FanDuel NFL Cash Plays – Week 1
The players I’ll spotlight weekly are players you’ll want to find a way to get into your FanDuel cash line ups.
Finding value in the opening week of any sport is one of the most difficult tasks in daily fantasy writing. There is precious little actionable data to work with and free agency, retirements, and rookie additions provide ample amounts of uncertainty. So, when I was tasked with finding those elusive gems I put all my other projects to the side and cried a little. After a nice flushing out of the tear ducts, I dove into troves of statistics from last season to see what I could find for RotoViz readers. While some may make for intriguing plays in tournament games as well, the focus of this weekly column will be on trying to win some money in smaller games. Let’s see if we can’t add to our bankroll right out of the gate with the following players:
FanDuel Cash Plays for Week 1
Ben Roethlisberger – $8,200
It is almost impossible to go wrong with Ben Roethlisberger in this match up. Everything points towards a massive game. First, Cleveland gave up the most fantasy points to quarterbacks last year. Opposing QBs averaged 20.1 fantasy points on FanDuel each week. Last season’s match-up didn’t go so well for Roethlisberger but this was the exception, not the rule, and Big Ben compiled 728 passing yards and six passing touchdowns in two meetings with the Browns in 2015. In 2016 Cleveland gave up the 12th most passing yards of all NFL teams and surrendered the most passing touchdowns on average per game. Finally, Cleveland’s Defensive DVOA was the second worst in the league. The Steelers should move the ball down the field with ease.
Carson Palmer – $7,300
Carson Palmer is significantly cheaper to open the season than Roethlisberger, and his matchup is nearly as tempting. The over/under in the Arizona-Detroit game is one of the higher totals this week (48 points), but the spread is a paltry 1.5 points, indicating the game could be a shootout. This would appear to favor Palmer as the Lions gave up four passing TDs in three separate games last year along with six separate games 300 or more yards. Opposing quarterbacks also averaged 19.5 FanDuel points against the Lions, the second most in the NFL. Meanwhile, Detroit held opposing running backs to only 11.4 FanDuel points last year, putting them in the lowest third of the league. This suggests that if the Cardinals want to move the ball effectively, they may need to depend on Palmer a bit more than they normally would.
Christian McCaffrey – $6,500
I’m not normally one to suggesing a rookie running back as a cash play for the first week of a season, but Christian McCaffrey’s match up against San Francisco intrigues. First, the 49ers gave up the most points in the league to RB1s last season, surrendering an average of 18.8 points per game to the position. While it is debatable if McCaffrey is truly Carolina’s lead back, he certainly looks the part thus far. San Francisco was far and away the worst team against the rush last year, giving up 165 yards per game, over 20 more than the next closest team. Furthermore, they also gave up the most rushing TDs per game (1.6 rushing TDs per game). Their Defensive DVOA against RBs was the fifth worst in the league. McCaffrey could do some damage through the air as well. The 49ers allowed just under four receptions per game to RBs. This could be one of the best rookie RB opening games in recent memory.
Todd Gurley – $7,300
Last season wasn’t a shining example of what Todd Gurley is capable of, however, the 2017 season could get off to a much better start against a Colts team that had a lot of issues stopping opposing runners last season and who will be missing Andrew Luck in the season opener. Indianapolis didn’t just have problems stopping the rush – producing the league’s worst defensive rushing DVOA – they also allowed the second-most passing yards to RB1s (44.6 yards per game). This allowed RB1s to post an average of 15.2 points per game, the sixth highest in the league. Gurley looks to be primed for heavy usage both on the ground and through the air.
Alshon Jeffery – $7,000
Alshon Jeffery finds himself in new surroundings to open the 2017 season, but his match up against Washington could have fans remembering the “good old days” when he could take over a game and lead owners to a win. Washington gave up the fourth-most points to WR1s last season, allowing an average of 13.6 fantasy points per game while surrendering the eighth-most receiving yards per game. Meanwhile, Jeffery has feasted on Washington throughout his career, averaging 101.3 yards per game over three matchups. This game has the tightest point spread of Week 1, with only a point separating the two teams. The Eagles will be looking for any advantage they can get, especially an advantage that comes in the form of their newest WR1.
Kenny Britt – $6,000
Kenny Britt is another WR with a new team, but this matchup is good for an entirely different reason. As 8.5-point underdogs, Britt’s Browns are likely to fall behind Pittsburgh early and will need to pass frequently to stay in the game. Luckily for Cleveland, the Steelers yielded the sixth-most fantasy points to WR1s last season (an average of 13.5 points scored each game). Furthermore, their defensive DVOA against WR1s was the worst in the league with an average of 85.2 yards per game gained by the position. Britt should be the primary beneficiary.
Greg Olson – $6,600
Greg Olsen is one of the best tight ends in the NFL, and his match up against San Francisco looks to be the most appealing for the position in terms of fantasy production. San Francisco had the sixth-worst defensive DVOA against TEs last season, giving up 55.3 yards on average per game. Olsen was the second-most targeted TE in the NFL last year (8.1 targets per game), increasing the likelihood that he could punish the 49ers in the matchup. He shouldered 10.4 percent of Carolina’s offensive touches last year, the fifth-most of any tight end, and he accounted for 11.1 percent of all red zone touches, the ninth most of all tight ends. The arrow is trending up here but you’ll have to pay a bit of a premium.
Zach Ertz – $5,900
Zach Ertz could be a nice play as well. His $5,900 price is significantly cheaper than Olsen’s, and his opponent displayed weakness against TEs. Washington’s defensive DVOA against TEs was the seventh worst of all NFL teams, and they allowed an average of 77.1 yards per game to the position. TE1s scored an average of 8.1 FanDuel points per game, the ninth most in the league. Ertz also managed a 10-reception, 112-yard performance in his last game against Washington, proof that he and the Eagles coaching staff already know how to exploit that matchup. Ertz is a solid value if you aren’t willing to pay for Olsen’s production.