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Week 1 DFS QB Picks: Cash, GPP and Value Targets

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Trust me, I didn’t get this role just because I once led my intramural football team to the playoffs as a 5’10, 270 quarterback at (then) Southwest Texas State (now Texas State University). Regardless, welcome to Week 1 DFS QB Picks, where we’ll break down the best plays via Cash Game, GPP and the tried and true punt.

All QBs are listed in order of preference/rank in each section

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Week 1 DFS QB Picks – Cash Game Passers

Deshaun Watson HOU @ NO

DK ($6,800), FD ($8,500) 

Even with the addition of RB Carlos Hyde, this is the year the Texans climb out of the bottom third in passing attempts, and it begins on Monday night. Houston was 22nd in passing plays per game in 2018 (22nd overall), and a increase in passing plays — with a healthy Will Fuller V and the addition of Duke Johnson — means Watson can increase his 2.469 air yards (5th best in 2018).

I don’t see where the Saints greatly improved a defense that ranked 28th in Fantasy points allowed per game to opposing quarterbacks last season. This feels almost like a layup here since Watson finished in the Top 10 in Fantasy scoring among QBs 10 times in 2018 that included a pair of number ones in Week 8 and Week 12. The supporting cast is addition by subtraction, so I’d think he’ll get improve upon his 3.32 Supporting Cast Efficiency (SCE), which ranked 17th. This is Monday Night Money to finish it off if you are playing the full 16-game slate.

Russell Wilson SEA vs. CIN

DK ($6,300), FD ($8,200) 

The Bengals were 29th in Fantasy points per game allowed to opposing quarterbacks last season and will have a hard time keeping Wilson from taking shots downfield. Seattle was dead last in team passing plays (29.9) but Wilson made the most of his deep shots, finishing second in the league with a 46.7% completion rate and placed third in air yards per attempt at 5.1. That he topped all passers with a production premium of +28 was helped in part that he placed fifth with 31 money throws along with the fact Wilson had the best SCE (Supporting Cast Efficiency) in the league with 19.24.

Of course, his numbers will climb if he ran more than he did last season. I can’t promise when and where, but Wilson will score a rushing touchdown or two this season. That he was sixth among quarterbacks in rushing yards was one of 2018’s odd numbers, and while I don’t think he’ll return to the top, he’ll be a more efficient runner. Cincy was 27th in rushing yards per game allowed to quarterbacks, making Wilson a good play in cash games.

Drew Brees NO vs. HOU

DK ($6,400), FD ($8,000) 

Father Time is trying to blitz Brees, but it’s not going to work Monday night. Brees trailed only Wilson when it came to SCE (14.06) while remaining ruthlessly efficient, topping the league in true completion percentage at a staggering 78.8% along with averaging .56 Fantasy points per dropback (2nd). Houston was 21st in Fantasy points per game allowed to opposing passers and that was with Jadeveon Clowney, who is now in Seattle. Like Wilson, he brings pain when going deep, as his 45.6% completion rate when dialing it up was third overall.

Houston is notorious when it comes to getting sucked into play-action, making Brees more valuable in cash game, as he completed 75% of his attempts when in play-action. Having the likes of Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara is exactly why Brees was fourth in money throws last season (33) and should be able to produce a money throw or two to make cash gamers feel at ease selecting him on the full 16-game slate. Both he and Watson will be popular Showdown style choices.

Featured Image of Carson Wentz via Keith Allison


Week 1 DFS QB Picks – GPP Passers

Carson Wentz, PHI vs. WAS

DK ($5,700), FD ($7,600) 

Wentz is going to need a quarter or two to get some rust off considering he’s played as many preseason snaps as me or your wife. I couldn’t put him in cash games despite the temptation and the wealth of talent he has surrounding him. He was a mediocre 1.75 in SCE last season, but I’d venture adding Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders, DeSean Jackson and preseason sensation J.J. Arcega-Whiteside jumps him from his 18th place finish last season.

Wentz was 21st in air yards (1,745), understandable since the Eagles aren’t a bombs away team. The new faces should get his -1.4 production premium into the black and you have to keep in mind his 3.1 accuracy rating was second overall. Close but not quite a cash gamer, but a strong GPP play.

Patrick Mahomes, KC at JAX

DK ($7,200), FD ($8,700) 

Don’t be the fool who’s so enamored with Mahomes that you’re convinced he’d shred the 1976 Steelers defense. Mahomes is not a cash gamer, but there will more than enough fools who’ll think otherwise. It’s not my job to tell grown people what to do, but…

Mahomes has flaws, and the Jaguars defense is capable of exploiting them, especially at home. Mahomes topped the league in production premium at +28, but he was just 14th in true completion percentage (71.7%) and red zone competion percentage (63.5%). This is not the week to envision him averaging 25.9 Fantasy points per game even though he’ll pick up where he left off in deep ball attempts (91). The potential Tyreek Hill vs. Jalen Ramsey matchup favors Ramsey; opponents tested him 28 times on go/out routes last season with only one touchdown to show for it. Something to keep in mind..

Aaron Rodgers, GB at CHI

DK ($6,500), FD ($8,200) 

Good Number: The Packers were 10th in red zone attempts last season (73). He is basically your only choice with a Thursday night showdown entry. He may not be widely owned on the 16-game slate.

Bad Number: Forty-nine (yes, Virginia, 49) passers had a better red zone completion rate than Rodgers’ 61.5%.

Tom Brady, NE vs. PIT

DK ($6,300), FD ($7,600) 

Good Number: Tommy Touchdown had the league’s best protection rate (90.1). That alone makes him a strong Week 1 DFS QB Picks play on the 16-game slate.

Bad Number: He’s really, really, really going to need a healthy and focused Josh Gordon to improve his receiver target separation of 1.39, 28th best overall.

Kirk Cousins, MIN vs. ATL

DK ($5,500), FD ($7,400) 

Good Number: Bring your blitzes, damn you! Cousins welcomes it, finishing third with a 49.7% completion rate when facing pressure.

Bad Number: Vikings backs and receivers dropped 31 passes last season, fifth-highest in the league. In a way, you can’t fault Cousins on that, but still…

Phillip Rivers, LAC vs. IND

DK ($5,900), FD ($7,500) 

Good Number: Rivers loves to pass the football on the left hand side, accounting for 1,619 yards and 14 touchdowns last season when throwing to the side of the southpaw.

Bad Number: His 13.57 SCE, which ranked third last season, takes a considerable hit without having Melvin Gordon available.

Baker Mayfield, CLE vs. TEN

DK ($6,400), FD ($7,900) 

Good Number: Mayfield quietly finished fifth in production premium at +13.1.

Bad Number: Hopefully, the addition of Odell Beckham Jr. will lead to a reduction of the 32 dropped passes the Browns recorded last season.

Ben Roethlisberger, PIT at NE

DK ($6,300), FD ($7,600) 

Good Number: Even without Antonio Brown, it’s hard to imagine the Steelers not leading the league in passing plays per game, as they did last season (44.6). That makes him a GPP play on the 16-game slate.

Bad Number: Big Ben lives dangerously, evidenced by the 32 danger plays he recorded last season, the fifth-highest total in the league.

Jared Goff, LAR @ CAR

DK ($6,200), FD ($7,800) 

Good Number: Goff finished third with 2,617 air yards last season. Once Cooper Kupp gets into form, the Rams will remain a dangerous offense with quick-strike potential.

Bad Number: The Super Bowl showed how Goff fares when facing constant heat. He finished 25th in pressured completion percentage with 31.3%.

Matt Ryan, ATL @ MIN

DK ($6,100), FD ($8,000) 

Good Number: No one topped Ryan in air yards last season as he racked up 2,876 yards.

Bad Number: Ryan’s 79.5% protection rate was only 25th overall. That has to be good news for those DFSers considering the Vikings defense.

Week 1 DFS QB Picks – Value and Punt Passers

Lamar Jackson, BAL vs. MIA

DK ($6,000), FD ($7,400) 

Yes, the rushing yards will be there, especially in the red zone. That’s a good thing considering Jackson’s 37.5% completion rate inside the opponents’ 20-yard line was 54th overall. That is not enough to merit consideration as a Week 1 DFS QB Picks candidate.

Cam Newton, CAR vs. LAR

DK ($6,500), FD ($7,900) 

No one mastered the play-action pass like Newton last season, as he completed 75.7% of his attempts when pulling defenses in. Helps to have Christian McCaffrey in the backfield.

Dak Prescott, DAL vs. NYG

DK ($5,900), FD ($6,700) 

Ezekiel Elliott got P-A-I-D early Wednesday morning, which eliminates the prospect of Prescott getting the bulk of red zone touches. Elliott’s return also cripples the chances of Prescott being a potential top 12 quarterback, a plateau he reached just six times last season.

Sam Darnold, NYJ vs. BUF

DK ($6,000), FD ($7,500) 

The presence of Le’Veon Bell alone assures Darnold’s SCE of -14.03 (31st) takes a rapid climb up the elevator. That, and a season’s worth of experience, will also help him avoid the number of danger plays (30) he put up as a rookie.

Derek Carr, OAK vs. DEN

DK ($5.400), FD ($6,600) 

Carr’s true completion percentage of 75.6% was third-best last season, and the additions of Antonio Brown and rookie back Josh Jacobs will improve an already-solid 4.77 SCE.

Brandon C. Williams has covered Fantasy Sports since 2013 when he was selected as a finalist for the FSWA Newcomer of the Year. He is an award-winning writer/editor who has been in sports media for 30 years, having worked with likes of the Houston Chronicle, Fox Sports Net, CBSSports.com, Rivals.com and RotoExperts.com. Brandon is a Fantasy Content writer for the Canadian Football League and will begin his second season as a Fantasy Football Columnist for the Associated Press.

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