NFL DFS: DraftKings Week 1 NFL Top Plays
Hey flight crew! Some of you may know me from my Triple T for baseball and I’ve decided to roll it over for the NFL DFS season for DraftKings! I am tired of seeing NFL DFS articles out there that list 15 players at each position so this article hopes to narrow it down as much as possible for you. How I am going to approach the Triple T for NFL DFS is a little different from baseball – I am still going to list three options at each position, but I will try my best to make one a higher-priced option, a middle tier-priced option, and a low tier-priced option. Please note: These are NOT the only NFL DFS players I like, just my favorites within each tier for the week. This article will also have a section for Cash Plays and Stacks!
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Boom-or-Bust Value – Winston, Darnold
Notes: “Oh look, he picked Mahomes…he is really reinventing the wheel” they say sarcastically. I know suggesting Mahomes isn’t groundbreaking but sometimes the phrase “K.I.S.S. = Keep it simple, stupid” applies. This is the best offense in the league facing a weak pass defense (though a little improved) at home. KC improved their line greatly this offseason which will be even better for Mahomes and in week 1, we have a ton of value across the board with mis-priced starters so it isn’t hard to get him in. Cleveland allowed the 6th most passing yards per game last season and they have a decent run defense so Mahomes should have to air it out. Cleveland’s offense can also keep pace with KC’s so I think Mahomes has keep his foot on the gas here. Rodgers is another guy that I feel might be going ignored. I mean, maybe he ends up in more lines than I think but it seems that for a pretty popular game, an underpriced Rodgers is getting no love. NO’s line is stout defensively so I don’t think GB will be able to do a ton on the ground here with Jones which should force ARod to air it out, particularly with those famous quick-hit passes to Adams. Cousins is kind of the off the wall” play out of this bunch but the Vikings get Cincinnati who were one of the worst defenses in the league last year both against the pass and the run. In fact, both these defenses were awful, allowing the 6th and 7th most yards per game to their opponents. However, Minny has improved a lot (mainly by getting healthy) where as Cinci didn’t seem to do much to improve that awful defense so Minny should have a field day in this one. Cousins finished the year awesome and on the season, he threw for 3 or more TD’s in half his games. This is a game where either Cook or this passing game should go nuts so I would suggest if you don’t have one play the other. I.e. if you don’t have Cook, you probably want a piece of Cousins, Jefferson or Thielen. If you don’t have any of the passing options, you probably want to look to get Cook in your lineup. This defense is just too bad and this offense just too good (3rd in yards per game last year) to ignore. I didn’t list Kyler Murray but that is another game that I love. I was torn between listing him or Mahomes. Tennessee’s defense was abysmal last season and they got even worse in the offseason. They applied exactly zero pass rush in 2020, ranking 4th worst in sack percentage behind only Vegas, Cinci, and Jacksonville. Because Tennessee is so bad on the defensive side and Arizona should put up points, the Tennessee offense and Tannehill is in just as good a spot, though Arizona’s defense is better than Tennessee’s and applies a much better rush.
Boom-or-Bust Value: Gibson, Mostert, Edmonds
Notes: It’s a little bit of a different week 1 on DK because a lot of these running backs are priced in mid-season form. Usually we get these guys at steep discounts the first week like CMC priced in the 8’s, Cook in the 7’s, Henry in the 7’s, etc. Guys like Taylor are $8k and CMC is $9.5k. You NEED a 30+ at that price to make it worth your while so there isn’t a lot of wiggle room in his price. He can obviously hit that but its a little scary coming off injury, having a terrible offensive line, a new QB, and facing a Jets team that went through an overhaul. I don’t expect the Jets to be good but we still don’t know what they’re going to look like, especially with Saleh a defensive mind at coach. They also get CJ Mosley back this season which is huge for their run defense. Saleh could opt to focus on taking CMC out of the game and making Darnold beat them with his arm. Because of that uncertainty and high price, I am leaning Cook for my spend up back. The Bengals got absolutely torched on the ground last season and this season should be no different as they didn’t improve and arguably got even worse on that side of the ball. Kamara is in a similar situation as CMC in that he will be the focal point of the defense BUT he is also much cheaper than McCaffrey and plays behind a better line and has a better defense so I will side with Kamara over CMC as well. Robinson’s stock looked to be on the decline with the drafting of Etienne but it swung back in his favor when Etienne went down for the season (in true Jags fashion). This puts Robinson back in the saddle against a Texans defense that was by far the worst in the league last season, ceding 5.2 yards per attempt, the most in the league. Jacksonville did draft Trevor Lawrence but I am thinking they don’t want to come out and immediately have him throwing 50 times a game, especially against a defense that they’ll be able to control on the ground.
Boom-or-Bust Value: Callaway, T Higgins, C Davis, R Anderson
Notes: This is a position that looks like it will have a very distinct “popular” build. I think people pay up at one spot and then slum at the other one or two spots with guys like Callaway, Moore, etc. Because of that, if you employ a double or triple payup, I think it will give you quite the contrarian tourney build. Adams should be his usual target-monster self even in a less than ideal matchup with NO. After him, guys like Hopkins, Julio and Jefferson are in absolute smash spots. Hopkins and Julio’s game should go over that already high implied total and both should see a ton of targets. Running them both together could pay dividends, especially of Adams happens to get shutdown (hey, stranger things have happened). Callaway projects to be one of the most popular receivers at just $3.4k on a depleted Saints receiving corps and man, do I hate eating the chalk of a shitty player but we might have to this week. I was more on board with fading when it looked like TreQuan Smith might play but now that he has been placed on IR, an almost minimum price Callaway seems like one of those “just lock it” plays. If he busts, it doesn’t cost you much as you will still be even with the field and he is cheap enough that you can overcome it but if he explodes for 20+ and you don’t have him, you will be on the outside looking in. At the very least I would lock him into cash builds and small field single-entry tourneys.
Boom-or-Bust Punts – Akins, Trautman
Notes: I kind of feel like I don’t need to spend too much time convincing you to play Kelce so I won’t waste a lot of words on it. One thing I will say is that Kelce was priced in the 6’s and low 7’s for much of the season last year and this week he is $8300. He is essentially priced at his ceiling. Now, he is as consistent as it gets at the position but you are paying for that consistency and if he doesn’t put up at least 25-30, it isn’t money well spent. It is scary to fade him, I know, but he was in the “best” lineup only 3 or 4 times last season, not 17 and that was at a much cheaper tag! Pitts seems to be divisive. Depending on who you ask, people either think he will come out of the gate with a 10 catch performance and others think he will be quiet and have a learning curve in his first game. I probably fall somewhere in the middle of those extremes. I expect him to be the first or second most popular TE this week so I will have him in cash but in larger field GPPs, I will look to differentiate a little bit. One of those guys I will use is Jordan Akins. I know…not that sexy of a pick but I actually believe in this guy, not only in this game but this season. The Texans lost a ton off that offense in the offseason, leaving essentially just Brandin Cooks. Akins split time at TE with Fells who is now gone and Akins is a very capable pass catcher. It also helps a ton that Tyrod seems to favor the TEs with his passes. I went back to Taylor’s last seven starts and he targeted TEs an average of ten times a game between the Bills (Clay), Browns (Njoku), and Chargers (Henry). If we get anything close to ten targets tomorrow for $3k, we are golden. I expect somewhere around 6-7 targets but I will take even that for the price. Note: Akins is a reach/punt play as they do also have Pharaoh Brown there but Akins is more the pass catcher where Brown is more the blocker. This play isn’t for the faint of heart and if you are down that low but want a little “safer”, Trautman might be your guy. Regardless, there are a lot of decent punt-worthy TEs down there and a TE under $4.0k was in the “best” lineup in 9 of 17 weeks last season.
Favorite NFL DFS Stacks
1. Mahomes/Kelce/Hill (Landry run-back) – Expensive which might deter people but they have a good matchup against that weak secondary and ownership should be on our side here. It seems all three of these guys are priced at or near their ceilings but with some value across the board in week 1 soft pricing, we can make it work.
2. Rodgers/Adams/Tonyan (Callaway or Trautman run-back) – Seeing a lot of Adams out there, not seeing very much A-Rod or Tonyan in a game where GB should have to throw to avoid a stout defensive front of NO.
3. Murray/Hopkins/Green (Brown run-back) – Tennessee was as leaky as it gets on defense last season and you can argue they got worse this offseason. They’re going to experience some growing pains and this is the high-flying offense that can exploit that.
4. Cousins/Jefferson/Thielen (Tee Higgins run-back) – Probably the riskiest but also one of the highest upsides. This passing offense was one of the best in the league this year so we should be salivating at playing them against Cinci. The one problem is that we have Dalvin Cook to contend with who can easily steal the show in this matchup and cap the upside of the passing attack. We will need Burrow and company to keep pace with them which could be a tall task against a retooled Minny defense.
5. Tannehill/Julio/Brown (Hopkins run-back) – This game should be pretty exciting on both sides. Henry is a guy like Cook who is capable of just running away with it (literally) which would hold back the upside of the passing offense but I do think they will need to throw here.
Bonus big-risk stack: Mayfield/OBJ/Landry (Kelce or Hill run-back) – If we think KC goes off (which we do), that means Cleveland will need to throw. KC has invested so much money into their offense that they haven’t spent a ton on the defense save for a couple pieces. They are pretty weak back there and Cleveland has the line to offset any pass rush, allowing Baker the time to go downfield. Between Hunt and the TEs, Baker has a lot of weapons to work with.
Cash Game Plays
I will give a “high” and a “low” salary cash play at each position. Remember, we are focusing on high-owned players in cash!
QB: Mahomes, Ryan
RB: Kamara, Robinson
WR: Adams, Callaway
TE: Kelce, Pitts
DEF: 49ers, Bills
Favorite game to target? Ari/Tenn, Cin/Min
Least Favorite game to target? NY/Den
Favorite “contrarian” RB? Gibson, Henry
Favorite “contrarian” wide receiver? Jefferson
Favorite “contrarian” TE? Akins
Player most afraid of fading? CMC, Callaway (simply because of price)
Remember that is imperative to check Vegas odds and hedge your NFL DFS tournaments with cash games to be as profitable as you can be and also to minimize any losses. Good luck!