Between the Bankroll and Me: Early Thoughts – Fanduel Week 1

Bills LeSean McCoy

Real, actual NFL games that count are right around the corner, and prices for Fanduel Week 1 are out! While that might allow for some overthinking, the few weeks we have between now and kickoff should allow the pricing to settle in and for value to really present itself.

Obviously, the preseason is just heating up and injuries are bound to occur and position battles need to be sorted out that could change things, but here are a few of my initial thoughts heading into the first week of the regular season.

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*Note* All thoughts and notes will be for the Sunday Main Slate (1 PM EST)

 1. How much Bills is too much?

Player value is usually the first thing I look at when building lineups each week, but matchups is almost as equally important. That may change this season, as I might begin my research each week by just seeing who gets to play the Jets that week. Picking on the Jets will be a popular theme for DFS this year, and for good reason as the J-E-T-S are going to royally S-U-C-K. Ordinarily we would call them a “Funnel Defense”, meaning we want to target offensive players on the opposing team for our lineups, but I think we can go ahead and just call the Jets a “Funnel Team” given how bad they will likely be on both sides of the ball.

With all that said, Buffalo players will probably be very highly-owned and a few of them will make strong cash game plays. For starters, the Buffalo defense, which surprisingly is only the fifth most expensive defense on the main slate, checking in at $4,700, becomes basically a lock for my cash game lineups as they should easily keep the score low and produce a handful of turnovers. Conversely, for GPP’s, they’re a perfect fade given that they’ll likely still be relatively highly owned.

Looking on offense, Tyrod (TyGod) Taylor ($7,500) emerges as an awesome value at the quarterback position (as he often does). The loss of Sammy Watkins takes Taylor out of automatic lock status for me, but his rushing prowess combined with the remaining targets should give him a safe enough floor that you could feel confident in rolling him out in cash games. LeSean McCoy ($8,500), meanwhile, is cemented as even more of a lock with the loss of Watkins. The Bills are a running team and should be operating in a very positive game script, meaning McCoy should get all the work he can handle, including a very valuable handful of receptions. Additionally, I love him for GPP’s as many will likely gravitate to the more expensive – and more popular – David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell, likely depressing “Shady’s” ownership.

Before the Watkins trade, I loved maxing out the Bills stack (Fanduel only allows four players per team), but the Taylor, McCoy and Bills D stack still makes for a perfect one in cash. However, if you’re looking to shake things up in GPP’s while still getting some exposure to the Bills, I do like the idea of throwing a dart with rookie Zay Jones, who is dirt cheap at just $5,100), or possibly another dart on Charles Clay at tight end, who is a measly $4,600. Another option would be to run a “naked TyGod” lineup, which means just using Taylor and fading the other options in hopes that Taylor goes off for a few scores – including a rushing touchdown, which, of course, he’s always capable of.

Whatever you decide, make sure you’re getting some exposure to the Bills in week 1.

*Note* Credit to the hosts of the DFS Edge podcast for the “Funnel” and “naked” phrases. 

2. Run DMC

Speaking of value presenting itself, enter Darren McFadden ($5,800) starting in place of the suspended Ezekiel Elliot. Now, at the time of writing this Zeke is still staring down a six-game suspension, but is expected to appeal. Assuming the suspension holds and Zeke loses the appeal, McFadden becomes a nice value play at running back position for cash games. The Cowboys play hosts to the Giants in week 1, which isn’t exactly a peach of a matchup for anyone in the Dallas offense, but at just $5,800 we don’t need an awful lot from Run DMC for him to pay off that price tag. Obviously he isn’t as talented as Zeke, but he’s already shown he’s a capable runner behind that offensive line, and is a serviceable receiver out of the backfield. He’s far from a lock for me, but I love that price tag if for no other reason it allows me to spend up at other positions.

Matt Ryan

Kirby Lee – USA TODAY Sports

3. Quarterbacks are Cheaper but…

…that still doesn’t mean I’m going to spend up for them.

It would appear that Fanduel is now becoming hip to the late round quarterback movement, so to speak. Yes, the movement that has been sweeping the season-long landscape for the past few years (at least among savvy drafters) is finally creeping into DFS games, and pricing for quarterbacks, as a whole, have gone down from previous seasons. Obviously there will be weeks where pricing fluctuates (maybe when Brady gets the Jets at home, or something of the like) and prices might go higher, but it appears the “big” money will be on the upper echelon of running backs and wide receivers (and rightfully so).

All that being said, most weeks – and especially in week 1 – I will probably still be looking to spend down at the position, especially in cash games. Matt Ryan ($8,500), who visits Chicago, and Aaron Rodgers ($8,300), who gets Seattle at home, lead the charge a the top of the quarterback heap in week 1. And while those aren’t stellar matchups, I will still be much more inclined to look down the list when selecting my signal caller. The aforementioned “TyGod” Taylor is sitting at a nice $7,500, but I’m also intrigued by several others in that price range: Marcus Mariota ($7,800), who is at home against what is likely to still be a shaky Oakland secondary; and in that same game I like Derek Carr for $1,000 cheaper, who could very well be the road underdog in a game that should see a fair share of points. Targeting the Arizona/Detroit matchup with either Carson Palmer ($7,300) or Matthew Stafford ($7,600) could be a viable option, too, as that game should be high scoring as well.

Don’t get me wrong, there will be times where spending up at quarterback makes sense. In fact, I love that move in GPP’s as a contrarian play, because most will likely still be looking to spend down. But, overall, just as in season long, you can generally get adequate production by “waiting” on quarterback for your DFS roster.

4. Run CMC

This last thought stems mostly from my unabashed love for Christian McCaffrey, so I will admit to a little bit of a bias here. But I have hunch his price ($6,500) will probably jump significantly after week 1. Carolina is traveling all the way to the west coast for an afternoon tilt with San Francisco, which, on paper, is a game where the Panthers should roll, and maybe they will. But don’t be surprised that with the travel and the fact that that could be the first action of the season for Cam Newton, it could be a game in which the Panthers have to play a bit of catch up, thus expediting the need for Run CMC.

Unless something happens to Jonathan Stewart between now and week 1, we won’t be able to bank on enough usage for McCaffrey to use him in cash, but all it takes for him to blow up his price tag is to catch a short screen pass, do a little shimmy and it’s off to the races for the Panthers and for his fantasy owners. I will definitely be firing that dart in at least one GPP come Sunday.





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