Fantasy Football: Week 1 Daily Picks


Welcome to NFL Spin Zone’s Daily Fantasy feature, where Jeff and I will break down the best picks for both DraftKings and FanDuel. Daily Fantasy is a booming industry and there’s plenty of money to be made…if you pick the right players. We’ll do our best to help you by offering advice for both DraftKings and FanDuel every single week, including our personal entries (yes, we will actually be entering the teams we recommend).

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Of course, we will be holding ourselves accountable for our picks, and will recap the previous week’s results at the start of each feature. Since this is the first week of the 2015 NFL Season, however, we’ll jump right into it.

Clayton Martino: DraftKings

The early weeks of the season are always tricky when it comes to fantasy. We know that several star players will get injured or have “down” seasons while there will be a few unknowns who become essential pieces to your fantasy lineup. For Daily Fantasy, the key is recognizing these players early in the season while their price tag remains low.

There are two keys to success when it comes to Daily Fantasy. First, you need your star players to perform like star players. If you are shelling out over $8,000 for a player, he needs to put up a solid, if not spectacular, point total. Secondly, you need to find the bargains. If you have two or three players that cost less than $6,000 but put up higher point totals than more expensive players, you should end up in the money. Of course, this is easier said than done.

Here is my entry for Week One. This week, I’ve entered a contest that includes the Thursday night game, but I may change it up from week-to-week.

NFL $1M Kickoff Million $3 Entry

QB Tom Brady (vs Pittsburgh) – $7,700

RB DeMarco Murray (at Atlanta) – $6,700

RB Carlos Hyde (vs Minnesota) – $5,300

WR Jordan Matthews (at Atlanta) – $7,200

WR Jarvis Landry (at Washington) – $5,600

WR Davante Adams (at Chicago) – $4,400

TE Rob Gronkowski (vs Pittsburgh) – $7,000

FLEX Dion Lewis (vs Pittsburgh) – $3,000

DST Miami Dolphins (at Washington) – $3,000

It’s pretty obvious what I’ve gone with here. I expect both the New England-Pittsburgh and Philadelphia-Atlanta games to be high-scoring affairs, so I’ve picked five players from those two games. Tom Brady is the sixth most expensive quarterback this week, and he will be without starting wide receiver Brandon LaFell. Still, I expect big things from the three-time Super Bowl MVP. An angry Brady is a good Brady (the Cincinnati Bengals can tell you that). Add in the fact that he is facing the Steelers – a team that ranked 28th in the league against quarterbacks last season and a team that Brady has torched to a tune of 18 touchdown passes and 330.9 passing yards per game since he entered the league.

Nov 2, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) and tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) react during a break in the action against the Denver Broncos during the second half at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Broncos 43-21. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve also included Rob Gronkowski – he is the best tight end in the league and can single handily dominate a game. The Steelers know this all too well – they’ve allowed Gronk to catch 21 passes for 309 yards and four touchdowns in only three games. The biggest risk for me is Dion Lewis – no one expected him to make the team, but an excellent preseason earned him a roster spot. With LeGarrette Blount suspended, Travaris Cadet recovering from injury, and the release of Jonas Gray, Lewis might actually receive the most snaps of any running back on the roster. I’m banking on multiple catches (considering DraftKings awards 1 point per reception) and maybe a cheap red zone touchdown reception.

As for DeMarco Murray and Jordan Matthews, I’m expecting big things from Chip Kelly’s offense this season. Murray likely won’t reach the same numbers he did last season with the Dallas Cowboys, but he should be a big factor against the Falcons, especially considering Atlanta ranked 31st against running backs last season. They didn’t do much better against receivers, ranking 26th, which is why I went with Matthews.

Jan 11, 2015; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams (17) scores a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys in the third quarter in the 2014 NFC Divisional playoff football game at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

I’m a huge believer in Davante Adams at this point. The injury to Jordy Nelson immediately places him at number two on the depth chart, and with Randall Cobb banged up, Adams could receive the most targets from Aaron Rodgers. The Chicago Bears’ defense ranked 23rd against wide receivers last year, but they were absolutely horrific against the Packers. In two games, Rodgers threw for 617 yards and 10 – yes, that’s right – 10 touchdowns. Adams wasn’t much of a factor in those two games, but Nelson was – 16 catches, 260 yards, four touchdowns – and I’m hoping Adams will step in and fill that void.

Lastly, I like the match-ups for Carlos Hyde and Jarvis Landry. I expect the 49ers to pound the ball against the Vikings’ defense that ranked 26th in the league against running backs last season, while the PPR element of DraftKings makes Landry a solid pick. I expect the Dolphins’ defense to feast on the disaster that is the Redskins’ offense.

Jeff Glauser: FanDuel

Genius. The most appropriate word I can think of for the person who came up with the concept of single day fantasy leagues.

I feel like I’ve personally sent the idea out the universe in years past, when pondering what the heck I can do with my life (with apologies to the wife and kids, although they know Sundays from September to February are off limits, anyway) once my team gets eliminated from contention after Week 6.

So, you’re welcome, whoever you are–enjoy your vast riches on my behalf.

The first week of a fantasy season is always a crapshoot, but I feel pretty good about the dice in my hand:

$250K NFL Squib $2 Entry:

QB Sam Bradford (at Atlanta) – $7,500

RB LeSean McCoy (vs Indianapolis) – $8,400

RB Jonathan Stewart (at Jacksonville) – $7,100

WR Nelson Agholor (at Atlanta) – $5,500

WR Demaryius Thomas (vs Baltimore) – $8,800

WR Odell Beckham, Jr. (at Dallas) – $8,900

TE Tyler Eifert (at Oakland) – $5,000

K Nick Folk (vs Cleveland) – $4,600

DST Jacksonville Jaguars (vs Carolina) – $4,200

Alright, before I start counting my winnings, let’s break it down:

If Sam Bradford stays upright, he will be a Top 5 fantasy QB this year. Mark it down. With his accuracy, a solid line and an overstocked arsenal of weapons, he can’t go wrong as long as his knee stays right.

Don’t believe me? Over the past two years, ANY Eagle behind center (which include the likes of Mark Sanchez, Matt Barkley, Nick Foles and Michael Vick) had the fourth most QB points.

Drafting Shady may be my biggest risk/reward pick, as the dynamic back was sidelined with a groin injury most of the preseason. But we know Rexy loves to pound on the ground, even more so with an unproven Tyrod Taylor taking snaps.

Aug 28, 2015; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart (28) gets the hand off from quarterback Cam Newton (1) during the first quarter at Bank of America Stadium. New England wins 17-16 over the Panthers. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Steady and dependable Jonathan Stewart should now get the bulk of the carries with the departure of longtime handcuff DeAngelo Williams. And, with the season-ending injury to WR Kelvin Benjamin, it helps that Cam Newton now has very few other places to put the ball.

Nelson Agholor is my bargain buy, and my chance to double up points in tandem with Bradford. The rookie looked legit in the preseason and should thrive in Chip Kelly’s system, and especially against a Falcons secondary that doesn’t keep many opponents up at night.

Odell Beckham, Jr. and Demaryius Thomas are simply a sick 1-2 punch at WR. The former put up ridiculous numbers (and catches) as a rookie receiver in just 12 games last season and has only scraped the surface. The latter doesn’t even need to have a name. Just draft “Peyton Manning’s No. 1 Target” and you’ll be fine.

Tyler Eifert is my sleeper. Let’s just say his hands pass the eye test.

I don’t envision either the Jets nor the Browns doing much damage inside the red zone. Therefore, it may come down to a kicker like Nick Folk to decide the game.

The defense for the Jags should improve by default because the offense should at least keep them off the field slightly longer, and especially this week against a Panthers offense which shouldn’t light the world on fire.

Hopefully we’ve helped you out with some advice here today. Make sure to check back next week to see how we did and for more great Daily Fantasy tips!

Next: What quarterbacks are worth a late round fantasy pick?

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