Cardinals-Raiders Matchup Offers Great DFS Potential
NFL Week 2 - Week 2 is here and it's a great-looking schedule. Several of the top-tier dual-threat quarterbacks are off the main slate, but we still have some very fun games, and the pocket passers we're left with have some of the real elite talents in the league to throw to. Week 1 was all about finding the correct values; Week 2 will be about deciphering what mattered.
Derek Carr $6200 vs. Arizona Cardinals (52.0 over/under)
The Raiders fell behind early against the Chargers and struggled to dig themselves out of a hole. Next up, they welcome the Cardinals into Vegas, and both teams will be looking to bounce back. This game features the highest over/under of the Sunday main slate, and the public will be expecting points. Derek Carr doesn't give us the rushing floor that we ideally want at the position, but due to the schedule this week, there are very few quarterbacks who have that upside. Instead, we want to build around solid quarterbacks with weapons that could explode. No team was worse than the Cardinals in DVOA against the pass in Week 1, and Carr should find plenty of success too.
Usage Suggestions: Carr is in play for cash games if you're looking to pay down at the position, but he's an easier play in tournaments. Stacks with Davante Adams will be popular. If you look to add a second player to that stack, Darren Waller looks better than Hunter Renfrow for reasons I mentioned in my Tuesday column, Fantasy Fallout.
Matthew Stafford $6300 vs. Atlanta Falcons (47.0 over/under)
Coming off a disappointing performance against the Bills defense, Stafford has a chance to be under-rostered in Week 2. The Falcons defense is somewhat tamer than the Bills, though, particularly in the passing game. In Week 1 we saw Jameis Winston consistently find Jarvis Landry in the slot, racking up 3.6 yards per route run, which was ninth-best amongst receivers to run 10 routes or more. We have seen Stafford enjoy throwing to the slot consistently since joining the Rams, and it would be no surprise to see him racking up throws there this week with Cooper Kupp particularly dangerous in the slot.
Usage Suggestions: As a pocket passer, we want to stack Stafford in tournaments to get the best out of him. Double stacks with Cooper Kupp and either Allen Robinson or Tyler Higbee make plenty of sense.
Trey Lance $5700 vs. Seattle Seahawks (over/under 43.0)
The Trey Lance Hype Train once again experienced a bumpy ride as the Chicago weather hampered any solid takeaways from the game. As I wrote in my Fantasy Fallout column on Tuesday, there will be a time for panicking about Lance, but we're not there yet and the 49ers beat writers seemed positive about the way he handled the game and aftermath this week. The good news is that Lance should be a quality fantasy quarterback; his 11.3 expected rushing points were second only to Jalen Hurts in Week 1, and better days might be just around the corner. The 49ers face the Seahawks, who ranked bottom-six in defensive passing DVOA in Week 1. The Seahawks allowed the Broncos to put up 340 passing yards on Monday night and won the game because of the Broncos mistakes rather than their own dominance. It's also worth noting that over the last year, the Seahawks have largely avoided games with rushing quarterbacks, playing Kyler Murray (who put up a mediocre 35 yards in a Week 18 game) once in 2021, and no other dual threats of note. After last week's Mud Bowl, Lance's rostership should be lower than it could have been.
Usage Suggestions: Lance has a way to go to prove he can be cash-game viable, but for now he makes an interesting tournament play as the 11th highest-priced quarterback on the slate. With Elijah Mitchell out, Deebo Samuel may see more rushing opportunities, and stacking Lance with Aiyuk could prove to be the more fruitful option.
Saquon Barkley $7300 vs. Carolina Panthers (44.0 over/under)
Saquon is back! Not only did Barkley put up his highest fantasy score since 2019, but he also saw a monster team target share of 33%. The Panthers allowed the Cleveland Browns to run all over them during Week 1, surrendering 217 rushing yards and finishing bottom-three in rushing DVOA for the week. The Giants pass-catching corps continues to struggle through injuries, and Kadarius Toney's situation is murky at best. Barkley presents the best hopes for the Giants offense and at $7300 still might be underpriced.
Usage Suggestions: In this matchup, Barkley is a fine play for cash games. He will likely see high enough rostership that if you play him in tournaments, you'll need to get unique elsewhere in your lineup. There are no other Giants necessary to pair Barkley with, but taking a shot on either DJ Moore or Robbie Anderson can add a nice game correlation.
James Conner $6900 @ Las Vegas Raiders (52.0 over/under)
In 2021 James Conner was a league-winner when he rushed for 15 touchdowns and added three more through the passing game. After having a 10th-round ADP, he jumped to the third round in best ball drafts for 2022, with many drafters having doubts that he would see an every-down role this year. In Week 1, Conner saw nearly every Arizona running back touch until the game was out of reach and Eno Benjamin was given more reps. With no Rondale Moore or Chase Edmonds to hoover up the near-the-line-of-scrimmage catches, Conner saw a 16.7% target share. In games that Conner has played without Chase Edmonds going back to the start of last season, he has averaged 5.67 targets per game, and his receiving yardage triples from 14.2 with Edmonds up to 42.2 without.
Usage Suggestions: Conner is a fine play in all formats this week. Adding him into game stacks that are heavy with the Raiders will give you plenty of access to the highest over/under of the slate.
Javonte Williams $6500 vs. Houston Texans (46.0 over/under)
The Broncos were not as advertised on Monday Night Football. The "Let Russ Cook" movement seems to have developed into the "Let's Dump Off" movement instead, and for all their failures in game management, the screen game was incredibly effective against the Seahawks. Javonte Williams caught 11 passes from Russell Wilson, which puts him second only to Cooper Kupp's 13 receptions so far this season. Williams was able to turn those passes into 65 yards, and in PPR it set him up for a very solid return. Williams also fumbled the ball on the goal line, but it was only his second career fumble and the team showed no signs of keeping him away from the ball. The Texans are fresh off allowing Jonathan Taylor to put up 161 rushing yards on them, along with allowing Taylor and Nyheim Hines to combine for 10 receptions. There is no reason to expect the Broncos to not have success with Williams this week.
Usage Suggestions: Because Melvin Gordon lurks in the shadows, I wouldn't play Williams in cash, but he's a fine play for tournaments and would pair well with Brandin Cooks.
Antonio Gibson $6200 @ Detroit Lions (49.0 over/under)
There is a finite amount of time for Antonio Gibson to show the Commanders coaching staff that he deserves to be RB1 in Washington. Brian Robinson is reportedly doing well in his recovery from a gunshot wound and the team seems enamored with the rookie. Gibson, though, went out in Week 1 and did everything within his power to stake his claim, performing well on the ground and setting a career-high with eight targets. The Lions struggled against the run in Week 1, allowing the Eagles to put up 216 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns. Gibson could be in for another strong week.
Usage Suggestions: Much like Javonte Williams, Gibson has J.D. McKissic lurking and because of this he's not in cash game consideration. But in tournaments, plug him in and consider correlating with Amon-Ra St. Brown or DJ Chark.
Rhamondre Stevenson $5200 @ Pittsburgh Steelers (40.0 over/under)
On Tuesday the Patriots placed Ty Montgomery on injured reserve, giving fantasy managers another glimmer of hope that Rhamondre Stevenson might be about to see an expanded role. In Week 1, Montgomery saw 44% of the targets that went to running backs and rolled into the end zone. Stevenson is a more natural pass-catcher than Damien Harris and is less touchdown-reliant. This game has a low over/under, but if Mac Jones is still feeling any of the effects from the back spasms he suffered in Week 1, the Patriots might decide to lean on the running game.
Usage Suggestions: Tournaments only, and approach with caution due to the slate's lowest over/under.
Mike Evans $6800 @ New Orleans Saints (44.0 over/under)
The NFL thrives on narratives, and in Week 2 we're presented with a clash of two Mike Evans narratives. In case you never heard, Marshon Lattimore of the Saints has frequently shut down Mike Evans over the years, holding him to an average of 1.8 receptions for 26.2 yards and 0.6 touchdowns per game over their last five meetings. On the other side of that narrative, we can look at Evans' splits in games without Chris Godwin, who will miss this one due to a hamstring injury. During the Tampa Bay Tom Brady era in games without Godwin, Evans has seen his PPR output increase by almost a third from 15.1 to 20.3 points per game. Evans' touchdowns also jump from 0.78 per game to 1.17. Because the narrative around Lattimore shutting Evans down is so strong, it makes for a very appealing play in daily fantasy, where we want to leverage away from our opponents.
Usage Suggestions: Excellent tournament play and a fine stack with Tom Brady ($6400) for 26.4% of your total salary.
Colts receivers @ Jacksonville Jaguars (47.0 over/under)
On Saturday Michael Pittman was ruled out with a quad injury that kept him from practising this week, the aftermath leaves us with a messy situation to sort through. Alec Pierce was also ruled out due to a concussion which leaves the Colts receiving core like this;
Parris Campbell - $3700
Ashton Dulin - $3200
Mike Strachan - $3100
Keke Coutee - $3000
None of these options are particularly appealing, but Campbell is the standout and has produced in the NFL far more than the other two, but also struggles to stay healthy. Michael Strachan profiles more as a deep-shot receiver and if you believe the Jaguars can push the Colts he may have more value than the others. Coutee was elevated from the practice squad on Saturday and has produced more than any of the other receivers in this group, but it has also been two years since he last did anything of note. Unfortunately, it's a very messy situation that doesn't look great and only reinforces Jonathan Taylor's great (but expensive) outlook. For tournaments, I'll consider playing Nyheim Hines ($5300) and hope we see him deployed as a receiver.
Amon-Ra St. Brown $6500 vs. Washington Commanders (49.0 over/under)
Another receiver who is deserving of our trust is Amon-Ra St. Brown. During the offseason, people would talk themselves out of drafting St. Brown because when he really caught fire in 2021 both T.J Hockenson and D'Andre Swift missed time due to injuries. However, in Week 1 we saw St. Brown continue to dominate with a 32.4% team target share and lead the team in receiving yards. St. Brown operates almost exclusively in the slot, an area that the Commanders struggled to defend in Week 1, allowing Christian Kirk to have 117 receiving yards as Lawrence continuously looked there.
Usage Suggestions: Great play in all formats. Jared Goff lacks the ceiling we'd like to typically stack with, so instead lean on positive game script correlations and pair St. Brown with a Commanders pass-catcher.
DJ Moore $5700 @ New York Giants (44.0 over/under)
After Sunday's game against the Browns, Matt Rhule told reporters that he had had a philosophical shift during the summer and now wanted to be a passing-first offense. It remains to be seen if that plays out across the course of the season, but in these early stages, it could spell even better news for Panthers pass-catchers. Moore's six targets were the second highest on the team and whilst 8.0 PPR points wasn't a great opening weekend return, fantasy managers shouldn't give up hope just yet. At $5700, Moore is priced as a mid-level receiver and we know he has the talent to outperform that. I'd rather be too early on a player like Moore than too late.
Usage Suggestions: Pairing Moore with Saquon Barkley is a solid way to access what could be the majority of points in this game and gives leverage away from people who roster Christian McCaffrey.
Rashod Bateman $5500 vs. Dolphins (45.0 over/under)
This time last year, Rashod Bateman was several weeks away from making his NFL debut, and both he and Ravens fans will be relieved to see him come out and hit the ground running in 2022. During the offseason, Bateman and Lamar Jackson reportedly worked hard on their downfield connection, and if the results continue to pour in as they did in Week 1, they'll make for quite the pairing. The Ravens running game looked woeful against the Jets, and whilst JK Dobbins has a good chance to play in Week 2, we shouldn't expect too much from him straight away. Lamar Jackson led the league with an average depth of target of 13.1 yards in Week 1, and until we see otherwise we should continue to buy into the passing game.
Usage Suggestions: Bateman is just about in play for cash games, but a stronger bet in tournaments. Stacks with Lamar Jackson are viable, as are pairings with Miami receivers. If Marcus Peters misses out for the Ravens, they may be thin at cornerback, and this game could creep into shootout potential.
Jarvis Landry $5000 vs. Tampa Bay Buccanneers (44.0 over/under)
Michael Thomas' two late touchdowns stole the headlines against the Falcons, and rightly so after his long spell away from the field, but amongst that it seems to have been overlooked how often Jameis Winston was looking towards Jarvis Landry. Winston consistently targeted Landry in the slot and Landry racked up 3.6 yards per route run, which was ninth-best amongst receivers to run 10 routes or more, helping Landry total 21.4 DraftKings points. The Buccaneers have been a tough run defense for a while now, ranking top-12 in rushing DVOA in 2021 after leading the league in 2020. On Sunday Night Football, the Bucs allowed just 60 rushing yards on 16 attempts; meanwhile, Alvin Kamara failed to get out to a strong start. If the Saints struggle on the ground again, it should help Landry to see another productive night.
Usage Suggestions: At $5000, Landry makes an appealing option for those wishing to save salary in cash lineups and will also be a good tournament play as part of Saints or Buccaneers stacks.
Tyler Boyd $5400 @ Dallas Cowboys: If Tee Higgins can't clear concussion protocol in time, then Boyd becomes an appealing play, although with Cooper Rush playing for the Cowboys it might turn into a slow-pace affair.
Brandon Aiyuk $5100 vs. Seattle Seahawks: Like with Trey Lance, people seem to have forgotten that not too long ago Aiyuk was lighting up training camp every day. The Seahawks allowed several big plays on Monday Night Football, and that's exactly the type of play Aiyuk can be dangerous on.
Curtis Samuel $4600 @ Detroit Lions: Samuel looked much like the player the Commanders paid up for in 2021's free agency. His style of play perfectly complements Carson Wentz's tendency to throw often to targets near the line of scrimmage
Zay Jones $4300 vs. Indianapolis Colts: Lawrence targeted Jones three times inside the red zone, and that kind of usage is noteworthy. Pairing Jones with Jonathan Taylor is a nice way to attack this game and offset the expensive cost of Taylor.
Allen Robinson $5500 vs. Atlanta Falcons: Another preseason hero whose reputation took a hit once the games started. People will be scared off playing Robinson, but it might be possible the Rams were flustered after the Bills punched them in the mouth. The Falcons will provide much weaker opposition and the price is a bargain. Stack Robinson up happily.
Darren Waller $5600 vs. Arizona Cardinals (52.0 over/under)
The true ceiling of Darren Waller might be capped slightly with Davante Adams in town, but in truth Waller's best days may be behind him. In 2021 he only had one top-five weekly finish, in part because he failed to score a single touchdown. Whilst the Chargers are a good defense, Waller will face softer competition this week in the Cardinals, who allowed 30.7% of Patrick Mahomes' Week 1 passes to go to a tight end.
Usage Suggestions: Stacking Waller with Carr would provide risky leverage off teams stacking Carr with Adams. It's a tactic I would reserve for max-entering large-field tournaments.
Kyle Pitts $5400 @ Los Angeles Rams (47.0 over/under)
The Saints had Kyle Pitts' number and made sure to pay attention to him, keeping him to a modest two receptions, but importantly for fantasy, Pitts was targeted seven times, the joint-highest on the team. The Falcons will need their best players to play big against the Rams, and Pitts likely won't be a popular play if people choose to either pay up for Mark Andrews or punt the position in favor of cheaper options.
Usage Suggestions: Tournaments only. Pitts makes a good bring back to Rams stacks, and a contrarian play might be to pair him with Marcus Mariota and a couple of Rams pass-catchers.
Zach Ertz $4500 @ Las Vegas Raiders (52.0 over/under)
After being limited in the season opener, Ertz was a full participant in Wednesday's team practice. Rookie Trey McBride was a healthy scratch, and that in itself tells us plenty about how the team views him with Ertz carrying an injury. Ertz might not have the juice he used to, but this Cardinals team needs pass-catchers and Ertz can still be a solid possession receiver. The Raiders struggled to deal with Gerald Everett at times on Sunday and Ertz is a fine paydown option for Week 2.
Usage Suggestions: Viable for cash games given the high over/under of this game; fine for tournaments stacked with Kyler Murray and cheap enough to help you add in Davante Adams.
Tyler Higbee $4200 vs. Atlanta Falcons (52.0 over/under)
In Week 1, Higbee had the fourth-highest team target share of any tight end, and it's clear that the Rams still view him as a key component of their game. Higbee won't see 11 targets every week, but at this cost, three or four receptions and a touchdown and you'll be OK.
Kylen Granson $2600 @ Jacksonville Jaguars (47.0 over/under)
Granson saw the majority of usage amongst Colts tight ends in Week 1, with Jelani Woods not involved and Mo-Alie Cox seeing two targets to Granson's seven. As tight end punts go, this one is quite appealing with the news that Michael Pittman is out.
Stack of The Week
After last week's success with Jalen Hurts and A.J. Brown, it's time to name another Stack of The Week and this time we'll be going a little contrarian. Marcus Mariota ($5600), Cooper Kupp ($9900), and Kyle Pitts ($5400) total up to 41.8% of your DraftKings salary and should give you plenty of access to a high ceiling.
Fade of The Week
It brings me no joy to say this, but I don't want to have a lot of exposure to the Bengals at the Cowboys. With Dak Prescott out injured, the Cowboys likely won't be able to push the Bengals into a shootout, and this has all the hallmarks of a slow-paced game that hits the under (43).
Cash Game Locks
Kyler Murray $7500
Matthew Stafford $6300
Jonathan Taylor $9900
Saquon Barkley $7300
Joe Mixon $7200
Darrell Henderson $5700
Cooper Kupp $9900
Deebo Samuel $7800
Mark Andrews $6400