Week one of the 2018 daily fantasy football season continues on Monday night, where DFS gamers can try to win big on a two-game MNF slate at FanDuel and DraftKings. I already handed in my favorite lineup for the main slate and while it didn’t cash, there were some solid picks.
Alvin Kamara (38 fantasy points!) was a fantastic play, while Tom Brady topped 20 fantasy points and studs like David Johnson and Christian McCaffrey were at least serviceable. Rob Gronkowski was also a beast, while playing the Cleveland Browns defense (12) as the bare minimum turned out to be a fine pick.
Receiver was where I went wrong, as Chris Hogan inexplicably had just one catch on the day. Keelan Cole was okay in terms of his role, while Taywan Taylor was a deep dive gaffe.
It wasn’t a terrible team, but fading James Conner to pay up at running back proved to be a bad move and I also missed out on studs like Michael Thomas and Mike Evans. Then again, this was a slate where Ryan Fitzpatrick put up 42 fantasy points, so you had to have a special (and crazy) lineup to win serious cash.
I don’t think you’ll need to get quite as crazy tonight, as the options are limited with just two Monday Night Football games. You probably need close to a perfect roster, though. Here’s my crack at that:
QB: Derek Carr – Oakland Raiders ($7.4k)
If you want the chalk fantasy passer and my personal favorites, you need to roll with Matthew Stafford or Jared Goff. I’d pick Stafford between the two, but I doubt you can go wrong here.
I’m not rostering Carr because I like him more. This is a tiny NFL DFS slate and you need to go chalk in the right spots and be contrarian in others. After rookie Sam Darnold, Carr should be the least used quarterback on this slate due to a brutal matchup with the Rams.
Carr could be awful, but he’s potentially absurdly contrarian and certainly has good weapons around him. He’ll also be at home and as underdogs, he and his Raiders may come out and play with a chip on their shoulder.
This all makes this a great GPP play, as I wouldn’t be that shocked if Carr and this Raiders offense performed better than expected or simply benefited from a game script that demanded them to throw while playing catch up. I don’t know if Carr ends up being better than Goff or Stafford, but I think it could be close and he could be low-onwed and also save me about $1,000 in salary.
RB: Todd Gurley – Los Angeles Rams ($9.2k)
I’m trying to be contrarian at quarterback, but I won’t be fading Gurley. He’s probably going to be about 90% owned on this small slate and for good reason. Oakland does not have a good defense and Gurley was an absolute monster a year ago. He doesn’t need to be the top rusher on the slate, but I’d be shocked if he wasn’t with pretty weak options behind him.
As long as Gurley doesn’t complete bomb, his ownership should make him a non-issue. You can try to get on the other side of this if you think Oakland can stop him, but I don’t see the upside in it from a logical perspective.
RB: Bilal Powell – New York Jets ($6k)
While I think stacking Raiders passing game options could work out, I don’t want Oakland runners and I’m also not too high on Detroit and their several running back options.
I tend to prefer Theo Riddick in situations where I think the Lions will be trailing and I just don’t trust the workload of LeGarrette Blount or Kerryon Johnson yet. All of these guys, plus Oakland’s rushers, could be contrarian but I’m not feeling them at all.
You can also try Isaiah Crowell, but I anticipate the Jets playing from behind all night. Hopefully that leads to Powell seeing a lot of snaps and earning targets as a receiver out of the backfield.
FanDuel isn’t the site to aggressively attack PPR value (DraftKings is), but the game flow I’m expecting puts Powell in line for a solid snap count and hopefully 10-15 fantasy points. If he can get there, it’ll be a solid win. I don’t know if I anticipate anyone else coming close to Gurley a RB tonight.
WR: Brandin Cooks – Los Angeles Rams ($7.6k)
While I want to gain an edge on the field with Raiders options, their defense is so bad I have to take my shots with Rams receivers. Cooks could be popular, so I understand pivots to Lions receivers or even teammate, Robert Woods.
Cooks is just too explosive and in such a great spot. This is his Rams debut, so they’ll probably try to get him going early in this one. I think he’ll be worth his price tonight and if he’s somehow contrarian, all the better.
WR: Amari Cooper – Oakland Raiders ($7.4k)
Cooper and the Raiders have a really tough matchup tonight, so I have to think he and every Oakland passing option will come in at really low ownership. That’s a big deal for a tiny slate, which tells you how much people think of this Rams defense.
L.A. might stifle the Raiders initially, but elite talents can still get stats and score late in blowouts. Odell Beckham Jr. looked good despite facing the Jaguars in week one and the Buccaneers just obliterated what was supposed to be a strong Saints defense.
Especially on such short NFL DFS slates, it can pay to throw caution to the wind and try strong options with bad matchups. That’s what I’m trying to do here with Cooper, who has a huge role and can take any catch to the house and pay off in an instant.
WR: Cooper Kupp – Los Angeles Rams ($6.5k)
I’ll cap my Rams exposure at Kupp, which gives me three fun L.A. plays. Kupp has terrific chemistry with Jared Goff and he’s the second most talented receiver on his team, so it stands to reason that he’ll slowly supplant Woods in two-wide sets.
He’s a terror in the slot and in the red-zone, though, so his spot on the depth chart won’t move me one way or another tonight.
TE: Jordan Leggett – New York Jets ($4.4k)
Tight end is garbage on this slate. Jared Cook is the top option, but he’s poorly priced and I don’t have a ton of faith in him. He’s a fine try, but Luke Willson is probably my preferred pick.
Both of those guys should garner the majority of tonight’s TE ownership, though, so I’ll toss another wrinkle in GPPs by punting tight end and using Leggett. He’s dirt cheap and makes this roster possible, but he’s not a starter so I doubt he garners a lot of attention.
The good news is I expect the Jets to throw quite a bit in this one and rookie quarterbacks do tend to checkdown a lot to running backs (see: Powell, Bilal) and tight ends. This is another risky play, but New York could call upon him in the red-zone or as they throw more.
Consider starting tight end Eric Tomlinson with the extra cash this lineup saves, but this is a more contrarian play.
FLEX: Jordy Nelson – Oakland Raiders ($6.3k)
I don’t like Nelson’s steady decline or the matchup he has, but he’s still a good possession receiver and can make an impact in the red-zone.
I’m a fan of who he used to be, so I’ll be pulling for him to prove all of his critics wrong. Again, this isn’t necessarily me saying Nelson is a great play. On such a small slate, if you want to take down a GPP, taking on big risk is part of the process.
Nelson could be awful all game and still score a meaningless touchdown late and end up paying off. With the Raiders probably losing and throwing for much of this contest, that’s precisely what I think will happen. It’s also always possible Oakland just shocks everyone and lights the Rams up. That’d also be fun.
DEF: Detroit Lions ($4.7k)
The Rams are going to be uber chalky on such a small slate, so I’ll pivot to the Lions. They’re at home against a rookie quarterback, so some sacks, turnovers and hopefully a defensive score are all on the table. Darnold just shredding he Lions and dropping 30+ point also seems unrealistic.
I’m stacking Oakland passing game weapons, too, so firing up the Rams doesn’t make that much sense with the way I’m choosing to approach this slate.
Remember, this is a pure GPP lineup and it takes on considerable risk. If you just want my favorite plays, try to get to Stafford, Riddick, Robby Anderson, Willson and Kenny Golladay. Those guys could all prove to be chalkier, though, and on such a small slate I’d rather differentiate my team and hope my lower-owned guys do better.
This Raiders stack could end up being a ton of fun. They wrap up this MNF slate and this gives me a three-pack of guys who can rack up points in a hurry, whether they do it right of the gates or in the second half.
Hopefully this lineup works out, but as always with such small slates, feel free to try a few different teams if you’re playing in tourneys. I’d still restrict your exposure in general, however, as you’re probably going to need a borderline perfect roster to win anything substantial.
That being said, it’s always fun to start the year with two MNF contests. Good luck tonight and enjoy the games!