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NFL DFS Yahoo Picks: Week 1

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Welcome to the weekly Yahoo DFS picks article for Team Rise or Fall. The whole point of this article is to find the best plays to fit in your $200 team budget on the Yahoo main slate each week. Sometimes that means paying up, sometimes it means finding value, and sometimes it means taking some dart throws. Let’s dive in.

Quarterbacks

Kyler Murray @ TEN – $34
Nobody will be surprised if Murray finishes as the highest-scoring fantasy quarterback and breaks the slate in Week 1. Despite that slate-breaking ceiling, he checks in as just the fifth most expensive quarterback on the slate. A nice feature of rostering Murray is that, given his potential rushing upside, you don’t necessarily need to stack him with any Cardinal pass-catchers. While pairing him with DeAndre Hopkins makes some sense, playing Murray solo gives you some major salary space, roster flexibility, and leverage on everybody that does go with the popular stack.

Jalen Hurts @ ATL – $26
Hurts comes with the same massive ceiling as Murray, albeit with much more risk. That risk is built into his price, however, as he’s the 14th most expensive quarterback on the slate. You can be confident that Hurts won’t bust as he’ll likely put up plenty of fantasy points on the ground. It’s entirely possible that his passing game levels up against a vulnerable Falcons pass defense, which could vault him to the top of the fantasy leaderboard in Week 1.

Carson Wentz vs. SEA – $23
Wentz is a blind spot at quarterback this week. He’s so far down the list of available quarterbacks that it’s pretty easy to find somebody you like well before you get to his name. The only starting QBs to come in at a lower salary for Week 1 are Tyrod Taylor and Mac Jones. It’s easy to forget that despite how bad the Eagles performed as a team last season, Wentz was actually a pretty good fantasy quarterback. He finished as a top-seven quarterback three different times in just 11 full games played in 2020. The questionable tag next to his name may scare some people off but reports have been overwhelmingly positive for Wentz over the past few weeks. A fresh start in Indy may be just what he needs to return to putting up big fantasy points.

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Running Back

Dalvin Cook @ CIN – $38
Cook should be worth every penny of this $38 salary in an ideal matchup with Cincinnati. The Vikings are a 3.5 point road favorite against the Bengals and we can be confident that if Mike Zimmer gets a lead, there’s nothing he’d rather do than salt the game away on the ground. We already know Cook has the ability to finish as the RB1 on any given week. He did so three times last year and could be in line to do so again in Week 1 of the 2021 season.

Aaron Jones @ NO* – $25
*Game will be played in Jacksonville
At just $25, Jones comes in cheaper than Jonathan Taylor ($28), James Robinson ($27), and Raheem Mostert ($26). That seems a bit ridiculous for a running back that’s finished as a top-five running back nine times over his last 30 games played. The Packers are avoiding the Superdome and taking on the Saints on a neutral field in Jacksonville where they’re 4.5 points favorites “on the road”. It could all lead to another top-five RB finish on the week, which would be a tremendous value at the RB11 price tag.

Melvin Gordon @ NYG – $18
As the RB20 by price, I’d argue that Melvin Gordon is the best running back value on the slate. With all the Javonte Williams hype, it’s easy to forget that Gordon finished the season as the RB13 last season and had four top-12 weekly finishes. The Broncos are paying the veteran for one more season; don’t be surprised if they give him the heavier workload while the rookie gets his feet wet. The matchup with the lowly Giants makes him an even better Week 1 target.

Wide Receiver

Calvin Ridley vs. PHI – $30
Ridley is a strong candidate to be the most-targeted player in the NFL this season and will kick off his campaign against a less-than-imposing Eagles defense. It could be a sneaky shootout between the Falcons and Eagles in the Mercedez-Benz dome on Sunday. Ridley has an ultra-safe floor and comes with the overall WR1 upside in Week 1.

Keenan Allen @ WAS – $18
Allen for $18 seems like a misprice. Rostering him costs less than Odell Beckham Jr. ($20), Jalen Reagor ($20), and Ja’Marr Chase ($19). Allen comes with a safer floor than all of them and arguably just as high of a ceiling, especially if Austin Ekeler is hampered by the hamstring injury that’s been keeping him off the practice field this week. In the six games Ekeler missed last season, Allen averaged 10.5 targets, 8.2 receptions, 84.7 yards, and nearly a touchdown per game.

D.J. Moore vs. NYJ – $16
If Keenan Allen at $18 is a misprice, D.J. Moore at $16 is straight-up theft. The price tag makes him the WR30 by price, and I find it hard to fathom Moore fails to hit value when the dust settles this week. Given his big-play ability and the Jets’ lackluster secondary, he could make quite a splash in Week 1. You aren’t likely to see Moore this cheap the rest of the season, so make the most of it.

Tight End

T.J. Hockenson vs. SF – $15
The matchup with San Fransisco isn’t ideal, but there’s a very real chance that Hockenson leads the Lions in receptions and yards as Detroit plays from behind in this game. Hockenson is ready for a third-year breakout and getting him as the TE13 by price is an unreal value. For some reason, he costs less to roster him than Austin Hooper and Zach Ertz. Even against the 49ers, it’s tough to envision a world where he doesn’t finish as at least a top-ten tight end in Week 1, with a ceiling to finish in the top three.

Anthony Firkser vs. ARI – $11
When taking a shot on a cheap tight end you want to look for touchdown opportunities. Firkser should have plenty, as he’ll be the go-to tight end for Ryan Tannehill now that Jonnu Smith has moved on. Firkser showed the ability to finish as the TE1 when he did just that in Week 6 of last season. In a potential shootout with 52 total points projected by Vegas, Firkser may find the end zone multiple times.

Team Defense

Denver @ NYG – $13
Outside of the top ten most expensive defenses and just $3 more than the bare minimum, the Broncos are a great value on this slate. In Week 1 they’ll roll out a healthy Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, along with one of the best secondaries in the NFL, against Daniel Jones. In case you weren’t aware, Jones has been a turnover machine. He’s thrown 22 picks and fumbled the ball 29 times in just 27 games over the past two seasons. A multi-turnover game could be in the books again in Week 1.

Green Bay @ NO* – $10
*Game will be played in Jacksonville
With all the variance associated with fantasy defenses, rostering the one with the lowest salary is always a viable strategy in DFS. This week, for some reason, Green Bay is one of those defenses. For what it’s worth, the Packers are the fifth most expensive defense on DraftKings to open the season. Facing Jameis Winston, another turnover-prone quarterback, on a neutral field in Jacksonville also bodes well for the Green Bay defense.

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