Welcome to the Week 1 DFS Blue Book; your weekly buyer’s guide as a GM in the DFS industry. Each week we will highlight players or match ups that could pay off big based on price, projections, historical performances, and other factors that you need to know about to build a winning roster. Here’s who we’ve highlighted for Week 1 of the 2016 season.
Dak Prescott | QB | Cash
Dak Prescott is a cash game staple this week. In 3 games this preseason, Prescott has an 83% completion percentage (C%) with an adjusted completion percentage (aC%) of 89.5%. What makes this more impressive is that he did it with an average depth of target (aDOT) of 9.3. While those completion numbers aren’t sustainable through the regular season, Prescott gets a juicy matchup against the New York Giants who could be starting two rookies in the secondary in Eli Apple and Darian Thompson. At Prescott’s price point we are very confident he will be able to return value in cash game settings. Too highly owned to be used in GPPs this week.
Blake Bortles | QB | GPP
Last season, Blake Bortles came out of nowhere to produce 343 fantasy points. There has been talk this offseason about his coming regression. There have been great stats about how so many of his fantasy points came in garbage time minutes. That type of negative stigma is on everyone’s minds, but his fantasy success in 2015 is likely to recur in the opening week of 2016. The Jaguars are a 5.5-point underdog at home to the Green Bay Packers. Grabbing Bortles in this kind of game is the kind of tournament-winning strategy you need in GPPs.
Tyrod Taylor | QB | GPP
Tyrod Taylor opens the season against a Ravens defense that is lacking in the secondary. Jimmy Smith and Shareece Wright will be given the task of stopping Sammy Watkins in the passing game, both of whom Watkins can dominate. Should things break down, Taylor will also be able to use his legs. He rushed for over 500 yards last year and 4 touchdowns which give him additional upside. Taylor’s dual threat ability actually led to him averaging .59 fantasy points per drop back which were tied for 3rd in the NFL. Simply put, when Taylor was healthy last year, he was an elite fantasy option who will only grow in his second year with the Bills.
Aaron Rodgers | QB | All Formats
Aaron Rodgers is going to have moderate to low ownership this weekend. No, he is not playing the Broncos. Rodgers is playing against a Jaguars team that will be starting three or four rookie defenders (Dante Fowler missed last year due to injury essentially making him a rookie). This is a Jaguars defense that will get better as the year goes on. Unfortunately for them, this is Week 1 and Rodgers has a healthy Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson back. In 2014 when Rodgers had his full complement of weapons, he threw for 38 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions. The disappointment of Rodgers’ 2015 season is fresh in player’s minds so take advantage of the recency bias and use Rodgers in all formats Week 1.
Carson Wentz | QB | All Formats
Carson Wentz is a very interesting play because he is a pivot off of the most popular QB, Dak Prescott. Both rookie QBs are priced at minimum salaries across the industry, but Wentz—the second overall pick—is being forgotten about. Just like Prescott, Carson Wentz is playing against a porous defense. While the Dallas Cowboys may have a stronger supporting cast around Prescott, this could also lead to Ezekiel Elliot having such an incredible game that Prescott isn’t forced to do much at all. Philadelphia opens at home and will want to showcase their franchise QB. Wentz is one of our must-plays this week.
Drew Brees | QB | All Formats
Drew Brees is opening up against the Oakland Raiders and will look to take advantage of another defense that will be breaking in several new players. Brees has his full arsenal of weapons in 2016. Players like Brandin Cooks, Coby Fleener, Willie Snead, Michael Thomas, Mark Ingram, and CJ Spiller all figure to play a role in the passing game. What makes this matchup most attractive is the potential for a shootout, raising Brees’ ceiling about as high as any player on the board. Brees offers one of the highest point floors as well.
Spencer Ware | RB| All Formats
Spencer Ware will be competing with Dak Prescott for the chalkiest play of the week. It is totally understandable, too. The recent revelation of Jamaal Charles’ slow comeback created a huge void in the Kansas City Chiefs backfield. In will step Ware, who showed he was an extremely capable backup last season. This preseason Ware has continued to show his competence; compiling 40 PPR fantasy points in 3 appearances. Last season, in the 9 games that Ware played in he scored an astonishingly high 0.70 points per opportunity (PPO). Those are elite numbers and I haven’t even mentioned how bad the San Diego Chargers defense is. San Diego will likely be a target to exploit all season and it begins in the opening week with Spencer Ware.
Charcandrick West | RB | Cash
Charcandrick West was the least efficient of the 3 Kansas City Chiefs running backs. That hasn’t stopped Andy Reid from throwing a wrench into everyone’s plans this week by moving West ahead of Ware on the depth chart. One area where West has excelled is in the passing game. Last year he caught 26 balls for 259 yards with a run after catch (RAC) of 11.4. This shows that West, while inefficient, has the explosion to turn in big plays in the passing game. Factor in his high floor due to his involvement in the passing game; West is a solid cash play.
Lamar Miller | RB | Cash
Lamar Miller makes his Houston Texans debut against the Chicago Bears on Sunday. Last season, the Texans used a committee of JAG (just-a-guy) RBs like Alfred Blue, Jonathan Grimes, and Chris Polk who combined for 212 PPR fantasy points. That is the same number that Matt Forte scored for the Bears in 2015. So as you can see, there is a tremendous opportunity for Texan RBs to succeed. The Bears have had injuries pile up on the defensive side of the ball which should help the Texans build an early lead and rely on Lamar Miller to bring home a win in their home opener.
DeAngelo Williams |RB | Cash
DeAngelo Williams is underpriced in his opener against the Redskins. During the two stints that Williams had as the Steelers starter in 2015, he led all RBs with 212 points. In the 5 games where Le’Veon Bell played, he was the RB2. This shows you that the Steelers RB as a position is one of the most valuable fantasy commodities out there. This price point seems very low and Williams should hit value easily.
Devonta Freeman | RB | GPP
Devonta Freeman was the darling of fantasy football through the first 8 weeks of 2015. Week after week he was scoring multiple touchdowns. In fact, through 8 weeks Freeman had over 60 fantasy points more than the next nearest RB. That is an incredible 7.875 fantasy points per game advantage over his next nearest rival (Mark Ingram). In Week 1, there is a ton of RB value like Spencer Ware and Christine Michael; as well as Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz starting at QB at a minimum price. This is going to lead many owners to load up on WRs like OBJ, Antonio Brown, and Freeman’s teammate, Julio Jones. So rather than go with the herd, roster Freeman as a low owned-high upside play.
David Johnson | RB | Cash
As I mentioned in the Freeman description, there is going to be a significant ownership (even in GPPs) on Ware, Michael, and Prescott that will push ownership on the high priced WRs. So why not roster the most dynamic RB in the NFL at a low ownership? Just as Freeman was the darling of the first half, David Johnson was a league winner once he took over as the lead back for the Cardinals. Expect DJ99 to get upwards of 20 touches this game which at .56 points per opportunity (PPO) could be a GPP winner for you.
Doug Martin | RB | GPP
Doug Martin is playing the Atlanta Falcons in a game that has the potential to be a barn burner. Normally this would favor players in the passing game, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a different animal. Historically, Dirk Koetter has been one of the most run-heavy OCs in the red zone of any coach. Now, as he takes over the reigns as head coach, that tendency is unlikely to change. The Bucs will be able to move up and down the field at will against the Falcons, so the Dougernaut will have plenty of touches around the goal line. With all the attention for value RBs, Martin could be a low owned-high upside play.
Frank Gore | RB | GPP
Frank Gore is going to have an unbelievably low ownership. No, Frank Gore isn’t a sexy name. In fact, it seems like you’d be more likely to play him in cribbage DFS because it seems like he has played since the days of Otto Graham. But last season, Gore quietly put up steady numbers as a Top-10 RB in most scoring formats even though he had a hand injury that caused him to lose three fumbles near the goal line. All of this while playing with Matt Hasselbeck and Josh Freeman. Gore has no competition for RB touches in Indianapolis and the Colts are playing in a high over/under game at home against Detroit in which they are favored by 4 points. This is a recipe for RB involvement, making Gore a great mid-priced GPP play.
Christine Michael | RB | All Formats
Christine Michael made a lot of noise in the preseason, thus resurrecting the great hope in the Unicorn, otherwise known as C-Mike. Now, Michael has passed Thomas Rawls on the depth chart for the opening game as Rawls works his way back from an ankle injury. This game is projected to be a blowout, so there will be no reason for Pete Carroll to risk any kind of Rawls injury by giving him too many touches—making C-Mike an ideal play. He might be the prime candidate for garbage time points as he will rack up carry after carry in the 4th quarter as the Seahawks milk their lead. Roster C-Mike and watch your team fly up the leaderboards as he decimates a disheartened Dolphins defense.
Melvin Gordon | RB | GPP
Melvin Gordon is coming off an underwhelming rookie campaign, which is completely fine by me. At his price point, most people will be targeting Spencer Ware. And that’s perfect! Ware is a great play, but so is Melvin Gordon. In 2013, when Ken Whisenhunt was last OC for the San Diego Chargers, Ryan Mathews had 284 carries for 1249 yards and 6 touchdowns. With Whisenhunt returning, along with the health of several offensive linemen, Gordon is in line for a big year. Which brings me to this Sunday. The Chargers defense has been a much-maligned group this preseason and for good reason; they were terrible. But that means the Chargers are going to want to keep the Chiefs offense off the field by pounding the rock with Melvin Gordon and using the intermediate passing game that Phillip Rivers excels at. In GPPs, it’s a great idea to pivot from Ware to his counterpart Gordon for a low ownership RB with tons of upside.
Ezekiel Elliott | RB | All Formats
Ezekiel Elliott is another natural pivot that we will be using in GPPs. This time, we will be pivoting off of Dak Prescott to his ultra-talented RB Zeke Elliott. With so many people rushing to Preschalk’s minimum price tag, why not pivot to Zeke? Last season the Giants were 25th against RBs in fantasy. The Cowboys were able to block Darren McFadden’s way to the 4th most rushing yards in 2015. Elliott’s talent is exponentially better than RunDMC’s at this point in their careers, so exploiting the Giants run defense with Elliott is a great GPP play.
Julio Jones | WR | All Formats
Julio Jones is the No. 1 play this week across all formats. Last season, Jones was targeted 197 times. He was able to haul in 140 catches for 1,932 yards, but he only got into the end zone 9 times. This year Jones will see just as many targets because OC Kyle Shanahan has a proven track record of feeding his X-receiver the ball. However, Jones will likely see some progression in the touchdown column. There is no better way for a WR to get in the end zone than be a big-bodied WR lined up against Brent Grimes. In fact, all three CBs for Tampa Bay, Grimes, Alteraun Verner, and Vernon Hargreaves III are under 5’11. No matter where Jones lines up, he will be able to physically dominate his opponent in Week 1.
Antonio Brown | WR |All Formats
Last season Antonio Brown was targeted 190 times. In those 190 targets, he was able to pull in 136 catches and 10 touchdowns while only dropping 5 passes. In 2014, Brown was targeted 178 times for 129 catches and 13 touchdowns. The 2016 season could be even more prolific because of the offseason suspensions of Martavis Bryant and Le’Veon Bell; along with the injury to newly acquired Ladarius Green, placing an even larger onus on Brown. Some might be scared off from using Brown against Josh Norman, but Brown can win against any cornerback in the league. He is also one of the most versatile WRs in the league and moves all over the field, so he will see significant time lined up across from Bashaud Breeland rather than Norman. In a game that could quickly turn into a shoot-out, Brown is a must use WR because of his outrageous talent and monstrous usage rate.
Odell Beckham Jr. | WR | All Formats
Odell Beckham Jr. opens with the Dallas Cowboys. During his 2 years in the league, OBJ has 23 catches against the Cowboys. Expect him to increase that number significantly in the season opener. Beckham Jr. has a significant matchup advantage over both Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr. Last season, in 15 games, OBJ was targeted over 10 times per contest with an aDOT of 12.1 and ranked 5th among all WRs in PPR fantasy points. In a game that could quickly become a shootout, expect OBJ to return value on his price
Allen Robinson | WR | All Formats
Allen Robinson is one of the most talented WRs in the NFL. Sunday he will do battle with Quinten Rollins and Damarious Randall in what should be an offensive display. He will be able to routinely beat either defender because, at 6’3 215lbs, Robinson is a physical mismatch for the 5’11 CBs. Much of the aforementioned criticism about Bortles has been applied to Robinson this offseason, so Robinson has a good chance at going under-owned this weekend. He also has a good chance of catching multiple touchdowns.
Mike Evans | WR | All Formats
Mike Evans opens the season with the Atlanta Falcons in another likely high-scoring affair. The Falcons secondary features one of the more underrated CBs in the NFL, Desmond Trufant, but beyond him, there is a steep drop off. The Falcons also lack a pass rush; their defense was dead last in the NFL in sacks with a mere 20 last season. Expect Mike Evans and Jameis Winston to use this time in the pocket to stretch the field and take multiple deep shots. Evans is clearly underpriced for the match up and will hit value this weekend.
Randall Cobb | WR | GPP
Last season Randall Cobb disappointed many owners with a subpar season. There has been training camp talk of Cobb being much healthier than last year and there is also the excitement surrounding Jordy Nelson’s return to the offense. There will be some recency bias that will drive down Cobb’s ownership which makes him exploitable in GPPs. Cobb will likely line up across from rookie Jalen Ramsey when in the slot. Ramsey is a physical CB but was beaten deep on occasion in his final season at FSU. He is also prone to losing eye discipline in an effort to make a big play. Cobb has a two-touchdown performance well within his range of outcomes and should be a strong GPP play.
Sammy Watkins | WR | All Formats
Jimmy Smith and Shareece Wright have their hands full this weekend with Sammy Watkins. He is among the most physically gifted WRs in the NFL. What is great about Watkins in GPPs is that he is a threat for a touchdown with every touch. Last season he scored 1 touchdown for every 10 targets! He also had an incredible aDOT of 18.3 (4th in NFL) and yards per target (YPT) of 11.5 (3rd in NFL). So this week Watkins will look to establish himself as the league’s premier deep threat on the road against a weakened opponent. Cha-ching.
Marvin Jones Jr. | WR | All Formats
Marvin Jones Jr. has some incredibly big shoes to fill in Detroit as he is expected to take over for Calvin Johnson. Now, no one is expecting him to be Megatron but Jones has consistently drawn praise this preseason. In college, Jones played second fiddle to Keenan Allen and in Cincinnati, he was the bridesmaid to AJ Green. The 2016 season could be a coming out party for Jones, and FantasyDraft hasn’t caught up yet. This preseason in limited action Jones was able to catch 8 balls for 106 yards; that kind of stat line isn’t out of the question for the season opener.
Jarvis Landry | WR | GPP
Jarvis Landry is such a great GPP play this week. Many casual players will see Landry and associate him with Richard Sherman and completely fade him. But Landry plays from the slot 70 percent of the time, meaning he will draw Jeremy Lane rather than Sherman. The Dolphins are expected to get pounded by the Seahawks which should lead to an increase in passing attempts. Landry was already a target monster, but factor in DeVante Parker’s frailty and 20 targets is not as farfetched as it sounds. At Landry’s price point, I would anticipate Donte Moncrief being much more widely owned, which is what makes the Landry pivot such a nrilliant GPP play.
Will Fuller | WR | GPP
The Chicago Bears have one of the worst secondaries in the NFL and this week they will be playing short-handed. Will Fuller spent the entire preseason proving doubters (and Draft Twitter) wrong. His preseason stats consist of 8 catches for 144 yards with an aDOT of 17.4 and .62 PPO. Not too bad! This week he will look to keep that kind of downfield attack going against a Bears defense that is a shell of what John Fox wanted it to be.
Terrelle Pryor | WR | GPP
Terrelle Pryor is a great pivot off of Tajae Sharpe and Braxton Miller as a minimum priced WR. While Miller and Sharpe have bright futures, this isn’t dynasty, hell, this isn’t even season-long. This is DFS and Terrelle Pryor has the best matchup of any minimum priced WR. Say what you want about Robert Griffin III; he can’t slide, he is an idiot for tattooing the name of his rebound girlfriend on his forearm, and he can’t throw to his RBs. But one thing you can’t say is he doesn’t throw a pretty deep ball because those things are more majestic than Troy Polamolu riding off into the sunset on a narwhal. Pryor will be asked to stretch the field against Leodis McKelvin and Nolan Carroll, both of whom can’t match Pryor’s amazing size and speed. We are going to witness the rebirth of Terrelle Pryor as a budding star on Sunday. And we are going to do it at a minimum price.
Jordan Reed | TE | All Formats
Last season Jordan Reed was unbelievable. From Week 9 on, Reed was the No. 1 TE and he scored nearly 1 touchdown a game. Reed and Cousins have clearly developed a rapport unlike many QB-TE hook ups outside of Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski. During those 9 games, Reed caught 81 percent of his targets and only dropped 2 passes to his 52 receptions. Reed is the No. 1 passing option on Washington, whose implied total is 23.5. Reed’s chances of catching at least one TD pass are very good, making him the strongest option for a TE cash game play.
Coby Fleener | TE | All Formats
Coby Fleener is lining up for the first time in a Saints uniform against the Oakland Raiders. This is a great matchup for Fleener because the Raiders were 30th against the TE last season. While things like defending the TE may change from year to year, one factor is constant: Drew Brees targets his TE. Last season, Ben Watson was targeted 101 times. In 2014, Brees targeted Jimmy Graham 121 times. In the previous 2 seasons, the Saints TE as a position group caught 28 touchdown passes. That averages out to be a TD in 87.5% of the Saints games in the past 2 seasons. So, at a position that is notoriously TD dependent, why not invest in the Saints TE? At his moderate price point, a touchdown would all but guarantee Fleener being a great cash game value.
Dwayne Allen | TE | All Formats
Dwayne Allen spent much of last season injured or splitting time with the now departed (in New Orleans, not dead), Coby Fleener. Now Allen is the starting TE for a Rob Chudzinski offense which is known for featuring TEs. The Colts also play the Detroit Lions who were 28th at defending the TE last season. There is a very good chance that Allen is the No. 1 red zone target for the Colts this year, and he will show that in the opener with a touchdown.
Jared Cook | TE | GPP
Jared Cook is taking over the starting TE job for the Green Bay Packers. This preseason, the physical specimen Cook caught 9 passes for 85 yards in limited work. Last season, the Packers utilized their TE much more than in years past. In 2013 and 2014 the Packers TE as a position group caught 6 TD passes per season, but last year Richard Rodgers caught 9 TDs alone. Cook’s pricing definitely does not match his TD upside and he should be considered in GPPs, especially as a cheap stack with Aaron Rodgers.
Crockett Gillmore | TE | All Formats
Crockett Gillmore is a great option for salary relief. Last season Gillmore was only healthy enough to play in 10 games but he was effective in all 10 games. In fact, his 12.5 yards per reception ranked 9th of all TEs. With Baltimore’s TE corps completely decimated by injury and questions about their WRs, Gillmore could be one of Joe Flacco’s favorite targets in Week 1.
Defense Special Teams
Tennessee Titans | DST | Cash
The Titans DST will be lining up at home against a Minnesota Vikings team that has been gutted by the injury to Teddy Bridgewater. This game will probably be one of the slowest paced games of the weekend, but edge rushers like Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan have a significant advantage over the RG and RT for the Vikings. The Titans defense will look to get the Vikings off schedule and force them into 2nd and 3rd and long to bring pressure against the immobile “Sammy Sleeves” Bradford.
Arizona Cardinals | DST| All Formats
It will be fascinating to see what the ownership will be like on the Cardinals DST. It is a rarity that playing a DST against the Patriots is a sound plan but week 1 is a special occasion. With Tom Brady sitting out the first 4 games of the season, the most talented defense in football gets the Brady-less Pats offense. Jimmy Garappolo was good in the preseason, but his Alex Smithian aDOT of 7.0 would’ve ranked him in the bottom 3 at the QB position last season. Jimmy Checkdown won’t find the Cardinals DST to be as accommodating with the underneath routes. A defensive or special team’s touchdown for the Cards is well within the range of outcomes.
Los Angeles Rams | DST | GPP
In cash and GPP lineups, people often look to stack their DST and RB. This makes a ton of sense for the Rams and 49ers game. The Rams will look to take advantage of Blaine Gabbert being inept. Most teams do not have an answer for Aaron Donald, and the 49ers are no different. He is going to be knifing into the backfield and blowing up slow developing run plays and putting the Niners consistently in 3rd and long situations. That is not the kind of game that Gabbert will thrive in and several turnovers are expected. All of this defensive success will ultimately lead to more opportunity for Gurley to feast on the Niners defense. It’s worth noting that defenses against Chip Kelly-led teams have more opportunities for turnovers against tired offensive players.