You can just feel the football in the air: Preseason has kicked off for the first exhibition games of the season, Best Ball fantasy drafts are rolling out by the minute, and we’ve already got DraftKings NFL Week 1 player pricing!
It’s one hell of an exciting time of year for fantasy sports, and for those of you who are already eagerly eyeing the player pool looking toward that much-awaited first week back to action, we’re here to give a breakdown of some players in each tier of pricing that are eye-catching and have a pre-emptive gouge at some lineup construction. Clearly there is still a lot of preseason to happen, along with roster cuts to be made, and this is only intended to give an early look at some of the more promising pricing that stands out at first glance.
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James Winston, QB ($6,600)
While I’m sure a sizeable number of people would be inclined to target Pat Mahomes here (a negative draw considering the field ownership), especially considering now that Tyreek Hill will be available, I’m looking at Famous Jameis here as the best value play in his tier. This Bucs team is going to throw, throw, throw and it’s all about the volume when it comes to [daily] fantasy. Plus he doesn’t have Fitzmagic there to threaten his ego by stealing any of his crumbs of thunder.
Last season, Winston averaged 20.7 DraftKings fantasy points per game, which ranked tenth among fantasy quarterbacks (and totaled 227.78 DKFP over 11 games). The San Francisco 49ers finished 2018 as the 27th ranked pass defense in the league. With a Bruce Arians offense in place, I expect to see a sizeable amount of pass attempts coming from Winston against this Niners secondary.
Ezekiel Elliott, RB ($9,200)
I don’t anticipate this hold-out is going to last like LeVeon Bell’s ill-fated stalemate did, and this Dallas offense is going to lean on Zeke in this matchup (and for years to come, which is why I think the deal gets done). Say what you will about Dak and Amari Cooper; they’re proving to be a great tandem in Dallas. But they are better because of Elliott in that, not only does he pound the rock and catch the ball out of the backfield as Dak’s safety net, but he’s among the top pass-blocking backs in the league.
With all that being said, this New York Giants defense ranked 20th in the league against the rush in 2018 and The ex-Ohio State backfield monster gains leverage on DK in a full-point PPR format against other top backs. I also believe that his price tag may scare off some of the field, but obviously it’s a bit too early to gauge that.
Mike Evans, WR ($7,900)
Remember the Arians offense I mentioned? This guy is going to be among the lead beneficiaries of said passing onslaught, if not the top candidate to do so. And on the other side of the field, Richard Sherman is only getting longer in the tooth. Last season under Dirk Koetter, Evans was targeted 139 times, the tenth-highest among all NFL receivers. With Bruce Arians at the helm, I feel like that number could surpass his highest targeted season in 2016 with 173 targets, and that will start with this softer matchup.
Leonard Fournette, RB ($6,100)
Can he stay healthy? Probably not, but this isn’t season-long and sometimes people let that get in the way of their Daily Fantasy roster construction. And this matchup with a Kansas City defense that ranked dead last against the run last season may not be one you’d like to ignore, especially at this bargain.
The Jaguars offense under Blake Bortles versus now being under Nick Foles should be night-and-day in differences from a productivity standpoint, and moving the ball through the air will naturally be providing breathing room to the running game. Despite only playing in eight games in 2018, Fournette averaged 15 DraftKings Fantasy Points and that was with an absolutely abysmal offense. Fournette is a major value at this price point.
Hunter Henry, TE ($3,900)
Another loosely price player to take advantage of here, the only piece I will advise of if you choose to play Henry is that he will, in all likelihood, be the chalkiest of chalk tight ends on the slate given his price point and proven upside that we have only seen a peak of thus far.
At home against a Colts defense who ranked 29th in the passing game against tight ends last season, along with the departure of Mike Williams and Antonio Gates (happy retirement?), Henry should see plenty of targets from Philip Rivers, who loves throwing to his tight ends.
DeSean Jackson, WR ($4,500)
One of the best values at wide receiver on the entire slate, this pricing is frankly batshit insane. With a loaded Eagles offense and Josh Norman likely covering Alshon Jeffery, this is going to open the field right up for Jackson and I don’t see how he doesn’t easily pay off this price tag. In With Tampa Bay, this guy averaged 13.6 DKFP per game across twelve games played in 2018 under Dirk Koetter along with a quarterback controversy that certainly didn’t help matters.
My guess is Jackson gets a “Welcome Back” touchdown here, and knowing Jackson, that could very well be coming on a big play (hence why this guy is a savage for Best Ball season-long formats too).
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB ($4,900)
Speaking of Fitzmagic, this pricing is peculiar albeit against the Baltimore Ravens stout defense, which did rank third overall in the league against the pass. Under a Koetter umbrella in disarray that couldn’t maintain continuity if it tried, Fitzpatrick still managed to be the fourth highest quarterback in the league in DraftKings Fantasy Points per game at 23.9 last season in his eight games played, with a 100.42 passer rating.
Anytime you have those numbers recently to speak to on your fantasy resume, I’ll certainly entertain the idea of rostering you for a portion of my lineups. But ANYBODY starting at quarterback for $4,900 who isn’t entirely incompetent will garner my attention…let alone have Fitzmagic numbers. I will definitely be getting some Fitzpatrick shares on our first Sunday of NFL, and wouldn’t be surprised to see the field thinking the very same way. Go here for more NFL predictions!
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