The NFL is back! The Early Look is a bit different for Week 1, because many of you have likely been analyzing this slate since it was released. Now that the games are less than a week away, it’s time to take a look at some DraftKings plays that jump out. Most of these plays jump out for good reasons, but some jump out for bad reasons.
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Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens vs. Cleveland Browns ($8,100) — Jackson is about as safe as it gets at QB, averaging just shy of 30 DKFP last season. He averaged the same in a pair of matchups against the Browns last season, and I don’t expect anything different this time around. Jackson threw for three touchdowns in each game against Cleveland last year and averaged almost 85 yards on the ground. Regardless of matchup, Jackson is always a high floor QB if you can afford him.
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons ($7,000) — Wilson is getting a lot of hype on this slate, and I’m not sure it’s warranted. It’s a good spot playing in Atlanta, and I like the Seahawks a lot in this game, but Wilson had a pretty low ceiling in the second-half of last season. He only exceeded 25 DKFP once, and scored just 15.68 DKFP in a matchup in Atlanta. If I’m paying up, it’s for Jackson, otherwise I’ll find some value.
Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals vs. Los Angeles Chargers ($5,800) — There are safer values than Burrow, but I chose to highlight the No. 1 overall pick as a potential tournament play here. The perception of the Bengals is always low, but Burrow could potentially be a franchise-changing QB right out of the gates. I don’t want to base anything off his stats at LSU, but he can sling it, and the Bengals have a decent WR group. Burrow will have A.J. Green ($5,700), Tyler Boyd ($6,100), Tee Higgins ($4,400) and the speed of John Ross ($4,200) to target in a matchup that now won’t feature Derwin James on the other side.
Other Options: Cam Newton ($6,100), Dwayne Haskins ($5,000)
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Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers vs. Las Vegas Raiders ($10,000) — CMC picks up 2020 just where he left off. He’s a standard chalk play that you’ll want to roster in cash, and have some exposure to in tournaments. The Raiders ranked well below average against RB last season, and CMC should see his usual 25-30 touches. The change at QB makes zero difference here.
Editor’s Note: Miles Sanders is out this week. Boston Scott ($4,800) is now a strong value play.
Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles at Washington ($6,300) — The lower-body injury Sanders has been battling in camp could take a lot of ownership away, but I want to hear more before I fade him. Philly made some telling moves at RB in cutting its roster down at the position recently, which indicates Sanders should be fine. If that’s the case, he should be in for a massive workload against Washington, which he scored 38.2 DKFP against in Week 15 last season. Joe Mixon ($6,700) is a fair pivot play if Sanders is still hurt.
Antonio Gibson, Washington vs. Philadelphia Eagles ($4,000) — Gibson was used all over the field during his time with Memphis, and suddenly Washington’s backfield is setting up for him to see a larger workload than anticipated. Washington caught the Eagles off guard in Week 1 last season, and with Philly banged up, this could wind up being a close game. Gibson’s combo of blazing speed and receiving ability should keep him on the field in a lot of situations.
Other Options: Tarik Cohen ($4,900), De’Andre Swift ($4,900), Sony Michel ($4,600), Zack Moss ($4,400)
Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($9,000) — Thomas is always going to see a ton of targets and makes for a safe play in nearly any situation. I think this could prove to be a tough slate to find the salary for him, though, which might not be the worst thing in the world. Thomas should see a lot of ownership, especially based off his games against Tampa last season — 44.2 and 28.4 DKFP. However, I expect this defense to look completely different without Thomas’ new teammate Jameis Winston turning the ball over this season. I’m not saying Thomas is a bad play, but I’ll take the under on the 28.4 DKFP he scored last time against Tampa.
Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings vs. Green Bay Packers ($6,700) — Thielen is coming off a bad season, playing with an injured hamstring much of the time, and also playing opposite Stefon Diggs. Having Diggs there made it easier to go away from Thielen when he was playing banged up, but that’s not an option this season. Thielen is the go-to-guy now and should see a lot more production as the only trusted target in the passing game.
T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars ($5,800) — There’s a ton of intriguing value at WR on this slate. I could’ve written up any of the names below, but think Hilton is in potentially the most intriguing spot. Philip Rivers ($6,000) takes over at QB, who has been able to produce some pretty solid numbers for his WR1 in recent seasons. I think Hilton is being slept on here, especially with the offseason moves the Jaguars made, shedding a ton of talent on both sides of the ball.
Other Options: DK Metcalf ($5,800), A.J. Green ($5,700), Terry McLaurin ($5,600), DeSean Jackson ($4,900), N’Keal Harry ($4,400)
George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals ($7,200) — I think with the injuries to the WR position in San Francisco, everyone is looking to uncover which WR is the top value play for Week 1. I think it just means feeding Kittle more, who’s already essentially the WR1 in this offense. Kittle faces an Arizona defense that allowed the most DKFP to the TE position last season, so the matchup dictates looking his way anyway.
Hayden Hurst, Atlanta Falcons vs. Seattle Seahawks ($4,300) — Hurst will be a popular value at TE early in this season. He’s filling in Austin Hooper’s role, which was extremely productive prior to injury last season. Hurst was a former first-round pick, but just hasn’t gotten a chance to be featured yet. This is a great offense to be thrown into that role and should result in immediate production.
Other Options: Jack Doyle ($3,600), Chris Herndon ($3,300)
Colts DST at Jacksonville Jaguars ($3,000) — I already made mention to it, but the Jags just have no firepower to compete this season. It seems pretty clear they’ll be in position to potentially land the No. 1 pick at season’s end, which means we’ll see some games get ugly for them. The Colts had a solid defense last season, averaging 7.9 DKFP, and are in position to compete on both sides of the ball again this season. The lack of a running presence for the Jags could put a lot of pressure on the passing game, which I expect to be overmatched.
Jets DST at Buffalo Bills ($2,100) — The Jets got rid of two of their top talents on defense this offseason, so I’m not backing them from a talent perspective. However, the Bills are a team that tends to grind it out on offense, leaving a pretty safe floor here for the price. The Jets’ DST did scored 18 and 14 DKFP in the two games in this divisional matchup last season.
Other Options: Seahawks DST ($2,400)
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is jedlow) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.
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