DraftKings Kickoff Million: Picking the Winning Team for the $150,000 Grand Prize!
Ever thought you could win $150,000 playing fantasy football? Well, it's possible over at DraftKings during their Week One Kickoff Bash. Their biggest contest, the NFL Kickoff Million, has $1 million in guaranteed cash prizes with the top 1,500 teams landing in the money.
With that in mind, I decided to roll up my sleeves, go deep within my man cave, dim the lights and try to summon all the fantasy wisdom I could muster only so I could share with you my lineup. You have no idea how much willpower it takes to pick a team and have the fortitude to stick with them throughout the duration of writing this article. I've second-guessed myself dozens of times and who knows, maybe five minutes before kickoff I might overhaul the entire roster. For those well-versed in daily fantasy sports, I'm sure we've all been there.
So without further ado, here's the winning team (hopefully) and from my experience, maybe you can turn your $200 entry into thousands of dollars. Just to recap, I have a $50,000 salary cap to draft nine players: QB, RB1, RB2, WR1, WR2, TE, FLEX (RB/WR/TE), K, and DST.
Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons @ NO -- $9,500
If you're looking to save money for the rest of your team, quarterback is a good place to find a bargain. There are a dozen players valued at $8,400 and above. In this case, I went with Matt Ryan, hoping he connects early and often with Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez. Atlanta travels to New Orleans in Week 1 and the Saints allowed the most fantasy points to QBs last season. They finished 2012 allowing the second-most TD passes and second-most passing yards. It's a new year and a new situation; however this game could easily be a shootout as both teams have less than sterling defenses. Ryan is my most expensive player, so he'll need to carry the team in a big way.
Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots @ BUF -- $6,200
Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs @ JAC -- $8,600
Shane Vereen, New England Patriots @ BUF -- $5,200
Both opponents, Buffalo and Jacksonville, finished among the bottom five defenses in terms of fantasy points allowed to RBs. This is a PPR format, so that should help Charles tremendously. I'm also banking on the Pats jumping out to an early lead and riding Ridley to the final whistle. The key is both players do not lose their goal-line responsibilities. Yards and receptions are all well and good, but touchdowns are the thing that will get me ranked in the money. The Bills could also struggle if they start E.J. Manuel, so this could lead to a low time of possession. The longer the Pats have the ball, the more snaps Ridley will accumulate. Charles, on the other hand, I'll have to hope for big plays. He typically scores points in big bunches and Jacksonville should provide little defensive resistance.
Shane Vereen is a huge wildcard for New England this year. Will he see Darren Sproles-like targets? Can he catch 50, 60 or maybe even 70 receptions? It's difficult to say since the season hasn't started. I'm hedging my bet on Ridley here by taking the PPR-friendly Vereen. If both guys are on the field a lot, this will work great. If not, I'll struggle to finish even in the top half of the contest. Vereen is a redraft sleeper across the board, so here's to hoping he can do the same in Week 1 against a porous Buffalo defense.
Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys vs NYG -- $8,200
Vincent Brown, San Diego Chargers vs HOU -- $3,300
Needless to say, this is where I really tried to find the best bargain players. Rather than choose nine average players to meet the salary cap, I aimed high and low. My receiver group illustrates that the best. Dez Bryant needs no introduction and his second-half of the season cemented him as a fantasy staple for years to come. The Giants finished with the fourth-worst fantasy defense against opposing receivers. In Week 8, Bryant saw 16 targets and caught nine passes for 133 yards. It would be nice to see a touchdown grab, but the number of targets is a great sign.
Vincent Brown was selected based on his situation and his very low price. At $3,300, you will be hard-pressed to find many starting receivers available. Philip Rivers has praised him in the media and many so-called fantasy experts feel he is due for a big year. If it weren't for his previous durability issues, he'd likely be a much more sought-after player. Houston is a very difficult matchup for him; however the logic here is that San Diego will struggle to establish with the run due to the Texans' suffocating run defense. With the Chargers in the hole early, they'll need to pass to catch up and it is possible Brown sees a garbage time touchdown.
Zach Sudfeld, New England Patriots VS BUF -- $3,000
A more seasoned daily fantasy football player would probably warn me for drafting three players from the same team. They'd be right too. Not all, but some of my eggs are all in the New England basket and even if the Pats dominate, production could still go to other players like Shane Vereen, Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman to name a few. Sudfeld looked great in the preseason and saw a couple of red zone targets. He is an absolute steal at the TE minimum salary. The Bills had a slightly better than average defense against opposing tight ends, allowing the fourth-fewest receptions. Sudfeld's appeal comes down to his price point. There's not much money left to spend at this point.
KICKER AND DEFENSE
Shaun Suisham, Pittsburgh Steelers vs TEN -- $3,000
Detroit Lions vs MIN -- $3,000
My mantra has always been to spend the minimum amount of money in your kicker and defense. Rather than try to hit the bullseye on a dart board with one dart, I try to find the team I feel will most likely score the most points when selecting a kicker and the defense facing the worst QB. Suisham is an average kicker going up against the defense that allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to kickers. Detroit isn't a great option. Their defense is below-average and typically plays down to their opponent. That said, they face Christian Ponder and a very young Vikings team. Detroit beefed up their defensive line by drafting Ziggy Ansah and he will be a handful going one-on-one as offensive lines really focus their energy on DTs Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh. The Lions will need to force a couple turnovers at the very least to make this pick enticing to others.
There's my team, ladies and gents. Wish me luck and please don't copy my roster. It isn't that good and you could do better. Good luck!
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