FanDuel NFL Value Plays: Week 1
Geoff Lambert looks at value plays for Week 1.
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It’s here, the moment we have all been waiting for, Week 1. We will get to watch real, meaningful games on Sunday and the season kicks off with a rematch of last year’s NFL Divisional Playoff between the Eagles and the Falcons. The Falcons come into this game looking very similar to the team that lost 15-10 in January, while the Eagles could be without some key pieces as they attempt to defend their title for the first time in their history.
Every Thursday this season, I’m going to break down the Thursday-Monday slate of games and pick out a few of my top FanDuel values from each position. Let’s get started…
**QB value plays will be $6,500 or less, RB/WR $6,000 or less and TEs $5,000 or less
Mitch Trubisky (CHI) $6,500 @ GB
No one has made more noise this offseason than Bears. On paper, they are arguably the most improved team over last season as they added the prize free agent at wide receiver, Allen Robinson, a potential breakout tight end, Trey Burton, and then traded for maybe the best defensive player in the league, Khalil Mack. They also drafted WR Anthony Miller and they still have the dynamic duo of Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen in the backfield.
Green Bay, on the other hand, looked to the draft to improve their team as they drafted two CBs with their first two picks in the 2018 draft. Any time you see a team take two DBs with their first two picks in the draft, you know that unit struggled the season before. The Packers gave up 18.3 FanDuel points to opposing QBs (bottom 10), and with the potential that one of their two rookie CBs is forced to lock up man to man with one of these talented receivers, Trubisky will find a way to get the ball into the hands of his playmakers.
The Packers are going to put up points without a doubt, meaning the Bears are going to have to try and keep up. That means throwing the ball more than they would have liked, and throwing the ball more will result in a solid opening day for the second-year QB.
Eli Manning (NYG) $6,300 vs. JAC
Manning is more of a high-risk/high-reward tournament play. I know it’s a tough matchup with the Jaguars and the “Sacksonville” defense, but Manning is so cheap, he is worth a flier. The weapons that Manning has around him will help him remind the world that he is still a “Manning.”
Some of the weapons include the return of top-five WR Odell Beckham Jr., the addition of rookie RB Saquon Barkley, and last year’s rookie phenom, TE Evan Engram, now in his second year. With those weapons, even against this stingy defense, I think Manning is good enough to return a substantial investment on his paltry $6,300 salary.
James Conner (PIT) $5,000 @ CLE
This is the easiest call of the day, and he will be the chalk in every cash game lineup this weekend. I won’t waste too much time on him because I’m sure I’m not saying anything you haven’t already heard. Le’Veon Bell is not expected to play Week 1, leaving Connor as the starting RB in this potent Steelers offense.
Ben Roethlisberger’s struggles on the road are well documented, so the Steelers tend to use the ground game more often on the road than they do at home as evidenced by Bell’s 20.06 fantasy points per game (FPPG) on the road in outdoor stadiums compared to 17.76 FFPG at home. The Browns defense is improved, and it wasn’t terrible last season, ranking seventh against the run, but they also gave up the seventh-most TDs on the ground. Connor won’t be Bell, but at $5,000, he doesn’t have to be.
Jordan Wilkins (IND) $5,100 vs. CIN
Marlon Mack, the expected starter coming into the season, is highly questionable for Week 1, rookie RB Nyheim Hines had some serious ball security issues in preseason fumbling four times, and Christine Michael has had plenty of chances in the past and has not performed. All that leads to Wilkins getting the start against a defense that gave up the third-most yards on the ground last season and during the previous two years has given up on average 23.67 FPPG — only the Lions and Bills gave up more FFPG during that span.
Danny Amendola (MIA) $5,100 vs. TEN
Jarvis Landry and his league-leading 112 receptions from last season is now in Cleveland. Career disappointment, DeVante Parker (finger), is expected to miss this game, leaving Kenny Stills, Amendola and Albert Wilson as the top three WRs headed into to Week 1. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has long been known as a “dink-and-dunk” QB as he always was in the bottom five in “depth per target” over his career. Amendola has made a career working the middle of the field, similar to the way they used Landry during his years in Miami. Amendola may not get a touchdown in this game, but he is my pick to lead the team in targets and receptions, making him a great value at $5,100.
Keelan Cole (JAC) $4,500 @ NYG
The moment fellow WR Marqise Lee (ACL) went down this preseason, Cole moved to the top of the pecking order in Jacksonville. Blake Bortles isn’t exactly a top-level QB, but he produced some nice fantasy seasons for his No. 1 WRs over his career with Allen Robinson a few short years ago and Lee over the second half of last season. The Giants were the third-worst pass defense last season, and they didn’t do much this offseason to change that. At minimum salary, Lee is primed for a solid game against a weak secondary.
Quincy Enunwa (NYJ) $5,000 @ DET
Jermaine Kearse (abdomen) is questionable for Monday night’s game in Detroit, likely allowing Enunwa to play in two-wide sets as well as his expected role in the slot in three-wide sets. I followed Enunwa closely this preseason, and while he didn’t get a lot of snaps in the games, he was the favorite target of rookie starting QB Sam Darnold in camp practices. Enunwa is a big receiver and looks more like a tight end then he does a wide receiver, which makes him an excellent red zone option when the Jets get in close. It’s a risky play when you are trusting a rookie QB to get him the ball in his first start, and on the road no less, but he won’t have to do much to give you a return on his $5,000 salary, and there may be some junk time to be had in the fourth quarter.
Ryan Griffin (HOU) $4,700 @ NE
I’m reaching deep for my value tight ends, but Griffin will be extremely low-owned and a sneaky play in your tournaments. With the retirement of C.J. Fiedorowicz, Griffin is now the starter in this offense by default. After an injury-plagued season in 2017, Griffin is as healthy as he will ever be as we enter Week 1, and in this game, with the highest over/under on the slate, $4,700 for a guy that should see some red zone targets is a small price to pay.
Ben Watson (NO) $4,900 vs. TB
The ageless wonder that is Watson has taken his act to New Orleans. Watson isn’t going to light up the scoreboard with dazzling plays or grab double-digit receptions, but what he will do is provide a solid floor as one of the red zone options in a high-powered offense that features future Hall of Famer Drew Brees at QB.