Ace’s Aces: Week 2
If you competed in contests that run from Thursday through Sunday, you probably noticed that you have some work to do to keep pace with Peyton Manning, Emmanuel Sanders, Demaryius Thomas and Jamaal Charles. Not to fear though, there are plenty of other options available on Sunday and Monday that can exceed their points. We did very well last week nailing Forte, Abdullah, Ivory, NYJ defense, Julio Jones, DeMarco Murray, Jeremy Hill and Jordan Mathews. On the flipside, we missed on Davante Adams, CJ Anderson and Brandin Cooks. This week is shaping up to be much more matchup dependent, so I mostly focused on the players with (+) matchups. The players I included who are facing tough defenses were chosen due to a combination of their high ceiling and low projected ownership.
Let’s get to it
Carson Palmer (@Chicago) Price: $6500, Projected 19.98, PP$ 61.42
Despite being a former elite quarterback, as well as producing at a high level when healthy, it seems the fantasy community at large is constantly under appreciating Palmers value. He has talent surrounding him at the skill positions, a pretty good O-line and a defense that leaves him with good field position. With Andre Ellington now injured, Arizona will be forced to pass more, especially in the red zone where they passed frequently to begin with. The matchup with Chicago is a good one and the game script should favor Palmer throwing the ball 35+ times. His value is stable with a pass happy red zone offense, and his price is cheap enough to provide you with salary relief. He will be on many of my cash game lineups this week.
Ben Roethlisberger (vs SF) Price: $6750, Projected 19.78, PP$: 57.96
When it comes to cash game quarterbacks, I want one thing, volume. Roethlisberger will certainly have that playing at home against the 49ers. Deangelo Williams filled in for Leveon Bell admirably, but I do not expect him to rush for 100+ yards again this week. Even if Williams gets a healthy amount of carries, that still leaves a large percentage of plays in the passing game. Antonio Brown is quite possibly the best receiver in the game, and he and Roethlisberger have a rapport that lends itself to huge fantasy games for the both of them. The Steelers also have a dependable tight end in Heath Miller who understands where to find the soft spots in defensive coverage, especially in the red zone. The offense will become much more well-rounded when Martavis Bryant comes back, but for now, Roethlisberger represents a quarterback you can depend on to throw 30+ times every week and provide you with the high floor you need to win your cash games.
Sam Bradford (vs Dallas) Price: $6400, Projected 19.63, PP$: 60.21
I had quite a bit of exposure to Bradford last weekend, which was somewhat scary considering he hadn’t played in a regular season game in over two years. He was definitely rusty in the first half but bounced back to finish with 336 yards passing with a touchdown and two interceptions. Most importantly though, Bradford threw the ball 52 times. All matchups won’t be as high scoring, but you can safely count on the Eagles continuing their up tempo offense. This translates into a massive amount of pass attempts for Bradford. The matchup with Dallas projects as the highest scoring game of the week, so Bradford makes for an excellent GPP play. He has a solid floor and is safe to play in cash games, but his upside is what entices me.
Philip Rivers (@Cincy) Price: $6600, Projected 19.28, PP$: 56.32
In week 1 Rivers proved again why he is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. He finished with 404 yards passing with two touchdowns and two interceptions. The most impressive stat was Rivers completing 35 of 42 passes for a ridiculous 85% completion percentage. The Chargers have a versatile offense which plays to Rivers strengths in spreading the ball around. Keenan Allen did have 15 catches for 162 yards, but Stevie Johnson (6/82/1), Ladarious Green (5/74/1), Melvin Gordon (3/14) and Danny Woodhead (4/20) were all active in the passing game. Their ability to create mismatches allowed Allen the room to operate in one on one coverage. San Diego travels to Cincinnati this week which should prove to be a tough test for Rivers, but one he and the offense are certainly capable of handling. With Rivers efficiency and propensity for throwing in the red zone, he makes for a great GPP option, and one that should be low owned due to the matchup.
Matt Ryan (@NYG) Price: $690, Projected 20.32, PP$: 59.84
Ryan comes into week 2 with a tremendous amount of momentum after beating the Eagles on Monday Night Football. Ryan finished with 298 yards passing, two touchdowns and two interceptions. His 34 passing attempts were much lower than I expected, but he made them count by connecting on several deep balls to Julio Jones. Jones looked unstoppable, further enhancing Ryan’s value. Ryan is the fifth highest option at quarterback this week, but outside of Drew Brees, he has the best matchup among the top five. The Giants vs Atlanta game has the second highest projected total in week 2. The Giants struggled to stop a Dez-less Cowboys team with Tony Romo torching them for 352 yards and three touchdowns. There may be weeks to bench Ryan in DFS formats, but this week is not one of them. His ceiling is as high as any quarterback right now, so you can start him with confidence.
Running Back (Cash)
Jeremy Hill (vs SD) Price: $5450, Projected 13.46, PP$: 33.24
If you browsed through the salaries for week 1, you would have seen that Hill’s salary was rather high considering the other running backs around him. He ran for 62 yards on 19 carries, which alone would have wrecked his week for fantasy owners. Therein lies the rub though, as Hill punched in two touchdowns saving what was otherwise an uninspiring effort. The most important stat to look at is his total carries and red zone touches. Both bode well for his cash game value moving forward. Cincy gets a home game against a Chargers defense that let up 4.9 yards per carry to Abdullah and Bell in week 1. There may be other running backs in his price bracket, but Hill represents a consistent option that will get the lion’s share of red zone touches on a team that is finding ways to move the ball. I’m projecting Hill to finish the season with 15+ touchdowns.
Mark Ingram (vs Tampa Bay) Price: $4750, Projected 14.34, PP$: 43.29
Ingram had one of the more surprising stat lines of week 1. If you were to just look at his rushing stats, he would have been the biggest bust of the week, running the ball nine times for 24 yards against a stingy Arizona defensive line. Ingram showed off his versatility though, catching eight balls for 98 yards. Pass catching backs typically make the best cash options as they are capable of offsetting poor rushing games, and that is exactly what Ingram did. Drew Brees has always counted on his running backs in the pass game, making Ingram a potential top five back if he can continue to be effective catching passes out of the backfield. In week 2, the Saints get a struggling Tampa Bay team that let up 42 points to the Titans and rookie QB Marcus Mariota. I should also note that Bishop Sankey and Terrance West combined for 115 yards rushing and a touchdown. Ingram has the most advantageous matchup of the week, making him a great play in cash games or GPPs.
Running Back (Cash/GPP)
Matt Forte (vs Arizona) Price: $5850, Projected 17.47, PP$:52.17
Forte was #1 on my list last week for running backs, and his monster week 1 performance will do nothing to change that. Forte racked up 141 yards rushing and a touchdown on 24 carries, while also chipping in five catches for 25 yards. As I mentioned with Ingram, Forte’s ability in the passing game stabilizes his floor when he cannot find room to run. He is one of the few running backs capable of both 100 yard rushing and receiving games. Due to the lack of depth in the backfield, Forte has also started getting more red zone touches which only increases his already high ceiling. Facing off against a talented Arizona defense at home is not ideal, but Forte is matchup proof. He makes for an excellent cash or GPP option, especially in Thursday-Sunday contests where you will have to find a way to exceed the 20 points Jamal Charles put up.
Running Back (GPP)
Ameer Abdullah (@Minnesota) Price: $4450, Projected: 13.69, PP$: 42.12
Abdullah was another player I had high exposure to in week 1, which like Bradford, was risky considering there was no tape to go on and there was uncertainty surrounding how Abdullah would fare against NFL defenses. He proved up to the task, taking his first carry to the house for a long touchdown run. He finished the game with seven carries for 50 yards and a touchdown, as well as four catches for 44 yards. I was watching closely to see how the split between Abdullah and Joique Bell would shake out. Abdullah won in both the rushing and receiving departments, out touching Bell 7:6 and 4:2, respectively. Neither back touched the ball enough to be confident in their role going forward, but it is clear that Abdullah adds a dimension to the Lions offense that they desperately need. With Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate and Eric Ebron forcing the secondary to key on them, Abdullah will find wide open rushing lanes and space in the flat where he can show off his speed and elusiveness in the open field. The Lions travel to Minnesota this week, facing off against a defense that was shredded by Carlos Hyde in the late Monday night game. His lack of touches will prevent him from being an ideal cash game option, but his game breaking ability makes him a perfect GPP play.
Dion Lewis (@ Buffalo) Price: $4000, Projected: 8.81, PP$:19.40
Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman operated like a well-oiled machine in their week 1 game against the Steelers. Lewis stole the show (from a fantasy perspective) for me though, jumping off the screen with his speed and shifty moves coming out of the backfield. He finished with 69 yards on fifteen carries, and caught four ball for 51 yards. The New England management consistently finds the right talent to fit their scheme, and Lewis is no exception. At first glance he looks like a scat back, but his lower body strength makes him effective running between the tackles. Considering how efficiently Tom Brady uses his running backs in passing situations, Lewis projects as a solid weekly option. For GPP’s you are generally looking at a players ceiling, but Lewis provides quite a bit of salary relief, so if he can consistently hit 15+ points, you are doing very well. I have built several powerhouse lineups with Lewis and Darren Sproles while loading up on studs in the process. The matchup against Buffalo is going to be a tough one, but a close game is the type of game script that will favor Lewis and provide him with more opportunities.
Danny Woodhead (@ Cincinnati) Price: $4300, Projected: 11.40, PP$: 30.22
Woodhead normally hits his value in the passing game, so it was somewhat of a surprise to see him get more red zone touches than Melvin Gordon. He punched in two touchdowns, paving the way for an impressive 20 point outing. He runs close to the ground and is strong for a player of his size, so there is a good chance that Woodhead continues to see some goal line carries. The Chargers have talent at the skill positions making it possible that Woodhead’s productions could be inconsistent. I won’t argue this point, but I will say that his skillset is one that makes him much more stable than say, Melvin Gordon or Ladarious Green. With Cincinnati’s tough defense looming, Woodhead will need to play a big role if the Chargers want to pull off a win. Due to the tough matchup on the road, Woodhead is not the best cash option, however I will be putting him into my GPP lineups.
Wide Receiver (Cash/GPP)
Antonio Brown (vs San Fransisco) Price: $6100, Projected 18.72, PP$: 57.45
Despite a losing effort in week 1, Brown showed off why he needs to be in your lineup every week. Julio Jones had the better game, but their stat lines were very similar with the exception that Jones added a second touchdown. Both caught 9 of 11 targets, finishing with 133 yards vs Jones 141. It would be easy to dismiss Brown’s last second touchdown as a fluke, but that’s something you have to consider about Brown and Roethlisberger. They don’t quit, and they will play until the clock reads 00:00. Brown continues to see a huge volume of targets, so I cannot possibly come up with a reason why he isn’t 30% owned in GPP’s. The first thing that comes to mind is his price. With that in mind, I’ll share some lineup construction strategy that I abide by. If you are going to spend, then SPEND. Meaning, if you are going to upset the balance of your roster—which you need to do to win GPPs—then don’t settle for a second tier receiver who’s floor (or worse) will kill your chances of a deep run. Of course I use receivers like Keenan Allen, Randall Cobb or DeAndre Hopkins, but my exposure to them is much less than Antonio Brown. Pittsburgh gets the 49ers at home this week giving Brown another great chance at a 30 point game.
Jarvis Landry (@Jacksonville) Price: $4800, Projected: 12.73, PP$: 33.76
Landry is a guy who will find his way onto a lot of my cash game rosters. He finished Week 1 with eight catches for 53 yards on twelve targets, but his biggest contribution came on a punt return touchdown that swung the balance of the game in Miami’s favor. Landry excels in the short to medium passing game, making his floor much more stable than other receivers in his price bracket. The receiving touchdowns will come, but for now he makes for a much better cash option than GPP. With that said, this week is a great opportunity to have some exposure to him in GPP’s. Miami plays at Jacksonville, and I don’t the Jags have a cornerback that can cover Landry. He also has deceptive speed and athleticism which will go a long way in increasing his ceiling moving forward.
Julian Edelman (@Buffalo) Price: $5000, Projected: 13.60, PP$: 33.57
Ho Hum, another game down, and another eleven catch effort for Edelman. Those eleven catches went for 97 yards, including a near miss for a touchdown. Edelman has proven to be a steady receiver for Tom Brady, and should be looked at similarly for your cash game rosters. He may not be flashy, or have the upside of Brown or Jones, but he is so consistent, and consistency is what wins cash games. His price is too good not to put in play every week.
Wide Receiver (GPP)
Julio Jones (@ NYG) Price: $6000, Projected: 19.17, PP$: 61.2
Much like I predicted in my week 1 column, Jones went off to the tune of nine catches for 141 yards and two touchdowns. If you watched the game, Jones was getting open at will and it’s clear that Matt Ryan will not hesitate to lock in on him. The Falcons play the Giants on the road this week, but there is no reason why he shouldn’t be on your GPP rosters. Jones gives you a difference maker in GPP’s, and his high salary should keep his ownership from rising too high.
Jordan Mathews (vs Dallas) Price: $4700, Projected: 13.37, PP$: 38.03
Due to the fact that Mathews played on Monday night, his salary has not caught up with his production. That gives you one more week to take advantage of the huge value he provides. The Eagles have an intense matchup with Dallas this weekend which is projected as the highest scoring matchup in week 2. Mathews should have no problem putting up another 20+ point game as it was no secret that Bradford was looking for him every time he dropped back in the 2nd half against the Falcons. With so much depth in the backfield, it will be hard for Dallas to drop back in coverage without the fear of Murray/Mathews//Sproles shredding them in the run game. If Mathews gets single coverage for much of the game, he has a great chance to be among the top three scorers at wide receiver this weekend.
Brandin Cooks (vs Tampa Bay) Price: $4850, Projected: 13.33, PP$: 36.34
Cooks is a tough nut to crack. His salary places him right around guys like Jordan Mathews, Keenan Allen and Julian Edelman, so it may be hard to justify his price when others have both a higher floor and ceiling. I do think that group is one where you have to look at the matchup each week and see which game script favors the respective wide receivers. This week, the Saints get the Buccaneers who allowed four passing touchdowns to Marcus Mariota, and 100 yard receiving game from Kendall Wright. Drew Brees will pick apart the Bucs secondary, with Cooks being the main beneficiary. At home against a weak secondary is the recipe for a big game. Keep in mind what I mentioned above about the group of receivers that surround Cooks. His ownership should be relatively low, setting the stage for a performance from Cooks that could be the differentiator your team needs.
Tight End (Cash/GPP)
Jason Witten (@ Philadelphia) Price: $4750, Projected: 11.74, PP$: 29.02
With Dez Bryant on the shelf for at least six weeks, Witten rises from a middle TE1 to the second tier underneath Rob Gronkowski. As good as Jimmy Graham and Travis Kelce are, it is safe to say they won’t see the target volume that Witten will, for at least the first half of the season. It seems as though Witten comes into the year ranking at the same spot each year, and each year he exceeds value by being a dependable option in the middle of the field for Tony Romo. Losing Bryant will hurt Witten, however the increase in targets makes it a positive overall. If the Cowboys beat the Eagles on Sunday, Witten will have played a big role.
Rob Gronkowski (@ Buffalo) Price: $5850, Projected: 15.43, PP$: 40.70
There is not much to say about Gronkowski that I didn’t say last week. He came out on Thursday night and had five catches for 94 yards and three touchdowns on only eight targets. He is far and away better than any other option at tight end, and despite his high price tag, he continues to be a very strong PP$ play. I am going to go on record and say he breaks Randy Moss’s record for receiving touchdowns. Many of my fellow colleagues have debated the merits of playing him in cash games, with the argument against him being his price tag thins out your roster and will kill your teams on off weeks. In past years I think this line of thinking is correct, however this year is different. He is essentially a receiver, and his salary falls in line with others who cannot match his floor or ceiling. As much as his down weeks will hurt you, his big weeks will give you a huge advantage. I will be deploying him in both cash and GPP lineups using two value running backs and tight ends who all offer salary relief. Play him with confidence.
Tight End (GPP)
Jordan Reed (vs St. Louis) Price: $4400, Projected: 10.37, PP$: 24.44
I have always been a big Jordan Reed fan…why…I have no idea, but there is something about value tight ends who see a large target volume. In week 1, Reed saw eleven targets, for which he converted seven catches for 63 yards and a touchdown. Reed’s production has always ticked up when Kirk Cousins was under center, and with Desean Jackson out for several weeks, Reed should continue to see double digit targets. The red zone looks and cheap salary make Reed an enticing GPP option. The only worry with Reed is his health. He didn’t practice Thursday or Friday due to a “tweaked” hamstring, so it is important to check on his status prior to Sunday’s game. If he is good to go, I will have 5-10% exposure.
Tyler Eifert (vs San Diego) Price: $6750, Projected 19.78, PP$: 57.96
It was great to see Eifert break out in week 1, he is a talented tight end but a combination of injuries, blocking and opportunity have held him back, up until this year. As deep as Cincinnati is at wide receiver, Eifert is the type of player who can split the seam and make big plays between the hash marks. Tight End Eric had the best game of his career last week against the Chargers, catching five passes for 50 yards and a touchdown. The game script is a tough one to predict. I will need to see how Eifert’s target volume shapes up before I recommend him for cash games, but with a high ceiling and a low salary, he makes for a nice GPP play.
New Orleans Saints (vs Tampa Bay) Price: $2750, Projected: 9.90, PP$: 35.64
The Titans defense have several talented youngsters, but not nearly enough to warrant a consistent start. That was probably what many people were thinking last week, myself included, but sure enough, the turnover machine Jameis Winston made them look like the early 2000’s Ravens defense. Tennessee forced two interceptions (not a surprise) including one pick six, and added four sacks while holding the Bucs to 14 points. If the Titans could go into Tampa and destroy the Bucs, I have all the confidence in the world in the Saints defense at home. Not only will the Saints control the clock on the offensive side of the ball, they will also move the ball efficiently and put up points at will on a young Tampa defense. This will force Winston and the Bucs to be aggressive and that will result in several turnovers and sacks. I took advantage of the Titans defense last week, and will have a ton of exposure to the Saints D this week.