This article is part of our DFS Tournament Guide series.
It's way too early to release my OFFICIAL tournament guide for Week 1 — that would just be reckless nearly a month before the start of the season. Of course, I can't resist looking at player salaries now that they're up on DraftKings, and I might as well put some thoughts on paper/internet while I'm at it.
The obvious place to start is by looking for underpriced players, but we can also run through some potential stacks and make note of any offseason/camp injuries that have potential to create value for backups. Just to be clear, we're analyzing the main slate for Week 1, consisting of the 12 games scheduled for Sunday afternoon (Sept. 13).
|Over/Under||Favorite||Implied Total||Line||Underdog||Implied Total|
|49.5||New Orleans Saints||26.5||-3.5||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||23|
|49||Seattle Seahawks||25||-1||Atlanta Falcons||24|
|48.5||Baltimore Ravens||28.5||-8.5||Cleveland Browns||20|
|47||Las Vegas Raiders||24.3||-1.5||Carolina Panthers||22.8|
|46.5||San Francisco 49ers||26.8||-7||Arizona Cardinals||19.8|
|46||Minnesota Vikings||24.5||-3||Green Bay Packers||21.5|
|44.5||Indianapolis Colts||25.8||-7||Jacksonville Jaguars||18.8|
|44||Philadelphia Eagles||25||-6||Washington Football Team||19|
|44||Los Angeles Chargers||23.5||-3||Cincinnati Bengals||20.5|
|44||Detroit Lions||22.8||-1.5||Chicago Bears||21.3|
|43.5||New England Patriots||24.8||-6||Miami Dolphins||18.8|
|40||Buffalo Bills||23||-6||New York Jets||17|
The two games with the highest over/unders of Week 1 (Texans-Chiefs, Cowboys-Rams) will be played in primetime, leaving us with Bucs-Saints and Seahawks-Falcons as the cream of the crop for shootout potential on the main DFS slate. There's a lot of recent history with the Tampa/Nawlins matchup producing big-time points, but both teams actually look pretty good on defense this year. The Falcons and Seahawks can't say the same, with a lack of pass-rushing talent apparent on both rosters.
Jamal Adams and Bobby Wagner will be a scary sight in the middle of the field, but everything else about the matchup screams shootout. Unfortunately, the QB salaries are right in line with that expectation, placing Russell Wilson at No. 2 ($7,000) and Matt Ryan at No. 4 ($6,700). In fact the top-5 QB salaries for the main slate are the four guys from the aforementioned dome games (Drew Brees - $6,800, Tom Brady - $6,500) plus reigning MVP Lamar Jackson ($8,100) in a league of his own.
QB Cam Newton, vs. MIA ($6,100)
There's enough value elsewhere to pay up for Jackson in cash games, but we should also be able to find rushing production — albeit to a lesser degree — for $2,000 cheaper. Assuming he gets the Week 1 start, Newton will open Act II of his NFL career playing at home against the Dolphins in Josh McDaniels' fast-paced offense. The weapons and familiarity may be lacking, but a QB11 price makes up for those concerns.
QB Tyrod Taylor, at CIN ($5,600)
Another mobile QB at a low price against a subpar defense... no need to make it more complicated than that.
RB Christian McCaffrey, vs. LVR ($10,000)
We shouldn't expect a full repeat of last season all year long, but it's reasonable to anticipate 25 DK points in a home game against the not-so-vaunted Raiders defense. Given the friendly matchup, McCaffrey is an easy choice as the overall RB1 for Week 1.
RB Kenyan Drake, at SF ($6,400)
RB Miles Sanders, at WAS ($6,300)
If the final month of last year is any indication, Boston Scott will get more work in Philly than Chase Edmonds gets in the desert. Of course, a new season often means new roles, so there's no guarantee of Drake matching his 80 percent snap share from the second half of last year. He also happens to have a difficult matchup, albeit against a defense that he beat up to the tune of 242 total yards in a pair of 2019 matchups.
Sanders has the easier draw, though this might actually be the year when Washington's stockpile of D-line talent finally pays off. Anyway, the prices here look like bargains relative to season-long projections and ADP results. Drake and Sanders are priced at Nos. 9 and 10 among RBs, playing on a slate with no Barkley, Zeke, Henry, Gordon or Edwards-Helaire.
Editor's Note: Sanders and Scott both missed practice Wednesday with lower-body injuries.
WR Davante Adams, at MIN ($7,300)
The Vikings remade their cornerback group this offseason, swapping out Trae Waynes, Xavier Rhodes and Mackensie Alexander for first-round pick Jeff Gladney and third-rounder Cameron Dantzler. It's probably a good strategy for the long term, but it's a bad strategy if you want to shut down Adams in Week 1 of 2020.
WR Odell Beckham, at BAL ($5,900)
The matchup is undoubtedly difficult, but that should be outweighed by the combination of talent and volume, especially with running mate Jarvis Landry coming back from major surgery. Expect Beckham to take the clear lead in Cleveland's passing game, especially at the beginning of the year.
WR Terry McLaurin, vs. PHI ($5,600)
McLaurin could be looking at a shadow matchup with Darius Slay, the Eagles' prized offseason acquisition who wasn't exactly dominant during his final season in Detroit. That's not to say the matchup is ideal, but it's not enough to scare me away from Scary Terry when he's priced in WR3 range. Of course, you might feel different if you aren't seated next to me on the McLaurin 2020 hype train.
WR Marquise Brown, vs. BAL ($5,100)
If you like Brown at his WR27 ADP, you're almost certainly going to like him at this price, even in a potential shadow date with fellow speed demon Denzel Ward. Maybe a Lamar-Hollywood-OBJ stack is the secret sauce for Week 1 glory?
WR Parris Campbell, at JAX ($3,900)
I don't think the Colts offense will give Campbell enough volume for a full-on breakout this year, but I do think he'll be a pretty good player who specializes in picking up yards after the catch. Early reports from training camp have been positive, seemingly putting Campbell on track for a top-three role. Heck, he might even get snaps with T.Y. Hilton in some two-wide formations.
TE Hayden Hurst, vs. SEA ($4,300)
The Jets were always tough on tight ends with Jamal Adams playing strong safety, but his role will probably look different in Seattle where there's a well established system that largely relies on conservative zone coverages. In any case, Hurst has a shot at a three-down role in an offense that has a shot to lead the league in passes. Maybe Adams shuts him down, or maybe he goes wild on nine targets.
TE Ian Thomas, vs. LVR ($3,400)
Speaking of three-down roles, Thomas may have one by default, playing in an offense where Chris Manhertz and Temarrick Hemingway are the other options at tight end. I've never been impressed when I've watched Thomas play, but his physical specs match the NFL prototype for the position, and he's still only 24 years old. That's worth a roll of the dice when we could get 95 percent snap share at $3,400 in a friendly matchup.
We already mentioned Bucs-Saints and Seahawks-Falcons, so now let's take a look at some other stacking options. FWIW, my favorite first-look stack from the aforementioned pair of games is QB Russell Wilson ($7,000) + WR DK Metcalf ($5,800) + WR Calvin Ridley ($6,100) + TE Greg Olsen ($4,000).
Rostering Wilson without Tyler Lockett ($6,500) is a way to get differentiation from other Seattle stacks, and it's not like Lockett has ever seen dominant target share. (For example, I'd be far more hesitant to fade Davante Adams in an Aaron Rodgers lineup, or Julio Jones in a Matt Ryan lineup).
Anyway, here are some other Week 1 stacks I'll consider using:
Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions
Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots
Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington Football Team
Cleveland Browns @ Baltimore Ravens
Los Angeles Chargers @ Cincinnati Bengals
RB Nick Chubb, at BAL
Even in a tough matchup, Kareem Hunt ($5,100) becomes a must-play if his backfield mate misses Week 1 while recovering from a concussion. On the other hand, Chubb ($6,500) is an easy fade if he suits up, playing as an 8.5-point underdog with an implied total of 20. Maybe that works for a pass-catching back, but not so much for a bruiser... not even a dominant one like Chubb.
RB Sony Michel, vs. MIA
With Michel (foot) and Lamar Miller (knee) both looking shaky for the opener, Damien Harris ($4,300) could see his first significant NFL action in a home game against Miami. The Patriots will still have James White ($6,000) for receiving work and maybe Rex Burkhead ($4,000) mixing in, but there's a real opportunity for Harris to see a dozen or more carries and a couple targets. That workload, in this matchup, would make him a great play at $4,300.
Bengals WRs vs. LAC
A.J. Green (hamstring), Tee Higgins (hamstring) and John Ross (reserve/COVID-19) all have been absent from recent practices, leaving Tyler Boyd ($6,100), Auden Tate ($3,800) and Mike Thomas ($3,000) as the top trio with the first-team offense. A matchup with Chargers cornerbacks Casey Hayward, Chris Harris and Desmond King is the furthest thing from friendly, but we could at least see a busy day for Boyd against slot specialist King, who didn't play up to his previous level last year. Granted, Harris also has a ton of experience working inside, and the Chargers could move him to the slot against Boyd if the Bengals don't have AJG in the lineup. I'm guessing this will just be a full-fade spot for the Cincinnati offense, but it's at least worth keeping an eye on.
WR Deebo Samuel, vs. ARZ
I can't really get excited about Kendrick Bourne at $5,000 or Brandon Aiyuk at $4,500, but I'll happily pay $7,200 for George Kittle if he's starting his season with a home game against the defense that allowed the most points to tight ends last year, playing within an offense that's missing his top competition for targets. Then again, you might argue that the Cardinals can actually stop Kittle when they don't have much else to worry about. The Cardinals held the Niners to 135 rushing yards in two matchups last year, yielding 718 through the air instead. Kittle went for 6-79-1 in the first matchup, but he hurt his knee in the process and ended up missing the second matchup a few weeks later.
TE Will Dissly, at ATL
Conventional logic suggests the Seahawks' tight end room is crowded, but I'll argue that Dissly ($3,400) and Greg Olsen ($4,000) are the only ones worth a damn. If Dissly's rehab from a torn Achilles stretches into the season, Olsen could start the year with the type of three-down role he often handled in Carolina. Colby Parkinson, Jacob Hollister and Luke Willson are scrub city.