It feels like Christmas right now as week one in the NFL is finally here. It starts on Thursday with a rematch of the 2017 Playoff Divisional Round game between Atlanta and Philadelphia where the Eagles edged the Falcons and went on to win the Super Bowl. As always, there are also two games featured on Monday night with the Jets visiting the Lions and Rams visiting the Raiders.
What I will be doing in this article is breaking down my top cash plays at each position on the Sunday main slate. This week features 12 games on the main slate with some terrific options at every position so let's get started.
Tom Brady(DK - $7,200 FD - $8,600)
Leading things off is the GOAT, Tom Brady, for a couple reasons starting with the fact this game has the highest total(51) of any game on the slate with the Patriots sitting at -6.5 point favorites. Even at his age, Brady is still coming off a season where he led the league in pass attempts(581), yards(4,577), and was third in touchdowns(32). While some still think the Texans are a top defense, the numbers tell another story as they are coming off a season when they allowed 237 yards per game through the air(9th most) and ranked 24th in DVOA defense against the pass while allowing the most fantasy point per game to quarterbacks on DraftKings and second-most on FanDuel. While they did make some additions to the secondary in 2018(Matthieu, Colvin) PFF still ranks them as the 25th best secondary going into the season. All things considered, I will be paying up for Brady as my top cash game play in week one.
Philip Rivers(DK - $6,400 FD - $7,500)
With a ton of unpredictable situations in week one at the quarterback position with players coming back from injury(Watson, Luck) and players changing teams or getting a shot to start(Cousins, Smith, Mahomes, Taylor), I will be sticking with a veteran as my #2 cash game pick at the quarterback position. It just so happens Rivers finished second to the previously mentioned Brady in pass attempts(575), yards(4,515) and he also ranked sixth in touchdowns in 2017. The Chiefs defense is also a great matchup for Rivers as they finished 28th in total yards allowed per game in 2017 and 29th in passing yards per game allowed and PFF has them ranked even worse than the Texans at 28th going into week one. Rivers has a target monster in Keenan Allen and two other viable receivers in Tyrell Williams and hopeful breakout star, Mike Williams, along with a top tier running back who finished 8th in targets per game(5.2) by running backs and finished with the sixth-most receiving yards(472). The spread is also a bit closer in this game helping the game script for Rivers and the best part is that he comes at a nice discount to help load up at the RB/WR positions.
Running Back Targets
Alvin Kamara(DK - $8,500 FD - $8,700)
For cash games, I love paying up at the running back position as, for the most part, they are not involved in a running back by committee situation and they are also know commodities. First up this week is Alvin Kamara who was a part of a RBBC last season but with Mark Ingram suspended for the first four games, the backfield is his to run with(pun intended). Game script is also in his favor this week as the Saints are at home as big -9.5 point favorites facing a Bucs team that allowed the 10th most rushing yards per game(117.5) last season and ranked 28th in fantasy points per game allowed to running backs. All things considered, Kamara has a very high floor and ceiling and has a great shot to be the highest scoring running back in week one.
Alex Collins(DK - $5,600 FD - $6,700)
There are other runnings backs(Melvin Gordon, Christian McCaffrey) in good spots who are viable for cash games but for my second pick here I am going to go with Alex Collins. He is cheap on both sites and like Kamara, appears to have the backfield to himself. Javorius Allen will get some third-down work but Collins likely has a 20 carry/25 touch floor this week. The Ravens are big -7.5 favorites vs. the Bills who are coming off a season where they allowed 124.6 rush yards per game(29th) and allowed the most fantasy points per game(29.1 DK/25.4 FD) to running backs. As you will see coming up in the article I absolutely love the correlation plays with defense and running backs and will be stacking a lot of Collins and Ravens D in all formats.
Also consider: Christian McCaffrey(CAR)
Wide Receiver Targets
Keenan Allen(DK - $7,800 FD - $8,000)
I mentioned Phillip Rivers as a cash game quarterback above and while stacking is most commonly a GPP strategy I will still go this way in cash games in certain situations. This happens to be one of them as Allen was one of the most consistent wide receivers for fantasy in 2017 as he was fifth in targets(159), fourth in receptions(102), and third in overall receiving yards(1,393). Looking at the target share for the Chargers in 2017, Allen(9.9 per game) was obviously first followed by Melvin Gordon(5.2) and no other wide receiver or tight end had over five per game. The floor is very high for Allen on a week to week basis and he comes in as the fourth most expensive on DraftKings and fifth most expensive on FanDuel. Lock him into your cash game lineups.
Danny Amendola(DK - $4,200 FD - $5,100)
If we are paying up at the running back position and possibly for Michael Thomas or Keenan Allen at the wideout spot, we are going to need some low-end values. Enter Danny Amendola who signed a deal with the Dolphins in the offseason and will take over the slot receiver role vacated by Jarvis Landry who went to the Browns. I get that Amendola is not in the same class of talent but Landry was third in the league in targets per game in that spot so at his price, Amendola would be fine with 70%-80% of that production. The Titans are ranked as a Top 10 secondary going into the 2018 season but Stills and Parker have the tough matchups on the outside against Adoree Jackson and Malcolm Butler while Amendola gets the best matchup of the three against Logan Ryan. I can easily see 5-10 targets for Amendola which would give him a very high floor and an easy play in cash games at these prices.
Also Consider: Larry Fitzgerald(ARI)
Tight End Targets
Delanie Walker(DK - $4,900 FD - $6,100)
For cash games, I like to mine for value at the tight end position and the first name that jumps off the page is Delanie Walker at the top of the second tier of pricing. In 2017, there were only six tight ends that averaged over six targets per game and Walker(6.9 per game) was one of them and he also finished fourth overall in receiving yards(807) behind Gronk, Kelce, and Ertz. The matchup also jumps off the page as the Dolphins allowed the second-most yards(1,034) to tight ends and the most fantasy points per game in 2017. Walker did have an undisclosed injury at the end of the preseason but was absent from the injury report on Wednesday which means he is ready to go for week one.
Ricky Seals-Jones(DK - $3,000 FD - $5,100)
If you are loading up at other positions and looking to punt the tight end position, consider Ricky Seals-Jones. With Jermaine Gresham still not cleared for contact, Seals-Jones will be the Cardinals #1 receiving option at the position against a team in the Redskins who ranked 26th in fantasy points per game to the position in 2017. There is some risk here but at this price, I am willing to take on that risk considering the other options you can get at the running back and wide receiver positions.
Also Consider: Rob Gronkowski(NE) if you are wanting to pay up and pair Brady with his top option
Baltimore Ravens(DK - $3,800 FD - $4,800)
They are the most expensive defense on the board but have, by far, the best matchup of Week One. They will face a Bills team that is starting Nathan "five picks in one half" Peterman and have the lowest projected team point total of the week(16.5). While they ranked 11th in sacks(41) in 2017, they led the league in takeaways with 34(22 interceptions, 12 fumbles). Don't overthink it and pay up for defense in cash games.
Carolina Panthers(DK - $3,200 FD - $4,300)
If you really need to save some salary to fit in some players at other positions, consider the Carolina Panthers. They are three-point favorites at home vs. the Cowboys in one of the lowest projected scoring game of the week(42.5 point total). The Panthers strength in 2017 was stopping the run as they ranked 5th in DVOA rush defense and if they can stop Zeke Elliott, the Cowboys passing game is nothing to write home about with Allen Hurns, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, and rookie, Michael Gallup, as the top options.