DFS: Best Plays Week 1

This is a weekly column by Zach Lyons giving you his opinions on the Daily Fantasy Sports week for the upcoming football Sunday. All numbers are based on DraftKings.com lineups and will only include players in the all-day Sunday contests.

Stack of the Week

I’ve been saying it all offseason long, ever since we started this web site, and I am going to put my money where my mouth is: Teddy Bridgewater to D.J. Moore is the stack of the week.

Teddy Bridgewater is currently $5,900, while D.J. Moore is a modest $6,600. Neither of these values should be this low again as the season progresses and the fantasy world catches on to what I have known all along: The Panthers have a sneaky good offense.

In going with this stack, you can spend some money elsewhere on bigger names while still getting a lot of fantasy points. The Panthers play against an uninspiring Las Vegas Raiders defense that shouldn’t scare anyone.

Not only that, but no one truly knows what this offense will look like, because there’s no film yet. So defenses will have a hard time right out of the gate game-planning against a team with Moore, Christian McCaffrey, Robby Anderson, Curtis Samuel and Bridgewater.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Lamar Jackson/Hollywood Brown ($13,200 total)
  • Gardner Minshew/D.J. Chark ($12,100 total)
  • Joe Burrow/Tyler Boyd ($11,900)

Running Backs of the Week

Last year the Los Angeles Chargers allowed 112.8 rush yards per game. Joe Mixon averaged 123.5 yards per game over the last 4 games of the season. This is a recipe for an under-the-radar pick for daily fantasy.

At DraftKings.com, Joe Mixon is currently going for $6,700. This is a reasonable amount for a player coming off such a hot end to the season. Let’s also not forget that there is a rookie quarterback behind center. A reliable running back is a rookie quarterback’s best friend, and I think we will see a lot of Joe Mixon in the end zone in Week 1.

As I’ve written about over on the 4th Down Decision, no backfield has a better opportunity for a running back than Atlanta’s. Coming in at $6,100, Todd Gurley is a start-of-the-week for the running back position.

There is no one behind him that should take carries away, and we will see the Todd Gurley of old getting 20 plus carries a game. He is also a factor in the passing game.

Not only does all of this scream “must play,” but think of the Falcons offense. Sure, they love to pass, but teams are going to have a hard time stacking the box against Gurley with Calvin Ridley and Julio Jones on the outside.

He was PFF’s 4th-highest graded runner against 8-man boxes, and he will see way less of that heading to Atlanta. I have been touting Todd Gurley as a must-own in regular fantasy football, and the same is true for DFS Week 1.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Raheem Mostert ($5,800)
  • Mark Ingram II ($5,500)
  • Ronald Jones II ($5,200)
  • Marlon Mack ($5,300)

Wide Receivers of the Week

Speaking of opportunities, very few wide receivers are set up for a better Week 1 than Terry McLaurin. He started off his NFL career in 2019 with a strong rookie year, totaling 919 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns.

Care to venture who his two best games were against? That’s right, the Philadelphia Eagles, the team that just so happens to be his Week 1 opponent. In those two games last season, Terry McLaurin caught a combined 10 of 12 targets for 255 yards and 2 touchdowns.

In the regular season opener last year, also versus Philly, McLaurin recorded 5 catches on 7 targets for 125 yards and a score. Game script and opportunity, yet again, should favor McLaurin.

There is some risk with this though. McLaurin sees new Eagles defensive back Darius Slay. Slay versus Washington last year only allowed 3 catches on 10 targets into his coverage. McLaurin should see a lot of Slay, but I do think it is safe to roll out McLaurin Week 1 in a Scott Turner offense that wants to make McLaurin their go-to receiver.

Tom Brady is a great motivator. He’s always pushing teammates to be their best. You could, in fact, say that he’s still pushing his former teammates to be their best. Julian Edelman is currently in fantasy purgatory, and I think it’s time to set him free.

While Edelman has no ill will towards Tom Brady, you can sure as hell bet that he is entering this season to prove he is his own self-made man. Like many people with the New England Patriots, he is out to prove that the last decade-plus is not Tom Brady driven, but just the Patriots way.

The Patriots will put Cam Newton in the best position to succeed, which means using Edelman all over the field. This should give him plenty of opportunities to shine, especially considering the rest of the Patriots receivers are less than desirable.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Calvin Ridley ($6,100)
  • Odell Beckham Jr ($5,900)
  • D.K. Metcalf ($5,800)
  • John Brown Boyd ($5,600)

Tight End of the Week

I am continuing rolling on the T.J. Hockensen express. He has been getting all sorts of love this offseason, and I think at $4,200, let’s roll the dice.

As a strategy, I usually keep the actual tight end spot on the cheaper side. This frees up money for your flex spot where you can always plug in a Kittle or Kelce if you really want to.

Tight ends are volatile in fantasy. There are very few consistent guys on a week-to-week basis, and in DFS, it’s essentially all about just getting lucky. Hockensen plays a Chicago defense that ranked 23rd against the tight end last season.

With a healthy Matthew Stafford and threatening wide receivers on the outside, it’s a good time to roll out the Hock and see what he can do.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Greg Olsen ($4,000)
  • Dawson Knox ($3,900)
  • Devin Asiasi ($3,500)
  • O.J. Howard ($3,700)

My Guaranteed Flex Play of the Week

Using a mixture of the players I mentioned above, I was able to get a fantastic flex play. This player is at a relatively cheap price, and it is kind of remarkable how cheap he is.

DeAndre Hopkins is my Flex Play of the Week, as he is only $6,800. This is incredible value for arguably the best wide receiver, who is now in one of the most pass-happy offenses in the NFL.

Now, I am a known tinkerer when it comes to DFS, but no matter what I do, DeAndre Hopkins will be firmly cemented in my flex spot. There is absolutely no reason that he should be at just $6,800 to start the season, and that value will not last as the season progresses.

Take advantage of his low price while you can, and get him in your flex spot where you can build around him with complete freedom.

Defense…I guess

Defense is another thing I cheap out on. Much like tight ends, you just never know how any given defense will be week to week.

The defensive team I have chosen is sort of counterintuitive to my advice above, but I am playing the Miami Dolphins at $2,000 this week.

Maybe the “Miami Mystique” is only applicable versus Tom Brady, but this team always seems to play somewhat competitively against the Patriots. They also added several key defenders: Byron Jones, Noah Igbinoghene, and Kyle Van Noy.

Those players mixed with some of the leftovers from last year’s squad, like (second-team) All Pro corner Xavien Howard, plus Brian Flores at the helm, should make for an underrated defense. Cam Newton is coming off surgery and he is going to be slightly rusty. Meanwhile Sony Michel has been battling injuries, and the wide receiver/tight ends are shaky behind Edelman.

This is going to be a sneaky play and could be one of the top three defenses this week.

Quick Hits

High risk, Low cost, High reward
  • Auden Tate ($3,800)
  • Allen Lazard ($4,900)
  • DeSean Jackson ($4,900)
  • Sony Michel ($4,600)
  • Zack Moss (4,400)
Too rich for my blood
  • Dalvin Cook ($7,900)
  • Austin Ekeler ($7,000)
  • Josh Allen ($6,500)
  • San Francisco 49ers ($3,500)
  • Indianapolis Colts (3,000)

My current lineup

Agree? Disagree? Have your own DFS plays of the week? Drop them in the comments below!

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