FanDuel NFL GPP Lineup Advice: Week 1
The highest over/under total in Week 1 is no longer in Tennessee, it is now in Green Bay. The game’s over/under total is 51 points with the Packers favored by three, according to Pinnacle. It’s projected to be a shootout, and both teams boast offensive talent worthy of attention. The GPP options touted below feature five players from that contest, but at least one of them stands out as a likely contrarian selection. They are joined by arguably the best running back in the NFL and a third-year pro looking to bounce back after a forgettable second season.
Russell Wilson (SEA): $8,000 @ Packers
At just $300 more, I suspect Aaron Rodgers will be the higher-owned QB in this game. The quarterback position is loaded with talent and upside this week, too, so even though Wilson won’t fly below the radar, ownership should be pretty well spread out. The Seahawks would like to get back to the ground-and-pound ways that served them well when Beast Mode was in the backfield, but their running back situation looks like a messy committee, and Wilson has developed into one of the best quarterbacks in the game while increasing his passing attempts and yardage every season in the NFL. Last year, he ranked 10th in passing yards (4,219), tied for sixth in yards per pass attempt (7.7), and ninth in adjusted yards per pass attempt (7.59). He did this despite taking a beating with 41 sacks — tied for the second most. A banged up Wilson rushed for a single-season low 259 yards and a rushing touchdown last year, but he rushed for more than 500 yards each of the three prior seasons and 489 as a rookie in 2012 and adds to his scoring upside with his legs. He has a great matchup against a Packers defense that ranked 23rd defending the pass, per Football Outsiders (FO), and were tied for the sixth most FanDuel points per game allowed to quarterbacks, according to Pro-Football Reference.
David Johnson (ARI): $9,400 @ Lions
Johnson led the NFL in yards from scrimmage last year with 2,118 — the only total north of 2,000. The do-it-all back rushed for 1,239 yards and 16 scores, and he terrorized defenses with 80 receptions on 120 targets for 879 yards and four scores through the air. He has a great matchup in Week 1, and that might not be apparent to all gamers since the Lions were tied for the ninth fewest FanDuel points allowed per game last year. The low scoring total allowed on a weekly basis was the product of yielding only eight touchdowns to running backs last season. FO ranked them 19th defending the run and 29th defending running backs in the passing game. Detroit was tied for the seventh most receptions (88) allowed to running backs in 2016. Johnson will be chalky, but his upside justifies eating the chalk.
Todd Gurley (STL): $7,300 vs. Colts
Andrew Luck is out this week, and his absence results in the Rams serving as four-point favorites at home. The line is gold for Gurley, who should have a positive game flow to work with against a soft defense. Indianapolis ranked dead last defending the run last year, according to FO, and they yielded the sixth most FanDuel points per game to backs. Gurley was electric in his rookie season before struggling mightily last year, but the Rams brought in head coach Sean McVay to jump start the offense after he served as the offensive coordinator for the last three years in Washington. The Rams also added pieces to their passing attack such as Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, and rookie Cooper Kupp to help Jared Goff take a step forward in year two. A new offensive-minded head coach plus new weapons surrounding Gurley are reasons for optimism in regards to him returning to his rookie form, and a dreamy matchup in which he’ll see tons of touches bode well for him posting a big fantasy scoring total. Even after a bad 2016 season, it’s unlikely Gurley will go low owned, but he might be lower owned than he should be. Stacking the Rams defense with Gurley is an excellent GPP play, too.
Jordy Nelson (GB): $7,700 vs. Seahawks
If the game in Green Bay is going to turn into a shootout like the small spread and slate’s biggest over/under total suggest it will, both sides will have to do their share of scoring. Nelson will probably be the most popular piece of Green Bay’s offense, but after coming back from a lost 2016 season due to tearing his ACL without missing a beat, he’ll be getting love from daily gamers for good reason. Nelson led the NFL with 14 touchdown receptions while ranking fifth in receptions (97), and sixth in receiving yards (1,257). Seattle’s secondary wasn’t its Legion of Boom dominant self last year, either, and they ranked 16th defending No. 1 receivers, per FO.
Doug Baldwin (SEA): $7,500 @ Packers
Baldwin is the primary stack partner with Wilson, but he’s not the only one. Sticking on Baldwin, however, he’s the top dog in Seattle’s pass-catching crew after leading the team in targets, receptions, receiving yards, and touchdown grabs for the second season in a row. He was the only member of the Seahawks to be targeted more than 100 times last year, and that was also the case in 2015. Baldwin is the apple of Wilson’s eye, and he has a drool-inducing matchup with Green Bay’s giving secondary. FO ranked the Packers 23rd defending the pass and 28th defending No. 1 receivers, and according to Pro-Football Reference, the Packers coughed up the most FanDuel points per game to receivers in 2016. Green Bay spent a second-round pick on Kevin King and brought back Davon House after he spent the past two seasons in Jacksonville (and graded out poorly last year by Pro Football Focus), but those moves aren’t enough to dissuade me from picking on them with top-flight receivers like Baldwin.
Paul Richardson (SEA): $5,200 @ Packers
Most gamers who use a three-Seahawk stack are likely to add tight end Jimmy Graham to the Wilson-Baldwin connection. Richardson is a swerve move who has a cheap price tag and will probably lag behind not only Baldwin and Graham in ownership but also fellow wide out Tyler Lockett. Lockett missed the entire preseason, but he’s expected to be ready to go this week. The team may opt to ease him into work, however, and Richardson is listed as the starter opposite Baldwin on the team’s official depth chart. When pushed into an expanded role in the offense last year, Richardson responded. In the last two games of the regular season, he caught eight of 12 targets for 82 yards and a touchdown. Those aren’t staggering numbers, but he built on them in the playoffs with three receptions on four targets for 48 yards and a touchdown in the Wild Card Round before reeling in four of five targets for 83 yards in the Divisional Round. Seattle’s second-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft is a speedster (4.40 second 40-yard dash time at the NFL Draft Combine), and he’ll look to take advantage of Green Bay’s porous secondary.
Martellus Bennett (GB): $5,700 vs. Seahawks
Bennett is yet another piece of the action in Green Bay. Tight end Jared Cook was supposed to fill the tight end void the Packers have been looking to fill since Jermichael Finley’s career was cut short due to injuries. Cook battled his own injuries last year, though, and played in only 10 games in the regular season amassing 30 receptions on 51 targets for 377 yards and a touchdown grab. Cook made up for a lackluster regular season with a bananas postseason in which he caught 18 of 32 targets for 229 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The postseason Cook enjoyed is a reminder of what a talented tight end can do in a Rodgers-led offense, and Bennett is a talented tight end. In his lone season with the Patriots, Bennett caught 55 passes on 73 targets for 701 yards and seven touchdowns. His 9.62 yards per target were the fourth most of any tight end targeted a minimum of 50 times, per Pro-Football Reference. The 30-year-old tight end has bested 700 yards receiving three times in the last four years, and he caught five or more touchdowns in each of those three seasons. He’s caught more than 50 passes each of the last five years as well. FO ranked the Seahawks 18th defending tight ends last year.