RealTime DFS Strategy: Week 1

Fri Sep 6 8:37am ET
By MIKE BARNER
Contributing Writer

Mike Evans setup for big opener


While it’s sad to see the summer months come to an end, the good news is that September brings the return of football! Week 1 is comprised of plenty of exciting matchups and there is even more fun to be had with RealTime Fantasy Sports’ DFS slate. Let’s breakdown the matchups and highlight some players across the price scale to target, as well as some to avoid.

QUARTERSBACKS

Top-tier option: Russell Wilson, SEA vs. CIN ($6,500): It’s no secret that the Seahawks like to run the ball despite the strength of their offense being Wilson at quarterback. He only attempted 427 passes last year, which was more than 100 passes fewer than each of the previous two seasons. Still, he remained productive with 35 touchdown passes, giving him at least 34 touchdowns through the air in three of the last four seasons. Look for him to get off to a hot start at home, a place where he has 101 touchdown passes and only 27 interceptions across 56 career games.

Cheap target: Jimmy Garoppolo, SF at TB: ($5,900): After an ACL injury ended his ’18 campaign early, Garoppolo had his struggles during the preseason. While some might be shying away from him in his first game back, that just presents an opportunity to differentiate your lineup. This is an extremely favorable matchup for him against a Buccaneers’ secondary that is among the worst in football.

Player to avoid: Ryan Fitzpatrick, MIA vs. BAL ($5,800): The Dolphins have the potential to be a disaster this season. They are clearly in the early stages of a rebuild and just traded away stellar offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil. Even though they have young quarterback Josh Rosen in the fold now, they will start the interception-prone Fitzpatrick in the first game of the season. With Earl Thomas now leading the Ravens’ secondary, things could get ugly in a hurry here.

RUNNING BACKS

Top-tier option: Saquon Barkley, NYG at DAL ($8,100): Despite a lackluster offensive line and a bad quarterback, Barkley had a spectacular rookie season with over 2,000 total yards and 15 touchdowns. With Odell Beckham Jr. now in Cleveland, Barkley is the undeniable centerpiece of the Giants’ offense. They improved their offensive line during the offseason and should give Barkley a ton of carries and targets in this game, leaving him with both a high floor and a high ceiling.

Cheap target: Chris Carson, SEA vs. CIN ($6,000): It’s going to be difficult to pass up Carson at this price. While he’ll share some carries with Rashaad Penny, there is plenty of work to go around with how often the Seahawks run the ball. The Seahawks are also heavy favorites at home, which could lead to a significant amount of carries for Carson in the second half if the team jumps out to a big lead. After scoring nine touchdowns in 14 games last season, don’t be surprised to see Carson reach the end zone in the season opener.

Player to avoid: Derrick Henry, TEN at CLE ($6,200): Yes, Henry finished with 1,059 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns last season. However, most of that came over his last four games when he had 585 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. The Browns have a strong defensive front and Carson can be had for the same price, making Henry someone to avoid.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Top-tier option: Mike Evans, TB vs. SF ($7,200): This game has the potential to be a shootout considering the 49ers’ secondary has the potential to be just as bad as the Bucs. Evans is coming off career-highs in both receiving yards (1,524) and catch rate (62.3%), leaving him with as high of an upside as any receiver for this slate.

Cheap target: John Brown, BUF at NYJ ($4,600): The duo of Brown and quarterback Josh Allen could be a match made in heaven. Allen had an average depth of target of 11.3 yards last season while Brown has averaged 15 yards per reception for his career. The Jets might have a rising star in Jamal Adams at safety, but their cornerbacks leave a lot to be desired, so Brown is someone to at least consider at this cheap price. 

Player to avoid: Tyreek Hill, KC at JAC ($7,100): Two of the biggest stars at their respective positions figure to face off in this game with cornerback Jalen Ramsey expected to shadow Hill for much of the contest. When these two teams faced off last season, Hill was held to 61 yards on four receptions. Evans has a much easier matchup and is only $100 more, making it hard to justify deploying Hill.

TIGHT ENDS

Top-tier option: George Kittle, SF at TB ($6,500): If I like Garoppolo, of course I like his top receiving option in Kittle. Even without his number one quarterback last year, Kittle shined with 1,377 receiving yards and five touchdowns. Look for him to lead the team in targets not only in this game, but for the entire season.

Cheap target: Evan Engram, NYG at DAL ($4,100): Engram might be the best value on the slate. Tight ends who will cost more than him include Jason Witten ($4,500) and Tyler Eifert ($4,300). Need I say more? When healthy, Engram is one of the top receiving tight ends in the league. With Odell Beckham Jr. gone and Golden Tate suspended, Engram should be relied upon heavily in this contest.

Player to avoid: Eric Ebron, IND at LAC ($5,500): Ebron was one of the most pleasant surprises in fantasy last year, racking up a whopping 13 touchdowns and 750 receiving yards on 110 targets. However, there were two major differences last year than what we are looking at for Week 1. First, he had Andrew Luck as his quarterback, who has since retired. Second, fellow tight end Jack Doyle only appeared in six games due to injury. With Doyle now healthy and Jacoby Brissett at quarterback, Ebron is way too risky at this price.

Mike Barner has been covering fantasy sports since 2007. His work has appeared in Sports Illustrated, Yahoo, SportsLine and RotoWire. Mike was also a finalist for the 2018 FSWA Basketball Writer of the Year award. Follow Mike on Twitter @rotomikebarner.

Player Notes
Aaron Jones Sep 18 1:20pm ET

Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said that he wants to keep running back Aaron Jones fresh throughout the season and wants to "even up" touches between Jones and Jamaal Williams. LaFleur thinks the balance will change week to week. It's something to keep an eye on, but it shouldn't deter you from starting Jones this week at home against the Broncos, where he'll be a low-end RB1/high-end RB2. Jones had a career-high 23 carries for 116 yards and a touchdown in Week 2, while Williams ran the ball nine times. Jones had six targets in the passing game (four catches) while Williams had four (three catches). Williams is a necessary handcuff for Jones owners.

From RotoBaller

Damien Williams Sep 18 1:20pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs running back Damien Williams (knee) won't practice on Wednesday, while the plan is for running back LeSean McCoy (ankle) to get in some limited work. Both running backs should be considered questionable to play in Week 3 against the Ravens right now. If one or both sit out this Sunday, rookie Darwin Thompson and Darrel Williams would be thrust into larger roles. As of now, both Williams and McCoy should be seen as risky RB3/flex plays in KC's home opener.

From RotoBaller

Patrick Mahomes Sep 18 1:20pm ET

Kansas City Chiefs left tackle Eric Fisher (abdomen) will undergo core muscle surgery and will not play in Week 3 against the Ravens. Cam Erving will start in Fisher's place on Sunday. It's a notable downgrade against a good defense in Baltimore, but quarterback Patrick Mahomes remains an elite QB1 for fantasy owners. It remains to be seen how long Fisher will be out, but he should be expected to miss multiple weeks at the very least.

From RotoBaller

Philadelphia Eagles Sep 18 1:10pm ET

The Philadelphia Eagles Defense is not a particularly exciting option in a Week 3 matchup against the Detroit Lions. The Eagles defense came into the season with a lot of hype but have been mostly disappointing through the first two weeks. With two of the Eagles' top offensive playmakers likely to miss the game, the defense may end up tasked with a bit more work than usual. They're likely to end up as a middling option, so they're certainly not a unit to avoid, but they aren't one to get excited about this week either.

From RotoBaller

Kyle Shanahan Sep 18 1:10pm ET

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said that the team planned to use running back Jeffery Wilson in the red zone in Week 2. "I wouldn't say he's our designated red-zone back, but that was how we planned going into the game... We tried to do that when we got down there," Shanahan said. Of San Francisco's six rushing attempts inside the red zone in Week 2, Wilson had five of them and scored twice. All three of Wilson, Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert had double-digit carries, but the team was also up big on Cincinnati for most of the game. It looks like the Niners will employ this three-man committee with Tevin Coleman out, making it difficult to trust any one player in fantasy. Wilson will be a touchdown-dependent RB3/flex against the Steelers.

From RotoBaller

Zach Ertz Sep 18 1:00pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz is set for what could potentially be an enormous Week 3 performance. Ertz saw 16 targets from quarterback Carson Wentz in Week 2 and could be in line for a similar number or perhaps even more against Detroit in Week 3. With top receiving options DeSean Jackson (groin) and Alshon Jeffery (calf) trending toward sitting out on Sunday, Ertz will be the clear top target in the passing game. He's a threat to score every week, and is almost always a top-three tight end option. This week, he has the highest floor of any tight end and one of the highest ceilings.

From RotoBaller

Jake Elliott Sep 18 1:00pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles kicker Jake Elliott is looking like a strong option in a Week 3 matchup against the Detroit Lions. Elliott is always a solid and consistent option, but with the Eagles expected to be missing two of their top playmakers on Sunday, Elliott may see a few more field goal attempts as the passing game stalls out. He's a top-eight kicking option nearly every week, but looking like a top-five option in Week 3.

From RotoBaller

Cody Latimer Sep 18 12:50pm ET

New York Giants wide receiver Cody Latimer (concussion) is not practicing on Wednesday. Latimer suffered a concussion in Week 2 and is looking very questionable to play in Week 3 against the Buccaneers. With Sterling Shepard also still in the concussion protocol, rookie quarterback Daniel Jones might be looking at a receiving corps of Bennie Fowler, Russell Shepard and T.J. Jones in his NFL debut this Sunday. Unless Sterling Shepard plays this weekend, expect the Giants to hand the ball off frequently to running back Saquon Barkley. Latimer wouldn't be a recommended play, even in deeper leagues, if he gets cleared.

From RotoBaller

Nelson Agholor Sep 18 12:50pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Nelson Agholor will likely be thrust into an every-down role in Week 3. With top wide receivers DeSean Jackson (groin) and Alshon Jeffery (calf) unlikely to suit up, Agholor will be wide receiver atop the depth chart. He spent the second half in Week 2 in the role, and despite some decent stats (107 yards and a touchdown), he also showed why he's so far behind Jackson and Jeffery when everyone is healthy. Agholor made some totally inexcusable drops when wide open in the second half. Still, he'll likely be peppered with targets from Carson Wentz and even if he drops half of them, he could still end up with seven or eight catches. Agholor is a solid WR3 option with touchdown upside this week.

From RotoBaller

Mack Hollins Sep 18 12:50pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Mack Hollins will likely see an increased offensive role in a Week 3 contest against the Detroit Lions. With top wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson both expected to miss at least one game, Hollins will be needed on offense. He's been mostly working on special teams, but he saw plenty of work on offense in the second half last week after Jeffery and Jackson were forced to leave the game. Hollins has flashed his talent in small bursts before, but it will be his first chance to show it throughout a whole game. He has some upside in a strong Eagles offense, but can't be trusted as more than a WR4/5 in most formats.

From RotoBaller

Demaryius Thomas Sep 18 12:50pm ET

New York Jets head coach Adam Gase said that wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (hamstring) will not practice on Wednesday. Thomas had just one catch in his debut with the team on Monday night before suffering an injury. He doesn't have a good chance to play in Week 3 against the Patriots, especially since DT hasn't even had a single practice yet with his new team. He's currently off the fantasy radar. Josh Bellamy and Braxton Berrios will fight for the No. 3 duties behind Robby Anderson and Jamison Crowder if Thomas misses this weekend.

From RotoBaller

JJ Arcega-Whiteside Sep 18 12:50pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles rookie wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside is suddenly looking at a starting role in Week 3. A preseason hero, Arcega-Whiteside was far behind on the wide receiver depth chart until both Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson got hurt in Week 2. Both were forced to leave the game and Arcega-Whiteside was on the field for almost every offensive snap in the second half. He still only ended up with one catch for four yards, but now with a week of practice under his belt, he should be ready for his expanded role. With only drop-machine Nelson Agholor and special teamer Mack Hollins left in the wide receiver hierarchy, Arcega-Whiteside could be a significant threat in the passing game this week. He's a very risky start, but has some legitimate WR2/3 upside if things go well. At the very least, he should be rostered in most formats by now.

From RotoBaller

Mike Evans Sep 18 12:40pm ET

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans has been very quiet the first two games of the season. In two starts, he's caught only six passes for 89 yards. This is a bit of an anomaly compared to his first five seasons, including last year's first two games, where he compiled 17 receptions for 230 yards. His slow start is not all on him, though. Jameis Winston has struggled and he had a difficult matchup against Carolina Panthers defensive back James Bradberry in his last game and was also battling illness before his first. This all points to a much more positive outing Sunday in Tampa against the struggling New York Giants, who have been gashed every which way so far and should give Evans a serious bounce-back opportunity. He's a locked-in WR1 again regardless of his last two outings. Wipe your memory of the past two weeks and start him with confidence in all formats.

From RotoBaller

Albert Wilson Sep 18 12:40pm ET

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Albert Wilson (calf) remains out of practice on Wednesday. Wilson aggravated his calf injury in the season opener and sat out of the Week 2 blowout to the Patriots. He's not off on the right foot for Week 3 against the Cowboys. Wilson had some sleeper appeal in PPR leagues coming into the season, but his injury and a putrid Dolphins offense has made him unattractive in most leagues. Even if Wilson returns to the lineup this Sunday, he shouldn't be a starting consideration in most leagues.

From RotoBaller

Nick Chubb Sep 18 12:30pm ET

Cleveland Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens said that he'd love to give running back Nick Chubb more touches, which would include using him more on third downs in passing situations. Through two games, the second-year back has 35 rushing attempts and has caught seven of his eight targets in the passing game. It's pretty good volume already, but if he gets even more it'll just make him an even stronger RB1 for fantasy owners. Chubb and the Browns face the Rams in Week 3 on Sunday night, where he'll be a strong RB1 yet again.

From RotoBaller

Devin Singletary Sep 18 12:30pm ET

Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott said that rookie running back Devin Singletary (hamstring) will not practice on Wednesday. Singletary's injury isn't believed to be serious, but his status for Week 3 against the Bengals is in question. If you own Singletary or are hurting at running back, you need to pick Frank Gore up off the waiver wire if he's available. The veteran hasn't looked that great so far in two games, but he'd be the lead back for Buffalo if Singletary was inactive and would have RB3/flex appeal. T.J. Yeldon would also see his role increase as the backup to Gore.

From RotoBaller

Darren Sproles Sep 18 12:30pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles running back Darren Sproles is not a recommended fantasy option in any format in Week 3. After a somewhat surprisingly productive Week 1, Sproles took an expected step back in Week 2 and recorded just two catches for five yards. He did not record a single carry in Week 2. Sproles is a punt returner and a very occasional pass catcher out of the backfield. He may have some decent fantasy weeks here or there when he happens to find the end zone, but he'll be way too unpredictable to ever be a smart fantasy starter.

From RotoBaller

Tyler Kroft Sep 18 12:30pm ET

Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott said that tight end Tyler Kroft (foot) will practice in full for the first time on Wednesday since breaking his foot in May. Kroft hasn't played yet in 2019, but it looks like he'll make his season debut in Week 3 against his former team in the Bengals. Until we see what kind of role Kroft will have in this offense, it's best to leave him out of starting lineups in fantasy. Rookies Dawson Knox and Tommy Sweeney will take a back seat if Kroft returns.

From RotoBaller

Corey Clement Sep 18 12:30pm ET

Philadelphia Eagles running back Corey Clement is not a fantasy option in any format for Week 3. Clement has settled into a special teams role and has seen almost no offensive snaps so far this season. An injury to another running back could potentially thrust Clement into a more significant offensive role, but for now he's almost exclusively a special teams player and one that does not need to be rostered in most formats.

From RotoBaller

Rashard Higgins Sep 18 12:20pm ET

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Rashard Higgins (knee) returned to limited practice on Wednesday. Higgins' knee injury prevented him from playing in his team's Week 2 win over the New York Jets. The receiver's ability to return on Wednesday, even on a limited basis, bodes well for his availability for Cleveland's Week 3 showdown against the Los Angeles Rams. Look for Higgins to slot back into his role as the team's No. 3 wide receiver.

From RotoBaller