So I can’t describe how pumped I am for the season to begin. I am thinking about fantasy football entirely too much. To keep myself from joining any more leagues to tide myself over, I have shifted my attention to the first lineup set for the weekly leagues. I play at FanDuel & DraftKings, which I believe are the two most heavily played daily/weekly sites. I am sure many of you reading this also play there. So hopefully when I give you these recommendations (as I plan to each week), we don’t end up playing each other.
I had a lot of success on these sites last year, and the main reason was because I was good at identifying value. These leagues are all about finding value. The salaries for each player that you have to pay (and then remain within your salary cap) are somewhat arbitrarily chosen by the FanDuel & DraftKings staff. I am sure the values are based on a variety of factors, but just like trading in standard leagues is all about targeting players you like when their value is down, finding value in these weekly leagues is all about identifying players whose value in the eyes of the public has taken a hit. When you find a guy who you like more than the public, and who you think will outperform his salary that week, that’s the guy you want. You still need to start some studs, and the point is of course to score the most points, not just to find value. But without finding value, you typically won’t score the most points.
Below I will give you my top few value buys at each position for week 1. I may omit a couple I like particularly because I am starting those guys and don’t want you having the same lineup as me. However, if you want my exact weekly lineup I am going to submit for FanDuel and/or DraftKings, the cost for an annual subscription to those lineups is $59. You would just PayPal the $59 to me, and you would receive a weekly e-mail with my exact picks. Then, truly, I hope we just don’t play each other that week as it would be a tie. Just send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up, and I’ll then send you a PayPal invoice for payment.
Anyway, here are the best values at each position, on each platform:
Ben Roethlisberger, $7800 – He is playing a decent defense in the secondary, but I feel that Cleveland is reeling as an organization right now and Pittsburgh is at home to start a season in which they want to reestablish their divisional dominance. I think they roll and Ben puts up some big numbers relative to his salary.
Alex Smith, $6900 – Yes, the Chiefs have looked terrible, but they have Jamaal back and I think this one might turn into a shootout, since both secondaries have looked very average. He might not throw it further than 15 yards, but someone might break one.
Brian Hoyer, $5600 – If you are wanting to save money at QB, Hoyer could provide good value. The Browns will likely be in catch up mode.
Colin Kaepernick, $8000 – I think against Dallas this is going to be a good value.
Ben Roethlisberger, $7600 – See above
Philip Rivers, $7400 – Rivers is facing a good defense but this is still a good value – he has plenty of options to throw to.
Jake Locker, $6100 – I think he puts up some decent numbers against this secondary, and he is agile enough to avoid KC’s rush.
Chad Henne, $5200 – As long as they keep him starting, he should put up some good numbers against Philly’s secondary.
Montee Ball, $8000 – It’s a lot of money but Ball could put up huge numbers in this one, with the Colts’ below average defense keying on Peyton.
Andre Ellington, $6800 – San Diego can be tough against the run, but I think the Cardinals will find ways to get him the ball, even if it’s in catch up mode through the air. Good value.
Shane Vereen, $6600 – Excellent value here. FanDuel is only 0.5 PPR, but Vereen should also get the most carries of any back, and they are playing the Dolphins.
Toby Gerhart, $6100 – Against Philly’s mediocre defense he should put up 15 points at least, at a very modest cap hit.
Dri Archer, $4500 – If you just need to squeeze in a back under the cap, Archer should get 3-4 catches and could take one to the house. The Steelers are looking for ways to get him involved.
Montee Ball – $7000 – Here he is 2K less than Charles – great value!
Gio Bernard – $6600 – His value has taken a hit due to Hill’s emergence this preseason, but in a divisional grudge match he will get lots of work and I think he’ll do quite well.
Shane Vereen, $6100 – Even cheaper here, and DraftKings is a full PPR. Great value.
Andre Ellington, $6000 – INCREDIBLE value! Sign him up.
Toby Gerhart, $5600 – see above
Ben Tate, $5200 – This is an incredible value for a starting running back – again, he was also hurt by preseason negativity, but he is the starter, and should put up decent numbers at a great price.
Rashad Jennings, $5000 – Awesome value against Detroit’s mediocre D.
Michael Crabtree, $6500 – Against Dallas’ defense, come on. If the 49ers come out firing like they did last year he could have 200 yards.
Eric Decker, $6400 – I won’t recommend him often, but against the Raiders defense he could have a huge day.
Julian Edelman, $6300 – In his last game against Miami, he had 13 catches for 139 yards and a touchdown. He is a # 1 on a very good offense.
Brandin Cooks, $5700 – This could end up being a bad call, but I think he puts up good numbers in this shootout game and his salary is never this low again.
Rueben Randle, $5500 – The Giants stink, but that could mean Randle gets ample opportunity when they are in comeback mode. He is their best red zone threat. Great value here.
Victor Cruz, $6300 – Detroit’s secondary stinks.
Cordarrelle Patterson, $5800 – Should take one to the house or come close – great value.
TY Hilton, $5500 – Even better value. They might double him and shut him down, but this one will be a shootout and he should get his opportunities.
Rueben Randle, $5000 – See above
Emmanuel Sanders, $4800 – Way cheaper than on FanDuel, this is a great value for a guy on such an explosive offense against such a bad defense. If Welker can’t go, he is definitely a must start.
Brandin Cooks, $4500 – See above.
Markus Wheaton, $3300 – Incredible value for a guy who is starting with a great QB. Haden will be tying up Antonio all day, so I like Wheaton to do some damage. A must start.
Dennis Pitta, $6200 – At $2k less than Graham, I think Pitta provides some value here. He is going to put up 5 catches and could catch a TD in my opinion, even with a defensive slugfest. He is Flacco’s favorite read.
Kyle Rudolph, $5700 – He is risky, but his upside brings this value up.
Delanie Walker, $4800 – Great value for a guy who will also catch 5 balls a game and could easily score against a suspect secondary who is always bad against the TE.
Zach Ertz, $4500 – Are you kidding me? This is ridiculous value for one of the top young tight ends – his value will rise steadily over the year, I assure you.
Travis Kelce, $4500 – A very risky pick, but I could see Kelce being a main target for Smith on a day when Bowe is out with a suspension. Whether or not he targets him often, he should! Kelce may be the most talented pass catcher on the team.
Dennis Pitta, $4400 – See above
Kyle Rudolph, $4300 – See above
Delanie Walker, $3300 – See above
Travis Kelce, $3200 – See above
I don’t help with Kickers and Defenses. Just don’t spend much money on those, okay? :)