Here we are set for another NFL season and another year filled with plenty of daily fantasy football. Towards the beginning of the season, I heavily rely on the Las Vegas betting lines because of the lack of data we have to base our picks on. Vegas is already taking personnel changes and things along those lines into account for us. The Vegas lines help us quantify the likelihood of events in a highly unpredictable game and they give us an ultimate primer for creating accurate projections. By using Vegas lines it’ll give us an idea how the game flow for a particular game may go, which is important for DFS. For cash games we’re always looking to minimize risk and create a high floor for our team. We don’t need to score 160 points, but wouldn’t that be nice? Now let’s go get to the players who I’ll be heavily targeting in my cash games for Week 1.
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Aaron Rodgers ($9700): Aaron Rodgers is fortunate enough to have one of the best, if not the best matchup on the slate for Week 1. The Packers are currently 7-point favorites against the Bears, with the third highest over/under if you’re not playing the Thursday slate. Per Football Outsiders, the Bears pass defense ranked 29th in adjusted DVOA and 25th overall. Chicago hasn’t had any significant defensive acquisitions that would sway these numbers the other direction The Bears’ top two CBs they’re starting in this game are Kyle Fuller and Alan Ball. Fuller graded out as 107th out of 108 qualifying CBs and Ball is a 30-year-old CB who hasn’t made a significant impact throughout his NFL career. Rodgers makes for one of the safest plays for your DFS team on Sunday.
Sam Bradford ($7500): The Monday night game is going to be filled to the brim with great DFS plays. Sam Bradford makes one of these plays. The Georgia Dome will be hosting the highest totaled game projected by Vegas with an over/under of 55. The Eagles are projected for 29 points, which well above the league average. We saw last season with Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez that just about any quarterback can thrive in Chip Kelly’s quarterback-friendly system. If you’re not looking to pay for Rodgers, Bradford may be one of the best values on the board and this could be the cheapest he’s going to be all season.
Eddie Lacy ($8,500): I can actually taste the chalk as I’m writing this article, but Eddie Lacy makes for the safest running back on the slate and cash game rosters are typically made up of chalk plays. When choosing a running back for my DFS team, I am almost always choosing a running back that’s on a team who predicts as a favorite. The Packers are the biggest favorites on the board against one of the softest run defenses in the NFL. Starting defensive lineman Jay Ratliff is suspended three games to start the year; PFF graded him as Chicago’s best run stopper on the interior. Veteran linebacker Lance Briggs is also no longer with the team. Per Fantasy Labs running backs who are at least 3-point favorites and receive a minimum of 10 carries average at least 15.6 DraftKings points. Lacy shouldn’t have any issues meeting value in Week 1.
CJ Anderson ($8,400): Paying up for two quality running backs is easy to do in Week 1 with all the wide receiver value that has cropped up and CJ Anderson checks the box in every single category that I look at when choosing my running backs for my DFS teams. He’s a home favorite, he’s the premier back on his team and he won’t ever be a victim to game script because he’s also a superior pass catcher out of the backfield. The matchup isn’t the greatest as the Ravens graded out as PFF’s No. 1 run–stopping unit in 2014. However, the Ravens lost Haloti Ngata in the offseason and Timmy Jernigan is dealing with a knee injury that could keep him sidelined for Week 1. Despite the matchup not being the best on paper, I’ll side with Vegas on this one and trust Mr. Anderson.
Jordan Matthews ($6,800): By now you’re probably tired of hearing how great of a player Jordan Matthews is Week 1, but not tired of writing about it just yet. He’s severely underpriced on FanDuel at WR26 and he could very well end up being a top-10 play this week. Per PFF, Matthews ran 93 percent of his routes from the slot in 2014 and he’s projected to run his routes against Atlanta’s Robert Alford. Alford ranked 81st in pass coverage among cornerbacks of 108 qualifiers and also gave up 547 receiving on 52 targets against his coverage assignments last year. In a game with the highest over/under at 55, Matthews is a must play for me at his price tag. I don’t I use the term “must play” very often, but I think it’s warranted in this situation.
Davante Adams ($5,500): Every cash team I have made this week has started with two players. Jordan Matthews and Davante Adams. Adams could be the most heavily owned wide receiver this week and for good reason. He’s stepping into the No. 2 wide receiver role in an Aaron Rodgers-led offense. Adams runs most of his routes split between the left and right side, so he’ll have some exposure to either Allen Ball or Kyle Fuller; both are plus matchups for him. Don’t think twice about this one and plug Adams into your lineups.
Martellus Bennett ($6,200): With the value at wide receiver, it shouldn’t be too hard to fit one of the top-tier tight ends into your lineups. Tight ends are the most volatile and most frustrating position to predict if you’re not rostering Rob Gronkowski. Bennett ranks as my No. 2 tight end behind Greg Olsen this week. Kevin White is on the PUP list and John Fox seems bound and determined to keep Alshon Jeffery’s injury one giant mystery, however Jeffry did practice on a limited basis on Wednesday. Bennett received 21 percent of the market share of targets for the Bears in 2014 and with the departure of Brandon Marshall the looks towards Bennett could be even more bountiful.
Greg Olsen ($5,900): Kelvin Benjamin is gone for the year, and Devin Funchess isn’t expected to draw the start for Carolina. This leaves Ted Ginn and Corey Brown getting the nod as the No. 1 and No. 2 wide receivers. That should bode well for Olsen who was already a primary target in this offense before Benjamin went down. Ginn and Brown are not red zone threats as they both stand at 5 feet 11 inches and weigh 185 pounds soaking wet. Ginn has two career touchdowns and Brown is still raw as a player. Olsen had 18 red zone targets last season, while Benjamin was right behind him at 17. Cam Newton is going to have to target someone when they’re inside the 20 and outside of Olsen, he doesn’t have much to choose from.