Fantasy sports are all about exploitation, as weird and possibly nefarious as that sounds. Fortunately, this isn’t the kind of nefarious thing that toes the line of legality. No, no, the kind of exploitation to which I’m referring to here is totally cool! Promise.
Part of the beauty of Daily Fantasy NFL is that you can choose to exploit the same crappy defense every single week if you want. On the other side of things, you also aren’t forced to pick a bunch of wideouts that are slated to meet up with the Legion of Boom that weekend, either. It’s Choose Your Own Adventure, fantasy football style. And there’s money involved! Which makes it way more fun…and also way, way more stressful and potentially catastrophic.
But I suppose we’re here to help you avoid catastrophe. Breaking Football wasn’t birthed out of Kevin Roberts’ butt just to give a bunch of bad fantasy football advice, ya know?
Anyway, let’s take a look at five potentially glorious fantasy football matchups to target for Week 1 in DFS:
Dolphins QB/WR against Redskins
The Washington Redskins are the biggest laughingstock in all of American sports for countless reasons, both on and off the field. We’re talking about on-field things in this space, though, which is why I’m bringing them up. Washington takes on Miami in Week 1, which potentially means good things for Ryan Tannehill ($7400) and his pass-catching compadres.
Tannehill quietly turned in a pretty damn strong campaign in 2014, hurling 27 TD passes with a 66.4% completion rate and over 4,000 yards. He threw 12 picks, too, which was a career-best. The Redskins intercepted just 7 passes all of last year, and didn’t do a whole lot during the offseason to suggest they’ll be doing any better in 2015.
Miami’s group of receivers doesn’t really jump off the page at you, which could mean they fly under-the-radar in Week 1. Jarvis Landry ($5600), Kenny Stills ($4700), DeVante Parker ($4100) and Greg Jennings ($4300) could all be worth consideration, with Landry and Parker being particularly appealing. Let’s not forget TE Jordan Cameron ($3800), who should prove a solid addition now that he’s escaped the football hell that is Cleveland.
Washington did provide solid resistance to the run game, however, so feel free to avoid Miami’s RBs.
All of the Eagles and Falcons
The first Monday Night showdown of the season gives us the Eagles and Falcons in a battle for Bird Team Supremacy. The Eagles were actually a good fantasy D/ST in 2014, though that was due in large part to the crazy 11 touchdowns they scored via the defense. While they were also prominent in terms of sacks (2nd) and takeaways (2nd), they also hemorrhaged yards. Like, seriously. Philly allowed over 375 yards per week to opponents, which was the 5th-worst mark in the NFL. Loading up on Falcons (Matt Ryan ($7500) and Julio Jones ($9300) primarily, Roddy White ($6500) and Tony Moeaki ($2500) secondarily) isn’t a bad strategy. I’m wary of the running game, though, because Tevin Coleman ($4800) and Devonta Freeman ($4300) could share the workload.
Conversely, it’s not like you can overlook Philly’s offense here, either, because the Falcons were even worse than the Eagles in terms of yardage allowed last year. Yep, Atlanta gave up nearly 400 yards per game to opponents in 2014, which was dead-last in the league. ATL’s pass-rush could be slightly improved, but it’s hard to imagine them suddenly turning into a fearsome unit out of thin air. Sam Bradford ($6900), DeMarco Murray ($6700), Zach Ertz ($3600) and Jordan Matthews ($7200) are the top targets, while rookie WR Nelson Agholor ($5700) could be an intriguing sleeper.
These were the two worst pass defenses in the league last year. Build your lineup accordingly.
Bengals vs. Raiders
You know the drill. Once you see the Raiders on the schedule, don’t hesitate to look into #exploiting them. Oakland’s bad in just about every area, but they’re particularly vulnerable against the run. This puts Jeremy Hill ($7100) in the spotlight, with Gio Bernard ($4700) as a secondary choice. Hill figures to be the Bengals’ primary ball-toter, so we’ll give him the edge.
As a shameless Andy Dalton ($6100) apologist (HORNED FROGS 4 LYFE), it’s hard for me to admit that he probably isn’t very good. But hey, as long as you’re facing the Raiders and have AJ Green ($7800) at your disposal, you’re a legit fantasy option, my friend. Speaking of AJ, I probably don’t have to tell you this, but he’s looking good in this matchup, too. Former first-round pick Tyler Eifert ($3500) could be a sneaky breakout candidate as well, now that Jermaine Gresham has (mercifully) moved on.
Cardinals vs. Saints
Per NFL.com’s scoring, the Saints were bottom-6 in the league in limiting points to opposing QBs, RBs and WRs in 2014. We’re focusing on the run game here, though, as New Orleans allowed 19 runs of 20+ yards last year, the worst mark in the NFL. The fragile Andre Ellington is hardly a guy I’d label as “trustworthy”, but his gamebreaking ability makes this matchup look mighty tantalizing. Wouldn’t be overly shocking to see him pop an 80-yarder or something ridiculous…provided both of his legs don’t just fall off mid-run.
Health is also the question regarding Carson Palmer ($6500), who missed several games with a variety of injuries last year, including an ACL tear that knocked him out in Week 10. It was a brutal blow for a Cardinals team that looked downright legit when he was in there. After he left…yikes. But hey, he’s supposed to be back for Week 1, and the Saints will be sure to greet him with zero resistance whatsoever. Palmer, Michael Floyd ($5800) and Larry Fitzgerald ($5500) are all going to be on my radar. New Orleans was randomly pretty good in limiting TEs last year, but it’s not like the Cardinals have one worth mentioning anyway (Gresham, barf).
Cowboys RB vs. Giants, Texans RB vs. Chiefs
The Giants ranked 3rd-worst in rushing yards allowed last season, and allowed the most yards-per-carry (4.9!) of any team in football. The Cowboys were a run-heavy offense last season, but that was with DeMarco Murray on board. We don’t know as of yet who Dallas’ bell cow will be (if any), but I like whoever draws the start a good amount against the leaky Giants’ front. Joseph Randle ($5900) (and his stolen undies) and Darren McFadden ($4400) could be in play as relatively low-dollar options. One would imagine ownership won’t be super high for either, so they could be decent contrarian plays with solid upside.
The Chiefs have themselves a pretty good and talented defense, but that didn’t translate to being able to stopping the run at all in 2014. KC allowed 4.7 YPC, which bodes well for Arian Foster ($7600) and the run-happy Texans in Week 1. The Chiefs can be a formidable defense given the right matchup, but Houston is the wrong matchup. Foster may be the top play at the position.