Vegas Lines for NFL Week One Games
Those of you that have followed our DraftKings lineup articles for the past 5 years know that we start each article with the Vegas team lines for the week. It is an easy way to get a feel for which teams should put up the most points each week.
In addition to the lines, we are adding a confidence ranking (CR) to give an idea of whether or not we expect the team to reach their given total. So, below you will see that we are fairly confident that Carolina and Tennessee reach their totals, and much less confident that Buffalo, Indy, and Dallas can reach their team totals.
Who Will Be Chalk This Week
The Redskins throw it so much, and so well, that Cousins is a relatively safe QB play regardless of the matchup. The Eagles secondary looked fairly beatable, particularly Ronald Darby in his first few games with the team. You rarely see a QB with an ownership % that is extremely higher than the rest of the slate, but I think you can expect Cousins to be one of the three highest owned quarterbacks in this slate.
Other QBs that are also in the conversation as being chalk for week one: Mariota, Carr, Palmer
Anytime you can get a clear RB1, that will receive a legitimate RB1 workload, for a price lower than 16 RB’s that are in some sort of timeshare, you can bet he will be highly owned. West is 9 spots lower on DraftKings (RB28) than FanDuel (RB19). A year after putting up a surprising and unexpected run/pass ratio, the Ravens made it a clear goal this offseason to get back to running the ball. They didn’t have back hit 25 carries at all last season, and have already said that won’t be the case this season. It’s hard to imagine that the Ravens offense doesn’t run through West in week one given the injuries to Flacco and Woodhead this preseason.
Other RBs that are also in the conversation as being chalk for week one: Bell, Johnson, Freeman, Sproles
Again, I think public opinion of the Redskins passing offense is so high right now that Cousins/Pryor will be one of, if not the top, stack in this slate. Despite this, I’m find with targeting this stack in GPP’s, the downside of both players is pretty low. However, I do think there is a real chance that Reed and Crowder are the top two receivers in this offense this season, and Pryor fills a big play role that makes him more of the boom-or-bust option that Jackson was in this offense.
Other WRs that are also in the conversation as being chalk for week one: Antonio Brown, Larry Fitzgerald, Pierre Garcon, Marvin Jones
Ertz should be the top owned tight end in DraftKings week one contests, and I don’t think it should be close. With Matthews moving to Buffalo, he will likely see a 25% target rate this season, with a red zone target rate closer to 30%. I think he certainly will finish as a top 5 tight end this season, but is currently priced as the TE10 in a slate that doesn’t have Gronk, Kelce, or Rudolph active.
Other TEs that are also in the conversation as being chalk for week one: Julius Thomas, Zach Miller, George Kittle
Top Value Plays for DraftKings Week One Contests
Carson Wentz – $5,300
If you read our FanDuel week one article, you likely already know that we are high on Hoyer and Goff given the change to each guys system and a favorable matchup. That being said, we have to lean towards the safer play in Wentz on DraftKings where there is hardly a gap between him ($5,300) and Hoyer ($5,100) and Goff ($4,800). The Eagles offensive line looks so much better with Lane Johnson at right tackle, they still don’t have a running game, and the weapons around Wentz are immensely better than last season.
Additional Value QB Targets: Brian Hoyer, Jared Goff, Deshone Kizer
I love Abdullah at his $4,300 price tag on DraftKings this week. The matchup with the Cardinals should keep his ownership % from jumping too high, but his skill set makes it virtually impossible for opposing defenses to keep him in check. Abdullah can sneak through a crease and break a 50+ yard run, makes something out of nothing as good as any back, and is an underrated pass catcher. At $4,300, he can hit value if he just hits 90 total yards with 4 receptions. I think that is his floor in week one, making him the perfect value play at RB.
Additional Value QB Targets: Terrance West, Rob Kelley, Darren Sproles
There are too many options at WR under $4,800 this week. This should clearly set us up to load up on two of the elite top five RB’s in this slate, while still comfortably filling out our roster with one or two of these players. In fact, I think you can make the argument that the winning lineup for this week may end up looking similar to the one below. Goodwin is amongst my favorite targets in this group (full list under the lineup below) because he has elite big play potential, a significant role in his team’s offense, but is still off the radar enough that he should have extremely low ownership.
Full list of receivers priced under $4,800 worth targeting in week one: John Brown, Corey Coleman, Devin Funchess, Kevin White, Robby Anderson, Marvin Jones, Marquise Goodwin, Kendall Wright
Another guy that popped up in our FanDuel week one article, Kittle is our favorite minimum salary tight end play on DraftKings for week one. Kittle will turn a ton of heads this season, John Lynch found himself a gem in the Iowa tight end. As you might expect out of an Iowa tight end, he’s smart, well coached, runs solid routes, has reliable hands, but what you don’t expect is the burst he has. At 6’4″ 250 pounds, Kittle ran a 4.5 40 at the combine, and looked so good throughout the offseason and preseason that the 49ers felt comfortable moving Vance McDonald two weeks ago. He will play a role in this passing game, and I don’t think the Panthers secondary, which was atrocious last season despite having a great pass rush, is much improved heading into the 2017 season.
Other value tight ends that should be on your radar: C.J. Fiedorowicz, Julius Thomas, Zach Miller, Tyler Higbee
Our Picks for DraftKings Week One
The Raiders gave up the 9th most passing YPG last season, and through the preseason it looks like they may have regressed even further this offseason. The reality is that this should be an improved unit, given the resources they poured into it, but circumstances have kept this unit from gelling. Rookies Conley and Melifonwu have been hurt for the better part of the preseason, Sean Smith is fight multiple felony assault charges, Amerson suffered a concussion, and Carrie has been awful. The Titans want to run the ball, but it’s hard to argue with letting Mariota sling it all over the field if everyone is wide open. It’s also worth keeping in mind that Carr will answer Mariota, the Titans secondary is also a nightmare, and both guys are great plays this week.
We are kind of beating a dead horse with the 49ers in this article, but the Panthers are going to score a bunch, and Shanahan will have this offense ready to at least put a solid effort towards keeping pace. Carolina’s secondary is riddled with issues, lost their DC this offseason, and are coming off a 2016 campaign in which they gave up the 4th most passing YPG in the NFL. Hoyer averaged over 4x his current salary playing for the Bears last season, give him a full offseason with Kyle Shanahan and I think he’s poised to have a much better season than most expect.
It is impossible for receivers to match the upside and consistency you get with any of the three backs we are targeting for week one. In addition to his 110 rushing YPG, Bell caught over 5 passes per game for 40+ YPG in 2016. Not only was he the most consistent player in fantasy, but also had the highest ceiling (55 points in a week 13 matchup with Buffalo). While Ben has been a different monster on the road, Bell’s career home/away splits indicate he is a much better play on the road than the Steeler’s passing game.
While Johnson production as a runner wasn’t quite that of Bell’s, I would argue he has a higher upside in 2017 because of his proficiency in the red zone. The Lions reworked their LB corps, but it will be a few weeks before rookie Jarrad Davis and second year player Antwoine Williams are really comfortable as starters here. In the meantime, all they have to do is deal with one of the best backs in the NFL, that is an elite pass catcher, and a lock to get 25+ touches. Expect 125 yards, 5+ receptions, and at least one touchdown out of Johnson here, good for a 25-35 point performance.
Gurley is another guy that has now popped up in both our FanDuel and DraftKings week one articles. Like every other Rams player, his 2016 campaign was a complete bust. Gurley hit 3x his current DraftKings salary just two times last season, but he is a guy that we want to target early this season, because we see him jumping to the $7,000+ range as early as next week. Like Goff, Gurley will clearly benefit tremendously from the scheme change, he wasn’t quiet about voicing his concerns about the Rams’ offensive system last season. Additionally, Gurley gets a matchup with a Colts team that allowed 4.7 YPC and the 8th most rushing YPG last season.
In the 2015 season, Martavis Bryant averaged 9 targets per game, 82 yards per game, and scored 8 touchdowns in 13 appearances. That was with Roethlisberger missing multiple games and playing through a slew of injuries. In two seasons Bryant has 76 catches for 1,314 yards and 15 total touchdowns in 21 regular-season games. All reports out of Pittsburgh are that, for the first time in his career, Bryant came into camp in shape, and he even admitted that this was the first time in his life that he has worked out. The upside is scary, and I think you need to have him on your radar starting right now in week one.
We certainly don’t advocate being all in on the 49ers and Rams this week, but if you are looking for value in this DraftKings slate there are plenty of guys on both rosters that are currently underpriced. The WR1 in a Kyle Shanahan offense tends to go nuts, and we expect Garcon to have a 140-150 target season. Given 10 targets, in a matchup with a porous Panthers secondary, we would give Garcon a 15 point floor with a 25 point ceiling… or 3x-5x his week one DraftKings salary.
If John Brown is fully healthy, something he hasn’t been in almost a full season, he is the number one receiver for the Cardinals. With that in mind, Arizona really coddled him throughout camp and he is entering a week one matchup with the Lions about as healthy as you could hope. His particular skill set is one that the Detroit defense has really struggled with in recent seasons. The Lions were dead last against inside receivers (slot receivers and tight ends lined up in the slot) and a healthy John Brown is as lethal a weapon out of the slot as we have in this league. His two touchdown performance in the third week of the preseason is a good indicator of his current form.
It’s rare to get a WR1 that should receive the target share Anderson will this season for just $3,800 on DraftKings. Given, at the time these player salaries posted we were under the assumption that either Petty or Hackenberg were going to start week 1, but with McCown at the helm Anderson is somewhat appealing. We know from his time at Temple that he can function as both a possession receiver or a stretch guy (4.34 40 time). Similar to Garcon, the volume of targets Anderson should get makes him fantasy relevant despite the team he plays for.
We touched on Ertz in our chalk section, but he is a guy that we are targeting regardless of what his ownership % is. I think Ertz’s role in the 2017 Eagles offense is going to expand enough to put him in the top TE discussion with Gronk, Kelce, Reed, and Olsen. He flashed huge upside and great chemistry with Wentz towards the end of last season, hitting double digit targets in 3 of the team’s final 6 games. His week one matchup with the Redskins faces him off with a defense that looks to be a bottom 10 secondary on paper, and gave up the 7th most production to opposing tight ends in 2016.
Julius Thomas looks similar to Martellus Bennett in Gase’s system. A role that saw Bennett catch 90 passes on 129 targets for over 900 yards and 6 touchdowns in 2014. We know the team views Thomas as their top red zone target in the passing game, which could result in a multi touchdown game against a defense that has the talent in the front 7 to keep Ajayi out of the end zone. Given his injury history, the Dolphins clearly made an effort to keep Thomas upright this preseason, he caught 3 of 4 targets for 3 yards and a touchdown. His red zone production will make or break you, but it’s that 5/45/2 line that could provide 8x value this week.