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 on offer at FanDuel 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, which require a more conservative approach. Some plays are recommended for GPP (Guaranteed Prize Pool) tournaments where it’s necessary to take more risks in the hopes of separating from a large field. We will denote which plays are recommended for each format in the article below.
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.
NFL DFS WEEK 1 FANDUEL TOURNAMENT PICKS
Top NFL DFS FanDuel Plays for Week 1
Best Play: Jameis Winston ($7.5k)
After finishing sixth in pass-play percentage (63.13%) last year, the Bucs could air it out even more under creative HC Bruce Arians. Their running game is certainly nonexistent. And Winston has two physical receivers to target on the outside in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, along with breakout candidate O.J. Howard at tight end. The 49ers ranked 27th in DVOA pass defense last year and yielded the second-most passing TDs (35) with just two picks in 2018. Winston threw for 312 yards and 2 TDs in Week 12 against SF. Now, the Bucs’ horrendous defense should ensure he keeps throwing throughout this contest.
Best Value: Lamar Jackson ($7.4k)
FanDuel’s scoring system is set up to place more emphasis on total yardage gained. Thus, Lamar Jackson is a very safe Cash play given his rushing ability. The athletic young QB averaged 79.4 rushing YPG over seven regular-season starts and averaged 7.06 YPC overall last season. Miami happened to cough up the third-most rushing yards (383) to QBs and the seventh-most FD PPG to the position. Miami’s defense finished in a tailspin, ranking 32nd in Weighted DVOA last year. This is clearly a unit to target.
Fade: Philip Rivers ($7.5k)
The Chargers’ limited fan base did Philip Rivers few favors last year. He absorbed 18 sacks and averaged just 8.47 yards per attempt at home. After flopping in the playoffs, he’ll face a Colts defense with a boosted pass rush led by new acquisition Justin Houston. Indy finished eighth in Weighted DVOA defense last year, and the Colts continue to get stronger on that side of the ball.
Best Play: Dalvin Cook ($7.4k)
While he remains an injury risk for seasonal fantasy football players, Dalvin Cook can be confidently deployed in GPP formats at a reasonable price tag on FanDuel. The Vikings’ featured back draws a juicy matchup to open the year against a Falcons team that yielded the most receptions (117) to RBs for a third straight season in 2018. Atlanta ranked 30th in DVOA rush defense and 28th in DVOA pass defense against backs last season. Cook has looked explosive this preseason and should pile up touches in this matchup regardless of game flow.
Best Value: C.J. Anderson ($5.3k)
The Lions may endeavor to feature Kerryon Johnson more often this year, but C.J. Anderson still figures to factor in on early downs and gobble up nearly all of the goal-line work. Touchdowns make money on FanDuel and Anderson has a great chance to find pay dirt against a Cardinals defense that coughed up a league-high 20 rushing scores last season. He thrived behind the Rams elite offensive line last year, and while Detroit’s line is not on that level, Anderson proved he has plenty left in the tank.
Fade: Saquon Barkley ($9.2k)
Don’t underestimate the Cowboys defense, which features one of the best defensive lines and arguably the best LB corps in football led by Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch. That group helped hold Barkley to 28 rushing yards on 11 carries in Week 2 last season before yielding 142 scrimmage yards to the Giants’ franchise cornerstone in their season finale. Overall, the Cowboys finished fifth in DVOA rush defense and allowed the sixth-fewest rushing yards (1,214) last season.
Best Play: Odell Beckham Jr. ($8.2k)
After years of frustration playing with a noodle-armed, aging Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr. is poised to set the league on fire this season. He should spend more time on the perimeter with Jarvis Landry slotting inside, which significantly improves his matchup against the Titans secondary. Tennessee ranked 20th in DVOA pass defense against No. 1 receivers, 30th against No. 2 receivers, and dead last in the NFL against passes over the middle of the field. Baker Mayfield should be able to hit Beckham in stride over the middle of the field. We’ve seen OBJ take several slants to the house throughout his career.
Best Value: DeSean Jackson ($5.6k)
The Eagles have their deep threat extraordinaire back on the roster. DeSean Jackson has reportedly clicked with Carson Wentz throughout training camp. Even at the age of 31, Jackson averaged 18.9 yards per reception last year. He’ll be fired up to face a Redskins team that couldn’t use him properly from 2014-16. Jackson has the potential to exceed value with one big reception from the rocket arm of Wentz.
Fade: T.Y. Hilton ($7.7k)
His price tag set before Andrew Luck’s unexpected retirement, T.Y. Hilton is a true longshot in the elite tier of receivers. When Jacoby Brissett started throughout the 2017 season, Hilton posted his lowest totals in terms of yardage (966) and targets (109) since his rookie year. This particular matchup is very difficult against a Chargers team that ranked 10th in DVOA pass defense and yielded the fifth-fewest FD PPG to opposing WRs last season.
Best Play: Hunter Henry ($6.1k)
Since Philip Rivers has always shown a penchant for targeting his TEs in the red zone, Hunter Henry is worth a look in GPP formats in his season debut. Rust could certainly be a factor after he missed a season-plus following knee surgery. Still, you can’t beat his matchup against a Colts team that ranked 29th in DVOA pass defense against TEs. Indy coughed up a league-high 1,234 yards to the position last season.
Best Value: Greg Olsen ($5.2k)
Greg Olsen is another TE that will look to put an injury-plagued campaign behind him and start strong in Week 1. The Panthers will likely play from behind against the high-powered Rams, forcing Cam Newton to throw throughout the second half. Christian McCaffrey will draw a ton of attention and the Rams are stellar at cornerback, so Newton should look towards his reliable TE in the middle of the field. The Rams parted ways with great coverage LB Mark Barron and could be more vulnerable against TEs as a result.
Fade: Mark Andrews ($5.4k)
He’s garnered a lot of hype this preseason, but Mark Andrews is still a longshot play with Hayden Hurst and Nick Boyle threatening to steal some of his opportunities. For one thing, Lamar Jackson has yet to complete 15 or more passes in an NFL game. Plus, the Ravens should remain one of the most run-heavy teams this season. With Baltimore (-5) favored on the road, there should be no reason to take to the air against a Dolphins team that ranked 24th in DVOA rush defense last year.