When I’m looking into the DFS slate each week, I like to go game by game and identify players or situations that intrigue me. In every game, on every team, there’s a situation that’s relevant for DFS purposes, either for a positive or a negative reason. Going through each game in this way can help us figure out how we should be attacking each slate.
Spread: +2.5 vs Detroit | Total: 47
The community is pretty down on the Cardinals after a mediocre preseason. If they explode this week, I’m not sure that anyone would be terribly shocked, but this may be the time to get some guys from Arizona in your lineup. Theoretically, we want RBs as home favorites, but David Johnson ($7,700) didn’t have a problem as a home underdog on last year’s anemic offense. He’s gamescript proof because of his involvement in the passing game.
Spread: +4 @ Minnesota | Total: 48
Matt Ryan ($6,100) was extremely solid last season. He was inside of the top 12 in nearly 70% of his games last season. Ryan finished the season inside of the top five in attempts, completions, passing yards, and passing touchdowns as he wound up as the overall QB2 in 2018. It’s hard to argue with that type of production. He gets a difficult matchup at the Vikings this week but the volume will be there. Oh, and having some guy named Julio Jones ($8,000) helps, too.
Spread: -7 @ Miami | Total: 37.5
From Week 11 on last year, Lamar Jackson ($6,000) finished as a QB1 in four of seven games. He averaged 18.6 points per game during that stretch. Jackson averaged 22.6 pass attempts and 17 rush attempts. While that split may shift towards fewer rush attempts, it’s still a valuable piece of his production. Simply adding 40 rushing yards is like throwing for an extra 100 yards for DK purposes. Being favored by a touchdown (albeit in a lower scoring game) is a plus as well.
Spread: +3 @ New York Jets | Total: 41
Down the stretch last year, Zay Jones ($3,700) and Josh Allen ($5,600) forged a solid connection. The final five games of the year, Jones averaged 15 PPR Points. A lot of that was due to touchdowns, but an average of 8.4 targets across a five-game sample is nothing to sneeze at. Putting them together allows for a ton of flexibility throughout the rest of your lineup.
Spread: +2 vs Los Angeles Rams | Total: 50
Cam Newton ($6,500) has been a QB1 in 54% of his career starts. Last season, even while dealing with injuries, He scored 20-plus points in 8 of 14 contests. Newton is officially off the injury report as we head into Week 1. When active, he averaged nearly 35 rushing yards to add to his 242.5 yards through the air.
Spread: +10 @ Seattle | Total: 44
The Bengals are — shall we say — a work in progress. They’re only implied for 17 points this week as they travel to Seattle. It’s relatively difficult to find someone exciting in a situation like this, but Tyler Boyd ($5,800) is intriguing. He was targeted often last season, averaging over 7.5 targets per game. In fact, Boyd only saw fewer than five targets on two occasions. With A.J. Green not available, Boyd should see a healthy dose of targets.
Spread: -5 vs. Tennessee | Total: 45.5
After coming in halfway through the game in Week 3, Baker Mayfield ($6,400) took the keys to the offense in Week 4 last season. During that stretch, The Browns averaged over 0.6 more points per drive. Mayfield did this throwing to some legit weapons in Jarvis Landry and David Njoku, but also to lesser-known receivers. Add Odell Beckham Jr. ($8,100) into the fray, and we’re looking at a huge upgrade. In a much worse situation with Eli Manning at QB, Beckham finished as a WR1 in 42% of the games he played. Across his career, he’s been at least a WR2 in 74% of his games.
Spread: -7 vs New York Giants | Total: 45
To Zeke or not to Zeke … that is the question. Ezekiel Elliott ($9,200) got his deal done and will be ready to go for Sunday’s home opener against the Giants. In the first two seasons of Elliott’s career, he only saw more than five targets on one occasion for an average of 3.1 targets per game. Last year, though, he only had four games where he saw fewer than five targets for an average of 6.3 per game. Elliott’s increased involvement in the passing game raises both his floor and ceiling. As the most expensive RB on the main slate and having just come back from his holdout, it’ll be interesting to see where his ownership lands. Of the big three RBs, he’ll likely come in as the lowest owned, making for an interesting GPP play.
Spread: -2.5 @ Arizona| Total: 47
The defensive backfield that the Cardinals will trot out on Sunday is questionable, at best. We know that the Lions would love to take the air out of the ball and run it as often as possible, but they will be able to take advantage of the secondary in Arizona. Matthew Stafford ($5,400) will still be low-owned but if you’re making multiple lineups you should have some exposure to him with Kenny Golladay ($6,300). In his final seven games, Golladay averaged ten targets per game. He was boom or bust as far as fantasy scoring, finishing as a WR1 three times but finishing outside of the top 25 in the other four contests. Boom or bust is fine for GPPs, though.
Spread: +6.5 @ Los Angeles Chargers | Total: 45
Nyheim Hines ($3,900) was twice as useful in games that the Colts lost than those they won. He averaged 14.3 PPR Points in the Colts’ six losses last season. Indianapolis is nearly a touchdown underdog so Hines could see some work when they’re in catch-up mode. Maybe a one-lineup flier is in order. To be totally honest, though, I’m fine with missing out on the Colts this week as we wait and see what happens in the post-Andrew Luck era.
Spread: +3.5 vs Kansas City | Total: 51.5
The best route runner that John DeFilippo has ever seen has a name. That name is Dede Westbrook ($4,800). Last season, he averaged 6.3 targets per game from the likes of Blake Bortles and Cody Kessler. Naturally, he didn’t do a ton with those targets but he’s due for a third-year breakout this season. That breakout should start while the Jags attempt to keep up with the high flying Chiefs offense.
Kansas City Chiefs
Spread: -5 @ Jacksonville| Total: 52.5
It’s almost impossible to ignore Tyreek Hill ($7,600) regardless of slate, matchup, or ownership. He averaged 126.6 air yards per game last season. In fact, there were only two games where he fell below 90 air yards. Hill finished as a WR1 44% of the time last season1 and averaged just under 21 PPR Points per game.
Los Angeles Chargers
Spread: -6.5 vs. Indianapolis| Total: 45
There’s definite value in Austin Ekeler ($5,500) or Justin Jackson ($4,000) in Melvin Gordon’s absence. The problem is deciding between the two. Ekeler will push towards 20% ownership in some contests while Jackson will be closer to 6% – 8%. There’s a very strong case to be made for fading this situation entirely in GPPs and pivoting elsewhere.
Los Angeles Rams
Spread: -2.5 @ Carolina | Total: 51
The cheapest option of the big three receivers for the Rams is Cooper Kupp ($5,700). Reports have been nothing but positive in his recovery from an ACL tear last season. Jared Goff ($6,200) is a significantly better QB with Kupp at his disposal averaging nearly 1.3 more yards per attempt.
Spread: +7 vs Baltimore | Total: 44
Per Brian Flores, Kenyan Drake ($4,700) is good to go and will see plenty of touches. In a subpar offense last year, Drake still had his spike weeks. He finished as an RB1 in nearly 40% of his games. Even if they’re behind, Drake has proven that he can get involved in the passing game. He saw the eighth highest target market share of any RB last season.
Spread: -4 vs. Atlanta | Total: 48
Dalvin Cook ($6,000) will be wildly popular this weekend. The big-play ability that Cook has is something that you want in your lineup, obviously, but is he worth eating that much chalk? In cash games, he’s unavoidable. Cook is outside of the top 10 most expensive RBs. From Week 13 last year, he averaged over 18 PPR Points in those contests and had three RB1 finishes.
New York Giants
Spread: +7 @ Dallas | Total: 45
On a per-target basis, it’s pretty hard to argue that Evan Engram ($4,800) is priced correctly this week. It isn’t quite the same situation but the Golden Tate suspension means one less premier target in the offense. We’ve seen the bump in usage Engram has received in Beckham’s absence.
New York Jets
Spread: -3 vs Buffalo | Total: 41
Robby Anderson ($5,800) and Sam Darnold’s ($5,100) connection grew stronger as time went on last season. Anderson closed the season with three of his last four performances at WR2 or better. He’ll be low-owned this week because of his intimidating matchup with Tre’Davious White. It’s important to note, though, that Anderson put up 17.6 PPR Points in this tough matchup last season.
Spread: -9 vs. Washington| Total: 46.5
Since the start of 2017, Carson Wentz ($5,700) — when available — has been nothing short of impressive. In games that he’s been active, he’s finished in the QB1 in 62% of his games. During that stretch, there’s only been one week where he’s failed to throw a passing touchdown. DeSean Jackson ($4,500)2 and Alshon Jeffery ($5,900) are both fine options to stack with Wentz in GPPs in a game where the Eagles have an implied team total of 27.5 points.
San Francisco 49ers
Spread: PK @ Tampa Bay | Total: 51
George Kittle ($6,600) was one of the most consistent TE options a season ago. He was a YAC monster3 and a target hog.4 All of those attributes led to Kittle finishing as a TE1 in 75% of his starts. It’s also worth noting that the Bucs gave up the most TE1 weeks in the NFL last year.
Spread: -7.5 vs Cincinnatti | Total: 43.5
Chris Carson ($5,700) is going to be a popular option this week. He’s in line for a big workload in a home game where the Seahawks are favored by more than a touchdown. In games where Seattle was favored last year, Carson averaged nearly 17 PPR points. He was wildly inconsistent to start the year but finished strong. From Week 11 on, he never fell out of the Top 24 and closed the season with three straight RB1 performances.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Spread: PK vs San Francisco | Total: 51
All of the Tampa Bay pass catchers are in play this week. They’ll each come with some ownership, with Chris Godwin ($6,200) likely leading the way in that department. If you’re trying to pivot off of that ownership and capture some TD equity from TB, then O.J. Howard ($5,000) becomes interesting. Howard was a TE1 in seven of his 10 games last season.
Spread: +5 @ Cleveland | Total: 45.5
Derrick Henry ($5,900) had himself a splashy end of the season in 2018, averaging nearly 24 PPR points over the last five contests. He missed a lot of time recently, though, and isn’t in the best spot this weekend. As an underdog, Henry wasn’t used nearly as much as when the Titans were favored. He averaged just 12.5 opportunities in their ten games as a dog while he saw 18 opportunities when they were favored. Despite their preferred identity as a rush-first team, they’ll likely have to speed things up and air it out while trying to keep up with the new-look Browns.
Spread: +10 @ Philadelphia | Total: 45
Washington is implied for just 17.5 points this Sunday. Trying to find the TD or two that they score seems like a fool’s errand. In games that they’ve lost during Jay Gruden’s tenure as head coach, they’ve passed at nearly a 64% clip. For most teams, that would mean the passing attack is in play as 10-point dogs, but that isn’t the case here for me. If you feel an overwhelming urge to play someone in Washington … just don’t.