A lot of people worry about Week 1 because we don’t have a lot of data on the players. But the first few weeks of the season are when you as a sharp player armed with all the knowledge from Footballguys has your biggest advantage. There are several reasons for this
- We have been researching all offseason to get ready for this. We followed the draft, free agency, and even preseason games. Not everyone else did that so we can take advantage of that. Let all of the research we’ve done help guide you to the right lineups.
- New coaches bring new tendencies and new players cause the team to use their players different. With some of the best point projections in the industry, we are already properly accounting for these changes. Others will wait until week 3 or 4 before they realize the change but we are trying to stay ahead of the curve.
- That said be prepared for the unpredictable. The beginning of the season is a great time to go a bit more contrarian. If you don’t like the most popular players and you have a good reason there is a good chance the public may be wrong. Take a stand fading a popular player or getting a lot of someone that no one else likes.
One final thing to make sure you keep in mind during the start of the season. Touches are not nearly as predictable now as they will be later in the year no matter how good we are at researching in the steps above. If you can find a couple of players that you feel are going to be safe to get touches and are at a cheaper price feel free to load up on them so you can pay up and get the more expensive safe touch players as well.
People tend to have two preconceived ideas about high owned players. Either they never want to play them because they’ve heard you don’t play chalk. Or the exact opposite they want to play the highest owned players because they are the best plays. Most of the time neither of these are right as you need a mix of popular plays and off the wall plays to win you first place. Too many high owned guys you will be lucky to min-cash. Too many low owned plays and you will finish last because they are low owned for a reason. In this section, we will take a look at some of the players that we are projecting to be the highest owned and how you should deal with them:
Jameis Winston – Last year Winston was hard to play. No matter who was starting for the Buccaneers you never knew who was going to finish. So you just couldn’t play Winston. This year Ryan Fitzpatrick has moved on to the Dolphins so Winston should be safe to finish the game barring injury. He’s likely to be the highest owned QB on the slate and he deserves to be. Don’t be afraid to click Winston’s add button.
Dalvin Cook currently leads our RB ownership projections and I would be surprised if that changed. Cook is underpriced across the industry. His low pricing comes from the fact that he was banged up early last year and never turned in the season most expected with an average of 55 yards per game and only 2 rushing TDs on the year. But Cook should be healthier coming into this year and is expected to get a heavy workload in a game that should be high scoring against the Falcons. Cook will be the highest owned player on the slate and that shouldn’t be a problem for you.
At wide receiver, there is a slow of players that are all near the top of the ownership charts but the most interesting one is Odell Beckham Jr Jr. The buzz around the Browns is as high as it has been that I can remember. Baker Mayfield looks like a legit quarterback and they signed a Beckham for him to get the ball to and score TDs. However, one problem with that theory is it is sometimes hard for wide receivers that are new to teams to fit in immediately. They might not know all the plays, the QB timing how their teammates run picks, etc and it ends up taking a few weeks to start connecting. Rules are meant to be broken and Beckham could easily break that trend but at such high ownership, it should at least worry you.
Travis Kelce looks like the main chalk at tight end which makes a lot of sense. The chiefs have the most explosive offense in the league and Kelce was incredible last year with 6 games of 2 TDs and/or 100+ yards. Those are the types of performances that win you tournaments and he was doing it almost every other week. However, one worry is will the Jaguars be able to keep up with Chiefs and force them to keep throwing to Kelce all game? With Zach Ertz and George Kittle at similar price points and quite a bit lower ownership, it might be worth considering a pivot to them.
On the flip side of the chalk, you need some deep sleepers. These are guys that make you cringe when you include them in your lineup. But if you don’t include at least some of these types of players you will be competing with too many lineups that are similar to yours
I’m going to combine Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott here as both are coming in pretty low owned. I think a lot of questions around Elliott. How much is he going to play? Is he in game shape? He hasn’t been practicing, is he rusty? I don’t think there should be nearly that much concern about any of those questions. If he suits up, which all indications are that he will, he is going to play and play hard. This is a divisional game against the Giants and he just got a huge contract. The Cowboys are likely to feed him the ball relentlessly like they did Amari Cooper when they went out and got him last year. Plus they are up against the Giants which we are expecting to be a plus matchup this year. I would be surprised if the Cowboys don’t move the ball and I expect Elliott to score and Prescott to put up a solid game right there with him.
I will always have a soft spot for Calvin Ridley as he was in my two most important lineups last year. Check out these two articles for a reminder of how those went as well as some good lineup building strategies. But even without that nostalgias, Ridley is a great play again this week. The Falcons game against the Vikings is one of the more likely to blow up and Ridley has a great shot of being on the receiving end of some of those TDs after scoring 10 last year. His price is a bit high which is keeping his ownership down but he makes for a great pivot away from the higher owned Julio Jones.
Jordan Reed or Vernon Davis – Jordan Reed is still in the concussion protocol so make sure he is healthy before locking him into your lineups. But if he is good to go, he will be 100% for one of likely the few times this season. Washington is surrounding him with options like Paul Richardson Jr, Trey Quinn, and Terry McLaurin. Reed should be the go-to option in that situation and his ownership doesn’t bear it out given his down year last year. If Reed is out, all the same, apply to Davis who maybe even lower owned.
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