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DFS NFL FanDuel Week 1: Mini Slate Lineup Advice

Welcome to the Week 1 NFL FanDuel Mini article. In this article, we will be taking a look at a relatively new slate that was introduced about halfway through the MLB season this year. Unlike a traditional FanDuel NFL lineup, you only have to roster five players (QB, RB, RB, WR, WR) in the FanDuel Mini format. One other slight difference is that all tight ends also appear as wide receivers, so you do have the option of using a tight end if you choose to do so. The total salary cap ($60,000) is the exact same as a traditional NFL FanDuel lineup, but they do scale the salaries up a little bit to accommodate for the smaller roster size. Let’s take a look at some of my favorite options for the FanDuel Mini slate in Week 1.

Quarterback


Marcus Mariota (TEN): $11,500 vs. OAK
I’ll probably pay up for Aaron Rodgers in the traditional FanDuel lineup for cash games, but I think it’s a tougher sell to make on the Mini slate. With only five players in your lineup, it’s hard to pay up at quarterback at the expense of being potentially weaker at running back or wide receiver. For those reasons, I’m looking to drop down a little bit and that puts Marcus Mariota squarely in my crosshairs. Mariota really improved in 2016 from his rookie season and the Titans have improved his surrounding cast even more for this season. Right now this game with the Raiders currently has the second-highest projected total in Vegas so there should be plenty of opportunities for Mariota to rack up some points.

Brian Hoyer (SF): $7,500 vs. CAR
I may throw Brian Hoyer into a tournament lineup or two this weekend for the traditional FanDuel lineup, but I honestly might be targeting him across the board for the Mini slate. By rostering him, you can afford to spend up at both running back spots and still use two really solid wide receivers as well. Also, I really think Brian Hoyer has the potential to be sneaky good this season. Hoyer has had some pretty nice stretches throughout his career and this season he will get to team up with Kyle Shanahan, who was offensive coordinator back in 2014 with the Browns. The Panthers were only middle of the pack against the pass last year, so it’s very much possible that Hoyer can have a decent game. If he can just throw a touchdown or two and throw for a little over 200 yards, that should be enough at this salary as long as the big dogs I’m about to mention do their job.

Running Back

David Johnson (ARI): $15,000 @ DET
2016 was the year of the running back across the DFS industry. Way more times than not, if you did not roster both David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell in the same lineup together, you were probably losing that week. Unless the DFS industry prices both of these guys up so high where it is completely impossible to roster both of them together, you really should consider rostering them both in your lineups. The Lions were okay against the run in 2016, but they should not scare you off from using Johnson, who is one of the best dual threat running backs in the entire league.

Le’Veon Bell (PIT): $14,500 @ CLE
You’re really splitting hairs when trying to decide who is the better running back between Bell and Johnson since both of them were so dominant last season. I already mentioned it once, but I’m going to mention it again, I highly recommend rostering both of these guys together in this Mini format and figuring out the rest from there. Bell did not play a single snap in the preseason, but he is such great running back that I’m not even worried about that at all. Bell missed the first game against the Browns in 2016 due to a suspension, but he carved them up for a total of 201 yards on 28 carries, eight receptions while adding a touchdown.

LeSean McCoy (BUF): $13,500 vs. NYJ
If for some reason you decide to fade one of Johnson or Bell, you better drop down to LeSean McCoy. With Mike Gillislee going to the Patriots and the Bills releasing Jonathan Williams, LeSean McCoy is going to get all he can eat with the touches this season. For running backs that qualified, McCoy led the league in yards per carry in 2016 with 5.4 yards per carry. The Jets used to be a pretty scary defense to target with opposing running backs. However, they were only middle of the pack at best at defending running backs in 2016.

Wide Receiver

Doug Baldwin (SEA): $11,500  @ GB
If we’re spending up at both running back spots this Sunday, then we probably won’t be able to go all the way to the top and grab a wide receiver like Julio Jones or Antonio Brown, but that’s okay. There are a lot of mid-priced wide receivers this weekend who are typically WR1’s in season long leagues who we can feel pretty good about too. One of those guys is Doug Baldwin. Baldwin led the Seahawks in receiving across the board in 2016, leading the team in yards, receptions, touchdowns and targets. Granted it was only preseason, Baldwin and Wilson looked to be the most in sync I have ever seen them since they have started to play together. I think Baldwin is primed for his biggest season of his career and it should begin in a great matchup at Green Bay.

Kelvin Benjamin (CAR): $10,000 at SF
Kelvin Benjamin had somewhat of a rough season last year following an ACL injury that put him on the shelf for the entire 2015 season. With that being said, he was still led the Panthers in receiving touchdowns and was second on the team in receptions, targets, and receiving yards. With Greg Olsen continuing to age, I strongly believe that Benjamin will return to being the clear top receiving option for the Panthers in 2017. Benjamin and the Panthers have a great matchup this week against the 49ers, who were one of the worst defensive teams in the league in 2016.

Jordy Nelson (GBP): $12,000 vs. SEA
I’m honestly leaving quite a bit of salary on the table in my lineup this week, but I understand some people don’t always feel comfortable doing so in their lineup. If you are one of those people, consider using the remaining salary in your lineup to spend up for Jordy Nelson. Despite having a lot of mouths to feed in Green Bay, Nelson was still one of the best receiving options in the entire NFL in 2016, with 152 targets, 97 receptions, 1,257 receiving yards, and 14 touchdowns. The Seahawks are still perceived as having one of the best defenses in the league, but honestly they have only been average at best on the road the last couple of seasons. In fact, the Packers put up 38 points in Week 7 of the 2016 season against them at Lambeau Field, and Nelson had a pretty nice day with 41 receiving yards and two touchdowns on six receptions and seven targets.

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I have been playing fantasy sports for the past 15 years and I’ve been writing about it for the past two years. I have recently been accepted as a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). I grew up in northwest Indiana, so I’m an avid fan of all of the Chicago sports teams (minus the White Sox). Outside of fantasy sports, I enjoy spending time with my wife and son, serving for my church, and playing slow pitch softball. In addition to my work at Goingfor2, I write for DraftStars and FantasyPros.

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