Week 1 can be a major money-making week depending on your approach. An evaluation week for many sharps, a significant sum of smart money will be kept on sidelines giving an even greater edge to DFS grinders who were following the NFL’s offseason transactions, training game depth chart movements, and preseason performances closely. In partnership with PlayerProfiler.com, XN Sports will be providing the top plays on DraftKings for each position each week of the NFL season. The following players are noteworthy value plays who could serve as the cornerstones of an optimal cash lineup and/or should show up on GPP/tournament rosters.
Here are the details for the huge week-one tournament on DraftKings:
– $10 million prize pool
– $2 million first place prize
– $1 million second place prize
– Only $20 to enter
– Top 125,700 finishing positions are paid out
– Starts Sunday, September 13th at 1:00pm EST
– Salary cap style drafting: $50,000 to select 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 Flex, 1 DST
Eddie Lacy, $7,500.00
Projected PPR Points: 19.85
This year’s running back class is composed of flawed options and Eddie Lacy. Jamaal Charles and Marshawn Lynch are trapped on low volume offenses, and Adrian Peterson eclipsed both the age-30 and 2000-career carry thresholds all while sitting out most of the 2014 season. Last year’s high-volume workhorses are also less appealing. Demarco Murray will supposedly receive less touches in Philadelphia, and Matt Forte’s efficiency crashed in 2014.
Starting in week 7 last season, the Packers mercifully abandoned the Lacy-Starks time share and siphoned over 50-percent of all running back carries and targets to Lacy. Now at the uber-prime age of 25-years old, Eddie Lacy is the workhorse back for one the NFL’s most prolific offenses. His track record for efficiency (+18.6 Production Premium, 4.7 YPC, and 35.8-percent Juke Rate in 2014) combined with a true bell cow role means Lacy will likely eclipse 300 touches in this season. As a focal point of Green Bay’s offense, it is also conceivable that Lacy will lead the NFL in red zone touches. Upon receiving an every-down role last season, Eddie Lacy responded with four consecutive 20-plus point weeks:
Week 8: 26.2 pts
Week 10: 20.8 pts
Week 11: 26.4 pts
Week 12: 28.6 pts
Coming out of the gate this season, Eddie Lacy should get off to a hot start against the Chicago Bears who allowed 25.1 PPR fantasy points per game to opposing running backs in 2014. As the sixth most expensive back DraftKings, Lacy should be a staple DraftKings RB1 in both cash games and GPPs in week 1.
The Value Play
Martellus Bennett, $4,300.00
Projected PPR Points: 15.51
During the offseason, Brandon Marshall signed with the New York Jets, and Kevin White broke his leg. Who will fill the target void left by these playmakers? Eddie Royal possesses a slot receiver ceiling evidence by 670 total air yards while averaging ~11.0 fantasy points per game over the past two seasons opposite Keenan Allen in San Diego. Marquess Wilson was highly ineffective in 2014, posting a league-bottom 4.5 yards per target on limited snaps. That leaves Alshon Jeffery, Matt Forte, and Martellus Bennett as the primary beneficiaries of Jay Culter’s cannon fodder.
Martellus Bennett lead the NFL in both total receptions and red zone receptions in 2014. It is not a major leap to project Bennett to absorb many of Marshall’s 2014 red zone targets this season, and consequently, lead the league in red zone usage once again in 2015.
In week 1, Chicago hosts Green Bay on opening night. The Packers finished in the middle of the “pack” allowing 10.9 PPR fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends in 2014. Regardless, playing Bennett in week 1 is not a match-up play, it’s a value play. As the sixth most expensive option at tight end, Bennett super-affordable price tag provides fantasy gamers with the necessary flexibility to also roster elite options elsewhere such as Dez Bryant and Demarco Murray.
The Contrarian Play
Jameis Winston, $6,000.00
Projected PPR Fantasy Points: 16.80
Your dad would never play a rookie quarterback in week 1. Good thing Jameis Winston not a normal rookie quarterback. The most precocious college quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck, Winston demonstrated Dan Marino-like aggressiveness with downfield throws on his way to averaging ~4,000 yards per season at Florida State, including winning a National Championship and a Heisman Trophy as a redshirt freshman.
Flanked by 6-foot-5 athletic specimens Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans, Jameis Winston may harken back to his 2013 season when he linked up with Kelvin Benjamin on the winning touchdown against Auburn to secure a national championship for FSU. Mike Evans’ 115.7 Height-adjusted Speed Score (HaSS) and Vincent Jackson’s 122.6 HaSS are both in the upper 90th percentile among NFL wide receivers. Both players also have top-20 WR fantasy seasons on their respective resumes. Jameis Winston is in good hands (and arms and legs).
Jameis Winston’s inaugural NFL game will be a muted late-afternoon home affair against Tennessee. The contest will likely feel closer to an FSU spring game than the bright lights of a BCS National Championship stage. Tennessee allowed 20.2 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks in 2014. The Titans allowed less than the the average number of fantasy points to quarterbacks in 2014, primarily because Tennessee’s opponents were often playing with a lead throughout the second half. Overall, the Titans allowed 438 points last season, bottom-five in the NFL.
Even if Tampa Bay takes an early lead, the Bucs cannot leverage an early advantage with an efficient running game. In 2014, the Buccaneer’s posted an 84.4 (No. 27) Offensive Line Efficiency, and Doug Martin posted a -30.0 (no. 77) Production Premium on PlayerProfiler.com. Tampa possesses a bottom-five running game by every measure, and the team will lean on Jameis Winston’s arm regardless of game flow. Whether he throws interceptions or not, more pass attempts and more red zone opportunities equates to gobs of fantasy points for Jameis Winston. Week 1 could be epic.
The Cheap Upside
Charles Johnson, $4,900.00
Projected PPR Fantasy Points: 13.36
Many believe that Mike Wallace ($6,000.00) is Minnesota’s No. 1 receiver, not Charles Johnson ($4,900.00). DraftKings week 1 player salaries reflect that sentiment. However, advanced metrics heads know that Charles Johnson is actually the Vikings’ primary receiver. While Johnson’s first season as a starting NFL wide receiver was far from prolific, the athletic freak from Grand Valley State still posted a higher yards per target than Mike Wallace in 2014 (7.5 vs. 7.9 ypt).
Despite being the second highest paid NFL receiver after Calvin Johnson, Mike Wallace achieved a 100-percent snap share only twice in 2014. Conversely, starting in week 12 last season, Charles Johnson logged the following snap share:
Week 12: 100-percent
Week 13: 100-percent
Week 14: 100-percent
Week 15: 100-percent
Week 16: 100-percent
Week 17: 98.3-percent
Charles Johnson now has six regular season games and a full offseason playing the Vikings’ high-volume, ”Michael Irvin X-receiver” role with Norv Turner. Johnson’s 117.7 SPARQ-x (86th-percentile) on PlayerProfiler.com demonstrates that he is now Teddy Bridgewater’s most athletic and most trusted wide receiver. Yet, Charles Johnson’s DraftKings salary is in the same range as underwhelming team No. 2/3 receivers such as Kenny Stills, Rueben Randle, and Kenny Britt.
In week 1, Minnesota faces San Francisco’s defense, which was ranked in the top-10 least fantasy points allowed to wide receivers in 2014. However, since the end of last season, key defenders from Aldon Smith to Justin Smith to Patrick Willis were either released or retired. Because team No. 1 receivers can produce regardless of game flow, Charles Johnson is the perfect affordable, high upside vehicle to take advantage of the uncertainty surrounding the 49ers defense.
May the game flow be ever in your favor.