We have football, people! Week 1 of the NFL season is finally here, and with it comes an incredible slate of games for daily fantasy football. A strenuous offseason has left us with less information about players and their roles. In this article, Myles Underwood and I will give you our favorite NFL DFS picks for Week 1 of the 2020 season. We will start with Myles core four players in cash games, then end it with my tournament picks for the week. Without further ado, let’s get started!
NFL DFS cash game picks for Week 1 of 2020 season
When constructing a lineup for cash games in Week 1, it’s crucial to target players with established roles in an offense. You don’t need to go for the home run play; focus on consistency in these contests.
Building your cash game lineup on DraftKings and FanDuel around a core four players is a great recipe for success. Your core 4 need to be players that are locked in for touches and have an easy path to success in their respective matchups.
One of the more intriguing matchups heading into Week 1 is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints. Drew Brees ($6800) vs. Tom Brady ($6500) is going to be epic, and Vegas oddsmakers predict it will be one of the higher scoring games on Sunday. A shootout between these two legends seems inevitable at this point, and Brees will likely be the benefactor.
The Saints signed Emmanuel Sanders ($5700) this offseason to pair with Michael Thomas ($9000) as one of the best WR duos in the NFL. That’s not a good thing for the Buccaneers, considering their secondary looks to be the weakest part of their defense. Carlton Davis and Sean Murphy-Bunting are young corners who have flashed potential, but they aren’t ready for the two-headed monster in New Orleans.
Brees is priced as the third-highest quarterback but is only a couple hundred dollars more than a plethora of less appealing options. There’s an abundance of skill players with great values in Week 1, so paying a little extra for guaranteed points at quarterback is perfect for cash games.
You won’t find a running back with a more favorable matchup than Josh Jacobs ($6800) vs. the Carolina Panthers in Week 1. Jacobs figures to be the focal point of the Raiders’ offense in 2020 after a spectacular rookie season. The one flaw in Jacobs’ game is his lack of volume in the passing game, but he should be much more involved in 2020.
DraftKings currently has Jacobs priced as the 6th most expensive running back. He is guaranteed at least 15 touches in Week 1 against one of the worst run-stopping defenses in the NFL. Look for Jacobs to rush for 100+ yards and sneak in for a touchdown or two in Week 1.
Marvin Jones Jr.
Even with Kenny Golladay playing, Marvin Jones Jr. was a smart play. Now that Golladay is listed as doubtful? Jones Jr. is almost a lock for your cash game lineups. The Bears secondary is strong but Jones Jr. is a veteran receiver who knows how to get open. He’ll likely be matched up with cornerback Kyle Fuller with regularity, but could lineup against rookie Jaylon Johnson from play to play.
Jones Jr. is priced at $5,500, and with Golladay out that’s just too good of a value to pass up. He’ll likely have high ownership due to the recent Golladay news, but that’s not always a bad thing in small cash game contests. Matthew Stafford should be looking towards Jones more often than not on Sunday and a 10+ target game isn’t out of the realm of possibilities. If the two can connect on a touchdown he could be one of the best plays on DraftKings in Week 1.
If there is any position that you can find real value plays on DraftKings, it’s at tight end. Several players have the potential to have breakout games at TE, but there isn’t a safer sleeper pick than Jack Doyle ($3600) for the Colts. What makes Doyle so intriguing in Week 1 is his price and guaranteed role in the offense. Trey Burton signed with the Colts this offseason and was expected to handle more of the passing downs, but an injury suffered during training camp will hold him out for the first couple of weeks. This will be Doyle’s time to shine, and he should be on the field for 95% of the Colts offensive snaps.
DraftKings has Doyle priced way too low, considering the highest-priced TE is double his salary (George Kittle $7200). By no means will Doyle put up Kittle type numbers in Week 1, but he could easily score 15+ fantasy points, and that’s all you need from him at that price. This will be Rivers’ first game as the Colts starting quarterback, and he has targeted his tight ends consistently throughout his career. Take the value of Doyle at your TE position and distribute your remaining salary evenly across the rest of your lineup.
Bonus: With Miles Sanders being ruled out, Boston Scott ($4800) becomes one of the best values on the slate. He is a lock for cash games and “good chalk” to eat in tournaments.
Enough of the cash game talk, let’s get to the tournament plays!
While cash games are the best way to build your bankroll, tournaments are the way to win life-changing money. Before I get into who I like this week, I’ll give some insight as to what goes into my process. Let’s begin!
How do you determine who to play in NFL DFS?
Everyone has their process when it comes to their choices for NFL DFS picks, and Week 1 of the 2020 season is no different. While there are several ways to “skin a cat” (I’m not REALLY skinning cats out here), I’ll outline below what I look for when deciding who to play in my DFS lineups.
Why pace of play is vital for NFL DFS
Volume is the most critical factor when it comes to fantasy football. You want the games which will see the most plays, as those will provide the most opportunity. To figure out which games will see the highest amount of plays, I like to look at pace. Teams who play at a faster rate will naturally provide more opportunities for your fantasy football players.
The two websites I like to look at pace are Football Outsiders and Sharp Football Stats. Both provide full-season pace stats with a wide variety of parameters. The two parameters I favor most are total seconds per play and situation neutral (+/- 8 points) seconds per play, with a lean towards the latter.
Another one that I am going to implement, which is available on FO, is defensive pace. At first, I primarily focused on the offenses, but looking at the defensive pace of play makes sense, as what the offense does on a team will impact how teams play against their defenses. In layman’s terms, the higher the pace, the more plays run, the more volume you can project.
Utilizing Vegas totals and team totals for NFL DFS
While Vegas is not the end all be all in terms of how games will play out, it should play a factor in your process. The NFL betting market is the sharpest in all of the sports, and while they aren’t correct all the time, they are right more often than not.
However, if you play the guys from the highest totals every week, it won’t be easy to separate yourself from the field in large tournaments. Rather than blindly play players from the games with the highest totals, we should focus on what games could go over their projected total, as that will help us roster players who outperform expectations.
Ownership percentages are essential but don’t get hung up on them
While you do need low-owned players to separate yourself in large tournaments, it is not a sin to play “chalky” (popular) players. I don’t worry about ownership for quarterbacks, as they hardly ever reach a point where they are too chalky. For running backs, I think it’s acceptable to play popular ones as volume drives so much of their projection.
Where I look to differentiate is at wide receiver and tight end. WR production and projection are the most volatile of all of the positions. Pivoting to lower-owned players with similar or just slightly worse projections is an excellent way to differentiate your line up. As for tight ends, their production comes mostly from touchdowns, so it’s good practice to pair your QB with his TE.
As for defenses, it is a crapshoot every week. Just play one you don’t expect to be popular that can get pressure on the opposing QB. It would be best if you chased sacks and turnovers, not point prevention.
How the stadium environment plays a role in NFL DFS
You want to target games played in a dome, as a lack of weather factors leads to optimal conditions for the offense. Cold weather games tend to lean towards the game going under its projected total, but don’t shy away JUST because of the temperature. The same goes for wind and precipitation. It should be in your mind, but don’t overreact to it.