Daily Fantasy Sports – Football Strategy: Week 1

Welcome to “Sgrignoli’s Strategy”, a weekly look into the daily fantasy sports (DFS) world. In this space I’m going to highlight some plays I’m looking at in both gpps (tournaments for you newbies) and cash games for week 1 of DFS football. The focus will be on DraftKings and FantasyDraft as the former includes the biggest payouts in the DFS and the latter is the site where yours truly hit the aforementioned $2,000 in a freeroll. The pricing is similarly structured on both sites so discussion points are relevant to both platforms.

A quick update on the “$2K Tracker” here:

  • CASH BALANCE: $112.52
  • FANTASY CASH: $1,920.19

As you can see, so far I’ve been able to turn $80 of the $2,000 of Fantasy Cash into $112 real American dollars. I threw a few darts into some MLB and PGA contests while patiently waiting for the NFL season to kick off. With that being said, let’s dive into some plays!


Since I was a wee little lad, I’ve employed the same strategy at QB…pay down. The variance in fantasy points between elite QBs and the bottom tier QBs is much smaller than the other positons. In other words, I would rather spend my money at RB and WR where the studs have ability to single-handedly win you a week. QB ownership is generally more spread out than the other positions as tournament players like to build stacks (QB-WR combos from the same team to double-dip on the points).

Carson Wentz ($5,300 on DK, $10,500 on FDraft) is super cheap this week at QB and is going to garner significant ownership in cash games. If we’re shooting for 3x return in cash games on DraftKings (150 fantasy points), then he needs 225 yards, 2 pass tds, 1 int to pay off his salary which seems well within reason. In gpps you should be targeting 4x upside aiming for the 200 fantasy point number. Wentz also has some appeal in gpps this week if he can eclipse the 300 yards passing number for the additional 3 bonus points on both sites.

Another cheap option I like this week is Deshone Kizer ($4,800 on DK, $10,000 on FDraft). Look, I get it….you might not want to watch Kizer as he was fairly erratic in the preseason but the upside comes with his legs as he’s shown the ability to get out of the pocket and make guys miss. He also should be trailing most of this game which should allow for plenty of “Bortles Time” garbage production.

Running Backs

To Bell/DJ or not to Bell/DJ, that is the question. At the beginning of last year Le’Veon Bell and David Johnson were auto plays under $8,000 on DraftKings. This year they both start the season priced up with Bell at $9,800 on DK and $18,600 on FDraft and Johnson at $9,400 on DK and $17,700 on FDraft. It’s going to be a tall task for these guys to produce 3x, or even 4x for gpps, but they provide a 20 point floor that’s comforting especially in cash games. I’m completely fine fading them both in gpps at these prices.

If we’re swerving from Bell and DJ some in gpps, let’s find some value. Todd Gurley ($6,000 on DK and $11,300 on FDraft) is getting some week 1 love with his matchup against the Luck-less Colts who were abysmal against the run last year. We typically like RBs favored at home as gameflow should be in Gurley’s favor to pile on the carries in the 2nd half.

Carlos Hyde is too cheap this week at $4,600 on DK and $9,100 on FDraft. I know these 49ers aren’t the 1990’s edition but Hyde has been productive in his career when he’s been healthy and week 1 should be the healthiest players will be all season. There’s little competition behind Hyde and if he stays in on 3rd downs in this game and catches a few balls he could easily return 4x value in this spot.

Wide Receivers

The WR position can make or break your week. They have such volatility. One broken tackle by a DB can lead to an 80 yard TD and vault you up the leaderboard (or your opponent if you faded the guy). Typically we want to focus on expected volume of targets at the WR position. In the simplest terms, volume equals opportunity.

I can sit here and spout off about Antonio Brown and Julio Jones being good plays but you guys know that. Let’s dig a little deeper. Kendall Wright is $3,200 on DK and $6,300 on FDraft this week and he may be the de facto WR1 in Chicago. He’s getting some buzz across the industry as THE cheap guy to fill into your lineups this week if you want to go with a “Stars and Scrubs” approach so he may be a chalky option as a flex option in people’s lineups. For Wright to payoff 3x in cash games he needs 9.6 fantasy points which is 4 grabs for 56 yards which seems fairly pedestrian enough and allows for some upside.

I am going to focus my WR efforts on mid-priced guys who should lead their teams in targets: Larry Fitzgerald ($5,900 on DK and $11,000 on FDraft), DeAndre Hopkins ($5,900 on DK and $11,000 on FDraft), Kelvin Benjamin ($5,900 on DK and $11,000 on FDraft), Allen Robinson ($5,200 on DK and $10,200 on FDraft), Alshon Jeffrey ($5,800 on DK and $11,000 on FDraft). These guys all seem a bit underpriced this week as they should be the primary options for their teams’ passing attacks.

The last note on WRs is “stacking.” In large field gpps, the winners are generally the teams that have the QB-WR combo that go bananas that week. Another popular strategy is to stack your QB-WR and also include the WR1 from the opposing team to complete your game stack. The theory is if your QB and WR go nuts, then the opposing team is going to have to pass to keep up. It’s a high variance play, but if you nail the right game stack you will be swimming in coins like Scrooge McDuck.

Tight Ends

I’m not going to overthink this one. Zach Ertz is $3,500 on DK and $7,000 on FDraft. The pricing came out prior to the Jordan Matthews trade. The trade of J-Matt should open up a few targets for Ertz here. Again 5 grabs for 55 yards pays off 3x in cash games which seems well within reason.

Ertz is going to be mega-chalk this week. So in gpps, feel free to vary your exposure to other TEs. Other options I don’t mind are Delanie Walker ($4,300 DK and $8,100 FDraft) and Jimmy Graham ($5,100 DK and $9,600 FDraft).

Team Defenses

Defensive scoring is the single hardest thing to predict but if you want to win a gpp you also need to have the defense that returns two pick 6’s that given week. Generally we want to focus on defenses playing at home versus turnover prone QBs. We have a few of those situations this week.

Buffalo ($3,900 DK and $7,700 FDraft) gets the Jets at home in week 1. This just in…the J-E-T-S are B-A-D.

Houston ($3,800 DK and $7,400 FDraft) is home and gets the human turnover machine himself in Blake Bortles. If you’ve played the defense against Bortles every week last year you probably made money.

LA Rams ($3,200 DK and $6,300 FDraft) welcome Scott Tolzien and the Colts to town. Tolzien isn’t very good at football.

Please keep in mind that my references to returning 3x value does not ensure that scoring 150 points a week is always going to be the cash line in 50/50s and double ups. The cash line is a fluid thing. If all of the chalk plays (Wright, Ertz, Wentz for week 1) go off for big scores then the threshold to cash will be higher. That’s a wrap for week 1 DFS football.

Good luck this week PAS-holes!