Josh Allen- Allen has been a staple of my lineups dating back to late last season, and after playing him in cash games last week I’m considering going back to the well this week at home against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals have allowed five touchdowns through the air so far this season, and we know that Allen has Lamar Jackson-esque upside with his legs, for a much cheaper price tag. Allen probably has the highest raw upside on the slate outside of Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson each week, and it’s hard for me not to continually bet on that at his price.
Kyler Murray- Everyone that follows me, or knows me, knows that I was very high on Kyler Murray coming into the season, and I have been pleased to see him throw for over 300 yards in each of his first two NFL games, a pretty amazing feat. That being said, we haven’t seen anything near the best of K1 yet, and this matchup with the Panthers will be the best one of his young career. He’s done absolutely nothing with his legs so far, partly due to the matchups with two teams that are great at stopping running Quarterbacks in the Lions and Ravens. The rushing stats will come, and he also should get some added snaps with the Panthers being a much faster team than both of his previous opponents, who look to slow the clock down and run the football. It’s a really tough choice between Allen and Murray this week.
Kyle Allen (DK)- Allen has been forced into cash game consideration now that he is starting for the injured Cam Newton, especially on DraftKings where he is the stone minimum of $4,000. We got a glimpse of him in Week 17 last season where he threw for over 200 yards and two touchdowns through the air, while adding a score on the ground. Since we have seen so little of him, I really don’t know what to expect, but I do know that it will be hard for him to avoid paying off his cheap salary in a game between the two fastest-offenses in the NFL. The raw speed of this game, equaling extra opportunities, should make up for any inefficiency and he is surrounded by premier weapons in Christian McCaffrey, DJ Moore, Curtis Samuel and Greg Olsen. Pricing is historically looser on FanDuel, so I don’t think he’s an absolute must there, but as of now I have every intention of locking onto him on DK.
Ezekiel Elliott + Christian McCaffrey- These two need no introduction, and instead of typing some pointless stats to describe how elite two of the best Running Backs in the NFL are, I’m going to talk about roster construction this week. This is one of the the most interesting weeks I can remember because we have an extremely good value play at QB (Kyle Allen) and 3-4 equally good value plays at Wide Receiver. With that being said, I’m going to return to the once prominent strategy of “Jamming Them In” and spending up for BOTH Zeke and CMC this week. I think they both have strong floor/ceiling combinations, in different ways, and I’m going to start my cash game build with both of them for Week 3. Who’s with me?
Dalvin Cook vs Austin Ekeler- Now that you know I plan on spending up for two Running Backs this week, let’s make it a threesome shall we? Three is always better than two! Like I said, I can’t remember a week where we have had this much value that I actually feel good about, and that’s the only reason I’m planning on implementing this strategy. If you don’t agree with me, and you think it’s stupid, then I won’t call you wrong at all. I don’t think there is one dead-set way to build a main lineup in any sport, I simply try to do my best to portray to you what my thoughts are on each slate…trust me I’m wrong plenty.
Anyways, if I lose with three stud RB’s in my lineup + Keenan Allen, then I will admit defeat and not even be upset about it. The problem is, which of Dalvin Cook and Ekeler are we inviting in to join us? I think that simply stacking Ekeler with Allen and locking up 15+ targets and the goal-line work from a team implied for 25.5 points makes all the sense in the world, and I think Ekeler will be pretty highly-owned because of how tight the volume is on the Chargers.
Cook himself is in a great spot at home, against the Raiders who will have to travel cross-country for an early game after playing on the west coast in Weeks 1 and 2. There were reports all over that the Vikings were ready to “run the ball and play defense” with their new Gary Kubiak offense this season, and those reports have held true as Cook is at the top of the NFL’s rushing board already. Cousins threw just 10 times at home in their Week 1 blowout of the Falcons, and I think we could see a very similar game-plan implemented this week…especially if the Raiders go down early.
Tough, tough decisions to be made — if you’re reading this, hit me up on Twitter and let me know who you like between Ekeler and Cook this week (splitting hairs, I know).
Frank Gore- Full disclosure, with the wealth of WR value on this slate + the Kyle Allen situation on DraftKings, I don’t think I will be using Frank Gore in my personal cash game lineups, however he is in play, thus I will provide my analysis.
I can’t believe it’s 2019 and I’m writing up Frank Gore, but that’s unfortunately the case and it’s part of why this is my favorite slate of the year so far. Devin Singletary has looked great in limited action for the Bills this season, but he will miss this upcoming game due to injury. Gore reminded us that he’s still the top dog in this Bills backfield (for now) in Week 2 gathering over 20 touches and posting 16 DraftKings points. He should be in line for another boatload of touches installed as a heavy home favorite, against a team who have coughed up over 160 yards per game to opposing backs this season. I’m not in love with Gore, or his upside at this stage of his career, but it’s hard for me to see him not at least hitting value.
Keenan Allen- Allen is what is considered a “cash game lock” to me this weekend, in another great matchup with the Houston Texans. Allen has absolutely dominated looks from Phillip Rivers this season, seeing over 50% of the target-share, and he’s also been used differently than last season. In 2018, Allen finished outside the top-20 in the NFL in air yards at the wide receiver position, with an average depth of target of 8.6 yards. This season, through two weeks, he’s first overall in air yards with his aDOT climbing to 13.2. It’s really hard to avoid someone seeing the amount of targets as Allen, especially when he’s locked into a high-upside role alongside it.
Jumbled Mid-Tier- We have three mid-tier plays that I have graded extremely close this week in Marquise Brown, Christian Kirk and Larry Fitzgerald. Since I know I will be spending up for at least two Running Backs + Keenan Allen, I might have to completely skip this tier in my personal build, but I felt that covering them was necessary given that others may be looking at multiple guys from this section.
We’ll start with Brown, who has been no secret this season and saw a huge increase in snaps in Week 2 after being limited in Week 1 due to injury. He’s already flashed his upside multiple times this season, and if the Ravens expect to stay in this game, it will be on the back of him, Lamar Jackson and Mark Andrews. This is pretty much the best game on the main slate for fantasy purposes (along with CAR/ARZ) so prioritizing some cash game exposure there makes sense (see below).
Kirk/Fitzgerald are both stacking options if you choose to go with Kyler Murray, but they also make sense as part of a mini-game stack in a Kyle Allen/CMC cash game build. Both have been extremely productive in Kliff Kingsbury’s up-tempo offense this season, and I expect Fitzgerald to garner more attention of the two with him reaching the century mark in each of his first two games, while ranking top-five in the entire league in targets. They both will see time in the slot, so I’m not exactly worried about either’s individual matchup, I just have them graded out almost equally and would be looking to take the lower-ownership with Kirk if picking one.
Nelson Agholor- Agholor exploded on Sunday Night Football, posting an 8-107-1 line amidst a slew of Eagles injuries. Those injuries look to be creeping into this week as well, with DeSean Jackson already ruled out and Alshon Jeffery looking unlikely to play. Agholor will definitely see an uptick in volume, and he has the best matchup on the Eagles in the slot, where the Lions have been torched so far this season. He will be extremely high-owned this week, and I can see looking to pivot off of him in tournaments, but not cash games.
Devin Smith- Smith is one of my favorite Week 3 plays, and I actually don’t expect him to get *a ton* of attention this week with the plethora of Eagles value, and people looking to play James Washington. Smith was once a highly-touted WR prospect out of Ohio State, who flamed out due to injury after being selected in the second round of the draft by the New York Jets. After rehabbing and finally getting healthy, he found his way to Dallas where he dominated the preseason, earning himself a spot on the roster. He got loose for a 50 yard touchdown in Week 2, and we could see more of the same this week with Xavien Howard locked onto Amari Cooper, while human toaster Eric Rowe will get the pleasure of defending Smith’s 4.42 speed. Game-script is a definite concern, but at his price, he needs just one play to pay off.
Zach Ertz- As you all know, I pretty much never prioritize spending up at Tight End in cash games, but I do think people will make an exception for Ertz this week. Like Agholor, Ertz will benefit from a shrunken target tree in Philadelphia, and is coming off a game against the Falcons where he saw 16 targets.
Mark Andrews- Much will be made of Andrew’s snap-count as a reason to not trust him in cash games, but the amount of snaps he’s playing doesn’t matter when he’s logging 16 targets while on the field, when the next highest total on the Ravens in 4. It’s clear that both Andrews and Hollywood Brown are Lamar Jackson’s most trusted options, and in a game where they will need to keep their foot on the gas on offense, I would love to get some exposure to them in cash games.
Greg Olsen- If I can’t get to Andrews in cash games, Greg Olsen sticks out as the next best option, especially if we are already rostering his Quarterback, Kyle Allen. If you read my game-by-game article you’ll know that this is arguably my favorite game of the week, and the Cardinals have allowed over 100 yards and a touchdown to each starting Tight End they’ve faced this season.
Written by Ben Hossler (Follow @BenHossler on Twitter)