RealTime DFS Strategy: Week 1

Fri Sep 11 10:19am ET
By MIKE BARNER
Contributing Writer

Josh Allen is setup for success


The NFL is back! There was a lot of uncertainty surrounding this season because of COVID-19, but the league moves forward this week as planned, although many games won’t have fans in the stadium. With the return of football comes the return of DFS. Let’s try to start out the season on a high note with a winning entry. Here are some players to consider for your entry at various price points, as well as a few to possibly avoid.

Quarterbacks

Josh Allen, BUF vs. NYJ ($6,300): The appeal with Allen is obviously his ability to contribute with his legs. Across his first two seasons in the league, he’s rushed for 1,141 yards and 17 touchdowns across 28 games. The Bills added to his weapons in the passing attack when they brought in Stefon Diggs, so he could be more productive through the air this season, as well. Look for him to take advantage of a Jets defense that traded away safety Jamal Adams and has lost linebacker C.J. Mosley, who decided to sit out the season.

Cam Newton, NE vs. MIA ($5,800): It’s going to be weird seeing someone other than Tom Brady at quarterback for the Patriots. They will begin a new era with Newton under center, who like Allen, has been a major contributor on the ground during his career. Expect the Patriots to play to his strengths against a Dolphins team that allowed the sixth-most rushing yards per game last season.

Player to Avoid

Baker Mayfield, CLE at BAL ($6,000): This is a pretty easy pass for me. Playing the Ravens on the road is about as tough as it gets. Their defense is loaded, which helped them hold opponents to the sixth-fewest passing yards per game last year. Across two games against them last year, Mayfield had only three touchdown passes to go along with two interceptions.

Running Backs

Christian McCaffrey, CAR vs. LV ($9,100): Not much of an argument needs to be made for adding McCaffrey to your entry, regardless of opponent. He can dominant a game either on the ground or in the passing game and will once again be the focal point of the Panthers’ offense. While his salary will eat up a significant portion of your budget, his ceiling is as high as any player at any position.

Chris Thompson, JAC vs. IND ($5,100): The Jaguars running back situation is a mess. They released Leonard Fournette, creating a massive void at the position. They will also be without Ryquell Armstead, who is on the reserve/COVID-19 list for at least Week 1. That could lead to plenty of passing down work for Thompson, who is basically only battling with James Robinson for snaps at the position. At this cheap salary, Thompson could be worth a look in tournament play.

Player to Avoid

Le’Veon Bell, NYJ at BUF ($6,600): It seems like the relationship between Bell and the Jets is going to end badly. He has clashed with head coach Adam Gase and struggled last season, rushing for 789 yards and three touchdowns across 15 games. That was the lowest rushing total of his career outside of when he played just six games in 2015. Starting off this year in a bad offense against what is expected to be one of the better defenses in the league could spell trouble.

Wide Receivers

Keenan Allen, LAC at CIN ($7,200): The Chargers will be undergoing a significant change of their own at quarterback with Tyrod Taylor taking over for Philip Rivers. Expect them to deploy a run-heavy offense, but that doesn’t mean that Allen can’t be productive. Fellow wide receiver Mike Williams (shoulder) is listed as a game-time decision, although it was previously reported that he could be out for most of September. If he does indeed sit, Allen should be busy with very little depth behind him at the position.

Henry Ruggs III, LV at CAR ($5,300): The Raiders badly needed to add talent at wide receiver, so drafting Ruggs in the first round was a no-brainer. He will now be thrust into an even more prominent role with Tyrell Williams (shoulder) out for the season. Rolling with a rookie wide receiver in Week 1 in a year when there were no preseason games is risky, but at this salary, Ruggs is still worth considering.

Player to Avoid

Amari Cooper, DAL at LAR ($7,000): Cooper is looking at a matchup with cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who is one of the best in the league. The Cowboys have plenty of other weapons around Cooper, so this might be a game that quarterback Dak Prescott focuses more on getting the ball to Michael Gallup and/or CeeDee Lamb. Allen has a much better matchup and his salary is only $200 more, making it difficult to justify taking a chance on Cooper.

Tight Ends

George Kittle, SF vs. ARI ($6,100): Kittle missed one of the 49ers two games against the Cardinals last season, a team that allowed the second-most passing yards per game. He played well in the one game that he did face them, catching six of eight targets for 79 yards and a touchdown. The 49ers could be really thin at wide receiver with Deebo Samuel (foot) and Brandon Aiyuk (hamstring) both battling injuries, so look for Kittle to be busy in this contest.

Jack Doyle, IND at JAC ($4,500): Everything is lining up nicely for Doyle to get off to a hot start. First, Rivers has a history of developing successful connections with tight ends. Second, Eric Ebron departed during the offseason for the Steelers. Lastly, fellow tight end Trey Burton (calf) has been placed on IR. If you need to save money at the position, Doyle might be your man.

Player to Avoid

Austin Hooper, CLE at BAL ($5,000): Hooper cashed in on a productive 2019 campaign by signing with the Browns. While the move may have been good for his wallet, it might not be for his production. The Browns who two excellent running backs to go along with wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, so there might not be nearly as many targets available for Hooper compared to his time with the Falcons. This matchup isn’t doing him any favors, either.

Mike Barner has been covering fantasy sports since 2007. His work has appeared in Sports Illustrated, Yahoo, SportsLine and RotoWire. Mike was also a finalist for the 2018 FSWA Basketball Writer of the Year award. Follow Mike on Twitter @rotomikebarner.

Player Notes
Cleveland Browns Sep 18 12:20am ET

The Cleveland Browns Defense picked up three sacks in a 35-30 win over the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 2. Cleveland also recovered a Joe Burrow fumble near the Cincinnati goal line in the game, which wasn't as close as the final score indicates. Myles Garrett led the way as he was the one who forced the Burrow fumble on a sack in the third quarter. The Browns offense cashed in on that turnover two plays later on a Nick Chubb one-yard touchdown run. Cleveland's defense has another plus matchup in Week 3 against the Washington Football Team.

From RotoBaller

Odell Beckham Jr. Sep 18 12:10am ET

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. caught four of his six targets for 74 yards and a touchdown in a 35-30 win over the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 2. Beckham and Baker Mayfield connected for a pretty 43-yard touchdown in the second quarter to give Cleveland their second TD of the evening. That went in the books as Beckham's first score of the 2020 season. The star receiver has now drawn 16 targets through the first two games of the season, totalling seven catches for 96 yards. He will be a solid WR2 in Week 3 when he faces the Washington Football Team.

From RotoBaller

Michael Pittman Jr. Sep 18 12:10am ET

Indianapolis Colts rookie wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. (toe) was a limited practice participant on Thursday after not showing up on the injury report on Wednesday. Pittman should be good to go on Sunday against the Vikings as long as he doesn't have any setbacks. The talented big-bodied receiver played fewer snaps than Zach Pascal in the season opener, finishing with two catches for only 10 yards in his NFL debut. Even if tight end Jack Doyle (ankle, knee) doesn't play, Pittman is too far down the pecking order in Indy's passing game to be considered a viable fantasy starter in most leagues.

From RotoBaller

Jarvis Landry Sep 18 12:10am ET

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry caught three of his four targets for 46 yards in a 35-30 win over the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 2. It was a quiet game for Landry, who can normally be counted upon to see more than four targets in most games. That being said, the Cleveland offense under new head coach Kevin Stefanski wants to be run-heavy, which will cut into Landry's looks. Landry has caught eight of 10 targets for 107 scoreless yards through the first two games of the season. He will take on the Washington Football Team in Week 3.

From RotoBaller

Duke Johnson Sep 18 12:10am ET

Houston Texans running back Duke Johnson (ankle) practiced on a limited basis on Thursday for the second straight day. Johnson was listed as week-to-week after suffering an ankle injury last Thursday in the season opener, but it looks as though he's made some quick progress. However, even if the 27-year-old winds up playing against a nasty Ravens Defense this week, he'll be a desperation flex play in PPR leagues. Buddy Howell is set to be the primary backup to David Johnson if Duke Johnson has to sit this one out.

From RotoBaller

Austin Hooper Sep 18 12:10am ET

Cleveland Browns tight end Austin Hooper caught two of four targets for 21 scoreless yards in a 35-30 win over the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 2. It was another quiet game for Hooper, who only caught two passes for 15 yards in the season opener against the Baltimore Ravens. There was some hope he would have more chances in Week 2 after David Njoku was placed on injured reserve earlier in the week. It didn't help that the Browns only attempted 23 passes in a game that wasn't as close as the final score indicates. With just four catches for 36 yards through two games, Hooper is slipping into low-end TE2 territory in fantasy. He will look to rebound in Week 3 against the Washington Football Team.

From RotoBaller

Nick Chubb Sep 18 12:00am ET

Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb carried the ball 22 times for 125 yards and two touchdowns in a 35-30 win over the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 2. Chubb also tacked on a nine-yard reception on the way to Cleveland's first win of the season. It was an excellent performance for Chubb, who had a quiet game in the season opener against the Baltimore Ravens. He capped off Cleveland's first drive with an 11-yard TD run and then scored on a one-yard plunge in the third. Chubb now has 185 rushing yards and two touchdowns after the first two weeks of the season. He will be a strong play in Week 3 against the Washington Football Team.

From RotoBaller

Kareem Hunt Sep 18 12:00am ET

Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt had a big day in a 35-30 win over the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 2. Hunt carried the ball 10 times for 86 yards and a score while adding two catches for 15 yards and another TD in the winning effort. Hunt got wide open behind the closest defender on his touchdown reception, an easy six-yard grab near the right pylon toward the end of the second quarter. He later tacked on what would be Cleveland's final score on a one-yard run in the fourth quarter. The veteran running back has been busy over Cleveland's first two games, racking up 23 rushes and six receptions. The new Cleveland coaching staff seems more inclined to use Hunt than the previous regime did in 2019, which bodes well for his fantasy value going forward. Hunt will be a solid option in Week 3 against the Washington Football Team.

From RotoBaller

Jack Doyle Sep 18 12:00am ET

Indianapolis Colts tight end Jack Doyle (ankle, knee) missed his second straight day of practice on Thursday. The Pro Bowl tight end is now in serious doubt to play in Week 2 against the Vikings. With Trey Burton already on the shelf with an injury, Mo Alie-Cox would be forced into a starting role if Doyle can't suit up this weekend. Doyle played 54 offensive snaps in the Week 1 loss to the Jaguars and was targeted four times, finishing with three catches for 49 yards. For now, consider Doyle a very shaky TE2 this weekend. He'll need to get in at least a limited practice on Friday to have a shot at playing. Receivers T.Y. Hilton, Parris Campbell and rookie Michael Pittman Jr. could see more targets if Doyle is inactive.

From RotoBaller

Diontae Johnson Sep 17 11:50pm ET

Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner (ankle) and wide receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee) and Diontae Johnson (toe) all returned to practice on Thursday. Conner, who was an injury disappointment in 2019, was injured in the season opener and gave way to an efficient Benny Snell Jr. If Conner can avoid setbacks on Friday, he should be ready to go for Week 2 against the Broncos, although it's fair to wonder how much time he'll split with Snell. Snell will be the more attractive RB3/flex for fantasy managers until the Steelers show that they're willing to go back to Conner as the featured back. Smith-Schuster and Johnson should both be fine and could both feast against a young and inexperienced Denver secondary. Smith-Schuster had two touchdowns in Week 1 and is a must-start WR1. Johnson is more of a WR3/flex with upside now that Ben Roethlisberger is back and healthy.

From RotoBaller

Baker Mayfield Sep 17 11:50pm ET

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield completed 16 of 23 passes for 218 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception in a 35-30 win over the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 2. Mayfield was effective in the win, finding Odell Beckham Jr. for a 43-yard score in the second quarter and a wide-open Kareem Hunt for a six-yard touchdown right before the half. It was a much-needed outing for Mayfield, who had begun to hear whispers that his starting job wasn't safe after a Week 1 loss. Mayfield heads into Week 3's showdown with the Washington Football Team with three touchdowns and two interceptions through two games.

From RotoBaller

John Brown Sep 17 11:50pm ET

Buffalo Bills wide receiver John Brown (foot) returned to practice on Thursday after sitting out on Wednesday. Barring a setback, Brown should be expected to suit up in Week 2 against the Dolphins. The 30-year-old had six catches on a team-high 10 targets for 70 yards and a touchdown in Week 1 against the Jets, but he should see a lot of cornerback Byron Jones this Sunday. Brown beat Miami for three touchdowns in his two meetings with them last year, but things might be a bit more difficult this time around. Don't forget that Stefon Diggs is Buffalo's top wideout. Treat Brown as a WR3/flex this week and don't expect a repeat of his Week 1 numbers.

From RotoBaller

C.J. Uzomah Sep 17 11:40pm ET

Cincinnati Bengals tight end C.J. Uzomah (Achilles) has been declared out for the Thursday night game after leaving the contest on a cart with an Achilles injury. The only good news here is that Uzomah had four receptions on six targets for 42 yards and a touchdown before departing with what looks to be a serious injury. He finished second on the team in receiving yards (45) in Week 1, too, catching four of his five targets. If Uzomah is forced to miss considerable time, Drew Sample should step in as the primary pass-catching tight end for rookie quarterback Joe Burrow. A long-term injury would also likely mean more targets for the receiving corps of A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins and John Ross.

From RotoBaller

Amari Cooper Sep 17 11:30pm ET

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper (foot) was limited in practice on Thursday, while left tackle Tyron Smith (neck) sat out. With La'el Collins and Cam Erving already on Injured Reserve, Smith's injury is one to watch heading into Week 2 against the Falcons. Cooper should be good to go this weekend as long as he doesn't suffer a setback in practice on Friday. If he were to sit out on Sunday, rookie CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup would see more targets in the passing game, especially with tight end Blake Jarwin out for the season. But if Cooper is active as expected, he'll be a surefire WR1 against a defense that was carved up by Russell Wilson in Week 1.

From RotoBaller

Robert Woods Sep 17 11:20pm ET

On the heels of Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp's long-term contract extension, head coach Sean McVay said that the team wants to give wide receiver Robert Woods an extension next. "We want to get him extended, too. He's a huge part of what we're doing. So, that's something that, I think, is definitely important," McVay said. Woods had six catches for 105 yards in the Week 1 win over the Cowboys, and the 28-year-old has back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons. Kupp might be quarterback Jared Goff's favorite target, but Woods isn't far behind. He has a consistent target share in this offense and is one of the safest WR2 options in football. Against a leaky Philly secondary, Woods has WR1 upside in Week 2.

From RotoBaller

Clyde Edwards-Helaire Sep 17 11:20pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire ran for 138 yards in his first NFL game and leads the league in that department after just one week, but the young back needs to improve near the goal line. He gained minus-two yards on six carries in goal-to-go situations against the Texans. Running backs coach Deland McCullough suggested that the rookie would remain the team's goal-line back in Week 2 against the Chargers. "Although it was a good performance, he knows he left some things out there on the field that could have helped us to be better," offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy said. Fantasy managers shouldn't worry, as CEH should continue to see a big workload. He's a must-start each and every week in this explosive Chiefs offense.

From RotoBaller

Michael Thomas Sep 17 11:10pm ET

New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (ankle) missed practice for the second straight day and is unlikely to play in Week 2 against the Raiders on Monday night at this point while dealing with a high ankle sprain that he suffered in Week 1. It's a really tough blow for those that took the All-Pro wideout in the first round of their fantasy drafts, but you'll have to be patient as he works his way back. Emmanuel Sanders and Jared Cook should be the team's top receivers with Thomas on the shelf, with Tre'Quan Smith serving as the No. 2 receiver behind Sanders. Veteran quarterback Drew Brees will have a lower ceiling without his go-to target in the fold, but he could still put up QB1 numbers on Monday night.

From RotoBaller

Miles Sanders Sep 17 11:00pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles running back Miles Sanders (hamstring) practiced in full for the second straight day on Thursday, making it likely that he'll make his season debut in Week 2 against the Rams. Sanders was inactive for the season-opening upset to the Washington Football Team, with backup Boston Scott and company unable to get much going on the ground. With Alshon Jeffery still out with an injury and rookie Jalen Reagor being eased into things with his injury, Sanders should see plenty of work in his season debut, assuming he's close to full strength. Against a Rams Defense that was gashed by Ezekiel Elliott in Week 1, Sanders is a borderline RB1 this week.

From RotoBaller

James Robinson Sep 17 8:20pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars running back James Robinson had a strong NFL debut in Week 1, rushing for 62 yards on 16 carries and adding a 28-yard reception. He played 68 percent of Jacksonville's snaps. While this Week 2 game against the Titans isn't prime for Robinson to have a breakout performance, his projected role gives him a relatively high floor and makes him worth a look as a fantasy flex option. No one else on the active roster right now should challenge Robinson for the job as the early-down back.

From RotoBaller

D.J. Chark Sep 17 8:20pm ET

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver D.J. Chark Jr. caught a touchdown in Week 1, but also was targeted just three times, catching all of them for 25 yards. Against a good Titans Defense this week, Chark's got a lot of downside. His low volume of work last week could be an anomaly, but it could also signal that quarterback Gardner Minshew II is set to spread the ball around this season, limiting the upside of each of his weapons. Chark's still the top fantasy receiver here, but there's a lot more risk than there was in 2019, even if it's really tough to justify sitting the third-year wideout.

From RotoBaller