Finally, it is that time of year again! The air is getting a bit cooler, the smell of pumpkin spice is radiating off of our significant others, and NFL football is back! With the natural sense of excitement associated with the beginning of September a sense of hope is also prevalent.
It is hard not to get caught up in the chance that you could win a MILLION dollars playing daily fantasy sports (DFS) even if the chances of it actually happening are slim to none. Even so I want to help in any way possible that I can so I will be providing a weekly look into whom to start in your daily fantasy leagues. The mistake that most people make while playing DFS is that they play players from their home day for no reason other than the cheering factor. Just as in gambling you cannot bet with your heart when building a lineup for DFS if you truly want to win. You need to be logical and you need to find low cost gems that will over perform.
I know it stinks to not start the Qb from your favorite team every week or even worse to start the QB from your division rival but it is a necessity if you want to have a successful year playing daily fantasy. So give this a read, build your lineups and on Sunday sit back eat some chili, drink some beer, and hopefully win some cash flow.
Matt Ryan (FD $8.5, DK $6.9)
The highest priced QB on Fanduel isn’t really a stretch but it is hard to ignore the fact that Matty Ice is going up against a week Chicago Bears secondary. I usually do not spend up for Quarterback’s but with a matchup like this for last year’s top offense it seems like a no-brainer to include Ryan in the majority of my lineups.
Marcus Mariota (FD $7.8, DK $6.8)
Mariota is a fantasy MVP candidate this year and this is a great matchup to start of the year for him. Tennessee has given Mariota some firepower on offense and Oakland ranked 26th against the pass last year. Mariota averaged over 21 fantasy points at home last season. I expect that number to increase this year.
Deep Sleeper: Carson Wentz (FD $7.1, DK $5.3)
Although Wentz is priced as if he will be a sleeper I expect him to be highly owned this Sunday. There has been much speculation about Wentz taking the “next step” as an NFL Quarterback. The Eagles front office did everything it could this off-season by getting him some weapons (Alshon Jeffrey, Torrey Smith) but the key to Wentz’s success this year is the offensive line staying intact. Lane Johnson’s suspension last season killed the Eagles and caused Wentz to see a lot more pressure. Without injuries the Eagles line is one of the best in football. For now they are healthy. Use their offense while you can.
Lesean McCoy (FD $8.5, DK $8.2)
McCoy is a top 3 Running back that is often forgotten about compared to D. Johnson and L. Bell. New head coach, Sean McDermott, has said that he will use Lesean “As much as needed” which is a great sign for fantasy owners. I expect an extremely high workload this week against a Jets defense that no longer has Sheldon Richardson and is expected to be one of the worst in the NFL. His price is below the other two running backs but he may actually produce more fantasy points this week.
Todd Gurley (FD $7.3, DK $6.0)
Gurley is looking for a bounce back season and starting the year off against the weak Colts run defense could help him get off on the right track. New head coach, Sean McVay, should help make Gurley the focal point for the Rams offense this season and hopefully his numbers will dramatically improve from the 800+ rushing yards and 6 tds of 2016. Expect the Rams to run early and often in this matchup and 20+ fantasy points from Gurley.
Deep Sleeper: Robert Kelley (FD $5.8, DK $4.3)
Kelley had 88 yards rushing and a touchdown last season against the Eagles, however, expectations are higher going into 2017 for him. He is now the featured back in Washington after a strong preseason. Kelley can be looked at as a solid starting RB2 in fantasy with a chance to dominate goal line situations. On a site like Fanduel where touchdowns are key Kelley could be a low cost winner for your lineup.
AJ Green (FD $8.4, DK $8.0)
AJ Green was on pace to have a 1500+ yard season last year before his injury and although the Ravens usually excel in shutting down WR1 this is not your normal Ravens Defense. Green is still the top target for Andy Dalton and people tend to start Brown, ODB, and other WR1s over him consistently. This makes Green a somewhat contrarian play and a big game from him may be the difference for you in finishing in the money.
Eric Decker (FD $6.5, DK $5.0)
Decker could be Marcus Mariota’s number 1 target considering his experience in comparison to the rest of the Titans wide receiving core. He was out with an injury for much of the preseason so putting him in your lineup may be a contrarian start worth considering. As I stated early the Raiders aren’t exactly great against the passing game and Decker’s ability to catch deep balls and go across the middle could lead to high numbers in week one.
Deep Sleeper: Zay Jones (FD $5.1, DK $3.5)
Even with Jordan Matthews likely to play Jones may end up being the Bills number one receiver in week 1. His big play ability and his low price tag make him an interesting WR3 for DFS purposes. Nobody knows exactly what to expect from Jones this week but he is the type of player that could win you a big tournament because of low ownership and high unexpected results.
Zach Ertz (FD $5.9, DK $3.5)
Ertz came on strong at the end of the season last year. He finished 2016 with 106 targets which is a large number for a tight end. Oddly enough, that number could increase this season since the Eagles traded away Jordan Matthews and Ertz is expected to take some snaps in the slot position. Historically, Ertz has done well against Washington so a big week can be expected.
Delanie Walker (FD $6.1, DK $4.3)
In two seasons with Marcus Mariota, Walker has caught close to 70% of his targets and has scored 13 times. He is consistent but he isn’t a guarantee by any means. As you can tell by this point I am expecting a high scoring game between Oakland and Tennessee this weekend and because of this I have Walker marked as a top 4 TE this week. It seems like interest in Walker may not be as high as earlier in his career but he is still more than capable of having 60+ yards receiving/1TD day.
Deep Sleeper: Austin Hooper (FD $4.7, DK $3.0)
Hooper didn’t do much last season; however, he did catch over 70% of his targets. The Falcons have a ton of talent on offense so it is hard to rely on Hooper getting tons of looks but his matchup against Chicago is an ideal way to start the season. He may not put up the numbers that some of the high profiled tight ends will but the savings that will result from his low dollar amount could help fit a stud RB1 or WR1 into your lineup.
Houston (FD $5.1, DK $3.8)
Consensus number 1 ranked defense this week. If you can fit the higher cost into your lineup do it. Houston is good for at least three sacks against Jacksonville. Just expect extremely high ownership since most sites have Houston as the clear cut must start amongst defenses.
LA Rams (FD $4.6, DK $3.2):
The Colts are starting a backup QB, Scott Tolzien, and had one of the worst offensive lines in football last year. The Rams love to pressure the QB which leads to big plays against them when facing QB’s that can avoid the rush. Tolzien is not one of those QBs.
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