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DraftKings Fantasy Football Tournament Picks Today: NFL Week 1 Top High-Upside DFS Contrarian Targets

Geoff Ulrich shares his top high-upside targets, stacks and contrarian options for the Week 1 main fantasy football slate on DraftKings.

Los Angeles Chargers v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

GPPs are not won by using all of the most popular players on the slate. Being a contrarian in a big-field event can help separate your lineup and gain you leverage over the field when some of the more popular names bust. The goal of this article won’t be to highlight the popular “play-it-safe” names that your Dad talks about at family dinner. No. Us? We’re looking for some diamonds in the rough and guys that no one talks about — not even their own coaches.

OK, we’re not going that deep, but you get the idea — lower ownership and high upside. We’re looking for players who we feel good about but still make us feel alive inside. That’s the goal.

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Game Stack: Los Angeles Chargers at Miami Dolphins

Justin Herbert ($6,900) — Raheem Mostert ($5,500) — Keenan Allen ($7,300) — Gerald Everett ($4,300)

The Chargers vs. Dolphins has the look of a fun one for daily fantasy. The total is set at 51.0 — the largest on the main slate — and it’s going to offer us a ton of different stacking options to help us stay more contrarian in big GPPs.

Both QBs have shown they have week-winning ability for DFS but with the Chargers bringing in a new OC in Kellen Moore — who stressed bringing back the big plays to Los Angeles when he was hired — there is little doubt that Justin Herbert sets up as the better pure upside play in Week 1. The fourth-year QB only averaged 6.9 yards per pass attempt in 2022, but considering Moore’s record with Dak Prescott — who was in the top 15 of the league each season in the same category in three years under him — we should rightfully be expecting more bigger plays from him in 2023 from the get-go.

For DFS, that doesn’t mean you have to ignore noted slot-specialist, Keenan Allen ($7,300), who will still benefit from the Chargers spreading the field out more. Allen averaged 11.3 targets in his final six games of the regular season in 2022 (after missing most of the early part of the year), and while his salary comes in $1,600 over Mike Williams' ($5,700), you can also expect Allen to be the far lesser-owned of the two as well.

Fading Williams is fine, but pairing Herbert with at least two pass-catchers is a necessity in a game like this. If you want more upside (and more low ownership), then looking to the TE position makes sense. Under Kellen Moore, the primary pass-catching TE (Dalton Schultz) saw 10 or more red zone targets in each of the last two seasons. Everyone may be looking to the receivers for Los Angeles but there is a great chance that a superb athlete like Gerald Everett ($4,300) thrives over the middle in this system too. The Dolphins remain thin in the secondary and allowed the third most touchdowns and sixth most fantasy points to the TE position last season.

On the flip side, we can expect Tyreek Hill ($8,200) to have some monster ownership this week but we have another weapon in Raheem Mostert ($5,500) who may go overlooked. Mostert and Hill were negatively correlated last year with Hill failing to go over 80 yards receiving in the three games that Mostert had rushed for over 75 yards. Hence, using Mostert is a kind of double-edged sword in our favor as it gives us access to a back with good upside in a great matchup whose success would also likely help drive down the points available on Hill who will be in a lot of lineups this Sunday.

Quarterback: Baker Mayfield, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Minnesota Vikings ($4,900)

Mayfield won the starting job outright in Tampa in the preseason going 14-for-15 for 105 yards, with two touchdowns. It’s just preseason but it’s worth noting that Mayfield is working with new Bucs OC Dave Canales, who helped rejuvenate Geno Smith ($6,100) last season. He’ll also have a far more expansive group of receiving options than he had in the few weeks he spent with the Rams at the end of last year.

Minnesota allowed the third-highest yards per pass attempt in the league last season and remains thin at cornerback where they’ll likely be starting a third-rounder in Mekhi Blackmon. Mayfield should thrive in this spot and if he does, using his cheap salary alongside the likes of Chris Godwin ($5,500) and Rachaad White ($5,500) could be the key to unlocking big lineups for Week 1.

Running Back

Top End: Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders at Denver Broncos ($7,700)

Josh Jacobs took his time but the fourth-year back ultimately reported to camp two full weeks before the season started and should be full systems-go for Week 1. Jacobs was a monster for much of last season averaging 19.3 per game in PPR formats, and produced 30.0 or more DKFP four separate occasions. The Raiders RB depth is little changed from 2022 and we can again project Jacobs for a monster role in this offense which still features plenty of elite pieces despite the departure of Derek Carr.

The Broncos' defensive line projects as a below-average run-stopping unit once again and Jacobs went for over 100 yards in both games against them in 2022 — landing 37.4 DKFP against them in Week 4. At $7,700, he’s just the 10th most expensive back on DraftKings and a perfect lowkey/high-upside name to build around in GPPs.

Value: Rachaad White, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Minnesota Vikings ($5,500)

White remains an underappreciated back for fantasy heading into the beginning of the season. Tampa Bay added no one of note in the draft or free agency and if preseason was any indication of what's to come, White may be one of the busiest RBs in 2023. When he was active in preseason, White only played with the first team and ran a route on every dropback — all while averaging 5.6 yards per carry. The Vikings aren't a team anyone should fear from a matchup perspective and could get drilled by an elite pass-catcher like White as they allowed the ninth-most receptions to the position last year. The upside here is very high in DraftKings PPR scoring for Week 1.

Wide Receiver

Top End: Deebo Samuel San Francisco 49ers at Pittsburgh Steelers ($5,500)

It was just a couple of years ago that Samuel averaged 21.2 fantasy points per game in PPR scoring in 2021. Now, he’s here for us to grab in Week 1 at a paltry $5,500. Samuel will surely have to compete for touches with both Brandon Aiyuk and Christian McCaffrey demanding targets but with George Kittle (groin) still not practicing, his usage for Week 1 may be closer to what we saw in 2021.

The Steelers upgraded in several areas this offseason but lost CB Cameron Sutton in the secondary and replaced him with 34-year-old Patrick Peterson whom they will likely deploy in a ton of zone coverage this year. Samuel has thrived against zone schemes and led the league in missed tackles against zone coverage last season. He’s an easy lock-and-load at this price for Week 1.

Top Value: Jonathan Mingo, Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons ($3,200)

Mingo is another potential yards-after-the-catch monster who averaged 7.3 yards after the catch (per reception) in his last year in college. The Panthers enter the year with 33-year-old Adam Thielen leading their receiving core and with DJ Chark Jr. currently questionable, Mingo is in a good spot to be a potential every-down player for Carolina from the get-go.

He played on nearly every snap with Bryce Young in the preseason and had a 20% target share on seven drives with the first offense. Atlanta gave up the second most PPR points per game last season to the WR position and is dealing with injuries at the cornerback position once again. Mingo should have a chance to rip off a big play or two and comes almost free for DFS purposes, considering his price.

Tight End: Juwan Johnson, New Orleans Saints vs. Tennessee Titans ($4,300)

Johnson might be one of the more underrated players in the league. He was 7th last year in aDOT, 3rd in touchdowns, and 9th in air yards among all TEs. The ghost of Taysom Hill lurks but with New Orleans giving Hill the QB designation prior to the first week, it looks like he’ll remain in more of a gadget role at least early in the year.

The Titans are also a solid matchup for Johnson in Week 1 who have been a funnel to the pass defense since Mike Vrabel took over. Last year alone they ranked bottom three in yards and receptions allowed to the TE position. Johnson scoring this week wouldn't be shocking but with a new QB in tow and a potentially more “pass-friendly” system, he could push towards a new ceiling in yards and catches as well. At $3,900, the upside looks tremendous.

Defense/Special Teams: Atlanta Falcons ($3,200) vs. Carolina Panthers

This is a great spot for a budding D/ST like Atlanta to make some noise. The Panthers' offensive line looked anything but elite in the preseason and reports had last year’s first-round pick OL Ikem Ekwonu plagued by bad performance all training camp.

The Panthers receiving core has some upside with Jonathan Mingo but he’s raw and 33-year-old Adam Thielen isn’t striking fear into anyone these days. The Falcons revamped their defensive line in the offseason and will surely be aiming to stuff the run and force Bryce Young into numerous situations where they can dial up exotic pressures. When you add it all up, Atlanta’s D/ST looks like a great upside sleeper to attack big fields with, in Week 1.

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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is wavegoodbye) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.