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Early Look at Underused Week 1 NFL DFS Stacks and Players




We are officially less than two months from the start of the 2023 NFL season. As the entire football community continues to hammer away at best ball drafts, I’d also like to take an early look at Week 1. 


This isn’t just about impatience and the excitement of NFL DFS being back in our lives — it’s also about learning from the best ball markets and anticipating how sentiment will transfer over into the actual season.

I will also be sure to keep the lessons we learned a season ago from the Chalk Report in mind throughout. 

Week 1 Targets


Cleveland Browns (vs. CIN)

My expectation is that people will take a “wait and see” approach with Deshaun Watson and the Browns out of the gate. If Watson is even halfway in between the QB he was a season ago and the guy we remember from Houston, this offense will score a ton of points given the strong offensive line and weapons at his disposal. 

The interesting thing here is that Watson’s ADP in best ball markets show that the industry is still in on his upside as a whole. We therefore have the potential for an extreme ownership inefficiency in Week 1.

Washington Commanders (vs. ARI)

Despite a lack of love for Sam Howell in drafts, Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson still get plenty of love. A home game against the Cardinals is a great place to start, and perhaps Howell will surprise us early. 

The thing about QBs with this much uncertainty is that Week 1 could drastically change our expectations of him for the rest of the season. Maybe he’ll be terrible, but maybe he’ll be a significant step up from the Carson Wentz/Taylor Heinicke duo from a season ago.

Denver Broncos (vs. LV)

Speaking of a QB and offense whose perception could drastically change with one good performance, think about how the narrative in Denver will change if Russell Wilson has a massive game in his first week with Sean Payton. It will be easy for people (myself included) to blame last season entirely on Nathaniel Hackett and suddenly have great confidence in this Denver team.

This also means that if Denver does explode in Week 1, they will suddenly be far more expensive (and popular) in the coming weeks.



Let’s continue the theme from the stacks section, shall we? Essentially, what we’re looking for here are players in uncertain situations. Uncertainty will scare people away, but perhaps it shouldn’t. After all, uncertainty works in both directions. Scared of a running back who may be in a timeshare? What if he’s not? You get the idea.

If you recall from last year’s Chalk Report series, running back is the position I want to get contrarian in most often. Consequently, this section will be all running backs, though any WRs and TEs from the stacks section are fully in play, as well.

J.K. Dobbins, RB, Baltimore Ravens (vs. HOU)

The biggest question mark here is health and workload. Reports out of Baltimore are good that J.K. Dobbins seems to no longer have the stiffness we saw him run with in the second half of last season. However, there’s a chance that Baltimore will be cautious with him out of the gate. 

This uncertainty could work in our favor if they do unleash Dobbins from the start, or if Dobbins is simply great with whatever touches he does get. There’s even a chance that the new system and OC (Todd Monken) will result in more targets and receptions for the explosive playmaker.

D’Andre Swift, RB, Philadelphia Eagles (@ NE)

When D’Andre Swift is healthy, he has game-breaking talent. Assuming he enters the regular season fully healthy, it will be extremely exciting to see what he can do in such an explosive offense and behind the most dominant line in football.

Swift erupted out of the gates last year with a 15-144-1 line against the Eagles, and I love his chances to top that line with them this time around.

Antonio Gibson, RB, Washington Commanders (vs. ARI)

Antonio Gibson Washington Commanders NFL Week 1 DFS Plays

Eric Bieniemy and Andy Reid did a marvelous job of getting their playmakers the ball in space through EB’s time in Kansas City. I expect him to do much of the same in Washington, and Antonio Gibson is at the top of the list of guys who deserve those opportunities.

Gibson was fantasy relevant a season ago, and now J.D. McKissic is gone. Gibson has become one of my top targets in best ball, and he will open the season in the same boat for me from a DFS perspective. 

I think Bieniemy will be an advocate for Gibson to be on the field and Gibson will reward him with explosive production.

Final Week 1 Thoughts

Once again, I have to point you to the Chalk Report and the lessons we learned from last year. We created an incredible framework from which to build our lineups, and I will 100% be leaning into that framework all season (as well as continuing the analysis). 

However, there are also things to keep in mind relating solely to Week 1. Perhaps my favorite is this:

We will have tons of information on where players should be priced (best ball markets have proven to be quite efficient and there’s more volume this year than ever), but very little information on matchups. As in, as much as we’d like to think we do, we have little idea of which defenses will actually be good and which will be worth attacking on a weekly basis. Defense is and has always been tougher to predict than offense. Consequently, targeting players you’re high on in general in Week 1 who likely will be under-rostered due to a perceived difficult matchup is a great way to approach the slate. 

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