Welcome in! This is the very first Team Rise or Fall Fantasy Friday that will directly cover 2021 Fantasy Football DFS!
Today we are going to cover two categories: Risers & Fallers.
Riser: Someone you should be paying attention to that has built momentum going into the week. These players are not always going to be chalky, but have reason to be in your lineups in the given week.
Faller: Fade, fade, fade. These players are probably too expensive and carry a high-profile name that comes with a high exposure rate every week. The matchup is bad and while it might be tempting, stay away!
Without further ado, let’s get into the first contest of the 2021 Fantasy Football DFS season! I will be using Draftkings and Fanduel pricing every week – this week we start with the TNF opener Showdown/Single Game contests. Let’s get it!
Leonard Fournette/Ronald Jones
Draftkings: Fournette – $7,000 | Jones $5,000
Fanduel: Fournette – Fournette – $11,000 | Jones $9,500
Giovani Bernard was diagnosed with a “mild” high ankle sprain this week. This may seem minor, but if he is unable to play or is limited, third-down/pass-catching snaps will be available.
In terms of pass-catching, this directly benefits Fournette. Tom Brady targetted Fournette, the Bucs de facto pass-catching running back in 2020, at least five times in seven games including playoffs. He had multiple games with four targets as well.
Brady would rather have a running back like Bernard to dump it down to, but if he is limited or out this should boost Fournettes perceived floor for the week.
Now for the upside. The Cowboys allowed the second-most rushing yards per game in 2020 (159), the third-most rushing yards per attempt (5), and the eight most rushing touchdowns per game (1.2).
Now, while it IS poor process to base last season’s bad defensive numbers on this year, and while Dan Quinn has come in as the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator, Tampa Bay will still run the ball often and make frequent trips to the red zone.
Ronald Jones benefits tremendously from Tama Bay’s ability to cross the opponent’s 20-yard line. The Buccaneers were first in red zone attempts per game and six of Jones’ seven touchdowns in 2020 came in this area of the field.
Play one or play both of these backs. As much as playing two running backs from one team may cap upside, this becomes an edge in exploitable matchups when the lineup build will not be common on the week.
Quite simply, Antonio Brown is mispriced for Week 1. His DK $5,600 price is jarring and he should be played in all lineups. This is not an exaggeration. When you consider the floor he offers in PPR, it is a no-brainer.
Brown averaged almost eight targets per game in his eight games last season. In two of those games, he saw at least 13 targets, he had six targets in the Super Bowl and caught four passes in Tampa’s final preseason game.
Brady loves throwing to AB when he is lined up in the slot. He creates separation quickly and it is an easy read for the seven-time Super Bowl champion. Expect more Antonio Brown targets on Thursday against a Dallas team that allowed over 11 yards per completion in 2020.
Bernard is looking like he is on track to play in this matchup but could be limited with an ankle sprain. Without this injury, Bernard would firmly be in the “Risers” category for Week 1 Fantasy Football DFS.
Giovani Bernard is a perpetual spot-start year after year when his opportunity is expanded on a given week. Now, he finds himself as the primary pass-catching back for Tom Brady and the Buccaneers.
It is tough to play him on Fanduel at his price relative to the other backs on Tampa given that I do not expect Bernard to be on the field as much as he would be if 100 percent healthy.
In Draftkings, the $2,000 price is worth a shot but it is not as glamorous with the injury designation. Once he is back to full health, he will see a high volume and be a great play for Fantasy DFS (see Lenard Fournette’s target stats above and apply to Gio!).
Tampa Bay Defense
Although Dak Prescott is coming off of two injuries (ankle, shoulder) putting either defense in your lineup in Week 1 could be a wasted square.
While anything can happen, and defensive touchdowns can be scored, I see this as a game that will put up a lot of points and a lot of yards on both sides of the ball. While Tampa Bay was fifth in total sacks (48) and blitzed on 40 percent of defensive snaps, I am more interested in offensive pieces in this contest.
The fade here has a lot to do with price and the Bucs’ No.1 rushing defense last season. Tampa brought back the Ndamukong Su, Jason-Pierre-Paul, Shaq Barret, and Lavante David and look poised to continue what they created last year – a run-stopping powerhouse.
Elliott will see enough volume to be relevant, but I am much more interested in the Dallas pass-catchers as I see the Cowboys needing to keep up rather than controlling the tempo. Short targets that Dak will use as chunk plays will mostly filter to CeeDee Lamb out of the slot, although Elliott will certainly be involved in the passing game.
Zeke should be played, but if I have 10 lineups I am putting him in three or four. The idea of getting two quarterbacks in lineups with the great wide receivers on this slate is more appealing than the floor play of Ezekiel Elliott for Week 1 of Fantasy Football DFS.
Steven Toroni @FFProfessorST3
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