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DraftKings Fantasy Football Tournament Picks: NFL Week 1 Top High-Upside DFS Targets, Sleepers

Geoff Ulrich shares his top high-upside targets, stacks and contrarian options for this week’s main fantasy football slate on DraftKings.

Welcome to the weekly tournament plays article for Sunday’s main DraftKings fantasy football slate. I’m going to be focusing purely on high-upside plays and stacks that are likely to be lower-owned in the largest tournaments on the slate. There will be a lot of bust potential found here most weeks too, but big GPPs are generally not won by making the popular moves.

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


Philadelphia Eagles at Atlanta Falcons

Jalen Hurts ($6,400) – Calvin Ridley ($7,900) – DeVonta Smith ($4,500)

The Eagles and Falcons meet in a Week 1 matchup of two teams who ranked inside the top-10 in pace of play last season. In Atlanta, the Falcons have chosen to go with the tandem of Mike Davis and Wayne Gallman at RB, a duo which will scare no one. The Eagles also rated out as a classic funnel defense last season and will feature 28-year-old Steve Nelson as their highest rated cornerback, who only ranked 36th in the league on Pro Football Focus last year. This all means we should see a ton of Calvin Ridley dominating in this game, who was seventh in the league in targets last season—and now does not have Julio Jones to share targets with.

Ridley sets up as a great Week 1 play on his own who can potentially even pay off through volume alone, even if he doesn’t find the end zone. With that in mind, pairing him with a cheaper QB/WR duo on the other side of the ball may give us better upside. Jalen Hurts—who remains well under $7K in price—averaged just over 29.0 DKFP in his last three full games of 2020 (not counting the late pull in Week 17) and averaged 79.3 yards rushing in those three starts. Atlanta ceded the 7th most rushing yards to opposing QBs last season along with six rushing TDs, making this a premier matchup in terms of pace and style of opponent.

Hurts proved he’s willing to throw downfield last season (he led the league in yards per completion last season at 13.8 yards) and now has rookie DeVonta Smith to work with, who averaged 16.9 yards per catch in his last year of college. Smith sat out the first bit of preseason but practiced in full the last couple of weeks and enters the season healthy (he’s not even on the injury report). The news is going underreported, as he didn’t play in the preseason, but Smith projects as the Eagles’ WR1 and is going up against an Atlanta secondary that ranked just 24th in yards per completion by opponent last season. The big plays for Smith should be available here and with a fast-paced game expected, this duo looks criminally underpriced in Week 1.

Just Missed: Patrick Mahomes ($8,100) – Tyreek Hill ($8,200) – Nick Chubb ($7,200)


Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals at Tennessee Titans ($7,600)

This game sets up as one of the best fantasy matchups on the slate. Both teams ranked in the top five in terms of pace of play (seconds between plays) in 2020 and not much has changed in either team’s offensive philosophy or personnel for 2021. Murray was cruising along as the QB1 in fantasy circles last season before getting banged-up/injured in Week 11 and had averaged over 65 yards rushing and more than one rushing TD per game through 10 weeks in 2020. Even if we don’t see an immediate return to those levels of rushing, the Tennessee defense isn’t overly intimidating (despite adding some new players in the offseason) and ranked 26th in sacks per game and 20th in yards allowed per attempt in 2020.

From a strategy standpoint, Murray also projects as a nice pivot in the bigger fields. Josh Allen’s ($7,400) lower price tag and massive 2020 campaign means he projects to have potentially twice as much ownership as Murray in Week 1. Murray will also stay lower owned due to his proximity to Patrick Mahomes ($8,100), who is only $500 more expensive. As mentioned above, Murray actually outperformed those two (in fantasy) during the first two thirds of 2020 and has the best matchup of the three here. He’s a great target for the year’s first full main slate.

Just Missed: Trevor Lawrence ($6,200)

Running Back

Damien Harris, New England Patriots vs. Miami Dolphins ($5,200)

While there’s a lot of excitement for Damien Harris in season-long formats, his Week 1 usage on DraftKings may not be that high, especially given his lack of PPR scoring from 2020. However, his increased red zone and TD opportunities in 2021 could easily make up for his lack of passing game volume. Cam Newton took 22 rushes inside the five-yard line last season, opening up a huge void in usage in that area for 2021. The depth chart in New England is cleaner than it has been in years at RB as well with James White ($4,400) projected for his usual passing back role, but with Harris as the clear starter, early down and red-zone back.

The Patriots ranked third in rush attempts per game last season and with a rookie QB at the helm, it’s hard to see them moving to a more pass-heavy approach right off the bat. The Dolphins’ weakness on defense is in the middle, where they allowed 4.5 YPC last season, just 19th best in the league. The Patriots remain 3-point favorites on DraftKings Sportsbook going into this game, and if they do grab the lead early, Harris is going to be the biggest beneficiary by far. He’s a solid pay-down option in big fields given the Week 1 matchup.

Just Missed: Nick Chubb ($7,200)

Wide Receiver

Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers at Detroit Lions ($5,900)

At WR, DFS players seem likely to flock to either the extreme value plays or underpriced elites for Week 1. That should leave a player like Samuel, who sits in the middle of both, extremely low-owned in all of the bigger field GPPs. While we could potentially see a lot of running from the 49ers, who are currently 7.5-point favorites on DraftKings Sportsbook, the 26.25 implied team total means we’re also likely to see at least a couple of passing TDs here from Jimmy Garoppolo ($5,500) as well.

Samuel has endured a myriad of injury issues in his first two seasons in the league but when he’s been on the field, he’s clearly been featured by head coach Kyle Shanahan. Samuel saw 22 targets in his final two starts and averaged 17.7 DKFP in his last four full games of 2020. He also gets a terrific matchup in Week 1 against a Lions secondary that was last in the league in 2020 in yards allowed per pass attempt. Samuel’s insane after the catch ability—he led the league in yards after the catch per reception in 2020—and the matchup means his upside as an extremely low-owned GPP play is very much intact here, making him a great Week 1 pivot for those looking to make more unique lineup builds.

Just Missed: Michael Pittman Jr. ($4,100)

Tight End

Dan Arnold, Carolina Panthers vs. New York Jets ($2,600)

Arnold is projected to be the starter at TE for the Panthers in Week 1. He played over Ian Thomas in single TE sets in the preseason finale and also saw three targets on just 30 snaps in that game. While we don’t want to put too much stock in the preseason, his usage was telling as Arnold was rarely used in obvious blocking situations but was clearly a part of the game plan as a receiver. The former Saint and Cardinal has flashed some upside in recent years (when given the opportunity) and was able to haul in four TDs last year for the Cardinals, despite seeing just 45 targets on the season. Any increase in usage could produce some shock production early in the year.

This game only has a 45 O/U (as of writing) but the Panthers’ 25.25 implied team total actually ranks as the eighth-highest on this slate. As a group, the Jets were also horrible against the pass last season, allowing 14 TDs to the TE position—most in the league by multiple TDs—and the third most completions, overall. At barely above the minimum price, Arnold sets up as a perfect solution for those who don’t have the cash to pay up for the more chalky options at this position.

Just Missed: Anthony Firkser ($3,200)


Seattle Seahawks ($3,400) vs. Indianapolis Colts

With the news that Carson Wentz ($5,600) is fully practicing, the interest in the Seahawks’ defense seems to be at less than zero for Week 1. This squad got burned early in the year but improved towards the back half, posting three or more sacks in each of their last five starts. Seattle ranked 7th in sacks per game last season and will be facing a QB here in Wentz who led the league in sacks taken per start at 4.16 per game.

It’s a new team and better offensive line for Wentz this season but he’ll also be playing off just a week of practice due to his COVID-19 and injury issues suffered in the preseason. Add in the fact Indy will be down T.Y. Hilton and perhaps without starting G Quenton Nelson and Seattle seems to be going overlooked as a potential “pop” candidate at this very variance-filled position for Week 1.

Just missed: Washington Football Team ($3,200)

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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 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.

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