Welcome to the start of the 2018 NFL regular season, the fantasy season and most importantly, Daily Fantasy Football (DFS). Just like last year, I will be providing you each week with my top plays as well as a value pick for the primary positions.
The intent is to provide you with a core to get you started in your daily fantasy contests which will hopefully guide us to victory and build our bankrolls! Yes, I did say "us" since I will be using these picks in my own lineups each and every week.
As a disclaimer, I do not proclaim myself to be a tout, nor am I someone who enters more than three lineups in any given week. I will play mostly cash games, but will always enter some single-entry, or three entry max GPPs and that is it. So if you are looking for a milly-maker winning lineup, I may have some of the correct picks for it, but I will not be entering those types of tournaments personally.
So, now that my synopsis is out of the way let’s get into my Week 1 DFS Picks shall we? If this is one of your first times playing DFS feel free to check out my "10 Tips to Win at DFS."
As always any questions, arguments, or glowing praise can be sent to me via Twitter @fantsychillpony.
Week 1 Core Plays
These will be my top plays for the Sunday-Monday slate of games. These are players who I will try to have in as many lineups of mine as possible. If I can, I will use three or all four in one lineup. A reminder that for cash games going with an elite quarterback is typically recommended. If you go value at quarterback he MUST meet value for your loaded lineup to be worth it.
QB: Drew Brees, New Orleans vs. Tampa Bay ($8,400 FanDuel/$6,800 DraftKings)
In Week 1 it is looking as if you could make a lineup with just about everyone and anyone. There are some appealing options at the QB position for sure, but for me I am going to go with the safer route and choose Brees. He is facing the Buccaneers who happened to give up the most total yards per game last year.
The Bucs gave up a whopping 260.6 passing yards per game alone last season, also the worst showing of any team. Sure Tampa Bay made some moves and additions in the offseason, but the combination of Brees, Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara are likely drooling at this matchup.
Although the Saints relied heavily, and successfully on the run last season, having no Mark Ingram could get Brees back to his throwing ways. So in Week 1 we have a safe play, affordable QB, and high ceiling? Sign me up.
I will certainly have a few Deshaun Watson-backed ($8,200 FanDuel/$6,700) lineups as well. Just a disclaimer since he too is facing the 29th-ranked defense in the league last season and will certainly be looking to have a hot start in his first game back from a torn ACL.
RB: Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville at New York Giants ($8,000 FanDuel/$7,100 DraftKings)
The Giants finished as 27th-ranked rushing defense in 2017, and Fournette (above, right) will be getting his fair share of carries once again in Week 1. As long as the Jags' defense can slow down the Giants' offense the coaching staff should not have to rely on Blake Bortles and the passing game as much.
The key here is that Fournette will see plenty of work, especially around the goal line, and he should be able to find end zone in Week 1. He also more than affordable than some of the elite RBs, which allows us to build a nice balanced roster this week.
WR: Michael Thomas, New Orleans vs. Tampa Bay ($8,500 FanDuel/$7,800 DraftKings)
If we are using Brees because the Bucs' secondary is terrible why wouldn’t we use his top receiver, and one of the most targeted in the game? Thomas is on the expensive side, so if you are worried about being top-heavy to start, fear not, there are some fantastic values out there.
Thomas had a dip in touchdowns last season, but an increase in targets finishing with a shade over nine per game and totaling more than 1,200 yards for the season. Again playing it a little safe with plenty of upside to go around in Week 1.
WR: Jarvis Landry, Cleveland vs. Pittsburgh ($6,600 FanDuel/$5,500 DraftKings)
Landry is on a new squad and yes it is the lowly Browns. Tyrod Taylor may in fact be the Week 1 starter, and even if Baker Mayfield somehow gets the nod Landry will still be a solid play. Landry appears to be in line for the lion's share of targets in Cleveland, and some sloppy preseason play aside the Browns will likely be playing from behind, leaving Taylor responsible for passing plenty. Landry feels like a lock for 10 targets or more and has an opportunity to shine in his Browns debut. If Josh Gordon is in action as well that will only open up the field for Landry to do what he does best.
TE: Jordan Reed, Washington at Arizona ($5,800 FanDuel/$4,000 DraftKings)
A healthy Jordan Reed is rarely not worth the price tag. His injury risk is always there, but there is no safer time to play him than Week 1. Alex Smith is at the helm now and it shouldn’t change Reed's target status going from Kirk Cousins to Smith. If Smith continues avoiding the deep ball as he is accused of doing every season that bodes well for Reed. He makes for a huge red-zone target and when healthy is a top-five tight end. This week I like his matchup plenty.
Value Plays of the Week
QB: Alex Smith, Washington at Arizona ($6,900 FanDuel/$5,600 DraftKings)
Smith had a fantastic season with Kansas City last year, and I am still catching myself writing his team as the Chiefs. His new team is the Redskins of course, and they get to kick off the season against a middle-of-the-pack defense in the Cardinals.
At his low price point and mobility Smith is a solid value play at the QB position. You may not need to do it, but if you wish to load up at positional players Smith is your guy. He has weapons to throw to, even if there isn't a wide receiver the caliber of Tyreek Hill. But Jamison Crowder, Paul Richardson and Josh Doctson could form a productive trio and a healthy Jordan Reed only adds to Smith's appeal.
RB: Rex Burkhead, New England vs. Houston ($6,300 FanDuel/$4,200 DraftKings)
Burkhead is cheap with a high ceiling, and better yet he still has the “Q” by his name which may hurt his ownership somewhat. I have him in most of my early builds as my RB2. If he is a go, Burkhead should be plenty involved, especially with the Patriots' current backfield depth. So what we have here is a guy with a high ceiling and a small price tag.
WR: Keelan Cole, Jacksonville at New York Giants ($4,500 FanDuel/$3,800 DraftKings)
The Giants struggled against the pass last season and there's no guarantee that will be dramatically different in 2018, at least early on. Cole splashed on to the scene last year and should remain a favorite target for Blake Bortles with Marqise Lee out for season. Donte Moncrief and Dede Westbrook are in the mix as well, but if Cole is in the slot he could get plenty of looks. However, of all the value plays, Cole is the most likely to disappoint. So buyer beware.
— Written by Chris Meyers, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the FSWA. Meyers' work appears on many other sites, including socalledfantasyexperts.com. Follow him on Twitter @FantsyChillpony.