If you drafted Jerick McKinnon in your season-long fantasy football league, we really feel for you. Same goes for Marqise Lee.
But the good news is that you have another recourse: daily fantasy football.
The DFS season begins in earnest this weekend, as 12 Sunday matchups comprise the main slate on sites like DraftKings and FanDuel. Week 1 always is tricky to predict, as last season’s statistics don’t necessarily predict this year’s outcomes.
But that won’t stop us from trying. Below is our “optimal lineup” for DraftKings’ main Sunday slate (early afternoon and late afternoon games), which allots a $50,000 budget for a roster of nine players.
Quarterback: Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals ($5,800)
Yes, we’re recommending you start Andy Dalton. The Red Rifle can be had for cheap and has a great Week 1 matchup against the Indianapolis Colts, a defense he diced up for 243 passing yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions last season.
Running Backs: Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints ($8,500); Alex Collins, Baltimore Ravens ($5,600)
Saving at the QB position will allow you to splurge on Kamara, who torched the Saints’ Week 1 opponent, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, for 152 total yards and two touchdowns in their second meeting last season and should shoulder the load with Mark Ingram suspended.
Collins is a far less sexy play, but Week 1 is a great time to play a guy who the Ravens will try to establish as their workhorse against the Buffalo Bills, the NFL’s 29th-ranked run defense from a year ago.
Wide Receivers: Michael Thomas, Saints ($7,800), Chris Hogan, New England Patriots ($6,100); Keelan Cole, Jacksonville Jagaurs ($3,800)
As you can tell, we’re not high on the Bucs’ defense this year. Thomas should have plenty of room to operate as Drew Brees’ top option in the passing game.
Hogan also is the Patriots’ No. 1 target (outside tight end Rob Gronkowski) with Julian Edelman suspended, so don’t be surprised if he eclipses the 100-yard mark at home with Tom Brady under center.
Cole is another benefactor of opportunity, as he’ll need to step up with Lee sidelined for the season with a knee injury. The Olivier Vernon-less New York Giants present a perfect opportunity for Cole to make his mark.
Tight End: Tyler Eifert, Bengals ($3,400)
Here’s your stack of the week: pairing Dalton with Eifert, who finally is healthy after playing in two games last season and has a good chance to find the end zone against Indy’s subpar defense.
Flex: Devin Funchess, Wide Receiver, Carolina Panthers ($5,200)
Funchess enters 2018 as quarterback Cam Newton’s clear No. 1 wide receiver and is a legitimate red zone threat — especially against a Dallas Cowboys defense that allowed 28 receiving touchdowns in 2017.
Defense: Ravens ($3,800)
The Bills are starting Nathan Peterman at quarterback Sunday. That’s all you need to know.
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images