The season is here, and fantasy football is back. You've already drafted your season-long redraft fantasy teams, and you're pumped to watch the Week 1 action unfold. Of course, we here at NFL Fantasy are excited about seasonal teams, as well. However, we are quite thrilled at the prospect of playing daily fantasy football on FanDuel all year.
Daily fantasy brings a breath of fresh air to the industry, with an emphasis on the excitement of drafting a new team every week. We all know that the late summer drafts and the thrill of analyzing the weekly matchups are the best part of playing fantasy football. FanDuel's daily game merges those two together to form the newest wave rocking the fantasy world.
Here in the weekly FanDuel Roundup column, we'll breakdown everything you need to know to pick the best plays on the sites' weekend slate.
Top quarterback plays and values
Ryan Tannehill - Despite finishing as a top 10 quarterback last season, the Dolphins starter looks poised for another leap in production. He should get off to a roaring start facing Washington in their season opener. Washington ranked dead last in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks in 2014, and if you can find a massive tangible upgrade made to their secondary in the offseason, you're a soothsayer. There are plenty of bargains at the position I like this week, but if you're going for a midrange quarterback, Tannehill is the best call.
Carson Palmer - The Cardinals starter was an excellent quarterback before going down with a torn ACL last season. Now healthy, and feeling good, Palmer makes for an excellent Week 1 DFS play. The Saints are depleted in the secondary, with Keenan Lewis definitely out and Jarius Byrd questionable at best. Every single Arizona offensive piece improved their statistical output when Palmer player, and he averaged 7.3 yards per attempt. Fire him up as a DFS value.
Sam Bradford - The DFS sites were wisely cautious with Sam Bradford before seeing him play. After the preseason (13-15 and three touchdowns) we can confirm the only question surrounding Bradford at this point is health. He has a great chance to continue piling up impressive numbers in Week 1 against the Falcons. Atlanta ranked 22nd in allowing fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Their savior is a rookie pass rusher in Vic Beasley, who should have his hands full in his first NFL game lining up across from Jason Peters. Playing in Chip Kelly's quarterback-proof offense, in the game that could be the highest scoring contest of the week, Bradford is a must-play. He's easy to stack with Jordan Matthews, who is a total value on FanDuel this week.
Top running back plays
Jeremy Hill - By all estimations, the Bengals should have no problem trouncing the Raiders on Sunday. All the matchups lean in Cincinnati's favor. When targeting running backs on FanDuel, we'll place a premium on running backs on teams that should win, with favorable matchups being the icing on the cake. When teams are winning, they naturally give the ball to their running backs to iron out the victory, and Hill is no exception. In the seven games Hill saw 15 or more carries last year, six of them were Bengals victories. Given the projected matchup, and Oakland's 32nd-ranked finish in allowing fantasy points to running backs last season, I'll be stunned if Hill does not finish with 80-plus yards and at least one touchdown.
Lamar Miller - Somehow Miller falls outside of FanDuel's top 15 running backs. Throughout the offseason, all signs pointed up for the fourth-year running back. The Dolphins are set to increase his workload, he's looked fantastic in the preseason, and word behind the scenes indicates Miller's reshaping of his body has him more powerful than ever without sacrificing any agility. In Week 1, Miami draws Washington, and while we expect them to hose the defense through the air, that just means they'll build an early lead. When that happens, the ball goes to Miller's hands. He's one of the better bets for a solid rushing day and a score from the mid-range running backs.
Jonathan Stewart - Another running back whose team faces an inferior opponent in Week 1. The Panthers found a winning formula with Stewart as a bell cow back late last season. From Week 13 through the Super Bowl last season, only Marshawn Lynch and DeMarco Murray rushed for more yards. Stewart handled 20-plus carries four times in that stretch. Remember, volume is the strongest correlation to weekly fantasy points when it comes to running backs. These talented players with heavy workloads on teams that should win must be staples of DFS teams.
Doug Martin - The Week 1 FanDuel slate came out before the Doug Martin revival train really picked up steam. Martin looked quite fresh in the preseason, averaging 5.9 yards per carry. The Buccaneers offensive line will be an issue all season, as will Tampa's projected game scripts, but not in Week 1. The Bucs get the Titans at home in a battle of rookie quarterbacks, where the edge should go to team in their own stadium. That means Martin falls into the home favorite running back category we look for in DFS. The Titans ranked 28th in fantasy points allowed to running backs last season. There's a big game for Martin at a bargain basement price on the horizon.
Top wide receiver plays
The top three studs - Julio Jones, Odell Beckham and Demaryius Thomas are the top receivers on FanDuel this week, but I'm interested in playing all three. Jones is set to be a target monster in Atlanta's offense with Kyle Shanahan in town. He gets the Eagles secondary on Monday night, who plan to shadow him with their newest addition, Byron Maxwell. It's a big step up in competition from the players Maxwell was used to seeing in Seattle. Beckham scored four touchdowns against the Cowboys last year, and should torch them again this season when the team inevitably gets into another shootout this week. Thomas has gone undiscussed with these two in favorable matchups, so he could make for a nice contrarian play. The Ravens get their best defensive back, Jimmy Smith, back this season after losing him for the last half of 2014. However, Thomas' skills in the screen and YAC game make that a non-worry. With Wes Welker and Julius Thomas gone, Demaryius is in line for another season of a massive target share. With the bargains at quarterback and running back, you can chase one or more of these players in Week 1.
A.J Green - The Raiders number one cornerback is someone named T.J. Carrie. In all seriousness, Carrie is a person; a former seventh round pick who's shown nothing to this point to convince us he can cover someone with Green's talent. Neither has Oakland's other corner, D.J. Hayden. Amazingly, Green has been historically better on the road compared to playing in Cincinnati. Over the last three seasons, Green average 105.6 yards in away games, compared to 66.1 yards at home. It's a weird reality, but it is a reality. And it tells you to play Green in DFS.
Jarvis Landry - Can you tell what we think of the Washington defense? When Miami travels to face them on Sunday, Landry will face off with veteran journeyman Justin Rogers in the slot. Rogers was drafted in the seventh round in 2011, and has played for four teams since. Landry is Tannehill's most familiar weapon and saw at least nine targets six times from Week 9 to the end of the season. You can cement this game as another one of those. He may be their best red zone target right now, and is a good bet to score a touchdown. If you're in need of a reliable Week 1 play, Landry is your man.
Jordan Matthews - For the same reasons Sam Bradford is a clear play in Week 1, we love Jordan Matthews. The second-year wideout has a great matchup against the Falcons cornerbacks. He played over 90 percent of his 2014 snaps in the slot, and he is not moving this season. The Falcons clear best cornerback is Desmond Trufant, who plays exclusively outside. Matthews will get chances to feast on Robert Alford and other subpar corners in the middle of the field. He's the best value out of receivers you can pencil in for eight-plus targets in Week 1.
Davante Adams - The top corners for the Bears are Kyle Fuller, Tracy Porter, Sherrick McManis and Alan Ball. The FanDuel slate came out well before Jordy Nelson's injury, and did not take into account the new massive share of targets Adams is set to inherit. He's a clear-cut play, due to the incredible value he carries, but just be careful. If you want your lineup to stand out, which is important in DFS, remember that Adams' bargain means a lot of other players will be on him.
Steve Johnson - Alex Gelhar and I have been begging you to take Steve Johnson seriously all offseason, and you really need to consider doing so for DFS if you missed out in seasonal. At least the Chargers listened, and they named him their number-two wide receiver. With Antonio Gates (suspension) and Ladarius Green (concussion) set to sit out this game, Johnson will handle all the short to intermediate targets. He also gets the best matchup in the Lions secondary. Darius Slay and Rashean Mathis were rock solid on the outside, but journeyman Josh Wilson steps into the slot defender position. Johnson moves inside for three wide receiver sets, which the Chargers plan to employ with immense frequency. Putting him in your FanDuel lineup is pure thievery.
Top tight end plays
Greg Olsen - Sometimes it is okay to go chalk. As he'll be most weeks this season, Greg Olsen is the safest tight end not named Gronkowski to play in the opening slate of NFL games. He'll own a massive share of the Carolina passing pie with Kelvin Benjamin on the shelf with a season ending injury. In 2014, Jacksonville ranked 19th in fantasy points allowed to the tight end, but that number is misleading. Teams were able to sit on the ball with the running game and milk leads. Carolina could do that, but if they are going to achieve said lead, Olsen must be a big part of it.
Richard Rodgers - There are a few bargain basement tight ends this week, but Richard Rodgers is the safest. Much of the attention went to Davante Adams in the wake of Jordy Nelson's season-ending injury. While he'll inherit a big load of the target volume, he doesn't profile as a big red zone threat, as Nelson did. Adams struggled in traffic as a rookie, which is necessary to success in the scoring areas. Enter Richard Rodgers. He was the most efficient Packers tight end in the red zone last season, and will get more looks there this season. In Week 1, he gets the Bears -- the same ones who allowed the second-most receiving touchdowns to tight ends last season.
Top defense plays
New York Jets DEF - The Jets are my top play this week. They added a ton of talent to the roster in the offseason, and they'll feast on a turnover prone quarterback at home in Week 1. They're a good value, and play at home. You want your defense at home to minimize risk. Expect them to limit Cleveland's offense to less than 14 points, and likely secure a turnover.
Miami Dolphins DEF - Of course, it's hard to avoid turning a gaze to the Dolphins defense. Given the bargains at the skill position players, you can safely take them in a great matchup against Kirk Cousins in Washington. Over the last two years, Cousins averages 18.9 fantasy points against pass defenses ranked in the bottom half, but that number more than cuts in half (falling to 9.3) when he faces a top-16 pass defense. I'll be shocked if he doesn't send one Miami's way.
Normally I'd go with more than two defenses, but those two feel so safe I'll be pretty exclusive in Week 1.
Stack of the week
Carson Palmer and John Brown - We already looked at Carson Palmer as a play at quarterback, and I'll be pairing him with one of his wide receivers in plenty of lineups. If you know me, you're aware of my affinity for John "Smokey" Brown, also known as the next T.Y. Hilton. Brown averaged 9.8 fantasy points per game when Carson Palmer played last season, as a mere raw rookie from Pittsburg State. Palmer force fed Brown in the preseason, and they spent the offseason living and training together. If you don't think Brown is in line for a massive bump in the team's pecking order and the stat sheet you are not reading the tea leaves correctly. In Week 1, he'll either draw a matchup with the unproven player replacing Keenan Lewis, or the 6-foot-4 Brandon Browner who has always struggled with speedy players. Expect Brown to SMOKE the Saints secondary on Sunday. He makes for an excellent high-end upside DFS play.
Best contrarian play
Kendall Wright- Marcus Mariota played his hand as to who holds his affinity among the Titans pass catcher. Kendall Wright will be his No. 1 wide receiver. The duo hooked up for six preseason catches in their limited time together. Wright took a step back from his 94-catch season from 2013 to only managing 57 last year. 2014 should see him finish much closer to the former than the latter. In Week 1 he faces a Buccaneers defense that ranked 29th in allowing fantasy points to opposing wide receivers and made no tangible upgrades to the secondary. The Titans will get behind early on the road, and their rookie quarterback will need to chuck the ball around to catch up. That will lead to plenty of opportunities for Wright. He reached double-digit targets just once last season, but five times in 2013. Expect him to hit that mark far more often in 2014, starting with this week. Logic holds that the Tennessee Titans are a bad offense and this game won't feature many points scored. Both are likely true, but that just means many users won't be on Wright. Go against the grain and stick him in your lineup at a bargain.
Best obvious play
My near 100 percent exposure player
Chris Ivory - The Jets running back is my clearest must-play for Week 1 daily fantasy. For one, he's really good, in case you forgot. The preseason served as a positive reminder of that, and his ADP subsequently jumped from the seventh to the fourth round in a month. Ivory is set to pay off those heightened season long expectations with a big first game. He's a tremendous value on FanDuel for Week 1 among clear cut starting NFL running backs. The Jets are the heavy home favorite, and their improved offense and defense should handle the visiting Browns with relative ease. That means plenty of carries for Ivory as the team's battering ram. He's such a value, I cannot resist but have him in nearly all of my daily lineups for Week 1, and I promise I'll have a fair amount of them out there.
One nice contrarian stack I'm considering is pairing the Jets defense and Ivory together. This will be a low scoring, grind it out game that New York should win. That spells big fantasy points for that pair. This stack will likely anchor most of my Week 1 lineups, and I may have near 100 percent exposure to Ivory. Putting the Jets starting running back and their defense in your FanDuel lineup as soon as you log into the site permits a wide array of lineup possibilities, which includes stacking it up with a ton of other studs.
Cheat code of the week
Tyrod Taylor - The moment you've all been waiting for. Week 1's cheat code is Tyrod Taylor. I've already gone on the record about my affinity for the Bills new quarterback as a fantasy prospect, but let's just focus on this week. The Bills are more likely to keep this game competitive than many think. They're at home, and their defense is just too good to get trounced. Given Taylor is at the minimum this week, he only needs to provide two-times value to be a hit in your lineup. That's only ten fantasy points. Taylor is a legitimate threat to run for 100 yards in Week 1, given the Bills lack of investment in his health and LeSean McCoy's limited status if he plays. If the Bills are going to move the ball and keep up with Indy, Taylor's legs must play a big part. I won't have more than 60 percent exposure to Taylor due to the bargains at other positions, but he's a tempting piece in DFS this week. Just log into FanDuel put Chris Ivory and Taylor into your lineup first and imagine the possibilities of what else you can get in there. You'll be happy you did.