NFL DFS: Cash Game Plays for Week 1 (Kickoff Sunday)

Joey Ricotta | September 8th, 2019

Well, this is it. This is what we’ve all been waiting for. NFL football is back baby! Of course, we had the Chicago versus Green Bay game on Thursday night to kick off the season, but that was simply a tease. A low scoring defensive battle with one touchdown over the course of the game. Sure, it was a good football game (not the outcome I wanted being a Bears fan), but not at all what fantasy players were hoping for either. There will be a lot more action and points today, guaranteed. Cash games have been an area we can find an edge when it pertains to daily fantasy football. Every year new players jump aboard the always rolling DFS train. Luckily for you, most of the new players will be applying what they know about season-long fantasy into DFS. That’s not a terrible strategy, but it can lead to bad habits or skipping over important details. By putting in the extra effort and taking in as much as you can, you’re already winning. With all of that said, let’s kick off this season the right way. Take a stroll with me and look at some options to target for Week 1 DFS Cash Games.

Quarterback

Carson Wentz ($5,700 on DK and $7,600 on FD)

The huge bounce-back season is coming. It’s been beaten into our brains all off-season long. Injuries have really plagued the early part of Wentz’ career. Each of his last two seasons has been cut short by them. In 2017, he was in the MVP conversation and maybe even the front runner for the award before going down. Then, he had to watch as Nick Foles guided the Eagles to their first-ever Super Bowl win. Last season, Wentz’ numbers were still solid, albeit less impressive than 2017. With the Philadelphia Eagles having one of the higher Vegas implied totals on the slate, Wentz has a good chance to get out on the right foot today.

Kirk Cousins ($5,500 on DK and $7,400 on FD)

The last time we saw Cousins throw a football in a game that matters, he did not do too great and left a horrible taste in the mouth for many Minnesota Vikings fans. He was pummeled by Chicago in a 24-10 loss at home in which he was held to 132 yards and sacked four times. I expect him to come out firing on all cylinders at home against a very mediocre defense in Atlanta.

Jacoby Brissett ($4,400 on DK and $6,000 on FD)

Pricing. Pricing. Pricing. A starting quarterback not in a terrible match-up under $5,000 on DraftKings? How could I not have some interest? Brissett, more than likely, isn’t going to “wow” you. He isn’t going to set the place on fire and throw for 400 yards and 4 touchdowns, but we don’t need him to. We need him to be the safe value play that we think he is. Quarterback is generally a spot you can use to spend down to help you spend up at other positions. When Andrew Luck was out for the entire 2017 season, Brissett averaged nearly 14 DraftKings points per game. At this $4,400 price, it’s definitely within his range of outcomes that he scores closer to 18 points today to hit the 4x value we are always looking for.

Running Back

Christian McCaffrey ($8,800 on DK and $8,900 on FD)

Does anyone trust Cam Newton‘s shoulder going into this season? There has been a ton of speculation about him, along with the workload McCaffrey will get this year. The Carolina Panthers have come out and said they are going to be limiting his usage. Personally, I’m not buying it. At least not this early in the season. Week 1 mostly everyone is fresh and ready to go. McCaffrey will be no exception and he’s going to be playing in a game that has major potential to be a shootout. The amount of hype surrounding guys like Curtis Samuel and D.J. Moore makes me like Run CMC even more. Go ahead and play those uneven guys. Give me steady Eddie.

Leonard Fournette ($6,100 on DK and $7,200 on FD)

No T.J. Yeldon. No Carlos Hyde. The avenue is open for Fournette to get the bulk of the work in Jacksonville. While I’m not entirely sold on Fournette being the man for the entire season, he’s very much in line to be in Week 1. He draws a juicy matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs who gave up an insane DK points per game last year to opposing running backs.

Dalvin Cook ($6,000 on DK and $7,400 on FD)

The first thing we always wonder about when it comes to Cook is health. Is he healthy? Will he stay on the field for the entirety of the game? No one really questions his ability or on-field talent. Being that we only have to worry about one game, I’ll take my shot with Cook. He’s in a good spot facing a defense in Atlanta that can be susceptible to running backs. No, they aren’t as bad as some thought they were last year, but still allowed the eighth-most rushing yards per game to opposing backs. I also expect him to do some work in the passing game with Stefon Diggs playing through a hamstring injury.

Wide Receiver

Tyler Lockett ($6,000 on DK and $6,800 on FD)

Targets. Targets. Targets. The big question is whether or not Russell Wilson and the Seahawks will throw the ball all that often or not. If they get out in front by a decent margin, there may be no need to throw a ton. Regardless of how much they throw the ball, Lockett is as close of a guarantee as any to see targets this Sunday. D.K. Metcalf had knee surgery less than three weeks and says he’s “ready to go,” but you have to think he’ll be somewhat limited in what he can do. David Moore has been ruled out. Jaron Brown was cut not long ago as maybe a cap casualty and recently re-signed. So, you have to think if the Seahawks were willing to cut him, he won’t be Wilson’s favorite target. The entire situation is yelling at me to play Lockett here. Lock Lockett in.

Tyler Boyd ($5,800 on DK and $6,900 on FD)

For all of the reasons our fellow writer, Kevin Walsh mentioned in his Updated Values article that you can find here.

Dede Westbrook ($4,800 on DK and $5,900 on FD)

Newly acquired Nick Foles seemed to have a good connection with Dede in the preseason and he’s the clear cut number one. Along with bringing in Foles, Jacksonville grabbed his former quarterbacks coach, John DeFilippo. The praise isn’t for DeFilippo, but rather the continuity and understanding between the two. I think DeFilippo understands what Nick Foles does well and will have plays drawn up to cater to that. Dede led the Jags in targets a year ago with 101. He also lined up in the slot on 89% of snaps last year. Foles was one of the best last year under pressure (when blitzed). He likes to live in that slot area and I think he’ll find Dede more than once today.

Tight End

Travis Kelce ($7,100 on DK and $7,800 on FD)

Kelce is as solid as they come. For my money, he’s the best tight end in football. The Chiefs were the most high powered offense a year ago and they haven’t made many moves to be anything but again this season. The match-up against the Jacksonville Jaguars isn’t ideal, but they should still be able to put up some points. Getting a piece of this team is never a bad idea. When the Chiefs offense is rolling, it’s normally because of Travis Kelce or Tyreek Hill. Kelce is Mahomes’ go-to guy in the red zone. Tyreek Hill is a fine tournament option, but he’ll likely be paired up with cornerback Jalen Ramsey for much of the game. Ramsey didn’t have the best 2018, but I expect him to bounce-back this season. If Ramsey’s main focus is on Hill, Mahomes will have to look elsewhere.

Evan Engram ($4,800 on DK and $6,400 on FD)

With the departure of Odell Beckham, Sterling Shepard moves into the number one receiver role. The thing is, he didn’t do a whole lot with his opportunity last year. OBJ missed the final four weeks of the season and Shepard collected only 14 catches for 234 yards and 1 TD on 31 targets. In comparison, Evan Engram had 22 catches on 31 targets for 320 yards and a TD. It also helps that Engram has a quarterback with a rag arm like former World Series champion outfielder Johnny Damon. I don’t see any reason Eli all of the sudden wants to take deep shots to Shepard over Engram.

Hunter Henry ($3,900 on DK and $6,100 on FD)

Hunter is back. Someone alert Stephen A. Smith. He probably wasn’t even aware that Henry actually returned for the Chargers’ playoff game in January against the New England Patriots. In his defense, I had to double-check that he did because he barely played and wasn’t targeted at all. This could very well be the cheapest price we see Henry this season. Behind Keenan Allen, Henry could be the next top targeted weapon. Mike Williams and Austin Ekeler out of the backfield are also going to get some push, but Henry is a fine red zone target because of his size.

Defense/ST

I like to look for cheaper defenses than most people feel comfortable with. I felt like I needed to say that as almost a disclaimer before we get going. This doesn’t necessarily make all of this defense “safe,” although I know that’s normally the goal in cash games. Because of the unpredictability at the position, I’m more willing to punt defense in hopes of finding some cheap turnovers.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($2,200 on DK and $3,500 on FD)

The Bucs will be at home in a potential shootout with the San Francisco 49ers. I already mentioned how I like searching for turnovers with defenses. Jimmy Garoppolo will get his first regular-season start since tearing his left ACL in Week 3 last year. Jimmy G didn’t look good in the preseason. Normally, I wouldn’t put much stock into that, except he’s coming off of an injury and he’s started a grand total of 10 games in the NFL. It might take him some time to get acclimated and knock the rust off. A pick-six off the value menu? Sign me up.

Other Targets: Philadelphia Eagles, Buffalo Bills, Seattle Seahawks, and Baltimore Ravens.

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