Football is back! Which means fantasy football is back. Which means DFS is back. Which means I get to go back to ignoring all of your start/sit questions and spending all of my time (literally every waking moment) working on this column.
What is this column? Each way I’ll be listing the best and most-interesting plays of the week, grouped by position, and ranked and tiered in some sort of descending order. Keep in mind, we’re looking only at the players available on the main slate for both DraftKings and FanDuel.
This article is long. It’s going to be long every week. Ideally, it’s all you should need to know to be able to profit playing DFS in any given week.
Be sure to also watch our DFS Preview livestream every Thursday Night at 7:30PM EST. Be sure to get in our Discord – if you’re not already in there, you’re missing out on a lot of important news updates as well as personal guidance and advice from our experts. And, most importantly, be sure to check back on Sunday mornings for the “Sunday Morning Update” – basically a TLDR version of this piece along with any injury-related updates we might need.
Anyway, let’s dive in…
Note: Some of you really hate reading, I get that. Or, “Just tell me who to play. And keep the list short.” I get it. That’s what Sunday morning’s article is for. We’ll narrow today’s article down to just the top-10 or so plays of the week.
Seattle vs. Dallas
As I argued this offseason, all it might take for Wilson to break into the Patrick Mahomes / Lamar Jackson-tier of elite fantasy QBs was above-average pass volume. Routinely, Wilson would rank top-5 in fantasy points per dropback, but bottom-12 in dropbacks per game. This year, Wilson ranks first in fantasy points per dropback (0.89), but, finally, with good volume. In fact, after adjusting for situation, Seattle’s pass% isn’t just above-average, it’s nearly best in the league. He leads all QBs in FPG with 33.1, and on paper, this week’s matchup is great. Last week without Leighton Vander Esch and Sean Lee, Matt Ryan posted a 273-4-0 line on just 36 attempts. We said in last week’s column, “Last year, without Vander Esch (7 games), opposing QBs averaged 22% more fantasy points per game. Over the past three seasons, without Sean Lee (18 games), opposing QBs averaged 19% more fantasy points per game.” QBs benefited far more from their absence than any other individual position. And now Dallas is also without two starting CBs (Chidobe Awuzie and Anthony Brown).
Prescott hit a career-high 39.8 fantasy points in Week 2 against the Falcons. Granted, it was an ideal matchup where Dallas was forced to lean pass-heavy, but this week’s matchup looks similar. Through two games, Seattle has surrendered a league-high 423.5 passing yards per game, but they rank only average in opposing passer rating and fantasy points allowed per dropback. What’s happened is – rather than start off slow and run-heavy, only unleashing Wilson when they desperately need him in the 4th quarter – Seattle’s finally / smartly allowed their elite QB to put up points on the board, pressing the opposition. That, in turn, has forced the opposition to lean fast-paced and pass-heavy.
And that’s likely what we’re looking at here. This game has the highest over/under of the slate (56.5), +1.5 and +7.0 more than the next-closest games. Dallas already leads in pace of play and knows they’re going to have to score fast, early, and often if they want to keep up with Seattle’s new and improved offense. Dallas HC Mike McCarthy said on Thursday, “We want to score as fast as we can, and as many times as we can as far as the start of the game and throughout the game.”
This game isn’t quite the slate-definer last week’s matchup was (ATL vs. DAL) but this is the game likeliest to generate the most points and fantasy points. Like with last week, one of the biggest questions on the slate is how you want to go about attacking this game. Or, who don’t you want?
With Christian McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley sidelined, Ezekiel Elliott is now the most valuable player in fantasy, leading all players in XFP per game (27.2) while playing on a position-high 90% of the snaps. He’s game script immune, averaging 22.0 carries and 5.5 targets per game in mostly negative (91%) game script. And Prescott isn’t going to score 3 rushing touchdowns every week. Chris Carson is seeing good usage in his own right, with added involvement in the passing game, but isn’t quite the bell cow Elliott is.
Until Seattle turns off the burner and stops #LettingRussCook, both Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf need to be viewed as top-15 WR options. And, in this matchup, probably top-10. Lockett runs 61% of his routes from the slot and Metcalf runs 49% of his routes from Wilson’s left. Dallas is giving up the most FPG to opposing slot WRs and the 6th-most FPG to opposing left WRs (and are now without the CB who typically lines up on that side of the field). One of the top questions of the slate is which Seattle WR do you want exposure to. The answer may be both, stacked with Ezekiel Elliott.
Seattle’s defense is most-vulnerable to opposing WRs, and that’s the strength of this Dallas offense, sporting maybe a generationally great 3WR set. Through just two weeks, the Seahawks have given up 2 150+ yard games, 4 100+ yard games, and 6 70+ yard games to opposing WRs. On FanDuel, all 3 WRs rank as top-7 values, as per the DFS SuperModel. While both Cooper and Lamb stand out as top values on DraftKings. Seattle ranks top-5 against right WRs, bottom-6 against left WRs, and bottom-5 against slot WRs. That means Gallup (56% left) and Lamb (91% slot) have the best matchups, while Cooper has the tougher draw (47% right). That said, Prescott was content to pepper Cooper with targets in Week 1, even though the majority of those targets came against Jalen Ramsey. Gallup will probably draw the lowest ownership of the three, but Seattle has been most vulnerable to the deep ball, which is clearly his role in the offense (20.0 aDOT to Cooper’s 10.0 and Lamb’s 6.3). Lamb will probably draw the most ownership, but he’s also probably the best pure value. Tough calls abound!
In a small sample, Dalton Schultz deserves some consideration, averaging roughly 9.0 targets and 17.0 fantasy points per 4 quarters. Wes Huber featured him as his 2nd-favorite TE of the week, here.
I wouldn’t be shocked if the over smashes. But I also wouldn’t be shocked if this game falls wildly short of expectations, with Seattle (or maybe even Mike McCarthy) reverting back to their instincts, trying to play keepaway on the ground once they build a lead. Elliott and Carson are both going to be chalky, but they also work as leverage over the chalky passing-game options in this game.
Arizona vs. Detroit
Everyone is drooling over Dallas @ Seattle, and this game will go a bit overlooked, at least comparatively and based on ownership. But Vegas seems to think that’s a mistake. The over/under in this game is just 1.5 points less, and still 5.5 points over the next-closest game. Arizona’s implied total is 29.75, tied with Seattle for most of the week.
Kyler Murray is easily your best cash game QB on DraftKings. Murray leads all QBs in rushing yards (158) and ranks 4th in FPG (30.2). After back-to-back neutral-at-best matchups, he now gets a Detroit defense that ranks bottom-6 in passing fantasy points per pass attempt for the second-straight season. In spite of their underwhelming talent at corner, Detroit also plays man defense at the highest rate in the NFL (77%). What does that mean? In man defense, DBs are running with their backs turned to the QB, allowing for a QB like Murray to rack up easy yardage on the ground. Detroit has maybe the worst pass rush in the NFL, and doesn’t have the personnel to spy him effectively. Basically, Lions HC Matt Patricia has a better chance of getting fired on Sunday than Murray does of busting.
Quietly, Matthew Stafford finished fourth in fantasy points per game (21.5) and seventh in PFF Grade (82.6) in an injury-shortened season last year. He hasn’t lived up to that at all this year, but he does get a key weapon back in Kenny Golladay, and his schedule to start the year was tough – Chicago and Green Bay ranked top-10 against opposing QBs last year. As 5.5-point underdogs, he’ll have to lean pass-heavy and feels like a lock for the 300-yard bonus on DraftKings. An issue though, is Arizona’s pass defense looks well above average by every major stat. But then again, they’ve only faced Jimmy Garoppolo and Dwayne Haskins.
Kenyan Drake’s usage has been good, but not perfect. He’s played on 66% of the snaps, averaging 18.0 carries and 2.0 targets per game. Last year, Arizona’s RB1 played on 77% of the snaps, averaging 14.6 carries and 5.4 targets per game. Chase Edmonds has dipped into his passing down work, out-targeting Drake 9 to 4 on just 9 fewer routes. And Kyler Murray has vultured some of the red zone work – Drake has handled just 5 of the team’s 9 rushing attempts inside the 20. But those concerns don’t matter too much when Drake is just $6,000 on DraftKings and $6,500 on FanDuel, and in a near-perfect matchup. Arizona is favored by 6.5 points against a Detroit defense that ranks worst in YPC allowed (6.92) and 3rd-worst in rushing FPG allowed to opposing RBs (23.7). He’s not a must-play, but he is deserving of the high ownership he’ll garner.
The only RB in play on Detroit is D’Andre Swift. Projected game script is in his favor, but in this 3-way RBBC, where he’s averaging just 4.0 carries and 5.0 targets per game, it’s a thin one.
Larry Fitzgerald may draw some ownership, but I can’t get behind that. With Kirk out (groin), Andy Isabella is a very intriguing and cheap boom-or-bust option for tournaments. Whether or not he pays off -- like with a DeSean Jackson -- will come down to whether he gets lucky or not on the 2-4 deep targets he’ll see in this game. Hopkins, meanwhile, is looking mighty chalky, and rightfully so. He ranks 2nd in target share (30%), and on the team that’s averaging the 2nd-most plays per game (75.5), that comes out to… whew… 12.5 targets per game. He’s been successful too, averaging 25.0 FPG on that good volume (19.3 XFP). Unlike most elite WR1s, Hopkins isn’t lining up all over the field to escape top CBs and to be put into more advantageous matchups, he mostly just sticks to his side of the field (80% of his snaps lined to Murray’s left). That means he’ll spend nearly all game against Round 5 sophomore Amani Oruwariye. Over the past two seasons, Oruwariye ranks bottom-20 of 120-plus CBs in yards allowed per coverage snap. And, as Wes Huber pointed out, Detroit predominantly runs Cover-1, which Hopkins historically dominates. He’s mispriced by about $700 on both sites.
It’s hard to trust a WR in their first game back following a hamstring injury, but I don’t know who else you’d be excited to play in Detroit other than Kenny Golladay. He’s also likely to draw Patrick Peterson in shadow coverage, but at age 30, and after Terry McLaurin tagged him for a 4-66-1 line on 6 targets in Week 2, I don’t know if he’s as imposing a threat as he once was. Marvin Jones has flopped in back-to-back games (39.0 YPG), but maybe he’d benefit from Golladay’s return. No one’s going to play him this week (3% projected ownership).
T.J. Hockenson is pretty intriguing though. Arizona was a historically bad defense against TEs last year, and maybe they’ve addressed that in the offseason, but I’m not so sure. I thought top-10 draft pick LB Isaiah Simmons was selected to help address that concern, but he played just 2 snaps in coverage last week. Hockenson tagged Arizona with a 6-131-1 line in Week 1 last year. Kittle went 4-44-0 on 4 targets in the first quarter before suffering a serious injury in Week 1 this year. Logan Thomas flopped last week, but, then again, it's Logan Thomas.
Update: Kenny Golladay admits he’s not quite 100%, and probably not close to 100%. He’s no longer in play. This bumps Jones and Hockenson a bit, while hurting Stafford and the total.
Cam Newton, QB, New England Patriots
[DK: QB5, FD: QB7]
The hope for Cam Newton-drafters was good rushing volume and enough competency as a passer to keep him starting each week, but it appears we've gotten a great deal more from him than that. And maybe even something close to Newton's elite 2016 season. Through two games, Newton ranks 8th in passing yards (552), 2nd in rushing yards (122), and 3rd in FPG (30.7). He rushed 15 times in Week 1 (most since 2014) and then passed for 397 yards in Week 2 (most since 2011). A ridiculous 90% of his rushing attempts have come on designed runs. In this neutral at-worst matchup against Las Vegas, mispriced by about $600, he’s your top cash-game QB on FanDuel this week. But he’s in play on both sites and for tournaments as well. And I loved Johnny’s idea of stacking Newton with Patriots DST. That’s typically a -EV stack, but probably not with Newton, and especially not in this game. If Newton really is effectively the team’s goal-line back, and even if it’s just 50%, game script might not matter as much as field position. (Newton has a league-high 9 -- of the team’s 12 total -- carries inside the 10-yard-line.)
Mitchell Trubisky, QB, Chicago Bears
[DK: QB16, FD: QB10]
Trubisky ranks 16th in salary, but 13th in FPG (19.8). He gets an Atlanta defense that’s given up the most FPG (40.7, by +5.2) to opposing QBs, while also ranking 2nd-worst in passer rating allowed (125.5) and passing fantasy points allowed per pass attempt (0.61). Everything about him, his price (on DraftKings), and the matchup screams “Cash Game Play,” but I think he’s too volatile for that. And we’re hearing rumblings the Bears will be quick to replace Trubisky with Nick Foles if he struggles early on. Still, he’s a fine play for tournaments, stacked with Allen Robinson, who we love.
Other / Notes
- See the “Key Games” section for thoughts on the SEA, DAL, DET, ARI QBs.
- Josh Allen smashed in back-to-back cake-walk matchups and now gets the real test. The Rams aren’t a pushover defense, but then again, Allen has been unreal. He hit a career-high in rushing attempts in Week 1. He hit a career-high in passing yards in Week 1 (312), and then smashed that mark by 102 yards in Week 2. The Bills’ defense is tough, but Fitzpatrick threw for 328 yards and 2 scores against them in Week 2. Could this game shootout? Like with how Seattle is finally letting Russ cook, it seems the Bills are doing the same with Allen. The 4th-most run-heavy team in the league (2018-2019) has been the most pass-heavy team in the league through two weeks (adjusted for situation). Could Allen especially lean pass-heavy this week, with Zack Moss out? Racking up free yardage, peppering Devin Singletary through the air, acting as an extension of the passing game? Is Allen now effectively the goal-line back with Moss out? That was already sort of the case anyway.
- The Colts have the 3rd-highest implied point total of the slate (28.25), well ahead of Dallas and Detroit, and not far behind Seattle (30.75) and Arizona (29.75). Jonathan Taylor is looking mighty chalky, but no one (3% projected ownership) is going to play Philip “Old Man” Rivers. So, that makes him a really strong leverage play. Are the Jets the ultimate pass funnel defense we thought they were a week ago? They might be. Rostering Rivers is gross, but it’s a fine YOLO-play for large field tournaments.
- Leverage Alert: Somewhat similarly, Miles Sanders projects to be the chalkiest player of the week. And if he isn’t, he should be. Still, the Bengals aren’t that much worse against the run than they are the pass. Teams just don’t really need to throw on them. Carson Wentz is and has always been a boom-or-bust play at QB, we’ve just seen more busts than booms to start the year. And with the spread bet down from 6.5 to 4.5, this game has shootout potential. Although Cincinnati might not want this to be an every-week occurrence, they were content to let him spend all day dropping back to pass, and he returned a 316-3-0 line on 61 attempts last week. Philadelphia quietly ranks bottom-6 in opposing passer rating and bottom-10 in passing fantasy points allowed per pass attempt.
- For two weeks in a row, Greg Cosell has raved about how Ben Roethlisberger has looked on tape. He gets a great on-paper matchup, with Houston’s pass defense ranking bottom-3 in every major efficiency stat. Of course, they’ve faced Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson to start the year, but they’ve been brutalized to the extent that you’d expect from a bottom-5 pass defense. The only question is if Houston can keep things close, or if James Conner is the one to play? In defense of a potential high-scoring shootout, the line did move from -5.5 to -4.0 in the past few days. Diontae Johnson is the obvious stack, though figuring out who you’d want to run it back with (on Houston’s side) is a bit trickier.
- If making 150 tournament lineups, other QBs I’d be looking at are Ryan Tannehill, Justin Herbert (FanDuel), and some weird leverage stacks. Jeff Driskel also deserves a shoutout. He’s not quite as cheap as I hoped, and the matchup is bad, and Jerry Jeudy is now questionable. But he does average 20.3 FPG over the past two seasons (4 games), with 39.0 rushing yards per game over the past two seasons.
Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
[DK: RB12, FD: RB10]
Although maybe still not at 100%, Sanders saw terrific usage in his Week 2 debut, playing on 77% of the snaps, receiving 20 carries and 7 targets. For perspective, that was worth 22.7 XFP, which ranked 4th-most among RBs on the week. With this sort of every-down usage that included heavy involvement as both a runner and a receiver, Sanders is a true bell cow, immune to game script. But that’s not totally relevant this week, favored by 6.5, up against a Bengals defense that is surrendering the 2nd-most rushing FPG to opposing RBs (36.8), after giving up the 7th-most last year (15.6). They’re now without DT Geno Atkins and DT Mike Daniels is questionable after being listed as a DNP all week. Given Carson Wentz’s dreadful start to the season, expect Philadelphia to lean heavily on Sanders and attack Cincinnati’s weakness against the run. I don’t care what his ownership is this week. All I care about is my ownership, which will be 100%.
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts
[DK: RB6, FD: RB15]
Once again, Taylor is easily one of the most mispriced players of the slate on FanDuel, ranking 5th in our projections, but just 15th in salary. After splitting snaps with Nyheim Hines in Week 1, Taylor saw elite usage in Week 2, earning 26 carries and 2 targets on 66% of the snaps. Taylor is a generational prospect, who averaged 23.6 touches per game at Wisconsin, so that sort of workload shouldn’t be too surprising. What was surprising was that he only scored 19.0 fantasy points. Favored by 9.5-points, with the 5th-highest implied point total of the week (27.25), and against a Jets defense that ranks 5th-worst in YPC allowed (5.00) and 7th-worst in FPG allowed to RBs (31.7), expect similar usage but an even better outcome this week. He’s a very strong play on DraftKings as well.
I will say -- in case he gets super chalky -- we did think heading into the season (and after Week 1) this would be a very stout run defense. Are we letting recency bias (two fluky 50-plus-yard runs in Week 2) influence us? Or have the Jets totally just given up?
Devin Singletary, RB, Buffalo Bills
[DK: RB32, FD: RB24]
Even before news that Zack Moss would sit out Week 2, Singletary was looking like a value, priced at just $4,900 on DraftKings. He’s a good play but I don’t think he’s the free square some are making him out to be. He probably gets the same role he had for most of last year, when he exceeded a 66% snap share in 9 of 12 games, or something slightly better. He ended last season with 16.4 carries and 3.6 targets over his final 8 games, implying absurd value in terms of weighted opportunity vs. salary. But he also wasn’t very productive on that good value, averaging just 13.4 FPG over the span. Then again, that’s right around 3X value. But part of the reason for the disparity between his usage and production was a lack of involvement near the end zone -- he has just 1 carry inside the 10-yard-line over his last 9 games. Will that role now go to T.J. Yeldon (with Josh Allen also occasionally vulturing scores)? Because Yeldon will have a role this week, though it’s probably just 50% of the role Moss leaves behind, with the other 50% going to Singletary. He’s a good play, but certainly not a must-play in a week with a lot of value.
Other / Notes
- We already discussed the RBs in SEA, DAL, ARI, and DET. I do really like the idea of grabbing Elliott or Carson as a means of not having to pick between the WRs on either team, while also gaining leverage against their high ownership.
- Darrell Henderson is firmly in play (on FanDuel), and, I think, would be a must-play if we get word Malcolm Brown is out. That’s something we’ll tackle in the Sunday Morning Update.
- Jerick McKinnon is really a fine play, priced right next to Singletary on both sites. But that’s the problem. Although it’s close, Singletary probably is the better play. Though for both of them, we know the upside is capped. Last year 16 of Jeff Wilson’s 27 carries came in the red zone, so you know he’s going to be getting that work this week. But McKinnon’s volume projection is close to Singletary’s, and we’ve seen a number of unheralded RBs step into the Shanahan-scheme and produce fantasy points.
- Mike Davis is priced slightly ahead but within the same tier of Singletary and McKinnon. He too needs to be in the conversation, and I actually think he sees the best volume of the three. In just the 4th quarter of last week’s game, after Christian McCaffrey went down with an injury, he caught 7 of 7 targets for 70 yards. Unless Trenton Cannon and WR Curtis Samuel scare you, and they shouldn’t, he probably earns somewhere around 80% of the team’s snaps. He’ll be involved in the passing game, and doesn’t have much competition for goal-line work. But in a tough matchup with the 2nd-lowest implied point total of the week (18.5), he’s also probably behind Singletary (though likely slightly ahead of McKinnon).
- Joshua Kelley is only a very slight value on both sites. But 2019 Melvin Gordon would be a terrific value at this price-tag. And maybe Kelly is basically 2019 Melvin Gordon, because that’s what his Week 2 usage implies. On 52% of the snaps, Kelley saw more carries (23 to 16), more opportunities inside the 10-yard-line (2 to 0), and was only barely out-targeted by Ekeler (4 to 3). This was in a game Los Angeles led by 5+ points for 66% of their plays. Game script projects similarly, favored by 6.5-points, only the matchup is much better -- actually perfect. After giving up the most FPG to opposing RBs last year (30.1), Carolina is again giving up the most FPG to opposing RBs (40.6). With 73% of that coming on the ground (5.16 YPC allowed) the matchup leans more towards Kelley’s favor than Austin Ekeler’s. He’s the better play, but Ekeler will get carries in this soft matchup too, and we’ve seen his tournament-winning upside plenty of times before.
- James Conner played 77% of the snaps in Week 2, earning 16 of 19 carries and 2 of 5 targets out of the backfield. Against Denver’s stout run defense he totaled 121 yards and a score. This week, at home and favored by 4.0, he gets a Houston defense that ranks 2nd-worst in YPC allowed (6.28) and 4th-worst in rushing fantasy points allowed (23.0). He’s not as cheap as I was hoping, but he is a very strong play.
- Other RBs I’d be considering if making multiple lineups are: Favored by 7.0, Cleveland is going to run 35 times against Washington. So why is Nick Chubb drawing contrarian levels of ownership (projected 2.1%)? David Montgomery is at least a slight value, and actually looks good (5.0 YPC) on good usage (14.5 carries and 3.0 targets per game). Though Atlanta is probably bad everywhere on defense, they’ve been a pass funnel, and are one of only a handful of teams giving up more production to RBs through the air than on the ground… Derrick Henry at a fraction of his Week 2 ownership? A contrarian Dalvin Cook for the first time since early 2019? Could this finally be the Antonio Gibson breakout game after 15 opportunities and a 66% snap share last week? These are some of the questions I’ll be asking myself when building lineups tonight.
Allen Robinson, WR, Chicago Bears
[DK: WR14, FD: WR12]
Robinson is seeing terrific volume – he ranks 12th in XFP per game (16.0), 8th in air yards per game (117.0), and 11th in targets per game (9.0), he’s just not doing a lot with it. Why? Poor QB play. But that shouldn’t be as much of a concern this week. Atlanta ranks 2nd-worst in passing yards allowed per game (386.0) and 2nd-worst in passer rating allowed (125.5). Robinson also gets a top-flight CB matchup against Isaiah Oliver, as Wes Huber outlined here. At his borderline-insulting Week 3 salary ($6,200 / $6,900), he’s a borderline must-play on both sites.
Update: Atlanta's starting LCB CB A.J. Terrell is being placed on the reserve COVID list and is now out for Sunday’s game against the Bears.
Diontae Johnson, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
[DK: WR32, FD: WR24]
One of our most-hyped players of the off-season is seeing exactly the sort of volume we dreamed for him. Through two games, he ranks 6th in XFP (18.7 per game), 1st in targets (24), and 2nd in end zone targets (3). Compare that to JuJu Smith-Schuster – 10.8 XFP per game, 14 targets, and 2 end zone targets. I wouldn’t be shocked to see this continue, and for Johnson to finish with more fantasy points by the end of the season. But, of course I wouldn’t.
Okay, Johnson is awesome. His usage is awesome. JuJu Smith-Schuster is banged up. His price is way too low (on both sites). How’s the matchup? There’s a threat that Bradley Roby shadows (probably 50% chance), after effectively shadowing Tyreek Hill and Marquise Brown in back-to-back weeks, but those are the only receivers he’s shadowed in two years. And I’m not sure it matters. Johnson isn’t the same type of receiver Hill and Brown are. And he historically eats man coverage alive. And if there is no shadow, it’s a terrific matchup, as the starting CB opposite Roby is still on IR.
Terry McLaurin, WR, Washington Football Team
[DK: WR23, FD: WR16]
McLaurin came out of back-to-back tough CB matchups – Darius Slay in Week 1 and then Patrick Peterson in Week 2 – with 12 catches on 17 targets for 186 yards and a score, making him the WR14 through two weeks. He gets what looks like another difficult matchup this week – at least on paper – the Browns rank top-10 in FPG allowed to opposing outside WRs for the second-straight season. However, more than making up for that, is the fact that McLaurin is just the 24th-most expensive WR on DraftKings. And, maybe the matchup isn’t so tough. Cleveland’s top CB Denzel Ward is questionable, while CB Greedy Williams has already been ruled out. If Ward plays, McLaurin is a very good play. If he sits, he’s a terrific one.
Darius Slayton, WR, New York Giants
[DK: WR45, FD: WR40]
Reeling from injuries (Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard), the Giants’ offense looks like a potential dumpster fire. But then again, the same can be said for San Francisco’s defense (Richard Sherman, Soloman Thomas, Nick Bosa, Dee Ford). As 4.5-point underdogs, and, again, without Barkley, Daniel Jones will likely have little choice but to throw often, and throw often to Slayton. Without Sherman, the 49ers are most exploitable on the outside, while Evan Engram has a bottom-3 matchup, as outlined here. Slayton smashed in a tough matchup in Week 1 (28.2 fantasy points) but flopped in an even more difficult one in Week 2 (6.3). In a much softer draw this week, as one of the better (projected) target-per-dollar plays of the week, don’t overlook him on DraftKings, and especially at what should be low ownership (5% projected).
Tyler Boyd, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
[DK: WR23, FD: WR32]
A.J. Green has seen league-leading volume to start the year (21.0 XFP), but has shown little rapport with his new QB. He’ll be an afterthought this week though, against Darius Slay’s shadow coverage. Boyd, meanwhile, draws a near-perfect CB matchup which Wes Huber wrote up here. At just 3.0% ownership in a game that projects for a lot of pass volume, he’s a terrific tournament option (especially on FanDuel).
Cheap Punt Options
Oh boy! There are a ton of cheap WR punts if you want to go that route this week. Basically, all of K.J. Hamler, Andy Isabella, N’Keal Harry, Damiere Byrd, Michael Pittman, Darnell Mooney, and Bryan Edwards are in play… Once Jeff Driskel took over for Drew Lock, Hamler saw a team-high 7 targets (along with 1 carry), representing a 21% target share. As I’ve talked about before, don’t sleep on the #BackupConnection. Driskel probably has an already established-rapport with Hamler (after spending nearly every practice together in the second-string offense) that he doesn’t have with Noah Fant or Jerry Jeudy. I think I like him the most… I covered Isabella at the top, but he’s a terrific boom-or-bust punt for tournaments… Just like in the second half of last season, I think Julian Edelman is far more hurt than New England is letting on. Harry posted a 8-72-0 line on 12 targets last week, compared to Byrd’s 6-72-0 line on 9 targets. However, New England probably won’t need to go anywhere near as pass-heavy this week… Pittman was a Fantasy Points favorite coming out, and saw a team-high 6 targets and full-time usage (92% of the snaps) last week with Parris Campbell hurt… Mooney saw 3 targets on a 60% route share last week. That’s unlikely to be much better this week, making him one of the thinner plays of this set… I don’t know who gets the ball for Las Vegas, in a pass-heavy script (6.0-point underdogs) with Henry Ruggs out and Josh Jacobs and Darren Waller hurt. The CB matchup is rough but there should be plenty of garbage time…
Other / Notes
- See the “Key Games” section for thoughts on the SEA, DAL, DET, ARI WRs. (We liked a lot of those WRs in those games.)
- Greg Cosell gushed on our Thursday livestream over Calvin Ridley’s route running and said, “He’s unstoppable when given free access, and Atlanta has been great at getting him free access via movement shifts.” If Julio Jones sits out, he could be a top play. Last year, Jones and Ridley averaged 14.5 targets per game and 24.2 FPG when one or the other sat out… Is it time we put some respect on Russell Gage’s name? He’s averaging 7.9 targets per game since the Mohamed Sanu trade last year. Cosell also loved his tape (consistently hyping him this past offseason), and he’s pretty cheap on FanDuel…
- Wes Huber made a very compelling case for Adam Thielen in a smash CB matchup against an Adoree Jackson-less Titans defense, here.
- D.J. Moore is a little too cheap on FanDuel. Might he be the primary beneficiary of Christian McCaffrey’s absence? Their usage is somewhat similar (high quantity targets, low quality targets).
- Do we go back to the well on Stefon Diggs (who looks awesome) or avoid him because he’s likely to draw shadow coverage from Jalen Ramsey? John Brown quietly has 70-plus yards and a score in back-to-back weeks.
- Is DeSean Jackson effective leverage off of Miles Sanders chalk? Jalen Reagor is out, and Jackson is the same great tournament play he always is. He’s always going to get ~140 air yards per game. If those balls aren’t accurate he’ll post the sort of games we’ve seen from him through two weeks. If they are, he could be a slate-buster.
- Why is Mike Evans projected to draw contrarian levels of ownership (5%) against Denver’s pass funnel defense that’s given up the fourth-most FPG to opposing outside WRs? He posted a 7-104-1 line on 10 targets last week, and, though Chris Godwin is back, I’m not sure how much that matters.
- Some other guys I’d be thinking about if making a ton of lineups: Is this a get-right spot for T.Y. Hilton against the Jets, and with Parris Campbell out? It sure looks like it could be, and he’s looking like he’ll go a bit underowned…Justin Herbert was great at getting Keenan Allen the ball in space last week (7-96-0 on 10 targets), and Allen is going overlooked this week in terms of projected ownership (4%)… If Houston keeps things close, who would we want from their side of the ball? Brandin Cooks or Will Fuller?… Jerry Jeudy is questionable, but per my sources at PFF, “His tape last week was unreal. He was getting open at will all game.” We loved him as a prospect coming out -- he was Greg Cosell’s favorite WR and actually earned a comp to Antonio Brown…. With Tre’Davious White on Robert Woods and Buffalo stout against the run, is this a Tyler Higbee game or a Cooper Kupp game? Buffalo gave up 24.5 fantasy points to slot WR Jamison Crowder in Week 1 and 14.6 to slot WR Isaiah Ford in Week 2 (who scored just 6.7 total fantasy points in his two other games)…
Logan Thomas, TE, Washington Football Team
[DK: TE20, FD: TE21]
Thomas isn’t an exciting name by any stretch, and he flopped in a possibly perfect matchup last week. But then again, it’s possible this week’s matchup is even better. After facing the Ravens (Andrews went 5-58-2 on 6 targets) and Bengals (C.J. Uzomah and Drew Sample combined for 11-87-1 on 15 targets), the Browns have given up the most FPG to opposing TEs thus far (25.4), and after giving up the 6th-most (schedule-adjusted) last year. He’s also seeing terrific usage, ranking 2nd among all TEs in Route% (91%), 2nd in targets (8.5), and 3rd in XFP per game (15.7). He’s for sure one of the best values at the position.
Other / Notes
- There are some difficult decisions to make at TE this week. I wish there was an easy call here (even Thomas doesn’t feel like a real cash game lock), but there’s not.
- See the “Key Games” section for thoughts on the SEA, DAL, DET, ARI TEs.
- I like Hunter Henry quite a bit on DraftKings and Hayden Hurst quite a bit on FanDuel. Both are seeing strong mid-range TE1 usage. Henry ranks 5th in XFP per game (15.3) on a 82% route%. Hooper’s running a route on 80% of Matt Ryan’s dropbacks, and though his XFP is a bit lower (11.4), he did post a 5-72-1 line on 8 targets last week, and should see more volume with Julio Jones banged up. Hurst’s matchup looks a bit better than Henry’s. Chicago is looking like the TE-funnel matchup they were last year, while Carolina might actually be a tough enough matchup to push me off Henry. They stopped Waller in Week 1 (6-45-0 on 8 targets) after ranking as the 2nd-toughest matchup (schedule-adjusted) last year.
- As illustrated at the top, we do like T.J. Hockenson this week. But there are a lot of good plays at his price point. Noah Fant and Jonnu Smith are just about the same price on both sites. Tampa Bay’s defense needs to be paid a great deal of respect, certainly more than they’ve been getting, but they might be tougher to WRs than TEs. Fant has been awesome, but on not-great volume (5.5 targets per game). Smith’s volume hasn’t been good either, earning a 60% route share (compared to Fant’s 79%) with just 6.0 targets and 23.0 air yards per game. But he’s been even more awesome, ranking 3rd in FPG (19.0) to Fant’s 5th (17.4), and his matchup is great. He gets a porous Minnesota defense that’s especially soft in the lower and intermediate middle of the field, where Smith typically sees all of his targets. (TE Mo Alie-Cox went 5-111-0 on 6 targets against them last week.) Since Blake Jarwin’s injury, he’s averaging, basically, 9.3 targets and 17.2 fantasy points per four quarters.
- Drew Sample is a great play in his own right, but is priced maybe a little too close to Thomas. Still, I might want to split ownership between them in cash. He saw 5 targets in the final drive of last week’s game, finishing a 7-45-0 line on 9 targets despite splitting 3.5 quarters with C.J. Uzomah (4-42-1 on 6 targets last week). Of course, Joe Burrow probably won’t throw 61 times again this week. But this is likely another good-to-great matchup, as Tyler Higbee showed last week. On FanDuel, Dalton Schultz is also in the discussion ($4,900).
- Jimmy Graham is fine punt-play, but he’s just a touchdown-or-bust guy at this stage of his career… Similarly, I think there are better options than Mo Alie-Cox if Jack Doyle suits up, which seems likely… Chris Herndon? Yeah, I don’t think I ever want to play someone coached by Adam Gase ever again…
- Jordan Reed rewarded us handsomely last week, but he’s been priced up, and is no longer anywhere near as strong of a play.
- The Eagles (now without Jalen Reagor, and even worse, with J.J. Arcega-Whiteside), are running out of 12 personnel on 80% of their snaps, meaning Dallas Goedert is basically a full time player. He ranks 8th in routes run, with just 9 fewer than Zach Ertz. He’s seen 6 or more targets in 9 straight games, averaging 8.0 along with 13.0 FPG. He’s also out-targeted and out-scored Ertz in 4 straight games. All of this being said, Ertz is pretty cheap on DraftKings (mispriced by about $500 as the top TE value per the SuperModel). Is Goedert now the TE1? Or are we just overreacting to a small sample? Could Ertz blow up this week at a reduced pricetag and low ownership?