Rejoice, for the fantasy football season has returned!
The NFL kicks off its season Thursday, and with it the start of fantasy season. The opening game features the defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers and the perennially disappointing Cowboys.
But these Cowboys might be a bit different than what we last saw. Dak Prescott is healthy. The offensive line is not as banged up, though they will be without Zack Martin after a positive COVID test. That doesn’t help, but it is still better than what they were working with for much of last season.
The Bucs? They return everybody. Quite literally, every one of their Super Bowl starters. Plus, they get back Vita Vea, making an already good defense even better.
This is bad news for Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott. Now don’t be mad, because the Madman knows we told you we expect a Zeke rebound this season. We still do. But the start of that rebound likely won’t come until later. The Bucs allowed league-lows in yards per carry last season (3.6) and rushing touchdowns (10).
It is a big ask to bench Elliott, considering he still has TD potential and the volume will be there. Unless you’re absolutely stacked at RB, you’re going to have to play him, but downgrade expectations. This means you might need to gamble elsewhere in your starting lineup for a high-upside player over one with a lower ceiling but a higher floor.
If you’re playing single-game DFS contests, the bulk of our rosters will not include Elliott. But it is DFS, where you need some contrarian elements to create a unique roster capable of winning a large tournament. In that regard, Elliott becomes a good contrarian option. Don’t fade him entirely if you have multiple entries, invest in some shares for the sake of roster diversity.
The Cowboys don’t have shut-down corners, so the Tampa Bay passing game should have a big night. Our favorite DFS play among Bucs WRs is Antonio Brown, because he is the cheapest and we anticipate more ownership for both Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.
Likewise, we are comfortable starting Cowboys passing options in all formats. CeeDee Lamb is getting most of the hype recently, which makes us more inclined to use Amari Cooper. The fact Cooper is priced higher than Lamb doesn’t detract from this position, since it encourages more people to use Lamb on their rosters, making Cooper more unique. For those newbies out there, this is called “fading up.”
For season-long purposes, the only tight end that interests us is Rob Gronkowski, just on his sheer TD potential. But hopefully you have a better option on your roster, because we don’t want to have to lean on Gronk.
For DFS, you aren’t required to use a tight end. But if you spend big elsewhere and need a cheap punt to finish off your roster, we are comfortable with a low-cost flyer on Blake Jarwin.
Mostly, we’re just happy to be playing again. Enjoy. Football is back.