Daily fantasy has taken the fantasy football world by storm. Unlike yearly leagues where a bad draft can make your year long and arduous, daily play allows for the player to start over each week and can make every game exciting. There is a lot of strategy involved in playing this way, as players must combine rankings with dollar amounts to construct the best team. Each week here on NCB, I will give out my favorite plays of the week on Draft Kings, one of the top DFS sites. For those of you who don’t know, Draft Kings lineups are made up of 1QB, 2RB, 3WR, 1TE, 1 FLEX, and one DST (there are no kickers). Players have a $50,000 budget to construct their teams, and it is full PPR scoring. Now that you’re familiar with the layout, onto the plays!
Favorite Play: Geno Smith vs OAK ($6,500)
Could I possibly write anything more about Geno? He is one of my top streaming plays in seasonal leagues, and I ranked him 10th at the position for the week. I trust him enough to play him in cash games, but his real value is going to be in tournaments, where he is a likely low ownership play with the chance to blow up against the lowly Raiders. Smith, to me, offers the best combination of price and production you can find this week.
Colin Kaepernick at DAL ($8,000) – Dual threat quarterback going against one of the worst defenses in football. Upside for a mammoth game at a price much cheaper than the elites.
Matt Ryan vs NO ($7,900) – My third ranked quarterback this week. The Falcons should lean heavily on him in a potential shootout with the Saints (over/under opened at 51.5).
Jay Cutler vs BUF ($7,800) – The back end of the Buffalo defense is hurting after the loss of Jairus Byrd. Bears coach Marc Trestman should attack it aggressively with his Cutler-led air show.
Shaun Hill vs MIN ($5,000) – Hill is available for the minimum price in the wake of the Sam Bradford injury, which makes him a solid investment if you’re loading up your team elsewhere.
Favorite Play: Fred Jackson at CHI ($4,400)
As bad as I think Buffalo’s pass defense is, Chicago’s run defense is probably worse. The Bears gave up a league-worst 5.3 yards per carry last season to go along with 161.4 yards per game on the ground (another league-worst). The additions of Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston should help Chicago’s pass defense, but won’t do much to change their inability to stop running backs from finding and exploiting creases. FJax is, to me, the Bills lead runner and will see a majority of the red-zone and third down work. C.J. Spiller’s role as lead kick returner for Buffalo only emphasizes this point.
LeSean McCoy vs JAC ($8,400) – Costly, but worth the price of admission as my top rated runner.
Matt Forte vs BUF ($8,300) – Forte is another elite play worth considering this week. His place in the Chicago passing game (16.2% of targets last year) makes him even more attractive since it is PPR.
Montee Ball vs IND ($7,000) – I feel really good about playing Ball in cash games this week, and he is fairly cheap compared to the top 4 runners available for play.
Frank Gore at DAL ($5,200) – Did I mention Dallas’ defense is bad? They ranked 30th in the league last year, allowing 4.7 yards per carry. Gore is a good bet to give owners a quality week while he still has fresh legs.
Pierre Thomas at ATL ($5,000) – Thomas makes for a great play in a PPR format with the aforementioned shootout potential in Atlanta. More passing should mean more snaps for Pierre, who could see a lot of passes his way after receiving 12.9% of all targets in 2013.
Jonathan Dwyer/Stepfan Taylor vs SD ($3,000) – News broke Friday morning that Cardinals starter Andre Ellington would be out 4-6 weeks (and possibly longer) with a foot injury. That could make one of Dwyer or Taylor a real bargain at the minimum salary. There is enough uncertainty about workload to keep this from being a slam dunk, but if you feel compelled one way or the other, put one in your lineup.
Favorite Play: Michael Crabtree at DAL ($6,100)
Crabtree came in as my number six receiver this week and is valued way less than the elite at the position. Brandon Carr was awful last season and Maurice Claiborne has looked every bit a draft bust since entering the league. It wasn’t a sure thing that Crabtree would start this week, but it appears his missing practice on Wednesday was merely a precaution. As Colin Kaepernick’s top target Sunday, he could post a monster line.
Alshon Jeffery vs BUF ($7,100) – If you want a piece of the Bears passing game, I recommend Jeffery since he is valued $500 less than teammate Brandon Marshall.
Michael Floyd vs SD ($6,000) – Floyd has an even greater chance for a big game with Andre Ellington out. Arizona should be throwing early and often.
Roddy White vs NO ($5,900) – You can get White at an $1,800 discount compared to Julio Jones, making him a much more preferable lineup choice. Getting a fairly cheap piece of a high-scoring game is always a sound play.
Eric Decker vs OAK ($5,200) – As Geno goes, so does Decker as the clear top option for the Jets. He represents cheap multi-touchdown potential.
Anquan Boldin at DAL ($4,700) – If you can’t afford Crabtree, Boldin is also a great value play for many of the same reasons.
Cody Latimer vs IND ($3,000) – His minimum contract makes him more appealing than Emmanuel Sanders with Wes Welker suspended.
Favorite Play: Travis Kelce vs TEN ($3,200)
Kelce had a phenomenal pre-season, totaling 10 receptions for 185 yards and 2 touchdowns. With Dwayne Bowe suspended for week 1, I expect the second-year tight end to be the focal point of the Chiefs passing game (after Jamaal Charles). Kelce comes at a ridiculously cheap price, and will be a staple of my lineups this week in all formats.
Jordan Cameron at PIT ($5,000) – If you’re looking for a reasonably priced top-tier tight end, I really like Cameron. Josh Gordon may get his suspension overturned eventually, but for this week it should be Cameron getting the bulk of the targets for Cleveland.
Heath Miller vs CLE ($4,000) – Pittsburgh’s best red-zone option and he comes at a cheap price.
Antonio Gates/Ladarius Green at ARZ ($3,400/$3,200) – Arizona was absolutely brutal last season against the tight end, allowing the most points to the position by a considerable margin. Both are great values so it is really just a matter of who you like more.
Favorite Play: Rams vs MIN ($3,400)
The Rams finished third in the league in sacks last year and added first round pick Aaron Donald to an already loaded defensive line. They boast an elite return game as well with Tavon Austin manning punts. The Rams are my second D/ST and can be had for a song. Buy.
Eagles vs JAC ($3,200) – Another streaming favorite of mine, the Jags could be forced into a few turnovers playing catchup with Philly.
Texans vs WAS ($3,100) – I think that Houston’s defense has a chance to be elite this season after adding Jadeveon Clowney with the first pick in May’s draft. Washington’s offense has sputtered this pre-season and could be vulnerable against Houston’s front 7.
Buccanneers vs CAR ($3,100) – With Cam Newton struggling due to a rib injury, the Bucs could contain him enough to force turnovers and keep the score low.