The 2020-21 NFL season kicks off this weekend and there are huge Week 1 DFS contests being offered on FanDuel with big prize pools and exciting new formats such as Best Ball.

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. Those GPP plays can also be ideal for Best Ball formats where players with higher upside are valuable.

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 FanDuel Plays for Week 1

Quarterback

Best Play: Lamar Jackson ($9.4k)

Jackson is priced well above the field because he accrues so many points from rushing stats and those are even more important in FanDuel’s scoring system. The Ravens may try to dial back his designed runs, and teams will scheme against them, but Jackson is an incredible athlete who will make plays on the fly. In what profiles to be a physical division game, Jackson should see a heavy workload and may even have to lead a comeback to beat the Browns (+8 at DraftKings Sportsbook). He tallied 172 rushing yards with 6 passing TDs in two competitive games against Cleveland last season.  

Value Play: Jimmy Garoppolo ($7.4k)

The 49ers (-6.5) aren’t huge favorites for their opener against Arizona and their main skill players aren’t very high priced either. Garoppolo should see plenty of volume in Week 1 against a Cardinals team that played at the fourth-fastest pace in neutral situations last season. Arizona coughed up the third-highest completion rate (70%) last year and Garoppolo completed 75.6% of his passes while shredding the Cardinals for 741 yards and 8 TDs over two meetings in 2019. 

GPP Play: Cam Newton ($7.3k)

Tom Brady ($7.6k) may draw a lot of attention this week and his successor could fly under the radar. The Patriots coaching staff have lauded Newton for his work ethic this preseason and will hope that he can inject some life in their sputtering offense. New England played at the fastest pace in neutral situations last year and played at the second-fastest pace in the second half of ballgames. Under Josh McDaniels, we may see Newton unleashed as a frequent ball carrier and he could get extra carries if the Pats are running a four-minute drill with a late lead.

Fade: Carson Wentz ($7.7k)

While he posted great numbers (579 yards, 6 TDs, 0 INT) over two meetings with Washington last year, Wentz probably doesn’t have the upside to justify this price tag. Washington is terrible offensively and mediocre defensively, which is not a recipe for a shootout. Their secondary improved towards the end of last season and adds solid CB Kendall Fuller. The Eagles played at the fifth-slowest pace in the NFL last year when games had a margin of 7-plus points and this one could be a blowout. 

Running Back

Best Play: Austin Ekeler ($7.7k)

For some reason people are claiming Austin Ekeler isn’t capable of being a three-down back. Yet the 5-foot-9, 200-pound back is quite capably built for the modern NFL and poised for a breakout season with no real competition for touches. Justin Jackson is going to spell Ekeler when he needs a blow, but otherwise this is his backfield. And the entire Chargers offense should find success in Week 1 against a Bengals defense that ranked 28th in DVOA last season. Only the Panthers gave up more rushing TDs than the Bengals (21) last year. 

Value Play: Raheem Mostert ($6.2k)

Like Garoppolo, Mostert seems underpriced despite playing a leading role in a Super Bowl run last winter. He’s clearly been the first-string back throughout camp and has scored a whopping 12 TDs over his last 9 appearances in that role. While he didn’t find success against Arizona in a part-time role, the Cardinals coughed up the most FD PPG to opposing RBs last year and lost important DE Cassius Marsh to free agency.

GPP Play: Ronald Jones ($5.7k)

Bruce Arians isn’t being coy when he says Jones remains the lead back for his team. Leonard Fournette is listed as the third-string RB for now and will obviously need some time to learn the playbook. Jones was slated for a huge workload prior to his arrival with Peyton Barber gone, so he should see at least 15-20 touches in a game with a 49.5-point total. The Saints coughed up the sixth-most receptions (95) to RBs last year and Jones is now playing with Tom Brady, who targeted RBs on a huge percentage of his throws in his final years with New England.

Fade: Christian McCaffrey ($10.0k)

Paying up for McCaffrey might not pan out in Cash games and it almost certainly won’t lead GPP lineups in Week 1. The Raiders bolstered their secondary and added a good coverage LB – Cory Littleton – in free agency this offseason. Jon Gruden has had months to prepare for rookie coach Matt Rhule and should have a great scheme in place to slow down CMC.

Wide Receiver

Best Play: Michael Thomas ($8.8k)

Thomas is the best WR in the game and the Bucs have shown zero ability to cover him recently. He averaged 15.58 yards per reception and 148 receiving YPG while catching 19 of 23 targets in his two meetings with Tampa last year. Thomas moves around the Saints formation so much that he’s difficult to double and Tampa’s aggressive run defense played a part in the Bucs coughing up the most FD PPG to opposing WRs last year. 

Value Play: Marquise Brown ($5.9k)

The Ravens unquestioned top WR comes into the season after reportedly adding some 20 pounds of muscle this summer. Lamar Jackson posted a stellar 123.6 rating when targeting Hollywood Brown last season as the speedster created the fourth-largest cushion per route. The Browns allowed 11.2 yards per reception last season and were prone to allowing big plays.

GPP Play: Chris Godwin ($7.7k)

Tom Brady ($7.6k) makes his Bucs debut and he could quickly get into a shootout with another future Hall of Famer. Brady’s presence should benefit Godwin more than Mike Evans, since the former runs more of his routes in the middle of the field. Evans is doubtful with a hamstring injury, so Godwin should see more targets. Godwin averaged 143.3 receiving YPG in three indoor games last season and posted a 10-172-3TD line over two meetings with the Saints. 

Fade: D.J. Moore ($7.1k)

While he should have a good year, D.J. Moore might not belong in this price range quite yet. Teddy Bridgewater is an upgrade at QB, but with a rookie HC at the controls it’s hard to trust this offense to adjust if Khalil Mack and company create disruption.

Tight End

Best Play: Zach Ertz ($6.6k)

His reputation as a possession receiver seems to keep Ertz affordable. While he might not have the same TD potential as George Kittle, Ertz has averaged 6.6 receptions per game and 67 receiving YPG over the past two years. That’s great consistency and his numbers were right on par last year with 10 catches for 115 yards and a TD over two meetings with Washington.

Value Play: Greg Olsen ($4.9k)

Olsen is just so cheap that he only needs a few receptions to meet value. Russell Wilson loves looking for his TEs in the red zone, so there’s a decent chance he catches a TD in his Seahawks debut against a porous Falcons secondary.

GPP Play: Rob Gronkwoski ($5.5k)

Gronk brings tantalizing upside to the table, especially in FanDuel’s scoring format. Perhaps the greatest red zone threat of the modern era, he’s reportedly looked great in camp after taking a year off from football.

Fade: Austin Hooper ($5.7k)

This is a tough matchup for Hooper’s debut against a Ravens team that ranked fourth in DVOA pass defense and yielded the third-fewest FD PPG to opposing TEs last season. Hooper has plenty of competition for targets and may take some time to warm up with his new team.

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