A Way Too Early Week 1 DFS Tourney Preview
**Sunday-only Slate (no Mon/Thur)
We are just barely through week two of the preseason, so of course, there will be lots of follow-up to this week one DFS tourney pick as it gets closer, but for now, why not take a look at my current favorite tourney roster to build.
When I build a tourney line up, there are a few keys I look for:
1. Bad defenses playing vs. bad defenses
Even if their offenses aren’t great, I have found that bad offenses still score versus bad defenses, and in this situation, if their offenses are bad, too, the price tag on skill positions will be cheap AND a team that is generally bad (bad offense and bad defense both) tends to be one from which very few people are picking, making the upside of the play even more valuable. So, this is the game where I will try to build my stack and get one player on the other team in the matchup.
2. A piece of one of the top three highest projected total over/unders
Often times, trying to build a stack around these games can be tough because they tend to be great players on good teams--which is why the over/under is so high, so I just try to be sure that I get at least a piece of one of the top three games (and sometimes the stack).
3. A one-play-away kind of WR
There are guys who each and every week are one deep ball away from bringing in a 70-yard TD, and will hit 3-4 times a year. So, I want a piece of that; the key is trying to look at the matchups to do your best to pick the right one.
With all of this said, here is my optimal way-too-early week-one DFS Tourney lineup (using FanDuel prices) and some analysis about why this lineup makes such great sense.
QB: Josh Allen (6,900)
RB: Le’Veon Bell (7,900)
RB: Chris Carson (6,600)
WR: Mike Evans (7,900)
WR: Stefon Diggs (7,200)
WR: John Brown (5,500)
TE: George Kittle (7,300)
Flex: Devonta Freeman (6,700)
Def: Chargers (4,000)
Josh Allen, John Brown, and Le’veon Bell
Well, this week worked well for my first point. There are two bad defenses playing each other in the Bills and Jets. Buffalo comes in projected 26th in defensive matchups for running backs and the Jets come in projected 27th defensively vs QBs and 31st vs WR. So, while the game total is lower than a lot of games in week one (38.5), this match up checks a lot of my boxes. Cheap players, on capable offenses, versus bad defenses, who will have low ownership. This matchup gives me a rushing QB who, in one game vs. the Jets last year threw for 206 yards and rushed for 101 and a TD (good for 20.34 points -- he threw two picks, too), finished the year with a few monster games, and should only be better after having a full off-season and pre-season as the starter. Add to that a cheap, one-play-away kind of receiver in John Brown (4.3 40 time, has shown flashes of great deep ball potential, and has a QB who loves to take shots down the field with the arm to do it), and I have a stack that is cheap with massive upside. So, to get another piece of this game, I like Bell as only the 6th most expensive RB yet as much, or more, proven potential as anyone. I do think this game hits on the over, too, and if it does, this could be a great play.
Mike Evans and George Kittle
With a projected total of 48.5, these two picks speak to my second point above; it gives me TWO pieces of a game with a top-three over/under projection. Additionally, both of their matchups are extremely favorable with Evans drawing the 27th ranked matchup for WR and Kittle the 24th for TEs. This game has the potential to be a huge shootout and to remain close the whole way with TB a -1 favorite. I wouldn’t be surprised if Kittle finishes the week as the #1 TE but is $500 less than Kelce. I also like the idea of building this as a stack in some way by adding Jimmy G, but the west to east travel and his first game back off the injury scared me away from that.
He is playing vs. a horrible defense (Cincy is projected 32nd ranked vs the run), at home, in a game where the over/under is 43.5 and Seattle is favored by 9. This has all the makings of the kind of game Seattle likes to play: get a lead early and run the ball. Last season, he had seven games with 19 or more carries, and in those games only once did he fail to reach over 100 yards (week 14 vs. Min. he only had 90, but he had a TD). We don’t know for sure what kind of role he will have in the passing game (but the reports are VERY promising), but even if his role there remains the same, I LOVE Chris Carson in week one DFS...and I REALLY LOVE him at $6,600.
Stefon Diggs and Devonta Freeman
The rationale here is very similar to Mike Evans and George Kittle: two players in what should be a high scoring (47.5) and close (Minny -3.5) game. Diggs at $7,200 has just a touch more value for me than Thielen at $7,400 and was WR10 in 2018. He had five games in 2018 with over 91 receiving yards and scored a TD in 8 different games. There is plenty of scoring to go around in this offense as evidenced by the 150 targets Diggs got last year. And an improved running game via a healthy Delvin Cook can only help Diggs get downfield vs. a bad Atlanta secondary (projected 26th vs. the pass). On the other side of the ball, Devonta Freeman is healthy, the clear lead (and bell cow?) back, and has a new OC in Dirk Koetter that should use him much more and smarter than last year’s OC, Steve Sarkisian. Minnesota is solid up front and good against the run, but the opportunities should be there in the form of lots of carries and targets (remember, in 2015 he had 97 targets and 73 receptions). This one comes down to volume and game flow (if Atlanta wants to slow things down, he gets carries; if Atlanta needs to keep up, he gets targets).
First, it is worth noting that I almost always fill in my defense last after filling in all the other positions, and this week is no different; however, if Luck isn’t ready to go, this one becomes a much nicer selection than just a bottom-line default choice based on what I could afford. Even if Luck does play, his mobility could be a question and that could allow Bosa and Ingram to get after him. Of course, the loss of Derwin James is huge, but based on what I can afford after building the rest of this lineup, this is the best fit and does have some, even if limited, upside. It probably goes without saying, but if Luck doesn’t play, the ownership percentage could be high but the play remains the one in this lineup.