NFL DFS: Way Too Early Look at DraftKings Salaries for Week 1 (Fantasy Football)

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Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve officially made it. There’s only a handful of things in this world that signal the NFL is here – The Fantasy Footballers Podcast moving to five shows per week, Pre-season NFL games, Hard Knocks 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 a true sicko like Kyle and me, you can even reserve entries for contests on DK. 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.

In this article, I’ll be referencing best ball ADP and comparing it to DraftKings pricing. In this episode of the Fantasy Footballers DFS Podcast, Kyle and I talked about leveraging Best Ball ADP for redraft leagues and DFS. In general, best ball ADP can tell us a lot about a player’s upside and sharp drafters have been drafting best ball leagues all summer long to help us get an idea of player evaluation. Now that the calendar has officially turned to August, we can see who the market is on and how it relates to the salaries on DK. Here’s what stuck out to me most when looking at Week 1 pricing. Note – these are not recommended Week 1 plays.

Quarterbacks

Jalen Hurts $6,800 @ Detroit

Hurts is currently the QB6 in ADP and DK has him right there for Week 1 pricing, but this $6.8K tag is far too cheap for a QB who last year banked top-12 fantasy weeks among QBs a whopping 12 times out of 15 starts. Now, he gets A.J. Brown as a starting WR and DeVonta Smith in year two against a Lions defense that was torched last season. Detroit was 30th in yards allowed and 31st in scoring defense. Whether it’s with his arm or his legs, Hurts can easily pay off this tag in Week 1 against a porous Lions secondary.

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Trey Lance – $6,000 @ Chicago

Would this be a Fantasy Footballers DFS article without mentioning Trey Lance? He’s currently going as the QB8 on Underdog but is priced as the QB10 on DraftKings for Week 1 all the way down at $6,000. Usually, to get a QB who can separate at the position thanks to elite rushing upside, we typically have to pay up in the high $7K range for names like Lamar Jackson or Kyler Murray. Getting Lance at $6K against a Bears team that projects to be one of the worst in football almost feels too good to be true. Expect him to be popular in Week 1 due to this price.

Daniel Jones – $5,000 @ Tennessee

Look, I have zero clue if Daniel Jones is a good real-life QB, but at five thousand US dollars against a porous Tennessee secondary, I’m willing to find out. Danny Dimes is going off the board on Underdog as the QB22 but is priced as the QB30. In other words, he’s the same price as Teddy Bridgewater and Tyler Huntley and he’s cheaper than Sam Darnold, Colt McCoy and Andy Dalton, three non-starters for Week 1. Make it make sense.

Running Backs

Christian McCaffrey – $8,500 vs. Cleveland

McCaffrey is either the RB1 or RB2 in almost every best ball draft, but DK has him priced as the RB3 on this slate behind Jonathan Taylor and Derrick Henry. Yes, we’ve all been burned by CMC the last two years, but when he’s on the field, the dude is still producing at an elite level, and it wasn’t that long ago we were willing to pay north of $9K to roster McCaffrey on DraftKings’ full PPR scoring format where he can hit the 100-yard rushing and/or receiving bonus every time he takes the field.

D’Andre Swift – $6,800 vs. Philadelphia

Swift is a popular name in Round 2 of best ball drafts thanks to his unique combination of rushing and receiving ability. On DraftKings’ full PPR format, Swift gets a nice boost against an Eagles team that historically struggles with pass-catching backs. DK has him as RB9 in pricing while he comes off the boards as the RB8 over on Underdog. In his 26 career NFL games, Swift has averaged just over four receptions per game, and he gets to play behind PFF’s #3 ranked offensive line to enter the year.

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Breece Hall – $5,500 vs. Baltimore

On paper, this doesn’t project as that good of a Week 1 matchup for the rookie as Baltimore’s defense should be head and shoulders above where they were last year. In addition, according to look-ahead lines for Week 1, the Jets are 6-point underdogs to the Ravens, so it’s unlikely we see Hall in a positive game script. That said, this price just feels wrong. He’s currently the RB18 off the board on Underdog while DK has him buried as the RB… checks notes… TWENTY-SIX. And that includes a slate where the Bills, Rams, Bucs, Cowboys, Broncos, and Seahawks aren’t on it because of their primetime games. For reference, he’s cheaper than J.K. Dobbins and James Robinson, two backs coming off major injury, and just $100 more expensive than Chuba Hubbard. What?

Wide Receivers

Michael Pittman Jr. $5,500 @ Houston

Pitty City is a popular player this year for the Ballers. He comes in as the consensus WR12 in Rankings and faces some of the weakest target competition of any WR1 in the NFL with an upgrade in QB play from Carson Wentz to Matt Ryan. On Underdog, Pittman usually goes around pick 30 overall in the 3rd Round as the WR13 but in Week 1, he’s priced as the WR24 over on DK. Talk about value! And, even better? This matchup against Houston looks glorious on paper. Houston was 31st a year ago in yards per play allowed to opponents.

JuJu Smith-Schuster $5,200 @ Arizona

I’ve labeled JuJu Smith-Schuster as a candidate to be this year’s Cooper Kupp and at this price, we should be able to play him at a price tag that allows us to find out if he’ll have the role we’re looking for in Kansas City’s offense with Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid. JuJu is a 5th-round pick over on Underdog as the WR26. He’s priced similarly on DK, but when you consider the quality of WR names that aren’t on the Week 1 main slate (Stefon Diggs, Gabriel Davis, Cooper Kupp, Allen Robinson, Mike Evans, CeeDee Lamb, Courtland Sutton, D.K. Metcalf, etc.), he’s too cheap relative to how he’s valued in the best ball markets. A Patrick Mahomes double stack is very much in play in Week 1 if you want to do it. This KC-ARI game also features a healthy 53.0 total, the highest on the slate as of early August.

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Kadarius Toney – $4,100 @ Tennessee

Can I interest you in a player with a best ball ADP of WR39 that’s priced as the WR64 (!!!) on DraftKings in Week 1? Kadarius Toney is cheaper than names like Darius Slayton, who might not even make the team, Tre’Quan Smith who will be lucky to play 12 snaps in Week 1, and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine who might earn the same number of targets as Kyle Borgognoni. Is this a trap? It feels like a trap. The Giants offense is getting buzz from a lot of sharp drafters thanks to Brian Daboll’s up-tempo, pass-happy scheme. We’ll see if it comes to fruition in Week 1 against a Titans secondary that ranked 25th against the pass a year ago.

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Tight Ends

Travis Kelce – $6,600 @ Arizona

There isn’t much to say about Travis Kelce and how the market values him – he’s clearly the top TE in ADP off the board and is one of few TEs who can separate at the position, especially on DK with full PPR scoring. The reason I want to highlight him here is because of the fact that he’s sub $7K, which is not something we could say often over the last two years. Heck, Kelce even topped out at $8,300 on Week 3’s main slate last season. With Tyreek Hill in Miami and an ambiguous WR room, it’s possible this is the cheapest Kelce is all year.

Darren Waller – $5,400 @ Los Angeles Chargers

It’s been a bit since we’ve had a real Darren Waller boom week. After all, he missed a good chunk of the season with a knee issue. But, if last year’s data means anything, this could be a dream matchup for the Wallerus against a Chargers defense that gave up the 2nd most DraftKings points per game to opposing TEs last year, including the following stat lines:

No defense in the NFL last season gave up more yards after the catch to opposing TEs than the Bolts. On Underdog, Waller comes off the board consistently as the TE4, but he’s too cheap on DK, priced as the TE5.

Cole Kmet – $3,700 vs. San Francisco 

Who doesn’t love a good punt TE? If you’re looking to pay down at fantasy’s weakest position, Kmet looks like he could be in play as early as Week 1. He’s been a target for Kyle and I in best ball all summer long, and he’s got a great price tag as the TE16 on a slate that doesn’t include Dawson Knox, Dalton Schultz, Albert O, or Noah Fant. There’s nothing special about the matchup on paper but can Kmet go 5/50/0 and pay off this tag for cash games? We think so.

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