DraftKings opened up NFL Week 1 contests with ample time to spare, but everyone is still spending Sunday morning adjusting their lineups before the opening kickoff.
A roster that looked golden on Wednesday may have already unraveled due to injury or depth-chart maneuvering. Or perhaps someone simply looks better or worse at a second glance. That’s the fun (and frustrating) part of daily fantasy sports.
With precious time remaining, let’s take one last look at players whose Week 1 stock has risen or fallen leading up to the big day.
RB Danny Woodhead, San Diego Chargers ($3,700) vs. Detroit
After accruing 72 total yards in three games last year, 30-year-old running back Danny Woodhead will return against the Detroit Lions’ No. 1 rushing defense. Sound like an intriguing flex option yet?
The time off from injury can prove a blessing in disguise for the scatback, who amassed 1,034 total yards and eight touchdowns in 2013. San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator Frank Reich sang Woodhead‘s praises to Tom Krasovic of the San Diego Union-Tribune:
I think Danny looks stronger than ever, I really do. The year before, his first year here, he had an amazing season. But he took a beating. He had a lot of touches and carries. He was physically pretty beat up. So, I think he’s come back fresh and strong. Obviously we have Melvin. So, a little bit of a workload from there is off of Danny.
Having him back is a quarterback’s and offensive coordinator’s dream. Because he just does so much for you. There’s so much he can do. He has unique contributions that he can make to the offense. We certainly missed him last year. But it seems to me he’s as strong, as quick and certainly as smart as ever.
Of course, a coach wouldn’t openly call one of his players garbage. There’s also the matter of facing Detroit with rookie Melvin Gordon blocking him on the depth chart. Rotoworld’s Pat Thorman laid out a case for Woodhead deriving sneaky appeal, as the Lions relinquished 5.8 receptions and 47.9 yards per game to opposing backs last year.
If he draws attention in standard scoring, DraftKings contestants should especially eye him as the 40th-most expensive option under point-per-reception scoring. He doesn’t need to poach many handoffs from Gordon to prove valuable at such a low price.
WR Allen Hurns, Jacksonville Jaguars ($4,000) vs. Carolina Panthers
Searching for this year’s Allen Hurns to produce lavish Week 1 numbers from out of nowhere? How about Allen Hurns?
Last year, the Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver made his NFL debut with four catches, 110 yards and two touchdowns against the Philadelphia Eagles. Besides a 112-yard, two-touchdown outing eight weeks later, he failed to generate any encore efforts.
Although it’s not saying much, Hurns led the Jaguars with 677 receiving yards, six touchdowns and 11 catches of 20 yards or more. With Cecil Shorts—last year’s team leader in catches and targets—out of the picture, Hurns and popular breakout candidate Allen Robinson will take center stage with second-year quarterback Blake Bortles.
Robinson is the clear No. 1 and the superior PPR choice, but his 22-year-old teammate represents a high-reward play for $4,000. With all eyes on Robinson, Hurns could instead burn the Carolina Panthers, who allowed a 64.8 completion percentage last year.
Miami Dolphins D/ST ($3,000) at Washington
Washington’s decision to start Kirk Cousins provides a noteworthy fantasy upgrade…for its opponent.
With the help of two stellar games against the Jaguars and Philadelphia Eagles, Washington’s Week 1 starter submitted a strong 8.38 yards per passing attempt last season. He also, however, coughed up nine interceptions in 204 passes. In 14 career games, he has surrendered 19 picks with a 4.7 percent interception rate.
Last year’s No. 6 passing defense, the Miami Dolphins should have little problem flummoxing a guy who has spent three years rotating in and out of the starting lineup. Now that Ndamukong Suh anchors the defensive line, Cousins acknowledged the challenge ahead, per the team’s Twitter page:
Expect a lopsided game, which will force Cousins into a few mistakes while airing it out from behind. Miami isn’t cheap at $3,000, but it’ll prove worth the investment.
QB Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts ($8,300) at Buffalo
Andrew Luck is still the man. After leading all quarterbacks with 40 passing touchdowns and 23.7 DraftKings points per contest last year, the Indianapolis Colts superstar will welcome two veteran upgrades in Frank Gore and Andre Johnson. Expect another huge year.
This is where daily fantasy differs from the typical format. In year-long leagues, anyone who drafted Luck is starting him against the Buffalo Bills. DraftKings players, however, should fade the stud against a defense that allowed the second-fewest points to the position last year.
Per ESPN.com, the Bills allowed an NFL-low 16 passing touchdowns while snatching 19 interceptions. Now defensive guru Rex Ryan is running the show. With Matt Ryan, Tony Romo, Eli Manning, Ryan Tannehill, Sam Bradford and Carson Palmer all priced between $6,500 and $7,500, there are too many alternatives to spend big on Luck. If you have money to burn, cough up an extra $300 for Aaron Rodgers.
WR Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($7,700) vs. Tennessee
Even when healthy, Mike Evans isn’t the safest option at wide receiver. During a breakout rookie season, he registered four or fewer catches in 10 games, failing to exceed 80 yards outside of a monstrous three-game stretch.
The Tennessee Titans, who ranked No. 21 in DraftKings scoring allowed to wideouts last year, provide an opportunity for him to explode during Jameis Winston’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers debut. But the 22-year-old is a game-time decision with a hamstring injury.
Per the Tampa Tribune‘s Roy Cummings, Evans remained optimistic after progressing his recovery on Friday.
“I’ve been running, but this was the first day I was out there running routes at full speed, and it felt good,” Evans said. “There’s no official ruling yet, but I hope I’m playing.”
If cleared to go, he represents an intriguing tournament risk. Otherwise, an injured, volatile option isn’t worth the hassle given an abundance of affordable receivers. Save $500 by playing Jordan Matthews, or go even cheaper for Jarvis Landry ($5,600).
If Evans sits, Vincent Jackson ($6,000) receives a significant boost. The overlooked veteran isn’t a bad selection either way.
All pricing and scoring information obtained via DraftKings.com.
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