Week 1 GPP Breakdown and Ownership Projections
Hey all and welcome to Week One!!! This has been one of the longest summers I can remember as it relates to fantasy football. I started my research much earlier than I ever have, which was last March. It’s felt like I’ve been plodding along at the slowest pace of Oregon Trail (I just dated myself) but have finally reached my destination well before winter has arrived. Let’s take a look at the Week One DFS slate!
Before we dive in, for those of you who may be reading my DFS article for the first time, a couple notes about what I am trying to accomplish.
First, I would argue that playing DFS is as much about playing your opponents as it is about “picking the right players.” This is where ownership projections come into play. If we can discern where our competition is going to invest, then we’ll be able to gain opportunities to pivot off players in certain salary ranges and put ourselves in positions for a high finish in GPPs should chalky players fail. As an example, in Week 18 of last year I took home first place in a GPP largely because I played an unowned Elijah Mitchell of the San Francisco 49ers. He had 55 yards and 2 rushing scores which went quite nicely with my Russell Wilson/Jerry Jeudy stack. Years ago I did something similar with an unowned Rex Burkhead and the Patriots defense against the Raiders.
Second, projections are just that, projections. They are not going to be 100% accurate. Instead, they are designed to give us an idea of what the field is going to do. Last year I started making my own projections; some weeks were good, some were off. I will continue to refine the process to make ownership projections more accurate, but they are but a guide, not a set of rules or laws.
Third, this article is published on a Friday. Things will change prior to kickoff on Sunday. We already saw how things can change in an instant with Travis Kelce. However, the good news is that I provide updates. Join my Discord chat for those updates on Sunday morning, it’s free.
Fourth, please remember that it’s Week One. Whether you’re a seasonal fantasy player, a DFS player, or both, it’s wise to not overreact to whatever happens in Week One. A single game does not a season make. If Jordan Addison goes out and only catches one pass, that doesn’t mean his season is over. Conversely, if he has 6 catches for 100 yards and 2 touchdowns, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s the next Jerry Rice.
Lastly, there’s 13 games to dissect here, and I can’t play everyone. Choices have to be made. Heck, I even spent some time writing up players I have no intention of playing. This is more about identifying where the field is going to go, and where we can get different. Just because I didn’t write someone up doesn’t mean they stink, or that they’re not viable. It just means I’m likely not going there this week.
Enough of that. Let’s get into it!
Week 11 GPP Ownership Report
I play single entry and 3 max GPPs, so I try to gear my ownership numbers to reflect those contests. 20 and 150 max entries could vary significantly, but below are the players projected with the highest ownership in the Week One DFS Main Slate. Week One has 13 games and it’s probably the healthiest week of the NFL season. As such, ownership will likely be more spread out than later in the year when bye weeks start happening and starting players incur injuries.
- Washington Commanders – 19.1%
- Justin Jefferson – 18.1%
- Tyreek Hill – 17.6%
- Ja’Marr Chase – 16.9%
- Jamaal Williams- 14.5%
- Austin Ekeler – 14.1%
- Kenneth Walker – 13.8%
- Elijah Moore – 13.2%
- Christian Kirk – 12.4%
- Jalen Hurts – 11.9%
- Christian McCaffrey – 11.9%
- Justin Herbert – 11.1%
- Lamar Jackson – 10.9%
- Javonte Williams – 10.6%
- Mike Williams – 10.4%
A couple of notes:
- The Commanders are an auto-fade for me. I don’t play chalk defenses.
- I think Elijah Moore comes in higher than 13.2%.
- Not sure how much I trust numbers 10 – 15. They all might be a little lower than that.
Week One Game Stacks
Below are instances where you can conceivably stack games because we’re hoping for a shootout. Don’t necessarily consider these stacks my “picks” though. When aiming to stack an entire game, you are hoping for a shootout like the game between Colorado and TCU last weekend. These are viable options due to the high over/unders, but some will also carry more ownership than others. If 25% of the field is going to stack the Dolphins and the Chargers because they have the highest over/under, well, it will be hard to beat 25% of the field by doing the exact same thing that they’re doing. However, you could play that stack and then roster a couple guys like Treylon Burks or Jauan Jennings who will not be owned. You could also stack Herbert with Gerald Everett and Josh Palmer instead. Being different from my opponents is the only way I have ever been successful finishing high in GPPs.
Miami Dolphins @ Los Angeles Chargers
Speaking of the highest-owned stacks, we get the late afternoon Dolphins vs. Chargers with an over/under of 51. Both of these offenses are projected to be pass-heavy in 2023. The Dolphins will continue to try and put Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle in positions to make plays after the catch. On the Chargers side, new OC Kellen Moore is going to try and increase Justin Herbert’s depth of target numbers.
I do feel many DFS players are going to stack this game. If going this route, I want 5 or 6 players from this environment. Something like Herbert or Tua Tagovailoa with 2 or 3 of their pass catchers, and then 2 players on the opposing side. The other option is just a piece or 2, like Tyreek and Mike Williams or Keenan Allen and Waddle. Feel free to mix in Austin Ekeler and Quentin Johnston, but your guess is as good as mine as to the right combination for the Chargers this week.
If you’re looking for an argument against stacking this game, I will provide you with one: Vic Fangio. Mr. Fangio has not been the greatest of head coaches, but he has been a solid defensive coordinator and has helped to improve defenses wherever he has been. He is now the DC for the Dolphins. Yes, it’s not great that Miami has lost Jalen Ramsay, but this group could still make life difficult for an offense that is rolling out a brand new system in Week One.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Cleveland Browns
I’m not full on stacking this game, but I think others will. What has me hesitant here is that divisional matchups can often be more competitive and low scoring than some anticipate. The last 3 meetings between these teams have produced totals of 33, 43, and 37. The over/under of 47.5, however, is the second highest on the slate and prior to the last 3 meetings the Browns and Bengals routinely went over.
The other thing that is giving me pause is the health of Joe Burrow as well as his history against Cleveland. I’ve blown out a calf/achilles before. It isn’t pleasant, and it’s very limiting (even to this day). Now I know I’m no professional athlete, but call me skeptical about Burrow being 100% in this one after suffering a calf injury early this preseason. In his career, Burrow averages 295 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, and 3 sacks against this Browns defense. That doesn’t scream GPP winner to me.
When doing my offseason prep work, I jotted down this: “attack the Bengals defense with slot WRs, mobile QBs, and TEs.” DC Lou Anarumo likes to stifle the outside WRs with press coverage and help from the safeties. The philosophy behind the scheme is to give his rushers more time to get to the QB. Hence, mobile QBs and interior receivers are the primary beneficiaries in these instances. Well, Deshaun Watson and Elijah Moore fit that bill here. Moore is projected to run the majority of his routes out of the slot and Watson is capable of taking to the ground to escape pressure. Conceivably, this could make David Njoku in play as well. All that being said, Cleveland wants to run the ball and is built to do so. DFS sites screwed up Elijah Moore’s salary and much of the fantasy community realizes it too. Therefore Moore should be a popular player on Sunday.
Another note that I made was “running backs vs the Browns” because Jim Schwartz employs a version of the 4-3 scheme called the wide 9. In this scheme, defensive ends line up outside of offensive tackles as a means to test the opposing line’s lateral movement when it comes to blocking. Traditionally, a wide 9 is easier to run against. As such, I am interested in adding Joe Mixon to my player pool, but his ownership percentage (10.1%) is higher than I would like.
San Francisco 49ers @ Pittsburgh Steelers
I feel like I know what you’re thinking….because I’m thinking the same thing. You really want to stack two good defenses against one another? In this case, yes, as it’s a potential opportunity to go against the grain. This matchup opened at an over/under of 46 earlier in the week, but DraftKings’ Sportsbook now has it at 41. Excellent. I love when the field is going one way when I want to go the other.
TJ Watt is healthy, and the defense’s primary goal is creating pressure and stopping the run. Additionally, the last time we saw Brock Purdy in a real NFL game, he couldn’t throw the football. If I were a DC, I’d focus on challenging Brock Purdy to throw over 4 quarters. Deebo Samuel is carrying a little bit of ownership, which makes sense since he’s awesome and priced stupidly low. Brandon Aiyuk is carrying some ownership as well. The 49er receiving core is not priced well in Week One. CMC should always be considered if he is healthy, but if I’m the Steelers I want to force Brock Purdy to beat me with someone other than McCaffrey.
Our man Lawrence Iacona pointed out that the Steelers are playing against one of the best rushing defenses in the league. While I personally disagree with his and many other assessments of the Steeler backfield, the point is that it will be difficult for the Steelers to run the rock in this matchup unless Pittsburgh finds some way to dominate the line of scrimmage. Good thing Pickett went 5 for 5 in preseason drives with a score. The 49ers lost both Jimmie Ward and Emmanuel Moseley from their secondary, so growing pains are bound to occur for the San Francisco secondary. It’s entirely conceivable, at least to me, that we see a coming out game from Kenny Pickett. I’ll be stacking him with 2nd year receiver George Pickens who will be WR1 in this offense sooner than later. I like being early to a party rather than late; both are virtually unowned.
So we’re clear here, this game is still unlikely to shoot out. Pittsburgh has the potential to make life difficult all around for SF, which leaves the possibility that the Pitt offense won’t have to put up that many points. All I’m saying is that there is a potential for some back and forth here, and no one else is really on it.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Minnesota Vikings
I know, this one had me sick to my stomach too. Mike Evans has been getting disrespected in drafts all summer, and now his ownership numbers (3.2%) suggest further disrespect. The Vikings have shown struggles covering the deep ball, but can we trust Baker Mayfield to get it to him? Sometimes this game isn’t for the faint of heart. If the Bucs don’t target Evans down the field, I could see them leaning on Chris Godwin out of the slot against CB Byron Murphy who is brand new to this defense and hasn’t been a great Nickel corner prior to landing in Minnesota. If you do stack Baker Mayfield with both of these guys, you’ll be doing something that many are not. Cade Otton is not going to be owned either. The Bucs are likely going to have to throw if they want to stay in this game.
Alexander Mattison is not someone I am big on for seasonal, but being favorites at home, I could see Minnesota leaning on Mattison especially late in the game to close it out. Justin Jefferson and TJ Hockesnson are the ones gathering ownership in this matchup, so pivoting to Mattison, KJ Osborn or Jordan Addison will make your approach much more unique, albeit significantly more risky.
Just to be clear, a skinny stack is different from a game stack in that you are using just one QB with one or maybe two pass catchers and then zero or maybe one player from the opposing side. A skinny stack isn’t hoping for a shootout as much as say 300 or more yards and 3 or more scores from the QB with at least a couple of those going to one receiver. Feel free to turn one of these into a game stack, but I’m probably not going that route with 13 games on the slate.
- Derek Carr with Chris Olave or Rashid Shaheed. To be upfront, like ghosts, I don’t believe that Michael Thomas is real. To that end, I’d rather stack Carr with Olave or Shaheed though I prefer Olave in this matchup. The Titans secondary has been disappointing for years now. Most recently they invested a lot of capital to replace their secondary with youth. So far it hasn’t worked and until they show me otherwise, I will try to take advantage. Also, Derek Carr will be unowned.
- I’m not playing a chalky Jamaal Williams. Seems like a ticket to Taysom Hill vulturing a TD.
- On the other side, I’m happy to run it back with Derrick Henry or maybe Treylon Burks, but the Saints are decent against the run.
- In 2 games versus the Rams last year, Tyler Lockett had 19 targets for 13 grabs, 182 yards, and 2 TDs. DK Metcalf had 16 targets for 11 catches, 167 yards, and a score. Jalen Ramsay is gone and the two CBs left, Derion Kendrick and Ahkello Witherspoon, aren’t exactly world beaters. Geno Smith continues to be underrated, and I get why, but a possible solid outing could be in store for the Seattle QB. I’m just not sure the Rams can keep up, and I have no idea who they are going to throw to. Tyler Higbee’s ownership (8.5%) has steadily increased throughout the week, so I probably won’t land there too much if at all.
- Jalen Hurts with any number of Eagles. This game feels like a trap though. Why are the Eagles, a team on the rise and coming off a Super Bowl appearance, only 3.5 point favorites in this matchup? Between the ownership numbers and the things I’ve heard others say, many are treating the Eagles with kid gloves in Week One. Other than Hurts, players like. D’Andre Swift, AJ Brown, Dallas Goedert, and DeVanta Smith aren’t gathering much ownership. It’s going to be tough to discern from week to week which Eagles’ players to start in DFS, but they all make for intriguing plays in their salary ranges this week. Tread lightly as the Patriots defense is legit, but Swift (4.3% owned), Brown (7%), and Smith (5.1%) are looking like possible leverage in Week One.
- Russell Wilson with Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, Marvin Mims or Javante Williams. Denver, Sean Payton, Russell Wilson, and company are all going to be better than folks think. With Jerry Jeudy questionable for Week One, Sutton and Mims could get boosts in this matchup. The ownership numbers are going to come down to whether or not Jeudy plays. Mims will be catching a few deep balls from Russ this season, Sutton will play the X receiver in Payton ‘s offense which traditionally does well fantasy wise, and Javonte got 5! targets in a quarter of work in the second week of the preseason. The Raiders were one of the worst defenses a season ago as well. The Raiders are running out rookie CB Jakorian Bennett, and I have a feeling Sean Payton and Russ are going to test him.
- Samaje Perine is carrying a little ownership, 6.8%, into this weekend. In pretty much every draft I did over the summer people thought they were getting sneaky by drafting Perine. Javonte is the starter, and to be brutally honest, he is much more talented. Yes, I know Williams suffered a major injury last year. Yes, I know Perine did well replacing Mixon last year. Yes, I know both Kamara and Ingram were able to co-exist in the Saints offense when Payton was there. Yes, I know Perine will still see playing time in this matchup. He isn’t the starter though, and therefore his ceiling is very likely capped unless Williams goes down with an injury again. Perine is also carrying more ownership than he should be getting, so no thanks.
- Davante Adams loves to show up in optimal lineups and makes for a great run back in this spot. I suppose you could add Josh Jacobs to the list, but players who skip camp and preseason games often get injured.
- Justin Fields with DJ Moore or Cole Kmet or even just Fields by himself as he should be running in this one. DJ Moore’s low ownership of 5% has me interested, but CB Jaire Alexander has me worried as well.
- Running it back with Aaron Jones sounds appealing. Romeo Doubs is not going to be owned as most will go with Christian Watson instead, though both are dealing with hamstring issues. It’s likely that the Packers test rookie CB Tyrique Stevenson with at least 1 deep shot to Watson at some point in this contest.
This should be self-explanatory, but a one-off is a receiver or back you’re not stacking with a QB. Feel free to run someone back on the opposing side or combine with a defense, but it isn’t necessary.
- A Jaguars Receiver. I have zero confidence that the Colts can hang with the Jags so stacking is unlikely for me. One or two of Calvin Ridley, Christian Kirk, Zay Jones or Evan Engram will likely have a good day though. Out of the four, I like Ridley and Jones on the outside against two undrafted free agent CBs now that Stephon Gillmore is gone. Zay Jones will be the lowest owned of the bunch while Kirk should be the highest.
- Brian Robinson is my preferred back against Arizona. Antonio Gibson will definitely get his chances here too, but he’ll be utilized more in passing situations. Plus there is no reason to ask Sam Howell to go out and win this game when they can run Zona into the ground.
- Dalton Schultz has the chance to be a PPR machine in this offense. 5 grabs for 60 won’t suck at his price point. Add in a TD and he smashes value, especially at 3% ownership.
- Zay Flowers is coming in at 3% ownership and the Ravens are now supposedly more of a passing team. This guy had four good years in college, and I expect he will have good years in the NFL too. Let’s start right away in Week One!
- Bijan Robinson should probably be getting more ownership than the 6.8% at which I’m seeing him. He will smash slates and Week One could potentially be the first.
- I have Miles Sanders at 5.2% ownership. At his price point, he makes for a pivot off of the chalkier Rachaad White and his 9% ownership.
Where am I Going?
Last reminder: it’s Friday. As we head into the weekend, much can change, so I reserve the right to update things. Join the Discord and I’ll furnish you with those updates as well as answer any questions you may have. As of right now though…
- Fading the Miami vs. LAC as a game stack. I’m totally open to pieces of it, but this is solely a game theory move.
- Chubb and the Browns defense has me quite interested.
- If the Baker Mayfield double stack were to come through, there will be a lot of money in my pocket come Sunday night.
- I’m stacking the 49ers and Steelers. No one talks about it, yet Aiyuk and Deebo are underpriced and garnering ownership.
- Justin Fields can break the slate. DJ Moore and Cole Kmet are virtually unowned.
- Zay Jones might win someone a million dollars on Sunday.
- Double-stacking Russ is on my agenda, with Javante being part of it. I will have to wait to see what happens with Jeudy though.
- The Patriots defense is unowned, and they might have the next Darrelle Revis on their hands in Christian Gonzalez. Otherwise I like cheap defenses who are playing passing offenses and will have little ownership.
Remember, don’t overreact to Week One and thanks for reading!
Matt, aka Boris, had a friend in his high school freshman English class once mistakenly call him that, and the nickname has somehow stuck ever since. He has been playing fantasy football since the early 2000s and Daily Fantasy Sports since 2015. Boris has been writing about DFS since 2020 and is excited to be a part of GridIron Experts. He has a wife (proving someone can stand him) and a daughter. Boris loves the beach, skiing, hockey, soccer, and football. He attempts to teach high school English, and aspires to make a ton of money in DFS. Follow him on Twitter @Borisnow00.