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Daily Fantasy Football Picks for NFL Week 1 (2020)
The first objective when piecing together your week one daily fantasy football roster is establishing your core.
You can first get a good idea of what that will look like by noting odds from the best NFL sportsbooks, and then gauge what that means for DFS environment and respective players.
From there, you can pick a handful of week one NFL DFS sleepers you might want to use to fill out your player pool – especially if you plan on max-entering any contests.
All roads still lead back to your top NFL DFS picks, though. You need to decide which studs are worth paying up for, and which can be faded for superior values at each position.
To help you refine your player pool, I’ve got my favorite week one daily fantasy football picks at each position. I’m just offering my top play at each spot, although I’ll also mention a few other options I’m high on.
Drew Brees, QB, Saints ($6.8k)
Brees has fizzled out in the playoffs in recent years, but he remains quite the force in the regular season. He was especially dominant at home last year (25.3 fantasy points per game), and that’s been the case for much of his career.
In week one, Brees will come in fresh for a huge battle with a Buccaneers defense he torched in 2019 (21 fantasy points in lone meeting last year) and has a history of terrorizing.
Brees has the weapons, home field edge, and the game environment (49.5 game total at BetOnline) all working to his advantage, while Tom Brady will fuel shootout expectations on the other side.
Tampa Bay can get after the quarterback, but they didn’t have much success stopping passing games in 2019. The Bucs ranked 30th against fantasy passers and allowed more passing yards than anyone.
Since 2018, Drew Brees has 13 games with a PFF grade of 80+. Most in the NFL.— PFF (@PFF) August 20, 2020
Lamar Jackson had 10 such games in 2019 alone. pic.twitter.com/lzCtSYrmJd
Brees has just been insanely reliable, but if you want someone with even more upside, I won’t fight you if you want to pay for Lamar Jackson.
Jackson is undeniably the quarterback with the most upside, but he’s $8.1k to start off the new season. I prefer to save money at quarterback, which has me trusting the tried and Brees at home, or punting with someone like Joe Burrow.
Dalvin Cook, RB, Vikings ($7.9k)
Christian McCaffrey may be a monster in week one, but he is $10k. I repeat, he is $10k.
I will certainly pay up for C-Mac in spots, but if that price ends up being chalky, I will be under-weight, and I’ll start my core with Cook as my top running back.
For the moment, Cook has broken off contract talks with Minnesota, and won’t hold out. But we don’t know what the future holds.
Obviously, if that changes, we ditch the Cook debate and start falling deeply in love with Alexander Mattison.
Until that happens, however, Cook is just too cheap. He’s as talented as any other running back in the league, and is coming off a huge year where he averaged 21.6 fantasy points per game.
Cook specifically abused the Packers in the lone game he faced them in 2019, as he piled on 154 rushing yards en route to a cool 31.1 fantasy points.
Green Bay has really done very little to correct an atrocious run defense that finished 29th in rushing yards allowed to running backs in 2019.
Minnesota is at home and favored in week one, too. I actually offered a Packers vs. Vikings betting pick and like Green Bay to win, but it’ll have to be despite getting owned by Cook on the ground.
Julio Jones, WR, Falcons ($7.7k)
Am I just fading the most expensive guy at every position in week one? Fading? Not entirely, no. But I will absolutely get away from these guys if I can, assuming there is a worthwhile option below them that makes sense.
Once again at wide receiver, there is. Michael Thomas ($9k) is still worth paying up for, but Julio Jones is the more talented and more explosive player. That’s just the reality of it.
Jones isn’t always as good of a DFS producer as we want him to be, but when he’s on, he’s among the best. He only scored six times last year, yet still averaged 19 fantasy points per game. He also enjoyed a wild 41-point outing against the 49ers and failed to top 10 fantasy points just twice all year.
He’s consistent, he’s reliable, and he offers insane upside.
In week one, he’s at home against an overrated Seahawks defense that he dropped 28 fantasy points on in 2019. Seattle’s defense has only gotten worse this offseason, while this unit ranked 28th against the pass a year ago.
There just isn’t an answer for Jones in this matchup. He should crush, and when he does, we’ll look back and roll our eyes at his $7.7k price tag.
Jared Cook, TE, Saints ($5.5k)
George Kittle is not cheap ($7.2k), but he gets a horrible Arizona pass defense that gave up a league-leading 14 touchdowns to tight ends in 2019.
That might make him an auto play for some, but week one has a lot of guys you’ll want to have an interest in. And you can’t play them all in the same daily fantasy football lineup.
If I am going with Julio Jones over Michael Thomas, but still like Drew Brees, what can I do to get an even greater edge on the field? I can make another internal pivot, by not just fading Thomas, but also betting on one of his teammates thriving in this matchup.
That’s going to be Jared Cook for me.
Cook was a rock-solid DFS option in 2019, as he averaged over 11 fantasy points per contest. He also did well against the Buccaneers, dropping 11 and 14 fantasy points in two meetings.
Michael Thomas is probably the no-brainer play here, but Cook falls into no man’s land given his price tag. If nobody is going to be on him, consider pairing him with Brees.
Tampa Bay should understandably be focused on shutting Thoma and Alvin Kamara down, while their defense struggled last year (29th and 23rd) against tight ends in yardage and touchdowns allowed.
New England Patriots ($3.2k)
Do I love paying up for my defense? No, and for most of my NFL DFS lineups, I won’t. There is no such thing as “safety” in the NFL, so investing $3k and higher on a defense that can literally get you negative points never feels good.
That said, the Pats were perhaps the stingiest defense in all of football last year. Yes, they lost some key bodies due to the 2020 NFL opt-outs due for COVID-19, but last time I checked, Bill Belichick is still coaching this team.
New England has had an entire offseason to prepare for a home against the Dolphins, who embarrassed them in the season finale last year. The first time the Pats ran into Miami, though, they allowed none of the points en route to a disgusting 37-point fantasy outing.
I’m not expecting that again, but the Pats feel a bit too cheap and in one of the best spots imaginable.
By no means am I saying you shouldn’t roster Lamar Jackson, Christian McCaffrey, or Michael Thomas. Maybe the week one NFL DFS winning lineup has all three. It very well could contain at least one of them.
What I am saying, however, is I prefer the value of these other options. I love Brees, Cook, and Jones for week one, while paying all the way up for tight end and/or defense just doesn’t make sense to me on this slate.
There is merit in going a thousand directions in what could honestly be the most unpredictable daily fantasy football season ever. For week one, though, these are my favorite NFL DFS picks, and hopefully, they help you win.