The bargain basement DFS plays are back for the 2016 season. Everyone knows to start Aaron Rodgers and Julio Jones most weeks. What can bring home the money in DFS is finding players who will produce at a lower salary but might not be on many lineup cards.
Here’s a look at some players in Week 1 who have low salaries but are worth considering for your rosters:
Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Winston is coming off a strong rookie season where he threw for 4,042 yards and 22 touchdowns. He also added six rushing scores. Winston is in his second year under Dirk Koetter who is expected to let Jameis run more no-huddle offense this season.
Looking at last year’s numbers, this isn’t a great matchup for Winston. The Falcons allowed the eighth fewest fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. Winston was able to have fantasy success against the Falcons defense last year though. He scored 19.5 points in each game versus Atlanta.
In Week 1 it’s not always relevant to go back and look at last year’s statistics. Winston only threw for 404 yards and two scores in two games against the Falcons. However, he also scored a rushing touchdown each time to boost his fantasy numbers. You can look at the good and say Winston put up almost 20 points twice or argue the rushing touchdowns skewed the final numbers.
The bottom line is Winston’s salary ranks 16th among quarterbacks in Week 1. That’s an attractive price for a guy who scored at least 18 points nine times last season and did so twice against his opening week opponent.
Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
Prescott was sensational in the preseason. He certainly looks like the real deal. We’ll find out if he’s the real deal Sunday.
The Giants allowed the third most fantasy points to quarterbacks in 2015. New York ranked dead last in pass defense giving up a ridiculous 299 yards per game. The Giants brought in DE Olivier Vernon, DT Damon Harrison, CB Janoris Jenkins and drafted CB Eli Apple and S Darian Thompson to fix the defense. You can bet defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo will be sending plenty of pressure against the rookie quarterback to challenge him.
Prescott is an intriguing DFS play. He’s dirt cheap and even if the Giants jump out to an early lead, Prescott’s fantasy day could look better than his real life game due to rushing numbers and garbage time points. Of course if Dak plays like he did in the preseason…
Prescott plays with the NFL’s best offensive line, a stud rookie running back and one of the league’s elite receivers. If you like to go the cheap quarterback route and build your roster in other areas, Dak is worth a look in Week 1.
Christine Michael, Seattle Seahawks
Spencer Ware is the obvious value running back play but he may be the most rostered player in Week 1. Ware does have a good matchup against the Chargers but if you want to fade the masses, Michael is another strong value play.
Michael is likely to see a majority of the touches against the Dolphins Sunday. Thomas Rawls may or may not start but none of that is really relevant. The bottom line is Rawls suffered a serious ankle injury in December and the Seahawks said they’ll see how he looks early in the game before deciding his workload. That doesn’t sound like a guy getting 20 touches. Michael has been impressive in training camp and preseason. He’ll likely be the lead back in Week 1.
The Dolphins allowed the most fantasy points per game to running backs last year. Running backs averaged 31 points per game on DraftKings and 27 points on FanDuel. It’s a new year but even if Miami’s defense is improved versus the run, it’s hard to believe it will be that much better overnight. If Seattle gets a lead, Michael will be the Seahawks back of choice in the second half.
James White, New England Patriots
For those thinking the Patriots will be conservative and run the ball without Tom Brady, think again. It’s not the way New England’s offense is built.
After Matt Cassel took over for an injured Brady in 2008 he throw 30+ pass attempts in 12 of his next 15 games. The Patriots don’t line up and play smashmouth. Short passes are part of New England’s running game.
White is being undervalued in both re-draft leagues and DFS right now. It’s almost as if some people think Dion Lewis is going to pull a Willis Reed and coming walking out on the field in Week 1.
White did catch 40 balls and score six touchdowns last season. Keep in mind that White barely played before Lewis got hurt. In Weeks 13-17 White averaged 5.6 receptions per game and scored four times. As long as Lewis is out, White will have a big role in New England’s offense.
Jimmy Garoppolo is going to throw the ball against Arizona. He’ll likely rely on shorter passes and outlets to his running backs. By “running backs” that means White. He’s one of the top lower-salary running plays of Week 1.
Kamar Aiken, Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens look like fantasy kryptonite heading into the season. Their backfield is a mess, the offensive line is a question mark and we don’t know who is going to play tight end.
Even the receiver position is unsettled because of the uncertain status of Steve Smith. The veteran is returning from an Achilles’ injury. One guy DFS players should be able to rely on early in the year is Aiken. Aiken caught 75 balls for 944 yards and five touchdowns last season playing with multiple quarterbacks.
Aiken has a strong Week 1 matchup on paper. The Bills allowed the 11th most fantasy points to receivers in 2015. Buffalo’s defense was expected to be improved this year but injuries and suspensions have already taken its toll before Week 1.
Aiken was targeted at least seven times in 12 games last season. He’ll continue to be heavily involved in the offense this year, especially early on while Smith is on a snap count. Aiken is a nice under-the-radar DFS receiver play for Week 1.
Marvin Jones, Detroit Lions
There’s good news and bad news when considering Jones in DFS for Week 1. The good news is Jones may offer the most bang for his buck of any player this week. The bad news is that because of his low salary and matchup, Jones is likely to be highly owned in tournament play.
Jones battled injuries and played second fiddle to A.J. Green in Cincinnati. He has a real opportunity to emerge with the Lions. Jones certainly looked like he was already in synch with quarterback Matthew Stafford this preseason.
Jones has one of the top matchups on the opening slate. The Colts No. 1 cornerback Vontae Davis is injured and won’t play Sunday. Davis’ absence is going to deplete an Indy defense that allowed the sixth most fantasy points to receivers last year.
You certainly don’t want to fill your lineup with high-ownership players but sometimes it’s okay to eat chalk. This is one of those times. Jones’ salary makes him too good to pass up in Week 1 against an undermanned Colts secondary.
Jared Cook, Green Bay Packers
Cook is listed as the second-string tight end but that’s irrelevant. He’s going to play a lot of snaps Sunday, especially on passing downs.
Cooks has disappointed fantasy owners in the past. He only has two seasons with 50+ receptions and those were 51 and 52. In Cook’s defense, he’s played with some pretty bad quarterbacks. We’ll see if catching passes from Aaron Rodgers can jump-start his career.
The Jaguars defense is expected to be improved this season but is that improvement going to come in Week 1 against the Packers? Doubtful. This is a defense that gave up the sixth most fantasy points to tight ends in 2015. Cook and Richard Rodgers will both get opportunities to make plays Sunday against Jacksonville.
Cook is a bit of a gamble because he doesn’t have a defined roll yet in the Packers offense but if you want to go cheap at the tight end position, he offers a lot of upside considering his quarterback and favorable matchup.
To be honest, there aren’t many great low-salary options for defenses in Week 1. The best defenses are in that $3,000 price range at DraftKings. If you want to roll the dice on one of the bottom feeder defenses though, take a look at Tennessee. Shaun Hill is expected to start for the Vikings while Sam Bradford learns the playbook. If Hill is under center, the Titans make for a sneaky cheap DFS defense in Week 1.