Between the Bankroll and Me: Fanduel Week 1

Marcus Mariota

To quote my 13 yr-old, “We did it, fam!” The NFL is back and we’ve got a whole slate of games to cover for Fanduel week 1.

Before we begin, let me say that most of my picks will be centered around who I feel are good “cash game” plays, but I will also throw in a few GPP picks I like, as well.

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Note: All players/games discussed will be for the main slate only. Those are the 1:00 PM games through the Sunday night game.



Ben Roethlisberger ($8,200) @ Cleveland

Big Ben comes in as the third most expensive signal caller on the main slate, behind just Matt Ryan ($8,500) and Aaron Rodgers ($8,300). And while I don’t mind firing up either of those first two gentleman in tournaments, Ben is the first QB I’m considering for cash games (though he’s still not my favorite – more on him in a second). The home/road splits seem to be a thing for Roethlisberger (though I feel they’re a bit overblown), but I think we can toss them out the window considering he’ll be facing the Browns. The Browns are a team definitely making strides in the right direction, but they’re still no match for the machine that is the Steelers offense. Big Ben will have a full arsenal at his disposal with the return of “The Alien”, Martavis Bryant, and Vegas like’s their odds of dominating as well, as they’re currently a eight point favorite in a game with a 48-point over/under.

Marcus Mariota ($7,800) vs. Oakland

“MariGOATa” is my favorite quarterback play on the slate, and for good reason as he checks all the boxes we want when considering a cash game passer: he’s a home favorite in a game with a high over/under (51 pts), has a high implied team point total (26.5), and is a very efficient passer in an ascending offense. Yes, the Titans will likely still try to deploy “exotic smash mouth” and give Oakland a steady dose of Demarco Murray and Derrek Henry, but with moves like signing Eric Decker and drafting Corey Davis number five overall there’s no doubt the Titans are all in on their young, dynamic quarterback. Oakland had one of the shakiest secondaries last year, and all signs point to them being so again this year. The Titans will likely be in scoring position often on Sunday, and Mariota should have ample opportunities to carve up the Raider secondary.

*Note* I like Derek Carr ($7,700) opposing Mariota in this same game, and could be a nice pivot in GPP’s.

Carson Palmer ($7,300) @ Detroit

Palmer is the last quarterback I’m considering for cash games. Detroit was the 32nd ranked (that’s last, btw) secondary according to Football Outsiders DVOA last year, and they project to be a similarly ranked unit this year. Entering this one the Cardinals are only a one point favorite, but the game does have a high over/under of 48, giving the Cardinals a 24.5-point implied team total. With the mighty David Johnson, a healthy (at least for now) John Brown, and a forever young Larry Fitzgerald (more on him later) by his side, Palmer should enjoy a nice bounce back campaign starting with Detroit. Additionally, given the year the Cardinals had (outside of DJ, of course) last year, the general public might be somewhat down on this offense making it the perfect time to capitalize on Palmer in GPP’s, too.


Cam Newton ($7,900) @ San Francisco

There’s no sugarcoating it, the Panthers offense blew chunks last year. Newton played hurt most of the year and as a result dragged what just the previous year was a historic offense through the mud in 2016. With some new, exciting weapons in tow and a focus on keeping their franchise player healthy, the Panthers are primed for a bounce back. And Vegas likes them to get off to a hot start with 26.5 implied team total against San Francisco. Like Palmer, the public, even more so, will likely be down on Newton so the time to use him is now and capitalize on some low ownership. Paring Newton with one or two of his targets could be a lethal stack, but you could also deploy a “naked” Cam lineup in hopes he rushes for a score or two.

Also consider: Russell Wilson ($8,000) @ Green Bay, 

Cardinals David Johnson

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Running Backs


David Johnson ($9,400) @ Detroit/Le’Veon Bell ($9,300) @ Cleveland

Yeah, I’m just going to lump these two studs in together, and I have a hunch this may be the case most of the year. I don’t have any fancy analysis for you with these two. They’re the best in the game, bar none. You don’t need me to tell you to play them. They both have phenomenal matchups, and even if they didn’t, they’re matchup proof. If you can afford to roster one (or both) without feeling like you’ve compromised other areas, go for it.

LeSean McCoy ($8,500) vs. New York Jets

I wrote up McCoy in my Week 1 Preview a few weeks ago, and while all signs since then appear to point to the Bills tanking, I do still really like McCoy’s outlook. You know, until they run him into the ground or trade him, too. And since that has yet to happen, let’s keep things positive and take advantage of a likely massive workload. The Bills are a huge 8.5-point favorite at home in a game with one of the lowest over/under’s on the slate (40.5), which points to nothing but a ton of positive game script for McCoy. He’s someone I’m close to locking in for cash games, and I like him for tournaments, too.

Todd Gurley ($7,300) vs. Indianapolis

I know, I know. Gurley. Perhaps the walking embodiment of a collective groan from fantasy footballers everywhere. But hear me out. With Andrew Luck likely out for this contest, the Rams are actually a home favorite (3 points), and if there’s one thing we can count on for Gurley it’s his workload. Efficiency might be another matter, but fortunately opportunity > efficiency when it comes to running backs for fantasy football. Gurley is in a peach of spot here against last year’s 32nd ranked run defense (per DVOA). I love him for all formats.

Ty Montgomery ($6,600) vs. Seattle

On paper this isn’t a great spot for Montgomery against a stout Seattle defense, but the game has a high over/under (50.5) and the Packers are a three-point favorite. The running back in an Aaron Rodgers-led offense always has value, and even though the opponent isn’t ideal the Packers should have a handful of scoring chances in this one, meaning TyMont should see enough work to pay off his price tag. Additionally, I have a hunch he’ll go under-owned in GPP’s due to the perceived tough matchup, making him a great tournament option, as well.


Christian McCaffrey ($6,500) @ San Francisco

It’s clear the Panthers have a plan for Run CMC. They are going to try and get him the ball anyway they can. Unfortunately, they also still have a plan for Jonathan Stewart, which means we can’t bank on enough volume to make McCaffrey a safe cash game play. However, with his skill set he doesn’t necessarily need a huge workload to blow up his price tag in a tournament. I’m rolling him out in a few lineups, and I wouldn’t be surprised if his weekly price steadily climbs after this game.

Also consider: Carlos Hyde ($6,800) vs. Carolina, Derrick Henry ($5,800) vs. Oakland

Let Julio Jones carry you to victory! (Getty Images)

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Wide Receivers


Antonio Brown ($9,100) @ Cleveland/Julio Jones ($9,000) @ Chicago/Odell Beckham Jr. ($8,800) @ Dallas

Similar to the upper echelon of running backs, the cream of the crop at wide receiver are in a similar situation this week. With the exception of being on the road (which isn’t a huge deal for receivers), Brown, Jones and Beckham all have outstanding matchups and again you don’t need me to tell you to play them. If you can afford it, do it.

Amari Cooper ($7,600) @ Tennessee

I’ve already touched on this being one of the most attractive games of the slate, per Vegas, and although the Raiders are road dogs, obviously with a 51-point over under they’re still expected to score quite well. Last year, Tennessee ranked 27th in DVOA against the pass and surrendered almost 10 catches per game and 86.8 yards per game to number one receivers. Traditionally, we’d like a little more touchdown consistency when selecting receivers for cash games than Cooper has shown thus far in his brief career, but all signs this offseason point to a breakout in that department for the third year stud. And even if he doesn’t score, he should still see enough of the passing game market share to easily pay off his price tag with a handful of catches and has a great chance of topping 100 yards.

Larry Fitzgerald ($6,400) @ Detroit

Don’t look now, but old man Fitz might just be the biggest value on the slate. Yes, he seems to slow down more and more each year, but that doesn’t detract from his ability to win in the slot. And, of course, we all know he’s catching anything that comes near him. Over the past couple years he’s gotten off to a hot start before the body begins to slow down around mid season, so the time to pounce on his cheap price is now. Vegas loves this game for the Cards, as I’ve already explained when discussing Palmer. I’m locking Fitz in for cash games.


A.J. Green ($8,400) vs. Baltimore

Much like he does in season-long formats, A.J. Green is flying under the radar. Many will likely be paying up for Brown or Julio, or dropping down to the Cooper tier, while Green sits there right in the middle. This game isn’t very sexy in the eyes of Vegas with a 42.5 over/under, and it’s likely to stay that way. But the perceived tough matchup against Baltimore and poor Vegas marks should suppress Green’s ownership a good deal, allowing you to benefit from a true target monster in Green.

Also consider: Jordy Nelson ($7,700) vs. Seattle, Martavis Bryant ($6,500) @ Cleveland

Titans Delanie Walker

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Tight End


Delanie Walker ($6,100) vs. Oakland

Surprisingly, even on a slate without Rob Gronkowski, there’s actually a plethora of ways to attack the tight end position in week one. Walker stands out as the priciest cash option for me (though you could certainly spend up if you wanted, especially in GPP’s), and that’s based solely on the fact that Oakland is dreadful against opposing tight ends. Last year they ranked 23 rd against the position, allowing 7.6 catches and 65.4 yards per game. Even with the new, exciting receiving options the Titans have blessed Mariota with, the connection with Walker still appears to be one of his favorites as the two continued to demonstrate a strong bond in the preseason. There are cheaper options, but you can roster Walker with the utmost confidence.

Zach Ertz ($5,900) @ Washington

Ertz is in a terrific spot this week, as Washington was actually worse against tight ends last year than Oakland. For me, the $200 difference isn’t big enough to drop down from Walker because I like his quarterback better and he’s at home, but if you find that price difference crucial then by all means roll with Ertz and use those funds elsewhere.

Charles Clay ($4,600) vs. New York Jets

Suggesting another Bills player outside of Shady McCoy seems like kind of a stretch, but Clay is really the only receiving option in Buffalo that has any sort of rapport with Tyrod Taylor. If you find you just have to spend up at other positions, Clay is a perfect “punt” tight end that allows you to do that.


Jimmy Graham ($6,200) vs. Green Bay

In cash games, I generally like to save as much as I can when selecting my tight end. A viable strategy in tournaments, however, is to do the opposite and spend up. Graham is my “spend up” tight end this week. Yes, Jordan Reed could be another option, and he’s actually at home, but I like that the Seattle/Green Bay game projects to be a shootout, and I’m also buying all the preseason talk that Graham is 100% healthy and ready to return to dominance.

Also Consider: If you’d like to punt in GPP’s, Austin Hooper ($4,700) is another intriguing spot on the road against Chicago



Buffalo ($4,700) vs. New York Jets

Last Buffalo player (sort of ), I promise. The formula I generally try to follow for cash game defenses is simple: Home Favorites. Yes, you want your defense to also be able to generate pressure and force turnovers, but home favorites is the best place to start. Buffalo is the biggest home favorite on the slate, and they’re in a game that has the second lowest over/under (40.5).

St. Louis ($4,600) vs. Indinapolis

With Andrew Luck now out for at least week one, St. Louis becomes an awfully attractive cash game defense. I don’t know about you, but I don’t place much confidence in Scott Tolzein leading the Colts to a massive scoring output. The Rams aren’t quite as big a favorite as the Bills, but they’re also $100 cheaper. They’ll probably be the “chalkiest” of the two defenses.


Cincinnati ($4,600) vs. Baltimore

Similar to tight ends, I usually try to save as much as I can in cash games and then spend up in tournaments, so naturally Houston would’ve been the write up here as they’re in a great spot at home against JLOLacksonville (for the record, I still will have exposure to them). But Cincinnati stuck out to me because I think they will go way under-owned being in the same tier as Buffalo and St. Louis. But, they are also home favorites in a matchup against a pretty “meh” offense in Baltimore with a quarterback in Joe Flacco who could very well be quite rusty having not played in the preseason.


Ryan Succop ($4,600) vs. Oakland

Kicker is wicked easy for me to pick each week. Look for a home favorite who’s in a game with a high over/under, while trying to save as much money as you can. Ryan Succop checks all those boxes this week.






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