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Daily Fantasy Week 1: Ravens-Raiders Monday night picks

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By Jeff Hicks, 4for4

Special to Yahoo Sports

Yahoo is expanding its daily fantasy football options in 2021 with a single-game offering. Yahoo has a roster construction of one "Superstar" that scores at a 1.5 multiplier, while the remaining four FLEX roster spots accumulate points at the normal rate. This is half-point PPR scoring and the "Superstar" salary does not change from the Utility. All scoring and rules can be found here.

Week 1 ends with the Baltimore Ravens traveling to Sin City to take on the Las Vegas Raiders.

It is vital to remember that single-game slates are not simply a “max salary, play as many big names as possible, and submit” format, especially in larger tournament fields. We need to identify players that can be pieces in their offense’s success, whether in the lead or trailing, as well as the players that could be focal points in a neutral game script. The ability to then take those players and identify which will succeed in the single-game format will put us in a better position to succeed as daily fantasy players.

Telling a story plays a vital role in single-game DFS. The Ravens come into Monday night’s contest jumbling together a backfield and hoping the pieces stick, while the Raiders look for second-year improvements from multiple receivers to complement their Pro Bowl tight end.

Vegas Total and Spread

Baltimore is a four-point road favorite and the game has an Over/Under of 50.5 points. The Ravens have an implied team total of 27.25 points, while the Raiders implied team total is 23.25.

[Play in Yahoo's $200K Single Game Ravens-Raiders Baller]

Potential Game Flow Scenarios

The Ravens enter Week 1 with a running back corps depending on its third-stringer and bringing in the remaining familiar names from free agency. Ty’Son Williams ($10) will be given the opportunity to lead the Baltimore backfield against the 30th-ranked defense in schedule-adjusted points allowed (aFPA) to running backs. The backups behind Williams include Latavius Murray and Le’Veon Bell, two players that you cannot roster for this contest. The changeover in the Ravens running back room is staggering and now it has to react on the fly in a road contest in primetime.

This is another way to say that Lamar Jackson ($35) will be more of the offensive focal point than projected just 10 days ago. Jackson is Baltimore’s best pure runner when everyone is healthy so schemed runs for him were always going to be part of the Ravens' game plan. Jackson has to find a way to redirect some of the attention paid to him to the passing game. Marquise Brown ($15) and Sammy Watkins ($13) lead an uninspiring receiving group that faces a bottom-10 defense against the position according to aFPA.

Mark Andrews ($21) will draw the most attention of any pass-catching option for the Ravens and rightfully so. It is no secret that Andrews is Jackson’s favorite target and the two have excellent chemistry on the field. If the Raiders defense ($10) can take Andrews out of the game, the Ravens' offense will be in danger of becoming one-dimensional. Look for Raiders LB Nick Kwiatkoski to spend the most time covering Andrews on passing downs.

LANDOVER, MD - AUGUST 28: Mark Andrews #89 of the Baltimore Ravens warms up before the preseason game against the Washington Football Team at FedExField on August 28, 2021 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Mark Andrews has a chance to open the 2021 NFL season in strong fashion against the Raiders. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

Like Baltimore, Las Vegas’s offense runs through their tight end. Darren Waller ($28) finished 2020 with five 100-yard receiving games in an offense that was desperate for any other receiving option to show signs of life. The Raiders believe they have an improved receiving group with Henry Ruggs III ($13) and Bryan Edwards ($10) showing out at times in training camp and the preseason. One or both of them stepping up with Derek Carr’s ($25) safer approach to passing puts the Raiders in a good spot against a Ravens secondary that is also reeling from injury. Marcus Peters is out for the season, but the Ravens depth at the position should not lead to a precipitous drop-off. Tavon Young and Anthony Averett could start opposite Marlon Humphrey unless veteran Jimmy Smith is put outside. Smith also has the size to compete against Waller.

Averett, Humphrey, and Smith all finished as top 50 cornerbacks according to Pro Football Focus.

The Raiders appear to be headed towards a two-headed monster in the backfield against a top-half defense against the run. Josh Jacobs ($24) and Kenyan Drake ($15) have similar skillsets with Drake seeing more passing work over the course of his career. Jacobs had been dealing with a toe injury prior to getting the questionable tag because of a non-COVID-19 illness. The Raiders offense has a better chance at succeeding with both on the field and healthy, especially as smaller home underdogs.

Close, low-scoring game

  • Josh Jacobs

  • Kenyan Drake

  • Darren Waller

  • Raiders defense

  • Daniel Carlson

  • Lamar Jackson

  • Ty’Son Williams

  • Ravens defense

  • Justin Tucker

Close, high-scoring game

  • Derek Carr

  • Kenyan Drake

  • Bryan Edwards

  • Darren Waller

  • Henry Ruggs III

  • Lamar Jackson

  • Mark Andrews

  • Marquise Brown

  • Sammy Watkins

Blowout for home team

  • Derek Carr

  • Josh Jacobs

  • Kenyan Drake

  • Bryan Edwards

  • Henry Ruggs III

  • Darren Waller

  • Raiders defense

  • Daniel Carlson

  • Lamar Jackson

  • Mark Andrews

Blowout for road team

  • Lamar Jackson

  • Ty’Son Williams

  • Marquise Brown

  • Sammy Watkins

  • Mark Andrews

  • Ravens Defense

  • Justin Tucker

  • Derek Carr

  • Darren Waller

[Visit 4for4, where 92% of subscribers made the playoffs, for more]

Cheap/Unique Stacking Option

Traditional stacks such as QB/WR1 or WR2, QB/TE, and RB/DEF are stacks seen used in winning lineups. The obvious choice is not always the winning choice. Below is a cheap stack with at least one unique quality that could break the slate.

Bryan Edwards ($10)/Raiders Defense ($10)

Underdogs are 11-4 heading into Monday night and there have been a few performances by defenses at home that we did not necessarily expect (Houston, and Cincinnati come to mind — as does New Orleans on a neutral field). The Raiders front seven has above average talent and if Jackson is contained as well as he can be, the issues in the Vegas secondary can be hidden. The secondary is led by veteran Casey Hayward Jr. and has promising rookie safety Tre’von Moehrig.

Edwards at minimum price is a Week 1 mistake. He has a safe quarterback that has helped him during his meteoric rise through the summer. There also is enough volatility with the depth of Ravens cornerbacks that Edwards rostership should remain in check.

Low-salary volatile Plays

Alec Ingold ($10)

Raiders coach Jon Gruden loves running backs. With Peyton Barber unavailable as a play on Yahoo, Ingold is my option to vulture a red zone carry or target. Barber is more likely to get the vulture touch but Ingold received at least one target in nine of 11 games played in 2020.

Foster Moreau ($10)

Waller’s backup caught seven of eight targets for two touchdowns in 2020. In the two weeks Moreau scored a touchdown, he outscored Waller 22.2-17.4. Moreau played on 23.24% of snaps last season.

James Proche ($10)

Edwards was not the only receiver in this game to get a heap of praise during training camp. Proche was considered the best receiver at multiple practices during the summer and Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman believes the second-year wideout is ready for a bigger role.

Superstar Picks

Lamar Jackson ($35)

Lamar Jackson is the Ravens' offense. Jackson has to be the MVP version of himself in order for the Ravens to win on the road with the Raiders welcoming fans for the first time to their new stadium.

Darren Waller ($28)

Waller had seven games with double-digit targets in 2020. Four of them were at home and two were against top 12 defenses against tight ends according to aFPA.

Marquise Brown ($15)

Brown is the WR1 in Baltimore and for all his inconsistencies finished 2020 with nine games of double-digit fantasy points in half-PPR formats like Yahoo DFS. He had six of those performances in Weeks 12-17. Aside from the running backs, the Ravens enter Week 1 healthy on offense, an issue for large portions of 2020.

This article originally appeared in its full form on 4for4.com

Jeff has played fantasy sports since 2001. He has covered fantasy and traditional sports at the pro, semi-pro, and amateur level for the better part of a decade. Born in Illinois and currently living where James Robinson made a name for himself in college, Jeff enjoys running (establish it), followed by doing absolutely nothing.

More from 4for4.com: Week 1 injury updates

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