The start of the regular season is still a month away, but DraftKings has already posted their first slate of the season including a $5.55 million contest that pays out $1 million to the winner.
While it’s certainly too early to lock in our picks for this slate, it’s never too early to take a look at player pricing and matchups to get an edge on the competition. Let’s start with a look at the game lines and totals for the millionaire maker main Sunday slate.
Below are the top 6 projected team totals from the Vegas lines:
Matt Ryan and Julio Jones
Matt Ryan and Julio Jones got off to a flaming hot start in 2016, Ryan averaged 30 DraftKings PPG over the first month and Julio averaged 24 DK PPG over that stretch. They travel to Chicago in week 1 to face a Bears secondary with all sorts of issues. In 2016 they gave up a 22/8 TD/INT ration and 64.5% completion percentage, both bottom 10 in the league. They specifically struggled against opposing #1 receivers, ranking 27th in the NFL in defending opposing #1 receivers.
Brian Hoyer and Pierre Garcon
When looking for value stacks that should have low ownership % and plenty of upside given their combined salaries, Hoyer/Garcon is the one that really jumped out at me. They will face a weak secondary that is traveling across the country for this week one matchup. Garcon has two 1,000+ yards seasons in the last four years, and Hoyer averaged 22 DraftKings PPG in his four starts last season. Kyle Shanahan will find a way to get the most out of these two vets, and between his reworking of the passing game and Carlos Hyde, I expect the San Fran offense to be much better than most expect.
Top RB Plays
Le’Veon Bell – $9,800
Assuming the holdout eventually ends, Bell should be the top RB on the board for week 1. Bell had a monster 2017 campaign, and his best game came in his lone matchup with Cleveland. He put up just under 150 rushing yards and a touchdown to go along with 8 receptions for another 55 yards, good for 37.1 DraftKings points. Bell led the NFL in carries per game last season, and also led all RB’s in receptions per game, averaging just over 6 per. A full season out of Jamie Collins should help improve the NFL’s second worst run defense, but PFF still has the Browns front 7 ranked in the bottom 10.
Todd Gurley – $6,000
It didn’t take us log to get back onto the Gurley train… Gurley opens up his 2017 campaign at home, facing a Colts defense that was horrible against the run in 2016. Indy gave up 4.7 YPC last season, and enters this season as PFF’s 31st ranked front 7. I love what I’ve seen from the Rams throughout camp, and a stark improvement should not come as a surprise to anyone with guys like Sean McVay (Washington OC) and Matt LaFleur (Falcons QB Coach) now running the show.
Ameer Abdullah – $4,300
The Lions have made it clear that they view Abdullah as their early down workhorse back. While the Cardinals were the 9th best team against the run last season, the loss of Calais Campbell alone will likely drop them to the middle of the pack. Couple that with the fact that their inside linebackers, Deone Buchanan and Haasan Reddick are both undersized in terms of NFL ILB standards, and I think Abdullah could be a nice under-priced, under-owned sleeper.
Top WR Plays
Julio Jones – $8,500
When fully healthy, nobody has the upside of Julio Jones. Last season Jones went off for 7 25+ point games, including 2 games with over 42 DraftKings points. As we mentioned in the stacks breakdown, the Bears have all sorts of issues in their secondary and were the 5th worst team against opposing number one receivers.
Pierre Garcon – $5,300
Pierre Garcon is one of the more underrated receivers in current season-long PPR drafts. The number one receiver in a Kyle Shanahan run offense is always a target monster, and Garcon is a proven commodity. Even in a crowded group of receivers, Garcon managed to put up 79/1,041/3 with the Redskins last season. I think he will see a ton of targets this season, and has legitimate Hilton-esque upside (95/1,500/6).
Jeremy Maclin – $5,000
While we aren’t quite buying the Steve Smith parallels, I do think there is a chance Maclin puts up better numbers than Smith ever did in this offense. A lack of a proven tight end, the fact that the Ravens plan on using Maclin in the slot, and having deep play threats on the outside should create plenty of opportunity for Maclin.
Marvin Jones, Jr – $4,100
Getting a player like Marvin Jones at $4,100 amongst the like of Devin Funchess, Kevin White, and Justin Hunter is a real steal. Jones has looked great this offseason and lit up the Colts in recent intersquad practices. It’s hard to forget the way he started last season, averaging over 20 DraftKings PPG over his first give games. The key here is to try and get a read on what the Cardinals are going to do with Peterson. Outside of him, the Cardinals secondary is fairly suspect particularly over the top with a decline Bethea and what should be a rusty Tyrann Mathieu.
Top TE Plays
Zach Ertz – $3,500
I love the additions of Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, particularly for Ertz and Sproles. That sort of big play ability and speed on the outside will force opposing safeties to stay honest and keep depth. Ertz is particularly intriguing given the fact that the most productive slot receiver in the league over the past few seasons is now gone. That is a ton of targets, and Ertz proved more than capable of handling that workload down the stretch of last season, where he averaged over 10 targets per game over the last 7.
Tyler Higbee – $2,600
While I think Higbee could potentially lose targets to Everett, it won’t happen early this season. Moving from the Sun Belt to the NFL is tough, and Higbee already has a connection with his camp roommate Jared Goff. His opponent for week one, the Panthers, gave up the third highest completion % last season, have PFF’s 22nd ranked secondary, and gave up the 6th most fantasy PPG to opposing tight ends last season.