The NFL season is finally here, which means it's time for daily fantasy football (DFS)! For Week 1, I'm going to keep things relatively simple. I will go through each position and list one "safe" pick and one "high-risk/high-reward" pick. For those of you familiar with DFS, the first is essentially a cash game play and the second is a GPP play. I will also make sure that said player is priced proportionately about the same across DraftKings, FanDuel, and the other major sites. For those of you unfamiliar with GPS, do yourself a favor and look up cash games vs GPPs. Or hit me up on Twitter (@MarkStrausberg) and I will explain it to you personally.
Whether you are experienced or a beginner, however, let me know what you want this column to be. Should I highlight only guys that seem mispriced? Do you want me to let you know who I am fading? Would you like to see what lineups I am playing? Those questions are just a start. Let me know. In the meantime, I'll let you know some of my favorite safe and high risk/high reward picks this week.
Safe Quarterback Week 1 Pick
Philip Rivers, Chargers vs. Colts (DK $5900, FD $7500)
Patrick Mahomes is just not worth the price tag. Meanwhile, Rivers is priced very fairly if not underpriced, giving you plenty of extra salary to spend elsewhere. At home, against a suspect Indianapolis defense, expect Rivers to throw for nearly 300 yards. Given the questions at running back for the Chargers, we should expect a couple TD passes as well.
High Risk/Reward Quarterback Week 1 Pick
Nick Foles, Jaguars vs. Chiefs (DK $5300, FD $6500)
Kansas City upgraded their porous secondary this offseason by signing safety Tyrann Mathieu. However, the cornerback spot is still a weakness for Kansas City. Foles is a smart quarterback who will gladly hit his receivers who will win the one-on-one matchups with those overmatched cornerbacks. Jacksonville is likely as any team to ground the high-flying Kansas City offense, but should the Jaguars need to keep up with Kansas City, expect Foles to be up to the task.
Safe Running Back Week 1 Pick
Chris Carson, Seahawks vs. Bengals (DK $5700, FD $6600)
Carson is going to be a lot more involved in the offense this year:
With a matchup at home against lowly Cincinnati his ceiling is high, but so is his floor. I'm not sure there isn't a more obvious and safe pick this week.
High Risk/Reward Running Back Week 1 Pick
David Johnson, Cardinals vs. Lions (DK $7700, FD $8100)
The top three RB options on the slate (Alvin Kamara is playing Monday night) will be far more popular than the fourth option, Johnson. In fact, Johnson seems to be under the radar this preseason and that's a mistake. I think the number is low, but depending where you look, Vegas and the books have the Lions losing around 10 games this year. Part of that is because their defense is not very good. With a rookie QB starting his first game and new head coach Kliff Kingburry hoping to call 100 plays a game, Johnson offers massive upside.
Safe Wide Receiver Week 1 Pick
Michael Gallup, Cowboys vs. Giants (DK $4300, FD $5600)
The Cowboys have a 37-year-old at tight end. Their WR1, Amari Cooper, is battling plantar fasciitis. And at running back? Let's just delicately say there are a number of questions as to who is going to do what. And Dallas' opponent this week, to put it less delicately, is the pathetic New York Giants. Enter the very affordable Gallup, who saw 21 targets the last three games he played to finish up his rookie season.
High Risk/Reward Receiver Week 1 Pick
Albert Wilson, Dolphins vs. Ravens (DK $3900, FD $5000)
The Ravens shut down the run. That's what they do. And with the Dolphins one of the bigger underdogs on the slate, they are going to have to pass anyway. With Kenny Stills now gone, Wilson should absolutely be starting for the Dolphins. In Wilson's last full game that he played in last season, he torched the highly touted Bears defense for nine catches, 155 yards, and two touchdowns. That kind of line represents Wilson's upside this week if you can stand the risk.
Safe Tight End Week 1 Pick
Evan Engram, Giants at Cowboys (DK $4800, FD $6400)
Between players leaving for greener pastures, suspensions, injuries, and general offensive limitations, the Giants passing game is going to revolve around Saquon Barkley and Engram. 'Nuff said.
High Risk/Reward Tight End Week 1 Pick
Irv Smith Jr., Vikings vs. Falcons (DK $2700, FD $4000)
If Chris Carson is the obvious pick this week, Smith is the exact opposite. He is an extremely sneaky pick who I would be shocked to see ownership at even 1 percent. Smith is still behind Kyle Rudolph on the depth chart, but head coach Mike Zimmer has suggested he will employ more 12 personnel (i.e. two-tight end formations) this year. Atlanta had the fifth-worst defensive touchdown percentage in the red zone last year (70 percent). I've got at least one entry banking on Smith punching it in this weekend.
Safe D/ST Week 1 Pick
Baltimore Ravens at Dolphins (DK $3800, FD $5000)
I don't care if they are the most expensive defense on the slate. They will be well worth the price.
High Risk/Reward D/ST Week 1 Pick
San Francisco 49ers at Buccaneers (DK $2200, FD $3700)
I think Bruce Arians is a good coach too. I get it. But he's not Annie Sullivan. (Too esoteric for you? If you don't know who she is, Google it.) I need to see Jameis Winston do it consistently before I am going to suddenly believe he's an elite quarterback. Let's not forget that Winston had to reclaim the starting job from Ryan Fitzpatrick last season (largely due to his season-opening, three-game suspension). Winston also finished the season with more interceptions (14) than games played (11). Maybe Winston has a huge game and this pick blows up in our faces. But are we so sure it will?
— 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.
(Top photo courtesy of miamidolphins.com)