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Week 1 Fantasy Football & NFL DFS Mailbag

Jeff Pratt answers all of your fantasy football and DFS questions ahead of Week 1.

Syndication: The Enquirer Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Welcome to the first installment of my weekly fantasy football/DFS mailbag! If you want to be featured in one of these articles, follow me on Twitter @ByJeffPratt along with @dklive. At the start of each week, I’ll ask for questions. The sooner you respond, the better your chances of making it into the article are. Without further ado, let’s get started.

Set your DraftKings fantasy football lineups here: $5M Fantasy Football Millionaire [$1M to 1st + ToC Semifinal Entry]

We’re kicking off the first mailbag of the year with a great question! These are two running backs who are capable of elite production, and one of them plays tonight (Thursday) so there’s an added layer of complexity.

I’m going to side with Elijah Mitchell here. If you read any of my mock drafts over the last month, you know how high I am on the second-year back. How could I not be high on the clear starting running back in a Kyle Shanahan system?

It doesn’t help Akers’ case that he’s playing one of the best defenses in the league Thursday. The Bills made several moves this offseason, most notably bringing in superstar Von Miller. Considering Buffalo’s improved run defense and the possibility of a split backfield between Akers and Darrell Henderson — yes, it could happen — I’d rather start Mitchell, who has a much easier matchup against Chicago.

I can’t say I love either of these matchups, but there’s a clear answer in my mind.

Tannehill gets the edge because of the favorable matchup against the Giants and his rushing upside. Yes, Goff does have better weapons to work with in Detroit — which feels really weird to say — but he’s the inferior quarterback and has a tough matchup against a much-improved Eagles defense.

Don’t overthink this one, go with the better QB who has more upside.

I was already leaning towards Hollywood, but having Kupp in your lineup seals the deal.

While I do expect Robinson to have a strong debut with the Rams tonight, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to play two Thursday Night Football receivers unless they are guaranteed studs. Kupp obviously falls under that category, but we’re in more of a wait-and-see situation with Robinson.

Putting that point aside, I like Marquise Brown quite a bit this week. He and Kyler Murray already have a strong rapport from their days at Oklahoma, so Brown should step into a large target share immediately.

Immediately, I’m narrowing down these options to Robinson, Thomas and Montgomery. While we all know the upside Thomas possesses, the re-aggravated hamstring is a major concern. I would like to see him play a full game with no limitations before trusting him in fantasy lineups.

Montgomery is a solid option and I expect him to have a good year, but that 49ers run defense is no joke. Considering the overall ineptitude of the offense Montgomery plays in —Sorry, Bears fans — I would sit him against a far superior team.

That leaves us with Robinson. As I said earlier, I expect him to have a strong debut with the Rams tonight. In that elite L.A. offense, he’s a safer option than Monty and MT.

Finally, a DraftKings question! While I do expect these mailbags to focus on regular fantasy, I’m always available to answer DFS questions as well.

First, let’s establish what a value receiver is. In my opinion, they have to be priced below $5K. Scrolling through this week’s slate, one name jumps out to me:

Week. 1. Sammy. Watkins.

Watkins is playing with the best quarterback of his career in Aaron Rodgers, which only boosts the likelihood of another monster performance in a season opener. It also helps that the Packers face off against one of the worst secondaries in the league in Minnesota this week. There’s a lot to like about the veteran receiver on Sunday.

Short question, short answer. Trevor Lawrence is the better quarterback — despite an awful showing last year — and he has a much easier matchup against Washington. Tua has the better weapons, but New England is poised to have one of the best defenses in the league again this year. Roll with Lawrence.

It has to be Williams here. I understand the appeal of starting a TNF player in the first game of the season, but I’m not necessarily buying the hype surrounding Davis. Yes, he’s received glowing endorsements from this teammates, but I want to see it on a consistent basis before I’ll believe it.

Regardless of my concerns about Davis, Williams is just the better option this week. He’s coming off a fantastic WR12 finish last year and is still the clear No. 2 receiver for Justin Herbert, who could have an MVP campaign.

The Chargers open their season against Las Vegas in what will surely be a high-octane affair. I expect Williams to pick up right where he left off.

This is an interesting one. There are a lot of variables that will determine how Penny will finish this season. The most important one is Kenneth Walker III’s health. The rookie is dealing with a hernia and it doesn’t sound like he’s going to suit up for Seattle’s season opener.

Assuming Walker III is able to stay healthy for most of the season, we’re going to see a split backfield on one of the worst teams in the league. I would expect Penny to finish somewhere between PPR RB25 and RB45 if that is the case.

Now, if Walker III misses a significant chunk of the season, that changes things. Penny was a league winner in the fantasy playoffs last season, putting up ridiculous numbers down the stretch. While I wouldn’t expect that type of production out of him regularly this year, I could see a finish between PPR RB15 and RB20.

While I do expect there to be at least a minor committee in the Rams’ backfield tonight, Akers is the clear leader in the clubhouse and he should be relatively productive. I would roll with him over Damien Harris, who could be out-touched this year by Rhamondre Stevenson.

For your Flex, chase some upside and start JuJu Smith-Schuster. He’s playing with the best quarterback of his career and could be the Chiefs’ No. 1 receiver this season. Kansas City’s matchup with Arizona this weekend should be a high-scoring contest, so I expect JuJu to start the year on a high note.

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