FanDuel NFL Week 1 Picks and Perfect Lineup

FanDuel NFL Week 1 Picks and Perfect Lineup

Week one player pricing is out for FanDuel and over $3+ million in contests have been posted in the lobby. Overall, the pricing seems accurate but certainly is not tight… we had little trouble building lineups that we absolutely loved, particularly considering the Week 1 matchups.

After an initial glance at the players, matchups, and pricing, here is the player pool that we expect to build our Week 1 lineups from.

fanduel nfl week 1 contests

Jimmy Garoppolo

QB | San Francisco 49ers | FanDuel Salary: $7,200
In his first start since tearing his ACL in week 4 of the 2018 season, it seems unlikely that Jimmy GQ will be too highly owned on FanDuel despite what is a dream matchup.

Tampa finished either dead last or in the bottom 5 in just about every pass defense statistic last season. Their pass rush was terrible, their secondary was arguably the worst in the league, and aside from bringing in Todd Bowles to serve as defensive coordinator, they did little to fix their abysmal 2018 defense. Bowles is putting his system in place but has been doing so without key pieces David, Vea, and Pierre-Paul. PFF currently ranks the Bucs as the 32nd secondary and 26th pass rush.

The pieces around Garoppolo are perfect heading into 2019. The offensive line was good in 2018, but could easily take a leap to great under Kyle Shanahan this season. The teams featured a solid group of pass-catchers last season with two above-average backs, George Kittle, Dante Pettis, Marquise Goodwin, and then added Tevin Coleman, Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd this offseason. All of these pieces, combined with the best offensive mind in football, could make San Francisco one of the deadliest offenses in the league.

Matthew Stafford

QB | Detroit Lions | FanDuel Salary: $6,600
As good as Garoppolo’s Week 1 matchup is, I don’t think there is a better week 1 matchup than the Cardinals… a team that plans to run arguably the most uptempo system in NFL history, with an atrocious offensive line, league-worst run defense, and rookie QB making his first start.

After a career-worst 2018 campaign, the fantasy industry is undeniably down on Stafford heading into 2019. This is a guy that was a top 10 fantasy QB every season heading into last season, a year marred by injury… Injuries included Kerryon Johnson, Theo Riddick, Marvin Jones, and TJ Lang. The team went through 11 different starting offensive line combinations! They also traded Golden Tate midseason, and oh yeah, Stafford was playing with a broken back.

He enters 2019 with a new, proven, coordinator. His young but talented offensive line now has another year of experience under their belt, as does Kerryon Johnson. Marvin Jones is back healthy. They signed Danny Amendola and Jesse James, then drafted TJ Hockenson who has been unstoppable throughout camp. For the first time since Megatron left, it finally feels like Stafford has the pieces around him to succeed. He should shred this Cardinals’ defense in their first game under Vance Joseph.


Joe Mixon

RB | Cincinnati Bengals | FanDuel Salary: $7,800
Seattle may not be the best matchup on the board, but this is the only week this season you will be able to target Mixon for under $8,000. Mixon managed to lead the AFC in rushing despite missing two games and playing in a system that drastically underutilized him.

This year he gets to be the feature back in a Zac Taylor system that will look a lot like Sean McVay’s system that made Gurley the top back in fantasy each of the last two seasons. While we think Mixon’s production as a runner will remain relatively consistent, he should take a giant step forward as a receiver under Taylor in 2019. Gurley saw his targets and receptions more than double under McVay, which was the real reason he made the leap from fantasy disappointment to offensive MVP in just one year.

While Seattle is not pushover defensively, and won’t be for as long as Wagner and Wright are there, this is not the old Seahawks defense. They have PFF’s 31st rated secondary, 27th rated pass rush, and 20th rated run defense. The Bengals should be able to move the ball all over this Seattle defense, and Mixon will be the catalyst behind everything they do on offense.

Leonard Fournette

RB | Jacksonville Jaguars | FanDuel Salary: $7,200
Leonard Fournette is going to be our sell-high candidate after week one… A dream matchup, he is healthy, and pricing that reflects his 2018 disaster of a season have him set up to be a great week 1 play on FanDuel. I’m still not buying DeFillipo as an offensive coordinator, particularly as one that can scheme for a run game, but it shouldn’t matter against the Chiefs who were one of the worst teams in the league against the run last season.

The Chiefs were 31st in rushing YPC in 2018, they were also 26th in rushing YPG, 23rd in PPG, and 26th in time of possession. While I have legitimate concerns about this Jags run game for 2018, Fournette will be the focal point of this offense for at least week 1 and will likely get plenty of opportunities as both a runner and pass-catcher here.m

Kerryon Johnson

RB | Detroit Lions | FanDuel Salary: $7,000
Theo Riddick’s release locks Johnson in as one of the few true 3-down RB’s in the league. While we think CJ Anderson will get a decent amount of work this season, clearly Johnson is going to be the focal point of everything that the Lions do on offense.

Detroit brought in Darrell Bevell this past offseason to rework their offense to be based around the run. Bevell’s Seahawks were top 3 in rushing in the NFL for 4 straight seasons from 2012-2015. They have also added a ton of depth to the offensive line as their youth in the middle (Ragnow, Glasgow, Dahl) is now much more experienced, they also added depth and experience in Kenny Wiggins. Johnson averaged 5.4 YPC, 2nd in NFL amongst backs w/ at least 100 carries, behind the Lions makeshift offensive line last season.

We expect Kerryon Johnson to have a monster 2019 season, and he may not get a better matchup all year than this one. The Cardinals were dead last in fantasy PPG allowed to opposing RB’s in 2018, and you can make the argument that they will be even worse this season after replace Wilks with Kingsbury.

Chris Godwin

WR | Tampa Bay Buccaneers | FanDuel Salary: $6,900
I think Mayfield/OBJ is going to be the most popular stack for NFL Week 1 contests on FanDuel, but I don’t love the matchups for any of the top receivers in this slate. I think there is a legitimate chance that Chris Godwin ends up being the top WR for the week at just $6,900.

Godwin will line up in the slot anytime the Bucs are in a 3 WR set, meaning Mike Evans and Breshad Perriman will face more Richard Sherman than Godwin, who will likely face more K’Waun Williams than any other 49ers DB. Williams was 31st among the 32 starting nickel corners in 2018 in terms of production allowed.

The 49ers as a team gave up the 4th most fantasy PPG to opposing WR’s, but certainly strengthened their pass rush by adding Bosa in the draft. I think Godwin could end up having a huge PPR week as Arians tries to get the ball out of Winston’s hands before Bosa, Ford, and Buckner can get to him.

DJ Moore

WR | Carolina Panthers | FanDuel Salary: $6,200
DJ Moore is another WR priced outside of the top tier at the position, but capable of putting up big numbers in week 1. His matchup comes against a Rams defense that gave up the 4th most fantasy production to opposing WR1’s in 2018. Opposing WR1’s averaged 84.8 yards per game against the Rams last season, which was the 3rd most in the NFL.

Moore finished the 2018 season on a tear, receiving 7+ targets in 7 of his last 8 games, and Norv Turner has made it clear this offseason that he sees Moore as their goto WR in 2019. He plans on moving Moore all over the offense, using him in a number of different ways, to get him the ball more this season. Given the increased usage and quality matchup, Moore could drastically outproduce his $6,200 Week one salary.

Dede Westbrook

WR | Jacksonville Jaguars | FanDuel Salary: $5,900
If you are a Hello Rookie subscriber, you already saw this one coming. We are all in on Dede Westbrook in 2019. Given Westbrook’s skillset, adding Foles and DeFillipo this offseason were two of the best possible moves for his fantasy value.

DeFillipo is going to lean on Foles’s strengths, which is decision making and accuracy, getting the ball out of his hands fast. Westbrook is a guy that can get open quickly in the slot and make big plays after the catch.

His week one matchup with the Chiefs is as ideal as you will find. Kansas City gave up the 9th most fantasy PPG to opposing WR’s in 2018, much of it coming to opposing slot receivers. KC was actually top 10 vs outside receivers, but came in 29th in slot production allowed. Westbrook should have a busy week one, and could drastically outproduce his $5,900 FanDuel salary.

Paul Richardson

WR | Washington Redskins | FanDuel Salary: $4,900
Another one of our favorite deep sleepers for the 2019 season, Richardson will be the biggest beneficiary from a QB change this season. Whether McCoy or Keenum starts week one, it will be an upgrade for Richardson who never really got going with Smith before both went down with injury last season.

Gruden has made it clear that he thinks Richardson is a legit #1 WR in the NFL and will live up to the 5 year, $40 million contract he got last offseason. If that is the case, then he better show up for week one in this matchup with the Eagles. The Eagles gave up the 3rd most fantasy PPG to opposing WR’s and we don’t think Darby (if healthy) will be enough to fix their secondary issues. They were also susceptible to Richardson’s strong strength: big plays, giving up the 3rd most 20+ yards passing plays in the league last year.

George Kittle

TE | San Francisco 49ers | FanDuel Salary: $7,300
Kittle had a monster 2018 season and all signs point to him being even better in 2019. While we thought Kittle would play a major role in the 49ers passing game in 2018, we were shocked to see him average just under 11 targets per game over the team’s last 7 games. Given his matchup with the Bucs, double digit targets in Week one will likely result in him being the top TE in fantasy for the week.

Tampa was 29th in DVOA vs the tight position in 2018, and, aside from bringing in Todd Bowles as DC, they did little to make us think this secondary will be improved in 2019. In fact, the group was dead last in PFF’s recent secondary rankings.

Evan Engram

TE | New York Giants | FanDuel Salary: $6,400
Evan Engram was a top 4 tight end with Odell Beckham out over the last month of the 2018 season, averaging 13.4 FanDuel PPG over that stretch. With Sterling Shepard banged up and Golden Tate suspended, Engram will likely be the focal point of the Giants pass offense when they travel to Dallas in Week one.

The Cowboys were clearly a matchup that Engram looked forward to in 2018… he put up 12/148/2 in two games against America’s team last season. As good as Dallas was defensively last year, they struggled against opposing tight ends, giving up the 7th most fantasy PPG to the position.

TJ Hockenson

TE | Detroit Lions | FanDuel Salary: $4,900
We can’t give Hockenson even a week to prove his worth… We think he is a top 5 tight end, and is going to have a massive role in this new Detroit offense. Reports out of Lions training camp have Hockenson dominating both his own secondary and opposing secondaries.

He also happens to have the best matchup out of all of the Lions’ pass catchers. The strength of the Arizona defense is at corner with Peterson, Murphy, and Alford, but the safeties and linebackers are more than beatable. We think the Lions will move the ball on the ground at will against Arizona, pulling the Cardinals linebackers and safeties in and setting up Hockenson in the play action game.

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