FanDuel Single-Game Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Week 1 Thursday Night

We made it! Amid all the craziness 2020 has thrown our way, football is finally back.

With no preseason games to whet our DFS appetite, we can use FanDuel's Thursday Night Football single-game slate as our warmup for Sunday. Luckily, we have the game with the highest over-under of the week (54.5), as the Houston Texans travel to Arrowhead to face the Super Bowl-champion Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs are 9.5-point home favorites with an implied team total of 32.

If you are new to the single-game slate, here is a brief rundown. The salary cap remains at $60,000 and scoring is unchanged from the full roster game, but we don't have to worry about individual positions. Instead, single-game slates feature five flex spots. Kickers are included in these contests, and there is an "MVP" roster slot. The MVP receives 1.5-times his total fantasy points, making this spot crucial. This past offseason our Brandon Gdula did a deep dive on single-game strategy. It's worth checking out before you make your lineups.

Let's break down this slate!

MVP Candidates

Patrick Mahomes ($16,500 on FanDuel): The most popular MVP choice tonight will likely be the reigning league MVP, and he's the highest-salaried player by $1,500. However, $16,500 is still workable, and it is a lower salary than he had on some single-game slates last season. Mahomes also carries the highest projection of any player this week, per our model, at 23.9 FanDuel points. He will be without starting right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, and the offenses might need some time to warm up with no preseason preparation. However, he torched the Texans' secondary for 321 yards and 5 touchdowns in last year's postseason en route to 38 FanDuel points. This is a lot of salary to eat on a single player, but do you really want to be the guy without Mahomes in your lineup if he goes off? Didn't think so.

Deshaun Watson ($15,000): If you decide to zig from the crowd, Watson is a great GPP MVP option for multiple lineups. Using numberFire projections, Watson is the QB5 on the week and is forecasted for just four fewer points than Mahomes. However, the Texans' implied team total of 22.50 is mediocre, and they face a tough task on the road as near double-digit underdogs. It mirrors the aforementioned Divisional Round playoff game, when Watson attempted 52 passes and scored 33.22 FanDuel points. This time, Watson won't have DeAndre Hopkins and has to adjust to new offensive pieces like Brandin Cooks (questionable) and Randall Cobb.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire ($12,000): Rookie hype can still exist in this funky 2020 but perhaps on a more muted level than normal for opening week. Edwards-Helaire, the Chiefs' first-round pick, looks to take over as Andy Reid's do-it-all back. The last time Reid had a newly drafted running back with a similar skill-set was Kareem Hunt in 2017, and Hunt garnered 22 touches against the New England Patriots on opening night. Hunt amassed nearly 250 total yards and 3 touchdowns in that game with the Chiefs dropping 42 points. Those are lofty expectations for sure, but Edwards-Helaire comes in as the RB7 this week with a projection of 15.3 FanDuel points. Reid has a penchant for showing off his new toys, and I really like CEH as a somewhat contrarian MVP option.

Value Plays

Harrison Butker ($9,500): I know, I know -- there are plenty of other more exciting options, like Will Fuller ($10,500) for another grand, but hear me out. Butker averaged more than 10 FanDuel points per game last year, which sets him up to pay off his salary. That's the baseline we want for value plays, but we could be in store for more. Just like in season-long leagues when streaming the kicker position, you want to target high implied team totals, and we have that with the Chiefs.

Kenny Stills ($7,500): Brandin Cooks ($10,000) was held out of practice on Tuesday and was upgraded to limited Wednesday. However, he carries a questionable designation for the season opener, and Stills would be in line for a target boost if Cooks is out or limited. Watson should take to the air often to keep pace with the Chiefs, making Stills a great value at just $7,500. Mecole Hardman shares the same salary and may still be the more popular play between these two. Hardman could see an increased role on offense after finding the paint six times last season on just 26 receptions.

Darren Fells ($7,000) and Jordan Akins ($5,000): The pair combined for 103 targets and 9 touchdowns last season. Fells was the recipient on seven of those scores while Akins held a slight edge in targets (55). Without a receiver of Hopkins' stature, that could lead to more red zone looks for this pair. While the Chiefs' defense was decent versus tight ends in 2019, they still surrendered 11 FanDuel points per game to the position.

Ryan Bobbitt is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Ryan Bobbitt also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Drummerinabox. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his/her personal views, he/she may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his/her personal account. The views expressed in his/her articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.