With football season officially upon us, we DFSers are ready to get back at it and go after some of these big prize pools on DraftKings and FanDuel. The number one decision to make in any DFS lineup is our QB. That will be at the foundation of our team/game stack and factor into many other choices in our lineups. We have some excellent high-end studs as well as some value options on this slate. Let’s take a look at what we are working with.
High-End Ceiling Quarterbacks
Josh Allen – Buffalo Bills – $7400 (DK) $8100 (FD)
Our highest upside play of the week is likely going to be Josh Allen. Depending on the model, his DraftKings ceiling ranges from 34-38 fantasy points on DraftKings (DKP) and 33-35 on FanDuel (FDP). Allen provides a unique combination of rushing upside with a ridiculously pass-heavy offense that projects to be even more pass-heavy this year. Buffalo is a 6.5 point favorite in a game with a total approaching 50. Allen traditionally scores more fantasy points as a favorite, so blowout concerns shouldn’t sway you from him as a top option.
He also comes with the added benefit of being able to pair him with Stefon Diggs as one of the top ceiling WR plays of the week at a slight discount from other studs on both sites. There is one drawback: we don’t have a fantastic run-back (player from the other side) option on the Steelers for a game stack. However, Najee Harris is gaining ownership across the industry as what should be Pittsburgh’s workhorse back. Rostering a running back from an underdog in a game stack may not be according to the most likely game script. Still, this may be an excellent way to work Allen into a game stack. We could also run him without a Steeler on the other side since he performs well with the lead regardless. You could also take a shot on a low-owned Steelers pass-catcher.
Patrick Mahomes – Kansas City Chiefs – $8100 (DK) $8800 (FD)
There is never a day that Patrick Mahomes is not in the conversation as one of the top ceiling upside QB plays in DFS. His ceiling for week one ranges from around 37-41 DKP and 34-38 FDP. Not only is Patrick Mahomes, of course, Patrick Mahomes, but he plays in what projects to be one of the most favorable offensive game environments of the week. The Cleveland/KC game sits at a slate-high 54.5, with the Chiefs’ implied total at 30. Points will be scored if the game goes according to plan, and the offense unquestionably runs through Mahomes.
You have great stacking options in two of the top pass catchers on the slate, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. The game projects to be a shootout despite KC being a 5.5 point favorite.
This could be a sneaky game stack as no one on the Browns is gaining ownership. The field still doesn’t “run it back” with a player from the opposing team as their QB/WR stack as often as they should. This appears to be a spot where you might capitalize by rostering a low-owned Brown on the other side and banking on a close, high-scoring game. When an underdog, Mahomes historically performs better for DFS, so if banking on a ceiling game from a very expensive Mahomes stack, you’d want the game to stay close anyway.
Matt Ryan – Atlanta Falcons – $6000 (DK) $7300 (FD)
At his current projected ownership throughout the industry, Matt Ryan appears to be very low-owned. This is despite a legit ceiling in a sneaky good game environment between Philly and ATL. We have a total approaching 50 in what should be a reasonably close game, with the Falcons favored by only 3.5. Though Ryan has little running equity, he is one of the top passers in the game and can rack up points in the air.
Two of the chalkiest pass-catching options on the Slate in Calvin Ridley and rookie TE phenom Kyle Pitts will be receiving the ball from Ryan. Yet Ryan is going largely un-rostered. This is a beautiful sneaky spot to grab Ryan at value over the highest-priced stud QBs and pair him with his chalky receiving options for a lower-owned build still featuring Ridley/Pitts. Ridley and/or Pitts aren’t going to succeed without a big game from Ryan, so it is a natural pairing.
Jalen Hurts – Philadelphia Eagles – $6400 (DK) $7600 (FD)
Another of my favorite mid-range QBs happens to play on the other side of the ATL/PHI game. Jalen Hurts can rival Lamar Jackson as a rusher based on his first four NFL starts last season. Yes, he struggled through the air, but he is young and has had an entire offseason to work on his passing. The Eagles have also added college stud DeVonta Smith to the receiving corps, which stands to benefit Hurts’ outlook and presents an excellent receiver pairing for stacking. You could also run Hurts without a pass-catcher, considering that much of his upside is on the ground.
Hurts is gaining a little more ownership than Ryan on the other side based on current ownership projections but is still low-owned. His receiving options are very low-owned as I would suspect many people who are using him may not be pairing him with a receiver. A Hurts/Smith pairing with Ridley and/or Pitts on the other side is an excellent game stack this week.
Bonus: Cheap Value Quarterback
Sam Darnold – Carolina Panthers – $5000 (DK) $6500 (FD)
You could really go dumpster-diving with the absolute cheapest plays in Mac Jones and Teddy Bridgewater. But Sam Darnold is the most legitimately viable value option on the slate. He squares off against his former team, the New York Jets, in a revenge game (narrative anyone?) as a -5 favorite.
Yes, Darnold has not looked great so far in the NFL, to say the least, but we all know that he may have been considerably hamstrung with Adam Gase’s challenged NYJ squad. We simply don’t know what we will get with Darnold in Carolina, but now would be the time to buy low, assuming we do have an improved player on our hands.
He has a couple of excellent receivers for stacking partners in DJ Moore and Robby Anderson. Yes, much of the offense may run through Christian McCaffrey, but even he gets a lot of work through the air. On top of everything else, we have one of the most popular cheap receivers on the Slate on DK in Elijah Moore as a perfect run-back. You’d have a very affordable game stack around which to fit high-end studs.
Football is back, and we have a fun slate ahead of us with a lot of good WR value, particularly on DraftKings. We can have our pick of QBs and still make it work with the rest of our rosters, so it’s just a matter of where we want to spend our salary. Have fun in week one, everybody!