NFL DFS Watch List: Week 1
**UPDATED THURSDAY** Howard Bender starts the NFL DFS Playbook research off each week with a watch list of players he is considering for use in daily lineups. This piece will be updated throughout the week based on recent news and injuries, leading up to the publishing of the final Playbook.
Oh baby! It's that time of year once again! The NFL kicks off it's 2020 season this Thursday and we are anxiously awaiting those first DFS lineups! This is fixing to be one heck of a year -- if the entire season plays, given the fact that we now live in the time of COVID-19 -- and Fantasy Alarm has been fine-tuning its research tools and lineup generator while I have been hard at work breaking down offensive schemes. It's time to get to work and with that, I am always reminded of my favorite adage.
If you give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he’ll eat for a lifetime.
We take this to heart when it comes to playing NFL DFS. The Fantasy Alarm Playbook isn’t just about handing you a list of players and a lineup to use each week. It is designed to help you learn to be a better DFS player. It’s about teaching you the process used in selecting which players to scout and, eventually, which ones to use.
Therefore, we will begin each week with the Weekly NFL DFS Watch List which is designed to keep tabs on marquee names, chalk plays and, of course, the weekly bargains who may not see the same coverage and exposure. This piece will be continuously updated throughout the week, based on the most recent news and injuries which means you may see a name or two removed as we get closer to kick-off. You may also see a few late-week additions who pique our interest for some reason too, and by the end of the week, this Watch List will eventually become your Playbook. Again, it’s about teaching you the process.
The first week of the season is always the most difficult. While you can look back at last season’s numbers and see which teams struggled the most against the pass or the run, that data may be outdated and, in some cases, irrelevant as coaches, player personnel and schemes change so often from year-to-year. A team that struggled mightily against the run last year, for example, may have added some help on the defensive line, thus fortifying their weakness. The same can be said about a weak secondary from 2019 which changed from zone to man-to-man coverage. We’ll still be able to use some of the data, but as we’ve seen before, it takes a few weeks before we spot some of the more noticeable trends.
**Please Note: I am staying away from the Thursday night game altogether for DFS. Week 1 is difficult enough without having to limit yourself with players locked in for Thursday's game. During the season, we will explore the Monday-Thursday slate, but for Week 1 DFS, this one is only going to complicate matters. If you feel the need to play in the Showdown format, we'll have a full game preview posted right here on Thursday afternnon.
Also, if this is your first go-around with Fantasy Alarm, this Watch List will focus on the Sunday games usually. For this week, we'll include the Monday games as well, but moving forward, there will be a separate DFS write-up for the Monday-Thursday slate.
PLAYERS ADDED -- 9/9:
PLAYERS ADDED -- 9/10:
THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL PREVIEW:
Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs
As a reminder, check out the Game Preview of tonight’s game from Ryan Hallam.
Brandin Cooks , WR – Questionable with a quad injury. The latest reports say if he does suit up, he will be limited on snaps.
Spread: Chiefs -9
Mid-to-High 50s with a few showers expected just after kickoff; winds NNE 8-10mph
UPDATE 5:48pm ET -- it looks like the rain is pushing off until after the game, so we should be good to go with nothing but cloudy skies.
Chiefs lead the franchise series 7-5
Average margin of victory: 13
Last Match-Up: Chiefs beat the Texans in the 2019 playoffs 51-31
The Texans jumped out to a 24-point lead early in the first half but Patrick Mahomes took over and led the team to a four-touchdown second quarter to take the lead at the half and never looked back.
If you are playing the Showdown Slate, here are players who I am considering:
Patrick Mahomes , QB KC – How do you not love Mahomes on Opening Night? The Houston secondary has long been an issue and an injury to Gareon Conley is the last thing they wanted for this match-up. Live large here.
Deshaun Watson , QB HOU – Watson threw for 280 yards and a touchdown while running in two more scores during their regular-season match-up last year and then he threw for 388 yards, two scores and ran one touchdown in during their playoff loss in January. He’s an elite-level QB facing an average defense and will do everything in his power to keep the Texans in this game.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB KC – If you’re setting multiple lineups, you’ll want a share or two of Edwards-Helaire just for the potential, but keep an eye on his snaps as it is very possible Andy Reid holds him back a little here in his first start. We’ve heard rumblings about his pass-blocking, so he is far from a lock in your lineups.
Darrel Williams , RB KC – Here is the contrarian play everyone thinks they’re making, but I expect a lot of people to be on Williams tonight. He’s a Reid-favorite and if the Chiefs want to ease Edwards-Helaire in, Williams could see more snaps than usual. Don’t think you’re being sneaky by using him though.
David Johnson , RB HOU – A clean slate is what it’s all about for Johnson who would like nothing more than to show up the Cardinals and make the Texans feel a little better about the trade that sent superstar receiver DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona in exchange for the running back. He’s a solid pass-catcher and should the Texans fall behind, he will still be on the field on passing downs.
Duke Johnson , RB HOU – He’s actually a better contrarian play than Williams given fewer people will be looking to him to round out their lineups. He’s a pass-catching back so he should get spelled in every so often. However, considering Johnson is a strong pass-catcher as well, this is as much a dart throw as any contrarian play.
Tyreek Hill , WR KC – It doesn’t matter where Hill lines up, his game-breaking speed will carry him past any and all Texans corners. No hardcore analysis needed here. Hill is probably going to be locked into most, if not all, lineups.
Sammy Watkins , WR KC – It’s almost a toss-up between Watkins and Demarcus Robinson , but the lean is toward Watkins who, in classic Sammyness, dominates in the first week or two of the season and then vanishes or gets hurt. In a game with such a high over/under, we’ll throw Watkins into a lineup or two.
Will Fuller , WR HOU – He’s the deep threat for Watson and if Cooks is out, he could see an even larger share of the targets. His big-play ability makes him a nice boom or bust guy so while he’s one you like to use in GPP and not cash games, he should be considered strongly for the showdown.
Randall Cobb , WR HOU – I like him even more if Cooks is out as a rolling Watson will be able to find the always-elusive Cobb underneath. He could be in line for decent targets and is not expected to be highly-coveted by your competition.
Travis Kelce , TE KC – Again, no analysis needed here. He’s one of Mahomes favorites and will continue to dominate just as he’s done each and every year.
Darren Fells , TE HOU – Looking for that random touchdown? Well here we go as Fells turned out to be a decent red zone target for Watson and his big-ass frame can easily box out a linebacker or slot corner inside the end zone.