draftkings nfl week 1 picks

The NFL finally returns on Thursday, Sept. 5 with the first big slate of the season starting on Sunday, Sept. 8. As always, there are huge DFS contests offered on DraftKings with big prize money up for grabs.

In this weekly column, we will identify the best plays, values, and tournament options for your NFL DFS lineups. We’ll also offer the best “fades” at each position, indicating which players to avoid when building your lineups.

Keep in mind that some of the plays offered are better for “Cash” games, i.e. 50/50, H2H, and Double-Up formats that require a more conservative approach. Some plays are recommended for GPP (Guaranteed Prize Pool) tournaments where it’s necessary to take more risk in the hopes of separating from a large field. We will denote which plays are recommended for each format in the article below.

For those interested in the DFS Single-Game Slate contests, here’s a quick recap:

In the “Showdown” mode on DraftKings, there are five utility spots and a “Captain” slot, who receives 1.5x multiplier for all DK points accrued. Pricing differs for players when selected in the Captain spot versus the FLEX spots, with all players required to fit under a $50k salary cap. All options are in play from QBs, RBs and WRs, to kickers and D/ST from each team.

Keep an eye on injury news right up until kick-off since things can change quickly in the NFL. Please note any player listed as questionable may see limited action or not suit up at all if he doesn’t respond well in warm-ups.

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Top NFL DFS DraftKings Plays for Week 1

Quarterback

Best Play: Patrick Mahomes ($7.2k)

The reigning MVP finished the season averaging at least 3.6 more DK PPG than any other QB in the NFL. Patrick Mahomes is the top play on the board regardless of the matchup, and he’s worth paying up for in Week 1 at Jacksonville. The Jags pass rush forced QBs out of the pocket in 2018, but they yielded the most rushing yards (471) to the position by far as a result. They allowed 5 rushing TDs to QBs, including one to Mahomes in Week 2. While he didn’t throw for any scores in a 30-14 victory over the Jags last year, expect that to change with bye-week mastermind Andy Reid cooking up great schemes throughout the offseason.

Best Value: Kirk Cousins ($5.5k)

The Falcons secondary should be slightly improved after giving up the most DK PPG to opposing QBs last season, but this unit is still very vulnerable. Atlanta ranked 29th in DVOA pass defense and 27th against No. 1 receivers last year, while the Vikings have essentially two No. 1 receivers in Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. Minnesota finished fourth in pass-play percentage (64.41%) last year with Atlanta (65.25%) checking in at number three. This game should drag out and potentially top the 46-point total with both Cousins and Matt Ryan exceeding value.

Fade: Jared Goff ($6.2k)

In his first year under brilliant HC Sean McVay, Jared Goff posted stark home/road splits. He averaged just 243.9 passing YPG (compared to 342.1 at home) and posted a 10:9 TD:INT ratio on the road last season. Carolina held passers to an 86.2 QB rating and a 16:11 TD:INT ratio at home last season. The Panthers secondary should be stronger this year with FS Eric Reid added to the fold.

Running Back

Best Play: Christian McCaffrey ($8.8k)

As one of the few three-down backs left in today’s NFL, Christian McCaffrey is a no-brainer in PPR formats. He’s an even better option in Week 1 because Cam Newton (foot) is hobbled, creating more red-zone opportunities for McCaffrey and more chances to catch short passes from a limited QB. The Rams ranked 27th in rush defense and 21st in DVOA pass defense against RBs last year. Their high-powered offense could create a negative game script that nets McCaffrey even more receiving opportunities down the stretch.

Best Value: Chris Carson ($5.7k)

The Seahawks (-9) are heavily favored at home and expected to control their opening matchup against the talent-deficient Bengals. After ranking 26th in DVOA rush defense last year, Cincy let punishing WLB Vontaze Burfict walk. Seattle led the NFL in rush-play percentage (52.48%) by far last year and reportedly plans to involve RBs more as receivers this year. Cincy allowed the fourth-most receiving yards (901) to RBs and will likely fall behind early with A.J. Green (ankle) inactive. 

Fade: Nick Chubb ($6.4k)

While the Browns unloaded third-down back Duke Johnson Jr., Chubb is still likely to see limited work as a receiver. The new-look Browns offense should flow through elite receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, with Chubb mixing in to form balance. He should be able to pile up yardage between the 20s against Tennessee’s defense, but the Titans led the NFL in red-zone defense last year and are capable of stiffening in short-yardage situations.

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Wide Receiver

Best Play: Adam Thielen ($6.8k)

As mentioned above, the Falcons should have few answers for Thielen, Stefon Diggs, and the Vikings passing attack. Atlanta coughed up the third-most DK PPG to opposing WRs and the second-most TDs (24) to the position last year. The Falcons ranked 30th in DVOA against passes deep down the field, and Thielen averaged a healthy 12.2 yards per reception last season. He posted a 75.3% catch rate while seeing 9.13 targets per game at home last year as well.

Best Value: Marvin Jones Jr. ($4.8k)

Marvin Jones Jr. is a solid value with tremendous upside in GPP formats on DK. The Lions posted a 60.35% pass-play rate last year, and Jones averaged 6.9 targets per game when active. Arizona ranked 23rd in DVOA pass defense against No. 2 receivers last year and will be without top CB Patrick Peterson (suspension) to open the season. Jones has averaged 15 yards per reception throughout his career. The deep threat will be even more dangerous this season with new rules regarding defensive pass interference.

Fade: Julio Jones ($8.0k)

Despite the overall efficacy of their offense, the Falcons have tended to target other receivers when defenses focus on Julio Jones. The Vikings will likely look to take Jones away with their top CB, Xavier Rhodes, and may offer help over the top to prevent big plays. Jones has averaged just 7.71 yards per target and 40.5 receiving YPG over four career meetings with Minnesota, so he may not justify his lofty price tag.

Tight End

Best Play: Travis Kelce ($7.1k)

Like Mahomes, Kelce is an obvious but justifiable top option. The Jaguars plan to shadow Tyreke Hill with Jalen Ramsey and Sammy Watkins with A.J. Bouye, but the Chiefs offense should march on. Jacksonville was great on the outside but yielded the fifth-most receiving scores (8) to TEs last year. The Jags coughed up a 5-100-0 line to Kelce in Week 5 and will be more vulnerable in the middle of the field with LB Telvin Smith inactive.

Best Value: Delanie Walker ($3.5k)

Healthy to open the season after another injury-riddled campaign, Delanie Walker figures to serve as the 1B option in the Titans passing attack behind Corey Davis. Marcus Mariota loves to target his reliable TE, and Walker should find openings against a Browns defense that yielded the sixth-most receiving YPG (61.5) to TEs last season.

Fade: Zach Ertz ($6.1k)

The Eagles’ prolific young TE is expected to see some regression this year after posting career highs across the board in 2018. Philadelphia has more mouths to feed with DeSean Jackson returning, rookie RB Miles Sanders threatening for touches, and second-year TE Dallas Goedert figuring in for more snaps. The Eagles (-9.5) should roll the Redskins at home, creating a positive game script that limits opportunities for Ertz in the second half.

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