Howdy folks! It is great to be back here writing about the NFL on Fantasy Assembly. Week 1 of the NFL season should be as exciting as ever, and DraftKings is doing a great job with their contests to open the season. There are many tournaments available at low costs that have great rewards for high finishes. Let’s start the season off making some money. Here are your plays of the week.
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Marcus Mariota vs. Raiders ($6,800) – Matt Ryan is in a good spot as well, so I would not besmirch you if you went for that safer pick. But I will be playing a bunch of Mariota this week. The young Titans QB keeps getting better and better, and he has picked up some new weapons in Corey Davis (1st round draft pick) and Eric Decker (free agent). Moreover, he opens the season versus the Raiders who ranked only 25th in pass defense DVOA per Football Outsiders. I think Mariota has a huge week.
Bang for Your Buck
Carson Wentz @ Redskins ($5,300) – The Redskins ranked a mediocre 25th in defensive DVOA last year and only 24th in DVOA versus the pass. This week they face a passer in Carson Wentz who tore them up for over 300 yards the last time these two teams met. The Eagles will likely improve on offense with the addition of a legitimate #1 receiver in Alshon Jeffery. I think Wentz will be a top play at a low price in week 1.
DeShone Kizer vs. Steelers ($4,800) – This is one of my favorite plays of the week, as Kizer will be forced to throw the ball a bunch to try to keep up with the Steelers offense in this one. This could be a garbage time game, like Blake Bortles was famous for in 2015. I think Kizer might be in for a rough game in real football, but an excellent fantasy game on Sunday. Hey – those garbage time stats count too.
David Johnson @ Lions ($9,400) – Before getting hurt in week 17, Johnson had over 100 total yards every single game in the 2016 season. It doesn’t get more consistent than that. This week he has a relatively easy match-up with the Detroit Lions who were dead last in DVOA last season and ranked 29th in DVOA versus running backs catching passes out of the backfield. I think this is a great spot to pay up.
LeSean McCoy vs. Jets ($8,200) – Those of you who read the excellent Fantasy Assembly NFL rankings know that McCoy was a guy that I was targeting in the pre-season as I listed him as my #3 player overall, ahead of all the big name receivers. With Mike Gillislee in New England, McCoy does not have a lot of competition for carries in the backfield and will get all the work he can handle. This week he plays at home where he averaged over 100 yards rushing a game and plays against a depleted (and probably disinterested) Jets defense. McCoy could have a field day.
Bang for your Buck
Todd Gurley vs. Colts ($6,000) – Gurley was absolutely dreadful in 2016, having rushed for 90 yards exactly zero times on the season. I am not sold on a Melvin Gordon type renaissance for Gurley this year, but I am sold on the ineptitude of the Colts defense. Gurley is a lock for 20+ touches and against this Colts team, and he could end up with 100 total yards and a couple of touchdowns. He will certainly make value.
Leonard Fournette @ Texans ($5,700) – The Texans have an excellent defensive front led by JJ Watt, but I like Fournette in this spot, purely from a volume perspective. The Jaguars look like they will have a good defense this year and I think this game will be about two teams trying to control the clock and run the ball. Fournette will be a main beneficiary as I think the Jags will try to get him close to 25 carries. My prediction is that Fournette leads the NFL in carries after week 1, and with carries comes opportunity. Fournette is a solid pick this week.
Bilal Powell @ Bills ($4,900) – The Jets are essentially running out of skill players, and Powell is probably the best player they have. I would imagine that he will be getting a ton of carries and short dump off throws. From week 14 on last season, Powell was one of the most productive backs in the league, going over 130 total yards 3 times in 4 games, including against these Bills. I think that despite the Jets’ ineptitude, Powell will shine.
Carlos Hyde v. Panthers ($4,600) – Hyde is priced way too cheaply on DraftKings where he is bracketed in price by Giovanni Bernard and Duke Johnson – two guys who will only see the field on 3rd down. Hyde, on the other hand, will be getting plenty of work for the 49ers this year. While I expect the Niners to struggle record-wise, they did pick up an offensive genius as a coach in Kyle Shanahan. Hyde will likely be one of the beneficiaries and should have a good week and a good season.
Julio Jones @ Bears ($8,500) – While it is a new season, if 2016 was any indicator, Julio is in for a great game week 1. The Bears ranked 27th in DVOA against #1 receivers last season – and now they face one of the best receivers alive in Jones. I feel like this is a perfect opponent for the Falcons to take out an offseason’s worth of frustration. Jones will score big this week.
Antonio Brown @ Browns ($8,800) – Although he is the priciest receiver on the board, this is actually a decent price for Brown. Last year, Brown saw double-digit targets an astounding 11 times. And, of course, he did a lot with those targets. I see Brown getting plenty of volume again this season which always equates to production. This should be another good game.
A.J. Green vs. Ravens ($8,000) – Green has been looking like a monster this preseason, which is good news for Bengals fans. Before getting hurt in week 11 last season, Green had 8 or more targets in every game and was well on his way to 1,500 yards. While the Ravens always present a stern test, the Bengals will want to get their best playmaker the ball. I like Green to start off his season on the right foot.
Bang for your Buck
Golden Tate vs. Cardinals ($6,500) – Tate is one of the most underrated receivers in fantasy – especially on DraftKings which uses a 1 pt. PPR format. Last year, Tate caught 94 balls and should be in line to catch many more this year. He also faces a Cardinals team that he used to play for and may have some extra motivation. I think Tate will go largely ignored, and I will be playing my fair share.
DeAndre Hopkins vs. Jaguars ($5,900) – Last year, Hopkins was priced up there with Julio Jones and Antonio Bryan at the beginning of the year. But since he had such poor QB play, especially from Brock Osweiler, last season, Hopkins is now a fantasy afterthought. What people forget is that once Tom Savage entered the lineup, Hopkins picked up his game in 2016. He had 9+ targets in 4 of Savage’s 5 starts and total 65+ yards receiving in each of those 4 games. I like Hopkins to do some damage this week.
Eric Decker vs. Raiders ($5,000) – As mentioned in the Mariota section, while the Raiders have a pretty good team, pass defense is not their strength. I like an experienced veteran with something to prove, like Decker, to poke holes in the Raiders’ defense and score a bunch of points.
Corey Coleman vs. Steelers ($4,400) – If the Browns want to keep up at all with the Steelers, they will need to be throwing the ball a ton. And that means plenty of work for the Browns’ receivers including Coleman, who looked like he was DeShone Kizer’s favorite target in the preseason. Coleman is an immensely talented guy who looked prime for a breakthrough last year before breaking his hand in practice. I think he comes out strong in week 1.
Kendall Wright vs. Falcons ($3,200) – I feel bad for Bears’ QB Mike Glennon who literally has no one to throw to this season. Kevin White, a first round enigma, and Wright are the last men standing. For this bargain basement price, you are getting someone who will see a good target share this week. I think it is worth a play if you want to slot in the expensive running backs.
Zay Jones vs. Jets ($3,500) – Zay Jones is another guy who should see plenty of targets this week as he looks like the Bills’ #1 option after Buffalo shipped Sammy Watkins to the Rams. Jones is a rookie and is not generally known by the casual player. Take advantage of this easy match-up with the Jets and nab a #1 receiver for minimal dollars.
Tyler Eifert vs. Bengals ($4,600) – Truth be told, I don’t like paying up for a tight end this week as my next two selections are in the vast majority of my lineups. But if I were to spend on a tight end it would likely be Eifert, who is still priced reasonably, but is probably the 2nd best red zone tight end in the league when healthy. He is healthy, and will likely have a shot at a touchdown or two.
Bang for your Buck
Zach Ertz @ Redskins ($3,500) – Ertz is probably the most mispriced player on DraftKings this week. This is a guy who had 13+ targets in 3 of his final 5 games last year, and went over 75 yards in 4 of his last 5 contests. Clearly he has found a connection with Carson Wentz and his $3,500 price tag is borderline criminal. He is a must play in cash games and is worthy of a play in tournaments as well despite projected high ownership.
Charles Clay vs. Jets ($3,200) – If you want to save a few hundred fantasy dollars, I like Charles Clay in this spot as well as he will likely be the highest targeted Buffalo Bill, along with the aforementioned Zay Jones. Clay is another guy who came on at the end of 2016 with 4 touchdowns in his last four games and at least 6 targets in each of those games.
Bang for your buck
Bills vs. Jets ($3,900) – The Jets offense may be historically bad this year. The Bills are not the best defense, but they should have no problem with this Jets squad.
Rams vs. Colts ($3,200) – While Aaron Donald is still sitting out for the Rams, this is not the game that their defense will be exposed. The Colts are playing journeyman Scott Tolzien at QB and 80-year-old Frank Gore at tailback. The Rams may pitch a shutout.
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