Shrewd DFSers take healthy influence from Vegas projections, and will therefore pounce on the Cowboys-Giants matchup in Week 2. Its 55-point total is by far the week’s highest, which makes virtually all of its skill position options worthy of your consideration. The fast-paced, high-volume Eagles are fresh off a Week 1 matchup that saw 138 offensive snaps, and the relatively porous defenses all but ensure high scoring. Simply put: you want in on this matchup.
But there’s a great big world out there, and dozens of particularly sexy DraftKings options across the league this week. Let’s run through Week 2’s strongest plays, for both stability-based cash contests and upside-chasing tournament games.
If you’re into stacking a QB-WR combo – and you should – then these are your strongest cash game plays. They throw to the two top fantasy wideouts and throw like maniacs in the red zone, yet both are priced markedly outside the top tier of salaries. Ryan is a bit pricier, but probably deserves the nod in general due to his Vegas outlook: the Falcons project to score the sixth-most points this week. Still, it’s hard to go wrong either way here.
You have to like Bradford in cash games as a high-volume passer in Vegas’ highest-projected matchup. True, he’s anything but a dynamic QB and one of the most checkdown-reliant guys in recent memory. But Chip Kelly seems satisfied bending his scheme for Bradford, from a downfield one to a dink-and-dunk “attack” that won’t chase many big plays. Volume will always be in Bradford’s favor, so Mark Sanchez’s 2014 stretch run is likely his floor, pegging him as a low-end QB1 option with weekly top-six potential. This week, Bradford projects to more pass attempts than anyone, and he’ll face a Cowboys secondary not nearly as suffocating as the Giants made them look Monday.
He's priced entirely too low – especially considering that he projects as Week 2’s top QB scorer. He’s a tremendous bargain thanks to the Chargers’ monstrous passing volume and the efficiency of their intermediate receivers. (The trio of Keenan Allen, Steve Johnson, and Ladarius Green just looked fantastic last Sunday.) Rivers projects to lead all Week 2 quarterbacks in passing yardage, mingled with a strong outlook inside the 10-yard line.
Tyrod Taylor looks like a solid play against a rebuilding Patriots secondary, but he’s likely to again be highly owned at his bargain bin cost. Instead, I’d pony up just $400 to roster Kaepernick in a “tussle” with one of the league’s worst defenses. The Steelers look hopeless against the pass and struggle mightily with slot types like Anquan Boldin and Vernon Davis, so Kaepernick should be able to maximize the fantasy potential of his low-impact passing game. Of course, he’ll earn his fantasy stripes (or not) with his legs. He’s topped 40 yards in each of his last four games, averaging a breathtaking 75.3 yards over that span. That’s a high bar, but another 40-yard outing would likely vault Kaepernick into the low-end QB1 range. It’s hard to beat that value.
No, he doesn’t project to four first-half TDs this week. But that expected drop doesn’t look to damn his fantasy outlook much, if at all. Consider two sure-to-reverse happenings from Week 1:
- Mariota threw just 16 balls against the Buccaneers. Unlikely to ever lead by 28 at halftime again, he’s a clear lock to increase that by at least 50% going forward. Expect 25-28 attempts this week.
- He registered just two rushes for six yards. Mariota may not run as much under Ken Whisenhunt as the league’s other elite runners do, but it’s hard to imagine him averaging under 20-25 yards per game. With the Titans RB depth chart flawed and somewhat uncertain, I’m expecting Whisenhunt to eventually incorporate some of what makes Mariota so dynamic.
If we (reasonably) expect a drop from four passing TDs to two – a loss of eight DK points – it’s also fair to expect an additional 5-8 from those other oddball stats changing course. Mariota carries high-end QB2 value this week, with outside potential for even more.
Stay with me here, but the numbers see him as a decent GPP target at just $6,000. He’s looking at a home matchup with a Cardinals secondary that boasts big names, but gives up yardage in chunks – a welcomed sight for the Bears’ limping pass game. He throws in the red zone as often as anyone, giving him solid TD potential with his talented receiving options. And Cutler has subtly boosted his fantasy value with his legs of late, rushing for 90 yards over his last three starts. Cutler probably won’t find his way into any of my GPPs, but he’s a name to file away if you’re looking to punt the QB spot to dominate a GPP from elsewhere.
Obviously, Andrew Luck is looking shaky at that No. 2 salary. In fact, he clocks in dead last among the top 24 QBs in h-value, projecting as the No. 18 scorer against a stingy Jets defense.
Tom Brady’s dink-and-dunk attack may surface and bring good volume to his matchup with the Bills. But that’s a truly daunting defense right now, and one that’s excellent at defending tight ends. If Rob Gronkowski can’t create a handful of huge downfield plays, then Brady’s upside will be severely limited.
He looked as spry as ever in Week 1, racking up 5.9 yards per rush and catching five passes. Most encouragingly, Forte was given the ball a stunning six times inside the 10, and three times inside the 5. Adam Gase appears set to make him the red zone bellcow, bringing a great weekly touchdown outlook. That, coupled with his PPR dominance, makes Forte a no-brainer in any cash game.
Unsurprisingly, the Seahawks ran the ball more than everyone but the Panthers in Week 1, and that should continue this Sunday. In the last two Seahawks-Packers meetings, Lynch has amassed 20 and 25 rushes despite two wildly different game scripts. That looks to be the Week 2 expectation against a Green Bay defense that was just gashed by Forte, and Lynch will come at a noticeable $500 discount.
He'll see much brighter days. In Week 1, Washington managed to control the ball much better than expected, keeping Miller’s role in neutral through 2+ quarters. That’s far less of a concern this week. The Jaguars remain a mess on offense, incapable of sustaining drives and affording tons of opportunity to opposing RBs. Miller is likely looking at 20 touches this week, and a TD chance or two seems likely. He’s definitely underpriced for a feature back with such a solid matchup.
Perhaps one of the offseason’s biggest blunders – committed by nearly the entire fantasy community – was the mass downgrading of Hyde. Yes, there are legitimate red flags here: the offense is underwhelming and often stuck in neutral, and the 49ers did add Reggie Bush this spring. But Bush is no more than a very injury-prone pass game specialist (at best), and he’s likely to miss Week 2. There’s virtually no competition for touches beyond giving Hyde a breather, so the volume outlook here is rosy. Not to mention, Hyde is a very talented back in his own right, an oversized open-field terror with underrated receiving skills. And he’ll be facing a Swiss cheese Steelers defense deep in a talent transition. His salary stayed very affordable after his Week 1 explosion, and it remains more than worth a GPP (or cash) play.
Abdullah is often pegged as a small, limited change-of-pace back on the NFL level. I’m not sure I buy that; he enters the league a little bigger than the likes of Maurice Jones-Drew and Ray Rice. He burst onto the scene in Week 1 with 11 offensive touches in addition to kick return duties, and his head coach seems to feel he’s settling nicely into his anticipated role. Abdullah’s usage could fluctuate, but he’s clearly the Lions’ most dynamic option. And his high-impact Week 1 didn’t drive up his DraftKings cost; he’s still cheaper than Bell, in addition to the likes of Rashad Jennings and Tre Mason. None carry Abdullah’s upside.
There are handfuls of part-time PPR stabs available in the lower price ranges, guys expected to see a few change-of-pace snaps and catch anywhere from one to four passes. But these three represent the most solid and dynamic options. In fact, any of them make for decent cash game lottery tickets in DraftKings’ full-PPR format. Receiving backs get such expanded usage projections to other reserve RBs that their floor tends to stay nice and high.
Of the three, I prefer Woodhead. He’s got the most established and predictable role and brings by far the most TD probability to the table. But rostering Dunbar or Sproles (a $500-$1,000 discount) can really help you bolster a spot elsewhere. If it makes the difference between, say, Steve Smith or Brandin Cooks, I’d probably opt for the savings.
I won’t jump to many conclusions over Adrian Peterson’s awful Week 1 in year-long leagues. He carries a strong RB2 floor barring injury, and there are enough strong games in his future that the debut will wind up largely forgotten. But in DFS, I have so many attractive RB1 options available to me – many much cheaper than Peterson – that there’s no need to push in all of my chips on him until he shows his old form.
I rarely fade Eddie Lacy; a dual threat workhorse in a fantastic offense, Lacy is capable of strong fantasy lines in any matchup or game script. But I won’t be paying big to roster him against Seattle, a defense that’s allowed opponents just 2.92 yards per rush and 24.3 per game over its last three.
I know you want to look for value at all times, but the three top salaries this week – Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, and Odell Beckham, Jr. – are all but essential to your cash game lineups. Most of your opponents will roster at least one of them, and there just aren’t as many high-confidence options among the top 5-7 this week. With Dez Bryant out and Demaryius Thomas playing on Thursday, passing on one of these three means a fairly steep drop-off to Calvin Johnson. (Johnson isn’t necessarily a bad play, but his outlook isn’t as dazzling as that of Brown, Jones, or Beckham.)
Choosing among the three is what we call a “white collar” problem, and it’s difficult to go wrong. All have outstanding opportunity outlooks as the clear No. 1s in their respective pass-heavy offenses, and all have at least flashed dominance in the red zone. Jones and Beckham face each other (an interesting stack in its own right) in Vegas’ second-highest scoring matchup of the week, while Brown carries the strongest touchdown potential as his team’s clear red zone dominator.
Your choice among the three comes down mostly to whichever QB-WR stack you’re fitting into your lineup. Eli Manning-Beckham is (barely) the cheapest and projects to the highest team scoring, but Beckham didn’t dominate the Week 1 passing game the way we’d expected – and the way Brown and Jones predictably did.
Following Vegas expectations, Jordan Matthews probably presents the week’s best WR1 value. As a clear No. 1 wideout on the week’s highest-scoring Vegas team, he’s a bit underpriced in a full-PPR format at $7,100. Matthews projects to roughly the same usage as several more expensive options and plays a much higher-percentage game. And the red zone prowess he flashed at Vanderbilt and as an Eagles rookie gives him a leg up on the likes of Brandin Cooks and Julian Edelman. Matthews is a staple of my cash and GPP lineups this week; he’s got a rock-solid WR1 outlook at the No. 12 cost, solidly below a few risky options.
It’s not that I don’t like Julian Edelman, a PPR extraordinaire who carries a great ceiling and floor, regardless of matchup. Slot dominators like Edelman don’t require much TD production when they’re catching 70% of their 9.6 targets a game. As a result, they find themselves solid options even when facing an imposing defense like Buffalo’s. Last week, the Colts connected on enough short, Edelman-esque slot routes against the Bills that we can expect Edelman, already a lynchpin of the passing game, to post a predictably strong PPR line. I’m still projecting a low-end WR2 week with upside, a nice haul for just $6,700.
Donte Moncrief is worlds ahead of Phillip Dorsett in the feeding line, as evidenced by his 11-3 target dominance in Week 1. But note that he also out-targeted Andre Johnson and drew two looks from inside the 10. Facing facts, we see that Johnson is a possession target near the end, a crowded role in an offense that features two talented tight ends and an adept slot option in T.Y. Hilton. We also see that Moncrief has had the team’s trust since his Week 8 starting debut, a masterful 7-113-1 performance that showcased his across-the-field potential. Andrew Luck is not the slightest but hesitant to include Moncrief, especially down the field and near the goal line – where fantasy success happens.
It’s fair to be intimidated by the presence of Darrelle Revis, who plays a fixed spot at right cornerback and will tangle with Moncrief at times. But Moncrief will also see plenty of the burnable Buster Skrine on the other side, so his WR2/3 outlook remains intact. He’s the value play of the week at just $4,600, and could even be justified on a cash roster.
When the dust settles, I expect Steve Johnson to have served as one of the more dynamic fantasy WR3s throughout the season. Keenan Allen hogged a disproportionately high share of targets in Week 1; he certainly won’t catch 240 balls this year, so regression is assured. And despite Allen’s 17 targets, Johnson still posted a WR2 line of 6-82-1. Balance that tilt just a bit, and a weekly expectation of 7-9 targets seems fair for Johnson. The matchup is a bit daunting, but Johnson has far too much PPR appeal for his meager $4,200 salary.
With DeSean Jackson out, Washington faces a relative lack of pass-catching options. Thus, Pierre Garcon and Jordan Reed are poised to again dominate Kirk Cousins’ attention this week. The pair drew 63% of Washington targets in Week 1 as the only true dynamic threats available. That should continue in a matchup with the Rams and their thoroughly beatable CBs. Garcon’s $5,000 salary is markedly low for a clear No. 1 wideout.
I’m not the biggest fan of Allen Robinson’s game, and I certainly don’t love his QB right now. But he’s a clear No. 1 wideout who could be looking at extensive volume this week. The 4.5-point home underdog Jaguars are likely to find themselves throwing early and often, and Robinson has a slightly better matchup than his Week 1 tilt with emerging star CB Josh Norman. It’s also encouraging that the big-framed Robinson saw a pair of red zone looks in Week 1 after failing to draw any in his rookie season.
We know Marcus Mariota is good, and that the Titans’ offensive outlook is much brighter than it’s been for years. But due to Week 1’s wonky blowout over the pitiful Buccaneers, we don’t know just how good – and how dependable – this offense truly is. At just $5,000, Kendall Wright is an intriguing bet on Mariota and the offense. He seems to be the top option in the passing game, but not by a dominant margin, so we can’t have much confidence in his weekly volume. On the other hand, Wright’s yardage and TD numbers have nowhere to go but up after years of Jake Locker/Charlie Whitehurst damage, so he no longer needs high reception totals to maintain WR3 value.
Alshon Jeffery is a fine player with a great NFL outlook. But he’s a bit too high-salaried for me to roll the dice on that explosive offensive situation. He has strong competition for red zone looks and just doesn’t project as well as the rest of his tier.
Like Jeffery, I like DeAndre Hopkins’ potential quite a bit, and he exceeded even my lofty Week 1 expectations by posting 32.8 with shaky quarterbacking. But his Week 2 matchup is a doozy: he’ll face shadow CB Josh Norman, an emerging star who, since mid-2014, has shut down Julio Jones (twice), Mike Evans, Jeremy Maclin, Josh Gordon, and Allen Robinson. Hopkins is no more than a GPP lottery ticket this week, and a weak one at that.
With Dez Bryant out of commission, Jason Witten appears set to dominate the Cowboys passing game. He’s long been Tony Romo’s security blanket, but he now carries added value as the likely first look on an additional handful of routes. As a result, only two other TE options top Witten’s volume outlook this week. Simply put, he’s an easy top-three option in any game this week.
Don’t overreact to Greg Olsen’s Week 1 disappointment. Yes, teams are able to devote more and sometimes overwhelming attention to Olsen with no other proven threats on the field. But Olsen remains a surefire target dominator in this paper-thin passing game, both in and out of the red zone. The Week 1 dud keeps Olsen’s price tag very affordable, solidly in the second tier of salaries and $900 below that of Jimmy Graham.
Jordan Reed experienced a health scare this week – never a good sign for Jordan Reed – but his quad appears to be okay. That’s great news for DFSers seeking a dynamic, high-volume TE in an offense missing its top wideout for just $3,700. Reed caught seven balls on a team-high 11 targets in the opener and projects to one of the top usage outlooks of Week 2, and few can match his open-field ability to generate yardage.
Now that Zach Ertz has definitively slipped from the top pricing tier, I’m ready to launch him into some GPP lineups. The Cowboys are pitiful at defending TEs, coughing up 109 catches and 10 touchdowns to the position last year. In the same vein, the Colts duo of Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener make for intriguing options at their dirt-cheap costs. The Jets gave up a whopping 14 TDs to tight ends last year, and Andrew Luck’s fondness of them near the goal line bodes well for their scoring probabilities.
Ladarius Green remains underpriced at $3,500, even after playing a prominent role in the Chargers’ high-volume passing game last week. He has ample competition for targets, sure, but he’s also a special athlete capable of maximizing any volume he sees. He’s a strong candidate to triple-score his salary this week.
I’m not one to outright doubt Rob Gronkowski, and he’s never a true “fade” in any matchup. But I’m not simply paying for him this week. The Bills are brutal on TEs – just 8.9 yards per catch and two TDs since the start of 2014 – and there are several options with similar Week 2 outlooks available for 40-50% less of my budget.
I’m a fan of Tyler Eifert, but I’d advise against chasing his Week 1 explosion. His dominant performance seemed to be gameplan-specific in a heavily scripted blowout win. And this passing game typically isn’t prolific enough to support a high-end WR like A.J. Green and a clear-cut TE1, which is Eifert’s price tag.
The Dolphins are the week’s heaviest hitters, with a cherry matchup against the bumbling Jaguars and the No. 1 salary to prove it. I despise topping $3,000 for a defense, but when I do, this is the type I go for. Their sack-happy unit should drive Blake Bortles into sacks, errant throws, and potential insanity.
Still, the week’s best value comes from the Ravens and their inexplicable $2,900 price tag. Facing a banged-up Derek Carr is as sexy as matchups come, as the Raiders lack big-play threats and offensive consistency anyway. Even without Terrell Suggs, there’s plenty of sack and turnover potential in this likely blowout.
This Patriots defense isn’t good, but it could be strong in DFS circles for a week at a time. Bill Belichick likely has an aggressive gameplan in place for QB Tyrod Taylor’s second NFL start, and sacks and turnovers could come in bunches. The Pats will give up some big plays, but I expect them to produce well overall at their $2,800 cost.
It’s similarly hard to appreciate the Saints’ craptastic defense, which allowed the Cardinals offense to rack up hefty yardage and scoring last week. But the Buccaneers are a team-wide mess, and a turnover-prone rookie QB leads the charge with Mike Evans questionable to suit up. This could be a Superdome bloodbath and worth a fantasy dice roll.