The NFL regular season is just one month away, and that means we are merely a month away from fantasy football. As anyone reading this likely knows, DFS is the best version of fantasy football, and since Fanduel recently released their Week 1 pricing, we can get started on researching that right away.
Here are the most glaring values I’ve found after analyzing pricing.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, Washington Football Team ($6,600) (VS. LAC)
Since 2018, Ryan Fitzpatrick has averaged 19.1 fantasy points in the 27 games he’s started. That would’ve ranked 12th among QBs last year, yet Fitz is just 22nd in QB salary. And in the 23 games he’s started and finished (playing on at least 90% of his team’s snaps), he averages 22.6 FPG. For perspective, only two QBs average more FPG over this span — Patrick Mahomes (24.5) and Lamar Jackson (24.2). Unlike the past three seasons, Fitzpatrick faces minimal risk of being benched if he performs poorly, which further helps secure his floor. In a neutral-at-worst matchup vs LAC, Fitzpatrick’s $6,600 salary offers a 2.9-3.4X value if he performs in line with his average as a starter from the past three seasons.
Carson Wentz, QB, Indianapolis Colts ($6,500) (VS. SEA)
If Wentz isn’t ready for Week 1, then you can disregard this recommendation. If he is ready for Week 1, however, he becomes one of the best QB values on Fanduel’s main slate.
In his entire career, Wentz has only ever been cheaper than this twice, and both of those occasions were during his rookie season in 2016. The Colts have the 3rd-highest implied team total, and that’s more good news for Wentz, who’s averaged 19.1 FD points in his 24 career games with an implied team total greater than 25.0. 19.1 FD FPG would’ve been good for QB12 last season, and yet Wentz ranks 26th in QB salary. Not to mention he’s reuniting with Frank Reich, who coached Wentz to his best ever fantasy season (22.2 FPG) in 2017. If he plays, Wentz simply won’t be cheaper than this again in 2021, and those are the opportunities you need to capitalize on in DFS.
Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers ($6,500) (AT BUF)
Harris ranks as RB12 in our projections and is 12th by ADP, yet ranks 15th in Fanduel RB salary. So far in the preseason, Harris has played on 85% of the Steelers first-team snaps. That shouldn’t come as a surprise given that both Steelers GM Kevin Colbert and head coach Mike Tomlin stated they were “ecstatic” to land Harris, as Scott Barrett dutifully noted. Harris seems destined for a Le’Veon Bell-esque workload in his rookie season, and remember that Bell averaged 21.5 FPG during his time in Pittsburgh. Mike Tomlin is a “featured-runner type guy” and Harris is going to be that featured runner this season. Harris is locked into more guaranteed touches than any other RB in his price range on Fanduel.
Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons ($8,100) (VS. PHI)
From Weeks 4-17 last year, Ridley was only cheaper than this twice. In his 7 games without Julio Jones, Ridley averaged 20.6 FPG, 11.2 targets per game, and 109.3 receiving yards per game. Over the full season those numbers would’ve ranked third, first, and first. At DraftKings sportsbook, Ridley is implied for a 11.8% chance to lead the league in receiving yards - the highest probability of any player. No matter how we choose to analyze Calvin Ridley, one thing is clear: he’s going to see the biggest workload of his career in 2021. Ridley is also facing an Eagles team Week 1 that gave up the 6th-most fantasy points to outside WRs last year. While there is the potential for a shadow matchup with Darius Slay, we have to remember that WR/CB matchups are #Overrated. Ridley may not be cheaper than $8,100 again this year, and when you combine that with an outstanding target-floor and a strong matchup, he’s a clear value.
Stefon Diggs, WR, Buffalo Bills ($7,900) (VS. PIT)
Diggs ranks as WR3 in both our projections and ADP, but is the 6th-most expensive WR in Week 1. Last season, Diggs was third among WRs in FPG (20.5) and second in XFP (17.7) while also presenting an outstanding floor — scoring double-digit fantasy points in every game. His Week 1 matchup vs Pittsburgh has the third-highest total of the main slate (50.5), and Diggs crushed in high-total games last season, averaging 17.6 Fanduel points in his games with a total higher than 47.0. That 17.6 Fanduel FPG was 1.0 FPG more than Diggs baseline and would’ve ranked 3rd among WRs if sustained for the entire season. Diggs is a top-3 fantasy receiver by basically any metric, and that makes him a clear Week 1 value with the 6th-highest WR salary.
Diontae Johnson, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers ($6,600) (AT BUF)
At full health, Johnson is a WR1. Simple as that. Including the postseason, but excluding the four games he was injured, Johnson averaged 12.3 targets per game, 83.0 yards per game, 19.6 XFP per game, and 19.4 FPG last year. If extrapolated over the full season, those numbers would’ve ranked 1st, 8th, 2nd, and 4th among WRs. The Steelers are 7-point underdogs in Week 1, and should be forced to throw the ball early and often to keep up with the high-scoring Bills. As a result, Johnson should easily be one of the most-targeted players in Week 1, and thus, he represents a strong value as the 15th-most expensive WR on Fanduel.
Devonta Smith, WR, Philadelphia Eagles ($5,300) (AT ATL)
Smith is WR29 in our season long projections, WR37 by ADP, but is WR54 in Week 1 Fanduel salary. He faces an Atlanta defense that allowed the most fantasy points per game to outside WRs last season (27.9). And he’s an elite talent — immediately projecting to be the Eagles WR1 from the very onset of the season. The opportunities to roster a player with Smith’s talent and role rarely come along at this price point.
Rondale Moore, WR, Arizona Cardinals ($4,900) (AT TEN)
Moore showed up as the versatile chess piece we thought he would be in Arizona’s first preseason game, seeing two carries and three receptions on his 23 total snaps. That shouldn’t come as a surprise given HC Kliff Kingsbury’s comments last May suggesting that the Cardinals would “use [Moore] in as many ways as we can.” Moore should be the Cardinals starting slot WR come Week 1, and that would mean significant touch volume in a great scoring environment (51.5 total — second-highest on the slate). It’s a bit too risky for cash games, but if he’s as involved as I think he will be, then Moore offers the highest touch floor of any sub-$5,200 WR.
Jonnu Smith, TE, New England Patriots ($4,900) (VS. MIA)
Smith joined Hunter Henry in New England this offseason, creating the best Patriots TE duo since the days of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. The Patriots wouldn’t have signed Henry and Smith if they didn’t have a plan to return to something resembling their 2TE glory days of 2010-2012, when NE TEs collectively averaged 25.6 FPG. That’s a lot of potential fantasy points for this TE duo, and it’s especially exciting for Smith given his talent after the catch. Over the last two seasons, Smith’s avoided tackle rate of 22.4% ranks 2nd among TEs, and 7th among TEs and WRs. Smith’s 6.82 YAC per reception also ranks 7th among all TEs and WRs from 2019-2020. He’s an elite talent with the ball in his hands.
And he ranks as TE13 in our season long projections, but is TE18 on Fanduel. If you’re like me, and believe that New England is attempting to return to a 2TE-centric offense, then Smith is a clear value based on projected target volume alone, with the added benefit of being far more versatile after the catch than nearly any other NFL TE.
Adam Trautman, TE, New Orleans Saints ($4,600) (VS. GB)
The Saints enter 2021 with the 8th-most vacated targets and their top returning WR (Michael Thomas) sidelined for the first-half of the season. That presents a huge potential opportunity for Adam Trautman early on. Trautman’s only competition for playing time is Nick Vannett, so it’s safe to say he’s a lock to be the Saints starting TE. In recent memory, we’ve seen TE1 seasons from former Saints Jared Cook (TE7) in 2019, Benjamin Watson (TE11) in 2017, and Jimmy Graham, who was no worse than the overall TE2 from 2011-2014.
Trautman has a chance to be the Saints next fantasy TE1, and based on beat reports so far, he’s definitely trending that direction. The prospect of Taysom Hill starting would lower the Saints’ passing volume and thus Trautman’s target floor, but without Michael Thomas, Trautman sets up to potentially be the Saints No. 2 pass catcher after Alvin Kamara. And he’s TE16 in our projections, TE15 by ADP, yet TE28 by Week 1 salary. Trautman is the biggest TE value of Fanduel’s Week 1 main slate, and it’s not particularly close.