Yahoo DFS Football: Week 1 Picks

Yahoo DFS Football: Week 1 Picks

This article is part of our Yahoo DFS Football series.

The Week 1 NFL main slate begins Sunday at 1:00 p.m. EDT and features 13 games, while the Cowboys and Buccaneers are set to kick off the season Thursday, and the week concludes with prime time Bears-Rams (Sunday night) and Ravens-Raiders (Monday night) matchups. After jumping right into the season with no preseason in 2020, the league held a three-game exhibition schedule this year, allowing us to get a glance at some youngsters and sleepers. Finding the right mix of those sleepers and established players will be key to building a strong lineup, and Week 1 offers plenty of opportunities to uncover hidden gems. Some of the options that stand out as the season gets underway include a young dual-threat quarterback and a preseason stud at wide receiver, as well as established stars who should be worth paying up for at the running back and tight end positions.

TOURNAMENTS (GPP – GUARANTEED PRIZE POOL)

QB: Ryan Tannehill, TEN vs. ARI ($31): Opposing quarterback Kyler Murray will be a more popular pick in this matchup, but Tannehill has also established himself as a top performer under center with the Titans. Only Browns-Chiefs (54.5) has a higher over/under than this game's 52 points, and Tannehill will be throwing to one of the league's top wide receiver duos in A.J. Brown and offseason addition Julio Jones against an inexperienced Arizona secondary that's unlikely to keep those guys covered. Tannehill set career highs in touchdowns as both a passer (33) and rusher (seven) last season, so he's effective with his legs in addition to his arm.

RB: Jonathan Taylor, IND vs. SEA ($28): Seattle was one of five teams that limited opponents to fewer than 100 rushing yards per game last season, but Taylor's capable of thriving despite the difficult matchup. He quietly finished third league-wide in rushing yards as a rookie last season with 1,169, and Taylor should serve as the focal point of the Colts' offense, especially with No. 1 wide receiver T.Y. Hilton (neck) out and quarterback Carson Wentz having just come back from a foot injury. Taylor's noticeably more affordable than the most expensive options at his position, but he could well end up matching, if not surpassing, their performances.

WR: Marquez Callaway, NO vs. GB ($12): Callaway will open the season as the Saints' top wide receiver with Michael Thomas (ankle) on the PUP list. He had a measly 213 receiving yards as an undrafted rookie last season, but Callaway starred in the preseason to the tune of 61 yards on the team's very first preseason drive followed by a 104-yard, two-touchdown performance in the second preseason game. Both of those touchdowns were thrown by the big-armed Jameis Winston, who won't be afraid to push the ball downfield early and often. At just $12, Callaway's a low-risk, high-reward pick here.

Other Against-the-Grainers

QB: Trevor Lawrence (JAX, $23), Sam Darnold (CAR, $25), Ryan Fitzpatrick (WAS, $28)

RB: Aaron Jones (GB, $25), Austin Ekeler (LAC, $21), Najee Harris (PIT, $20)

WR: Brandin Cooks (HOU, $18), Elijah Moore (NYJ, $12), Parris Campbell (IND, $10)

TE: T.J. Hockenson (DET, $15), Mike Gesicki (MIA, $12)

DST: Jacksonville Jaguars (at HOU, $10), New York Jets (at CAR, $10)

CASH GAMES (H2H, 50/50s and DOUBLE UPS)

QUARTERBACK

Jalen Hurts, PHI at ATL ($26): Hurts showcased his dual-threat ability while starting the Eagles' final four games as a rookie last season. The season finale can be discounted since Hurts only played the first half and the team was tanking, but his results in the other three games were tremendous — two 300-yard passing performances to go with 238 yards and a touchdown on the ground. He's locked in as the Eagles' starter after the team traded away Carson Wentz in the offseason, and Hurts is set up to build on last year's late-season success in the 2021 season opener against a Falcons defense that allowed a league-high 293.6 yards per game through the air last season.

RUNNING BACK

Dalvin Cook, MIN at CIN ($38): Cook's a strong choice to headline your Week 1 DFS lineup. The league's second-leading rusher behind Derrick Henry last season had five games with 130-plus yards on the ground, and Cook's capable of coming close to his astronomical ceiling in Week 1 against a Cincinnati defense that allowed 148.0 rushing yards per game in 2020. The Vikings are favored on the road, so expect them to feed Cook early to get ahead and keep giving him the ball late to seal it. If the game script flips in Cincinnati's favor, Cook can also contribute as a pass-catcher, as he's racked up at least 40 receptions in each of the past three seasons.

James Robinson, JAX at HOU ($27): Despite taking the league by storm with a 1,000-yard rushing campaign as a rookie last season, Robinson was set to see his role decrease this year following the Jaguars' selection of Travis Etienne with the 25th overall pick. Etienne suffered a season-ending foot injury in the preseason, elevating Robinson back into what should be a workhorse role heading into a juicy Week 1 matchup against a Texans team that's a step or three behind the Jaguars when it comes to progress in their respective rebuilds. Houston had the NFL's most porous run defense in 2020, allowing a league-high 160.3 yards per game on the ground.

WIDE RECEIVER

Robby Anderson, CAR vs. NYJ ($14): Anderson had a terrific first season in Carolina last year, leading the team in catches (95) and targets (136) en route to 1,096 yards and three touchdowns. The speedster has pre-built chemistry with new Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold from their days together with the Jets, against whom Anderson should get his 2021 season off to a strong start. New York has an inexperienced and unimpressive group of cornerbacks, so Anderson's field-stretching ability should be on full display. Fellow Panthers receiver DJ Moore ($16) is also a nice option, and rookie Terrace Marshall ($11) is an intriguing upside play, but Anderson's $2 cheaper than Moore and could have a bit of extra motivation taking on his former team.

Calvin Ridley, ATL vs. PHI ($30): The Eagles actually allowed more points per game (26.1) than the Falcons (25.9) last season. Ridley's now the unquestioned top receiver in Atlanta after Julio Jones was traded to Tennessee in the offseason, and the fourth-year pro out of Alabama should thrive in that role against the porous Eagles secondary. He went from one of the league's top red-zone threats (26 touchdowns through three seasons) to one of its top all-around receivers with 90 catches for 1,374 yards in 2020, and Ridley's ceiling could be even higher considering his totals in targets, catches and yards have only climbed with each passing season so far.

Terry McLaurin, WAS vs. LAC ($22): Like Ridley, McLaurin has established himself as one of the league's premier young wide receivers. Despite shoddy quarterback play, McLaurin managed to snag 87 of 134 targets for 1,118 yards and four touchdowns in 15 appearances last season. Washington upgraded under center by bringing in Ryan Fitzpatrick in the offseason, and McLaurin won't remain priced below 14 others at his position for long if he meets expectations in his third NFL campaign. He's a nice mid-tier value play at home against the Chargers in Week 1.

TIGHT END

Travis Kelce, KC vs. CLE ($33): If you can clear enough cap space to lock in Kelce, he'll likely make it worth your while. The top receiving option in the explosive Kansas City offense led all tight ends in receiving yards with a whopping 1,416 in 2020, topping second-place Darren Waller (1,196) by over 200 and nearly doubling third-place T.J. Hockenson's total of 723. Kelce was even better in the playoffs, racking up 31 catches for 360 yards and three touchdowns. That postseason production included 109 yards and a touchdown against the Browns, who allowed the fourth-most catches (90) and touchdowns (10) to tight ends in the 2020 regular season, as well as the eighth-most yards (907).

DEFENSE

San Francisco 49ers, SF at DET ($12): Injuries decimated this unit last season, but one of the league's best defenses in 2019 is ready to rediscover their swagger with the likes of standout defensive end Nick Bosa back in tow. Bosa and company are a Week 1 bargain against the low-octane Lions offense. In addition to downgrading from Matthew Stafford to Jared Goff under center in the offseason, Detroit also lost its starting assortment of wide receivers, leaving behind arguably the least threatening group in the league. The Lions' best remaining playmakers are running back D'Andre Swift (core) and tight end Hockenson (shoulder), both of whom are expected to play but could be limited by their respective injuries.

Honorable Mentions

QB: Kyler Murray (ARI, $34), Tom Brady (TB, $34), Kirk Cousins (MIN, $28)

RB: Alvin Kamara (NO, $34), Nick Chubb (CLE, $29), Gus Edwards (BAL, $15)

WR: A.J. Brown (TEN, $27), Keenan Allen (LAC, $18), DeAndre Hopkins (ARI, $31)

TE: Dallas Goedert (PHI, $16), Kyle Pitts (ATL, $19)

DST: New England Patriots (vs. MIA, $15), Los Angeles Rams (vs. CHI, $19)

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Sasha Yodashkin plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: FanDuel: Youngsash, DraftKings: Yashdogg,Yahoo: Sasha, Fanball: Yashdogg.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sasha Yodashkin
Sasha has been contributing NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB and Tennis content to RotoWire since 2015, with an emphasis on DFS. He is a huge New York sports fan who has been playing fantasy sports since middle school.
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