NFL DFS WEEK 1 FantasyDraft: Focused on 3-point Bonuses
Welcome back NFL DFS players to IroniqMedia. New this year is our focus on the FantasyDraft platform as opposed to FanDuel. We switched because their new No-Rake system is flat our better for DFS players: Why I Switched to FantasyDraft No-Rake System
This article will feature what we believe is our best possible lineup build for the Main Slate on Sunday. The conclusions presented are based on research and consultation and evaluating the analysis of other experts each week. It does not discuss players, not on that slate.
We provide our research to the readers in the form of quotes and links to the source material. Mike Tagliere of FantasyPros and Mike Woellert tend to be the most quoted sources.
Tagliere has one of the best global views of the NFL, evidenced by his weekly column The Primer which breaks down every fantasy-relevant player and their matchups for the week.
Woellert is superior at analyzing WR vs. CB matchups. Finding the right WRs who have an opportunity to exceed value is often the difference from having a great lineup and completely missing the payout zone.
This article does not provide every angle for massive multiple entries. In large part, that’s because my style of play has evolved to entering fewer lineups. I’ve learned that I get more enjoyment from following one lineup per slate in a tournament that cost a little more to enter than playing several cheaper tournaments. The more expensive tournaments tend to have fewer entrants and therefore a higher chance of winning the top prize. It’s also very tough to come out ahead when you are playing against yourself with multiple lineups.
That approach may be somewhat different in Week 1 for the Hooters $1,000,000 Kickoff Contest. At the time of writing, this contest has less than 7,500 of 50,000 entrants. Guaranteed payouts start at the top 10,000 will win at least $40, with a top prize of $100,000.
If on Sunday morning this tournament appears it will fall far short of filling, I may enter a few more lineups,
I’ve already won two entries by participating in the FantasyDraft preseason contests and their interactive Twitter promotions.
One of those entries will use the lineup build featured in this article. The other will be used by our team of experts at IroniqMedia, as we collaborate to build a lineup a half-hour before kickoff on Sunday morning. To listen, just re-load this article into your browser.
If you are also making the switch from FanDuel to FantasyDraft, you will want to take into consideration that FantasyDraft rewards a 3-point bonus for over 300 yards passing, and 100 yards receiving and rushing.
We kept those bonuses in mind when we went about our lineup build. The goal was to construct a lineup where we could legitimately argue that each player has a realistic opportunity to achieve a bonus.
Despite how offensive heavy the NFL has become, those bonus milestones are still challenging to make, and it’s unlikely all of our players well. Because we choose players that are in great matchups and built a balanced team, the possibility exists that they do. If all eight offensive players hit a bonus the lineup will earn an additional 24 points. That is equivalent to having an extra free high-end play as a super flex (QB/WR/RB/TE).
There is two flex (WR/RB/TE) spots FantasyDraft format. We used both for RBs. Our FantasyDraft lineup has QB/WR/WR/TE/RB/RB/RB/RB/Team Defense.
FantasyDraft has a salary cap of 100,000 as opposed to FanDuel’s $60,000. Typically a decent play on FanDuel is a player can earn you 2x return. A player that cost $6,000 should make at least 12 fantasy points. That same player on FantasyDraft may cost $8,000, and a fair return would be 1.5X. Next to players names, we note their value based on last year’s overall performance.
All the players choose for this article we believe are in the right positions to well exceed those values because of the matchups they are in, or their role has changed.
Let’s get started!
TB QB Jameis Winston ($11,100, 1.86X) looks to start this season where he finished 2018. In Weeks 16 and 17 Winston combined for 56 completions on a whopping 83 pass attempts for 681 yards and five TDs. He also had six rushing attempts for 37 yards for a total of 53.94 FantasyDraft (FD) points. Now Winston has a healthy
WR Mike Evans ($14,600, 1.32X), WR Chris Godwin ($12,2000, 1.011X) and TE O.J. Howard ($9,000, 1.34X) who collectively may be the most talented pass-catching trio in football. Head Coach Bruce Arians, who is far more focused on the pass than the run-game, is new this year and calling the plays. Tampa Bay has little discernible run game anyways.
On the other side of the ball, the Buccaneers defense is porous and gives up a ton of points. Winston is going to need to throw the ball to counter what the defense gives up. Winston will likely continue where he left off last year averaging in the neighborhood of 40 pass attempts a game to a talented receiving corps.
Winston’s backup QB Blaine Gabbert (shoulder) is hurt. You should have no Winston could get pulled if he starts off by throwing a couple picks as what happened last season. Winston will be responsible for moving the Bucs’ offense in a game that oddsmakers project Tampa Bay will score 26 points for one of the highest projections on the slate.
We are concerned about any remnants of Hurricane Dorian. The current forecast is sunny and hot in Florida. If the forecast were to change dramatically, we would consider switching to LAR QB Jared Goff ($11,400, 1.93X). Yahoo projects Goff as the second-highest fantasy score on the slate at 27.08 points, but we believe Winston may outperform Goff.
CLE QB Backer Mayfield ($11,900, 1.56X) also looks to be a solid play, but we would need to make other adjustments to our lineup to afford him.
CLE WR Odell Beckham Jr. ($15.600, 1.32x) is the most expensive WR on the slate and for good reasons. He is arguably the most talented WR in the NFL, he has an upgrade at QB throwing to him in Mayfield and is in a plus matchup. The ingredients are there for Beckham to start off with a BANG with his new team.
Beckham will likely see a mix of CBs Malcolm Butler and Adoree Jackson. “Butler was absolutely brutal in coverage last year, allowing seven touchdowns in his coverage, the second-most in the league,” wrote Tagliere. “Beckham roasts the best cornerbacks in the league, though Eli Manning had trouble getting him the ball at times. Just go back and watch the Beckham/Josh Norman battles, and you’ll see Beckham could’ve had much bigger games. Mayfield won’t miss those throws very often. It wasn’t just touchdowns, either, as the Titans allowed seven different wide receivers to rack up at least 104 yards against them, with five of them doing it without double-digit targets. Combine it all, and you had 11 wide receivers total at least 18.7 PPR points against the Titans. Beckham might just be the best wide receiver play on the board, and he’s usable in both cash and tournament lineups.”
TB WR Chris Godwin ($12,2000, 1.011X) comes into this season with a lot of hype, and for good reasons. Goodwin is set to share the role as No. 1 receiver with WR Mike Evans ($14,600, 1.32x) and his new head coach Bruce Arians said Goodwin will never come off the field. “[Godwin] should fit perfectly in what we’re doing,” Arians said on the Jim Rome Show. “We can use him in the slot, and we can use him out wide, so he’ll never come off the field.” If you played DFS a few years ago, you likely remember ARI WR Larry Fitzgerald ($10,500, 1.12x) as being frequently underpriced and returned great value. Goodwin could very well be that type of player this year. “He’s going to be playing the Larry Fitzgerald role in Bruce Arians’ offense, which has a lot of benefits. For one, he’s going to get targeted quite heavily,” wrote Tagliere. Woellert agrees. “You’ll see Godwin in the slot, as Bruce Arians’ Larry Fitzgerald. Williams spent 97% of his coverage routes in the slot, so he’s going to get peppered with targets. He allowed a 75% catch rate and 2.0 fantasy points per target last season.”
Alternative WRs: TB WR Mike Evans ($14,600, 1.32x), CAR WR D.J. Moore ($10,400, 0.97X), and CLE WR Rishard Higgins ($6,600, 1.39x) all have great CB matchups.
NYG TE Evan Engram ($8,200, 1.4X) is cheap when you consider that he is playing the Cowboys who he had his two best games of the season against last year. Engram posted seven catches for 67 yards and a TD for 19.7 FD points in Week 2, and then in Week 17 had five receptions for 81 yards and a TD for 21.1 FD points.
Engram will likely be a big part of the Giants offense this year with the departure of Beckham to the Browns. ESPN Staff writer Jordan Raanan wrote this week that Engram maybe the Giants’ No 1 receiver this year. “That’s just our position. In this offense, tight end is the No. 1 option on a lot of plays,” Engram told Raanan. “Obviously our quarterbacks go through their progressions, but I’m going to have a lot of opportunities.”
With more targets to go around, there is good chance Engram has another 7-10 catch game against the Cowboys for 70-100 yards and TD. That’s KC TE Travis Kelce ($13,000, 1.49X) type of production.
Even if Engram doesn’t find the end zone, his role in the offense against an opponent he has had excellent success against and provides a high floor, and with the $4,800 saved over Kelce, you can afford another solid RB in the Flex.
Alternative TEs: SF TE George Kittle ($12,600, 1.34x) should have a very high floor with an enormous ceiling. He set the single-season receiving record for TEs last year with 88 receptions for 1,371 yards. Kittle faces a Buccaneers team that was fourth-worst at defending the pass having allowed 84 receptions for 1,061 yards.
LAC TEs Hunter Henry ($7,300) is a great cheap option. Henry faces a Colts defense that allowed a league-worst 1,248 passing yards to TEs last season, 159 more yards than second-worst Rams.
SEA RB Chris Carson ($10,600, 1.49X) appears priced at a good value based on his average of 15.81 FantasyDraft Points a Game (FDPG). Carson’s role and his production increased towards the end of the season. From weeks 14-16 he averaged 26.43 FDPG with a low of 22.90. Based on that production, Carson priced as a super value of 2.49X. It gets even better when you look at the matchup. The Bengals allowed a league-worst 25.2 FPPG to RBs last season, just one-tenth of a point fewer the Cardinals defense that allowed 25.3 FPPF to RBs.
The Seahawks lead the league in rushing 2,560 yards and were second in attempts per game 33.4 to the Ravens 34.2. Carson will likely see a heavy workload this week.
“You thought you saw a lot of carries per game out of this team last year, Tagliere rhetorically asked?”Just wait until you see them in Week 1. Bengals opponents averaged 67.8 plays per game, with 29.1 of them being carries, the fourth-most in the league. The Seahawks ranked second with 32.8 attempts per game. If you do the math, the Seahawks should run the ball 450 times this week. I’m kidding, though there is 40-carry potential in this game. Many tried to say Penny would leapfrog Carson as the lead back this year, though reports out of camp were that there’s a clear difference between them. Carson is going to get 20-plus carries in this game against a Bengals defense that allowed 4.95 yards per carry last year, including 14 rushing touchdowns.
They suffered some injuries last year and are under a new coaching staff, but losing Vontaze Burfict won’t make them better. They also allowed 901 yards and six touchdowns through the air to running backs, which is significant considering the lack of options Wilson has to throw to. It shouldn’t surprise anyone if Carson is the RB1 this week. He’s in play for both cash and tournaments.”
BAL RB Mark Ingram II ($10,900, 1.14X) is out of the shadow of NO RB Alvin Kamara (not on the slate). Ingram is now in me of a lead back role, and he gets a primo matchup in the Dolphins to get things started.
“Ingram should have a great debut with the Ravens in Week 1,” wrote Jamey Eisenberg for CBSSports in his weekly Start ‘Em & Sit ‘Em: Running backs column. “He’s had 15 games over the past two seasons with at least 13 carries as a member of the Saints, and he’s failed to score at least 12 PPR points just three times while averaging 17.3 PPR points over that span. It would be a shock to see him get fewer than 13 carries, and he’s got top-10 upside in all formats given this matchup.”
Tagliere believes the upside could be higher with Ingram touching the ball around 20 times. “The Dolphins’ opponents averaged 30.3 rushing attempts per game last year, while the Ravens averaged 44.6 of them during Jackson’s seven starts. While that may be a bit extreme, it’s not as if the Dolphins offense is going to push the Ravens defense down the field and force them into passing 30-plus times. Because of that, you can absolutely lock Ingram in for 18-plus touches in this game, even though most will be carries.
The Dolphins allowed a robust 4.47 yards per carry, along with a touchdown every 27.5 carries to running backs in 2018. Keep in mind that while they added rookie Christian Wilkins, they lost Cameron Wake, Robert Quinn, and Sylvester Williams on their defensive line. This team is in complete rebuild mode and lack talent in their front seven (also just traded one of their starting linebackers last weekend), so trotting Ingram out there as a low-end RB1/high-end RB2 makes plenty of sense.”
MIN RB Dalvin Cook ($12.500, 1.14X) does not appear to be much of a value at first glance. A closer look reveals that the situation around him has changed, he is healthier from a year ago and is one of the few players on the slate that has a reasonable chance to earn a 3-point bonus as a rusher and a receiver.
Cook made a splash in the first four games of his rookie campaign in 20017 before suffering a season-ending torn ACL. Cook had 444 combined yards (354 rushing, 90 receiving) and two TDs as a rookie before getting injured.
Last season, Cook never fully realized a return of his early success because a hamstring injury slowed him and the Vikings were a pass-first offense. Now healthy, the offense has evolved around Cook, and he has the potential to put up huge numbers. “After employing a pass-happy approach last season under maligned offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, the Vikings have shifted to a run-heavy approach this season with Cook as the focal point,” wrote Dane Mizutani of Twin Cities Pioneer Press in his article Dalvin Cook showcases how good the Vikings can be with him leading the way.
“It’s the year that I get to be me again,” Cook told Courtney Cronin of ESPN in her article ‘I get to be me again’: Healthy Dalvin Cook eyeing big Year 3. “I get to be Dalvin and go have fun and play football. That’s the key. Once I get back to being me and having fun out there on the field, everything’s going to fall in place.”
Cook displayed his potential brilliance in game three of the preseason when he had an 85-yard touchdown run against the Cardinals. It only took 15 seconds from the time the ball was snapped to cook crossing the goal line.
“He makes a great cut to get back, and someone got out of their gap, clearly, and then he made them pay,” MIN QB Kirk Cousins ($11,300, 1.74x) said of the play. “Once he got to that second level, third level, it’s pretty much a one-man show at that point.”
Cook is also a threat as a receiver. He finished last season with 21 catches in the final four games for 105 yards and a TD. With the Vikings offense running through him, Cook will likely to see 20 plus total touches including more receptions. Cook is just as capable, if not more probable, of breaking off a big play for a TD from a short swing-pass as he is on a handoff.
The Falcons have ranked in the eight-most receiving yardage allowed to running backs in each of the last four years, according to Tagliere. The stage is set for Cook to hit at least 100 total yards and a TD. With the addition of receptions and a possible bonus, Cook can easily approach a 2X performance.
JAX RB Leonard Fournette ($12,500, 1.2X) is coming off a lousy season where a hamstring injury restricted him to just eight games. His 2018 season totals were a poultry 133 total rushing attempts for 433 yards and five TDs. Fournette also had 22 receptions for 185 yards and a TD.
When healthy, however, he did produce. Fournette had a very productive three-game span from weeks 10-12 where he carried the ball 70 times for 243 yards and four TDs. He also had ten receptions for 115 yards and a TD. In those games, he averaged 25.27 FD points a game. Fournette starts the season healthy and looks to produce at that level which would give him 2.02X value based on his price this week.
Fournette opened up about struggles last season. “It was really the first time—in my life, in football—I had a bad year. A down year,” Fournette told Tyler Dunne of Bleacher Report in his article The Re-Awakening of Leonard Fournette. “I dealt with an injury.” “A lot was going on. I wanted to reinvent myself,” Fournette said.
“One of the steps Fournette took to reinvent himself was to live out of a hotel in Laramie, Wyoming for three months,” according to Jordan Dajani in his CBSSports article Refocused and re-energized, Leonard Fournette ready to prove those who counted him out wrong. “His former LSU strength coach, Ben Iannacchione, was now at the University of Wyoming, and Fournette traveled there to transform his body. It snowed basically every day, so there was nothing else to do.”
“I’m in a happy place right now,” Fournette told Dunne. “Way, way, way, 100 percent better. 100 percent.”
The opportunity is certainly there for a rejuvenated Fournette to start 2019 with a BANG! “The Chiefs allowed over 1,800 yards on the ground last year (5th-most) while allowing another 895 yards (5th-most) and six touchdowns (tied for most) through the air,” wrote Tagliere. “They allowed eight running backs to eclipse 20 PPR points against them last year while allowing another six of them 15-plus PPR points. Think about that for a minute. They played 16 games last year and allowed 16 running backs to score 15-plus PPR points. The average RB1 performance was 16.8 PPR points in 2018. Playing at home with a healthy offensive line (not many realized 4-of-5 starters were hurt to end last year), Fournette is a great play in both season-long and DFS.”
Alternative RBs/Flex: NY Giants RB Saquon Barkley ($17,300, 1.46X) could be worth paying up for but did not fit into our lineup build.
ARI RB David Johnson ($14,000, 1,12X) looks poised to return to his pre-2018 form when he set the league on fire as a pass-catching back, but we are banking Cook, and Fournette can provide similar production for cheaper.
LAR RB Todd Gurley ($14,300, 1.95X) appears cheap based on past performance and potential, but there are question marks on his usage.
IND RB Marlon Mack ($10,100, 1.58X) could be a steal if the Colts use him as pass-catcher. The Chargers second-worst average of 60.8 receiving yards a game to RBs, but there are concerns that with the Colts not having QB Andrew Luck the Bolts will stack the box against Mack.
DET RB Kerryon Johnson ($10,900, 1,34x) goes against the Cardinals. When carrying the ball at least16 times or last season, Johnson reached the 100-yard mark. That likely happens this week against the Cards who averaged a league-worst 154.9 rushing yards a game a allowed 25 rushing TDs last season. However, there is some concern Johnson may not get all the goal-line carries.
The Cleveland Brown ($6,100) defense frequently over performed for DFS players last year because they created the second-most turnovers (31) which compensated for them allowing eighth-most 392 points. This offseason they added veteran SS Morgan Burnett and rookie CB Greedy Williams. On the D-Line they traded for DE Oliver Vernon and signed DT Sheldon Richardson who will be playing alongside DEs Myles Garrett and Oliver Vernon. This front four is fierce and more than capable of racking up the sacks. The Browns face a Titans offense that struggled to protect the QB last season and has several question marks to start the season. They gave up seven sacks in the final pre-season game and will be without three-time Pro-Bowl LT Taylor Lewan (four-game PED suspension).
The Baltimore Ravens ($7,000) are playing a Dolphins team that already appears looking at 2020 by trading away their starting LT Laremy Tunsil on cut day. The price for the Los Angeles Chargers ($6,300) was determined before Luck announced his retirement.
Put It All Together
The FantasyDraft lineup we built this week has a QB that expected to pass 30-40 times. Two WRs and TE that should combine for 25-30+ targets, and four RBs that can realistically touch the ball 80-100+ times. That’s a total of 135 to over 170 or more opportunities to score FD points. Plus, a defense that can create havoc for the opposing QB and therefore creates their scoring opportunities. That’s why we are very confident that barring injury, or unforeseen game script, this lineup should have no problem scoring 150 points, and over 200 for 2X performance is within reach. If you are playing the Hooters $1,000,000 Kickoff Contest, please make some change from this lineup in so that we are not a duplicate of each other. &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;
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