Preseason is here and that means it’s time to start analyzing the best players by position for use on DraftKings for Week 1 of the NFL season.

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As the first of my many previews for DraftKings for this upcoming NFL season I’ve broken down each roster position on a $/point value basis and given you my top ten plays for week one. There’s obviously a ton of variables between now and the season starts, and there’s no doubt that inevitably, someone will go down with injury and a name likely not on this list will become a very viable fantasy play.  However it really is never too early to start locating some potential breakout candidates, and more importantly, the best potential value plays for the start of the year.  So please read, enjoy and take it for what it is, an early look into week one of the NFL daily fantasy season on DraftKings!

Quarterbacks

1. Aaron Rodgers $8600
2. Matt Ryan $7500
3. Sam Bradford $6900
4. Andrew Luck $8300
5. Cam Newton $7600
6. Eli Manning $7400
7. Peyton Manning $8200
8. Andy Dalton $6100
9. Ryan Tannehill $7400
10. Russell Wilson $7800

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There’s probably some debate between the first two spots and I could easily agree with anyone who wanted to give Matt Ryan top honours especially based the $1100 you save by rostering him over Aaron Rodgers.  Ryan is going against the fast-paced Eagles and a defense that improved its secondary in the off-season but still struggled mightily against the pass at times.  There is a strong likelihood the Falcons will see a ton of possessions in this game and will be throwing a lot in order to keep pace, and when you add in the fact the Falcons added dependable TE Jacob Tamme, and electric pass-catching RB Tevin Coleman a huge day for Ryan is not hard to envision.    However, I think when you factor in how last season ended, the state of the Bears defense (and team) and the fact that when it comes down to it, overall, the Packers might be the best team in the league this year, this could be a beat down of epic proportions and a massive game for Rodgers. 

In the 3-7 slots you have Sam Bradford (or Mark Sanchez if he starts) who is cheap and gets the benefit of being the QB of Chip Kelly’s scoring machine.  Mark Sanchez put up decent fantasy numbers against weak teams last season and I assume a healthy Bradford can at least match that type of production against a fairly mediocre Falcons D.  Cam Newton plays the atrocious Jacksonville Jaguars, the only worry there is the game becomes dominated by the Carolina Defense and Newton game manages the offense to victory.  Andrew Luck is going to put up a ton of fantasy points this year, but the matchup against Buffalo isn’t great as they will try to follow the Patriots gameplan of running the ball 50 times and keeping Luck off the field.  It’s possible they succeed and Luck has a muted start to the season. Finally, I have Eli ranked ahead of Peyton.  On its face this may seem wrong but factor in a new coach, the Bronco’s commitment to running the ball, Peyton’s advancing age, the fact the Giants have committed to a quick tempo offense, the presence of Odell Beckham Jr. and the fantasy price difference, I think this is actually a pretty easy call.

In the final spots, Andy Dalton makes the list based on matchup and the fact the Bengals, who have all the weapons in the world, seem like they finally might be open to using them more this year.  At only 6100 Dalton is my favorite QB value play and a sure fire favorite amoung those who prefer to punt the QB position.  It feels weird including Ryan Tannehill over say Tony Romo but I think the Cowboys will continue to focus on the run and the matchup and the running ability of Tannehill makes him a better option in my mind.  Russell Wilson, whom I love, has to deal with the ferocious front line of the St. Louis Rams.  The Rams and Seahawks have played some ugly games and I could see STL giving Wilson and the Hawks all they can handle week 1 in a defensively dominated, more ball control type of affair.  He makes the list though because of the points he should get from his running alone.

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Running Backs

1. Eddie Lacy $7500
2. LeSean McCoy $7200
3. Jamaal Charles $7900
4. Joseph Randle $5900
5. Justin Forsett $6200
6. Jonathan Stewart $5800
7. Matt Forte $7800
8. Demarco Murray $6700
9. Arian Foster $7600
10. Shane Vereen $4200

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Another Packer heads the top of the list at RB.  Eddie Lacy is primed for a big season and I don’t think there will be much reason for the Packers to limit his carries in the first game.  Expect Lacy to chew up the Bears still porous run D.  I expect LeSean McCoy to get all the touches he can handle against the Colts.  Based on volume alone I expect McCoy to hit value and the only thing that holds him back might be the Bills QB play and how that effect’s their overall offense.  For that reason he sits at number two for me but it’s with a bullet.  We’ve seen that the Colts can be run on with success.

It might seem strange to see Joseph Randle ranked 4th but his price and the fact he remains the most talented RB on the Cowboys roster makes him super attractive to me.  I doubt the Cowboys will want to abandon the formula that made them so successful last season and, for the first few games at least, I think the Boys will give Randle every opportunity to prove he can be their new workhorse.  Baltimore’s new offensive coordinator Marc Trestman loves to use the RB in space in the pass game and DraftKings still awards 1 point per pass reception.  So even if the backup’s vulture some goal-line snaps Justin Forsett should still have a huge game from sheer volume against Denver.  Jamaal Charles should be as reliable as you get as far as RB’s go this season.  KC’s offense should benefit all around from having a legitimate playmaker like Jeremy Maclin and Houston’s run defense is not a strength, a big game is possible here.  Jonathan Stewart rounds out my top 6.  He gets a very decent matchup and has finally shed his timeshare with DeAngelo Williams.  Stewart’s volume or goal line attempts still might not be as good as some of the top backs but the discount in price and his talent make him a very nice week 1 play.

Rounding out the bottom, I am cautiously optimistic Demarco Murray will have a huge year but remember Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles are going to siphon off carries.  With his week one price it’s hard to rank him any higher until we see how things shake out there.  Arian Foster has a decent matchup and I could see him being an underplayed option week 1 but the price is a tad higher than I feel it should be and Houston’s QB situation doesn’t help things.  Matt Forte should have another big year, but Jay Cutler’s poor play will limit his red zone looks and I don’t love the fact Chicago might be way behind by halftime.  The final spot goes to Shane Vereen who I see as a massive PPR play in the Giants quick hitting offense this year.  The price and the fact DraftKings awards 1pt per reception vaulted him past other backs for me.

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Wide Receivers

1. Julio Jones $9300
2. Jordan Matthews $7200
3. Odell Beckham Jr. $9200
4. AJ Green $7800
5. Jordy Nelson $8400
6. Andre Johnson $6100
7. Alshon Jeffrey $8300
8. Dez Bryant $8700
9. Demaryius Thomas $9100
10. Breshad Perriman $5400

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As you can see by now, I expect the Falcons and Eagles game to be high scoring.  I think Julio Jones is the clear top option this week and should be helped by Atlanta’s additions on offense.  Even though Jordan Matthews isn’t the talent Odell Beckham is he’s no slouch.  Matthews is a beast physically and now the top WR option in the high flying Eagles offense.  The fantasy discount you get with him makes him a slightly better option than Odell Beckham in my mind.  Speaking of Beckham however, he gets a good matchup too and quite honestly has a great chance to be the highest fantasy point producer at the end of the week.  I do worry that he may have to adjust to seeing way more double and even triple teams this year but he saw them at the end of the 2014 and it didn’t slow him, so maybe that’s just me being cautious.

I love the discount you get on AJ Green who proved that when healthy he is still top dog in Cincy and will hog the targets.  The only worry on him is how much the Bengals will actually throw, but it sounds like they’re committed to more passing.  Jordy Nelson still has Aaron Rodgers as his QB and is facing the Bears, don’t over think it, a 30+ pt game is in sight here.  I have Alshon Jeffrey ranked fairly high for two reasons.  One, his targets will increase now that the umbilical cord between Cutler and Brandon Marshall has been broken, and two, I anticipate a lot of garbage time week one and feel like the targets for Jeffrey could easily approach the mid or high-teens on that basis alone.  Even though there are a ton of mouths to feed in Indy I can’t ignore the price on Andre Johnson.  Johnson should be invigorated now that he’s on a team with a chance to go very deep and I think Luck will go to him early and often in week one to help build chemistry.

It may be a little strange seeing Demaryius Thomas and Dez Bryant ranked so low, but keep in mind their price and the possibility of low passing outputs.  Strangely enough I’m actually more worried about Demaryius and his role in new coach Gary Kubiak’s scheme.  Dez will still hog the majority of looks in Dallas and even if the Giants double him, he’s nearly unstoppable at the goal line.  Demaryius won’t have Orange Julius to open up the field for him and Peyton might look elsewhere until defenses adjust.  Breshad Perriman gets the final spot.  He’s already begun working with the starters in Baltimore and carries ridiculous potential (see my AFC North Draft Review on the Playbook), and a nice low price tag.  Don’t be shocked if he opens with a bang and helps Baltimore take down the Broncos.

Tight Ends

1. Jimmy Graham $5600
2. Ladarius Green $3000
3. Greg Olsen $5300
4. Martellus Bennett $4300
5. Jordan Cameron $3800
6. Tyler Eifert $3500
7. Travis Kelce $4800
8. Julius Thomas $4500
9. Zach Ertz $3600
10. Jared Cook $2900

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I expect Jimmy Graham might surprise people this year from the standpoint that he might actually get better with Russell Wilson.  Yes I know the Seahawks run a lot but Wilson is a far better pocket passer than people give him credit for and his ability to move will keep teams from being able to constantly double Jimmy.  I am all aboard the Ladarius Green train.  At only $3000 price is a huge factor this week but even if he was more he’d still be ranked high.  The talent is immense and with even a portion of Antonio Gates’ targets he will produce.  Greg Olsen has the best matchup of all three.  He should once again be the top pass catching for Cam Newton and a very reliable week one option.

Martellus Bennett should get the same bump Alshon Jeffrey does from Brandon Marshall’s departure and from potential garbage time in week one.  I do like Travis Kelce, but remember how low volume KC can be as an offense.  That is why he is ranked below cheaper options Jordan Cameron and Tyler Eifert who I think have nearly as much potential in their week one matchups.  Eifert now has the TE position to himself in Cincy and Cameron could bounce back to top three status this year with Tannehill’s fondness for short crossing routes.  Both have soft matchups and could surprise with big games, I love their price-tags.

Get used to seeing Julius Thomas ranked this low or lower in lots of people’s weekly rankings.  I am not fond of Blake Bortles as a QB (I’m sure he’s a fine person) and the matchup also sucks.  Talent is the only reason Black and Gold Julius gets inside the top ten for me.  Zach Ertz has a nice matchup and a nice salary.  Some might have him ranked higher but he’s yet to show consistency and has a new QB so I’m being cautious at the start.  Finally, I really think Nick Foles should breathe some life into the St. Louis passing game and so I’m really liking Jared Cook’s week one, sub 3k salary.  Cook has all the tools to be a top TE in this league and if there’s any position the Hawks struggle against its TE.

Drafting is Easy

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