As we mentioned in last week’s edition of The Chalk, the number of players that are on everybody’s radar will level out as the season moves along. While the plethora of chalk-type plays in Week 1 made the menu look like one from your average diner, this week’s menu skews slightly towards a limited-service type dining experience. When there’s only a week to analyze things in between games, the same names start to pop up all over the place.
That’s definitely the case for Week 2, but there’s still more than enough options that will require us making some tough roster decisions. As we demonstrated last week, we can find a large amount of the week’s chalk plays by looking towards the games that are on everybody’s radar. For this week, there’s clearly two at the top of the list: One for the projected high total, and the other because of the players involved. Let’s get started by digging into the latter one.
Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh
The divisional rivals square off in a game with one of the week’s highest projected totals, but that’s not the only thing setting the hearts aflutter of DFSers. Some of the top players in all of fantasy will be on the field for this one, and they’re names that regularly appear on the list when narrowing down the top plays for a given week.
First and foremost, the top receivers for both squads are looking like must plays on a weekly basis after the performances they delivered in Week 1. Antonio Brown - $9,900 - and A.J. Green - $8,900 - were two of the top performing receivers last week, and there’s a pretty good chance we’ll recite that sentence a few more times before the season is through.
Next up, it’s a pretty well-known fact that for DFS purposes, we want DeAngelo Williams - $7,100 - in our lineups when LeVeon Bell is on the sidelines. We can expect all three players to be very heavily-owned this week, and we can also expect a bevy of stacks including the signal callers for both squads: Ben Roethlisberger at $7,500 and Andy Dalton at $6,400.
As for the approach, there’s few valid reasons to outright fade any of the big three from this game. We can make the case for fading Brown on the basis of his salary for the week, but he’s shown on numerous occasions that he’s more than capable of hitting value regardless of price. There’s a school of thought that suggests this divisional game will be lower scoring than anticipated, especially coming in off of last year’s contentious and memorable Wild Card game.
Bottom line, if you’re sold on their prospects for the week, don’t hesitate to roster them. We know the upside of all three players, and any one of them makes a fine building block for your lineups. If you’re looking to play two of the three, look towards Green and Williams for salary purposes. Playing all three in the same lineup may be little too aggressive if the game does in fact turn out to be lower-scoring than anticipated. Finally, keep an eye on the weather as the early forecast calls for a chance of rain in Pittsburgh. If it turns out to be the heavy stuff, Williams becomes the most attractive play of the three.
New Orleans @ New York Giants
The game with the highest projected total of the week will always be front and center on the chalk list, and that’s certainly the case for this projected shootout between the Saints and Giants. The Saints opened up the season with a shootout against the Raiders, and it doesn’t look like there was too much improvement on the defensive side of the ball in comparison to 2015. The Giants took down the Cowboys in a bit of a snoozer, but the offensive team meetings were likely a pretty cheery place this week at team headquarters.
Quite simply, there will be a boatload of stacks featuring either Drew Brees - $8,200 - or Eli Manning - $7,600 - and their respective targets. It gets a little tricky to pinpoint which of those targets will be the most heavily-owned, but the safest assumption calls for Odell Beckham Jr., $9,500 and Brandin Cooks, $8,000 to be paired up with their quarterbacks. Following those two stacks, expect to see plenty involving Sterling Shepard, $5,200, and Willie Snead, $5,800.
We can make a case for other skill position players as well, but the top two receiving options of each signal caller appear to be the most likely targets from the masses. It’s also safe to say that we’ll see plenty of iterations of power stacks featuring both clubs, as well as a mix of skill position players from both squads on the same DFS roster.
As always, we don’t want to simply bypass this game just for the sake of being different. There’s points to be had here, and we’ll want some exposure. Those that are playing multiple lineups can feel free to employ a Giants or Saints stack and work towards nailing the highest-upside one. For those with single or limited lineups, it might be wise to find exposure to this game in another manner.
On the Giants side, we can definitely look to Rashad Jennings at $5,600 as an attractive option, especially considering that the Saints allowed three touchdowns to running backs last week. We could do the same on the Saints side and look to Mark Ingram at $6,200, but he may not have the same upside as Jennings for this week.
These two games contain a great deal of the chalk plays for the week, but we’ll also want to try and figure out where the masses will head for each position outside of these two games.
QB Cam Newton, $7,900
Interest should be pretty high for Newton this week, as the Panthers welcome the 49ers to town in what looks like a pretty glaring mismatch. The Panthers are the biggest favorite of the week, and we can bet that Newton will have a big hand in building the lead if that comes to fruition. He’s the second-most expensive quarterback this week, but it’s still possible to build a solid lineup by sprinkling in some high-upside value plays. Add it all up, and Newton looks like a solid choice, and he should have a pretty decent ownership percentage.
As opposed to Newton, we can save $100 and look to Aaron Rodgers. His matchup against the Vikings doesn’t look as great on paper, but it’s pretty easy to envision a scenario in which he exceeds expectations in a game under the lights of Sunday Night Football. Moving further down the salary chart, we find Matthew Stafford at $7,300 and Derek Carr at $7,200. Both signal callers are in favorable matchups in games that feature high projected totals. Looking for a value approach to quarterback for this week? Then you can look towards Trevor Siemian at $5,200 or Jimmy Garoppolo at $5,900. While the ceiling for both quarterbacks may be limited, the salary flexibility they afford can help you build a roster with some serious upside.
RB C.J. Anderson, $6,800
Anderson looked fantastic in Week 1’s game against a tough Panthers defense, so people are salivating at what he can deliver against a porous one like this week’s opponent, the Colts. He’s affordably priced and facing off against a team that’s vulnerable against the run. On top of that, the Broncos are playing at home and a pretty big favorite to boot. If the Broncos get up big as expected, there’s a good chance that Anderson will have played a part in it. That could also translate into Anderson being fed steadily to run clock and preserve the lead.
Based on all of these factors, Anderson looks like one of those plays that we might want to zero in on and include on our rosters, regardless of ownership percentage. If you’re determined to fade him, one viable consideration would be to roster either David Johnson - $7,600 - or DeAngelo Williams - $7,100 - and look to an inexpensive running back to fill the other roster spot. Both players will have plenty of supporters this week as well, so you may not be gaining too much on the differentiation front. On the cheaper running back spots, look to options such as Spencer Ware, $6,100, DeMarco Murray, $5,700 and Danny Woodhead, $5,200.
WR Amari Cooper, $7,600
The two chalk games of the week contain a bunch of the week’s projected most popular plays at wide receiver. For the next man up, Cooper should have his fair share of supporters as well. He’s coming in off of a great game against the Saints, and it seems like his rapport with Derek Carr - $7,200 - grows on a weekly basis. The game between the Raiders and Falcons also has one of the higher projected totals of the week. One interesting pivot away from Cooper is just a tad more expensive, and that’s Allen Robinson at $7,800. He’s flying under the radar after a lackluster Week 1 performance against the Packers, but the Jaguars and Chargers game could be a good source of points.
TE Greg Olsen, $5,600
The chalk at tight end can be tough to predict, but we’ll lean towards Olsen as a potential stack target for this week’s Newton supporters. The concern with rostering Olsen comes down to price. He’s certainly capable of returning value - and he’ll receive plenty of opportunities to do so - it’s just that there are lower-priced options that appear to have good chances to exceed their required value. We can save over $1,000 by rostering either Delanie Walker or Antonio Gates at $4,500, and it’s not hard to see either one of them snagging several receptions and a score this week.
D New England Patriots, $3,000
The Patriots are a big favorite at home that checks in with an affordable price, and that’s a recipe for a healthy ownership percentage this week. The upside is there as well, as they'll be facing a deflated Dolphins squad that’s coming in off of a tough Week 1 loss to the Seahawks. We can make several cases for fading the Patriots - differentiation, teams with greater upside opportunity, desire to save money at defense - but there’s few viable cheaper options this week. We can look to the Ravens at the same price of $3,000, or spend up for one of the higher-upside squads. One potential cheap option is the Chargers, a three-point home favorite that checks in at a price of $2,500.
That takes care of The Chalk for Week 2. Enjoy the games this weekend, and best of luck with your lineups. Feel free to hit me up anytime on Twitter - @cm_feery - or email - firstname.lastname@example.org - with questions or comments.