Safe Bets: Week One

What did we learn on Thursday Night? Start the talented players in week number one. I’ve been preaching this all week, and while it will not work out quite this perfectly in all games, it certainly did in the Steelers/Patriots game. Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Brown, the two most coveted players in the game, both went off for monster performances. In fact, Gronkowski went absolutely nuts to the tune of five receptions (REC), 94 yards and three TDs.

During the course of the other 15 games, names will emerge that we’re not entirely familiar with. FantasyDraft’s format helps assure that identifying these players is more skill than luck however, due to their multi-entry capping. On competing sites, the multi-entry limit is not capped or will allow as many as 1,000 entries from the same user. This allows professionals to build around a base of players with nearly every possible combination of players along with them. It’s a giant disadvantage to the average, everyday user coming on to try out the site and have fun… especially with the top-heavy payout structure. On FantasyDraft, the entries are capped to drastically close the gap between professionals and beginners because fantasy is supposed to fun for everyone. You have the best chance to win on FantasyDraft hands down, but the entry cap can slightly alter the strategy.

“Sure thing” type players are more valuable in the format where 25 percent of participants are paid in every single contest (plus the entry cap). Even if one of your lottery ticket tournament plays does not pay off, you can still finish in the money if your rocks produce. Here are some suggested building blocks for the rest of the weekend that hopefully will come anywhere close to being Gronkowski-esque:

Adrian Peterson, Vikings, $14,800 – Although the 49ers’ defense is perceived to be a stout defensive team, the roster suffered significant losses in the offseason. The team released Aldon Smith after his latest run-in with the law and that was just the beginning of it. Patrick Willis, Chris Borland and Justin Smith all retired, leaving the defense decimated (especially after the Aldon Smith loss). Furthermore, the team lost head coach Jim Harbaugh, so a whole new system has had to be implemented. That’s more than enough question marks for me to put an asterisk by Adrian Peterson’s name when considering who to roster this week. He’ll immediately fit back into the work-horse role and there will essentially be second-string linebackers trying to stop him. He’s my top RB play of the week and he’s priced as RB3. It’s not an unbelievable value, but sometimes you have to pay up for the production that will be necessary to lead your team.

DeMarco Murray, Eagles, $12,900 – According to ProFootballFocus, the Eagles’ offensive line was the only one to rank higher than the Cowboys last season in terms of run blocking. I’ve gone on record saying I didn’t like DeMarco Murray’s value from a season-long perspective, but week one is a different story. Over the long haul, I expect the curse of 370-plus carries to sink in and either disrupt his production or cause his body to break down. However, the Eagles possess the highest-implied total of any team in week number one (29) and face an Atlanta defense that allowed 1,894 yards rushing last season (12th-most in football). The Falcons’ implied total sits at 26, so this is going to be a high-scoring, fast-paced game which should translate nicely to Murray’s fantasy output. While his carries per game will be down slightly, it’s not enough to discourage me from using him in this one. Expect Chip Kelly to find creative ways to get him the ball, making him one of the safest overall plays of the week.

Julio Jones, Falcons, $18,000 – On the other side of the ball in the same game as Murray, Julio Jones is a one man show in the passing game. Roddy White is recovering from elbow surgery but has lost a step, evident by just 143 catches in the past two seasons. Leonard Hankerson has shined in the preseason, but we know better than to rely on preseason data. Jacob Tamme is okay, but even Peyton Manning couldn’t morph him into a star. In order to complement Tevin Coleman and the running game, Matt Ryan will have to feed Jones early and often. While the Eagles did acquire Byron Maxwell, he’s not an elite corner in this league and that’s exactly what it takes to shut down Jones. Even priced as the top WR of the week, I think it’s worth paying if you can find values to pair alongside him.

Martellus Bennett, Bears, $8,000 – Literally the only pass-catching option not ailing at the moment, Martellus Bennett will have to take on a large role by default. Alshon Jeffery is questionable due to a lingering calf injury, Eddie Royal remains limited with a hip injury and Kevin White will miss the entire season due to a stress fracture in his shin. Even though the Packers allowed the ninth-least amount of fantasy points to opposing tight ends last season, Bennett is going to receive so many targets it should not even matter. In two games against the Packers last season, Bennett registered 11 REC for 134 yards and then six REC for 45 yards… and that was with Brandon Marshall active in both contests. The Bears will most likely be playing from behind, so even the game flow should favor him. If you’re not going with the safety of Jason Witten in cash games, Bennett makes for a nice option 1B.

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders

Ricky Sanders is a fantasy sports expert with over 15 years of playing experience. After starting several freelance fantasy sports blogs, Ricky moved up in the fantasy industry when he joined Going9 Baseball. He wrote fantasy baseball content and had a weekly radio spot on the site’s SiriusXM Satellite Radio show. Shortly thereafter, in early 2013, Ricky joined RotoExperts as a three-sport fantasy contributor, eventually becoming one of the site’s lead basketball writers. While writing for RotoExperts, Ricky was introduced to daily fantasy sports and immediately fell in love. With help from some of his mentors, some of the best DFS players in the world, he honed his skills and became the daily fantasy expert he is today. When RotoExperts created a daily-focused website called DailyRoto.com, Ricky was brought on as one of the main contributors. He still makes frequent appearances on the RotoExperts SiriusXM Radio show and on the FNTSY Sports Television Network, talking daily fantasy sports. He also continues to write for a few DFS content sites: RotoCurve and The Fantasy Fix. Ricky is a proud and active member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He has agreed to be a writer and representative for the FantasyDraft brand and serves as an ambassador to the site. He has no more access to the site than the typical user. Don’t hesitate to contact Ricky with questions on Twitter @RSandersDFS.

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