Week 1 of the 2014 NFL season started with a dud in Seattle, but the Sunday and Monday contests lived up to the billing. From the Saints/Falcons overtime battle to the nearly miraculous comeback from the Indianapolis Colts in Denver to a last-second, game-winning touchdown by the Arizona Cardinals in the week’s final matchup, Week 1 didn’t disappoint.

 

Notable Performances

The week’s top quarterback was Matt Ryan, who completed 31 of his 43 throws for 448 yards, three touchdowns, and no picks. He led all passers in yards and quarterback rating, checking in at 128.8. Not a lot of DraftKings users cashed in on Ryan’s 34.42 fantasy points, though; he was just 4.2 percent owned in the Play-Action, for example.

It was a really interesting week for running backs, as many of the top options didn’t return value. Jamaal Charles and LeSean McCoy were both popular fantasy options, but they combined for just 93 yards rushing. Charles in particular was wildly disappointing, as 60 NFL players eclipsed his 19 yards rushing, including Julian Edelman, Leon Washington, Isaiah Crowell, and Carson Palmer. As the kids say, “LOL!”

Knowshon Moreno ended up leading all running backs in rushing yards with 134. DeMarco Murray checked in at No. 2, followed by Marshawn Lynch. Lynch was the only player with over 60 yards rushing and two touchdowns, although users had access to him only in Thursday-night leagues.

With 164 yards and two touchdowns through the air, Calvin Johnson led all wide receivers on DraftKings. He wasn’t very highly owned, however, in only 8.3 percent of all Play-Action lineups. That was due solely to his price; at $700 cheaper, many users preferred to spend their big wide receiver dollars on Demaryius Thomas. That ended up making Megatron and his low usage a really smart tournament option.

And of course Julius Thomas dominated the tight end position with 38.4 points, scoring three touchdowns in the second quarter alone. With Eric Decker out of Denver and defenses keying in on Demaryius Thomas, the tight end could arguably be the favorite to lead the NFL in touchdowns this season.

 

The Big Winners
  • DraftKings Sunday Million
The big tournament this weekend was the DraftKings Sunday Million, with $1 million in guaranteed prizes and $100,000 to first. User markgenorex dominated the competition, scoring 202.76 points to take home the $100k.

Actually, markgenorex won quite a bit more money in the tournament since he also finished 3rd, 6th, and 9th. That’s four lineups in the top 10 in a field with 3,958 entrants! Those four finishes ended up netting markgenorex a total of $145,000. Not a bad day’s work.

Let’s break down his lineup.

DraftKings Sunday Million

Using Peyton Manning, Emmanuel Sanders, and Julius Thomas together wasn’t a surprise move, but it’s somewhat surprising that markgenorex added Montee Ball to that mix for a four-man Broncos stack. Whereas Peyton Manning’s production is strongly correlated to that of his receivers, sometimes users worry about quarterbacks “stealing” touchdowns from their running backs.

If there’s an offense on which you can count to put up points in abundance, though, it’s the Broncos. Manning, Ball, Sanders, and Thomas combined for 91.96 points—nearly half of markgenorex’s total.

In addition, markgenorex hit on low-usage options in DeMarco Murray (5.5 percent), Allen Hurns (2.5 percent), Mark Ingram (3.4 percent), and the Texans’ defense (8.3 percent). The value of finding points where no one else has them is humongous in tournaments, and markgenorex was able to put together the perfect lineup that combined a value stack with high-upside, low-usage role players.

 
  • Best Score, Play-Action #2: 223.5 points (hammer1721)
The best score of the weekend came in the Play-Action #2, where hammer1721 scored an unfathomable 223.5 points. He was able to win a tournament with over 27,000 lineups with what appeared to be just two entries, taking down the second-place user by nearly seven full points.

Playaction

As is common in tournaments of this size, hammer1721’s lineup was all about low usage. His most popular player was Julius Thomas in just 11.9 percent of all lineups. Every other player on hammer1721’s team was on fewer than 10 percent of teams.

Hammer1721’s most unique source of points was his Ben Roethlisberger/Le’Veon Bell combination. Roethlisberger was in just 1.1 percent of all lineups and Bell in only 3.2 percent, yet the duo combined for 56.1 points against the Browns. It’s really interesting that two of the day’s top teams both used QB/RB combinations. Let’s see how that strategy continues to pan out as the season progresses.

To give you an idea of how well hammer1721’s lineup performed, consider that his worst player was C.J. Spiller, who still managed 15.4 points on DraftKings. Even Roethlisbeger, who threw for 365 yards and scored 21.4 points, was hammer1721’s third-worst performer.

For his efforts, hammer1721 turned $2 into $5,000.

 

Winning the Flex

Note that markgenorex and hammer1721 took different approaches with the flex position, the former using a running back and the latter playing a wide receiver. The numbers say that wide receivers have historically been superior flex plays in PPR scoring systems, but it all comes down to price. DraftKings seems to have altered their pricing a bit this year, making running backs cheaper as a whole in comparison to wide receivers, which of course improves their flex value.

Moving forward, study the positional salaries and think about how you can win the flex spot. The “right” play is always cost-dependent, and perhaps we’re seeing a shift through which running backs will be the new wide receivers when it comes to dominating the flex position.

Also, one last note: big shoutout to the user Bales, who took down last night’s Monday-only Play-Action. Perfect lineup, A++, would buy again.