If you are new to DFS, a Primer is available here: The DFF DFS Primer
(Full Appendix available at the bottom for any terms not understood here.)
Welcome to Week 1 DFS, and congrats once again for making it through the offseason. Week 1 DFS is one of the most fun slates of the year for many reasons. Firstly, we have a lot of people playing DFS that will not be in future weeks. These people are putting in lineups without correlations or because they like this guy or that guy, and their lineups are dead on arrival. They are doing us all a favor by paying the rake for us. Secondly, the slate is made so far in advance of Week 1 that there are a bunch of silly good values. So many so that none of them become too chalky. You can build any lineups you want. Let’s build some GPP-winning lineups, shall we?
Following high totals is good for finding fantasy points and winning lineups in DFS. This week, we have two games with 48 total or higher: Bengals @ Browns (48) and Dolphins @ Chargers (50.5). These games can be stacked from either side, with great bringbacks coming from the other way. Even if you do not stack these games, trying to incorporate players from these games in your lineup should help unless you decide you are fully fading the game for leverage purposes. I don’t believe that is necessary this week with the flatter ownership of Week 1, and you are likely just missing out on points.
Lamar Jackson (BAL): $8,000 vs. Houston
He’s the most expensive QB on the slate, but there is a ton of cheap value on the slate, so it shouldn’t be hard to fit him in a lineup. He’s one of the few QBs I will run a skinny stack (only one pass catcher) with because of his rushing upside. The build I prefer is him with Mark Andrews, a Ravens WR, and a Texans WR. Both WRs groups are cheap and low-owned, and all have a similar range of outcomes, so go nuts with it.
Jalen Hurts (PHI): $7,800 @ New England
Despite being cheaper than Lamar, Hurts’ stacks will cost you more in total salary. The stacking partners are pretty obvious, and despite being able to play a skinny stack with Hurts as well, I think I would instead double up even if just using the TE Dallas Goedert. The playback WRs are all gross but have salaries low enough that garbage time alone could get you there. I love bringing back Hurts stacks with camp sensation Demario Davis as a bringback. It gives you some leverage on other cheap WRs on the slate.
Joe Burrow (CIN): $7,100 @ Cleveland
Burrow will be playing the second-highest total game on the slate and has the simplest stack to build. Tyler Boyd and Irv Smith Jr. are both playable in Burrow stacks if you want to get contrarian, but there are easier ways to do it.
Geno Smith (SEA): $6,100 vs. Los Angeles (N)
The Rams’ defense looks nothing like the team that won the Super Bowl two years ago. Jalen Ramsey is gone, and that secondary looks very beatable now. Geno Smith should eat in this game. The easiest way to build the Geno lineup is with D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, but you can also mix in Noah Fant, Will Dissly, or even Jaxon Smith-Njigba if you want to mix it up further. Geno is my favorite play for large fields. There is so much value on the board that most people will prefer to spend up on other QBs.
Sam Howell (WAS): $4,900 vs. Arizona
If there wasn’t so much value on the board at other positions, Howell might have been the default QB for cash games. While you can still play Howell in your cash lineups, it is likely not necessary with how many WRs at $3,000 are playable this week. For tournaments, Howell will let you afford any other play you want, even if you stack his two best pass catchers. When building Howell lineups for tournaments, though, I may leave some money on the table to avoid getting a duped lineup.
This week, the ownership looks to be spread out enough that I want to play the guys with the highest ceilings. In tournament play, I find myself wanting to spend up at the QB position with all the value on the rest of the board. I am also not scared off of anyone from an ownership perspective. Playing in a large field, I believe that Geno might be the best true leverage on the field.
Austin Ekeler (LAC): $8,400 vs. Miami
While the QB position is nicely spread out as far as ownership is concerned, the running backs tend toward the middle of the price range. Ekeler, being a pass-catching RB, can be used in stacks with Justin Herbert and even as a bringback to a Tua Tagovailoa stack. Normally, I avoid RBs in stacks involving quarterbacks, but Ekeler is one of the few I will use as an isolated piece to a game and in stacks.
Bijan Robinson (ATL): $8,000 vs. Carolina
Are you someone who had zero shares of the 1.01 in Dynasty leagues this offseason? Well, you can enjoy those fantasy points he scores anyway. In a couple of weeks, we may look back at this as the cheapest you were ever going to get to play Bijan this season and against a Panthers defense that strikes no fear in the hearts of men.
Derrick Henry (TEN): $7,800 @ New Orleans
The Saints’ defense is not easy to get through, but this price is too cheap for the volume that King Henry receives. One of my favorite things about Henry as a play on this slate is he is leverage on the biggest chalk on the slate, Jamaal Williams (more on him later). His ceiling is high, and with many of the best RB values in the $5.1K to $6K range, spending up on the running back position is enticing.
Rachaad White (TB): $5,500 @ Minnesota
This play might pick up steam over the weekend, but I love this spot for Rachaad White. He has the upside but is too close in price to other RBs that look better in projections. Normally, RBs on the road as 6.5-point underdogs are poor DFS plays, but his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield means he will not get game scripted out of this one. He’s another guy who feels like he will not be this cheap again. You can do a nice little mini-correlation with him and Justin Jefferson or even play him as the bringback to your Kirk Cousins stack.
Samaje Perine (DEN): $5,100 vs. Las Vegas
While Javonte Williams‘ recovery from his knee injury last season has been impressive, I expect the Broncos to be reasonable in Week 1 with him. While not a name that excites, Perine has put up some big numbers in spots. I also find him an excellent mini stack with the opposing Davante Adams (more on him later).
Jamaal Williams (NO): $5,100 vs TEN
At the time of writing, Jamaal is the biggest chalk on the slate. Kendre Miller logged a third straight DNP today, which usually trends toward not playing. The kind of volume Williams will get at a price as low as $5,100 is a lock for cash games. You can also play him in tournaments, but you will have to find a way to make your lineup different elsewhere. You can lock him in your cash lineups and feel good about it.
All the chalk plays are between $5.1K to $6K, so for me, in tournament play, I’m finding a way to pay up at RB wherever possible. There is so much value at WR this week that it will be easy to fit in a bunch of studs, and at the RB position, there is a huge delta between the top-end RBs and the back-end.
Davante Adams (LV): $7,900 @ Denver
Week 1 pricing is usually soft, but this is not right. There have been points where it was correct to smash play a $10K+ Davante even if he was super chalk. Tell everyone else to figure out where they will get his 30 points from. The matchup might scare some with Patrick Surtain II on the other side, but last year, during the second game they played, Adams cooked Surtain, including a game-winner in overtime that had Surtain 15 yards out of the play. Even in a tough matchup, this is an absurd price for Adams.
Keenan Allen (LAC): $7,300 vs Miami
One down year, and everyone has forgotten how good Keenan Allen can be. The game script is perfect here for a lot of points. You can use him as a mini-stack with Hill or Waddle, a stack with Herbert, or even soloed out to get exposure to the highest total on the board.
Chris Godwin (TB): $5,900 @ Minnesota
I have said this about many players already, but this price is just off. Game script could also help out here a ton. The best values at WR are near the top of the board with Hill and Chase or at the bottom with some $3,000 guys. Nobody is playing the guys in the middle. This range has a ton of talent, bad prices, and ownership that is under control. Playing Godwin in your lineup when you still have money left is a great leverage play on other lineups trying to max out every dollar.
Deebo Samuel/Brandon Aiyuk (SF): $5,500/$4,900 @ Pittsburgh
I think the pricing here is deflated, thinking they will take away from each other, and I believe you should take a stance on one or the other. That said, the price is off here. Either of these guys could be a massive payoff, especially if there is no George Kittle. Always check actives and inactives on gameday. Things are very fluid in DFS.
Drake London (ATL): $5,400 vs. Carolina
I do not have to convince Dynasty managers that Drake London could be poised for a breakout. His target share for a rookie was fantastic; he was just on an offense that did not throw the ball. The Falcons’ pass rate went up quite a bit following the change from Marcus Mariota to Desmond Ridder last season, and now, with an entire offseason as the starter, Drake London should be all systems ready.
Elijah Moore (CLE): $3,800 vs. Cincinnati
This one has picked up too much steam to be clever at this point, but I don’t care. I’m smashing Elijah Moore everywhere. He goes great for salary relief opposite Burrow/Chase/Higgins stacks. The plethora of $3,000 WRs may keep his ownership in check, but Elijah Moore is much more talented and experienced than all those guys. I have been an Elijah Moore truther since day one, and this price tag and opportunity to be in good game script with plenty of opportunity and the best quarterback he has ever had in his career is something I’m not going to pass up.
Tutu Atwell/Puka Nacua/Marvin Mims Jr./Jayden Reed: $3,000
While I could talk about all these guys and even Jonathan Mingo ($3,200) individually, it makes sense to group them. Typically, zero WRs at this price tag are even playable. We get one guy below $4,000 that is playable at best usually. With a salary this low, if they get to 12 points, then it is the same as getting 32 points out of Ja’Marr Chase on a FPTs/$ perspective. Because of the obscene amount of guys under $4,000 that are playable and the amount of mispriced guys near the top, you can effectively play whoever you want.
A lot of people are going to play the $3K WRs for salary relief, and there are enough of them to keep ownership from being too condensed on any of them. This week, you can play whoever you want to because of these WRs at this price. The big thing I want to do with my WRs is correlate them with other plays in my lineup, like my QB, or pair two as a mini-correlation. From a game theory perspective, in GPP play, I will exclusively play WR in the FLEX. Cash is very different, where I’ll frequently play a chalky RB, but WRs typically have a much higher ceiling than RBs.
Mark Andrews (BAL): $6,200 vs. Houston
There is a chance that Andrews doesn’t play, in which case the $3,000 Isaiah Likely becomes the free square in cash games and will be the chalk TE in tournament play. Andrews will likely be highly rostered if healthy just because people will be filling out their lineups and realize after those $3K WRs, they have a ton of money left, and he gives them some upside that other TEs don’t offer. When a tight end breaks a slate, it becomes a binary situation of, “Did you play Andrews or not?” The points in the roster spot become more valuable than the FPTs/$ because you can get that from other positions.
Tyler Higbee (LAR): $4,800 @ Seattle
Ownership may grow over the weekend, but he is projecting as a low-owned play with a ton of Cooper Kupp targets with nowhere to go. Playing members of the Rams offense will require a stomach this season, but Higbee has shown some ceiling in the past, and at $4,800, I’m willing to play what I normally consider a dead range at TE.
Hayden Hurst (CAR): $3,000 @ Atlanta
These are the kind of guys I like to play at tight end if I don’t play the top-tier guys. Just gross $3K dudes that need to catch a couple of balls and luck box a red zone target for six. It is not sexy, but it opens up your lineup to play some expensive players on the same lineup.
My favorite way to attack tight end is to play the sub $3K tight end that I can stack with my QB. The way you build tournament-winning lineups is to assume you are right in your build. If my QB is the highest-scoring QB on the slate, they aren’t handing the ball off at the goal line. They are running play-action and throwing to some derpy tight end. I won’t do it every time, but I love doing it where I can. I think it’s the best way to fill the position to maximize my upside while conserving salary. If I don’t do that, I prefer to pay up for Kelce when he’s on a slate or Andrews.
My strategy with DST is one that I repeat weekly. DST suffers from the least efficient projections of any other position and can be swung by the least predictable event in football, the defensive touchdown. I immediately eliminate the most played DST on the slate to avoid being caught in that ownership train. So, this week, the Commanders DST will not be in any of my GPP lineups. My strategy is to build my lineup, then look at my available defenses and try to accomplish a couple of things. The first is to make sure none of my offensive players are playing against my defense to avoid a negative correlation. I want my offensive players to be in positive game scripts, and defenses usually struggle in that case, barring a defensive or special teams touchdown. The second thing I can do is correlate my DST with my RB. An RB has a positive correlation with his own DST since an RB in a ceiling game tends to be winning, and thus, his defense gets to rush the passer and maybe get a late interception from a desperate opponent. I can’t always pull that off, but it’s worth looking for spots. Finally, I never use 100% of my salary if I can avoid it. It sounds silly, but it increases your chance of a duplicated lineup by a massive degree. I would rather play a suboptimal defense than lose all the EV from a duplicated lineup.
Week 1 has some wonky values that almost have this slate too easy to do whatever we want. Last year’s pricing was so tight that it felt hard to build good lineups without playing some dudes you were unhappy about, so I’m guessing this will change over time. Ownership on QBs is well spread due to several options at a decent price, so don’t fret about playing an off-the-wall stack. This is especially true with all the dead lineups you will see in Week 1 DFS every season. Just make sure you put some guys with big ceilings in your lineup and find some value to make it work.
Thanks so much for reading, If you want to discuss more reach me on Twitter, find me @DougHarrelson on there. Also don’t forget to sign up for our Dynasty Football Factory Membership to get all things Dynasty, Redraft, Devy, and IDP. Annual Subscribers also get access to our discord server where you can get access to our entire staff!