This article last updated 9/15/2018 – Featured image by Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
This week, rather than posting positional analysis for each position, I’m going to give some of my favorite targets for the week with context for my top targets. I’ll still cover all positions, it will just all be on one post rather than separating into 5. Please keep in mind that based on my play-style, I don’t always play the “safest” picks that would be optimal for head-to-head matchups. I will try to identify picks that I think would be safe for cash games as I go, though.
Update! - 9/15/2018As I’ve been building lineups, I’ve found myself becoming increasingly more interested in Julio Jones. I have concerns about Matt Ryan, but Julio got 19!!! targets last week, and he has absolutely CRUSHED the Panthers in his last few matchups against them. I’m still not willing to compromise on my RB strategy, so in order to fit Julio into a lineup or two, on Fanduel I’ve spent down further on Tight End to Jonnu Smith. He’ll be filling the role vacated by the injured Delanie Walker, who received seven targets last week before getting injured. I still like RSJ, and will have him in the majority of my lineups, but I’m making a few adjustments to my thinking to get Julio on some lineups as well.
The Week of the Running Back
Some weeks it’s really tough to figure out where to allocate your salary dollars for the maximum return, and some weeks there are just unbelievable spots that can’t be ignored. I think this is one of those weeks with Running Backs. The vast majority of my lineups will have a large portion of salary dollars allocated toward top-end running backs because I feel that their spots are so exceptional and that there is really nice value at the other positions.
Alvin Kamara was the obvious super-chalk in week 1, he carried tremendously high ownership, and he completely went off. Last week he got 17 touches. He only had 8 rushing attempts for 29 yards but had 2 touchdowns on the ground. I think that game flow had a lot to do with the lack of rushing attempts since it was such a high-scoring game and New Orleans had to keep the pedal to the floor. His real value is that he is a key weapon in the passing game as well, adding 9 catches on 12 targets for 112 yards and a third touchdown. Without Mark Ingram in the mix for another few weeks, Kamara is going to get ALL of the goal line work and is not really sharing the backfield with anybody. Mike Gillislee got 3 rushing attempts last week and Ted Ginn Jr got a carry as well. That’s it for rushing. Drew Brees did throw the ball a whopping 45 times, and only Michael Thomas out-targeted Kamara. Alvin Kamara had double the targets of the next closest non-Thomas receiver in Ginn. Those kinds of stats would be good in any matchup, but Kamara gets the Cleveland Browns in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Browns defense didn’t look completely horrible in their tie with the Steelers last week, and on paper have improved from last year. That being said, they gave up 192 all-purpose yards and 2 touchdowns to James Conner last week. Barring an injury, I just don’t see much of a way for Kamara to fail this week. I think he’ll once again come in well over 25% ownership, and I will once again be ahead of the field on that number.
The second-highest-priced RB on the board this week, Todd Gurley, is also in an absolutely unbelievable matchup against the Arizona Cardinals. Last week the Cards gave up 182 rushing yards to a Redskins backfield consisting of an old (but solid-looking) Adrian Peterson, Chris Thompson, and Rob Kelley, with 8 carries by Alex Smith added in as well. On top of the 182 ground yards given up, Peterson and Thompson combined for 8 catches and 133 yards out of the backfield. Gurley was drafted # 1 overall in most seasonal leagues for a reason… He is a true workhorse back, getting 23 touches in the season opener. He carried the ball 20 times for 108 yards and caught 3 out of 5 passes for an additional 39 yards and a trip into the end zone. The Vegas O/U for this game currently sits at 45, but as a 13-point favorite, the Rams are currently tied with the Saints and the Steelers for the highest implied team total of the day at 29. Gurley should succeed regardless of the game script.
I’m really not trying to get cute at RB this week. My top 3 running backs will be the 3 highest-owned guys on the slate, or at bare-minimum 3 of the top 4. I don’t care. I’ll try to differentiate my lineup in other spots. The third guy I’m heavily targeting this week is James Conner. His usage was through the roof last week against the Browns with 36 total touches. He carried the ball 31 times and caught 5 passes on 6 targets. Ben Roethlisberger is better at home than on the road, and this game is projected for the highest score of the day at 53.5. The Steelers are gonna run Conner until his legs fall off, and he’s still wildly underpriced for his projected usage. I do like Conner better on Fanduel than on Draftkings this week, but I like him plenty on both.
The other running back plays that I’ll be sprinkling in on lineups that don’t have all 3 of the above include:
- Dalvin Cook
- Kareem Hunt
- David Johnson
- Melvin Gordon
- Carlos Hyde
Unless something changes as I continue my research or I have a lineup that I absolutely love that necessitates using somebody else, those 8 running backs will be the only ones I have on any of my teams.
If I’m spending up that much on my running backs this week, it means I’m going to need to find savings in other positions. I really like a few exploitable matchups with good and inexpensive QB+WR/TE stacks. I like all of these receivers with or without their corresponding quarterbacks, so I’ll have several combinations with mixtures from all of these stacks:
- Alex Smith + Jordan Reed or Jamison Crowder – Reed is the better choice here. I’m not sure that I want to spend up to him at Tight End, though, so I’m looking at Jamison Crowder on most of my teams. He was a disappointment last week, in a very good matchup but only getting 4 targets. He managed only 32 yards and didn’t score, but I think things are better this week. The Colts secondary is just horrible, and Smith is one of my favorite Quarterbacks this week because of his combination of matchup and price.
- Jimmy Garoppolo + George Kittles or Pierre Garcon – I think a lot of people will be off of Jimmy G because of his pedestrian game last week, but his box score would have looked a lot better without a couple of dropped touchdown passes. The two guys that dropped those passes were Kittles and Garcon, who were #1 and 2 in targets for the team last week. Garcon drew Xavier Rhodes‘s elite coverage last week. There is a chance that Marquise Goodwin sits this week with a thigh bruise, but I think he plays. If he does, he’ll likely be covered by Darius Slay. This would be a good thing for Garcon.
- Case Keenum + Emmanuel Sanders (FD) or Demaryius Thomas (DK) – Last week Sanders saw 11 targets to Thomas’s 10, and Sanders blew up. He caught 10 of his 11 targets for 135 yards and a touchdown. Thomas only caught 6 of his 10 targets and had 2 pretty bad drops, but he also scored to have a pretty good fantasy week. Sanders is $200 cheaper on Fanduel and has the better matchup, so he’s a no-brainer there. On Draftkings, though, you save $600 in salary by dropping to Thomas and I do believe he has just as much upside.
Other quarterbacks that I have interest in include:
- Drew Brees (my favorite QB of the week from a raw points perspective, I just think others will be close enough in their production that I likely will not have the available salary for Brees)
- Ben Roethlisberger (I think him being on the injury report will lower his ownership a bit, but he’s in an A+ matchup at home where he plays much better than on the road with tons of weapons)
- Deshaun Watson (I think Deshaun Watson and Jimmy Garoppolo will benefit from recency bias… Both performed poorly in week 1, and both are in great matchups in week 2, so I like taking advantage of the ownership opportunity here. If possible, I’ll try to pair Watson with DeAndre Hopkins, but I feel really strongly about my RB picks. Last week, with Will Fuller out, Bruce Ellington saw 8 targets… If Fuller misses again, I like Ellington as a great value to pair with Watson)
Other wide receivers that I really like are:
- Antonio Brown (this kind of goes without saying – he’s the best WR in the league in a great matchup on the highest-scoring team in the highest-scoring game of the day… I love everything about this matchup, but I will likely be light in my ownership of Brown because I just don’t think I’ll be able to squeeze him into my lineups)
- Adam Thielen
- DeVante Parker
- Quincy Enunwa
- Devin Funchess
At Tight End, I don’t think this is the week to really spend up. Of course, Rob Gronkowski is likely to have the best score at his position this weekend, but he’s facing the stout Jacksonville Jaguars defense, and I don’t think he’ll return the type of value that will justify his salary, and I don’t expect to be able to fit him into my lineups. Zach Ertz will be in a good matchup, but once again, I just don’t want to pay that for the position. I really like George Kittle as mentioned above, but will only play him as part of a stack with Jimmy G. I think my favorite tight end of the weekend might be Ricky Seals-Jones, believe it or not. He will carry zero ownership because of the lack of name recognition and the tough perceived matchup against the Rams. The Rams funnel everything to the middle, though, and get good pressure on the QB, which will cause him to need to make short dump-off passes. Seals-Jones was on the field for over 90% of the offensive snaps last week and ran routes on most of his plays. He only managed 6 targets, but I think the Rams defense will force that number up. I like this as a sneaky and cheap TE play this weekend.
Check out my week 2 Fanduel projections!
Click here to see point projections that were created using my NFL DFS model for each position on Fanduel for week 2!
On both sites, I see the Washington Redskins as the top defensive play of the weekend. They dominated the Cardinals last week, and I think they are going to be one of the surprise defenses of the year. I don’t believe Andrew Luck is back up to 100% yet, and the team is still settling into their new offense. Low salary, low ownership, and a good matchup make this a great play this weekend. I also like the Los Angeles Chargers against the horrendous Bills. The Los Angeles Rams are a great play, but too expensive, and the other value play that I like is the Atlanta Falcons against the Panthers.
That’s the information I’m using to put together my week 2 lineups. I hope it helps you. Good luck this week, see you at the top of the leaderboards!!