DFS Optimal Values, Locks and Fades: Week 1
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In this article, we walk through the process of constructing an optimal lineup that will dominate your cash games on the main slate of Week 1. We start with the optimal lineups for FanDuel and DraftKings determined by the Lineup Generator. Then, we identify the players that are irreplaceable and should be locked into your lineup. For the remaining players, we discuss the main alternatives that you can swap in to make a winning team that best fits your own style.
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FanDuel Week 1 Optimal Plays
- Last season Josh Allen ($8,100) led all quarterbacks in FanDuel fantasy points.
- Davante Adams ($8,800) averaged eight receptions, 98 receiving yards and a touchdown per game last year. His only game with under six targets was a game he got injured in.
- Tyreek Hill ($8,500) averaged nine targets per game last year. He starts off the season against a Browns defense that allowed the sixth-most passing yards and eighth most passing touchdowns.
- George Kittle ($7,000) is our second-best value play at tight end behind Travis Kelce. In 2019, he tied Kelce in FanDuel fantasy points per game at 12.9.
My general approach in cash games is to plug in three workhorses and target cheaper wide receivers. However, our top value options at wide receiver would suggest that there are other ways to play this slate. Instead, we should look to surround Adams and Hill with undervalued dual-threat running backs.
Joe Mixon ($7,200) played in six games last season and received at least 19 touches in every single one of them. The Vikings allowed the sixth-most rushing yards per game last year. With the injury to first-round pick Travis Etienne, James Robinson ($5,900) may be thrust right back into a three-down role. The Texans allowed the most rushing yards and the second-most rushing touchdowns. It is concerning that Urban Meyer put Carlos Hyde on the field in goal line situations during the preseason, though.
What was encouraging to see in the preseason was the workhorse role the Steelers are handing over to rookie Najee Harris ($6,500). Being nearly a touchdown underdog to the Bills isn't particularly inviting but the touches should be there. The next-best value option behind them is Raheem Mostert ($6,100). The 49ers are heavy favorites and the Lions allowed the fifth-most rushing yards per game last season.
Wide receiver values to play along with Adams and Hill are Marquez Callaway ($5,200), Devonta Smith ($5,300) and Jerry Jeudy ($5,500). The former Heisman winner has a chance to smash in his first game going up against a Falcons defense that allowed the most passing yards last season. These aren't the Dan Quinn-coached Falcons that routinely got torched but the talent is roughly the same. Callaway's matchup isn't as juicy but the game has shootout potential and the Saints are expected to be playing from behind as nearly four-point underdogs. If you have concerns about Mixon and move down to Mostert, another way to play the Bengals is at receiver is Tee Higgins ($6,000). The Vikings allowed the ninth-most passing yards per game last season.
DraftKings Week 1 Optimal Plays
- Christian McCaffrey ($9,500) is always in play, no matter the price tag. In three games played, CMC averaged 30 DraftKings points per game last season.
- James Robinson ($6,400) is our top value play at running back. Robinson averaged 20 touches per game for the Jaguars last season and the matchup doesn't get any better.
- Only McCaffrey and three quarterbacks averaged more DraftKings points per game than Davante Adams ($8,300) last season.
Josh Allen ($7,400) is our top value play here as well but if you're looking to gain salary, Jalen Hurts ($6,400) offers dual-threat ability and gets to pick on the Falcons. In four starts last season, Hurts rushed for over 60 yards in three of them and passed for over 300 yards in two.
With all the cheap receiver options on DraftKings, we have the flexibility to lock in a third bellcow alongside McCaffrey and Robinson. Dropping down from Allen to Hurts at QB opens enough salary to plug in the aforementioned Najee Harris ($6,300) or Joe Mixon ($6,200). I have Adams as a lock play but another option is to move off of him and jam in Alvin Kamara ($8,600) or Dalvin Cook ($9,100). Kamara should be the undisputed focal point of the Saints offense after the release of Latavius Murray and Cook has the second-best possible matchup for a rusher.
Starting wide receivers are on rollback to kick off the season. Rookie Elijah Moore ($3,000) was the star of training camp, Marquez Callaway ($3,400) was the star of the preseason and Marvin Jones ($3,600) looks like he's going to be Trevor Lawrence's top option. If we like Hurts, we have to like Devonta Smith ($4,500) and Jalen Reagor ($3,700) as well. Reagor had a disappointing rookie season but received at least four targets in nine of his eleven games played. Solid opportunity in a potentially high-scoring environment.
Just like on FanDuel, George Kittle ($6,300) is the second-best value at tight end. However, I prefer the third-best value play. Kyle Pitts ($4,400) is in line to receive top-five usage at his position but he's priced like a touchdown-dependent option. The Falcons rested Pitts for a reason and I expect him to be unleashed against the Eagles.