It feels surreal, but (daily fantasy) football season has arrived. It’s time to free up your Sundays, prepare the game day spread, grab an ice cold beverage of your choice, and kick your feet up — but not before submitting all of your NFL DFS lineups, of course. We’re going to be with you all season to help with your weekly DraftKings picks, and that starts with Week 1.
This week’s tournament lineup features what appears to be a “stars-and-scrubs” build on first blush, but “cheap” doesn’t translate to “scrub” when it comes to what our wide receivers can do. The affordable trio not only heads into Sunday with featured roles, but saving money on them allows us to feature three dynamic, dual-threat running backs — all of whom could realistically flirt with 100 yards on the ground and through the air, which would give us massive bonus points in DraftKings format.
If you’re new to DraftKings (or just need a reminder), here are the notable scoring rules: Full-point PPR, four-point passing TDs, three-point bonuses for 100 rushing yards, 100 receiving yards, and 300 passing yards.
DraftKings Picks Week 1: NFL DFS lineup for GPP tournaments
Sunday main slate, $50,000 budget
QB Kirk Cousins, Vikings @ Bengals ($6,300). The loss of Irv Smith Jr. (knee) is a bummer, but Cousins is well-positioned to post a strong stat line in what Vegas sportsbooks project as a favorable matchup. Cousins eclipsed 30 DK points on a pair occasions in 2020, narrowly missing a third, so he has the kind of high ceiling we like in tournaments at an affordable cost and hopefully modest ownership.
RB Christian McCaffrey Panthers vs. Jets ($9,500). McCaffrey will be involved on the ground, through the air, and inside the five. This is a great time to include him in lineups as it’s easier to find the profits elsewhere to offset his hefty price tag.
RB Najee Harris, Steelers @ Bills ($6,300). Offensive line issues be damned, Harris will run, catch, and score with frequency this season. Even against what profiles as a tough Buffalo defense, Harris’s presumed volume is too enticing to pass up at his price, and we’re hoping he constitutes a “contrarian” play with relatively low ownership.
WR Laviska Shenault, Jaguars @ Texans ($5,000). James Robinson may be the direct statistical beneficiary of Travis Etienne’s season-ending injury, but don’t be surprised to see the Jags lean on Shenault’s versatile playmaking ability to a higher degree, as well. The Jags are favored on the road against the Texans, and Shenault figures to be busy.
WR Jerry Jeudy, Broncos @ Giants ($4,800).The Broncos’ decision to start Teddy Bridgewater is likely good news for Jeudy, who heads into Year 2 with eyes on a breakout campaign. He led the Broncos in targets with 113 in 2020 and averaged 16.5 yards/catch, but Drew Lock’s inaccuracy limited his overall numbers. Look for him to be more efficient and consistent with the opportunities he receives this season. Even with Courtland Sutton back, Jeudy has a lot of upside.
WR Corey Davis, Jets @ Panthers ($4,900). Don’t sleep on Davis, who’s performed better than his reputation suggests. He and quarterback Zach Wilson have established a strong rapport this summer, so look for that connection to continue into the season. Double-digit targets per game is in the cards for Davis in the early going.
TE Jonnu Smith, Patriots vs. Dolphins ($4,100). In typical Patriots fashion, we don’t know exactly what to expect from Smith this season, let alone week-to-week. However, there is one number that speaks volumes: $50 million. When it comes to projecting who will be heavily relied upon in an offense, following the money is often a sound practice. We’re not worried about Smith and Hunter Henry both eating in this offense, as the Pats have supported two fantasy-relevant TEs at the same time before.
Flex (RB) Austin Ekeler, Chargers @ Washington ($7,000). It’s overly simplistic to imply suggest that Ekeler is “the Chargers’ Alvin Kamara,” but Ekeler himself makes that very comparison. At any rate, the pass-catching dynamo is a wonderful asset in full-point PPR formats like DraftKings and figures to be heavily involved in the gameplan each week.
DEF Atlanta Falcons, vs. Eagles ($2,000). Both teams have new coaching staffs, but the Falcons’ defensive coordinator, Dean Pees, is expected to make an immediate positive impact on a unit that’s struggled over the past few seasons. Drawing the minimum price, Atlanta is worth a shot here. We’re hoping it delivers a couple of big plays in a game against inaccurate Jalen Hurts.