Week 1 Main Slate NFL DFS Plug

Week 1 Main Slate NFL DFS Plug



The following article appears on OccupyFantasy.com every Friday! Become a member for as little as $2/week with an annual subscription for NFL DFS analysis, as well as MLB, NBA, NHL and more.


This is the Sunday Main Slate NFL Daily Plug! Occupy Fantasy’s Chris Rooney has written up a guide to the slate using the Occupy Model, betting line movements, and news updates. Keep an eye on this page, updates will be made IN BLUE on Sunday mornings if anything changes.

NFL DFS Plug is posted for Main Slates, and is updated by 8:00pm on Fridays.

Follow Occupy Fantasy on Twitter for updates through lock.

Keep an eye on this page, updates will be made IN BLUE on Sunday mornings if anything changes. For NFL Inactives, visit this link to the NFL.com page – updates roughly 90 minutes before kickoff for each game.

Consider the Plug an in-depth road map for the main slate. Let’s get to it!

Want analysis for every player on the slate? Check out the Occupy Model. Want help building lineups? Our Lineup Builder is FREE for Week 1 for all Occupy subscribers. 

BETTING ODDS

Biggest Favorites:
BAL Ravens, -8.5
IND Colts, -7.5
SF 49ers, -7
BUF Bills, -6.5
NE Patriots, -6.5

Highest Game Totals:
ARI@SF, 48.5
SEA@ATL, 48.5
CLE@BAL, 48.5
LV@CAR, 48
TB@NO, 47.5

Highest Implied Team Totals:
BAL Ravens, 28.5
SF 49ers, 27.75
IND Colts, 26
LV Raiders, 25.5
NO Saints, 25.5

Lowest Implied Team Totals:
NY Jets, 16.75
MIA Dolphins, 17.5
JAX Jaguars, 18.5
WAS Football Team (lol), 19.25
CIN Bengals, 19.25

GAMES TO STACK

Each week, we’ll point out three games to stack based on the Occupy Model, betting line information such as game totals, implied team totals, line movements, and more.

TB@NO, GB@MIN, LV@CAR 

The Buccaneers made the splash of the offseason, adding Batman in Tom Brady and his “Rob”-in, Rob Gronkowski. Expectations could not be higher, as the weapons the GOAT has at his disposal are more talented than he’s had in years. Chris Godwin was kind enough to give TB12 his number, will Brady return the favor by feeding him targets? NO was the 21st DVOA defense against slot routes in 2019 – Godwin is the receiver who most closely owns the slot-majority role Brady favored with Julian Edelman. Mike Evans is nursing a hamstring injury, which should give us some pause before we receive more clarity. The ever frustrating OJ Howard should still play frequently; we’re expecting a lot of 12 personnel (2 TE sets) out of this offense. Evans is questionable; if he misses, we can expect to see Justin Watson and Scotty Miller rotate in more for Tampa. Last year, Watson ran routes on ~100% of dropbacks in Weeks 16-17 when the top two guys were banged up.

Arguably the key to success in the NFL? Solid line play. The Saints? They have it. This was the best pass blocking offensive line, and 3rd best run blocking line in 2019 according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA. It should come as no surprise that we’re high on the usual suspects – Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas as a result. They also added Emmanuel Sanders in the offseason, who we are expecting to fill last year’s Ted Ginn field-stretcher role. Tre’Quan Smith is entering his third year in this offense, and has a path to a near every down role in 3 WR sets. TB was a fairly easy matchup for TEs in 2019 (23rd by DVOA), so don’t ignore Jared Cook in stack allocations. 

There are so many exciting new faces and toys in the NFL, but we can’t overlook the duos and trios we already know can connect early, and often. Enter Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams, who should still be a high volume target since GB didn’t feel it necessary to draft any WRs in 2020. Adams and anticipated slot WR Allen Lazard have favorable matchups projected against Minnesota’s secondary – MIN ranked 22nd against WR1s, and 24th against the slot in 2019. Based on the “unofficial” depth chart, we’re expecting Marquez-Valdes Scantling to be the WR3 in 11 personnel most of the time. Aaron Jones played behind the 5th best run blocking line in the NFL in 2019, and he also scored almost too often. A rush TD rate of 6.7% is bound to regress – however, expect Jones to still be the best bet in this backfield for work to start the year. We project 25.3 weighted opportunities for him in the Occupy Model.

With Stefon Diggs out of town, Kirk Cousins has one of those shiny new toys in Justin Jefferson at his disposal. We expect him to slide right in and see 4-5 targets. Adam Thielen “is who we think he is” (RIP Dennis Green), and should continue to lead the Vikings in targets. The TEs – Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith Jr – get to face a Packers defense that was just 25th by DVOA against the position in 2019. Assuming Minnesota continues to utilize 12 personnel frequently, they’re great high-risk plays in this game stack.

Our favorite game stack this week, though, is the last one we have for you: Carolina and Las Vegas!

The Raiders visit the Panthers – and we expect this one to be fuuuun. Now that Kyle Allen has found his rightful spot on a Ron Rivera bench, the Panthers throw a real QB back under center. Teddy Bridgewater loves safe throws – at least, he did in New Orleans last year, as he averaged just 6.2 “intended air yards” per attempt according to Next Gen Stats. This should tell you that Christian McCaffrey and his absurd pass game role is well in play even in a new offense if they plan to leverage Teddy’s strengths. DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel each had a 30%+ share of Carolina’s air yards in 2019, so a more accurate passer in Bridgewater should be the rising tide that lifts their boats, here. Of course, they’ll have to contend with the addition of Robby Anderson, who we best remember as a field stretcher himself from his Jets’ days. Anderson could be in line for big work right away, as Curtis Samuel “was not impressive” in Panthers camp. Carolina expects new TE1 Ian Thomas to be ready to go, as well. The Raiders’ were the 30th DVOA pass defense in 2019 – aka, they were bad. Real bad.

While we hope – for fantasy purposes – that Vegas’ defense is still just as bad, we know the Raiders are a completely different offense than last year.

It’s not often we see a brand new core of starting WR that were just drafted into the league; this year, Jon Gruden isn’t afraid to throw speedster Henry Ruggs III and third round rookie Bryan Edwards to the wolves immediately, though. Derek Carr will enjoy using his new toys in creative ways – we project them for 6 and 5 targets, respectively. They’ll be joined by 2nd year man Hunter Renfrow, who should play slot receiver the most. Darren Waller is still “the man” after the addition of wily old veteran Jason Witten at TE. Josh Jacobs vowed to be more involved in the passing game this year. We’re skeptical – but the path for him to get there exists, as Jalen Richard and Devontae Booker are the only healthy RBs behind him on the active roster. Regardless, Jacobs projects for a healthy 26.8 weighted opportunities in the Occupy Model this week – 7th most on the slate – and the majority of his opportunities should be carries against 2019’s worst run defense.

BEST PLAYS BY POSITION

QB

Stud: Lamar Jackson (vs. Cleveland)

The Madden cover athlete, reigning MVP, and all-around fantasy cheat code was simply not going to be left out of our first NFL Plug of the year. His price is astronomical, sure – but so is his upside. Lamar will threaten TWO separate 3 point bonuses (300+ yards passing, 100+ yards rushing) on DraftKings weekly – meaning he’ll usually take down at least one. Baltimore’s excellent offensive line was the 6th best pass blocking and 3rd best run blocking unit in 2019 – both of which help Lamar’s play style. Cleveland was the 29th DVOA rush defense (4th worst) in 2019, so Lamar and his stable of RBs can each leverage that matchup in particular. Baltimore has the highest implied team total on this slate at 28.5 points.

Value: Drew Brees (vs. Tampa Bay)

The Saints have the third highest implied team total at home in this game, and Brees’ price is simply too cheap for the upside. As a pocket passer, he simply has to get there for us through the air. As we wrote above in game stacks, Brees should have a clean pocket fairly regularly thanks to their excellent pass blocking line. You might recall that the one thing the Buccaneers did reliably in 2019 was stop the run; in fact, Tampa had the best run defense in the NFL last time we saw them. If that holds true here in Week 1, that’s even more of an argument for Brees’ path to success, as they will simply have to rely on recreating a running game with short passes instead. Thankfully, this is actually how Sean Payton prefers to call plays in this offense – and why not with weapons like Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara at your disposal? Brees is a fine cash game play considering all of the above. 

Value: Jimmy Garoppolo (vs. Arizona)

We have Jimmy G ranked at the top of the Occupy Model, and he’s priced extremely favorably on DraftKings. Arizona’s selection of Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons at LB should improve their overall defense, however, by how much? This was the 6th worst passing defense in the NFL last time we saw them. With no preseason, are they up to speed? The NFC Champions should be ready to roll. Jimmy G should be able to connect with one of his favored weapons against this defense – more on that below. San Francisco’s 27.25 point implied team total is the 2nd highest on the slate.

RB

Stud: Christian McCaffrey (vs. Las Vegas)

We are excited to write about CMC 16 times this year again, because as long as they are on the main slate, Stud RB1 write up block is literally his. He’s $10,000, it’s 20% of your DK budget, 16.7% of your FanDuel budget. We don’t care. Play the man. The 39.6 weighted opportunities we project for him are 7.5 more than any other RB on the entire slate. There’s plenty of low priced opportunities to get CMC into your lineups. No CMC? No cash.

Stud: Austin Ekeler (@ Cincinnati)

Austin Ekeler absolutely smashed in his 5 weeks as the starter in 2019, scoring 6 TDs in 5 games, and catching 5+ balls (with one 15 reception game). So… yeah, he’s good. We project him for 30.5 weighted opportunities against the Bengals, who were the 5th worst run defense, and 3rd worst pass defense against RBs in 2019.

There’s a very real chance there’s an extremely simplified target/opportunity tree for the Chargers on Sunday – Mike Williams is almost assuredly out, leaving Keenan Allen as the only “good” WR with any NFL game experience here. RB Justin Jackson is nursing a hamstring injury, while rookie Joshua Kelley isn’t expected to break through right away. Fire up the Twitch legend in all contest types.

Value: Miles Sanders (vs. Washington)

Sanders asserted his dominance in this backfield over the corpse of Jordan Howard late in 2019, so we expect big things out of the 2nd year man this season. While we have reports that he’s having his reps managed, our 25.4 weighted opportunity projection is more than enough for Sanders to hit value at his modest price tag. The Eagles are one of the bigger favorites on this slate, meaning he should also play in a positive script. Washington was 25th by DVOA against the run in 2019.

Value: Boston Scott (vs. Washington)

Look, it’s really this simple – if you loved Sanders’ projection at $6300 on DraftKings, then you get basically the same role for $1500 less in Boston Scott. Washington was leaky against the run, and Scott is a dynamic player who is ready for a bigger workload. Scott projects for the highest ownership on the slate, and has skyrocketed ahead of Gibson as the best value play for your lineups.

Value: Antonio Gibson (@ Philadelphia)

Gibson’s offensive role is simply best characterized as “offensive weapon” – something Michigan fans and Denard Robinson old head truthers will remember well. The Memphis product comes in at the positional minimum price on DraftKings, which makes his anticipated fantasy-friendly role attractive in all contest types. We have him projected for 21.4 weighted opportunities. 

The Washington Football Team is thin at “weapon” players behind Terry McLaurin, and Gibson may provide the explosive upside that keeps defenses honest that they need. He projects to be the 2nd highest owned at the position this week – don’t overthink this. Make your cash game an 8v8 and play him, he’s probably going to be the highest owned player in those contest types this week because of the low price. <- this applies to Boston Scott now, instead. 

WR

Stud: Michael Thomas (vs. Tampa Bay)

Can’t Guard Mike projects for 8.7 targets in our Model this week, and is the highest ranked WR on both FanDuel and DraftKings. If Brees is going to reach value, MT is the most probable player to be involved. The leak in the Buccaneers’ pass defense last year was against WR1s, who they were just 19th by DVOA defending against. Thomas is the WR most likely to benefit from the short-pass game the Saints will need to get around that stout Bucs rush defense. And if Tom Brady and the Bucs offense is “for real”? Well, a higher scoring script only makes Thomas that much more attractive.

Stud: Davante Adams (@ Minnesota)

Adams might be lower on the casual fantasy player’s radar because he was hurt for a decent stretch of 2019; he returned late in the season immediately to a massive role through the playoffs. Without any fresh blood in the WR room to worry about, expect Rodgers to pepper his binky with targets. Adams is dynamic and moves around the field; the Vikings were about as terrible against WR1s as they were against the slot last year (22nd and 24th by DVOA, respectively), so expect there to be little resistance for Adams to overcome yet again.

Value:  DeSean Jackson (vs. Washington)

You’d think the Eagles would’ve found a way to deal with having only 1 healthy WR since they last faced that hurdle in January’s playoffs. Well;;;

Alshon just came off PUP and isn’t expected to play, 1st round rookie Jalen Reagor is questionable, JJ-AW’s role is uncertain, and who knows what John Hightower or Quez Watkins will bring. AAF legend Greg Ward is still kicking around as a slot WR, but there’s not much upside to that role in this offense with Ertz/Goedert in the fold.

That leaves DJax as the only reliable option we can turn to at WR with NFL game experience. Jackson is a volatile, high-ceiling, low-floor player – always has been. In 2019, Washington was 32nd (dead last) against WR2s, which is his natural position in an offense. At higher target volume, there’s a good chance Jackson is “the guy” for Wentz when he needs to look downfield this week. Jackson projects for 4.6 targets in the Model for us, and at his >20% projected ownership, expect to need a piece of the action yourself in your builds.

New to Occupy? This is a good spot to remind you our Model is built for high-risk optimization. DJax ranks “low” because his high projected ownership makes him an objectively bad play in GPPs in our view.

Value: Parris Campbell (@ Jacksonville)

We talked about embracing uncertainty in our Week 1 NFL DFS lineups on our podcast this week, so here we are. The most recent tangible news on Campbell is that he was in a minor car accident, so that’s cool. 

The Colts have him listed as the starter at WR3. In his limited game action in 2019, Campbell wasn’t your average slot receiver – he was a dynamic weapon who they tried to get involved with creative play design. At his basement level price, he represents a “cheaper” path to exposure to a high-floor offense against a pathetic Jaguars defense. We’re also a little more confident Campbell will at least get consistent playing time – a more predictable role right now than the Taylor/Mack duo at RB. The field agrees – Campbell projects for 10% ownership on DraftKings.

TE

Stud: George Kittle (vs. Arizona)

Deebo Samuel is out, and we think rookie 1st rounder Brandon Aiyuk is on the wrong side of questionable. The 49ers may be forced to send Pettis/Bourne/Trent Taylor out in 3 WR sets, which only boosts Kittle’s pedigree as the “best player” for Garoppolo to utilize. Kittle is our top ranked TE on the slate, and he projects for a position high of 8 targets (tied with Ertz).

Value: Chris Herndon (@ Buffalo)

Denzel Mims, Breshad Perriman, lacrosse player Chris Hogan – all WRs nursing injuries for the Jets. That leaves a somewhat pricey Jamison Crowder (for a slate low 16.5 point implied team total offense), Le’Veon Bell and Herndon as the players we can expect to be most involved in Week 1. Reports out of camp are that Darnold and Herndon have unreal chemistry – that’s enough for us at his low price. He projects for 6 targets against a Bills defense that was average against the position.

DST

Defenses are not typically going to be written up in detail in our Daily Plug on main slates. One of the optimal ways to select defenses for low-risk contests? Focus on defenses facing opponents with low Vegas team totals. We also want to target turnover prone quarterbacks when it makes sense. You shouldn’t ever pass on a player at another spot just to jam in a defense. We’ll always provide a list of low and high risk defenses in the player pool below.

BANKROLL ALLOCATION

Use 4-5% of your bankroll.

There’s a juicy amount of GPP’s with big prizes for NFL compared to other sports. Depending on your bankroll tier, take advantage! Read Contest Recommendations below for suggested contests by tier.

If playing low-risk, focus on the same spots we normally recommend – H2Hs, single entry double ups (as always, multi-entry double ups are OK if you can max enter them).

Our studs and values by position above are intended to be a roadmap to help you win in low-risk contests. For high-risk, there are plenty of strong GPP plays in the “Best of the Rest” player pool.

LINEUP STRATEGY

Check out the player pool below. In low-risk contests, you should continue to try and play 3 running backs from the write-up and low-risk sections. Often, the highest projected owned RBs in the Occupy Model end up being the sharpest low-risk plays. Smart players have all week to figure out who to run, ownership projections reflect that.

This week, that’s 3 out of Christian McCaffrey, Antonio Gibson, Alvin Kamara, Boston Scott and Austin Ekeler.

Building 5-10-20, even 150 lineups for large-field GPPs? Stick to a core of top plays (outlined below) that are projected to be highly owned, and build game stacks around that core. We strongly recommend stacking the highest total games on the slate above to accomplish this.

You can use our Lineup Builder to set your groupings using the Occupy Model rankings! You probably should – look at what our NBA writer and two members did on Opening Night! 

Best of the Rest

If building player pools for mass-multi entry is your thing, consider using these names in addition to top plays above. Please remember – the Occupy Model is designed for high-risk contest optimization. Lower-ranked plays may still be great low-risk plays for that reason.

QUARTERBACKS:

LOW-RISK: Josh Allen, Russell Wilson

HIGH-RISK: Derek Carr, Matt Ryan, Teddy Bridgewater, Aaron Rodgers, Kirk Cousins, Tom Brady

RUNNING BACKS: 

LOW-RISK: Boston Scott, Alvin Kamara, Josh Jacobs

HIGH-RISK: Joe Mixon, Le’Veon Bell, Dalvin Cook, Aaron Jones, Kenyan Drake, Chris Carson, Todd Gurley, James Robinson, Ronald Jones II, Leonard Fournette, Latavius Murray, Boston Scott

WIDE RECEIVERS: 

LOW-RISK: Chris Godwin, Keenan Allen, Allen Robinson, Marvin Jones Jr, Terry McLaurin, Hunter Renfrow

HIGH RISK: Julio Jones, Mike Evans, DJ Moore, DeAndre Hopkins, Stefon Diggs, Tyler Lockett, DJ Chark, Adam Thielen, Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham, TY Hilton, Julian Edelman, DaVante Parker, Calvin Ridley, Emmanuel Sanders, DK Metcalf, Allen Lazard, Marvin Jones Jr, Henry Ruggs III, Justin Jefferson, Marquise Brown, Curtis Samuel, Robby Anderson, Russell Gage, Bryan Edwards, Quintez Cephus (low risk if Golladay out), Scotty Miller, Justin Watson

TIGHT ENDS:

LOW-RISK: Zach Ertz, Mark Andrews, Jack Doyle

HIGH RISK: Hayden Hurst, Darren Waller, Jared Cook, Kyle Rudolph, Greg Olsen, Ian Thomas, OJ Howard, Rob Gronkowski

DST:

LOW-RISK: Patriots, Chargers, Dolphins, Eagles, Colts

HIGH-RISK: Washington, Bills, Lions

Plays are listed in order of preference (OF Index).

CONTEST RECOMMENDATIONS

Smaller Bankrolls

Always, always always play freerolls. We have two on DraftKings this week! “The Boys Are Back Free Football Contest” presented by Amazon, and the $5K Beat Bettis Contest Series presented by Modelo.

Look for no-badge users for low-risk H2Hs in the lobby. On DraftKings, post your own H2Hs and make sure you limit the opponents to 1 entry (per price point) against you (FanDuel doesn’t have this option). With the rest of your low-risk allocation, play single-entry double ups.

This is likely most people reading this – single-entry GPPs are the best high-risk tournaments to play. You want to give yourself the best shot to win; being on a level playing field with every other user by max-entering a contest is the way to go. Single entry contests are the easiest places to do this.

The first place you can do that are with “Contests” – these low priority, blandly named GPPs come with smaller field sizes and (usually) less experienced players. On DraftKings, the $0.25, $1, and $3 Contests are good places to start looking at playing. On FanDuel, the single entry 3-100 Player leagues meet this criteria. Everyone is drawn to the sexy, high-dollar top prize contests – you can lay low in here and (hopefully) grow your bankroll. You can 20-25x your entry fee by beating just 99 other people in these formats – it’s a great place to play.

On DraftKings, the $3 entry fee, NFL $50K Pylon or $12 entry fee, NFL $300K Fair Catch are great places to spend your high-risk allocation. 

On FanDuel, there is also the $5 entry fee, $100K Sun NFL Spike, $2 entry fee $40K Sun NFL Safety, and $1 entry fee $40K Sun NFL Squib you should look at for single entry GPPs.

Want to practice your multi-entry skills? Max enter a three entry max contest like the $5 entry fee, $50K Nickel on DraftKings.

The $75K Quarter Jukebox is a 20 entry-max tournament that costs just $5 to play at $0.25 per entry. Practice your mass-multi entry skills with our optimizer with a shot to win $4,000!

Want an even bigger challenge? FanDuel has a 150-entry max contest at just $0.05 per entry, the $33K Sun NFL Pooch Punt. There’s also a $0.25 cent version, the $100K Sun NFL Hail Mary.

Satellites are the best way for us to accumulate entries to the big contests each week. On DraftKings, play for Millionaire Maker Satellites tickets you can use in later weeks. It appears the $20 contests return in Week 2. There are also generic “NFL $3 Ticket SuperSatellite” contests – these award 4 tickets and are $0.25 single entry GPPs. This would be a great way to accumulate Pylon or Play-Action tickets.


There’s also satellites into the $2.25M Fantasy BBall Millionaire, which is a $25 entry fee contest for Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

On FanDuel, the WFFC Fan Championship on 12/20 is a great place to start – it’s a $250 entry fee online live final.

Larger Bankrolls

100-player Leagues/Contests remain great places to play – on DraftKings look for Contests in the $5 to $50 entry fee range, these are the best places to build your allocation around.

We introduced 20 entry-max contests to the Smaller Bankroll contest players. At your level, you should consider max entering the $3 entry fee, $500K Play-Action on DraftKings. This contest comes with a shot of taking down $50K, so you should have exposure to that nice prize here.

You can also probably look at some of the higher dollar value single entry GPPs at your bankroll size – The $27 entry fee $100K Blind Side and $50 entry fee $200K Red Zone stand out. No Spy this week, but there is the $75 entry fee $250K Goal Line, which awards $50K to 1st.

For FanDuel users, the best single entry GPPs in the next tier up not mentioned above? The $25 entry fee, $80K Sun NFL Sweep, the $100 entry fee, $75K Sun NFL Cover 2, and the $50 entry fee, $50K Sun NFL Hot Route.

Largest Bankrolls

Have enough to (WITHIN our allocation guideline for your bankroll) max-enter a larger GPP? Congrats on being a big baller! Teach us your ways.

On DraftKings, the $150 entry fee, $500K Power Sweep is a three entry-max GPP with a $100K prize to 1st (there’s also a $200K Power Sweep with a smaller field). Consider this heavily every week it’s offered at your bankroll size.

The $275K Bargain Bin is a $200 single entry contest that awards $50K to first. It has guaranteed overlay, so get in now!

The $5M Fantasy Football Millionaire is a $5 entry fee, 150-max contest with a $1,000,000 top prize. We like to say don’t play these contests with your own money without being able to max enter, so unless you’re a big baller, use your satellite tickets only for this.

There’s also a second contest – the $2.5M Fantasy Football Millionaire is a $100 entry fee contest, with a much smaller field (28K vs 1.2 million).

The next best 150-max contest is the $9 entry fee, $300K Slant this week. It has one of the flattest payout structures on the slate, and a $30,000 top prize.

FanDuel users, you’ve got the $3.3M NFL Sunday Million which is a $4 entry fee, 150-max contest with a $1,000,000 top-prize.

The $600K Sun NFL Bomb is a $44 entry fee, 150-max GPP that offers $100,000 to 1st place that is also a decent GPP to consider for you.

Sports Betting disclaimers
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Situation statistics sourced from Pro-Football-Reference.com’s Play Index Finder. DVOA data from FootballOutsiders.com. Air yards data pulled from AirYards.com. All salaries from contest providers. While we like the player pool selected above, we reserve the right to roster other players should news and trends closer to lock push us in that direction. Pay attention to our stream schedule for discussion of those thoughts!