valve options, or Larry Donnell - $5,300 vs DAL, who will again bring multi-touchdown upside potential in a lot of matchups this season against the weak NFC East defenses.
Kickers and Defense / Special Teams
Generally I will utilize the same handful of cheap kickers and DSTs across my H2H and GPP lineups because of their inherent boom/bust nature.
Feel free to send questions via Twitter: @EmacDFS
Good luck gamers!