Welcome to the 2013 season!

We have finally witnessed football that actually counts. WOOHOO!

This will be the first installment of my weekly piece on daily fantasy plays. Yes. Weekly, daily, plays. Weekly picks for the daily fantasy games we love so much. There are plenty of sites to play, FanDuel, Draft Kings, Fan Throwdown, Draft Street, the list goes on and on. It would be nearly impossible to write a piece catering to each of these sites, pointing out the varying player values, but my goal here is to give you the guys I’ve got my eye on. From the creme of the crop that I’m willing to “make it rain” for, to the guys I’m digging up from the bottom of the budget barrel. Personally, I prefer to play on FanDuel and will mostly refer to their player costs.

My Personal Strategy

I use the same principles of the “Late Round Quarterback” strategy when I’m putting together a daily fantasy team. Depth of position dictates value. An abundant supply of quality quarterbacks means I can spend less on the position in order to save money for a somewhat scarce supply of high end running backs. Also, just as we talk about streaming tight ends and defenses, so too do I look for low cost/high upside type plays for these positions in daily fantasy. I like to refer to this as “building my team from the bottom up”. From the start, I find a kicker, a defense, and tight ends that I like for as little as money as possible. Then, I find a value quarterback so I can have the biggest budget possible to spend on running backs and wide receivers.

Format

There will be four sections in this article each week:

1) Spend it like you got it (Big names that are worth the price)
2) Nifty thrifty (Value plays)
3) Lemons (Busts)
4) A Lovely Lineup (A lineup that I personally like)

Spend it like you got it

Drew Brees, QB, Saints – High powered offense? Check. Quality opponent? Check. Likely shootout? Check. All are great signs that point to a big day for the New Orleans signal caller. If you wish to spend your money on a big time quarterback, it is well spent here. Saints and Falcons looks to be a big day for both passers.

Matt Ryan, QB, Falcons – See: Brees, Drew

Jamaal Charles, RB, Chiefs – Mr. Charles is the centerpiece of an offense that is going up against arguably one of the worst teams in the NFL (the Jaguars). He should have a field day. The only thing I see stopping him is if the Chiefs gain a big lead and Andy Reid sits Charles, giving garbage time to the rookie, Knile Davis. Outside of that, I see a big, big, big, day for “JC Superstar”.

Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys – I’m making it a point to get Dez into as many daily rosters as possible. Even on the strictest of budgets. In two games against the Giants, Romo threw for a total of 744 yards and had 5 total scores, 1 of which was of the rushing variety. All of that is to say, that I believe this trend continues with Dez being the most explosive weapon at Romo’s disposal. Get this beast into your lineups.

Nifty Thrifty

Terrelle Pryor, QB, Raiders – Pryor looks to reveal the (possibly) huge contrast between real and fake football. In real football, this guy isn’t good. At all. However, what he does have going for him in fantasy is that he’ll likely be in “catch up mode” for much of the second half. He’ll be running the ball, he’ll be slinging the ball, and he’ll be scoring fake points while trying to score real points. He’s one of, if not THE cheapest starting quarterback available. That’s upside I’m willing to take the risk on in order to spend money elsewhere.

Matt Schaub, QB, Texans – Schaub’s got a nice, juicy matchup against the Chargers. Much of his production could be had in the first half before they turn to the running game to run off the clock. He comes at a slightly higher cost than Terrelle Pryor.

Zach Sudfeld, TE, Patriots – Sudfeld comes crazy cheap in FanDuel right now. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the only week you could exploit this, because many daily fantasy sites use the first week or so to tweak their algorithms in an attempt to properly reflect player value. This means guys like Sudfeld, who are legit starters with tons of upside, can be had at dirt cheap prices at the beginning of the season. For his minimal cost, you get oodles of upside. (Yes, I just said oodles and I’m quite proud of it.)

Kenbrell Thompkins, WR, Patriots – Same situation as his teammate, Sudfeld. Great upside for so little coin. Take it while you can!

Daryl Richardson, RB, Rams – Richardson is currently the same price as Mark Ingram, but is in a much clearer role on his team. He is the starter and has nice hands out of the backfield. If you spend big on other positions, this is a value play to look for at running back. The only caveat here is that this running back does not have a wonderful matchup. Arizona has a pretty good defense, but I see D-Rich still having a solid fantasy day.

Lemons

Cam Newton, QB, Panthers – Cam’s inclusion in this list does not mean that he is bad… it simply means that he has an especially tough matchup. The Panthers have the tall task of playing against Seattle’s staunch defense. In order to get Cam, you’re going to spend a lot of money for a very risky matchup. Spend your budget elsewhere. Save yourself the headache.

Arian Foster, RB, Texans – I’ve been down on Foster all offseason. He’s had three years of decline and a huge workload during that time. All of the red flags are there for a running back in decline. On top of that, Kubiak has been vocal in his skepticism of Foster getting a full workload early in the season. And the cherry on top? The highly praised rookie receiver, starting opposite of Andre Johnson, named DeAndre Hopkins. I just don’t like this situation for Foster. This does not bode well for continued fantasy stardom. Does he prove me wrong? Time will tell. But time looks like it’s caught up with Foster.

Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals - Even though Fitz has a better quarterback throwing him the ball this season, it’s in Bruce Arians’ offense. This offense’s success is predicated on receivers getting downfield and Fitzgerald has no problem doing this. The problem lies in the putrid offensive line that will not allow Palmer enough time to get the ball to his receivers on a consistent basis. Also, there’s a guy on the Rams named Cortland Finnegan. I’ve heard that he’s pretty good at covering receivers (sarcasm). All of this seems to indicate that it will be another long day for one of the most gifted pass-catchers this generation has seen.

Kyle Rudolph, TE, Vikings – I wanted to mention Rudolph simply because he’s a rather big name, that’s pretty expensive in FanDuel. His value has been far too dependent on touchdowns. Between the 20’s, he’s been virtually invisible to Christian Ponder. There’s more upside to be had for less. (See: Sudfeld, Zach)

A Lovely Lineup

For the standard 60k games in FanDuel, here’s a lineup I like a lot.

QB – Drew Brees
RB – LeSean McCoy
RB – Daryl Richardson
WR – Calvin Johnson
WR- Dez Bryant
WR – Kenbrell Thompkins
TE – Zach Sudfeld
K – Greg Zuerlein
D – Colts

Best of luck degenerates!