- A.J. Green owns the Ravens. The Giants had Dez Bryant's number last year. These and other valuable pieces of information can help you win your DFS contests this week.
Week 1 is finally upon us, and whether you’ve been dutifully following the NFL all summer or just getting reacquainted with the league now, here are five things you might have missed but will need to know before you make your opening-week DFS lineups.
1. A.J. Green has scored a touchdown in five straight games against the Ravens, his Week 1 opponent
Green’s last five receiving lines against the Ravens are 4-34-1, 10-227-2, 6-131-1, 4-61-1 and 6-151-1. Those numbers are even more impressive because the Ravens’ top cornerback, Jimmy Smith, was active for all five of those games. Last season, Green averaged 10 targets per game, which is right up there with Odell Beckham (10.6) and Antonio Brown (10.3), and more than Julio Jones (9.2). Nevertheless, Green’s Week 1 DFS salary is the lowest of all the aforementioned stud receivers on both FanDuel ($8,400) and DraftKings ($8,000).
2. Dez Bryant caught just two passes for 18 yards on 14 targets in two games against the Giants in 2016
Bryant is the antithesis of fellow stud wideout A.J. Green this week, having struggled mightily in the recent past against his Week 1 divisional foe. Bryant’s one catch for eight yards on five targets in Week 1 last season can be forgiven because it was quarterback Dak Prescott’s first career start, but Bryant’s second clunker against New York, a one-catch, 10-yard performance on nine targets, came in December. One of the Giants’ prized free agent acquisitions last season, cornerback Janoris Jenkins, was responsible for much of the coverage of Bryant, and will be again on Sunday. One of the reasons Bryant tends to struggle in matchups against good corners is that he can’t often escape them by lining up in the slot, where 75 wide receivers ran more routes than Bryant in 2016.
3. Paul Richardson has 83 yards or a touchdown in three of his last four games (including playoffs)
At the end of the preseason, the Seahawks traded last year’s No. 2 wide receiver, Jermaine Kearse, to the Jets, opening up 78% of the snaps from a year ago. Seattle also released another wide receiver, Kasen Williams, who had been thought a lock to make the team after a strong preseason. The primary reason the made those moves is because they’re comfortable with Richardson, a former second-round draft pick, as their No. 2 wideout. Of course, this all happened well after FanDuel and DraftKings released Week 1 pricing, so Richardson costs only $5,200 on FanDuel and $3,700 on DraftKings. Those are bargain prices for any starting receiver, but especially one that will participate in what is expected to be one of the week’s highest scoring games. Sportsbooks have installed Packers-Seahawks with a total of 51, the highest on the slate as of this writing.
4. Kendall Wright averages 8.7 targets per game in his career with his current offensive coordinator, Dowell Loggains, and 6.0 otherwise
Wright and Loggains were together with the Titans in 2013, when it looked as though Wright was on his way to being a star. He caught 94 passes for 1,079 yards that season, but hasn’t been able to reclaim the magic ever since then. Wright was set to open the season as Chicago’s slot receiver, but after No. 1 wideout Cameron Meredith went down with a season-ending ACL tear in Week 3 of the preseason, he suddenly became the favorite for targets in the Bears offense. In fact, quarterback Mike Glennon targeted Wright more than any other receiver in the preseason. Like Richardson, Wright is essentially a glitch in DFS pricing because he got thrust into a bigger role well after FanDuel and DraftKings released their Week 1 contests. Wright can be slotted into Week 1 DFS lineups for a bargain basement salary $5,200 on FanDuel and $3,200 on DraftKings. Also like Richardson, Wright is expected to take part in a high-scoring game where his team may have to throw a ton to keep pace with the Falcons high-octane offense on the other side. The over/under for Sunday’s affair at Soldier Field sits at 49 points, one of the highest in Week 1.
Looking for more plays to go with Green, Richardson, Ertz, and Wright in cash games or tournaments? Check out my entire Week 1 breakdown on 4for4.com.
5. Zach Ertz was the top fantasy tight end over the second half of 2016
You probably remember Travis Kelce’s torrid stretch over the second half of 2016, but did you know it was Ertz who led in tight ends in per game fantasy scoring from Week 9 through the end of the season? Over that span, he posted seven catches, 74 yards, and 0.44 touchdowns per game, good for 17.7 DraftKings points and 13.6 FanDuel points per game. For context, that would have made Ertz the No. 9 fantasy wide receiver over a full season. In Week 1, Ertz will face Washington, a defense that last season allowed the second-most catches (109) and third-most yards (1,130) to tight ends. That is likely to continue, as Washington boasts one of the league’s top cornerbacks, Josh Norman, and a capable No. 2 cornerback, Bashaud Breeland, which forces opposing quarterbacks to move off their wide receivers and target other options. At $5,900 on FanDuel on $3,500 on DraftKings, Ertz is Week 1’s top dollar-for-dollar tight end play.