We are a little more than a month away from the start of the 2022 NFL season and while everyone is preparing their fantasy football player rankings and fantasy football player projections for their upcoming seasonal fantasy football we got a big shock on Friday with DraftKings releasing their NFL Week 1 salaries and contests schedule.  

Now, there is still plenty of time before we need to really do a deep dive into NFL DFS over on DraftKings but there is no harm in taking an early look at some top value plays at each position that will likely find their way into lineups come Week 1 of the NFL season so let’s dive in!



Jameis Winston, NO - $5,300

By all accounts, Winston is looking good and will be ready to go for Week 1 of the NFL season as he makes his comeback from ACL surgery which ended his 2021 season. Prior to his knee injury, Winston had 14 touchdowns with just three interceptions over seven games. Now, nine of those 14 touchdowns came in two games as he threw five touchdowns against the Packers in Week 1 and four touchdowns against the Commanders in Week 5 but while that may worry some folks,  it’s exactly what I’m looking for in a value GPP play when it comes to DFS.  In order to take down your contests you need a player that has a very high ceiling and Winston certainly has that. Now, add to the equation that the Saints will have a vastly improved receiving group in 2022 with Michael Thomas healthy, Jarvis Landry signed in free agency and Chris Olave drafted in the first round. Winston has all the weapons he needs to be a top value target at the QB position in Week 1.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that his Week 1 opponent will be the Atlanta Falcons who figure to once again rank among the league's worst pass defenses.

Baker Mayfield, CAR - $5,200

I’m the furthest thing from a Baker Mayfield fan but how can you not love the revenge game narrative here in Week 1 with Mayfield facing off against the team that traded him right off the bat? The Panthers will have the benefit of having a healthy Christian McCaffrey for this game barring any preseason injury along with pass catching weapons in DJ Moore, Robbie Anderson, and Terrace Marshall. You know Mayfield is going to be ultra motivated to stick it to his former team here and impress his new home crowd. There is also a good shot that Baker is rather low rostered here with many likely looking at Winston just a $100 more expensive and in the presumably easier matchup.

Jared Goff, DET - $5,400

On paper the Lions could be a sneaky team in DFS this season given some of the talents they have on their roster that, as of now, is currently healthy and we saw Jared Goff actually have a strong finish to his season in 2021 as he scored 17 or more fantasy points, which included two games of 20+ points over his final four starts of the year. Overall Goff completed 67% of his passes with 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions.

The Lions signed DJ Chark this offseason to help improve their receiving group which was pretty much down to just Amon-Ra St.Brown last season after all the injuries. ARSB will look to continue his amazing 2021 finish in 2022 and the Lions should also have a healthy T.J. Hockenson and D’Andre Swift here in Week 1, both of whom can be elite targets for Goff in the team’s passing game. 

The Eagles weren’t great defensively last season and with the Lions starting the season at home, they may get that quick Week 1 home advantage to kick off the year. Goff figures to be another low-rostered value stack option here. 



Running Backs

Aaron Jones, GB - $6,700

Is the 10th highest price running back really a “value play”? Ok, maybe not in the traditional sense but this could very well be the cheapest we see Aaron Jones all season given how many are expecting this Packers offense to play out this year. Davante Adams is no longer in Green Bay and instead, the top receiving targets are Allen Lazard, maybe Sammy Watkins and a handful of rookies, headlined by second-round pick Christian Watson. There are a lot of question marks in that group. What we don’t have to question however is the involvement of Aaron Jones in not just the team’s running attack but passing game as well and while the sample size is small, Jones has put up some pretty elite numbers with Davante Adams has been inactive which included Week 8 of last season where Jones saw 11 targets and finished with 110 total yards, seven catches and a rushing touchdown for 24 fantasy points. If Jones sets a new career high in targets and receptions in 2022 I wouldn’t be shocked and if that is to happen I figure he will get off to a fast start in Week 1 against the Vikings. 

Travis Etienne, JAX - $5,600

If he pops during the preseason then Etienne is going to be a chalk monster in Week 1 of the NFL season. Etienne profiles as a player that figures to see a decent amount of combined targets and carries as part of the Jaguar's offense in 2022 after he missed his entire rookie season due to injury. Etienne was an elite college player and a first-round pick so the talent is certainly there. He even benefits from playing with his college QB in Trevor Lawrence as those two already have the needed chemistry on the field. It all comes down to usage for Etienne but with DraftKings being a full-PPR format, if he is who fantasy twitter wants him to be, then he will crush this price tag. 

Saquon Barkley, NYG - $6,100

If we are talking from a pure ceiling standpoint then Barkley deserves to be in the conversations with the elite fantasy producers at the running back position. We know he can catch the football with the best of them and, when healthy, he is an impressive power runner that can hit the home run play. Of course, injuries and poor offensive play really hindered Barkley last season but the Giants now have a new head coach in Brian Daboll and a new offense. With a better offensive line play and effective play calling, we could certainly get an early look at a bounce-back season for Barkley here in Week 1 against the Titans and if that happens I think it would be unlikely we see Barkley this cheap again this season.

Wide Receivers

Michael Thomas, NO - $5,700

Reports from training camp have been nothing but positive when it comes to Thomas and if he is truly 100% healthy after missing all of last season then this price point is just far too cheap and Thomas is likely among the highest rostered players in DFS during Week 1. Add in the nice matchup against the Falcons and he is a fantastic value stack with Jameis Winston who was already mentioned above in the quarterback section. You can even include Jarvis Landry here as well as he is only $5,000 and in a full-PPR platform, he has a nice floor level of production.

JuJu Smith-Schuster, KC - $5,200

With Tyreek Hill gone the Chiefs went and made a few different moves this offseason to improve their receiving group and one of those moves was signing JuJu Smith-Schuster during free agency. JuJu has had a tough couple of seasons which was largely due to the poor QB play in Pittsburgh but he now comes to Kansas City with a new lease on life and a much better QB situation. We’ve already seen the highlights from training camp of JuJu and Mahomes hooking up on some big plays and he at least has the early track to be the top wide receiver behind Travis Kelce in this offense as things stand right now.

Kadarius Toney, NYG - $4,100

Toney appeared in just 10 games as a rookie but he had a few games where he flashed the talent that made him a first-round pick in 2021. Now healthy, Toney finds himself in an offense led by a new head coach and offensive coordinator with a successful track record. Toney figures to enter the season as the number two target behind Kenny Golladay in this offense but he could very easily actually take over that role if he is able to find that chemistry with Daniel Jones during the preseason. Toney exploded in Week 5 of last season, catching 10-of-13 passes for 189 yards and had four games of nine or more targets last year. This price tag and his potential upside will likely make him a popular play in Week 1.


Tight Ends

Zach Ertz, ARI - $4,400

In the same vain as Aaron Jones above, maybe $4,400 isn’t exactly the biggest “value” but when looking at the Cardinals' situation on offense and the likely high point total we are going to get in this game against the Chiefs it is more than likely that Ertz finds himself among the highest rostered players at his position because his price tag is rather affordable. The Cardinals are going to be without DeAndre Hopkins for the first six games of the season and while they did trade for Marquise Brown we saw Ertz finish the season as the fourth-best tight end in fantasy football following his trade to the Cardinals as he and Kyler Murray quickly became acquainted with one another and developed that needed chemistry for them to be successful. 

Hunter Henry, NE - $3,800

Henry tied for the league lead in touchdowns by tight ends last season with nine as he was Mac Jones favorite red zone target. In 2022 the Patriots made some improvements to their receiving group as they traded for DeVante Adams and drafted Tyquon Thornton in the second round of the NFL Draft but Henry should still figure plenty into the Patriots' game plan and that could be one that looks to throw the football a bit more in 2022. Henry is not an overly exciting option but the touchdown upside should certainly be considered when looking for value. 

Brevin Jordan, HOU - $3,100

As a rookie last season Jordan had a moment or two of success but like all rookie tight ends, he struggled at times with consistency and overall playing time. Heading into his sophomore season however that should not at all be an issue as he is the team’s starting tight end and is definitely more of a pass catcher than a run blocker. There also aren’t many other receiving threats in front of him after Brandin Cooks and Nico Collins which means Jordan should, at the very least, be in line for targets this season as part of this Houston offense. Assuming things remain as the status quo, I can envision Jordan being a nice spend-down option in Week 1 at his price point for those who look to punt the tight end position. 


Defense/Special Teams

Washington Commanders - $2,500

Many expected the Commanders' defense to be better last season but their front seven never really produced as much pressure as many expected and that left their secondary exposed. So, while they weren't a great D/ST option last season, I’m willing to give them an opportunity to win back some trust in their home opener, Week 1 against the Jacksonville Jaguars who also have plenty of questions, especially on the offensive side of the football. While we know Trevor Lawrence has talent, he was turnover-prone last season and Washington was at least a little better defensively at home last year than on the road. 

Carolina Panthers - $3,400

My opinion on this may change if for some reason Deshaun Watson is taking snaps Week 1 for the Browns but assuming Watson is suspended for this game then we get a Browns offense that will be led by Jacoby Brissett in Carolina. The Panthers' defense had stretches last year where they were racking up multiple sacks on opposing QBs and Brissett is no stranger not only taking the sack but also turning the football over. We can likely expect a heavy dose of Nick Chubb in this game but that could also keep the points against low here as well.

Minnesota Vikings - $2,200

Want to see how engaged Aaron Rodgers is this season? How about an early test on the road against a divisional opponent in the Minnesota Vikings? The Vikings last season ranked second in defensive sacks and were 10th in interceptions. Now, Aaron Rodgers does have a history of success against the Vikings over his career but with his best receiving option possibly being Aaron Jones, this could be an interesting punt play that ends up paying off.


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