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Daily fantasy football expert picks for Week 1

The NFL season is nearly here, and with Week 1 NFL daily fantasy contests filling up, our experts have scouted out the players they're locking into their lineups first. From the star performers to the top values, here are our expert picks for this week in DFS football.


Star performers

Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons

Jones saw 127 targets from Matt Ryan in 2016 and averaged almost 17 yards per grab (16.98). Give me Jones' freakish talent and matchup ability versus a Bears' secondary that is still trying to build an identity under John Fox. -- Matt Bowen

DeMarco Murray, RB, Tennessee Titans

The Titans ranked second last season in my "good blocking rate" metric that measures how often an offensive blocking wall gives its ball carriers quality run blocking. Oakland's defense finished last in that same metric, so Murray should get a high volume of huge gaps to run through against the Silver and Black defense. -- KC Joyner

Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks

Wilson squares off against what was one of the league's least-resistant pass defenses in 2016, allowing the second-most passing yards and tied for the third-most passing touchdowns ceded. Although Green Bay beefed up its defense this offseason, a healthy Wilson looks primed for a monster Week 1. Injuries impacted his mobility last season, as he scraped together just 259 rushing yards last year after having never rushed for fewer than 489 yards in a season before that. -- Field Yates

Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams

The Colts don't merely have quarterback problems. They always seem to have problems defending the run as well, and the Rams should be in position to feed Gurley early and often, making a statement after a rough 2016. More than a few Rams are decent plays here. -- Eric Karabell

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers

The Browns have won exactly one season-opener since returning to Cleveland in 1999 and are the biggest underdogs in the opening week of 2017. One big reason why is the arm of Roethlisberger, who has a full assortment of offensive playmakers at his disposal in Week 1 as the Steelers face a Browns defense that surrendered a season-high 36 passing touchdowns last season. Advantage: Big Ben. -- Joe Kaiser

Le'Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

I get it. It's Le'Veon. We expect big things. But is the price really worth it? This week, the answer is yes. Bell missed much of the preseason and wants to make a statement in his first outing, proving he is picking up exactly where he left off. Plus, Bell faces a Browns run defense that gave up the third-most rushing yards per game last season. They aren't going to get in the way of his 2017 debut. -- Stephania Bell

Marcus Mariota, QB, Tennessee Titans

He's not necessarily the most expensive quarterback on the Week 1 board, but he's far from cheap. Considering the matchup, however, he's my quarterback of choice. Oakland's defense wasn't especially good on any front in 2016 and didn't improve much during the offseason. Against quarterbacks specifically, they graded well below-average defensively. Expect more of the same out of the gate. -- Tristan H. Cockcroft

Odell Beckham Jr., WR, New York Giants

The Cowboys lost four of their top five defensive backs during the offseason, including top corners Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr. That leaves Beckham and Brandon Marshall to face off primarily with journeyman Nolan Carroll II, rookie Chidobe Awuzie and 2016 sixth-round pick Anthony Brown (Orlando Scandrick mans the slot). Yes, Beckham is nursing an ankle injury, but he's expected to be a full go and the uncertainty surrounding his status figures to decrease his popularity. That provides you the opportunity to pounce and take advantage.-- Mike Clay


Top values

Zach Ertz, TE, Philadelphia Eagles

With question marks at the safety position in Washington, I see Ertz as a solid value play in Week 1. In 2016, the Eagles tight end caught 78 passes in Doug Pederson's west coast system. Look for Ertz to show up often on middle-of-the-field throws this Sunday. -- Matt Bowen

Devin Funchess, WR, Carolina Panthers

The San Francisco defense ranked 30th in average time allowed before the pass on vertical throws last season. While the 49ers have attempted to upgrade in this area, this is still likely to be an issue for them early on as they aim to get their defenders up to speed. This should allow Cam Newton to throw a lot of downfield passes to both Funchess and Kelvin Benjamin. -- KC Joyner

Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Carolina Panthers

Last year was underwhelming for Benjamin, but that could be said about the entire Panthers offense. Now in better shape one year removed from surgery, Benjamin also has a healthy quarterback at the helm. What better way for the pair to cement their chemistry to start the season than against a weak 49ers secondary? -- Stephania Bell

Ted Ginn Jr., WR, New Orleans Saints

This is an example of using the price advantage that arrived when news broke that Willie Snead would miss the first three games of the season due to a suspension. Drew Brees threw for the second-most yards on passing plays in which the ball traveled 15-or-more yards down the field during the 2016 season, a custom fit for Ginn's world-class speed. -- Field Yates

Kendall Wright, WR, Chicago Bears

Someone has to catch the passes for the Bears after the Cameron Meredith injury, and the veteran Wright looks to be in a nice position to do so. If he cost $1,000 more -- which he probably will starting with Week 2 -- I wouldn't like him so much. But this price is so nice! -- Eric Karabell

Chicago's short-handed receiving corps has its work cut out against the Falcons, and Wright is one of the only proven players for Mike Glennon to throw to in this home game at Soldier Field. Wright is too hard to overlook at this low salary and should lead the Bears in receptions without much of a challenge. -- Joe Kaiser

Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings

For a starting running back facing a matchup like this, Cook is incredibly cheap for Week 1 DFS contests. He averaged 4.6 yards per touch during the preseason, easily capturing the starting gig while Latavius Murray made a slow recovery from ankle surgery. He'll now face a New Orleans run defense that ranked as one of the five worst in the NFL last season. -- Tristan H. Cockcroft

Brandon Coleman, WR, New Orleans Saints

The Saints are playing away from the Superdome and against a tough Vikings defense this week, but it's always worth considering the players catching passes thrown by Drew Brees. This week, Michael Thomas' season figures to get off to a slow start with shadow coverage against Xavier Rhodes inevitable. Coupled with Willie Snead's suspension, this will lead many to pivot to Ted Ginn Jr. If you want to separate yourself from the crowd in a tournament setting, consider Coleman, who will fill in for Snead in the slot and figures to be plenty busy near the goal line considering his 6-foot-6 frame. -- Mike Clay