I have to admit that I was crying in my beer Monday night when I heard that Matthews had scored two TDs and then realized it was Ryan and not Jordan Matthews. If those two scores go to Jordan instead of Ryan, I have at least a four-figure payday in the Primetime special on FD. Instead my team slunk down into the two-digit payday range after a huge Sunday night performance. At least my kicker Caleb Sturgis came through for me on MNF.
Before we breakdown stackable plays for this week, let me first get on my soapbox and whine and moan about that Giants/Saints game last week. There was no excuse for the Giants to not go guano-crazy in that contest. New Orleans’ secondary is a black hole of ineptitude. Sure, Eli Manning and Odell Beckham got some yardage numbers, but them not hooking up on at least one score was as painful as an anoscopy.
Even after watching the Giants fumble their chance at humiliating the Saints I’m going to go back to the well this week with some stacks in the Atlanta/New Orleans’ game. I hope that rotten secondary does not disappoint me again. If you are scared of New Orleans’ defense actually showing up again, I’d recommend stacking from San Diego, Dallas, the Jets, or Tennessee. Each of these four face teams with serious issues in their defensive backfield.
I’ll also be targeting the defenses going against unproven quarterbacks from New England and Cleveland. This should make both the Dolphins and the Texans nice DEF-RB stacks. Deciding on the running back for the Dolphins could be a game time decision though as we don’t know if it will be Arian Foster, Jay Ajayi, or Kenyon Drake toting the rock from the onset. Lamar Miller + the Texans are only playable in Thursday leagues and I’m normally not a fan of choosing players from a Thursday night game. That said their value is so absurdly good that I may not be able to avoid playing a few THURSDAY games. If you need a sneaky kicker play for this week I’d suggest either Dustin Hopkins or Josh Lambo. I believe they are both in for big days and neither will cost you a lot.
With all of the RB injuries the position offers several volume-values, but be careful because the backups for Carolina and Minnesota face each others’ stingy run defenses. I believe Jerrick McKinnon, Matt Asiata, Fozzy Whitaker, and Cameron Artis-Payne will each outperform their salaries based solely on volume but temper your overall expectations. I actually prefer Darren Sproles or either Jay Ajayi or Kenyon Drake if Arian Foster is a no-go. The heavy allotment of value options here should allow you to roster a couple higher-priced WRs as well as a top-6 RB. I’m not gonna go crazy for the top-tier QBs though as they all have potential holes in their games this week. There are also several great mid-priced deals at WR so rostering a premium TE should not be an issue this week.
Prices indicated: Red = Negative Value and Black = Acceptable Value and Green = Great Value
Weekly strategy – Drew Brees is back at home making him a sexy play against a mediocre defense. I don’t love his price, but can probably afford it if I go two cheap options at RB. My favorite options at QB this week fall in that lower 2nd tier: Eli Manning, Matt Stafford, and Philip Rivers. They each run 7K-8K and each should put up strong numbers. I also could find myself sloughing a little bit here and going with Ryan Fitzpatrick, Marcus Mariota, Dak Prescott, or Carson Wentz. They are each under 6K on DK and roughly 7.5K on FD. Whichever of these eight options I roster, I will definitely stack at least one WR with them.
Your Fantasy Four Pack
Drew Brees, Saints vs. ATL ($7900 DK, $9000 FD)
Since 2013, Drew Brees has averaged 329 passing yards per game and 2.8 passing TDs per game at home. In addition, he has topped 300 passing yards in 14 of 21 career starts against Atlanta and six of his last seven. I would’ve given Brees a green rating but he is the top-priced player on both sites and he will be pressed to outperform the amount of outperforming some of the lower priced options will produce. Still 300-3 is nothing to sneeze at and that is a safe estimate here.
Aaron Rodgers, Packers vs. DET ($7700 DK, $8900 FD)
There is something slightly amiss with the Packers’ offense. It could b the line, or the receivers, but at least some of the blame has to fall on Aaron Rodgers’ shoulders. Rodgers has multiple touchdowns in 10 of 14 career matchups with the Lions. The Lions have one premium cornerback who will likely attach himself to Jordy Nelson’s hip leaving Randall Cobb, Davante “Dropsie” Adams, and Jared Cook free to do what they please. That should set Rodgers up with the opportunity to post 275-2 easy.
Matthew Stafford, Lions @ GB ($6800 DK, $8200 FD)
With both teams having issues with their run games, this game will devolve into a shootout with Rodgers and Matthew Stafford throwing nearly 50 passes each. By volume alone, Stafford will approach and top his value return. The advantage that Stafford has in this game over Rodgers is that Green Bay’s top cornerback, Sam Shields is still hurt and four other top defenders: Datone Jones, Clay Mathews, Morgan Burnett, and LeTroy Guion are also all currently questionable for this Sunday. The other advantage Stafford has is that he is $900 cheaper on DK and $700 cheaper on FD than Rodgers. I would not be surprised if he tops Rodgers’ production.
Matt Ryan, Falcons @ NO ($7400 DK, $8500 FD)
I mentioned above the shootout potential of this game. The fine folks in Vegas have this game with the highest line of the week putting all of the skill position players in play. Matt Ryan has topped 290 passing yards in each of his last six contests against the Saints and he has ten TDs over that stretch. The only reason he doesn’t have a green rating is because he is pricier than Stafford, who will produce a similar line.
Marcus Mariota, Titans @ OAK ($5900 DK, $7700 FD)
Oakland’s new secondary was supposed to be an improvement over last year. It actually is considerably worse. They are allowing 410 passing yards and 3.5 touchdowns per game so far. For reference there are three teams that have allowed fewer total yards passing through two games than Oakland is giving up on a per game basis. Marcus Mariota has ample weapons in his receiving arsenal and at this price he is going to be hard to not start. He will probably be the most owned QB in GPP formats so tread softly there if you are seeking variance.
Carson Wentz, Eagles vs. PIT ($5500 DK, $7200 FD)
Carson Wentz is my anti-Mariota play this week. He has shown the makings of a real gunslinger over his first two games (albeit it against subpar competition). The Steelers have only given up one passing score so far, but they are allowing opposing QBs to throw for an average of 348 yards per game. With Ryan Matthews dealing with an injury, I wouldn’t be surprised if Wentz chose to throw the ball even more frequently this week. Pittsburgh would be more than accommodating as they currently allow the second most pass attempts per week at 48.5.
|Duke Johnson Jr.||$4,200||$5,100|
Weekly strategy – I can afford at least one of the top tier of RBs since there are so many value plays here to pair them with. That said I’m not in love with the big-3 at their prices. I am however enamored with both Ezekiel Elliott and Matt Forte, both of whom can be had in the 7K-8K range. One of them paired with Darren Sproles or Jerrick McKinnon for 3.8 on DK or 5K on FD gives me 20K spent over the first three spots. I may also decide to role with either Isaiah Crowell or Theo Riddick as a FLEX option for 5K on DK. This puts me at 25K for four spots. I also like two tier-2 RBs: Melvin Gordon and Mark Ingram. They are each 6K-7K. I could also go all-in on RB and roster Forte, Gordon, and Riddick for approximately 18K and that would still put me at 25K spent over four spots.
Your Fantasy Four Pack
David Johnson, Cardinals @ BUF ($7700 DK, $8400 FD)
I normally love David Johnson. He is a stud among men when it comes to total yards from scrimmage. His value will come more from the passing game this week than on the ground as Buffalo is allowing the fourth fewest yards per carry. Despite the low yards per carry average against, Matt Forte (an older but similar pass-catching back to Johnson) managed to record three scores against this defense last week. If his price was about $700-$1000 cheaper I’d be all over him, but I wouldn’t tell anyone to completely ignore him.
DeAngelo Williams, Steelers @ PHI ($7500 DK, $8800 FD)
You cannot ignore DeAngelo Williams’ production in LeVeon Bell’s absence. At this point I wouldn’t be surprised if the Steelers chose to keep Williams as the starter and made Bell the backup as punishment for his off-field antics. His price tag is a little bit high this week and Philadelphia is allowing the tenth fewest yards per game on the ground. That is a bit misleading however since they are also allowing the leagues’ fifth-worst 4.7 yards per carry on the ground. I’m willing to pay up for DeAngelo but I’ll probably still pass on him for either Zeke or Forte.
Matt Forte, Jets vs. KC ($7000 DK, $7500 FD)
I originally had Matt Forte rated green and then he showed up on the injury report with a knee issue and questions about his availability. If he does go, he gets to face a battered Chiefs’ defense that has allowed 153 combo yards and 1.5 TDs per game to opposing running backs. If he doesn’t go Bilal Powell is a MANDATORY START at a ridiculously low price tag. Whichever back leads the way they will be the focal point of the offense this week with both Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall beat up.
Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys vs. CHI ($6900 DK, $8100 FD)
Chicago has allowed 116 combo yards per game through their first two contests. They also allowed an injured Ryan Matthews to punch in two touchdowns on MNF. Despite his early fumblitits, Ezekiel Elliott got a vote of confidence from Jerry Jones this past week. In a game that should be a Dallas blowout, I expect Elliott to be very active in the second half of this game and that should add up to a studly stat line.
Darren Sproles, Eagles vs. PIT ($3700 DK, $5200 FD)
The Pittsburgh Steelers have been super hard to run against this year, but they have been beaten like a dirty rug through the air by receiving backs. Opposing RBs are averaging 7.5-81-0.5 against them through the first two weeks. Pass-catching is where Darren Sproles eats, of course this week he might get to dine at the adults’ table too as Ryan Matthews is questionable. Even if he starts in place of Matthews I’m not expecting a ton on the ground. That said he will make up for it in PPR points and yardage through the air.
Theo Riddick, Lions @ GB ($4900 DK, $6400 FD)
This is another example of a pass-catching back getting his first chance at every-down back status. I feel certain that Dwayne Washington will cut into Riddick’s value this week both on early downs and at the stripe. That said this is going to be a pass-heavy game and that sets up for an absurd amount of playing time for Riddick. That makes him the most valuable back for Detroit in this game despite playing against a very stingy run defense. Of course his value might improve if LeTroy Guion is unable to go as he takes up a lot of space on the D-Line.
|Odell Beckham Jr.||$9,100||$8,900|
|Marvin Jones Jr.||$6,200||$6,900|
|Steve Smith Sr.||$4,100||$6,300|
|Ted Ginn Jr.||$3,700||$6,000|
Weekly strategy – At this point I have spent between 20K and 25K with a FLEX. With 3K on DK and 5K on FD tied up in a defense spot, along with 4.5K on FD for kicker, and with 5-6K tied up in a premium TE. This will leave me with either 17K on DK or 19K on FD for my three WRs. I’m probably going to use either Brandin Cooks or Dez Bryant as my WR1. At roughly 8K each I can afford to pair one of them with a mid-range guy (Travis Benjamin, Jarvis Landry, Will Snead, Stefon Diggs or Marvin Jones Jr.) and a fourth tier guy such as: Tyrell Williams, Philip Dorsett, or Tajae Sharpe. I will likely choose at least one of the mid-range and fourth-tier guys as a stack with whichever QB I roster. I could also roster three of those mid-range guys for about the same total price. One other possible punt play would be Cole Beasley (in a stack with Dak Prescott) if I choose to roll with Cooks instead of Bryant.
Your Fantasy Four Pack
Julio Jones, Falcons @ NO ($9500 DK, $9300 FD)
In nine career meetings, Julio Jones only has two TDs against the Saints. He has however also averaged 7-108 against them over the last five games. This week will be more of the same as both sides take it to the air to try and match each others’ production. There is zero chance that Jones will finish below 8-100-1 if he remains healthy throughout the game. Unfortunately the unhealthy part might rear its ugly head. New Orleans is allowing 17.5 receptions and 269 yards per game to opposing WRs. Some of that will go to Mohamed Sanu, but most will land at the feet of Julio.
Dez Bryant, Cowboys vs. CHI ($8400 DK, $7900 FD)
The squeaky wheel got the oil last week and this week should be no different. He was targeted 12 times last week hauling in 7-102. That is a sizeable step up from his being ignored Week 1. Meanwhile also in Week 1, Chicago was burned badly by both Will Fuller and DeAndre Hopkins. Last week they should’ve been burned badly by Jordan Matthews, who dropped several passes including a certain TD. Dak Prescott is one of my sleeper QBs this week and I intend to pair him and Bryant up in at least one league.
Brandin Cooks, Saints vs. ATL ($7900 DK, $8100 FD)
Brandin Cooks has exactly nine targets in each of the first two weeks. The first game he dominated and the second one his stat line looked a lot more pedestrian. Of course, that second game was against a much better secondary. This week he gets a Falcons’ defense that has allowed three WR scores through the first two weeks. We know how strong Drew Brees is at home. This week he will feed Cooks, Willie Snead, and Michael Thomas repeatedly making all three strong plays. As the “#1 guy” Cooks should reap the greatest rewards.
Antonio Brown, Steelers @ PHI ($9600 DK, $9500 FD)
Even against a stingy Eagles’ defense, I cannot not rank Antonio Brown high. I learned my lesson Week 1 when I ignored him supposedly-against Josh Norman. Brown is other-worldly and coming off a mediocre Week 2, I expect him to get the grease this time out. Opposing #1-WRs are averaging 83 yards per game against Philadelphia. That number isn’t low enough for me to worry about Brown’s output. My only concern here is his price compared to the other top WR options, many of whom have more appealing matchups.
Stefon Diggs, Vikings @ CAR ($5100 DK, $6400 FD)
I can hardly call Stefon Diggs a sleeper anymore. He is after all the leagues’ leading WR in terms of yardage. It also helps that he has already formed a healthy relationship with Sam Bradford. For whatever reason, the DFS sites have not yet jacked Diggs’ price tag up into the upper-echelon yet. Carolina has a very good defense but they can be beaten over-the-top. Last week, Torrey Smith re-emerged with a 3-55-1 line against them. Diggs will produce considerably more receptions and yards and one TD is a safe bet.
Tajae Sharpe, Titans vs. OAK ($4700 DK, $5800 FD)
I mentioned earlier how rough Oakland’s new secondary has looked so far. No team has allowed more receptions, yardage, or touchdowns to opposing WRs. Obviously Julio Jones and Brandin Cooks are in a class above Tajae Sharpe. They averaged 5.5-125-1.5 against the Raiders. That said they are also both their teams’ WR1, a role that Sharpe has inherited for Tennessee. Rishard Matthews and Andre Johnson are sneaky cheap plays as well here but Sharpe has been targeted 18 times through the first two weeks making him the clear cut #1 option.
Weekly strategy – We have the funds this week to afford to go after one of the better options at TE. I really love Travis Kelce and Delanie Walker this week, and only Walker at FD is outside my 4.5-6K budgets. I could also dig a little cheaper if I blow my wad on WR. Eric Ebron, Jesse James, and Dennis Pitta all make great options in the 3.5-5K range. For those seeking a true punt play here I would suggest one of these three: Vance McDonald, Troy Burton, or Jared Cook. All three are at or near league minimum and should provide extreme value. On DK, I could free up some additional funds for WR by taking one of these minimum price TEs as my FLEX. With that difference, I could possibly roster both Dez Bryant and Brandin Cooks.
Your Fantasy Four Pack
Delanie Walker, Titans vs. OAK ($5000 DK, $6900 FD)
Oakland has struggled to cover WRs but they have also struggled to cover TEs. Jacob Tamme posted 5-75-1 against them last week as part of a 10-180-1 line posted in whole by Atlanta’s tight end crew. This shouldn’t be too surprising as this is the defense that turned Gary Barnidge from a toad to a prince last year. No team gave up more TE touchdowns last year than the Raiders. Delanie Walker was promised more targets in Week 2, but still only received six. Fortunately for his owners, he caught all six of those passes for 83 yards and a score. It remains to be seen if his targets continue to go up, but this week Mariota will throw a lot of passes so expect a big line from Delanie.
Travis Kelce, Chiefs vs. NYJ ($4700 DK, $6000 FD)
The Jets have faced C.J. Uzomeh and Charles Clay so far this year and neither has done jack squat. That should have been expected because they are both bigger stiffs than what you find at the morgue. Travis Kelce is in a different galaxy than they are. He has only faced the Jets once, but in that game he posted 4-67-1. New York has already allowed four plays of more than 50 yards this year. With only Jeremy Maclin as a downfield threat (and probably covered by Darrelle Revis), Alex Smith will have to also look Kelce’s way to take advantage of New York’s defensive deficiencies.
Jason Witten, Cowboys vs. CHI ($4300 DK, $6000 FD)
Jason Witten’s targets took a hit in Week 2 as Dak Prescott made a concerted effort to get the ball to Dez Bryant more frequently. He still hauled in a reasonable 3-51 but I was hoping for more. He gets a Chicago defense this week that lost several key contributors on MNF to injury and that allowed Trey Burton to look like Rob Gronkowski.
Jordan Reed, Redskins @ NYG ($6500 DK, $7500 FD)
Jordan Reed averaged 7-97 in two matchups with New York last season. In two games thus far he has averaged 6-67 on nine targets per game. That is a pretty nice line but the lack of TDs is mildly irritating. It won’t help that Kirk Cousins seems to only have eyes for Josh Doctson in the red zone. Perhaps Cousins will grow tired of Doctsons’ drops and return to targeting Reed. In the meantime, I can’t stomach his price despite his consistency. Not to mention that the Giants defense is vastly improved from last season. I say that with a grain of salt knowing that they still struggled to stop Jason Witten in Week 1.
Dennis Pitta, Ravens @ JAX ($3400 DK, $5000 FD)
Dennis Pitta will win Comeback Player of the Year. He already has it locked up. It appeared a year and a half ago that he would never play again, there was even concerns about his long term health and his ability to live a fulfilling life outside of football. Now all he is doing is leading all tight ends in receptions and ranking second in yards. Jacksonville is pretty good at stopping opposing tight ends, but they did allow Antonio Gates to score last week. Plus last season they allowed the lesser-skilled Ravens’ tight end corps to roll up 11-117-2 against them.
Jared Cook, Packers vs. DET ($2900 DK, $5000 FD)
I hate Jared Cook. He is a perfect example of a waste of talent. A lot of that falls at the feet of the talent (or lack thereof) that he has been surrounded with in the past. That said he has no excuse this year. He has Aaron Freakin’ Rodgers throwing him the ball. We need to see more than a 2.5-19 per game average to make me eager to start this bum. So why am I giving him a green grade this week? No team has allowed more receptions or touchdowns to the tight end position than Detroit. The Lions are also ranking second in terms of total yards allowed to the position. Dating back to the start of last season, Detroit has allowed opposing TEs to score at least one touchdown in 13/18 games. Knowing my luck, if I go with Cook this week, then Richard Rodgers will produce 10-100-2. Can somebody please Gillooly Rodgers prior to the game so I can start Cook “con”fidently.