These are my favorite DraftKings tournament plays for Week 1, picking strictly from the main Sunday slate that starts with the 1 PM ET games and concludes with Giants-Cowboys on SNF. The focus is on value more so than projected ownership, but itís still a nice bonus if a player doesnít figure to be a popular choice.
Ownership should be pretty evenly spread out in Week 1, as weíve yet to see which defenses are truly awful, and there arenít any injuries that provide glaring value plays at running back (a staple of almost any DFS slate later in the year). Odell Beckham (ankle) is the only injured player whose status Iím closely watching, as Eli Manning ($5,600) looks like a strong play if he has his top target available, while Brandon Marshall ($5,100) and Sterling Shepard ($4,100) will become much more interesting options on the basis of expected volume if Beckham canít play.
Without further ado, here are my favorite plays for the first Sunday of the season:
Russell Wilson, SEA (at GB), $6,900 - Iím having a hard time getting excited about the QB options this week, with Wilson being the notable exception. Heíll start his year with a favorable matchup against a Green Bay team that failed to add significant veteran defensive help in the offseason despite allowing opponents to throw for 4,603 yards and 32 touchdowns last year. Rookie second-round pick Kevin King might be a long-term solution, but it looks like the Packers will rely on the uninspiring cornerback trio of Damarious Randall, Davon House and Quinten Rollins in Week 1. Itís the perfect situation for Wilson to use as a launching pad for a bounce-back season after playing with limited mobility all last year. Surrounded by uncertainty in the backfield, Wilson will need to lead the Seahawks to victory with his arm and also stands a reasonable chance to lead the team in rushing. This will probably be the only time all season that the Seahawks are part of a game with the weekís highest over/under (51.0).
Carson Wentz, PHI (at WAS), $5,300 - Wentz is priced based on last seasonís production, falling 16th among the 24 starting quarterbacks on Sundayís slate (not including the postponed TB-MIA game). Iím not quite brave enough to mess with the likes of DeShone Kizer, Tom Savage or Jared Goff, which means thereís really not a rosterable QB any cheaper than $5,300. With Alshon Jeffery replacing Jordan Matthews as the top receiver and Wentz benefiting from a year of experience, the Philadelphia passing game should at least be league-average, likely making it better than a Washington pass defense that ranked 21st in yards per pass attempt (7.4) and 25th in passing yards allowed per game (258.1) last season.
Other options: Matt Ryan, ATL (at CHI), $6,900; Matthew Stafford, DET (vs. ARI), $6,100; Carson Palmer, ARI (at DET), $6,000
Todd Gurley, LAR (vs. IND), $6,000 - The Rams replaced Benny Cunningham with Lance Dunbar, only to watch their new pass-catching back suffer the latest in a long line of major knee injuries before training camp even started. Left with undrafted players Malcolm Brown and Justin Davis as their reserves in the backfield, the Rams used Gurley as a three-down workhorse with the starting offense during the preseason. Given the other options on the roster, Gurley figures to be deployed in the same capacity Sunday, potentially pushing for the kind of snap counts and touch totals usually reserved for the likes of LeíVeon Bell and David Johnson. It just so happens that Gurley starts his season with a prime matchup against a Colts defense that once again looks terrible on paper, coming off a 2016 season ranked 30th in yards per carry (4.7) and 25th in rushing yards per game (120.4).
Lamar Miller, HOU (vs. JAX), $5,100 - Even if the hype surrounding Jacksonvilleís defense comes to fruition, Millerís expected workload makes him a bargain at this price in a home game his team is expected to win (5.5-point favorites). And as disappointing as his first season in Houston was from the perspective of per-touch production, Miller at least did enough to retain his three-down role. Itís absurd that there are 18 running backs (not including the MIA-TB contest) more expensive than Miller on Sundayís slate. Concerns regarding rookie DíOnta Foreman are warranted in season-long leagues, but thereís little reason to believe Foreman will have a significant role from the outset.
Other options: LeSean McCoy, BUF (vs. NYJ), $8,200; Ezekiel Elliott, DAL (vs. NYG), $8,100; Dalvin Cook, MIN (vs. NO), $5,900; Carlos Hyde, SF (vs. CAR), $4,600
Julio Jones, ATL (at CHI), $8,500 - This is my one recommendation thatís probably based on gut feeling more so than logic, though itís usually easy enough to make a compelling case for Jones, particularly in large-field tournaments. The other elite wideouts worry me for a variety of reasons, be it injury (Odell Beckham), expected game flow (Antonio Brown), postponement (Mike Evans) or a tough defensive opponent (Jordy Nelson, A.J. Green, Dez Bryant). I think the Bears actually are decent enough to keep this game close, as their front seven looks quite good on paper now that itís finally healthy, while Jordan Howard and a strong offensive line should allow them to put up some points even if the passing game struggles. Chicagoís weakness lies in the receiving corps and secondary, with the latter obviously playing right into Jonesí hands. Donít be surprised if the Falcons struggle to run the ball and are forced to turn to their superstar receiver for double-digit targets.
Larry Fitzgerald, ARI (at DET), $5,900 - I had no real interest in drafting Fitzgerald for season-long leagues, but can anyone really deny the value in getting him as the No. 15 priced wideout for a 12-game slate on a full-PPR site? With the receiving corps otherwise one big question mark, Fitzgerald should be good for at least 5-6 catches per game this season even if he really starts showing his age. And Iím expecting much more than that this week, as his role in the slot means heíll avoid top cornerback Darius Slay and instead get to feast on the likes of Quandre Diggs and D.J Hayden. The Detroit defense looks like a mess in general, having failed to add any veteran talent in the offseason despite allowing a 106.5 opponent passer rating (worst in the NFL) last year
Marvin Jones, DET (vs. ARI), $4,100 - This is where Jonesí status as the No. 2 receiver works in his favor, as Patrick Peterson likely will cover Golden Tate whenever the 5-foot-10 receiver lines up outside. There was talk of Tate primarily playing inside this season, but MLive.comís Kyle Meinke and Rod Beard of The Detroit News both suggest slot man TJ Jones will open the year ahead of Kenny Golladay for the No. 3 receiver role, which in turn means Tate will spend more time outside. Jones essentially was invisible during the second half of last season, but he still finished the year with 16.9 yards per catch and 9.0 per target, thanks to four gains of 40-plus yards along with five more in the 30-39 range.
Other options: Amari Cooper, OAK (at TEN), $7,200; Doug Baldwin, SEA (at GB), $6,700; Terrelle Pryor, WAS (vs. PHI), $6,100; DeAndre Hopkins, HOU (vs. JAX), $5,900; Kelvin Benjamin, CAR (at SF), $5,900; Randall Cobb, GB (vs. SEA), $5,300; Mike Wallace, BAL (at CIN), $4,500; Rishard Matthews, TEN (vs. OAK), $4,200; Paul Richardson, SEA (at GB), $3,700; Marquise Goodwin, SF (vs. CAR), $3,200; Kendall Wright, CHI (vs. ATL), $3,200
Jimmy Graham, SEA (at GB), $5,100 - I thought Grahamís days as a top fantasy asset were done when he suffered a torn patella tendon Week 12 of the 2015 season. Of course, Iím wrong about a lot of things and that clearly was one of them, with Graham bouncing back last season to rank third among tight ends in receiving yards. Seahawks brass made it clear Graham wasnít even the best version of himself last season, still bothered by the aftereffects of the knee injury and often held out of practice. He came back without limitations after resting in the offseason, apparently back at full strength and ready to practice throughout the year. Zach Ertz ($3,500) is the obvious bargain this week and is probably the only tight end besides Graham who will make it into my lineups.
Other options: Zach Ertz, PHI (at WAS), $3,500; Austin Hooper, ATL (at CHI), $3,000
Rams (vs. IND), $3,200 - Superstar defensive tackle Aaron Donald is unlikely to play due to his continued holdout, but it really shouldnít matter too much against Scott Tolzien and the Colts. In addition to the obvious deficiency at quarterback, Indyís offensive line looks shak as ever and 34-year-old Frank Gore still figures to get most of the carries. The Colts have the third lowest implied point total (19) for Week 1, listed as four-point underdogs in a game with an over/under of 42. The defenses expected to allow fewer points are Buffalo ($3,900) and Houston ($3,800), checking in with the top two D/ST price tags on the slate. The Rams are a bargain as the No. 7 priced defense, and the unit also makes for a nice stack with my favorite RB play of the week (Todd Gurley). This kind of stack looks to capitalize on the positive correlation between a teamís defensive performance and its running backís volume.
Other options: Buffalo Bills (vs. NYJ), $3,900; Houston Texans (vs. JAX), $3,800; Cincinnati Bengals (vs. BAL), $3,100; San Francisco 49ers (vs. CAR), $2,100