DraftKings NFL: Week 1 Picks
DraftKings NFL: Week 1 Picks

This article is part of our DraftKings NFL series.

Welcome to my first article of the season covering DraftKings NFL DFS. Here is a rundown of the article. My goal is NOT to just provide picks, but context of how you want to approach each week. Let's get to it.

How to handle ownership
Overall Week One Strategy
Vegas Take
Positional Strategy

Ownership Outlook

Salaries are six weeks old, which has created a ton of value plays. Do not get too hung up on the ownership on players in great spots. Fade the players who people are jumping on like Alfred Morris, Matt Brieda and Jordan Wilkins vs. the James Conners of the world. The rule of thumb is to fade WRs with projected ownership of 30 percent or more due to the variance of the position.

If you have 10 entries, and you think James Conner will be 50 percent owned, you either want to be underweight or overweight vs. the field. Meaning you want 10-20 percent or you want 80 percent. Having 50 percent is bad because you have no edge. You can diversify your entries by taking lower owned stacks or low-owned players because they have a tough matchup but are an elite player (Barkley vs. Jags).

Week 1 Overall Strategy

Where are you spending up at position-wise, where are you spending down?

Spending up at QB is viable this week due to the value at RB and going mid-tier at WR
Spending down at RB but backing it up with a STUD is viable due to pricing
Middle of the road at WR with exception of A.J. Green, Keenan Allen
Spending up at TE on Gronk is a must

Vegas Take

A big piece of my DFS research every week is looking at the Vegas data and trying to predict where I think each game is going to end up. By looking at the line moves, you can get a glimpse into what the public is betting on. Here are some of the most noteworthy moves in Week 1.

Bills/Ravens – Side has gone from -4 to -7.5 and Total has gone from 42.5 to 40.5
-Heavy action on the Ravens and Under

Bucs/Saints – Side has gone from -7 to -9.5 and Total has gone from 51.5 to 49.5
-Heavy action on the Saints and Under

49ers/Vikings – Side has gone from -4 to -6.5
-Heavy action on the Vikings

Browns/Steelers – Side has gone from -6 to -4 and Total has gone from 47 to 44
-Heavy action on the Browns and Under

Bengals/Colts – Total has gone from 46 to 48
-Heavy action on the Over

Cowboys/Panthers – Total has gone from 44 to 42.5
-Heavy action on the Under

Both teams have good defenses and banged up offensive lines. I think it will be a low scoring game and I think Dallas will have a ton of them this year.


For DraftKings, I want a quarterback who can get to 300 yards passing and hit the plus-3 bonus. This means you need passing attempts and a game this is relatively close to ensure that.

Andy Dalton, CIN at IND ($5,800):
You can play Dalton in both cash and GPPs this week as his ownership should be middle of the pack. The total is starting to creep up on people now, but I still think the Bengals as a whole will be under owned because they are a 3-point road dog. Colts allowed the highest YPA last year and more than 295 passing yards in seven games. The Bengals have upgraded their offensive line and get John Ross and Tyler Eifert back. The Colts have allowed 12 games of at least 25 points or more to quarterbacks the last three seasons. Dalton has been a model of consistency of hitting at least 20 points per game the last three seasons when the Bengals have a projected team total of 22 or more. But we really need 23-25 in a tournament, which is within reach if he gets 300 yards passing and two TDs.

Kirk Cousins, MIN vs. SF ($6,500):
Cousins has 16 "big" games the last three seasons (25 points or more) and lit up the 49ers last year for 31.8. Now in Minnesota with a better set of receivers and a defense that is stout at home, this is a great matchup for him. On the 49ers side, they have allowed 10 big games in the last three years.

Tom Brady, NE vs. HOU ($7,200):
It is hard to fade when he is a home favorite with a high projected total, even though the receiving unit is not the greatest and the Texans D is healthy. The Patriots have put up 30 points against the Texans repeatedly the last few games. Brady put up 39.72 DK points vs. Houston D in Week 3 last year and has had 17 games at home with projected team total of 28 or higher with an average of 22.5 in those games. He has also hit 25 points or more in 17 games the last 45 games. The Texans have allowed nine games of at least 25 points to quarterbacks the last three seasons.


Alex Collins, BAL vs. BUF ($5,600): This is a great spot for the Ravens as they are greater than a touchdown favorite at home with a low total. Collins should see 20-25 carries and get 100 yards rushing and one TD, with a strong shot at two touchdowns. The Bills' defense has allowed 13 running backs to score at least 25 points the last three seasons.

Alvin Kamara, NO vs. TB ($8,500):
Kamara will be highly owned this week, but that will not scare me away from using him. The Saints are the largest home favorite at -9.5. The Bucs have allowed nine big games to running backs the last three seasons, but seven came in 2017. Kamara scored 32.2 and 30.8 points in both games last year and with no Mark Ingram his ceiling is well within reach.

Kareem Hunt, KC at LAC ($6,900):
Hunt destroyed the Chargers in both games last year with 42.6 and 28.3 points. What is even more interesting is what Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West did in 2016 (35.9 and 28.6). So clearly Andy Reid has figured something out here. I think people will look at what Hunt did last year and go with it, but his ownership will still be much lower than the other elite running backs in Week 1. The way to attack the Chargers is on the ground as they have allowed 10 games of at least 25 points to opposing running backs over the last three seasons.

Carlos Hyde, CLE vs. PIT ($4,500): Usually I look for home favorites as my running back targets, but when you look at salary relief it becomes a challenge. Hyde's price of $4,500 feels criminally low, and while the Browns are a home underdog, the spread is down to -4 and could be a field goal by gametime. Hyde's salary in 2017 averaged $5,600 and was never below $4,600. The other thing playing into this pick is how I think the game plays out. It will be lower scoring with the Browns right there until the end. There is a forecast of 20 mph wind at gametime, which means more running plays and screen passes. The Steelers have allowed 11 running backs to score at least 25 points in the last three seasons with five coming in 2017. Hyde has scored at least 20 points in 11 out of his last 36 games.

David Johnson, ARI vs. WAS ($8,800):
With so many looking to spend down at running back this week, I am looking at Kamara and Johnson as the two I am willing to spend up on. The offense is going to run through Johnson and his market share should be one of the largest in Week 1. Johnson has scored at least 25 points in 11 of 32 games from 2015-2016. The Redskins have allowed 11 running backs to score at least 25 points the last three seasons, with five in 2017.


A.J. Green, CIN at IND ($7,300): You will notice that I will be referring to historical pricing on a lot of players. It is all about finding value on players with high ceilings. Over the last three seasons, Green has been priced $7,300 or less in eight of 42 games. Now he is playing against one of the worst defenses in the league against the Colts. Green has posted 11 games of at least 25 points in the last three seasons.

Antonio Brown, PIT at CLE ($8,600):
The splits have been huge for Brown when Le'Veon Bell has missed games. No one has been more consistent in putting up big games on DraftKings the last three seasons. Brown has posted 20 games of at least 25 points in that time.

Emmanuel Sanders, DEN vs. SEA ($5,000):
The last three seasons, Sanders has only been priced less than $5,000 TWICE. His price makes him a must play in Week 1, especially if I am spending up at running back for one stud. The Seahawks defense is completely decimated and are a road dog in a very tough place to play. It is also a non-conference game for the Seahawks. This is a very bad spot for Seattle and I can see Sanders easily banking value.

Kenny Stills, MIA vs. TEN ($4,700):
With no DeVante Parker for Week 1, Stills is a WR1 at a $4,700 price, which allows him to hit 4x-5x value and become a great tournament play. He is also in play for cash games because his floor is so high.


I am not opposed to going with Gronk/Reed stack in tournaments. Why? Because no one else will have it.

Rob Gronkowski, NE vs. Hou ($6,900):
Gronk can be a frustrating DFS play because he is so boom or bust. You have to pick your spots with him. I love him in Week 1 because there is no Julian Edelman/Brandin Cooks/Dion Lewis and the running back situation is in flux. I can see Brady feeding Gronk repeatedly and 100 yards with multiple touchdowns is in play.

Delanie Walker, TEN at MIA ($4,900):
He is the Titans' most trusted target and the Dolphins are historically bad vs. TE. In 28 of 46 games the last three years he has scored at least 12 PPG. Walker fits the cash game profile in which you are spending up at one running back and one wide receiver spot.

Jordan Reed, WAS at ARI ($4,000):
When Reed is healthy (hold your breath) all he does is produce. At this price point, he is the perfect tournament play as hitting 6x value is certainly within the range of outcomes.


Ravens vs. BUF ($3,800): The Ravens will be the most possible defense this week. If you do not own them in a few lineups you are doing it wrong. They are heavy favorites against the worst quarterback on the slate. I love stacking Alex Collins with them.

Vikings vs. SF ($3,500):
Jimmy G will be forced to throw early due to the Vikings defense imposing their will. The Vikings defense at home is virtually impossible to move the ball against.

Cardinals vs. WAS ($2,500):
New coach Steve Wilks loves to blitz and the Redskins team total is only 21. I think the Redskins will have a very difficult time moving the ball with the exception of Alex Smith throwing to Jordan Reed.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Michael Rathburn plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: FanDuel: burnnotice, DraftKings: burnnotice, Yahoo: burnnotice, Fantasy Aces: burnnotice, FantasyDraft: burnnotice.
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Michael Rathburn
Known as “Rath” in the Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) community, he has helped run operations for two prominent daily fantasy sports startups. Michael has taken his insider knowledge and expertise in daily fantasy sports to the content side. Rath won the 2016 FSWA "Baseball Article of the Year, Online" award and was a finalist for the FSWA Best Baseball Series in 2011.
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