FanDuel & DraftKings NFL DFS Week 1 GPP Breakdown

Sep 09, 2023
Week 1 GPP Breakdown

In this space each week will be the top stacks, contrarian plays, and strategies to attack GPPs on both FanDuel and DraftKings. The backbone of our player pool is value, as highlighted by 4for4’s proprietary value metric, which goes beyond simple point-per-dollar projections. To be successful in GPPs, however, it’s essential to be unique and that can be accomplished by combining knowledge from 4for4’s suite of DFS tools including ownership projections, leverage scores, correlation, and stack values.

Even with all of these resources at our disposal, adjusting for game type is essential. For example, someone playing the Millionaire Maker shouldn’t have the same approach as someone entering a $300 single-entry contest with 150 entries. For nuanced explanations on game selection and lineup construction, be sure to check out 4for4’s DFS Strategy Hub and DFS MVP game theory segments.

Note: Many of 4for4’s value plays should be in your GPP player pool but may not necessarily be written about below. Most starters on teams with high implied totals are worthy of being rostered but players in this breakdown are those to be overweight on.

Join the 4for4 DFS subscription-only Discord channel for up-to-the-minute and Sunday morning updates.

More Week 1 DFS Strategy: Top Values and Cash Plays | WR/CB Matchups | Ownership Projections | Leverage Scores

Week 1 Overview

With both sites releasing their slates roughly six weeks ago, we need to understand that the entire bundle of concentrated players being discussed is because they've become mispriced over time. Practically everyone is a good play since roles have been identified and backups thrown out with salaries being set well before.

On that same note, projections will arguably be the least accurate of any weekend throughout the year. There's clearly so much to be determined and learned. I'm willing to eat more condensed ownership than usual (up to 140%) given the values across the board but am still attempting to lean into uncertainty more than ever in Week 1.

Popular Games to Target

Texans @ Ravens (-10); O/U 44

Get excited.

Ravens ranked 27th, 30th, 26th, and 22nd in neutral pace under former OC Greg Roman the past four years and never finished any higher than 27th in their usage of three-wide sets. One preseason under Todd Monken led to Baltimore ranking third in pass play rate (79.8%) from 11 personnel.

Engineering the second-highest implied team total on Sunday’s main slate, Lamar Jackson ($8,900 FD/$8,000 DK) headlines the handful of elite rushing quarterbacks in favorable matchups. (T.J. Hernandez will have thoughts on his cash game pool of signal-callers here.)

Zay Flowers ($5,500 FD/$4,000 DK), the cheapest of the three between Odell Beckham ($5,700 FD/$5,000 DK) and Rashod Bateman ($6,100 FD/$5,300 DK), stands head and shoulders above them. Not only did Monken concertedly scheme two targets (for 38 yards and a touchdown) for Flowers during the preseason, both Beckham (ankle) and Bateman (foot) have missed time with lingering injuries throughout the summer. We’re also projecting Flowers to go overlooked (1-5% rostered) from a game theory perspective since the field will naturally try to save that extra $1,000 by dropping down to min-priced receivers.

Isaiah Likely ($4,700 FD/$3,000 DK) played over 50% of Baltimore’s snaps in three games last year and averaged 15.8 PPR points as the week's TE2, TE9, and TE3 in those performances. Another mispriced value for Mark Andrews' ongoing quad injury, I'll be firing Likely into every small field tournament despite knowing he'll be the highest rostered tight end on this slate.

Another option for leverage in tournaments is rostering J.K. Dobbins over Baltimore’s passing game. Houston permitted the league’s second-highest rate (16.4%) of 10-yard carries last year, logically creating a path for Dobbins to not only put the Ravens (double-digit home favorites) in front but pad their inevitable lead with an abundance of carries in the second half. I will have exposure to at least one of Dobbins, Flowers, and/or Likely in every lineup.

Nico Collins is the only player I’m considering rostering on the other side of any Baltimore stacks, but you don’t necessarily need him given the values across the board (especially at wide receiver). Collins’ career 18.1% target-per-route-run (TPRR) rate alongside Brandin Cooks did skyrocket to 25.4% (would have ranked 12th in 2022) with the veteran off the field.

Bengals @ Browns (+2.5); O/U 47.5

Elite quarterbacks with condensed target trees always catch my attention because if that particular stack were to hit, we know the exact players who would reach their ceilings. And both of these offenses stand out as attacks we can whittle down in any high-scoring affair.

Priced cheaper than pocket statues like Tua Tagovailoa ($7,700 FD/$6,700 DK) and Kirk Cousins ($7,500 FD/$6,300 DK), recency bias has caught up to Deshaun Watson ($7,400 FD/$6,000 DK) as early as Week 1. But the stark contrast between his career averages with the Texans compared to last year's results suggests a value we should be targeting.

Deshaun Watson's Career Splits
Texans 262.5 8.3 67.8% 5.9% 22.3
Browns 183.7 6.5 58.2% 4.1% 14.3

Kevin Stefanski also created a fantasy-friendly environment during those last six games, increasing Cleveland’s pass play rate in three-wide sets to 77% (10th) with Watson compared to 68% (17th) with Jacoby Brissett. Watson’s 6.0 carries per game were also the eighth-most among quarterbacks, providing 3.9 weekly rushing points. Rarely does the field gloss over an underpriced rushing quarterback involved in the slate’s second-highest total, but here we are. And his stacking partners are transparent.

Amari Cooper’s ($6,700 FD/$5,800 DK) 25.4% target share from Watson led the Browns over their last six games. His seven end zone targets in that stretch also tied DK Metcalf for the league's highest mark. The results didn’t follow, but the opportunity was there. The same goes for David Njoku ($5,600 FD/$4,200 DK) who ranked as the TE13 in points per game from Watson but flashed a ceiling with two top-five finishes (as many as he had with Brissett) and a position-high 40% of the team’s red zone targets. Kevin Stefanski's offense has targeted its tight ends at a top-four rate in every season, highlighting Njoku as an overlooked option around Tyler Higbee ($5,300 FD/$4,800 DK).

Best of all, our opponents don’t see it that way. Elijah Moore ($5,700 FD/$3,800 DK) ran nine of his 10 routes during the preseason from the slot and played exclusively in three-wide sets. Even though we’re expecting Cleveland to lean on 11 personnel as their base package, Moore’s projected 18%-20% ownership is a landmine we can easily step around.

Nick Chubb ($8,600 FD/$8,200 DK) has actually averaged 5.6 yards per carry (on 465 rushes) from 11 personnel throughout his career (including 7.0 YPC last season) but finds himself at an uncomfortable price across sites. What I find myself asking is this: Even if Chubb were to hit, is the salary we would allocate towards him better splurged elsewhere since this slate offers cheaper workhorses in favorable spots? Not if he’s a good play—he is—but whether or not he’s that much better than Dobbins or the handful of Contrarian options listed below. There’s at least ambiguity in his receiving role since he’s never earned a double-digit target share in any season but is suddenly rid of Kareem Hunt (free agent) behind him.

The other side of the ball is simple, which is what we prefer in DFS. Only the Chiefs have orchestrated a higher pass play rate from neutral game script (69%) over Joe Burrow’s ($7,900 FD/$7,100 DK) last 27 starts, and both Ja'Marr Chase ($8,500 FD/$8,100 DK) and Tee Higgins ($7,400 FD/$6,800 DK) have benefited. Chase's 27% target share to Tee’s 21% when the two shared the field last year is noteworthy, though both logically get there in any Bengals explosion.

Joe Mixon ($7,500 FD/$6,800 DK), fresh off career-highs in targets (5.3) and catches (4.3) per game offers a leverage opportunity similar to Dobbins in that his role on third down (which would gift him an even higher ceiling) is unknown. Samaje Perine, for example, ran 104 routes to Mixon’s 32 on third/fourth down last year.

I will be prioritizing Watson double stacks across the board given Cleveland’s soft pricing in an ideal game script. Playing either quarterback with the other team’s running back is also one of my favorite ways to attack this game given the question marks (and potential upside) surrounding both backfields.

Dolphins @ Chargers (-3); O/U 51

I’m skeptical of the only projected 50-point total on Sunday’s main slate and it’s terrifying.

For what it’s worth, former Broncos (and now Dolphins) DC Vic Fangio ‘limited’ Justin Herbert to 18.8 points per game in their four previous battles against each other with Herbert maxing out at 21.2. Miami blitzed him on 51% of his dropbacks in last year’s matchup but that won’t be the case with Fangio, who practically created two-high safeties (and Cover 6) schemes.

If the Chargers find success through the air, odds are the same trio of Austin Ekeler ($8,400 FD/$9,000 DK), Keenan Allen ($8,000 FD/$7,300 DK), and Mike Williams ($7,100 FD/$5,700 DK) are at the helm. Based on how we’re projecting Miami to defend, Allen in particular leaps off the page given his 2.22 Yards Per Route Run (15th) against zone coverage. He registered a team-high 28.3% target share and 13.2 points per game in nine starts with Williams last year.

The Dolphins and Tua Tagovailoa ($7,700 FD/$6,700 DK) were also punked by Brandon Staley in that matchup for 17 points and 5.1 yards per attempt. I imagine any counterpunch stemming from those results leads to an emphasis on the running game, where Raheem Mostert ($5,900 FD/$5,400 DK) is being undervalued. He averaged 15.4 touches and 70% of Miami’s backfield touches in six starts before the team traded for Jeff Wilson (injured reserve) last year. Reminder the Chargers allowed a league-high 5.4 yards per carry in 2022. Mostert will be one of my highest-rostered players.

The Dolphins passing game is an easy one to sort through since Tyreek Hill ($8,800 FD/$8,200 DK) and Jaylen Waddle ($7,900 FD, $7,100 DK) soaked up 32.5% and 22.7% of the team’s targets in Tagovailoa’s 13 starts. There is nowhere else to go here.

Rams @ Seahawks (-5); O/U 45.5

You would think this line would budge more now that Cooper Kupp (hamstring) has been ruled out. But staying glued at -5 shows that Vegas believes the Rams can punch back.

Sean McVay’s offenses have averaged 349 yards against the Seahawks the past two years including last season’s results (319, 269) without Matthew Stafford ($6,800 FD/$5,700 DK). Not that we’re looking to double stack the Rams or play Stafford. We’re merely asking if Los Angeles carries their weight in this spot, allowing for Geno Smith ($7,200 FD/$6,100 DK) and his receivers to reach their ceilings. Tyler Higbee ($5,300 FD/$4,800 DK) earned a team-high 24.7% target share without Kupp on the field last year and stands out on DraftKings (amid overwhelming ownership) for his high reception floor.

DK Metcalf ($7,700 FD/$7,000 DK) and Tyler Lockett ($6,800 FD/$6,700 DK) take precedence over Jaxon Smith-Njigba ($5,300 FD/$4,900 DK) since the rookie has been hindered by his broken wrist the past few weeks. This very moment is arguably the least healthy Smith-Njigba will be all year. I prefer Metcalf to Lockett if only choosing one since the former averaged a career-high in targets per game (8.2) and NFL-best 22 end zone targets from Geno last year.

If you’re of the opinion the Rams get burned, leveraging that thought with Kenneth Walker ($7,100 FD/$6,000 DK) makes all too much sense. Not only was Walker (groin) removed from the injury report entirely on Friday, but he averaged 18.6 carries (third) in place of Rashaad Penny (Eagles) from Week 6 on. Any blowout could entail both Zach Charbonnet ($4,800 FD/$4,800 DK) and Walker getting there in the second half.

Tournament Pivots

Eagles @ Patriots (-3.5); O/U 45

The Eagles played at the fastest pace in the NFL in the first half of games last year, averaging 19.5 first-half attempts. Then they trailed for the league’s lowest rate of plays (with 11.1 pass attempts) in the last two quarters because they dominated what was in hindsight the NFL's softest schedule.

Perhaps New England’s injuries on offense are ultimately too much and Philadelphia can’t reach their ceilings because the Patriots drag them down. But rarely (if ever) did our opponents leave Jalen Hurts ($9,000 FD/$7,800 DK), A.J. Brown ($8,100 FD/$7,600 DK), and DeVonta Smith ($7,200 FD/$7,200 DK) at a collective 15%-20% ownership in tournaments for us, and yet that’s what we’re projecting to happen in Week 1.

Reminder the Patriots were rolled for 29 points per game (which would have been the most allowed by any defense) in nine contests against Tua Tagovailoa, Lamar Jackson, Aaron Rodgers, Justin Fields, Kirk Cousins, Joe Burrow, Josh Allen, and Derek Carr; New England’s defense padded their stats with 10.7 points per game allowed to rookies and backup quarterbacks in eight surrounding wins.

Brown pops as a player to be overweight on regardless of whether you roster Hurts. New England utilized man coverage at the sixth-highest rate in 2022 (and fourth-highest rate during the preseason), which AJB scorched for 3.39 YPRR (fourth) and six touchdowns (first) last year.

Raiders @ Broncos (-3.5); O/U 44

The top five offenses to end their drives with points last year were the Chiefs, Bills, Eagles, Lions, and … Raiders. Except those first four teams also finished top-four in ending their drives with a touchdown, whereas Las Vegas finished second in scoring field goals.

Any regression in that category would naturally elevate Davante Adams ($8,200 FD/$7,900 DK), who was one of only two receivers (Tyreek Hill being the other) who accounted for 30% of his team’s targets last year. In a slate where surrounding expensive wideouts are being glommed onto, Adams makes all the sense in the world as a player being 5%-10% rostered that we should be overweight on.

Assuming Jerry Jeudy (hamstring) is ruled out, Marvin Mims ($4,700 FD/$3,000 DK) is expected to close as a cash game option and one of the week’s highest rostered players. From a tournament perspective, Courtland Sutton ($5,900 FD/$5,200 DK) offers tremendous leverage in any skinny stacks since his opportunity and production skyrocketed without Jeudy the past two years, averaging an increased 8.3 targets and 15.4 PPR points per game in nine starts sans his teammate.

Stack Ideas

Jalen Hurts ($9,000 FD/$7,800 DK), A.J. Brown ($8,100 FD/$7,600 DK), and DeVonta Smith ($7,200 FD/$7,200 DK) + Rhamondre Stevenson ($7,000 FD/$7,000 DK)

Rarely do our opponents leave a premium Eagles stack for the taking when that trio is collectively projecting to total 20%-25% ownership, but here we are. Stevenson (albeit a tough squeeze at salary) makes the most sense in game stacks since he likely reaches his ceiling in any shootout.

Davante Adams ($8,200 FD/$7,900 DK) + Courtland Sutton ($5,900 FD/$5,200 DK)

Explained above. If the field is paying down for Mims (and they are), running the two receivers in arguably better positions against one another in that same game is optimal for leverage. My only concern is that Sutton surges over 15% rostered for being an obvious pivot.

Keenan Allen ($8,000 FD/$7,300 DK) + Raheem Mostert ($5,900 FD/$5,400 DK)

Discussed above. The two players I believe have the safest path to delivering in this one regardless of whether everything around them crumbles.

Brian Robinson ($6,400 FD/$5,100 DK) + Commanders Defense ($4,900 FD/$2,800 DK)

Washington's defense will come in over 30% rostered. But how many will be bringing the team's lead running back at home as -7 favorites along with them? Robinson averaged 18.9 carries per game over his last eight starts without J.D. McKissic (free agent).

DeAndre Hopkins ($7,500 FD/$6,900 DK) + Jamaal Williams ($6,800 FD/$5,100 DK)

Last year’s Titans offense finished dead last in pace of play and 29th in pass play rate from neutral game script. The organization's changes in firing OC Todd Downing and investing $11 million guaranteed into Hopkins created an ambiguous situation and play-calling in the team's first game. Everyone will roster Jamaal Williams, but no one will think to run it back with the team's projected WR1.

Contrarian and Leverage Plays

Travis Etienne

Aaron Jones

Rachaad White

Van Jefferson

Ravens Defense

Taysom Hill (DraftKings only)

GPP Player Pool

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