We made it. Football is back. College football is in full swing, and we’ve already polished off the appetizer the NFL offered us Thursday night in Foxborough. Now it’s time for the main course. Sunday football is back.
Each week, we will provide our Payoffs and Jagoffs (think boom or bust) for DraftKings NFL DFS, designed to provide a good mix of value plays and an in-depth look at matchups. Both Fantasy Jags will present their case for their lineups and argue whose is better. Of course, we will keep tallies and track records all year to figure out who is the greatest pretender (there are no true contenders here). We look forward to hearing from yinz throughout the 2017-18 NFL Season and hope you enjoy our weekly article for NFL DFS, Who Yinz Got?
Chris – Derek Carr ($6,700 @ TEN) – Full disclosure, I’m the conductor on the Derek Carr train, the driver of the bandwagon, the president of the fan club… what have you. This pick is less about matchups and more about big picture “stuff” (which I love). So if that’s not for you, just move along and keep it down. Carr can’t be ignored at this price and in this matchup with 6 QBs carrying a higher price tag into Sunday. OAK @ TEN is sitting at the 2nd highest over/under for Sunday at 50.5 pts, with a spread of only 2.5pts in favor of the Titans. The read? It’s going to be a shoot-out and stay close. We all know that the 2017 Week 1 version of Marshawn is not going to be carrying the Raiders offense. The Raiders bring a lot of hype into this season, with #theexperts expecting big things from their offense. Coming into this matchup as the dogs, and after a season ending injury last season for Carr, I think he comes out firing and with a chip on his shoulder. This game has great “stack” potential, with Cooper and Crabtree figuring to reap the benefits of Carr’s performance.
DJ – Carson Palmer ($6,000 @ DET) – Yinz’ll find that it’s all about the Cardinals this week. And why wouldn’t it be? They are facing a team that finished last season as the second WORST team against QBs. The Lions gave up an average of 2 TDs and 246 yards per game through the air to QBs. Palmer’s receiving corps is in flux but still have the talent for a high scoring week as well as the ever-reliable Larry Fitzgerald (STACK ALERT). Palmer is an absolute steal at $6,000 allowing more to be spent at other positions.
Chris – Matt Stafford ($6,100 vs. ARI) – I don’t care how much the “going-rate” for an NFL QB is in 2017. Stafford should not be the highest paid player ever and he should not be rostered this week. Talk about pressure. Stafford is 0-4 against the Cards with a 62.8 passer rating, 3rd lowest against any opponent he has faced in his career. In those 4 games, he has thrown 3 TD and 7 INT…woof. QB pricing has not really set itself yet, with Week 1 being a prime opportunity to get great value at the position. Stay away from Stafford and all his shiny new commas; he’s going to be selfish this week and keep them all to himself.
DJ – Ben Roethlisberger ($7,300 @ CLE):- I’m going to lose my standing as a Pittsburgher with this but here we go (get it?)… Ben cannot play on the road. It’s a proven fact. Here’s his DK Fantasy Points on the road from Week 6 to the end of the regular season last year: 11.6 (@ MIA), 19.9 (@ BAL), 8.7 (@ CLE), 20.8 (@ IND), 5.6 (@ BUF), and 14.9 (@ CIN). By comparison, his lowest home total for fantasy points all season was 18.6 points. He only eclipsed that total twice on the road last season. Notice also that against the Browns he only managed 8.7 points. Let me say that again 8.7 POINTS against a team that was lucky to win a game last season. Avoid Ben “Road Jag” Roethlisberger at all costs this week.
Chris – Jordan Howard ($6,300 vs. ATL) – How Jordan Howard is only $6,300 in this match-up is beyond me, but I’m thankful. ATL only gave up 105 rushing yards per game last year, ranking them in the middle of the pack, however, they gave up the 6th most points in the entire league. Howard will be the focal point of the Bears offense that is relying on a rookie QB and on a WR that needed to be reminded this preseason that he was once good at football (can’t make this stuff up). This means a significant workload, including in the red zone (as long as they can make it there). Howard averaged 5.2 yards per carry during a strong rookie campaign in which he rushed for over 1,300 and 6 TDs in 15 games. Howard averaged 17 carries per game last year and had a minimal impact as a receiver out of the backfield. Howard and the Bears will be trying to stave off Matt Ryan’s revenge tour after he was embarrassed by Brady and the Cheatriots last February. But as the “Russell Westbrook” of the Bears offense, Howard carries significant value for Week 1.
DJ – Todd Gurley II ($6,000 v IND) – Many season long fantasy players were burned by Gurley last season. Although I wasn’t one of them (no surprise), I am still hesitant to trust the third year back. With only one 100 yard game in his last 24 appearances, Gurley is poised for a bounce back and it begins right here against Indy. Indy is terrible on defense, giving up an average of 120.4 rushing yards per game last year. Couple that with Luck not playing and I foresee the Rams going up early and staying committed to pound out the rest of the game with Gurley. Not known for his prowess as a receiver, Gurley still averaged 2.7 catches a game last season and will see an uptick this season being the only running back with talent. Gimme some Gurley in Week 1.
Chris – Zeke Elliot ($8,100 v. NYG) – This pains me. As an Ohio State fan (O-H), I hate to trash my man Zeke. But at $8,100 against a division rival and strong rushing defense, I can’t find the value. Yes, he will be running angry. Yes, this will be his last game until late October. Yes, Dak should turn around and hand him the ball 85 times, but it’s not going to happen. The Giants allowed the 4th fewest rushing yards last year as a team, and in two games against the Giants last year, Zeke only averaged 79 yards per game, the lowest against any opponent. Save your money here, and if you want to take a studs and duds approach, spend up elsewhere.
DJ – Darren McFadden ($6,100 @ NYG) – I will fully admit that this a cop-out. That being said, anyone taking McFadden at all deserves to be thrown into the Mon. His $6,100 price tag is comical. The Dallas Cowboys backup is costing a team more money than some teams’ starters. McFadden will not get very many touches, less than 10 in my opinion. Like my fellow Jag pointed out, the Giants are a force to be reckoned with. Avoid the Cowboy backfield.
Chris – Doug Baldwin ($6,700 @ GB) – Baldwin has faced the Packers 3 times in his career, and has been targeted on average 8 times per game, ranking 2rd in average targets per game against a particular opponent. Baldwin was an active part of the offense in the preseason, with 6 catches for 114 yards in just 3 games (basically 3-4 quarters). Baldwin had a career high in yards last year at 1,128, although the touchdowns dropped 50% to 7 TDs in 2016 from 14 TDs in 2015 (career-high). However, not all blame can fall to Baldwin, as Seattle had 11 less TD receptions during the same time frame. Baldwin appears to be in a great position in terms of volume, with the ability to stretch the field as a deep threat and a homerun hitter. Look out Ciara, Russ and Baldwin look to rekindle the flame in Chi-Town.
DJ – Larry Fitzgerald ($5,900 @ DET) – Ol’ Reliable himself. Fitzgerald carried a huge workload last season, being targeted on 23% of passes. With John Brown’s health issues causing the ascension of Jaron Brown to number 2 on the depth chart, Fitzgerald figures to be the only viable receiving option for Palmer on Sunday and boy will he ever be used. Fitzgerald’s catch rate out of the slot last year was 71.4%. Couple that with his target share and the woeful Lions defense and you got yinz-selfs a fantastic value receiver.
Chris – Literally any Colts receiver (who cares @ LAR) – Just take your pick (but seriously, don’t). I’d rather take a vacation to Miami-Dade country right now than watch even 30 seconds of the dumpster fire that will be the Colts vs. Rams in Week 1. Believe it or not, there are worse matchups this week (re: NYJ @ BUF and JAC @ HOU) and these games should be avoided too. To be a productive receiver, you need the football. And to get the football, you need a QB talented enough to get you the ball. Unfortunately, the aforementioned teams are still searching Craigslist for a replacement. Until Luck returns to the Horseshoes, TY Hilton and Donte Moncrief won’t even be a blip on the radar.
DJ – Odell Beckham Jr. ($8,300 @ DAL) – I figured since I went for the low hanging fruit as a running back Jagoff I should go big somewhere else. OBJ is as steady as steady can be as a wideout….when he’s healthy. Beckham has been on the injury report since he took a low hit by Cleveland’s Briean Boddy-Calhoun. Beckham is believed to be a game-time decision on Sunday and that is something that scares the crap out of me. The BEST-case scenario is that he plays, obviously, but his bum ankle will significantly hinder him. WORST- case scenario is that he either doesn’t play at all or he plays a series or two and can’t finish the game. Either way I steer clear of Beckham until he proves he’s healthy.
Chris – Zach Ertz ($3,500 @ WAS) – The tight-end position is one that has haunted me in past years in DFS. We can work through this together. In the past I’ve tried to spend up at this position, going with the Gronks, Kelces and Eiferts of the world. Hasn’t worked out for me as my TEs only scored 2 TDs the entire 2016 season. New strategy, find good value in a good matchup and cross my fingers. In all honesty, I like Ertz in an interdivisional matchup. Ertz had 3 red zone TDs last year, and the addition of Blount to the Eagles offense should open up play action near the goal line. Ertz has also fared well against WAS in his career. In the past 3 years, he has average about 7 receptions per game for 66 yards against WAS, so the volume/floor is there. He is yet to score against them in 8 career games though. Here’s to hoping 2017 Week 1 ends the streak.
DJ – Zach Ertz – Listen. I know it’s never a good thing to have the Jags agree on anything, but after going through all of the options at the tight end position there is no better option than Zach Ertz. To add to what my fellow jag presented, let me present you this. Josh Norman is expected to shadow Alshon Jeffry all over the field providing a tough matchup in Jeffry’s first game as an Eagle. The other option at receiver is Torrey Smith, or as he’s better know to this jag “Santa Claus”. The nickname given to the man who appears once a year much like Smith. Wentz’s security blanket is now catching balls in Buffalo, leaving only Zach Ertz to soak up all the targets over the middle of the field. Great job fellow jag (about time).
Chris – Martellus Bennett ($4,100 vs. SEA) – Remember when I said I’m afraid to pay up for tight-ends after last year’s debacle…well here’s a great example. Bennett seems to always be overpriced based on his output. The ceiling can be high for Bennett, but the floor is just as low. For comparison sake, Ertz had 816 yards receiving on 78 receptions with 4 TDs last year. Bennett only had 701 yards receiving, on 55 receptions, but with 7 TDs in an offense in New England that features the TE and was without Gronk half of the year. I don’t anticipate Bennett being a target in the red zone or even being a focal point of the GB offense with Nelson back and healthy. Save your cap here and fade this jagoff.
DJ – Delanie Walker ($4,300 v. OAK) – Walker has been a virtual beast as a fantasy tight end over the past few seasons. Pair that with a Raiders defense that was barely serviceable last season and you have the makings of solid fantasy week, right? Wrong Kemosabe! The Titans offense has more weapons than ever before and too many mouths to feed. Someone that was there previously is going to get their targets cut. My bet is on Walker. Eric Decker arrived to take the red zone targets and rookie Corey Davis working over the middle will be left open with the Raiders making sure that Walker doesn’t beat them.
Chris – John Brown ($4,800 @ DET) – Brown is a risk here, and I’m ok with that (see below). Brown has big play ability with his speed in a good matchup against a porous DET secondary that gave up the second most receiving touchdowns in 2016. Brown was banged up during the preseason, but in his only game against ATL, he scored 2 TDs on 2 catches. That’s the homerun potential I’m looking for in a FLEX play. Volume can be replaced by the ability to take the ball to the hahse on any given play. Brown is coming off a down year in 2016, and has dropped down the depth chart. He will still see the field and get his targets, as I think Palmer and the Cards are in a great spot to roll into Detroit and move the ball pretty easily. I’ll take my chances with Brown.
DJ – Pierre Garcon ($5,300 v. CAR) – Tell me how smart this sounds: Wide receiver has many offers from teams in free agency. Wide receiver chooses San Francisco over all other options. That’s crazy right?! Well only slightly. That exact situation is what Garcon faced over the summer and he chose to go to San Francisco to reunite with his former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. Already having an understanding of the playbook, Garcon immediately set to work gaining chemistry with QB Brian Hoyer. They seemed to gel by the third preseason game where Garcon hauled in 6 of 7 targets for 64 yards. Expect more of the same against the Panthers on Sunday. The ONLY option in the 49ers passing attack, look for Garcon to be targeted 15+ times.
Fantasy Jags – Some people think the FLEX position is make or break, and it may be. I’m not in that camp. For just Week 1, I’m not going to pick a Jagoff at FLEX, rather I wanted to explain a few different theories. One school of thought is to find a low price player with a high floor, allowing you to spend up at other skill positions. For example, a slot receiver or a receiving RB would fit this mold by leveraging DraftKings PPR format. Another school of thought, is to look for the homerun hitter. Who can stay under the radar and go off for over 100 yards and a score? A lot of what kind of FLEX player you want to roster will depend on what the rest of your team looks like and what kind of salary you have remaining. In a week where I have spent pretty consistently across the board (not one position is significantly outspending another), I don’t feel I need a safety net here. Give me the chance to roster a homerun hitter like John Brown who can have 3 catches for 100 yds and a touchdown, and I’ll accept the risk that he could go 0-4 with 3 strikeouts (you know what I mean).
Chris – Arizona ($2,800 @ DET) – If you haven’t realized it yet, we both like Arizona this week, and I’m sold on the Arizona D/ST. Although they are were in the middle of the pack last year in pts/game allowed, they ranked in the top 5 in both passing and rushing defense. Somehow, there are 12 teams more expensive than the Cardinals for Week 1. Selecting a defense for DFS is reliant on finding a balance between matchup and value – this is not a position to spend up at. Understanding the scoring is crucial too. Aside from just completely shutting a team out – D/ST scoring will come from sacks, turnovers and any scores. Arizona ranked 4th in the league in total takeaways last year and top 10 in sacks. If the prospect of the Honeybadger and the boys causing mayhem in the secondary doesn’t get you excited – re: my QB jagoff pick; Stafford’s history against this team doesn’t bode well for the Lions.
DJ – Atlanta ($3,300 @ CHI) – Much like my fellow Jag pointed out, defense is not a position to spend at, but rather look at matchups. Atlanta facing the dreadful Bears offense is a great matchup to exploit. As stated earlier the Chicago Bears offense will run through Jordan Howard. I am not sold that the Bears offensive line will be able to stop the front 7 of the Falcons which will cause nightmares for Howard led offensive and lord knows Mike Glennon ain’t no good QB. Look for the Falcons to keep it low scoring.
Chris – Jacksonville ($3,700 @ HOU) – Not one single second of research was done for this pick. This one is strictly gut. I can see it now… first NFL Sunday Countdown of the year, and here comes Tom Rinaldi, detailing the devastation of Hurricane Harvey with the elegance of a Victorian era artist. Camera pans to JJ Watt leading the Texans onto the field with the elegance of a Category 5 hurricane. Jacksonville’s QB woes this preseason, paired with the entire city of Houston rallying together the past few weeks is too good to be true. As the 2nd highest salaried D/ST of the week, I would fade JAX.
DJ – Carolina ($3,500 @ SF) – Carolina has a good defense don’t get me wrong, but I don’t like the thought of them traveling across the country for their game. Historically teams traveling from one coast to the other don’t fare well in their contests and who I am to believe that this will be any different. The new and improved offense instilled by Kyle Shanahan puts this defensive unit to the test and they will ultimately crack.
Check back Sunday morning for the Jags official lineups, as well as reactions to each-others rosters. Follow us on Twitter @fantasyjags412 – we look forward to hearing from you.