FanDuel Picks: Week 2 Edition
Welcome to the weekly “one stop shop” for all things DFS. I tout my favorite plays of the week after breaking down all of the games, looking at matchups, and considering all relevant weekly and season-long injuries/suspensions. As a guide, you can think of the “Top Plays” sections as cash game recommendations and the “Under The Radar” sections as GPP tournament recommendations. Confused on the difference? Check out a recent DFS Strategy article I wrote. However, I refuse to specifically title the sections in that way because I believe it boxes in the picks. Many players can and do fall under both categories in any given week. I delve more into that in the article linked above as well. When reading, keep that in mind. Now let’s get to it, starting with my top Bonanza candidates.
Domination Bonanza Candidate: Carolina Panthers blowing out the San Francisco 49ers
Back and Forth Bonanza Candidates: New Orleans Saints at New York Giants and Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers
Top QB Plays Of The Week
Eli Manning vs NO, $8,100
Eli Manning gets a home matchup with a Saints defense that gave up the 2nd most passing yards and most pass TDs last season. Derek Carr just threw for 319 yards, a TD, and a game-winning 2 point conversion against the Saints on the road last week. Plus, they just lost their best cornerback Delvin Breaux to a broken fibula. Manning has set a new career high in pass attempts each of the past two seasons under Ben McAdoo. After only attempting 28 passes last week, I expect that number to go way up in a potential Back and Forth Bonanza. I expect both Manning and Drew Brees to put up points on Sunday. Just a little reminder what happened last year when these two teams faced each other in case you forgot:
Brees: 505 yards and 7 TDs
Manning: 350 yards and 6 TDs
Remember, last year’s game was in New Orleans but this time around it’s in New York. Manning is my choice between the two and I expect him to absolutely light up the Saints horrible and banged up secondary.
New Orleans Starting Cornerbacks vs. Career NFL Snaps prior to Week 1 2016
Ken Crawley – Zero
P.J. Williams – Zero
De'Vante Harris – Zero
— Scott Barrett (@ScottBarrettDFB) September 15, 2016
Derek Carr vs ATL, $8,300
Derek Carr gets a Falcons defense that just gave up 281 yards and 4 TDs to Jameis Winston in Week 1. Whereas Winston put up that stat line on the road, Carr gets to face the Falcons at home this week. Pro Football Focus ranked the Falcons secondary 26th in the NFL out of 32 teams before the start of the season and they did nothing in Week 1 to change that perception. First round pick Safety Keanu Neal can’t help improve the pass defense just yet. He has been ruled out again for Week 2.
Kirk Cousins vs DAL, $7,800
Kirk Cousins struggled in primetime on Monday Night Football last week but I’m not ready to bail on him just yet. With Washington’s RB situation shaky at best, this is Cousins’ team. Therefore, it wasn’t surprising to see him attempt the 4th most passes in Week 1. He turned that volume into 329 passing yards. However, he didn’t throw any TD passes. I expect that to change this week against a Cowboys secondary that Pro Football Focus ranked 30th in the NFL heading into 2016. Eli Manning just threw for 3 scores against this defense last week plus Demarcus Lawrence, Randy Gregory, and Rolando McClain will all miss this contest due to suspensions. Cousins is a bounce-back candidate in Week 2 for me.
Shattering The MainSTREAM: Under The Radar QB Plays
Joe Flacco vs CLE, $7,400
Joe Flacco gets a Browns defense that gave up the 11th most passing yards and 3rd most pass TDs last year. Nothing has changed in 2016. This Browns defense is still awful and they just gave up 278 yards and 2 TDs to Carson Wentz in his first NFL start last week. Flacco has one of the best QB matchups of the week.
Jimmy Garoppolo vs MIA, $7,100
Jimmy Garoppolo looked good on Sunday night in his first NFL start on the road against a tough Cardinals defense. He managed 264 passing yards and a TD in that contest. Now he gets to make his first start at home against a Dolphins defense that gave up the 12th most passing yards and 5th most pass TDs last season. Plus Garoppolo gets the added benefit of working with Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels, two of the brightest minds in the league.
Josh McCown vs BAL, $6,000
Josh McCown gets a favorable matchup at home in his first start of 2016. The Ravens gave up the 9th most passing TDs last year and Pro Football Focus ranked their secondary 24th in the NFL heading into this season. His affordable $6,000 salary also doesn’t hurt.
Top RB Plays Of The Week
C.J. Anderson vs IND, $7,800
C.J. Anderson saw 24 touches in Week 1 against a tough Carolina Panthers defense. With Trevor Siemian getting set to make his second NFL start on Sunday, Anderson should yet again be the focal point of the Broncos offense. Look for him to make the most of his touches just as he did last week. Anderson gets a banged up Colts defense that already gave up the 8th most rushing yards and 6th most rushing TDs last season. If Week 1 was any indication, they might be even worse in 2016. Anderson will get the volume, has a great matchup, and is a very talented RB. He checks off all the boxes and is my favorite RB play this week.
DeAngelo Williams vs CIN, $7,600
DeAngelo Williams was an absolute monster last year with Le’Veon Bell out of the picture. Nothing has changed to begin the 2016 season. Williams has no competition for touches right now, catches passes, and plays in one of the best offenses in the NFL. He’s a dual-threat back that has muli-TD upside every single week. Plus, he benefits from the Bell and Martavis Bryant suspensions as well as the injury to Ladarius Green. Shallower ball distribution means more carries and targets for Williams. We saw that come to fruition on Monday night as Williams racked up a whopping 32 total touches. As far as the matchup, the Bengals were pretty solid against the run last season but remember, Vontaze Burfict is suspended and won’t play in this game. Last week Matt Forte put up 96 rushing yards on 4.4 yards per carry without Burfict in the lineup. Just like I said in last week’s column, take advantage of the situation and play Williams while you still can before Bell returns from his suspension.
Lamar Miller vs KC, $7,700
Just like Anderson and Williams, Miller is another RB that has no volume concerns. The Texans ranked first and fifth in the NFL in rushing attempts over the last two seasons. Not only does Bill O’Brien love to run the football, but he also loves to feed his lead back. Thus, it was no surprise to see Miller get 32 touches in Week 1 and there are no signs of his workload being reduced anytime soon. The Chiefs have a reputation of being a solid defense. However, Melvin Gordon had 2 rushing TDs on the Chiefs in Week 1 after going scoreless in 2015. Justin Houston is out, Tamba Hali isn’t 100%, and Eric Berry likely is still shaking off the rust after a holdout that lasted until the end of August. Miller is a threat to break one on every play and with this game in Houston, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that happen at least once.
Shattering The MainSTREAM: Under The Radar RB Plays
T.J. Yeldon vs. SD, $6,500
#Jaguars RB Chris Ivory (general medical issue) has been ruled out for Sunday’s game, coach Gus Bradley told reporters. Hopeful for Week 3.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 16, 2016
Chris Ivory will miss yet another game. Fire up T.J. Yeldon. With Ivory out last week, Yeldon racked up 25 touches as the unquestioned lead back. Although he didn’t have a great yardage total, he did score a TD and caught 4 passes. Yeldon should find it much easier to rack up yards in Week 2 against a Chargers defense that gave up the 6th most rushing yards and 3rd most rushing TDs last season. Factoring in volume, situation, and his affordable price, Yeldon is one of my favorite RB plays of the week.
Thomas Rawls vs LA, $6,600
Heading into Week 1, Pete Carroll stated the Seahawks were going to treat it as the second preseason game for Thomas Rawls. That made sense after Rawls was limited in training camp while still recovering from injury. However, I was surprised to see Rawls get 15 touches in Week 1, only two less than the de-facto starter Christine Michael. Michael didn’t impress me in that contest and apparently he didn’t impress the Seahawks coaching staff either.
Thomas Rawls will start Week 2 at RB for Seattle, says Pete Carroll.
— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) September 14, 2016
The Seahawks quickly named Rawls the starter for Week 2 and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell had this to say about him: “He embodies who we want to be.” I expect Rawls to receive 20+ touches on Sunday against a Rams defense that gave up the 13th most rushing yards last season and was just lit up by Carlos Hyde last week on Monday Night Football. Rawls could also see more action in the passing game this weekend with rookie pass-catching specialist C.J. Prosise wearing a club on his right hand after suffering a “cracked bone” on Sunday.
Top WR Plays Of The Week
Odell Beckham vs NO, $9,400
Last week I lumped Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham, and Julio Jones together when Brown was my favorite play of the three. I could do the same thing again this week between Beckham, Brown, and A.J. Green but what’s the fun in that!? If you’re paying top dollar for a WR, Beckham is your man. Beckham against a secondary that gave up 45 pass TDs last year and that will be without their best cornerback? It’s too easy man. Way too easy. Good luck to P.J. Williams, De’Vante Harris, and Ken Crawley. They’re going to need it.
Amari Cooper vs ATL, $7,900
Amari Cooper gets a pretty poor Falcons secondary at home this week. In Week 1, Mike Evans put up 99 yards and a TD on Atlanta on only 7 targets. This is a juicy matchup for one of the best young WRs in the NFL. The one potential negative could be Desmond Trufant who Pro Football Focus ranked the 13th best cornerback in 2015. Although Trufant did not shadow Evans in Week 1, it sounds like that could be a possibility with Cooper.
Falcons coach Dan Quinn said you could see Desmond Trufant moving around Sunday with Amari Cooper on the other side for Raiders.
— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) September 14, 2016
Still, I remain bullish. Cooper is way too good of a player to be shut down by Trufant.
Willie Snead vs NYG, $7,200
Brandin Cooks grabbed most of the headlines after his 2 TD performance in Week 1. Yet, it was Willie Snead who caught more of his targets, caught more balls, and had more receiving yards than Cooks. Oh ya, he had a TD of his own in Week 1 as well. This game has the potential to become a Back and Forth Bonanza just like it did last year and my favorite way to get some exposure to the Saints offense is by playing Snead. Although the Giants upgraded their defense in the offseason, they still have issues covering the middle of the field. They allowed a total of 17 catches to Jason Witten and Cole Beasley over the middle last week. That stat is extremely significant because Snead lined up in the slot on 65% of his snaps and accumulated 64% of his total yards from the slot in Week 1. Because Snead will be running the majority of his routes in the area of the field his opponent struggles to defend, he has a very favorable matchup this week and I fully expect Drew Brees to help him exploit it.
Michael Crabtree vs ATL, $6,200
I’m very bullish on the Raiders pass offense this week. Playing Crabtree is a cheaper way to gain exposure to it while also not having to worry as much about Desmond Trufant in coverage. Cooper and Crabtree dominated the Raiders target share last season and both were over 24% again in Week 1. Perception tells us that Cooper is the Raiders #1 WR whereas the data continues to point to a 1a/1b situation. Constantly underrated, Crabtree is a baller and I expect him to take advantage of a Falcons defense that just gave up 281 yards and 4 TDs to Jameis Winston in Week 1.
DeSean Jackson vs DAL, $6,600
DeSean Jackson is going to be much more than a boom or bust kind of play this season. He showed us a glimpse of that in Week 1 racking up 10 targets and finishing with 6 catches for 102 yards. Washington attempted the 4th most passes in Week 1 and that is a trend that I expect to continue. That pass volume is going to continue to benefit Jackson all season long. While I believe his floor is more stable than some realize, his ceiling remains as high as ever. Jackson is a threat to take one to the house on every single play and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him do that at least once against a poor Dallas secondary this week.
Shattering The MainSTREAM: Under The Radar WR Plays
Emmanuel Sanders vs IND, $6,700
I expect Emmanuel Sanders to be very low owned in tournaments this weekend which creates an opportunity to use him as a tournament/GPP play. Although it sounds like Demaryius Thomas is going to play, he is banged up and there is no way he’s going to be 100% healthy on Sunday.
— Troy Renck (@TroyRenck) September 15, 2016
That makes Sanders the #1 target in the passing offense if he wasn’t already and takes some competition for touches away. That point is very significant with the Broncos because they have one of the most shallow target distributions in the league. For reference, only 5 players on the team were targeted in Week 1. Plus, the matchup is very favorable. The Colts gave up the 9th most passing yards and 12th most TD passes last season and that was with their best cornerback Vontae Davis in the lineup. He won’t play on Sunday.
Tajae Sharpe vs DET, $6,000
I highly doubt that everyone has caught on already, but all signs point to Tajae Sharpe being the Titans #1 WR. He operated as such in the preseason and that carried over into Week 1 as well. Sharpe seems to have no issues seeing volume in this offense as he was targeted 11 times last week and the next closest WR was Andre Johnson of all players with 7. The Titans play in Detroit this week against a Lions team that shouldn’t have much trouble putting points on the scoreboard. Thus, game flow should work in Sharpe’s favor. It’s not all great, as Darius Slay, who Pro Football Focus ranked as a top 5 corner last season, may cover Sharpe a lot in this game. However, Sharpe’s affordable $6,000 price helps alleviate some of those concerns.
Victor Cruz vs NO, $5,700
There were so many awesome things about Week 1 but one of my favorites was finally getting to see Victor Cruz salsa dance in the end zone again. While I wasn’t surprised to see Cruz back on the field last weekend, I was shocked to find out he played almost the entire game.
There was no easing Victor Cruz in either. He played 50 of 56 offensive snaps as #Giants went 3-wide almost entire game
— Jordan Raanan (@JordanRaanan) September 12, 2016
We know new head coach Ben McAdoo favors the pass. Thus, a 3-wide receiver offense is completely understandable and if it keeps up, Cruz will continue to see monster playing time. At home with one of the most favorable matchups imaginable, I expect Eli Manning to throw at least 3 TD passes. Could we get to see the salsa dance for a second week in a row? I think we very well could.
Top TE Plays Of The Week
Gary Barnidge vs BAL, $6,000
Gary Barnidge didn’t catch a pass last week. Should you be worried? Absolutely not. He gets his old pal Josh McCown back who helped him thrive in 2015. McCown started both contests against the Ravens last season and in those two games, Barnidge totaled 15 catches for 230 yards and 1 TD.
Gary Barnidge 16-game pace was a Gronkian 92-1,282-12 in McCown's 8 starts last year. 66-804-4 with #Browns other QBs. 0-0 with RG3 Week 1.
— Evan Silva (@evansilva) September 12, 2016
Gary Barnidge's weekly PPR finishes in games in which McCown threw double digit passes in 2015: TE2, TE4, TE3, TE5, TE5, TE6, TE10.
— Rich Hribar (@LordReebs) September 12, 2016
Barnidge is easily my favorite TE play of the week.
Jason Witten vs WASH, $5,900
Jason Witten led all TEs in targets last week with 14. Pass catchers can’t put up fantasy points without getting the ball thrown to them and Witten clearly had no issues with that in Week 1. Rookie QBs have sometimes had the tendency to rely on their TEs in the past and Dak Prescott seems to be the newest example of that. Witten will likely be heavily targeted again this week in a favorable matchup against Washington who gave up the 8th most passing yards last season and just got lit up by Ben Roethlisberger on Monday Night Football.
Delanie Walker vs DET, $6,600
With more pass catchers in the fold in Tennessee this season, it seems as if Delanie Walker’s season-long value is going to take a hit. However, for just one week, Walker could be money. He gets a matchup with the Lions who gave up the most pass TDS (12) to TEs last season and who also just allowed 3 more to TEs on the Colts in Week 1.
Shattering The MainSTREAM: Under The Radar TE Plays
Virgil Green vs IND, $4,600
The Broncos have a very shallow target distribution. It’s not very hard to figure out where the ball is going. That’s good news for Virgil Green who is the unquestioned starting TE in Denver. He saw 20% of the Broncos’ passing market share in Week 1 while no other TE on the roster even saw a single target and with Demaryius Thomas banged up heading into Week 2, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Green’s passing market share increase. The matchup is nice as Green gets a banged up Colts defense at home that gave up the 9th most passing yards and 12th most passing TDs last year. Matthew Stafford had a field day on the Colts defense in Week 1 helping Eric Ebron drop 5 for 46 and a TD on them after missing most of training camp and the preseason due to injury. Green is one of my favorite TE plays of the week based on his matchup and opportunity alone before even taking into consideration his very affordable price as well.
Coby Fleener vs NYG, $5,600
I’m not giving up on Coby Fleener just yet. Things can change drastically from week to week in fantasy football because we’re dealing with such small sample sizes. I’m not overreacting to Fleener’s Week 1 performance. Although he only saw 4 targets in his first game as a New Orleans Saint, it’s clear Sean Payton has plans for him to be a big part of this offense moving forward. After all, he ran the 4th most TE routes in Week 1.
TEs who ran the most routes, Week 1
46 Travis Kelce
42 Jordan Reed
41 Jason Witten
37 Coby Fleener
35 Eric Ebron
35 Delanie Walker
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) September 14, 2016
This matchup is favorable for Fleener as he gets a Giants defense that just allowed a total of 17 catches to Jason Witten and Cole Beasley over the middle of the field in Week 1. Plus, his value gets a boost because he’s playing in a potential Back and Forth Bonanza game.
Top Kicker Plays Of The Week
Graham Gano vs SF, $4,900
I fully expect the Panthers to win this game by double digits which means there should be plenty of field goal and extra point opportunities for Gano on Sunday.
Brandon McManus vs IND, $4,700
The Broncos are 6 point favorites at home this week against the Colts. I expect the Broncos to move the football with success in this one against a bad and banged up Colts defense. However, with inexperienced Trevor Siemian at QB, drives could stall in the red zone which would mean more field goal opportunities for McManus.
Shattering The MainSTREAM: Under The Radar Kicker Play
Jason Myers vs SD, $4,600
With Keenan Allen out of the picture, the Chargers could struggle to move the football against an improved Jaguars defense. I’m not nearly as worried about the Jaguars offense who should find plenty of success against a bad Chargers defense. I expect Myers to see multiple field goal attempts in this one.
Top Defense Plays Of The Week
Carolina Panthers vs SF, $5,300
On the road against a much better Panthers team, I expect the 49ers offense to look a lot different this week. Chip Kelly loves to run the football but I doubt that happens against a Panthers defense that gave up the 4th fewest rushing yards last season. That means more pass attempts for Blaine Gabbert. Expect sacks and interceptions to follow.
Green Bay Packers vs MIN, $4,400
All signs point to Sam Bradford getting the start on Sunday night. Bradford has never been a great QB, just arrived in Minnesota a few weeks ago, and likely is still working on understanding the playbook. Blessed with having Aaron Rodgers on their side to help them get a lead in this game, I expect the Packers defense to get the better of Bradford.
Shattering The MainSTREAM: Under The Radar Defense Play
Oakland Raiders vs ATL, $4,500
After getting blasted by Drew Brees in New Orleans last week, nobody is going to play the Raiders defense in Week 2. Back at home for this contest, I love them as a GPP/tournament play. Things can change drastically from week to week in fantasy football because we’re dealing with such small sample sizes. Although it didn’t look like it in Week 1, I still firmly believe the additions of Bruce Irvin, Sean Smith, and Reggie Nelson have improved the Raiders defense. Matt Ryan sometimes has the tendency to struggle while on the road outside of the Georgia Dome and I think that’s what we see in this game. Expect to hear Khalil Mack’s name multiple times on Sunday. Oh ya, Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman, and Mohamed Sanu have all been limited in practice this week as they deal with injuries as well.