Welcome to the Week 1 edition of FanDuel's Bargain Bin! Each week I'll be giving you two cheap -- but viable -- players at each position for you to use in your DFS lineups. Viable is the key here. There are plenty of cheap plays ... one Twitter follower suggested I could write a novel instead of this column in fact.
So the trick is figuring out which cheap plays are worth it. Whether you're new to DFS or a professional player, you have to remember that your goal is to translate your salary cap dollars to fantasy points. If you're going cheap at a position, you need to be confident that the return on both the cheap player and the more expensive player you're making room to roster is greater than the return on two medium priced guys.
Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel.com is hosting a one-week $1,000,000 Fantasy Football Contest for Week 1's games. It's only $25 to join and first prize is $100,000. Starts this Sunday at 1pm ET. Here's the link.
I'll only give you plays that I would use in my own lineups, and if I don't plan to go the bargain route at a position, I'll tell you why. Let's get to your week 1 values.
Shaun Hill, St Louis Rams $5K. Hill, 34, was brought in as an upgraded back-up to the oft-injured Sam Bradford. Little did the Rams know how soon they'd have to cash in that insurance policy. I've been a fan of Hill since 2010 when he filled in for an injured Matthew Stafford and took me to my 2QB league playoffs. In Hill's favor, the Rams are the favorite in this game and should be able to score against a weak Minnesota defense (ranked 26th by ProFootballFocus). On the other hand, the receiving corps leaves a lot to be desired. Kenny Britt, Tavon Austin and Brian Quick have talent, but have been pretty consistently underwhelming. Jared Cook could be a nice option, but he didn't impress in the preseason. This pick is about Hill's talent and ability to throw TDs against a weak defense.
E.J. Manuel, Buffalo Bills $6.5K. I thought about Chad Henne and Derek Carr here, and if you're going to save at QB, you should consider them too. I went with Manuel largely because of the matchup with Chicago. It's dangerous to rely too much on last year's defensive performances but even if Chicago improves, they have a long way to go before being formidable again. His preseason was fairly mediocre, 517 passing yards and only 1 TD. In 2013 he averaged about 200 yards passing, 20 yards rushing, and 1.1 TD per game for 13.8 FD pts/game. I'm not going to lie, this is a risky pick. I think there's a chance that the signing of Kyle Orton lights a fire under Manuel and that the preseason jitters he showed in the pocket are behind him.
All that said, I'm paying up for a QB in Week 1. It's probably going to be Peyton Manning. The difference between the likely fantasy points scored by Manning and one of these bargain QBs won't equal the difference in the fantasy points scored by your mid-level and expensive WR or RB. For that reason, I'll save my money at WR or RB. Speaking of...
Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills $5.8K. I am from upstate NY but I'm not a Bills fan, so it's shocking even to me that two Bills make the list this week. Yes, Jackson is old (33) and the Bills are the underdog in a game with an over/under of 48.5. But he's the most reliable option on this team. Jackson is a virtual lock for 4-5 catches and 10 carries, perhaps at the goal line if Manuel gets them close. Coming back to Chicago's defense, they were dead last against the run in 2013.
Shonn Greene, Tennessee Titans $5.1K. Greene is the #1 RB in Tennessee for week 1. I know the hype around Bishop Sankey has been up and down (mostly up) but until Greene gets hurt or loses the job with poor play, he's in line for the bulk of the carries. At near minimum salary, that's what you want. While the KC defense might scare you a little, they weren't nearly as tough the second half of last year. Fantasy points come from talent and opportunity...what you're getting with this pick is the opportunity.
Miles Austin, Cleveland Browns $4.8K. The #1 receiver on any team for this bargain price should not be ignored. Use him before his hamstrings break. I get that Brian Hoyer isn't the most inspiring QB but Josh Gordon and Jordan Cameron did fine with him last year. Austin is a talented WR whom the fantasy community ignores due to his injury history. That's not a factor this week and I see him getting 10-12 targets against a Steelers defense that is middle of the road.
Golden Tate, Detroit Lions $5K. The #2 WR for Matthew Stafford should see a lot of single coverage from an average at best Giants D. Last year, the role was shared between Kris Durham, Ryan Broyles, Nate Burleson and Kevin Ogletree. There was zero consistency so I think that Tate fills an important role for the Lions, but don't forget, he was an effective target with Seattle, which is one of the lower-frequency throwing teams (898 yards, 5 TDs). That should go up in Detroit.
One of my strategies this week is to use two expensive WR and one value play, so one of these guys will be in my LU for sure.
Jace Amaro, NY Jets, $4.5K. Amaro impressed in the preseason. Rookie TEs are notoriously inconsistent, but he did look comfortable hauling in 4/4 for 37 yards and a touchdown. Of the rest of the Jets receiving options-Decker, Kerley and Cumberland - I like Decker a lot, but I think there are going to be plenty of looks for Amaro. The Oakland defense isn't going to hinder that AT ALL. Geno Smith had some quality games last year. He's inconsistent but he's capable of moving the ball and again, vs. Oakland is a good spot to see the quality side of Geno.
Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings $5.7K. This isn't the cheapest play. You may have expected to see Travis Kelce or Ladarius Green here. I don't trust the opportunity side of the equation in their case. Even though you'll pay a little more for Rudolph, you're getting what many expect to be a top 5 TE this year. Described as Cassel's favorite target by FanDuel themselves, Rudolph is probably in line for as many looks as Cordarrelle Patterson. I like Rudolph best of the whole Vikings receiving corps. He caught a lot of TDs two years ago too.
Houston Texans $4.7K. This game has a medium o/u of 45. I'm concerned about the Washington offense. RG3 doesn't seem to be 100% and the best thing about the Texans is their D. If you want to save a few hundred dollars, Houston could be decent.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers $4.9K. For many of the same reasons, TB could be a sneaky play. Cam Newton is hurt, his best receiver is a rookie and DeAngelo Williams is the lead back. TB has been getting better on D too, PFF currently has them ranked 10th for 2014.
I'm leaning toward the Bengals D/ST for $5400. The price difference amongst defenses is pretty small. Likewise, the points are hardest to predict. So if you're thinking about downgrading at one of the offensive spots to get a better defense, don't.