At last, (daily fantasy) football is upon us, and we get a treat to kick off what always promises to be a season of compelling action with soaring highs and crushing lows. The reigning Super Bowl champion Buccaneers play host to America’s Team on Thursday Night Football, as the Cowboys aim to pull off a Week 1 upset. Las Vegas books opened the total at 53 with the Bucs favored by six, so NFL DFS players could be in for a barnburner to usher in the 2021 NFL season and the beginning of a hopefully lucrative year of playing FanDuel single-game contests.
FanDuel’s single-game DFS contests don’t feature any particularly quirky rules, but here’s a quick recap: The point total for the “MVP” is multiplied by 1.5, but he doesn’t any additional money like the “Captain” in DraftKings Showdown contests. FanDuel’s default scoring is half-point PPR and four-point passing TDs, and there are no bonuses for 300-yard/100-yard games like on DraftKings.
MORE FD SINGLE GAME: How to win a FanDuel single-game contest
FanDuel Single-Game DFS Picks: Cowboys vs. Buccaneers
$60,000 budget, need at least one player from each team
MVP (1.5x points): QB Tom Brady, Buccaneers ($16,000)
Brady eclipsed 30 FanDuel points on four occasions last season and delivered another 29.9-point performance for good measure. Brady’s resume speaks for itself, but there are reasons to be even more bullish on him in 2021. Not only is he healthier after addressing a knee injury he played through last season, but he’s entering Year 2 in head coach Bruce Arians’ scheme and doing so with a full complement of weapons. He’s going to produce big points, so we’re fine with him as a potential chalky MVP pick.
FLEX: QB Dak Prescott, Cowboys ($15,500)
Conventional wisdom suggests a larger percentage of the field will name Brady their MVP. If you’re in the mood to zig, swap the two signal-callers. Prescott certainly has question marks ahead of this opening matchup. How’s the arm? How much will he run? Will the offensive line issues hurt him? A lack of rushing production is a district possibility and a concern, but he was able to put up 29.5 FD points and 38.3 FD points, respectively, in Weeks 4 and 5 last year without doing much with his legs. He has a slimmed down Ezekiel Elliott, an enviable trio of receivers, and two solid TEs to lean on, so we’ll bank on big production as Dallas tries to keep up with Tampa.
FLEX: WR Chris Godwin, Buccaneers ($8,600)
Considering his relatively high salary in a matchup that features numerous attractive wide receivers, it may be easy to shy away from Godwin. Things weren’t always clicking for Godwin in 2020, thanks in part to a camp injury, but he was still quite efficient per target. Don’t let last season’s disappointing campaign fool you. Godwin is very much capable of pouring in 20-plus FD points on any given night. In this particular build, fantasy owners could opt to swap in Amari Cooper ($12,000) or CeeDee Lamb ($10,000), as well.
FLEX: K Ryan Succop, Buccaneers ($8,500)
It’s never fun adding a kicker to your lineup, but in a game with such a high projected total, Succop should get enough opportunities to make a fantasy impact. Plus, he should give us some differentiation and “sure” points in a game where we’d just be guessing with Dallas WRs or Bucs RBs.
FLEX: TE Rob Gronkowski, Buccaneers ($7,500)
Gronk has a knack for coming up big in spotlight games. We’re hoping he gets loose for a score — or two, if the fantasy gods are smiling on us like they were in the Super Bowl last year — and we can unleash a signature Gronk spike on our opponents.