***UPDATED Thursday, Sept. 7 @ 1:20pm ET***

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 adage to heart when it comes to playing NFL DFS. The Fantasy Alarm Playbook Pro 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. We’ll still have our Weekly DFS Rankings, but the Watch List 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 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look back at last season’s numbers and see which teams struggled the most against the pass or the run, that data may be outdated and, in some cases, irrelevant as coaches, player personnel and schemes change so often from year-to-year.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 2016 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.

So with that, let’s take a look at the NFL Week 1 DFS Watch List.


Aaron Rodgers, GB – Widely considered the No. 1 fantasy quarterback, Rodgers gets a tough test in Week 1 against the highly-touted Seattle defense, which still has three members of the Legion of Boom roaming the secondary. He threw for 246 yards and three touchdowns against them in Week 14 last year and now sees a potential weakness at right corner with DeShawn Shead on the PUP list and replaced by the tandem of Jeremy Lane and Shaquill Griffin.

Tom Brady, NE – Playing Thursday night will obviously limit Brady’s usage in DFS contests, but he’s still as dangerous as ever, even with the loss of Julian Edelman. The Chiefs' pass defense was tough on quarterbacks last season, limiting them to a 79.8 rating, and tied for the league-lead with 18 interceptions. Marcus Peters has blossomed into one of the top cover corners, but the right side is exposed with Terrance Mitchell and Kenneth Acker expected to handle the zone on the right side. Both have also been slowed by soft tissue injuries late in the preseason.

Russell Wilson, SEA – Any game against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers has the potential of turning into a shootout and the corners were a major hole in the defensive coverage for Green Bay last season. They brought back Davon House from Jacksonville and will roll with third-year corner Damarious Randall, so look for Wilson to test both sides of the field. He also won’t be opening the year wearing a giant knee brace, so he also represents an additional threat in the running game.

Ben Roethlisberger, PIT – Most of the concern focuses on Big Ben’s struggles on the road in recent seasons, but this is a relatively young secondary he is facing in the Browns this week. They’ve parted ways with former All-Pro Joe Haden and most of the attention has been placed on the pass rush and stopping the run. New defensive coordinator Gregg Williams likes to be aggressive with his blitzing which, could leave his defensive backs exposed in zone coverage.

Matt Ryan, ATL – The Bears did some offseason work to improve their secondary, but preseason injuries have definitely hindered expectations for Week 1. It should be interesting to see how Ryan jells with new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian and what they do to further enhance an already potent passing attack.

Derek Carr, OAK – You’ve got one of the best offensive lines in the league squaring off against Titans defensive coordinator Dick Lebeau’s aggressive zone-blitzing scheme. If the line holds and affords Carr the time needed to connect on his short passes and march down the field, things could open up more downfield as the game progresses. The Titans have tried to fortify their secondary, but Carr’s weapons are pretty tasty.

Sam Bradford, MIN – There’s nothing wrong with doing a little bargain-shopping at the quarterback position and Bradford represents a strong possibility given the match-up against the Saints. We can cite the shootout potential as he goes toe-to-toe with Drew Brees and the shortcomings of the Saints pass coverage which, allowed the most passing yards in the NFL last season. The loss of Delvin Breaux and late preseason injury to Marshon Lattimore should also factor in heavily.


Carson Palmer, ARI -- While there are a number of solid quarterback options this week, I should not have overlooked Palmer against a Detroit team that not only ranked dead last against the pass last year but also didn't do much of anything to revamp the secondary. Darius Slay is the most talented defensive back and word is that he'll be sticking to John Brown for most of the day. Are the Lions really going to let Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald pick apart this secondary this easily? With such a heavy focus on stopping David Johnson, it would seem so.


Brian Hoyer, SF -- So many people are down on Hoyer and it's difficult to imagine why. In the four games he started and finished prior to breaking his arm, he averaged 329.5 passing yards per game and threw a total of six touchdowns to zero interceptions. The year before that, he and DeAndre Hopkins formed one of the most prolific duos in the game. Finally in 2014, while with Cleveland and with Kyle Shanahan as his offensive coordinator, he threw for over 3,300 yards through 14 games. Carolina's secondary took a beating last year after having lost Josh Norman and while they made some improvements in the offseason, it doesn't change the fact that Hoyer will be passing extensively. Best used as a GPP play, but wow....what a savings!

Running Backs

David Johnson, ARI – The No. 1 overall pick in virtually every fantasy draft doesn’t exactly have the easiest of match-ups here in Week 1. The Lions ranked 18th in rushing yards allowed last year, but also gave up the second-fewest number of rushing touchdowns. Their run defense usually calls for a lot of single-gap assignments with the faster linebackers pinching in to stuff the run, but they also are going to be fairly reliant on rookies when it comes to the inside and strong-side linebackers.

Le'Veon Bell, PIT – The Browns did some nice work in rebuilding a run defense that allowed the second-most yards on the ground last year, but this is still Lev Bell we’re talking about. He says he’s ready for his full workload despite holding out for much of the preseason and he’s always a dangerous weapon in the passing game. Ownership percentages could be lower than usual if people are concerned that a heavy dose of carries right from the onset could cause potential injury issues as many holdouts have succumbed to hamstring and groin problems upon their return. Don’t forget, Bell did have groin surgery back in March.

Ezekiel Elliott, DAL – Will he actually play in Week 1? The answer is still up in the air. Even though the Giants were tough against the run last season, Elliott managed 158 yards and one touchdown in two meetings against them. He could be running with a chip on his shoulder if he plays. UPDATE: Zeke will play in Week 1, though many seem to be shying away from him because of the match-up against the Giants defense. It certainly isn't ideal, but you cannot ignore the talent level and the potential narrative of this being his only game for the next seven weeks. I don't love the match-up, but when I'm setting a low-cost GPP and want to go against the grain a little, I just might have him in there.

LeSean McCoy, BUF – A lot of people are going to pick on the Jets this season and rightfully so. Leonard Williams is their best player, but he’s not going to be able to stifle the Bills’ ground attack all by himself. The loss of Sheldon Richardson and a struggling group of linebackers isn’t going to help either.

Devonta Freeman, ATL – We’ll have to watch and see how Sarkisian rolls with the blocking scheme as he is expected to mix in some man-blocking into the usual zone-blocking established by Kyle Shanahan in previous seasons. The Bears run defense struggled last season and the fact that Danny Trevathan is still dealing with knee issues doesn’t bode well for linebacker support.

Todd Gurley, LAR – The Colts could easily stack the box and force Jared Goff to beat them through the air, but they are also weaker at linebacker than they were last year. If Gurley finds the holes and gets through the defensive line, he may be able to rip off some substantial runs throughout the game.

Dalvin Cook, MIN – It should be interesting to see how the Saints run defense is fortified with the additions of A.J. Klein and Manti Te’O but the loss of Nick Fairley for the season is going to be a big hole to fill in the middle of the defensive line. If the short-passing game is working for the Vikings and they spread the defense, Cook should see some nice running lanes develop up the middle.  

Jonathan Stewart, CAR – While all eyes are on rookie Christian McCaffrey, Stewart is still expected to be a major factor in the Panthers’ power-running game plan. The 49ers were the worst team against the run last year and while they made some improvements on the defensive line in the first round of the draft, they’re still relying on unproven rookies along with some aging veterans to hold opposing runners in check.

Wide Receivers

Julio Jones, ATL – The additions of Prince Amukamara and Quintin Demps definitely improve the Bears secondary, but will they be enough to contain one of the best receivers in the game? You could say the match-up is less-than-ideal, but Jones is one of those guys who transcends match-ups.

Antonio Brown, PIT – He’s obviously dependent on Big Ben and this is a road game we’re looking at here, but this is also a young, revamped secondary that still might not be enough of a cohesive unit to hold down arguably the best receiver in the game.

Odell Beckham Jr, NYG – A tough call to make as Beckham is dealing with an ankle injury and also not playing until Sunday night. If healthy, he could torch this Dallas secondary, though there’s a good chance he sees a lot of Orlando Scandrick. If that’s the case, Brandon Marshall becomes a much better option. Still this is a tricky situation and won’t really be resolved until closer to Sunday. UPDATE: The ankle concerns plus the fact that the game is Sunday night give me pause here now. I'm probably not using Beckham in any of my lineups this week. If you're adamant about trying him out, make sure you can pivot to Dez, if needed. I'd say Michael Thomas, but I really don't like his match-up against the Vikings secondary.

Doug Baldwin, SEA – As mentioned above with Russell Wilson, the corners are a definite weakness for the Packers. They ranked in the bottom five in receiver coverage last year and could be exposed in this one. Should the Seahawks need to compete with Aaron Rodgers, Baldwin could see a heavy volume of targets.

Amari Cooper, OAK – He’s expected to take the next step forward this season and he’s likely to be a popular pick even with a revamped Titans secondary. With Dick LeBeau’s aggressive blitz scheme, the defensive backs could be hung out to dry at times.

Stefon Diggs, MIN – The Saints secondary gave up the second-most receiving yards last season and don’t have a very strong secondary even with the addition of Marshon Lattimore. If Sam Bradford can get the short-passing game humming, Diggs could rack up some nice yardage and be afforded more chances downfield for potential big strikes.

Terrelle Pryor/Jamison Crowder, WAS – The Eagles have Malcolm Jenkins at free safety and brought in Ronald Darby via trade, but could still have some issues in the secondary over on the left side. The Eagles are moving to more man-coverage, but it’s yet to be determined if Darby will stay on one receiver or just man the right side. If he stays on one, you’ll want the other. If he stays on his side of the field, both could flourish as Kirk Cousins throws away from him.

Kelvin Benjamin, CAR – While everyone has run all over San Francisco in the past, they still gave up 30 passing touchdowns last season. There are obvious concerns over Cam Newton’s shoulder but former first-rounders Eric Reid and Jimmie Ward aren’t exactly living up to the hype which could open things up both downfield and across the middle for Benjamin.

Pierre Garcon, SF – Despite cornerbacks James Bradberry and Daryl Worley being another year wiser, the Panthers pass defense really struggled without Josh Norman last season and could have some issues once again. Kyle Shanahan dealt with the Panthers twice last year, so he knows how to get his receivers open against them and Garcon is expected to see plenty of volume.

Corey Coleman, CLE – This is for GPP play only as there is major risk with DeShone Kizer under center. The two have developed a nice on-field rapport, but the Steelers, despite some heavy youth in the secondary, could have a few tricks up their sleeve. Remember, they brought in Joe Haden late in the offseason and while he’s nowhere near the cover-corner he used to be, he can still teach his teammates how to handle his former teammates.

Mike Wallace/Jeremy Maclin, BAL – We’re tracking both right now because the match-up against a questionable Bengals secondary which will be without PacMan Jones. Of course, we’re also watching to see the health of Joe Flacco. If he is available for Week 1, then we could see both receivers heavily involved and can then look deeper into the match-ups each one is expected to see.

Zay Jones/Andre Holmes, BUF – Again, the Jets are bad. Real bad. While the Bills may just lean on Shady McCoy for this game, things could open up more downfield and afford them more opportunities. Of course, we’re also watching how Tyrod Taylor recovers from his concussion. If Nathan Peterman is under center, this doesn’t look as pretty.


Larry Fitzgerald, ARI -- Just read everything I wrote up top about Carson Palmer. It all applies here and while Fitz isn't the guy he was five years ago, he's still an extremely dangerous weapon against a defense not giving him the respect he deserves.

Tight Ends

Rob Gronkowski, NE – Playing Thursday night will keep him from being Chalky McChalkerson, but you can’t ignore his potential as the Patriots look to dominate the competition once again. The Chiefs ranked 20th against the tight end position last season and it doesn’t look like their inside linebackers are going to be too strong in trying to cover Gronk.

Greg Olsen, CAR – NaVorro Bowman and rookie Rueben Foster offer up a strong presence in the middle of the field, but we’re still dealing with a defensive unit that struggled mightily against the tight end last season. Again, Cam Newton’s shoulder is a factor as well as how offensive coordinator Mike Shula incorporates rookie Christian McCaffrey into the short-passing game.

Travis Kelce, KC – We can’t leave him off the list here as he is considered one of the top tight ends in the game. The only issue is that Bill Bellichick is known for taking away the opposition’s top two offensive weapons which means the Patriots’ game plan revolves around stifling Kelce.

Delanie Walker, TEN – The Raiders ranked 23rd against the tight end position last year according to DVOA numbers and now have a rookie in Marquel Lee sitting in the middle of the field. Walker saw a drop in targets, receptions and receiving yards last year, but still managed to hold onto his red zone looks. Marcus Mariota has some added receiving weapons, but should definitely test the Oakland linebackers in this first week.

Zach Ertz, PHI – The Redskins are another unit that struggled against the tight end last year (28th overall) and they made very few changes in the offseason. They added Zach Brown to the linebacker corps, but he’s there more to help with the run defense. If Carson Wentz leans on Ertz like he did last season when the tight end averaged just over 10 targets per game over the final seven weeks, this could be a big first week.

Austin Hooper, ATL – I’ve made no secret of my choice at tight end in seasonal leagues, and it’s certainly going to play in the DFS world as well. The Falcons are in dire need of a No. 2 target behind Julio Jones, and while they still have Taylor Gabriel and Mohammed Sanu, Sarkisian likes to utilize his tight end in the passing attack, as evidenced by how heavily he used Austin Seferian-Jenkins back at the University of Washington. The Bears are thin at linebacker behind Danny Trevathan, who also happens to be banged up, and the unit ranked 28th against the tight end last season with little improvements made in the offseason.

Tyler Higbee, LAR – If you’re looking to punt the position this week and just shoot for some upside, the Colts ranked 31st against the tight end position last season and Rams coach Sean McVay is looking for ways to open up the passing game a little more. He’s gotten some receiver help, but young quarterbacks still like to lean on their tight ends.