If you read through last week’s FanDuel target rundown you might have built a strong core lineup that included Davante Adams, Josh Jacobs, and Calvin Ridley. Or perhaps you got Gardner Minshew’s three-touchdown day on the cheap and plugged in Logan Thomas as your tight end so you could afford another stud. Regardless of the direction you went, I hope you had a profitable Week 1!
Every week this article breaks down a handful of players at each position to consider for your FanDuel cash and tournament lineups. While some of the plays may be on the safer side, you’ll also find some high risk-high reward options if you want to swing for the fences. Remember, even in tournaments there’s often no need to get super-weird and roster a lineup full of contrarian plays. Instead, look to build a strong core with upside and then identify a player or two that you think most of the field will be off and has a chance to have a big day.
FanDuel NFL Week 2
Kyler Murray-Arizona Cardinals-$8,100 (Cash or GPP): The path of least resistance against Washington’s formidable defensive front is clearly through the air. That makes Arizona’s rapid-fire passing attack with Kyler Murray’s ability to get outside the pocket and run, one of the premier plays of the week going against a weak Washington secondary.
To say Washington overachieved in their victory over Philadelphia to open the season is an understatement, but they also benefitted from the right type of matchup. The Eagles were without starting running back Miles Sanders or right tackle Lane Johnson, and the Washington front dropped Carson Wentz for eight sacks on the day. Wentz has long had a tendency to hold onto the football a bit too long, and with the Eagles running a ton of 12 personnel due to a thin wide receiver depth chart, pass plays were slow to develop. If we take a look at the numbers, Wentz’s average time to throw was 2.61 seconds, which was right around league average in Week 1, while Murray clocked in at just 2.42 against San Francisco. The big difference? Despite the pressure he faced, Wentz averaged a league-high 12 average intended air yards in Week 1 to Murray’s 5.5, the eighth-lowest on the week. Head coach Kliff Kingsbury has designed an offense that has Murray either getting the ball out fast or taking off, none which bodes well for Washington in this matchup, as the defense’s weaknesses are at the second and third level.
Matt Ryan-Atlanta Falcons-$7,700 (Cash or GPP): One of the biggest takeaways from Atlanta’s Week 1 loss at home to Seattle was that the defense may actually be even worse than we thought. Yes, Russell Wilson is an elite quarterback, but the Falcons didn’t seem to have an answer for anything the Seahawks threw at them, and as a result, Matt Ryan was forced into 54 pass attempts while trying to keep pace. While 50+ attempts a game is less than ideal if you’re trying to win football games, it’s fantastic for fantasy purposes.
Dallas didn’t come away with the victory in their Sunday night opener, but Ezekiel Elliott looked fantastic and the Cowboys did manage more than 400 yards of total offense against what is expected to be one of the league’s better defenses. Dallas has the second-highest Vegas implied total on the slate at 28.75 points, meaning Dak Prescott and the receivers should feast on the Atlanta secondary. The end result will be another 40+ pass attempts for Ryan, which is just fine given the wealth of talented pass catchers in Atlanta.
Others to consider
Lamar Jackson-Baltimore Ravens-$9,500 (GPP): Jackson clocks in at a pricey $9500, but Houston played two-deep safeties for most of the night in the opener against Kansas City, to ensure Tyreek Hill and company couldn’t get behind the defense for big plays. It didn’t work out, as the Chiefs were more than happy to run the football and have Pat Mahomes take the Texans defense apart in the short passing game. It remains to be seen if they take the same approach against Baltimore this week, but if they do then Jackson is going to destroy them on the ground.
Aaron Rodgers-Green Bay Packers-$7,900 (GPP): I normally hate rostering a player the week after he goes off, but here we are. Rodgers opened the season by torching a bad secondary in Minnesota for 364 yards and four scores, and he likely faces an even worse one this week with Detroit. Rookie corner Jeff Okudah is going to be a good one, but drawing Davante Adams and Adam Rodgers in your NFL debut is a hell of an initiation.
Tyrod Taylor-Los Angeles Chargers-$6,800 (GPP): Head coach Anthony Lynn seems like he’s going to be content to have Taylor and the offense take a conservative approach while leaning on the Chargers defense to grind out wins. As good as that defensive unit might be, the Chiefs offense is absolutely stacked with playmakers and looked awfully scary from the jump on Thursday night. The game script could easily force Lynn to abandon his conservative approach this week, which would bode well for Taylor’s fantasy prospects.
Ezekiel Elliot-Dallas Cowboys-$8,600 (Cash or GPP): I have to admit, I was one of those slightly concerned about Tony Pollard cutting into some of Zeke’s workload after he impressed in limited snaps as a rookie. But after Elliott turned 22 carries and four targets into 127 total yards and a pair of scores against the Rams on Sunday night, I’m less concerned. And don’t look now, but the Atlanta Falcons are in town.
The Falcons picked up exactly where they left off last season, and once again look like a defense we’ll be targeting often. While they did manage to limit the production of Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde on the ground (13 carries for 44 yards), Elliott and the Dallas offensive line are a whole different animal. More importantly, Carson’s 6 catches for 45 yards and two touchdowns is an indictment of the Atlanta linebacking corps, which did a solid job of neutralizing running backs in the passing game last season after ranking at or near the bottom of the league each season for most of the past decade. It would not be surprising if Carson’s Week 1 performance signals regression, and Elliott’s involvement in the passing game is another positive aspect of rostering him.
Derrick Henry-Tennessee Titans-$8,300 (Cash or GPP): The Titans sent a pretty clear message to the league on Monday night when they handed off to Henry 31 times and targeted him three times in the passing game en route to a 16-13 victory. If we’re going to get 25-30 Henry touches every week, sign me up! And this was a game in which the Titans trailed for long stretches, including much of the fourth quarter. Who knows what the numbers would have looked like if Stephen Gostkowski could have made a couple of field goals before the game-winner.
While Jacksonville’s defense looked much better than expected against the Colts in Week 1, I’m not sold just yet that we’ve incorrectly assessed them as one of the league’s poorer units so much as I think the Indy offense may take a little time to gel with Philip Rivers at the helm.
Jonathan Taylor-Indianapolis Colts-$5,800 (Cash or GPP): You saw him here last week because the price was just too cheap for his expected role in the Colts offense. Now with Marlon Mack lost for the season, head coach Frank Reich has declared Taylor ready to shoulder the RB1 workload on his own. To be sure, Nyheim Hines’s Week 1 usage (7 carries and 8 targets) is slightly concerning, but the game script combined with Mack’s early exit may have tipped the scales a bit. Early on there seemed to be a concerted effort to utilize Hines as the RB2, and Taylor didn’t log a touch until Mack exited the game in the second quarter. Once Mack went down, Taylor out-touched Hines 15 to 8 over the final two and a half quarters and 13 to 6 in the second half. But the encouraging thing is the six targets and six catches for 67 yards, with the half a dozen receptions doubling his top output in a game in any of his three seasons at Wisconsin.
Philip Rivers has a long track record of being willing to dump it down to his running backs, and if this continues along with the 15+ carries he’s likely to see behind Indianapolis’s elite offense line, Taylor’s price is going to skyrocket across the industry. And this week couldn’t set up any better with the Colts opening up at home against Minnesota. Last week the Vikings surrendered 28.1 FanDuel points (8th worst) to Green Bay running backs, as part of the 522 yards of total offense and 43 points at home to Aaron Rodgers and company. Taylor will be popular for sure, but I’ll still have plenty.
Benny Snell-Pittsburgh Steelers-$4,600 (Cash or GPP): Assuming James Conner misses this week, Benny Snell Jr. becomes your lock and load cash games play at just $4,600 after he turned 19 carries into 113 yards in relief of Conner on Monday night. That said, Snell benefitted a bit from having fresh legs in the second half against a New York Giants defense that has some nice young talent at the linebacker position but lacks depth. The Broncos may be a bit more formidable, but they have their own issues after losing Von Miller and surrendered 116 yards to Derrick Henry on Monday night, albeit on 31 carries. This game has one of the lowest Vegas projected totals on the slate at just 41.5 points, but this is a strong bet on Snell gaining 75+ yards on volume with the potential to find the end zone.
Others to consider
Christian McCaffrey-Carolina Panthers-$10,500 (Cash or GPP): With all the early season value at the running back position, fitting CMC into your lineup isn’t difficult. That said, the price took another jump up again this week and Carolina has a Vegas implied total of under 20 points on the road at Tampa Bay. Touches and touchdown equity will keep him at the top of running back projection models, but I’ll likely be under the field in GPPs with his rising five-digit price tag.
Aaron Jones-Green Bay Packers-$7,700 (GPP): Jones is another avenue through which to get exposure to the Green Bay Packers, who have the third-highest Vegas implied total on the slate at 27 points. Jones posted a solid 16-66-1 stat line on the ground last week while Rodgers was taking apart the Vikings secondary, but we need more at his price tag. Jones makes a nice pivot off what will be a popular Rodgers-Adams stack or as the third piece of the stack in large field GPPs.
Malcolm Brown-Los Angeles Rams-$5,200 (GPP): Pretty much no one saw 22 touches coming for Malcolm Brown in Week 1, and perhaps the most shocking part was the four targets, which led all Rams running backs. The matchup against Philadelphia isn’t a favorable one, but if you’re looking for a pivot off chalkier options like Taylor and Snell, Brown’s Week 1 performance should help him lead the Los Angeles backfield in touches again.
DeAndre Hopkins-Arizona Cardinals-$8,300 (Cash or GPP): If you’re playing Kyler Murray at quarterback then Hopkins is the no-brainer stack option at wide receiver. And if Week 1 was any indication, it looks like Murray is perfectly willing to follow the Deshaun Watson model and force-feed Nuk every chance he gets. It’s only one week, but it certainly doesn’t look like Hopkins’s fantasy value is going to fall off at all in the desert.
Julio Jones-Atlanta Falcons-$8,200 (GPP): Jones isn’t quite the clear stacking option for Ryan that we get with Hopkins, but he’s my favorite of the group. Ridley’s two-touchdown game justified the lofty preseason expectations so we may see folks chase those points. Similarly, Russell Gage’s price hasn’t moved a ton so he may still be viewed as a way to get value exposure to this game.
Adam Thielen-Minnesota Vikings-$7,300 (Cash or GPP): Last week the Colts gave up 37.4 FanDuel points to wideouts, helped along by the fact that all three of Gardner Minshew’s touchdown passes went to receivers. The more telling stat is probably that Minshew was highly efficient, with just one incompletion on the day. With Stefon Diggs now in Buffalo, Thielen occupies the clear WR1 role in this offense and should be in the mix for double-digit targets each week, especially with the Minnesota secondary expected to struggle. Over the course of the week, Vegas has been slowly pushing up the total on this game from 46.5 to 48.5, with the line narrowing to just a couple of points.
Scotty Miller-Tampa Bay Buccaneers-$5,200 (Cash or GPP): As of Thursday, Chris Godwin was still in the league’s concussion protocol and Mike Evans continued to nurse a hamstring injury. Even with both players on the field for more than 90% of the team’s offensive snaps in Week 1, Miller still tied for second on the team with seven targets and finished with five receptions for 73 yards.
This week Tampa Bay faces a Carolina defense that struggled to put pressure on Derek Carr, and the Raiders had little trouble moving the football on the way to piling up 34 points. That doesn’t bode well for a matchup with Tom Brady, who, with time, could easily pick the Carolina secondary apart. We know how valuable a fantasy commodity Brady is capable of making a shifty, undersized slot receiver and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Miller reach double-digit targets this week.
Others to Consider
Davante Adams-Green Bay Packers-$8,600 (Cash or GPP): As I mentioned with Aaron Rodgers, I’m generally not a fan of going straight back to the well after a monster week. But Adams’s target share should continue to be absurd. He’s facing a banged-up Detroit secondary that wasn’t able to protect a 17 point fourth-quarter lead, surrendering three touchdown passes to Mitch Trubisky over the final fourteen minutes en route to a loss.
Laviska Shenault-Jacksonville Jaguars-$4,900 (GPP): Shenault is still a pretty clear third in the pecking order behind D.J. Chark and Keelan Cole, but he still played on 62% of the Jags offensive snaps. If I’m Jacksonville I’m looking at the success Denver had moving Noah Fant around on Monday night to create mismatches and thinking about how to deploy Shenault size-speed combination similarly.
Quintez Cephus-Detroit Lions-$4,600 (GPP): With Kenny Golladay sitting out, Cephus was one of just a dozen players who saw double-digit targets in Week 1 and he also finished in the top twenty in average targeted air yards (13.4) last week. He only converted on 30% of those targets (3 of 10), but that had a lot to do with Matthew Stafford’s inaccuracy, as he missed a wide-open Cephus multiple times. With Golladay out it’s a pretty thin receiving corps behind Marvin Jones and the Lions are going to have to keep pace with Green Bay this week.
Marc Andrews-Baltimore Ravens-$7,500 (Cash or GPP): As noted above concerning Lamar Jackson, Houston was perfectly willing to sit back and give up the underneath routes against Kansas City in the opener to prevent the deep ball. Through Week 1, Ravens big-play receiver Marquise Brown leads NFL wideouts at 16.8 yards per target and is fifth in aDOT at 19 yards. On the flip side, Andrews logged five receptions for 58 yards and two scores. Of the two, he seems the most well-positioned to take advantage of a Texans defense that finished in the bottom ten in fantasy points allowed to the tight end position last season and picked up right where they left off.
Jonnu Smith-Tennessee Titans-$4,900 (Cash or GPP): Smith saw seven targets on Monday night against Denver and turned them into a 4-36-1 stat line in the Titans victory. At sub-$5000 he represents a nice value at the position, although comes with a limited ceiling due to the conservative nature of the offense. Still, Smith gets a Jacksonville team that allowed five catches for 59 yards to the tight end combo of Jack Doyle and Mo Allie-Cox last week and he’s a popular red zone target for Ryan Tannehill.
Others to consider
Hayden Hurst-Atlanta Falcons-$5,700 (GPP): With the Falcons top three receivers logging a dozen targets each last week, Hurst was a bit of a forgotten man with just three catches for 38 yards on five targets. That said, the injury to Leighton Vander Esch is going to be an issue in coverage for the Cowboys and Hurst led all tight ends in routes run with 45. This could a sneaky spot for him.
Logan Thomas-Washington Football Team-$4,700 (GPP): Don’t expect Thomas to lead the team in targets again this week, but he’ll continue to be a red zone option with little clarity in the Washington backfield. Also, Arizona still has a tight end problem.
George Kittle and Jordan Reed combined for 6 catches and 56 yards last week, with Kittle getting banged up at the midway point and trying to play through a sprained knee. The “tight end” numbers don’t pop the way they did last season, but it’s worth noting that H-back Kyle Juszczyk caught a 41-yard pass on a wheel route late in the game as well. Thomas is still relatively cheap for his role and touchdown upside.
Pittsburgh Steelers-$4,600 (Cash or GPP): Going to Pittsburgh to play doesn’t mean the same thing without the crowd there, but after absorbing some initial punches from Daniel Jones and the Giants, this defense looked awfully good in the second half on Monday night. Denver comes into this one already banged up on both sides of the ball and Drew Lock will have his work cut out for him since running against a Pittsburgh team that just held Saquon Barkley to six rushing yards on fifteen carries seems unlikely.
Arizona Cardinals-$3,600 (Cash or GPP): Washington is a young team coming off a divisional upset to open the season. Now they have to travel to Arizona and face Kliff Kinsbury’s spread attack. It just sets up poorly for a Washington team that doesn’t have a whole lot of offensive firepower and may not be able to stop the Cards.
Good luck this week!
Warren has been playing fantasy football in any number of formats for over 20 years, sometimes much to the chagrin of his wife and daughters. For better or worse, ahead of the 2014 NFL season, he began sharing his opinions and analysis through writing and eventually added yammering away on podcasts with anyone foolish enough to let him in front of a microphone. He is a long-suffering Jets fan, well-documented Paxton Lynch hater, and an admitted grammar snob.