Guess who’s BACK-back-back…back again-in-in…Jags are BACK-back-back…tell a friend. Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Gurleys, Fantasy Fans everywhere, and Mom; welcome back to the second season of Fantasy Jags football. Ahhh it feel’s good to be back, doesn’t it? Football is back, Eminem is back (kinda), the “Green Zone” is here and Le’Veon is not. Well, Le’Veon may be in his own green zone, but that’s neither here nor there. Never fear fellow Yinzers! It’s only Cleveland this week, and if Hard Knocks has taught me anything it’s that the Browns have cut all of my wife’s favorite players so clearly won’t be any good. Oh, and as suspected, Todd Haley is a confirmed ass hat after watching the HBO special…good riddance, Todd. Tequila Cowboy will truly miss you and your broken hip. Moving along, Bell continues his hold-out well into Week 1 with essentially no chance to play this Sunday. I guess it’s possible L-Bell hit the doober one too many times and is still waiting for Mark Dantonio’s phone call asking why he hasn’t reported to East Lansing yet. After all, anything is possible…just ask Kaep. Alright, enough jibber-jabber, let’s get to it – Who yinz got?
Chris – Tom Brady ($7,200 vs HOU) – Brady enters the year nearly $300 lower than his average price during the 2017 campaign. I guess that dropped pass, combined with a big fat “L” to BD Nick in the Super Bowl was enough to taint his legacy. I’ll take the discount. TB12 has basically surpassed the frustrating Steeler-killer phase of his career where I loathe even the sight of him. Now, he’s just in the awe-inducing twilight where you can’t help but wonder how far his greatness will end up going. Bahahaha, sorry… I thought I could get through that with a straight face. Yuck. Still can’t stand the guy. But if he can win me some money, why not? Let’s crunch some numbers. Brady has generally had his way with Houston, going 6-1 in his career with a 17:4 TD/INT ratio and averaging 276 yards per game. Last year, Brady hung 378 and 5 TDs on the Texans, good enough for one mouth kiss from his son. A smattering of rush yards, and a 146.2 QBR lead Brady to a 39.72 DKpt output against Houston last season. His career averages against Houston suggest we can expect an output between 22-27 DKpts, good enough for an over 3x performance. Lock it in.
DJ – Philip Rivers ($6,400 vs KC) – This should be interesting. Looking at Rivers’ previous season against the Chiefs one would think this is a sucker move. Rivers was picked off six, yes SIX, times in the two games last season (Only 1 TD). Woof…however, there are a few changes this season. The Chiefs have lost top corner Marcus Peters to the Rams and do-it-all safety Eric Berry is doubtful to play this week. Can you name anyone else on their defense? I certainly can’t, which means that Rivers is going to flip the script from last season, hopefully all in one game. Rivers averaged 19.9 DKpts at home last season while throwing for 13 touchdowns. With a healthy-ish receiving corps and ol’ faithful Antonio Gates back in the mix Rivers is poised to start the season off in the right direction.
Chris – Kirk Cousins ($6,500 vs SF) – You like that?! You like that! Eh, not so much this week Kirky. My fellow Jag and I typically are riding the Kirky-train, but I need some time, Kirk. It’s me, not you. This one is narrative driven, so I’m not going to even pretend to go through the process of pulling up stats. I’m cold on the Vikings to start the year with a new QB at the helm, but think they will be right back in the NFC playoffs by seasons end. There are a lot of moving parts entering this week and I’m gonna sit one out. Cousins comes into Week 1 as the 6th highest salaried QB. Plus, Dalvin Cook is back, Adam Thielen’s true production levels are still a question mark, and the Niners have some new faces in the secondary, scary enough to startle even Erin Andrews (“I’m talkin’ bout Crabtree!” – Dick Sherman). Don’t worry, I can almost guarantee I’ll be rostering Kirky at some point this season but I need to see a week or two before I feel comfortable about his floor.
DJ – Patrick Mahomes ($6,000 @ LAC) – Let’s stay with Chiefs, Chargers game and move to the other side of the field. Mahomes has all the intangibles you look for in a professional quarterback: Good size (6’3”), rocket arm, etc… The problem this week is the Chargers defense. Last season the Chargers were quietly one of the best defensive units in football and fantasy for that matter, giving up only 14.22 DKpts to opposing QBs. That makes Patty Ice tough to trust in his first game taking over for Alex Smith. Add into the mix the question marks in the Kansas City offensive line and Mahomes is a fade in DFS this week along with his tight end as well (see below).
Chris – Alvin Kamara ($8,500 vs TB) – Honestly, I feel like Herb Brooks during the conditioning scene of Miracle every time I roster Kamara. Again… AGAIN… AGAIN!!! Kamara debuts his sophomore season with his 2nd career highest DK salary, and I could care less. Unfortunately, no Mark-Alvin Ingrama for the first few weeks…no problem. Kamara and the Saints are at home and big-time favorites over the Fighting Fitzmagicians. My only reservation with Kamara is a Saints blow-out where he sits for the majority of the second half for Gillislee to get some reps. Eh nope, still don’t care. Kamara projects to be a chalk pick in Week 1 and I’ll ride or die with the masses on this one. Alvin put up a cool 30.80 DKpts in Week 17 last year against Tampa, who surrendered the 5th most DKpts to opposing running backs during the 2017 season. On top of his rushing attack, Kamara also averaged 6.25 targets per game resulting in 826 yards receiving and 5 TDs during his rookie campaign.
DJ – Alex Collins ($5,600 vs BUF) – Unlike my counterpart, I am spreading my money around fairly equally. Some may call that communist; well nobody asked them so I don’t care (#NotACommie). Collins is the one player I was locking into my lineup as early as I could. Here’s why: Last season the average stat line for a running back against the Bills is as follows: 111 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown, and 5 catches for 40 yards. Let me reiterate that. Opposing running backs AVERAGED 111 rushing yards, 1 rushing touchdown, and 5 catches for 40 yards against the Buffalo Bills. Those numbers are good for an average of 28.14 DKpts per week. If Collins were able to get anywhere close to that number of DKpts he would return 4-5x value. That’s an incredible ceiling for a guy that costs only $5,600. Lock in Collins and watch him stampede over the woeful Bills.
Chris – Joe Mixon ($6,100 @ IND) – Mixon was a frustrating player last year. All you heard was how “this week he is poised to break-out”, only to break 15 DKpts once all season. Mixon debuts Week 1 of the 2018 season with his highest career DK salary, only returning 3x value (or anything close to it) only once. Hell, Mixon only returned 2x value 4 times in 14 games last year. Preseason basically means nothing, but Mixon averaged only 1.5 yards per attempt, which is abysmal. Although Mixon represents the hope, the future, blah blah blah, Gio Bernard is sitting in the garage, revving his engine ready to fire the pistons when called upon, and Marvin Lewis has not been shy about relying on Gio. RB is usually a spot to pay up early in the season for guaranteed volume because their usage is typically more predictable than WRs. Mixon being ranked as the 11th highest salaried RB for Week 1 is laughable to me and all the tele-experts are projecting a big week from him. Here’s to hoping for a high ownership percentage!
DJ – Ezekiel Elliott ($7,700 @ CAR) – Honestly, I hope I’m wrong here as I am a Zeke owner in some season long leagues. However, the optics of the situation do not look good. Last season Carolina was the second best defense in the league defending the run (according to DKpts allowed). The Cowboys will also be without center Travis Frederick for the foreseeable future which puts a dent in one of the best offensive lines in football. Now, Zeke is a usually a sure thing for DFS and season long players alike, but playing without the anchor of the Dallas offensive line will slow him down and with a $7,700 salary there’s no room for error. If he were to get 21.9 DKpts (his average from last season, Carolina gave up an average of 20.2 DKpts) he would only return 2x value. There are better places to pay up this week.
Chris – Danny Amendola ($4,200 vs TEN) – Well, something had to give right? I mean, I can’t pay up everywhere… The timeless montra is the RB production and usage is more predictable than WRs. I don’t disagree with that one bit, but MIA is without their top receiver in Parker to start the year. That, and their Juice expired and was shipped off to Cleveland (that shit’s contaaaagious brah). Look, Amendola and Stills are not Landry and Parker, but those guys do figure to get the volume to replace those guys. Last year, the Titans defense gave up on average 34.02 DKpts to opposing WRs, ranking 9th worst in the league. The Dolphins are only 1 point dogs at home to open the season, so the passing attack should continue well into the 4th quarter, given Amendola an opportunity to approach 8-10 receptions on a full point PPR DK site. With a sticker price of $4.2K, I’ll bank on Danny returning our targeted 3x return.
DJ – Chris Hogan ($6,100 vs HOU) – A surprising no-show on my fellow Jag’s roster this week, Chris Hogan comes into Week 1 as the Pats top option at wideout. Yes, I know Rob Gronkowski is healthy and will be playing (as I’m sure most DFS players will be, the Fantasy Jags included), but let’s look deeper. Last season before his injury and without Julian Edelman, Hogan and TB12 had a rapport like no other. Hogan reeled in 33 passes for 438 yards and 5 touchdowns through those eight games. Last season Houston gave up an average of 35.89 DKpts to opposing receivers. New England enters the week with only 3 receivers on their roster (Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, and Cordarrelle Patterson) and with Tom Brady’s well documented domination of the Texans defense, Chris Hogan is a no brainer.
Chris – Adam Thielen ($6,900 vs SF) – In his 4 year career thus far, Thielen really only has had 2 relevant fantasy seasons, ‘16 and ‘17. Even with a break-out season last year, Thielen only recorded 4 TDs. His 91 catches and 1,276 receiving yards were good for ranking 8th and 5th amongst all NFL receivers, respectively, however, his 4 scores had him tied for 51st in the league. Thielen started off hot last year but saw a sharp decline towards the end of the year. Including playoffs, Thielen’s last big game was in Week 14, good for 25.50 DKpts. After that, he finished the regular season with DK outputs of 6pts, 4.4pts, and 12.1pts. Week 14 also represented the last time he scored, the last time he eclipsed 100 yards receiving, and the last time he eclipsed 15 DKpts for the year, including playoffs. Ouch. Add in a new QB, increased late-season production from Diggs, and a healthy Dalvin Cook, and you have a recipe for a Week 1 Jag.
DJ – Odell Beckham Jr. ($7,000 vs JAX) – Mr. Moneybags himself, OBJ enters Week 1 as the 6th most expensive WR. Fitting for the man who just got paid, but not as fitting when you see Jalen Ramsey and the Jaguars defense lining up against him. Wide receiver kryptonite, the Jags (team) defense allowed only 27.91 DKpts to opposing receivers last season. Add in a middle of the road run defense and it’s not impossible to see the Giants lean heavily on rookie Saquon Barkley in this matchup. Moving forward you can expect to see a lot of top flight receivers land here when facing the Jacksonville defense.
Chris – Rob Gronkowski ($6,900 vs HOU) – Remember how I told you earlier that Brady is pretty good? Well, here’s his favorite weapon. Week 1 on NFL DFS is tough, there is no real history and a lot of picks made are narrative driven. Here’s a narrative for you, the TB12:Gronk connection is one of the greatest, if not THE greatest, QB – TE hookups of all time. Last year, Gronk caught 8 balls for 89 yards and a touchdown last year against Houston, good enough for 22.9 DKpts. In his career against Houston, Gronk averages 75.8 YPG, 4.5 receptions and has scored a touchdown in 3 of 4 career matchups against HOU. My favorite part of Gronk this week is that his floor is basically set at 3x value, and we can chase the upside. Certainly a high price to pay for a TE, but Gronk’s track record combined with stacking Brady makes this play a no-brainer. Finally, shout-out to DK for setting Gronk’s price at $6.9K to open the year…nice.
DJ – Rob Gronkowski ($6,900 vs HOU) – We’ve talked enough about Patriots….moving on.
Chris – Travis Kelce ($6,400 @ LAC) – Week 1 TEs…talk about a shot in the dark. The Chargers should have been a contestant on Catching Kelce, as they seem to have been one of the only teams to figure out how to reel him in. If you are going to spend up at TE, it’s always going to be either Gronk or Kelce. In 8 career games against the Chargers, Kelce has no touchdowns and only averages 4 catches for 39 yards. Last year, Kelce only scored 1.1 and 10.6 DKpts in his two matchups, and yes, the 1.1 DKpt output was Kelce’s statline for a game in which he played 100% of offensive snaps. 8 games is a lot of history to draw on, and in the grand scheme of things, Kelce is more likely to go off than he is to get shut down. At $6.4K and never obtaining a 3x value even one time in his career against the Chargers, I feel comfortable benching him for Week 1. Yes, even with Patty Ice taking over the reigns.
DJ – Greg Olsen ($5,400 vs DAL)– Throwing darts here. Really looking for shock value and to not copy Chris again. Dallas is surprisingly OK when it comes to covering tight ends, giving up an average of 12.27 DKpts last year. It’s also well documented that I have a dislike for Cam Newton as a quarterback so why not take it out on his best receiving option right?
Chris – James Conner ($4,500 @ CLE) – Week 1 FLEX is easily the best place to find value, possibly all season long. DraftKings released their pricing about 3 weeks before the season was set to kick-off, which lead them to making guesses on depth charts and pricing players accordingly. Thank you! The GD circus Lev Bell has caused around the ‘Burgh this week has thrust hometown favorite James Conner into an incredible position for fantasy purposes, specifically DFS. Friday has come and gone, and still no Bell. So, Conner will slot in as the RB1 for the Steelers and will carry the load “alllllllll day” (AB voice) . Guaranteed volume at $4,500 is hard to find and Conner’s ownership percentage will show it…don’t care. Last year the Steelers averaged 64 plays per game, running the ball on average 27 times per game. I’d expect Conner to get close to 20 of those carries Sunday, and maybe even catch a few balls out of the backfield to supplement. Remember, DeAngelo Williams performed at an RB1 level during Bell’s 4 game suspension in 2016, so Conner’s potential to pop off this week is high…and by high I mean good… not actually getting high, Le’Veon (I know you are reading this).
DJ – Emmanuel Sanders($5,000 vs SEA) – Another one of my personal favorites coming into this week, Sanders goes up against a Seahawks defense that will look nothing like the Legion of Boom. With departures in the secondary and Earl Thomas just reporting to the team the defense figures to be in disarray heading into week one. Sanders struggled with injuries last season which saw him produce one of the worst in his career. With good health and a good QB (finally) Sanders is ready to bounce back and in a big way. New QB Case Keenum was able to have two fantasy relevant wideouts in Minnesota last year and Sanders reminds me more of Thielen than Diggs. Look for this to be the hookup to want in Denver all season long.
Chris – Baltimore Ravens ($3,800 vs BUF) – Typically, rostering the highest priced defense isn’t our approach. Neither is picking another AFC North rival to “root” for. However, the Ravens are in a juicy matchup to open the year against the Nate “5 Pick” Peterman lead Bills. Last year, Baltimore had the second ranked defense in terms of DK scoring behind only Jacksonville. They averaged 12.75 DKpts at home last year, scoring double digit DKpts in 8/16 games. Ridiculous. The Ravens also averaged the second fewest DKpts allowed to opposing QBs during the 2017 season, at only 12.93 DKpts per game and are already sitting as a 7.5 point favorite with a 40.5 pt over/under, according to Bovada. With a low projected point total and Baltimore as pretty big favorites in Vegas terms, I’ll go with the safe D/ST pick to start the year.
DJ – Tennessee Titans($2,900 @ MIA) – Did you know it’s been 637 days since Ryan Tannehill played in an NFL regular season game? Well I did and I’m sure the Titans know this as well. New head coach Mike Vrabel knows a thing or two about game planning. He was a linebacker in New England (lots of New England this week, I hope we’re feeling OK) under Bill Belichick and led the Texans defense last season without JJ Watt. I look for Tannehill to be on his back early and often as the game speed will be too much to catch up to after missing nearly two years of game action.
Check back Sunday morning for the Jags official lineups. Follow us on Twitter @fantasyjags412 – we look forward to hearing from you
photos from Ramon Foster and ESPN.com