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The Gainsayer: Week 1 Contrarian Picks for DraftKings GPP’s

By Craig Bengel

@CraigBengel on Twitter

gainsayer. Noun. (plural gainsayers) One who contradicts or denies what is alleged; an opposer.

If you’re a DFS and sports fanatic like me, then today (I’m writing this on opening kickoff Thursday) you feel the jitters and butterflies in your stomach as we get ready to kick off another highly anticipated NFL season.  There are lots of interesting storylines heading into the season, but let us not get sidetracked by them – we have more important work to do.  We are going to find some of the contrarian deep GPP plays that will take us to the top of the leader board on Sunday nights. Week 1 offers a challenge; projecting 2017 performance using 2016 statistics and a very small sample of preseason snaps from this year. Luckily most teams have a similar look as last years team, but we do need to account for the impacts that a move like Sheldon Richardson to the Seahawks or Ezekiel Elliot’s pending suspension has on this year’s team.

Before we get rolling, here’s a few very contrarian thoughts I have about this year:

  • Jacksonville will finish a top 5 defense.
  • New York Giants will struggle behind an average offensive line, despite the addition of Brandon Marshall.
  • Dallas will finish 8-8 or 9-7 as Dak Prescott regresses and Darren McFadden underwhelms in games 2-7.
  • Carlos Hyde and Bilal Powell will finish in the top 12 running backs according to DK scoring.
  • Atlanta will not be represented in this year’s playoffs.
  • Pittsburgh will finally slay the giant in the AFC championship, and make it to the super bowl.
  • My Detroit Lions will make the playoffs and somehow justify the ridiculous amount of money they paid Matt Stafford in his new contract.

But seriously, any one or all of those are totally viable.  Remember, to be contrarian, is to win.  We had an excellent run last year with some great plays and big cashes… and we are going to pick up right where we left off.  Week 1 is finally here!

Week 1 Contrarian Selections for DraftKings

(Complete Sunday slate)

Disclaimer:  The players below should not necessarily be the centerpieces of your roster construction when scripting lineups.  They should be used to compliment the core players you’ve selected for this week’s slate and as fill-ins when you find yourself gravitating to common chalky plays.


DeShone Kizer – $4800

Speaking of deep GPPs… Kizer has a really nice deep ball.  We should be able get a nice look at a few of them on Sunday against an average Pittsburgh defense.  Game flow should also set up in our favor as the Steelers project to be up big early on. The only Steelers defensive player with an above average grade according to PFF is DE Stephon Tuitt, which should lend to some open throwing windows and defensive spacing that can be exploited.  A moderate yardage total and 2 TD’s would easily pay off his DK price. I am certainly not all in on Kizer, but if I am entering multiple lineups Sunday I will definitely be buying some very low owned shares here.

Brian Hoyer – $5100

The proverbial dart throw.  Though the more I look at it, the more I like Hoyer this week. The 49er’s defense is outmatched and should give up points to Carolina early, setting up late game catch up mode. He will also have a few weapons at his disposal with an improving Marquise Goodwin, an experienced Pierre Garcon, and a healthy Carlos Hyde.  Carolina’s defensive unit is slightly improved but likely far from the top 5 defense we are accustomed to. 300 yards and 2 TD’s are well within expectations.

Aaron Rodgers – $7000

Normally I only choose two quarterbacks but I couldn’t decide between Rodgers and Hoyer for my second pick at the position, so this week we have three. I just couldn’t leave Rodgers off for a few reasons; DK pricing algorithm has him priced too low for his skill set at $7000, he will certainly be low owned against Seattle, and he has a decent sample size of quality starts against this defense to base expectations from. Despite Seattle’s impressive defense, this game features lots of offensive weapons and still has shootout potential. I don’t want to be left with no exposure to the Green Bay side of it.

Running Back

Bilal Powell – $4900

I bet you would be surprised to know that Bilal Powell has almost identical 2016 rushing and receiving grades as… Ezekiel Elliot and LeSean McCoy? Yes, interesting indeed.  Powell is the 6th ranked running back coming into the 2017 season and only 4 running backs saw more receiving snaps (332) last year.  This game sets up with another positive game flow boost for a receiving RB since the Bills should be able to get out to a lead at some point. Couple that with the fact that the Bills defense is not very formidable in the first place (4 starters grade poor, and one below average according to PFF), and we have a recipe for passes, Powell, and pay dirt.

LeSean McCoy – $8200

I’m not suggesting you should fade David Johnson or Leveon Bell week one, but if I were to do such a thing this is precisely where I would land.  LeSean McCoy has one of the better defensive matchups and should benefit from projected game flow and a heavy workload.  The Jets are a shell of their former stout defense, and any prospect of improvement in 2017 left with the departure of Sheldon Richardson. Remember last year when Mike Gillislee vultured so many of McCoy TD’s?  Not to worry, he’s in New England scoring three TD’s against the Chiefs, albeit in a losing effort. LeSean will be the highest owned of our picks, but I’m ok with 15% ownership when the “Big 2” (Johnson and Bell obviously) will carry at least 20% ownership.

Wide Receiver

Paul Richardson – $3700

The Seahawks recently named Paul Richardson their opening week starter opposite Doug Baldwin against the Green Bay Packers. His 2016 campaign looked to be a breakout year for the young wide receiver but it was unfortunately marred by injuries.  The atrocious packers secondary (House 40.5, Rollins 35.8, Randle 46.2) will offer the perfect opportunity to start this seasons campaign off with a packed stat line.  While most of this games WR traffic will flow to Doug Baldwin, and rightfully so, I will be rolling out some Paul Richardson lineups to hedge and differentiate from the field.

Terrell Pryor Sr – $6100

Terrell Pryor Sr starts the 2017 season with a 79.7 WR rating according to PFF.  That may not seem very impressive, but when you take into account the bad quarterbacking on a bad Cleveland Browns team last year, it brings that number into better perspective.  With a viable QB throwing to him in Washington, we could easily see that rating rise to the mid to upper 80’s this year.  Week one will also offer one of the softer matchups, featuring an Eagles secondary that ranges from below average to poor performers according to PFF.  While he’s not priced like a top tier receiver this week, we could easily see him perform like one if this game is high scoring.

Tight End

Zach Ertz- $3700

The departure of Jordan Mathews this year should open up targets for the Eagles receiving core and Ertz is appears primed for a huge season.  The arrival of Alshon Jeffrey should also draw heavy coverage from opposing defenses, benefiting Ertz with even more looks and single coverage. This DK pricing of $3700 doesn’t make much sense to me either, past performance is usually indicative of pricing – not the case here.  The matchup is luck warm at best, but I’m only interested in volume of targets for week 1.  I expect targets in the 7-10 range would love and ending stat line of 6 catches for 76 yards and a TD.


Jacksonville Jaguars

The Houston Texans defense should be chalk this week, and I’m actually very happy to eat chalk with the masses on this one. But when I’m not busy eating chalk I will be sprinkling in Jacksonville Defense (and a few others).  This Jacksonville defense has 5 high quality players and 2 above average according to PF; I’m currently struggling to find another defense that features this many high quality players when doing my research for this article. The Jaguars still have yet to put all together, but it’s only a matter of time before this young core becomes a formidable defense week in and week out. Lastly, Tom Savage is not a savage… he’s actually pretty tame when it comes to QB’s.

Good luck Week 1!

Don’t forget to check out the Week 1 RotoQL NFL optimizer if you haven’t already.  Reach me on twitter @CraigBengel if you have any comments or feedback about “The Gainsayer”.

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