AFC East Week 1 DraftKings Daily Fantasy Preview
NFL season is now less than a month away! And lucky for us daily fantasy players, the tournaments are already available for us on both DraftKings and FanDuel to start analyzing salaries with the matchups.
What’s more interesting is that these salaries are already set up over a month in advance with preseason and a lot more training camp to go. There are going to be plenty of steals week 1. Combine this with no cold weather and all 32 teams playing, the daily fantasy scores are going to be extremely high.
This is the first of an eight-part series that we’ll be doing over the course of the month. We are going to break down each division by team, the players’ salaries and how they match up against their opponent. We’ll have a lot more analysis as far as picks, position breakdowns, more updated depth charts, injury factors, weather and more as we get closer to the season. But for now, enjoy our look at the AFC East.
(All salaries via DraftKings)
(Note: Depth charts include QBs, top 3 running backs, top 5 wide receivers and top 2 or 3 tight ends. Injuries/suspensions are factored in.)
|1. E.J. Manuel||5900|
|2. Thad Lewis||5000|
|3. Jeff Tuel||5000|
|4. Dennis Dixon||5000|
|1. C.J. Spiller||6200|
|2. Fred Jackson||4400|
|3. Bryce Brown||3100|
|1. Sammy Watkins||5000|
|2. Mike Williams||3400|
|3. Robert Woods||4000|
|4. Marquise Goodwin||3000|
|5. T.J. Graham||3000|
|1. Scott Chandler||3500|
|2. Tony Moeaki||3000|
Buffalo at Chicago (-6) O/U 48.5
One thing we need to remember before we break down the Bills: While we usually recognize the Chicago Bears as having a legitimate defense, they were dead last against the run and 15th in the pass last season. But they weren’t just in the bottom of the league in rushing defense, they gave up 2,583 yards – the next closest were the Atlanta Falcons, which gave up 2,173 yards.
So what does this mean for a Bills team that has incredibly cheap players across the board? The Bills ran the ball 51.2% of the time last year, which ranked 3rd last year. That’s a very high percentage for a team that went 6-10 in what is becoming a more pass heavy NFL. The two teams that ran the ball more were Seattle and San Francisco.
The problem is that we’re still up against the C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson dilemma, and to make matters potentially worse, the Bills traded for Bryce Brown during the 2014 NFL draft. Jackson carried the ball four more times than Spiller last season, scored seven more TDs and only had 43 fewer yards. Spiller only missed one game while Jackson played all 16. This came after when Bills offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett said Spiller would carry the ball “until he throws up.” Furthermore, with PPR coming into play, Jackson also outdid Spiller in the receiving game: 47 catches for 387 yards and a TD against 33 catches for 185 yards and 0 TDs.
By this logic, Jackson should be an outstanding play, especially since the carries were about equal and Jackson got more carries on the goal line. But will Brown have any kind of a role and this be a three RB system? In the Hall-of-Fame Game, Spiller had one carry for two yards, Jackson had two carries for six yards and Brown had seven for 40 yards. But looking into that is just stupid.
The simple fact is: we don’t know how this will play out. My recommendation for now is that Jackson is an okay GPP play given the Bears weak rush D, and they didn’t do anything this offseason to exactly improve it. I could certainly see him getting 15 touches for 80 yards, 5 catches for 30 yards and a TD. That would be great at his price.
As we look at WR and TE, we have a lot of question marks. Stevie Johnson is gone. We know Scott Chandler is an okay TE when it comes to PPR and TDs, even though he led the Bills in yards and receptions. Tony Moeaki is a great addition and can certainly be a great target in the red zone, but he has to stay healthy. At WR Woods is bumped down to the No. 3 guy with first-round pick Sammy Watkins as the No. 1 guy and MIke Williams coming in at No. 2.
I don’t think anyone will explode here or be a huge go-to guy. That never happened last season, and it’s hard seeing E.J. Manuel throwing it a ton. Sammy Watkins could be great, but why gamble on a non-throwing offense Week 1?
However, we did see Mike Williams get targeted in a fade route in the red zone in the Hall-of-Fame game. I’m not saying that means anything as far as Williams is going to have a big year, but the Bills clearly brought him in to be a TD threat, much as he was with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I wouldn’t mind putting him in as a FLEX play in a GPP at near minimum salary.
|1. Ryan Tannehill||7200|
|2. Matt Moore||5000|
|3. Pat Devlin||5000|
|4. Brock Jensen||5000|
|5. Seth Lobato||5000|
|1. Lamar Miller||4800|
|2. Knowshon Moreno||4000|
|3. Daniel Thomas||3000|
|1. Mike Wallace||5600|
|2. Brian Hartline||4500|
|3 Brandon Gibson||3300|
|4. Rishard Matthews||3000|
|5. Jarvis Landry||3000|
|1. Charles Clay||3900|
|2. Dion Sims||3000|
New England (-4) at Miami O/U 47
It’s another decent O/U involving cheap players. First off, keeping an eye on the RB depth chart is crucial. If Miller or Moreno emerge as the No. 1 back, or one gets hurt, starting him against this Patriots defense is a good value play. The Patriots weren’t as bad as the Bears at rush defense, but they were ranked 30th. They were also 18th against the pass, resulting in the 26th-ranked defense overall.
Obviously teams will get better and worse from year to year. Last year’s results do not instantly carry over to the next season.
But if one of these RBs emerge with the amount of touches they should get, I’ll take that salary to get more of the top guys any day. If both perform well in preseason and the coaching staff doesn’t give any kind of clues who will be used in what role, then fading them would be the correct way to go.
Onto the passing game, Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner are now on the Patriots. Yes, this matters. But keep in mind, Aqib Talib is gone. This isn’t to say Talib was the best corner in the league, but more to say, this pass defense should be much better than last season on the outside.
There have been various rumors that Mike Wallace will be used more as the No. 1 wide receiver this year and not just a deep threat. That’s one of those, “I’ll believe it when I see it” type deals. He’s had too many drop issues and hasn’t been that possession guy over the middle yet. That being said, Wallace is a boom or bust player which could be helpful for winning a big tournament like the Sunday Million on DraftKings. Wallace, Hartline and Clay were all roughly the same in terms of receptions and TDs last season, even though Clay had fewer yards being a tight end. In the end, with plenty of games to choose from, there aren’t any wide receivers or tight ends I’m excited about here. Ryan Tannehill is a pass too (no pun intended).
New England Patriots
|1. Tom Brady||7700|
|2. Ryan Mallett||5000|
|3. Jimmy Garoppolo||5000|
|1. Shane Vereen||6100|
|2. Stevan Ridley||4900|
|3. James White||3000|
|1. Julian Edelman||5300|
|2. Aaron Dobson||4100|
|3. Danny Amendola||4000|
|4. Brandon LaFell||3200|
|5. Kenbrell Thompkins||3800|
|1. Rob Gronkowski||6700|
|2. Michael Hoomanawanui||3100|
New England (-4) at Miami O/U 47
We go to the other side of the ball now in this game. And wouldn’t you know it, it’s another poor defense that finished 24th overall and was -3 in turnovers last year.
I’ll put it simply – If everyone is healthy week 1, I think Tom Brady is a great play here, but no one else whatsoever. Cortland Finnegan was a nice pickup and should help if he stays healthy. Brent Grimes is back and will perhaps improve.
I more look at it this way. Brady has experience with all of his weapons with the exception of Brandon LaFell. All the WRs are very reasonably priced. The problem is, with Rob Gronkowski healthy, how much upside is there realistically with those WRs? Any of those WRs could have a breakout game.
As for Gronk, it’s not this health I’m concerned about playing one game. I simply think he’s overpriced based on how many weapons Brady has at his disposal, plus the ample amount of backs. Why take a huge risk financially on Gronk or risk finding that one receiver who has a slight chance at a big game? There are at minimum six targets for Brady, and that doesn’t even include the running backs.
Speaking of which, I don’t get all the hype surrounding Shane Vereen. I fully understand he has PPR value, but not to the point where he’s $6,100 or even a 4th-round pick in standard fantasy. Here are last year’s rushing numbers: 8GP, 5.5 attempts per game, 4.7 YPC, 1TD, 208 yards total. Here are last year’s receiving numbers: 8GP, 5.875 receptions per game, 9.1 YPC, 3TD, 427 yards total. Factor this in with a healthy passing game, Stevan Ridley is back and James White will take over the goal line RB duties (or Ridley will do this with LeGarrette Blount gone), I don’t see increased value here. The only difference is if Vereen plays 16 games, which is irrelevant for DFS purposes when he’s $6,100.
Unless injuries come around, Brady is a legitimate play week 1. Speaking of which, with all the talk that Brady is declining and he isn’t the same and all, I invite you to even just look at the simple stats from last year in comparison to the others. It wasn’t his best season, but his numbers were actually very comparable to those when he won the Super Bowls in the early-to-mid 2000s. They just aren’t his 2007 numbers when they had one of the best teams in NFL history, or his numbers in 2011 when they had no running game at all. Keep in mind Brady had his new receivers drop several balls, and this offense was in complete disarray early on last year. At $7,700, I would certainly take that against a mediocre defense.
New York Jets
|1. Geno Smith||6500|
|2. Michael Vick||7300|
|3. Matt Simms||5000|
|4. Tajh Boyd||5000|
|1. Chris Johnson||5100|
|2. Chris Ivory||4300|
|3. Bilal Powell||3000|
|1. Eric Decker||5200|
|1. Stephen Hill||3500|
|2. Jeremy Kerley||3100|
|2. Shaq Evans||3000|
|3. David Nelson||3000|
|1. Jace Amaro||3200|
|2. Jeff Cumberland||3300|
|3. Zach Sudfeld||3100|
Oakland at NY Jets (-5) O/U 39.5
There isn’t a lot to be excited about here in this matchup with such a low O/U and a lot of question marks on both offenses.
But we’ll take a look at a few things. First, when we think of Geno Smith, what comes to mind is terrible TD-INT ratio, someone with decent mobility, poor decision-making and a team that was as inconsistent as it gets.
Sure, it’s possible Michael Vick gets the starting job, but I don’t think that’ll happen, and I think from a DFS perspective, he can be a sneaky good play. Even as a rookie last year on a bad team, he led his team to a 6-2 record at home, and they beat New England, New Orleans and Oakland (their upcoming opponent). Also, if you take away a five-game horrendous stretch, Smith actually would have had some respectable numbers to conclude the season. I’m not here to say Smith will be amazing. Just remember he had six rushing TDs, 366 rushing yards, had some solid games passing the ball without any run game and did fairly well at home. You shouldn’t use him in Week 1, but keep an eye out. Now with some new playmakers, he will be better.
Moving to the RB situation, Chris Johnson is actually intriguing and obviously a fairly-cheap option at $5,100 on DraftKings. Why is he intriguing? Johnson is mostly remembered as this guy who had one amazing season and has just been a huge bust since. That is far from the case. In Johnson’s six seasons, he’s gone over 1,000 yards each time!
So why do we always think of Johnson as a bust? He had 14 TDs in his 2,000 yard-plus season and has declined since. But Johnson isn’t the primary person to blame – it’s that he had more goal-line help in the backfield as RBs have become such a premium in fantasy. Now that he’s with the Jets and Shonne Greene went to the Titans, is Chris Ivory or Bilal Powell going to be the goal-line back? Maybe, and the workload will probably be divided some. However, Johnson’s career averages of 18.3 touches for 83.4 yards shouldn’t decline at all. I think it’ll go up slightly, as long as the offensive line holds up its end of the bargain, which is obviously a key for Johnson when he hits the second level to break one.
Lastly, Johnson was used in the passing game more frequently last year and did catch four TDs. According to Johnson from Darryl Slater of NJ.com, he expects he will be used a lot more in the passing game with the Jets and even be flexed at out at wide receiver. He mentions how there is a lot more focus surrounding that in practice. We can only take training camp stuff with a grain of salt, but since it’s coming from Johnson himself, PPR is in play and that getting him in space makes him that much more lethal, it’s definitely noteworthy for someone starting at $5,100.
As for the WRs and TEs, Eric Decker will help Smith. I think he’ll have the production somewhere between what he had with Tim Tebow versus Peyton Manning. This is a common opinion. Although, I’m curious to see how much Decker will allow the other receivers and tight ends to get open. Decker is substantially more expensive than the others, and if this offense continues to evolve, I’m thinking a second guy will step up in the receiving game. Who specifically? It’s too tough to tell, but I’m personally very curious to see how first-round pick Jace Amaro does. He was a very dynamic TE at Texas Tech, was used frequently in the red zone, could out jump most defenders and was put in the slot often on third downs. This is something to watch in preseason.View all posts by Nick Juskewycz