Daily fantasy football is still in its infancy, but the sport has grown considerably in recent years.
One daily site, Draft Kings, is kicking off the 2015 season with a $10 million contest. Two million dollars will be awarded to first place.
I have a lineup in that thing. If you have an extra $20, put a lineup in that thing. Let’s put it this way, if you were going to waste $20 on the lottery this month anyway, put it in this lineup instead. The odds are better and you have some control over the outcome.
Hopefully both of us can win a million or two this year.
Considering you’re reading this right now, it means you seek new and different information about fantasy football. That’s another feather in your cap. It means you should, in a vacuum, be better than the average player. That doesn’t mean you’ll finish in the top 50% every week, but you should most weeks.
The advice I’m about to provide you should help push you into either consistent cashing territory in 50/50s and head-to-heads — games in which 50% of the field doubles or almost doubles their entry fee — and in GPPs or tournaments — larger-field events with potentially huge payouts.
Quarterback values for Week 1
Tyrod Taylor, $5,000, BUF vs. IND — This one is easy. He’s priced like the backup he was when Draft Kings’ NFL games went live. It was before he looked decent in the preseason and better than all of his competition on the Bills. Taylor isn’t big and doesn’t have a rocket arm, but his preseason highlights showed off an ability to hit on intermediate passes and, more importantly, to make potentially game-changing plays with his legs.
Tom Brady, $7,700, NE vs. PIT — There was a deflated-ball-shaped cloud hanging over Brady all preseason, then last week a judge overturned the NFL’s suspension. Cha-Ching, for those of you who stole him in season-long drafts. Those of us in daily are pretty happy too. He faces the Steelers, the third-least efficient team against the pass in 2014, according to Defense-adjusted Value Over Average. Not the kind of defense likely to slow down Brady if he has a chip on his shoulder. If you want to roster Brady, hop to it. His game is tonight.
Sam Bradford, $7,600, PHI vs. ATL — Like Taylor, there was some doubt if Bradford was going to start for the Eagles this preseason. All the Eagles offense under Chip Kelly does is produce top-10 quarterbacks. This offense made Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez look like All-Pros. If Bradford can stay healthy this season, that’s a Texas-sized IF, he’ll have the best season of his pro career and it starts this week against a Falcons defense that was second-worst in the NFL at stopping the pass in 2014.
Running back values for Week 1
DeMarco Murray, $6,700, PHI at ATL; Lamar Miller, $5,500, MIA at WAS and Justin Forsett, $6,200, BAL at DEN — There is so much value at running back this week, I had to lump a bunch of these guys in here. Typically, it’s best to pair a stud running back with cheaper back to open up cap space. But with this trio rocking sub-$7,000 salaries there are a pile of lineup-building possibilities. I plan to employ several different ones that incorporate these backs.
Danny Woodhead, $3,700, SD vs. DET — This is our first true value at the position. I’m a little reluctant to use Woodhead considering some of the Forsett-Eddie Lacy lineups that can be built, but Woodhead is my top option if I really want to go bottom shelf. That’s referring to price, of course. Woodhead is a pass-catching veteran back sharing a backfield with a rooking getting his first taste of NFL action. If we were on FanDuel or another site where receptions weren’t worth a full point he wouldn’t be worth as much, but it won’t take much for him to reach value at this price.
Ameer Abdullah, $4,000, DET at SD — Abdullah is no sleeper after his stellar preseason. The next Barry Sanders? Probably a bit early. But reports today say he is a better receiver out of the backfield than expected. On top of his electric running ability, he should be fun to watch this week against San Diego. His price is a measly $4,000. He’s going to be owned on a lot of lineups, but I’m not going to avoid him because of it.
Christopher Ivory, $4,100, NYJ vs. CLE — Ivory also had a stellar preseason. But he’s been around the league for a few years and doesn’t have that fresh-off-the-showroom shine like Abdullah. For $100 more you’re getting an RB that will likely be the focal point of the offense and be far less owned than Abdullah. High-producing, low-owned players are the key to winning large-field NFL tournaments.
Wide receiver values for Week 1
Julio Jones, $9,300, ATL vs. PHI and Antonio Brown, $9,200, PIT at NE — To produce my lists and rankings I run consensus players projections from other sites through a number of formulas. I’ve also tweaked the formulas a number of times to get them just right. No matter how much weight I put on value players Jones and Brown keep ending up on top of the list. So, that tells us they are worth the price of admission, particularly if you are pairing them up with a quarterback, either Matt Ryan — a big favorite in the DFS community this week — or Ben Roethlisberger.
Jarvis Landry, $5,600, MIA at WAS — Landry is a good value and a PPR machine, but not a two-touchdown kind of guy. He caught 84 passes on 111 targets last season but only scored five times. That means he’s a great value in cash games, but someone you might want to avoid in tournaments in which you want every player in your lineup to score two touchdowns.
Davante Adams, $4,400, GB at CHI — Adams might end up being the highest-owned player in Draft Kings daily fantasy football history. His price is reflective of a No. 4 receiver in the Green Bay offense despite some flashes of brilliance at the end of last season. Then Jordy Nelson’s ACL tore and Adams was thrust into a starting role. And while I just said a few words ago that low-owned players are good, Adams represents such a potentially ridiculous value I won’t tell you to avoid him.
A.J. Green, $7,800, CIN at OAK — OK, here’s another guy that isn’t technically a value at $7,800. He is however, capable of producing like Jones or Brown in PPR formats and he is the lowest priced among the stud receivers, facing the Oakland Raiders. I’ll have him in a handful of lineups.
Martellus Bennett, $4,300, CHI vs. GB — There are a couple different schools of thought when it comes to rostering tight ends for daily fantasy football. One is you either roster Rob Gronkowski, or you roster a scrub. There are other theories that say you should never roster a mid-priced tight end because they rarely are worth the price when compared to Gronkowski or an overproducing replacement-level player. I’m making an exception for Bennett almost across the board this week. With Eddie Royal and Alshon Jeffery both hobbled Bennett is in line for a ridiculous number of targets. And his price, is almost to that replacement level.
Delanie Walker, $3,400, TEN at TB — For a few years now, I’ve had Walker on at least one of my teams. Not this year. You know what that means? Career year incoming. Rookie quarterbacks allegedly lean on their tight ends as a safety valve. He should be overrated, but his price is actually really good at Draft Kings.
Benjamin Watson, $2,600, NO at ARI — You couldn’t pay me enough to roster Watson at this point in his career. But there has been a pretty big movement toward him in the fantasy football industry late this preseason and his price is below bargain basement.
Jordan Cameron, $3,800, MIA at WAS — In lineups where I don’t have Bennett or Gronkowski I usually end up with Cameron. As I’ve said elsewhere, this offense turned Charles Clay into a $38 million man. Cameron has shown flashes of potential greatness in the past — remember when Cameron was in a sub-tier just below Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham? If he can stay healthy, Cameron goes back to that status. Washington was the fourth-least efficient defense against tight ends in 2014, according to DVOA, so that journey likely begins this week.
Miami Dolphins vs. Washington Redskins
New York Jets vs. Cleveland Browns