Winning in the daily fantasy football games requires impact scores. Those stat lines mostly come from star running backs and wide receivers. Daily game providers, like DraftKings and FanDuel, offset their ceiling by setting high salary values. This staging forces different team builds, with winning hinging on finding the best low-priced players for the week. The first checkpoint starts with deciding whether the top inventory of players is worth the price of admission.
Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts (DraftKings – $9,100/ FanDuel – $10,200)
Based on Taylor’s high salary and the talk of a lesser role in 2022, he projects to be contrarian play in Week 1. Last year Taylor had two strong games (14/145/2 with one catch for 13 yards and 32/143/2) against the Texans, but neither showing supported his opening salary in 2022. He gained more than 100 combined yards in 12 of his 17 starts while delivering multiple scores in five matchups. Houston finished last season 26th in running back defense (455/2,242/20 with 72 catches for 514 yards and three touchdowns). Despite the appearance of failure vs. the run, the Texans allowed only two other running backs to rush for 100-plus yards (Rashaad Penny – 16/137/2 and Elijah Mitchell – 21/119).
Taylor is the top-rated running back in Week 1 and finding value at other positions should be easier than most weeks as there will be many pricing flaws by DraftKings and FanDuel out of the gate.
Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans (DraftKings – $8,600/ FanDuel – $9,700)
Over 39 games in 2019 and 2021, Henry gained 4,978 combined yards with 45 touchdowns and 55 catches, or 21.10 fantasy points per game in PPR formats. Last season, the Titans cranked up his workload (29.6 touches per contest), but Henry had a more challenging time reaching the second level of defenses (4.3 yards per rush – 5.2 over 2019 and 2020). His ceiling remains limited as a pass catcher. The Giants ranked 28th defending the running back positions (26.42 FPPG), but only one backfield beat them for more than 30.00 fantasy points. To fill his salary bucket, Henry must score over 34.00 fantasy points (200 combined yards with two scores and two catches). The bet on this line would be on the under, but a third touchdown makes his yard total much more achievable.
Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers (DraftKings – $8,500/FanDuel – $9,500)
The two things we know about McCaffrey are that he will be on the field on nearly all of the Panthers' offensive snaps, while being active in the passing game. Over the previous two seasons, he missed 23 starts with various injuries. Despite having a risk factor, season-long drafters began to select him higher than Jonathan Taylor over the last three weeks. McCaffrey scored 217.9 fantasy points over his previous 10 matchups while averaging 21.1 touches. His last run of 20 yards or more came in 2019. The Browns climbed to eighth in running back defense (21.11 FPP) despite failing in three matchups (35.60, 35.80, and 38.50 fantasy points). His matchup projects to be lower scoring unless Baker Mayfield plays much better than expected in his Carolina debut, which happens to come against his former team. McCaffrey should score more than 20.0 fantasy points but needs multiple scores to reach a playable number in the daily space.