DFS Week 1: Way Too Early Look at DraftKings Salaries (Fantasy Football)
Week 1 of the NFL season is still over a month away, but that doesn’t mean it’s too early to start thinking about our DFS lineups on DraftKings. Okay, okay – maybe it is too early to actually start building lineups, but it’s not too early to take a look at DraftKings Week 1 salaries, which were released just this past week. This is a first glance at pricing with some salaries that stick out to me. Of course, the NFL landscape will change throughout training camp and preseason, but these prices won’t.
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Taysom Hill vs. Green Bay – $5,200
At this point in the offseason, we still don’t know who will be under center for the Saints in Week 1 and that’s reflected in DraftKings pricing. They made Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill the exact same price. Without Michael Thomas in the lineup for Week 1 due to his recovery from June ankle surgery, there is a growing belief that Hill will be New Orleans’ starter to enter the season. If that’s the case, Hill’s rushing upside and salary will make him the cheap cash game QB for Week 1. Recall that in his four starts last year, Hill posted 25.2, 18.5, 24.6, and 20.9 DraftKings points. He’s too cheap for the upside of being the #1 overall scoring QB in Week 1.
Joe Burrow vs. Minnesota – $5700
You’ll notice a theme here shortly, but DraftKings made the Bengals skill players way too cheap. Last year prior to his injury, no QB dropped back to pass in the NFL more than Joe Burrow. Cincy also ranked 1st in plays per game in Weeks 1-10 with Joe Burrow under center, and now the team added Ja’Marr Chase. With tons of weapons at his disposal, the cheap price tag, and the matchup against the Vikings, expect Joey B to popular in Week 1.
Kyler Murray ($7600) & Ryan Tannehill ($6500)
I’m highlighting both QBs because I think this is going to be the most popular game stack for GPPs in Week 1. The Titans are only favored by 2.5 points, and this game features a healthy 51.0 point over/under, the second-highest on the Week 1 main slate. We have an offense in Arizona that we know wants to play fast versus a bad Titans defense and a Tennessee offense that has super popular DFS players like Derrick Henry, A.J. Brown, and Julio Jones. As a result, I expect a ton of lineups to feature one of these two QBs, thus leading to a lot of Cardinals and Titans stacks in tournaments.
Baker Mayfield @ Kansas City – $5900
I’m immediately drawn to Baker Mayfield‘s price tag for GPPs in Week 1 as I don’t think he’ll be very popular given that no teams are on bye and his price tag isn’t extremely cheap enough to make him an obvious play (see Taysom Hill above). Yet, this Chiefs/Browns game features the highest over/under on the board in Week 1 at 52.5 points. We fully expect Pat Mahomes and company to put up points, and as Kyle and I discussed in our most recent episode of the DFS Podcast when a QB posts a 25-point game, there’s a 61% chance the opposing QB will too. Chiefs players are going to be popular for good reason, but what if Baker goes off in a high-flying game environment?
Chase Edmonds @ Tennessee – $4,600
As discussed above, I fully expect Tannehill and Kyler stacks to be popular in tournaments, so this price tag sticks out to me right away as a leverage play off potentially popular stacks. We don’t have an idea quite yet as to how the Cardinals are going to utilize their backs as far as the workload is concerned, but I think we can be relatively confident that Edmonds will at least see the passing down work. According to FantasyLabs data, Edmonds and Kyler Murray had a positive correlation of 0.51 last season. I’m looking at Edmonds as a potential way to get exposure to a game with a high total in a unique way.
Antonio Gibson vs. Los Angeles Chargers – $5,900
Last year we saw Gibson get priced up into the mid $6K range when he was hitting his stride for fantasy in the second half of the year, so this price jumps out to me as too cheap relative to Gibson’s workload. The entire offense projects to be better in 2021 than 2020, and there’s also the potential that Gibson could be used more in the passing game than last year. Recall that Gibson was utilized mostly as a wide receiver in college, so we know he can do it. If that passing game role is unlocked, this is the cheapest he’ll be all season at RB18.
D’Andre Swift vs. San Francisco – $6,900
Swift jumps out to me as an obvious fade at his RB9 salary. The Lions carry an implied team total of fewer than 20 points as 7.5-point underdogs against the 49ers, and even though Swift is thought of as a passing-down back (which he is), he actually averaged 5 fewer fantasy points per game in Lions losses. In other words, projecting him to wrack up a ton of receptions while playing from behind may be fool’s gold. Keep in mind, the Lions have also been vocal that they plan to utilize Jamaal Williams in Anthony Lynn’s infamous “A Back, B Back” RBBC.
Dalvin Cook @ Cincinnati – $9,100
I don’t see how Cook isn’t the most popular RB in Week 1 for DFS. We know he’s got the talent, a massive workload (26.1 opportunities per game last year), and what projects to be a great matchup against the Bengals. He’ll likely be a cash game foundation for most players in Week 1, but will his roster percentage get out of control to make him a fade in GPPs? We’ll find out soon enough via the Roster Percentage Report, which is new for the DFS Pass for the 2021 season.
Marvin Jones @ Houston – $3,600
If you’re reading this in early August, can you confidently name the Jaguars’ WR1? The answer is no, no you cannot. So why is our boy Marvin Jones below $4K when D.J. Chark is $5,800 and Laviska Shenault is $5000? Jones looks like a great GPP target as a way to save money in Week 1 against the NFL’s JV squad, the Houston Texans.
Ja’Marr Chase ($4,800), Tyler Boyd ($5,200) and Tee Higgins ($4,700) vs. Minnesota
DraftKings made the Bengals pass catchers far too cheap for the projected volume they’ll see in Week 1 against what was a bad Vikings secondary last year. Assuming the Bengals continue their pass-heavy scheme with Zac Taylor, at least one of these guys is probably going to make his salary look silly. The difficult part is going to be predicting where the roster percentage comes in on these guys. If they’re all chalky plays, they could be fades in GPPs. However, because they’re all going to project well, we could see this be an ambiguous situation where DFS players pass on the team entirely because they’re not sure which WR is the right play. In that scenario, they’d be great tournament options. We’ll see!
DeVonta Smith @ Atlanta – $4,500
Smith’s price tag sticks out to me as the cheapest salary for a team’s WR1 on the entire slate, and he’s the exact same price as Christian Kirk. There’s potential for Smith to see a 20+% target share in Week 1 against Atlanta’s generous secondary, who’s been very giving to opposing pass catchers. Look for Smith’s price to increase as the year goes on.
Calvin Ridley vs. Philadelphia – $7,900
Ridley looks like an obvious spend-up option in Week 1 against an Eagles secondary that has serious question marks entering 2021. Looking at Ridley’s splits without Julio Jones in the lineup over the last few years, when he averages 11+ targets and more than 100 yards per game, helps give him upside to smash at this salary. Down the stretch last season, Ridley was priced well north of $8K regularly.
Adam Trautman vs. Green Bay – $2,900
It’s impossible to look at this list and not immediately zoom in on Trautman’s name as his sub-$3K salary, especially with Michael Thomas unlikely to play. He makes all the sense in the world as the punt tight end for Week 1 if you’re looking to save salary. Expect him to be extremely popular in cash games.
Dan Arnold vs. New York Jets – $2,600
Speaking of salary savers, Dan Arnold is just $2,600 against the New York Jets, who got eviscerated by tight ends last year. I’m not saying you’ll have any confidence playing the Postman, but he’s another way you could get different in tournaments if you’re looking to completely punt the tight end.
Hunter Henry vs. Miami – $4,700
Hunter Henry is priced as the TE5 in Week 1 and I have no words to describe how confused I am writing that sentence. Henry also provides very little in terms of run after the catch ability, so you’re relying on a player who’s almost $5K. In the words of the great Randy Jackson, “It’s a no from me, dog.” His teammate, Jonnu Smith, who’s more athletic and can create upside after the catch, is $600 cheaper. Henry’s way too overpriced for a team that projects to throw very little with Cam Newton under center.
George Kittle @ Detroit – $6,300
The 49ers are 7.5-point favorites against Dan Campbell’s Lions, yet he’s a full $2,000 cheaper than Travis Kelce. As a result, I expect Kittle to be the most popular spend-up option in Week 1 at the position. He’ll project as a really strong play, but if his roster percentage gets out of control, he could be a fade in GPPs.
Travis Kelce vs. Cleveland – $8,300
Kelce is a no-brainer play most weeks as he has the potential to blow away the rest of the rosters in the contest given his massive upside at the position. That said, just know that DraftKings isn’t being shy about his Week 1 price, and you’re not getting a discount. Last year, Kelce was only priced north of $8,000 one time all season at $8,500. In terms of Week 1 salaries at the WR position, Kelce is tied for the most expensive pass catcher on the entire slate with Davante Adams.
Buffalo Bills vs. Pittsburgh – $2,500
The Steelers will have a completely rebuilt offensive line entering 2021 returning a total of zero starters from 2020’s team. This, combined with Big Ben’s immobility in the pocket, makes Buffalo a nice spend-down option where we could see some sacks and possibly a few turnovers in Week 1.
Denver Broncos @ New York Giants – $3,300
Denver gets multiple starters back in the lineup on the defensive side of the ball this year, including former All-Pro Von Miller. Their Week 1 opponent? None other than Mr. Daniel Jones himself, who posted an 11:10 TD-to-INT ratio last year including 11 fumbles while also taking 3.2 sacks per game last season. Yikes.
San Francisco 49ers @ Detroit – $4,200
I want to highlight the 49ers here as a possible fade in tournaments. It’s not that they aren’t a great play, in fact, it looks like they are. They have one of the best pass rushes in the league and are facing Jared Goff, but the issue with defensive scoring is that we aren’t necessarily great at predicting fantasy performance from a defense in DFS. Given they are the most expensive DST on the slate and they’re likely to be the most popular, they’re a potential fade in Week 1 for tournaments.