Week 1 of NewArena’s Office FanDuel Battle: Picks, Sleepers, and Explanations

Two of our fantasy experts — Dylan Fraychineaud and Harris Ahmadzai — have challenged each other to a season-long FanDuel battle. For those that aren’t familiar with the FanDuel, it’s a daily fantasy football site that allows millions of people from across the world duke it out on the virtual gridiron. Typically, each ‘contest’ involves some sort of salary cap, and the players are tasked with building the most optimal fantasy football lineup within the confines of said cap.

Rules are fairly standard — 4-point passing touchdowns, 6-points for a rushing or receiving touchdown, and .5 PPR. Lineups are comprised of 1 QB, 2 RB’s, 3 WR’s, 1 TE, 1 Flex, and a defense/special teams. We’re going to keep a running tally throughout the year of who wins every week, and the winner will receive monetary compensation and ultimate bragging rights.

Here’s what they each came up with for Week 1:

Dylan Fraychineaud

QB — WAS Alex Smith (at LAC) — $6,900

Smith doesn’t have an easy matchup facing the Cardinals, but it is also not the most daunting. I wanted a good QB to round out my team, but also had to save enough money to target some top options at other positions. With 12 players priced higher than Smith, his relative low-cost/high-upside price tag was too much to pass up.

RB — KC Kareem Hunt (at LAC) — $8,000; BAL Alex Collins (vs. Buf) — $6,700

Hunt was a machine last year against the Chargers. Although he cost me more than the majority of my roster, I couldn’t stay away from KC’s electric back. I love Collins’ matchup in Week 1. The Bills are a mess and the Ravens are playing at home. Compared to the other options in Collins’ price range — Lamar Miller, Kenyan Drake, Derrick Henry — I preferred the Raven.

WR — PIT Antonio Brown (at Cle)  $9,000; NE Chris Hogan (vs. Hou) — $6,700; CIN John Ross (at Ind) — $5,100

Brown was a necessary splurge this week. With Le’Veon most likely skipping Week 1, Brown should get an absurd amount of targets. I like Hogan to be Brady’s No. 2 target after Gronk — hoping for 7-10 catches — and Ross is purely me taking a chance. Ross has the ability to take any reception to the house.

TE — NE Rob Gronkowski (vs. Hou) — $7,900

Gronk against an iffy Houston secondary seems like a no-brainer. The gulf between Gronk and the third TE (Greg Olsen) was a hefty $1,600, but in my mind worth every penny.

FLEX — DAL Cole Beasley (at Car) — $4,800

At this point I was running low on money to play with. The Cowboys don’t have a clear No. 1 receiver, so why not pick someone Dak is comfortable with. Beasley should haul in a few passes and I’m hoping for a touchdown.

DEF — Baltimore (vs. Buf) — $4,800

The Ravens were the easy choice this week. The last time Nathan Peterman started a game he threw five interceptions in the first half. As soon as the Bills announced Peterman as their starter, the Ravens were locked in as my defense for the week.

Harris Ahmadzai

QB — LAC Philip Rivers (vs. KC) — $7500

Have you seen the Kansas City secondary? With Marcus Peters now on the Rams, and Eric Berry expected to miss the Week 1 tilt, the Chiefs boast one of the weaker defensive back units in all of football. Rivers will have no problem slicing up KC’s defense on a warm Sunday in Los Angeles, making him an easy choice to start my lineup with.

RB — NO Alvin Kamara (vs. TB) — $8,700; NE Rex Burkhead (vs. Hou) — $6,300

No Mark Ingram means we could be in store for the biggest workload of Kamara’s young career. The shifty back dazzled the NFL world with a unique blend of vision, balance, and burst in his rookie season. The Bucs — playing without starting QB Jameis Winston — are woefully bad and will struggle moving the ball on a stingy New Orleans defense. Kamara will be used early and often, and should get plenty of carries in the second half when the Saints are comfortably leading.

Somebody has to score for New England, right? Dion Lewis left for Tennessee, Julian Edelman is serving a suspension, Mike Gillislee is with the Saints, and rookie Sony Michel isn’t expected to ready for Week 1. While James White still looms, it’s more likely that Burkhead gets the brunt of the early-down work. He’s also the best option near the goal line, and the Pats shouldn’t have much trouble reaching the red zone.

WR — LAC Keenan Allen (vs. KC) — $8,000; IND T.Y. Hilton (vs. Cin) — $7,200; DEN Demaryius Thomas (vs. Sea) — $7,000

For Allen; See: Philip Rivers. With no Marcus Peters there to shadow Allen, expect LA’s top receiver to be running free in Kansas City’s secondary more often than not.

Andrew Luck’s return to the football field is an enormous moment for all parties involved. Hilton is the main beneficiary of Luck coming back, as the two share one of the strongest rapports in the league. As long as he can avoid stud corner William Jackson III, Hilton (and Luck) are in store for a big game.

I’m all aboard the Broncos’ receiver hype train. The arrival of Case Keenum should revitalize Denver’s corp after enduring two seasons of Trevor Siemien and Paxton Lynch. The uber-consistent Thomas will look to get off on the right foot after completing six seasons of at least 80+ receptions and 900+ yards receiving.

TE — CLE David Njoku (vs. Pit) — $5,300

Call it an overreaction, but I really like what I saw from Njoku during Hard Knocks. The 2017 first-round pick was dominant in the pre-season, and has all the tools to be the next big vertical threat at the tight end position. New QB Tyrod Taylor was especially fond of TE Charles Clay during his time in Buffalo, and will look to complete some easy ones to Njoku in hopes of opening up the rest of Cleveland’s offense.

Flex — WAS Paul Richardson (at Ari) — $5,700

Richardson has been one of my sleeper picks all offseason long – it’s only fitting that I roll with him in Week 1. The speedy wide-out had his fair share of highlight plays for the Seahawks last season, and looks to take another leap in his development with an increased role in Washington. Jump on the Richardson bandwagon before his cost explodes upwards.

Defense — New England (vs. Hou) — $4,200

Expect a healthy amount of turnovers to be committed in Deshaun Watson’s first game after undergoing ACL surgery. The sophomore quarterback is a sensational talent, but can get himself into trouble given his gun-slinging mentality. Bill Belichick won’t tolerate a repeat performance from last year’s opener (allowed 41 points to Kansas City), and the Pats buckle down and stifle a Texans team that is a tad overhyped.

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