If you read my columns throughout baseball season, you know that one of the first places I start my DFS research is Las Vegas. In baseball we used Vegas to choose pitchers who were heavy favorites and offenses that were projected to crush. In football, it isn't that much different.
The first thing I'm looking at is which offenses are projected to score the most points. I don't want to pick a player from a team that is projected to score two touchdowns unless I'm very certain that he'll be the focal point of the offense and he comes cheap. By the same token, I'm more willing to take a flyer on a player if his team is projected to score four or more touchdowns.
This methodology can also help you ease your research load. Let's start by eliminating all of the teams projected to score less than three touchdowns in Week 1. Gone are the Browns, Rams, Titans, 49ers, Jaguars, Redskins, Chiefs, Raiders and Texans. Now look at that list again, who are you going to miss? That's what I thought.
Now take the time you saved on those abominations and put it towards the four offenses in Week 1 projected to score 28 points or more.
New England Patriots vs. Pittsburgh Steelers -- The Patriots play on Thursday so they won't be involved in a lot of the larger tournaments, but that doesn't mean we should ignore them completely. They are projected as the top scoring offense of Week 1, which may seem a bit baffling when you consider that they're missing their top running back and a top receiver.
This feels like the public going crazy in response to Brady winning his appeal. I don't love Tom Brady ($8,400) in this game and couldn't see myself playing any of the running backs. Rob Gronkowski ($8,100) is a monster who should always be considered in tournaments, and I would also consider Julian Edelman ($7,700).
Philadelphia Eagles @ Atlanta Falcons -- You want to talk about the public going crazy, how about the reaction to Sam Bradford's ($7,500) preseason? Bradford is largely viewed as the top quarterback value of Week 1, and I fully expect his Eagles to be the most stacked offense.
Part of the reason for this is the affordability of the Eagles' young receivers. Jordan Matthews ($6,800) and Nelson Agholor ($5,500) should both be highly owned and have huge upside against a poor Falcons defense. DeMarco Murray ($8,500) may be a nice tournament play because most will think he's overpriced sharing time with Ryan Mathews ($5,900). Most weeks I would agree, but against this defense, Murray could be a beast even with limited touches.
Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants -- The Cowboys have a perfect setup for a starting running back. Great offensive line against a bad defense at home as a favorite with a big Vegas total. That is everything we dream of for a running back except for the actual talent and opportunity part of the equation. I can't start Joseph Randle ($6,900) or Darren McFadden ($6,600) with the uncertainty surrounding the situation.
That doesn't mean I'm fading a great game like this though. I love Tony Romo ($8,700) as a top-three QB in Week 1 and could make an argument for Dez Bryant ($8,700) as the top wide receiver of the day. Terrance Williams ($5,300) could also be a nice bargain play at wide receiver.
Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears -- This is another situation almost as interesting as the Patriots. The Packers have lost their top wide receiver, but face one of the worst defenses in the NFL. Still, in a rivalry game on the road do we really want to project a shootout? I would say yes.
Aaron Rodgers ($9,700) is probably too rich for my blood, and I can't get excited about Randall Cobb ($8,400) when I'm not sure he's healthy. However, I consider Eddie Lacy ($8,500) the top running back play of the day and you'll be hard pressed to find a better value at receiver than Davante Adams ($5,500). Lacy and Adams will be close to 100 percent owned in my lineups.
I mentioned above that I love big favorites at running back. The strange thing this week is that two of the biggest favorites (New England and Dallas) have atrocious running back situations. That's also why Eddie Lacy is the clear RB1 for me. To finish, here is my top-five favored RBs behind Lacy.
Jeremy Hill ($8,600) @ Oakland
DeMarco Murray ($8,500) @ Atlanta
C.J. Anderson ($8,400) vs. Baltimore
Lamar Miller ($7,300) @ Washington
Doug Martin ($6,900) vs. Tennessee
This should give you a good head start in building a lineup. I'll be back later in the week with more Week 1 analysis. As always, feel free to hit me up on Twitter with your DFS questions @heathcummingssr.