NFL DFS: Way Too Early Look at DraftKings Salaries for Week 1 (Fantasy Football)
Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve officially made it. There’s only a handful of things in this world that signal the NFL season is here – The Fantasy Footballers Podcast moving to five shows per week, Pre-season NFL games, Hard Knocks on our TVs and DraftKings releasing their Week 1 salaries a full six weeks ahead of kickoff. Yes, that’s right. DraftKings’ Week 1 salaries are already available, and if you’re really feeling wild, you can already reserve your contest entries.
There’s so much that will change over the next six weeks that we don’t want to get too locked into the analysis in this article – it’s more of an exercise to see where the market is at in early August and where it could go over the next month and a half. Is analyzing Week 1 DFS pricing in the first week of August crazy? Sure is! But hey, football is here, so let’s dive in. If you’re interested in playing DFS with us this year, be sure to check out the 2023 DFS Pass, part of the Ultimate Draft Kit+.
🎄Merry Christmas 🎄
Week 1 DraftKings Salaries are live!
(and no! i have zero analysis… gonna stare at this and get back to you next week. breathe.) pic.twitter.com/MMgnP24Fmr
— Kyle Borgognoni (@kyle_borg) July 28, 2023
Geno Smith $6,100 vs. LAR
Geno was great last season, finishing the year as the QB5 on the back of 19.4 DraftKings points per game. He also flashed big time upside, dropping 20+ fantasy points in 8 of 17 games, and now his situation got even better with the addition of first round NFL talent Jaxon Smith-Njigba. A year ago, Seattle #LetGenoCook, ranking top-10 in both neutral pass rate and Pass Rate over Expectation (PROE). With both starting RBs dealing with injuries in camp, it would not be surprising at all to see Seattle come out of the gate firing.
The Rams are set to trot out one of, if not the, most inexperienced starting defensive units in the NFL in 2023. That’s terrifying after ranking 27th in EPA per pass attempt and 26th in points per drive allowed last season. Geno and his stacking partners are certainly in play in a game at home where they’re favored by five points. Seattle’s 26.5 team implied total is one of the highest on the main slate.
Sam Howell $4,900 vs. ARI
If you’re looking to punt it off at QB in Week 1, there’s no shortage of options. Jordan Love, Desmond Ridder, Baker Mayfield and Sam Howell are all $5K or cheaper for Week 1’s main slate. If I’m going bargain shopping, give me the upside of Howell at home against the Cardinals’ talent-depleted roster. Last season, Arizona struggled to get after the passer, ranking 24th in the NFL in sack rate. They were also 31st in all of the following categories: points per game allowed, points per drive allowed and TDs per game allowed. Only the Bears were worse in these categories. Howell has the playmakers and rushing ability to pay off this tag if things break right.
Bijan Robinson $8,000 vs. CAR
DraftKings coming out of the gates hot! The rookie is priced as the RB4 on the Week 1 main slate, but the hyped is obviously well deserved. Atlanta was one of the NFL’s most run heavy schemes a year ago, and after they used the 8th overall pick on the former Texas Longhorn, that’s unlikely to change in 2023, especially with Desmond Ridder under center.
The Atlanta offensive line was PFF’s top ranked run blocking unit a year ago, and heading into the 2023 campaign, they’re ranked number seven in the league. As a team, the Falcons’ 4.9 yards per carry last season was tied for the 4th-best mark in football. With a talent like Robinson behind that line, good things should happen for fantasy as early as Week 1 against Carolina.
Samaje Perine $5,100 vs. LV
As of this writing, Javonte Williams (ACL, LCL, PLC) is trending in the right direction for Week 1, but his availability remains to be seen. If for some reason Williams is not 100% or out, Perine would be an obvious cash game play at just $5,100 against the Raiders.
Even if Williams is ready to rock in Week 1, Perine should have a role right away with the Denver Broncos. Last season, the Broncos as a team targeted the RB position at the third-highest rate in the NFL (23%), and now they get head coach, Sean Payton calling plays. Payton’s offenses have historically involved a heavy dose of the running back out of the backfield. A year ago, Las Vegas allowed the fifth-most rushing TDs to opposing RBs and they were dead last in receiving yards allowed to opposing backs.
Rashaad Penny $5,000 @ NE
As of now, it remains to be seen who wins the RB1 job for Philadelphia, but if we get word throughout camp that Penny is in line for lead back duties, he’s an interesting name at just $5K. The Eagles travel to New England in Week 1 with a 25.5 team implied total as 4.5-point road favorites. If the game goes as expected according to the Vegas line, Penny could be in line to see work in a positive game script.
Entering the 2023 season, PFF has Philadelphia’s O-line ranked as the NFL’s best, and last season, their offensive line ranked sixth in Football Outsiders’ adjusted line yards, fifth in PFF run block grade and second in ESPN’s run block win rate. Penny’s 5.7 career yards per carry mark is among the best in NFL history.
I had to do a double take when I saw these prices on the San Fran wide outs. Sure, pegging the right San Francisco pass catcher on a week-to-week basis feels a bit like whack-a-mole, but the talent of Aiyuk and Deebo are undeniable. We saw flashes of Aiyuk’s upside a year ago when he went for 28.3 DraftKings points against the Falcons in Week 6 and 29.7 points against the Raiders in Week 17. Just to point out how crazy this price is on Aiyuk, he was never this cheap in 2022, bottoming out at $5,100 in Week 2. As for Samuel, he opened Week 1 last year at *checks notes* $7,400. Now essentially $2K cheaper in Week 1, this is a sweet buy low opportunity.
As Dwain McFarland pointed out, Aiyuk and Deebo led the pass catchers in target share when all of the ‘big four’ were healthy last season. It’ll be interesting to see how the field decides to approach the San Francisco guys in Week 1, but if either is slipping through the cracks, I’ll be interested in taking some shots in tourneys.
49ers target shares when Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle were all on the field in 2022:
— Dwain McFarland (@dwainmcfarland) June 18, 2023
Elijah Moore $3,800 vs. CIN
I can already feel it – Elijah Moore cash game lock at just $3.8K? Book it. After all, it’s nearly impossible to scroll Twitter (X?) these days and not see a camp highlight of Moore, who is now in Cleveland after a falling out in New York with the Jets. A dynasty darling coming out of Ole Miss, Moore had an encouraging rookie season before a tumultuous 2022. Now with a change of scenery, many in fantasy land are excited about what Moore could do with Deshaun Watson in Cleveland.
Moore is screaming up best ball draft boards. He’s currently going off the board as the WR44, yet he’s priced as the WR62 behind guys like Ty Montgomery ($4,400) and K.J. Osborn ($4,300). This just feels like someone fell asleep at the wheel over at DK.
Hayden Hurst $3,000 @ ATL
There’s nothing better than finding that cheap TE for DraftKings cash games just to jam in all the studs at the other positions. Hurst is just $3K, which is cheaper than guys like Jelani Woods ($3,200) and Zach Ertz ($3,400) who may not play coming off the torn ACL. There’s no doubt Hurst is going to be out there running a ton of routes for rookie Bryce Young. I struggle to see any sort of ceiling for Hurst, but from a floor perspective, he’s too cheap for his projected role against an Atlanta secondary that was woeful last season.