Week 1 is finally here, and FantasyAces is offering some great contests to start the season, including a $1,500 freeroll and $100,000 Hail Mary GPP Tournament with a $55 entry in addition to their normal plethora of cash game formats. Also, FantasyAces is now hosting Beginner contests this season with entry restricted only to players with less than 50 wins. Definitely look to target these contests if you are new to the industry--they even have a $1,000 Beginner Only GPP Tournament with entry for only $5.50.
In this feature article, we will walk you through some of our stand-out plays at each position, taking into consideration the specific nuances of FantasyAces pricing, scoring, and roster construction.
Dak Prescott - $4,500 (Cash)
Dak Prescott is a pure chalk play this week, especially on a 2-QB site such as FantasyAces. With salaries having been locked well before the injury to Tony Romo, Prescott is sitting on minimum salary which will make him the highest owned quarterback of the week. Prescott looked great in the preseason and will not hesitate to use his legs when in duress, so we expect him to easily exceed value. The Giants defense was atrocious last season, ranked dead last in the league allowing nearly 300 passing yards per game. They did spend up in the offseason to significantly improve their defense, but nevertheless, they still should be average at best. For Cash games, both Classic and SalaryPro, plug in Prescott and move on. In GPP, he would actually be a wise fade due to the high ownership.
Derek Carr - $6,450 (Cash / GPP)
This game between the Raiders and Saints sports both the highest point total and closest spread of the week, making it a very obvious choice for pulling fantasy talent. The Raiders offense has been highly touted coming into this season, and David Carr is certainly set up to start hot in this matchup against a historically porous Saints secondary. Carr also has some potential upside with his legs here, as we saw him rush for 84 total yards across his last 3 games last season. Carr is the 10th most expensive quarterback on the board, and a full $1,000 cheaper than his counterpart Drew Brees. While Brees also has a high floor in this matchup, based on projected performance and salary, Carr grades out as the better value for your cash game rosters here. If stacked with one of his favorite receivers (i.e. scroll down), Carr would make for a solid GPP option as well.
Matthew Stafford - $6,250 (Cash / GPP)
Matthew Stafford will look to pick up this season where he left off last year, as he most certainly does not want to start it like he did in 2015. Stafford closed the 2015 season with 19 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions across his last 8 games. While losing Calvin Johnson is certainly a blow, Stafford is still left with a very lackluster rushing attack and suspect defense to support him, meaning he will have to shoulder the load if Detroit is to stay competitive. This first contest against the Colts boasts a 51 point total with Detroit as 3.5 point underdogs on the road. We would reasonably expect the Colts to jump out to an early lead, so Stafford should be in catch-up most of this game meaning he will be throwing early and often. Tack on a bottom-of-the-league Colts secondary that will be missing their best player in Vontae Davis, and the stars really begin to shine for Stafford here. We see no reason for his salary to be in the bottom half of all starting quarterbacks, making Stafford an excellent value in what should be a high scoring affair. Feel free to target Matthew Stafford in cash games or even stack him with what a low-owned receiver such as Marvin Jones Jr ($4,450) in GPP formats.
Kirk Cousins - $6,500 (GPP)
Kirk Cousins had a very solid year in 2015 as he has earned his place at the help of the Redskins offense full time in 2016. While he may not set another franchise record for passing yards this year, Cousins certainly has a favorable matchup in Week 1. The Steelers defense ranked third worst against the pass last season, allowing an average of 272 yards per game. The Over/Under in this game is set at 50 so far, making it one of only 3 games on the week to hit that mark. The Redskins rushing attack may be lackluster here with Matt Jones banged up, so expect their game plan to focus on Kirk Cousins, especially if they plan to keep up with the Steelers’ high powered offense. Ownership on Cousins is expected to be above average, but his ceiling should be right there with other top options due to the matchup situation. Cousins exhibited the ability last season to put up very big numbers, throwing for over 300 yards and 4 touchdowns on 3 separate occasions. Look to Cousins in GPP formats, making for a nice pairing with elite tight end Jordan Reed or wide receiver Pierre Garcon (should be low-owned).
Spencer Ware - $4,000 (Cash)
Starter Jamaal Charles should be either inactive or severely limited, paving the way for Spencer Ware to get the majority of the workload this week against San Diego. Not only is his price sitting at rock bottom, but he legitimately is in a great spot with a ton of upside. The Chargers were ranked 27th in rushing defense last season, allowing an average of 4.8 yards per attempt. Vegas has Kansas City favored by a touchdown at home, and they historically have been a run-first offense--meaning we should see Ware afforded plenty of opportunities. One particularly interesting note of additional upside for Ware has been the focus on improving his hands in the offseason. Ware has focused heavily on catching the football in camp, and displayed the fruits of that labor by hauling in 8 receptions this preseason--2 more than he had during the entire 2015 season. Look for Ware to be the highest owned running back of the week, making him an excellent option for your cash game rosters and a perfect target in SalaryPro formats given his high upside for the bargain price.
Todd Gurley - $6,250 (Cash / GPP)
Todd Gurley had one heck of start to his rookie season last year, rushing for over 125 yards in each of his first 4 starts. Gurley finished with 146 total yards, 3 receptions and a touchdown in his one game against San Francisco last season; we expect a very similar game script in this matchup as Gurley is our top projected running back of the week. The Rams should be relying heavily on Gurley as the rest of their offense leaves much to be desired. The matchup is ideal as San Francisco allowed the 2nd most points to running backs last season and a league-high 20 total rushing touchdowns, while Gurley was 1 of only 6 players in 2015 to record double-digit rushing touchdowns. Gurley should have a decent level of ownership, but many will stray away from his top-level price in favor of paying up at wide receiver this week. There is not another option at running back with more upside than Todd Gurley, so roster Gurley with confidence in all formats.
Christine Michael - $4,200 (Cash / GPP)
With Thomas Rawls likely to be very limited, or potentially even inactive, Christine Michael should be in line for the start this week. Michael had a great preseason averaging 6.5 YPC, and is in a great spot against a Miami defense near the bottom of the league in rushing. Seattle is far and away the heaviest favorite of the week as Vegas has them around 11 point favorites, so we would fully expect a run-heavy game flow to allow Michael to fully exploit this positive matchup. The issue however remains to be the level of uncertainty around who will receive carries here, in addition to the poor offensive line play expected by Seattle this season. Rawls has not been ruled out, and rookie C.J. Prosise is waiting in the wings if Seattle jumps out to an early lead. For these reasons, Michael will be more suited for GPP exposure rather than cash.
However, keep an eye on injury news. If Michael is announced as the clear-cut starter, his ownership will skyrocket making him less attractive in GPP and more of a cash game play.
Ryan Mathews - $4,900 (GPP)
With the loss of Demarco Murray, the Eagles offense will feature Ryan Mathews as the primary running back. While Mathews may lose some pass-catching work to Darren Sproles, he will be eat up pretty much all of the carries available for this offense. Carries should equal success against what shapes up to be an atrocious Browns defensive front, often ranked as dead last coming into this season. The Browns defense was bad last year allowing the third-most rushing yards, and with the loss of both Barkevious Mingo and Paul Kruger, they are bound to be just as bad this season. Mathews may be overlooked by DFS players due to the projected overall ineptitude of Philadelphia’s offense, but this matchup is too good to pass up. His salary makes him very affordable, and the ceiling is there to make Mathews a solid GPP option.
Antonio Brown - $6,450 (Cash)
Even with this being the first game of the season, there is not much to say in defending Antonio Brown as a cash game play. Brown is the best wide receiver in football and will be the primary offensive weapon for the Steelers with Le’Veon Bell out until Week 4 and Martavis Bryant no longer in the picture (suspended entire season). The Redskins added one of the best cornerbacks in the game (Josh Norman), so they will be much improved--however, Brown is as close to matchup-proof as you can get. With all signs pointing to a very target-heavy day for Brown regardless of his cornerback matchup, Antonio Brown will be a solid option to pay up for in all formats.
Amari Cooper - $5,000 (Cash)
Amari Cooper grades out as a great value this week at his current price. We already talked about the matchup for Derek Carr, and Cooper looks to be the primary beneficiary. Cooper had some big games last season, but was largely plagued by a nagging ankle injury. Now healthy, he starts his season against a Saints defense that allowed more touchdowns to wide receivers than any other team in the league last year. With shootout written all over this game and a very agreeable price, Cooper makes for a solid option in your cash games and is very stack-able with Carr in both GPP and Cash formats.
DeAndre Hopkins - $6,150 (Cash / GPP)
There are a number of question marks around the Texans offense with a new quarterback and running back at the helm, but one constant that remains this season is DeAndre Hopkins. Regardless of who is throwing him the ball, Hopkins is known for making spectacular plays and put up monster numbers last season. He has a prime matchup this week against a bad Chicago secondary that could be even worse with both Kyle Fuller and Bryce Callahan questionable to play (Limited Participants in early week practices). Hopkins is the cheapest of the top 4 priced receivers, and he should be the lowest owned of the bunch, making him a very promising target for differentiation at the elite receiver level in your GPP’s.
Tajae Sharpe - $3,000 (GPP)
Tajae Sharpe has been a quick riser on season-long draft boards this season, and he is most certainly should be on the radar for consideration in DFS. Sharpe has had a very solid rookie preseason, showcasing his explosive playmaking ability by hauling in 9 receptions for 163 yards. The Titans have totally rebuilt their wide receiving core this season, and Sharpe is projecting to be a top target thus far. The matchup is a tough one, as the Vikings have a strong secondary led by Xavier Rhodes and Terence Newman. However at the minimum salary, all it takes is one big play for a touchdown to make you look like a genius for rostering Sharpe. His opportunities to make a play may be limited with the Titans’ run-focused offense, so exposure here should be limited to tournaments since you are relying on a big play for Sharpe to pay off.
T.Y. Hilton - $4,900 (GPP)
When it comes to boom / bust receiver, T.Y. Hilton’s name seems to come up quite often. Last season, Hilton finished with only 2 games above 100 yards, and 3 games with at least 1 touchdown, yet still ranked 14th in targets on the year. This pales in comparison to his 2014 season (in which he had Andrew Luck all year) where he finished with at least 1 touchdown or 100+ yards in 8 games. He is most certainly a deep ball threat, however should still be the most heavily targeted option for Andrew Luck this season. The matchup against Detroit overall is positive, however Hilton’s individual matchup may not as bright as he likely will draw Darius Slay, a top-5 cornerback in his own right.. Look to Hilton for salary relief in your GPP contests as a big play option with significant salary relief, but proceed with caution in your cash games due to the potential for a lock-down matchup..
Jesse James - $3,000 (Cash)
Jesse James should get the start at tight end for the Steelers this week and is sitting at the minimum price at his position. This guy is a giant at 6-foot-7 and 261 lbs, so he shapes up to be a prime red zone target for Ben Roethlisberger. James looked good in his third preseason game, receiving 5 targets for 4 receptions, 21 yards, and 1 touchdown while playing all first-team snaps. The Redskins allowed a ton of fantasy points to tight ends last season, and with James at the minimum salary, he should be a popular punt option for your cash game lineups.
Delanie Walker - $4,700 (Cash)
Delanie Walker was the featured pass-catcher in the Titans offense last season, hauling in a franchise-record 94 receptions to rank him 9th overall in receptions for 2015. While he may not repeat that career year, Walker is expected to continue his role as the primary target for Marcus Mariota. The Titans will definitely be a run-first offense this season, but Minnesota has arguably a top 5 defensive line, meaning there is a good chance that Walker should get some red zone looks if the Titans fail to punch it in. Walker’s price is a tier below the top options, so he should fit nicely into your lineup for cash games.
Vance McDonald - $3,500 (GPP)
Vance McDonald is the lead tight end in San Francisco this season, and could be a rather low owned option to use at the position this week. Options in the passing game are limited in San Francisco, but Chip Kelly’s offense certainly favors the tight end. In addition, we know that Blaine Gabbert is expected to be shaky this season, so McDonald shapes up to be a very safe option running easy routes as Gabbert tries to avoid the big mistakes. McDonald is cheap enough to take a shot on in your GPP lineups here, but we would recommend pivoting up or down in salary to other options in cash lineups.
Philadelphia Eagles - $3,000 (Cash / GPP)
This contest with the Browns at the Eagles sports one of the lowest point to totals of the week, currently sitting at 41. Everyone knows that the Browns offense has been less than spectacular, accounting for only 17.4 points per game last season (3rd worst). They added quarterback Robert Griffin III III, who is known for his bad decision-making and willingness to take a hit in the backfield. We expect Philadelphia to take a run-heavy approach as they trot out the rookie at quarterback, keeping Cleveland’s offense off the field to help keep that overall score down. With the explosive Darren Sproles returning kicks and punts (ranked 5th KR / PR by Footballguys), the Eagles have the added upside of a special teams touchdown as a very real possibility. The price is relatively higher, but Philadelphia easily has the highest ceiling of any defense in play this week and should be targeted in both cash and GPP formats.