New York Jets at Buffalo Bills
Another Thursday night game for NFL Week 2 that features a pair of defensive powers, making the game a bit difficult to trust for DFS plays. Both the Bills and the Jets allowed a mere 3.0 yards per rush in each and this game figures to be a slobberknocker between two running teams.
Sammy Watkins (foot) might have been intriguing, particularly after you consider what A.J. Green did to the Jets secondary and Darrelle Revis last Sunday, but Watkins is questionable and expected to be limited if he does play. Watkins had 11 catches for 136 yards in the past meeting and two of his nine career 100-yard games have come against the Jets.
LeSean McCoy has been a Jets beater, too. He rushed for 100-plus yards in each meeting last year, combing for 214 yards and three touchdowns. Those numbers make him an intriguing contrarian play against a good Jets run defense – particularly when you consider Watkins and Charles Clay (knee) are both banged up for QB Tyrod Taylor.
It will take a leap of faith to include any Bill but McCoy DFS lineups.
The Jets might be a bit more intriguing side to take. Ryan Fitzpatrick is coming off a two-touchdown Week 1 effort at home, and he has 13 TD passes in his past five division games (two-plus in all five). Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker are each threats to get into the end zone. Marshall has at least one TD in his past four games against the Bills, going 8-126-1 in the past one, while Decker has scored in the past two.
Matt Forte might have been the best play of all here, but we would expect the 27 touches Sunday forcing more action onto timeshare back Bilal Powell on the short week. Powell played just 17 snaps and got six touches against the Cincinnati Bengals. He will be busier here, likely keeping Forte closer to 20 touches or less.
The good news for DFS purposes is this game should be close throughout. The bad news is it projects to be a defensive struggle.
Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers
Both teams know each other very well, but there is no way for us to know for sure if this game will be a shootout like the last one in the regular season was, or a defensive struggle, like the wild card game and the last meeting in Pittsburgh were.
We tend to believe the tempo will be slower than most Steelers games because of the familiarity, the quality of the opponent and the early season importance of the game for the AFC North leader.
The Bengals did have trouble containing the Jets' backs last week and DeAngelo Williams is coming off a very busy Monday night, rushing for 143 yards and two TDs. D-Will also rushed for two touchdowns in his past game against Cincy. Usually a 33-year-old back on a short week would be limited, but these first four games before Le'Veon Bell's (suspension) are all in D-Will's hands.
Brown is always a premium play, but it should be noted the Bengals do the best job on him – again, perhaps because of familiarity. Brown averaged 144.6 yards against non-Bengals opponents and just 84.4 against the Bengals in his three meetings last year. The Bengals secondary is a bit underrated in fantasy matchup terms, so we wouldn't be all that excited about Ben Roethlisberger or any of his targets.
On the Bengals side, Jeremy Hill is good for a short touchdown run, if nothing else. He scored one last week and has eight TDs in his past nine games, which includes the TD in that wild card game in January. There is a low ceiling, but a modestly high floor for him here.
If the Steelers defense is susceptible to something, it should be the pass. A.J. Green is coming off his torching of Revis (12-180-1) and has scored a touchdown in each of his past three games against the Steelers.
In general, we might leave the scoring in this one up to the kickers, like the 18-16 and 16-10 finals from a year ago suggest.
Tennessee Titans at Detroit Lions
The Lions defense was little match for Andrew Luck on the road last week, despite the narrow victory, so we give Marcus Mariota a pretty good shot at crushing his projections this week. Mariota went for 271 yards and two touchdowns passing against a good Minnesota Vikings defense. That should be the baseline expectation at the Lions.
Titans rookie Tajae Sharpe carried his preseason hype over to Week 1, too, going 7-76 and making him a nice value play in DraftKings' PPR format. And, while Delanie Walker was a disappointment, the Lions made Luck's mediocre cast of TEs look great (totaling 7-88-3). This should be a rebound week for one of the better TEs on the board.
DeMarco Murray is intriguing on DraftKings, too, because of his receiving numbers. He caught Mariota's two TDs and his ability to impact the short passing game will get him more snaps and production than rookie Derrick Henry.
On the Lions' side, we cannot be confident in Ameer Abdullah repeating his Week 1 effort against a Titans defense that slowed Adrian Peterson down and allowed the fewest points to fantasy backs in Week 1. Theo Riddick is the wiser play for his receiving. He had 108 combined yards and two TDs last week.
Golden Tate and Eric Ebron are both solid bets to get five-plus catches and a touchdown, making them solid cash-game options. You might be surprised to know Ebron has hit that plateau in his past two games, a sign he is ready to turn the corner as a steady fantasy producer – especially with Calvin Johnson now retired.
Baltimore Ravens at Cleveland Browns
This should be a lopsided affair for fantasy purposes, mostly because the Browns project to be inept against the Ravens front. The Browns' offensive strength, if there is one, plays into the Ravens' defensive strength: the running game.
Isaiah Crowell was last week's play. Duke Johnson Jr. might merely be a DraftKings option for his pass receiving. Johnson did have 11 catches in the two Ravens games last year.
Gary Barnidge is one DFS option to like more with Josh McCown as the quarterback. Barnidge averages around 6-80-1 in games with McCown, so he is certain to be better than the goose egg he posted with Robert Griffin III (shoulder) last week. Barnidge was a Ravens beater last year, totaling 15-230-1 in the two meetings.
If you're not all over Barnidge and want a huge value at TE, go with Dennis Pitta. Joe Flacco loves using his tight end and Pitta is going to get in the end zone here with 5-50-1 numbers.
We also love the value of the Ravens defense, which in turn makes Justin Forsett a solid play. We see Forsett getting 20-120-1 numbers, which is what he averaged in two games against the Browns last year.
This won't be a game you're looking for huge numbers, unless you slotting Justin Tucker in FanDuel lineups.
Dallas Cowboys at Washington Redskins
The Redskins proved relatively helpless against 33-year-old DeAngelo Williams on Monday night, so that lines up nicely for a busy day for Ezekiel Elliott and former Redskins RB Alfred Morris. This should be a ground-and-pound Cowboys attack, which will keep this game under the number.
Elliott goes for 20-80-1, while Morris chips in 12-45-1, as we see it.
We liked what rookie Dak Prescott did underneath against the New York Giants defense, but he needs to prove capable of getting the ball to Dez Bryant before we trust anything in the Cowboys' downfield passing game. That is yet another reason to consider slotting Elliott for a busy day on volume – and look for Jason Witten as a check-down target. Witten had eight-plus catches in each of his past two games against the Redskins.
The Cowboys secondary is better than most might think, so fade Kirk Cousins and the passing game. Even TE Jordan Reed is a bit too high priced.
The Cowboys eked out a 19-16 victory in Washington last December, and while Cousins had three TDs against them in Dallas, he was limited to just 176 yards passing. This is a game for the Cowboys backs and kicker Dan Bailey.
New Orleans Saints at New York Giants
Now we're talking! Is there a total you wouldn't see this game going over? Last year, the Saints won an epic 52-49 shooting in New Orleans, which saw Drew Brees go for 505 yards and seven TDs, while Eli Manning chipping in 350-6 of his own.
Load up the stacks on both sides of the ball, especially in the passing games. Victor Cruz scored in his return from two season-ending injuries and he played 50 of the Giants' 56 offensive snaps against the Cowboys. Consider him full go and a bargain for those fading Odell Beckham in GPPs to be contrarian.
Beckham is going to be the most GPP lineups of any receiver this week, and rightly so. The Saints top three cornerbacks are a second-year man making his second start and two rookies. Giddy up!
The Giants secondary, unlike the Saints, is much improved from a year ago, but it still figures to struggle over the middle of the field and underneath because of raw play at the safety spots. That makes TE Coby Fleener and RB Mark Ingram intriguing in the short passing game.
Brandin Cooks is going to have a breakthrough year, but the Giants shut down the Cowboys' Dez Bryant last week and allowed the other guys to beat them. That makes Willie Snead an intriguing sleeper yet again. Snead went 9-172-1 in that shootout against the Oakland Raiders in Week 1.
With such a wide-open game, just about any play on either offense has its merits. Leave the defenses on the pile.
San Francisco 49ers at Carolina Panthers
This one should get ugly as the survivor pool pick of the week. The 49ers are coming off a Monday night victory, have a short week and travel to play an early start on the East Coast … against the defending NFC champs coming off a loss and having the added days of rest and prep time from their Thursday night opener.
Love all the Panthers and avoid all the 49ers. Carlos Hyde, who went 88-2 against the Rams, might have been the only DFS consideration on that side anyway. The Panthers run defense is a lot better than it looked against C.J. Anderson and the Broncos. This won't go well for Hyde and Co.
WR Kelvin Benjamin (6-91-1 in Week 1) is a huge play, particularly since his targets went down in the Panthers' second-half collapse on opening night. They won't make that mistake again. It will be Benjamin early and often.
Jonathan Stewart should be good for 100 combined yards and at least one score, while anticipation of a blowout and garbage time might be the only reason not to play QB Cam Newton. TE Greg Olsen led the team with seven catches in the opener and has five TDs in his past seven games at home. He gets one here, too.
Sure, you can love what the 49ers did against Todd Gurley in their opener. Or you could just throw it out the window on the basis of inept quarterback play by Case Keenum. Newton is a long ways from a Keenum.
If you had the extra cash left over at the end of your DFS lineups, pay the premium for the Panthers defense taking away Hyde and getting after Blaine Gabbert.
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots
What did the Dolphins do to the schedule-maker to have to go on the road to the Seattle Seahawks and the Pats in the first two weeks of the season?
As modest as this line is, it leaves out the fact Ryan Tannehill has three consecutive 300-plus-
yard games against the Pats and 996 yards combined in those games. He went for 350-2 in the past one, too, a 20-10 Dolphins victory that forced the Pats to play the AFC Championship away from home.
Undoubtedly, this is not lost on the Pats.
Now, we are not suggesting you play Tannehill, but you might consider Jarvis Landry (fastest player ever to 200 receptions) or DeVante Parker (5-105-1) in the past meeting as sleeper receiving options. Arian Foster might be intriguing, too, but he is better considered in PPR formats for his receiving than his rushing against a Pats front that held its own against David Johnson.
The Dolphins front with Mario Williams, Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh is as star-studded as it gets, so be wary of the Pats offensive options in the run game and downfield passing games. TE Rob Gronkowski is hamstrung, so consider him or TE Martellus Bennett shaky plays.
If you're considering a Patriot, it should be receiver Julian Edelman running quick and crossing routes. Edelman has 33 catches for 403 yards in his past four against the Dolphins, including 7-81-2 in the past meeting at home. He also has seven TDs in his past nine games and showed a solid rapport with Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 1: 7-66.
The Pats defense and kicker Stephen Gostkowski are solid options every week, but particularly at home against a division opponent. Tom Brady blew this one out 36-7 the last time in New England. This one won't get that far away, but it won't be that loose for fantasy scoring either, with two solid defenses matching up.
Kansas City Chiefs at Houston Texans
Yet another wild card rematch, albeit this one was a blowout at the hands of Andy Reid's Chiefs 30-0. It might not be widely known, but the Chiefs have won 11 consecutive regular-season games and rallied from 21 points down last week to do it.
Ignore those big numbers at the Texans here. The Chiefs will be without Jamaal Charles (knee) again, giving the feature role once again to Spencer Ware. Both sides have sound defenses – despite what the Chiefs showed in the first half against the Chargers – and limited quarterbacks.
Ordinarily we would like either defense playing against a marginal quarterback, but both these teams figure to play it close to the vest, avoid turnovers and sacks and let the defense keep them in it.
We would favor the running backs on either side, if you're loaded up on anything in his one. Both will be featured in the game plan on the ground and through the air. Ware has seven rushing TDs in his past 10 games and a career-high 7-129 receiving last week, while Lamar Miller is coming off a 106-yard rushing effort in his Texans debut.
Andre Hopkins scored in Week 1, but his price is a bit hot when you consider the damage rookie WR Will Fuller, taking targets, yards and touchdowns from the once lonely Hopkins. Fuller is the first wideout drafted in Round 1 to have a 100-yard receiving game (5-107-1) in his NFL debut on opening day.
Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams
After watching both offenses sputter last week, this figures to be a game that will be the plague to DFS value hunters. It does not help any Russell Wilson (ankle) is going to be playing at something less than 100 percent, too.
Thomas Rawls looks like a good value across the board, particularly when you consider his injury-reduced prices and the fact the 49ers rushed for three touchdowns on what was supposed to be a good Rams defensive front. Rawls is going to impact the game rushing and receiving and should prove to be a bell-cow back after getting 15 touches in “limited" duty in Week 1.
Toddy Gurley has another unfavorable matchup, which really just drops his price for a future DFS monster performance down the road for you. Avoid him here, especially because the Rams' quarterback situation doesn't give Gurley much of a chance to produce to his price or expectations. Gurley rushed for 83 yards and a TD in the past meeting a year ago – the Rams actually won both Seahawks games in 2015 – but we give Gurley a little chance to come close to those numbers on the short week.
If you're looking for Wilson to stay in the pocket and/or deliver play-action strikes downfield, look for Doug Baldwin to be the best play. He is coming off 9-92-1 against the Dolphins, had 8-118-1 in the past meeting and has had seven-plus catches in each of the past three games in the series between the division rivals.
No one can love TE Jimmy Graham (knee) in his limited duty, but he did catch a TD pass against the Rams last season and his price is no where near his one-time prominence would suggest. He might be good for a short TD as he sees the bulk of his snaps on passing downs and in the red zone.
The Seahawks defense and kicker are always considerations, especially when you consider how poorly Case Keenum played against what was thought to be a mediocre-at-best 49ers team Monday night.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Arizona Cardinals
Here is another pretty good survivor-pool selection with the Cardinals playing a back-to-back at home and coming off a prime-time loss. The Bucs are coming off a surprising victory over the Falcons, but the test should be far stiffer for Jameis Winston and company here.
Give Winston credit for the four touchdowns – the Falcons were a good secondary and tough on QBs last year. Perhaps sneak Winston into GPP lineups with his primary target Mike Evans in a game that might feature plenty of production on the Cardinals' side, forcing Winston to play catch-up. The Bucs allowed 334-2 to Matt Ryan and a modest Falcons offense. This Cards team has far more weapons.
Carson Palmer, David Johnson, Michael Floyd, Larry Fitzgerald and K Chandler Catanzaro are all premium options in this expected shootout. Heck, John Brown, Jaron Brown, J.J. Nelson and even TE Jermaine Gresham might be cheap ways to get exposure to this contest.
The best part of this high line and fairly significant spread is Winston has shown he gives his team a chance to produce even if the game gets out of hand. We cannot like Doug Martin against a Cards front that limited the Pats to just 3.4 yards per carry in a game that should have made the run game a focal point in Jimmy Garoppolo's debut. We figure the Cards should be able to take away the run early here, lending even more credence to a wide-open game later for Winston and Evans.
Because we got burned trying to sneak in the Falcons defense as a sleeper against Winston in Week 1, we are going to go on record here to avoid the Cardinals defense against him. Even if they slow him early, it is likely Palmer puts up points and turns this game into a prevent situation against Winston.
Jacksonville Jaguars at San Diego Chargers
This is a game the total does not do justice for the potentially high-ceiling numbers that can result between two gunslinging quarterbacks. Both teams are coming off losses, albeit somewhat impressive ones where they showed juice against top contenders Green Bay and Kansas City.
Perhaps the line is mitigated by the Chargers' loss of Keenan Allen (knee) for the season yet again, but Allen wasn't around for last year's shootout between the teams that wound up 31-25 Chargers.
Rivers went 300-4 and old reliable TE Antonio Gates was 4-53-2 against the Jags last year. We expect both to trump their prices in DFS action here, too. Tyrell Williams is the sleeper to assume Allen's downfield targets and production at a nice price.
With Allen down, though, expect Rivers to do what he has always had to do with a limited receiving corps: throw to his tight end and backs. Both Melvin Gordon and Danny Woodhead will be as involved in the game plan as heavily as they were a week ago. Gordon rushed for two TDs, showing he is far more capable than his rookie year suggested, while Woodhead rushed for 89 yards and had five catches and a TD.
On the Jags side, T.J. Yeldon might be featured again with Chris Ivory (illness) held up, but the game will wind up in Blake Bortles' hand(s) with Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns doing damage against a Chargers secondary that made Alex Smith and Jeremy Maclin looks like Fouts and Winslow.
This game should bust the total fairly easily with both quarterbacks trumping 300-3 performances.
Atlanta Falcons at Oakland Raiders
Neither defense, while we thought there was promise, was able to contain the quarterbacks or the passing game last week. That bodes very nicely for Matt Ryan and Derek Carr and all their targets.
The Raiders were exposed by Drew Brees in New Orleans, despite a victory, while the Falcons made the Bucs' Winston look like the second coming of Cam Newton. The Raiders gave up the most fantasy points to quarterbacks and wide receivers, while the Falcons were fourth worst against quarterbacks and second worst against tight ends.
Carr, Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree are all strong plays, especially Crabtree who received the “chips-down" game-winning two-point conversion throw to win it (eschewing the tie). Crabtree gives you more value vs. price, but all three are solid. This should be a productive week for Clive Walford, too, as the Falcons lost the Bucs' tight ends in the red zone for two TDs.
Because of the likely wide-open nature of this game between 30-TD quarterbacks, we see solid numbers out of the backs on both sides. Latavius Murray, Devonta Freeman and even Tevin Coleman – who emerged as a timeshare back with Freeman and a pass-catcher (5-95 in Week 1 after catching all of two passes in 2015) – should produce to their numbers because of the opportunities credited in the red zone and near the goal line.
This game could quietly push any of the others on the Week 2 slate for DFS fireworks.
Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos
We reconfirmed some things from Week 1 we will write in stone as DFS mantras for 2016 with these teams:
- 1. C.J. Anderson is the good Arian Foster in that Gary Kubiak RB-friendly system – a statistical monster because of the reliance on the feature back because of the quarterback limitations.
- 2. Andrew Luck is healthy and makes a bunch of spare parts look like an unstoppable force.
- 3. That Denver Broncos defense can still really tighten the screws on opposing fantasy quarterbacks.
The latter two somewhat cancel themselves out, making neither Luck nor the Broncos defense all that favorable as plays. But that does leave one Mr. Anderson as an absolute must-slow in lineups.
The Colts gave up the most fantasy points to running backs in Week 1 and those were Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick doing the damage. Anderson is home and coming off a 92-1 rushing and 4-47-1 receiving performance against a good Panthers defense. This could be a 200-yard three touchdown effort coming Anderson's way.
Not only does he look far closer to his 2014 form vs. 2015, but his backups received just minimal snaps, making Anderson one of the most volume-heavy backs in football. You like what Forte did against the Bills on Thursday night? This should be even better.
That is because the Broncos just took few chances downfield with QB Trevor Siemian in his first start. Granted the Colts are not the Panthers, but this is Kubiak's team now. He likes the running back in the run and passing game, keeping the QB from making mistakes downfield and allowing his defense to do work.
Siemian's status puts Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders in the too-difficult-to-trust category.
On Luck's side, there will be production, but it will be hard to know where it might come. Frank Gore is unlikely to find running lanes, while T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief would be better options if we thought the Broncos might push the offensive pace and run the numbers up. We don't see that happening, so the Colts are best avoided in GPP lineups. The ceiling is very low.
Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
There are very few weeks on the NFL calendar where Aaron Rodgers doesn't project to be among the fantasy quarterback scoring leaders. The games against the Vikings are them. One in Minnesota, as they open U.S. Bank Stadium should be most difficult to trust the premium passer.
Rodgers had just 212 yards at Minnesota last season and the Packers lost the Jan. 3 meeting in Green Bay 20-13, as Rodgers was limited to just one TD pass. The Vikings defense is a stiff challenge and should be amped up in their new building. Consider Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams and Jared Cook borderline to bad cash-game plays.
Eddie Lacy has had either 100-plus yards rushing or a TD in five or six against the Vikings, but again there are much better weeks for the Packers to get into the red zone and feed Lacy easy short TDs and a high volume of carries. Lacy is a big back who needs 20-plus touches to produce plus fantasy numbers, so he cannot break long ones.
Sam Bradford is expected to take over as starting quarterback, but this is still Adrian Peterson's team. He is a cash-game option for his streak of TDs against the Packers, but we cannot see him doing GPP damage until Bradford develops a rapport with the young Vikings receiving corps.
You might consider TE Kyle Rudolph as a sleeper. Bradford has used his tight ends frequently in the past and the Packers gave up a league-high 112 yards to TEs in Week 1. Using the play-action off Peterson is always a possibility and those throws should go to dump offs to Rudolph.
Philadelphia Eagles at Chicago Bears
This line is too low for a prime-time game. John Fox is a defensive-minded head coach and both theses defenses had solid Week 1 efforts, but they played modest-at-best offenses and quarterbacks.
We see so points being put up, on the Bears side in particular. Jeremy Langford is a high-volume play against an Eagles defense that was the worst against the run in 2015 and opened 2016 giving up 5.7 yards per rush to a bad, bad, terrible Browns offense – a number that slot them second worst in the league.
Langford has already replaced Forte in touches, getting all but one against a good Texans defense. A good front, the Eagles are not. Langford should get over 100 yards and at least one touchdown, making him a strong play in all formats.
We never can trust QB Jay Culter, but with Langford getting plenty of carries and targets, it should open things up for Alshon Jeffrey downfield for big plays.
On the Eagles side, Carson Wentz proved in one week capable of making Jordan Matthews a high-volume target. Matthews' DFS fantasy value is marked up by the fact the other targets lack fantasy juice and Wentz is unlikely to be progressing to the third and fourth options in the passing game in just the second NFL start of his career. Expect the check-down throws to go to RB Ryan Mathews, who is a sleeper play more for his pass receiving against a Fox defense.
This is one of the most interesting low-40's total games on the board, because these defenses won't figure to be that stout against each other.
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