Appeasing fans eager to get their daily fantasy football fix, DraftKings set their Week 1 prices well ahead of Thursday night’s season opener. As a result, several players stand out to start 2015.
By the time DFS fiends need to finalize their lineups, several injuries and depth-chart decisions will create bargains and rip-offs across the board. Nobody needs a reminder to play Davante Adams, who only costs $4,400 despite replacing the injured Jordy Nelson as a Green Bay Packers starting wide receiver. With Randall Cobb also banged up but aiming to play, Adams is nearly a must-play in 50-50, double-up and head-to-head contests.
Who else has risen up the ranks during August? And what about the players who now look far less appealing? Let’s take a look at fluctuating player stocks as preseason ends.
QB Sam Bradford ($6,900), Philadelphia Eagles at Atlanta Falcons
Whereas seasonal fantasy managers are hedging a risky wager on Sam Bradford staying healthy for 16 games, daily gamers merely want to see him escape Week 1 in one piece. A stellar preseason running the uptempo Philadelphia Eagles offense only expands his hype heading into next Sunday’s team debut.
So far, he has enjoyed working with head coach Chip Kelly. As highlighted by the NFL‘s Twitter page, Bradford dominated during Philadelphia’s penultimate preseason bout:
If that doesn’t make him popular enough, facing the Atlanta Falcons will. Last year, they ranked last with 279.9 passing yards allowed per game and 8.2 yards per pass attempt.
In fantasy drafts, anyone who wants Bradford will now have to reach. His DraftKings price will also skyrocket with a strong Week 1 outing, but he currently only requires a $6,900 commitment, making him $100 cheaper than Colin Kaepernick.
Just don’t get lured into a false sense of security, as he’s far from a sure thing. Not only is the former No. 1 pick making his first season appearance since 2013, but everyone has ignored his career 58.6 completion percentage and 6.29 yards per attempt. Mark Sanchez, a popular DFS play last year, holds a 56.3 completion percentage on 6.67 yards per attempt.
Considering Sanchez posted 18.4 DraftKings points per contest under center, his replacement has a huge ceiling in a great matchup. Playing in a high-volume offense alongside a strong line and ground game has Bradford looking poised for a revival.
RB Doug Martin ($4,500), Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Tennessee Titans
Maybe it’s stupidly stubborn to keep looking Doug Martin’s way. In two seasons following his breakout rookie season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back produced 950 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 261 carries.
Still, the 26-year-old has turned some heads with an impressive preseason, gaining 118 rushing yards on 20 carries. Pro Football Focus displayed his elusiveness with a craft touchdown run against the Cleveland Browns:
It’s only preseason, but a strong showing helps the Muscle Hamster roll into Week 1 with Tampa Bay’s starting gig. Circling back to last season, he accrued 221 yards through the ground during the final three games, sandwiching two impressive displays with a 17-yard dud against Green Bay.
Let’s hope his season debut goes better than last year, when he recorded 16 yards on 10 touches to commence the season. For $4,500, a back boasting a featured role warrants consideration against the Tennessee Titans, who allowed the sixth-most DraftKings points to running backs last season.
TE Rob Gronkowski ($7,000) and WR Julian Edelman ($6,600), New England Patriots vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
A federal judge sent several gamers back to the drawing board on Thursday by erasing Tom Brady’s four-game suspension in a massive decision confirmed by the Associated Press:
Unfortunately, the star quarterback already places among the top passers at $7,700. He’s perfectly playable against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but it won’t come at a discount. It’s a different story, however, for his top targets.
Rob Gronkowski ($7,000) costs $1,400 more than the second-most expensive tight end (Jimmy Graham), and he’s still a great value. The clear king of his position posted 18.5 DraftKings points per contest last year. Sammy Watkins’ 13.2 points per bout comes at the same price with Tyrod Taylor throwing him the ball instead of Brady.
Julian Edelman isn’t the flashiest pick, but he corralled 92 receptions in 14 regular-season games last year. Including the postseason, he received double-digit targets in each of his final seven tilts, snatching 59 catches over that stretch.
Since DraftKings awards a point per reception, gamers should crave such consistency from their wideouts. Brandon LaFell’s absence on the physically unable to perform list only helps Edelman‘s chances of enjoying another seven-to-nine-catch evening on Thursday night.
QB Cam Newton ($7,600), Carolina Panthers at Jacksonville Jaguars
Last season, Cam Newton set career lows in passing yards (3,127), completion percentage (58.5) and yards per attempt (6.98). Oh yeah, he also finished with the fewest rushing yards (539) and touchdowns (18 passing, five rushing) since joining the league in 2011.
He’ll have to rebound without Kelvin Benjamin, whom the Carolina Panthers officially placed on the injured reserve with a torn ACL. Amassing 1,008 yards over his rookie campaign, the wide receiver accounted for over a quarter (26.3 percent) of the team’s passing offense.
If a lack of targets after tight end Greg Olsen doesn’t scare players away, the leaky offensive line will have them (and Newton) running for dear life. Pro Football Focus graded Carolina as the NFL’s third-worst offensive line in terms of pass-blocking last year.
While it’s tempting to view the Jacksonville Jaguars as a cupcake matchup, they’re a dangerous one for the Panthers after compiling 45 sacks last season. It’s not enough to save an overpriced Newton, whose $7,600 tag hovers above Matt Ryan, Eli Manning, Ryan Tannehill, Tony Romo and Bradford.
RB Joseph Randle ($5,900), Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants
Joseph Randle has all the makings of a preseason breakout pick. After averaging an insane 6.7 yards per carry in a condensed sample size (51 attempts), the 23-year-old running back will get more opportunities to run behind the Dallas Cowboys’ superb offensive line with DeMarco Murray in Philadelphia.
The Cowboys, however, aren’t complying with this narrative. Instead, Drew Davison of the Forth Worth Star-Telegram painted the portrait of a dreaded committee:
The Cowboys are going to split carries between Randle, [Darren] McFadden and change-of-pace back Lance Dunbar. None of them has done enough to separate themselves from the pack, and take on a workhorse-type role that DeMarco Murray had last season.
None of them, in other words, is likely going to carry it 20-plus times a game. Instead, Randle could fall in the 10-15 carry range with McFadden slightly below that.
A breakout pick in his own right several years ago, McFadden has averaged 3.3 yards per carry in his last three seasons with the Oakland Raiders. Still, he showed some life in Dallas’ third preseason game, gaining 37 yards on four carries. This has all the makings of a frustrating fantasy situation daily gamers should avoid until seeing some clarity.
Over time, Randle should snatch away most of Dallas’ carries from McFadden. Expecting that to happen in Week 1, however, is a risky endeavor for DraftKings‘ 14th-highest-priced back. All cheaper options, Jonathan Stewart, Alfred Morris, Mark Ingram and Frank Gore are far safer choices who will receive full workloads.
Pricing and scoring info obtained from DraftKings.com
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