The 2020-21 NFL season kicks off this weekend and there are huge Week 1 DFS contests being 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. Those GPP plays can also be ideal for Best Ball formats where players with higher upside are valuable.
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 kickoff 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 DRAFTKINGS BEST CONTESTS
Top NFL DFS DraftKings Plays for Week 1
Best Play: Drew Brees ($6.8k)
The Saints won’t have a true home field advantage in Week 1, which should help Tom Brady and the visiting Bucs keep pace in the Superdome. Brees is fully capable of winning a shootout against his fellow Hall of Fame-bound QB and he should be forced to throw early an offense since the Bucs led the NFL in rush defense last season. Tampa coughed up the most DK PPG to opposing WRs last year and Michael Thomas absolutely shredded that secondary. Brees posted a 117.5 passer rating with a 77.5% completion rate and 17:3 TD:INT ratio at home last season.
Value Play: Tyrod Taylor ($5.6k)
Taylor is a bit overlooked as an exciting replacement for Philip Rivers. He’s a dual threat with a rocket arm and forms a dangerous tandem with new feature back Austin Ekeler. The Bengals ranked 28th in DVOA defense and 29th in DVOA pass defense last year, plus they lost starting CB Darqueze Dennard in free agency. Taylor never posted gaudy numbers when started for the run-heavy Bills, but the Chargers ranked sixth in pass-play percentage (63.3%) last season and have a pair of separation studs in Keenan Allen and TE Hunter Henry.
GPP Play: Mitchell Trubisky ($5.4k)
Bears beat writers report that Trubisky beat out Nick Foles for the Week 1 starting gig and he’ll have to be on point to keep his position. Bears HC Matt Nagy was criticized for stubbornly sticking to the running game last year, but he might have to change his game plan if David Montgomery (groin) is ruled out. Tarik Cohen could log a heavy snap share if so, and he’s a prolific receiver who could make Trubisky’s job easy. The Lions ranked 28th in DVOA pass defense last year and lost top CB Darius Slay in free agency, so this is a juicy opportunity for Trubisky to prove something.
Fade: Philip Rivers ($6.0k)
Rivers seems to be a popular value pick for Week 1, but his new team may not force him to throw very often. Indy posted the fifth-highest run-play percentage (46.36%) in the 2019-2020 season and will have little incentive to air it out while facing a Jags team that finished 31st in DVOA rush defense last year. The Colts may have the best offensive line in football and they can bully the undermanned Jags all afternoon. If Indy’s defense shuts down the unproven Jags offense, Rivers’ volume will drop considerably.
Best Play: Austin Ekeler ($7.0k)
There is nothing wrong with stacking a few Chargers in Week 1 against a poor Bengals defense. Ekeler is easily the safest play on the team with Melvin Gordon now on the Broncos. Ekeler drew the second-most targets (108) and logged the most yards per touch (6.9) among RBs last year, and now his 57% snap share will increase. Cincy ranked 28th in DVOA rush defense and coughed up the second-most runs (22) of 20-plus yards last season.
Value Play: Chris Thompson ($4.0k)
Since DraftKings awards a full PPR, taking a receiving back who is expected to experience negative game script can often provide cheap value. There is nothing preventing Thompson from leading Jacksonville’s backfield in touches with Leonard Fournette released and Ryquell Armstead (COVID list) inactive. James Robinson is expected to start and handle early-down carries, but the Colts allowed just 8 TDs and a modest 4.1 YPC last year, so we should expect the Jags to switch to a spread passing attack sooner rather than later.
GPP Play: Zack Moss ($4.4k)
Rolling with a rookie in Week 1 is risky business, which is why it’s an appropriate strategy in GPP formats. The Bills unloaded Frank Gore to give Devin Singletary and Moss their fair share of work, and Moss might jump right in as the preferred goal-line option. The 223-pound back could cash in on those opportunities against a Jets defense that lost a lot of key pieces this offseason. Since the Jets allowed just 3.3 YPC and 12 rushing TDs last year, Moss might not see high ownership at all, but he could burn them as a receiver or as a goal-line threat.
Fade: Josh Jacobs ($6.8k)
While he should see plenty of opportunities against a poor Panthers defense, Jacobs will be a touchdown-dependent play with a high price tag in Week 1. He’ll still yield receiving work to Jalen Richard and the Panthers allowed the second-fewest receptions (61) to RBs last season. Luke Kuechly is gone and Carolina’s defense will be truly awful, but that doesn’t mean you can bank on Jacobs finding the end zone. For what it’s worth he averaged nearly half as many DK PPG (10.8) on the road last year.
Best Play: Davante Adams ($7.3k)
With Adams, you’ll likely get a monstrous workload without the same monstrous price tag as you pay for Michael Thomas. The unquestioned top receiver in Green Bay will be force fed targets from Aaron Rodgers once again and he’s facing a Vikings secondary that dropped three CBs (Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, Mackensie Alexander) this offseason. Even with those studs on the roster, Adams torched the Vikings for 222 yards on 20 receptions last year.
Value Play: T.Y. Hilton ($5.8k)
Apparently folks have forgotten about Hilton’s potential after a quiet campaign that was disrupted by injuries and poor QB play. Now he’s working with a fellow veteran in Philip Rivers and should develop a rapport that could be comparable to the Rivers-Keenan Allen connection of recent years. The Jaguars coughed up the fourth-most yards per reception (12.5) last year and have no top CB to throw at Hilton with Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye long gone.
GPP Play: Laviska Shenault ($4.4k)
As mentioned above, the Jaguars could be quick to abandon the run if it’s not working against the Colts. If they go to a spread attack, Gardner Minshew should look towards his new slot receiver, a rookie out of Colorado who has drawn praise throughout camp. Shenault is listed ahead of Dede Westbrook on the depth chart and he could soak up targets during a potential comeback effort. The Colts allowed the eighth-lowest yards per reception (10.7) last year and will likely yield dump off passes to the slot if they’re up late.
Fade: Adam Thielen ($6.7k)
With Stefon Diggs traded, Thielen can be expected to see more volume this year. Yet even increased volume won’t result in a ton of targets on a Vikings team that posted the highest run-play percentage (52.3%) at home last season. The Packers ranked 9th in DVOA pass defense and held Thielen in check over two meetings last year, plus now they can throw more double teams his way with Diggs gone. Green Bay ranked 27th in DVOA rush defense, so Dalvin Cook could dominate touches in this matchup.
Best Play: George Kittle ($7.2k)
There is simply no TE who can match Kittle’s potential other than Travis Kelce, who is playing on Thursday in Week 1. Kittle is facing a Cardinals team that coughed up the most DK PPG to his position by far and yielded a whopping 16 TDs to TEs last year, including one to Kittle. The Cardinals offense should continue to improve and they played the 49ers tough last season, so we should see plenty of passing volume in this NFC West clash.
Value Play: Hayden Hurst ($4.3k)
Austin Hooper finished fourth among TEs in TDs and sixth in receiving yards last year, and Hurst is now replacing him in the Falcons pass-heavy offense. Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley command so much attention on the outside that Hurst should be free to operate in the middle of the field. The Seahawks gave up the second-most receiving yards (1099) to opposing TEs last season and the fourth-most DK PPG to the position.
GPP Play: Greg Olsen ($4.0k)
The veteran TE has been rather overlooked despite switching from a poor offense that was dominated by Christian McCaffrey to a balanced attack in Seattle. Russell Wilson has long shown a penchant for targeting his TEs in the red zone and last year’s TE Will Dissly is still working his way back from an Achilles tear. Olsen finished fifth at his position in end zone target share in 2018 and fifth in FPs per target. Now he’s playing with one of the best passers in the game and facing a Falcons secondary that is better against WRs than RBs or TEs.
Fade: Mark Andrews ($6.0k)
Andrews shredded the Browns for a 10-124-3TD line over two meetings last year, so you can bet they’ll be looking for him in the red zone this time around. Cleveland should be far more competent under new HC Kevin Stefanski and the Browns added key talent in LB Malcolm Smith and stud safety Andrew Sendejo. The Ravens offense is going to see some regression after last year’s explosion and Cleveland should come out focused on containing their primary weapons in Week 1.