Welcome to King for a Day - Our new weekly feature focusing on DraftKings' Fantasy Football contests.
For the uninitiated, DraftKings runs fantasy salary-based football contests where users can take home cash each week, instead of waiting for the end of the season. To celebrate the NFL season, DraftKings is offering all new depositors a free entry into their $30,000 Week 1 contest as a limited time offer.
Like most fantasy football formats, it's all about value on DraftKings. Don't be afraid to scroll down a bit when picking players, as the beginning of the season is the best time to cash in on some of your "sleepers". Is there a rookie who you believe is headed for instant stardom? If so, now would be the best time to pick him on DraftKings. If he breaks out like you think he will, the player's cost will rise over the course of the season. He may be one of the cheapest options at his position this week, but that won't be the case after a string of 100-yard games.
Now, on to some of the best values in Week 1:
Matt Ryan, ATL, $9500 vs. NO – The Saints addressed some of their defensive deficiencies in the offseason, only to be devastated by a rash of injuries on that side of the ball before the season has even started. The end result is a defense that still looks like a major weakness, and Ryan should be happy to take advantage. If you want to go with Drew Brees ($9600) on the other side of his matchup, we'd hardly blame you, as the Atlanta defense also looks shaky, albeit not to the same extent as New Orleans.
Andrew Luck, IND, $8700 vs. OAK – The Oakland secondary might actually be a strength relative to the rest of the team, but it still looks pretty lousy, and there's no reason to think that the Raiders will get a decent pass rush this year. As for Luck, he'll be working behind an improved offensive line this season, and his young targets -- T.Y. Hilton, Coby Fleener, and Dwayne Allen -- will be second-year players instead of rookies. Luck may see a slight dip in volume this year, but he'll almost certainly improve upon his 54.1 percent completion rate from a year ago.
Adrian Peterson, MIN, $8700 vs. DET – Peterson is simply the best, and he's not costing you much more than the other elite backs, despite his juicy matchup. All-Day Adrian rushed for 274 yards in two games against the Lions last season, and neither contest was played during his epic December run. Speaking of which, remember the time Adrian Peterson ran for 861 yards in one month? Yeah, I'll take that guy.
Frank Gore, SF, $5600 vs. GB – In the 10 games (including playoffs) Colin Kaepernick started last year, Gore ran for 780 yards and eight TDs. The veteran runner is still the clear top choice in the San Francisco backfield, and he's facing a Green Bay team that is probably very focused on stopping Kaepernick's running after last season's embarrassing playoff defeat. Though Kaepernick got the biggest highlight, Gore played a huge role in the 49ers' two wins over the Packers last year, piling up 232 yards and a pair of scores.
Daryl Richardson, STL, $3500 vs. ARI – The matchup isn't great and neither is the player. But the price is fantastic, and there's no reason to shy away from a stars-and-scrubs strategy when your "scrubs" aren't actually scrubs. Richardson averaged 4.8 yards per carry on 98 totes last season, and he's the clear top option in a backfield that will be without its No. 2, Isaiah Pead. Richardson will likely operate as a three-down workhorse, meaning he won't need to be particularly efficient in order to have a nice fantasy day.
David Wilson, NYG, $5800 vs. DAL – Wilson's rookie season was undoubtedly disappointing, but everything seems to be falling into place in year two. Most notably, Andre Brown suffered a broken leg in the preseason, leaving Wilson as the unquestioned starter. The immensely talented second-year back out of Virginia Tech will make his first career start Sunday, and he'll be facing a Dallas defense that is transitioning to a 4-3 with a very weak group of defensive tackles. The Cowboys gave up 2,000 rushing yards last season, ranking 22nd in the NFL in run defense.
Dez Bryant, DAL, $8200 vs. NYG – Bryant finished 2012 on a tear, tallying 10 touchdowns from Week 10-16. He looked even better in the preseason this year, and will start his 2013 campaign against a Giants team that ranked 28th in pass defense last season. Though the Giants figure to be a bit better in that department, it still feels like there is nothing (besides an injury) that can stop Bryant's momentum. Calvin Johnson at $9400 isn't a bad play this week, but why spend so much when you can still grab an elite receiver and save an extra $1200 for other positions?
Danny Amendola, NE, $6200 vs. BUF- One of the best things about daily fantasy sports is that you can select talented injury-prone players without having to fret over their ability to make it through the season. Amendola fits the bill perfectly, and he also gets a nice boost from DraftKings' PPR format. The matchup is good, Amendola's quarterback is excellent, and Rob Gronkowski almost certainly won't be around to compete for targets. I'm not sure how I feel about Amendola for a whole season, but for Week 1 he's almost a must-start.
Golden Tate, SEA, $3900 vs. CAR – It's no secret that the Seahawks want to run the ball, but Carolina looks awfully strong in the front seven and awfully weak in the defensive backfield. The Seahawks may pass more often than they normally do this week, which will be good news for Tate and teammate Sidney Rice ($3900). So why Tate over Rice? For starters, Rice underwent a procedure on his knee in late July. He's expected to suit up, but could be a bit rusty. Perhaps more importantly, Tate is entering his fourth season, while Rice is heading in to his seventh. Tate has shown big-play ability and just needs to find consistency. Rice has seemingly settled in as a good but not great, injury-prone receiver. You aren't committed to either beyond Week 1. Go with Tate and the upside if you're shopping in the wide receiver bargain bin.
Greg Olsen, CAR, $4500 vs. SEA – Seattle? That's a terrible matchup, right? Not so fast. The Seahawks were an absolute nuisance to every other offensive position last season, but actually ranked middle of the pack when it came to stopping fantasy production from the tight end spot. After all, it makes sense that teams would try to throw over the middle more often in an effort to stay away from the Seahawks' incredible cornerbacks. As for Olsen, he ranked second on the Panthers with 104 targets last season, so he's a big part of the gameplan even when the matchup doesn't dictate it.
Jordan Cameron, CLE, $3700 vs. MIA –I'm not quite sold on Cameron's full-season prospects, but there's clearly a ton of potential here, and the Browns need to throw to someone over the next two weeks while Josh Gordon is serving a suspension. Cameron is pretty unproven, and yet I feel fairly confident that he's already a better receiving option than the wideouts behind Gordon on the depth chart. There's nothing that will warm a quarterback up to his tight end more than seeing Greg Little, Davone Bess, and Travis Benjamin lined up out wide.
Colts, $3200 vs. OAK – The Colts defense made some improvements in the offseason, but realistically, that's not why you're here. The Raiders don't appear to have any strengths on offense, and Terrelle Pryor will be making his first NFL start. Matchups like this don't come around every day (or year), so don't hesitate to take a defense that probably won't be very good this season. With the 49ers facing Aaron Rodgers and the Seahawks facing Cam Newton, I'd take the Colts over any other defense this week, even if price weren't a factor. Yes, things look that bad in Oakland.
Greg Zuerlein, STL, $3200 vs. ARI – Don't spend too much time trying to figure out which matchups will lead to the most field-goal attempts. Just avoid kickers on bad offenses that are facing strong defenses, and try to get a guy with some range. Would I rather have Blair Walsh ($3900) against the Lions than Zeurlein against the Cardinals if price weren't a factor? Sure, but I'd much rather have the extra $700. Pick a cheap kicker and then come back to it if you have some leftover salary after picking the rest of your team.
Bonus Thursday Night Pick
WR Torrey Smith, BAL, $5,400 vs. DEN – Smith is set to take on a huge role in the Baltimore offense, and he will be asked to do much more than just make occasional big plays. His price this week indicates that the matchup is bad, but that isn't really the case with both LB Von Miller (suspension) and CB Champ Bailey (hip) out. There are 26 receivers more expensive than Smith this week, and only about 16 or 17 that I'd rather have if price were not a factor.