It seems like the 2015 will be the year that DFS (daily fantasy sports) will take the world by storm. Sites like DraftKings and FanDuel have spent an inordinate amount of marketing dollars in preparation for the NFL season this year and for good reason. Daily Fantasy is becoming huge and the number is only going to grow. I’ve written up my choices for Week 1, and I will continue to do so every week this season. Each week I’ll keep track of how the lineup did the previous week. Let’s get to it.
DraftKings Week 1 Lineup
Julio Jones, WR, $9300
Last year Julio Jones had the third most deep targets and was third in overall targets. He only scored only six touchdowns so I see some (positive) regression to the mean coming, and it’s bound to start instantaneously against one of 2014’s worst teams against pass in the Philadelphia Eagles. Not to mention Atlanta is bound to have plenty of offensive opportunities due to Chip Kelley’s fast paced offense on the other side of the ball. This, to no one’s surprise, leads to the highest over/under of the Week 1 slate. He’s worth paying the big bucks for.
Matt Ryan, QB, $7500
I’m buying Matt Ryan this week because of Julio Jones. This is easily the best stacking opportunity in Week 1. Ryan had the second most drop backs in the NFL last year, and like I mentioned with Jones, he is playing in the highest over/under game of the week. Additionally, in 2014 Ryan had the highest accuracy percentage on deep passes of all quarterbacks, so I fully expect a bomb to Jones at some point to double up those points.
Eddie Royal, WR, $3900
The Bears are six point underdogs against the Packers in Week 1. Chicago will probably end up down by much more than six points at some point during the game anyway, and I like the thought of Jay Cutler chucking it everywhere for the entire second half of this tilt, especially with the Packers inexperienced secondary. Eddie Royal is going to play a huge part in helping the Bears attempt to mount a comeback. Kevin White will not be playing, so Royal is the clear cut second wide receiver for the Bears, and on top of that he has been a quiet points per reception dynamo for San Diego over the past couple of years. When Cutler has a receiver he is familiar with, he will not hesitate to throw it their way whenever there is trouble, which will happen a lot against Green Bay.
DeMarco Murray, RB, $6700
The Philadelphia Eagles would not have signed DeMarco Murray to a huge offseason contract if they weren’t going to utilize him heavily. Now I know there are reports of a 50-30-20 split between him, Ryan Mathews, and Darren Sproles. But that split is projected over the course of the season, and I don’t see any way the Eagles will not play with their shiny new toy right out of the box. It helps tremendously that this is going to be a very high scoring game (seriously guys take the over on this one), and that the league leading rusher from last year is only the tenth most expensive running back on Draft Kings even though he will be running behind an offensive line that is just as good as the Cowboys was last year.
Jonathan Stewart, RB, $5800
When you first see the name Jonathan Stewart, no eyes will light up. You may think of him as an average running back who has put together a few good games in his career, but generally doesn’t deserve any respect in fantasy circles. Everyone knows he’s going to be the lead back in Carolina this year (DeAngelo Williams is in Pittsburgh). That’s great in and of itself because he is going to get a big workload right off the bat. When you consider the workload and add that to the fact that last year he was second behind only Marshawn Lynch (for players who played at least 25% of snaps) in Pro Football Focus’ Elusive Rating for running backs, and he was top 10 in both breakaway percentage and PFF’s cumulative running back rating for the season, you have a running back who is worthy of much more respect. Oh yeah, and Carolina is playing against the putrid Jagulars (not a typo) and will probably be running out the clock for the entire second half of the game.
Vincent Jackson, WR, $6000
Vincent Jackson has been a deep threat his whole career, but now, with the emergence of Mike Evans, his role is changing to a more possession type of receiver who will run shorter routes in the hopes of catching more of the passes targeted at him. Last season only nine of the 34 deep targets thrown to him were catchable. He was also top 10 in total targets, but he was in the bottom 10 of receptions per target (percentage of targets caught). Any bump up in those numbers due to his new role should make him more reliable on a week-to-week basis. His salary hasn’t yet adjusted to this more points per reception friendly role, so I’m in on him for $6000.
Davante Adams, WR, $4400
Davante Adams is poised for a breakout year this season. Not only because of Jordy Nelson’s injury, but because he has had a tremendous training camp. Usually Randall Cobb is thought of as the second wide receiver in this offense, but in reality he’s actually the slot guy. Adams is going to be on the field a lot and is a big red zone target; his salary at $4400 is more reflective of his past performance than what he’s going to do this week. Take advantage before he starts getting expensive.
Owen Daniels, TE, $3400 & Denver Defense, $2800
In both cases here I’m looking to add a few points at a reasonable cost. Given the tight ends and defenses available, these Broncos’ picks are easily the best value. Owen Daniels is likely to score at least one touchdown because of new head coach Gary Kubiak’s inexplicable love for tight ends, and the Denver defense is quietly one of the best in the NFL. If you check the PFF rankings from last season, their players pop up all over the top 10 at just about every position. Playing against Joe Flacco and at such a cheap price, you can’t pass them up.
All stats were obtained from ProFootballFocus.com (PFF).
Main Photo by Josh D. Weiss/Getty Images