The 2014 NFL season kicks off two weeks from today, which means fantasy football is just around the corner. I will have an updated FanPost tomorrow for league sign-ups, but in the meantime, I wanted to introduce a different kind of fantasy football.
SB Nation is partnering with FanDuel this year to promote single week fantasy football. The way it works is you pick a roster for a single week, and you compete to be the highest scorer that week. Then the next week, you pick an entirely new team. You are given a salary cap, and have to pick players to fit under that cap. The roster for most of their leagues consist of QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, WR, TE, K, D.
Normally when we have fantasy leagues here at the site, we are playing for bragging rights. Plenty of people have fantasy leagues with a buy-in, but the basic Yahoo! or ESPN or whatever fantasy league can be set-up for no cost. With FanDuel, you can play free games, but the basic idea of it is you put in money to have a chance to win money. For example, most leagues cost $1. They then pay out prize money to any number of entrants. The top prize winner might win $35 or $40, then it descends from there, all the way down to a handful of players winning their money back. If you join a group of 100 people, the top 30 might win money.
If you decide to play weekly fantasy football, as opposed to season-long fantasy football, strategy changes fairly significantly. If you have Frank Gore in a regular fantasy league, you are more than likely playing him every week he is active. In a weekly league, you will strongly consider his matchup in a given week. If he faces a slightly tougher run defense, you will likely consider another running back for that week.
If you head over to FanDuel, you can already see what the Week 1 prices look like. The prices change week-to-week, so we can't really project out how they might change in future weeks. For Week 1, the San Francisco 49ers face a particularly juicy offensive matchup. They travel to face a Dallas Cowboys squad that is missing several players at all levels of their defense.
The salary cap stands at $60,000, which means you can spend an average of $6,667 per player. Quarterbacks are the most expensive players, so you are likely to spend a little more there, no matter who you grab. In the case of Week 1, Colin Kaepernick costs $8,500, but still could be viewed as a value play. For comparison's sake, the QBs costing more than him include:
Peyton Manning - $10,200
Drew Brees - $9,700
Matthew Stafford - $9,300
Andrew Luck - $9,200
Tom Brady - $9,100
Cam Newton - $9,000
You can find some solid value further down, whether it be Jay Cutler at $8,000, or even Alex Smith at $6,900. However, given the state of the Cowboys defense, Kap might be the guy you want. Of course, if you think the 49ers could put up big numbers in Week 1, you could skip Kap and look at Frank Gore ($7,200), Michael Crabtree ($6,500), Anquan Boldin ($6,000), or Vernon Davis ($6,300).
The idea though is to consider every little thing about a given matchup. The opposing defense is important, but you have to consider things like weather and injury as well. If it is going to be a windy or rainy day, you might be inclined to pass on a given player. And if a player is playing, but you know he's banged up, you might consider alternatives to a normal big name.
If you have any questions about how FanDuel works, let me know in the comments and I'll answer them, or find an answer from someone at FanDuel.
Editor's Note: SB Nation's partner FanDuel is hosting a $100,000 Fantasy Football Contest for Week 1's NFL games. It's only $10 to join and first prize is $10,000. Starts Sunday, September 7th at 1pm ET. Here's the FanDuel link.