By Donnie Dyce
It happens almost every year.
What then happens is some guy in your league goes all out and bids half his FAB budget or trades his first round draft pick for one of the players. Although I would almost never endorse an overreaction of this magnitude, I do believe that identifying these potential breakout players and plugging them into your DFS lineups could put you in prime position to finish in the money in your contests for Week 1. So without further adieu, let's take a look at some of directions we could head when building out our lineups on DraftKings for the opening week in the NFL, most noticeably on underpriced receivers in the market:
Matt Ryan ($6,000) / Russell Gage ($5,300)
Russell Gage had a quiet 786 yds on 72 receptions last season. That was with Julio Jones still on the team too, a guy that commanded 51 receptions on 68 targets in the 9 games that he played. With Julio shipped off to Tennessee the door is wide open for Gage to have a breakout season this year being the clear #2 WR option for Matt Ryan behind Calvin Ridley. And that brings us to this week. The Falcons open up at home vs. the Philadelphia Eagles, and although the Eagles pass defense last year wasn't the worst in the league, they weren't that good either. Philly finished tied for a league worst 12 plays allowed that went for 40+ yards through the air. They also were the third worst team in the NFL in giving up a first down on 39.4% of pass plays defended and sixth worst in yielding a completion percentage of 68.7% to opponents.
The Eagles do have one capable cover cornerback in Darius Slay, and I expect him to be busy with Calvin Ridley here for most of the game. On the other side, however, I expect Gage to be covered by a combination of Avonte Maddox and newly-acquired corner Steven Nelson. Maddox has been a continuing liability in this secondary and Nelson is coming off a "not-so-great" type of year in Pittsburgh. Between the two of them, they gave up an average 105.8 passer rating and 11 touchdowns in their coverage in 2020. And with Ridley being the third most expensive receiver on the Sunday main slate (and still likely to catch high ownership), I believe a pivot to Gage may be a winning strategy. Stack him up with Matt Ryan and you can start your lineup build with a cheap foundation that should be low-owned in tournaments.
Michael Pittman ($4,100)
Michael Pittman is a pure volume play for me. With T.Y. Hilton out, Pittman is primed to be the primary target for Carson Wentz this week vs. the Seahawks, and with Paris Campbell (nursing a nagging achilles injury) and Zach Pascal in the mix I also believe Pittman is easily the most talented pass catcher in the bunch against what I'm projecting to be one of the worst secondaries in football in the Seahawks. Not being a name that is on the tip of everyone's tongue, Pittman should be a cheap, low-owned wide receiver you can plug into your tournament lineups this week and one who can rival other WR1's throughout the league with potentially elite volume/targets in a plus matchup. He's severely underpriced in this spot.
Elijah Moore ($3,000)
Looking for a stone minimum guy to fill in your lineups weekend? The rookie Elijah Moore could be the guy. With Jameson Crowder out on COVID protocol and Keelan Cole a game-time decision on Sunday, Moore is almost certainly in line for an expanded role in this offense. Moore looked great in camp, with some New York Jets beat writers going so far as to declare him the best player on the team. Moore looks to work primarily out of the slot as well, which would keep him away from the Panthers' highly touted first round pick in cornerback Jaycee Horn, whose primary coverage should be with Corey Davis. This matchup could leave the door open for Moore to receive a decent target share from fellow rookie and quarterback Zach Wilson, and at the $3,000 minimum price tag on DraftKings I still believe Moore could be a sneaky play to see some volume in this contest. He might be high-owned in cash game lineups, especially if Cole is ruled out, but I'm still not expecting the tournament ownership levels to be too high for the Jets' young wideout.