Houston Texans at New England Patriots
How rare is it to see the Patriots an underdog, no matter how slight, at home. That leaves very little confidence in rookie Jacoby Brissett leading the Pats offense, or wide receiver Julian Edelman's ability to come in and play quarterback as his backup (Edelman was a quarterback in college).
If you like to deal in certainty, you probably have to look away from making plays in this one. Rob Gronkowski (hamstring) might make a return, but you cannot be sure he is ready to produce, particularly with Brissett or Edelman doing the signal calling.
Regardless, the Texans defense has been stingy on opposing quarterbacks. Just the Philadelphia Eagles have been tougher in fantasy against QBs through two games. Only the Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens have allowed fewer passing yards.
Edelman's receiving and potential bonus situational passing stats might make him a bit more intriguing than a run-of-the-mill guy working on a short week with a rookie No. 3 QB under center.
If you're looking for a game plan, expect the Pats to use the running backs early and often. LeGarrette Blount is coming off a 29-carry Sunday (123 yards and a TD). He is a volume play here. James White is slightly more intriguing for his price(s) and receiving potential as the Pats try to take the pressure off the QB making his first NFL start. Against a good Cardinals defense, White went 5-40 receiving. He could chip in a TD here, especially if Gronk is ruled out.
Over on the Texans side, we are fading DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller in a game that figures to be dictated by a methodical Pats offense – despite the fact the Pats are fourth worst in fantasy against WRs through two games. Brock Osweiler is a 250-yard and one-or-two TD passer at this point.
Lamar Miller should keep around his 30-touch average (that's heavy duty!), although we expect more of those to come in the passing game on the short week. Teams just don't like to beat up their backs early in the season – well, the smart ones don't anyway.
The good news with putting exposure on this game is there are so few weapons on each side to compete for touches and both teams have been consistent with how they use those weapons in the early going. The line and total suggest this game will be on the running back's shoulders. Miller and White are the best of the plays in PPR formats.
Arizona Cardinals at Buffalo Bills
This is a potential trap game for DFS players. Don't let the stats lie to you.
The Bills defense has been ripped through the air, giving up the third most fantasy points to wideouts. Carson Palmer has his deep set of weapons line up nicely in this matchup, right?
The Bills secondary is a lot better than it has shown and, despite the catches and yards surrendered, it has given up just two passing touchdowns. Also, Rob and Rex Ryan have had extra days to prepare after the Thursday night embarrassment against the New York Jets and didn't have to travel again.
The Cardinals defense is tough on quarterbacks and have been sixth best against fantasy backs to date, too. There isn't a trustworthy Bills option for DFS players, especially when you consider the Bills changed offensive coordinators this week. They say they want to throw more to set up the run, but it should be a work in progress, so avoid LeSean McCoy, Sammy Watkins and Tyrod Taylor in this tough matchup. We also give Marquise Goodwin or Greg Salas very little chance to repeat their 70-plus-yard TDs from a week ago.
As for the Cardinals defense, with its plus-7 turnover ratio, this won't be a great week either. The Bills have played close to the vest as they try to prop up their team on the supposed strength of the defense, turning the ball over just once and surrendering just two sacks. Only the Oakland Raiders have allowed fewer.
We would expect this to be a heavy volume game for David Johnson, making him the best of the limited plays in this one. The Bills have allowed 27 rushes per game to date, the seventh most in the league.
Oakland Raiders at Tennessee Titans
The Raiders are one of the more under appreciated teams in football, and we have yet to see the best of them – although the Titans have played tough against running backs (No. 1 in fantasy) and quarterbacks (top 10).
Traveling away for the West Coast for another 1 p.m. start will likely scare you off your Raiders plays more than the Titans defense at this point, though. Derek Carr, Latavius Murray, Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree and Clive Walford give you value, but the relative mediocrity of the Titans offense figures to keep this game below the total.
The Titans are going to feature DeMarco Muray like the Falcons did with their backs against the Raiders. Murray has 12 receptions in two games and should go over 100 yards rushing to boot. Consider him an outstanding value in DraftKings' PPR formats.
If you agree with Las Vegas in seeing the Titans win this one, you might want to consider Derrick Henry for a breakthrough. He played just 10 less snaps than Murray last week and can breakthrough we some goal-line TDs (plural) in this one.
There is not much to love about Marcus Mariota's targets, so consider the Titans backs as the DFS plays in this one.
Cleveland Browns at Miami Dolphins
The survivor selection of the week is the 0-2 Miami Dolphins coming home after losses at two of the toughest places to win in football (Seattle and New England. Their home opener against the Browns features a hapless team working on its third starting quarterback in three weeks and having its No. 1 wideout (Josh Gordon) suspended and burgeoning No. 1a wideout Corey Coleman going down with a broken hand.
Cameron Wake, Mario Williams and Ndamukong Suh is arguably the most star-studded line in football and they should make things tough on Josh McCown and Co. The Dolphins defense is going to be the most popular D/ST play on the board, and you likely have to follow the sheep on this one. This is a unit that shut down Seattle on the road and is a lot better than Jimmy Garoppolo made it look last week.
Since we doubt Arian Foster (groin) suits up, nor do we have confidence in Jay Ayaji, this game will be on Ryan Tannehill, Jarvis Landry and the passing game. Since Joe Haden is likely to be shadowing Landry for all of the important downs, we would suspect Kenny Stills, DeVante Parker and Jordan Cameron to get more looks and production than their prices suggest.
Cameron is our sleeper to lift the Dolphins to their first victory – something Las Vegas' line nearly guarantees for us. Cameron is coming off a TD last week on seven targets and the Browns gave up 6-58 in Week 1 to Zach Ertz (with a rookie QB making his first start) and 9-102 to Dennis Pitta, who was on the scrap heap last year.
Expect the Browns to feature its running backs and tight end Gary Barnidge heavily with Coleman out. The Dolphins' quality front leads us to consider Barnidge, who is a lot better with McCown under center, if you don't take the bargain on Cameron.
Baltimore Ravens at Jacksonville Jaguars
So much for falling in love with the Jags' fantasy potential. Blake Bortles is a sack and turnover machine and is much better off when the game is wide open. It won't be against the methodical Ravens.
The Ravens defense is a sleeper consideration, although we don't love it on the road here. It has been third best against fantasy QBs, sixth best against WRs and has allowed the third fewest receptions to TEs to date. Bortles holding the ball and turning it over might be the one way this game opens up.
Even if Jags RB Chris Ivory (illness) returns to start over T.J. Yeldon, we cannot expect the running game to do much against the Ravens' still-solid front either.
On the Ravens side, the Jags have given up six passing TDs in two games, but no one can trust Joe Flacco with his cast of targets. Dennis Pitta has been rejuvenated, and is still not priced as the Flacco favorite target he is, but the Jags have allowed the fewest receptions to TEs through two games.
Justin Forsett has yet to muster much, but he is at least dominating Terrence West in snaps, so if you play a Ravens offensive option in DFS, it should be Forsett on the strength of potential goal-line touches.
Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers
Here is a game that excites us, at least where Aaron Rodgers is concerned. Rodgers is playing his home opener against a Lions defense that was torched by Andrew Luck in Week 1 and lost to Marcus Mariota in Week 2 … at home.
Rodgers lines up for 350-3 … plus … in this one. We ignore the fact the Lions played Rodgers and the Pack tough twice last year. The Packers are due.
Jordy Nelson has averaged 110 and a TD in his past three at home against the Lions, and is the big difference that was missing a year ago.
A Rodgers-Nelson stack should also include Jared Cook. The Lions have been the worst team in fantasy against TEs to date, giving up an average of 8-90-2 through two games to the position. Cook's preseason hype and modest price after a quiet start lines up nicely for DFS bargain hunters here.
The Packers have vowed to give Eddie Lacy more touches, and he could break the goal line, but our focus is on Rodgers and the downfield threats.
For the Lions offensively, Theo Riddick is an outstanding value — especially on DraftKings, per the DailyFantasyCafe.com lineup optimizer. The loss of Ameer Abdullah (foot) for the season hands the feature back role over to Riddick, who also does damage in the passing game. Bonus!
Because we are so hot on Rodgers, you have to consider Matthew Stafford an option to try to keep up on the other side, too. He has posted two-plus TD passes in each of his past three against the Packers. It makes one of Marvin Jones, Anquan Boldin and Golden Tate if you want exposure on this side of a game we see busting the total.
Denver Broncos at Cincinnati Bengals
This should be a game to look away from in DFS. Two sound defenses and conservative offenses face off in a matchup that has a justifiably low number.
Both defenses are tough on QBs and WRs, and both QBs are game managers best avoided in fantasy at this point.
The saving grace for fantasy purposes will be the heavy use and TD potential for the starting running backs on both sides. C.J. Anderson has a TD in four consecutive games and is a do-it-all back for Gary Kubiak. The Bengals' Jeremy Hill has eight TDs in 10 games and rushing for 147 yards and an 85-yard TD the last time the Broncos came to town.
Giovani Bernard is coming off a career-high nine catches for 100 yards and a TD, so if you don't like playing an RB against Broncos front, go with Bernard to do damage in the short passing game.
Both defenses tend to be DFS options in most weeks, but the conservative nature of both teams figures to make this game a slow ballgame devoid of GPP money-makers.
Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers
Cameron Artis-Payne's start in place of Jonathan Stewart (hamstring) comes at an inopportune time, because the Vikings run defense is one of the best in football. The have average just 49 rushing yards allowed through two games, so while CAP's price and opportunity are there, the matchup most certainly is not.
We fully expect another strong performance out of Cam Newton, Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen – the latter of which is decidedly a stronger play at home. Newton's price in a game with such a low line makes him far less of an option, so consider getting Panthers exposure by sticking with Benjamin and/or Olsen. The thinning of the running back depth and the quality of the Vikings front, puts plenty of them.
Don't expect the Panthers to have it as easy with the Vikings defense as they did last week with the 49ers either. The Vikings are not going to be blown out and the won't make big mistakes, as they play to support their defense.
For the Vikings in the post-Adrian Peterson (knee) weeks, Jerrick McKinnon and Matt Asiata are considerations for their opportunity more than their matchup – much like CAP above. Ignore C.J. Anderson's performance in the opener against this Panthers defense. It will be hard on opposing running backs, if not the entire Vikings offense.
Washington Redskins at New York Giants
After the dud Eli Manning and the Giants wideouts laid against the New Orleans Saints suspect secondary last week – and the fireworks between Josh Norman and Odell Beckham Jr. in the past – we are going to tell you to stick with Giants passing-game plays here.
The Redskins have been a bottom 10 team vs. fantasy QBs and WRs.
That Saints game featured fumbles and drops by Manning's targets that minimized the fantasy scoring. Even if you hate the fact Norman is going to be tussling with OBJ, you should consider lining up a stack of Manning with rookie Sterling Shepard and/or WR Victor Cruz. The targets, yardage and red-zone opportunities have been there for both in lieu of the attention OBJ has (and will from Nomar) gets.
We cannot advise any of Kirk Cousins targets outside of Jordan Reed (two 95-plus-yard games in their meetings last year). The Giants corners have been playing some great football against very good opponents (Dez Bryant and Brandin Cooks). Jason Witten did go 9-66 in Week 1 against those young and raw safeties, though, and Coby Fleener did get eight targets in that Saints game (despite just two catches).
Rashad Jennings is a sleeper play. The Redskins have given up two rushing TDs in each of the first tewo games and Jennings has gone for at least 100 yards and a TD in two of his past three home games.
Keep watching this Giants defense for potential DFS rewards down the road. After some very lean years, there are very close to becoming fantasy viable if they start generating a consistent pass rush.
Los Angeles Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
As solid as the Bucs have been against the run, they have given up receiving yardage to running backs. In fact, their 230 passing yards to backs is the most in fantasy.
It sounds like it is a good time to make Todd Gurley an impact receiving running back, especially when you consider the dearth of quality at the quarterback, receiving and tight end positions for the Rams. Expect the ball to find its way into Gurley's hands more than 20 times for the first time this season.
We don't love Gurley's price, matchup, or supporting cast – but often times in fantasy terms talent finds a way. This week is as good as any for arguably the No. 1 running back in football.
On the Bucs side, we expect Jameis Winston to play much better, particularly with Doug Martin (hamstring) out. The game is in his hands … well, at least until he passes it to Mike Evans. Also, RB Charles Sims comes at very nice prices, especially when you consider the damage he projects to do as a receiver out of the backfield.
A sleeper stack of Winston-Evans-Sims is not a bad one. Winston is going to challenge this Rams defense downfield and in the red zone far more than either of the first two weeks did.
San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks
Before you discredit this low line and the game as a pile of offensive ineffectiveness, consider what the Carolina Panthers did at home coming off a disappointing road loss last week against the 49ers. They blew the game out and won countless dollars for DFS players.
It is going to become one of our must-play DFS GPP strategies every week: Load up on the premium plays for the week's biggest favorites. The Panthers' Cam Newton, Kelvin Benjamin, Greg Olsen, Graham Gano and Panthers D/ST went off. This week we are going to stack Russell Wilson, Tyler Lockett, Steven Hauschka and the Seahawks D/ST.
Thomas Rawls or Christine Michael just missed making that stack, because of the uncertainty of Rawls' health and the timeshare they are in. Also, the 49ers defense has been the fourth toughest on opposing running backs. That puts the game in Wilson's hands, and we like Lockett's prices over Baldwin's. Also, Lockett has three TDs in two games vs. the 49ers.
Rawls went for 209-1 in the Seahawk's win last year, so if you get good reports pregame, toss him in there. Wilson three for three TDs, too.
On the 49ers' side, you cannot like anything, because their strength of Carlos Hyde and the running game pales in comparison to the Seahawks' defensive strength up front. Just look at what the Seahawks did to Todd Gurley last week.
The 49ers are running into a brick wall on the road at Seattle, which is about to get its offense rolling … finally.
New York Jets at Kansas City Chiefs
This is a game we like far more for production than Las Vegas' line does. That Jets offense does not get the credit it deserves and the Chiefs defense really hasn't played as well as you might have expect.
Credit workhorse Matt Forte (averaging 30 touches through two games) for making everything work well for Ryan Fitzpatrick and Co. Forte is one of the true full feature backs in football; yet, he is priced past-his-prime 30-year-old running back. He hasn't been playing like one, though. Keep running him out there, especially because the Chiefs have given up the fourth-most points to fantasy backs.
Yet another reason to love Forte is Brandon Marshall (knee, foot) and Eric Decker (shoulder) are both banged up. Also, the Chiefs will wind up being one of the toughest teams in fantasy against QBs before things are all said and done. Keep Fitzpatrick on the pine.
For the Chiefs, Jamaal Charles (knee) is unlikely to play, but we cannot love Spencer Ware against the Jets run defense. This lines up to be a game for Jeremy Maclin and Travis Kelce for fantasy players. The Jets have been getting torched by wideouts to the tune of the second-most points in fantasy.
San Diego Chargers at Indianapolis Colts
Here is an easy one to love: the Volts vs. the Colts. You have to love two gunslinging quarterbacks lining up against each other. Also, Indy's defense is going to go down as one of the worst in fantasy this season, so load up on Chargers.
There you get the benefits of value, too, with Danny Woodhead (knee) and Keenan Allen (knee) both out for the season. Melvin Gordon is the must-play running back of the week, while Travis Benjamin, Tyrell Williams and Antonio Gates are going to be frequent targets for Philip Rivers in a wide-open shootout.
The Colts have given up the most fantasy points to backs, making this a game that could wind up 120-2 for the burgeoning star Gordon. Somehow the Colts have yet to give up a TD to a wideout, but that ends here. Benjamin and Williams can both get into the end zone, if not Gates, too, making Rivers an intriguing value.
Andrew Luck is facing a Chargers defense that has been the second worst against quarterbacks, so we love a Colts stack of Luck-T.Y. Hilton-Dwayne Allen. Hilton will be busy with Donte Moncrief (shoulder) out and Allen faces a Chargers defense that has given up the fifth-most points to fantasy TEs.
The mere volume of points and plays expected to be run on both sides, makes Frank Gore a consideration for a Colts stack, as well, but make sure you have Gordon lined up first.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Philadelphia Eagles
Carson Wentz has been drawing huge praise for the Eagles' 2-0 start, but it is far too easy to forget the Eagles have picked the Cleveland Browns and the Chicago Bears. They are going to get some reality rushed their way by Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers defense.
On the Eagles side, you can like Jordan Matthews on volume with Zach Ertz (ribs) out. Also, since we expect Big Ben to be tough to contend with, you have to figure the Eagles are going to be throwing from behind and Matthews is a safe play for 7-80-1 numbers. That game flow makes Darren Sproles a much better option for Eagles RB exposure than Ryan Mathews, especially because the Steelers run defense has given up the second-fewest yards to fantasy backs to date.
For the Steelers offensive plays, anything goes. Big Ben, DeAngelo Williams and Antonio Brown are all consistent performers even at premium prices. The Eagles will not be No. 1 against fantasy QBs and No. 5 against fantasy WRs – as they are currently – when this one is all said and done.
We like Markus Wheaton to eventually emerge as a DFS producer on value, but until he proves healthy, Sammy Coates is the better sleeper option if you're fading Brown because of all the attention he warrants.
Chicago Bears at Dallas Cowboys
Pass. As in, they won't be able to. Not only are the Cowboys run heavy, but they can also defend the pass and make things difficult on Brian Hoyer or Jay Cutler (if he is allowed to play with his thumb injury).
This is where Ezekiel Elliott enjoys a career day. The Bears allowed Lamar Miller to rush for 106 yards in the opener and they gave up two rushing TDs to Ryan Mathews last Monday night. Elliott trumps both with 120-2 in this one – a breakthrough game for one of fantasy's best backs working behind the best offensive line in football.
Dak Prescott has done an admirable job in his first two starts, particularly since he figured out how to get the ball to Dez Bryant (7-102) last week. We just cannot see Prescott getting 300 yards or multiple passing TDs on a consistent basis, so the ball will mostly be in Elliott's hands. Jason Witten, Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley are tough plays until Tony Romo (back) returns after midseason.
For the Bears, we do like Jeremy Langford on value and volume, but the uncertainty at quarterback makes him difficult to trust. The same goes for Alshon Jeffery, whose knee issue is holding him out of practice time to boot.
The Cowboys defense is an intriguing play at home, if you're not joining the masses on the Dolphins or going with one of the premium plays like the Seahawks (vs. SF), Cardinals (at BUF) or Panthers (vs. MIN).
Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints
Now, we're talking! Unfortunately, we have to wait all the way under Monday Night Football for this bonanza to come our way in fantasy this week.
Drew Brees is the most obvious play on the board as he returns home – where he threw four TDs in Week 4 and 23 of 32 TDs last season. Brees went 323-1 and 312-1 against an underrated Falcons pass defense last year and has gone for 300-3 or better in four of his past five MNF games.
A Brees-Brandin Cooks-Willie Snead stack is going to be popular. The Falcons have been the third-worst team in fantasy against quarterbacks through two games and neither Jameis Winston nor Derek Carr project to do MNF/home-field advantage damage Brees does. You might even consider adding Mark Ingram to that stack, because the Falcons have been fifth worst against fantasy backs to boot.
For the Falcons, Matt Ryan and Julio Jones should hook up early and often against those young and raw Saints corners. If not for drops and fumbles that Saints defense would be one of the worst in fantasy against WRs. We still believe it will finish with that status by season's end – right up there with the Colts.
Sneaky plays will be RBs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. Sure, they are in a fantasy-busting timeshare, but the Saints are third worst in fantasy against backs, having given up three rushing TDs to the Raiders in the Superdome in Week 1. Both Freeman and Coleman can total 80 yards apiece and both could get into the end zone, especially if the game gets as loose as we expect … hope.
This one will be must-see fantasy TV. What presidential debate?
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