I've already posted my game-by-game breakdown where I broke down each game and narrowed my player pool. This article will be similar to what I do with MLB and NBA, where I highlight my favorite CASH GAME plays of the week. Yes, these players are going to be relatively chalky...that's the point! I'm a cash game player, so this is an insight to how I think each week when it comes to double ups and h2h's.
Top Tier: Tom Brady- I pretty much never pay up at QB in cash games, but with all of the value available in week one people surely will. Brady is coming off one of his best fantasy seasons, and lines up with a Texans defense that was very underwhelming last season and had to deal with a ton of injuries. They have one of the higher implied team totals on the week and it's a home game. This is very basic analysis...but it's Tom Brady. It's obvious he is cash game playable, but I doubt I get up this high.
Mid Tier: Andy Dalton- This might shock some people, but I love this Bengals offense this week against what should be an egregious Colts secondary. Their secondary ranked 24th in DVOA and was destroyed by deep balls, which could spell disaster against a fully healthy Bengals offense consisting of Joe Mixon, AJ Green, John Ross and Tyler Eifert. This game will be played on the fast track in Indy, and has all the makings of a good old fashioned shootout. Dalton is under $6,000 on DraftKings and one of my favorite overall Quarterback plays of week one.
Low Tier: Case Keenum- Keenum is right in the sweet spot of $5,100 that I absolutely love for cash. It allows a ton of flexibility with your roster, and I don't think he will garner much ownership. He fits the mold of a home favorite which is typically what he need out of our cash game QB. He might not have immense upside, but he definitely can beat value and this game *could* end up being a sneaky shootout if Russell Wilson does what he does best, make plays. This matchup with Seattle is very favorable, and I'll touch more on that with Emmanuel Sanders.
UPDATE #1: I'm moving up Drew Brees into the tier with Brady, and I think with all of the value it's pretty easy to get to one of them in cash games.
Top Tier: Alvin Kamara- I have Kamara ranked as my number one overall Running Back play in all formats this week, in any game on any slate! He put up over 30 DraftKings points against this Buccaneers defense in each of the two games against them last season, while averaging just a shade under 13 touches per game. Mark Ingram will miss this game due to suspension, Terrance West/Jonathan Williams are no longer there to take usage away and newly brought in Mike Gillislee won't even have a full week to learn the playbook. I still think the Saints want to monitor his workload, and they've said that this offseason. Even if they stick with that plan, it would be impossible for him to get that few of touches per game especially the first four weeks while Ingram is out. I'm expecting around 20 touches from Kamara this week, as a huge home favorite against a terrible defense.
Mid Tier: Alex Collins- I actually think that the Christian McCaffrey/Melvin Gordon tier will be where I go for my second RB, but they don't fit the mold for true mid tier back such as Alex Collins. Collins should be the Ravens workhorse this season and has a nuts matchup at home against the Buffalo Bills who were 30th in run-defense DVOA last season. The Ravens should easily be in control from the start of this game, and I expect the Collins-Ravens D/ST stack to be popular in all formats this week.
Low Tier: Rex Burkhead/James Conner- We have a plethora of Running Back value, as always with week one, so there are definitely even more options than these two I just think they will be the most owned. The one that I want the most is Rex Burkhead, especially on DraftKings. There was a report that came out earlier that stated he would be "eased in" but Jeff Howe of the Athletic eased nerves today by saying that Rex will be "ready to roll" and could of played in the preseason if he needed to. The Patriots are home favorites in a huge total game, and I think we should see Rex working a ton out of the slot while Julian Edelman is out. This boosts his value even further on full-point PPR sites. James Conner is a guy I think can be very good, especially in this Steelers offense. He was great in the preseason, especially in the passing game and he will be a capable sub in for Le'Veon Bell. The issue is, the matchup with the Browns isn't as good as you would think. Their defensive line was top-three in the NFL in run defense DVOA last season when healthy, and they looked stout this preseason and will have all of their men available and ready to go Sunday. If Conner was more expensive, I would say he might be a trap but he can still easily get the job done with his expected volume at this price. I like both of them, but I'm slightly leaning Rex right now.
UPDATE #2: With Bell now officially out, Conner + Rex in cash is increasingly more appealing.
Top Tier: Antonio Brown- I know some may be focused on DeAndre Hopkins with that monster O/U in New England, but if I'm spending up for a wideout it's going to be AB 100%. Brown owns the Cleveland Browns defense, and he matches up even better with Le'Veon Bell unlikely to play. He will see even more volume than usual, and he profiles perfectly with how Gregg Williams schemes his defense. He hung 11 catches for 185 yards on this Browns team in week one of last season, and that was with Bell getting his usual 20+ touches. I know the weather might affect this game a bit, but AB is a borderline must play for me.
Mid Tier: Emmanuel Sanders- This is one of my favorite overall plays of the week, so much so that I will forgo mentioning Chris (I call him Christ) Hogan in this tier. Sanders will get to run primarily in the slot this season with the Broncos drafting Courtland Sutton, a role that is very beneficial for fantasy points and something Sanders has had success doing since his days in Pittsburgh. The Vikings receivers thrived in the slot last year, and I expect Case Keenum to have a similar connection in Denver. Some might be scared off of this Seattle defense, but it's not the Legion of Boom anymore. Names like Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett and Sheldon Richardson are gone and we don't even know if Earl Thomas will play in this game. I expect the Broncos to win this game fairly easily at home, and I'm forecasting a big day for Sanders.
Low Tier: Keelan Cole- Cole, and his fellow Jaguars' pass catchers, will be thrust into a larger role with their number one wideout Marqise Lee being placed on IR. I like Dede Westbrook playing in the slot as a tournament leverage play, but I think Cole is ultimately the most versatile wideout in this group and he received over a 20% target share in each game Lee missed in 2017. He's priced under $4,000 on DraftKings, and makes for a easy salary-saver at WR in cash games.
Top Tier: Rob Gronkowski- I normally don't spend up at Tight End in cash games, but given the amount of value that's present this week I think it is doable. I don't think I need to dive too deeply into why Gronk is a good play, it's fairly obvious. This patriots receiving corps is lacking this season, and Ground should play a massive role especially while Julian Edelman is out. There's certainly enough value this week, and I won't argue with anyone wanting to jam him in at the nice price of $6,900.
Mid Tier: Jordan Reed- This is where I'm leaning for cash games right now solely because he is just $4,000 on DraftKings. Reed is one of the most dynamic Tight Ends in the NFL, and he is way under-priced relative to his ability and upside. He wasn't on the final injury report for this week and this is the healthiest he's going to be all season. You're basically getting a $6,000 Tight End for $2,000 less and I'm not going to overthink this.
Low Tier: Jack Doyle- This is honestly where I anticipate the highest ownership to fall in cash games overall. He's priced under $4,000 on DraftKings and is in a terrific matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals. I expect the Bengals to be a much improved team this season, but they came in bottom-five in DVOA against Tight Ends last season and were in the Giants/Browns range of just streaming whatever Tight End was playing against them. The Colts offense is going to be a lot better this year under Frank Reich and with Luck healthy, and Doyle is still going to be one of his most trusted options.
D/ST Options: Ravens, Saints, Chargers, Patriots
Written by Ben Hossler (Follow @BenHossler on Twitter)