Welcome to the inaugural First Look DFS Weekly preview! This will be a source for you to get all the necessary information that you might not recognize quickly looking through the slate early in the week. The goal of this first look is to help leave no stone unturned before the week kicks off. Being able to project for different potential outcomes of players and games is a crucial trait to have as a DFS player. Here is my first look and deep dive on the Week 1 slate:
Improved Player Situations
Lamar Miller Released + Damien Harris IR
There is a lot of uncertainty of how the touches will shake out with Sony Michel missing a majority of training camp. To try to get a better sense of the split between Michel, Rex Burkhead, and James White, I asked ESPN’s Mike Reiss on Twitter for his input: “wouldn't shock me if it's 33-33-33 Sony/Rex/James depending on game situations.” Reiss also said Michel “needs time to ease in.”
Given the touchdown upside of Michel, I would roster him out of the three. In 2018 he ranked 7th in red zone carries and 8th in 2019. In Michel’s two seasons in the league, when the Patriots won by 6 or more points, he averaged 11.6 FPG. In games out of that split, Michel averaged 7.3 FPPG (Patriots -6.5). However, this would be a GPP play only with the risk of Michel not getting close to his normal workload. Burkhead is worthy of a look in GPP as he could lead the team in carries due to Michel being eased in. This is a situation to monitor leading up to game time.
WR Mike Williams likely to be a game time decision
According to The Athletic's Daniel Popper, the Chargers are "preparing for the possibility to playing a majority of September without" WR Mike Williams (shoulder). Adding to that, coach Anthony Lynn has said that Williams is likely a game-time decision. If Williams is out, the only wide receiver with any career receptions outside of Keenan Allen on the Chargers is Jason Moore, with two. Allen ranked 6th among WRs in target share last year (25%). He could see north of a 30% target share Week 1 if Williams is out in a premium matchup against the Bengals. Keenan also ranked 9th in red zone targets (20) — right behind him was Williams with 17 (12th-most). Keenan will have an elite opportunity share if Williams is in fact ruled out.
Adrian Peterson Released
Projecting the touches for the Washington backfield got easier with Adrian Peterson released this past week. The early favorite to be the lead back — and the buzz of Fantasy Twitter — is third-round pick Antonio Gibson. He is a unique prospect in the fact he is a proven threat as a receiving option because, well, he played mainly at wide receiver at Memphis (he had 38/735/8 last year receiving in college compared to 33 rushing attempts). Against the Eagles, the game projects to be a positive game script for Gibson (the “Football Team” are 6-point underdogs) for him to show off his receiving ability. The salaries being released early for Week 1, before all the summer buzz, make him a “free square” type player to build around at $4,000 on DraftKings and $4,600 on FanDuel.
Jeffery and Reagor Both Out?
The Eagles sounded ready to give rookie Jalen Reagor big role in the offense early on based on reports out of camp. Those plans had to be scrapped, at least likely for Week 1, with Reagor suffering a shoulder injury. With Alshon Jeffery (foot) also unavailable for a few weeks, it clears the way for DeSean Jackson to get a chance to replicate his Week 1 performance from last year against Washington (8/154/2). He won’t complain about the matchup, as Washington is throwing its hat into the “worst secondary in the NFL” ring after trading Quinton Dunbar. Jackson is a player to target this week with his salary not factoring in the Reagor injury ($4,900 DK, $5,700). Greg Ward is another player who can be used as a pivot off of Jackson, as Jackson should see a good amount of ownership.
Game Script Targets
Colts -7.5 (@ Jax)
RBs Marlon Mack and Jonathan Taylor (Ind) — The Colts could easily lead the NFL in rushing attempts in Week 1. Facing a Jaguars team that look ready to prepare for the future, both Mack and Taylor could get 10-plus carries. Mack, due to his role as an early-down grinder, has thrived in positive game scripts. In the 10 games of Mack’s career in which the Colts have won by more than 7 points, he averages 18.3 fantasy points per game. Taylor certainly hurts his upside, but both have the ability to hit value purely on the game script and run-heavy offense (5th-most rushes in 2019). The Colts run blocking vs the Jaguars run defense is projected as the biggest mismatch in the run game Week 1, per PFF.
49ers -7 (vs. Ari)
RBs Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman (SF) — It was an up-and-down year for Mostert last year, but when Kyle Shanahan committed to him towards the end of the 2019 season, he showed fantasy workhorse RB ability. In the last five games of the regular season, he had 10-plus carries in each game and finished as a weekly RB1 in three of those games. Expect Shanahan to lean on him again in this game, especially with the WR room severely banged up. If you want to use game theory to pivot off Mostert, Coleman is a worthy pivot as Shanahan has been known to ride with the hot hand during games, and Coleman comes at a lower price.
NY Jets +6.5 (@ Buf)
WR Jamison Crowder and TE Chris Herndon (NYJ) — This is not an easy matchup by any standard against the Bills. Lineups will certainly shy away from the Jets offense, but at low ownership Crowder and Herndon are worthy of a look. It is hard to see the Jets having much success running the ball, and Crowder and Herndon should soak up the majority of the targets in Week 1, in a positive game script. 30% of the Jets’ 2019 team targets and 52% of their air yards are not on the team anymore. WR Breshad Perriman’s status for the game is in question, and even if he plays he will draw a tough coverage matchup from CB Tre’Davious White. Crowder is more attractive on DraftKings due to his higher upside in full point PPR scoring (16th in WR receptions in 2019).
RBs Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette (TB, @NO) — With Fournette having signed so close to Week 1 (September 2nd), it is tough to see him having a big role this week. To muddy the water further is the fact that LeSean McCoy is reported to “still play an integral part, particularly in the passing game and on third downs” (according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo). It also is a very tough matchup for both backs against a Saints defense that allowed the 2nd-fewest rushing yards to opposing running backs last season. Low expected usage due to the split of touches make both Fournette and Jones low-ceiling plays this week.
WR DeAndre Hopkins (Ari, @SF) — If Hopkins was hoping to settle in early with his new offense, Week 1 offers a stark reality. He will see Richard Sherman in coverage, and Sherman was the stiffest test for outside fantasy wide receivers last year. He allowed 227 yards in coverage (2nd -fewest for CBs w/ 50%+ snaps) and a passer rating of 46.8 (3rd-fewest for CBs w/ 50%+ snaps). Also, the 49ers’ fourth-slowest pace offense should hamper the Cardinals’ hurry-up attack. It will be a tough test for rookie RT Josh Jones to buy time for QB Kyler Murray and Hopkins against Nick Bosa and Dee Ford.
WR TY Hilton (Ind, @Jax) — Hilton is a player who should continue to be heavily affected by the game script. Over the past two seasons under Frank Reich, Hilton has averaged 12.2 fantasy points per game as 3-point favorites (11 games). Anything under 3 point favorites, and Hilton has averaged 17.7 fantasy points per game (13 games). He has seen 2.2 fewer targets on average in games as 3-point favorites. Hilton projects for few opportunities to return value in this matchup.
Pace of Play
Raiders (@ Car) – Vegas gets a favorable matchup against the Panthers, who were the fastest-pace team last year, though that could change significantly under the new coaching staff.
49ers (vs. Ari) – There is potential for more plays against the fast-paced Cardinals offense (3rd-fastest in 2019).
Seahawks (@ Atl) – The Falcons featured the 4th-fastest pace of play and highest percentage of passing plays in 2019.
Browns (@ Bal) — The Ravens had the slowest pace of play and ran the ball the most of any offense in 2019.
Cardinals (@ SF) – The Cardinals fast-paced offense could be neutralized by the 4th-slowest offense of the 49ers, who also featured the 2nd-highest rush percentage.
Panthers (vs. LV) – There are two polar-opposite offenses (from last year, at least) in this matchup. The Raiders were the 2nd-slowest team in 2019.