USA Today Sports

Fantasy Football: Tom Brady among those who will star in Week 1

Pete Davidson
September 08, 2018 - 6:39 pm

With the first main slate of the 2018 NFL season kicking off tomorrow, I thought it was a good time to talk about which players are likely to make the biggest impact and score the most fantasy points. In yesterday’s column, I talked about the values I am using in Week 1. The reason I care so much about value is that cheap production allows me to fit more heavy lifters into my lineup. So let’s see if we can identify some.

Jim Hackett and I will get into all of these players and a bunch more Saturday night's special episode of the Fantasy Football Hour. We’re on from 9-11 p.m. on 93.7. Tune in!

All pricing was sourced from DraftKings.


With so many value options out there due to early misguided pricing (they release the Week 1 pricing in early August), it’s not hard to pay up for the higher level quarterbacks.  I’ll probably have more shares of elite passers this week than on most of the subsequent weeks  this season.

Tom Brady, Patriots vs. Texans, $7,200

Brady is worth owning for sure, but he won’t be my most started passer this week. The reason for this is a lack of core weaponry—specifically a true slot weapon. My guess is that the Patriots find a way to make it work, and perhaps pass quite a bit, but they’ll have to work a little harder than normal.  In the past, if Wes Welker was down, they had Julian Edelman, and if Edelman was down they had Danny Amendola. I would say that Rex Burkhead could be the savior here, but I can’t safely assume that Burkhead is healthy enough to play a lot of slot this week. So again, while I believe that Brady finds a way, the air show we saw against the Texans in last year’s regular-season meeting, may not be repeatable.  

Drew Brees, Saints vs. Bucs, $6,800

Brees is in a great spot. His team’s leading early down runner, Mark Ingram, is out.  This means that game flow is unlikely to take the ball out of Brees’ hands.  They will throw even if they get ahead by a few scores. Eventually, they may go to ex-Pat Mike Gillislee as a closer, but by that point, a lot of offensive damage will have been done.  And, if Tampa can somehow muster up some offense, Brees could really go off.  He’s got the best floor of any QB out there. The obvious stacking option is Michael Thomas but Alvin Kamara is another, along with Ben Watson.


David Johnson, Arizona vs. Washington, $8,800

He’s crazy pricey, but you get what you pay for with Johnson, who is impervious to game flow—playing a key role in both the run game and the passing attack.  He’s coming off an injury, but it was to his wrist and it’s fully healed.  This guy is fresh and raring to go.  I want him in as many lineups as possible.

Christian McCaffrey, Panthers vs. Cowboys, $6,400

He’s going up against a Rod Marinelli defense and that could really work for him.  Dallas tries to keep the ball in front of the defensive backs. They’ll challenge some up front, with numbers, but they are exceedingly averse to giving up the deep ball.  This should force the ball to McCaffrey, which makes me love his floor at this cost.  The question is, can he tack on a few big plays or touchdowns to get over the top and help you win big?  I like his chances.

Kareem Hunt, Chiefs at Chargers, $6,900

Hunt absolutely crushed the Chargers last year for 327 rushing yards in two games.  Also of note are the seven receptions Hunt hauled in against them in Week 15.  He wasn’t even targeted seven times in any other game, so there are a few ways he could do well here.  I have to think K.C. will want to run the ball to help their young quarterback, who is making his first “real” start.  At 6,900 units, Hunt’s not hard to fit into lineups.  I’ll have some shares active for sure.


Michael Thomas, Saints vs. Bucs, $7,800

The matchup is choice and as I said earlier, Brees may throw more than normal—even after they get a lead. The Bucs have no answer for Thomas. I see catches.  Lots of catches.

A.J. Green, Bengals at Colts, $7,300

He’s definitely one of my core plays this week.  I won’t have many lineups that don’t include either Green or John Ross, because I feel like at least one will have a big day if not both.  The Colts cornerbacks simply have no answer for them.

Chris Hogan, Patriots vs. Texans, $6,100

What’s not to like? He’s cost-friendly.  He’ll be the only established wide receiver in uniform for the Patriots.  He scored twice on the Texans last year.  And, thanks to Gronk, he won’t be the focal point of the defense.  If Tom Brady receives even decent pass protection, I expect big things from Hogan versus the Texans’ mediocre secondary.  I’ll have him active in many tournaments.


Rob Gronkowski, Patriots vs. Texans, $6,900

To win a big tournament of DraftKings, you need some luck for sure, but in terms of things you can control, you need to make sure you have major upside at every single slot.  There are not many tight ends who qualify, even theoretically.  Gronk leads the way in this regard.  Plenty of tight ends can score twice in one game, but few can do it while posting over 100 yards receiving.  It’s that dual threat that makes him special in this format.

Travis Kelce, Chiefs at Chargers, $6,400

If you cannot afford Gronk, then Kelce is the other guy to focus on.  He can be his team’s top weapon this week because the Chargers handle wide receivers about as well as anybody in the league.