The time we have waited for since Mid-January has finally arrived: NFL contests are back up on FanDuel! It looks like they are playing this smart, offering a $200,000 first prize for their Sunday Million contest, as well as two different $2 tournaments, with one paying out the top 25%. It is definitely a step in the right direction for the organization. I imagine that there will be some other nice options offered as we get closer to the season.
Since we’ve got the pricing, it makes sense to take an early look at each position, and start to make some mental notes about what we see.
If we use the NFL matchup chart that we have provided in our NFL Research Platform, we’ll see that Derek Carr has the top matchup on the board. While he wasn’t spectacular in 2015, there is certainly upside here for this matchup. In actuality, the only other QB in our top 5 in the matchup rankings cost more than $7000, and that is Tony Romo at $7,600. The remaining three are Robert Griffin III, Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater, all of who are under $7k. This makes for some pretty interesting tournament options, in an already soft salary cap situation. Aaron Rodgers is the most expensive QB in a good matchup, as, while the Jaguars are improving, the Packers are not an ideal first test for them. Drew Brees at home is always an enticing option as well, and his matchup is reasonable against the Oakland defense. The first week of the season is always a bit of a toss up, so it is certainly possible depending how the preseason and training camps go that we will be revisiting this section in a month with renewed perspective.
Unlike the Quarterback position, the running back position sees many of the top backs in the game in good matchups. The top matchup belongs to Thomas Rawls against a Dolphins defense that couldn’t stop anyone running the ball last year. He is priced fairly at $7,400. Todd Gurley has the next best matchup against the 49ers, and he should certainly be on your cash game radars, as they should still struggle again this year. The Oakland and Cleveland running backs come in at third and fourth respectively, but there could very well end up being a time-share there that could leave them all untouchable. If I had to pick one now, I’d look at Duke Johnson Jr., as I think he is set to contribute running and catching the ball. I think the Eagles running backs are also in good position, and very cheap. Depending on how the preseason shakes out, as there are reports the coaching staff isn’t sold on Ryan Mathews, that Wendell Smallwood could be getting meaningful touches against a bad defense at minimum price. Jamaal Charles finds himself in a good position against the Chargers, and as long as he’s healthy, he’s one of my top options on the slate. Ezekiel Elliot is in a good position as well, and it will certainly be interesting to see how he performs in his first pro outing.
Two of my favorite options early on for week one are Jordan Matthews and Corey Coleman, sitting at $6.6 and $6.5 respectively. Both of those guys should be target monsters in week one, and that could translate very easily to some big performances. Matthews struggled with drops last year, but we’ll put that out of our minds, as this is a new year. Amari Cooper as well feels underpriced in what should be a stellar sophomore season, and Michael Crabtree is sitting at $6,100 which seems like a steal. Antonio Brown draws the third best matchup on the slate, but that was pre-Josh Norman. I’m not sold that it is going to make a major difference, as Brown is probably the best in the game right now. The Lions draw a favorable matchup as well, and I think my favorite target will be Anquan Boldin. He’s still very talented, and I can certainly see him having a game that pays off his meager $5,800 salary. I also really like Keenan Allen at $7,400 against a Chiefs team that ranked tenth in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers. We know double-digit receptions are not out of the question, and those points can add up fast. The Washington receivers are also in good spots, with DeSean Jackson always being a great tournament option at $6,600.
Rob Gronkowski is always a threat to have a big game, though I do worry a bit about the chemistry with Garoppolo. Coby Fleener gets the New Orleans upgrade, going up against a weak Oakland defensive front that should allow him to pick up catches, and we know Brees likes looking for his tight ends in the red zone. Jordan Reed also sees an excellent matchup against the Steelers, who could also be worse than last year. Jordan Cameron could also see more work in this Adam Gase offense. He’s only $5,000 and should be lightly owned. For the most part, I’m going to be basing my lineups around those 4, with the ownership percentages going Fleener, Reed, Gronk and Cameron.
My first thought is: why is this position still here in 2016? I can’t wait until someone kicks seven field goals and millions of dollars swing as a result. Always a fun time and pretty good kick in the junk when it happens. So what do the statistics say about the position? The top five plays according to last years fantasy points allowed to kicker are Dan Bailey, Kai Forbath/Connor Barth, Matt Bryant, Mason Crosby and Dan Carpenter. I will probably go with either Crosby or Carpenter, as they are closer to minimum price than the others.
The position I hate picking the most in week one is the defense. They end up being new units for each team every year, so it is more difficult to see how they are going to come together. The top play based on the stats would be the Minnesota Vikings, who take on the Tennessee Titans. While this team could take a step ahead this year, I think it is still young enough that the Vikings can have their way with them. The next team, and they will likely be very popular, is the Philadelphia Eagles against the Cleveland Browns. The Green Bay Packers also have a nice matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Although the hope is the Bortles will grow this year and cut down on the interceptions, it remains to be seen that it will happen. The Los Angeles Rams also feel like they are criminally underpriced at $4,500 against a pretty bad San Francisco 49ers team.
That ends our brief look at the pricing breakdown for the opening weekend slate. We still have an entire preseason to go, so a lot can change, and we’ll be back to cover it when it does.