Primetime DFS Slate Breakdown: Week 1

Primetime DFS Slate Breakdown: Week 1

The first PrimeTime slate of the year brings us two games that should bring us plenty of points in the Steelers at Patriots and the Texans at Saints. Then we get the drama that is the Antonio Brown-less Raiders hosting the Broncos in the second Monday Night Football game.

Let's break down the games and how we can find the edge that might get us at the top of the leaderboards.

Injuries

The big injury to watch here is Keke Coutee, who doesn't look like he will play. That'll be a bump for the likes of Will Fuller and Kenny Stills.

Evaluation of Vegas Spread and Total and What Players Benefit

New England -6 Over/Under 49
New Orleans -6.5 Over/Under 52.5
Denver -1 Over/Under 43

I have done individual breakdowns for each of the PrimeTime games including an in-depth look at the Vegas spreads and totals and what players benefit most. You can find that analysis here:

Pittsburgh at New England 

Texans at Saints: Coming Soon

Broncos at Raiders: Coming Soon

Pricing and Projections

These projections are taken from the industry-leading 4for4 DFS projections at the time this article was written. The prices listed are for the three game Prime Time slates on both sites. 

DraftKings and FanDuel PrimeTime Slate Salaries and Projections
Name Team Position DK Salary DK Proj DK Pts/$ FD Salary FD Proj FD Pts/$
Alvin Kamara NO RB 8500 20.5 2.41 8700 17.1 1.97
Andy Janovich DEN RB 3000 0.7 0.23 4500 0.5 0.11
Austin Carr NO WR 3100 1.5 0.48 4500 1.2 0.27
Ben Roethlisberger PIT QB 6000 18.9 3.15 7600 18 2.37
Benny Snell Jr. PIT RB 3100 2.3 0.74 4500 1.8 0.4
Broncos  DEN DST 3500 7.3 2.09 4500 7.3 1.62
Carlos Hyde HOU RB 3900 4.3 1.1 5400 3.7 0.69
Courtland Sutton DEN WR 4500 10.9 2.42 5900 9.1 1.54
Cullen Gillaspia HOU RB 3000 1.2 0.4 4500 0.9 0.2
DaeSean Hamilton DEN WR 4200 7.6 1.81 5600 6 1.07
Damien Harris NE RB 3100 2.5 0.81 5400 2.1 0.39
Darren Fells HOU TE 2500 4 1.6 4000 3.1 0.78
Darren Waller OAK TE 3400 7.1 2.44 4800 9.1 1.35
DeAndre Carter HOU WR 3300 1.7 0.52 4500 1.3 0.29
DeAndre Hopkins HOU WR 8000 22.3 2.79 9000 17.8 1.98
DeAndre Washington OAK RB 3300 4 1.45 4500 4.7 0.89
Demaryius Thomas NE WR 3500 5.1 1.46 4700 4.1 0.87
Derek Carr OAK QB 5400 13.1 2.74 6600 13.8 2.14
Derek Carrier OAK TE 2500 0.4 0.24 4000 0.5 0.1
Deshaun Watson HOU QB 6800 23.4 3.44 8500 22.3 2.62
Devontae Booker DEN RB 3000 2.3 0.77 4500 1.8 0.4
Diontae Johnson PIT WR 3000 1.3 0.43 4500 1 0.22
Donte Moncrief PIT WR 4300 11 2.56 5400 8.7 1.61
Drew Brees NO QB 6200 22.2 3.58 8000 21.4 2.68
Duke Johnson HOU RB 6000 14.7 2.45 6100 12 1.97
Dwayne Washington NO RB 3200 1.3 0.41 4500 1.2 0.27
Emmanuel Sanders DEN WR 5500 11.6 2.11 5600 9.1 1.63
Foster Moreau OAK TE 2600 1.2 0.62 4000 1.5 0.3
Houston Texans HOU D 2500 4.7 1.88 3800 4.7 1.24
Hunter Renfrow OAK WR 3600 5.1 1.22 4500 6.6 0.76
J.J. Nelson OAK WR 3200 4.6 0.47 4500 5.7 0.29
Jake Butt DEN TE N/A 1.9 #VALUE! 4000 1.5 0.38
Jakobi Meyers NE WR 3200 2.3 0.72 4500 1.7 0.38
Jalen Richard OAK RB 3600 5.3 1.75 5100 6.8 0.98
James Conner PIT RB 7300 17.9 2.45 7700 15.6 2.03
James Develin NE RB 3000 1.9 0.63 4500 1.5 0.33
James Washington PIT WR 3900 7.1 1.82 5500 5.9 1.07
James White NE RB 4700 12.1 2.57 6300 10 1.59
Jared Cook NO TE 4900 11.1 2.27 6000 8.9 1.48
Jaylen Samuels PIT RB 3800 7.2 1.89 5400 5.9 1.09
Jeff Heuerman DEN TE 2700 2.6 0.96 4200 2 0.48
Joe Flacco DEN QB 5100 15 2.94 6400 14.3 2.23
Jordan Akins HOU TE 2800 3.1 1.11 4100 2.4 0.59
Josh Gordon NE WR 5900 11.8 2 6300 9.7 1.54
Josh Hill NO TE 2900 1.5 0.52 4000 1.2 0.3
Josh Jacobs OAK RB 5000 14.2 3.04 6500 15.5 1.85
JuJu Smith-Schuster PIT WR 7300 17.5 2.4 8100 14 1.73
Julian Edelman NE WR 6500 16.8 2.58 7100 13.1 1.85
Keith Kirkwood NO WR 3200 2.6 0.81 4600 2 0.43
Keke Coutee HOU WR 4000 10.4 2.6 5900 8 1.36
Kenny Stills HOU WR 3900 3.2 0.82 5800 2.4 0.41
Latavius Murray NO RB 4100 11.4 2.78 5900 10.1 1.71
Matt LaCosse NE TE 2800 4.3 1.54 4500 3.6 0.8
Michael Thomas NO WR 7800 21.9 2.81 8500 17.2 2.02
New England Patriots NE D 3200 6.6 2.06 3800 6.6 1.74
New Orleans Saints NO D 3000 6.8 2.27 4100 6.8 1.66
Noah Fant DEN TE 3000 6.3 2.1 4900 5 1.02
Oakland Raiders OAK D 2300 6.3 2.74 3600 6.3 1.75
Phillip Lindsay DEN RB 5200 13.3 2.56 6600 11.6 1.76
Pittsburgh Steelers PIT D 2800 5.2 1.86 3500 5.2 1.49
Rex Burkhead NE RB 3500 6.2 1.77 4800 5.4 1.13
Royce Freeman DEN RB 4300 10.9 2.53 5900 9.6 1.63
Ryan Grant OAK WR 3000 3.9 0.17 4500 4.9 0.07
Ryan Izzo NE TE 2500 0.8 0.32 4000 0.6 0.15
Ryan Switzer PIT WR 3200 1.8 0.56 4500 1.3 0.29
Sony Michel NE RB 5900 12.5 2.12 6600 11.1 1.68
Ted Ginn Jr. NO WR 4100 8.7 2.12 5000 7.1 1.42
Tim Patrick DEN WR 3200 3.6 1.13 4500 2.8 0.62
Tom Brady NE QB 5900 19.8 3.36 7300 19 2.6
Tre'Quan Smith NO WR 3800 8.7 2.29 5200 7 1.35
Tyrell Williams OAK WR 4400 9 2.52 5400 11.4 1.61
Vance McDonald PIT TE 4200 10.5 2.5 5600 8.3 1.48
Will Fuller V HOU WR 5300 10.1 1.91 6100 8.3 1.36
Xavier Grimble PIT TE 2700 1.7 0.63 4000 1.3 0.33
Zach Gentry PIT TE 2500 0.6 0.24 4000 0.5 0.13
Zach Line NO RB 3000 0.1 0.03 4500 0.1 0.02

Roster Construction

Top Points-per-dollar plays

DraftKings Top Point Per Dollar Plays
Name Team Position DK Salary DK Proj DK Pts/$
Drew Brees NO QB 6200 22.2 3.58
Deshaun Watson HOU QB 6800 23.4 3.44
Tom Brady NE QB 5900 19.8 3.36
Ben Roethlisberger PIT QB 6000 18.9 3.15
Josh Jacobs OAK RB 5000 14.2 3.04
Joe Flacco DEN QB 5100 15 2.94
Michael Thomas NO WR 7800 21.9 2.81
DeAndre Hopkins HOU WR 8000 22.3 2.79
Latavius Murray NO RB 4100 11.4 2.78
Derek Carr OAK QB 5400 13.1 2.74
Oakland Raiders OAK D 2300 6.3 2.74
Keke Coutee HOU WR 4000 10.4 2.6
Julian Edelman NE WR 6500 16.8 2.58
James White NE RB 4700 12.1 2.57
Donte Moncrief PIT WR 4300 11 2.56
Phillip Lindsay DEN RB 5200 13.3 2.56
Royce Freeman DEN RB 4300 10.9 2.53
Tyrell Williams OAK WR 4400 9 2.52
Vance McDonald PIT TE 4200 10.5 2.5
Duke Johnson HOU RB 6000 14.7 2.45
James Conner PIT RB 7300 17.9 2.45
Darren Waller OAK TE 3400 7.1 2.44
Courtland Sutton DEN WR 4500 10.9 2.42
Alvin Kamara NO RB 8500 20.5 2.41
JuJu Smith-Schuster PIT WR 7300 17.5 2.4
Tre'Quan Smith NO WR 3800 8.7 2.29
Jared Cook NO TE 4900 11.1 2.27
New Orleans Saints NO D 3000 6.8 2.27
Sony Michel NE RB 5900 12.5 2.12
Ted Ginn Jr. NO WR 4100 8.7 2.12
Emmanuel Sanders DEN WR 5500 11.6 2.11
Noah Fant DEN TE 3000 6.3 2.1
Broncos  DEN DST 3500 7.3 2.09
New England Patriots NE D 3200 6.6 2.06
Josh Gordon NE WR 5900 11.8 2
Will Fuller V HOU WR 5300 10.1 1.91
Jaylen Samuels PIT RB 3800 7.2 1.89
FanDuel Top Point Per Dollar Plays
Name Team Position FD Salary FD Proj FD Pts/$
Drew Brees NO QB 8000 21.4 2.68
Deshaun Watson HOU QB 8500 22.3 2.62
Tom Brady NE QB 7300 19 2.6
Ben Roethlisberger PIT QB 7600 18 2.37
Joe Flacco DEN QB 6400 14.3 2.23
Derek Carr OAK QB 6600 13.8 2.14
James Conner PIT RB 7700 15.6 2.03
Michael Thomas NO WR 8500 17.2 2.02
DeAndre Hopkins HOU WR 9000 17.8 1.98
Duke Johnson HOU RB 6100 12 1.97
Alvin Kamara NO RB 8700 17.1 1.97
Josh Jacobs OAK RB 6500 15.5 1.85
Julian Edelman NE WR 7100 13.1 1.85
Phillip Lindsay DEN RB 6600 11.6 1.76
Oakland Raiders OAK D 3600 6.3 1.75
New England Patriots NE D 3800 6.6 1.74
JuJu Smith-Schuster PIT WR 8100 14 1.73
Latavius Murray NO RB 5900 10.1 1.71
Sony Michel NE RB 6600 11.1 1.68
New Orleans Saints NO D 4100 6.8 1.66
Royce Freeman DEN RB 5900 9.6 1.63
Emmanuel Sanders DEN WR 5600 9.1 1.63
Broncos  DEN DST 4500 7.3 1.62
Donte Moncrief PIT WR 5400 8.7 1.61
Tyrell Williams OAK WR 5400 11.4 1.61
James White NE RB 6300 10 1.59
Courtland Sutton DEN WR 5900 9.1 1.54
Josh Gordon NE WR 6300 9.7 1.54
Pittsburgh Steelers PIT D 3500 5.2 1.49
Vance McDonald PIT TE 5600 8.3 1.48
Jared Cook NO TE 6000 8.9 1.48

Ownership

If I was to break down projected ownership on a game-by-game basis, it'd look something along the lines of Texans-Saints 50% Steelers-Patriots 35% and Broncos-Raiders 15%. This means the latter game will contain the low-owned contrarian plays. The bulk of the ownership though is going to be on that first game with the likes of Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins, and Duke Johnson garnering a large share of rosters. From the Steelers-Patriots game, Tom Brady, Julian Edelman, James Conner, and JuJu Smith-Schuster will all be popular plays and well in the Broncos-Raiders game, Darren Waller and Tyrell Williams with the absence of Antonio Brown from the Raiders could see some ownership as value options. Josh Jacobs also should be popular given his price point relative to his expected workload.

Potential Low-Owned Difference Makers

Before he was released, I was all about Antonio Brown in this spot. In fact, I had to revise the initial draft of this article substantially as a result of his release. Thanks a lot, AB! Anyway, I think there is some value in the likes of Hunter Renfroe, Ryan Grant, and J.J. Nelson as low-owned difference-makers, but I think their upside is somewhat limited so I wouldn't go overweight on them. I prefer to be overweight on Waller and Tyrell Williams to those three. Outside of that group, I think targeting some other players in that last game makes for a good contrarian play. The ones I like most are from the Denver side—Emmanual Sanders, Joe Flacco, and either of their two RB's. Josh Jacobs will be fine at some point this year, and I know Denver has a reputation for giving up more on the ground then they do through the air, but I'll be a bit underweight on him this week (mainly because I think the game script will have the Raiders passing more). As I mentioned in my Sunday Night Football article, I want to be overweight on Josh Gordon and Jaylen Samuels, and that is the same here. I also think Kenny Stills, if Coutee is out, has upside to be a difference-maker that will have low ownership.

Optimal Lineup Construction

Using the 4for4 projections these are the optimal ownership numbers when running the numbers through a 250-lineup model - currently I only have the numbers for DraftKings, I'll add FanDuel when it becomes available on the optimizer:

DraftKings Optimal Lineup Construction
Name Team Position DK Opt %
DeAndre Hopkins HOU WR 100
Michael Thomas NO WR 100
Josh Jacobs OAK RB 96.4
Oakland Raiders OAK D 67.2
Julian Edelman NE WR 60.4
Darren Waller OAK TE 56
Drew Brees NO QB 54
Latavius Murray NO RB 45.6
Deshaun Watson HOU QB 44
Vance McDonald PIT TE 40
James White NE RB 30.8
Tyrell Williams OAK WR 28.4
Phillip Lindsay DEN RB 23.6
Donte Moncrief PIT WR 19.6
New Orleans Saints NO D 17.6
James Conner PIT RB 16.8
JuJu Smith-Schuster PIT WR 14.4
Royce Freeman DEN RB 14.4
Sony Michel NE RB 12.4
Jared Cook NO TE 9.6
Alvin Kamara NO RB 8.8
Duke Johnson HOU RB 8
New England Patriots NE D 6.4
Broncos  DEN DST 6
Courtland Sutton DEN WR 6
Keke Coutee HOU WR 3.2
Josh Gordon NE WR 2.4
Tom Brady NE QB 2
Houston Texans HOU D 1.6
Noah Fant DEN TE 1.6
Tre'Quan Smith NO WR 1.6
Will Fuller V HOU WR 1.6
Pittsburgh Steelers PIT D 1.2
Ted Ginn Jr. NO WR 1.2
James Washington PIT WR 0.8

 

This surprised me a bit and perhaps I'm a bit too down on Josh Jacobs given his showing in the optimal lineups. A big factor in that is his affordable price point on DraftKings. Essentially the optimal construction contains him and the two big WR's on the slate in DeAndre Hopkins and Michael Thomas. Those two appear in 100% of optimal lineups. The Raiders defense is surprisingly in over 2/3rds of optimal lineups - a function of their price more than anything. The two QBs from the Texans-Saints game comprise most of the ownership (over 90%) and Darren Waller at 56% is to no surprise the optimal TE and if you include the 40% of Vance McDonald, you pretty much cover the TE position. Julian Edelman rounds out the players topping the 50% mark.

A few surprises for sure. Alvin Kamara came in at just 8.8% while his teammate Latavius Murray is nearly 50%. Kamara is expensive, will be high-owned, so there is merit to fading him, especially if you're wanting to get the two high-priced WRs into your lineup. Others showing up in more than 20% of the optimal lineups and all plays I like in general are James White, Tyrell Williams, and Phillip Lindsay. Just below the 20% threshold is Donte Moncrief at 19.6%.

Here's a quick look at how some of the popular players looked in terms of showing up in optimal lineups.

Fading those players could not only be contrarian, but also correct from a mathematical perspective.

Where's the Edge?

With Antonio Brown out, being overweight on Tyrell Williams and Darren Waller is the direction I want to go. The Raiders are going to want to show the world they can survive in the passing game without the enigmatic Brown and I think they'll lean on these two heavily.

Outside of that, I'm going to go with the masses and stack the Texans-Saints game as many ways as possible while sprinkling in some overweight shares of Josh Gordon. I'll make sure to have some Patriots stacks in there as well—mainly Brady-Edelman-White-Gordon type stacks. Those are the three main teams I'll be targeting, with James Conner, Emmanuel Sanders, the backup WRs on the Raiders, and Kenny Stills (if Coutee is out) will all be in a fair share of lineups for me.

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