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Hitting pay dirt: Best bang for your NFL Week 1 daily fantasy buck
By Scott Rickenbach
Daily Fantasy has woven itself into the fabric of sports betting, whether the leagues want to consider it gambling or not. Each week Scott Rickenbach will breakdown the best buys in NFL daily fantasy, comparing players priced in the same range and giving you the edge when it comes to which player is the best bang for your DFS buck.
Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears ($8,400) vs. Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers ($8,400)
Both of these NFC North wideouts are dinged up heading into the regular season (so you may want to avoid them all together), with their respective teams scheduled to play in Week 1. As of mid-week, Cobb (shoulder) sounds the healthiest and says he’s ready to go while Jeffery is a little dicier when it comes to his status for Sunday. However, rumblings from the Windy City say he’ll be good to go.
Jeffery and Cobb enter this season in a rare spot as their team’s No. 1 receiving option. Jeffery got a bump up the depth chart when Brandon Marshall was dealt to the Jets and the injury to Jordy Nelson promoted Cobb’s place in the playbook. Both have made a name for themselves as No. 2s, so which one has the potential to step up as the top target? Cobb has the better QB tossing to him in Aaron Rodgers (versus Jay Cutler) and his shoulder injury is much more manageable than Jeffery’s sore calf. He also burned the Bears for 185 yards and three touchdowns total in their two meetings last season.
Buy: Randall Cobb
Justin Forsett, Baltimore Ravens ($7,800) vs. Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints ($7,800)
At this point into the Week 1 daily fantasy analysis, Forsett is no longer a sleeper. The cat has long been out of the bag with the Ravens running back, who rushed for 1,266 yards in 2014 – fifth most in the NFL – and found the end zone eight times. However, Forsett’s breakout came at an advanced age (turns 30 this season) and for a team that lost its top rusher before the season (Ray Rice). Baltimore opens versus Denver in Week 1 and if it falls behind on the scoreboard quickly, which teams tend to do versus the Broncos, the running game could be abandoned.
Ingram finally put up the numbers expected of him since earning the Heisman at Alabama. The Saints RB finished just shy of 1,000 yards and scored nine touchdowns, while splitting carries with Pierre Thomas and missing out on short yardage plays, with the bulk of those thrown to former TE Jimmy Graham. New Orleans overhauled their offense this offseason and are committed to a power-running playbook, headlined by Ingram. And with fellow RB CJ Spiller out for a couple more weeks recovering from knee surgery, Ingram gets the lion’s share of the touches in Week 1. Arizona has a good defense but did allow 4.4 yards per carry on the ground and 47 rushing plays of 25 yards or more in 2014.
Buy: Mark Ingram
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions ($7,800) vs. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers ($7,900)
Stafford’s numbers took a hit in 2014 as he and his offense worked their way into Joe Lombardi’s playbook. The Lions sputtered at times, with injuries to the rushing corps and Calvin Johnson taking their toll, but Year 2 looks like it could be a good one for Detroit’s scoring attack. Stafford was terrific in the preseason and has a healthy Calvin Johnson lining up for the first time in a while. The Lions do face a solid San Diego secondary in Week 1 but the Chargers’ pass defenders are much smaller, with the first team only going as tall as 5-foot-11. Stafford has 6-foot-5 Johnson, 6-foot-2 Corey Fuller, and 6-foot-5 TE Brandon Pettigrew to throw to.
Kaepernick captains a sinking ship in San Francisco and takes on an improving Vikings defense on Monday Night Football in Week 1. Minnesota is in its second year under Mike Zimmer and finished with 41 sacks in 2014. The Vikes pass rush should be able to put pressure on Kaepernick – something the QB struggled with at the end of last season and in limited preseason snaps. Kap was reluctant to step up in the pocket and misfired on short throws when hurried. Now, Kaepernick does bring the threat of extra yardage with his legs, something you’re just not going to get with lead-footed Stafford, but is it worth an extra $100 to your DFS budget? Some seem to think the once dazzling dual threat has lost a step.
Buy: Matt Stafford