2021 NFL DFS Week 1 DraftKings Picks

by Kyle Williams
2021-22 NFL DFS Wild Card Weekend DraftKings Picks

We've waited over 200 days for this moment. Finally, we are here. Daily fantasy sports, gambling, and the NFL are back. I know you are just as excited as I am for it all to finally be back in the fold. Welcome to my 2021 NFL DFS Week 1 DraftKings Picks.

For some of you that don't know me, my name is Kyle Williams. You can find me on Twitter @betonthegame! This year I'll be breaking down all things NFL DFS. I'll be breaking down everything from players to play in cash, tournaments, value savers, punts, fliers, and much more.

Throughout the year I plan on making things very easy for you. Translation: I'm here to make you some money. The first piece of advice that I can give you before reading onward is this, decide how you want to play DFS.

Do you want to be a casual player who tosses pizza money at it for fun? Do you want to be someone who takes it more seriously and makes a side hustle of it? Or do you want to dive extremely deep and potentially make this a full-time thing? Once you answer that question you can take things to the next level.

But enough of the introductions and pep talks, let's dive into some DFS research and help you make money for Week 1 of the NFL season. And again thanks for tuning into the DK Playbook!

Click here for Jesse's FanDuel Picks!

2021 NFL DFS Week 1 DraftKings Picks

Click here for Wisdom of the Crowd NFL DFS projections


  • Steelers @ Bills,  51.5 O/U, +7.5
  • Jets @ Panthers, 49.5 O/U, +5
  • Jaguars @ Texans, 44.5 O/U, -3
  • Cardinals @ Titans, 52 O/U, +3
  • Chargers @ Football Team, 44.5 O/U, -1
  • Eagles @ Falcons, 48 O/U, +3.5
  • Vikings @ Bengals, 48 O/U, -3
  • 49ers @ Lions, 45.5 O/U, -7.5
  • Browns @ Chiefs, 54.5, +6
  • Dolphins @ Patriots, 44 O/U, +3
  • Broncos @ Giants, 44.5 O/U, -2.5

Quarterback: Sleepers, Values, and Pay Up Options

Kyler Murray (Pay up) - $7,600

The second-highest QB in salary on the slate with good reason. Murray squares off against the Titans defense that lost several key defenders in every level of the defense this offseason. Guys like Malcolm Butler, Adoree Jackson, Kenny Vaccaro, Jadeveon Clowney, and Desmond King are all on new teams.

Their new defense ranked 30th in PFF's latest defensive rankings coming into this season. Last season, the Titans allowed the 9th most points per game in the NFL at 27.4, meanwhile, the Cardinals allowed 22.9 points per game. Pair the bad defenses with the high total of 52 for the game is a recipe for success.

The high ceiling is one of the main reasons for paying up to have Murray in your lineup. Last season, Murray had six games of over 30 Draftkings points while also maintaining an average of 25.4 points per game which ranked 5th among QB's.

With new weapons in time (A.J. Green), a high total for the game, a safe floor, and a high ceiling, all wrapped nicely with two bad defenses means that Murray is one of my favorite pay-up options on the slate.

Trevor Lawrence (Sleeper) - $6,200

Finally, the 1st overall pick and the proclaimed messiah is upon us. After marinating in college for the past two seasons, the presumed franchise QB will take his first professional snaps against the pitiful Texans. What a matchup it is. A franchise in disarray as the deal with the potential disaster of Deshaun Watson.

With a new head coach, a new quarterback, new coordinators, and the same team filled with disarray, the Texans are going to be one of the NFL's most bullied teams on both sides of the ball this season. Losing J.J. Watt and Benardrick McKinney will be no small task as they essentially did nothing to replace them.

Lawrence is in for a fantastic matchup, the Texans defense is worse than before, the team last season allowed the 6th most points per game at 29.  The Jaguars in themselves also have a horrific defense. When two bad defenses link up, it's all smiles and rainbows for fantasy players.

With a trio of great weapons such as D.J. Chark, Laviska Shenault, and Marvin Jones Jr, Lawrence should have a field day as the WR's square up against one of PFF's worst graded secondaries. The cherry on top is second-year back James Robinson who last year caught 49 balls, 344 yards, and three touchdowns. Just another weapon for Lawrence to throw too.

Lawrence is one of the best middle-tier options this week. Be aware, he may have high ownership due to the shiny new toy syndrome that a lot of players suffer from.

Jameis Winston (Value) - $5,200

Remember him? Winston is back. After beating out Taysom Hill with a strong showing in the preseason, Winston gets the reigns as the Saints starting QB. His first matchup is against the Packers. A team that ranked 16th in points allowed per game at 22.9, 7th in yards per game at 345.8, and 9th in passing yards allowed at 235.9.

The matchup isn't sexy but at a price of $5,200, he's one of the best values you can have. The last time he was a starter and played the Packers was in 2017. A completely different Packers team. But, Winston had a modest game throwing 32 times for 270 yards and two touchdowns. In that game, he faced immense pressure getting sacked seven times.

Again, different teams, different games, different players. Winston is now behind a much better offensive line that ranks in the top-10 in PFF's rankings coming into the season.

At just $5,200 Winston is a steal. His high upside ceiling makes him worth taking a gamble on and the savings you get from the salary reduction is worth it. Besides, the last time we saw Winston he did this.

Running Back: Sleepers, Values, and Pay Up Options

Alvin Kamara (Pay Up) - $8,600

Be warned, he is going to likely be 60% owned or higher in cash games on both Fanduel and Draftkings. It's no secret that Michael Thomas is hurt, it's also no secret that Jameis Winston is the starting QB, and Drew Brees is gone. Who's left outside of Kamara?

With Thomas hurt, Brees gone, and Cook & Sanders leaving in free agency, this Saints team looks a lot different the last year. With that said, the Saints are trotting out a lineup of Marquez Callaway, Tre'Quan Smith, JuWuan Johnson, and Adam Trautman. Not exactly a lineup that strikes fear in you.

That's where Alvin Kamara comes in. With little to no weapons, he will be leaned on not just to run the ball but to catch passes out of the backfield. In games without Drew Brees in his career here's how Kamara performed.

  • 8 Games Played
  • 110 Carries
  • 468 Yards
  • 44 Targets
  • 35 Receptions
  • 240 Yards
  • 5 Total Touchdowns

That's an average of 88.5 yards per game, 5.5 targets per game, and .625 touchdowns per game. His floor alone makes him a safe play, especially without all the weapons as his usage will likely go upwards.

Most importantly however is his matchup. He's absolutely dominated the Packers in his career logging 304 total yards, 18 receptions, 21 targets, and two touchdowns in just two games. That's a total of 60.4 fantasy points in full-PPR scoring.

I'm paying up in cash games for a guy with a high floor and massive ceiling. That guy is Kamara, he grades out as the number one player in my model.

Antonio Gibson (Sleeper) - $5,900

There might be no bigger fan of Antonio Gibson than me. All offseason I've been gushing about how this guy can be the next Christian McCaffrey, even head coach Ron Rivera said so himself.

With his likely expanded role, Gibson will be a top-end target. In nine games last season, Gibson saw over double-digit fantasy points all while playing an average of fewer than 30 snaps per game. Now, with Peyton Barber out of the mix and J.D. McKissic just used as a third-down back, Gibson can finally be a pure runner and CMC type back.

Before getting hurt last season, we saw Gibson breakout against the Cowboys for 20 carries, 115 yards, 3 touchdowns, and five receptions. He score nearly 40 fantasy points that day. That's signs for what's to come.

At $5,900 on Draftkings a true three-down back in Gibson is worth every penny.

Chase Edmonds (Value) - $4,600

You may be thinking, "Chase Edmonds? Gross." Same, honestly. However, Edmonds is likely a smash value at his price point. He highly correlates with Kyler Murray in what appears to likely be a shoutout.

With the Cardinals traveling to a newly loaded Titans team that throws out Julio Jones on the opposite side of A.J. Brown, the Cardinals could find themselves giving up tons of points with their bottom-five secondary in the NFL. With Patrick Peterson gone, the unit that ranked in the bottom half of the NFL has seemingly gotten worse.

With the Cardinals playing with one of the highest totals and likely a strong passing game, Edmonds is someone who offers cheap upside on Draftkings. The site sports a one-point-per-reception rule which is even more helpful for Edmonds as he saw an average of 6.1 targets per game.

With a high volume of targets mixed with goal-line usage and a seemingly good floor rushing, Edmonds makes for a great play at a cheap price point.

Wide Receiver: Sleepers, Values, and Pay Up Options

A.J. Brown (Pay-Up) -  $7,100

If it wasn't obvious by now there is a theme to this article. The Cardinals and Titans game would be that theme. A total of 51.5 paired with a spread of only three is exactly what we target in DFS.

As I said above, the Titans and Cardinals are going to be in an air war on Sunday. Both defenses are absolutely atrocious routing out likely bottom-12 units each against the pass.

Brown will likely draw a matchup against Robert Alford. The 32-year-old QB is on the backend of his career wasn't even on an NFL team over the past two seasons. A young stud in Brown will take advantage against a veteran who likely can't keep up with his 4.4 forty speed.

Brown is the top option on the slate for me. His cheaper price compared to the likes of Calvin Ridley, Tyreek Hill, and Davante Adams make him the best points per dollar option in my mind.

Robby Anderson (Sleeper) - $5,700

Likely one of the most underlooked plays on the slates will be Robby Anderson. In a revenge game nonetheless. The former Jet will take on his former team alongside his former QB in Sam Darnold.

One thing to note that should get you excited about Anderson is that he faces off against the youngest secondary in the league. The group will trout out four rookie CB's. The secondary will also only include players that have taken 20 career snaps. Now, squaring off in a revenge game against the Jets, Anderson will look to use his 4.3 speed to burn young corners.

Last season, Anderson had double-digit fantasy points in 12 of his 16 games. He also averaged an outstanding 8.5 targets per game alongside 68.5 yards per game through the air.

With a safe floor paired with a near 30 point ceiling in a revenge matchup, I'm playing Anderson in cash games and tournaments.

Michael Pittman Jr. (Value) - $4,100

Against the Seattle Seahawks is all I have to say. According to Football Outsiders, the 2020 Seahawks set several records for how awful they were on defense not only through the first six games but nearly the whole season. They were ranked in the bottom five of DVOA in the history of the NFL.

Lucky for Pittman he and now healthy Carson Wentz and All-Pro LT Quinton Nelson will all be available for Sunday. Big names added back after losing T.Y. Hilton to injured reserve, starting center Ryan Kelley, and now Parris Campbell to an Achilles injury.

On Sunday, Pittman will likely lineup up at the WR1 position. Last season, Wentz WR1 was Travis Fulgham who from weeks four to eight was the WR1 in fantasy. In weeks 10 and 11 last season, Pittman had a mini breakout scoring 37.8 combined fantasy points.

Against a terrible secondary paired with his cheap price, Pittman offers tremendous upside as the WR1 in his offense with his QB back.

Marquez Callaway (Value) - $3,400

The chalkiest of all chalk. With Michael Thomas out with an injury, Tre'Quan Smith hurt as well, and Adam Trautman also hurt, Callaway steps in as the WR1.

Jared Cook and Emmanuel Sanders are both gone. Each left to different teams in free agency. With the injuries piling up and the weapons leaving in free agency, Callaway is forced into the top role like we saw in pre season.

In the pre season with new QB Jameis Winston, Callaway showed off tremendous chemistry catching. He received nine targets while reeling in eight catches, 165 yards, and two touchdowns. Take a look at this immaculate receptions below.

The matchup isn't spectacular but the clear chemistry and likely volume makes Callaway a play. Especially given the price. Be aware he will be the highest owned WR on the slates in both cash and GPP's.

Tight End: Sleepers, Values, and Pay Up Options

T.J. Hockenson (Value) - $4,900

No team lost more weapons this offseason arguably than the Lions. With over 300 targets gone from last season in free agency, they are running it back with Hockenson as there presumed top target. This is exactly why he's a value at just $4,900.

With the top receiver's being Tyrell Williams who sat all of last season, Quinton Cephus who has little NFL experience, Amon-Ra St. Brown who is a rookie, and Kalif Raymond who is also lacking in experience, the group will be lead by Hockenson.

Between weeks 1-12 last season, Hockenson scored double-digit fantasy points 10 times. He also saw five or more targets in 11 games last season. With the spread being nearly eight points versus a 49ers team, the Lions could be throwing the ball a ton.

Hockeson based off priced per dollar is worth every penny of his salary.

C.J. Uzomah (Sleeper) - $3,000

On the verge of a breakout in 2020, Uzomah and Joe Burrow showed a strong connection. In just two games last season before suffering a season ending knee injury, Uzomah had 11 targets, eight receptions, 87 yards, and one touchdown. Very strong performances. In those two games he saw 8.5 and 14.2 Draftkings points.

The matchup for the Bengals is also very enticing. Both teams have lack luster defenses and offenses the like to sling the rock. In 2020, the Vikings were in the top half of the NFL in points allowed to the TE. On average they allowed 10.8 points per game to the position.

With guys like Anthony Barr potentially sidelined, Uzomah may have an easy matchup.

Defense: Sleepers, Values, and Pay Up Options

New England Patriots - $3,900

The Patriots are back? After a flurry of offseason moves in which the team added studs like Kyle Van Noy and Matthew Judon as well as opt out returners in D'onta Hightower, the Patriots unit is vastly improved.

Squaring up against a team lead by second year starter Tua Tagovailoa, the Patriots have what may be the best matchup. Last season, Tua was benched for his struggles at multiple times. In his games last season Tagovailoa six times while also taking 20 sacks.

On top of the turnover issues he only averaged an underperforming 181 yards per game through the air. With a great matchup, newly improved defense, and a hall of fame head coach, the Patriots have a perfect matchup.

Click here for Wisdom of the Crowd NFL DFS projections

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