Small and Mid-Field Draftkings DFS Options Week 1
This article is for small and mid-sized tournaments (under 5,000 entries) and is a look at some key plays that might be under-looked and fit into the format better. Now top fantasy plays are great across the board but in the smaller-sized tournaments, two key points should be remembered. First, ownership will be higher for top players. If Christian McCaffrey is expected to be about 25% owned in large-field tournaments, expect that number to creep up to 35-45% in smaller fields. Secondly, the top scores needed to win the tournaments will be considerably less. This means you can focus a bit more on median projections vs ceiling. This can open up additional options that maybe weren’t as appealing in the larger formats. So ideally mix some of the top plays with some lower-owned options, who are more viable in this setting.
Related Week 1 Content: Draftkings Week 1 Pricing QBs and RBs | Draftkings Week 1 Pricing WRs and TE
Justin Herbert ($7,600) and Derek Carr ($5,900):
Carr is considerably cheaper, but both of these QBs are core plays for me. They face off in the 2nd highest scoring game on the slate, yet neither might be among the top 4 owned QBs on the slate. Both of these guys are in line for 300+ yards and 3+ TDs.
Jameis Winston ($5,300):
Winston is intriguing as a cheap guy who no one is talking about week-1. The Falcons’ defense is possibly the worst in the league, and Winston is back healthy with a full arsenal of weapons. There is some risk here because this could be a blowout and Winston might not need to do much in the 2nd half, but a lot of QBs put up winning days versus Atlanta last season. It’s tough to ignore given the cheap price and low ownership.
Trevor Lawrence ($5,600):
Want a low-owned cheap QB with some rushing upside to stack up the rest of your team, Lawrence is a great option who will likely be under 3% owned. Lawrence should have new life this season with the Jaguars adding a top offensive-minded coach, offensive line support, and a variety of weapons. With the Commanders without Chase Young in week 1, Lawrence has a bit easier path as well. Washington could be up in this game forcing Lawrence to throw more. While it doesn’t get talked about enough, Lawrence has a stronger rushing floor than people think.
Derrick Henry ($8,600):
There seems to be some hesitation to use Henry in week 1, and it doesn’t make much sense. The Giants had one of the worst rushing defenses a year ago, and Tennessee remains very much a run-first team. They are strong favorites in this game, and Henry should easily see 20-25 touches in this game. For a high-priced pivot off CMC and JT, Henry is a great option. And he fits better in the small-and mid-tier fields, where you don’t necessarily need him to go nuclear.
Elijah Mitchell ($5,400):
Mitchell is the clear number 1 back on a team that loves to run the football, in a match-up where they are heavy favorites. He had incredible success last season and comes in at a very good price. Yet there is very little buzz about Mitchell this week. Even if he doesn’t have a large role in the passing game, Mitchell is in a great position for the 100 bonus and a TD or two.
Austin Ekeler ($8,200):
Similar to Henry, Ekeler’s ownership will be pulled down by so many people using CMC and JT. Ekeler is a great play regardless of price and ownership, but he offers a little savings and will come in far lower owned than the other top RBs. This is one of the highest-scoring games, but it’s being ignored. There was a lot of off-season talk of the Chargers scaling back Ekeler’s role, but based on what was seen in the camp that might not happen early on. Particularly in a potential shootout vs a division rival.
Michael Carter ($5,100):
For a large field GPP, Carter probably lacks the upside to be of much interest (which is why his projected ownership is so low). In smaller and mid-field tournaments though he’s worth a second look. Though expected to be supplanted by Breece Hall long-term, reports from the camp were that Carter will start the season with a significant role. A large portion of that role figures to be in the passing game as well, which works given that the Jets are expected to be playing from behind. Carter could rack up catches in this game and return 3.5x-4x value. Even better is his ownership figures to remain non-existent even in smaller tournaments.
Mike Williams ($6,600) and Keenan Allen ($7,000):
Elite players from one of the highest scoring games on the slate that aren’t going to be owned, yeah sign me up. Either star Chargers receiver makes sense, and if you want to stack up this game grab both. I prefer Mike Williams among the two, but Keenan Allen has been Mr. Consistent over the years.
Terry McLaurin ($6,500):
McLaurin is priced in an area where it’s easy to pivot to other options, he makes a strong leverage play in mid-sized tournaments. McLaurin gets a nice QB upgrade in Carson Wentz and faces a Jaguars secondary that was among the worst in the league last year. Jacksonville spent a lot of resources to upgrade their DL and LBs, but almost nothing for their secondary. McLaurin could have a field day if he can see enough targets.
Elijah Moore ($5,100):
Moore had some strong games last season when Zach Wilson was out, and after a strong camp, he remains the Jets’ top receiving option. With New York likely down for the majority of this game, you are getting a receiver who could see 10+ targets for a very reasonable price. Also, since he will mainly be in the slot, he should avoid the Ravens’ top perimeter corners for most of the game. I wouldn’t play him with Michael Carter, but one cheap Jets player could be the key to this slate.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling ($4,700) and A.J. Green ($4,600)
For the game that everyone wants to own two cheaper starting receivers seem to be drawing little interest. Ownership projections are pretty low right now for both, and while neither will probably be more than the 3rd option on their team, that is already baked into the pricing. Of the two MVS probably has the higher upside given his deep threat ability, but A.J. Green is a solid choice as well. With Rondale Moore out and DeAndre Hopkins suspended, Green will be on the field the whole game. Though neither is a great option for a 30-point fantasy game, you don’t need that at this price, especially in the small and mid-sized tournaments.
Randall Cobb ($3,400)
Allen Lazard is expected to be out meaning, Cobb is the only receiver that Aaron Rodgers has any previous history with for week 1. Given that Cobb should see a significant snap share in week one. The ball will likely be spread around, but Cobb comes in basically free with the very little buzz in terms of ownership. If you need a solid floor guy to stack up some studs, Cobb is a strong option.
Chris Olave ($4,500)
Like many rookie receivers, Olave’s price is very reasonable, but he also seems unlikely to be owned this week. Now there are definite questions about how the Saints’ offense will look and the pecking order of the targets. Olave though is priced at a point that he’s worth investing in. It’s expected that he will be out there in 2 WR sets and after a strong camp, he could push to be the 1st or 2nd target on this team. Add in a very enticing match-up versus the Falcons and he should be considered as a solid floor with moderate upside.
Gerald Everett ($3,800):
Again the Chargers/Raiders game looks like it will be under-owned across the board. If you want a cheap piece to add to your roster Everett makes a lot of sense. Fellow TE Donald Parham is expected to miss the game, which should clear the way for Everett to be highly involved. This has one of the highest totals on the slate and Everett is very reasonably priced.
Mo Alie-Cox ($3,400):
Despite signing a multi-year extension no one has been excited about the fantasy prospects of Alie-Cox this offseason. Even with the other young TEs on the roster either struggling in camp or getting injured, no one wants to own the Colts TE who could carve out a pretty significant role on this team. Indianapolis is expected to pass more with Matt Ryan, but beyond Michael Pittman Jr. there isn’t an established hierarchy. Alie-Cox could be an 85-90% snap guy and has shown flashes in the past. As a cheap play vs a poor Texans defense, this is a solid option at almost no ownership.
Evan Engram ($3,500):
For years now the Washington team has been among the worst at defending tight ends. With no major offseason additions, they can only hope for some development on their roster. Engram presents a tough week 1 match-up for them, as he’s got the athletic ability to create mismatches vs safeties and linebackers. Doug Pederson also features tight ends prominently in his offenses while in Philly. Engram should be very low-owned and has a good chance to return serious value at this price.