This week, we'll discuss the following topics:
The staffers we talked to this week are Chris Feery, Andrew Garda, Dan Hindery, Alex Miglio, Chad Parsons, Jeff Pasquino, and Mark Wimer.
Hester: Last week, the prevailing thought was to pay up at running back even if it only left you with one of the elite wide receivers in your lineup. In Week 1, industry pricing guided us towards going cheap at running back and paying for wide receivers. What do you see being the trend this week? And do you agree with it?
Hindery: More than any other week, I think we'll see strategies diverge significantly depending upon whether we're talking about the full slate or the Sunday only contests.
The Monday night game (Atlanta at New Orleans) is expected to be the highest-scoring of the week and has some high-priced players at quarterback (Drew Brees and Matt Ryan) and receiver (primarily Julio Jones) who look to be worth paying up for. There are enough inexpensive running backs stepping in for injured starters to be able to go cheap at running back and pay up for Brees, Jones, etc.
On the other hand, the 14-game Sunday slate looks like one where a more balanced approach is going to be prudent. The elite receivers and quarterbacks all have tough matchups to varying degrees, and most of the value looks to be in the mid–priced range, especially at receiver (Larry Fitzgerald, Stefon Diggs, Jarvis Landry, Eric Decker, Travis Benjamin, etc).
Wimer: I am playing mid-priced players at receiver almost exclusively. Dan's list includes many of my own picks. I'd group those with slightly more expensive backs like DeMarco Murray, C.J. Anderson, and David Johnson along with mid-priced guys like Melvin Gordon. I also have Tevin Coleman in for one Thursday-Monday mid-sized GPP.
Miglio: Pricing has tightened up significantly, though injuries have presented several potential values in Week 3. The problem is hitting on those values; many of the injury replacements available simply don't whet the appetite. The trend will invariably move toward minimizing cost at running back given all the replacement options at low prices, so owners might be able to differentiate lineups by ponying up big bucks at that position.
Where I probably wouldn't spend money in most lineups is at quarterback. The top of the position is either going to have a bad matchup or simply hasn't played well enough to merit the cost. There are plenty of mid-priced quarterbacks that should hit or exceed value in cash games this week.
Pasquino: As the injury dust continues to settle, I'm seeing some values emerge. The San Diego-Indianapolis game should be a shootout. The Colts will be starting Philip Dorsett, for example, and the Chargers receivers all look relatively cheap as well. That goes along with what Dan mentioned as far as the mid-tier receivers being the place to target, especially on slates not including Monday. Even though some running backs will be thrust into bigger roles this week (such as Charles Sims and Jerick McKinnon), their matchups are not desirable, so paying up at running back looks to be the best strategy in cash games this week. For GPPs, swimming upstream is usually a good idea, so I might flip that script.
Garda: As you guys mentioned, there are some great receiver values this week, which I didn't feel much last week. I still am looking for value at running back if I can, though, and players like Matt Forte helped that work out last week. Unfortunately, as Jeff points out, many of those value matchups are sketchy this week, so going with the studs is your best bet.
Feery: The trend is pointing towards mid-priced wide receivers, complemented by one expensive and one cheap running back. As we were heading into the season, paying up for wide receivers and saving money elsewhere was all the rage. After being burned by several of the expensive wideouts last week that failed to achieve value, it only makes sense for the masses to shy away from them and look for the value.
As Dan mentioned, a lot of that theory is contingent on which slate is being played. For slates that include the Monday Night game between the Saints and Falcons, we can expect the higher-priced wide receivers to have a healthy ownership percentage. Sunday only slates will likely see more of the approach outlined above, and there’s plenty of value at both positions to execute it successfully.
Cash and GPP Plays
Hester: This one's a free-for-all. Pick two Cash Game and two GPP recommendations at a position of your choosing. Tell us why you've chosen those players.
Cash Game Quarterback
Feery: I like Philip Rivers in Cash Games. Regardless of the personnel on the field, we can be confident that the Chargers game plan will call for heavy doses of Rivers slinging the rock. While much attention has been paid to the devastating injuries to Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead, Rivers has quietly thrown for five touchdowns through two games. We’ll look for him to add to that total in a potential shootout against the Colts, and consider him to have a strong chance at achieving value in Week 3.
Hindery: I acutally like Rivers is a nice option in GPPs this weekend against Indianapolis' beat up secondary. Rivers didn't miss a beat in Week 2 despite the loss of Allen (and the early injury to Woodhead), throwing for four touchdowns. Indianapolis has allowed 606 passing yards through two weeks despite playing from behind in both games. With the Colts favored at home, the game script potentially sets up very well for a big passing game from Rivers.
Garda: I like Eli Manning as a sneaky GPP play this week, as he faces an uninspiring Washington defense. Sure, Odell Beckham Jr and Josh Norman will go head to head (Washington has indicated Norman will follow his buddy everywhere but the slot), but even if Beckham struggles, Victor Cruz and rookie Sterling Shephard will be there to pick up the slack.
The Washington pass defense allowed 22/30 for 278 net yards passing, zero touchdowns, and zero interceptions to Dallas' Dak Prescott in Week 2 and is allowing an average of 284 passing yards a game with just one interception to three touchdown passes. This is going to be a good week for Manning.
Cash Game Running Backs
Pasquino: If Matt Forte had three touchdowns and 100 yards against Buffalo, what can we expect from David Johnson? Do not worry about Chris Johnson outrushing him last week, as David rested early in the second half with the outcome against Tampa Bay no longer in doubt. The younger Johnson has the best shot at two touchdowns and 100+ rushing yards this week, so he's a great choice for a cash game running back.
Hindery: DeAngelo Williams has been matchup-proof as the starting running back in Pittsburgh. He's averaged 117 total yards, 1.18 touchdowns, and 3.7 catches per game as the starter over the past two seasons when LeVeon Bell has been out. He gets one last outing as the lead back before Bell returns, and the Steelers will have no reason to limit his touches. The Eagles defensive numbers look good on paper, but they face a major step up in competition from the Browns and Bears in Week 3. The Eagles are also facing a short week after playing Monday night in Week 2.
Garda: In cash games, slow and steady wins the race (or gets you in the money). So rather than look just for value and risk something with a guy like Forte, who has upside and is cheap but has a lousy matchup, I lean towards guys like Jeff and Dan pointed out (Johnson and Williams). A third "sure-fire" running back play is C.J. Anderson.
Williams and Forte both lit up the Cincinnati defense on the ground, and while Anderson only had 74 yards against the Colts, he’s going to top that this week and add something with receiving yards as well.
GPP Running Backs
Parsons: I like Charles Sims this week. The Rams are stingy against the run (3.3 YPC), but see a healthy volume as their own offense is not gaining a healthy lead. Sims excels in the passing game anyway, as the Tampa Bay offense will look to get well this week at home after their thumping at Arizona in Week 2.
Feery: For a GPP running back, I’m looking for a low ownership percentage and multiple touchdown upside. In a perfect world, that same back will be poised for a heavy workload in a potentially high-scoring game. Melvin Gordon checks off all the boxes this week for the Chargers matchup against the Colts, and I think he’ll fly under the radar while the masses focus on the passing game options from this potentially fruitful matchup.
Cash Game Wide Receivers
Pasquino: Travis Benjamin is going to see a lot of targets this week against Indianapolis. San Diego will have to score at least 27 points to get a road win against Andrew Luck, and Philip Rivers will be testing that porous Colts secondary all day long. That – combined with his modest pricing across the industry – is a solid recipe for a cash game asset.
Wimer: I like Benjamin as a cash game option this week as well. He has a high floor as the lead receiver for Rivers. With Woodhead out now, the receptions that went to Woodhead will get spread around to other receivers, and Benjamin could blow up for multiple touchdowns again. The Colts average 299 yards passing allowed per game so far this year. Benjamin should get his, and he's not terribly expensive yet either.
Hindery: After facing two tough defenses on the road (Seahawks and Patriots), Jarvis Landry gets to face the Browns at home in the Dolphins home-opener. Landry has 17 receptions on 23 targets through two weeks and is about as safe option as you will find in the mid-priced range.
Garda: I am leaning towards Larry Fitzgerald. He has three touchdowns in two games, consistent targets and yardage, and is going up against an awful Buffalo secondary (and defense in general). That looks like a good bet to me. And while the price is right, I don’t feel like this is a GPP type play. Fitzgerald has been reliable to start the season and is a perfect cash play.
Feery: Through two games, Marvin Jones has been targeted 21 times, and he's had five receptions of 20 yards or more. While he hasn’t found the end zone as of yet, he’s emerging as the go-to receiver for Matthew Stafford, as the team’s projected top dog, Golden Tate, has had a challenging start to the season. The Lions are a heavy underdog for their road date against the Packers, and that’s a recipe for a second half of heavy volume in the passing game. Jones is reasonably priced across the industry, and he looks like a solid anchor for lineups.
GPP Wide Receivers
Wimer: While Chris called out Jones in Detroit as a solid Cash Games play, I like him in GPPs too. He has seen 10 and 11 targets over the first two games and went over 100 yards last week with 8-118-0 receiving. He has a high floor, and if he can just squeeze into the end zone, he'll really blow past his modest salary. Value is easily achievable for Jones given his status as the most heavily targeted receiver in Detroit. With Ameer Abdullah out and the other backs facing the top rush defense in the land (Green Bay is allowing an average of 39 rushing yards per game), I like Jones a lot this week.
Feery: Based on our last topic, the trend this week appears to be leaning towards saving some money with mid-priced wide receiver options, and that opens up a fantastic opportunity to roster an expensive wideout in anticipation of a breakout game. The expensive wide receivers of the world burned many a lineup last week, and that will lead to some lower than normal ownership percentages for those at the top of the salary scale. Odell Beckham Jr will not be held in check all season as he has been for the first two weeks of the season, and this could be the week he reminds us of how special he is. We’ll be greedy while others are fearful, and look for Beckham to find the end zone a couple of times against Washington.
Parsons: Another GPP play is Tajae Sharpe. The Raiders are absolutely dreadful against the pass; they're approaching 2015 Saints type of bad through two weeks. Sharpe is seeing a dominant snap rate with no other Tennessee receiver to separate themselves from the pack. Sharpe has a tepid price and a quality blend of floor and ceiling.
Pasquino: I really like Philip Dorsett being thrust into a starting role due to Donte Moncrief's injury. With a game total over 51, this should be a shootout and I love a game stack here in this one.
Cash Game Tight End
Parsons: I like Jordan Reed. Washington's defense struggles to get off the field, and their run game is a placeholder more than an offensive staple. Reed should be peppered with targets, and we like opportunity in our Cash Games.
GPP Tight End
Wimer: Clive Walford is my GPP tight end this week. He is starting to gain momentum as Oakland's top tight end. Derek Carr has been throwing the ball a lot, and the Raiders defense is going to give up points to the Titans, forcing Carr to throw it around some more on Sunday. He should have a good shot at GPP value on his modest salary.
Pasquino: GPP tight end for me has to be whoever is facing Atlanta. They have given up three touchdowns ends the past two weeks, so why not go back to that well? That points directly towards Coby Fleener for the Saints on Monday night.
Since a lot of slates no longer include Monday Night Football, so I will give my favorite Sunday GPP tight end. That's Philadelphia's Trey Burton against Pittsburgh. Burton was a big part of the Philadelphia game plan, and he stepped up in a big way with Zach Ertz out. Burton has great hands and runs solid routes, and the team loves to use him. The Steelers have given up 14 catches and 128 yards in two weeks even with Cincinnati not having Tyler Eifert. I can see Burton gathering five to seven catches, 50-75 yards, and another score this week.
Cash Game Defense/Special Teams
Parsons: I'd look at Miami. They can rush the passer, a key ingredient I target for defenses to force turnovers. This week, Cody Kessler gets his first NFL start, on the road, against the Miami front. The Dolphins have a sky-high ceiling and a solid floor of a few sacks and low point total allowed.
Wimer: I'm also playing the Miami defense vs.Cleveland's shattered quarterbacking corps all over the place this weekend. Kessler is not the answer, and neither is Charlie Whitehurst.
GPP Defense/Special Teams
Hindery: Speaking of Miami, the Dolphins defense is going to be heavily owned, but it is still a strong option in GPPs due to the big-play upside of facing a rookie quarterback making his first start. Cleveland did not envision having to go to third-stringer Kessler this season, and he has not received the repetitions with the first-team offense he would need to start his career off on the right foot. Most enticing from a GPP perspective is that Kessler was sacked on 20% of his dropbacks in preseason (seven sacks on 35 dropbacks).
Garda: I'm with everyone on Miami. While Kessler is cautious and was good protecting the ball in college, the Cleveland offensive line is not great, meaning he could be in for a long day. But just to differentiate, I’m taking a swing with Tampa Bay’s defense. Sure, they gave up a lot of points in the first two weeks, but you know who doesn’t score points? Los Angeles. The Rams have scored a whopping nine points so far this season. Case Keenum, who – against all logic – remains the quarterback has two interceptions already this year. Tampa Bay in a great position to allow few scores and generate some turnovers. I suspect they will not be highly owned, which means you have a leg up over the rest of the tourney.
One Last Dance with DeAngelo?
Hester: DeAngelo Williams' price has risen to where he's either the most expensive running back or close to it at every DFS site. Is his rise in price too prohibitive for you to make him a key piece in cash game lineups this week, or are you jumping back on board for the final week he's the full-time starter?
Pasquino: Just like any other week, I evaluate each player based on the info at hand for what comes next. That involves the game script and matchup for that player. While Williams is going to be the primary back for the Steelers in Week 3 and his utilization will likely be high, I have to temper expectations given what I saw Philadelphia do to Chicago's run game on Monday Night Football.
Of course, Pittsburgh's offense is leaps and bounds better than the Bears, but I have to downgrade the matchup for Williams accordingly. Pulling all that together, Williams is a top running back for overall performance this week, but if his price/value ratio is too prohibitive, I could easily go in another direction (and probably will).
Hindery: On Sunday only slates, you can absolutely build your lineup around Williams. While he is among the highest-priced running backs, he is still priced below the elite receivers (despite far out-producing them over the first two weeks). He has averaged 117 total yards and 1.18 touchdowns per game while filling in for LeVeon Bell over the past two seasons. Those are exactly the type of numbers you are hoping for when paying up. All of the inexpensive RB2 options that have developed due to injuries also make it pretty easy to fit in Williams as your RB1.
Wimer: The Eagles rank 10th in the NFL averaging 92.0 rushing yards allowed per game, with two rushing scores handed out to date. They are averaging 16.1 fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs per game, 13th-least in the NFL, so though the defense has been impressive compared to last year's unit, the Eagles aren't completely shutting down opposing backs. As Dan stated above, there are lots of injury replacement backs available this week. I am playing Melvin Gordon a lot now that Danny Woodhead is done for the season, and he helps make Williams affordable. Jeremy Langford is also a guy I like vs. Dallas with Jay Cutler out (and Brian Hoyer in) due to a thumb injury and KaDeem Carey hurting with a sore hamstring. I think Langford will get a lot of work due to associated injuries on that offense.
Parsons: I am out on Williams this week. The mid-range of the running back rankings are riper for value than Williams near the top. Gordon is one glaring example. Part of my avoidance of Williams in most lineups is using the salary cap space on Odell Beckham Jr, a top-priced receiver in a more optimal matchup. Plus, Beckham has yet to score this season and I gravitate towards players more likely to correct their touchdown rates the following week.
Garda: As mentioned above, the Eagles aren’t a shut-down situation for any back right now. Yes, they thumped the Bears run game, but that was the Bears, a team whose offense is a hot mess. While Williams is a high-priced back, there are very few consistent backs in the NFL right now and even fewer with the production Williams has had the first two weeks. The only place I might hesitate is in tournaments, since I want upside nobody else will have and far too many people will give Williams one last go round.
Feery: There’s still time to enjoy the fruits of Williams’ labor, and I’m on board for one more go-round with him in my cash game lineups. Despite the price increase, he still remains a strong candidate to return value due to his heavy usage in the Steelers offense. There’s more than enough value at running back this week to find a cheaper complement to make his high salary work (Theo Riddick, Charles Sims, and Jerick McKinnon to name a few), and there are few other backs that offer up his projected floor on a weekly basis. I’ll confidently add Williams to my cash game lineups and invest my research time elsewhere.
Hester: Pick one game on the Week 3 slate that you think will go against the script as indicated by Vegas lines and totals. Which players will have a hand in the outcome and provide hidden value for DFS players?
Hindery: I want to mention a pair of games. The first is Arizona at Buffalo. The opening line had Arizona favored by 6.5 on the road. Despite much of the public money coming in on Arizona, the line has been bet down all the way to Arizona -4 with the "sharps" all over Buffalo. I'd be wary of paying up for Carson Palmer, David Johnson, or the Cardinals Defense, as this could be a trap game for Arizona.
The Jets at Chiefs is a game could end up going against script and turning into a shootout, despite the low Vegas game total of 43 points. The Jets play an aggressive style of defense that limits the opposition's running game and puts pressure on the quarterback but leaves them susceptible to big plays in the passing game. The Jets gave up 366 passing yards to Andy Dalton in Week 1 (with four passing plays 49+ yards) and 297 passing yards to Tyrod Taylor in Week 2 (with two passing plays of 70+ yards). Alex Smith and Jeremy Maclin are sneaky GPP plays as the pair could hook up for some big plays against single coverage. The Jets have the offensive firepower (497 yards and four touchdowns against the Bills) to put points up against a solid Chiefs defense that is not quite what it was last season.
Wimer: I agree with Dan on the Jets at Chiefs. Over the first two weeks of the season, New York has averaged 25.5 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing quarterbacks (seventh-most in the NFL) and 35.4 fantasy points per game allowed to wide receivers (second-most in the league) with 4.3 fantasy points given up per game to tight ends (ninth-least). So clearly there is an opportunity for Smith, Maclin, and perhaps even Chris Conley and/or Albert Wilson to make a lot of hay against the Jets.
Also, though the Chiefs are usually tougher in thunderous Arrowhead Stadium, they are still dealing without Justin Houston (PUP), and Tamba Hali isn't 100% healthy, making their pass rush weaker than last year at the moment. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 374 yards last Thursday night. Brandon Marshall (nine targets for 6-106-0 receiving) and Eric Decker (eight for 6-126-1) went over 100 yards receiving on the day, and Quincy Enunwa was close with six targets for 6/92/0. This could be a very high-scoring game.
Hester: We've got the Jets-Chiefs game covered, and I agree that it could be a surprise shootout. Another game I thought would be discussed was Pittsburgh-Philadelphia. The Keystone State Showdown has an over/under of 43, which on the surface seems low given Pittsburgh's firepower and Philadelphia's efficiency so far this season. Which players stand to benefit if either of those games goes off script?
Pasquino: Green Bay-Detroit should follow the script in my mind, Ryan. This has the makings of a homecoming-type contest for Aaron Rodgers as he can use this game as a "get right" performance before the Packers go on a bye in Week 4. In a scheduling quirk, this is the first of four consecutive Packers home games, and if you count the bye, they don't have to travel for over a month. Detroit was torched by Andrew Luck, and even DeMarco Murray had a successful receiving game last week for Tennessee. I see all the reverse bias for Rodgers of late resulting in a fantastic stacking opportunity with Green Bay.
I just finished up "For The Win," and the research I did for that article made me really like Jacksonville this week. Baltimore is 2-0, but a close win at home over Buffalo and a comeback against Cleveland is not setting the world on fire. The Ravens have faced weak offenses (and the Bills just fired their offensive coordinator), but that secondary has not looked solid against weak quarterback play from Cleveland and Corey Coleman scored twice in the first quarter. I think Blake Bortles can put up points early and often here and turn this game into a shootout against Joe Flacco and company. I'm not sure if many others will see it that way, but it is a sneaky game to stack this week.
Parsons: I see the Washington-New York Giants game as more of a shootout than the middle-of-the-road Vegas total. Washington's secondary struggles to stop anyone and the Giants' top-three receivers are one of the best units in the NFL. On the flip side, Washington needs little encouragement to turn pass-heavy and add Josh Doctson to the mix after he has been slowly ramped up into the snap count through two weeks. Odell Beckham Jr is my favorite receiver play in DFS this week, and stacking with Eli Manning is optimal. On the flip side, Jordan Reed is one of the better tight end values.
Garda: Add me to the Jets-Chiefs group who foresees a bit more offense than the lines would indicate. Regarding the Pittsburgh-Philadelphia game, I think it is a fascinating one and could go off script if Carson Wentz and Doug Pederson hit the no-huddle offense early again. It could put the Steelers on their heels a bit. If the Eagles stick with it, I think we see Jordan Matthews back to the 14 targets he saw in Week 1. But for a dropped pass against the Bears, he would have had similar numbers. As long as the Eagles throw and try to keep the Steelers hopping, it’s good news for Matthews.
We could also see more Ryan Mathews as well, despite his minimal use against Chicago. Trying to run Darren Sproles between the tackles is a non-starter, and again, if the offense goes no-huddle early and keeps the tempo hot, I think they put Mathews on the field and roll with him. Even if this goes off-kilter and gets high scoring, I see Mathews getting run.
Feery: These have been choices so far, and I’m intrigued by a few of the matchups that have been mentioned already as well. To add one more game to the mix, the Oakland at Tennessee matchup looks like it could be chock full of fantasy points. We have a Raiders defense that has struggled against the pass, and that bodes well for a solid game from Marcus Mariota. Stacking him with either Delanie Walker or Tajae Sharpe could make a ton of sense, but I’ll also be looking at somewhat of a power stack as well.
Mariota, one of either Walker or Sharpe, plus DeMarco Murray could be a fruitful combo this week, and one that can make a lot of noise if the game breaks as anticipated. On the Raiders side of the ledger, I would lean towards a Derek Carr stack with either Amari Cooper or Michael Crabtree, and I would consider a stack that included all three if I was playing a large number of lineups.
Wimer: Feery is right on with that Walker/Murray stack, in my opinion, I am playing it in several lineups this weekend. To date, the Raiders average 404 net passing yards allowed per game, (dead last in the NFL) with seven passing scores allowed vs. one interception generated. They are the most generous pass defense in the land to opposing quarterbacks, averaging 34.2 fantasy points allowed per game on average, have coughed up 12.3 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends (fourth-most), and 20 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs (12th-most). Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman ran all over the Raiders last week, and Coleman added 2-25-0 receiving. Murray's usage this season is like those two backs rolled into one.
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Ryan Hester - Moderator