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Five Players You Want in Your Draft Kings Lineup

We identify five players who provide exceptional value in Draft Kings’ salary cap draft format.

Michael Lombardo

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The regular season is less than three weeks away, which means it’s time to start thinking fantasy football. And while some people still engage in old-fashioned, snaking fantasy drafts that take hours to complete, most people now prefer the quicker to conduct (and quicker to pay) drafts available on Draft Kings.

The setup is simple. Each entrant is allotted a fixed $50,000 budget and each player is assigned a salary. You can pick whichever players you want so long as you stay under the cap. You can already sign up for Week 1 here.

In theory, you could go through a 17-week season and never have the same player on your roster twice. In reality, you will find players who provide such excellent value that you will choose them time and time again.

Each lineup includes nine players: one quarterback, two running backs, three receivers, a tight end, a flex player and a team defense. That means the average salary for each slot on your roster is $5,555. With that number as a reference, who are the best values available on Draft Kings?

Here are some names to watch, along with their projected Week 1 salaries.

QB Andy Dalton ($6,100)

Dalton may be overpaid in the real world, but in Draft Kings terms, there are 21 quarterbacks with higher salaries. The Red Rocket obviously throws too many interceptions (53 since 2012), but has has also averaged 3,787 yards and 26 TDs over the last three seasons.

Dalton is not going to carry a team by himself, but he can be very successful with a strong supporting cast. This season, his cast of skill players includes Jeremy Hill, Giovani Bernard, A.J. Green, Mohamed Sanu, Marvin Jones and Tyler Eifert. “Strong” may be an understatement.

Offensive coordinator Hue Jackson is ready to cut Dalton loose in his fifth season.

“We’re going to open Pandora’s box more,” Jackson said. “We tickled it a little bit last year. … It’s a chess match, and whoever is not afraid to pull the trigger, pull the trigger. And I’m not afraid, so let’s go.”

RB Alfred Morris ($5,500)

A league-average salary for a running back who averaged better than 1,300 yards and nine touchdowns over his first three seasons? Sign me up.

Morris’ numbers have been on the decline since his sensational debut season (1,613 yards and 13 TDs), but there is plenty of reason to think they will trend back upwards in 2015. Washington spent its first-round pick on bulldozing guard Brandon Scherff and added more offensive line help three rounds later in Alabama product Arie Kouandjio.

In addition to the improved blocking, head coach Jay Gruden is expected to show a renewed commitment to the running game to help his embattled quarterback. Robert Griffin III has struggled to cope with pressure in the pocket and avoid injuries, so there will be a ground-and-pound mentality behind Gruden’s play-calling as he attempts to keep the offense on schedule.

An added bonus? Morris has worked diligently this offseason to improve his receiving skills.

“Just working on running routes and being open,” Morris said. “So, yeah, I’m just building my confidence out here in camp and in OTAs and just continue to press forward and see what happens.”

WR Vincent Jackson ($6,000)

There are 28 receivers with higher Draft Kings salaries than Jackson, who has topped the 1,000-yard barrier in six of the last seven seasons (with a prolonged holdout in 2010 preventing him from making it seven in a row).

Jackson averaged more than 1,300 yards during his first two seasons in Tampa Bay, but those numbers fell off in 2014 as the Buccaneers’ entire offense struggled due to inconsistencies at quarterback and a lack of an offensive coordinator. Only 55 percent of the passes thrown to Jackson last season were considered “on target,” one of the lowest rates in the league.

Enter No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston and new play caller Dirk Koetter; suddenly, the Buccaneers’ passing game looks much more respectable. Winston’s first preseason completion went to Jackson, a bomb that gained 40 yards.

Jackson is no longer Tampa Bay’s No. 1 receiver … that honor now goes to Mike Evans. But all the extra attention Evans draws on the other side should make life even easier for No. 83.

TE Delanie Walker ($3,400)

Lost in Tennessee’s disastrous 2-14 season was a brilliant season by Walker, who set career-highs with 63 catches and 890 yards. He only scored four touchdowns, but it’s tough to reach the end zone when your team can’t get across midfield.

Yards should be easier to come by after the Titans retooled their offense via the draft. No. 2 overall pick Marcus Mariota takes over under center and will look to blossom alongside second-round pick Dorial Green-Beckham and fifth-rounder David Cobb.

The rookies will get a lot of work, but a good tight end is always a young quarterback’s best friend. And Walker certainly qualifies as  a good tight end. If you don’t believe me, just ask him.

“Last year, I felt like I did more and no one cared,” Walker said, via Titans 24/7. “I broke records and scored touchdowns and no one cared. We’ve got to win more as a team. I think even if I have a good year and we don’t have a good year as a team, who cares, right? But if win together, then the individual guys get the accolades they deserve.”

DST St. Louis Rams ($2,800)

A good defense starts up front, and man oh man, the Rams are loaded up front. St. Louis boasts five former first-round picks on the defensive line, including reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year Aaron Donald and free-agent pickup Nick Fairley. Adding Fairley and a healthy Chris Long should bring this unit from formidable to unstoppable.

With the defensive line wreaking havoc, the back end of the defense will be freed up to make plays. The Rams have a couple of special linebackers in James Laurinaitis and Alec Ogletree. In the secondary, CB Janoris Jenkins is one of the most exciting playmakers in the game (seven interceptions and five touchdowns in his first three seasons).

Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has challenged this unit to be great and the players have responded.

“The guys took it to heart and really had a very good spring in the weight room, in the training room and then here on the field,” Williams said, per The Post-Dispatch. “It’s light years ahead of where we were last year (at this time) because they didn’t know me, I didn’t know them.”

Who do you want in your Draft Kings lineup? Talk about it with author Michael Lombardo during his weekly NFL Chat on Friday at 2pm EST. But you don’t have to wait until then … you can ask your question now!

Michael Lombardo has spent more than 10 years as a team expert at Scout.com, primarily covering the Chargers, Cardinals and Panthers. He has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and other venues.

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