Ladies and gentlemen, we have arrived! It’s finally Week 1 of the NFL season, and I’m so excited that I could literally jump right out of this article and onto your lap to make these picks for you. I mean, seriously, is there anything more invigorating than setting up your first lineups of the season? This is our equivalent to Christmas morning. Santa Claus can’t get his big rear end down the chimney fast enough for me to give out all these gifts I’ve been waiting to share with you. But wait, hypothetically speaking, doesn’t that make me Santa Claus? I mean, red really isn’t my color. I’d also be pretty damn ugly with a beard but, whatever, let’s roll with it anyway.
So tell me, did you make the naughty or nice list? If you’ve been bad at DFS the last couple years, then those days are long gone. It’s time we get you off the naughty list and come meet us over here at The 33rd Team on the nice list. Hell, I’m so nice I’m giving you the best plays every week to help win you your cash games. Maybe just leave out some Jalen Hurts rookie cards for me to let me know I’m appreciated. Cookies aren’t going to cut it. We’re true football degenerates over here on this side, so let’s cut to the chase and get to this week’s cash game picks!
Justin Herbert (DraftKings: $7,600 / FanDuel: $8,400)
This is a weird Week 1 for cash games. There’s not a lot of matchups to downright love, but this one, oh baby. This is the one. Go ahead and let everybody gawk over the Kansas City and Arizona game, because that’s going to look like a measly sparkler compared to the fireworks that are about to go off in this AFC West divisional matchup. Let everyone flock to the chalk. I’m usually okay with this because we are talking about cash games, after all. But Chiefs/Cardinals isn’t the right kind of chalk for me this week. This is the game I want.
Ever since this division got shaken up with all of its new additions I’ve just been salivating at the thought of playing these matchups. How can we NOT just absolutely love Justin Herbert in this one? Sure, he’s expensive, but he’ll be worth every penny, and let me tell you why. First of all, it’s the 2nd-highest over/under on the Sunday slate. The Chargers have an implied team total of 27.75 in a game that I expect to stay close and competitive.
According to FantasyLabs.com, when Justin Herbert appeared in matchups with a 52-point total, he averaged 22.97 DraftKings points. He has also fared pretty well going up against the Las Vegas Raiders in his career averaging 27.53 DraftKings points against them. Herbert is good all by himself but when you take into account the Las Vegas Raiders addition of Davante Adams it finally gives the Raiders someone to keep these games even more competitive. Especially considering the Los Angeles Chargers star corner, JC Jackson, is out for this game recovering from ankle surgery.
I have full faith in Justin Herbert to remind us of what he’s capable of and picking up where he left off from last year. In more than half of his games last season, Justin Herbert threw for over 300 yards with multiple touchdowns. I’m excited to see him in Year 3. If you aren’t playing Justin Herbert in at least one lineup this week, then you don’t know squat about what you’re doing. He’s that dude.
Lamar Jackson (DraftKings: $7,300 / FanDuel: $8,500)
I don’t know anyone more motivated than a man trying to make it to his payday. Lamar Jackson is literally betting on himself, so who am I to not bet on the guy willing to do that for a multi-million dollar deal? I don’t care if you want to call that corny or cliche; this is real life, people. It’s not like we are talking about some slouch, either. This is Lamar Jackson, who was built in a lab by the fantasy Gods. He is the epitome of what we want in a cash games quarterback: safe floor with an ultra-high ceiling playing the goddamn Jets.
If Lamar wants to prove himself and show the Baltimore Ravens why he should get paid, then the New York Jets are the perfect opportunity. While I do commend the Jets on their fantastic 2022 draft class, it’s just not going to matter going up against a team as good as Baltimore. It’s easy to forget about a team’s talent when the whole roster was as banged up as the Ravens were last year.
But, it’s a new dawn and a new day. The season is fresh and the Ravens are coming back healthier. Plus Joe Flacco revenge game, duh. Could be massive! Yes, clearly that’s sarcasm but the New York Jets last year were at the bottom of the barrel in almost every measure possible. They couldn’t stop a nosebleed in the run game either so guys like Lamar, yeah, I’m all over it. Who honestly needs this much convincing over a Jets matchup though? Just put him in your lineup.
Jalen Hurts (DraftKings: $6,800 / FanDuel: $8,000)
Jameis Winston (DraftKings: $5,300 / FanDuel: $6,700)
Austin Ekeler (DraftKings: $8,200 / FanDuel: $9,400)
As awful as it was to hear Austin Ekeler gush over the idea that the Chargers drafted another running back to help spell him from some of his touches. It really ain’t happenin’. Isaiah Spiller has done nothing to cement himself the RB2 role, and Joshua Kelley doesn’t concern me, either. Austin, hate to break it to you, buddy, but it’s looking like another year of a big role for you until proven otherwise. What a great matchup to kickoff his season, too. I obviously still love Jonathon Taylor and Christian McCaffrey in cash games. However, it’s Austin Ekeler who’s just a bit cheaper and can provide you the same fantasy outcome as either of those two running backs.
Last year, the Las Vegas Raiders were just straight embarrassing against opposing running backs, including against Ekeler himself. In Week 4, he scored 32.5 DraftKings points. When they faced off again in Week 18, he smashed them for 28.9 more. That is just disgusting. I’m finding it hard to keep Austin Ekeler out of my lineups; it just feels like a no-brainer to me. Because of his work in the passing game, he’s going to stay involved in this matchup regardless of game script. Ekeler embraces the fantasy football community, and now I’m here embracing him in Week 1. Let’s go!
Joe Mixon (DraftKings: $7,100 / FanDuel: $8,300)
People just love to hate on Joe Mixon, and I can’t be entirely sure what that’s all about. But no one ever wants to give this man his credit where it’s due. But don’t worry Joe. I got you this week! It’s all love for you over here on The 33rd Team website. First off, let’s start with what the Bengals did this offseason while some of you were too busy to notice what even happened this summer. I’m team no sex, no grass, and no sleep. Also team no baseball and no golf. I just have no distractions so that you can all have a life while I get you all caught up here in September.
But, they upgraded their offensive line. Major W for Joe Burrow and Joe Mixon, who consistently has been met in the backfield before he could ever even get something going. This offense is going to be lethal with just a little more time to move the ball. They also didn’t add anyone as a threat to Mixon’s touches. I mean, sure, he still doesn’t see a ton of work in the passing game.
That said, the Bengals offense is going to be good enough that they will put him in good situations to make use of the touches that he does get. Speaking of being put in a good position to get a lot of touches: the Cincinnati Bengals are a heavy favorite in this matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who did very little to solve their defensive woes against the run dating back to last season. He is priced way too low for such an A+ matchup.
Aaron Jones (DraftKings: $6,700 / FanDuel: $7,400)
A.J. Dillon (DraftKings: $5,300 / FanDuel: $6,100)
Mike Williams (DraftKings: $6,600 / FanDuel: $6,600)
You know what people? I am sick of it. I am sick of the disrespect for my man Mike Williams. He has been disrespected in redraft at ADP, and now it’s here on my territory, DFS pricing. I’m talking to you, FanDuel! I won’t tolerate it. Not on my damn article. People can say he’s injury prone or too boom or bust but you know what? The guy was absolutely dominant last year for multiple weeks, and if it wasn’t for injuries from time to time, you would have no knock on this man’s game. But this is Week 1. So I simply don’t care. It’s the healthiest you’re getting Mike Williams. You would be an absolute FOOL to not take advantage of his price here for this week’s matchup.
I’ve already explained what’s so enticing about this matchup when discussing Justin Herbert and Austin Ekeler earlier in the article. So I won’t try to sound like a broken record repeating myself here, but Mike Williams matchup in specific is just too good. He’s going to be going up against cornerback Anthony Averett who totes a 56.3 PFF grade and was outside the top-90 in coverage last season according to Sal Vetri on Twitter.
The Chargers signed Mike Williams to a big extension this year, and he is going to get his without a doubt on a weekly basis. Between Allen and Williams, they command a 45% target share out of Justin Herbert. Keenan Allen is no spring chicken and is getting another year older, hitting the 30-year mark. I expect him to have some signs of regression, as he did a bit already last year. So it’s time for Mike Williams to start the changing of the tide.
Speaking of last year – which I don’t like to compare too often because that was last year and outcomes can and will be different. But, Mike Williams capped off his fantastic season against the Las Vegas Raiders, ending it with 17 targets, 9 receptions for 119 yards and a touchdown. I’m no fortune teller, but I predict Mike Williams can find himself in another good situation like the one he had in Week 18.
D.J. Moore (DraftKings: $6,000 / FanDuel: $6,400)
I have loved D.J. Moore for far too long and have seen him go through a slew of dreadful quarterbacks year after year. Finally, this season he gets Baker Mayfield, and I get it. Some of you may be rolling your eyes at me like, “yeah ok buddy, Baker Mayfield, what a world beater”. But, yeah, he is far and away better than anyone D.J. Moore has ever had the chance to play with. That positive touchdown regression is going to be such a sweet, sweet victory to witness this upcoming season. I refuse to miss out on his hype train about to leave the station.
Also, what better of a week to play D.J. Moore than when Baker Mayfield is literally pedaling t-shirts implying the beat down he wants to put on the Cleveland Browns? The guy seems pretty pissed off. So who do you think Mayfield is going to be throwing to? Robbie Anderson, who considered retiring if Baker was his quarterback? Heck no! This is the D.J. Moore and Christian McCaffrey show on Sunday. He’s going to be throwing his butt off to one of the most underrated receivers in the game over and over again.
We are going to soak up his discounted price. D.J. Moore has all the intangibles looming of an elite WR1 with his insane target share. Just do yourself the favor and get ahead of everyone else and play him for this cheap, because it’s never going to be this way for us again.
Michael Pittman Jr. (DraftKings: $5,500 / FanDuel: $7,200)
Chris Olave (DraftKings: $4,500 / FanDuel: $5,000)
Kyle Pitts (DraftKings: $5,700 / FanDuel: $6,000)
I think a lot of us at this point are just super excited about Kyle Pitts. Whether you noticed or not, he had one of the best rookie tight end seasons we’ve ever seen. The sky’s the absolute limit for this kid, and I don’t care who is under center; he’s just too cheap for what he’s capable of. The kind of usage he is going to see in this offense for cash games is just too great to ignore. Not to mention 1,000 yards and only one touchdown last season? Yeah that’s about to change in a big way.
Kyle Pitts was 5th in targets amongst tight ends, 4th in routes run and commanded a 20% target share in his offense as a rookie. This man is not just a regular tight end; he is essentially a wide receiver playing the tight end position. What more could you ask for? A better quarterback? Sure. But, don’t let this scare you, because in DFS opportunity is key, and with the tight end position being such slim pickens, you better sure up this type of usage. Pitts is not too expensive yet, so take advantage while we still can. Week 1 provides all kinds of value on the slate while the people over at DraftKings and FanDuel are still a little unsure on what to make of these 2nd-year players or guys in better situations.
Darren Waller (DraftKings: $5,400 / FanDuel: $7,000)
One of my favorite ways to bring back against the Chargers is through the forgotten man, Darren Waller. Waller was banged up for a good portion of last season and now through training camp he’s found himself on the injury report almost the entire duration of camp as well. But, personally, I think that had a lot more to do with contract negotiation tactics then it did Waller being seriously injured. These kinds of things scare people away but scared money don’t make no money. We want Waller, who’s the cheapest of the elite 5 for this week.
A lot of “last year” talk, but honestly, give me a break. It’s Week 1, and I don’t have new data to go off of for this season to compare some situations. But, last year, the Los Angeles Chargers – if you can remember – bled points to the tight end position. Tight ends versus the Los Angeles Chargers averaged 17.5 DraftKings points per game in 2021. That is the worst in the league. Everyone is rushing to get Davante Adams or thinking Hunter Renfrow is going to repeat any of his fantasy success he had last year. However, I recommend you pivot and target Darren Waller. He will find himself with a lot less coverage now that defenses have to respect Adams’ presence on the field.
Dallas Goedert (DraftKings: $4,500 / FanDuel: $5,700)
Cole Kmet (DraftKings: $3,700 / FanDuel: $5,000)
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (DraftKings: $3,600 / FanDuel: $4,400)
Cincy is such a heavy favorite going up against Mitchell Trubisky. What can really go wrong here? Pittsburgh’s offensive line is still just as ugly as it was last season, and PFF has the Bengals defensive line ranked 14th heading into 2022. I expect the Bengals to be good enough to put some pressure on Trubisky, who hasn’t started for an NFL team in over a year. Getting acquainted with a new team going up against a strong division rival doesn’t bode well for the Steelers. I like my chances for Trubisky to make a lot of mistakes and not be able to get much going against the Bengals.
Miami Dolphins vs. New England Patriots (DraftKings: $2,600 / FanDuel: $3,800)
Just a hunch here, but New England sounds a bit messy right now. You have Matt Patricia as the new play caller: gross. Their wide receiver core is made up of Devante Parker, Jakobi Meyers, and Nelson Agholor: also gross. But then you even have reports out of camp that suggest Mac Jones is having a hard time adjusting to their new scheme. It just feels to me like New England is heading in one direction, while the Miami Dolphins are heading in another. So, if you do want to get a little less chalky on defense, this is a good place to pivot from the other 2 cheap D/ST’s I have listed below.
Washington Commanders vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (DraftKings: $2,500 / FanDuel: $3,700)
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Washington Commanders (DraftKings: $2,500 / FanDuel: $3,600)