Everyone knows to start studs in DFS. What can bring home the money in is finding players who will produce at a lower salary that might not be on many lineup cards. Each week we’ll release our top DFS value plays and bargain basement plays to help fill out your lineups.
Week 2 Recap (Points are based on DraftKings scoring)
Alex Smith: 16.1
Philip Rivers: 20.2
Trevor Siemian: 24.6
Marshawn Lynch: 11.9
Christian McCaffrey: 8.4
James White: 17.6
Demaryius Thomas: 13.1
Chris Hogan: 18.8
Cooper Kupp: 6.3
Delanie Walker: 16.2
Jared Cook: 6.5
A.J. Derby: 0.0
Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins ($6,100 DraftKings, $7,600 FanDuel)
Cousins has yet to get going this season. He’s scored fewer than 15 fantasy points in each of his first two games. Cousins is still adjusting to the loss of receivers DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon. While neither may be a dominant No. 1 receiver, both topped 1,000 yards last year and the duo combined for 135 receptions on 216 targets.
Cousins has a good chance to heat up this week. The Raiders are allowing the 11th most fantasy PPG to quarterbacks on DraftKings (17.8) and the eighth most on FanDuel (17.3). Terrelle Pryor only has eight receptions for 97 yards in two games but the Raiders rank 25th in covering opposing team’s No. 1 receivers according to Football Outsiders.
Cousins has one of the highest ceilings of any quarterback in Week 3 but isn’t projected to have high ownership numbers, despite his low salary. He’s a strong value play.
Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions ($6,200 DraftKings, $7,900 FanDuel)
Stafford is still being undervalued early in the year but he’s played very well in his first two games. He has the ninth highest quarterback salary on DraftKings and the eighth highest on FanDuel this week.
Stafford lit up the Cardinals (28 points) in his first game than put up modest fantasy numbers last week (14) against a tough Giants defense. He has another favorable matchup Sunday against the Falcons. Atlanta is allowing the eighth most fantasy PPG to quarterbacks on DraftKings (18) and the 12th most on FanDuel (16).
Stafford has six touchdowns and just one interception in his first two games. He’s been flawless in the red zone where he’s completed 5 of 5 passes with four touchdowns. The Falcons rank 24th in red zone defense through two games. Atlanta is allowing opposing offenses to score a touchdown 66.7 percent of the time when they get into the red zone. That’s an improvement from last season when the Falcons ranked last in the NFL (71.6 percent).
The total for this game is set at 50.5, so the experts are expecting a lot of points. The one potential downside with Stafford is he’s projected to be one of the highest owned quarterbacks. If you don’t mind eating the chalk, he has a tasty matchup, low salary and a lot of potential stacking options.
Bargain Basement Play
DeShone Kizer, Cleveland Browns ($5,000 DraftKings, $6,900 FanDuel)
Last week Kizer threw for 182 yards and three interceptions. Through two games, the rookie has thrown just one touchdown and four interceptions. Keep in mind though, those games were against the Ravens and Steelers. Things ease up this week for Kizer when he takes on a depleted Colts defense.
The Colts are allowing the fifth most fantasy PPG on DraftKings (19.5) and the 10th most on FanDuel (16.5). They could again be without cornerbacks Vontae Davis and Quincy Wilson on Sunday.
The injuries to the Colts secondary could come into play against Kizer. He ranks third in the NFL in deep ball attempts (14), while the Colts ranks 27th in pass defense according to Football Outsiders. In comparison, Football Outsiders ranks the Ravens first in pass defense and the Steelers eighth. Kizer is getting by far his easiest matchup early in his career.
If you’re looking for a punt play at quarterback this week, Kizer will be owned by virtually no one and he has a chance to put up good numbers.
Tarik Cohen, Chicago Bears ($5,600 DraftKings, $5,600 FanDuel)
Cohen has been a reception machine in his first two games. He’s caught eight passes in each of his first two games and been targeted 21 times. With Jordan Howard (shoulder) questionable this week, Cohen is in line for even more touches against the Steelers.
Even if Howard does play, this game sets up well for Cohen. The Steelers allow only 74 rushing yards a game (8th in the NFL). The Bears aren’t going to be able to line up and pound the ball right at Pittsburgh’s defense.
While it’s difficult to run on the Steelers, they are allowing an average of 5.5 receptions per game to running backs on 8.5 targets through two games. Cohen is averaging just under 20 fantasy PPG at DraftKings. He’s projected to have less than 10 percent ownership, despite his hot start and low salary this week.
Theo Riddick, Detroit Lions ($5,100 DraftKings, $5,600 FanDuel)
This is a perfect matchup for Riddick. Last season the Falcons allowed the most receptions per game to opposing running backs (6.8). So far this season, the Falcons have been even worse. They still rank last but are allowing opposing running backs to catch 9.5 passes a game.
Riddick is arguably the best pass-catching back in the NFL. He already has nine receptions and a touchdown on 10 targets this season. He’s a nightmare matchup for a Falcons defense that has already given up 8/47/1 to Cohen and 6/75/1 to Ty Montgomery.
The Falcons defense gives up the fourth most fantasy PPG to running backs on DraftKings (37) and the third most on FanDuel (32.2). Riddick’s ownership is projected to be around 15 percent but that’s modest for what on paper is a dream matchup.
Bargain Basement Play
Ameer Abdullah, Detroit Lions ($4,700 DraftKings, $6,100 FanDuel)
If you don’t want to go with Riddick, give Abdullah a try. Abdullah is the cheaper of the two Lions running backs on DraftKings and while Riddick will eat up the Falcons through the air, Abdullah should see more touches.
As stated above, the Falcons defense has allowed a ton of fantasy points to opposing running backs. Abdullah hasn’t had a big fantasy outing yet but he has gotten 35 touches in the first two games.
In what’s projected to be a high-scoring game, there should be enough touches for both Riddick and Abdullah to eat. Riddick is the better play based on the matchup, but don’t be afraid to throw Abdullah in a couple of lineups as well.
DeVante Parker, Miami Dolphins ($6,300 DraftKings, $6,500 FanDuel)
Parker had a good first game with Jay Cutler. He caught four passes for 85 yards on nine targets.
It was an encouraging outing for Parker. He didn’t have a monster fantasy day but the nine targets are promising and Cutler showed the willingness to push the ball downfield.
This week Parker faces a Jets defense that’s allowing the 10th most fantasy PPG on DraftKings (34.5) and the ninth most on FanDuel (31.9). After two games, the Jets rank 29th in the NFL at covering opposing team’s No. 1 receivers according to Football Outsiders.
Parker’s ownership is projected to be under 10 percent, despite his reasonable salary and favorable matchup. It might take a couple of weeks for everyone to buy into Cutler. Strike before Parker’s salary rises.
Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers ($5,600 DraftKings, $6,800 FanDuel)
Randall Cobb (chest) and Jordy Nelson (quad) suffered injuries last week. Both are considered questionable for Sunday.
Adams is capable of putting up strong numbers even when those two play but last week with Nelson out of the lineup early, he caught eight passes for 99 yards and a touchdown on 10 targets. Nelson practiced on Wednesday but Cobb was held out.
The Bengals are allowing the second fewest fantasy PPG to receivers through two games but they’ve faced the Ravens and Texans. Jeremy Maclin (2/56/1) scored and DeAndre Hopkins (7/73) was targeted 13 times on teams with quarterbacks that weren’t asked to do much.
According to Football Outsiders, the Bengals rank last in the NFL covering an opposing team’s receivers not considered the No. 1 or 2 option. The Packers move Adams all over in their offense, so he’ll have mismatch opportunities to exploit this week.
Adams is expected to have high ownership numbers but he also has one of the highest ceilings. Given his salary, it’s worth eating the chalk on this one.
Bargain Basement Play
DeSean Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($4,600 DraftKings, $6,400 FanDuel)
Jackson got off to a slow start in his first game with the Buccaneers (3/39) but business is about to pick up.
Jackson saw seven targets in the opener. Jameis Winston just missed him on a couple of big plays down the field. This week Jackson will see a lot of Vikings cornerback Trae Waynes, while Xavier Rhodes covers Mike Evans. Waynes has struggled with speed-receivers throughout his career. Last week the Steelers Martavis Bryant went got him for three catches, 91 yards and a touchdown.
Not surprisingly, the Vikings rank dead last in covering a team’s No. 2 receiver, according to Football Outsiders. Waynes could be in for a long day trying to contain Jackson and we know Winston is going to challenge him. He ranked third in the NFL in deep ball attempts and air yards last season.
Jackson has one of the highest ceilings of any receiver in his salary range this week. He’s a strong bargain play.
Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings ($4,200 DraftKings, $5,400 FanDuel)
The Buccaneers defense doesn’t allow many fantasy points to tight ends. It’s hard to go by numbers though because Tampa Bay has only played one game and it was against Mike Glennon and the Bears. Rudolph has played two games and one was without his starting quarterback.
It looks like Sam Bradford is on track to start this week. That’s a boost to Rudolph’s fantasy value, although he actually caught more passes (4-2) for more yards (45-26) on more targets (6-3) with Case Keenum under center. However, Rudolph scored a touchdown in Week 1 with Bradford at quarterback. It shows Rudolph is relevant with either quarterback but it’s obviously better for fantasy purposes if Bradford plays.
Rudolph is projected to have one of the highest ceilings among tight ends this week but a perceived tough matchup and questions about Bradford will keep his ownership numbers low. Don’t be afraid to put him in your lineups.
Bargain Basement Play
Ed Dickson, Carolina Panthers ($2,700 DraftKings, $4,500 FanDuel)
The Panthers lost Greg Olsen to a foot injury. Their offense has been struggling with Olsen. Luckily, there’s a silver lining for Carolina’s offense: The Saints defense.
The Saints defense is awful at everything, including covering tight ends. New Orleans allows the second most fantasy PGG to tight ends on DraftKings (19.9) and the third most on FanDuel (15.6). Rudolph and Rob Gronkowski each scored against the Saints.
Dickson caught 54 passes for 528 yards and five touchdowns back in 2011 with the Ravens. He’s been primarily a blocker with the Panthers but now he’ll get more opportunities as a receiver being the No. 1 tight end.
Dickson will be owned on around one percent of rosters, despite having a top matchup. He’s an intriguing dart throw this week.
Philadelphia Eagles ($3,000 DraftKings, $4,500 FanDuel)
The Eagles enter this week’s game against the Giants with injuries to their secondary. Philadelphia has just two healthy safeties with Rodney McLeod, Corey Graham and Jaylen Watkin all dealing with hamstring injuries. The Eagles could be down to their fourth safety on Sunday.
While that’s not great news when facing Odell Beckham, the Eagles defensive line has such an advantage up front, the defense is worth playing. The Eagles have eight sacks in two games. The much-maligned Giants offensive line has allowed eight sacks. Do the math.
The Eagles have one of the top pass rushing defensive lines in the NFL. The Giants have one of the worst pass blocking offensive lines in the NFL. Things don’t always play out the way you expect. Other times they do. It’s hard to learn how to block in one week.
Bargain Basement Play
Carolina Panthers ($2,600 DraftKings, $4,500 FanDuel)
The Panthers defense has been nasty in its first two games. How nasty? Carolina has yet to give up a touchdown. Sure, the Panthers have played the 49ers and Bills but allowing three points in both games is impressive.
The competition picks up this week as Drew Brees and the Saints come to town. The Saints defense has been so bad this year though it’s masking concerns about their offense. In their first two games, the Saints have scored 19 points versus the Vikings and 20 points at home against the Patriots. Now they travel to Carolina to face a Panthers defense allowing three points, 196 total yards with seven sacks through two games.
Given how impressive the Panthers defense has looked and how average the Saints offense has played, you’re getting a bargain with Carolina’s defense. They’re worth a shot.