Week 1 NFL – The Cruncher List for Week 1: Game-By-Game Analysis for DraftKings and FanDuel

The Cruncher List | Week 1 DraftKings and FanDuel NFL DFS Lineup Advice, Tips & Picks.

Here to help you build the best possible FanDuel & DraftKings NFL Week 1 Line-up.

Another season is here!!

Week 1 should be a great week of DFS action….it’s always wild with all of the value plays on the board, and we’ll be here each and every week covering the Main Slate of action on DraftKings and FanDuel, highlighting each and every game in terms of plays that we like and are at the very least, worth considering when it comes to building line-ups.  For the defensive rankings against each position, we will be using FantasyPros positional rankings which include 2020 data from Weeks 1-16, which can be used pretty safely as a guide for evaluating players against those units on both sites.

Let’s dive in and have a look at each game in Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season for DFS action on DraftKings and FanDuel!

Philadelphia @ Atlanta (-3), Projected Total: 48.5 points

Eagles vs. QB: 20th Falcons vs. QB: 32nd
Eagles vs. RB: 13th Falcons vs. RB: 4th
Eagles vs. WR: 27th Falcons vs. WR: 30th
Eagles vs. TE: 20th Falcons vs. TE: 30th

Philadelphia – Projected total: 22.75 points

QB Jalen Hurts DK: $6,400 FD: $7,600
RB Miles Sanders DK: $6,500 FD: $6,600
WR DeVonta Smith DK: $4,500 FD: $5,300
WR Jalen Reagor DK: $3,700 FD: $5,400
TE Dallas Goedert DK: $4,800 FD: $5,900

The Eagles check in with a lower projected total than I was expecting this week given the plus match-up that they have with the Falcons.  I do, however – think that the reason for that is fair.  There’s a pretty wide range of outcomes in terms of what the Eagles will be able to do this season offensively, and their ultimate success or failure as a unit will heavily depend on QB Jalen Hurts, who while I think is a solid play and worthy of keeping in player pools this week, also isn’t somebody that I would feel comfortable with backing up the truck in terms of exposure to in MME formats.  He’s a solid option this week and because of his ability to put up points on the ground, I do think that he is someone that you could run naked without any receiving weapons, if you felt that he’ll be able to exploit a Falcons defence that was dismal against opposing passing games a year ago.

In terms of the pass catching weapons, all eyes in Philly will be on rookie first round pick DeVonta Smith.  He should command a large target share right out of the gate for the Eagles and I think that he is a strong option to consider this week – however, much like with Hurts – I do think there are much safer options on the board.  TE Dallas Goedert is a little expensive for my liking.

On the ground, the Falcons actually did a pretty good job of limiting opposing backs a year ago and Sanders isn’t cheap, especially on DK where he checks in at $6,500.  He has plenty of talent – but with a suspect OL, he doesn’t make the cut this week and I have no problem taking a wait and see approach on him to see what he’s able to do in Week 1.

The Cruncher List

  • None

Good Plays

  • QB Jalen Hurts
  • WR DeVonta Smith

Atlanta – Projected total: 25.75 points

QB Matt Ryan DK: $6,000 FD: $7,300
RB Mike Davis DK: $5,400 FD: $6,200
WR Calvin Ridley DK: $7,900 FD: $8,100
WR Russell Gage DK: $5,300 FD: $5,700
TE Kyle Pitts DK: $4,400 FD: $6,000

The Falcons have a healthy projected total as home favorites as they go up against the Eagles this week.  WR Calvin Ridley, as per usual is an elite option at the WR position.  With Julio Jones’ departure, it is safe to say that Ridley should be among the league leaders in targets this season, and quite frankly, I don’t think that the Eagles have anyone that is able to cover him in this one.  He’s among the best plays on the board this week and should have a pretty high floor as well.  WR Russell Gage is a little expensive for my liking, but if you think that Ridley will garner so much attention that everyone else in the passing game will be manned up solo, I could see the path to him having a nice productive ROI at his price point on each site.

TE Kyle Pitts’ athleticism has been well documented at this point – so I won’t spend time going into that.  He should be second in terms of targets for the Panthers, even as a rookie and I think he is an elite option on DK this week at $4,400.  He’s a little pricey for me on FD so he doesn’t quite make The Cruncher List – but I do think that he’s worth keeping in your player pool on that site.

QB Matt Ryan probably isn’t going to win you a GPP this week unless you think that the game is going to have points flying up on the scoreboard.  With that said the price point is fair on him and if you do like the Atlanta passing attack to have an outstanding day, he’s a rock solid option this week.  Not Cruncher List worthy in my books – but hey, I’ve been wrong plenty of times before….

RB Mike Davis is affordable and should be in line for a heavy workload in this one.  The only other option the Falcons are likely to use with any regularity would be Wayne Gallman – and to me, I don’t see him taking too many snaps away from Davis fresh off of the street.  Much like the other offensive weapons here, while I think he’s worth keeping in your player pool, I do prefer other options on the board this week at the position.

The Cruncher List

  • WR Calvin Ridley
  • TE Kyle Pitts (DK)

Good Plays

  • QB Matt Ryan
  • TE Kyle Pitts (FD)

Pittsburgh @ Buffalo (-6), Projected total: 48 points

Steelers vs. QB: 2nd Bills vs. QB: 17th
Steelers vs. RB: 5th Bills vs. RB: 18th
Steelers vs. WR: 15th Bills vs. WR: 4th
Steelers vs. TE: 1st Bills vs. TE: 25th

Pittsburgh – Projected Total: 21 points

QB Ben Roethlisberger DK: $6,100 FD: $7,100
RB Najee Harris DK: $6,300 FD: $6,500
WR Diontae Johnson DK: $6,300 FD: $6,600
WR Chase Claypool DK: $5,600 FD: $6,000
WR Juju Smith-Schuster DK: $6,200 FD: $6,400

I’m really looking forward to seeing this one as we have two playoff teams from 2020 kicking off their respective seasons.  A lot of the success for the Steelers this season will depend on Big Ben’s health and arm strength and while things were trending in a positive direction on both fronts throughout the pre-season, I don’t think this is a match-up that bodes well for him from a DFS standpoint unless Buffalo scores at will and he gets to play catch-up.

In terms of the passing weapons, there will be plenty of weeks where I tout Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool this season – but in this match-up, neither of them make The Cruncher List. I don’t mind including both of them in your player pool – and both make for excellent options to run back if you opt to include some Buffalo passing stacks in your builds, with my preference being Claypool out of the two.

RB Najee Harris should see bellcow work this season as the Steelers will likely use him as a three-down back out of the gate.  He is a fantastic all around back – and while he isn’t on The Cruncher List this week, I do think he’s a fine play on DK for $6,300 in the full PPR format.  He’s not among my favorite options on the board, but I do think that he’s a solid option to consider mixing into your builds for high single digit/low double digit ownership levels.

The Cruncher List

  • None

Good Plays

  • RB Najee Harris (DK)
  • WR Chase Claypool

Buffalo – Projected Total: 27 points

QB Josh Allen DK: $7,400 FD: $8,100
WR Stefon Diggs DK: $7,600 FD: $7,900
WR Cole Beasley DK: $4,400 FD: $5,500
WR Emmanuel Sanders DK: $4,100 FD: $5,300
WR Gabriel Davis DK: $3,400 FD: $4,900

Love this passing attack.  How can you not?  The match-up is a tough one, and while I wouldn’t go loading up on them in cash games, I do think that Allen and Diggs are still worth getting significant exposure to in MME formats.  I expect them to pick up where they left off a year ago, slinging the ball all over the field – and you can see that with the zero RB’s listed above.

Beyond the obvious two, WR Cole Beasley is probably going to get slept on after bearing the brunt of the anti-vaccine debate throughout the course of the off-season.  For $4,400 on DK in the full PPR format, he’s a great value option and with WR Emmanuel Sanders questionable for this one, even if he does suit up, I am not expecting his presence to have too much of an impact on Beasley’s role in this offence – which is a very important one after posting a line of 82-967-4 a year ago.  If you are looking for a rock bottom owned value play at WR, Gabriel Davis is worth mixing into some builds as a part of Buffalo passing stacks.  He actually led the team in endzone targets a year ago and looked outstanding as a rookie.  The range of outcomes is pretty wide with him (especially if Sanders is active), so I wouldn’t do anything too outlandish in terms of how many builds he makes his way into – but I do think that he’s worth consideration in some of your passing stacks here.

The Cruncher List

  • WR Stefon Diggs

Good Plays

  • QB Josh Allen
  • WR Cole Beasley (DK)
  • Bills DST (DK)

Minnesota (-3) @ Cincinnati, Projected Total: 47.5

Vikings vs. QB: 12th Bengals vs. QB: 13th
Vikings vs. RB: 27th Bengals vs. RB: 23rd
Vikings vs. WR: 28th Bengals vs. WR: 16th
Vikings vs. TE: 15th Bengals vs. TE: 27th

Minnesota, Projected Total: 25.25 points

QB Kirk Cousins DK: $6,300 FD: $7,200
RB Dalvin Cook DK: $9,100 FD: $9,400
WR Justin Jefferson DK: $7,700 FD: $8,000
WR Adam Thielen DK: $7,000 FD: $7,300
TE Tyler Conklin DK: $2,900 FD: $4,400

The Vikings have a healthy projected total in this one and when you layer that in with the fact that we are likely set to see the same volume heading to Cook, Jefferson and Thielen, there is plenty of fantasy appeal here.  Cook should be in line for bellcow work and is among the best options for high priced spends this week.  On FD, he offers significant savings over McCaffrey – and I expect him to be a popular choice on both sites (for good reason).

As for the passing game, I prefer Jefferson….but I am not alone.  Thielen makes for a very interesting pivot off of Jefferson for some builds as he should check in with significantly lower ownership levels in a plus match-up.  The Bengals were middle of the pack a year ago against opposing fantasy passing games, but I would be surprised if they repeated this, especially if the Bengals offence puts up points all season long…something that stopped happening when Burrow got injured last season.

This game intrigues me from a game stacking standpoint – but in terms of QB Kirk Cousins, I think that is the only way I would use him this week.  Because of the concentration of touches that go towards the three aforementioned options, it’s hard to imagine him having a big week without at least two of those weapons being extremely productive in DFS.

The Cruncher List

  • RB Dalvin Cook
  • WR Justin Jefferson

Good Plays

  • QB Kirk Cousins (stack with two)
  • WR Adam Thielen

Cincinnati – Projected Total: 22.25 points

QB Joe Burrow DK: $5,700 FD: $7,200
RB Joe Mixon DK: $6,200 FD: $7,200
WR Tee Higgins DK: $4,700 FD: $6,000
WR Ja’Marr Chase DK: $4,800 FD: $5,500
WR Tyler Boyd DK: $5,200 FD: $5,900

There is no shortage of hype surrounding the Bengals offence this year with the addition of WR Ja’Marr Chase and the return of QB Joe Burrow.  The skill group here is outstanding – but they could be limited by continued blocking issues up front.  The Vikings defence was among the worst in the league in the first half of last season against opposing passing attacks, but really got back to some semblance of what we had come to expect from them in years prior in the second half of the season and while the jury is out on what they will bring to the table in the 2021 season, I tend to think that they aren’t the juicy match-up that many think they are.

In spite of that, WR Tee Higgins is too cheap, especially on DK.  He’s on The Cruncher List and I expect him to be heavily involved in the offence while Chase gets acclimated to the NFL.  If you went with a three man passing stack here, I would rank the WR’s Higgins, Boyd, Chase – in that order, with the first two getting the call with Burrow if I were to use them in a single entry.

RB Joe Mixon should see his usual heavy volume, trying his very best to overcome what is at best, pedestrian blocking.  The Vikings front struggled mightily to defend the run a year ago, but I do think they will be a little bit better this season at stopping the run.  I do think the price point is attractive on Mixon here, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he is heavily involved in the passing game early as Burrow shakes the rust off from last years horrific injury.  He’s on The Cruncher List on DK at $6,200 and in addition to that passing work, I like his chances of finding the endzone in this one.

The Cruncher List

  • WR Tee Higgins
  • RB Joe Mixon (DK)

Good Plays

  • RB Joe Mixon (FD)
  • WR Tyler Boyd (DK)

San Francisco (-7) @ Detroit, Projected Total: 45

49ers vs. QB: 7th Lions vs. QB: 31st
49ers vs. RB: 7th Lions vs. RB: 31st
49ers vs. WR: 13th Lions vs. WR: 32nd
49ers vs. TE: 2nd Lions vs. TE: 19th

San Francisco – Projected Total: 26 points

QB Jimmy Garoppolo DK: $5,500 FD: $6,900
RB Raheem Mostert DK: $5,800 FD: $6,100
RB Trey Sermon DK: $4,500 FD: $5,200
WR Brandon Aiyuk DK: $5,700 FD: $6,500
WR Deebo Samuel DK: $5,900 FD: $6,300
TE George Kittle DK: $6,300 FD: $7,000

This may be the most difficult offence to forecast for Week 1 – and it’s an important one as they have an elite ground game and face a Lions defence that was the league’s worst a year ago and isn’t expected to be much better in 2021.  I don’t have interest in Jimmy G, even at his price point in this one.  I could see a scenario where the 49ers get up early and just rely on their top tier running game, really limiting his pass attempts.  Of course, there’s no guarantee of this – but I do see this as the most likely game script.

If that plays out, it limits the ceiling of his receiving options.  Kittle is an elite high spend at TE and saves you significant salary room compared with Kelce….but there is significantly more risk.  I do think he’s an elite option, however – and he would be my favorite options out of the pass catches, edging out Aiyuk.  I’d probably only use Aiyuk or Samuel as a part of stacks – but admittedly, I don’t have too much interest in SF passing stacks this week.

As for the ground game, they both should get work – but this has the potential to be a smash spot for RB Raheem Mostert.  I’ve always loved his game – he’s arguably the fastest runner in the league at the position, and while he isn’t heavily involved in the passing game, he has the ability to house any run and frequently will break long runs.  Of course, the elephant in the room is his health and workload.  We’ve seen time and time again that the 49ers like to split carries in their backfield and with the high draft capital spent on Sermon, I expect both of them to clear 10 touches in this one.  While the ceilings for both are sky high, the floors are pretty variable, which is enough to keep them off of The Cruncher List – but Mostert did JUST miss the cut.  I think he has a big game.

The Cruncher List

  • TE George Kittle
  • 49ers DST

Good Plays

  • RB Raheem Mostert

Detroit – Projected Total: 19 points

QB Jared Goff DK: $5,100 FD: $6,500
RB D’Andre Swift DK: $6,900 FD: $6,400
WR Tyrell Williams DK: $4,400 FD: $5,400
TE TJ Hockenson DK: $4,900 FD: $5,700

Even before the internet rumours surrounding Swift, I didn’t have interest here against a stout defence with a low projected total.  While it looks like Swift is going to suit up in this one – my first thought on how to appoach them hasn’t changed.  I’ll pass – and I’ll also save you some time and trust that you aren’t relying on me to build a case for you on why I think you should too…….

The Cruncher List

  • None

Good Plays

  • None

Arizona @ Tennessee (-3), Projected Total: 52

Cards vs. QB: 19th Titans vs. QB: 29th
Cards vs. RB: 22nd Titans vs. RB: 26th
Cards vs. WR: 14th Titans vs. WR: 29th
Cards vs. TE: 4th Titans vs. TE: 18th

Arizona – Projected Total: 24.5 points

QB Kyler Murray DK: $7,600 FD: $8,400
RB Chase Edmonds DK: $4,600 FD: $5,900
RB James Connor DK: $4,500 FD: $5,500
WR DeAndre Hopkins DK: $7,800 FD: $8,200
WR Christian Kirk DK: $4,500 FD: $5,200

The game total here is healthy as two of the more explosive offences in football kick things off to start their 2021 seasons, and both defences are far from juggernauts, putting the key cogs in both teams in great spots this week.

For the Cards, the usual suspects – QB Kyler Murray and WR DeAndre Hopkins are both elite high spend options.  The Titans weren’t able to defend well a year ago, and based on their off-season, I find it hard to believe that anything is going to change on that front.  We should continue to see heavy volume flow from Murray to Hopkins this year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Hopkins among the leaders in targets in Week 1.

Aside from those two, I don’t have too much interest in the other pieces in the offence.  I do think that RB Chase Edmonds is worth keeping in your player pool and worth considering if you wanted to use a 3 man ARI stack – but I wouldn’t feel obligated to go nuts with exposure to him in builds until we see how the workload shakes out with RB James Connor.

The Cruncher List

  • QB Kyler Murray
  • WR DeAndre Hopkins

Good Plays

  • RB Chase Edmonds (DK)

Tennessee – Projected Total: 27.5 points

QB Ryan Tannehill DK: $6,500 FD: $7,700
RB Derrick Henry DK: $8,800 FD: $8,900
WR AJ Brown DK: $7,100 FD: $7,800
WR Julio Jones DK: $6,800 FD: $7,000
TE Anthony Firkser DK: $3,200 FD: $4,700

I think that all five of the options above are worth keeping in builds this week as the Titans check in projected for 27.5 points against a middle of the pack defence in a game that should be very high scoring.

RB Derrick Henry is an elite option for a high spend.  He should be in line for his usual workload in this one and I think that he’ll be able to rack up significant yardage and find the endzone here for the Titans.

In terms of the passing game, Tannehill is a little expensive for my liking.  He’s worth including in TEN stacks – but I probably wouldn’t look his way in smaller field GPP’s unless you were betting on going big with a stack here.  As far as his weapons go, I prefer AJ Brown over Julio at similar prices (on DK) until proven otherwise.  Both are worth mixing into builds in MME formats, but Brown is my favorite out of the pair of Tennessee wide-outs.

The Cruncher List

  • RB Derrick Henry

Good Plays

  • QB Ryan Tannehill
  • WR AJ Brown

Seattle (-3) @ Indianapolis, Projected Total: 49 points

Seahawks vs. QB: 27th Colts vs. QB: 11th
Seahawks vs. RB: 16th Colts vs. RB: 12th
Seahawks vs. WR: 25th Colts vs. WR: 18th
Seahawks vs. TE: 10th Colts vs. TE: 5th

Seattle – Projected Total: 26 points

QB Russell Wilson DK: $7,000 FD: $7,800
RB Chris Carson DK: $5,900 FD: $6,700
WR DK Metcalf DK: $7,500 FD: $7,700
WR Tyler Lockett DK: $6,700 FD: $6,800
TE Gerald Everett DK: $3,400 FD: $4,800

Seattle are small road dogs this week taking on the Colts.  Wilson and company have a healthy projected total in this one, and in a very similar fashion to the Vikings – they are a pretty easy team to forecast as the bulk of their opportunities go to the players mentioned above (though picking which Seattle WR will go off any given week has been known to drive DFS players up the wall over the years).

The match-up here is a tough one.  The Colts defence does a pretty good job in all facets of the game, and I usually don’t target them too much – especially when they are healthy.  The projected total here shows that I very well could be wrong – but I don’t mind the idea of a fade here…I really don’t love this spot for Seattle to have their options be a part of large field GPP winning line-ups.

The Cruncher List

  • None

Good Plays

  • None

Indianapolis – Projected Total: 23 points

QB Carson Wentz DK: $5,600 FD: $6,500
RB Jonathan Taylor DK: $8,000 FD: $7,900
RB Nyheim Hines DK: $5,000 FD: $5,400
WR Michael Pittman Jr. DK: $4,100 FD: $5,300
WR Paris Campbell DK: $3,700 FD: $5,000

Given my stance on the Seahawks this week – it probably won’t come as too much of a surprise for me to say that I don’t really love the spot for the Colts this week either.  WR Michael Pittman Jr. should see plenty of looks in this one and I do think he is an elite value option at the WR position, but I wouldn’t go nuts with exposure to him unless you go heavy on the Seattle passing game in your line-ups as well.

RB Jonathan Taylor is worth keeping in your player pool – but I probably wouldn’t go beyond high single digits with him in terms of how many rosters he makes it in for you.  I expect the Colts to use RB Nyheim Hines a fair bit more in this one – and he intrigues me as a value back on DK at $5000 in large field GPP’s.  He just got signed to a deal that makes him a top 10 paid RB, and I wouldn’t be shocked if he gets a few more snaps in this one than he normally would as a result.

The Cruncher List

  • WR Michael Pittman Jr (DK)

Good Plays

  • WR Michael Pittman Jr (FD)
  • RB Nyheim Hines (DK – contrarian)

LA Chargers @ Washington (-1), Projected Total: 44.5

Chargers vs. QB: 25th Football Team vs. QB: 3rd
Chargers vs. RB: 14th Football Team vs. RB: 6th
Chargers vs. WR: 9th Football Team vs. WR: 3rd
Chargers vs. TE: 26th Football Team vs. TE: 11th

LA Chargers – Projected Total: 21.75 points

QB Justin Herbert DK: $6,700 FD: $7,600
RB Austin Ekeler DK: $7,000 FD: $6,900
WR Keenan Allen DK: $6,900 FD: $7,400
WR Mike Williams DK: $5,500 FD: $5,700
TE Jared Cook/TE Donald Parham DK: $3,800/$3,100 FD: $5,200/$4,300

The Chargers will be a team that is popular over the course of the season – but in a road game going up against a very stout Washington defence, I don’t think this is a week to load up on them.  I don’t mind the idea of playing WR Keenan Allen in this one, but he’s not worth of a spot on The Cruncher List this week.  The Chargers do enough moving around of Keenan and I expect him to continue to be the focal point of the passing attack, so he’s a viable option to include in your player pool basically any week that he is healthy and the price point to roster him doesn’t break the bank.

Keep an eye on the status of RB Austin Ekeler as game time approaches.  It appears that he suited up for Friday’s practice – but if he doesn’t go then RB Justin Jackson would enter the picture as a min-priced option who should see heavy work.

The Cruncher List

  • None

Good Plays

  • WR Keenan Allen

Washington – Projected Total: 22.75 points

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick DK: $5,500 FD: $6,600
RB Antonio Gibson DK: $5,900 FD: $7,000
WR Terry Mclaurin DK: $6,400 FD: $6,900
WR Dyami Brown DK: $3,000 FD: $4,700
TE Logan Thomas DK: $4,600 FD: $5,600

The price points here are outstanding compared to the options on the opposing sidelines.  The projected total here is low – so I probably wouldn’t go nuts with exposure – but on first glance, I love the spot for RB Antonio Gibson this week at his price, especially on DK where he checks in at sub $6k.  As a result, he makes The Cruncher List this week as the price is too attractive for him in a middle of the pack match-up.

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is in play if you want to spend down as far as you can at the QB position.  If the game goes over the total, he’ll likely be slinging it and I don’t mind the idea of using him if you really want to spend up at some positions this week….though there are so many value options on the board that I am not sure if you really have to.

TE Logan Thomas saw near elite level volume at the TE position a year ago, and while Washington did bring in some other receiving options that were a risk to spread the ball around a little more – early on in the season, I expect Fitz to look Logan Thomas’ way early and often.  He’s not cheap – but for a mid-priced option at the position in a match-up against a team that struggled to defend TE’s with any regularity a year ago – Thomas is on The Cruncher List for Week 1.  WR Terry Mclaurin is always a solid play who checks in cheaper than I think he should be and while I do prefer other options on the board this week – I do think he should be a little more expensive on both sites.

The Cruncher List

  • RB Antonio Gibson (DK)
  • TE Logan Thomas

Good Plays

  • QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
  • RB Antonio Gibson (FD)
  • WR Terry Mclaurin

NY Jets @ Carolina (-4), Projected Total: 44

Jets vs. QB: 28th Panthers vs. QB: 16th
Jets vs. RB: 15th Panthers vs. RB: 24th
Jets vs. WR: 20th Panthers vs. WR: 8th
Jets vs. TE: 32nd Panthers vs. TE: 22nd

NY Jets – Projected Total: 20 points

QB Zach Wilson DK: $5,000 FD: $6,500
RB Tevin Coleman DK: $4,900 FD: $5,400
WR Corey Davis DK: $4,900 FD: $5,800
WR Elijah Moore DK: $3,000 FD: $5,000

The weapons in the offence are cheap – WR Elijah Moore in particular on DK who checks in at a lowly $3k.  If you like him this week, fire him up – it’s hard to argue with that value for a talented young WR who is likely to see their team playing from behind in a positive pass game script.

WR Corey Davis would be the more ‘traditional’ play at WR.  He should lead the team in targets from rookie QB Zach Wilson – but with so many value options on the board for significantly less than him this week – I think you can leave him out of your builds.

The running game isn’t too appealing as we are likely to see RB Tevin Coleman and RB Ty Johnson in some sort of a shared workload.  I’d expect Coleman to see more work than Johnson – but I wouldn’t be rushing to your Fantasy Cruncher Account to lock and load too many line-ups with either of the backfield options from the Jets involved in them.

The Cruncher List

  • WR Elijah Moore (DK)

Good Plays

  • None

Carolina – Projected Total: 24 points

QB Sam Darnold DK: $5,000 FD: $6,500
RB Christian McCaffrey DK: $9,500 FD: $10,400
WR DJ Moore DK: $6,100 FD: $6,700
WR Robby Anderson DK: $5,700 FD: $6,200
TE Dan Arnold DK: $2,600 FD: $4,500

The projected total here is low – and while I don’t think that much has to be said about RB Christian McCaffrey (he’s the top play on the board at the RB position this week) – I actually don’t mind the idea of getting some exposure to the passing game here too.

QB Sam Darnold gets his revenge game, taking on his former squad to start his time as a member of the Panthers.  The price point is rock bottom on him and I think he’s an elite option if you are looking to spend way down at QB (edging out Ryan Fitzpatrick as my favorite on the board).

WR DJ Moore and WR Robby Anderson are worth combining with Darnold, or using individually if you want a piece of the Panthers passing game in this one.  Both of them are reasonably priced – though Anderson in particular is a steal.  He had a fantastic 2020 campaign, really just lacking touchdowns from his stat line – but I expect him to continue to be used as more of the downfield option in terms of air yards, while Moore stays closer to the line of scrimmage.  Again – both are strong plays this week – but I’ll toss Anderson on The Cruncher List while having Moore narrowly miss out.

The Cruncher List

  • QB Sam Darnold
  • RB Christian McCaffrey
  • WR Robby Anderson

Good Plays

  • Panthers DST
  • WR DJ Moore

Jacksonville (-3) @ Houston- Projected Total: 45.5 points

Jags vs. QB: 30th Texans vs. QB: 22nd
Jags vs. RB: 30th Texans vs. RB: 32nd
Jags vs. WR: 23rd Texans vs. WR: 26th
Jags vs. TE: 31st Texans vs. TE: 17th

Jacksonville – Projected Total: 24.25 points

QB Trevor Lawrence DK: $6,200 FD: $6,800
RB James Robinson DK: $6,400 FD: $5,900
WR DJ Chark DK: $5,800 FD: $6,100
WR Marvin Jones DK: $3,600 FD: $5,800
WR Laviska Shenault Jr. DK: $5,000 FD: $5,600

The pricing differences between sites here are pretty silly:

  • Lawrence only $600 more on FD
  • James Robinson cheaper on FD
  • Marvin Jones almost free on DK

The match-up here is as good as it gets for first overall pick Trevor Lawrence as he ges to go up against the lowly Texans.  I think it’s a good idea to get some exposure here – and I think you can safely let the pricing on each site dictate how you get the bulk of your Jags exposure in Week 1.

The Cruncher List

  • QB Trevor Lawrence (FD)
  • RB James Robinson
  • WR Marvin Jones (DK)

Good Plays

  • None

Houston – Projected Total: 21.25 points

QB Tyrod Taylor DK: $5,300 FD: $6,800
RB David Johnson DK: $5,700 FD: $5,700
RB Phillip Lindsay DK: $4,700 FD: $5,200
WR Brandin Cooks DK: $5,300 FD: $6,300

Pass.

If you want to stack Jags, WR Brandin Cooks is the one to run back.  To me – that’s the only way I could see a Texans player sneak into one of my builds for Week 1…..

The Cruncher List

  • None

Good Plays

  • None

Cleveland @ Kansas City (-5), Projected Total: 54.5

Browns vs. QB: 26th Chiefs vs. QB: 18th
Browns vs. RB: 8th Chiefs vs. RB: 19th
Browns vs. WR: 24th Chiefs vs. WR: 2nd
Browns vs. TE: 29th Chiefs vs. TE: 24th

Cleveland – Projected Total: 24.75

QB Baker Mayfield DK: $5,900 FD: $7,100
RB Nick Chubb DK: $7,200 FD: $7,700
RB Kareem Hunt DK: $5,500 FD: $6,000
WR Odell Beckham Jr. DK: $5,400 FD: $6,500
WR Jarvis Landry DK: $6,000 FD: $6,400
TE Austin Hooper DK: $4,000 FD: $5,100

We get a rematch of last season’s electric Divisional Game that saw Chad Henne get the tap from the bullpen and do just enough to have the Chiefs hang on and punch their ticket to the AFC title game.  This should be a fun one.

I expect the Browns to lean heavily on their ground game.  Both Chubb and Hunt should be in line for double digit touches in this one and with Hunt’s involvement in the passing game, he makes for an intriguing option to get modest exposure to in both overall builds and game stacks.  As for Chubb, I think he’ll get things going here against a Chiefs defence that has shown at times to be pretty poor at stopping the run.  They ranked 19th against opposing RB’s a year ago – and that is despite many passing game scripts that their opponents found themselves facing.  Chubb makes sense as a stand-alone play, and as a part of some game stacks.

The approach to the passing game depends on the health of WR Odell Beckham Jr.  If he suits up, I don’t have much interest in anyone here, while if he does sit this one out – then I think you could make an argument to include WR Jarvis Landry in some stacks for the KC offence, running Landry (or Chubb) back.  Either way, I don’t have a ton of interest in the passing game for Cleveland in this one – but I am curious to see how that narrative progresses over the course of the season.

The Cruncher List

  • RB Nick Chubb

Good Plays

  • RB Kareem Hunt (contrarian GPP)
  • WR Jarvis Landry (if Beckham is out)

Kansas City – Projected Total: 29.75

QB Patrick Mahomes DK: $8,100 FD: $8,800
RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire DK: $6,600 FD: $6,800
WR Tyreek Hill DK: $8,200 FD: $8,500
WR Mecole Hardman DK: $4,800 FD: $5,400
TE Travis Kelce DK: $8,300 FD: $8,500

I don’t like the chances that Cleveland will be able to slow down Mahomes and company out of the gate.  The usual suspects, Hill and Kelce are all elite options this week – while Mahomes just narrowly misses the cut because of his jacked up price tag on both sites this week ($8,100, $8,800).

As for CEH and Hardman – I have no problem keeping them in player pools this week, but I wouldn’t go nuts with exposure until we see:

  1. How healthy CEH is
  2. What Hardman’s involvement will look like in the offence

I really find KC one of the easiest teams to write-up and I could expand more on things – but it really just boils down to the fact that you probably want significant exposure to both Hill and Kelce….Kelce usually gets the edge for me because of his position in terms of who I roster more, and on weeks when Mahomes is not going to be popular – you probably want significant exposure to him too….though the price point this week is a little bit too rich for my blood.

The Cruncher List

  • WR Tyreek Hill
  • TE Travis Kelce

Good Plays

  • QB Patrick Mahomes
  • RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire

Miami @ New England (-3), Projected Total: 43.5

Dolphins vs. QB: 9th Pats vs. QB: 10th
Dolphins vs. RB: 10th Pats vs. RB: 21st
Dolphins vs. WR: 19th Pats vs. WR: 11th
Dolphins vs. TE: 7th Pats vs. TE: 3rd

Miami – Projected Total: 20.25

QB Tua Tagovailoa DK: $5,400 FD: $6,600
RB Myles Gaskin DK: $6,000 FD: $6,000
WR DeVante Parker DK: $5,500 FD: $6,100
WR Jaylen Waddle DK: $3,600 FD: $5,200
TE Mike Gesicki DK: $4,500 FD: $5,500

Both QB’s here looked great in the pre-season, but with a low projected total, two strong defences and two coaches that are not likely to let their QB’s sling it all over the field, I don’t have too much interest here.

For the Dolphins, WR Jaylen Waddle is an elite option on DK.  He should see plenty of snaps for Miami, especially with Will Fuller suspended for Week 1.  I expect Tua to look his way early and often as he did in the pre-season, making him an elite punt with upside on DK.

As for the rest of the offence – the Pats were a respectable defence a year ago, and that was without many starters who are returning this season.  I don’t have too much interest in loading up exposure in builds to options in Miami’s offence.

The Cruncher List

  • WR Jaylen Waddle (DK)

Good Plays

  • WR Jaylen Waddle (FD)
  • Dolphins DST

New England – Projected Total: 23.25

QB Mac Jones DK: $4,400 FD: $6,200
RB Damien Harris DK: $5,200 FD: $5,800
WR Jakobi Meyers DK: $5,100 FD: $5,400
WR Nelson Agholor DK: $4,500 FD: $5,600
TE Jonnu Smith DK: $4,100 FD: $4,900
TE Hunter Henry DK: $4,700 FD: $5,300

The Dolphins defence was fantastic a year ago, and brings back most of their key players for the 2021 season.  It’s a tough spot for Jones, and I expect him to have some game manager elements to his game in his first pro start with Josh McDaniels not putting too much on his plate.

Miami has shown at times to be vulnerable to the ground and pound approach, and for that reason – I do have some appeal to keeping Damien Harris in my player pool this week.  He’s cheap, should be in line for 15+ touches, and it wouldn’t shock me one bit if he had a productive day.  He’s not my favorite option on the board – but is definitely someone worth mixing into builds this week, and another nice thing is that he shouldn’t be too popular of an option with the masses either.

The Cruncher List

  • None

Good Plays

  • RB Damien Harris
  • Pats DST

Green Bay (-3) @ New Orleans, Projected Total: 50

Packers vs. QB: 4th Saints vs. QB: 8th
Packers vs. RB: 28th Saints vs. RB: 2nd
Packers vs. WR: 7th Saints vs. WR: 17th
Packers vs. TE: 6th Saints vs. TE: 23rd

Green Bay – Projected Total: 26.5

QB Aaron Rodgers DK: $6,800 FD: $8,000
RB Aaron Jones DK: $6,800 FD: $7,400
WR Davante Adams DK: $8,300 FD: $8,600
TE Robert Tonyan DK: $4,200 FD: $5,400

This is another pretty simple offence to forecast:

The Saints are tough to run on, which means that we should see plenty of slinging it for Aaron Rodgers in this one.  The Packers are projected for a touch under 27 points, and I think all signs point to both him and WR Davante Adams having big week 1’s, putting both of them on The Cruncher List this week.  If you like this game to be a shoot-out, the obvious game stack here is Rodgers-Adams-Tonyan (optional) with Kamara (and maybe Callaway) coming back.

RB Aaron Jones is worth keeping in your player pool and if you are looking for another passing weapon to sprinkle in, WR Randall Cobb is back in the fold as an option for Rodgers to throw to out of the slot.  Acquiring Cobb was the peace offering from the front office to Rodgers, so I wouldn’t be shocked one bit if Rodgers got him involved early and often this season.

The Cruncher List

  • QB Aaron Rodgers
  • WR Davante Adams

Good Plays

  • TE Robert Tonyan
  • Packers DST

New Orleans – Projected Total: 23.5

QB Jameis Winston DK: $5,200 FD: $6,700
RB Alvin Kamara DK: $8,600 FD: $8,600
WR Marquez Callaway DK: $3,400 FD: $5,200
TE Adam Trautman DK: $2,900 FD: $4,600

The Packers deploy a funnel defence that focuses on limiting the pass, giving up yardage often in chunks on the ground as a result – putting Kamara in a great spot in this one.  I expect Winston to lean heavily on the pass catching back in his first start with New Orleans – and in a game that should be high scoring, I think that he’s as good as any high spend play is this week from a dollar for dollar standpoint.

As for the passing game, I don’t have too much interest in rostering Winston – I want to see how he looks in terms of how far he’ll be pushing it down the field before rostering him.  I do, however – love the spot for WR Marquez Callaway on both sites.  I think he’ll be moved around enough to keep him away from CB Jaire Alexander on every play, and Callaway should pick up where he left off after a couple of massive games down the stretch, and in the pre-season for the Saints.  He’s an elite punt with upside at WR in what should be a high scoring game.

The Cruncher List

  • RB Alvin Kamara
  • WR Marquez Callaway (DK)

Good Plays

  • WR Marquez Callaway (FD)

Denver (-3) @ NY Giants, Projected Total: 41.5

Broncos vs. QB: 23rd Giants vs. QB: 5th
Broncos vs. RB: 17th Giants vs. RB: 20th
Broncos vs. WR: 12th Giants vs. WR: 10th
Broncos vs. TE: 9th Giants vs. TE: 8th

Denver – Projected Total: 22.25

QB Teddy Bridgewater DK: $4,800 FD: $6,600
RB Melvin Gordon DK: $5,300 FD: $5,600
RB Javonte Williams DK: $4,000 FD: $5,600
WR Jerry Jeudy DK: $4,800 FD: $5,500
WR Courtland Sutton DK: $5,200 FD: $5,800
TE Noah Fant DK: $4,300 FD: $5,400

There are a lot of intriguing players that Teddy Bridgewater gets to play with this season, but with a low projected total here in a game that has the lowest total on the board, I’d keep expectations in check for Week 1 outbursts.  I’m expecting this game to be pretty low scoring and while I suspect there will be quite a few weeks that I like some of the options for Denver, I have no problem seeing how the offence looks in Week 1 as they go up against a Giants defence that was pretty tough on opposing passing games last year from a fantasy standpoint.

As for the backfield, I suspect that Javonte Williams truthers will be screaming from the tops of buildings about Melvin Gordon’s usage – particularly early on in the season.  This seems to be shaping up to be a timeshare of sorts, likely led by Gordon at least for the early going.  If you wanted to take a flier on Williams at $4k on DK, I wouldn’t blame you one bit – but for me, I do like other options better on the board for the first week of the season.

The Cruncher List

  • None

Good Plays

  • RB Javonte Williams (FD)
  • WR Jerry Jeudy

NY Giants – Projected Total: 19.25

QB Daniel Jones DK: $5,300 FD: $6,700
RB Saquon Barkley DK: $7,800 FD: $8,500
WR Sterling Shepard DK: $5,100 FD: $5,500
WR Kenny Golladay DK: $5,600 FD: $6,200

With Saquon Barkley and Kenny Golladay both looking like gametime decisions, this is a tough one to forecast.  With that said, it’s not like the Giants are an offensive juggernaut, so I really think the best approach here in a match-up with a solid enough defence like Denver’s in a game with the lowest projected total on the board is to just sit this one out and see how it plays out.  Ownership levels should be low here, and I would be quite surprised if we saw anyone from the Giants check in as a part of a large field GPP win in Week 1.

As a punt defence on FD for price point, I do think that the Giants are an elite option to free up some salary if you are trying to squeeze a few more dollars of salary room into your skilled position players.

The Cruncher List

  • Giants DST (FD – punt)

Good Plays

  • None

Best of luck in your Week 1 DFS action & just a reminder that we’ll be back each and every week this season for The Cruncher List as you work your way through DFS contests on DraftKings and FanDuel over the course of the season!

About Brad

Brad hates the term fantasy sports expert, so instead he is someone who specializes in NFL, NHL and MLB DFS notes and analysis. He had a 68.2% win rate in 2015 NFL cash games to go along with a 83.5% win rate for the 2014 season. For NHL he had a 58.7% win rate in the 2015-16 season for cash games and a 66.2% win rate for the 2014-15 season. You can follow him on Twitter @bradsgotmoxy.

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