Fantasy Football

Week 1 DFS Sleepers and Busts: Ware Will You Be?

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Finally! After a long summer of waiting, the fantasy season is here. Preseason DFS is great and all, but it’s time to get the real studs in our lineups. Out with Dak Prescott and Spencer Ware and… wait. Uhh. Nevermind.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, DFS stands for Daily Fantasy Sports. Each week you can build your own lineup from a pool of players who are listed at various prices. The obvious studs such as Aaron Rodgers or Adrian Peterson are going to be expensive so it’s crucial that you find the productive sleepers who are going for cheap. And if you don’t want to, I’ll help you out with a couple sleepers and also some expensive busts who you’re going to want to avoid.

Each recommendation is going to come with a figure on the Sleep Scale which is something I invented for the purpose of this column. The Sleep Scale will tell you how deep of a sleeper this pick is and how much confidence I have in it. Just kidding. All picks are made with 110% confidence. Meanwhile, the busts will be rated on the Bust Scale aka just how badly do I think this player will perform.


I’ll be looking at the player pools from the two most popular DFS websites: Fanduel and Draftkings. There are some differences in their formats (most notably 0.5 PPR vs full PPR) so be sure to check out Keenan Keeling’s article on those nuances.

Let’s win some money!

Week 1 DFS Sleepers and Busts

Quarterbacks

Matthew Stafford ($7400 FanDuel, $7200 DraftKings)

Stafford finished ninth in fantasy points among quarterbacks last year but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Following their Week 10 bye an offensive coordinator change, Stafford caught fire. In those last eight games, he finished with 2,179 yards, 19 touchdowns, and only two interceptions.

He was the number five fantasy quarterback during that stretch. Haters will say it’s photoshop going to be different without Calvin Johnson around. However, Marvin Jones, Eric Ebron, and Anquan Boldin make up a more well-rounded supporting cast.

With a full offseason to learn the offense, the Lions are only ramping it up further. They ran no-huddle on 62% of their offensive plays this preseason compared to seven percent last year. More plays equals more points, and I think the Lions and Colts will easily surpass their Vegas total of 51 points – already tied for the highest this week.

Speaking of the Colts, they are perhaps the least talented defense in the NFL especially without star cornerback Vontae Davis. They allowed the 8th most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks in 2015 and did nothing to address those concerns. Expect this game to be a shootout between Stafford and Andrew Luck (who should return value even at $8700/$8500).
Sleep Scale: Six minutes into a TED Talk your mother-in-law sent you a link to

Dak Prescott ($5000 FD, $4500 DK)

A fourth round pick out of Mississippi State, Prescott has been thrust into the spotlight with the injury to Tony Romo. He looks prepared to handle it though, totaling a superb 454 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions in three preseason games. He made all the big time “pro” throws and even added 53 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.

He’s a bit of a risk given his status as a rookie, but he’s worth a dart throw against a NYG defense that finished 28th in passing defense DVOA.
Sleep Scale: An afternoon siesta

Cam Newton ($8600 FD/$7700 DK)

Newton was the number one quarterback in fantasy football last year, but isn’t a good bet to recreate that this week. The Broncos, with seventh round rookie Trevor Siemian, are going to want to play an extremely slow game. Vegas has the OU at 41.5 – second lowest this week.

In addition, in 2015 the Broncos limited opposing quarterbacks to a putrid 17 points per game. They are also seven months removed from holding Newton to 265 yards with no touchdowns. They have lost some of those pieces on defense but are bringing back essentially the same core. They have big corners on the edges who match up well with the Panthers’ duo of Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess and enough speed to contain Cam himself.
Bust Scale: Slightly better than Cam Newton in Super Bowl 50

Running Backs

Spencer Ware ($5400 FD, $4400 DK)

With Jamaal Charles likely out, Ware projects to handle 20+ touches against a soft front seven. He handled all the first team reps for the Chiefs throughout the preseason. He demonstrated that he was a versatile back who could handle red zone touches and catch the ball as well.

Meanwhile, the Chargers were 31st in rush defense DVOA in 2015 and project to have a similarly soft front. As seven point favorites at home, a cupcake matchup on paper, and a bellcow role in hand, Ware is in line for a big week.
Sleep Scale: It’s Monday morning and the garbage truck people are outside

Christine Michael ($4800 FD/$3700 DK)

Michael reportedly had an “awakening” this offseason and although he was roundly mocked, he seems to have actually seen the light. He averaged 6.5 YPC on 26 carries for 157 yards and is currently listed ahead of Thomas Rawls on the depth chart. Just like with Ware and Charles, I believe Rawls will eventually take back control of the backfield. However, the Seahawks have said they are going to treat this game like a preseason game for Rawls, so Michael should see the majority of the touches.

The Seahawks are favored at home by 10.5 and could lean on Michael in the second half as they nurse a big lead. The Dolphins allowed the most points to opposing running backs in 2015 and finished 20th in rush defense DVOA.
Sleep Scale: You’ve already hit snooze on your alarm clock twice

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Chase Price ($6800 FD)

Apparently there is a running back named Chase Price on the Colts who is listed at $6800. Strangely, he is not listed on DraftKings. Please do not put him in your lineups. Or if you plan to, please tweet me @KevinH_F6P. I’d like to play you in a head-to-head.
Bust Scale: Jamarcus Russell

Arian Foster ($6500 FD/$5800 DK)

Foster was officially listed as the start this week, but don’t let the hype fool you: this is not the Arian Foster we have known to love. He averaged a paltry 2.6 YPC last year. While he showed signs of life in the preseason, he just turned 30 and is coming off a torn Achilles – both death knells for running backs.

Another bad omen for running backs is the Seattle defense, which allowed only 12.3 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs. There’s a chance Foster makes a living catching the ball, but Seattle was 5th in DVOA against running backs as receivers in 2015 too. And while Foster is the favorite for goal line touches, the Seahawks only gave up five touchdowns to running backs on the ground and none through the air.
Bust Scale: A stranger is wearing a funny shirt and you want to Snapchat it to your friends but you accidentally left your flash on

Wide Receivers

Sammy Watkins ($7300 FD/$6900 DK)

Watkins is coming off offseason foot surgery, but by all accounts is healthy and ready to go. He faces a Ravens team that allowed the fifth most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers last year. He should line up against Jimmy Smith who ranked 76th out of 111 cornerbacks in coverage grade according to ProFootballFocus.

Tyrod Taylor and Watkins have developed nice chemistry on the long ball, hooking up for 10 pass plays over 35 yards in only 12 games together. That connection is surpassed only by Blake Bortles and Allen Robinson. Meanwhile, Baltimore gave up seven touchdowns on  passing plays longer than 35 yards in 2015 – tied for fourth most.
Sleep Scale: After a warm glass of milk

Marvin Jones Jr ($5500 FD/$4600 DK)

As stated above, I love Stafford this week and Jones is part of the reason why. According to PFF’s WR/CB Matchup Chart, he is going to be matched up with Antonio Cromartie’s corpse. Jones should be able to find his way around, past, or over the 32 year old who wasn’t even on a roster two weeks ago.

Not only does Jones have the superior matchup, but he has been running the higher value routes. In the preseason, Jones caught eight passes for 106 yards compared to Tate’s six balls for 70 yards. More importantly, Jones had an average depth of target of 15.2 – more than double Tate’s 7.7. This suggests Stafford is looking to Jones to push the ball downfield for big plays. He is an incredible bargain on both websites this week.
Sleep Scale: Roger Goodell knowing Brady is going to miss four games

Jordy Nelson ($8400 FD/$7700 DK)

I believe Jordy Nelson will have a great bounce back year in 2016, but he’s too great of a risk to spend the majority of your salary on this week. He essentially has not practiced and the team is uncertain if he will be on the field for all of the snaps.

If it weren’t for the health concerns, he wouldn’t be here. In fact, once healthy, I doubt Nelson will land in this category the rest of the reason. However, until then, roll with another player.
Bust Scale: Got caught shoplifting a candy bar in 7th grade

Tight Ends

Vance McDonald ($4700 FD/$3100 DK)

If you really want to punt on this position to spend big at other positions, take a look at McDonald. SOMEBODY has to catch passes in SF and it looks like it’s not going to be Torrey Smith (1 target in 3 preseason games). Quinton Patton is an unexciting option on the outside while Jeremy Kerley and Rod Streater were just acquired.

laine Gabbert is starting and he has shown chemistry with Gabbert and literally nobody else. Gabbert was 5/6 for 92 yards and a touchdown in the preseason when targeting McDonald and 7/16 for 54 yards when targeting anybody else.
Sleep Scale: Post-Thanksgiving dinner

Delanie Walker ($6500 FD/$4500 DK)

The Titans are in for a slugfest with the Vikings, with Vegas projecting the Titans to score only 19.5 points. In 2015, the Vikings and the Titans ran the 31st and 28th most plays in the NFL. The Titans invested heavily in their run game this year and will be looking to run the ball a ton. Meanwhile, Walker had a career year in 2015 as he was basically the Titans’ only pass-catching option in any situation. With more weapons around him and an increase in focus on the run game, Walker won’t come close to his 2015 volume.

The Vikings are stingy against opposing tight ends as well. Only three tight ends eclipsed double digit fantasy points against Minnesota in 2015 largely in part due to All-Pros Anthony Barr and Harrison Smith.
Bust Scale: You told your mom you’d take the chicken out of the freezer before she got home but the garage door is opening and you haven’t yet



Kicker (FanDuel only)

Nick Novak ($4500)

If you really need to save the $300-400, Novak is a decent minimum price option in a game the Texans are favored to win by six at home.

Defense

LA Rams ($4500 FD/$3800 DK)

Not really a sleeper considering they were the 7th ranked defense according to FantasyPros ECR, but they’re not priced as one this week on Fanduel. They are still a defense worth starting on DraftKings. The Rams who face the noodle armed Gabbert. The Niners’ offensive line is horrible, they have no pass catchers, and Gabbert makes bad decisions under pressure – which the Rams can generate at will.

About Kevin Huo

Kevin is a fantasy football writer for Fantasy Six Pack. He considers every angle - whether statistical or theoretical - when weighing his options and isn't afraid to be a contrarian. You can follow him on Twitter: @KevinMHuo

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