DFS Pivot Plays week 1 2018

By Armando Marsal
Armando Marsal Determining ownership on a weekly basis can be challenging for the most part, but it is an important thing to consider when creating your lineups in tournaments. That said, in cash games, ownership does not play a big role in your decision making.

Popular plays are referred to as the chalk, which can be defined as a popular player that will be highly owned. Generally these players are considered must starts by the general consensus. A pivot play are players that will be less owned than the chalk, in a similar price range, and offering similar upside. These pivots are used to be contrarian and built unique lineups with differentiation. When you pivot to a player who is far less owned, the chances of leap frogging in tournament standings are higher, which increases your chances for potentially higher scores. Each and every week, I will be identifying potential chalk and providing readers with a pivot play on the main slate. With that in mind, let’s waste no more time and jump right into it.



Tom Brady $7,200 vs. Houston Texans

There is a good chance that Brady will be the highest owned quarterback in Week 1, and rightfully so. This game has the highest over/under of the slate and the Patriots have a healthy implied team total of 28.25 points. In addition to the potential shootout, this is a Texans defense that was extremely generous to opposing quarterbacks last season, allowing 27 DKFP per game, which was the most allowed by any defense in the league. Coming into the year, this secondary is ranked 25 th by PFF. Last season, Brady faced off against Houston in Week 3 and shredded them to pieces for 378 yards and five touchdowns. He has lost some weapons on this offense and will also be without Julian Edelman (suspension), but Brady has always managed to get it done and has several talented pass catching backs. It should be business as usual to kick off the season for Brady and company.


Drew Brees $6,800 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I am unsure exactly how popular Brees is going to be this weekend, especially with Alvin Kamara projected to be one of the most, if not the most popular back, but I do think it will be much less than Brady, making him an appealing tournament pivot for me. Like I discussed in the Stack Em Up article, the Saints could elect to throw the ball earlier in the season with Mark Ingram out due to a suspension, putting Brees in a good spot. Tampa Bay was allowed the 11th

most DKFP per game last season to opposing signal callers and 265 passing yards per game. They also start the season as the 31 st ranked secondary on PFF, making them the second worst. The Saints actually have a higher implied team total than the Patriots, which is another appealing thing about this matchup. If Brees is going to have a ceiling game this season, this would be a perfect opportunity to do so. Even if he garners ownership, you will still get a less owned quarterback with the same upside and even save a couple of hundred dollars.

Running Backs


James Conner $4,500 at Cleveland Browns

I eluded to Alvin Kamara being chalk before, which I think will be the case and I also believe that Rex Burkhead will be pretty popular, but with Le’Veon Bell not expected to play, Conner could be the most popular running back this week. He is running behind a very good offensive line, in fact, they are ranked fourth to start the season by PFF, and he should receive a heavy workload. In addition, the Steelers are favorites on the road, which means that the potential game script is in Conner’s favor. When you take all of that into consideration, along with the price tag, it makes a lot of sense to roster Conner. Truth be told, I will still have exposure to him in tournaments because of the spot, but I still may consider coming under the field because of the back I have interest in listed below. I also think the Browns defense is a tad better than they get credit for. That said, I will eat some Conner chalk this week.


Dion Lewis $4,900 at Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins defense has issues in the middle of the field and struggled against pass catching backs last season, which is something I think could continue this year. As a matter of fact, they allowed 98 receptions to opposing backs, which was the third most of any defense, to go along with 709 receiving yards and five receiving touchdowns (second most). Lewis is expected to split the workload with Derrick Henry, who I also have some interest in, but in this particular matchup, Lewis should do the majority of the damage. He has great hands coming out of the backfield and has had some nice performances against the Dolphins in the past. Even though it was on a different team, he should still be utilized in a similar way. In tournaments, I like the idea of getting a sub 10 percent owned Lewis in a potential smash spot.

Wide Receivers


Keenan Allen $7,500 vs. Kansas City Chiefs

Allen is priced very reasonable to start the season and should be one of the more popular receiver options this weekend because of that. In addition to the price, he also has a nice matchup against a Chiefs defense that surrendered the second most DKFP per game and the third most receiving touchdowns to opposing wide outs. They are also expected to be without their top defensive back Eric Berry. Lastly, this secondary starts the season ranked 28 th by PFF. Allen should get peppered with targets this weekend, as he averaged 9.9 targets per game last season and should once again have a significant role in the red zone, as he accounted for 32.9 percent of the red zone targets on this offense, which was the third highest of any pass catcher in the league. There is a lot to like about this situation for Allen on Sunday, which is why he will be a fan favorite.


Odell Beckham $7,000 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

I know, I know. Beckham faces off against the toughest pass defense in the league. The Jaguars allowed the fewest DKFP per game to receivers, as well as the fewest receiving yards and third fewest touchdowns. They also have one of the best corners in the league, Jalen Ramsey. There is a loophole however, Ramsey played 76 percent of his snaps on the left and does not shadow much, if at all. The Giants tend to move Beckham around, so there will be opportunities where he will not see coverage from Ramsey. In addition, Beckham is one of the best receivers in the league, and even in tough matchups, he finds a way to get the job done. In fact, he scored over 20 DKFP against a Chargers defense that ranked top 10 last season. His price is also way too cheap when you consider his potential and the caliber of receiver that he is. Lastly, he will virtually go unowned this week because of the tough matchup. He is a tournament play only because there is a lot of risk involved, but the upside is also very high.

Tight Ends


Rob Grokowski $6,900 vs. Houston Texans

Gronkowski draws a matchup against a Texans defense that he has had much success against throughout his career. In four meetings against them, he has scored three touchdowns (scoring in all but one game) and has caught 18 passes for 303 yards. Last season, he torched them for eight grabs, 89 yards, and a touchdown, scoring 22.9 DKFP. With BRandin Cooks, Danny Amendola, and Dion Lewis no longer with the team, and Julian Edelman suspended, Gronkowski could see plenty of targets, especially in the red zone. He has an 18 percent advantage rating per PFF, which is tied for the fourth most amongst tight ends this week, making this a really good matchup. Gronkowski is the top tight end option on the board in just

about any slate he is in when healthy, from an upside standpoint. Even more so this week considering the situation, so it comes to no surprise that he should be the chalk this week.


Delanie Walker $4,900 at Miami Dolphins

As I mentioned above when I talked about Dion Lewis, the Dolphins have a void in the middle of the field, which I expect the Titans to exploit. The Miami defense allowed the most DKFP per game to tight ends last season, as well as the most receptions, second most receiving yards, and second most touchdowns to the position. Walker was battling a toe injury, but is no longer on the injury report and is fully expected to play with no limitation. He currently has the second highest advantage rating at 21 percent, per PFF. Marcus Mariota should continue to use Walker as a security blanket and likes to look his way in the red zone, as Walker accounted for 23.5 percent of the Titans’ red zone targets. Between his usage, the matchup, and reasonable price, Walker makes for a strong pivot from Gronk this week.

Good luck to all this week. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me on the Twitter machine: @Armando_Marsal