Everyone has a strategy for putting their FanDuel lineups together. Some prefer to start with a stud (expensive) quarterback who they feel is safe to put up big points. Others want to play it conservatively across the board going with safe but lower upsides and in turn lower down sides. Others prefer the studs and duds approach. They find two or three bargain basement plays and then fill the rest of their roster with high upside studs. These strategies also can depend on what kind of match you’ve entered. If you are in a 50/50 league you might want to play it safer because you don’t have to win it all to win money. If you are in a big money tournament against a myriad of lineups that will often have the same players over and over, you might get riskier. For this column I’m going to employ the Studs and Duds philosophy and work on finding those cheap players that have ceilings high enough for you to win, but prices low enough to let you grab a Jimmy Graham or Dez Bryant kind of player. So let’s take a look at week one.
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Terrelle Pryor: $5100 – I’ll have Pryor on a few teams this week. He’s not a good NFL quarterback right now. He may never be, but fantasy scoring, including FanDuel, has a loophole and it’s running quarterbacks who can’t throw the ball all that well. Pryor fits that description quite well. At 6’ 6”, 240 pounds and 4.38 speed there are very few defenders who can come close to keeping up with him and/or easily bring him down. It won’t be pretty, but in the end there’s a very good chance he’ll have more fantasy points per dollar spent than any of the non Peyton Mannings out there.
Tony Romo: $8200 – There aren’t any other really cheap options I’ll be running with at quarterback besides Pryor, but as far as middle of the road pricing, I like Romo at 8.2k. I thought about Brandon Weeden, but the absence of Josh Gordon held me off. E.J. Manuel has a chance to be a cheap play if they let him run, but he’s been hurt and I’ll need to see more. Carson Palmer will be slinging it around the stadium this year with great receivers, but the Rams pass rush and secondary put the kibosh on that thought. So Romo against the poor Giants secondary in Jerry World is my safe/value pick for the week. He saves you over 1k from the top studs and could easily put up similar numbers.
Michael Vick: $8100 – Vick is my pick for crazy upside this weekend. Chip Kelly’s NFL offense is pretty much an unknown at this point, which makes Vick intriguing, but risky. In what should be an offense that will include misdirection, quarterback options, quick hitters and break neck speed, Vick should have plenty of opportunity to put up big numbers. But what really intrigues me is the Eagles horrible defense. They will give up points and a lot of them, especially if the offense runs as fast as they have in preseason, giving their opponents more time on the field. That will set Vick up for shootouts and/or garbage time. I like that.
Isaac Redman: $4600 – Redman is a low ceiling play, but at his price he should see enough work and goal line carries to be of use. The Titans defense is slim on all fronts and the Steelers have improved their run-blocking. He also can catch passes even though he looks like that’s the furthest thing from what he can do.
Daryl Richardson: $6000 – Isaiah Pead won’t be there to take away any touches and Richardson was already the starter. The Cardinals defense will be without Daryl Washington for the first four weeks and they also lost run-stopper Kerry Rhodes in the secondary. If Richardson gets to the second level, he could go a long way down the field. I like his upside and at this price you might as well ink him into your lineup. Really, just write it on your screen.
Shane Vereen: $6400 – This is truly a risky play this week, but with tremendous upside. We just don’t know for sure how Vereen will be used this season, but his ceiling is sky high in the Patriots offense. Really all the cheaper Patriots plays are a little risky, but this is a team that ran more plays than any team ever last season and they are without Hernandez and Gronkowski. Vereen will get looks.
Kenbrell Thompkins: $4500 – You can protest all you like that he’s an undrafted free agent rookie and has never played a meaningful game, but he WILL start as the Patriots “X” receiver and he IS just 4.5k. The only thing that worries me about him is that most FanDuelers will own him. I know I will.
Golden Tate: $5100 – Tate was in the top five last season in fantasy points and receiving yards per target and looks poised to see more work this season with Russell Wilson coming back with a year under his belt. Add that to the Panthers poor secondary and Sidney Rice still an unknown after going to Switzerland to inject some platelet-rich plasma into his knee and not playing in preseason, you have a recipe for success.
Desean Jackson: $5700 – Jackson, like Vick, has an amazing amount of upside in this Eagles offense. He will see plenty of quick hitting routes which will allow him to use his speed after the catch. And without Jeremy Maclin he is by far the main receiving target in the offense.
Jordan Cameron: $4,900 – There are plenty of decent low priced tight ends out there this week, but Cameron is by far my favorite, especially for his price. With Josh Gordon out he’ll be competing with Greg Little and Davone Bess for targets. During preseason he used his big body to make space in the middle of the field and Brandon Weeden often targeted him there when other options ran out. He may not put up huge numbers, but I see plenty of receptions and a possible touchdown in his future.
Zach Sudfeld : $4500 – The Patriots Gronk replacement for the first few weeks has plenty of upside, but like Thompkins and Vereen isn’t assured anything in a Bill Belichick offense. That being said, his price, ability, offense and quarterback make him a hard player to pass up.