Welcome in to a new year of Ben’s NFL DFS Building Blocks for DraftKings and FanDuel! In this article, I will highlight my favorite NFL DFS plays at each position for small-field tournament formats. If you’re interested in signing up for premium access, which grants you Core Plays for every slate, projections, Final Thoughts player pool + expert picks and our premium Discord click HERE. You can also sign up for our plethora of AI-driven sports betting tools and access to my weekly betting card by clicking HERE. Let’s get into the plays…
It was an amazing start to the NFL season with my premium Core Plays taking down tournaments on the first slate of the season!
Week 1 is in the books and it was personally my worst performance DFS-wise on a Week 1 slate that I can ever remember. I made the wrong choice on a difficult main lineup 2v2 and then Seattle came out of the gate on fire at the start of the game – and then completely fizzled out after Tyler Lockett dropped a touchdown catch. That being said, that’s how things go sometimes and we are looking to get back on track here in Week 2!
As I noted last week, this article is going to highlight some of the spots I plan on attacking in my small-field and three-max entry lineups for the main slate. Initially upon looking at the slate, I thought that Anthony Richardson would be the highest-owned QB this weekend. It actually appears it will be Josh Allen. QB ownership never matters much because it spreads out, but I was hoping that Josh Allen would come in only moderately owned due to his poor performance in Week 1. It’s an obvious bounce-back spot for Buffalo. They’re at home, coming off an embarrassing loss that we know they want to justify in front of their home crowd — while they face off with the Raiders who are traveling cross-country after winning a close game in mile high last week. I don’t love that it appears as the chalk stack as of Friday – but I will likely have a Josh Allen team in my three-max builds for Week 2.
We also have one game sticking out above the field in terms of total — the Chiefs/Jaguars set at 51 points. This game produced 47 points in the playoffs last year – and it was also the game that Mahomes was injured in and he missed a few series before half-time. I’ll likely have a stack of this game alongside my Bills stack in three-max, but I’m not sure if I want to stack the game or focus on mini-stacks. I love a lot of pieces in this game, but if it gets chalky I think you could focus on two players while stacking another game. Patrick Mahomes is Patrick Mahomes and he should be much better than in Week 1 with Travis Kelce back + we can’t expect that many drops from his WR’s again. Trevor Lawrence looked the part in Week 1 as well, but I still have some concerns about their offensive line which could rear its head on Sunday with Chris Jones expected back for KC.
We also have Seattle/Detroit with a relatively high total – and we can attack this game from several angles. Jared Goff has been a fantasy PPG beast inside Ford Field since the start of last season — and Seattle’s secondary looked easily gettable against the Rams. Geno Smith burned me and everyone who played him in Week 1, but in an expected shootout you can certainly go back to him at what will be minute ownership. Overall, I think I would rather mini-stack than full-stack here but you’re going to want some exposure to this game on one of your main teams.
There are a few options projecting for low-ownership that I have a ton of interest in this week: Anthony Richardson, Joe Burrow and Brock Purdy.
As I noted above, upon first-look at this slate I thought Richardson would be fairly chalky but based off early OWN% projections that doesn’t appear to be the case. This has me excited, especially given that you can play Richardson naked or with one Texans WR on the opposite side and save multiple roster positions for mini-stacks of other high total games. You simply can’t ignore what Richardson did from a fantasy perspective in Week 1. Indianapolis played at basically the fastest pace in the league — while their opponents, the Houston Texans, played the second-fastest. Both these teams threw the ball more than I expected in neutral pass situations while Richardson logged the second-most designed run calls for a QB. He also was downed at the one at the end of the game, and exited the game missing an easy opportunity for what would have been his second rushing TD. Richardson with a Nico Collins run-back is firmly in play for me this weekend – and one of my favorite builds overall.
Joe Burrow needs no introduction. What I thought could happen to Josh Allen appears ready to happen to Burrow – most will be avoiding him after a career-worst performance in Week 1. This only makes me more interested in him, in a prime bounce-back spot at home. It’s not shock that he struggled against a fierce pass-rush after missing nearly all of training camp. Now he comes home, against an already banged up secondary that he has historically had some big games against. I’m not sure where I will end up on him, but he has to be in consideration for me in Week 2 f he flies under the radar.
And finally, Mr. Brock Purdy. Purdy posted 17.8 DK points in Week 1, a game in which the 49ers were not pushed at all by the Pittsburgh Steelers. SF/LAR has featured some big-time shootouts in recent years, and I’ve already taken a bet on the over 44 in this contest. The Rams defense outperformed my expectations in Week 1, but I think that was more about the poor Seattle offensive game than their defense. SF is going to have no trouble scoring in this game and pairing Purdy with Deebo Samuel is an option for me as well.
RB could change a lot by the time Sunday comes, with some big names such as Austin Ekeler and Aaron Jones both missing practice on Friday. As of now, here are the highest pOWN% RB’s for Week 2: Christian McCaffrey, Tony Pollard, Joe Mixon, David Montgomery and Rachaad White. I think Aaron Jones is legitimately questionable, but AJ Dillon would be an elite play should be miss. I don’t think there’s anyway that Austin Ekeler plays – which means Joshua Kelley will be very chalky come Sunday. I also want to note that James Cook and Kenneth Walker fit into my viable in all formats tier as well. They can be used in both cash games and small-field GPPs.
Some guys I like in the mid-tier that are going to be under-owned this week are Isaiah Pacheco and Jahmyr Gibbs. People don’t want to buy into the risk of a KC back, but Pacheco is going to have the best role here throughout the season in my opinion. He will lose some third-down work to Jerick McKinnon – but he has shown to be a capable pass catcher and it allows you to get a piece of KC in your non KC/JAX stacked lineups.
As for Gibbs, he very well may be one of my conviction plays in Week 2. People were not pleased with his workload in Week 1, but Dan Campbell has said repeatedly that they didn’t want to just throw him into the fire in his first NFL game. He also said this week that Gibbs was in line for a bigger workload moving forward. It would make sense for them to semi-unleash their new first round pick in Detroit in front of the home crowd – and the match-up is great in one of the highest totals of the week. He looked absolutely electric with the ball in his hands when he was on the field against KC – and I want to be out ahead of the inevitable Gibbs eruption game.
I’m also very interested in a spend-up running back this week. While I think Saquon Barkley has a great match-up — I want to buy into Derrick Henry against the Chargers. Everyone in the fantasy community freaked out about Henry’s snap-count in Week 1, but he clearly still led the backfield in touches. I believe they’re going to get him going at home in Week 2, in a match-up against a team you can certainly run on. Given that Tennessee is a pass-funnel D — pairing Henry with a Chargers pass catcher is one of my favorite correlation plays in my GPP builds. This also provides a natural hedge if the masses end up on Josh Kelley.
Per usual, I like to focus on stacking or mini-stacking at the WR position. As of now, however, here are the leaders in pOWN% for the Week 2 slate: Stefon Diggs, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Ja’Marr Chase, Deebo Samuel, Davante Adams, Puka Nacua and Calvin Ridley.
Overall, I think it’s really tough to ignore Calvin Ridley and Amon-Ra St. Brown here. Ridley looked like a top-five WR in football last Sunday and should feast in his home debut in an expected shootout against the defending champs.
I plan to have one of Gibbs or Amon-Ra on all of my three-max builds this weekend. St. Brown is going to continue to smash in this offense and the Seahawks secondary was getting cooked in Week 1 repeatedly over the middle of the field. Josh Reynolds is in play for GPPs as well, given that he logged a heavy amount of slot snaps — but ARSB is one of my favorite plays on the main slate. You can pair him up with any of the Seahawks WRs, or Kenneth Walker on the opposite side.
Historically, Deebo Samuel crushes against zone-coverage while Brandon Aiyuk eats man-coverage. Pittsburgh plays one of the heaviest man-defenses in football…while Los Angeles is one of the heaviest zone teams…
Even with Mark Andrews expected to play, I’m not sure how you fade Zay Flowers this week. He commanded over 40% of Lamar Jackson’s targets in his first NFL start and looked absolutely lethal with the ball in his hands. He can be played in any lineup, and is my preferred run-back in a Bengals stack. We could also see him pick up 2-4 carries with JK Dobbins out.
I love Nico Collins this week, and noted above I will be using him in my Anthony Richardson build. Collins leads the NFL in Air Yards% after Week 1 – and Indy was just split open by the Jags outside WR’s in Calvin Ridley and Zay Jones. With how fast this game could end-up, Collins is viable in all formats for me. I do want to note, however, that Tank Dell should see more snaps this week with Noah Brown out. I’m a big Dell fan and he showed a connection with Stroud in the pre-season — he could be considered in a milly maker type contest.
I haven’t finalized my player pool at WR yet, but I think using Gabe Davis over Stefon Diggs in a Josh Allen stack has some merit this week. Davis is boom or bust, but the exact type of player I’m willing to bet on in GPP formats and he only needs one or two plays to work out. If the majority of the field is going Allen/Diggs/Davante – Davis over Diggs becomes a strong move in tournaments.
Similar things can be said about Tee Higgins over Ja’Marr Chase, but I think both Burrow and Allen doubles are in play as well.
When stacking with Derrick Henry, I prefer Mike Williams to Keenan Allen. I love picking on the Titans outside corners — similar to Olave/Shaheed last weekend.
Tight End will be much different to attack than in Week 1. Last week, we had only a few cheap options and no spend-ups — while this week we have Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews back along with a PLETHORA of cheap Tight End plays.
For cash games / expected ownership it looks like all of Dalton Kincaid, Chig Okonkwo, Adam Trautman and Luke Musgrave are catching over 10% pOWN%. These all make sense. Kincaid had a fantastic role in his debut, while most will be playing Josh Allen. Okonkwo also had a great role in Week 1, though he is receiving the worst QB play of the bunch. Trautman is Sean Payton’s boy, and benefits from Greg Dulcich being out as well. Finally, Musgrave looked the part in Week 1 as well, and we are still unsure of Christian Watson’s status. All four are in play for cash game / single entry formats.
Kelce has to be considered the top play here, and I think you can use him in a game-stack or a mini-stack. Obviously if you’re rolling a Lawrence or Mahomes stack he is pretty much a must-play, but you could mini him with Calvin Ridley, Travis Etienne or Zay Jones in a non game-stack lineup as well. Andrews would likely only be used in a Lamar stack for me.
For tournaments, I love Darren Waller as a low-owned pivot in the mid-tier — and Jake Ferguson as a pivot in the value-tier. Waller has a smash match-up and I still think he is going to be the leading pass catcher on this team while healthy — I’m expecting a big bounce-back from the Giants offense in Week 2.
Ferguson’s box score looks low from Week 1, but he actually saw FIVE red-zone targets against the Giants. He played over 70% of the team snaps – and could easily find the end-zone on Sunday with the strong outside corner play of the Jets leading Dak to look in the middle of the field more.
Written by Ben Hossler (Follow @BenHossler on Twitter)