After a wildly entertaining offseason with plenty of re-shuffling, the NFL is ready to take over Sundays for the next few months. There’s a great Week 1 main fantasy football slate ready to roll on DraftKings featuring 13 games. The six teams not on the main slate are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dallas Cowboys, Los Angeles Rams, Chicago Bears, Baltimore Ravens and Las Vegas Raiders, who will be participating in primetime matchups on Thursday, Sunday or Monday night.
Since the pricing for this slate came out a while ago, the latest news, injuries and roster moves aren’t figured into the salaries. As a result, Week 1 usually features plenty of value opportunities if you know which players to target. Those value plays should leave plenty of salary cap space to pay up for elite options in matchups you like as well. Throughout the season, this post will focus on RB workload around the NFL in search of players who produce big returns at their price point, whether as studs or value plays.
Check out these three studs and three values that make good targets on DraftKings along with their opportunity projections for Week 1.
Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans vs. Arizona Cardinals, $8,800
Of the super-elite options, Henry seems in the best spot to have the heaviest workload. Even with Julio Jones ($6,800) added to the passing game, Henry will still be the focus of the offense, after averaging 23.6 carries per game last season. He had over 23 carries in six of his final seven regular-season games and opened last season with a 31-carry workload against the Broncos. Henry and the Titans are 2.5-point favorites on DraftKings Sportsbook, which indicates they’re expected to be playing from ahead in this contest but also implies the game should remain competitive, meaning the workhorse back sets up for a big day to start the season.
Rushing: 24 attempts
Receiving: 3 Targets; 2 Receptions
Total: 26 Touches
James Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans, $6,400
No team in the NFL gave up more fantasy points to RBs last season than the Texans, and they lost J.J. Watt from their defensive line this offseason, which could make the run-stopping unit even worse. Robinson’s salary for the Week 1 contest was reduced a little due to the risk of losing carries to Travis Etienne (foot), who is now out for the season. Without the rookie siphoning carries, Robinson should be a workhorse back and help take pressure off of Trevor Lawrence ($6,200), who will be making his NFL debut. Robinson proved he can handle the work with 16 carries or more in seven of his final eight games last season.
Rushing: 18 attempts
Receiving: 5 Targets; 3 Receptions
Total: 21 Touches
Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers at Buffalo Bills, $6,300
While Travis Etienne will miss his rookie season, Harris is expected to be plenty busy as the go-to option in the Steelers’ backfield. To keep the ball away from the high-powered Bills offense, Pittsburgh will try to stay run-heavy and rely on their defense which should lead to a splashy debut for the former Alabama standout. Harris looked solid in the preseason and should be a top-10 RB in his debut, which makes him look like a value as the 14th most expensive option on the main slate.
Rushing: 19 attempts
Receiving: 6 Targets; 4 Receptions
Total: 23 Touches
Damien Harris, New England Patriots vs. Miami Dolphins, $5,200
The Patriots’ backfield is always a tricky place to find reliable fantasy value, but the Sony Michel trade seems to have cleared the way for Harris as the top early-down back. Harris had double-digit carries in each of his final eight games last season, averaging 14.3 carries for 71.5 yards per game. The downside is that James White ($4,400) will still likely do most of the passing-down work, but Harris should get a good number of carries and some red-zone work.
Rushing: 17 attempts
Receiving: 1 Targets; 1 Receptions
Total: 18 Touches
Chase Edmonds, Arizona Cardinals at Tennessee Titans, $4,600
With Kenyan Drake now in Las Vegas, Edmonds should take over as the lead back for the Cardinals. James Conner ($4,500) was brought in on a one-year deal but toe surgery and a stay on the reserve/COVID-19 list could limit his early involvement. Edmonds had multiple catches in 15 of 16 games last season, averaging 3.3 catches per contest but only totaling fewer than 100 carries. With more early-down work coming his way, he has the potential to be a great value play under $5K, especially if he has the early lead in the timeshare as the returning player.
Rushing: 9 attempts
Receiving: 6 Targets; 4 Receptions
Total: 13 Touches
Trey Sermon, San Francisco 49ers at Detroit Lions, $4,500
Another timeshare to keep a close eye on early in the season is in San Francisco, where veteran Raheem Mostert ($5,800) and rookie Trey Sermon split work in Kyle Shanahan’s run-heavy scheme. Mostert has had durability concerns, so Sermon is expected to be very involved right away. He had seven carries for 37 yards in the preseason finale after missing the previous game with an ankle injury, so it looks like he’ll be 100% for the opener. Especially if the ‘Niners open a comfortable lead, they could let the rookie run wild late in the game against Detroit’s run defense, which was one of the worst in the NFL last season.
Rushing: 10 attempts
Receiving: 4 Targets; 3 Receptions
Total: 13 Touches
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is z.thompson) 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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