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NFL Week 1 DFS Tournament Leverage Plays

Aug 29, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) passes against the Atlanta Falcons during the first quarter at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Winning a DFS tournament where you compete with thousands upon thousands of other entries is a daunting task. Each week there are a number of clear value plays based on salary but in order to win, there needs to be something unique about the lineup.

Looking at the projections for how often each player will appear in lineups, here are three ways to build leverage into your Week 1 lineups. All salaries and projected roster usage are for DraftKings but similar logic can be used for other contests.


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Buy low on Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns

The Browns face the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday afternoon in what’s projected to be the highest-scoring game of the week. Kansas City is expected to win due to the high-priced All-Pro players scoring a lot of the points, but Cleveland should be able to keep up for most of the game.

That starts with Mayfield, who finished last season on fire, including two top-three fantasy finishes over the last five weeks of the season. The Browns will need to pass more than they’d like and should be able to match that volume with efficiency. Mayfield is facing a Kansas City defense that has a below-average secondary and defensive line. He is the only quarterback with a top-15 ranking this week who has a salary under $6,000. He's also the only one with an under 2% usage projection.

If the quarterback is putting up big numbers, then obviously one or more of his receivers will also be playing well. Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry are fine options, but Donovan Peoples-Jones might be a key in this game. Kansas City is one of seven teams to allow more than 1,000 yards on deep passes last season, which includes nine touchdowns allowed. The second-year receiver led Cleveland in average depth of target (ADOT) last season and could be best suited to take advantage of Kansas City’s defense. He is one of several wide receivers priced at $3,000.

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