The 2017 NFL season is set to begin this evening with the defending Super Bowl Champions New England Patriots starting the season off with a home game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Every week on Thursday during this NFL season I’ll be here with predictions for the Thursday night game as well as some daily fantasy advice for your lineups on Fanduel and DraftKings. Also, I’ll be back tomorrow with a prediction for the full slate of games on Sunday and Monday.
For now, let’s focus on the Thursday game. I will put the point spread for every game as well, using the numbers from VegasInsider.
Kansas City @ New England (-9)
This should be dominant win by the Patriots, who are incredible at home and have scored a lot on the Chiefs in recent years. While the Chiefs have the kind of defense that is great at forcing turnovers, the Patriots are so good at spreading the field with QB Tom Brady utilizing the short passing game very well. The Chiefs have a great secondary with guys like CB Marcus Peters and S Eric Berry, but that doesn’t mean they can stop everybody the Pats have. If there’s a weakness in the Pats offense it’s that they might miss star WR Julian Edelman, but with a deep group of WRs (look for a deep shot to newcomer Brandin Cooks), a healthy TE Rob Gronkowski and four capable RBs, I’m not really worried about the Pats offense.
One of the strengths of the Patriots is that they do a great job of taking away the best weapon on the other team. On the Chiefs, that likely means explosive WR Tyreek Hill or it could mean talented TE Travis Kelce. The Chiefs know the Patriots well, so I fully expect rookie RB Kareem Hunt to be utilized heavily. The problem is the Patriots run defense is great. If the Chiefs win they need to move the ball with Hunt and I don’t think that’s going to happen.
There’s an interesting bit of history here because in the first game of the 2008 season one year after the Patriots finished 16-0 (and lost in the Super Bowl), Brady tore his ACL and missed the rest of the season. Who were the opponents? The Chiefs. They’ve played many times since then, but that’s one of those moments that I’m sure Brady remembers well.
The Chiefs have never won a game at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, and I don’t see it happening this week either.
Prediction: Patriots 31-17
Daily Fantasy Sports Best Plays of the Week
I asked the bosses here if I could write about some players to pick in Fanduel and/or Draftkings and they thought it would be a great idea. I’ve been playing on Fanduel regularly in three sports (NFL, NBA, MLB) since 2009 and a few years later I got into DraftKings as well. Before that, I really liked Draftstreet as well, but they were bought out by DraftKings.
If you’re unfamiliar with Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS for short) for the NFL, both FD and DK have different slates where you can set up your lineup. That means you can set up a lineup for the entire week, just the Sunday games, just the early Sunday games, the late Sunday games and so on. For DraftKings and Fanduel, the names I mention below are for the Main slate (13 games), which are all the Sunday games.
I’ll give you three strong recommendations at the four key positions as well as a bonus value pick that you can fit in somewhere and then post two sample lineups on both websites.
There are a lot of options I like here. Today’s NFL is a passing league, so I can probably list 15 guys that I think are going to throw for 250 yards and at least 2 TDs on Sunday. Here are the ones I like the most.
Russell Wilson – SEA (FD 8000, DK 6900) – The over/under in their game at Green Bay is 51 and the Seahawks run game is uncertain right now. I think Wilson is going to throw for 300+ yards and should total three TDs including a potential rushing touchdown.
Ben Roethlisberger – PIT (FD 8200, DK 7300) – Big Ben leads what may be the best offense in the NFL and they are playing the Browns, who actually did well against Roethlisberger in Cleveland last year in week 11. New year, better time of year and I feel like Ben is going to put up a lot of points in his home state.
Kirk Cousins – WAS (FD 8100, DK 6400) – Look at the salary difference on DraftKings for him compared to the others. He’s the same as them on Fanduel, but on DraftKings he is a lot cheaper. If you’re only doing DraftKings, aim for Cousins because they’re going to throw a lot and he’s had a lot of success against the Eagles.
Carson Wentz – PHI (FD 7100, DK 5300) – There’s a lot of value in Wentz because Washington’s defense is nothing special and I expect the second year pro to have an efficient day. See that deep ball touchdown he completed to WR Torrey Smith in preseason? I feel like the Eagles are going to air it out and it could be a high scoring game since the O/U is 47.5 in what could be a shootout.
If you want to get even more value, you can try Mike Glennon (FD 6700, DK 4900) or Scott Tolzien (FD 6000, DK 4500) as well, but there’s obviously more risk with them.
Let me start by saying that you can put Le’Veon Bell (FD 9300, DK 9800) or David Johnson (FD 9,400, DK 9,400) in any week and that’s easy. They are a class above everybody else. If you can fit both or one of them, do it especially for Bell this week. I’m not including them because they are obvious, so here are some other names.
Todd Gurley – LAR (FD 7300, DK 6000) – Last year was disappointing for Gurley and we all know that. He’s got a huge chip on his shoulder right now because for most of the last year people have been ripping him. Good news is he plays a terrible defense in the Colts while the Rams offense got better especially on the OLine with the addition of Pro Bowl LT Andrew Whitworth. Gurley could put up 100 rush yards this week with the potential for 2 TDs as well.
LeSean McCoy – BUF (FD 8500, DK 8200) – Big fan of Shady this week because we have no idea how well the Bills passing game will do. They are going to lean heavily on McCoy. He should be able to rack up 100 rush yards and another 50 receiving yards too. A touchdown is a strong possibility.
Christian McCaffrey – CAR (FD 6500, DK 5400) – The Niners were last against the run and they gave up a league high 30 points per game. Give me the rookie RB from the Panthers who should also benefit from plenty of short passes as well. McCaffrey could lose out on a touchdown if they go with their other RB Jonathon Stewart or if QB Cam Newton runs it in, but I think McCaffrey is going to have a big game.
Darren Sproles – PHI (FD 5500, DK 3900) – It’s hard to know what he Eagles may do at RB because they have three guys coming out of the backfield. I feel like this game will be a shootout and with that in mind, Sproles should be a factor catching passes out of the backfield. Will I do a lineup with Sproles? Probably not, but if you need a cheap RB because you want to go with a WR stack then he might be your best option.
I’m going to avoid naming the big three WRs Antonio Brown (FD 9100, DK 8800), Julio Jones (FD 9000, DK 8500) and Odell Beckham (FD 8800, 8300 DK) because picking them is too easy. I’d rank Brown and Jones the top two WRs this week. Beckham is a bit banged up with the ankle injury, but he could be third.
Terrelle Pryor – WAS (FD 6200, DK 61000) – Pryor should be the number one option for Cousins against an Eagles defense that is just average at best. There’s more value for him on Fanduel where I think his salary is too low. Pryor’s teammate Jamison Crowder is a good play too.
Davante Adams – GB (FD 6800, DK 5200) – The value on DK is a lot better than FD, but I would consider playing him on both. The reason he’s lower than where he should be is due to the Seahawks defense. It doesn’t mean they are unbeatable. The Packers will have a hard time passing, which should open the pass game with Adams as the clear #2 option. If the Seahawks key on Jordy Nelson like I expect, Adams could benefit in a big way.
Martavis Bryant – PIT (FD 6500, DK 6000) – It’s his first game in over a year. The Steelers should put up over 30 points in that game and he might benefit from the defense focusing on Antonio Brown too much. Bryant will be hungry to show the world that he’s better than ever while leaving his checkered past behind him.
Kendall Wright – CHI (5200, DK 3200) – Wright isn’t a great play, but as a starting WR on a bad team that will probably be losing he should exceed value with plenty of catches because the Bears don’t have a lot of other options. Garbage time points are great. Don’t shy away from them.
In future weeks, I’ll mention Rob Gronkowski up here as the guy that’s too good to be included, but they are the Thursday game, so I’ll save it for next week.
Zach Ertz – PHI (FD 5900, DK 3500) – I’m going back to this Eagles/Redskins game that should be high scoring. Ertz has topped 100 yards in two of the last three games against the Redskins and he’ll probably be the favorite target of Carson Wentz since Josh Norman is likely going to shadow Alshon Jeffrey. Love that salary on DK for him. Really cheap.
Delanie Walker – TEN (FD 6100, DK 4300) – The over/under for Raiders at Titans is 50.5, so it should be a high scoring affair. Walker should be the beneficiary of a lot of looks from Marcus Mariota and I think he’ll get in the end zone too.
Jimmy Graham – SEA (FD 6200, DK 5100) – It’s the first time in a long time where Graham entered a season healthy. They got him involved a lot towards the end of the year. I get the feeling that he’s going to become the favorite target of Russell Wilson and he should do well in Lambeau.
Austin Hooper – ATL (FD 4700, DK 3000) – There’s been some sleeper hype about him during the preseason because he’s the starting TE on what was the best offense last year. Look for him to have an increased role this year. It’s possible he could end up with a TD in a game in which the Falcons could go for 35+ points in Chicago.
Four teams to target:
Houston (FD 5100, DK 3800) is the best play of the day.
Buffalo (FD 4700, DK 3900) because they play the crappy Jets
Pittsburgh (FD 4800, DK 3600) because they play the awful Browns
Rams (FD 4600, DK 3100) due to the fact that Scott Tolzien is terrible.
As for kickers on Fanduel, I always just get the guys with the minimum salary. It’s a guessing game. Fill your roster with the others on the team.
SAMPLE TEAM – DraftKings
This is what I would call a standard team.
QB Russell Wilson SEA $6900
RB Le’Veon Bell PIT $9800
RB Todd Gurley LAR $6000
WR Terrelle Pryor Sr. WAS $6100
WR Kendall Wright CHI $3200
WR Doug Baldwin SEA $6700
TE Zach Ertz PHI $3500
FLEX Carlos Hyde SF $4600
DST Rams LAR $3200
When you spend up with one of those great RBs you have to save elsewhere, so if you plan on Bell or DJ in your lineup then expect to put Wright there too. Putting Wilson with Baldwin is a good idea because if they have a monster game then you’ll benefit in a big way.
SAMPLE TEAM 2 – DraftKings
QB Carson Wentz PHI $5300
RB David Johnson ARI $9400
RB LeSean McCoy BUF $8200
WR Martavis Bryant PIT $6000
WR Davante Adams GB $5200
WR Tyler Lockett SEA $4400
TE Austin Hooper ATL $3000
FLEX Carlos Hyde SF $4600
DST Texans HOU $3800
I wanted to get two of the three elite RBs for this week in there, so I had to go with Wentz at QB. Lockett and Hyde were guys that were close to being mentioned above. Lockett is always a threat for a big play while Hyde is a lock for 20 touches because the Niners don’t have much else right now.
SAMPLE TEAM – Fanduel
QB Russell Wilson SEA $8000
RB Le’Veon Bell PIT $9300
RB Todd Gurley LA $7300
WR Terrelle Pryor Sr. WAS $6200
WR Kelvin Benjamin CAR $6500
WR Michael Crabtree OAK $6900
TE Jimmy Graham SEA $6200
K Matt Prater DET $4700
D Buffalo Bills BUF $4700
That lineup is like the one I did on Draftkings. I did that to show you how you can get a lot of similar guys even though the lineup construction is different on the two sites.
SAMPLE TEAM 2 – Fanduel
QB Ben Roethlisberger PIT $8200
RB Christian McCaffrey CAR $6500
RB David Johnson ARI $9400
WR Antonio Brown PIT $9100
WR Martavis Bryant PIT $6500
WR Taylor Gabriel ATL $5100
TE Zach Ertz PHI $5900
K Harrison Butker CAR $4500
D Pittsburgh Steelers PIT $4800
I went for the Steelers stack by putting Big Ben and his top two targets. Could have went with Le’Veon Bell at RB too, but it could be too much. Taylor Gabriel is another cheap WR that could have a big game.
That’s all for this week. I may come up with five names at each position plus a value pick next week. I’m still getting used to the format.
I’ll be back tomorrow to pick the winners of the rest of the game this week. Enjoy week one!