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The slate is wide open this week. Pricing is loose, so finding good values at lower prices can net you some extra studs in your lineup. Here are my DraftKings Values for Week 1 of 2018.
Andrew Luck vs. Cincinnati Bengals ($6,100)
When DraftKings set prices for the Week 1 slate, Andrew Luck had a lot more question marks than he does as we flip the calendar over to September, and his pricing reflects that. Luck's lowest price point in 2016 was Week 15 @ Minnesota, $6,400. At $6,100 this week, Luck is an absolute steal. 24.4 points to reach 4x value for a quarterback often considered an elite fantasy player is mindblowing. He averaged 22.7 points in DraftKings scoring just two seasons ago. Luck might not be the pay down option this week, but barring a setback with that shoulder, this will be the cheapest you'll see him all year.
Case Keenum vs. Seattle Seahawks ($5,100)
Speaking of pay down options, Case Keenum is a bargain bin gem this week. There are a lot of things to consider regarding Keenum. He's in a new offense with an entirely new set of weapons, but top-to-bottom the Denver receiving corps stacks up favorably to the one Keenum left in Minnesota. One could even argue that the depth is superior for the Broncos.
The Seahawks defense was one of the stingiest in the league in giving up points to the quarterback position in 2017. They ranked 8th best in QB points allowed with 15.02 per game. The Seahawks defense lost Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett, Sheldon Richardson, DeShawn Shead, Kam Chancellor, Jeremy Lane, Cliff Avril, and Earl Thomas' status remains uncertain following a tumultuous offseason. I expect Keenum's ownership to be low among those working off of last year's numbers, and his points/$ should be right up there with the big boys this week.
Kareem Hunt @ L.A. Chargers ($6,900)
Kareem hunt averaged 194.5 yards from scrimmage, five receptions, and 1.5 total touchdowns per game against the Chargers in 2017. That's 30.45 points per game in DraftKings scoring. The Chargers gave up 25.33 points per game in 2017. At $6,900, Hunt isn't cheap, but he's an elite level play at a second tier price.
Andy Reid, when discussing Hunt's potential workload with Spencer Ware back in action, said, “We thought we had a decent number of plays for Kareem last year, [but] we probably need to increase the pass part of that a little bit more and expand on his role in the pass game.” The significance of this quote cannot be understated. A target in DraftKings scoring is worth more than 2.5x as much as a carry in terms of fantasy output. With an increased workload in the passing game don't be surprised to see Hunt obliterate his 4x value number of 27.6 points.
Alex Collins vs. Buffalo Bills ($5,600)
The Bills allowed a whopping 28.14 points per game to the running back position in 2017. Alex Collins was Pro Football Focus' number one back regarding rushing grade last year. The Bills are starting one of two terrible options at the quarterback position in Week 1, and The Ravens are favored by a touchdown with a 40.5 point over/under at home. All of these factors suggest a run-heavy approach from a Baltimore team that will likely lead wire-to-wire. Collins could be heavily owned in the main slate, but I can't find a reason to shy away from the chalk on this one.
Carlos Hyde vs. Pittsburgh Steelers ($4,500)
When DraftKings released their pricing for Week 1, the backfield in Cleveland was a three-headed monster. Since then, Nick Chubb has been wholly unimpressive, garnering just one snap with the first team offense in the Browns Preseason Week 3 matchup with the Eagles. At least at the outset, it looks like Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson Jr. will be splitting touches in the Cleveland backfield. Both are a decent value, but Hyde should have a lower ownership percentage based on presumed game script; this is a bit of a false narrative. A total of 10 points decided the last three matchups between Cleveland and Pittsburgh. Hyde most definitely is not the sexy play this week, but his ownership and expected opportunity should make him a great play.
Emmanuel Sanders vs. Seattle Seahawks ($5,000)
Denver's pass catchers have had a rough go of it the last two seasons. Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler, and Paxton Lynch are terrible quarterbacks. Case Keenum, while nowhere near elite, is a huge upgrade. If I'm playing Keenum, I'm playing Sanders. This stack costs a total of $10,100. With $39,900, there's plenty of room to pay up for studs like David Johnson vs. Washington or DeAndre Hopkins vs. New England.
With a move to the slot in three-wide sets, Sanders DraftKings (PPR) value should see a massive boost. Larry Fitzgerald and Adam Thielen, while much bigger receivers, saw an enormous increase in target volume when they moved inside. Thielen saw 142 targets in a Case Keenum led offense in 2017. Sanders ran only 27% of his routes in the slot last year. With the addition of standout rookie Courtland Sutton to the Broncos offense, that number jumped to 53% through the 2018 preseason.
Kenny Stills vs. Tennessee Titans ($4,700)
Kenny Stills is my guy for redraft; Kenny stills is my guy for Week 1 DFS. Tennessee gave up the 11th most points to the WR position (34.02 per game) in DraftKings scoring in 2017. The loss of Johnathan Cyprien to an ACL injury will not help that number improve in 2018. With DeVante Parker likely sidelined or hindered by the broken finger he suffered in the preseason, Stills will see a massive target share as the de facto number one for Miami this week. Needing just 11.75 points to reach 2.5x value and 18.8 to reach 4x value against what's sure to be one of the league's bottom half secondaries, I'll have substantial exposure to Stills in Week 1.
Donte Moncrief @ New York Giants ($4,000)
Moncrief wouldn't have
The New York Giants gave up 34.02 points per game to the wide receiver position in 2017. Moncrief has scored a touchdown every 8.44 receptions in his injury-riddled four-year career. For a little perspective, Odell Beckham has scored a touchdown every 8.24 receptions over the same span. Moncrief isn't in Beckham's area code, but as the stand-in number one, he's the guy I'm putting my faith in to meet value in that Jacksonville offense Week 1.
If you want to hedge your bets a bit and grab Keelan Cole at $3,800 instead of Moncrief, I won't blame you. I know I'll have some Cole exposure this week.
Jack Doyle vs. Cincinnati Bengals ($3,600)
Only two starting pass-catchers in Indianapolis have hauled in receptions from Andrew Luck in their respective careers, T.Y. Hilton and Jack Doyle. Luck may not be 100 percent, but Luck at 80
Ravens vs. Buffalo Bills ($3800)
What's that you say? The Ravens are the highest priced D/ST on DraftKings this week? Yep… and they're still a value. Most players new to DFS build out their lineups with the D/ST coming as an afterthought only once their RB, WR, TE, and FLEX spots have filled. In my experience, this is a mistake.
Defensive scoring varies wildly. Gaining a positional advantage in points/$ can be tough at positions where the pricing ranges from $3,000 for scrubs to $8,000, $9,000 or even $10,000 for studs. The difference in dollars between the cheapest defenses this week and the Ravens is a mere $1800. Considering the worst defensive performances can net you negative points, and elite performances garner totals upwards of 30, skimping on defense so you can spend an extra $600 to upgrade from David Johnson to Le'Veon Bell doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
The Bills haven't yet announced a Week 1 starter at quarterback. Translation: The Bills don't have a quarterback. For that matter, they don't have any wide receivers worth a damn either. Start Baltimore with confidence. They're an elite play this week.