This article is part of our Yahoo DFS Football series.
Regular-season football makes its long-awaited return this week, and with it comes the fantasy season. That includes DFS, of course, and the players below should help owners get their season off to a strong start. Among those players are a couple of pass-catchers thrust into larger roles by teammates' absences and a running back set to make a great first impression with his new team.
TOURNAMENTS (GPP – GUARANTEED PRIZE POOL)
QB: Patrick Mahomes, KC at JAX ($39): Jacksonville has boasted one of the league's most fearsome defenses in recent years, but you'll be hard-pressed to find a player more matchup-proof than Mahomes, who casually threw for 5,097 yards and 50 touchdowns in his first season as a starter in 2018. While whispers of regression have surrounded the young stud all offseason, Mahomes doesn't turn 24 until later this month and quarterbacks his age actually tend to improve year-over-year. If Mahomes is somehow better than we remember him, he'll be a bargain here at $39.
RB: Justin Jackson, LAC vs. IND ($12): With Melvin Gordon's holdout officially spilling over into Week 1, Jackson is positioned to open the season in a timeshare with Austin Ekeler. While Ekeler is the more highly skilled back, his diminutive frame could lead to a dearth of goal-line touches, which Jackson figures to scoop up against a Colts team that looks much less threatening following the recent retirement of franchise quarterback Andrew Luck. If you're looking for a cheap running back to fill out the lineup, Jackson stands out based on the opportunity in front of him.
WR: JuJu Smith-Schuster, PIT at NE ($28): Smith-Schuster is now the go-to guy in Pittsburgh's passing game with Antonio Brown in Oakland, and what better stage is there to show that you're ready for such a role than in the season opener against the defending champs in prime time? New England is notoriously easier to beat early in the season, so Smith-Schuster is capable of producing a tremendous result here if things break right.
DST: Buffalo Bills ($14), Seattle Seahawks ($16)
CASH GAMES (H2H, 50/50s and DOUBLE UPS)
Jameis Winston, TB vs. SF ($31): Winston lacks the game-to-game consistency of elite signal-callers, but he offers plenty of upside. In 11 appearances last season, Winston twice exceeded 30.0 fantasy points and topped 20.0 six times, including a 312-yard, two-touchdown performance against the 49ers. With plenty of questions looming over Tampa Bay's running game, the offense should run primarily through Winston's arm regardless of game flow.
Nick Chubb, CLE vs. TEN ($23): While the potential return of Kareem Hunt could eat into Chubb's touches in the second half of the season, the second-year back opens the campaign as Cleveland's unquestioned backfield workhorse. That's a great spot to be in considering the Browns are expected to move the ball with impunity after bolstering the passing game with the offseason acquisition of Odell Beckham. To top things off, the Titans have looked like a mess heading into the season, so Cleveland should get ahead early and employ a run-heavy game script.
Mark Ingram, BAL at MIA ($20): Miami appears to be Tanking for Tua or whatever other catchy moniker one can think of that combines losing and a top quarterback from the 2020 draft, so the Ravens will be heavily favored to come out of Week 1 with a win. Baltimore is already likely to employ a run-heavy approach with the fleet-footed Lamar Jackson under center, and the Ravens should double down on the run if they get out to an early lead as expected. Such an approach would mean that Ingram – whom the team just signed to a three-year, $15-million contract in free agency – should see all the work he can handle from the get-go for his new team.
Dede Westbrook, JAX vs. KC ($15): Jacksonville's passing game is expected to take a big step forward with the upgrade from Blake Bortles to Nick Foles under center, and Westbrook figures to be the biggest beneficiary of that move. A rising tide lifts all boats, and Westbrook is a luxury yacht compared to Jacksonville's other receiving options — the polished route runner caught 66 balls for 717 yards and five touchdowns to lead the team in all three categories in 2018. This is also an ideal matchup for Westbrook, as the Jaguars will likely need to take to the air against a suspect Kansas City secondary to keep pace with Mahomes and the explosive Chiefs offense.
Michael Thomas, NO vs. HOU ($33): If you have money to spend at the wide receiver position, Thomas is as good a candidate as anybody to lead the position in Week 1 points. He's locked in as Drew Brees' top target and will be in a dome at home against a Texans pass defense that allowed 260.4 passing yards per game last season – fifth most in the league. Thomas loves to play at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, having posted 68 catches for 822 yards and six touchdowns in eight home games last season.
Tyler Boyd, CIN at SEA ($18): With A.J. Green sidelined by an ankle injury, Boyd should see all the targets he can handle, especially with the Bengals likely to fall behind in Seattle and turn to the air. At just $18, Boyd's targets to dollars ratio should be among the highest out there in Week 1.
Evan Engram, NYG at DAL ($19): Engram is primed to play a major role in the Giants' passing game with Golden Tate (suspension) out and Sterling Shepard just getting back from a thumb injury. As is the case with Boyd, Engram's appeal lies in his nearly guaranteed volume with his team likely playing from behind. If you don't have the funds for a top-tier tight end, Engram's a solid consolation prize.
Cleveland Browns, CLE vs. TEN ($12): While most of the defenses in what look like favorable matchups are priced accordingly, the Browns can be had for just $2 above the minimum at home against the Titans. Tennessee's offensive line has had trouble pass protecting during the preseason and will be without left tackle Taylor Lewan (suspension), so the Myles Garrett-led Browns pass rush is primed to have a field day here.
DST: Baltimore Ravens ($19), Dallas Cowboys ($14)