For the uninitiated, playing daily games on DraftKings can be an enjoyable experience, but equally sobering is the fact that season-long knowledge does not always translate to success in the daily space. FootballGuys will bring you a series of value- and strategic-based selections from a number of seasoned daily veterans throughout the NFL season. Herein is another edition of “Tipandpick’s Tips and Picks,” where we will examine the salaries of players at each position on DraftKings and make value-based recommendations for both your cash games and tournaments.
Below you will find a list of recommended players for both formats. GPP players generally have high-upside, but are too risky for cash games; cash game players are consistent with high fantasy floors. In some instances, the value for a player is so strong, he may fall into both categories…let’s have a look.
In order to help you build winning rosters, let's walk through some of the observations that I have made while doing my research for DraftKings this week. As you build out your lineups on DraftKings, try to consider the following commentary, which revolves around game strategy and how we will want to take advantage of what the masses are doing when they construct their own lineups.
CASH GAME TIPS
SPEND AT QB/PUNT AT TE: Ordinarily on DraftKings, it behooves you to save money at the quarterback position because of the manner in which DraftKings prices their quarterbacks (i.e., broad range, as opposed to FanDuel's clustered pricing at the position). This week, however, it is probably a shark move to pay up at QB and land one of the future Hall-of-Fame quarterbacks playing in Atlanta or New Orleans. My two favorites are Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers for reasons outlined below, but there are others who are making a case for Drew Brees and/or Matt Ryan, both of whom are in equally stellar situations. With David Johnson going on the injured reserve with a wrist injury last week, questions about Le'Veon Bell's usage, and Antonio Brown's (almost) $10K salary, it is not difficult to anchor your cash game builds around one of these expensive quarterbacks. There is plenty of value at both the running back and wide receiver position to allow you to be extravagant at quarterback this week--just remember this is the exception and not the rule on DraftKings.
Relatedly, you are advised to punt at tight end for cash games this weekend. The best options are largely overpriced and it seldom makes sense to spend a premium on the TE position because it is the most highly-variant of all the skilled positions on a DFS roster. Sure, Rob Gronkowski could pile up 25+ DraftKings points in his matchup with the Saints, but his $6.9K salary mandates 21 points for cash game value; if he fails to surpass 100 receiving yards and score, he probably does not reach value. You are safer spending your salary at positions where the volume is more guaranteed (RB/WR) and trying to find a cheap tight end who will give you 3x value on a modest salary. My specific recommendations are found in the "Picks" section below.
DON'T IGNORE THE 'ALSO ELIGIBLE' PLAYERS: A recent twitter thread revealed to me that the "also eligible" players that follow my weekly writeups are considered as secondary options by some readers. I want to clarify that there is no gradation of picks within this weekly article, unless otherwise specified. If the player appears in the article, he is one of my top selections for the week in that respective category (cash and GPP). Period. Just because I spent 30 minutes writing a paragraph on Melvin Gordon III this week does not make him a preferred play over, say, Ty Montgomery (who is an "also eligible" running back option). The fact is that this article literally takes ~ 12 hours to write from start-to-finish with only writeups for only 20 players; doing a writeup for every person included in the article would be impossible with my weekly schedule, so I choose a few players to expand on why I like them with the intent of walking you through my thought process and expecting that you will understand that every player in this article is named due to a similar thought process, whether explicitly spelled out for the reader or not. Please do not ignore those selections for these reasons.
WATCH OWNERSHIP NUMBERS: It is no secret that rostering a low-owned player who has an excellent fantasy day is one of the keys to a top-tier finish in a GPP. This season, our Steve Buzzard is providing his personal ownership projections to the site and they can be an invaluable resource if used correctly. For example, Buzzard is projecting the aforementioned four quarterbacks (Brady/Brees/Ryan/Rodgers) to account for nearly 50% of the collective GPP rosters on DraftKings this weekend. If you are playing in tournaments, you are going to have to make a stand about how you feel about those quarterbacks and their ability to secure 4x value (or more) at those levels of ownership. For me, I tend to focus more on the bottom of the ownership charts because I am looking for players who will be underowned despite being in plus situations on Sunday. How you choose to use FootballGuys' ownership projections is certainly your prerogative...just ensure that you are taking them into consideration prior to lineups locking on Sunday.
GO CONTRARIAN AT DEFENSE: Your bottom line in DFS last week probably distilled down to your choice of team defense. If you rolled with the chalk defenses in the Rams, Ravens, or Jaguars, you walked away with a minimum of 25.0 DraftKings points, which was huge in a week where both Le'Veon Bell and David Johnson performed poorly at high ownership. This week, recency bias is going to rear its pretty head and people will be lining up to pay ~ $4K for the likes of Oakland (versus New York Jets) or Seattle (versus San Francisco) because the matchups are excellent against young teams with few offensive weapons. The likelihood of those teams scoring 20+ points, however, is minimal; you are better off saving a few bucks on teams with similar upside, but lower implied ownership in the hopes of catapulting past 25% of the field if Seattle and Oakland have average defensive days. For cash games, however, do not stray too far from these defenses because the likelihood that they falter (i.e., get scored upon often) is negligible, which is the type of security you are seeking in cash game builds.
Let's take a deeper look into some of the players who I will be targeting for my cash game and tournament rosters this weekend. There is little difference in terms of strength of selection between those players who have text to justify their appearance in this article versus those in the "also eligible" section; all are strong plays in their respective categories, but time and space restrictions do not allow for expansive written summaries of every player listed.
CASH GAME PICKS
Tom Brady (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $7,900). Even after crashing and burning at home in their season opener last Thursday against the Chiefs, the Patriots remain the Vegas favorites to win Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis next February. Hindsight is 20-20 and all, so maybe we should have collectively expected the Chiefs to show up last week, as Andy Reid has demonstrated that his teams are a tough opponent when he has extra time to prepare. This week should be different against a Saints defense that has finished either 31st or 32nd in the league in DVOA rankings for three consecutive years; they may be headed for a fourth if Monday night's performance against Sam Bradford and the Vikings was any indication. In that matchup, the Saints allowed Bradford to complete 84% of his passes for a total of 346 passing yards and 3 touchdowns (28.54 DraftKings points). With Delvin Breaux on the injured reserve list (broken fibula), the Saints secondary simply cannot match up against Tom Brady and his arsenal of receivers that still includes Brandin Cooks, Rob Gronkowski, James White, and Dwayne Allen. Augmenting the case for Brady is that Drew Brees is a juggernaut at home, which should keep both offenses active late into the game.
Aaron Rodgers (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $7,400). If you agree that Tom Brady is a solid DFS play this week, Aaron Rodgers should also be on your radar for many of the same reasons. Last week, Mike Glennon, who has not played regularly in the NFL in four years, managed to complete 65% of his passes while collecting 213 passing yards and a touchdown against the Falcons; lest we forget that Glennon was without Kevin White for the latter part of the game and his primary receiver (Tarik Cohen) was a running back. Fast forward a week and the same secondary will square up against Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, and Randall Cobb in a game that oddsmakers believe will be a barnburner (55.5 total points). Eerily similar to what was described above with Brady-Brees, Rodgers and the Packers offense should be pressed to continue playing deep into the game because Matt Ryan will be attempting to repeat their 2016 Super Bowl run that saw them average 36.0 points per game at home. In fact, when these teams met up in late October last season, it was a slugfest that ended late in the game with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Mohamed Sanu that gave the Falcons the win 33-32. With very little changes to personnel over the past year, there is no reason to expect a different level of offensive output this time around (Rodgers finished that game with 31.84 DraftKings points).
Also eligible: Philip Rivers ($5,800)
Melvin Gordon III (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $7,000). Against the Broncos on Monday Night Football, Melvin Gordon III was unable to find a lot of room between the tackles and finished the night with a 3.0 yard per carry average on 18 attempts; he did, however, pick up 5 receptions for 25 yards and managed to take one of those into the endzone for a score to finish the night with 18.9 DraftKings points. This Sunday, Gordon and the Chargers will play host to the Miami Dolphins, who will open their 2017 season in Los Angeles after missing last week due to Hurricane Irma. The Dolphins were the league's 22nd ranked DVOA defense last year against the run and no team allowed more yards per carry (4.8), a set of statistics that bodes well for a big game for the Chargers running game. Gordon is an attractive cash game play because he is an every down running back who stays in the game on passing downs, thereby increasing his value dramatically on full PPR sites like DraftKings. It is that kind of usage that netted Gordon 29 touches and 132 all-purpose yards when these two teams met in Week #10 last season. With a positive gamescript (Chargers -4.5) in his favor, Gordon should enjoy similar usage on Sunday at a very reasonable $7.0K salary.
Tarik Cohen (Primarily cash games, Salary: $4,100). The emergence of Tarik Cohen out of nowhere last week cost many DFS players (this author included) because he essentially usurped targets that many assumed would flow through Kendall Wright. Instead, Cohen was used heavily as a receiver out of the backfield and he responded with 113 all-purpose yards on 17 touches (5 rushes/12 receptions) and scored a touchdown in the process. In retrospect, there were a lot of reasons to like Cohen last week: 1) The Bears' WR1 (Kevin White) was locked up with shutdown cornerback, Desmond Trufant, for most of the day, 2) Kendall Wright was playing his first game as a Bear and his first game with Mike Glennon at QB, 3) the gamescript against the favored Falcons set up well for the passing game, and 4) Cohen looked excellent in training camp and the preseason. Of these factors, only one has changed for Week #2 and that is that Kevin White is on the IR with a broken scapula, meaning that Cohen's 12 targets last week may not take a dramatic hit. Cohen's small stature (5'6", 180 pounds) will keep him out of the endzone most weekends, but if he manages to catch 6 passes for 60 yards in an accessory role, he provides enough salary relief to justify his spot in your cash game lineups. Others will point towards James White and Alvin Kamara this week, both of whom have similar roles for similar salaries; White is my least favorite because predicting Bill Belichick's gameplan is hit-or-miss and you want to calculate usage as much as possible when building cash game lineups.
Mike Evans (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $7,700). In 2016, Mike Evans finished with either double-digit targets or a touchdown in all but four games--when constructing cash game rosters, this is the type of consistency that one strives to find. Evans is the sixth most expensive receiver on DraftKings this week and is more expensive than Michael Thomas ($7.5K) and Michael Crabtree ($7.1K), both of whom play for teams with higher implied team totals than Evans' Buccaneers. That said, Thomas is likely to be the focal point of Bill Belichick's defensive scheme and Crabtree has to share his workload with the likes of Amari Cooper and Marshawn Lynch; meanwhile, Mike Evans is the keystone of the Bucs offense, particularly when Doug Martin is not playing, as will be the case until Week #5. To that end, Evans has averaged 14.1 DraftKings points per game when Doug Martin is active, but 22.5 DraftKings points per game when Martin does not play. Some will argue that the arrival of DeSean Jackson will eat into Evans' share of the workload, but Jackson is not a possession receiver and will not dramatically change Evans' role in this offense. Naysayers will point out that Chicago has contained Evans in each of their previous two meetings (8/127/0 over two games), but the addition of Jackson should help alleviate the double-coverage that Evans was seeing in those matchups (Tracy Porter with over-the-top help), thereby increasing his productivity. The implied team total for the Buccaneers is 25 points and it is difficult to concede that Evans will not find his way into the endzone against a porous secondary that allowed 300+ yards to Matt Ryan last week, particularly when one considers that a 5'6" Jacquizz Rodgers will be the lead running Tampa Bay running back on the afternoon.
Tyreek Hill (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $6,200). Fresh off their impressive defeat of the Patriots in Foxborough last Thursday, the Chiefs will play host to Andy Reid's former team, the Philadelphia Eagles, now led by his former Offensive Coordinator, Doug Pederson. The Chiefs are 4.5-point favorites at Arrowhead where they went 6-2 last season with a pair of two-point losses to Tampa Bay and Tennessee. Enter Tyreek Hill, who finished last week with a 7/133/1 stat line (29.8 DraftKings points) in his first official game as the Chiefs' WR1. Hill's speed is electric and allows him to line up in a variety of spots on the offense, keeping the defense on their toes and subject to miscues. Hill will get at least a third of his routes against 2016's worst-rated (ProFootballFocus) coverage cornerback, Jalen Mills, who fell victim to the big play as evidenced by his 14.6 yards per completion allowed; in his season opener against the Redskins last week, Mills was again heavily targeted, as evidenced by 15 targets thrown into his coverage by Kirk Cousins (most in the Week #1). Since becoming a full-time player in Week #12 of last season, Hill has found paydirt six times in seven games against some formidable secondaries (Denver x2, San Diego, Atlanta, etc.). Hill is not the prototypical cash game player because of his smaller stature, but he has a nose for the endzone and his salary is simply too cheap for the WR1 with a pristine personnel matchup on a team projected to score 26 points.
Coby Fleener (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $3,100). As stated in the "Tips" section above, the general recommendation is to punt the tight end position for cash games on Sunday. The top-end tight ends (Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, Jordan Reed, Delanie Walker, etc.) are all priced above $4.7K, which is more than you will want to pay if you are rolling with an upper-echelon quarterback this week. That leaves Coby Fleener, who has historically been hit-or-miss from week to week, but has excelled as a Saint when Willie Snead IV has missed time; in that limited sample size, Fleener has finished with a 5/54/1 (on 6 targets) and 7/109/1 (on 11 targets), a promising indication of the type of usage we can expect from him until Snead returns in Week #5. Another thing to like about Fleener is that he is playing in the highest projected game on the Week #2 slate against the Patriots, who allowed 7 catches for 55 yards and a score to the position just a week ago. At only $3.1K, Fleener has minimal risk, brings reasonable upside to the table, and needs only 4-5 receptions to reach cash game value.
Charles Clay (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $3,000). If you make multiple cash game lineups on DraftKings, you might consider splitting the tight end position between Coby Fleener and Charles Clay to minimize risk. Clay is the most established receiver on the Bills, having played more games with Tyrod Taylor than all of the Bills' current receivers combined! Last week, the rapport between Taylor and Clay was evident, as Clay was the most highly-targeted receiver on the Bills (nine targets), including three redzone targets. Clay finished the day with 4 receptions for 53 yards and a touchdown, but his day would have been even better had he not dropped a pass in the endzone that would have resulted in a second touchdown. This weekend, the Bills will travel south to Charlotte to take on the Panthers, who allowed an average of 15.5 DraftKings points per game to the tight end position last season (28th in the NFL). With an implied team total of only 17.5-points, the likelihood that Clay finds the endzone again this week is marginal, but the gamescript is favorable and his volume should be plentiful until Jordan Matthews and Zay Jones get in sync with Tyrod Taylor.
Also eligible: Zach Miller ($2,900)
Seahawks (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $4,000). Coming off a disappointing loss to the Packers at Lambeau last Sunday, the Seahawks will look to regroup with a cake-walk against the San Francisco 49ers at home this weekend. Last Sunday, the Niners scraped together only 217 total offensive yards and a field goal against the Panthers, despite playing on their home turf. Now they travel north to take on the 12th man in Seattle in their home opener. Not a good situation for Brian Hoyer, who was sacked four times last weekend and turned the ball over twice in the process. The Seahawks boast one of the more balanced defenses in the league and recently signed Sheldon Richardson from the Jets, which only serves to bolster an already potent pass rush. All signs point to an ugly game for the 49ers, which should mean a solid performance for the heavily-favored Seahawks.
Raiders (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $3,500). At a slight discount from the Seahawks, you might consider another heavy home favorite, the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders are 14-point chalks over the disastrous New York Jets, who cobbled together an embarrassing 214 yards of total offense against a suspect Buffalo defense last weekend; the Raiders should not be considered defensive powerhouses, but they are within the same stratosphere as the Bills, for sure. For their part, the Bills did the minimum (allowed 12 points, sacked the quarterback only once, and had a pair of interceptions) and still finished the afternoon with 9.0 DraftKings points. It is not unreasonable to expect a similar floor from Oakland, particularly when we consider that there will be a fully-packed stadium ready to cheer on Marshawn Lynch's Oakland homecoming; with virtually no weapons at his disposal, it will be an uphill struggle for Josh McCown to muster together any offense once again this week.
Jameis Winston (Salary: $6,300). It is that time of the year where you think you see things and only time will tell if your suspicion was correct. After watching the coaches' film on the Chicago-Atlanta game last week, I think that we are going to see the Chicago Bears field a "funnel defense" in 2017. If you are new to DFS, you may not be familiar with the term--a "funnel defense" is one that is very strong against either the pass or the rush, but weak against the other aspect, often times leaving the opposing offense with only one option to move the ball. The Bears seem to fit the bill, as they beefed up their front seven in the off-season and demonstrated an ability to slow down Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman last Sunday (20 rushes for 53 yards), but allowed 321 passing yards (and a touchdown) through the air to Matt Ryan. Entering his third year in the league, Jameis Winston has already demonstrated success against the Bears in his two previous games against them, averaging 303 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, and an interception (22.12 DraftKings points) in those efforts. What Winston lacked in those two games was a secondary receiver, which he will have in DeSean Jackson this year; with Jackson stretching the field and preventing the opposing safety from doubling-down on Mike Evans, Jameis should have an easier time finding the open receiver in 2017. Lastly, Doug Martin is suspended for this game (and the next three games) for PED usage, leaving Jacquizz Rodgers as the primary running back; Rodgers has excellent hands out of the backfield and the Bucs may scheme to use him more in the passing game than as a bellcow runner, which could further serve to pad Winston's stat line on Sunday.
Carson Palmer (Salary: $6,000). Strictly a GPP play, Carson Palmer is an intriguing contrarian option against a Colts squad that yielded Jared Goff's first career 300-yard performance last Sunday (Goff appeared in this same spot in last week's edition of Tips and Picks alongside Cooper Kupp--the duo combined for 37+ DraftKings points for only $8.5K). The truth is that the Colts are playing uninspired football under Head Coach Chuck Pagano, who appears lost without his franchise quarterback, Andrew Luck; on the defensive side of the ball, the Colts will be without four starters including Pro Bowl cornerback, Vontae Davis (groin), two linebackers (Antonio Morrison and Anthony Walker), and safety Darius Butler. With over a third of their starters watching from the sideline, the Colts defense will have their hands full with a Cardinals team that is expected to throw the ball more often now that they lost David Johnson for 2-3 months due to a wrist injury suffered last week. Many casual fans will look at Carson Palmer's Week #1 stat line and focus on his poor completion percentage (56%) or his three interceptions, but will not know that each of those interceptions was not Palmer's fault (i.e., a tipped pass by one of his receivers, a bad route by David Johnson, etc.). Make no mistake, the Cardinals' offensive line was putrid against the Lions, but this week should be different as the Colts got almost no pressure on Jared Goff last week (1 sack, 3 QB hits); if they give Palmer time in the pocket, he will find Larry Fitzgerald and/or J.J. Nelson for multiple scores. With an implied team total approaching 26 points and Kerwynn Williams as their primary running back, it would stand to reason that the Cardinals' scoring would have to come through Palmer in this pristine matchup.
Marshawn Lynch (Salary: $6,000). If not for Lynch sharing every third series with Jalen Richard and Deandre Washington, there might be good reason to go all-in on Marshawn Lynch this weekend. Outside of playing time, all the pieces are there for a huge performance from the Bay area native in his Oakland homecoming. First and foremost, the matchup against the Jets is stunning. Last season, the Jets were formidable up front, finishing as the 2nd overall DVOA rush defense, but losing multiple key run stoppers (Jarvis Jenkins, Deon Simon, and Sheldon Richardson) appears to have gutted this once tough run defense; in their first game without that trio, the Jets allowed 190 rushing yards to the Buffalo Bills. Meanwhile, Marshawn Lynch looked mean in his return to the NFL last week against Tennessee; the Raiders only gave him 32 snaps (48.5% of the total offensive snaps), but he touched the ball on 19 of those snaps, averaged 4.2 yards per carry in the process, and looked as though he has not missed a beat despite not playing a game for over 20 months. Next, the gamescript is sublime for the Raiders' running backs because being a 14-point favorite implies that we should see a lot of handoffs in the latter portion of the game. Therein lies the risk with Lynch--if Coach Jack Del Rio wants to preserve Lynch for the entire season, he may limit his carries in a blowout and instead give those looks to Richard and/or Washington. That said, there is too much narrative in this matchup for Marshawn Lynch not to be a relevant factor on Sunday; the fans and the city love him and it would be a big surprise if Jack Del Rio does not find a way to get Lynch multiple opportunities to trot into the endzone in front of his home crowd.
Terrance West (Salary: $5,100). How quickly we forget...last season, it was en vogue to play running backs against the Cleveland Browns because of the implied gamescript and general ineptitude of their defense. After a single game where the Browns contained Le'Veon Bell and company for 35 total rushing yards, the DFS world is allowing Terrance West to be owned at 3-5% in tournaments as home touchdown favorites over the Browns? Let's walk through last week before talking about this week's matchup: It was never explicitly stated, but there were grumblings that Le'Veon Bell was being punished by limiting his workload after he held out of training camp until September 1st. Ben Roethlisberger countered those rumors by stating that unforeseen penalties and situations demanded less usage from Bell. Either way, the Steelers did not try to beat the Browns on the ground, so the verdict is still out on how much improved they are on the defensive side of the ball this season. What we do know is that first-overall pick, Myles Garrett, will miss another game this week against the Ravens, who graded out as the 2nd best overall run blocking unit (PFF) in Week #1 behind Tennessee. That brings us to Terrance West, who largely split carries with Javorius Allen (21 to 19) last week against the Bengals, but a look beyond the box score suggests that Allen was the beneficiary of a game that was largely over in the second half, leading to 17 of his 19 carries in that time frame. This week, we should expect to see a return to normalcy with Allen playing on passing down situations and West getting every other opportunity as the primary running back, including those high-value goalline opportunities. As touchdown favorites with a 24-point implied team total, Terrance West has two-touchdown upside at a bargain of a price and negligible ownership behind excellent offensive blocking. Be sure to get a piece for your tournament rosters.
Doug Baldwin (Salary: $6,700). While Russell Wilson was running for his life against the Packers' pass rushers last weekend, Cam Newton was camped out in the pocket against the 49ers, who were unable to sack him one time in 60 minutes. Those same 49ers will take their ineffective pass rush to Seattle on Sunday and Russell Wilson can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that his generally ineffective offensive line should be able to handle whatever the Niners can throw at them, thereby affording Wilson with enough time to allow his receivers to create space between them and their coverage. Doug Baldwin is the play this week, as he should run at least two-thirds of his routes out of the slot against K'Waun Williams, who played exclusively there last week and allowed a 40-yard touchdown strike to a lesser-talented Russell Shepard. Only Oakland and New England are projected to score more points than the Seahawks this weekend and most football fans would agree that the running back situation in Seattle is a dumpster fire; Thomas Rawls is the starter, but has been ineffective...Eddie Lacy is an afterthought...C.J. Prosise has not been able to win the coaching staff's approval...Chris Carson is still unproven and will need time to earn the trust of Coach Carroll. All of this is to say that the likelihood of the Seahawks moving the ball on the ground is in question. If Seattle is to approach their implied team total of four touchdowns, it would appear that the path of least resistance is through the air. For GPP purposes, Baldwin's mediocre showing (4/63/0) against the Packers last week might be enough to keep ownership at a reasonable level despite his modest $6.7K price point and dramatic upside.
Martavis Bryant (Salary: $5,500). Remember when Coach Mike Zimmer asked Xavier Rhodes to shadow Jordy Nelson last December and the Vikings defensive backs decided to employ their own coverage strategy? Jordy Nelson torched the Vikings for 145 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns in the first half before Rhodes began shadowing Nelson in the second half, where he managed only 2 catches for 9 yards. Rotoworld's Evan Silva reported earlier this week that a Vikings' beat writer tweeted that Rhodes was practicing as though he would shadow Antonio Brown in this Sunday's matchup against the Steelers. The tweet was quickly deleted, however, because most NFL teams do not allow in-practice observations to be reported to the public. This is all to say that Antonio Brown is going to have his hands full with Xavier Rhodes in Week #2 (Brown will still find ways to produce, however), while Martavis Bryant should enjoy coverage from Trae Waynes, who allowed all 8 passes that went into his coverage last week to be completed for a total of 90 yards. Bryant's salary has dropped nearly 10% from opening weekend where he faltered with a 2-reception, 14-yard stat line against the Browns. That rusty performance will be enough to drive down his ownership in this plus matchup. By rostering Bryant at $5.5K, you need him to finish with 100+ receiving yards and a score to achieve tournament value on his salary, a feat that is entirely within reason given Ben Roethelisberger's history of success at home, the Steelers implied team total (25.5-points), and Bryant's big play ability.
Martellus Bennett (Salary: $3,900). Multiple reports out of Packers training camp early this Summer suggested that Green Bay would try to integrate their tight ends into more redzone packages to take the burden off their primary receivers. While we did not see that prophecy come to fruition against the Seahawks last week, when the Packers only got into the redzone once, we did see Aaron Rodgers target his tight ends 10 times in that contest. Martellus Bennett was the lead tight end, garnering 6 targets on 81.7% of the team's offensive snaps (versus 4 targets on 25.6% of snaps for Lance Kendricks). The matchup against the Falcons in a potential barnburner is appealing, particularly because the Falcons allowed the 6th most fantasy points to the tight end position last season and allowed 6/70/0 to Bears tight ends last weekend. Bennett is a hulk of a man at 6'6" and is easily the biggest redzone target on the Packers receiving corps; assuming the preseason hype about utilizing tight ends more often inside the 20-yard line, Bennett is an excellent tournament play in this matchup.
Antonio Gates (Salary: $3,000). It is almost like the fantasy world has forgotten about Antonio Gates. He was not discussed in DFS circles last week because of appearing on the two-game Monday night slate and he finished that contest with only a pair of receptions for 17 yards (on 3 targets). So one game removed from a poor showing against one of the better defenses in the league (Denver) and we could be sleeping on Gates at a bargain price point. Gates is still looking to surpass Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez for the career lead in touchdowns for a tight end after tying him for the lead in December of last season. You can rest assured that Gates is still Philip Rivers' primary target on passing downs when the Chargers find themselves in that situation (they only threw once last Monday inside the redzone and it was directed at Keenan Allen). If Gates scores a touchdown, it will be a 7+ point play on a pedestrian $3.0K salary, which means he would need only minimal contributions after that score to reach GPP value. The matchup against the Dolphins is strong, as only four teams (Cleveland, Carolina, Dallas, and Cincinnati) allowed more DraftKings points to the tight end position in 2016. Lastly, Gates' ownership will dip below 5% because he is in the same price range as Coby Fleener and Charles Clay, both of whom are coming off strong weeks, but neither of whom have higher upside.
Also eligible: Jared Cook (Salary: $3,300).
Ravens (Salary: $3,800). After shutting out the Bengals in Cincinnati last week, the Baltimore Ravens will open their 2017 season at home against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday afternoon. The Browns put together a game effort in a loss to the Steelers last Sunday, but still came up 3-points short. DeShone Kizer started his first NFL game and looked like a highly-touted rookie quarterback--there were flashes of brilliance (i.e., a 3-yard TD pass to Corey Coleman) and lapses in judgment (i.e., 7 sacks due to holding onto the ball too long). Kizer could have his hands full against the Ravens, who looked like the Ravens of old, forcing five turnovers and collecting five sacks en route to a shutout victory over the Bengals on their home turf. Truthfully, the Ravens defense could be considered a cash game play this weekend, but they appear in the tournament section because facing a rookie quarterback probably offers the highest upside situation possible.
Chargers (Salary: $2,800). The Chargers fought a valiant battle against the hometown Denver Broncos on Monday night, only to come up bit short after having a game-tying field goal blocked as time expired. The Chargers defense, led by Joey Bosa, and headlined by Jason Verrett and Casey Hayward, creates personnel matchup problems at multiple places for opposing offenses. In their loss to Denver last week, they got to Trevor Siemian four times and forced a pair of turnovers. This week, they will face off against Jay Cutler and the Dolphins, who will fly cross-country to play their season opener. Cutler is a known slinger and it will be interesting to see how he has acclimated to Adam Gase's Dolphin scheme in the month he has been on the roster; if he needs time to get into sync with his receivers or if he is simply rusty coming out of shoulder surgery last December, Verrett and Hayward could be in line for some pick-six opportunities. At only $2.8K, the Chargers are one of the cheaper high-upside team defense plays on the Week #2 slate. **SATURDAY UPDATE: It was announced on Friday that Jason Verrett is listed as "out" on the final injury report due to a knee injury. This news obviously affects the Chargers' upside, but the Vegas odds are unchanged, which means that the recommendation stands as called.**
Also eligible: Cardinals ($4,100), Cowboys (Salary: $2,600).
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