DraftKings Week 1 DFS Salary Release Means NFL Season Is Almost Here

Justin Jefferson, the No. 1 pick in best ball drafts all offseason, has the top price tag
justin jefferson catch

Given that the NFL has become essentially a year-round sport, it’s perhaps silly to try to identify the day or week when its season truly begins. Nevertheless, it’s beginning to feel, as July gives way to August, like the NFL is back.

The Browns and Jets will kick off the preseason on Thursday, and — more importantly to some in the gambling community — last Friday DraftKings dropped its DFS Week 1 pricing.

DK is offering two Millionaire Makers for the opening week of the regular season at decidedly disparate price points. For the average DFS-dreamer Joe, there’s a $5 buy-in with a $5 million prize pool, 20% of which goes to first place. And for the deeper-pocketed fantasy player, there’s a $100 entry tournament with a $2.5 million prize pool, 40% of which goes to the top score.

There are 13 games on the main Sunday slate in play for these tournaments, with the Chiefs, Lions, Cowboys, Giants, Bills, and Jets all left out as they play prime-time games. So whoever wins those million-dollar prizes won’t have Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, Stefon Diggs, or Saquon Barkley in their lineups.

But there are still plenty of superstars available to roster, including, at the highest price point of the week, Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson, who costs $8,800 of an entrant’s $50,000 in salary. Jefferson has been the first pick in most best ball drafts throughout the offseason — particularly on full-PPR (point per reception) sites like DraftKings — and that’s consistent with his price for this Week 1 home game against Tampa Bay.

Here’s a quick position-by-position glance, some six weeks before lineup lock:


Lamar Jackson has the highest price on the signal-caller slate at $8K, just ahead of Jalen Hurts ($7,800) and Justin Fields ($7,700). Clearly, the QBs most likely to score 6 fantasy points with their legs in addition to their potential to snag 4 points with their arms are getting priced up for Week 1.

The health of Joe Burrow ($7,100) will be a major storyline to track (and one that impacts the popularity of his Bengals teammates), while several QBs in the $6Ks could see decent ownership, including Justin Herbert ($6,900), Tua Tagovailoa ($6,700), Trevor Lawrence ($6,500), and Jefferson stack partner Kirk Cousins ($6,300).

For those looking to save salary on boom-or-bust plays, the rookie trio of Anthony Richardson ($5,600), Bryce Young ($5,500), and C.J. Stroud ($5,400) is tightly bunched.

Running back

San Francisco’s veteran dual threat, Christian McCaffrey, has the top price tag here at $8,700. He’s followed by Austin Ekeler ($8,400), Nick Chubb ($8,200), and Atlanta rookie Bijan Robinson, jacked all the way up to $8,000 for his first NFL game.

There’s plenty of drama surrounding Jonathan Taylor, who’s priced as $7,900 but currently listed on DK as “out” for Week 1.

Value is likely to open up somewhere due to a preseason injury to a starter, or if someone from a potential RB-by-committee situation becomes the clear lead back heading into Week 1. That latter category includes the likes of Washington’s Brian Robinson Jr. ($5,100) and Philadelphia’s Rashaad Penny ($5,000).

Wide receiver

Beneath Jefferson, the next highest salary belongs to the Rams’ Cooper Kupp, who could be seen as a steal at $8,400 if he’s the same player post-injury that he was during L.A.’s 2021-22 Super Bowl season.

There’s little surprise in the next few prices: Tyreek Hill ($8,200), Ja’Marr Chase ($8,100), Davante Adams ($7,900), and A.J. Brown ($7,600). DeAndre Hopkins is at $6,900 for his Titans debut, while Calvin Ridley is $6,500 for his first game in nearly two years, since his suspension for betting on NFL games.

Most lineups end up including at least one or two cheap WRs. While injuries may open up some value there, just based on current situations, veteran Adam Thielen ($4,600) holds upside in his Panthers debut, while Tyler Boyd seems awfully affordable at $4,100 if Burrow is healthy and under center.

Tight end

Without Travis Kelce on the main slate, the top dogs here are Mark Andrews ($6,200), T.J. Hockenson ($5,900), and George Kittle ($5,700), all of whom have proven capable of 40-point explosions.

The health of Kyle Pitts ($4,500) will be worth watching, as previously burned fantasy owners continue to wonder if he’ll ever play to his potential.

For those looking to punt on tight end, Austin Hooper costs just $3K as the new TE1 in Las Vegas, and Irv Smith Jr. ($3,600) is another theoretical value play on the Bengals’ roster as long as Burrow’s calf strain is healed.

Defense/special teams

Defensive fantasy points mostly come down to turnovers, which in turn mostly come down to playing against weak offensive lines or inexperienced quarterbacks.

The highest-priced defenses in Week 1 are Baltimore ($4K, facing rookie Stroud), Minnesota ($3,900, facing Baker Mayfield or Kyle Trask), and San Francisco ($3,800, facing Kenny Pickett).

An intriguing cheap option sits fourth-from-the-bottom at $2,400: Jacksonville, opening on the road against the Colts. The Jags had a solid D last season, and if rookie Richardson gets the start in Week 1, the meltdown potential is high.

And since it’s impossible to go more than a few paragraphs without mentioning Burrow’s health, the Browns at $2,600 figure to be an extremely popular play if they happen to be up against Trevor Siemian on Sept. 10.

Photo: Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images


Related Posts