Finding solid value plays on salary-based DFS sites is essential when trying to build successful lineups. Each week I’ll discuss players at every position who I think are the best bets to outperform their salary and provide that much-needed value. Since we’re looking for value, let’s establish a salary threshold for QBs of $6,000 or under, RBs below $5,500, WRs at $5,500, or less, and TEs under $3,500.
DraftKings NFL Week 1 Value Picks: QBs, RBs, WRs and TE
Carson Palmer (ARI, $6,000)
Despite having one of the best matchups of the week, Palmer is the 14th ranked QB in terms of salary. Arizona’s team total is 10th at the moment (24.5 points), and the game is expected to be close with just a 1-point spread. The Lions allowed the second-most DK points to opposing QBs last season and returns the same shaky secondary. Detroit also allowed the second-most passing touchdowns last season, so I like Palmer’s chances to put up a solid 20+ point performance against the Lions, which is well worth the 6k price tag.
Carson Wentz (PHI, $5,300)
The second-year QB will have some new toys to play with in Week 1 as Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith make their Eagles debuts. Wentz will face a familiar matchup in the Redskins, a team he threw for over 300 yards against in Week 14 last season. Washington struggled equally against the run and pass last season, finishing 24th in DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average) in both areas. I’m much more confident in the Eagles’ passing game to begin the season, and I like Zach Ertz a lot in this matchup, as well as any WR that isn’t guarded by Josh Norman. Wentz is far from a core play, but someone I could get behind if I need value at the QB position in my GPP lineups.
[Also check out DraftKings standard plays targets to find high-end players to use alongside these value plays.]
Christian McCaffrey (CAR, $5,400)
The rookie back out of Stanford will likely be one of the chalkiest plays at RB due to his relatively low price and great matchup against the 49ers. San Francisco allowed the most fantasy points to opposing RBs by a large margin (75 points) last season and also finished fifth-worst in DVOA against pass-catching backs. It’s clear the Panthers love their new weapon in McCaffrey, as he’s reported to have his own section of the playbook just for him, and they’ll want to protect Cam Newton as much as possible in his first full game back from offseason shoulder surgery. Carolina is also a solid favorite at -5.5, and see the fourth highest total on the board, so I’m plugging McCaffrey into cash and GPP lineups alike without reservation.
Carlos Hyde (SF, $4,600)
It’s hard to ignore Hyde at this depressed price tag. As the lead back in a Kyle Shanahan offense, I will be targeting Hyde frequently this season, and think he makes a great GPP play in Week 1. In the third preseason game (starters’ biggest workload), Hyde caught three passes for 45 yards and a touchdown, something we haven’t seen Hyde do much in his career (only three career receiving touchdowns). Hyde has also started the past two seasons with big weeks. In 2015 he ran for 168 yards and two touchdowns, with 88 yards and two touchdowns in Week 1 last season. All of these add up to make a running back I want exposure to in GPPs, and think he makes for a top value play at RB this week.
Kevin White (CHI, $4,200) and Kendall Wright (CHI, $3,200)
It’s hard to predict who will become the lead fantasy option in Chicago, so I plan to have exposure to both White and Wright in Week 1. The Bears will likely have to play from behind with Atlanta as a seven-point favorite, offering plenty of opportunity in the passing game. While the Falcons graded out well against the pass in 2016, opponents’ volume still got to them as they allowed the eighth-most DK points to opposing WRs last year. Wright comes in as the cheaper and more reliable WR since he’s had sustained NFL success, but White makes for a more exciting GPP play. I’ll lean more towards Wright when setting lineups for the weekend, but there isn’t a right or wrong answer, so feel free to play both.
Adam Thielen (MIN, $4,800)
The Vikings enter Week 1 with the sixth-highest implied point total and are 3.5 point favorites against the high-powered offense of the New Orleans Saints. New Orleans allowed the sixth-most DraftKings points to opposing wide receivers last season. Also, the Saints ranked 30th in DVOA against the pass last season, and graded out worse against WR2s than WR1s, which helps Thielen as Stefon Diggs begins the season as the WR1. I’m high on Thielen in all formats this year, but love him as a value play against the Saints this week at just $4,800.
Zay Jones (BUF, $3,500)
Jones has been all over sleeper lists throughout the preseason (including mine), and has the chance to prove us right in Week 1. Tyrod Taylor doesn’t have many receiving options outside of Jones, as Jordan Matthews hasn’t practiced much with a chest injury, and Andre Holmes is playing in his first game with the Bills. Therefore, I expect LeSean McCoy, Charles Clay, and Jones to be the focal points in Week 1. While the fantasy production wasn’t outstanding last season for opposing wide receivers against New York (14th most DK points to WRs), the Jets ranked 31st in DVOA against the pass and last in DVOA against WR2s. I expect new head coach Sean McDermott will want to see what Jones can bring to the offense and will have Taylor target him early and often. $3,500 is incredibly cheap for a WR1, so I’m happy to risk the uncertainty here and use Jones in a few lineups this weekend.
Evan Engram (NYG, $2,900)
While I’m not high on Engram in season-long leagues, he could provide some solid value this week in a matchup against the Cowboys. Dallas allowed the second-most DraftKings points to opposing tight ends last year and finished 30th in DVOA against the position. Giants’ tight ends saw over 18% of Eli Manning’s targets last season, and Engram should be a better pass catcher than the options last season (Larry Donnell and Will Tye). Engram is said to be a WR labeled as a TE and will provide matchup problems for the Cowboys’ linebackers. This play is inherently risky since we haven’t seen Engram play in a regular season game, but it’s a good risk since the Cowboys struggle against the tight end position and Engram is so cheap.
Los Angeles Chargers ($4.2K on FD, $3,000 on DK) at Denver Broncos
The Chargers had solid fantasy success against the Broncos a season ago, scoring 12 and 13 DK points in their two matchups. The Broncos finished 27th in the NFL in yards per game (323.1) and 21st in points per game (20.8) last season. There are no new offensive threats for the Broncos (outside of the past-his-prime Jamaal Charles), so the Chargers should have no problem holding them in check once again.