Welcome everyone to my second game-by-game breakdown of the 2018 NFL season! If you read this article last season, welcome back! And if you’re new here, grab a seat! My goal here is to give you my overall thoughts on each game and narrow down my overall player pool for you. I’m predominately a cash game player, but I do play in more tournaments for football than I do baseball and basketball. My cash game pool will be narrowed down even further in my Building Blocks article that will also be available here via DFS Karma on Friday’s. Let’s get it!
Baltimore Ravens @ Cincinnati Bengals
Vegas Insight: Ravens 22.5, Bengals 21.5
Quarterbacks- We have a tough divisional game on Thursday night football this week and I definitely could see it fitting into the typical lower scoring mold. Joe Flacco built on a promising preseason and completed 25/34 passes for 236 yards and three touchdowns against the Bills in week one. I definitely would want him on the showdown slate, but I don’t really see him as an option on Thursday-Monday slates with all of the fantastic offensive spots on Monday.
On the Bengals side, their offensive line looked way better than it did last season, allowing Andy Dalton time in the pocket and is a big part in why they eventually won the game. That being said, the Ravens pass rush is going to be a different beast than that of the Colts, so the offensive line play is something I want to monitor tonight during the game. Regardless, I’m not interested in either of these options outside of Thursday only.
Running Backs- I’ve been getting a lot of questions about Alex Collins throughout the week, and I think he pretty much saw the worst possible game scenario unfold. He scored early on in the game, but he ended up only carrying the ball seven times in part to the Ravens being up so big, and as punishment for fumbling in the first half. Fumbles are something that plagued him last season, but he’s still clearly the Ravens number one especially now that Kenneth Dixon has been placed on IR. Buck Allen hauled in five catches against the Bills, and looks like a legitimate part of this Ravens offense. The Bengals defense does funnel to the middle of the field, so I think he is in line for another 5-6 catches in this game. I like them both for Thursday only, but that’s it.
As someone that is a documented Joe Mixon fan, things could not have went better for me last Sunday. Mixon was treated like a true workhorse back for the Bengals, he played over 75% of the snaps, ran 17 times, caught five balls and Gio Bernard touched the ball just two times. You could tell he shed weight in the offseason, he looks quicker, smoother and appears primed for a monster season. This matchup is quite different than the one against the Colts as the Ravens were top-ten in run defense DVOA a season ago. The number one rule of fantasy football is volume is king, and Mixon is going to get the volume for the Bengals. He projects as arguably the top overall play on the Thursday only slate despite the tough matchup.
Pass Catchers- Yes, Joe Flacco looked really good, but he also did his best Tom Brady impression spreading the ball out to seemingly everyone that can catch passes. No player on the Ravens saw more than 6-7 targets, and targeting the Bengals on the outside is not always a winning proposition. I think both Michael Crabtree and John Brown are fine Thursday only plays, but given the split in targets you’re going to have to guess which one scores a touchdown. I think I prefer Buck Allen for cheaper. The one sneaky play for showdown I will point out is Nick Boyle. Boyle ran more pass routes than both Mark Andrews and Maxx Williams, and I don’t see that changing with Hayden Hurst still out. We used Jack Doyle agains this Bengals defense last week, and while he had a solid game they also surrendered a touchdown to Eric Ebron.
AJ Green was the guy for the Bengals in week one, he posted a 6-92-1 line against the Colts and also dropped another touchdown pass. He has perennially struggled with the Ravens defense, even last season when Jimmy Smith missed time as well. I think it’s pretty tough to fade him on the one game slate, but I don’t like the matchup and wouldn’t have any of him outside of that. John Ross scored a short touchdown, but did pretty much nothing else and was out-snapped by Tyler Boyd. Tyler Eifert was severely limited in week one running just 18 pass routes, but he has the best overall matchup against this Ravens defense among the Bengals receiving corps. People will be scared to play him given his low usage in week one, and you’re probably counting on a touchdown, but I think that is a completely viable showdown play especially if Dalton has less time to throw.
Overall Outlook- I’m completely fading this game if I was playing the Monday-Thursday slates. As for the showdown and one game slate, I would prioritize Joe Mixon and Joe Flacco while AJ Green is just behind them. If you want to get weird, I don’t hate using someone like Justin Tucker and I mentioned above that I like the Tight Ends on both sides as lower owned plays.
Indianapolis Colts @ Washington Redskins
Vegas Insight: Redskins 25.5, Colts 20
Quarterbacks- This game features a surprising 47 point O/U which is going to have to put it on our radars for daily fantasy. It appears that what Andrew Luck showed us in the preseason is legitimate, whether it’s the new offense or the fact that he is still worried about his shoulder, he simply won’t let it rip down field yet. He averaged under 6 yards per pass attempt, and reached 319 passing yards…on the back of over 50 passing attempts. I do think he will remain a tournament option for the time being, but it’s tough to really trust him more than that until he proves he can be what he was pre-injury.
Alex Smith is right in the sweet spot for cash games at $6,000 on DraftKings, and is part of a large group around that price point that’s in consideration. He actually averaged even less yards per attempt last week than Luck, but it’s still a one game sample size and they were winning early in the game last week. If people played Andy Dalton on the road in cash games against this horrid Colts defense, why would Alex Smith as a big home favorite not be an option? This defense is willing to give up completions, and that profiles right into Smith’s overall strength.
Running Backs- As of now, it looks like Marlon Mack will be able to return for the Colts and that further complicates the backfield for fantasy. It’s noteworthy that Nyheim Hines caught seven passes, but I am fading this backfield altogether especially if Mack plays.
Speaking to Smith’s low yards per attempt average, he and Chris Thompson are a match made in heaven. The issue is, he still only saw 11 touches and with still some lingering injury concerns I can’t recommend him in anything other than GPPs. The other back in Washington, our old friend Adrian Peterson, as risen from the dead looks to be playable in all formats this week. He rushed for just 3.6 YPC, but he 26 carries is promising and he was able to find the end zone. I don’t want to play AP, but as a huge home favorite against a bad defense it looks like volume will be there once again. He probably won’t make my cash game team, but he is in play and I wouldn’t blame people for going there.
Pass Catchers- The one guy from the Colts I am very interested in is yet again, Jack Doyle. He didn’t score last week, but he saw double-digit targets and ran over 50 pass routes! That’s absolutely insane usage, and while Ebron scored Doyle is clearly the guy and he will continue to benefit from Luck not wanting to unleash his arm yet.
On the Washington side, I think there are a few GPP options namely Jordan Reed and Paul Richardson. Reed has managed to stay healthy for two weeks in a row, his price did rise across the industry but that was warranted because it was just too low last week. Richardson profiles like John Ross last week, he’s a speedster that could pop for a big playa against this slow Colts secondary. It is noteworthy that Richardson, not Jamison Crowder, led the Redskins in targets at wideout last week while Chris Thompson saw more than both of them.
Cash Game Outlook- Alex Smith, Adrian Peterson, Jack Doyle
GPP Outlook- Paul Richardson, Chris Thompson, Jordan Reed, Andrew Luck
Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers
Vegas Insight: Packers 24, Vikings 22
Quarterbacks- This is a game I am intrigued by for tournaments, and I think it could end up being a bit higher-scoring than the O/U predicts. That being said, I don’t think the Quarterbacks will be where I’m looking. Green Bay Packers new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine’s main goal is shutting down the pass. As we saw last week in prime time, they will allow you to run on them while attempting to shut down the passing game and this is similar to what other good defenses do and it’s why they drafted two of the bets corners in this past draft.
I fully expect Aaron Rodgers to play, and if he somehow doesn’t that would drastically change the landscape of this game. Rodgers is one of the bets Quarterbacks in the league, but I’m not paying up for him in DFS with an injured knee against the defense that allowed the least amount of passing touchdowns a year ago.
Running Backs- Dalvin Cook is the big play in this game for me, and I think he is useable in all formats on the main slate. Once again there were concerns about them “easing him back in” yet he played over 80% of the snaps…more than he did at any point last season. He hauled in six passes as well, and is primed for a 20+ touch outing against a defense that I just pointed out will give up work to running backs. See– Jordan Howard last week.
I expect Jamaal Williams to be more involved this week as game script benefited Ty Montgomery last week, but I don’t mess with running backs against this Viking defense, especially when there’s not a true workhorse.
Pass Catchers- Both Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen make for great tournament plays. Thielen saw the most targets on the team at 12, and will continue to provide an amazing floor in the slot role for the Vikings. Diggs scored a touchdown despite just six targets, but has an overall fantastic matchup with the Kevin King/Tramon Williams combo. Neither of them will be able to keep up with Diggs, who has perennially beat the Packers secondary.
I expect Davante Adams to draw the bulk of Xavier Rhodes defense, so that pretty much crosses him off my list despite the touchdown equity he provides. My clear play in the Packers passing game is Randall Cobb, who got a bit lucky last week with that long touchdown, but has the best overall matchup in the slot where Jordy Nelson was able to punish the Vikings in years past.
Cash Game Outlook- Dalvin Cook
GPP Outlook- Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Randall Cobb
Houston Texans @ Tennessee Titans
Vegas Insight: Texans 23.5, Titans 21.5
Quarterbacks- This is one of the more un-exciting games for me with only a few plays worth noting. Deshaun Watson had an absolutely terrible game against the Patriots, and while we did know that regression was coming his way that was a bit of a stretch. He is in a difficult position given his egregious offensive line, but he is still firmly in play for tournaments in a much better matchup than last week.
Marcus Mariota was cleared to play Sunday, but I think I will definitely be avoiding him since he is banged up. There’s too many good mid-priced Quarterback plays this week to reach for Mariota.
Running Backs- Lamar Miller is an un-sexy but high-floor play given that he is going to get pretty much all of the work for Texans. He’s a solid bet for 20+ rushing attempts again but he will have almost no involvement in the passing game which zaps his value on a site like DraftKings.
Dion Lewis is pretty clearly the better play given his passing game usage this week, but they showed that it’s going to be a pretty solid split in usage which takes both him and Derrick Henry out of play for me most weeks or until one of them misses time.
Pass Catchers- DeAndre Hopkins abused this Titans secondary last season, and he makes for a very strong tournament play after a “down” game in week one. It kind of sucks that all of Thomas/AB/Julio are in better spots, because I don’t think anyone will look at Hopkins this week and it’s hard to blame him for struggling in a matchup where the Patriots played to take him out of the game.
Corey Davis is one of the guys that stick out as too cheap for the Titans, he did miss some practice time this week so monitor his status up until lock on Sunday, but he saw 13 targets and that’s way too good of usage for someone in his price range on DraftKings. The other guy being Jonnu Smith who will step in for the injured Delanie Walker. The Titans use their tight ends in the passing game a ton, and Smith is an athletic freak who will have no issues stepping into that role. At $3,100 on DraftKings, he is among the top point-per-dollar plays on this slate.
Cash Game Outlook- Jonnu Smith
GPP Outlook- Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins, Corey Davis
Cleveland Browns @ New Orleans Saints
Vegas Insight: Saints 30, Browns 20
Quarterbacks- These next two games are pretty much two of the top overall games on the slate in terms of expected DFS output. They both own huge O/U’s in Vegas and there should be plenty of touchdowns to go around. The Browns are coming off their best start since 2004…with a tie! They did not use Tyrod Taylor correctly at all, having him throw almost 50 times in the pouring rain, but he still hit DFS value given his 70 yards and a score on the ground. Heading into New Orleans, in the dome, in a game where points will be put up, Tyrod lines up as a viable play in all formats this week at his price.
We expected Drew Brees to throw more to start the season, and that was exactly right and it also helped that the game script ended up working in his favor as well. Gregg Williams is going to have no answer for him, or this offense as a whole, and while I I don’t think I’ll be able to get up to him in cash games this week Brees is one of the top overall QB plays on the slate.
Running Backs- Carlos Hyde handed 71% of the touches for Cleveland running backs in week one despite trailing most of the game. He appears to be the guy regardless of game script, and that’s going to make him a strong GPP option most weeks.
We are not worthy of Alvin Kamara. In week one, he played 81% of the snaps for Saints, and scored three touchdowns while racking up 141 all-purpose yards…on just 17 touches! He’s going to get tons of work + goal line carries against this Browns defense that willingly allows plays over the middle of the field, it’s another elite spot.
Pass Catchers- Jarvis Landry is one of my favorite overall wide receiver plays this weekend. He saw 15 targets and the second-most air yards –per airyards.com– in week one and gets the treat of avoiding Marshon Lattimore in this matchup. He’s been the guy that has connected with Tyrod Taylor and at his price he is a lock and load for me.
Thomas is coming off a monster 17 target game and is in equally as good of a spot against the Cleveland Browns. They’re expensive, but I’m 100% going to have the Saints trio stacked on one of my main GPP teams…it could be week one all over again.
Cash Game Outlook- Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, Tyrod Taylor, Jarvis Landry
GPP Outlook- David Njoku, Ben Watson, Carlos Hyde
UPDATE: Josh Gordon is out, and going to be traded/released by the Browns.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Vegas Insight: Steelers 28, Chiefs 23
Quarterbacks- Saints/Browns and Chiefs/Steelers stick out as the most game-stackable in DFS right now. This game features a huge 53 O/U and I’m going to want as much exposure as possible to it in my lineups. Typically, we would be worried about a young Quarterback like Mahomes in this matchup against the Steelers secondary, but he absolutely crushed the Chargers last week and is one of the most dynamic passers in the NFL. Both the Steelers and Chargers play a predominately zone defense, and the only concern I have is that the Steelers will be able to get more pressure on him than the Chargers without Joey Bosa could. Regardless, Mahomes showed his upside in week one and is one of the top Quarterback plays in his price range.
We know that Ben Roethlisberger struggles in road games, specifically 1PM EST start times. That won’t be the case this week as he’s at home with one of the top overall matchups on the board against this joke of a Chiefs defense. This game has shootout written all over it, and I want exposure to both sides in all formats.
Running Backs- I know some people are freaking out about Kareem hunt, but he still handled over 75% of the running back touches and Mahome’s threw TWO one yard touchdown passes. Easily one (or both) of those passes could be Hunt punch ins and I’m not even typing this right now. Take advantage of his price decrease while you can.
James Conner is going to be pretty much the all-in lock again with Le’Veon Bell still not reporting to the Steelers. Conner got a whopping 36 touches in week one and is still too cheap for that usage. I don’t know how else to say it, it’s like getting Bell for $6,700 on DraftKings.
Pass Catchers- Tyreek Hill did Tyreek Hill things by scoring a pair of long touchdowns, one on a punt return, but he remains a tournament only option for me. Game script hurt Travis Kelce, but I’m not worried and I still want exposure to both of these guys in GPPs this week.
I think you’re probably going to need exposure to the Steelers passing game in cash games this week, and it all comes down to Antonio Brown and Juju Smith-Schuster, both of who are in smash spots overall. I don’t need to sell you on Brown, especially given his splits when Bell is out of the lineup. Juju destroyed the Browns in the pouring rain this past Sunday, and in total he and AB combined for almost 60% of the Steelers targets. If you can’t get up to AB in cash, Juju is right there alongside Jarvis Landry in the low $6,000 range. All in all, stack this game up.
Cash Game Outlook- James Conner, Antonio Brown, Juju Smith-Schuster, Patrick Mahomes
GPP Outlook- Tyreek Hill, Kareem Hunt, Travis Kelce
Miami Dolphins @ New York Jets
Vegas Insight: Jets 23.5, Dolphins 20.5
Quarterbacks- This is another game that fits into the “unexciting” category with the Texans/Titans, but I do think there are some viable DFS plays. Ryan Tannehill, however, is simply a game-manager and not someone I’m looking to play against a Jets defense that just made a mockery of Matt Stafford.
Sam Darnold looked very good for it being his first ever NFL start, he rebounded from a pick-six on the first play of the game but still managed under 15 fantasy points and has a much tougher matchup this week with the Dolphins. The Dolphins get a lot of hate, deservedly so, but their secondary is their strength and I won’t be looking at Darnold this weekend despite his cheap price.
Running Backs- I’m going to group these backfields together, because there is clearly no workhorse among them, meaning none are in play for me in daily fantasy. Kenyan Drake is the best overall back here, but the presence of Frank Gore and the matchup with an above-average Jets run defense is enough to cross him off my list. Bilal Powell and Isaiah Crowell both played 24 snaps this past Monday, and that immediately takes them off my radar.
Pass Catchers- This is where we will find our targets in this game with both Kenny Stills and Quincy Enunwa jumping out at their prices. Stills drew just five targets in week one, but was moved all over the field and has averaged over 15 fantasy points per game in career games without DeVante Parker. Enunwa was a usage-monster, drawing 10 targets from Sam Darnold and getting looked at on seemingly every third down. Jermaine Kearse may end up playing, so we need to monitor how he will affect the Jets passing game but for now these are the two clear options in this game.
Cash Game Outlook- Quincy Enunwa, Kenny Stills
GPP Outlook- none
UPDATE: Jermaine Kearse is playing, so I’m knocking my Enunwa projection down a bit. GPP only for me.
Carolina Panthers @ Atlanta Falcons
Vegas Insight: Falcons 25, Panthers 19.5
Quarterbacks- I like a few plays in this game a ton, but none of them are Quarterbacks. I don’t typically like rostering QB’s in divisional games, but if I had to pick one it would be Cam Newton. He still has rushing ability, and that gives him the ability to break a slate every time he steps on the field.
Matt Ryan looked pretty bad in their first game, his arm looked dead. I’m not going to by into a one game sample size when it’s Matt Ryan, and I’m sure he will have a solid game this weekend…but it is worth monitoring.
Running Backs- So it became quite apparent at the start of the Falcons/Eagles game that the Eagles game plan was to attack the Falcons with a pass catcher out of the backfield, Darren Sproles. This is obviously a great game plan, as the Falcons have struggled with pass catchers out of the backfield for multiple seasons now, and the matchup just got even better with Deion Jones and Keanu Neal going down with injuries. They allowed the most catches to running backs last season, and these key injuries happened just in time for them to face Christian McCaffrey. CMC played more than he ever has before in their week one game, and looks to be the every down player we thought he was going to be coming into the season. He’s a core play in all formats in this matchup.
I don’t particularly have a lot of interest in the Falcons backfield in this tough matchup with the Panthers. The Panthers are right there with the Vikings as a team I want no business of picking on in the run game, but it would become an interesting situation if Devonta Freeman (knee) misses this game. They brought up Brian Hill from the practice squad, so they are obviously concerned and that would make Tevin Coleman a smash play at his price despite the difficult matchup.
Pass Catchers- McCaffrey is clearly the play I want on the Panthers, but you can definitely dabble with Devin Funchess and Ian Thomas in GPPs without Greg Olsen. Funchess targets rose to over 8 per game without Olsen last season, and while Thomas is a rookie tight end he is so athletic I could see them allowing him to step right in for Olsen especially after a solid preseason output.
There are a few alarms that go off in my head instantly upon seeing certain matchups in DFS, and Julio Jones against the Panthers is one of them. He matches up perfectly for the defensive scheme the Panthers run, and he saw an insane 23 targets against this team in two games last season. Antonio Brown/Michael Thomas are elite plays this week, but Julio is right there with him and we are going to have to make some very difficult decisions this weekend.
Cash Game Outlook- Christian McCaffrey, Julio Jones, Tevin Coleman (If Freeman out)
GPP Outlook- Devin Funchess, Ian Thomas, Cam Newton
UPDATE: Freeman is officially out, confirming Coleman as fantastic cash game play. I will most likely be fading him in GPPs though, and focusing on the Falcons passing game. After doing hours more research, and analyzing Ryan’s past games against this team, I am moving Matt Ryan up my board as a fantastic sub-5% owned GPP play. Recency bias will be huge here after he sucked on prime time TV last Thursday, and he has owned this team especially at home.
Los Angeles Chargers @ Buffalo Bills
Vegas Insight: Chargers 25, Bills 17.5
Quarterbacks- This is truly going to be one of the most interesting games of the weekend. On one hand, we have a west coast team traveling across the country in a scenario that teams generally struggle quite a bit with, and on the other hand we have the worst team in the NFL in the Buffalo Bills. I normally would be concerned about the traveling, but this Chargers offense exploded for over 50 points against the Bills at home last season and the Bills now are nowhere near the Bills of last year. I don’t want to play a Quarterback traveling that far in cash games, but pretty much any QB facing this Bills defense will be in play weekly.
Josh Allen is getting the start for the Bills in the worst scenario possible. He has no weapons, no offensive line, and most likely will have no confidence after this game is over.
Running Backs- Both Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler were great in week one, and Gordon is remaining an elite play this week against the defense that gave up three touchdowns on the ground to Alex Collins/Kenneth Dixon/Buck Allen. I love the usage that we saw out of Gordon last week, over 70% of the snaps with 24 touches and 13 targets! We did not see that type of passing game usage out of Gordon last year and if he stays healthy he’s going to be on his way to his most productive NFL season.
We normally would be interested in LeSean McCoy in this spot, but I think that ship may have finally sailed. McCoy got pretty much zero usage last week. He played on just over 50% of the snaps, and managed eight touches. EIGHT! This Chargers defense is banged up, but I’ll take a hard pass here.
Pass Catchers- This is a smash spot for Keenan Allen, as he falls right in line with Antonio Brown/Michael Thomas/Julio Jones/DeAndre Hopkins as great plays this weekend. The Bills have no pass rush so Rivers, like Flacco last week, will have all day to throw and I’m banking on Allen to take advantage of that. Flacco completed over 70% of his passes last week so I do think Rivers will have a nice day.
The only play for the Bills I can recommend is maybe Kelvin Benjamin in tournaments. He saw seven targets last week, and will have to get volume from Allen once they are losing in this game.
Cash Game Outlook- Melvin Gordon, Keenan Allen
GPP Outlook- Philip Rivers, Kelvin Benjamin
Philadelphia Eagles @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Vegas Insight: Eagles 23, Buccaneers 20
Quarterbacks- Given how the Bucs played on both offense and defense last week, I think this game could be a little bit higher scoring than Vegas anticipates it to be. Brent Grimes and Vernon Hargreaves are both out for this Buccaneers secondary, which was already terrible with them in the lineup. Nick Foles showed in their first game that he is a streaky Quarterback, truly boom or bust. Regardless, I just don’t see how this Eagles team is projected for only 23 points in this spot and I want exposure to them in tournaments.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, like Nick Foles, is a streaky boom or bust Quarterback who certainly provided a boom in their opening week win against the Saints. This Eagles defense is, or should be, better than the Saints but I much prefer Foles in this matchup.
Running Backs- Jay Ajayi looked good in the Eagles first game, but he saw just 15 touches and is being eased back in after injuries in the preseason. I think he will see more work this week, especially if Foles struggles again and I think he is playable in all formats on FanDuel where touchdowns are valued more heavily given the 0.5 PPR format.
Peyton Barber handled pretty much all of the work for the Buccaneers, but I won’t be playing him in this spot against the Eagles. I would much rather attack the Eagles through the air than on the ground.
Pass Catchers- Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz both saw 10 targets in week one making them strong tournament options, but of the two I prefer Agholor. Michael Thomas thrived in the slot against this Bucs defense last week and that could be the same case for Agholor on Sunday. Mike Wallace makes for an amazing GPP play and pivot off of Agholor. The Bucs secondary looked slow against the likes of Ted Ginn and Wallace still has enough in the tank to break off a long touchdown on Sunday.
Mike Evans was dominant this past Sunday, beating Marshon Lattimore more than a few times with ease and posting a monster line despite just 7 targets. As I said above, I want to attack Philly through the air and once again Evans will be low-owned in week two. Chris Godwin has produced whenever given the opportunity, and would line up in an extremely favorable spot at just $4,600 on DraftKings in Desean Jackson misses this game. That’s too cheap for someone of his ability that will have a more secure role without DJax on the field.
Cash Game Outlook- Jay Ajayi, Chris Godwin (maybe if DJax is out)
GPP Outlook- Mike Evans, Nelson Agholor, Mike Wallace, Zach Ertz, Chris Godwin, Nick Foles
UPDATE: Growing more enamored with Wallace as a pivot off of the chalky Dante Pettis
Detroit Lions @ San Francisco 49ers
Vegas Insight: 49ers 27, Lions 21
Quarterbacks- This is one of my favorite overall spots of the weeks (49ers) so I’m hoping that with all of the attention on the two “stackable” games above people gloss over the fact that the 49ers are implied for 27 points at home. Matt Stafford looked horrid on Monday night, but I don’t think he is really that bad. I don’t have much interest in him in DFS this week, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he has a better game in a much better matchup with this 49ers defense. I don’t see any way that the Lions only score 21 points here, and thus we have my sneaky shootout of the week call…looking to follow up the DEN/SEA prediction I made last week.
Jimmy G is in an incredible spot at home against a Lions defense that just allowed a hyper-efficient game (outside of the pick-six) to the youngest rookie in the NFL. Game-log watchers will be off Garoppolo here, but he did not play as bad against the super bow caliber Vikings defense on the road as it looks. There were three dropped touchdowns by 9ers pass catchers in that game, and I’m expecting a huge performance out of Jimmy GQ in a bounce back week. Let’s hope recency bias is our friend this weekend.
Running Backs- The RB situation is the same on both sides for me. There’s simply too many mouths to feed on the Lions right now for me to consider any of them anything more than a dart throw, though I am bullish on Kerryon Johnson for season long.
As for the 49ers, I really wish we had a clear workhorse here because I want to attack the Lions on the ground. They were terrible against the run last season and just allowed over 100 yards and two scores to Isaiah Crowell on Monday night. In tournaments, you can definitely take a shot on both Alfred Morris or Matt Breida, but they aren’t safe enough for cash games despite the strong matchup.
Pass Catchers- Golden Tate saw 15 targets while Kenny Golladay saw 12 on Monday night against the Jets. I think they are clearly the two you want here, especially Golladay who should have his way with this 49ers secondary, they have nobody who has a chance to match up with him.
What I’m most excited about, is the possibility of rostering Dante Pettis at $4,000 on DraftKings. I love Marquise Goodwin, but if he misses this game, that would move Darius Slay onto Pierre Garcon allowing Pettis to build off his promising week one in the better matchup. And that’s not even mentioning that we have another tight end that’s way too cheap in George Kittle. Kittle saw nine targets in week one and dropped easily what would have been a 75 yard touchdown. The Lions were bottom-five in DVOA against tight ends in 2017, making Kittle viable in all formats alongside guys like David Njoku, Jonnu Smith and Jack Doyle.
Cash Game Outlook- Jimmy Garoppolo, Dante Pettis (If Goodwin out), George Kittle, Golden Tate
GPP Outlook- Kenny Golladay, Alfred Morris, Matt Breida
UPDATE: Goodwin is officially out, confirming the Pettis play in all formats.
Arizona Cardinals @ Los Angeles Rams
Vegas Insight: Rams 29, Cardinals 16
Quarterbacks- The Cardinals opened at just under 19 points implied, and they have dropped all the way to under 16. Vegas is expecting the Rams to absolutely roll here at home, and I can’t say I disagree. This Cardinals team got man-handled by the Washington Redskins last week and I don’t see them surviving or putting many points up against this defense. I have Bradford completely crossed off my list.
I like Jared Goff, and I love this Rams offense and Sean McVay, but I won’t have any Goff exposure this weekend either. The Rams don’t throw as often as you would think (under 57% of the time last season), and I think that will be even more the case if the game script goes how Vegas predicts.
Running Backs- It’s pretty crazy that I don’t have David Johnson listed as cash game playable, and I’m not trying to over-react to week one, but after re-watching the Cardinals game I am completely un-inspired about DJ. We knew his offensive line was going to be bad coming into the season, but something that we didn’t factor in was the lack of creativity in Mike McCoy’s offense. Bruce Arians was a master at using DJ properly, but McCoy should no urgency to allow Johnson to run pass routes. He’s still in play for tournaments, especially at his price, but I am a bit worried about him moving forward in this offense.
It’s pretty much the exact opposite on the other side of this game, with McVay being one of the sharpest offensive minds in the game and Todd Gurley showed no rust on Monday night in Oakland. I don’t think I need to go into a ton of detail about why Gurley is an elite play, but let’s not forget what an aging Adrian Peterson did to this defense on the ground a week ago.
Pass Catchers- I could definitely see Larry Fitzgerald having a big week in this matchup catching a lot of short passes over the middle of the field while the Rams outside corners shut down whatever is thrown at them. I don’t think he’s cash game playable, but he is the Cardinals player I feel best about in this matchup and he provides a solid floor at his price. Ricky Seals-Jones gets the same matchup that Jared Cook thrived in last week, but with all of the TE value this week he is going to be tournament only for me.
Game script could definitely end up biting these Rams wideouts if they jump out to an early lead, but I still think Cooks lines up as a great GPP play given the ceiling he provides. He saw eight targets last week and should avoid the majority of Patrick Peterson’s lockdown coverage. McVay has shown he is enamored with Cooks ability and he was more involved in the offense week one than their field stretcher last season (Sammy Watkins) was for the entirety of the season.
Cash Game Outlook- Todd Gurley
GPP Outlook- David Johnson, Brandin Cooks, Larry Fitzgerald, Ricky Seals-Jones, Cooper Kupp
UPDATE: After doing more research and re-watching the Rams/Raiders game for the third time. I’m bumping up Cooper Kupp to cash playable but I am scared of the potential game script.
Oakland Raiders @ Denver Broncos
Vegas Insight: Broncos 26, Raiders 20
Quarterbacks- I expect the Broncos to win this game fairly easily, and this game does feature a solid 46 O/U in Vegas meaning there should be some points scored. I thought that the biggest overall problem with the Raiders offense was, as weird as this sounds, Derek Carr. He looked legitimately scared of the Rams pass rush, and things won’t get any better this week against Von Miller/Bradley Chubb and this Broncos defense.
Case Keenum did me well last week passing for 329 yards and three touchdowns at relatively low ownership. I don’t typically want QB’s in divisional games, but I do think Keenum can have a relatively similar game to last week. There’s enough solid options priced around him that I wouldn’t look to him in cash games, but for tournaments you can fire away again in week two.
Running Backs- Marshawn Lynch was hurt by negative game script in their Monday night loss to the Rams, and that should be more of the same this week as I noted above the Broncos should be in control of this one throughout. I don’t really want any Raiders exposure, but Jalen Richard saw 11 targets last week and could be in for a similar workload in week two.
The Broncos backfield is a very close situation the the San Francisco 49ers. This is an above-average matchup, at home, we just don’t have any one guy in a secure workload. If I was taking a stab at someone, it’s still going to be Royce Freeman but in nothing more than a GPP.
Pass Catchers- The only Raiders pass catcher I’m interested in whatsoever this week is Jared Cook. If you read my season long draft strategy guide, you know that I loved Cook at his ADP and I assumed he was going to be a large part of this Raiders offense. That couldn’t have been more true in week one as Cook put up 180 yards on the back of 12 targets. This Broncos defense actually ranked bottom-three in tight end DVOA in 2017, and just gave up 100 yards to Seahawks no-name TE Will Dissly.
I’ve loved Emmanuel Sanders for the entirety of the preseason, and he had a fantastic week one hauling in 11 of 12 targets for 135 yards and a score. He’s in another smash spot this weekend, but could be over-owned relative to Demaryius Thomas who is in equally as good of spot and also saw double-digit targets last week. I love both Sanders and Thomas, and while I don’t think I will have either in cash games I would be completely comfortable dropping down to them if need be. Continue to keep Courtland Sutton on your GPP radar as well, the big week is coming.
Cash Game Outlook- Emmanuel Sanders, Demaryius Thomas
GPP Outlook- Case Keenum, Courtland Sutton, Royce Freeman, Phillip Lindsay, Jared Cook
New England Patriots @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Vegas Insight: Patriots 23, Jaguars 22
Quarterbacks- This is a rematch of the AFC Championship game and should be an incredibly fun real-life game to watch, but it’s lacking quality daily fantasy options. Tom Brady remains in play in season long leagues, but is not someone I will look at playing in DFS on the road against this Jaguars secondary.
Blake Bortles posted under 15 fantasy points in week one against the Giants, so I’m not expecting a huge game here and even with Leonard Fournette possibly limited they’re going to want to run as much as possible and work the clock.
Running Backs- It was looking earlier on in the week like James White would be a smash play as one of two running backs active, but we have gotten more clarity on the backfield situation as the week as went on and it no longer appears like they will be lacking mouths to feed. Sony Michel appears likely to be active, and Rex Burkhead returned to practice on Thursday. You still could look at one of Rex/White in GPPs, but that’s nothing more than a dart throw.
Leonard Fournette is someone I would of loved if he was healthy as a low-owned play in this spot, as he was on his way to a big game against the Giants before he got hurt. If he plays, I won’t be able to trust his health enough to spend for him, but if he is out TJ Yeldon is thrust into the conversation. Yeldon would become the workhorse, but still probably wouldn’t be a better value than Tevin Coleman.
Pass Catchers- Chris Hogan should draw the majority of Jalen Ramsey’s coverage, crossing him off my list and I’m not very interested in Phillip Dorsett against A.J Bouye either. Gronkowski fits the mold as a GPP play who despite the tough matchup will continue to see a ton of usage and is going to have to have a productive game if the Patriots are going to be in this game, which Vegas thinks they obviously will.
Keenan Cole didn’t quite work out last week, but he still ran more routes than Dede Westbrook. I don’t have any interest in the pass catchers on the Jags, but if I was taking a shot on one it would be Cole given the low expected ownership and he’s still a solid bet to lead the team in targets this week.
Cash Game Outlook- none
GPP Outlook- Rob Gronkowski, Tom Brady, TJ Yeldon (If Fournette out)
UPDATE: It’s looking like Fournette is doubtful and not going to play at this point, and that’s bumping up Yeldon to cash game playable. Given his passing game ability, I prefer him to Coleman on DraftKings and you can definitely play them together as well with James Conner.
PRIME TIME RANKINGS
1. Russell Wilson
2. Mitch Trubisky
3. Dak Prescott
4. Eli Manning
1. Ezekiel Elliott
2. Jordan Howard
3. Saquon Barkley
4. Chris Carson
5. Tarik Cohen
1. Odell Beckham
2. Allen Robinson
3. Cole Beasley
4. Tyler Lockett
5. Sterling Shepard
1. Trey Burton
2. Evan Engram
3. Will Dissly/ Nick Vannett
Written by Ben Hossler (Follow @BenHossler on Twitter)