NFL DFS Week 1 – Ben’s Building Blocks for DraftKings & FanDuel - DFS Karma
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NFL DFS Week 1 – Ben’s Building Blocks for DraftKings & FanDuel

What’s up everyone and welcome to Ben’s Building Blocks! If you’ve never read my content before, welcome. To those that have, welcome back. I truly appreciate everyone that reads and supports during NFL season. This article is designed for me to highlight the top plays of the week, and my overall player pool for the main slate. Obviously, things can change rapidly in the NFL with injury news on the weekends, so I would be sure to subscribe to our premium package for access to my Final Thoughts cheat sheet, our premium discord channel and my core plays. Our Core Plays product gives you the ability to tail all of our analysts in your contests each week. We do the work for you, and you simply plug and play with our premium Core Plays. With that being said, let’s hop into the Week 1 slate…


Words can’t fully describe how excited I am that football is back. Spending all week tilting 2v2’s and 3v3’s for my main lineups, the world is truly a better place over the next few months. It appears that the biggest theme of Week 1 is going to be weather. Most of the games outdoors this weekend have rain in the forecast, and it’s going to be tough to fully digest how it will affect things until we get closer to Sunday. I’m probably going to end up on a pretty tight player pool per usual, and I was leaning that way before the weather concerns became evident. For cash games, we always lean towards the rushing QB’s and there are a few of them in strong spots — namely Jalen Hurts and Lamar Jackson. I believe Jackson could be in for another MVP campaign playing in a contract year, and betting on himself to do so. He has always averaged more points in games that the Ravens win handily, and they should have no issues with the Jets this weekend. I think he’s viable in all formats. Despite Jackson’s appeal, my number one play is the one with the highest ownership projection — Jalen Hurts. I think Hurts and the Eagles are in for a huge season, and I’m anticipating the Eagles skewing a bit more pass-heavy than expected. Hurts had a full offseason for the Eagles to tailor this offense to him — compared to a year ago when we didn’t know how secure his job was. This is a smash match-up to start out. Philly should dominate this Lions team in the trenches, and I still think the Lions are going to be pretty leaky in the secondary. Hurts has a stable rushing floor, but there is potential for a huge game through the air in a dome game.

Outside of Hurts, my second favorite option is Patrick Mahomes. It’s fairly clear to me early in the week that Hurts + Mahomes are going to be the two main guys I hone in on. Kansas City/Arizona is an obvious game to attack, featuring a slate-high 53.5 O/U. I just don’t see how Arizona can contain Mahomes and the Chiefs passing offense here. They have a serious disadvantage going against the Chiefs offensive line, and it looks like JJ Watt could really miss this game. On top of that, their second best corner is going to miss this game as well and this defense was already extremely vulnerable on the outside. There’s a reason this line moved to heavily in the Chiefs favor and I think they absolutely crush in Week 1.

For pivots, I’m always interested in Justin Herbert and I think Kirk Cousins is undervalued to start the season. Herbert is in the second-best game on the slate and the shootout chances are heightened with JC Jackson set to miss for the Chargers. Ownership is always spread out at QB, but I think Herbert comes in outside the top-five at his position on Sunday. As for Cousins, this is an amazing Week 1 play. Week 1 is all about what can happen — because we truly don’t know much about these teams. Getting ahead of offense and scheme changes early is a big edge, and the Vikings should be much more pass-heavy early with Mike Zimmer finally gone. I love to stack teams with consolidated target shares — think the Bengals for example — and we have that in Minnesota. We know that the ball will be going to Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen, and that makes it easy for stacks to build themselves. I actually like the Vikes to win this game, and Cousins will play a big part in that.

Core: Jalen Hurts, Patrick Mahomes

Pivots: Kirk Cousins, Justin Herbert

Running Back

Week 1 is always and interesting slate for the Running Back position. Overall, we typically have really soft pricing thus making it easy to build stars/scrubs and jam in the top guys. That’s definitely the case again this season, but I’m actually leaning towards a balanced build on most of my non-cash game rosters. I don’t need to dive into too much detail about Jonathan Taylor and Christian McCaffrey. Everyone knows these are the best plays, and they are both projected for big ownership. CMC is the early candidate for highest-owned back on the slate — currently popping for around 23% ownership. Taylor comes in a bit below that, but the general public loves to play him and he will likely be at or around 20% in my opinion. Anyways, they are the best plays and can obviously anchor your cash games — I lean CMC over Taylor, but both are fine.

Outside of the obvious plays, there are a group of three guys I like and that’s Saquon Barkley, D’Andre Swift and Eli Mitchell. Barkley and Swift won’t be any secret — especially Saquon at his price tag. That being said, I usually worry about ownership at RB the least of all positions. I truly believe Barkley could lead the league in touches this season, and now the Titans are missing Harold Landry. It’s not a great game environment, but with the volume projection he has it’s really tough to avoid him at his salary. Even as chalk, he’s my favorite play on the slate at this position.

Swift is in a good spot as well, and could be in line for a fantastic season. People worry about Jamaal Williams eating into his snap-rate, but I have less concerns than most. Williams is going to play, that’s a fact, but there’s a good chance that the 30-35% share for him is being over-projected. It’s important to remember that Swift was extremely banged up coming into last season — so much so that he was basically a game-time decision in Week 1. He’s been fully healthy this offseason, and is ready to take that next step forward in my opinion. Philly’s defense is most attackable over the middle of the field, and to running backs catching passes out of the backfield. This sets up very well for Swift, and he makes for some natural correlation with Hurts.

Mitchell on the other hand is going to come in super low-owned, and I’m not sure why. People are scared of a RBBC in San Francisco, but we’ve never seen Kyle Shanahan feed a back like he did Mitchell last season. He ranked top-five in opportunity share and he was a rookie…not a highly drafted one at that. It’s clear to me he is the guy for the 49ers — a run-heavy team that’s going to run even more in 2022. Chicago lost some serious dudes on the defensive line this offseason, including run-stoppers Eddie Goldman and Akiem Hicks. Only Jonathan Taylor had more 100+ yard games on the ground last season, and this is a spot we can look to take advantage of in tournaments this weekend.

Another reason I like the balanced builds is how loaded the mid-tier is at this position. There are several guys that I think are strong plays, but given how small I like to keep my pool I had to make some cuts. Travis Etienne and AJ Dillon are both great plays for tournaments, and I think Aaron Jones is strong as well. If I didn’t write up someone you like, don’t worry. This article is a guide of my research and who I really like each week. If you have conviction about a player — trust your gut. I will say — I prefer both Jones and Dillon to the RB’s in the Cincinnati/Pittsburgh game — both of whom are catching pretty beefy early ownership projections. I also prefer Mitchell to everyone in the $5-6k range (other than Barkley).

Core: CMC, D’Andre Swift, Saquon Barkley, Elijah Mitchell

Pivots: Aaron Jones, Travis Etienne

Wide Receiver

I’m discouraged by some of the weather developments — but there’s no use in worrying about that sort of thing prior to forecast updates on Sunday morning. I have a ton of conviction around a few guys this week, and that is going to lead to a pretty tight pool. Typically this is the one position I look at more guys, but I love some of these mid-tier guys and I am very excited to fit multiple of them into my lineups. For starters, we can talk about cash games and the highest projected owned guys. I think that Michael Pittman, Hollywood Brown, Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase are all going to be pretty chalky in Week 1. And I think all are strong plays. Of the four, Chase is likely the one to miss the cut for me and that’s just because I’m not super focused on that game — which could be a mistake on my part. Pittman is stupidly priced on DraftKings, and I don’t see how you avoid him in cash game builds. I probably won’t play him in tournaments, but the price is just dumb and that’s no secret. Brown is the guy I’m comfortable playing as chalk, and he correlates so well with Mahomes. It looks like Rondale Moore is going to miss this game for Arizona — which is definitely going to force more attention to Brown and the cheap Arizona guys. I don’t think we need min-priced guys on this slate, but I don’t see how Brown doesn’t crush this weekend. He’s one of my top-overall plays on the Week 1 slate and I will be locking him in regardless of ownership. The same can be said for Jefferson. It’s no secret how good he can be this season and he is viable in all formats for me.

The other guys I really, really feel strongly about are Mike Williams and the Chiefs outside receivers. I think it’s clear that Williams can supplant Keenan Allen this season as the Chargers clear-cut number one WR. He has an amazing match-up in Week 1 against an undersized CB, and we know that he routinely has one of the highest ceilings week-to-week. He’s a guy that really pops off when he has a good game, and that’s exactly what we want in DFS. Factor in that he’s projecting for under 5% ownership and I’m very, very interested. He actually may end up on my main team.

Matt and I discussed on this weeks podcast how fruitful it is to attack the Arizona Cardinals on the outside. They allowed the third-least fantasy points to Tight Ends last season, and they’re so good over the middle of the field with one of the best safety groups in the NFL. They are particularly burnable on the outside, however, and that should only increase this week with their number two CB sidelined. Given that knowledge, we want to stack Mahomes with the outside receivers and I’m much more interested in Marquez Valdes-Scantling + Mecole Hardman than I am JuJu Smith-Schuster. That’s not to say JuJu is a bad play, but he’s projecting for over 15% ownership while the aforementioned guys are coming in at 3% or less. I’m going to be heavy on both MVS and Hardman this weekend, hoping that they’re the guys that get loose for Mahomes.

There are other guys I like as well, which I’ll include in my pool below. I will note that it appears Allen Lazard is not going to play in this game. A lot of people will probably focus on Romeo Doubs for minimum price, but I like Sammy Watkins the most of any GB receiver this week. I don’t think he will end up as a must-play — but it’s likely I consider him in all formats. Doubs too, probably. Check Final Thoughts for my update on the Green Bay situation this weekend.

Core: Justin Jefferson, Mike Williams, Hollywood Brown, Michael Pittman, Packers/Cardinals Injuries?

Pivots: AJ Brown, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Mecole Hardman, DJ Moore

Tight End

Per usual, I’m looking to save money at tight end in my cash games / main lineup. Typically that means the $3,000 range on DraftKings, but we have to include Dallas Goedert this week at only $4,500. Detroit has been horrendous against tight ends for a few seasons now, and allowed the second-most yards to the position a season ago. Since I’m using a ton of Hurts, Goedert will be at the top of my list in all formats. If we can’t afford Goedert, we can drop down to another favorite option of mine — David Njoku. I think Njoku is primed for a massive season, and that’s something I want to be ahead of. Cleveland made him one of the highest paid Tight Ends in the NFL, showing us that they’re serious about making him a focal point of the offense with Austin Hooper out of town. I think it’s realistic for Njoku to lead the Browns in targets this season with 0 known commodities at receiver after Amari Cooper. Jacoby Brissett has historically been a TE target magnet, as well. The last time we saw him as a full-time starter (Indy) he targeted the TE position on almost 30% of his drop-backs, one of the highest marks in the league.

I typically keep a tight pool in general, due to the amount of lineups I play and the contest types I play. For non-cash builds, I love getting in some Kyle Pitts, and Brevin Jordan as a punt. I don’t think Marcus Mariota is the worst starter in football like people make him out to be, and I think Pitts could be in for a huge season. New Orleans is historically a tough defense, but they just traded one of their best corners. Couple that with the fact that he likely won’t see any Marcus Lattimore coverage and it’s easy to see how he could have a solid game on Sunday as a safety blanket for Mariota. Jordan is someone that I think is legitimately good, and he’s my low-owned touchdown call for Week 1. Indy has always been a team to attack over the middle of the field, with Tight Ends — and I think he could have a bigger role for Houston this season.

Core: Dallas Goedert, David Njoku, Brevin Jordan

Pivot: Kyle Pitts

Bold Call of the Week

Cover-boy Mike Williams (BMW) pops off for 100+ yards and two touchdowns at sub-8% ownership.

Written by Ben Hossler (Follow @BenHossler on Twitter)

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