Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette were No. 4 overall picks in back-to-back drafts, although their careers have diverged since then. Elliott quickly established himself as one of the league’s top backs and one of the most-coveted NFL DFS picks on a weekly basis. Fournette flamed out in Jacksonville before reviving his career in Tampa and winning a Super Bowl before Elliott even got to play in one. They will be the primary ball-carriers in Cowboys vs. Buccaneers on Thursday and are among the most expensive running back options in the NFL DFS player pool on sites like DraftKings and FanDuel.
Is there NFL DFS value elsewhere in the teams’ respective backfields for the 2021 NFL Kickoff Game? Ronald Jones led Tampa in rushing last year, while Tony Pollard has averaged more yards per carry than Elliott the last two seasons. Neither Jones nor Pollard will break the bank, so would it be wise to slot them into Thursday’s Cowboys vs. Buccaneers DFS lineups? Before locking in any NFL DFS picks for Cowboys vs. Buccaneers on sites like DraftKings and FanDuel, be sure to check out the NFL DFS advice, player rankings, stacks and top daily Fantasy football picks from SportsLine’s Mike McClure.
McClure is a predictive data engineer and pro DFS player with almost $2 million in career winnings. He uses a powerful prediction model that simulates every snap of NFL action in every game, taking factors such as matchups, statistical trends and injuries into account. This allows him to find the best DFS values that he shares only with members at SportsLine.
In Super Bowl LV, McClure had Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce as one of his top NFL DFS picks for both FanDuel and DraftKings: The result: Kelce led all players with 10 receptions and 133 receiving yards, returning over 26 points on DraftKings and over 18 points on FanDuel. Anybody who had him in their lineups was well on the way to a profitable day.
Top Thursday NFL DFS picks for Week 1
For Cowboys vs. Buccaneers on Thursday, McClure is high on Buccaneers running back Giovani Bernard. The former Bengal dealt with an ankle sprain towards the end of the preseason, but has returned to practice and is expected to be ready for Week 1.
Bernard’s specialty is on third downs, as he’s one of the best pass-catching backs in the league. Only Le’Veon Bell and longtime Tom Brady associate James White have more catches out of the backfield than Bernard since 2013. Bernard played every single third-down snap with the starters during the preseason, so that will clearly be his role going forward. His versatility as a runner and a receiver makes him one of the high-value NFL DFS picks against a Cowboys defense that ranked 28th last season.
Part of McClure’s optimal NFL DFS strategy also includes Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown. The four-time All-Pro joined the Buccaneers for the final eight games of the season after spending nearly a season and a half out of work. He posted solid numbers, with 45 catches for 483 yards and four touchdowns. Despite playing in a crowded offense, Brown averaged just under eight targets per game.
Brown ranked 12th among NFL receivers in Fantasy points per route run a season ago. Against a Dallas defense that gave up 34 passing touchdowns a season ago, he’s worthy of consideration for your NFL DFS lineups.
How to set Thursday NFL DFS lineups for Week 1
McClure is also targeting players who could go off for massive numbers because of an abundance of playing time. These picks could be the difference between winning your tournaments and cash games or going home with nothing. You can only see who they are here.
So who is Mike McClure putting in his optimal NFL DFS lineups for the 2021 NFL Kickoff Game? Visit SportsLine now to see optimal NFL DFS picks, rankings, advice, and stacks, all from a daily Fantasy expert with nearly $2M in winnings, and find out.