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Week 1 DraftKings Primetime Slate DFS Breakdown

Who are the best plays for the Week 1 DFS primetime slate on DraftKings? I love the primetime short slates, and, if you’re reading this, I can only assume that you do, too. There are usually two of these slates each week: One for SNF/MNF and one for MNF/TNF.

Each week this season, I’ll run through my thoughts on these primetime short slates. Week 1’s primetime games feature three games, as the NFL likes to have two Monday night games to kick things off.

An important note: I’m writing this column with tournaments and GPPs top of mind. Cash game plays on short slates are usually easier to figure out because the options are so thin; tournaments require quite a bit of game theory, which can be half the fun.

DraftKings: Week 1 DFS Primetime Slate

HomeAwayVegas TotalSpread
New England PatriotsPittsburgh Steelers48NE -5.5
New Orleans SaintsHouston Texans53NO -7
Oakland RaidersDenver Broncos48DEN -2

Theory thoughts for Week 1 DFS Primetime Slate:

  • There are two incredible games to target (PIT-NE and HOU-NO) and one bad game (DEN-OAK), but there are viable tournament plays across all three games. Don’t completely skip the DEN-OAK game.
  • Some of this week’s biggest chalk plays have legitimately intriguing direct pivot options that should be strongly considered; this isn’t always the case.
  • Antonio Brown’s pre-Week 1 release from Oakland opened up a ton of value on the slate, making a stars-and-scrubs lineup viable.
  • It’s easy to pay up at WR on this slate; floating in the mid-range might be the most viable way to differentiate.


Chalk: Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans ($6,800)

As our own Mike Beers pointed out, Monday night’s game will (somehow) mark the first time that Watson has played in a game with an implied total over 50.5. This game — in the eyes of Vegas — sets up as more of a shootout than any game he’s ever played in at the NFL level.

Watson checks most of the boxes you want in a tournament QB:

  • Top upside projection1 in the Game Level Similarity Projections among this slate’s QBs at 27.8
  • Opponent ranked bottom-three in pass defense last year
  • Expected shootout (highest of his career)
  • In the New Orleans Superdome
    • Usually we favor QBs at home, but the Superdome is an exception

Contrarian: Tom Brady, New England Patriots ($5,900)

Brady and the Patriots start their 2019 season at home against the Steelers in a game that, despite already being interesting, became about 100x more interesting with the whole Antonio Brown saga. (Note: Brown will not be eligible to play for the Patriots on Sunday night.)

While Brown will have no impact on Sunday’s game, Brady still has plenty of weapons in Week 1, headlined by Josh Gordon and Julian Edelman at WR to go along with James White out of the backfield.

The season-long community slept on Brady all offseason, drafting him as a mid- to tail-end QB2. There’s obvious buzz surrounding him now, but considering Brown isn’t eligible until Week 2, I think the masses will still mostly avoid Brady.

That could be a huge mistake. As our Game Splits App shows, Brady has been significantly better at home vs. the road over the last four seasons:

Tom Brady home road splits

And now look at Brady at home in September2 over the last four seasons:

Tom Brady home September

Since 2015, Brady averages over 300 yards per game, nearly 3 TDs per game, and over 28 PPG while playing at home in the early parts of the season. As the cheapest — and probably lowest-owned — attractive quarterback on this slate, he’s a great play.

Running Backs

Chalk: Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints ($8,500)

Kamara is the priciest player on the slate, but he also has by far the highest ceiling among available RBs, and he’s a 7-point favorite at home with an implied game total of 53. Also, despite the tag, it’s not difficult to fit him into lineups.

Contrarian: Latavius Murray, New Orleans Saints ($4,100)

Kamara is good chalk, but I love Murray as a contrarian play. As noted above, the Saints are 7-point home favorites, and if Murray is going to play the Mark Ingram role (or something close), this sets up as a potentially big game for Murray in his first with the Saints.

Not surprisingly, Murray historically does much better when his team is favored by at least a touchdown:

Latavius Murray spread

Murray is only $4,100 and provides a pivot away from Kamara, who could end up as the highest-owned player on the slate.

Wide Receivers

Chalk: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers ($7,300)

Smith-Schuster saw a target market share of 24.1% last season, enough to rank in the top 10 among receivers. And that was with Antonio Brown playing (most) of the year. He’s easily going to eclipse the 25% mark this year and could realistically push for 30%.

In the three games he’s played so far in his career without Brown, Smith-Schuster has absolutely crushed:

Juju Smith-Schuster with no Antonio brown

Cheap Chalk: Tyrell Williams, Oakland Raiders ($4,400)

Brown’s last-minute departure from Oakland leaves a big void in their passing attack, and Williams stands to benefit the most, as he’s now expected to serve as the team’s No. 1 WR.

While playing as the Chargers’ No. 1 wideout in 2016, Williams topped 1,000 yards and hauled in seven TDs. His extremely cheap price coupled with his guaranteed volume make him a strong play despite the low team total.

Contrarian: Emmanuel Sanders, Denver Broncos ($5,500)

All of the red flags are there for Sanders: He’s a 32-year-old WR coming off a devastating Achilles injury on a team quarterbacked by Joe Flacco. And yet, Sanders looked good in the preseason and is somehow ready to roll for Week 1.

He’s cheap and absolutely nobody is going to click on his name, especially with Will Fuller $200 cheaper. I’m not saying I love the play, but if I’m making multiple lineups, I’ll be slightly overweight on Sanders.

It’s hard to find a talented player at low ownership on short slates, but I think that’s exactly what will happen with Sanders in Week 1.

Tight Ends

Chalk: Darren Waller, Oakland Raiders ($3,400)

Through three healthy seasons, Waller has done nothing of note in his career (see below), so I feel weird calling him chalk. But, Antonio Brown blew up the entire slate, so here we are.

Darren Waller career

Outside of the aforementioned Tyrell Williams, Waller is arguably next in line for leftovers. He’s only $3,400 and affords you the ability to pay up for multiple studs.

Contrarian: Jordan Akins, Houston Texans ($2,800)

I really like Akins as a pivot from Waller in tournaments, and I will definitely be overweight on the Houston tight end. There’s a second-year TE breakout trend across the league, and Akins is now in prime position to join the group with former roadblock Jordan Thomas now on IR. Akins sets up as Houston’s primary pass-catching TE and he’s only $2,800.

Image Credit: Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Tom Brady.

  1. 75th percentile projection  (back)
  2. Technically, this data is for Weeks 1-4, which includes some October matches.  (back)

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