Weekly contests on playdraft.com (DRAFT) feature a new format for DFS players. Instead of a salary-based selection process, DRAFT went back to the basics and implemented a live snake draft format for players. For weekly contests, players must draft 1 QB, 2 RBs, and 2 WRs/TEs. There is only one option with more than six players (10 players), meaning only 30 players are taken off the board in the majority of contests. With just five rounds to draft and a 30-second pick clock, it’s important to know who you want before the clock starts ticking. Therefore, each week I’ll give you round by round advice, factoring in depth at each position to help you nail each and every pick in your draft. Let’s get started.
DRAFT Week 1 NFL Picks: Options for an Unpredictable Mini-Draft
Go for a top-tier running back. Le’Veon Bell, David Johnson, and LeSean McCoy should lead the position and are great options in Week 1. Each should see 25+ touches and are in a class of their own with Ezekiel Elliott in a tough matchup against the Giants (finished RB24 and RB28 against NYG last season). Julio Jones and Antonio Brown should come off the board after those three backs, as they each have solid matchups and the two highest implied team totals. Jones gets a Chicago defense that finished 27th in DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) against WR1s last season. Antonio Brown sees the 30th ranked DVOA defense against WR1s, so he is a strong play as well.
Rounds 2 and 3
I like the depth at QB this week, so I recommend targeting two skill position players. I like Bilal Powell, Devonta Freeman, and Todd Gurley as my next options at RB.
The Jets should be playing from behind, and Powell finished fourth among running backs with 58 receptions last season. I still think he’ll get plenty of usage with Matt Forte in the picture, as the Jets don’t have many other options to turn to in the passing game.
Freeman faces a Chicago team that was 29th in DVOA against the run. He should see plenty of rushes as the lead back on a Falcons’ team that is favored by six points entering Sunday.
Gurley faces a Colts defense that allowed 120 rushing yards per game last season and finished dead last in DVOA against the rush. The Colts are playing without Andrew Luck, so I like the Rams’ chances of building an early lead and pounding the rock with Gurley.
The next batch of WRs I would target are Doug Baldwin, Larry Fitzgerald, Amari Cooper and Stefon Diggs.
Baldwin squares off against what should be a relatively weak secondary in Green Bay. The Seahawks have an implied point total of 24 and will need to throw to keep up with Aaron Rodgers and the high-powered Green Bay offense.
Diggs faces a New Orleans defense that allowed the second-most passing yards to opposing teams last season and finished 31st in DVOA against the pass. The Vikings are 3.5 favorites at home with an implied total of 25.8, so I expect they’ll have no trouble moving the ball through Diggs.
Fitzgerald will line up against a Lions defense that allowed the second-most fantasy points to slot receivers in 2016. He’s coming off a season where he caught 63 passes from the slot (2nd most in NFL), so I anticipate he’ll see plenty of targets from Carson Palmer.
Cooper’s matchup against the Titans looks good on paper as well. Tennessee finished 27th in DVOA against the pass and allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing WRs. Oakland is a 2.5-point underdog in a game with the second highest game total (50.5), so they’ll likely air it out plenty on Sunday. Especially against a defense that allowed the third-fewest rushing yards last season.
Rounds 4 and 5
It’s time to get a QB. The top guys have probably been chosen already, so let’s look at the guys likely to get overlooked. Carson Palmer, Marcus Mariota, and Derek Carr are all value guys I can get behind.
Palmer finds himself in a great matchup against the Lions, who allowed the third-most fantasy points to quarterbacks a season ago. The Cardinals have a solid implied total of 25 points, and as you know I like Larry Fitzgerald and David Johnson to have solid games. Johnson’s production won’t just be on the ground, as he caught the most passes out of the backfield (80) last season and faces a defense that was 29th in DVOA against RBs in the passing game, which will benefit Palmer on every completion.
The Raiders allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing QBs. Mariota enters Week 1 with the most weapons of his career, and I expect him to succeed against a defense that was 25th in DVOA against the pass. Once again, the game features the second-highest implied total of the weekend, so there should be plenty of scoring.
Derek Carr finds himself on the other side of this game and should have no trouble having success himself. Tennessee allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing QBs, and while they added some pieces to their secondary (CB Logan Ryan and S Johnathan Cyprien), I’m not scared of them in Week 1. If you snagged Cooper in an earlier round, Carr makes for a great correlation play.
If there are no remaining skill players mentioned in Rounds 2 and 3, here are some guys lower on the list that will likely be available.
Greg Olsen will face a 49ers defense that ranked 27th in DVOA against TEs. Olsen led the Panthers in targets and red zone targets the last two seasons, and I don’t expect that will change Week 1.
Delanie Walker gets the Oakland defense who allowed the fifth-most receiving yards to opposing tight ends last season. He’s another TE who gets targeted plenty, as he’s finished top two in targets and red zone targets the past three seasons. He makes an even better play if you snagged Marcus Mariota as your QB.
It’s impossible to predict exactly how different drafts will play out, but if you end up with a roster full of players mentioned above, you’ll be in a great spot to finish in the money. If QBs are flying off the board in the first few rounds, don’t be stubborn and make sure you get a guy you want. But remember, each player can only choose one, so the value guys I mentioned above should stick around until the later rounds.