A lot can change in the coming weeks, but with the release of Week 1 salaries on FanDuel we’re doing a preliminary data-driven breakdown using the FantasyLabs Tools and Models. Here are some players who have caught our attention. For more information on these (and other) players, check out our Fantasy Football Preview Dashboard.
If you want to pay up or pay down at the position, that’s fine. Three passers priced in the middle tier warrant attention.
Derek Carr (OAK @ TEN), $7,700
He has a fantastic matchup on the road against a Titans team that ranked 27th against the pass in Football Outsiders’ Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) last season. Only six quarterbacks threw more touchdowns than his 28 last year — and two of them (Drew Brees and Philip Rivers) aren’t in the slate because they play on Monday night. The QB7 on DraftKings, Carr is priced as the QB11 on FanDuel. The Raiders will roll out an offensive line that allowed a league-best 3.4 percent adjusted sack rate in 2016, and Carr had the 10th-highest quarterback rating when not under pressure last season (Pro Football Focus). The Raiders are currently favored on the road by two points and have the slate’s seventh-highest implied total.
Dak Prescott (DAL vs. NYG), $7,800
He is fifth in the slate with an average of 18.79 FanDuel points per game (PPG) over last year, and in his nine career home games (including playoffs) he’s posted a +6.49 Plus/Minus with a 100.0 percent Consistency Rating and low 1.3 percent ownership rate (per our Trends tool). That said, Dak could be a value trap in Week 1 against a Giants defense that held opposing quarterbacks last year to 13.5 FanDuel PPG and a 58.7 completion percentage, the second- and third-lowest marks in the league. It’s also possible Dak could be without Ezekiel Elliott (possible suspension), which could allow the Giants to focus less on the running game and more on pressuring Dak. The Giants had the ninth-most hurries last season, and Dak’s quarterback rating dropped from 104.9 to 75.8 when under pressure (PFF). He’s reasonably priced as the QB8 on FanDuel, but he may be someone to avoid in cash games.
Carson Palmer (ARI @ DET), $7,300
He finished ninth and 10th with 4,233 yards and 26 touchdowns passing in 2016 and was especially good after the team’s Week 9 bye, averaging 17.95 FanDuel PPG in his last eight games with a solid +2.15 Plus/Minus and 62.5 percent Consistency Rating. Palmer has a nice matchup as the Lions ranked dead last in pass DVOA in 2016, but Palmer could go under-owned with a middling implied total on the road. This year FantasyLabs users can review ownership trends across guaranteed prize pools of various buy-in levels with our DFS Ownership Dashboard.
Some backup running backs will probably end up being Week 1 chalk because of injuries or suspensions to starters. Be sure to keep an eye on our NFL News feed and NFL Matchups Dashboard to track preseason and Week 1 updates and depth chart situations.
Darren McFadden (DAL vs. NYG), $5,800
FanDuel priced up Jacquizz Rodgers, who is expected to start for the suspended Doug Martin in Week 1, but McFadden slipped through the cracks. The RB9 on DraftKings, he’s priced as the FanDuel RB31. If Elliott is suspended for Week 1, McFadden should provide cheap volume, which has value even in a tough matchup against the Giants, who ranked second in rushing DVOA in 2016. McFadden has averaged 13.99 FanDuel PPG and 113.22 scrimmage yards per game in his nine contests with 15 or more touches for the Cowboys since 2015. Volume is everything.
Le’Veon Bell (PIT @ CLE), $9,300
With soft pricing overall and inevitable value that will open up with depth chart changes, Bell is probably going to be the uber-chalk in Week 1 with the matchup he has against the Browns. While quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and wide receiver Antonio Brown have poor road splits, Bell has been a location-agnostic producer throughout his career, and the Browns were #bad at defending the run last year:
- Rushing DVOA: 27th
- Running back FD PPG allowed: 31st
- Running back rushing touchdowns per game: 31st
- Running back rushing yards per game: 31st
Bell’s hardly a discount on FanDuel as the RB2 vs. the RB1 on DraftKings, but the pricing divergence probably won’t matter much if he sees anywhere near the 21.8 rushing attempts and 7.8 targets per game he saw last season. Over the the last three years he has provided a +5.42 Plus/Minus on the road with a 68.4 percent Consistency Rating.
There are several desirable receivers at the top of the pay scale. Let’s focus on some guys priced outside of the top 25.
Terrelle Pryor (WAS vs. PHI), $6,200
The WR13 on DraftKings, he is incredibly cheap as the WR30 on FanDuel. Now in Washington, D.C., he’s the lead receiver on a team with 223 missing targets from last year’s roster. In 2016, his first full season of action as a receiver, Pryor averaged 10.93 FanDuel PPG with a +1.51 Plus/Minus and 56.3 percent Consistency Rating. He also averaged 2.76 yards of separation per target (Next Gen Stats), which is respectable for a 6’4″/233-lb. receiver running against cornerbacks. If you want to stack Pryor with quarterback Kirk Cousins, do it with our Lineup Builder.
Anquan Boldin (BUF vs. NYJ), $4,600
The newest member of the Bills is almost minimum price on FanDuel. Running 82.9 percent of his routes in the slot last year in Detroit, Boldin is likely to play against Buster Skrine for most of the game. Given that Skrine was PFF’s 89th-ranked corner last year, that’s a matchup Boldin can win. Over the past four seasons, Boldin has averaged a robust 17.25 red zone targets and 5.75 targets inside the 10-yard line.
Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce, and Hunter Henry are absent from the slate, but there are a couple of low-priced options that are intriguing.
Jack Doyle (IND @ LAR), $5,100
He was primarily a blocking tight end before the departure of Coby Fleener, but in 2016 he had something of a breakout. Now, seemingly a trusted weapon for Luck in the red zone, Doyle could build upon his five touchdowns on 10 red zone targets last year. However, he finished with just one touchdown in his last eight games, and it’s possible that TE2 Erik Swoope ($4,500) could cap Doyle’s upside and steal his opportunities just as he did last year with Dwayne Allen. Both tight ends carry touchdown upside in Week 1 as the Colts have the ninth-highest implied total and face a Rams team with the 11th-highest FanDuel PPG allowed to tight ends in 2016.
Jesse James (PIT @ CLE), $4,700
Last season he played on 80 percent of the offensive snaps and was second on the team with 12 red zone targets, seven of which were inside the 10-yard line. In his 13 games last year without Ladarius Green (including playoffs) James averaged a tolerable 4.5 targets for 5.79 FanDuel PPG. There are worse punt options in Week 1 given that Pittsburgh has the highest implied total on the slate against the Browns, who in 2016 were dead last in the league in pass DVOA against tight ends, allowing an NFL-worst 14.5 FanDuel PPG to the position.