2018 Fantasy Football: FanDuel NFL Week 1 Picks, Sleepers and Strategy - Roto Street Journal
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2018 Fantasy Football: FanDuel NFL Week 1 Picks, Sleepers and Strategy

Welcome back to Fanduel Picks Week 1, where I teach you the art of the FanDuel deal. And this year, that art form is going to look quitttttttte a bit different than years past. FanDuel appears to be modeling it’s daily fantasy leagues after the DraftKings model, incorporating for the first time this year a “Flex” position. We can no longer throw away a position to save for another, as the flex could be the difference in winning big and just missing out on cash. Before teams establish roles, high (guaranteed) volume is the key to success Week 1, so let’s re-engineer our systems and see who the best plays are. As a note, these picks are based on Sunday only leagues, so players on Thursday and Monday night will be ignored.

Quarterbacks

  • Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints ($8,400) – If you want a Week 1 guarantee, you do not have to look much further than Drew Brees at home against a hapless Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense. The Saints have the highest team total Week 1 at 29.5 points, and Brees sported a 104 QB Rating at home last year. Showing no signs of slowing down in his age 39 season, expect Brees to lead the marching Saints to one of the NFL’s best offenses, per usual.
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($6,200) – And who is on the other side of Drew Brees at the Superdome Sunday? None other than future hall of fame gunslinger Ryan Fitzpatrick. Yes, I know it is a crazy idea, but hear me out. I think Fitzpatrick can exploit the Saints defense with a talented core of skilled positional players led by Mike Evans. And as noted above, the Saints have the highest projected total Week 1, and the Bucs are a 9.5 point underdog. What does that mean? Fitzy boy will be throwing all afternoon. Expect Fitz to eclipse the 40 pass attempt mark with ease, and hope a few land in the end zone. Oh, oh, oh Fitzmagic! You know-oh-ohhhhh!

Running Back

  • Alvin Kamar, RB, New Orleans Saints ($8,700) – Last year’s NFL Rookie of the Year ain’t fooling anyone anymore. Alvin Kamara torched opposing defenses for over 1,500 offensive yards, with 81 reception and 13 total touchdowns. Not many players have his all around talent, and his blazing speed is unmatched. Oh, and in two games against Tampa last year Kamara amassed 280 yards on 31 touches (12 receptions) with 3 touchdowns.
  • David Johnson, RB, Arizona Cardinals ($8,600) – By FanDuel rankings, the Redskins were the worst defense against opposing running backs. David Johnson has more than a few things to prove after missing almost all of 2017. With Johnson back and looking for a new contact, expect a scorched-earth opening to his 2018 season.
  • Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals ($6,900) – Not enough people are talking about the potential upside of Joe Mixon. Sure Giovani Bernard still resides as a body in the Bengals backfield. But Mixon (22) totaled over 900 yards as a rookie, and impressed with his receiving prowess out of the backfield. The Colts profile as one of 2018’s worst defenses, so an all around back like Mixon should feast.
  • James White, RB, New England Patriots ($5,500) – With the second highest team total, and the only game Sunday projected over 50 total points, the New England Patriots and Houston Texans could find themselves in quite the slugfest Sunday afternoon, much like their 2017 showdown. With the Patriots taking it slow with Rex Burkhead, and Sony Michel a week behind a return, the every-present Tom Brady security blanket of James White has RB1 potential in a juicy matchup.
  • James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers ($5,000) – In what could be the most popular FanDuel cheap money pick in the history of FanDuel cheap money picks, I would be remiss not to mention James Conner. With a lack of clarity on the Le’Veon Bell situation, fantasy owners are scrambling for answers and Ouija boards for answers. If Bell misses Week 1, Conner vaults up rankings purely by reason of being the number one back in the top-notch Steelers’ offense that should play from in front all Sunday afternoon against the up-and-coming-but-not-quite-there-yet Browns.

Wide Receiver

  • Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers ($9,000) – You want a guarantee Week 1? Death, taxes, and Antonio Brown catching 5 passes or at least one touchdown (which he has done in 73 of his past 81 games). In his only game against Cleveland last year, he caught all 11 targets for 182 yards. Another masterpiece is forthcoming.
  • A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals ($8,400) – The Colts defense sucks, and I have no faith in their ability to stop the Bengals underrated offense. So A.J. Green should have no problems torching Indy’s overmatched secondary with his size / speed combination.
  • Will Fuller, WR, Houston Texans ($6,400) – As already noted, the Patriots/Texans game screammmmmms shootout from the rooftops, so DeShaun Watson should be chucking it all game against a notorisouly porous Patriots defense. The Pats (aka Bill Belichick) love taking away your 1A option (DeAndre Hopkins), so speedster Will Fuller could be the recipient of a few big breakout plays, making him an intriguing mid-range option.
  • Tyrell Williams, WR, LA Chargers ($5,500) – We all remember the leaky Kansas City secondary from 2017, so let’s push the issue and capitalize on their weakness. The Chargers seemingly boast one of the better offenses on paper, and with most attention going to perennial superstars Keenan Allen and Melvin Gordon, not many people are focused on Tyrell Williams. Williams is just two years removed from 1,000+ yard, 7 touchdown campaign. With a shootout imminent Week 1, look for Williams to receive plenty of looks from the pass-happy Philip Rivers.
  • Keelan Cole, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars ($4,500) My deeeeeeeeep sleeper of 2018 and Week 1 Stream Team highlight, Keelan Cole finds himself at the lowest possible FanDuel price. Only thing stopping him from appearing on all my teams is his high potential ownership percentage, which may, oddly enough, make him a strong fade play.

Tight End

  • Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots ($7,900) – A shootout is brewing in New England with the highest game total, and the only one eclipsing 50 points (51). With no Julian Edelman and a slew of backs nursing various injuries, look for Rob Gronkowski to garner even more work than usual. And do not be afraid to pay up.
  • Antonio Gates, TE, LA Chargers ($4,800) – He’s backkkkkkkkkkk. With Hunter Henry missing 2018 with an ACL injury, do not forget to tune into the annual, weekly Antonio Gates / Phillip Rivers show. We advised you to scoop Gates as soon as he re-signed, so if you failed to do so do not miss out on him Week 1 of DFS.

Defense

  • Baltimore Ravens DST ($4,800) – The last time Nathan Peterman started a professional football game, he threw 5 interceptions in just over two quarters of play. The Baltimore Ravens DST will feast on him at home.
  • Dallas Cowboys DST ($3,500) – Well, we have found our new position to punt! With no more kicker, FanDuel defense seems to be the obvious punt play. And for this week’s pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey defense, we find the pointy end landing on the Dallas Cowboys DST. Sure the Cowboys go into Carolina as a road underdog, but the hometown Panthers have a projected total under 23 points. And their receiving core consists of Devin Funchess…and not much else. Cam Newton is prone to struggling, so let’s hope for a bad Week 1 performance.

And that’s a wrap for Fanduel Week 1 analysis. Remember to always look at the matchups and Vegas totals, which are always telling, and do not be afraid to admit they know more than you, because they usually do. Until next time, good luck and don’t forget to tip me 10% of your earnings. Thanks in advance.

To contact me with any questions or general fantasy football discussion, please email me at [email protected] or tweet me @AJGamballer.

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