NFL DFS Week One GPP Plays
Hello all and thanks for coming to my NFL GPP breakdown for Week 1 of the NFL season. For those of you who were here last year, we had a ton of success with this article throughout the season and saw a plethora of screenshots throughout the 16+ weeks of MAJOR wins from incorporating this article into your weekly research and lineup construction. For those of you who are new, welcome, my name is Bob Viafora and I am one of the lead DFS analysts at DFS Karma. I’ve been with DFS Karma for 2+ years now and looking forward to what our team (and you – the reader) are able to accomplish this season. As a staple of your weekly reading/research, please reach out to me on twitter @DF_Advantage if you have any questions, (throw me that follow if you don’t already) each week and, let me know how your rosters did as well as sharing any #screenshots you may have.
Football is back! Let’s GO!
High Tier: Cam Newton ($6900 – DK / $8100 – FD) – This is the MVP season for Cam and I’m going to ride it early. I will touch on this more in the game theory section of this article but, if you already weren’t aware, there is a TON of value this week which means where you “pay up” in your lineups will be crucial in determining where you fall in the rankings come Sunday night. In my opinion, especially in GPPs, you should be paying up at QB and garnering as much possible upside you can. Cam Newton finds himself, at home, against the Cowboys, in a game with a 42.5 O/U. The Cowboys pass defense was below average in 2017 (18th in passing DVOA) while slightly worse against the run at a 22nd ranked DVOA. Both of the defenses apply to Cam as he will have some designed runs and will look to expose the Cowboys run defense on his own. Christian McCaffrey is going to steal the show, if you will, in this game and soak up all the ownership. McCaffrey has an extremely high-floor and is close to an auto-lock for me in cash games. When it comes to GPPs however, McCaffrey’s ceiling is the farthest thing from guaranteed and I assume the Cowboys are going to scheme their defense to take him out of the game as much as possible, potentially limiting that big-play upside we know the versatile 2nd year RB out of Stanford is capable of. The pairing of Cam Newton and Greg Olsen is going to be immense to capture the week-winning upside from this game. Against TE’s last year, the Cowboys were 6th in the NFL in receptions to TE while giving up an average number of yards. Cam Newton has finished top 5 in fantasy scoring in 5 of the past 7 years and this will be his first will viable weapons surrounding him in McCaffrey, Olsen, and Funchess. Newton’s rushing TD ability provides him with a ceiling that (potentially outside of Deshaun Watson) no other QB in the National Football League can mimic.
Mid-Tier: Marcus Mariota ($6300 – DK / $7200 - FD) – I was high on Mariota last season as the Titans surrounded him with one of the best offensive lines in football and that trend continues this year, except the young signal caller now has more weapons around him and more experience under his belt. Mariota faces the Dolphins this upcoming Sunday on which has the potential to be a high-scoring affair with two offenses that will be extremely low-owned across all formats. The only above average defense in this game as a whole is the Titans run D which ranked out 4th lowest in allowed yards per carry and 9th in DVOA. Where there is a ton of hype around Kenyan Drake and what he’ll be able to accomplish this season, I believe the return of Ryan Tannehill is going a bit over-looked. The Titans are only favored by one point in this game with a 45 over/under. The Dolphins last year against the pass were ranked 29th in DVOA so we know this is a spot to target them through the air and nobody seems to be talking about it. Something that people under-value in fantasy sports, especially in DFS, is the impact of a new head coach or offensive coordinator. Last year, readers of my article struck GOLD with the Rams all throughout the year and what they were able to accomplish under Sean McVay after suffering through Jeff Fisher. The results were astounding. This year the Titans (already an offense on the rise) have added the Rams offensive coordinator from last year in Matt LaFleur. I believe this is going to lead to a huge production spike in the Titans offense as this guy has shown he is an offensive genius. Mariota has all the weapons to have a true breakout year. In this matchup with the Dolphins, I do have some concern of pairing Mariota with Corey Davis, who is faced up against stud cornerback Xavien Howard who allowed a completion percentage under 53% on the year. Similair to Cam Newton, tight-end Delanie Walker is who you want to pair here with Mariota as the Dolphins allowed the MOST yards in the NFL to TE’s last year while in the bottom 3 of TE’s allowed. Ignore the toe-injury Walker is playing through, Week 1 adrenaline (and Tylenol) will get him through this game pain-free for a monster performance with Marcus Mariota as the catalyst. If you’re looking to stack this game I also would consider preseason stud Taywan Taylor over Rishard Matthews but this is an extremely risky play that should only be considered in Milly-maker type contests.
Low Tier: Blake Bortles ($5600 – DK / 6600 - FD) – Ahhhhhh. Is it truly NFL season if I am not shoving Blake Bortles down your throat and into your lineups. No, the answer is no. But here we are, approaching week one and Blake Bortles is one of my top PT/$ QB’s on the slate with potential GPP winning upside when played in the proper lineup. Although he will not be my number 1 QB this week in terms of exposure in my DFS lineups, you better bet your bottom dollar that he will be spread out throughout a few of my GPPs. Let’s get into why you are going to play Blake Bortles this Sunday. The first point I want to make here is that I am HUGE on Leonard Fournette this week. The guy is going to go bonkers all throughout this season and I am going to be on the train. With that being said, Fournette’s ability as a rusher completely opens up the passing game, taking a ton of pressure off the formerly turnover prone Bortles. I know what you’re thinking, “Wait for a second though, if the Jaguars are going to always run the ball (in 2017 they ran 50% of the time or 7+% over the league average) why would I play the quarterback from that team? Won’t that decrease the volume he’ll see in the passing game.” While volume is king in the NFL (I can’t imagine how many times you’ve heard that before – sorry for that), the Jaguars were actually above 12 other NFL teams in pass attempts per game. With the Jaguars top-5 last year in the number of plays they run each game it is a result of how long their offense is on the field (thanks #1 defense) that Bortles does see ample opportunities to throw the football. The Giants pass defense as a unit ranked bottom 5 in yards allowed last season and will take some time to get back to 2016 form before I stop targeting them. Bortles price will consistently rise throughout the season (as it did last year) along with his ownership. Take this opportunity to get your Blake (GOAT) Bortles exposure early on in the season.
PERSONAL FAVORITE PLAY (FP/$): Cam Newton
High/Mid-Tier: Kareem Hunt ($6,900 – DK / $8000 - FD) - KREEEEEM Hunt. With there being SOOOO much RB value this week, it is becoming pretty clear that in large field GPPs you won’t win by playing against 200,000 lineups that are built the same exact way as your lineup is. Here is a short dialogue between a #sharp friend and a not so sharp friend. “Gee whiz Billy! Le’Veon Bell is out! James Conner is a LOCK in all formats!”. “No Travis, the Browns allowed the 2nd least number of yards to RB’s in 2017 while ranking out 4th in DVOA. Travis, if you are really going to play a 20+% owned James Conner against the Browns run defense, which improved since last season, you might as well just give me your $20 instead and I’ll buy us lunch. That would be the +EV move for you over playing James Conner. Le’Veon Bell in week 1 at Cleveland last year rushed 10 times for 32 yards without a TD. Fade Conner in GPP, Travis, fade him.” All jokes aside Conner should be a fade in most of your GPP lineups. With so much value at the RB position, I would not even consider him a lock for cash games. With that being said, paying up at RB could pay off huge this week as guys like James Conner, Alex Collins, and Rex Burkhead (chalky options) don’t even sniff the type of upside Kareem Hunt has. The Chargers are the opposite of a funnel defense where they direct the opponent to run the ball on them (25th in the league in DVOA) compared to pass (9th in league DVOA) where they are absolutely elite. With this being the Patrick Mahomes coming out season (it is), I believe the production of Kareem Hunt is going to be over-looked in a spot where he could break for a 100+ yard game along with 1-2 TD’s. Hunt absolutely torched the Chargers last season (who led the league in allowed YPC) with a 24/155/2 line and 17/172/1 (not including receiving yards which he added another 62). Hunt loves playing this Chargers team and the way they scheme their defense could be why. Expect a potentially slate-breaking week out of Hunt and make sure to be exposed.
High/Mid-Tier: Leonard Fournette ($7,100 – DK / $8,000 - FD) – As I touched on in my analysis of Blake Bortles, it will be crucial to get exposure to Fournette throughout this season as he will be a volume king (and as we know – volume is king in NFL!) and dominate opposing defensive lines. The only scare we have in this game which will lead to a slight decrease in his ownership (should already be fairly low with all the RB Value) is Damon Harrison who is one of the top offensive linemen in the NFL. “Snacks” has led the NFL in run stops over the past three seasons which is definitely a concern when targeting Fournette as a rusher. However, Jaguars offensive linemen Brandon Linder ranked out 7th in the NFL in run blocking so this will be a critical matchup in the trenches that could determine what kind of game Fournette ends up having. With how often the Jaguars on the field, how many plays they run, it being week 1, and how humid it is projected to be in the Meadowlands this Sunday I don’t think Harrison will have the stamina at 355 pounds to sustain his high level of play against one of the best run-blockers in football for four quarters. Don’t get disappointed if Fournette doesn’t have 100 yards by half-time, he will steal the show in the second half of the game.
Low Tier: Matt Breida ($4,600 – FD / $5,000)- I went back and forth between Breida and Adrian Peterson here for my final RB breakdown but I have to give the edge to Breida. With McKinnon, down, we should see Breida take over the majority of carries + all of the passing down work for the 49er’s in what looks like a high-powered 2018 offense behind Jimmy G. This matchup with the Vikings is going to scare everyone off of Breida so we won’t see any ownership in cash and minimal ownership in GPP’s while everyone flocks to the Rex Burkhead’s and James Conner’s of the slate. The offensive line is going to be key for the 49er’s run game against one of the best defenses in the NFL but I believe they may just be in for a fight with Mike McGlinchey starting after coming off a 2017 college season as one of the best run blockers in the country as well as Weston Richburg who was able to hold his own as well. This is a bit of a guessing game to find out who sees the volume but with a 46 over/under I am confident fi Breida is the guy for the 49er’s he will crush value across all sites.
PERSONAL FAVORITE PLAY (PT/$): Kareem Hunt
High Tier: TY Hilton ($6,800 – DK / $7,200 FD) - TY Hilton is one of the best (and fastest) wide-receivers in the NFL without a doubt. Only one season removed from leading the league in receiving yards people seem to forget that Hilton has the explosive big-play capability as he ranks out in the 95th percentile in the 40-yard dash. With Andrew Luck back under center, and presumably healthy, while others take the wait-and-see approach on the Colts offense, I suggest loading up to as much TY Hilton exposure as you can. This guy has broken the slate too many times for me not to be exposed against a Bengals defense ranked 17th in passing DVOA. The ball will be forced into Hilton’s hands as much as possible this season and I love him even more at home where he has averaged 10 more YPG over the course of his career. Whether this is the result of his home crowd/adrenaline or #turfmonster we do not exactly know. I feel extremely confident in this play and will be heavily over-exposed to TY Hilton on this Sunday’s slate across all formats.
Mid-Tier: Tyrell Williams ($4,200 - DK / $5,500 - FD)- Outside of TY Hilton I won’t be paying up too much in GPPs for WR’s as the common build we will see to other DFS rosters include two cheap RB’s and paying up basically everywhere else with the value that is available. Tyrell Williams will go completely overlooked in a smash spot against a team that loves to give up the deep ball. Keenan Allen will have his hands full against Kendall Fuller and a defensive coordinator who schemes his defense around preventing short passes. Keenan Allen makes his money inside 10 yards of scrimmage and should struggle immensely in this game. With a 48 over/under and the Chargers implied for 25.5 points, I don’t imagine a stagnant pass offense for the Chargers. Like I said, the Chiefs scheme against the short passes and prevent YAC, so look to the two Williams to get a lot of looks deep in this game. I definitely prefer Tyrell Williams on the side of experience and his profile but Williams is right there with him in speed. I get the enticement of a younger, former 7th overall pick compared to a guy who went undrafted out of Western Oregon college but trust me on this one. Tyrell Williams is the guy this Sunday for Phillip Rivers and the Chargers pass offense.
Low Tier: Courtland Sutton ($3,600 DK / $4,700 FD) – If you don’t know who this guy is, be prepared. Emmanuel Sanders is taking all the ownership from this Broncos pass attack this weak and Courtland Sutton is falling completely under the radar where he is basically free on all sites. To give you an idea of his profile he is a 6’ 3”, 281 pound, 23-year-old WR drafted in the second round out of SMU. His teammates are calling him the next Calvin Johnson. The player profile can be compared to Alshon Jeffery. This guy has all the makings of a breakout player and nobody is really talking about him (even after he dominated secondary’s in the preseason”. The Legion of Boom is now the Legion of Whom. Byron Maxwell’s injury has opened up playing time for Dontae Johnson (one of the worst CB’s in the NFL – slight stretch - and the worst on the Seahawks roster”. We have to assume Sutton will see around 65% of the snaps which is enough for him to break out and crush his price tag. Sutton is an extremely risky option as we don’t know what things will look like as far as target share goes between him, Thomas, and Sanders but I do know if it was spread equally this guy would be one of the highest owned players on the slate given this price point. Lock and load in your large field GPPs.
PERSONAL FAVORITE PLAY and Stat Prediction(PT/$): TY Hilton
Greg Olsen ($5,400 DK / $6,300 FD) – With Sean Lee hurt and possibly out/limited Olsen will see a major advantage. The safeties are something to watch out for with the Cowboys but overall I believe Olsen will have a ton of success this season, fully healthy, we other weapons around him to take the load off. Olsen is a much better play on Fanduel imo as he has a ton of RZ upside and may not be used as heavily as in years past to move the ball throughout the 20’s. With the majority of the field on Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce, Walker, and all the value TE’s I think Olsen comes in extremely low-owned as a perfect pivot to pair with Cam Newton as his #1 option. Definitely, a risky play (I prefer Gronk in raw scoring) but the salary difference is substantial and I believe Olsen will find his way in the end zone this week.
Final Notes :
Wow. What a great time I had diving into the NFL research for the first time this season and putting it all together into an easy to read article for our DFS Karma readers! Let's get into some game-theory in GPP's this week. First off, Week 1 in the NFL is a completely different monster. A completely unique week. One thing to note is that there are going to be a LOT of fish (fish = inexperienced DFS players) in this first week. Everyone reading this article, watching our videos, using our lineups, etc. has a huge advantage over these "fish" already. The second thing is we are going to get our first look at what teams do with players replacing those who are injured. I also believe that there is a major contrarian advantage in Week 1. There are a lot of sharp plays (listed in this article) that are going to fly WAYYY under the radar. Another thing to keep an eye on is the possible overlay. The sites will get better at predicting what size contests they should put out to completely fill but it's the toughest for them week 1. If you're a true grinder looking for that + E/V make sure to take advantage of the overlay.
I will be giving out more of my low-owned GPP's plays on Sunday morning where I will be hosting an Instagram live show you can find @DFS_Karma on Instagram around 11 am. Make sure to stay tuned and thanks for reading! I better see ALLLL the screenshots Monday morning with all of you RAKING in the cash! LET'S GOOOOO! #MONEYTEAM
WRITTEN BY: @ DF_ADVANTAGE - Follow me on Twitter :)
*THIS ARTICLE IS DESIGNED SPECIFICALLY FOR GPP ENTRY CONTESTS ON DRAFTKINGS AND FANDUEL. MY GOAL WHEN SHARING MY THOUGHTS/INFORMATION WITH YOU ALL IS THAT THESE PLAYERS COME IN UNDER 10-15% OWNED IN GPP’S. TO FIND PLAYERS THIS LOW OWNED, WE ARE TAKING ON A “BUST RISK”. THIS IS THE TYPE OF RISK AS A GPP PLAYER YOU NEED TO TAKE DOWN A TOURNAMENT. *
DISCLAIMER: This report has been prepared and issued by DFS Karma LLC for publication globally. All information used in the publication of this report has been compiled from publicly available sources that are believed to be reliable, however we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this report. DFS Karma LLC is not responsible for any losses sustained. Opinions contained in this report represent those of the research department at DFS Karma LLC at the time of publication.