DraftKings NFL Week 1 Positional Breakdown

fantasy football draftkings strategy

DraftKings NFL Week 1 Positional Breakdown

 

Welcome to the debut edition of my little piece of FF Nation! I want to look at who should be high and low owned plays at each position. Obviously, I may end up being wrong with some of these plays, but I think through the last several years of playing, I’ve learned how to decipher who could end up being where the crowd goes.

 

A little bit about me: I loved sports as a kid. At 8, I could recite batting averages, stolen bases and home runs for just about everyone on a consistent basis in baseball. I could recite depth charts of football teams as well. Once I got into high school, I got into, um, “other things”, and I stopped watching sports altogether. I started playing fantasy football again casually about 7 years ago, and then very seriously about 5 years back. At that time, I joined DraftStreet and that is where I started my DFS journey. I was horrible at first, but over time, I have gotten to be pretty good. I’ve taken down a few tournaments in all sports, and truly love this industry. I run my own fantasy content site, which you can check out at the end of this [hopefully] awesome article. I’d like to thank the guys at FF Nation for giving me the chance to write over here, and I’m looking forward to a long relationship.

 

Now, why in the heck does it matter how much a player is owned? Well, there are two ways of looking at it. For your cash games, you may want to find a guy who is going to be high owned in a good matchup so you can ride the ride with everyone else. This is the opposite mentality we want to use for tournaments. We want to find a guy in a good situation that is being overlooked due to cheaper plays at the position, or even just for the studs who many assume will just produce. I’m going to try to name a handful of players that fall into either category at each position so you can get a feel for how the ownership might go. Ultimately, I’d like you to be able to use this as a resource to build good cash game and tournament lineups.

 

Without further adieu, let’s get this thing started!

 

QUARTERBACKS

 

HIGH OWNERSHIP: There are three quarterbacks that I will see high ownership in week 1: Drew Brees ($8100), Derek Carr ($7300) and Dak Prescott ($5000). The first two face off in the game with the highest total on the weekend. One of the rules of daily fantasy is to play guys in high scoring games. The kicker is when the game is likely to be close. With the total being over 50 points, I’m expecting a high percentage of ownership of those two. I think it makes sense. Brees has been lights out playing on his home turf, and Carr is going up against a Saints defense that makes the BIG 12 defenses look like the Denver Broncos. For those unfamiliar with college football [what’s wrong with you?], the BIG 12 is all offense and no defense. Dak Prescott on the other hand is a guy who had probably the best preseason of any player in the NFL and is stepping into a situation against a bad defense at minimum price. This obviously is going to command some portion of the market. I suspect he will be very highly owned in tournaments. A few other guys who should see higher ownership should be Aaron Rodgers ($8500), Cam Newton ($7700), Andrew Luck ($8300) , Blake Bortles ($7200) and Carson Wentz ($5000). The first three will be highly owned just due to the fact that they’ve all had big time fantasy seasons in the past so we know what the upside is. Bortles makes the list largely due to what he did last year and the fact that the Jaguars still might not be a good defense. Wentz is another minimum priced quarterback who will be playing the Browns. Me personally, I don’t love the thought process behind that and I think he could be a week one trap.

 

LOW OWNERSHIP: Working down in price from highest to lowest, I think one guy who could see low ownership is Russell Wilson ($7900). With Brees just a few hundred more, and Carr and Prescott less, I can see him getting little respect. The Miami defense is still highly questionable, and I can see Wilson starting the year off with a big campaign. Next up is Eli Manning ($7500). Right after the draft, I heard a lot of talk about Eli Manning and this being a big year for him, then once drafts started that talked seemed to stop. The reports I saw indicated that the Giants want to run a more up-tempo offense, which would mean more chances for Eli. I think the Giants will likely be playing catching here, and I think he could end up being a nice play. Matthew Stafford ($7200) is another guy I really like this week. It was like night and day for him once Jim Bob Cooter took over the offense. I know that many cast him away with Calvin Johnson retiring, but I see this as being the perfect opportunity to capitalize. There are a few others I do like, but for sake of time, I’ll only go with one more: Robert Griffin III ($5600). The Browns were truly up and down in the preseason, and that is most likely how the entire season will go. We saw flashes where this offense looked very potent, and I think there are times it will be. He’s very, very cheap and I think that bottom barrel QB dollar will likely be spent on Dak or Wentz before Griffin, making him an excellent tournament option.

 

HOW I’M USING THEM IN CASH GAMES: Brees/ Prescott/Carr

 

HOW I’M USING THEM IN TOURNAMENTS: Stafford/Prescott/Wilson/Griffin/Carr

 

RUNNING BACKS

 

HIGH OWNERSHIP – With Jamaal Charles looking highly questionable for week one, Spencer Ware ($4400) should be the highest owned option on the slate. It doesn’t hurt that he has a tremendous matchup against the San Diego Chargers and their poor run defense.  After him, I think we will see a ton of Todd Gurley [$7800) who gets a sweet matchup against the depleted 49ers. To me, he’s a no brainer. When the Seahawks released their initial depth chart on Tuesday, many were surprised to see Christine Michael ($3700) listed ahead of Thomas Rawls. We know that this team is going to run the ball, and the prospect of having a guy so cheap getting into double digit carries against another bad defense is certainly enticing. Mark Ingram ($6600) and Latavius Murray ($5600) will see a high degree of ownership as well being that they are involved in a game with such a high total. The same can be said for DeAngelo Williams ($7000) going against Washington in a reasonably good matchup, but many choose to remember how well he performed in 2015 when starting. Lamar Miller ($7000) is a shiny new toy in the Houston offense that many were raving about as soon as he was signed, and he finds himself in a plus situation against Chicago. He should see a lot of passes coming his way, adding to his appeal as well. Finally, I think we will see a ton of ownership on Ezekiel Elliott ($7300) who many have given the rookie of the year award to pretty quickly and blindly. He’s another guy in a good matchup and he had a ton of talent in college.

 

LOW OWNERSHIP – Two guys who I think could see lower than normal ownership due to all of the affordable options available are Adrian Peterson ($7600) and David Johnson ($7500). We know everything we need to know about Peterson at this point, and despite a perceived difficult matchup, he is certainly in play. Johnson, in my opinion, carries a bit more risk, as we’ve seen a number of second year players hit the wall. If he does, the team has a capable back in Chris Johnson behind him. Eddie Lacy ($6700) is another guy who I think could see lower ownership, despite being in a solid matchup. I think a lot of fantasy players end up wanting to look elsewhere with him, but I think this is a prime opportunity to cash in. Arian Foster ($5800) makes for an interesting candidate here as well, as matchup and his horrible injury history will create a bias that keeps others off of him. That could be enough in itself to jump on him in some scenarios. Rashad Jennings ($5400) will get cast aside because of his age, but, aside from Shane Vereen in the passing game, the Giants have no other backs. Finally, another back I am interested in is Charles Sims ($4400). He seems misplaced, as he won’t see a ton of carries, but he could end up being one of the highest targeted players on the team this year. Receptions are a great way to boost your score, and in a game that I expect to be relatively close, he could be utilized more down the stretch. He also has a fairly reasonable floor as well.

 

HOW I’M USING THEM IN CASH GAMES: Gurley/Ware/Ingram/Murray/Miller

 

HOW I’M USING THEM IN TOURNAMENTS: Ware/Lacy/Gurley/Jennings/Peterson

 

WIDE RECEIVERS

 

HIGH OWNERSHIP – Off the bat, you can assume that all of Antonio Brown ($9800), Julio Jones ($9400), Odell Beckham Jr. ($9300) and DeAndre Hopkins ($8800) will all see high ownership, as we know that they are high profile receivers, and with DraftKings being a full point PPR site, those receptions can add up in a hurry. Dez Bryant ($8500) should see high ownership as well, as really the only receiving option on the Cowboys, who should score a lot against the Giants. Allen Robinson ($8300) will see high ownership based off the fact that he had such a monster year last year and many are looking for him to replicate that. Amari Cooper ($7200) should also see a great deal of ownership as well, being in that matchup against the Saints. I think the Saints receivers may see their ownership spread out a bit more, which is why I am not including them in this section. Tyler Lockett ($5000) may be a shocking name to see here, but I think a lot of people are expecting a big year out of him, and due to the fact that he returns punts and kicks, he should see a high ownership. Michael Thomas ($4000) is being name specifically for the Saints here, as I think many in tournaments will look at him as a very cheap option in what should be a high scoring game. Chris Hogan ($3600) is another guy that saw a great deal of hype in the offseason that I’m expecting to see command higher ownership in week one of the regular season. Finally, both Terrelle Pryor and Tajase Sharpe, both $3000, should see higher ownership because they are minimum priced and could see high usage in their offense.

 

LOW OWNERSHIP – One guy right off the bat I could see having lower ownership is Alshon Jeffery ($7900). I am basing this largely off of the fact that he was relatively consistently overlooked in season long drafts, which I think has some indication on week 1 ownership. The matchup isn’t great, but he should see a ton of targets. Brandon Marshall ($7800) is another guy, due to being priced in an area between the studs and the first tier of value, that could be under looked. We know what he is capable of, so he should be on your radar. Mike Evans ($7400) seems way too cheap for a guy who should easily be the top option on his team, and I think he’s in for a big game. Sammy Watkins ($6900) could also see low ownership, as I think many might stay away due to the fact that there is no one else to throw to on that team. Doug Baldwin ($6600) and Jeremy Maclin ($6500) are two peas in a pod, as they play for teams that love to run the ball, and as a result, are often overlooked unless they are in the best of situations. Corey Coleman ($5100) is playing for a road dog, against a bad defense, but had a pretty forgettable preseason, which could cause some to look the other way. To me, this seems like the best time to buy in, as he should see a ton of targets on Sunday. Torrey Smith ($4900) should also be overlooked. He started as a sleeper this year, but, again, after a poor preseason, seems to have fallen off the radar. This is another good time to buy in. Finally, I love, love, love to spot for Stefon Diggs ($4800). The Titans defense should still be poor, and I have to imagine he will still be the top receiving option on this team, at least in the short term. He has a ton of upside at that price.

 

HOW I’M USING THEM IN CASH GAMES: Brown/Julio/Cooper/Hopkins/Beckham

 

HOW I’M USING THEM IN TOURNAMENTS: Watkins/Evans/Diggs/Coleman/Baldwin

 

TIGHT ENDS

 

HIGH OWNERSHIP – For me, I can definitely see the top three tight ends dominating ownership overall. Rob Gronkowski ($7400) is always a top threat when he takes the field, despite the fact that who knows how things will go for Garopollo. Jordan Reed ($6600) is in a great matchup, and gives you that extra push on Monday nights. He’s my best to be top owned this week. Greg Olsen ($5100) was a monster last year, and even though I think he’ll be down some, still should be in for a lot of targets Thursday. Coby Fleener ($4900) could give Reed a run for his ownership money, as he is cheaper, and in a good matchup as well. Gary Barnidge ($4700) and Delanie Walker ($4500) should also see a high level of ownership based off of what they were able to do in 2015. For the most part, I would be surprised if that core of players didn’t make up 75% of the ownership this week.

 

LOW OWNERSHIP – Lost in the shuffle of the tight end shuffle in week one is Travis Kelce ($5000). The matchup is fair, but he is being overshadowed by his teammate Spencer Ware this week. Antonio Gates ($4200) could go under owned as well, since many are going to be on the Chiefs defense. With the Chargers likely to be playing from behind, Gates should see a high amount of targets, which could help him turn in a big game. Jesse James ($3400) could also have himself a nice game, and should be under owned as well. Someone will have to replace Heath Miller in this offense, and it is likely to be James. Finally, Vance McDonald ($3100) should be one of the top targets for the 49ers this year. While I expect this game to mostly be a blowout, I think there is merit in using McDonald who could certainly have a handful of catches, some good yardage, and a score to his name by days end.

 

HOW I’M USING THEM IN CASH GAMES: Reed/Fleener/Gronkowski/Barnidge

 

HOW I’M USING THEM IN TOURNAMENTS: Fleener/McDonald/Gates/James/Reed

 

DEFENSES

 

HIGH OWNERSHIP – Ownership on defenses is always fun. One of the reasons is that a lot of players will just pick a cheap defense that they can stomach. While that can sometimes work, most of the time it doesn’t. I am expect five teams to see significant ownership this weekend. First, the Seattle Seahawks ($3900) should see high ownership due to the fact that they are the most expensive defense and going against a questionable Miami offense. Next, the Los Angeles Rams ($3800) could see significant ownership because Blaine Gabbert is starting for a professional football team, and that most likely shouldn’t be the case. Next, the Kansas City Chiefs ($3600) should see fair ownership because they go up against a somewhat weak offense that gave up big fantasy games to defenses in 2015. Finally, the Philadelphia Eagles ($3300) and Minnesota Vikings ($3100) will see ownership for people who choose based on the opponent ranking. I buy the Vikings as a legitimate defense; the Eagles, not so much.

 

LOW OWNERSHIP – Thought it may not end up working in your favor, I do find the Arizona Cardinals ($3500) interesting against a Tom Brady-less Patriots. I don’t know how Jimmy Garopollo will look, so this could end up being an undercover sneaky play. The Pittsburgh Steelers ($2900) are pegged to be in a shoot-out with the Redskins, but they were quietly one of the top scoring defenses in 2015. I can see the Redskins trying to air it out on them, which leads to more time in the pocket, increasing the opportunity for turnovers. Once upon a time, it was a lock to use a defense against the Jacksonville Jaguars, making the Green Bay Packers ($2900) an intriguing option. It’s crazy to think they could go under owned, but that could happen. If you want to use some riskier options that I think could end up doing OK, I’d look at either the New York Giants ($2700) and the Cleveland Browns ($2300). The Giants are facing a team with 2 rookies starting at important positions and are relatively thin on receivers outside Dez Bryant. Finally, the Browns could be my top tournament defense, as they are cheap, facing a rookie who didn’t look great in preseason playing time, missing their left tackle due to suspension, have no certainty in the backfield and have a poor group of receivers. Pretty convincing argument to me, until you realize that defense is the Cleveland Browns.

 

HOW I’M USING THEM IN CASH GAMES: Rams/Chiefs/Vikings

 

HOW I’M USING THEM IN TOURNAMENTS: Browns/Chiefs/Rams/Packers/Cardinals

 

I hope you enjoyed this article, and I will be back next week. I hope to see you on the leaderboards!

 

Nicholas Volinchak is a correspondent at FF Nation. To read more from Nicholas, follow him @researchandwin. You can find more of Nicholas’ football work at Research Fantasy.

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Jason Nation
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