What’s up Karma Nation! This is a weekly article I will be doing on Monday’s this season, breaking down where I landed for my main teams, reviewing them, and the covering the things that stood out to me most usage-wise in the games. Let’s get right into it!
Main Lineup: Carson Wentz, Nick Chubb, Dalvin Cook, Chris Godwin, Tyler Lockett, Julio Jones, Hunter Henry, Chris Carson, Panthers
Main Lineup Score: 148.42
Did I hit cash games? No.
What Went Wrong? One of the biggest personal holes in my DFS game is always on Week 1 of the NFL season. Salaries get released before the preseason is even played in preparation for the big tournaments, and it leaves way too much time to overthink the salaries inefficiencies once injuries or new roles present us with value. I often try to get too cute with all of the room we are awarded given those cheap prices, and that held true when I locked onto the mid-tier at Running Back, and chose not to pay up for Christian McCaffrey. Pretty much everyone knows that spending up for the floor of the elite RBs is a must, and while I felt very strongly about Julio Jones, even if that had worked out and I had crushed this week I would still be writing that it was a mistake to pick him over McCaffrey. Always, always, always view things as process over results, whether the outcomes is positive or negative.
Another mistake I made was neglecting to use Austin Ekeler despite me knowing and righting about how strong his matchup was against the Colts, who were one of the worst defenses in the NFL last season in terms of allowing catches to opposing backs. I knew that Leonard Fournette was going to be chalk at his price, so if I was going to pivot off of him while not spending up for CMC, I should have dropped to Ekeler rather than forcing in Chubb behind a suspect offensive line — though Chubb was vultured twice inside the five (once through the air). The spot was too good for Ekeler in hindsight.
What Went Right? One of the things I did nail this week was being locked onto Lamar Jackson and Carson Wentz as my favorite two Quarterbacks since salaries opened. I sided with Wentz on DraftKings, but he didn’t lose the week for me with almost 30 DK points. Dalvin Cook was mega-chalk, but there were still 25% of people that didn’t play him and saying that you absolutely needed him in cash games was the right analysis.
Main Lineup: Jameis Winston, Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, Chris Godwin, Tyler Lockett, John Brown, Hunter Henry, Chris Carson, Browns
Main Lineup Score: 147.56
Did I hit cash games? Yes.
What Went Wrong? Overall, I pretty much knew heading into Sunday that I was going to cash one of DraftKings or FanDuel, and probably not the other given the hedge I made with McCaffrey. Even though I had a really good week on FanDuel, making the mistake of playing Jameis Winston cost me what could have been a monster start to the season. As we got closer to kick-off on Sunday, totals in the juicy games were dropping across the board, and one of the few games that saw the total increasing was Bucs/49ers. Ultimately, I should of just hedged and used Jackson on FanDuel given that I had Wentz on DK, especially since you don’t need a 300 yard bonus on FanDuel, even though Jackson got to that threshold as well. The fear of being under-exposed to what could have been the biggest shootout of the week hurt me, when I should of trusted my gut and played Lamar Jackson who was pretty much the same price. Another mistake was prioritizing Browns defense, who I felt really strongly about with the Titans missing their best offensive lineman in Taylor Lewan. Leading up to Sunday, my favorite value defense by far was the 49ers, and my choice to roster Winston over Jackson obviously took me off of them as well, truly a massive, massive swing of points as the 49ers put up over 20 FD points compared to the 0 from the Browns.
What Went Right? Despite ruining what could have been a potential record-breaking Week 1, my choice to drop down to the low-tier for my WR3 paid dividends with John Brown. I was debating Brown or DeSean Jackson, and both had spectacular games and were low-owned, which helped my lineup spike into GPPs and not just win in cash games/H2H’s.
Now that we’ve covered the process of my Week 1 lineup building, and identified areas to improve for next week, let’s take a look at what stood out to me in the games on Sunday…
1. Tyreek Hill Injury Fallout- The Chiefs are expected to be without Hill for at least a few weeks after he injured his shoulder early in their Week 1 game against the Jaguars. Sammy Watkins obviously exploded in this game, but it’s worth noting that they also used rookie Mecole Hardman as his replacement. Hardman played on all but 6 snaps, and while the targets weren’t there this week, the usage is encouraging to say the least. Watkins and Hardman rocket ship emoji.
2. Pete Carroll Didn’t Lie- For what seems like the first time ever, Pete Carroll held true to his word that the Seahawks planned on using Chris Carson more in the passing game this season. Carson saw 7 targets in Week 1, catching a touchdown as well and as he dominated work over Rashaad Penny, as expected.
3. Todd Gurley- So, this one is tough. Anyone that listens to me, or knows me knows that I was definitely in the camp of believing that Todd Gurley’s knee injury was much, much worse than Sean McVay was making it out to be. He saw just five touches in the Super Bowl, they matched an offer for Malcolm Brown in the off-season and they traded UP to draft Darrell Henderson. News broke on Sunday morning that the Rams had “no idea” how Gurley’s knee would hold up during the game, and nothing that happened in the game gave me any more confidence in the situation. Gurley out-snapped Brown 53-21, but Brown also stole two red-zone touchdowns, while Henderson’s two snaps came in the red zone as well. If Gurley isn’t healthy enough to take red zone work now, how can we believe he will be later on in the season?
4. Run CMC- Speaking of NFL teams that lie, we have another example with the Carolina Panthers. I wrote in my cash game article this week that while the Panthers said all off-season that they wanted to limit McCaffrey’s workload this season, they would be unable to with them keeping just two unproved Running Backs behind him. It’s only one game, but that held true in Week 1 with McCaffrey playing EVERY snap. Another reason I shouldn’t of faded him in cash games on DK. Fish move.
5. Miles Sanders SZN Looms- I was not on Sanders in Week 1 DFS, but it was no secret that he was one of more hyped up fantasy players this off-season. With Jordan Howard and Darren Sproles still in the mix, and a coach who loves to spread the ball to backs, it was easy to see how Sanders would struggle to see the field at the start of his NFL career. The Eagles got jumped out of the gate against the Redskins on Sunday, and while they ultimately came back to win it was extremely positive to see that Sanders ended up leading the backfield in snaps in his first NFL game. Sanders saw 36 compared to Sproles 23 and Howard’s 17. Part of that is probably game-script dependent, but it was promising nonetheless. As the year goes on, I expect Sanders role to grow.
6. Kellen McVay- If you didn’t watch the Cowboys game in Week 1, I highly suggest going back and watching their offensive possessions. New OC Kellen More put together a beautiful game plan with tons of pre-snap motion and play-action. They had a dominant game, and I will be curious to see if they allow these changes to stick throughout the year, or if they return to Cowboy ways of old once their 90 million dollar man Ezekiel Elliott is ready for a full workload.
7. Ring the Bell- I, myself, was off of Le’Veon Bell in Week 1 opting for the wait and see approach with him on a new team. The Jets were not shy with his workload, giving him 23 touches compared to backup Ty Montgomery’s two, and it looks like Bell is officially back on the fantasy mix. He is off the main slate next week, however, as the Jets draw the Browns on Monday Night Football.
8. SKOL- HC Mike Zimmer was adamant about the Vikings turning into a run-first team this off-season, and that held true in Week 1 with the Vikings throwing the ball just TEN TIMES. They dominated that game from the get-go, so they won’t always be able to do that when they aren’t smashing the opposing him but it’s key to note that it really will hurt Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen (and Cousins) when they are in positive game-script situations. Imagine having a team with Kirk Cousins, Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, Kyle Rudolph, Irv Smith Jr and a RB that can catch, and focusing on running the ball…imagine.
9. Don’t Overreact to Week 1- Lots of weird things happen in Week 1, teams have direct game plans for opponents they’ve been prepping for, for months rather than one week. Even certain usage nuggets are noisy, and it’s important to remember that one week is an extremely small sample size, so don’t go crazy! There’s a long season ahead.
Written by Ben Hossler (Follow @BenHossler on Twitter)