Philip Rivers: vs KC (DK 6400; FD 7500)
If Matt Schaub, Brandon Weeden, and Chase Daniel are throwing touchdown passes against the starting secondary for the Chiefs, imagine what a competent quarterback will do to this bunch. Philip Rivers should pierce through the Chiefs cornerbacks rather easily with his trio of talented Chargers receivers. The best case scenario is a solid Chiefs offense keeping up against an even better Chargers defense and this game shooting out. Even if it doesn’t, 300 passing yards and three touchdowns is certainly within the range of outcomes for Rivers as well as activating DK’s 300+ passing yard bonus.
Andy Dalton: at IND (DK 5800; FD 6800)
Cincinnati heads into Indy as three point underdogs in Andrew Luck’s first game since the 2016 season. Andy Dalton was a much different quarterback when the Bengals won in 2017 as his +8.894 FPPG differential in straight up wins illustrates. No one in the Colts secondary poses a serious threat for Dalton and his pass catchers with the best scenario being him and Luck going blow for blow in a high scoring affair. The Bengals have a good chance of heading into Lucas Oil Stadium and stealing a game with Luck shaking off some rust. If that happens, count on the Red Rifle being an integral part of the action.
Case Keenum: vs SEA (DK 5100; FD 6300)
Many will look at Seattle as the opponent and reminisce about those dominate defenses of yesteryear; this 2018 defense isn’t in that dominant category. To return value, Case Keenum would need to put up 15.3 DK points, an outcome he achieved seven times in 12 regular season starts with the Vikings. He does possess the slight ability to use his legs which is an added bonus but if he doesn’t, 185 passing yards and 2 passing touchdowns nets the amount needed to return value. Yet, an 18-20 FP performance is definitely in the range of outcomes for an underpriced Keenum heading into Week 1. He’s a great cash game option in which his salary savings can be allocated to other positions.
David Johnson: vs WAS (DK 8800; FD 8600)
Alvin Kamara will have a lot of the ownership this week and for damn good reason but let’s not forget about the man who put up 2000 yards from scrimmage in 2016. David Johnson’s wrist is fully healed and there aren’t any concerns of note. His legs were never the issue so he’s had an offseason of conditioning and they are as fresh as they can be. He faces a Washington defense that was more suspect against the run on the road in 2017 and one that gave up 654 yards on the ground in the final four games last year. Add in his five reception per game average from 2016 and this will be the cheapest price tag, especially on FanDuel, Johnson possesses in 2018.
Leonard Fournette: at NYG (DK 7100; FD 8000)
Some of Fournette’s best games of 2017 were away from TIAA Bank Field as evidenced by his two outbursts at Heinz Field. After averaging 23.43 FPPG in his first six games, his production suffered as he dealt with a lingering ankle injury that reduced his output to 14.14 FPPG in his other seven regular season games played. Now you get him after an offseason of rest and his 23.31 touches per game last year at a small discount on both sites, FanDuel being the slightly better bargain. As a 3.5 point favorite on the road, it sets up for Fournette to play a major role in this game if the Jags take and sustain a lead against this Giants team.
Christian McCaffery: vs DAL (DK 6400; FD 7500)
As everyone knows, volume equals opportunity and when Ron Rivera said that it would be “ideal” for Christian McCaffery to touch the ball 25-30 times a game, he may be serious. 9 and 14 touches in preseason games against the Dolphins and Patriots respectively in just the first half alone; it would average out over the 12.31 touches per game he saw in 2017. His week 1 price on both sites doesn’t match the potential volume he will see and with his work out of the backfield, receptions will further increase his fantasy production. He averaged at least 7.8 DK points in all 16 games and had five 20+ DK point performances at Bank Of America Stadium in 2017. The offensive line of Carolina is certainly a concern but if his volume and production continue to trend upward, he won’t be cheaper than he is in week 1 against the Cowboys.
Alex Collins: vs BUF (DK 5600; FD 6700)
The Ravens don’t wait long to get revenge for the Bills knocking them out of the playoffs. Last year, Alex Collins had a +2.814 FPPG differential in games the Ravens won, a +2.643 FPPG differential in games at M&T Bank Stadium, and a +4.67 FPPG differential in games the Ravens were favored. All these factors will come into play in a winnable game that will feature plenty of positive gamescript for him. At his price on both sites, he’s very affordable and should be a chalky play in cash games against a Bills team that allowed the most FPA to running backs on the ground in 2017
Rex Burkhead: vs HOU (DK 4200; FD 6300)
12.6 DK points returns value, something Burkhead achieved in five of seven regular season games in 2017, and in those five games, he averaged 12.8 touches per game. If he can get 15-17 touches in this game against the Texans that has the potential to shootout, Burkhead has a chance at 18-20 FP, which is 4.5x on DK and 3x on FD. Especially on DK, this is an inexpensive way to get exposure to a game with the highest week 1 total.
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Antonio Brown: at CLE (DK 8600; FD 9000)
The exact Le’Veon Bell holdout scenario from last year played out again to include the same week 1 opponent for the Steelers. As the team announced last year before week 1, Bell won’t be limited heading into the season opener. As of this writing, Bell is still holding out which makes Antonio Brown that much more attractive to roster against the Browns. As if there was another reason to plug him in, he has averaged 28.18 DK points in week 1 since 2014 and has finished at worst the WR5 in week 1s during that timeframe. Most impressive is that three of those four games were on the road as it’s no secret that Big Ben performs much better at Heinz Field. It’s an expensive price tag to absorb but this AB trend has a decent chance of continuing given the circumstances heading into the season opener.
Keenan Allen: vs KC (DK 7500; FD 8000)
Tyrell Williams: vs KC (DK 4200; FD 5500)
Mike Williams: vs KC (DK 3900; FD 5400)
Targeting the Chiefs cornerbacks could become a theme this season and that begins immediately at the StubHub Center. Chargers receivers will see snaps opposite beatable corners in Steven Nelson and Orlando Scandrick, both matchups that need to be exploited. Kendall Fuller was an outstanding slot corner for the Redskins but will see some work outside for the Chiefs where he has only 88 careers snaps, another matchup that can pay dividends. In full point PPR scoring, Keenan Allen averaged 21.21 FPPG at home and 23.53 FPPG as a favorite in 2017, making him cash and GPP viable. While I prefer Tyrell over Mike for now until we see their snap counts and usage during the first few weeks, both can return and exceed value with a deep shot and a score, making them excellent tournament options and providing salary relief for other positions.
Odell Beckham Jr: vs JAX (DK 7000; FD 7800)
This is solely a GPP play as this will be ODB’s first action since left ankle surgery ended his season after week 5. Although he didn’t take a preseason snap, it’s great news that he has been a full participant in practice since July. He will see plenty of time lined up against AJ Bouye and Jalen Ramsey, a tough proposition that doesn’t need further explaining. However, they have been beaten by elite talent as Antonio Brown torched both of them in the divisional round last year. Odell is definitely in the tier of an AB and if the Giants are playing from behind in this game, Eli Manning will be looking for Beckham often to get the G-Men back in the mix. I will take the risk and get some tournament exposure in what will be his cheapest price tag of 2018.
Chris Hogan: vs HOU (DK 6100; 6700)
Until waiver claims were made on Sunday, Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, and Cordarrelle Patterson were the only wide receivers on the roster that would be active heading into week 1. They added Amara Darboh and Chad Hensen but they will be spending time learning the playbook that they won’t make an immediate impact. Hogan presents as the receiver with the best chance to be peppered with throws against a below average Texans secondary. His salary is too good to pass up when there is a first ballot Hall of Famer throwing him the ball.
John Ross: at IND (DK 3900; FD 5100)
There isn’t any issue in going with the more expensive option in AJ Green because this matchup also sets up extremely well for him. John Ross beat Vontae Davis for one touchdown and had he not dropped another pass from Andy Dalton, he would have beat him again. Injuries impacted his rookie season but the decision to move on from Brandon LaFell shows that the Bengals coaching staff believes in his ability to muster up a better sophomore season. Pierre Desir and Quincy Wilson shouldn’t scare anyone as the Colts secondary looks to be a disaster in 2018. Ross slaughtered an ex-Colt in preseason action and he has a good chance to do so against current Colts in a game that matters. Stacking him with Andy Dalton costs just under 10K on DraftKings, leaving just over 80% of salary towards the remaining seven positions.
Rob Gronkowski: vs HOU (DK 6900; FD 7900)
Between Kelce and Gronk, the only expensive tight end I want this week is Gronk as Kelce has averaged a meager 6.88 DK points in his last six games against the Chargers. He is the longest-tenured target Brady has heading into week 1 and it’s safe to expect an increase in targets with Julian Edelman serving the first game of a four game suspension. He finished as the TE1 against the Texans in week 3 last year and against a team that allowed the 5th most FPA to TEs, expect Gronk to finish with, at worst, the third most targets in this game and another realistic shot as the top tight end for week 1.
Jack Doyle: vs CIN (DK 3600; 5600)
He played just three snaps against the 49ers in what was a day of rest but when both him and Ebron played the first two preseason games, Doyle outsnapped Ebron 40-12. Andrew Luck returns under center, a quarterback that targeted his tight ends 29% of the time in 2016. The running back and the tight end were the two methods to penetrate the Bengals defense last year. Against a team he slaughtered for 30.1 DK points last year, roster Doyle again with a ridiculously cheap salary and a quarterback that will feed him targets.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins: at NYG (DK 3200; FD 4600)
The Giants were abysmal against the tight end allowing double digit fantasy points to the position in 13 of 16 games last year as well as giving up the most touchdowns to TEs. They’ve already demonstrated it will be an achilles heel again with David Njoku scoring two touchdowns against them in their first preseason scrimmage. Seferian-Jenkins is a nice upgrade to the tight end position that Blake Bortles only targeted in just over 14% of his pass attempts, the second lowest percentage in 2017 behind the Saints. Expect the tight end to be utilized more in Jacksonville in 2018 and this Week 1 matchup couldn’t be any better to begin this trend.
Baltimore: vs BUF (DK 3800; FD 4800)
It seems like LeSean McCoy will be active for this game which would have made this much more appealing had he not but the situation still presents well for the Baltimore defense. The Bills offensive line is extremely porous that getting to Nathan Peterman shouldn’t be a tall order. Add in heading into a raucous M&T Bank Stadium against a Ravens team that seeks to avenge the week 17 debacle of being eliminated at the hands of the Bills and you have a recipe for success. Peterman being a turnover machine against a tenacious defense is worth paying up for the highest-priced defense on the board.
Minnesota: vs SF (DK 3500; FD 4500)
Jimmy Garappolo went on an incredible run to close out 2017 and gave the 49ers and their fans a glimpse at a bright future. He slaughtered a Jaguars defense that was a top 2 unit when they were still playing for the two seed heading into week 16. At some point, Jimmy G is going to lose a game as the starter for the 49ers; a date with the Vikings may be that day. Minnesota gave up 12.5 points per game at US Bank Stadium and 10.3 FPPG to opposing quarterbacks at home, the lowest in the league last year. Tom Brady’s understudy isn’t catching anyone off guard anymore, a stingy Vikings defense will be ready for him as they begin their 2018 campaign.
New England: vs HOU (DK 2400; FD 4200)
The matchup between the Texans and Patriots was one of the more exciting games of 2017; nearly any game DeShaun Watson participated in was a game that featured plenty of action. While Watson has the ability to scramble, the Patriots are going to have their chances to take shots at him against a poor Texans offensive line. The New England defensive strategy has been taking away their best weapon; if they can contain DeAndre Hopkins, their path towards shutting down this offense becomes a lot easier. The price on DraftKings make the New England defense appealing for tournaments in a game that should feature some Texans turnovers.
Each week, I will identify what players are bargains based on the salary cap percentage difference they represent on the respective site. On FanDuel, the highest-priced running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends are all bargains in week 1 and those prices will more correlate with DraftKings pricing as the first few weeks play out. Thus, I will identify players of lesser talent who represent running back, wide receiver, and tight end bargains for the FanDuel portion.
Eli Manning: 1.10
Russell Wilson: .77
Dal Prescott: .67
Rex Burkhead: 2.1
James White: 1.17
Peyton Barber: 1.13
CJ Anderson: 1.1
Royce Freeman: 1
Phillip Dorsett: 2.43
Cameron Meredith: 2.2
John Brown: 1.77
Ted Ginn: 1.73
Marquise Goodwin: 1.47
Notable DK Tight End/Defense Bargains
Ricky Seals-Jones: 2.5
Tyler Eifert: 2.37
Jack Doyle: 2.13
Los Angeles Chargers: 1.57
Patrick Mahomes: .83
Marcus Mariota: .60
Kirk Cousins: .33
TJ Yeldon: 1.467
Leonard Fournette: .86
Kenyan Drake: .80
Saquon Barley: .73
Joe Mixon: .70
TY Hilton: 1.6
Adam Thielen: 1.13
Chris Hogan: 1.03
Larry Fitzgerald: 1.03
Tyreek Hill: .83
Notable FD Tight End/Defense Bargains
Greg Olsen: .3
Vernon Davis: .3
Delanie Walker: -.37