DFS sites will usually create a little extra cushion in their salaries for the first week of the season. This helps them draw in new customers by making it easier for them to create lineups. Also, sites like DraftKings will release their salaries for the first week of the season in mid-July which will create some value albatrosses.
Week one is possibly the most entertaining week of the season to play DFS. The loose salaries make it easier for anyone to create a competitive lineup. Also, we are drawing off less data since there haven’t been any games played yet, causing DFS players to take more shots in the dark.
Let’s start the season by taking a look at some value plays on DraftKings:
Nick Foles, JAX ($5,300)
Foles is a cheap chalky play this week. He has a very interesting matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs. As you may suspect, this game is expected to be a shootout. With an over/under of 51.5, Vegas has the Jaguars as 3.5 point underdogs. This game is expected to be close. Foles will be slinging the rock to keep up with the Cheifs high-powered offense.
The Jaguars’ new offensive coordinator, John DeFilippo posted a 65 percent pass rate last years during weeks 1-13 when he was calling plays for the Minnesota Vikings. He might already be writing the game script with the intent to heavily lean on the pass. If so, which is highly likely, Foles should receive plenty of opportunities to post favorable numbers on Sunday.
*Image courtesy of DraftKings
Due to his price and matchup, Foles is going to receive a decent-sized ownership rate. His low price tag will allow you to stuff other high priority players into your lineup. I’m a big fan of stacking Foles with Dede Westbrook. Those two are going to connect early and often. Since there should be some extra plays ran in this game, possibly anywhere between 120-140 plays ran between the two teams, there has to be a trickle- down of value to Leonard Fournette. He should see plenty of touches out of the backfield while also catching a handful of passes out of the flat.
That said, I expect both Westbrook and Fournette to smash in this game. Westbrook ran 89 percent of his routes in the slot last year, and Foles has a tendency of targeting his favorite receivers there. I wouldn’t be surprised if Westbrook sees ten or more targets.
If you look at the image above, I provide an example of how to stack this matchup. The combo of Foles, Fournette, and Westbrook should all correlate with each other in the scoring, especially if Foles plays hot and can constantly keep the chains moving. To make the lineup more contrarian, you might want to add either Travis Kelce or Tyreek Hill. The Chiefs will be carving out even more chunks of yardage in this game. From here you will need to get creative to fill out the rest of your lineup which will allow you to distinguish yourself from the rest of the field considering there are going to be a lot of people playing multiple different stacks from this game.
Kerryon Johnson, DET ($5,800)
Johnson will play his first game of the season against the Arizona Cardinals who finished the preseason ranked 28th in PFF’s grading for overall defense. They are susceptible to giving up big plays on the ground to running backs. We saw Dalvin Cook easily carve through their defense for an 85-yard touchdown run in week three of the preseason.
Head coach Matt Patricia wants to establish the run. He will be looking to dial up plenty of carries for Johnson, creating opportunities for him to produce in the box score. Combine this with the Cardinals weak run defense and Johnson should easily be an RB1 this week in fantasy.
The Cardinals are expected to run a lot of offensive plays per game this year in Kyle Kingsbury’s new air raid offense. This could benefit Johnson in multiple different ways. This game has the chance to transition into a shootout where both teams are looking to score quickly or the Lions will take advantage of Arizona’s poor defense and try to control the clock by serving them a heavy dosage of Johnson.
This game has a moderate 46.5 point over/under and Vegas has the Lions as 2.5 point favorites. If you ask me, this game is highly likely to hit the over and exceed the 50-point range. If Arizona gets the lead early then we could see fireworks with Matt Stafford throwing the ball all over the field while still trying to establish the run.
*Image courtesy of DraftKings
Since this game is expected to be a shootout, there aren’t as many trendy correlation plays and stacks to implement. There are a few strategies we can utilize to field a contrarian lineup, however. Kyler Murray is set at just $5,600 and is a low-cost option at quarterback. His rushing ability combined with the number of plays the Cardinals are expected to run is going to elevate his total. Defenses are more likely to produce turnovers when playing against rookie quarterbacks and the Lions are priced at a palatable $2,900. If you want to get fancy you can also throw Larry Fitzgerald or Christian Kirk in your lineup.
Of course, the lineup stack listed above is more suited for GPP play. Contrarian lineups are more competitive in tournaments. I wouldn’t suggest implementing something like this in a cash lineup unless you are rock solid with the rest of your lineup. If used effectively, Johnson could be an excellent addition in cash lineups, considering he’s a relatively safe investment with a sizeable ceiling.
Tyler Boyd, CIN ($5.800)
With AJ Green out of the lineup for week one, Boyd is expected to see a large market share of the targets. The Bengals will be on the road to play the Seattle Seahawks. This game has an over/under of 44 points and the Seahawks are listed as 9.5 point favorites. From looking at the lines for this game, it appears Boyd could receive some opportunities to receive some additional garbage time targets to pad his stats. The Bengals will need to pass the ball keep up with the Seahawks in this game.
Boyd is a solid option in both GPP and cash lineups. His large target share will make him a safe investment. If he can break off a few long gains on some of his targets then he could be a game breaker this week which will definitely help in GPP. I feel his ownership will be rather low, considering his matchup is horrible and the Bengals aren’t predicted to score a lot of points.
I’m not looking to make many stacks with Boyd. If I wanted to get a little frisky, I would stack him with Andy Dalton, but I don’t think that’s a smart decision. If you’re implementing a few hundred lineups, then sure, make a Bengals stack. Since his cost is low and his projected target share is expected to be high, I’m making a lot of lineups with Boyd.
Hunter Henry, LAC ($3,900)
DraftKings underpriced Henry this week. Unless he underperforms, this should be the last time we see him at this price point. We need to take advantage of his low cost. He will see an increase in targets if Melvin Gordon doesn’t suit up for the game since the team will rely more on the pass.
The Chargers are considered 6.5 point favorites against the Indianapolis Colts and the game is listed with a 45 point over/under. If Jacoby Brissett takes a step forward in his development then this game could transition into a high scoring affair. If that happens, Henry could become a tournament-winning add to your lineup.
*Image courtesy of DraftKings
This isn’t a very creative stack. Philip Rivers is criminally undervalued along with Henry. Stacking both of them will allow you to jam other high priced options or other stacks into your lineup. The Colts defense is also very cheap and they could out produce their price point by producing multiple sacks and turnovers.