Author: Henry Faversham (Weinberg ‘22)
Week 1 of the NFL season started with the Kansas City Chiefs putting a clinic against the Houston Texans on Thursday night. Now, Sunday is upon us, and we’re excited to watch our fan fantasy teams make their debuts. For some of us, though, the fantasy work continues as we enter in daily fantasy sports, a platform where you create a weekly fantasy lineup restricted by a salary cap and face off against players facing the same restrictions. There are two types of contests: cash and tournaments. Tournaments focus on top-heavy payouts while cash games have more even payouts, ones where you goal is to finish better than the average drafter.
In this column, we’re focusing on cash games and making the safest lineup to ensure you’ll finish better than the average drafter. The philosophy I play by is not to “win” your contest, like you may do with tournaments, but rather “avoid losing” so you finish in the top half. You want to let your opponents make the bad, risky picks and make sure to lock in the best players yourself. Without further ado, here’s NSAG’s week 1 cash game guide for the Sunday main slate.
If you’re spending up at quarterback, your guys are the top three in pricing: Lamar Jackson at $9,400, Russell Wilson at $8,400 and Drew Brees at $8,100. Lamar is a guy that can be considered necessary to avoid losing your cash game. Even though priced heavily above, he averaged over 8 fantasy points than the next highest player on this slate, Russell Wilson. That value is extremely hard to find elsewhere. However, both Wilson and Brees are in amazing, high-scoring matchups so they are viable as well.
A value player on the bottom of the salary chart is Gardner Minshew II at $6,700. He averages 17 PPG in Fanduel, an amount singnificantly greater than the players around him and one that should have him out towards the middle price range rather than the bottom. Not only that, but his team is projected to lose by 8 to IND and IND have an unexciting pass defense. Underpriced, with a great matchup and playing from behind makes Minshew a player that can be greatly considered to save salary.
Christian McCaffrey at $10,000 and Boston Scott at $4,700 are must-owns this week. Even if you didn’t play daily fantasy last year you witnessed greatness from McCaffrey. He averaged 7 more points that the next highest player, Dalvin Cook, which is once again a point value you can’t pass up on as that kind of edge is hard to find elsewhere. Next up is our salary saver where we don’t even have to sacrifice points to own. Miles Sanders has been ruled out giving Boston Scott the nod in a great matchup against a horrible Washington Football Team. The one week Scott started last year he received 25 touches and earned 33.8 fantasy points on FanDuel. Do I expect that to repeat? Not necessarily, but he doesn’t even need to come close to doing that to justify his pricing.
The next two high-end RBs potentially deserving of a flex spot are Dalvin Cook at $8,700 and Josh Jacobs at $8,200. Dalvin Cook has got a pretty strong matchup in a game they’re favored in against GB. Along with this, Dalvin is the only other true matchup proof workhouse on this slate aside from McCaffrey, so I’m inclined to have him in my lineup at the flex spot. Josh Jacobs is a guy I don’t love in season until he starts catching passes, but I wouldn’t blame you for taking him here. Not only are the Raiders favored to win, but also CAR was the worst defense against the rush according to FanDuel last year.
Finally, a solid RB to save salary, but also has a strong chance to produce great numbers is Marlon Mack at $6,100. They’re favored to win this by 8 points and JAG has one of the worst defenses in the league according to FanDuel, at 27th . Not only that, but all of the Jonathon Taylor hype has drowned out the fact that Marlon Mack is the starter week 1. All he needs to do to return value against this horrendous defense is receive 15 touches, a mark I am confident he’ll reach.
If you’re paying up for wide receivers Michael Thomas at $8,800 and Davante Adams at $8,000 are your guys to go to. Both are going against a poor pass defense, but TB vs. NO’s high shootout potential gives preference to MT. Underratedly, he didn’t outscore other WRs (Godwin averaged 2 points less) by as great of a margin McCaffrey did with other running backs or Lamar did with other quarterbacks, but with this smash spot you may have to own him in your lineup. Davante will be a high volume monster hog with a solid matchup, but I wouldn’t recommend slating him unless you already have MT or can’t find the $800 to pay up for him.
In the middle range there are a lot of good choices. My favorite is Adam Thielen at $6,800, the only receiver left in Minnesota who will see a boatload of targets in a solid matchup. Following him is Chark and McLaurin, $200 and $300 less than him respectively. Both will be ball hogs in positive matches, but that close to Thielen I wouldn’t recommend playing them unless it is with with Thielen. Also in the range are Ridley and Metcalf, both only a couple hundred less than Thielen. Same applies, both with good matches in shootouts but should only be paired with Thielen, not chosen over him.
Finally, there are great cheap options with Desean Jackson at $5,700 and Bryan Edwards at $4,500. Despite usually being a boom-or-bust play, Desean Jackson proposes real value here at his price tag. All other Eagles receivers are banged up and he faces a great matchup, making him a strong recommendation start. Bryan Edwards is a player I only recommend if you’re looking to save salary. He’s a starter on the depth chart and can see real looks, but nothing is guaranteed here.
There are three clear-cut options at tight end this week: George Kittle at $8,000, Zach Ertz at $6,600 and Hayden Hurst at $5,200. Kittle has a smash spot this weekend against the Arizona Cardinals defense, which is notoriously bad at defending tight ends. Normally I don’t recommend spending up at this position but if you were to, this would be the week to do it. Ertz, for similar reasons as Desean Jackson, is a great play with no other receiving options and a great matchup. Finally, Hayden Hurst is a player I’ve been bullish on and find him to be solid pick this week with his cheap price in a high scoring game.
DST: Defenses are generally a place to save money as they score with high variance (defensive touchdowns are hard to predict). This week, I recommend either side of Raiders vs. Panthers as they are extremely cheap and both unimpressive offenses.
My Cash Lineup:
QB: Lamar Jackson, $9,400
RB1: Boston Scott, $4,700
RB2: Christian McCaffrey, $10,000
WR1: Michael Thomas, $8,800
WR2: Anthony Miller, $5,400
WR3: Bryan Edwards, $4,500
TE: Hayden Hurst, $5,200
Flex: Dalvin Cook, $8,700
DST: Las Vegas Raiders, $3,200
My cash lineup is one I’m extremely excited about with only one place I’m lacking confidence. Anthony Miller is far from a surefire play at $5,400 and one I was considering bringing Michael Thomas down to upgrade. Go ahead and grab Thielen and Robinson, two of the most heavily targeted and safest wide receivers this week, if Thomas and Miller are too risky for you. However, if Thomas’ ownership is extremely high and he drops a feasible, massive number, I don’t want to be left behind losing all of my cash games. I’ll be back next Sunday with week 2 advice and hope you crush it this today!
Cover photo- Bill Feig, AP Photo