Best Daily Fantasy Football Plays for Cash Games – 2017 Week 1

By Ha Kung Wong  Daily Fantasy Football

Twitter: @FBGarbageTime

It’s been a long offseason, but we’re almost ready for Week 1 of the 2017 NFL Season!  Which means that we’re getting ready for Week 1 of Daily Fantasy Football!!  Woohoo, can’t wait!

Before I get started, I want to thank all of you readers who have returned this year and welcome all the new readers!  I’ve been doing this for a long time, but this column is going into its third year, so thanks for continuing to check in!  It’s much appreciated!  OK, on with the show.

We all know that DFS is a great way to prove you have serious football IQ and earn you bragging rights among your friends (and if you’re like me, among your family as well!).  And heck, if you win cash, that’s just gravy, right?  (No need to answer that question, it was totally rhetorical. I know you all like cash. And gravy.)

So before we get to winning you bragging rights (and DFS cash), remember, the point of this article is not just to give you one lineup for each site, it’s to give you examples of one or two POSSIBLE lineups.  Getting exposure to a few different lineups is always a good idea, so don’t forget to mix and match additional lineups from my suggestions below.  And that’s never been more true than in the first week of the season when we have very limited data.  Trust me, it’s a lot more fun that way AND you’ll improve your chances of cashing!

So without further to do, here are my favorite cash lineups for FanDuel, Draft Kings, and Yahoo! DFS, plus a few others suggestions you might consider for your lineups.

Let’s get to winning you some CASH in Week 1 of the 2017 NFL season!

Daily Fantasy Football

Cash Games, for those who don’t know, are essentially the lowest risk games.  They include “50/50” games, in which half the entrants win about 1.8x the entry fee, and “Double Ups”, in which slightly less than half the entrants win 2x the entry fee.

Since there’s so many different sites, and I can’t cover them all, I’ve decided to cover just the most popular sites, including Fan Duel, Draft Kings and Yahoo! Daily Fantasy.

First of all, as a general rule for 50/50 Cash Games, there’s a basic target of points per salary cap spent that you’d like to look for:

  • For Fan Duel try to target at least 2 fantasy points per $1000 spent.
  • For Draft Kings, try to target at least 2.5 fantasy points per $1000 spent.
  • For Yahoo! Daily Fantasy, try to target at least 0.6-0.7 fantasy points per $1 spent.

Remember, this article is not focused on GPP (Tournament) Games, JUST Cash Games.  Feel free to use a few of these suggested players as a base when constructing a GPP lineup, but you’ll have to take some chances on a few low cost, upside players as well.

So, without further to do, here are my suggestions for the Best Daily Fantasy Football Plays for Cash Games for Week 1 contests, along with they’re prices on Fan Duel (“FD”), Draft Kings (“DK”) and Yahoo! Daily Fantasy (“Y!”).

[NOTE: The Buccaneers @ Dolphins game has been POSTPONED in Week 1. See UPDATED lineups for all DFS sites below.]

FanDuel [UPDATED]

Again, to encourage some diversity in your lineups, I’m giving you two sample lineups for FanDuel this week.

In Week 1, I’m interested in only three QBs, two of which I’m using in these sample lineups, and the last of which I’ll mention below.

Matt Ryan (FD: $8500 / DK: $6900 / Y!: $40) is one of my favorite QBs for Week 1.  Sure, we know next to nothing about how team offenses will look this year, and that’s particularly true with offensive play caller Kyle Shanahan gone and replaced with Steve Sarkasian.  But if Sarkasian stays true to form, he’ll implement a fast-paced, high-octane, pass-first system in Atlanta, which is exactly what all Matt Ryan fans want to hear.  Besides, Ryan was not only in the best passing offense in the NFL last year, but he was also in the “offense most likely to choke away a 25 point league in the Super Bowl”.  His weapons remain essentially the same, and he’ll be motivated to put Super Bowl 51 in the rearview mirror, so I’m seeing a high scoring game, particularly against a mediocre Bears defense in a game that has the 3rd highest over/under of the week (49.5).

Matt Ryan

The second QB I like is Carson Palmer (FD: $7300 / DK: $6000 / Y!: $31).  Part of it is his price, which is relatively well valued against a subpar Detroit pass defense, which allowed some of the most passing yards and passing TDs in 2016 and hasn’t done much to improve in the offseason.  Plus, seeing as how this is the beginning of the season, Palmer is perfectly healthy and will look to show it come game 1.  His pass catchers are still up in the air, but Larry Fitzgerald is incredibly reliable, and dump-offs to one the most prolific pass catching RBs in the league, David Johnson, should easily rack up yards.

Speaking of David Johnson (FD: $9400 / DK: $9400 / Y!: $37), he’s my favorite RB play this week.  Although the Lions pass defense was the worst in 2016, which bodes well for Johnson through the air, the Lions run defense was also in the bottom half.  I know it’s a new season, but I’m not expecting any significant improvements.  Aside from price, there’s no reason NOT to play Johnson this week.

David Johnson

As for my second RB, I’m going cheap and getting Jacquizz Rodgers (FD: $6700 / DK: $4900 / Y!: $21).  Doug Martin is serving the remainder of his 4 game suspension, so Rodgers should be the man in the backfield for at least early downs.  Aside from averaging over 20 carries per game when he had the opportunity to start in 2016, the Dolphins are also a bottom 10 run defense which should provide plenty of opportunity. [Update – This game is now postponed.  Do not roster Rodgers.]

With WRs, I went with Antonio Brown (FD: $9100 / DK: $8800 / Y!: $39) and Martavis Bryant (FD: $6500 / DK: $6000 / Y!: $21) of the Steelers, Jamison Crowder (FD: $6500 / DK: $5600 / Y!: $19) and Terrelle Pryor (FD: $6200 / DK: $6100 / Y!: $21) of the Redskins, Michael Crabtree (FD: $6900 / DK: $6000 / Y!: $23) of the Raiders and Kendall Wright (FD: $5200 / DK: $3200 / Y!: $13) of the Bears.

Antonio Brown

Brown is essentially matchup proof, and the Browns aren’t much of a matchup anyway being one of the worst secondary’s in the NFL in 2016.  He’s about as safe a play as there is with a near guaranteed double digit targets.  The only concern I have is that this becomes a blowout that ends up having the Steelers resort to killing clock rather than scoring TDs.  Regardless, I also like the returning Bryant in this matchup and don’t mind using him for a little cheaper exposure.

Crowder and Pryor head up the remodeled receiving core in Washington, now that D-Jax and Garcon have moved on.  And with Kirk Cousins playing on yet another franchise tag, I’m sure he’ll be looking to push the ball down field towards an even bigger payday in 2018.  Although the Eagles have a solid pass defense, they were much better against the TE than WRs in 2016, which is why I’ll pass on Jordan Reed.  But Pryor (6’5”) playing on the outside presents a mismatch against Jalen Mills (6’0”) and Ronald Darby (5’11”), and Crowder, although not an upside play, should have a solid floor playing out of the slot against Patrick Robinson.  And perhaps most importantly, the Eagles are only currently favored by 1, meaning that both Pryor and Crowder should have plenty of opportunity.

Jamison Crowder – AP Photo

The Titans pass defense was bottom 5 in 2016, the Raiders @ Titans game has the highest over/under of any game this week (51) and Crabtree and Amari Cooper have essentially absorbed half of the team’s total targets over the last two years.  I like Crabtree because he’s cheaper on FanDuel and Draft Kings, but feel free to play Cooper if you’d like, particularly on Yahoo where he’s cheaper.

Last up is Kendall Wright.  With Cameron Meredith unfortunately out for the season with an ACL tear, and Victor Cruz no longer on the roster, only Kevin White and Kendall Wright remain.  The Bears are sure to be in comeback mode for most of the game, Wright should have plenty of opportunity, particularly playing out of the slot.

With regard to TE, I like Greg Olsen (FD: $6600 / DK: $6200 / Y!: $23).  He’s the right amount of reliability and upside for a TE, particularly in Week 1 where other solid options are either coming off injury or in new situations with surrounding cast or play caller.  Plus, although the 49ers defense does look improved over the offseason, I don’t expect them to be much better by Week 1.

As for defense, I like the Los Angeles Rams (FD: $4600 / DK: $3200 / Y!: $16) vs. the Indianapolis Colts.  The Rams aren’t a terrific defense, but Andrew Luck has been ruled out for the first game and Scott Tolzien is starting.  Tolzien has a career 2:7 TD to INT ratio.  With a new head coach in town, I suspect the Rams will be aggressive in their first game in an attempt to show its fan base that they’ve turned the corner.  For the price, they’re my top defense this week.

UPDATE – Two new bits of information have changed my lineups for this week.

One is that Ezekiel Elliott WILL be able to play in Week 1.  He’ll be mad and rip roaring to go against a decent but exploitable Giants defense.  Plus, I expect the Cowboys to force feed him in light of his suspension potentially taking hold in Week 2.  He’s not a must-play, but if you can afford it, I’m happy to play him.

The second is that the Buccaneers @ Dolphins game has been postponed to Week 11.  So that means Jacquizz Rodgers and Jay Ajayi, two of my favorite plays, are now out.

So, to make room for Elliott, Le’Veon Bell or DeMarco Murray (I detail Bell and Murray as as decent plays below), I either went down to the Jacksonville Jaguars Defense from the LA Rams Defense or Delanie Walker (who I also detail below) from Greg Olsen.  The Jaguars actually had a solid defense in the top half last year, have bolstered it in the offseason and, honestly, we’re not the least bit afraid of Tom Savage.

UPDATE 2 – Jamison Crowder popped up with a hip injury on Thursday, but insisted on Friday that he would play on Sunday.  Keep a close eye on his status Sunday morning if you decide to roster him.  I’ll be diversifying my rosters just in case.

Also, Elliott got his temporary restraining order from the court, so he’s likely to play all season.  Doesn’t change anything for this week though.

UPDATE 3 – It looks like Crowder will play through the minor hip injury.

Draft Kings [UPDATED]

On Draft Kings, you’ll note that I also like Delanie Walker (FD: $6100 / DK: $4300 / Y!: $18) at TE and Jay Ajayi (FD: $7800 / DK: $6500 / Y!: $27) at RB.

Walker is simply a high floor TE in an offense with a lot of new faces at WR.  Mariota trusts him and I think he remains with a high target share at least at the beginning of the season.  Plus, as I mentioned above, this game has the highest over/under of any game this week.

As for Ajayi, he’s a starting running back in a Dolphins offense that will want to hide it’s QB.  They were planning to do that already with Tannehill, but now with Cutler under center, and with less than a full offseason running the offense, I’d think the Dolphins play it safe and keep it on the ground a lot.  Ajayi will be involved in the passing game as well, which is a boon for full PPR DFS like Draft Kings, plus the price is right.

UPDATE – I just switched Ajayi with Bilal Powell (who I detail below).

Yahoo! DFS

For Yahoo, I also like RBs DeMarco Murray (FD: $7600 / DK: $7400 / Y!: $28), Bilal Powell (FD: $6300 / DK: $4900 / Y!: $16) and WR Golden Tate (FD: $6900 / DK: $6500 / Y!: $19).

As I’ve mentioned, the Titans have a brand new WR core, one which will take time to sort out.  In the meantime, I can see the Titans lean heavily on their backfield tandem of Murray and Derrick Henry.  Henry will take some of the carries, but Murray had plenty last year to meet value in the same situation, so I don’t think anything changes this early in the season.  And again, highest over/under of the week.

Powell is little bit more of a hunch.  Matt Forte is apparently on the outs as the Jets look to trade him really close to the start of the season.  The Jets need to see what they have in Powell as they rebuild, so there’s no reason to give him a near full complement of touches against a subpar Bills run defense.  Again, he’s a cheap option on a team that has zero receiving options, so why not?

Tate is the best receiving option in Detroit, and Arizona should be able to take the lead early, meaning more options for Tate.

Alternative Options

Feel free to use any of the players that I’ve selected on one site in any other site if you have cap space.

In addition to the above, here are few other suggestions for players to use:

  • QB Ben Roethlisberger @ CLE (FD: $8200 / DK: $7300 / Y!: $39)
    • His inexplicable home / road splits scare me, but he’s got the tools, weapons and matchup to blow up if you want to pay up.
  • RB LeVeon Bell @ CLE (FD: $9300 / DK: $9800 / Y!: $40)
    • He’s an awesome play, particularly in full PPR, but I like Johnson a smidge better.  But if you want to play him, particularly in Fan Duel where he’s $100 cheaper than Johnson, go for it.
  • RB Kareem Hunt vs. NE (FD: $6400 / DK: $5800 / Y!: $18)
    • He’s the starter and has high upside.  But I think his current pricing already has that baked in.  Still worth a whirl if you’re playing in a contest that includes Thursday.
  • WR Julio Jones @ CHI (FD: $9000 / DK: $8500 / Y!: $39)
  • WR AJ Green vs. BAL (FD: $8400 / DK: $8000 / Y!: $37)
  • WR Amari Cooper @ TEN (FD: $7600 / DK: $7200 / Y!: $22)
  • WR Larry Fitzgerald @ DET (FD: $6400 / DK: $5900 / Y!: $25)
  • TE Rob Gronkowski @ KC (FD: $8000 / DK: $6800 / Y!: $26)
  • TE Evan Engram @ DAL (FD: $4900 / DK: $2900 / Y!: $13)
    • This is a pure cheap upside play if you’re running out of cap space.  Plus, the Cowboys the third most points to opposing TEs last year.  But if you don’t need the cap space, go with Olsen, Walker or Gronk.
  • DEF Buffalo Bills vs. NYJ (FD: $4700 / DK: $3900 / Y!: $19)
    • The Jets are terrible, so I don’t mind playing the Bills.  But the price seems to have already baked that in.

Good luck everyone, and I hope you all win DFS Cash in Week 1!

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