The NFL season is finally here and with it comes DFS lineups and lots of them. I’m going to be writing a weekly FanDuel DFS article projecting some Top Shelf plays along with some value plays. Our goal is to help you identify the players most likely to outperform their cost while helping you build your bankroll. While my specialty will be FanDuel DFS my podcast partner and host Kyle Robert will be covering Draft Kings for all you DFS fanatics. We’ll combine forces for a special DFS podcast once a week and talk about players you should be on, stack, or completely fade. “The Hard Count” as we coined it will be the name of the show and we’ll cover everything related to DFS on FanDuel and Draft Kings. Be sure to go check out all the great content on FakePigskin and the Angle of Pursuit podcasts which are also available on Stitcher and iTunes. Without further a do here are my Week FanDuel 1 picks!
Top Shelf Plays
Russell Wilson- Seattle Seahawks $8800
@ Chicago Bears
Russell Wilson gets to travel to St. Louis and face the Rams in Week 1. In last year’s first divisional faceoff Wilson posted his second-highest passing total with 313 yards and two touchdowns. He also added another 107 yards with his legs, highlighted by a 53 yard scamper. The Rams have improved defensively but won’t be able to contain a superior offense engineered by Wilson and one of the best running games in the NFL. Make no mistake Wilson will come out firing on all cylinders looking to connect early and often with his new shiny toys Jimmy Graham and Tyler Lockett.
Matt Ryan- Atlanta Falcons $8800
vs. Philadelphia Eagles MNF
If you’re paying attention to over unders then the Monday Night Football game headliner at the Georgia Dome is a game to capitalize on in daily fantasy. It has the highest over/under for the week at a whopping 55 points. This game versus Chip Kelly’s high-octane offense has shootout written all over it. Matt Ryan is historically at his best at home in the dome. Proof of that was last season when Ryan threw for 734 yards, six touchdowns and zero interceptions in two home games in September. Ryan went for 448 yards and three touchdowns versus the Saints in last year’s home opener.
DeMarco Murray- Philadelphia Eagles $8500
@ Atlanta Falcons
DeMarco Murray is about to blow up on primetime and remind everyone why he led the league in last year with 2,261 all-purpose yards. I’m not worried about Ryan Matthews cutting into his workload because this is Murray’s backfield. He’ll be leaned on heavily on the ground while also being involved in Chip Kelly’s aerial assault. It’s worth noting that the Falcons defense gave up an NFL worst 21 rushing touchdowns last year. I’m expecting a big game from Murray under the bright lights of MNF in his new colors.
Jeremy Hill- Cincinnati Bengals $8600
@ Oakland Raiders
Jeremy Hill closed out last season in a big way topping 100 yards in his last three games, while averaging 132 yards per game over that span. He proved that he was the bell cow running back of the Bengals after getting his opportunity mid-season. Speaking of opportunities Hill should have plenty of them versus an Oakland Raider defense that struggles to defend the run. Only the Falcons and Cowboys gave up more rushing touchdowns last year. I expect the Bengals to try to control the clock and go with the ground and pound strategy which makes Hill a high-volume RB1.
Eddie Lacy- Green Bay Packers $8500
@ Chicago Bears
In today’s passing NFL Eddie Lacy is one of the few true workhorse running backs. With the huge loss of Jordy Nelson for the season one would think the Packers would lean on Lacy more than ever. The Bears defense will be improved this year but switching to a 3-4 defense requires the right personal which the Bears currently lack. They’ll struggle to contain a very aggressive hard-nosed runner in Lacy. He’s one of the safest plays of the week in DFS and could easily reach pay dirt a couple of times while chipping in with 4-5 catches.
Julio Jones- Atlanta Falcons $9000
vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Julio Jones is the most expensive FanDuel wide receiver play in week 1 and for good reason. Only the Falcons gave up more yards through the air last year than the Eagles. I’ll be stacking Matt Ryan and Julio Jones on a lot of my FanDuel lineups since they could easily be the highest scoring tandem in week 1. Given the high number of value plays at the wide receiver position it makes sense to get the best and then fill your other two wide receiver positions with contrarian or Hail Mary plays.
Dez Bryant- Dallas Cowboys $8700
vs. New York Giants
Dez Bryant got paid in the off-season and now it’s time to earn that big paycheck. Dez has historically feasted on the Giants and in two meeting last year against them he caught 16 passes for 237 yards and two touchdowns. Dez is a threat to take it to the house whenever he catches the ball and can beat bracket coverage unlike most teams WR1. Lock Dez into your DFS lineups and let this star help build your bankroll.
Randall Cobb- Green Bay Packers $8400
@ Chicago Bears
With Jordy Nelson on the shelf Randall Cobb will be Aaron Rodgers top pass-catching target in one of the NFL’s most explosive offenses. Cobb is a little banged up with a shoulder injury but that shouldn’t stop him from feasting on a porous Bears defense struggling to find its identity. In two divisional matchups last year versus the Bears Cobb caught 15 passes for 185 yards and three touchdowns. The Bears secondary is a major weakness having lost “Peanut” Tillman, Chris Conte, Tim Jennings, and Ryan Mundy (IR).
Greg Olsen- Carolina Panthers $5900
@ Jacksonville Jaguars
I’m all over Greg Olsen after the loss of Cam Newton’s target monster Kelvin Benjamin. Benjamin saw the sixth most targets in the NFL last year with 145. Greg Olsen was also a major factor in the passing game registering 123 targets last year. He’s a safe bet to improve on that number substantially in 2015. Cam will be looking to Olsen early and often and he could be the highest scoring tight end in week 1. The fact that he’s $1000 less than Jimmy Graham on FanDuel is absurd and makes him even more attractive in DFS.
Tyrod Taylor- Buffalo Bills $5000
vs. Indianapolis Colts
Tyrod Taylor has been gaining more steam day by day but it hasn’t reflected yet in his FanDuel price tag. If you want to build up the rest of your lineup with some studs and go cheap at quarterback position then Taylor is your guy. Let’s not forget what Greg Roman did with Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco and Taylor possesses the same type of skill set. Taylor is finally getting his shot to start after toiling in Baltimore four years learning under Joe Flacco’s wing. He’s still relatively unknown but won’t be for much longer.
Sam Bradford- Philadelphia Eagles $7500
@ Atlanta Falcons
So you might wonder why I’m putting Bradford on my value play list. Well considering that Colin Kaepernick, Matthew Stafford, Jay Cutler, Joe Flacco, and Carson Palmer are all priced higher than him I think it’s pretty obvious he qualifies as a bargain bin player. The Atlanta Falcons allowed the most passing yards in the NFL last year (4,478) and not much has changed in their secondary. Chip Kelly is going to dial-up some big plays with Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor. Bradford will benefit from this game being a shootout and playing on the big stage in his first game as an Eagle. If preseason was any indication Bradford is going to put up QB1 numbers with ease.
Tevin Coleman- Atlanta Falcons $6700
vs. Philadelphia Eagles
I’m sure you’re sensing a common theme by now and it’s that you want as many pieces of the Atlanta and Philadelphia offenses as possible this week in your DFS lineups. While the Falcons backfield position has been muddled like Dallas for some time, we’re finally starting to gain some clarity. Antone Smith was released this week and Devonta Freeman is questionable while still nursing a hamstring injury that’s kept him out all preseason. In the meantime Tevin Coleman has been named the de facto starter and looks to have little competition for carries. He’s got some serious juice and track speed in the open field. As history suggests any running back who starts in a Kyle Shanahan offense is one worth playing. Did I mention that Coleman can hit the home run making him my top value play at running back in week 1.
Chris Ivory- New York Jets $6400
vs. Cleveland Browns
Chris Ivory has waited a long time to be “The Guy” and he’s finally the undisputed starting running back in the Big Apple. Ivory has never been a high-volume running back but has produced admirably when given 20 or more carries in a game. With Ridley on IR and Zac Stacy just clogging up a roster spot for now Ivory will only cede third-down work to Bilal Powell. Ivory is a great downhill and aggressive runner who will push the pile for extra yards. You’ll be hard pressed to find any legit starting running backs cheaper than Ivory in week 1, not too mention one with a better matchup. The Browns ranked dead last in the NFL in rushing yards allowed last year so expect Ivory to eat like a king in week 1.
Allen Robinson- Jacksonville Jaguars $6100
vs. Carolina Panthers
Allen Robinson is one of my favorite breakout wide receivers this year but I’m not the only one pumping him up. If you’re looking for a cheap, high-upside FanDuel play this week at the wide receiver position Allen Robinson fits the mold. In terms of measurables he compares to Dez Bryant and can pretty much run the entire route tree. He’s a big red-zone target for Blake Bortels and with Julius Thomas on the shelf he’s going to see even more targets. The Jags will be playing catch-up a lot and Arob will be the main beneficiary.
John Brown- Arizona Cardinals $6000
vs. New Orleans Saints
“Smokey” Brown, as he has been tabbed, is going to be Carson Palmer’s number one target this year. He’s got the speed to take the top off the defense a la T.Y. Hilton. Add another name to the long list of success stories at the wide receiver position for head coach Bruce Arians. Brown has bulked up in the offseason gaining 15 pounds of muscle while living with Carson Palmer. Brown has track speed and has the knack for making big plays when the game is on the line. Speaking of big plays I’m expecting to see a couple from him in week 1. He’s a value play right now but don’t expect it to last long so strike while the iron is still hot and lock Brown into your DFS lineups at a major discount.
Ben Watson- New Orleans Saints $4600
@ Arizona Cardinals
Everyone automatically assumes that Josh Hill is the heir to the throne in the Big Easy but not so fast. Josh Hill benefited last year from all the attention that was paid to Jimmy Graham. With Jimmy Graham, Kenny Stills, and Pierre Thomas all gone there are a lot of targets to go around. Watson has played ahead of Hill all preseason and will be the starter over Josh Hill. He’s the closest thing to a hail mary as they come in DFS but I’m banking on a cheap touchdown from Brees to Watson. At his basement bargain price tag he allows you the flexibility to go big at your other positions with some top shelf picks.
Defenses to target
Miami Dolphins $4700
@ Washington Redskins
The Dolphins get to travel to the Nation’s capital to take on the dysfunctional Washington Redskins. RG3 is third-string at best right now and Kirk Cousins is the new starting quarterback. The Redskins are a mess and their offensive line is one of the worst in the NFL. I expect Suh and company to harass Cousins all day and force him into a couple turnovers. If you aren’t playing the Dolphins defense this week in DFS then you might want to get your head checked.
New York Jets $4400
vs. Cleveland Browns
The New York Jets have a defensive mastermind as their new head coach in Todd Bowles. We’ve seen what he’s managed to accomplish with less talent in the past out in the desert and now he has some key defensive pieces at his disposal. The interior of the Jets defense is sick with Muhammad Wilkerson and rookie Leonard Williams clogging up the middle. Bowles will dial-up plenty of blitz packages causing Josh McCown to crumble under the pressure resulting in multiple turnovers. McCown has no reliable targets to throw too and is set up to fail. The Jets secondary has been upgraded with Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, Marcus Gilchrest, and Buster Skrine. If Cleveland can’t run the ball it’s going to be a long day at the office making the Jets a preferred option in DFS lineups at their low cost.
I’ll leave you with a couple of my FanDuel lineups. Good luck this week in all your DFS lineups and seasonal leagues.