There are a lot of different ways to handcuff players in fantasy football but in the world of DFS, there’s no method more valuable than pairing a quarterback to his stud receiver. It’s always better to get double the points from two players on the same team having a big game. Here are the Top 10 Week 1 QB/WR handcuffs to consider for your DraftKings lineups:
10. Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson
Stafford and Johnson end up in the tenth spot because of Stafford’s inconsistency on the road. The numbers are hard to ignore if you’re considering handcuffing these two at their price over some of the other options listed.
Stafford’s production drops away from home. Last season he completed 67.3 percent of his passes, averaged 282 yards, threw 13 touchdowns and just six interceptions at home. On the road those numbers dropped to 55.6 percent, 258.2 yards per game, 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
As you might expected, Megatron’s road numbers suffered as well. At home he caught 44 passes, averaged 103.3 yards and scored six touchdowns. On the road Johnson caught 32 balls, averaged 62.7 yards and scored just twice. That drop-off is too significant to ignore.
The Chargers were also tough to pass on last year. They ranked fourth in the NFL allowing just 214.2 yards per game. San Diego’s fantasy numbers versus quarterbacks ranks lower but that’s because of rushing stats.
There’s a chance Stafford’s road woes won’t carry over into 2015. However, in Week 1 I would rather spend $15,500 on another handcuff given the historical data and matchup.
9. Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton
Luck and Hilton are further down the list for Week 1 because they have by far the toughest matchup in the Top 10.
The Bills’ defense was a nightmare for quarterbacks and receivers to face in 2014 and the unit is only going to get better with Rex Ryan in town. There’s also the chance that because of the matchup Luck spreads the ball around in this game, making a handcuff less enticing.
Last year Buffalo was the No. 2 ranked fantasy defense against quarterbacks. The Bills led the NFL with 54 sacks and allowed just 16 passing touchdowns. The Bills’ talented defensive front will have a big edge over an Indianapolis offensive line that’s struggled at times to protect Luck. He’ll be under pressure a lot in this game.
Buffalo was almost as tough on receivers last season, ranking ninth. The Bills limited receivers to 157 yards and 12.8 receptions per game in 2014. Corner Stephon Gilmore and safety Corey Graham both ranked in Pro Football Focus’ Top 25 last year for pass coverage by defensive backs, although Buffalo will be starting rookie Ronald Darby at one corner.
Obviously, Luck can burn any defense. He’s one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Hilton has the talent to exploit any defensive back in the NFL.
However, when you take their combined salary of $15,900 and add it to the tough matchup, there are some better QB/WR handcuffs out there for Week 1.
8. Ryan Tannehill and Jarvis Landry
If you’re all in on Tannehill and the Dolphins’ offense this year then this is the handcuff for you. Based on matchup and price, the duo of Tannehill and Landry are tough to beat.
The Redskins’ secondary was torched in 2014. Washington’s defense gave up 176 yards per game and an NFL-worst 23 touchdowns to receivers last season.
The biggest culprit was David Amerson. Amerson was a fantasy owner’s best friend. He allowed quarterbacks to have a rating of 140.2 when throwing at him. He also gave up 10 touchdowns. Washington signed Chris Culliver to replace Amerson in the starting lineup but the Redskins’ secondary still projects to be fodder for fantasy quarterbacks this season.
The Redskins ranked 31st at defending receivers last year but found a way to be even worse against quarterbacks; ranking dead last. Washington allowed 264 yards and 2.2 touchdowns per game to opposing quarterbacks.
Let’s say the Redskins’ defense improves this season. How quickly can they turn around such an awful defense? It’s not going to happen overnight. Tannehill and Landry have arguably the best Week 1 matchup of any QB/WR combo.
Landry became Tannehill’s favorite receiver during the second half of 2014. Over the last eight games, he saw at least nine targets in a game six times. Expect double-digit targets in Week 1 for Landry against the overmatched Washington secondary.
Tannehill’s salary is $7,400, while Landry comes in at a measly $5,600. Landry is probably the best value of any player regardless of position for Week 1. You only have to give up $13,000 of your salary cap to own this handcuff. That’s a wise investment.
7. Eli Manning and Odell Beckham, Jr.
Eli Manning has been productive playing the Cowboys in his career. Odell Beckham, Jr. hasn’t been in the NFL very long but he loves playing the Cowboys too.
In two games against Dallas last year, Manning threw for 686 yards, six touchdowns and one interception. Beckham, Jr. caught 14 passes for 180 yards and four touchdowns on 17 targets. He also made one pretty good catch.
Beckham, Jr. scored twice in both meetings last season. There’s a very good chance Beckham, Jr’s dominance against Dallas continues because the Cowboys really have no one to cover him. It’s difficult for good corners to stop Beckham, Jr. and Dallas is down to free agent bust Brandon Carr, first-round bust Morris Claiborne and rookie Byron Jones.
Victor Cruz is out and if you like targets, you’ll like OBJ. He saw at least 11 targets in seven of 12 games last season. In his last four games Beckham Jr. averaged 15.7 targets.
Manning ($7,400) and Beckham, Jr. ($9,200) don’t come cheap if you want to handcuff them together. However, OBJ will put up another big performance in primetime. Manning will have to play awful for Beckham, Jr. to have a bad game.
6. Sam Bradford and Jordan Matthews
Bradford and Matthews have never played in a regular season game together but they won’t disappoint fantasy owners in their debut.
The duo will headline Chip Kelly’s high-octane passing attack. They couldn’t have asked for a better opponent to showcase their talents.
The Falcons allowed 285.5 yards per game to fantasy quarterbacks last season. That ranked second worst in the NFL; only to the Eagles. Atlanta also couldn’t get any pressure on quarterbacks. They recorded just 23 sacks in 2014.
The Falcons were just as bad against receivers. Atlanta gave up 196 yards and 12.8 receptions a game last season. Head coach Dan Quinn was brought in from Seattle and the team selected defensive end Vic Beasley in the first round. The defense will improve but it’s going to take time.
Matthews just touched the service as rookie. Playing behind Jeremy Maclin he caught 67 passes and eight touchdowns. He was targeted 105 times. Now the No. 1 option, Matthews will dominate targets in Philly’s offense.
Besides facing a bad defense, the best part about the Bradford/Matthews handcuff is price. Bradford ($6,900) ranks 14th among quarterbacks in salary. Matthews ($7,200) ranks 15th at the receiver position. The two can be had for a combined $14,100. That’s a lot of bang for your buck.
If you’re looking for a QB/WR handcuff you don’t have to overpay for and will easily outperform their combined salary, this is the one. The only real downside is to expect the Bradford/Matthews handcuff to be highly owned this week.
5. Drew Brees and Brandin Cooks
Brees lost his main weapon this offseason when tight end Jimmy Graham was traded to Seattle. Luckily, second-year wideout Brandin Cooks is around to take over as Brees’ top target.
Cooks was off to a strong rookie season before a broken hand cut his year short after just 10 games. However, Cooks is clearly the No. 1 receiver in New Orleans and he comes in with a nice Week 1 salary of just $7,100. Compared to some of the other top receivers playing with elite quarterbacks, Cooks is a bargain.
Brees comes in at $8,000, so handcuffing the two only takes up $15,100 of your salary cap. That’s an attractive price point for a handcuff with such a high ceiling.
The Cardinals weren’t as good when it came to defending receivers as you might expect last year for a defense that started Patrick Peterson and Antonio Cromartie at corners. Arizona allowed 13.2 receptions per game to opposing receivers in 2014. The matchup is challenging but it’s not impossible, especially with Cromartie gone.
Cooks will be heavily targeted. He saw at least seven targets in six-of-10 games last season and that was with Graham and Kenny Stills on the team. Just over $15,000 should turn out to be a steal for this tandem.
4. Tony Romo and Dez Bryant
Romo ($7,300) and Bryant ($8,700) are kind of a bargain to handcuff this week for as successful as the duo has been against the Giants recently. Dez is the third most expensive receiver but the value comes because Romo is only the ninth highest-salaried quarterback.
In two games last season, Romo threw for 554 yards, seven touchdowns and just one interception versus New York. Bryant caught 16 passes for 237 yards and two touchdowns on 22 targets. Bryant will continue to get fed the ball this week against a Giants secondary that lost two safeties for the season.
The Giants were a hard team to judge by the numbers last season. They had good numbers versus receivers but gave up 260 yards per game and 25 total touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks. New York’s pass defense really struggled in the red zone, where it allowed 14 of its 25 scores.
Romo and Bryant have had success against the Giants and they’re a good QB/WR handcuff again this week. At a combined $16,000, the two are one of the most cost effective handcuffs as well.
3. Peyton Manning and Demaryius Thomas
The Broncos are expected to run the football more this season to keep Peyton Manning’s arm fresher for the playoffs. Perhaps that will be the case but in Week 1, Peyton’s arm will be plenty fresh.
Gary Kubiak is going to tweak Denver’s offense but he’s not going to beat his head against a wall. Baltimore ranked third in the NFL against the run last year and while the Ravens lost nose tackle Haloti Ngata, they’re front seven is still the strength of the defense.
Where the Ravens can be exploited is in the secondary. Baltimore allowed 191.3 yards and an NFL-high 14.8 receptions per game to receivers in 2014. Corner Ladarius Webb really struggled, allowing quarterbacks to have a rating of 109.6 when throwing his way. Manning may know that stat as well.
Some complained about Thomas’ weekly usage last year with the arrival of Emmanuel Sanders. It’s hard to complain about a receiver that saw double-digit targets in 12 games and 184 total on the season. Thomas is often Manning’s first read and that will be the case versus the Ravens.
Manning ($8,200) and Thomas’ ($9,100) combined salaries are $17,300. That’s the highest total of any pair in the Top 10 but they should deliver for those willing to pay for their services.
2. Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb
The Packers were dealt a severe blow when Jordy Nelson was lost for the season. They were almost dealt another one a week later when Cobb injured his shoulder. However, he’s scheduled to start Sunday against the Bears.
Cobb played the Bears twice last season. He caught 11 passes for 185 yards and scored three touchdowns on 15 targets. Cobb is priced at a respectable $8,000 because the salaries came out before Nelson was injured.
Rodgers torched the Bears for 617 yards, 10 touchdowns and no interceptions in two games. He had six touchdown throws in one game. Those numbers are why Rodgers is the most expensive quarterback on the card this week at $8,600.
The Bears’ defense was awful under former coach Marc Trestman. It’s almost sure to improve now that Mike Fox is in charge. Still, this is a unit that last year allowed 34 touchdowns to quarterbacks, while giving up 12.4 receptions and 175.6 yards per game to receivers. Kyle Fuller is a talented young corner but there’s still a lot of work to do on defense.
It will cost owners $16,600 for the combination of Rodgers and Cobb but if history is any indicator, the combination will be worth every penny.
1. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones
Ryan and Jones take the top spot because of their favorable matchup and the likelihood of Jones eating up targets.
Jones is the highest priced receiver ($9,300) but Ryan comes in as just the 7th most expensive quarterback. Ryan is $1,100 cheaper than Aaron Rodgers even though he’s facing an Eagles’ defense that allowed an NFL-worst 287 passing yards to fantasy quarterbacks last year.
Philadelphia also surrendered the most fantasy points to receivers in 2014, giving up 12.7 receptions and 196 yards per game. The Eagles overhauled their secondary in the offseason by adding Byron Maxell, Walter Thurmond and rookie Eric Rowe.
Maxwell is expected to shadow Jones on Sunday but it won’t matter. Patrick Peterson shadowed Jones in Week 14 last season and he caught 10 passes for 189 yards and a touchdown on 12 targets.
The Eagles will need more than Maxwell to stop Ryan from feeding the ball to his favorite receiver. Jones saw at least 11 targets in nine of the 15 games he played last season.
The total for the Falcons/Eagles game has been set at 55, four points higher than any other NFL game this week. A lot of scoring is expected and the Ryan/Julio combination will be a big part of the fireworks.
Ryan and Jones are the safest handcuff but at a combined cost of $16,800, the points won’t come cheap. Sometimes you have to spend money to make money.