It is time for a new season of football, and that means it is time for the return of Start ’em Up for Fantasy Football 2016. We will be making a little bit of a change this season. While in past seasons we have continuously shown the daily fantasy prices of DraftKings and Fanduel for all players, this year we will not be beholden to showing those values each week. Instead, we will rotate between those two sites, and the daily fantasy prices of Yahoo’s daily games, which is now in its second season.

This week we will start with Yahoo, which is still the new kid down in terms of daily fantasy, but they have some intriguing games of their own, and also give newer users the benefit of being able to enter higher stakes games while knowing that opponents can only enter no more than 10 lineups, which can be a major problem with the two industry leaders in that their rules allow experienced gamblers to control those contests by being able to enter as many as 150 times.

This year the format will also be a bit different, as we will profile one quarterback, one running back, one receiver, one tight end, and two dark-horse, special performance players each week. For the pick to be a success, the quarterback must gain more than 15 fantasy points, while the other positions must score over 10 points that week. The scoring system is:

-For quarterbacks: 10 completions equal a point, 25 passing yards equal a point, interceptions equal a two point deduction.
– For all players, including quarterbacks, 10 rushing yards equal a point, 2 receptions equal a point, 10 receiving yards equal a point, and touchdowns equal six points.

So with that, we begin week one of Start ’em Up!!!

– QB- Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants (Yahoo Price- $20)

If you listened to SportsZone this past week, you know I’m a tad bit hesitant when it comes to whether or not Prescott can succeed as a starter in the absence of Tony Romo, but I’m not sold on the idea that the Giants are all of a sudden a better defense just because they spent so much money to bring in Oliver Vernon, Damon Harrison and Janoris Jenkins. Plus, Prescott is the cheapest starting quarterback in any daily fantasy site you go to, which I like because I can spend the money I save on a big name quarterback on a stud receiver or running back. Inter-division matchups are tough, but if Prescott can establish a short passing game early to open lanes for fellow rookie Ezekiel Elliot and then make a couple deep passes later in the game, I see no reason why he can’t get 15 completions for 200-250 passing yards and two passing touchdowns, which makes him a solid play for this week.

– RB- Latavius Murray, Oakland Raiders at New Orleans Saints ($18)

People are down on Murray entering this year with the Raiders fourth round pick, DeAndre Washington, breathing down his neck after a decent preseason, but I still believe Murray can be a top ten back by season’s end. For this week, I simply love the matchup against the Saints defense, which is still one of the worst in the league, with their top draft pick (Sheldon Rankins) out for the season and no significant upgrades from last season to be found. Head coach Jack Del Rio expressed his confidence in Murray recently, and at a cheap price, you should too, at least for this week. Mark him for over 75 rushing yards and at least one touchdown.

– WR- Marvin Jones, Jr., Detroit Lions at Indianapolis Colts ($17)

Nobody will ever mistake Marvin Jones for Calvin Johnson. But he was brought in to Detroit to help fill the large gap left by Megatron’s retirement and this week, the famous touchdown vulture from Cincinnati should have an explosive debut for his new team against a poor Indianapolis defense. One of the five worst defenses in football against receivers last season, there is no reason not to expect Matt Stafford to have a huge passing day, which means Jones could be in line for at least five catches, over 80 receiving yards, and even two scores on the day.

– TE- Julius Thomas, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Green Bay Packers ($16)

Thomas’ first season in Jacksonville began with him missing the first four games with a hand injury and was overall a disappointment, finishing as the 12th ranked tight end in fantasy and with only five scores on the season. But now healthy and in his second year with the offense, I expect a significant improvement over his 2015 numbers. For this price, I expect a strong start to the season against a suspect Packers defense. Five catches for 60 yards and a score definitely seems within reach.

SPECIAL PERFORMANCE

– RB- Duke Johnson, Jr., Cleveland Browns at Philadelphia Eagles ($15)

Johnson’s rookie season didn’t see him get involved in the Browns offense until week 14, when he turned 13 carries into 78 yards. That proved to be a tease, as he never broke the 50-yard mark again from the ground, though he did average five catches a game for the final three weeks of the season. This year he starts off as technically the number two back behind Isaiah Crowell, but seeing as how Crowell is more of a plodder who seems more suited for goal-line work, Johnson should wind up stealing some reps due to his ability in the passing game and for this week, he faces another poor defense (yes, this is a trend in my picks). Against the weak Eagles rush defense, I can easily see him with 100 all-purpose yards, five receptions, and maybe one score on a pass play. For this price, that’s a steal.

– WR- Cole Beasley, Dallas Cowboys at New York Giants ($11)

Here’s another potential steal, and I like it because as I have said here and on the SportsZone show on Friday: Prescott needs to establish the short passing game, and traditionally rookie quarterbacks look to guys they can hit on quick dump off passes if/when the defense brings the blitz early. Beasley starts the year as the Cowboys’ third receiver, but given the inconsistencies of Terrance Williams last year, I expect the former undrafted free agent to actually be on the field more, and that will lead to a high reception output, at least in the early going. I like both Beasley and tight end Jason Witten this week, and both have solid histories against the Giants. Though he’s only faced them three times in his career, he has done well against them thus far in his young career, averaging 60 yards against them and with a score. I’m booking him for 8 catches, 70 yards and a score, probably all coming in the first half.

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