Optimal FanDuel and DraftKings Cash Lineup for Week 1
I will be walking you through the process of constructing the optimal lineup to dominate your cash games on the main slate in Week 1. As a starting point, I use the optimal FanDuel and DraftKings lineups from our Lineup Generator. For each, I analyze projected value to determine which players you should absolutely lock in. I then determine the most optimal alternative lineup constructions centered around those locked-in players, which will provide you with multiple avenues toward fielding a winning lineup come Sunday.
FanDuel Week 1 Optimal Lineup
Here is the optimal FanDuel lineup by projected points:
- Alvin Kamara and David Johnson are our top RBs by projected points and value. Both players are projected over two points above any other RB, so we will need them both in order to get a lineup projected to score as many points as this one. Both are three-down backs that are assured to see huge volume.
- With LeVeon Bell still holding out (as of Wednesday night), it appears unlikely that he will play a significant role on Sunday. That means his backup James Conner is set for a huge workload like he saw in the preseason. Conner was one of my top RB prospects coming out of college last season. Playing for a 6.5-point favorite and priced only $500 above the minimum, it's hard to see past him this week.
- Keelan Cole is the only receiver inside the top 20 by value that is priced under $6000. Sitting 28th in our receiver rankings (after the injury to Marqise Lee), he represents incredible value at $4,500.
- Rob Gronkowski is our top TE by both projected points and value. The Patriots have the second-highest implied point total this week at 28.75, and with Julian Edelman suspended, Gronk is sure to see huge volume. We have him projected five points ahead of any other TE. If he were a WR, he would be second behind only Antonio Brown in projected points.
With a decent matchup against the Giants, Blake Bortles lands in our top 10 by projected points at the QB position. Given his low price, he lands third in our value rankings. If you don't want to trust Bortles, you can pay up slightly for Patrick Mahomes ($6,700) or Andy Dalton ($6,800), who are both projected similarly to Bortles. While Mahomes's matchup against the Chargers looks worrisome, Dalton has a nice matchup against the Colts.
Antonio Brown is our top-ranked WR, not only by projected points but also by value. As usual, that is a strong clue that you want him in your lineup. However, it would not be unreasonable to instead bring in our second ranked WR by both metrics, DeAndre Hopkins ($8,800). Doing so would also net you $200 to spend elsewhere.
Like Gronkowski, Chris Hogan has a great matchup, with the second-highest implied team total, and stands to benefit from the absence of Julian Edelman, which will make Hogan the team's WR1. He sits in the top 12 of our receiver rankings by both projected points and value. That said, if you are looking to free up some funds (say, for an upgrade at QB), a downgrade to Michael Crabtree ($6,600) would be reasonable.
While we normally look for favorites when choosing a defense, the min-priced Browns are a viable choice this week. Adding the top cornerback in the 2018 draft, they have a lot of talent on defense, and as we discussed above, the Steelers will likely be without their top RB, LeVeon Bell. Plus, the Steelers generally struggle on the road, so I would not be afraid to roll out the Browns this week. If you are looking for alternatives, however, a slight upgrade to the Dolphins ($3,200) is the best option. They rank second by value, just ahead of the Browns. The Dolphins play at home versus the Titans, who struggled in their third preseason game. While the Titans are favored, it is expected to be a close game.
DraftKings Week 1 Optimal Lineup
Here is the optimal DraftKings lineup by projected points:
- Alvin Kamara is our top RB by both value and projected points. The Saints are home favorites, and with Mark Ingram suspended and a recent waiver addition as his backup, Kamara is assured to see a huge workload.
- Melvin Gordon is a top-three RB by both metrics. He is also a three-down back playing for a home favorite. The only RB with a similar point projection, besides Kamara, is Ezekiel Elliott, who is $900 more expensive.
- With only two top-10 WR values priced under $5,000, we'll need to lock in either Keelan Cole or John Brown. I'm going to lock in Brown as he's $100 cheaper. Michael Crabtree may be the top WR on the Ravens' depth chart, but Brown has been the standout in camp and has developed a rapport with Joe Flacco. With no quality TEs, Crabtree and Brown are going to see substantial targets, so at this price, Brown presents great value.
- Rob Gronkowski is our top TE by both metrics. He is again projected five points ahead of any other TE, and with an ideal matchup and situation, he is a must-play.
- The Patriots defense is our top value at the position. Priced only $400 above the minimum while in our top three by projected points at the position, it's impossible to see past them.
Kirk Cousins is a top-seven value at the QB position and also lands at seventh in our point projections. Given his past performance in Washington, Cousins should continue to be a safe, efficient quarterback. The Vikings are heavy favorites with a high implied team total of 26, which is likely to translate into points for Cousins. If you want more upside at the position, the best alternatives are an upgrade to Deshaun Watson ($6,700) or a downgrade to Russell Wilson ($6,200), last season's top two QBs by fantasy points per game. Both players likely have lower floors than Cousins due to matchup.
Christian McCaffrey ranks in the top five by both value and projected points at the RB position. Usage in the preseason indicates that McCaffrey is likely to see an increased rushing volume this season, making him a true three-down back. The Panthers are also home favorites, which should mean TDs for McCaffrey. The only reasonable alternative is a sideways move to Saquon Barkley ($6,700). Despite this being his first regular season game, we have no reason to believe Barkley will not be a workhorse back as well.
Emmanuel Sanders is our fifth best value at WR. The addition of rookie Courtland Sutton on the outside has allowed Sanders to move into the slot for the majority of the snaps. That is the favored position for his quarterback, Case Keenum, who made a star out of Adam Thielen in the slot last season. If you don't like Sanders, there is an easy sideways move to Jamison Crowder ($5000), who will likewise be playing with a quarterback, Alex Smith, that loves slot receivers. Alternatively, if you want to free up some cash for moves elsewhere, consider a downgrade to Kenny Stills ($4,700), an efficient receiver last season who is likely to see an increase in targets with DeVante Parker out and Jarvis Landry on another team.
As mentioned above, we'll need to include either John Brown or Keelan Cole. The latter has become a starting receiver for the Jaguars after Marqise Lee's injury. One alternative to Cole is to pay up slightly for his teammate Dede Westbrook ($3,900). While we have Westbrook projected lower, his slot role is likely somewhat more reliable than Cole's role on the outside. A high-upside option to is to pay up for Chris Godwin ($4,100), who appears set to overtake DeSean Jackson on the depth chart sooner rather than later. Finally, with a couple of downgrades elsewhere, Tyler Lockett ($4,300) becomes an option here. With Doug Baldwin recently injured (though expected to play) and Jimmy Graham gone, Lockett also looks set to see an increase in targets and, like any of Russell Wilson's receivers, has big play potential.
Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images.