FantasyDraft: NFL DFS WEEK 2 – Importance of Pass-Catching Workhorse RBs
The NFL season is now in full glory. Week 1 had some big-time fantasy performers and some players who fell flat. Overall, we had a great first week on FantasyDraft, and now we look to take the lessons we learned and do even better.
Due to a poor performance by TB QB Jameis Winston, the lineup presented in this article fell just short of Pay Out Zone in the FantasyDraft Hooters $1,000,000 tournament. However, the lineup DFS Fantasy Foreplay created as a team on IroniqRadio on Sunday morning nearly reached the top 5%, and it won $90 on a $20 ticket.
We will again play the lineup in this article and the one we build on our show in the NFL-Hooters Million (Sun Only). This week’s million-dollar no-rake contest cost $25. The total entrants, however, has been decreased to 40,000 and the top 20% are guaranteed at least $50. You can listen to us build this week’s lineup by simply re-loading this article into your browser starting an hour and a half before kickoff.
The biggest lesson we re-learned in Week 1, is how vital the workhorse pass-catching RBs are. FantasyDraft rewards one-point per reception as opposed to the half-point on other sites. With two flex spots, it’s possible to build a lineup with four RBs. If those RBs combine for 18 catches, that’s the equivalent of three extra TDs. Legitimate workhorse RBs, who are also involved heavily in the passing game, have an opportunity to earn the FantasyDraft 3-point bonus for either 100 yards rushing or receiving. The collective impact of those RBs can give you a huge advantage of other fantasy players who do not deploy that strategy.
This week we built a lineup full of elite RBs who are competent high performing pass-catchers. We also got one of the best QBs on the slate. To do this, we found what we believe are great value plays at the WR and TE positions.
QB (Salary on FantasyDraft)
NE QB Tom Brady ($13,500) started the season smoking hot, as he completed 24 of 36 pass attempts for 341 yards and three TDs against the Steelers. Now he has what oddsmakers and fantasy experts perceive as one of the easiest matchups possible in the Dolphins. BAL QB Lamar Jackson obliterated Miami last week when he completed 17 of 20 passes for 324 yards with five TDs. In that game, Miami showed no ability to get pressure on the QB, and Jackson was able to pick apart the secondary. The Patriots favored by a virtually unheard-of 19 points and have the highest score projection on the slate of 33.5 points. It wouldn’t be unreasonable for Brady to throw for another three to five TDs and be in the neighborhood of 400 yards passing.
PIT QB Ben Roethlisberger ($10,400) is likely in store for a huge bounce-back game. We altogether avoided the Steelers last week because when the Steelers played the Patriots in Week 15 last season, Rothlisberger had his worst performance of the season with only 235 yards passing as the Pats won 17-10. This past Sunday’s performance against the Pats was an improvement with 276 yards passing. Overall last season, Rothlisberger lead the league with 5,129 passing yards. This week the Steelers are at home and face Seahawks who allowed a second-worst 395 passing yards to start the season. Seventeen other QBs are priced higher than Rothlisberger, but he could easily be a top-five QB on the slate.
KC Patrick Mahomes ($14,300) could have a massive day against the Raiders, but he is the most expensive QB play on the board.
WRs (Salary on FantasyDraft)
NE WR Philip Dorsett II ($6,000) started his season by catching all four of his targets for 95 yards and two TDs against the Steelers. While his targets are not as high as we would like, his price and opportunity with a phenomenal matchup are what makes the rest of this lineup possible. BAL WR Marquise Brown ($9,400) caught four passes for 147 yards and two TDs on just 14 total snaps against Miami CB Darryl Roberts. Dorsett will be covered by Roberts, who was also bad last year when he allowed 1.97 fantasy point per target.
Dorsett is likely priced low with the anticipation that he would lose playing time to either WR Demaryius Thomas (not on the slate) or newly acquired WR Antonio Brown ($16,700). Thomas was traded to the Jets mid-week. Then Brown was accused of sexual assault. Brown is the most expensive WR on the slate, but now there are serious questions on whether or not he will play at all. The Patriots still list Dorsett as the No.1 RWR. Even if Brown cuts into some of his snaps, at $10,600 cheaper, Dorsett is a steal and opens up the ability to pay-up in many other spots.
The tournament ownership projection for Dorsett is at less than 1% on 4for4. We think that’s crazy considering his performance last week, the high score projection, and a premium matchup. Dorsett really could play a role in winning a GPP.
Update: Brown will play Sunday as he will not be placed on the commissioner’s exempt list. We are still on Dorsett. WR Josh Gordon only played 18 snaps in each of first two games with the Patriots last season. With recent history suggesting Brown’s will be limited, Dorsett is still a great value and his price.
OAK WR Tyrell Williams ($9,400) became the No.1 WR for the Raiders when Antonio Brown was released last week. Williams seized the opportunity on Monday night against the Broncos when he caught six of seven targets for 105 yards and a TD. Williams now faces a Chiefs defense that allowed the most receiving yards (4,721) last season with an average of 295.1 yards per game. The game has the highest O/U projection at 53.5 with the Chiefs expected to score 30.5 points. If the Raiders are going to compete, they likely will have to throw the ball. That means plenty of targets for Williams.
DAL WR Michael Gallup ($11,200) caught all seven of his targets for 158 yards. Gallup faces Redskins CB Quinton Dubar who allowed a whopping 2.12 FD per target last year. “Let’s take advantage of the Washington secondary again this week,” wrote Mike Woellert his weekly WR vs CB Matchup column at 4for4. “Dallas’ implied total is up to 25.5 and I like Gallup’s chances at a TD this week.”
PHI WR DeSean Jackson ($12,000) may no longer be just a big play or bust option. Jackson caught eight of hi10 targets for 154 yards and two touchdowns.
PIT WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (13,400) could have a monster day if Rothlisberger performs as expected.
NO Michael Thomas ($15,100) has a realistic opportunity to be the top WR play this week playing against the Rams in what could be a shoot-out.
TE (Salary on FantasyDraft)
OAK TE Darren Waller ($6,400) caught seven of eight targets for 70 yards in his rookie debut against a good Broncos defense. Waller will likely continue to be heavily involved in the offense. As a TE he always has a chance for TD, but if the opportunity continues to be there at this price, it’s easy for him to make value without a TD. If he scores, then Waller could return a considerable value. The matchup is there with Kansas City for Waller to have a big day. “The Chiefs, who allowed a massive 2.07 PPR points per target to (TEs last season),” wrote Tagliere in his comprehensive weekly column The Primer. “Just last week, they allowed the combination of James O’Shaughnessy and Geoff Swaim to combine for eight catches and 49 yards on nine targets.”
KC TE Travis Kelce ($13,400) is likely going to have a monster day against Raiders. He is worth his price, but we see great value in Waller and that savings alow us to load-up on elite RBs.
NYG TE Evan Engram ($10,700) more than lived up to our expectations last week that he would be heavily involved the offense against the Cowboys. Engram caught 11 of 14 targets for 116 yards and a TD against Dallas for an incredible 31.6 FD points.
If you thought 14 targets were absurdly high, you would be right! However, it would not be unreasonable for Engram to see 15-20 targets this week against the Bills with NYG WR Sterling Shepard in the concussion protocol. Despite his production last week and expected volume this week, we are not paying up for Engram because of his matchup against Buffalo. “Bills were brutal to tight ends last year, allowing just a 56.3 percent completion rate, 5.89 yards per target, and 1.41 PPR points per target,” wrote Tagliere. “No tight end was able to eclipse 55 yards against them.”
DET TE T.J. Hockenson ($7,700) caught six of nine targets for 139 yards in a TD in his debut to lead all TEs for total yards. He is another low-priced option that should continue to see high volume, but the matchup this week against the Chargers is a tough one.
RBs/Flex (Salary on FantasyDraft)
NYG RB Saquon Barkley ($17,000) had excellent production on lighter than average volume for him. He carried the ball 11 times for 120 yards and caught four of six targets for 19 yards against the Cowboys. Barkley didn’t reach the endzone, but there is a good chance he will get a TD this week. With Giants WR Sterling Shepard in the conclusion protocol, Barkley is likely assured to be a massive part of the game, and the Bills have struggled mightily at keeping opposing RBs from scoring.
“Oddly enough, no running back totaled 20 carries against the Bills last year, though they did allow six RB1 performances to them,” wrote Tagliere. “Something they all had in common? They all scored touchdowns. The 4.14 yards per carry the Bills allowed ranked as the 11th lowest, but they allowed a touchdown every 21.2 carries, the second most-often in the league, behind only the Bucs. It was an issue the Bills had in 2017 as well, as they allowed a touchdown every 20.3 carries, which was the most often. Barkley is going to get his yards more often than not, as he’s almost always breaking a play, but it’s good to know the Bills struggle most where he struggles most. Play him as a high-end RB1, and he’s in-play for tournaments as well.”
NO RB Alvin Kamara ($15,400) put on a typical Kamara performance against the Texans on Monday night. He rushed 13 times for 97 yards and caught seven of eight targets for 72 yards. That’s what we have come to expect from Kamara. Now he faces a Rams defense that was sliced and diced last week by CAR RB Christian McCaffrey (not on the slate) who ran for 128 yards and two TDs on 19 carries and added 81 yards on 10 receptions. McCaffrey is about the only RB that compares to Kamra in terms of his pass-catching ability. Look for Kamara to perform between what he did against the Texans and what McCaffrey achieved against the Rams.
DAL RB Ezekiel Elliott ($16.600) carried the ball 13 times for 53 yards and a TD and caught one of two targets for 10 yards against the Giants. It was a more significant workload than expected after missing all of training camp and the pre-season with a contract dispute. Going into the game it was expected Elliott would play 20-25 snaps, but he surpassed those expectations by playing 37 snaps. Elliott now looks to return to business as usual as one of the league’s most dominant RBs.
“I think I’m ready now for a normal workload,” Elliott told Todd Archer of ESPN. “Just depends on how (running backs coach Gary Brown) and Kellen (Moore) and coach (Jason) Garrett are feeling on Sunday,” Elliott said. “But if they ask me, I’ll be able to go out there and do it.”
A “normal workload” means heavy involvement in the passing game. Elliott has at least one catch in every game he has played over the last 19 games. In nine of those games, he caught five or more passes and has averaged 4.4 receptions.
Elliott faces a Redskins defense that allowed Eagles RBs last week to total 116 yards on 26 carries (4.46 yards per carry). The Redskins will also be missing one of their best rushing defenders in DT Jonathan Allen (MCL strain).
TEN Derrick Henry ($11,300) rushed 19 times for 84 yards and a TD and caught one of two targets for 75 yards and another TD against what is perceived to be an excellent Browns defense. All of his production in the passing game came on one play. However, it shows how explosive Hennry can be when he gets the ball in the open field.
Henry faces a Colt defense that got shredded in the passing game by LAC RB Austin Ekeler ($12,900). Ekeler carried the ball 12 times for 58 yards and hauled-in six receptions for 96 yards and three TDs. The Colts have now allowed 13 running backs in the last 17 games to amass five-plus receptions, according to Tagliere. Most of Henry’s production comes on the ground, with a high of two catches in a game last season. It wouldn’t be a shocker to see Henry be more involved in the passing game this week. Henry is likely to touch the ball in the neighboorhood of 20 times. That provides a solid floor at this price, and his explosiveness offers upside.
Here are the rankings for the top-five RBs on 4for4 for a full point per reception. McCaffrey is not on the slate, so we are using the top-3, plus Derrick Henry. Austin Ekeler is ranked fifth in large part because of his performance against the Colts last week, which Henry is facing this week. The grouping of RBs in our lineup has the potential to catch 18-30 passes depending on game script. There is also the possibility of an additional 3-5 TDs on top of whatever production they achieve with those catches.
SEA RB Chris Carson ($11,200) was targeted seven times last week. He always has a large workload. We nearly used Carson over Henry. Henrwaschosen because he showed plenty of big-play ability in recent games and that provides a higher upside for tournaments.
LAC RB Austin Ekeler ($12,900) was in several of the lineups that we built, but price precluded him from the one for this article.
OAK Josh Jacobs ($9,200) looks to be a great value! He made a splash in his first with 24 total touches that included 85 yards and two TDs on 23 carries, and one reception for 28 yards. If you want to pay up for a different WR, replacing Henry could be a solid play.
CHI RB Tarik Cohen ($8,200) had 10 targets last week, second-most for RBs. His low price combined with high targets makes him an intriguing play. We didn’t use him because it’s hard to see a predictable path to a 100-yard game as a rusher or a receiver. Cohen may reach a combined 100-yards, but that does not provide a 3-point bonus.
Team Defense (Salary on FantasyDraft)
The Pittsburgh Steelers ($4,100) are what we could afford. However, we do see promise. At home, the offense is likely going to control the clock at the Seahawks who operate a slow-paced offense. Any defense can run into a TD, and we are hoping to get lucky this week.
Put It All Together
This FantasyDraft has a QB that expected to pass 20-30-plus times and may surpass 400 yards passing. Two WRs and TE that should combine for 15-20+ targets. Plus four RBs that can realistically touch the ball 80-100-plus times. That’s a total of 115 to over 150 or more opportunities to score FD points. We also have a stable of elite RBs who can rack-up the receptions. Thus they are capable of reaching a 3-point bonus as either a rusher or a receiver. If you are playing the NFL-Hooters Million (Sun Only), please make some change from this lineup in so that we are not a duplicate of each other.
The best way to win free tickets to the NFL-Hooters Million (Sun Only) contest is the follow and interact with FantasyDraft on Twitter. They have frequent promotions with giveaways for their followers.
Dan McLellan Rankings
After two full seasons of writing DFS articles, this past week was the first time FantasyPros ranked me with other industry professionals. I’m proud that I won the TEs category in my first week. Now I look to improve on the overall ranking of 54th. Industry Accuracy Rankings: https://www.fantasypros.com/nfl/accuracy/
Stay with IroniqMedia for all of your fantasy needs.
Follow Dan on Twitter @sandiegosports.