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NFL DFS: Week 1 Best Bets, High Leverage, and Safe Picks for DraftKings and FanDuel

It's the start of a new season, which means you may need to rethink how you view certain players and teams when it comes to DFS.

We are mixing it up a little this year, but I am returning with my favorite daily fantasy (DFS) football bets as well as my Week 1 DraftKings and FanDuel picks. 

If you haven't figured it out yet, we're going to be adding a sportsbook bet or two that you can find on either DraftKings or FanDuel.

But we're also going to have a similar format to last year where I give you "safe picks" and "high leverage" picks. Those more or less equate to "cash game" picks and GPP picks for those familiar with what those are.

Also, I'm going to start keeping a record of how my picks are doing. 

Week 1 Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K I Flex

However, since we are starting with my Week 1 picks, there is no record to report on at this time, so let's get right to the picks.

This Week's Best Bet: DraftKings' "Up 10" Promotion

This is a very interesting promotion as DraftKings is offering to pay out your bet regardless if your team wins or loses, as long as they are up by at least 10 points at any point in the game.

The temptation here might be to play one of the favorites, as they are likely to be up 10 at some point, right? Yes, but how much value are you gaining by picking a team favored to win anyway? The answer is none. Instead, I want to grab an underdog. The payout is better on a dog, and they don't even have to win as long as they lead by ten points or more at any point.

Therefore, I'm going with my favorite underdog this week, the Jacksonville Jaguars (+115).

First off, this is not last year's Jacksonville team as Urban Meyer is no longer the head coach, making them infinitely better. But Jacksonville will have a healthy Travis Etienne Jr. not to mention upgrades they made along the offensive line. Trevor Lawrence now has a year of experience under his belt and should be better this year by leaps and bounds. He has looked strong this preseason already.

Secondly, Washington's defense always seemed to play better in the second half last year than in the first. And the stats bear that out, as the now-named Commanders allowed the fourth-most points in the first half (13.9 per game). Yet they allowed only 11.6 points in the second half. Something tells me we see Jacksonville jump ahead in this one, thereby giving us a winner at plus odds.

I'm willing to bet a whole unit on this bet. And with that new feature done, let's get to the DFS picks.

Safe Quarterback Week 1 Pick

Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers vs. Las Vegas Raiders (DK $7600, FD $8400)

The books seem to think this game will be a shootout and I'm inclined to agree here. The over/under for this game is 52 points, which is the second-highest total this weekend. Why not take the signal-caller of the team favored to win? Add in the intangible of Herbert burning for revenge, not to mention the fact that he is coming off a season of nearly 40 TDs and more than 5K yards, this is an easy pick to make.

High Leverage Quarterback Week 1 Pick

Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (DK $6400, FD $7700)

Burrow seems to be a forgotten man this week and his ownership percentage could easily be under double digits. What is likely helping keep his ownership down is that Burrow's last game against the Steelers was not one of his better performances. However, I will remind you how strong Burrow finishes. He averaged 320 passing yards per game from Week 13 on, including the Super Bowl, while averaging more than 24 DKFPs. 

Burrow won't be this cheap and/or low-owned for long. Take him while you can.

Related: Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 1 QB/TE/DST Fantasy Advice

Safe Running Back Week 1 Pick

Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans (DK $9100, FD $8000)

Yes, Taylor is expensive. But that's a relative bargain for a top stud. And he's a top stud, who I know I don't have to explain. He has the highest floor of any RB this week.

High-Leverage Running Back Week 1 Pick,

Damien Harris, New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins (DK $5700, FD $6300)

All kinds of risk here! For one, Rhamondre Stevenson could certainly throw a wrench into Harris' production. Secondly, Miami is favored and New England might be forced to abandon the running game. But I will remind you that Miami was just about average in allowing running backs to score fantasy points last season.

Harris is coming off a season of 15 TDs including eight in the last six weeks. I wouldn't recommend him in cash games or even single-entry GPPs. But I will have some exposure to him in MMEs. The touchdown upside is too great to ignore.

Related: Start 'Em, Sit 'Em Week 1 RB/WR Fantasy Advice

Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers vs. Las Vegas Raiders (DK $6600, FD $6600)

At $6600 on both sites, he's obviously a better deal on FanDuel than DraftKings. You almost have to play him on FanDuel, but I like him on DraftKings too.

I actually expect Williams to overtake Keenan Allen this year as the top WR for the Chargers. But that's the future. Looking to the past, we saw that Williams completely sunk the Raiders last they played as he snagged nine of 17 targets for 119 yards and a touchdown. I'm expecting similar numbers on Sunday.

High-Leverage Wide Receiver Week 1 Pick

George Pickens, Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals (DK $4000, FD $5200)

Looking at this game, the odds of Pickens even being among the top half-dozen pass catchers is not a likely scenario. That being said, I think Cincinnati can go up big this game and force the Steelers to air it out.

Should that happen, Pickens could see plenty of playing time and we know he has the potential to score...

Safe Tight End Week 1 Pick

Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs at Arizona Cardinals (DK $6600, FD $8000)

The reports of the demise of Kansas City's passing attack have been greatly exaggerated. Yes, Kelce is no spring chicken anymore. But six straight years of more than 1,000 receiving yards speak for themselves.

High-Leverage Tight End Week 1 Pick

Isaiah Likely, Baltimore Ravens at New York Jets (DK $2500, FD $4100)

For now, Likely is under the radar. He won't be for long. 

Safe Defense/Special Teams (DST) Week 1 Pick

San Francisco 49ers at Chicago Bears (DK, $4100 FD $5000)

This game could get very ugly very quickly. I see one of two things happening. Either a) the 49ers turn this game into a laugher and destroy the Superfans' hopes early or b) this game turns into a slobber-knocker and the first team to 17 wins. Either way, game script heavily favors the 49ers DST.

San Francisco had the sixth-most sacks last year. That gives them exactly the kind of high floor I'm looking for in a safe DST pick.

High-Leverage Defense/Special Teams (DST) Week 1 Pick

Jacksonville Jaguars at Washington Commanders (DK $2500, FD $3600)

Washington is going to be a very popular pick this week, but I'm going to instead pivot to the opposing defense, the Jags. They don't bring the same high floor to the table that teams like Baltimore and San Francisco do this week, but their ceiling might be almost as high.

Over the last three years, Carson Wentz has been sacked more than all but two other QBs. He'll be facing a front seven that features the No. 1 overall pick this year, Travon Walker. Walker had multiple sacks and tackles for a loss this preseason and I believe it is a sign of things to come.

Furthermore, conventional wisdom says that both these teams are mediocre. Conventional wisdom also says that when two less-than-stellar teams meet and both DSTs are inexpensive, appealing options, take the one with lower ownership. Grab the Jags.

One other new feature I'm adding this year It is is a list of other cheap options I either already have in my lineups or I am given serious consideration. You should too.

Other Cheap(er) Options I'm Considering In My GPP Entries:

QB: Jameis Winston; Jared Goff

RB: Kenyan Drake, Travis Entienne, 

WR: Romeo Doubs, Justin Watson, Skyy Moore, Isaiah Zuber

TE: Trey McBride, Brevin Jordan, Cole Kmet

— Written by Mark Strausberg, a member of the Athlon Network Contributor, who despite his youthful exuberance and good looks has been playing fantasy sports before Wildcats or Hoosiers even made it to VHS. Got a fantasy sports question or thought? Hit him up on Twitter @MarkStrausberg.