The Red Zone channel, your favorite ice cold beverage and no longer having to spend Sundays going to brunch with your in-laws. Yep, football is officially back! There is no better day of the year than the 1st Sunday of the NFL season. It’s like Christmas morning to us NFL diehards as we can wake up and still believe that our favorite team is going to be playing in Atlanta on February 3rd, even if that means we end up putting our head on the pillow that same night wondering who we’re going to take with that 1st pick of the 2019 draft. With that first Sunday, comes our first real slate of NFL DFS. This NFL season, I am going to guide you through my favorite DraftKings GPP plays at each position and give you how I got to that play, with a hope that these plays will help you win some money!
Now to the money makers!!
Deshaun Watson @ NE ($6700)
We might as well start off with a bang, right? Deshaun Watson at New England is my favorite QB GPP play of the day. You’re going to get a QB who before tearing his ACL last year went off for games of 25.1, 34.7, 35.5, 24.3, and 38.8 DraftKings points per game in his final 5! Who did that game of 25.1 DK points come against? The New England Patriots. Now I understand that the Patriots improved on the defensive side of the ball this offseason, but we’re talking about a QB who averaged, .90 DK points per attempt in 2017 with an average of 29 attempts per game, going against a defense in New England who gave up the 6th most DK points to opposing QB’s last year. The Patriots also gave up the 3rd most passing yards per game last year and were 9th in rushing yards allowed to QB, which is a big part of Watson’s game. Let’s not forget that the Patriots never really hired an official Defensive Coordinator for 2018, but instead named Brian Flores as the de facto D-Coordinator and Linebackers coach. I believe that this could lead to some confusion to start the year for the Patriots defense and it is something that I want to take advantage of right away with Deshaun Watson!
Kirk Cousins v. SF ($6500)
When Kirk Cousins signed his 3 years $84 million deal with the Vikings this offseason, it gave every NFL fan 84 million more reasons to criticize him. Cousins is coming into the 2018 season with arguably more pressure than any other quarterback in the league. He now has the reins to a team that went to the NFC Championship last year and is looking for their first Super Bowl win in, well, ever. With these expectations, I expect Minnesota to come out letting it fly on Sunday and they have a great matchup to produce results. Cousins is going against a San Francisco defense that gave up the 3rd most DK points per game to QB and ranked 28th in DVOA against the pass, in 2017. Cousins is also coming off a season where he averaged .58 DK points per attempt which were good for 6th of all qualifying QB’s. On paper, Minnesota has more explosive weapons across the board than Cousins had in Washington as well so this is a number that I can see jumping up and making him an even more productive Fantasy QB. For $6500, you have an opportunity to roster Cousins in your tournament lineup and stack him with someone like Diggs or Rudolph and if he can connect for 2+ TD’s, you’re putting yourself in a spot to win a GPP with all the other top players you can now roster!
Alex Collins v. BUF ($5600)
Alex Collins is one of my favorite running backs on the board this week! Collins looks to be the main workhorse in Baltimore this year and in week 1, he is getting an abysmal Buffalo defense that gave up 29.1 DK points per game to running backs in 2017. Buffalo was also ranked 30th in rush DVOA and gave up 124.6 yards on the ground per game. In his final 3 games in 2017, Collins saw 17, 21 and 22 touches. In a game where he should see at least 20 touches, Collins has the ability to give us upwards of 20 DK points at the price of an RB16. The game script is also in Collins favor as Baltimore is a home favorite in a game where we expect to see them have a ball a lot because of the abilities or lack thereof of the Bills offense.
Melvin Gordon v. KC ($6800)
I love Melvin Gordon in week 1 at home against Kansas City. As with Alex Collins, you’re getting another home favorite and this time with a game that has the 4th highest total, at an over/under of 48. Whenever there are high totals in games, you’ll see people tend to not want to play the running back as much, but instead target the QB and WR’s, but I think this is a spot where Gordon can absolutely go off. In the two games against the Chiefs last year, Gordon had 17 and 19 attempts rushing, while also having 6 receptions for 91 yards in the latter. If Gordon can get around 23 touches on Sunday, which is only two above his average last year of 21, he has the ability to win a tournament for you. Gordon was also 3rd in Red Zone Rushing Attempts in 2017 to go along with 10 targets in the Red Zone, which was good for 10th of all running backs. I could see a lot of people paying up for Kamara or saving $400 for McCaffrey, which puts a high upside player like Gordon in a very good spot to help you win some money!
Jordan Wilkins v. CIN ($3700)
This play is 100% dependent on if Marlon Mack does not play Sunday. As of right now, it looks like Mack is going to be out, which should lead to ample opportunity for Jordan Wilkins. Wilkins is also a home favorite, so the game script should be in his favor and he is going against a Bengals defense that gave up the 3rd most DK points to running backs per game last year and the 3rd most rushing yards per game. Wilkins was a dynamic back at Ole Miss averaging 6.3 yards per carry over his three years and 26 receptions for 241 yards his senior year. Wilkins also had a very good preseason for the Colts and if Mack does not play, Wilkins looks to be the guy who is going to carry the load week 1.
Keenan Allen v. KC ($7500)
My favorite WR on the board for week 1 is Keenan Allen. In 2017, Allen was targeted 9.94 times per game and averaged 1.92 DK points per target. Allen is also in a very favorable matchup week 1 vs a Kansas City team that was ranked 31st against opposing WR 1’s and gave up a total of 39.2 DK points per game to Wide Receivers. Allen was 2nd in the NFL last year to only Jimmy Graham with a total of 26 targets in the Red Zone, which was 37% of the Red Zone passes that Phillip Rivers made in 2017. Allen is the 4th highest priced receiver but surrounded by names like Brown, Hopkins, Thomas, Green, and Beckham, I could see his ownership being lower as people may pay up a little or down a little for names that are more “flashy”.
DeAndre Hopkins @ NE ($8300)
I am ALL IN on DeAndre Hopkins this week at New England! Being the 2nd priced receiver, it is going to be very hard for people to justify drafting Hopkins when they can pay $300 more for Antonio Brown or save $500 and draft Michael Thomas in what everyone is calling the GOAT spot for Thomas! This is all the more reason I am all in with Nuk!! Week 1 of the last three seasons the last three years, Hopkins was targeted 16, 8, and 13 times. The game where Hopkins was targeted 8 times was in 2016 vs. the Bears where the Texans won 23-14 and the game flow led to fewer targets at the end of the game. The point I am making is the Texans have made it a purpose to get Hopkins involved early and often to start the season no matter who was lined up against him. (Last year he was targeted 16 times with Jalen Ramsey on the other side) Another huge factor is the folks down in Sin City. Vegas tends to be right more often than not and there is a reason they have this game as the highest total on the board at 51 points, yet it seems as if no one wants to acknowledge it. What I see here is I have a chance to get the leader in overall targets last year and number 11 in red zone targets (with 4 guys in front of him not even on the slate) at low ownership, in a game that is supposed to shoot-out?! Count me all the way in!!
Chris Hogan v. HOU ($6100)
Where do you start when you talk about the current state of the New England Patriots receiving corps? After Rob Gronkowski, the only reliable name from last year is Chris Hogan. Hogan comes into week 1 as the 14th priced receiver but is playing in the game with the highest total and a chance to be looking at 10 targets minimum. Last year, Hogan averaged 1.68 DK points per target, so if we can get Brady to target Hogan 10 times, we’re looking at a floor of around 16 points. On top of that, the Texans gave up the 5th most DK points to Wide Receivers last year and were 24th in the league against WR1’s, 30th against WR2’s and 24th against all other WR’s. This makes me feel very comfortable that Hogan will have a field day against whoever is lined up across from him.
Phillip Dorsett v. HOU ($3700)
Going into week 1, Dorsett is going to be lined up on the other side of the field as the starter with Chris Hogan. Going into his 2nd year in New England’s offense, all signs have been pointing to Dorsett finally getting on the same page with Brady and someone the Pats are looking for to have a dynamic year… As I mentioned above with Hogan, the defensive backs in Houston were not great last year so Dorsett at $3700 is a starting receiver who if he can even get 7 targets against the Texans, is putting you in a great spot to exceed his value and price as a very low owned receiver!
Ted Ginn, Jr. v. CIN ($4300)
Find a way to get this man in your GPP lineups!! He is the receiver that I am going to be targeting from New Orleans in this game. Everyone is going to be on Michael Thomas and for good reason, but let’s look a little deeper. Last year versus #2 and #3 WR’s Cincinnati had a DVOA of 15th and 28th. Now, you’re looking at a defense that no longer has Adam Jones, so we have to take that 3rd corner and bump him up to the 2 spot, which puts Ted Ginn, Jr. in a matchup where he could go bonkers! Ginn averaged 2.56 DK points per target last year while only getting 4.67 targets per game. Going into 2018, Ginn is expected to be a bigger factor for this offense and is playing in a game where we could see a lot of points early. With most of the ownership in this game being on Michael Thomas, if we can get Ginn low owned and hope he sees around 7 targets, you’re looking at a game where he has a chance to get us a minimum of 17 points.
Nick Vannett @ DEN ($2600)
When it comes to the Tight End position, I love to take a shot on a guy who is cheap, but yet is in a position to be a top Tight End on the day. This Sunday, Nick Vannett fits that bill for me! Now bear with me for a second as I tell you why Vannett is in a spot to dominate in your lineup. First off, he is the new number 1 in Seattle with Jimmy Graham taking his talents to Green Bay. With Graham now out of the picture, this means Red Zone targets are going to be wide open for Seattle receivers after Graham lead the league with 29 targets in the Red Zone last year. As the season moves on, I do see Doug Baldwin taking a lot of these targets, but week 1 is a PERFECT spot for Vannett to get 5 or 6 catches and a touchdown. Denver gave up the 3rd most DK points to Tight Ends last year and was ranked 31st in DVOA against them as well. In 2017, Denver’s defense was also the 9th worst defense in the Red Zone giving up a touchdown 58.84% of the time, a number that jumped to 61.11% of the time when they played at Mile High Stadium. As you can tell, I am a big fan of “targets per game” and although a small sample size, Vannett averaged 2.03 DK points per target last year. Now is the main show in town, if he can get even 5 targets on Sunday, that puts him right around 10 DK points and if some of those targets turn into catches in the end zone, you just got a $2600 TE that could win you a GPP!!
Jack Doyle v. CIN ($3600)
Doyle is a player that is in a prime spot to be a top three TE come to the end of the day Sunday. With Andrew Luck starting his first game after sitting out all of 2017, I can see the Colts coming into the game being very conservative and throwing short passes which leads to opportunities for Doyle. In 2017, Doyle was targeted seven times a game which was good for 4th among all tight ends. With Frank Reich coming from the Doug Pederson tree, there is no reason to think Doyle will not be used as Ertz was in Philadelphia. This is going to lead to more targets, especially in the Red Zone. The Bengals were also 30th in DVOA against Tight Ends last year, so this only adds to my intrigue in Doyle.
Kyle Rudolph v. SF ($4500)
On paper, Rudolph does not have the best matchup versus the 49ers in week 1, but when it comes to playing Tight Ends in DFS, I am looking to roster guys with opportunity. With DeFilippo now calling plays in Minnesota and coming from the Doug Pederson tree, I could see him using Rudolph the same way Ertz was used in Philadelphia as I just mentioned with Jack Doyle. Ertz was targeted 7.86 times per game in 2017, while Rudolph was targeted just above 5 times per game at 1.93 DK points per target. If Rudolph can get his targets to about 8 targets a game and give us a floor of 14-15 points, he will become one of the highest priced TE’s every week, so let’s jump on him when we can get him at a discount!
Let’s get this bread!!