2023 NFL DFS Week 1 Value Picks

by Keith Flemming
2023 NFL DFS Week 1 Value Picks

Welcome to the 2023 NFL DFS Week 1 Value Picks! I will be writing a weekly value play article on Fantasy Six Pack for each position, according to pricing.

Players at the positions of QB, RB, WR, and Flex must be priced at $5,500 (DK) or lower to qualify as a value play. The positions of tight end and defense need to be priced $3,000 (DK) or lower to qualify each week.

If you haven't followed my PGA DFS work for Fantasy Six Pack this year, or my previous NFL DFS content over the past three years, when I make my selections each week I lean heavily into data, trends, and analytics.

In my opinion, the hardest weeks to predict for NFL DFS are the first four. In a sense, you are flying blind from an analytical perspective. You can use data from last season to make your selections but it's far from concrete evidence with so many changes from one season to the next in the NFL.

In this value play article, and in my DFS stacks article later this week, during the first month of the NFL season, I will take chances. Chances I wouldn't take once there is real data/stats on players usage and on what opposing defenses you should look to exploit.

It is impossible to know what will happen these first few weeks of the NFL season. No matter what any person in the DFS community tells you. The truth is we never truly know what will happen week in and week out during the NFL season. My goal in this article, and on our Thursday DFS show, is to always provide plays backed with good reasoning, backed by data, analytics, and logic.

Keep the conversation going. You can find me on Twitter @KeithFlemming where I love talking DFS with my followers. I am also on the Inside Drive on ESPN NW Florida Radio at 12 pm central time every Wednesday talking DFS football. Finally, you can find me on the Fantasy Six Pack YouTube Channel every Thursday night with Joe Matz, where we do a live NFL DFS show leading up to the TNF game, talking our favorite median and bargain tier plays for the upcoming week of NFL action!

2023 NFL DFS Week 1 Value Picks

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Sam Howell, Commanders vs Cardinals

($4.9k DK, $7.1k FD)

I am high on Sam Howell and the Washington offense this season. Howell made his first pro start the final week of the 2022 season last year. He scored 19.3 points in fantasy with a passing and rushing touchdown. Not a bad start for the former Carolina Tar Heel.

Howell looked great this preseason completing 18 of his 27 pass attempts for 264 yards and 3 touchdowns. What I liked the most about his preseason performance was his tendency to run with 4 carries for 22 yards. Last season in his only start he rushed 5 times for 35 yards and a touchdown. The floor of fantasy quarterbacks is raised significantly when you can count on some rushing yards and opportunities.

Howell has plenty of weapons to start the 2023 season with receivers “Scary” Terry McLaurin and Johan Dotson, both were previous Commanders' first-round draft selections. He also has two solid running backs in Brian Robinson Jr. and Antonio Gibson.

What I like most about Howell for week 1 as my bargain play at Quarterback is his opponent. It appears the Arizona Cardinals are in full tank mode for the 2023 season with their eyes on Caleb Williams for next year's draft.

I could easily see this game getting out of hand early and the Commanders using that opportunity to build confidence in their young QB. I expect Howell to throw multiple passing touchdowns in Week 1 and use his legs at a minimum for a few additional points.

Tank Bigsby, Jaguars @ Colts

($5.0k DK, $5.0k FD)

I think the Jaguars offense is in line for a breakout year this season and Tank Bigsby is going to be a big part of that. This is Trevor Lawrence’s third year in the league (second if you don’t want to count the mess that was the Urban Meyer year) and the Jaguars added Calvin Ridley and Bigsby to an offense that thrived down the stretch last season.

The Jaguars averaged over 28 points per game over their final seven games of the 2022 season, including two playoff games. They scored 30 or more points in four of those final seven games. It will only add to Bigsby’s fantasy value if the offense takes a leap in year two of Coach Pederson’s offense.

Tank Bigsby will be an upgrade to the Jaguars rushing attack that already bolsters Travis Etienne. Tank averaged 5.4 yards per carry in college on over 500+ rushing attempts. He scored 20 touchdowns in his final two seasons at Auburn University.

If you are worried about this play because we are not sure how involved Bigsby will be on a weekly basis in this Jaguars offense. That is a fair concern to have, but James Robinson saw an average of 11 carries in the games that he played with Etienne as the number 2 running back in this offense last season.

Finally, the Colts were awful versus the run last year. There were only six teams in the league that gave up more rushing touchdowns than the Colts in 2022. They also gave up the twelfth most rushing yards in the league last season.

With Bigsby averaging 5.7 yards per carry in the preseason and facing a potentially weak run defense. I love the upside of Bigsby at this price. Especially in a game that could get one-sided with the Colts starting rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson and officially without star running back Jonathan Taylor.

Quentin Johnston, Chargers vs Dolphins

($5.0k DK, $5.0k FD)

This play is a true boom or bust play for week one of DraftKings. I don’t see Johnston having a middle-of-the-road performance in the season opener. He will either make one or more big plays to finish the day with the desired fire symbol next to his name or underperform and make me look crazy for giving this play.

Johnston has struggled with drops during the preseason. This is something he struggled with at times in college. Another concern is we are unsure of his usage/roll for week one with the Chargers. The Chargers official website lists him behind fellow wide receivers Mike Williams, Keenan Allen, and Josh Palmer. I like Johnston this week despite these things for week one on DK.

In PFF’s scouting report on Johnston, they said he was one of the more physically impressive wide receivers to enter the draft in recent memory. They also said he has a unique start/stop ability for a player his size.

Last season Johnston was nearly unstoppable in leading the Horn Frogs all the way to the national championship game. He was 6th in the nation in yards after the catch and 11th in missed tackles forced. He averaged nearly 18 yards per reception with Maxx Duggan last season. Anyone who watched the national title game versus Georgia knows Duggan is not a great down-the-field passer.

Johnston is in for a huge upgrade at quarterback in his first year in the NFL with Justin Herbert as his quarterback. Herbert was top-3 in the NFL last season in true completion percentage, play action completion percentage, and pressured completion percentage.

The Dolphins enter the season without their big off-season acquisition cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who was injured during the preseason. The injury will force the Dolphins to play Eli Apple and Keion Crossen this season to defend three and four-receiver sets. They were 96th and 110th out of 118 cornerbacks graded by PFF last season. I like Johnston’s chances on any play he gets matched up across from either of those guys.

I love the upside/potential of Quentin Johnston at his DK price versus the Miami Dolphins this week. You can argue from a size and athletic perspective Johnston is the most talented receiver ever to catch passes from Justin Herbert. I expect Johnston makes one or two big plays and scores a touchdown in his pro debut!

Hayden Hurst Panthers @ Falcons

($3.0 DK, $5.0k FD)

Hayden Hurst is not a sexy pick for the week 1 DFS slate, but I think he will be effective. The tight end signed with the Panthers this off-season, Hurst’s third team in as many years.

Hurst as the fourth option in the Bengals offense last year was solid. He had 4 plus receptions in eleven of fourteen games. For the season Hurst finished 5th in true catch rate and 7th in target accuracy among tight ends.

Hurst plays a Falcons defense in Week 1 that had serious issues covering tight ends last season. The Falcons allowed tight ends to catch seven touchdown passes over their final six games.

This season Hurst will be catching passes from the number one pick in this year’s draft Bryce Young. Rookie quarterbacks historically throw to tight ends often and use them as a security blanket. Bryce Young has limited options in Carolina, and I feel players like Hurst and Thielen are being undervalued in fantasy and DFS slates.

On DraftKings, you receive a full point for every reception. I like Hurst’s value and floor at this price on DraftKings. I think there is a good chance he is one of Young’s top targets this season. Last year in the four games that Jamarr Chase missed with the Bengals. Hurst caught 17 passes for 170 yards and a touchdown. Hurst scored eight or more points on DK in all those games. He could easily be a top-15 or even a top-10 tight end Week 1 on DraftKings.

Drake London Falcons vs Panthers

($5.4k DK, $6.2k FD)

Drake London is coming off a great rookie campaign, undeterred by Marcus Mariota and Desmond Ridder being his quarterbacks. Despite catching passes from one of the worst passers in the league (Mariota) and a rookie making his first pro starts (Ridder), London finished the season second in target rate and 14th in points per route at wide receiver.

London shined in the four games with Ridder at Quarterback to end the season. The Falcons upped their pass attempts from 23 per game with Mariota to 29 per game with Ridder under center. It spoke volumes that the Falcons trusted Ridder (a rookie) to throw it more than a seasoned veteran in Marcus Mariota.

Ridder started the last four games of the season last year. It had a huge impact on Drake London's numbers compared to his starts with Mariota. London averaged 4 more targets, 3 more receptions, and 53 more receiving yards per game in games started by Ridder.

The addition of Bijan Robinson and a returning Kyle Pitts should make it easier for London to get open. I get the argument that his target share could shrink, but he will draw less attention from opposing defenses. The Falcons had one possession with all of their guys on offense this preseason. London led all receivers in targets with three, no other Falcons player saw more than one target in that possession.

It is apparent that Drake London and Desmond Ridder have a connection. If London has a breakout game in Week 1 with a similar target number to his final four games with Ridder last season. We will not see London at this low of a price on DraftKings again this season.

Washington Commanders vs Cardinals

($5.4k DK, $6.2k FD)

My co-host Joe Matz (@JoeEMatz)and I immediately noticed Washington’s pricing for Week 1 on DraftKings among defenses when released. At that time we thought Colt McCoy would be the Cardinals starting QB Week 1. He was recently released by the team and it appears Josh Dobbs will start the season as their starting quarterback.

The Cardinals should struggle to pass against a defense that allowed the fewest first downs and touchdowns to opponents last season. Last year, the Commanders did a great job pressuring and sacking opposing quarterbacks. They had the 12th most sacks in the NFL, were sixth in percentage of pressures that led to a sack, and 10th in pressure rate.

Washington’s defense was also great against the run last year, giving up the eight fewest first downs versus the run and the fifth-fewest touchdowns. The Cardinals offense made things easier for opposing fantasy defenses last season turning the ball over fourth most in the league and giving up 46 sacks.

The Cardinals starting quarterback for Week 1 will either be Dobbs (just added to the team) or Clayton Tune (rookie). Neither is going to strike fear into any opposing defenses. I expect the Commanders to feast in Week 1. I have them in every lineup I’ve made so far for Week 1 on DraftKings.


Now that you have read the 2023 NFL DFS Week 1 Value Picks, be sure to check out my Thursday Night Live DFS Show, Joe Matz, at 7:15 pm EST on the Fantasy Six Pack YouTube Channel. Each week we will break down our favorite median and bargain tier plays for the main slate on Sunday. As well as talking about our favorite showdown plays for the Thursday Night Game!

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