Week 1 Draftkings Plays: Christian McCaffrey, Michael Pittman, and More

Week 1 DraftKings Plays

We’re so close to the first full slate of the NFL season in all its glory. One of my favorite parts is fantasy football. One of my favorite aspects of fantasy football has become playing on DraftKings. Every week is like a new puzzle to figure out. Whether you are more of a cash game player or a tournament player, each presents a unique challenge. Let’s take a look at my favorite Week 1 DraftKings plays.

Week 1 DraftKings Plays

Quarterbacks

Lamar Jackson (BAL) – $7,300 @ NYJ

Lamar Jackson, against one of the worst defenses in the league, as heavy favorites, and isn’t the most expensive quarterback on the slate? Sign me up, please! Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens get to take on the New York Jets this week. The Ravens are seven-point favorites despite being on the road. They also have a very nice implied team total of 26 points. We know that Jackson does a ton of damage with his legs and there’s no reason to believe he won’t do the same in this one. It’s very possible that when all is said and done, he could wind up with 60+ yards on the ground and a score to go along with 250+ yards through the air and multiple scores. 

Jalen Hurts (PHI) – $6,800 @ DET

If you’re looking to save a little bit of salary, Jalen Hurts is basically the discount version of Lamar Jackson. The nice part is that Hurts might be in an even better spot than Jackson this week. Like Jackson, Hurts is also a road favorite as the Philadelphia Eagles are favored by four points over the Detroit Lions. The implied team total is similar as well at 26.5 points. The game total, however, is higher at 48.5 combined points. The Lions have a better chance of turning this game into a shootout than the Jets do against the Ravens. This game is also in a dome, which gives a nice boost to both offenses, especially in the passing game. Hurts also has a better set of weapons this year with the addition of A.J. Brown. Brown is one of the most talented wide receivers in the NFL and should help Hurts take another leap as a passer. This has all the makings of a monster game.

Others to Consider: Kyler Murray (ARI) – $7,200 v KC, Derek Carr (LV) – $5,900 @ LAC, Jameis Winston (NO) – $5,300 @ ATL

Running Backs

Christian McCaffrey (CAR) – $8,500 v CLE

A great rule of thumb has always been “play Christian McCaffrey on DraftKings whenever he is under $10,000.” Here we are, sitting at Week 1 with a discount of at least $1,500. As long as he’s healthy, he smashes, especially this cheap. There is no player in the NFL that produces in fantasy football like McCaffrey does. He can go for 100 rushing yards and/or 100 receiving yards in any given game. He can catch 10+ passes in any game. McCaffrey can pay off at his salary without even scoring a touchdown. That’s hard to do, especially as one of the most expensive players on a slate. This week’s matchup against the Cleveland Browns isn’t ideal but the workload and salary are just too juicy to pass up.

Saquon Barkley (NYG) – $6,100 @ TEN

It wasn’t too long ago that Saquon Barkley was a weekly fixture among the most expensive running backs on any given slate. This week he clocks in as the 15th most expensive, just one spot and $100 behind Minnesota Vikings backup running back Alexander Mattison. No, that is not a typo. Barkley, a three-down workhorse running back is cheaper than a backup running back who may not see but five touches this week. Barkley has had a tough go of things the last two years, but he is now another year removed from his ACL surgery. This is the year that he should resemble his former self. He’s a big part of the passing game as well and this might be the cheapest he’ll be all season. Take advantage of this cheap price for a stud, workhorse running back. There often isn’t these types of opportunities.

Others to Consider: Jonathan Taylor (IND) – $9,100 @ HOU, Najee Harris (PIT) – $6,400 @ CIN, Alvin Kamara (NO) – $7,600 @ ATL, Aaron Jones (GB) – $6,700 @ MIN, Dameon Pierce (HOU) – $4,800 v IND

Wide Receivers

Justin Jefferson (MIN) – $7,800 v GB

Justin Jefferson has aspirations to be the best wide receiver in the NFL. There are arguments to be made that he already is and if he’s not, he’s very close. He can win at every level and against any type of coverage. He already leads the league in so many metrics and is top-five in nearly everything. Last year, as a Sophomore, he had a near 30% target share.

This year, the Vikings brought in a new coach, Kevin O’Connell. O’Connell is bringing philosophies from the Los Angeles Rams, who just saw Cooper Kupp put up one of the best seasons in NFL history. The Vikings should be much more pass-heavy this year, which will only bode well for Jefferson. This game brings on a very enticing offensive environment. The combined total is 47 points and the spread is very close as the Vikings are 1.5-point underdogs. This could turn into a shootout and the potential game script could lead to more passing from the Vikings side. This is also another game in a dome, and like the others, will give a boost to both passing offenses.

Michael Pittman (IND) – $5,500 @ HOU

This one has to just be straight-up mispricing. Michael Pittman was top-16 among all wide receivers last year in targets, target share, snap share, route participation, receptions, and receiving yards. He was also WR22 averaging 14 fantasy points per game. This year he should be even better in his third year. The Indianapolis Colts also brought in Matt Ryan as their new quarterback, which should help.

Pittman gets a beautiful Week 1 matchup against the Houston Texans. The Colts are seven-point favorites with an implied team total of 26.5 points. Everyone expects Jonathan Taylor to run all over the Texans, and he very well might. However, the Texans had one of the worst secondaries in the NFL last year. Pittman is still the clear alpha wide receiver on this Colts offense. This game is another that is in a dome, giving it a nice boost for the passing game. Pittman will likely be the most popular wide receiver on the main slate, and rightfully so.

Others to Consider: Tee Higgins (CIN) – $6,100 v PIT, D.J. Moore (CAR) –  $6,000 v CLE, Rashod Bateman (BAL) – $5,300 @ NYJ, Elijah Moore (NYJ) – $5,100 v BAL, Kadarius Toney (NYG) – $4,100 @ TEN, Jahan Dotson (WAS) – $3,400 @ JAX

Tight Ends

Travis Kelce (KC) – $6,600 @ ARI

The pricing is just simply very soft this week. Travis Kelce is normally closer to $8,000 and almost never below $7,000. This is a beautiful setup for Kelce. This game has the highest combined total on the entire slate at 53.5 points. The Kansas City Chiefs also have the highest implied team total at 30 points. They are playing against the Arizona Cardinals who are one of the fastest-paced, highest-scoring offenses in the league so there should be a ton of plays and opportunities for fantasy points in this one. They are also in a dome as well. There is not very much to dislike about this matchup unless you believe in tight-end specific defense, which the Cardinals played very well last year. Ultimately, the environment and salary are simply too good to pass up.

Dallas Goedert (PHI) – $4,500 @ DET

Dallas Goedert comes into the season with two different narratives. On one hand, he’s been one of the most efficient pass-catching tight ends in the NFL. On the other hand, he plays with a quarterback who runs so the overall pass volume is not as ideal as it could be. The Eagles also added A.J. Brown in the offseason, who will command a good chunk of targets.

Goedert has basically become the discount version of George Kittle. This week against the Lions’ defense, he makes for a great play. As previously mentioned, the Lions’ defense is not very good and this game is in a dome. Any given week Goedert runs the risk of not having enough volume but he should also be a featured piece of what should be a very good offense. Despite the uncertainty, Goedert shouldn’t have too much trouble paying off at this salary.

Others to Consider: Mark Andrews (BAL) – $6,800 @ NYJ, Cole Kmet (CHI) – $3,700 v SF, Irv Smith Jr. (MIN) – $3,400 v GB

Defense/Special Teams

In terms of choosing a defense/special teams, it’s the last spot I fill in every week. It’s pretty random but there are a few areas to gain an advantage. I look to target the heavily favored teams as they usually are playing with a lead. This forces their opponent to throw it more often which can help lead to extra sacks and turnovers and hopefully a touchdown. Another aspect to target is turnover and sack-prone quarterbacks. My advice is to fill out the rest of your lineup first and then pick your favorite D/ST out of the remaining money.

My Tentative Cash Game Lineup

  • QB – Jalen Hurts
  • RB – Christian McCaffrey
  • RB – Saquon Barkley
  • WR – Michael Pittman Jr
  • WR – Rashod Bateman
  • WR – Elijah Moore
  • TE – Travis Kelce
  • Flex – Kadarius Toney
  • DST – Detroit Lions

Make sure to tune in next week to see the results from my Week 1 DraftKings plays and to see the best picks for Week 2. Best of luck to everyone and let’s all enjoy some football and win some money!