After months and months of mock drafts, best ball leagues, supplemental drafts, and startups, Week 0 is finally here! The season is upon us, giving us something to watch other than the draft timer on Fantrax. I want to attack this year’s DraftKings DFS Main Slate content a little differently, giving you my favorite options to discuss for each pricing tier on the slate. Let’s get right into it, shall we?!
Caleb Williams ($9,900) is the highest-priced player as well as the highest-projected player on the slate. The USC team total sits in the mid-40s, making all of their options enticing. Williams averaged 33.2 FPPG on DraftKings last season and should continue to see that type of production in 2023.
If you’re looking to spend up on two quarterbacks, or looking to fade Caleb, then my favorite option is Diego Pavia ($7,400). He’s priced fairly aggressively for only averaging 16.2 FPPG last season, which might point to low ownership on the slate. He possesses a big-time rushing upside (5.5ypc and six total rushing touchdowns in 2022) and is hoping to build off an incredible final three-game stretch last year where he generated 13 total touchdowns.
Middle of the Pack
Chevan Cordeiro ($6,300) is going to be a popular pick on the slate, with many wanting to game stack the USC/SJSU game. Cordeiro’s rushing usage should be near 40% in this one giving him a high floor compared to the other options here. He found the end zone 32 times last year and is heavily relied upon in the Spartans’ offense. Considering the potential high ownership rates, Cordiero might be the guy to fade of the quarterback group.
I don’t love recommending Hank Bachmeier ($5,800), but it’s easy to see why he projects well against FIU. The Bulldawgs will be down at least one running back (maybe a second if Tyre Shelton is out), and the strength of their offense is out wide, where Smoke Harris and Cyrus Allen should do some damage in 2023. His price point being near Cordeiro could lessen his ownership, another plus to rostering him Saturday.
Kurtis Rourke ($5,500) doesn’t project all that great for me due to the average team total, but many in the industry think Vegas has this Ohio line all wrong. Rourke is battling back for a knee injury he suffered late last season, but he should be just fine for this matchup against SDSU. The good news is he isn’t really a runner. The bad news is he isn’t really a runner. With a low team total, your quarterback has to have different ways to rack up points. Play Rourke if you believe that Vegas is wrong. Fade Rourke, if you think Ohio scores in the mid-20s.
This isn’t the slate to get cute, but if you absolutely must, Taisun Phommachanh ($4,800) is the guy to target. He’s really the only cheap quarterback that is starting, so that makes this one easy! The one intriguing piece to his usage Saturday is the upside of 10+ rushing attempts. I won’t be venturing down this path personally, and neither should you.
The biggest thing to watch Saturday is how USC uses their running backs and which one of MarShawn Lloyd ($7,400) and Austin Jones ($7,800) starts. My lean is Lloyd, but if it’s Jones, then that works just as well. Both can handle a big workload and usage in all facets of the offense. The Trojan high total makes whichever guy starts a near must-have.
Week 0 doesn’t give us many great running back options, but I do think Sieh Bangura ($7,200) is completely viable, considering the value at the receiver position. He went for double-digit fantasy points in every game but one last year, thanks to his 17 total touchdowns and 27 receptions. That type of production makes for an extremely safe option, even with a mid-20 team total.
Middle of the Pack
With Marquis Cosby out and Tyre Shelton questionable, Charvis Thornton ($5,400) poses as a really interesting middle-of-the-pack option. He ran for 5.8 YPC in 2022 and seemingly is the next man up from everything I’ve read. It’ll be hard not to have a good bit of him with even a modest projection in terms of rush usage, but I do wonder how much they rotate backs. Is this a situation of Thornton getting a ton of usage because he’s shown to be decent enough, and otherwise, you’re giving an RB4 carries?
Tylan Hines ($4,700) comes in at a cheaper price tag, but he also comes with a very low team total (19 at the time of writing this). It’s hard for a running back to be an exciting play with such a low team total, unfortunately. The one thing saving Hines is that he is going to have heavy usage, and if Hawaii surprises us and scores in the high 20s, then he should easily hit value.
Many believe Sedrick Alexander ($3,700) takes over as the top Vandy running back by the season’s end. He’s a talented freshman who already has some size to him which is promising. Against Hawaii, the game script should give us a healthy amount of rushing attempts for the entire running back room.
If we hear that Keith Willis Jr. ($3,000) is starting for Louisiana Tech against FIU, then he makes for a very intriguing play. His minimum price tag allows you to do almost anything at quarterback.
The receiver position is super thin, even with USC on the slate. The issue with the Trojans is that they have too much talent out wide, and Caleb Williams is too good of a quarterback to not spread the ball around. Dorian Singer ($7,700) is my top Trojans’ target, but his price tag will likely limit my usage. I’m not a fan of Mario Williams at his salary, but I do think Brenden Rice ($6,200) and Tahj Washington ($6,800) are worthy of a heavy sprinkling of ownership.
Elsewhere, the only other option that’s expensive and worth considering is Sam Wiglusz ($7,100). His numbers last year were quite impressive (73/877/11) and could have been even better had Rourke not gotten injured last in the season. If you’re using Rourke, then you must heavily consider Wiglusz.
Middle of the Pack
Smoke Harris ($6,600) and Cyrus Allen ($5,700) are two great options on the slate. Harris has a higher floor due to what should be a heavy volume of targets, while Allen is more likely to have a huge game, thanks to his big play potential. Both are worth considering in all of your lineups.
Will Sheppard ($5,000) eats against lesser competition, and that’s exactly what Hawaii is. Last year, he went for 3/39/2 against them in the season opener. He followed that performance up with four more touchdowns and 26 receptions over his next four games. Unfortunately for him, the SEC schedule was too much for the Vandy offense, limiting his upside. Utilize Sheppard’s high volume of targets (30%+ market share) while you can!
You can pretty much list every Hawaii receiver in this section, as we don’t have a clear picture of how they’ll be used, and the majority are priced very cheap. Pofele Ashlock ($3,000), Koali Nishigaya ($3,000), Chuuky Hines ($3,000), and Steven McBride ($3,700) are some of the different names that have popped this offseason. The depth chart has been released, and it appears that Ashlock and Nishigaya are the starting slot guys, while Hines is surprisingly a backup at an out wide spot. McBride is a starter out wide. Even with this depth chart, I’m not convinced that we don’t see a rotation of guys or guys moving inside and outside throughout the game.
Brionne Penny ($3,800) has some intrigue to me due to his matchup against an Ohio defense that will struggle in 2023 to defend the pass. Penny should see a nice dosage of targets in this matchup, giving him some nice upside from a player very likely to be low-owned. If you’re looking for one last option, then Mark Pope ($3,900) has some appeal due to his background at Miami (FL) and likely WR1 usage.