Week one of the NFL season is finally here, and it’s always interesting and exciting to see the effects personnel changes will have on certain teams. These changes also make it difficult to rely too heavily on last year’s metrics. Vegas typically does an excellent job of letting us know which games project to be shootouts and which games we should avoid, so the game plan in week one, at least for cash games, is to focus on what we know and let others dabble with the uncertainties. That said, we certainly want to be thinking outside of the box when constructing tournament rosters. My goal is to give you wide receiver and tight end plays for both game formats on FanDuel, so let’s look at who I’ll be targeting in week one. Be sure to keep up with the news via the RotoGrinders DFS Alerts app. We’ll push injury news directly to your phone for free with a DFS spin that’ll help you apply the news in a meaningful way.
- WIDE RECEIVER -
Cash Game Targets
Eric Decker vs Oakland Raiders
One of the first things I like to do is identify games that have the potential to turn into back and forth shootouts with quick drives and scoring. This is exactly what we have with Tennessee hosting Oakland as both team’s project to do well in the passing game while neither team is likely to find much success slowing down the opposing passing game. Both teams performed better against the run last season, and we should see more of the same this year.
Decker is a terrific route runner and red zone target who should benefit from the likely high-scoring, high yardage nature of this game. Further, Oakland has nothing but issues with its cornerback personnel, either due to ineffectiveness or injury, so this is certainly an exciting spot to attack with our lineups this week. I would expect Decker, to see no less than seven or eight targets, including red zone looks, and about six catches for 80 yards and a score seems likely. Of course, given the nature of this game, he has the potential for a huge game as well.
Decker is cheap on both Fanduel ($6500) and DraftKings ($5000), making him a solid, high floor value play. It’s also worth mentioning that I really like Rishard Matthews who is priced even cheaper than Decker on both sites.
Michael Crabtree @ Tennessee Titans
Let’s move to the other side of my favorite game this week and look at the more expensive, but just as appealing, Michael Crabtree. Oakland quarterback Derek Carr routinely locks in on his top two receivers as, outside of Crabtree and Amari Cooper, the Raiders pass-catching corps is rather talent deficient. Newly signed tight end Jared Cook is nothing special, and the Raiders lack a pass-catching presence out of the backfield. In this likely shootout, expect Crabtree to see no less than eight targets, and given he’s the clear top option when the Raiders are in the red zone, he’s one of the safest bets this week to score a touchdown.
Crabtree doesn’t have amazing upside, but he’s an extremely high floor play that should be a top priority when constructing your cash game lineups.
Amari Cooper @ Tennessee Titans
While Michael Crabtree is one of the week’s premier cash game targets, Cooper is an absolute must for me in tournaments where I would take a massively overweight approach given the strong possibility he posts a huge line against this Titans secondary. Cooper takes a backseat to Crabtree in the red zone, but truly shines when it comes to gaining huge chunks of yardage and turning catches into long scores. Cooper received 40% of quarterback Derek Carr’s looks in the preseason and figures to be a target monster in this high-scoring affair.
Antonio Brown @ Cleveland Browns
Unless you’ve been living under a rock (and I think most rock-dwellers are even aware of how good Brown is), you know that Brown is a top tier play nearly every week as his incredible talent makes him essentially matchup-proof. Of course, when you’re facing the disaster that is the Cleveland Browns, you don’t need to be matchup-proof to have a big game. Like most teams, the Browns have no one with a prayer of covering Brown. However, this play is less about Brown being in a great spot, and more about the fact that popular lineup constructions strategies will likely force Brown’s ownership lower than it should be.
With expensive running back targets David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell figuring to be extremely popular daily fantasy plays, Brown may go under-owned as salary cap restrictions force players to find value options at the wide receiver position. Further, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s extreme home/road splits are well-known and documented, and some may view the return of Martavis Bryant as a downgrade for Brown. However, Brown has performed better with Bryant on the field, and even though Big Ben posts much better numbers at home, Brown can still post a monster game because of how good he is. He’s not a must for me in cash games, but Brown is one of those players who can lock you out of a high finish in a tournament. I really like the idea of jamming both Cooper and Brown in some tournament lineups and going the value route at positions where others are likely to be paying up.
- TIGHT END -
Cash Game Targets
Delanie Walker vs Oakland Raiders
The Raiders present one of the best matchups in the league for opposing tight ends as the Raiders were routinely roasted by the position last season. They did nothing in the offseason to upgrade their weak safety and insider linebacker positions, leaving them with absolutely no one with a prayer of stopping one of the league’s premier tight ends.
I’ve already discussed the likelihood of this game turning into a shootout, and with quarterback Marcus Mariota likely to lock in on Eric Decker, Rishard Matthews, and Walker, there should be plenty of production available for the Titans pass-catchers. Walker is far too cheap on DraftKings at just $4300, and while his price tag of $6100 on FanDuel seems much more sensible, I like paying up for him in cash games there as well. There’s too much cash game risk trying to go cheap at the tight end position, and I’d much rather find value at deeper positions.
Zach Ertz @ Washington Redskins
Ertz projects to see a boost in production as the Eagles no longer have Jordan Matthews sucking up targets in the middle of the field. Ertz should see more of those balls thrown his way, and he has a terrific matchup against a Redskins team that consistently yielded high production to opposing tight ends last season, and did nothing in the offseason to address the situation. Further, new top receiver Alshon Jeffery figures to see a healthy dose of Josh Norman, which figures to push even more balls Ertz’s way. On DraftKings, you can make a case for using Ertz over Delanie Walker given Ertz’s $3500 price tag is significantly lower than Walker’s $4300. However, on FanDuel, Ertz is just $200 cheaper, making Walker the clearly superior play.
Jimmy Graham @ Green Bay Packers
I’m not too high on Seattle in general given quarterback Russell Wilson’s historical struggles against Packers DC Dom Capers plus Seattle’s tendency to perform much better at home than on the road. However, Graham projects as an extremely low-owned option who could post a huge game based on talent alone. Green Bay did not defend opposing tight ends particularly well last season, and I think there is a possibility the Packers develop a comfortable lead, forcing the Seahawks to play more aggressively in catch up mode. Graham is certainly not on my radar in cash games, but his likely miniscule ownership makes him a strong risk/reward play in tournaments.
Greg Olsen @ San Francisco 49ers
Like Graham, Olsen could post massive lines based solely on talent. Whereas other positions often offer dart throw cheap plays that have some chance of paying off, you can almost never find a dirt cheap tight end that has a remote chance of giving you a useful performance. I’d much rather pay up for elite players at the position that few are likely to be on. Olsen checks in at $6200 on DraftKings, which is a whopping $1900 more than top option Delanie Walker. On FanDuel, he’s only $500 more, but I still expect him to be extremely low-owned.
Olsen roasted this Niners team last season for a 5-122-1 receiving line, and given we should see less and less of quarterback Cam Newton running the ball, especially near the goal line, Olsen projects to see more red zone looks, and targets in general. Further, outside of top tier receiver Kelvin Benjamin, the Panthers are seriously lacking in targets in the passing game. That may change a bit as many expect pass-catching specialist running back Christian McCaffrey to overtake Jonathan Stewart as Carolina’s lead back, but for now, we should most of the target share go to Olsen and Benjamin. Like Jimmy Graham, Olsen is a strong risk/reward play who offers tournament-winning upside.