It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Alex here, and I would like to welcome you to my first DraftKings NFL post of the 2018 season. Below are my favorite plays for each position for Sunday’s main slate, with my sleeper picks coming out later in the week. For week one, I think it is always wise to use a lighter amount of your bankroll than you usually do for any given week. There are so many changes with personnel, coaching, and schemes each summer that week one usually ends up being a very tough one to predict. Obviously, we are all extremely excited that football is back, but in all my years of playing NFL DFS, I have learned to slowly increase the amount of bankroll I put on the table each week. Finally, if you have any questions or if you need any advice with your lineup, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter. @Hunta512.
QB: Deshaun Watson: (6,700)
Rightfully so, after tearing his ACL less than a year ago, Watson hasn’t played much in the preseason, but in his limited time, he has looked fully healthy and shown no signs of any limitations. Now, he heads to New England to face off with the defending AFC Champion Patriots, in a game that has shootout written all over it, with it’s slate high O/U game total of 50.5 points. The last time these two teams played each other, the over easily hit, with the final score being 36-33, in favor of The Pats. Watson completed 22/33 passes for 301 yards and two TDs, while also rushing eight times for 41 yards. (25.14 DK points) With the departure of CB Malcolm Butler, this Pats’ secondary looks to be a shaky unit once again this season. (7th most fantasy points allowed to QBs in 2017)
The Texans are also six point underdogs in this high scoring affair, which should force Watson to throw it 35+ times. In the five games he has played in that have had a total of 40 points or more, Watson is averaging an excellent 31.7 DK PPG. Furthermore, in four of those games The Texans were underdogs, which was a nice boost for the rookie, with him averaging 33.5 DK PPG in those four instances. Watson should score 25+ DK points in this game, with a ceiling around 40 DK points and this might be the last time all year we get to attack him at this cheap of a salary.
RB: Alvin Kamara: (8,500)
Considering DraftKings knew about Marc Ingram’s four game suspension ahead of putting out their week one salaries, I expected a salary closer to $9,000 for Kamara, but hey, I’ll take the discount for this beast in a perfect situation. There are other backs on this Saints’ roster, but with Ingram out of the fold, it’s hard to imagine Sean Payton and this coaching staff not heavily relying on Kamara until the veterans suspension is over. RB Jonathan Williams was expected to take on some of Inrgram’s role, but he was surprisingly waived this past Saturday. The Saints then went out and signed former Patriots’ RB Mike Gillislee, so now they have him and rookie RB Boston Scott, behind Kamara. With Gillislee just being introduced to this offense and and Scott being an undersized rookie, Kamara should see a large workload, at least for week one. Unfortunately, we have no previous contests were Kamara suited up without Ingram, but I am expecting at least 20 touches for the second year back this Sunday.
He is always active in the passing game, but the main thing that should increase with Ingram out is his goal line work. He should be their primary back in the red zone and without Ingram there to vulture any TDs, Kamara should score at least one TD vs this Bucs’ defense that allowed the second most TDs to RBs last season. Furthermore, they allowed the 5th most fantasy points to RBs and were the second worst defense in team DVOA. In his rookie campaign, Kamara was arguably an MVP candidate, averaging 19.9 DK PPG on only 12.6 touches per game, which comes out to an elite 1.6 DK points per touch. The Saints currently have the highest implied team total of the week (29.5 points) and when you combine that with his elite scoring ability and with the volume he should see, at home, vs this weak rush defense that he averaged a whopping 31.5 DK PPG vs last season (two games), Kamara is a must play for the first Sunday slate of the year.
WR: Keelan Cole: (3,800)
With Marquise Lee done and on IR (knee), Cole instantly becomes a must have value at this price. It’s debatable who will be the “#1” WR in this offense, Cole or Dede Westbrook, but in the games that Lee missed last season, Cole was the player that benefited the most. If we count the very little he played in Week 15 before exiting with an ankle injury, Lee missed Weeks 15-17 last season. In those games, Cole played 88% of the snaps, averaged 10 targets, and 18.1 DK PPG, compared to Westbrook’s 5.8 DK PPG on 6.0 targets per game. They will both miss the final preseason game, but the through the first three, it has been Cole who has led this WR group in snaps. Westbrook will obviously be involved, but Cole is the best fit as an outside WR #1 and he has shown far better chemistry with Bortles, as you can tell from those numbers above.
On Sunday, he and The Jags will be taking on The Giants at home. The Giants haven’t made any huge changes to their secondary and Cole should be matched up with Giants’ CB Janoris Jenkins. He is a solid CB (69.6 PFF grade), but this defense was an above average matchup for WRs last year, allowing the 9th most fantasy points to position, ranking 19th in pass DVOA, and 21st in team DVOA. Cole averaged 4.2 more DK PPG at home in 2017 and with the targets I am expecting, he should score 15+ DK points in this spot.
TE: Jack Doyle: (3,600)
The Colts added TE Eric Ebron this summer, but Doyle should stay an every down player this upcoming season. Doyle is the far superior talent and he has played in almost every preseason down QB Andrew Luck has, with Ebron primarily working in two TE sets. Even with some ugly QB play all year, Doyle averaged a solid 11.6 DK PPG last season, good enough to make him the 5th best fantasy TE of the year. Now, with Luck back, Doyle should be relied on heavily in this offense that lacks a legitimate #2 passing option behind WR T.Y. Hilton. He should be very busy out of the slot and down the middle on short throws, with Luck coming off a shoulder injury that may limit how well he can throw it deep.
It should change as Luck gets healthier and more confident, but I think it’s very possible Doyle leads this offense in targets in the early stages of the season. He should be Luck’s safety blanket, particularly in their first matchup of the year against The Bengals who allowed the 10th most fantasy points to TEs and ranked 30th in DVOA vs TEs just last season. They will most likely be an improved defense overall, but it’s worth noting Doyle had his best performance of the season vs The Bengals last year, catching 12/14 targets for 121 yards and a TD in Week 8 (33.1 DK points), with QB Jacoby Brissett throwing him the ball. This is the first time Doyle has been priced under $4,000 since that game and he should easily eclipse double DK points on Sunday.
QB: Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, and Tyrod Taylor.
RB: David Johnson, Christian McCaffrey, Melvin Gordon, Rex Burkhead, James Connor (if Bell is out or very limited, Connor is an excellent value at this price), and Jordan Wilkins (if Mack is out and he is confirmed the starter).
WR: Antonio Brown (highest advantage for a WR this week, via PFF) , Deandre Hopkins, Keenan Allen, Chris Hogan, Emmanuel Sanders, and Philip Dorsett.
TE: Rob Gronkowski, Jordan Reed (if active and not limited), and David Njoku.
D: Ravens (Bills are starting Nathan Peterman and have a slate low 16.8 point implied team total, making The Ravens a near lock for cash games), Saints, Chargers, and Patriots.