FanDuel NFL Week 2: In-Depth Player Pool With Expert Analysis
We got many things correct in our FanDuel Week 1 lineup. Including playing QBs Mitch Trubisky (CHI, $6,900, 24.28 points) and Gardner Minshew (JAC, $6,200, 20.81). The stack of WRs Davante Adams (G.B., $8,000, 34.59) and Adam Thielen (MIN, $6,800, 28) combined for 62.59 points or a 4.4X return. RBs Josh Jacobs (LV, $8,200) lead all R.B.s with 35.90 points and also featured was RB Joshua Kelley (LAC, $4,500, 12), who scored a T.D. at a minimum price and less than 0.1% ownership.
Despite all of the success, we certainly had some misses. The Saints, Bucs, Eagles, Lions, and players certainly did not live up to expectations as we were all over those games. That being the case, several of my lineups had hits but did not come together to cash.
That’s why DFS hard. But the great thing about DFS is we get to learn from last week and start again. Success often comes by not just following the points and hoping for a repeat from the same player, by determining if the next player in the same situation can take advantage of the opportunity.
A few things that I think we discovered is that the Lions secondary and Panthers run defense are genuinely atrocious and that Dolphins defense is still one to pick on. We will attack those defenses this week.
Due to the low entry fee of $4 for a $1 million top prize on FanDuel, I’m again making a few more lineups than usual and entering them in single entry tournaments. I’m taking a different approach to lineup construction this week as I do have a core three R.B.s while continuing to build around them with top-projected Q.B.s and W.R.s that have favorable C.B. matchups. That means this article will have a little less info on R.B.s and a lot on Q.B.s and W.R.s.
The risk to this approach is that if one of the three get hurt or don’t perform, it will hurt all of my lineups. However, if they all come close to meeting expectations, then all of my FanDuel lineups will be in great shape to at least cash.
Research, The Three Mikes
As regular readers of my column, you will not only see my research of stats but the analysis of some of the best experts in the industry (If you can’t beat them, join and credit them). This column sites Mike Tagliere of FantasyPros and Mike Woellert of 4for4 frequently. This year, I will be adding Mike McClure of SportsLine.
Tagliere’s weekly column, The Primer, is the most compressive look at Fantasy Football. It’s typically about 20,000 words and had well thought out information on every fantasy-relevant (and not so relevant) player. Tagliere takes into account defensive injures, schemes, matchups, and historical numbers. I admire Tagliere’s work. This article is somewhat modeled after The Primer but reduced to only the players I’m using.
Woellert is an expert at W.R. vs. C.B. matchups. He continually finds low owned undervalued players that have huge weeks. When spending up at W.R., it’s great to know they are in advantageous situations. As the season progresses, patterns emerge, and it becomes clear which C.B.s to exploit. Our goal will be playing W.R.s, who are covered by C.B.s, who average near or above 2.0 fantasy points per target.
McClure is a DFS millionaire. He does his own computer modeling and publishes players to focus on simulating games 10,000 times each. McClure’s info has continuously put me in the money playing PGA, including winning a GPP tournament. I’m looking forward to including his information for NFL play.
While my articles give you free exposure to a sliver of the information, at FantasyPros, 4for4, and SportsLine, I would recommend subscribing to them to help with your research.
I’m a big believer in using multiple outlets to do research, and finding experts that have a niche is fantastic. Recently, I’ve enjoyed Justin Freeman’s free YouTube shot, The CPT Spot, which focuses on single-game showdowns. In the first week of the season, Freeman has remarkably chopped first place twice in showdowns.
Week 1 Player Pool
Lamar Jackson (BAL, $9,500) scored 27.5 fantasy points last week against the Browns. That’s very good, but it was the most expensive Q.B. and did not score the most points. Russell Wilson (SEA 31.78), GB Aaron Rodgers (30,76), and Josh Allen (28.18) all scored more. Jackson’s price only increased $100 and is again projected by 4for4 (26.7) and FantasyPros (25.9 and a ceiling of 32.5) to be the top Q.B. for the week. Jackson faces a Houston defense that held Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes to just 20.44 points last week. So expectation perhaps should be a little dampened. We will have exposure to Jackson, but will not consider that as our top build when paying for single entry tournaments. My ranking reflects that, as I have Jackson at four.
Dak Prescott (DAL, $8,300) completed 25 of 39 passes for 266 yards and a T.D. and added 30 yards on three rush attempts en route to scoring a respectable 17.6 fantasy points against the Rams. Prescott is the second-highest projected Q.B. at 4for4 (20.7) and third highest at FantasyPros (23.2 with a ceiling of 29.4). Prescott faces the Falcons that allowed Wilson to lead all Q.B.s in fantasy scoring last week.
Josh Allen (BUF, $8,200) and Kyler Murray (AIR, $8,000) are the fourth and fifth-highest priced players. A sampling of industry rankings tends to have them within a fraction of point from each other at four and five, with some putting Murray ahead of Allen. On paper, Allen has the easier matchup against a Dolphins defense that has mightily struggled going back to last year and allowed Cam Newton (N.E., not on the main slate) to score 25.70 points. Murray faces a Washington defense that surprised by racking up eight sacks against Carson Wentz (PHI, $7,300), holding him to 15 fantasy points. One of the biggest mistakes I made last week, as I underestimated how bad the Eagles O-Line is. That’s not to take away from what Washington accomplished. However, if they can get pressure on Murray, that will likely lead to more rushing yards. Last week, Murray rushed 13 times for 91 yards against the 49ers.
Aaron Rodgers (G.B., $7,900) completed 32 of 44 passes for 364 yards and 4 T.D.s in route to second-highest Q.B. performance of the day at 30.76 points against the Vikings. Rodgers faces the Lions and their poor secondary that allowed QB Mitchell Trubisky (CHI, $7,200) to complete 20 of 32 passes for 242 yards and three T.D.s.
Matt Ryan (ATL, $7,700) is in a very similar position as he was against the Seahawks a week ago when he scored 24.89 fantasy points. He is again $600 cheaper than he is opposing Q.B. in a game with the highest over/under at 52.5 points, and the Cowboys are only favored by 4.5 points over Atlanta. That means score 24 points or thee T.D.s. Ryan provides value to pay a little up elsewhere, and if you are playing Prescott, you want a game script where Ryan and the Falcons can keep the pressure on.
Note: Patrick Mahomes (K.C., $9,000) is the second-highest price and projected Q.B. at both 4for4 and FantasyPros. We are choosing to fade Mahomes because he is facing a Chargers defense that has one of the best secondary in the league. Mahomes has had success against the Chargers, but based on last week’s performance against Houston, his price is not likely to match production.
Davante Adams (G.B., $8,600) “provides the constancy you want. He scored 15.3 or more points in nine of the last ten games. That’s because he averages 11 targets a game. The chances of Adams having a 3X performance this week is excellent,” is what I wrote about Adams last week. Adams went on to lead on W.R.s catching 14 of 17 targets for 156 yards and two T.D.s. Adams is the highest projected W.R. across the industry. His price has increased $600, but when possible, find a way to squeeze him into your lineups. You can do that with some atypical cheaper QB/WR stacks. Adams is a top-pick for McClure.
DeAndre Hopkins ($8,300) caught 14 passes for 151 yards on 16 targets in his debut with the Cardinals. It was a massive 44.4% target share. This week he faces a Washington football team that pulled out a surprising win against the Eagles last week, but the Vegas believes it is the worse team in football as the longest shot to win the Super Bowl. Hopkins should be covered by CB Kendall Fuller, who allowed a 73.4 catch rate and a gaudy 2.42 fantasy points per target. Hopkins could easily have 30 point week. That’s why I rank Hopkins ahead of Adams this week.
Julio Jones (ATL, $8,200) lead all W.R.s with yardage last week by catching nine of 12 targets for 157 yards against the Seahawks. Jones should be covered by second-round rookie C.B. Trevon Diggs who allowed a 75% catch rate and 2.33 fantasy points a target in his debut last, so look for a repeat performance in a high scoring game. Jones (hamstring) has been limited in practice this week. At the time of writing, I fully expect him to play, but the situation needs monitoring, and for $100 more, Hopkins appears to be a better value.
Amari Cooper (DAL, $7,000) caught 10 of 14 targets for 81 yards against the Rams. Cooper may not have found the end zone, but that was still a reliable performance with (insert expletive) a load of targets while being covered by C.B. Jalen Ramsey. Cooper should be covered by rookie C.B. A.J. Terrell who allowed 100% C.B. and an astronomical 4.5 fantasy points per target. Yes, please!! Cooper could finish among the top W.R.s this week.
Stefon Diggs (BUF, $6,800) caught eight of nine targets for 86 yards against the Jets. Diggs should be covered by CB Howard, who allowed a 100% catch rate and 1.80 points per target last week. Now here is where it gets interesting. “Diggs finished above the 93rd percentile against man coverage for three-straight years,” according to TJ Hernandez, director of DFS at 4for4. “Dolphins up from 51% man coverage in 2019 to 82% man in Week 1.”
Terry McLaurin (WAS, $6,500) caught five of his seven targets for 61 yards in Sunday’s win over the Philadelphia Eagles. It wasn’t a huge game, but you got to like the targets at his price range. McLaurin and Hopkins make an excellent opposing W.R. duo as they two combined for 23 targets last week.
Will Fuller V (HOU, $6,100) caught eight of 10 targets for 112 yards against the Chiefs last week to score 15.2 fantasy points. Let that sink in, 10 targets, and his price is barely over 6K. This week Fuller faces a Ravens defense that has not been friendly to W.R.s. “The cornerback duo of Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey might be the best in the league, and Fuller doesn’t go into the slot very often,” wrote Tagliere. “That means he’s stuck against two cornerbacks that have combined to allow 102-of-176 passing for 1,113 yards and eight touchdowns since the start of 2019. That amounts to just 6.32 yards per target. You can’t bench Fuller with the target/air yards share he had, but you need to lower your expectations into WR3 territory.” The game script should have Houston playing from behind, and that should lead to deep shots late in the game for Fuller. The volume for Fuller provides an excellent base at his price, and the opportunity should be there for a big play. We have seen Fuller have massive games before, and he is worth a GPP play at his price in this scenario.
Michael Gallup (DAL, $6000) caught three of five targets for 50 yards against the Rams. The ho-hum performance likely kept his price down this week. But he is in a great spot against the Falcons CB Isaiah Oliver and is one of Woellert’s featured W.R.s this week. “Gallup was an arm extension from recording over 90 yards Sunday night,” wrote Woellert. “Falcons’ corners were targeted by Russell Wilson 20 times, allowing 17 catches. Oliver allowed receptions on six of his eight targets to be caught, allowing a T.D. and 2.5 fantasy points per target.” Gallup is also a top-pick for McClure.
Allen Lazard (G.B., $5,600) caught all four of his targets for 82 yards and a T.D. to score 16.2 fantasy points. Lazard will be facing the Lions who had to start CB Justin Coleman (hamstring) go on I.R. this week. That means Lazard will either be covered by rookie backup CB Darryl Roberts. Roberts was limited in return to practice after suffering a severe wrist injury on August 24th or CB Tony McCrae, who allowed two T.D.s and monstrous 4.4 fantasy points a target last week. Either way, Lazard should be licking his chops!
Cole Beasley (BUF, $5,400) caught four of seven targets for 58 against the Jets. What we saw from the performance is that he continues to be a favorite target of Allen, and that provides value at his price. Beasley should be covered by CB Jamal Perry, who last week allowed a 100% catch rate and 2.25 fantasy points per target.
CeeDee Lamb (DAL, $5,200) had 42 pass routes in W1. Most among all rookie WRs, according to Pro Football Focus. Lamb cashed in on that opportunity by catching five of six targets for 59 yards against the Rams. Lamb will likely be covered CB Darqueze Dennard, who last week allowed a 100% catch rate and 1.94 points per target as Tyler Locket caught eight balls for 92 yards. However, last season, Dennard only allowed a messily 41.4% catch rate and 1.04 fantasy points per target. In a high scoring game, Lamb is undoubtedly a low priced option but temper your expectations.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling (G.B., $5,100) caught four of six targets for 96 yards and a T.D. against the Vikings. This week he should be covered by Lions CB Desmond Trufant, who regularly featured in this column last season because he allowed a 61.30% catch rate and 2.42 fantasy points a target.
Miles Boykin (BAL, $4,700) stacked with QB Lamar Jackson is the second-highest value stack on 4for4. The combo cost $14,200 and projected to score 35.3 points for a 2.49X return. The only better stack is Jackson with Marquise Brown (BAL, $6,200). That duo cost $15,700 and projected to score 39.3 points for a 2.5X return. The $1,500 savings with Boykin allows for a significant upgrade elsewhere with your roster build and gives you exposure to a much lower owned player for tournament play. Boykin should be covered by CB Lonnie Johnson Jr., who allowed Sammy Watkins (K.C., $5,900) to scored 18 F.P.s last week and an even 2 FPS a target last season. The issue is Boykin was targeted only four times, so we are hopeful Jackson will exploit the matchup and look in his direction a few more times.
Take a Side
Mark Andrews (BAL, $7,500) caught five passes for 58 yards and a T.D. in week one. He will likely continue to see a decent volume. The stack of Jackson/Andrews is the fourth-highest projected value-stack at 4for4, costing $17,000 and projected to combine for 32.6 points for a 2.34X return. Andrews faces a Texans defense that has a propensity for allowing T.E.s to make big plays. “There were nine tight ends who totaled at least 41 yards against the Texans last year, though just one eclipsed 75 yards,” wrote Tagliere. “In fact, there were just two tight ends who had more than four receptions against them, which means they’re susceptible to the big play. Looking at the last time these two teams met (Week 11 of last year), it’s no shock to see Andrews with four catches for 74 yards and a touchdown.”
Tyler Higbee (LAR, $5,800) may have only caught three of four targets for 40 yards against the Cowboys. Still, playing 90% of the snaps, any concerns that the return of teammate TE Gerald Everett, Higbee’s role would significantly be reduced from the end of last season were put to rest. On top of that, Everett missed practices this week with ailing back. Higbee offers T.E. 1 upside and a low price.
Logan Thomas (WAS, $4,700) caught four of eight targets for 37 yards, and a T.D. against the Eagles defense tends to dominate T.E.s. Thomas is one of my favorite value spots for all of last season, the T.E. playing the Cardinals. “The Cardinals were the team that allowed the all-time most fantasy points to tight ends in 2019,” wrote Tagliere. “Seriously, there were 13 tight ends who finished top-10 against them, and another two tight ends who finished TE16 and TE17. On the season, they allowed 311.3 PPR points to the position while no other team in the league allowed more than 242.9 points. They drafted Isaiah Simmons in the first round to help with that, and it looked good on paper, though George Kittle‘s injury skews the overall numbers. Kittle and Jordan Reed combined for 6/56/0 on seven targets, so it was still a decent performance. Thomas is far from a guarantee, but if you’re looking for a streamer with a good matchup, he’s got it.”
Hunter Henry (LAC, $6,100) had five receptions for 73 yards on eight targets against the Bengals. Henry should again be a top producing T.E. this week and is at a reasonable price. I do not yet have exposure to Henry, but that could easily change by Sunday.
R.B.s, The Core Three
Ezekiel Elliott (DAL, $8,600) had 22 carries for 96 yards and T.D., and caught three of four targets for 31 yards against the Rams en route to scoring 26.2 fantasy points. That’s what you want in a workhorse R.B. Elliott now faces the Falcons in a game where the Cowboys have the highest projected score of the week at 29.5 points. The Falcons allowed 49ers R.B.s to combine for 35.20 fantasy points, which included three scores. Elliott is projected in the industry to be among, if not, the top R.B. scorer for the week.
Derrick Henry (TEN, $8,300) ran for 116 yards on 31 carries while hauling in all three of his targets for 15 yards during Monday’s 16-14 win against the Broncos. Because he played on Monday, that performance did not affect the price for this week. Henry faces a Panthers defense that allowed Josh Jacobs (LV, not on Main Slate) to score three T.D.s against last en route to the top fantasy R.B. at 35.90 points. Henry is my top projected R.B. for the week. “This is the definition of a smash spot,” wrote Tagliere. “Henry’s last game against them was in Week 12 of last year when he racked up 175 total yards and two touchdowns. This defense has only gotten worse after losing the star power they once had. Start Henry as an elite RB1 and expect big results.”
Jonathan Taylor (IND, $5,400) recorded a team-high nine carries for 22 yards, hauling in all six of his targets for 67 yards against to the Jaguars. Coming into the game, it was a timeshare between Taylor and Marlon Mack with Mack as the starter. Mack suffered a torn Achilles, so the job is now Taylor’s. There were concerns about Taylor’s pass-catching ability. Taylor hauled in all six of his targets and put to rest that issue of the time being. With both his QB Philip Rivers and HC Frank Reich have a long history of throwing to R.B.s, there are likely plenty more passes headed in Taylor’s direction. Sure, teammate Nyheim Hines ($5,500) scored two T.D.s last week, but Taylor is the clear now the clear number one, and scores will follow. The path for Taylor having a 4X performance or better is doable. He is more than capable of having eight catches and combine for over 100 yards with a score. The Vikings surrendered 32.60 fantasy points to the Packers as they allowed 150 (139 rush, 11 receiving) combined yards and two scores (one rushing, one receiving). Taylor having a massive day over 30 points, is in range if he breaks off a long play for a score. Put it all together, and Taylor offers you a high floor with a massive ceiling.
R.B.s, Others to Consider
Austin Ekeler (LAC, $6,900) is dirt cheap considering his HC Anthony Lynn said he wants to get Ekeler the ball more than last week, and he faces the Chiefs. “They allowed the sixth-most fantasy points per opportunity to R.B.s, so touches mean everything,” wrote Tagliere. “And guys, let’s not pretend that 19 carries for 84 yards aren’t impressive, as that was the eighth-most among running backs in Week 1. Start Ekeler as an RB1 and expect big results.”
Dan McLellan’s Rankings
There isn’t an exact science in what a winning lineup looks likes. However, they should tell a logical story, and certain elements are frequent.
When building a lineup, I’ll try to check off most of the criteria:
1) Q.B. stacked with a W.R.: This allows for a double score when the two connect.
2) Opposing W.R.s: A recent analysis of big tournaments winners found a high percentage were constructed two W.R.s in the same game from both teams. This combination makes sense because high scoring shootouts allow for opportunity on both sides of the ball. Based on matchups, some of our lineups builds incorporate this.
3) R.B. stacked with Defense: There is a strong correlation between an R.B. performing well with their team’s defense. That’s something to factor in when choosing a defense, but in reality, it’s often the perceived best available defense with money left from the build that gets plugged in.
Mix It Up: Don’t wholly copy these lineups as I will be using them. Instead, use this article as research and use the players to build your unique winning lineup.
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Follow Dan on Twitter @sandiegosports.