DFS Picks Recap Week 1 NFL

DFS Picks Recap Week 1 NFL

With your DFS picks today, did you choose Tyreek Hill? How about any of the stars on Tampa Bay or New Orleans? And did you make sure you started James Conner? These were the moves that likely dominated leaderboards across the fantasy industry on the first main slate of the NFL season.

Some of these spots were pretty predictable: Drew Brees was facing a Tampa Bay secondary without its top cornerbacks available to play. James Conner had an extremely efficient preseason, and it translated in Cleveland this afternoon. But did anyone see the Amish Rifle going off today? This is NFL fantasy football: a game where variance and a wide range of unpredictable outcomes rules the day. As always, instead of (in my case) lamenting in the losses and oversights of today, we should take a look at what we can learn from the data teams give us on how they want to use their personnel moving forward and adjust our strategies for future weeks.

Here’s how this week’s picks panned out:

Quarterbacks

STUD – DeShaun Watson (@ New England) – 17/34, 176 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT | 8 carries, 40 yards
VALUE – Andy Dalton (@ Indianapolis) – 21/28, 243 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT | 2 carries, 8 yards

You might have thought starting Watson on the road at Gillette Stadium in Week 1 was a psychopath move – and you would have been right! Watson finished the afternoon as QB17, with a paltry 5.2 yards per attempt, 3 sacks, and a tough 50% completion rate. Watson failed to lead a drive that ended with a touchdown until there were less than 2 minutes left in the third quarter, and his lone touchdown pass was a garbage time toss to Bruce Ellington with 2:08 left in regulation. Watson should fare better next week against a Titans team decimated by injury in Week 1.

The red rifle continued his winning ways against the Colts, improving to 4-1 in his career. Dalton completed 75% of his passes, and stayed relatively clean, as he was only sacked twice. If Dalton is able to post an 8.7 yard per attempt (Y/A) in his starts moving forward, he’ll prove to be a viable fantasy QB for DFS in plus matchups. Given that this is 20.8% ahead of his career average, I’ll expect a dip in performance to be honest. Next up: a Thursday Night Football tilt with the Ravens at home on a short week.

Running Backs

STUD – David Johnson (vs. Washington) – 9 carries, 37 yards, 1 TD | 5 catches, 30 yards on 10 targets
VALUE – Alex Collins (vs. Buffalo) – 7 carries, 13 yards, 1 TD | 1 catch, 6 yards on 1 target

DJ had an uphill battle for volume, as Sam Bradford had a tough time keeping Arizona’s offense on the field in this one. Arizona ran just 51 offensive plays in this one, and only possessed the ball for 21:52 of a possible 60 minutes. I’m choosing to focus on the positives, which are that DJ immediately received a monstrous percentage of the touches: his 9 carries represented 60% for Arizona, while his 9 targets were less than only Larry Fitzgerald’s 10, and were good for 26.5% of Bradford’s total throws on the day. A healthy DJ is a lock for this kind of attention in this offense, so keep an eye on his matchups as we move forward.

Maybe John Harbaugh wanted to rest his starter, here – this game was ugly, and quickly. The Ravens had a 26-0 lead at the half, and raised their total to 40 points before Buffalo finally cracked the scoreboard with their lone field goal of the day. Collins’ last carry came midway through the third quarter on the drive the Ravens went up 33-0 on. It does appear that the starters exited at this point for Baltimore, severely limiting Collins’ upside. The read here was right from a game script perspective – unfortunately, it was more lopsided than anticipated.

Wide Receivers

STUD – Keenan Allen (vs. Kansas City) – 8 catches, 108 yards, 1 TD on 11 targets
VALUE – Keelan Cole (@ NY Giants) – 3 catches, 54 yards on 4 targets

After a slow start, Keenan Allen dominated Rivers’ attention in the second half, finishing as WR8 in both half and full point per reception contests. His 11 targets were good for 22% of Rivers’ throws on the day, and only finished second to Melvin Gordon’s 13. The snake-bitten Chargers once again fell victim to a high powered Chiefs offense, and they’ll look to bounce back in Buffalo next week against the front-runner for the worst team in football through one week of action.

Cole received less targets than Dede Westbrook, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, T.J. Yeldon, and Donte Moncrief in this one. His 8.4 fantasy points in PPR and 6.9 in half point contests weren’t going to cut it today with the offensive shoot outs around the league, and he proved to be a popular cash game target worth avoiding in hindsight. This is likely how things will be all season in Jacksonville’s passing attack. Bortles’ extremely democratic distribution of targets is a strength for this team, and something I believe we will see each and every week.

Tight Ends

STUD – Rob Gronkowski (vs. Houston) – 7 catches, 123 yards, 1 TD on 8 targets
VALUE – Mike Gesicki (vs. Tennessee) – 1 catch, 11 yards on 2 targets

What idiot would say the only drawback to Gronk is his price? Hand up, that’s on me. The perennial All Pro finished Week 1 as TE1 in all formats, picking up right where he left off in the Super Bowl with Tom Brady. Gronk’s 20.5% target share here in Week 1 is likely a sign of things to come over the next three weeks without Julian Edelman available in this offense. With a trip to Jacksonville on the schedule next Sunday, Gronk should be considered matchup proof.

Gesicki’s second target came on a corner end zone route that Malcolm Butler beat him on for an interception. There will be growing pains with the athletic rookie, not the least of which will stem from a lack of faith in his blocking ability. A.J. Derby appeared to play more of the snaps in this one, the longest game in NFL history thanks to two extensive lightning-related weather delays. I’ll want to keep an eye on Gesicki’s snap count as the year moves on before recommending him again.