DFS Tournament 6-Pack: Week 1

7 Sep 2018 - 9:55pm | Roto Coach | Updated: 7 Sep 2018 - 10:02pm | Likes: 11
DFS Tournament 6-Pack: Week 1

NFL football is back!

For those new to the site or this article in particular, each week we provide a “6-pack” of picks, with two high dollar, two mid-level, and two low-dollar players to consider for your tournament lineups. Each week I alternate between DraftKings and FanDuel for picks and pricing in order to make sure I’m covering GPP plays for folks playing on both of those sites. Here in Week 1 we’re going to use DraftKings pricing, as we look to unearth some interesting GPP options. The goal is to find players that can return enough value to be tournament viable, while also thinking through where some of the pivots to the more chalky plays will be that week in order to get a little differentiation in our lineups. Now that you know the deal, let’s get after it!

High Dollar

Larry Fitzgerald-WR-Arizona Cardinals-$6600: I expect the big names in potential shootouts this week to garner some serious ownership-namely Keenan Allen, Antonio Brown, Michael Thomas, and DeAndre Hopkins. Each one has the opportunity to post a massive performance, but I expect all four to be very popular plays. Dropping down a bit into the next tier I love the potential for Larry Fitzgerald, and I think there’s a solid chance he outscores at least half of the players listed above, especially on a PPR site like DraftKings. Sam Bradford starts the season under center for the Cardinals, and the last time he was healthy we saw him dink and dunk his way to a single season completion percentage record. With a gutted wide receiver corps outside of Fitz, Bradford is going to lean heavily on David Johnson out of the backfield and the future Hall of Fame wideout in the passing game. As we’ve seen in recent seasons, Fitzgerald should run most of his routes out of the slot in the short to intermediate passing game. And it just so happens that projects to be one of the weakest aspects of the Redskins secondary. Kendall Fuller was part of the Alex Smith trade and is now in Kansas City, and Orlando Scandrick, signed to replace him this offseason, didn’t even make the roster. Second year cornerback Fabian Moreau will man the slot for Washington and draw a less than ideal matchup with Larry Fitz. The former third round pick is a freak athlete, but he’s hardly been a stalwart cover corner so far in his brief NFL career, earning a 41.3 (scale of 100) cornerback rating from Pro Football Focus last season in limited action while allowing a 137.5 passer rating on the small sample size of the dozen times he was targeted by opposing quarterbacks. For frame of reference, Fuller, who he replaces, allowed a league low 55.0 passer rating when targeted last season. Old man Fitzgerald could see as many as 30% of the targets in this offense in 2018 as the Cardinals try to piece together a passing attack and his Week 1 matchup couldn’t get much better.

Other pivots to consider at a similar price point: Stefon Diggs-WR-Minnesota Vikings-$6300 and Tyreek Hill-WR-Kansas City Chiefs-$6500      

Ezekiel Elliott-RB-Dallas Cowboys-$7700: Let’s start by reminding you that this is a GPP play ONLY! It remains to be seen how the top tier running backs will shake out this week from an ownership standpoint, but it’s probably safe to assume Ezekiel Elliott winds up at the bottom of the pile. Well publicized injuries along the offensive line, a poor road matchup at Carolina, and the lack of a passing attack all point impending disaster for the Cowboys this week. But that also means Dallas will lean more heavily than ever on their franchise running back, making him the most likely ball carrier to see 30+ touches in Week 1. He’ll be the focal point of the offense regardless of the score, and given the lack of pass catchers on this team with Dez Bryant and Jason Witten now gone, he should be in line for more targets than ever. This makes him exactly the kind of back we can target on PPR sites. Lending a little help here as well is the suspension of Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis, who will miss this game due to a positive PED test. While Davis’s best years are behind him, he’s the quarterback of this defense a key cog in keeping opposing running games in check. I’m not sure Elliott’s yards per carry will wow at the end of the day, but I think there’s a very real chance he finishes this one with 150 or more combined yards and a score. And from the discount you get off guys like Alvin Kamara and David Johnson I think Elliott is at least worth considering if you’re building a bunch of tournament lineups.

Mid Tier

Patrick Mahomes-QB-Kansas City Chiefs-$6000: If you listen to the podcast you know I’m “all-in” (obviously he’s not the only QB I’m rostering, but I think you know what I mean) on Patrick Mahomes this year. My comparison for Mahomes sitting behind Alex Smith last season was what we saw from Daunte Culpepper in year number two after he sat his entire rookie season for a Vikings team that won the division. Yes, Culpepper had future Hall of Famers in Cris Carter and Randy Moss to throw to, but Mahomes inherits the trio of Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and Sammy Watkins, not to mention running back Kareem Hunt, who totaled nearly 1800 yards and 11 touchdowns last year as a rookie so he’s hardly strapped for talent around him. All Culpepper did in his first year as the starter was throw for nearly 4000 yards and 33 scores, adding another 470 rushing yards and 7 touchdowns on the ground. And in case we’d forgotten about Mahomes’ running ability, remember this is a quarterback that totaled 741 yards and 22 touchdowns on the ground in his final two collegiate seasons while at the same time racking up gaudy passing stats in Texas Tech’s spread offense. A big reason to like Mahomes this week is the matchup. The loss of cornerback Jason Verrett in camp was a big blow, and top pass rusher Joey Bosa was ruled out on Friday as well. But perhaps the key to Mahomes value this season is the Chiefs defense. It’s downright awful. Expect Philip Rivers and the high-powered Chargers offense to have zero trouble picking it apart in a variety of ways, which means even Kansas City leads aren’t going to be particularly safe this season. All of this is a long way of saying Mahomes is likely to have to keep on slingin’ it most weeks. In fact, this could very well be a game where Kansas City is playing from behind all afternoon and Mahomes just piles up numbers trying to keep them in it. For what it’s worth, a Mahomes-Hill stack is my favorite pairing here, as Hill torched this defense last season in both meetings. Mahomes is a guy I want now because I think it’s only a matter of time before he starts to wow us, and the price is just too low.

Other pivots to consider at a similar price point: Andy Dalton-QB-Cincinnati Bengals-$5900

Kenny Stills-WR-Miami Dolphins-$4700: Even with a healthy Devante Parker, I’m in the camp that believes Kenny Stills is hands down the best wideout in Miami. Ryan Tannehill takes over the reigns after missing all of last season with ACL reconstruction, and won’t have Jarvis Landry to count on anymore. Newly signed Danny Amendola figures to man the slot position, but he’s 32 years old and has been used sparingly for years due to durability concerns, not to mention the fact that he offers next to nothing after the catch. Stills, on the other hand, is just 26-years old and has developed from being merely a deep threat early on in his career into a receiver that can win at every level. Parker’s injury and absence likely sealed the deal for Stills as the number one receiver in Miami for now. This is a target volume play, as the Dolphins don’t have a high octane offense, but it’s hard not to like a WR1 at $4700. I also have more confidence in Tannehill getting him the football than say, Blake Bortles throwing to any of the Jacksonville wideouts this week.   

Other pivots to consider at a similar price point: Emmanuel Sanders-WR-Denver Broncos-$5000

Lower Tier

With the late preseason injury to Marqise Lee and the continued holdout of Le’Veon Bell, the mega-chalk value plays this week are going to be Jags wideout Keelan Cole and Steelers running back James Conner. But if you’re looking to get away from those guys in tournaments there are plenty of options to consider. Below are two of my favorites.

Phillip Dorsett-WR-New England-$3,700: While there are plenty of other pass catchers to consider in New England, Dorsett enters the season as the Patriots number two wideout behind Chris Hogan. While his long-term value is a giant question mark with Julian Edelman slated to return at the end of Week 4, that’s not our concern this week. Gronk is still the top option in the passing game, and some combination of Rex Burkhead and James White are going to see targets out of the backfield. The important thing to note here is that Hogan is a guy that Brady has historically targeted in more of a downfield fashion. In fact, he had a 2017 average depth of target (aDOT) of 13.2 yards, just a little over two yards behind Brandin Cooks (15.4), who the Pats used primarily as a deep threat last season. We can also guess at how the Patriots will utilize Gronkowski this week, who should be targeted heavily in the middle of the field at the intermediate level against the Texans. That leaves the short crossing and seam routes role occupied by aging Danny Amendola last season to Dorsett. With Edelman lost to a torn ACL Amendola saw 85 targets over 15 games last season, and he was hardly the same run after the catch threat that Dorsett can be. If the preseason is any indication, this looks like the role Bill Belichick has carved out for Dorsett, who saw plenty of work on short and intermediate routes out of the slot. Although the Texans have made some improvements on the defensive side of the ball this offseason with safety Tyrann Mathieu and slot corner Aaron Colvin, and the return of a healthy J.J. Watt to the pass rush helps immensely, it might take a minute for all the newcomers in this defense to gel. Going on the road to New England to open the season isn’t going to help. Vegas seems to agree, as this game has the highest projected point total of any Week 1 contest. Cole has a better matchup against the Giants awful secondary, but give me the guy catching passes from a future Hall of Famer on a team projected to score north of 28 points this week.

Others to consider pivoting to in the same price range: John Brown-WR-Baltimore Ravens-$3700 and Antonio Callaway-WR-Cleveland Browns-$3100  

Carlos Hyde-RB-Cleveland Browns-$4500: I’m not going to try to tell you James Conner is a bad play because everything we’ve seen in the preseason suggests the Steelers will use him the same way they’ve used Le’Veon Bell for the past few seasons. And if that’s the case it’s hard to justify fading all those touches in what should be a good matchup with Cleveland. But given how much attention Bell’s holdout has garnered and Conner’s $4500 price tag, we could easily see his ownership land in the 35% or higher range. That’s pretty hard to stomach in GPPs, which has me looking to the other side of Conner’s matchup for an alternative. The drafting of Nick Chubb tempered some of the expectations associated with Hyde’s homecoming in Cleveland, but he’s firmly behind Hyde on the depth chart to open the season. Hyde went through three coaching regimes in the first four seasons of his NFL career in San Francisco, but when healthy he’s been far more productive than he gets credit for. Over the past two seasons he’s averaged better than 4.2 yards per carry on 457 total totes, running behind a pretty poor 49ers front line so it’s hard to imagine he’ll find the sledding any harder in Cleveland this year. On the other side of the ball, Pittsburgh’s run defense is somewhat suspect coming into the season. While the 2017 numbers aren’t awful, there are a couple things that point to potential success for Hyde this week. First, this is home game where we know the Steelers will be without Le’Veon Bell, and the Browns have continued to rebuild and have made a significant upgrade at quarterback from the past couple seasons. There are plenty, including myself, who think Cleveland pull the upset here, which could mean some late game clock milking carries for Hyde. Second, Hyde is the type of big back the Steelers struggled against early on last season, as similar sized rushers Jordan Howard and Leonard Fournette pummeled this team in Week 3 and Week 5 respectively for a combine 321 yards and 4 touchdowns on the ground. Finally, the Steelers run defense was a mess late last year, and those shortcomings started with the tragic injury to Ryan Shazier. In fact, starting in Week 13 when Shazier suffered the injury and was lost for the season, the Steelers gave up 100+ yards on the ground to all but one of their six opponents and 100+ yards to running backs in four of those six games. That run culminated with Leonard Fournette’s 109 yard 3 touchdowns rushing effort in Pittsburgh’s playoff loss at home. This is definitely a spot where Hyde could outscore Conner at a fraction of the ownership.

Others to consider pivoting to in the same price range: Peyton Barber-RB-Tampa Bay Buccaneers-$4100 and Matt Breida-RB-San Francisco 49ers-$4600

Good luck this week!

 

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