Stat Factors: Week 2

NFL Advanced Data is more accessible than ever, and with the power of providers like Sports Info Solutions and PlayerProfiler.com, RotoGrinders is here to bring them to your doorstep. Each week, Stat Factors will compare 99 team level metrics and hundreds more advanced player level analytics to bring you five key “Stat Factors” that matter for each game. We’ll then break them down and teach you how to empower your decision making for the week using these factors. The best DFS players in the world supplement their process with sports analytics, and we’re here to help you get a fast start to your week of research.

Week 2

Note: “The Factor” is a player of prime interest for the slate, while the “X-Factor” is typically a less likely but equally interesting alternative.

Packers vs. Vikings

Green Bay Packers

DVOA metrics (3rd overall, 2nd vs. run) and game charting data align to tell us that the Vikings could be who we thought they were on defense. Meanwhile, vs. a similarly annoying Vic Fangio defense, the Packers plodded away to the tune of Jamaal Williams 15 carries for 47 yards. Expectations in this game should be that the passing game is the method of attack. The status of Aaron Rodgers would obviously change our outlook on effectiveness, but we can expect a heavy skew towards passing game volume given the Packers overall pass-first attack. The Vikings also tend to stop the run well and force opponents into the passing game.

One thing to note about Randall Cobb having a big game is that the Bears ran 72.09% man coverage types. It’s a mortal lock that the Vikings will not run that much man this weekend, and while that doesn’t for sure mean much of anything, it’s worth noting that the conditions will be different. It’s also worth mentioning the Vikings did trend towards man coverage types to a high degree in 2017, though in Week 1 they were below average. Passing game matchups aren’t really standing out for any individual WR, so I think any kind of bet on this situation at all is a bet on Aaron Rodgers. If forced to make a bet, don’t immediately assume Xavier Rhodes is a lock to shut down Adams. You’re already going off the board to acquire this stack, so you might as well go all the way and take the most talented WR.

The Factor: Aaron Rodgers
The X-Factor: Davante Adams

Minnesota Vikings

The Packers run defense graded poorly and likewise was the worst preventing yards before first contact Week 1 against Chicago. This is not something I am sure will continue with the Packers defensive front, though the Vikings offensive line will be a concern all season when it comes to the run game. Dalvin Cook was inefficient thanks to the Vikings’ fourth-highest blown block rate. Cook is clearly going to be involved a lot, but I’d be more interested in his passing game usage than his run game usage in this contest. Both Howard and Cohen had opportunities against the Packers D out of the backfield, and Cook himself compiled six receptions in the Week 1 game vs. SF. My current expectation is that the Vikings line woes hinder the run game despite GB’s poor showing there in Week 1.

That points us to the passing game where Diggs and Thielen continued to dominate targets Week 1, and one on one matchups with the likes of Kevin King and Jaire Alexander will not stop us from going there. If the Vikings are to win this game as the total currently implies, they will need to do it on the back of Kirk Cousins. There are at least a handful of QBs with higher fantasy expectations than Cousins in Week 2 we should look at first, but he would be higher on the list of contrarian options if you need someone with sneaky legs who also has three- or four-TD upside.

The Factor: Adam Thielen
The X-Factor: Stefon Diggs

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs are on the butt end of the week’s most appealing game in the betting markets, but they still have some data that points in the direction of being a top flight offense this week. They’ll have to fly in the face of traditional wisdom again in quite a few ways to make this happen. The first is allowing their QB to see pressure. SIS tagged them for allowing a ton of it Week 1, and the Steelers generated more than almost anyone against the Browns.

If the Steelers are going to slow down the high powered attack (which trust me, can be done), then I would think it starts with the pass rush and a game plan to limit the damage Tyreek Hill can do. You can bet your ass PIT coaches are very focused on preventing those explosive plays that flash big time on the fantasy radar. PIT was also victimized a few times by the Browns on 20+ yards passes, despite allowing just 197 passing yards in five quarters.

The Chiefs need to do a better job overall up front, though the strength of opponent could be blamed partially for the struggles there. The produced the second lowest yards before first contact and Kareem Hunt basically didn’t have much of a chance. If you are betting on Hunt this week, perhaps you are betting on him to bounce back as a WR. He only out-targeted Donald Trump by 1 against the Chargers and the gap between him and the President should be much larger on most weeks.

The Factor: Patrick Mahomes
The X-Factor: Kareem Hunt

Pittsburgh Steelers

Color me embarrassed for not knowing Mike Tomlin like the back of my hand, and credit the sharp analysts of the industry for not overthinking it like I did. I saw the way the Steelers used backs in practice during training camp, and my heavy exposure to preseason football came back to bite me in the ass. Thank god it happened Week 1. I played Conner of course, but he should have been a lock. We can see that for sure in hindsight via high 100% opportunity share and massive workload, but many saw it clearly with foresight. That’s about to happen again (or something close to it) vs. Kansas City.

Ben Roethlisberger’s home-road splits will be sprayed at you non-stop this week like a fire hose of truth. In this specific matchup, the Chiefs have no visible answer for the WRs and they represent one of the clearest mismatches on the board. We can say Kendall Fuller is a quality player, but the odds are stacked against all the DBs with the following facts in mind: Home crowd noise, expected up-tempo offense, fewer grinding run plays than last week, and the uncoverable nature of Antonio Brown. He already has 16 targets to his name in 2018 and you just start him until he gives you a reason not to. The potential to be covered by Orlando Scandrick is the exact opposite of a reason not to, and Steven Nelson is not a qualified excuse either. JuJu is a red-hot play as well.

The Factor: James Conner
The X-Factor: Antonio Brown

Indianapolis Colts vs. Washington Redskins

Indianapolis Colts

The lack of deep weaponry in the Colts offense has guys like Ryan Grant seeing significant target volume, though some of that can be attributed to Luck’s pass attempt volume Week 1. TEs still saw almost 30% of the volume and T.Y. Hilton should be the most attractive WR on most weeks as expected. The Colts will continue to line up with multiple TEs more than most teams, and you should continue to evaluate Jack Doyle for volume reasons as a result. He’s difficult to ignore with 87% snap share and double-digit targets on the table as often as any TE in the league, as we saw in Week 1.

The Redskins run defense didn’t grade particularly well Week 1, and perhaps the Colts have more of a chance to do something there in this game. I would still be wagering on a pass first approach given the history with Luck and the 1.21 yards before first contact afforded to Jordan Wilkins in Week 1. Marlon Mack hasn’t been ruled out, so perhaps he returns to at least give them some hope. Hamstring injuries are annoying, and my first thought here when looking at the Colts is to either bet on the core trio of Luck, Hilton, and Doyle… or don’t bet at all (maybe best).

The Factor: Jack Doyle
The X-Factor: T.Y. Hilton

Washington Redskins

It should come as no shock to see Alex Smith operating as a game manager type. His performance last year has been more of an outlier on his career path. “Game manager” doesn’t mean bad QB in this case, and he’s simply taking steps to help his team win. Part of that is recognizing the strengths his new team shares with his old, and quality pass receivers at TE and RB are included in that.

Thompson and Reed saw plenty of share in Week 1, but so did Paul Richardson. We can continue to bet that the Redskins will play it safe with short area passes, but the matchup this week does imply a few calculated shots are in order. We saw the Bengals hit a shot to A.J. Green, and that keeps Richardson on the deeper GPP radar if you need a guy at that price. This will be particularly possible if Alex Smith is kept clean, something we did not see as much last week. Andy Dalton was a hero when given a clean pocket, and Alex Smith would benefit greatly from even a minor improvement. For the most part, you’re still better off banking on backs and TEs in the pass game.

Of course, betting on the passing game at all may be the wrong move considering that Adrian Peterson looks rather spry and the Colts did give up some production to Joe Mixon last week. AP went from watching The Bachelor on his couch to being the starter in Washington in a hurry. For his current tag, we can do worse than AP with this kind of volume… but keep in mind there is plenty of downside due to his general lack of potential in the passing game. He won’t be on the field in some high-value situations.

The Factor: Alex Smith
The X-Factor: Paul Richardson

Carolina Panthers vs. Atlanta Falcons

Carolina Panthers

We need not overthink this. Carolina has become increasingly reliant on getting Christian McCaffrey involved in the offense and especially via the passing game. Atlanta is a notorious funnel for RB receptions and tends to limit pass targets in the directions of WRs. They do not like explosive plays and seem fairly adept at preventing them. The concern here for me is that I don’t think it’s a great matchup for the Carolina offense, but I’m just fine betting on Cam Newton and company based on the talent of key contributors. Christian McCaffrey is the primary beneficiary of the matchup, while rookie TE Ian Thomas is a long shot to get thrust into the mix instantly because of the Falcons’ tendencies. It’s rare to see rookie TEs emerge this early, so I wouldn’t call that more than a dart throw at the moment.

The Factor: Christian McCaffrey
The X-Factor: Cam Newton

Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons’ red zone struggles persisted during Week 1 in a highly concerning fashion. I don’t have the answer to what it is they are doing wrong, but one thing seems clear: they are doing it wrong. Matt Ryan is a golden god between the 20s but is one of the worst in the league since the start of last season at punching it in the end zone. Nineteen targets for Julio and zero touchdowns is yet another chapter in this ongoing saga of ineptitude.

Speaking of Julio, he destroyed zone coverage looks in Week 1 and now gets the very zone friendly scheme of Carolina in a dome. He had a damn near 50% share of Falcons targets last week, and there are several very attractive studs out there to draw attention away from his spot. I’m interested in him quite a bit, but I can’t say at this moment how he compares to the other great situations. All I know is that he’s going to be extremely involved if precedent holds against this scheme.

The Factor: Julio Jones
The X-Factor: Matt Ryan (in the Red Zone)

Houston Texans vs. Tennessee Titans

Houston Texans

Lamar Miller was given the opportunity in Week 1, but ultimately couldn’t produce high level fantasy production. I think this will be typical, with a spike week here and there when TD variance or random passing game volume heads his way. The Titans don’t strike me as a spot to avoid with the run game, though they were a team that graded well in Week 1 against the ground attack. We can do better.

Better is the middle name of DeAndre Hopkins in my mind. This will all depend on Watson being under less duress and having just a little more comfort to make plays. He was under pressure 48.65% per SIS, and that’s not traditionally a recipe for success. I expect they’ll do better this week, and the Titans defensive backfield is totally beatable. I wouldn’t call them weak, but none of the individually figures to have the goods to stop him on their own. They have the advantage of Coach Vrabel on their side, but I wouldn’t bet big bucks on him strapping on a helmet and actually covering Hopkins himself. That’s easier said than done.

The Factor: Deshaun Watson
The X-Factor: DeAndre Hopkins

Tennessee Titans

Mariota looks like he is going to play, and it’s amazing how I’m not exactly sure how much better he’ll be than the backup options. He has really looked bad throughout the preseason and I wouldn’t call 2017 a beacon of excellence. It does help that his line graded well in both pass and run blocking in Week 1, and there are some weapons here despite the loss of Delanie Walker.

One of the weapons is Corey Davis, who saw an encouraging target volume Week 1. His individual matchup this week is likely to be beatable, and I would expect the Titans to trail at some point in this game. Jonnu Smith is a player who might benefit from the loss of Delanie Walker, and the Titans overall leveraged their TE group heavily in Week 1. That was something they also did in 2017 under different management, but more importantly, it’s something the Texans allowed a lot of under similar management. Gronk is not a guy you can compare people to, but he is a TE and he did have success last week. It’s a least something to hang your hat on if you want to try some kind of shenanigans with Jonnu.

The more interesting story is Dion Lewis. In a negative game script, he was the RB that saw much of the action. I could see this week being more in his favor yet again. I don’t see a reason to go out of your way here in Week 2 to get Dion Lewis in there, but there is an outside shot for production.

The Factor: Corey Davis
The X-Factor: Jonnu Smith

Los Angeles Chargers vs. Buffalo Bills

Los Angeles Chargers

The wide receivers should get a lot of attention here and rightfully so. Keenan Allen has a great individual matchup on deck. However, the projected game script should have us more interested in the running backs. Ekeler had a huge game last week, but it was Melvin Gordon who dominated the workload as expected. Surely Ekeler can’t be fully dismissed based on clues we have seen in the preseason and now Week 1, but Gordon is still in line for plenty of work in game scripts like this. The fact that the RBs are potentially heavy workload options in the passing game is just another out in case the game stays close. Factor in that explosive rushing was a strength for LAC and a weakness for BUF in 2017, and we should be feeling pretty good here about Gordon. The slate has many options, and I’m not here to stack rank them for you. I’m just here to figure out who the numbers say could be in line for a strong game, and by the numbers it’s Gordon for sure.

The Factor: Melvin Gordon
The X-Factor: Keenan Allen

Buffalo Bills

Usually a team coming west to east for a 1 PM tilt in Buffalo is more concerning when they are -7 favorites, but I don’t think many people feel this way about the Chargers this week. The Bills were so highly inept last week that it is fair to question how quickly they can improve. They produced an offensive DVOA so bad I don’t know that we’ll ever see one posted at that degree of failure again. The Chargers aren’t any easier of a matchup for the Bills offense than the Ravens were, and the only concern here is that they snatch defeat from the jaws of victory as they have done so many times before early in seasons with Rivers at QB. We’ll see, but there is no reason to like the Bills at all here.

If you want to reach for a thing to like, Kelvin Benjamin should see some chances in negative game script at volume. I’d really like to know if the number I am seeing on PlayerProfiler.com is accurate for his QB rating when targeted. According to what’s on the site now, it’s -99.1. I would expect that to improve… even when his QB is Josh Allen.

The Factor: Chargers DST
The X-Factor: Kelvin Benjamin

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Philadelphia Eagles

WR is the spot here. The Eagles like to use their TEs but it does seem like the Tampa Bay defense is somewhat competent at forcing the offense to go elsewhere. The secondary is currently decimated anyway, with no Vernon Hargreaves or Brent Grimes to be found. The WR group from Philly is wide open to your interpretation, with Nelson Agholor being the obviously ascending player to look at first. Since he’s priced more appropriately on DFS sites, a better way to access this low total favorable matchup is probably through speculation of a deep ball or two to Mike Wallace. I’m not super interested in becoming reliant on this spot to make my week, but I am curious to attack a struggling secondary. Mike Wallace might have enough left in the tank for a ceiling game at a low price point in what looks to be a prime time spot against either Ryan Smith or rookie Carlton Davis.

Jay Ajayi is being touted as a guy who will be “more involved.” Without the pass catching upside, I don’t think you can get overly excited about him on full point PPR sites. That said, the matchup seems favorable looking at what the Saints did to them with zone blocking, and the Eagles run quite a bit of zone per the numbers provided by SIS. If Ajayi has more secured volume, I’d like it a lot better.

The Factor: Nelson Agholor
The X-Factor: Mike Wallace

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Eagles are favorites on the road here and facing a likely overrated TB team after their Week 1 dominance against the Saints. I don’t have a good explanation, but I don’t feel they can repeat anything close to that success against the Eagles without a viable run game. They bounced almost 80% of their run plays away from play design and did nothing particularly well in that phase. That could lead to unfavorable third-down situations that could be punished by the Eagles front. Fitz was under pressure far less often than can be expected for the rest of the season with this offensive line group, and I would venture to say the Eagles being able to get to Matt Ryan shows us that this is likelier than not to regress big time in this game. I’m totally off the Tampa offense right now and I’ll let you guys have it if I am wrong.

Last week we pointed to WRs for production on ATL, and that ended up being accurate. If things go right again for TB, expect either Mike Evans or Chris Godwin to have a big game.

The Factor: Eagles DST
The X-Factor: Mike Evans

Cleveland Browns vs. New Orleans Saints

Cleveland Browns

The Saints were quite surprisingly bad vs. the Tampa Bay passing game, and we surely do not think that will sustain. However, until further notice we have to at least consider the possibility that they can’t get pressure and will allow their opponents clean pockets to make throws. That was an issue for Tyrod last week and he was often under pressure. That was not the case for the Bucs, and we should expect Tyrod to be under less pressure in this scenario. If he does have more time, he has plenty of weapons to do damage with, and the one that won’t be covered by Marshon Lattimore is Jarvis Landry. The Saints are huge favorites in this game and if that holds true on the scoreboard, then there will be plenty of passes from the Browns. That should mean high volume for Landry, and he’s an interesting GPP option in PPR formats.

David Njoku is another playmaker who doesn’t have a clear matchup available to stop him outright. His skills are extremely intriguing in the fast-paced environment of the Superdome, and he’s priced extremely well on DraftKings. He’s a guy who could get modest traction at the position but not so much that he’s not a good pairing in game stacks.

The Factor: David Njoku
The X-Factor: Jarvis Landry

New Orleans Saints

Alvin Kamara got the price boost we all expected, and that it makes it difficult. Find a way to get him in anyway. He’s not the outlandish lock he was last week, but his opportunity in the offense is extremely hard to find elsewhere at any price. The matchup is one that was exploited by a similarly workload-heavy James Conner last week. The difference is, Kamara is also a primary pass receiving weapon. Michael Thomas combined with Kamara for almost 2/3 of the Saints targets share, so I don’t see a reason to discourage you there if that’s how you want to attack the wide open spaces in the middle of this Browns defense.

Benjamin Watson could be another way you attack those spaces. Watson saw only 10% share last week but the Browns funnel production to the TE group. They ranked #1 in 2017 in a variety of TE categories, and in Week 1 we saw the lowly jabroni Jesse James actually not look too bad. Watson is of particular interest due to TD equity, and the Saints are carrying a massive team total. Getting exposure should be par for the course in this exact situation.

The Factor: Alvin Kamara
The X-Factor: Benjamin Watson

New York Jets vs. Miami Dolphins

New York Jets

Welcome back Quincy Enunwa. I thought the chatter on him was a little light this summer, and now it’s about to heat up quite a bit. Before we jump out of our seats to lock him in, let’s consider the scenario. This is a low betting market total game and the Dolphins do feature some young and ascending DBs who may eventually wind up being good. So it’s not a slam dunk. However, Miami allowed the Titans to operate virtually free from pressure in Week 1. Giving that time to a rookie QB is a mistake. He already had a nice performance where he registered positive expected real points for his team via SIS expected points added metric. We aren’t going to start carving his hall of fame bust yet, but it’s a great start for the kid. I’d call Enunwa an option of elevated intrigue at his current price tags in DFS.

Isaiah Crowell scored twice last week. The Dolphins graded below the fold on PFF in terms of run defense, and perhaps this is a situation where he could thrive again if they play with positive script at home. I’m not hyped about it, but at $4,600 on DK there is a case to be made here.

The Factor: Quincy Enunwa
The X-Factor: Isaiah Crowell

Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins focused their pass game on WR targets last week and I don’t think the Jets will have any of their signals to steal. The performance of the Jets D in preseason coupled with what we saw on Monday night is enough to have me staying away from the Dolphins. It’s really more about expected game flow than anything. This should be a clock-killing bore fest with low aDOT from Tannehill (Rank 3 in 0-9 yard passing last week), and I don’t think I need 5-42 from Danny Amendola or Albert Wilson. If you are interested in Kenny Stills, I suggest you don’t chase. Jakeem Grant of all people led them in target share, and I don’t know if this situation is trustworthy. 78.57% of passes went to WRs, so if I was taking a shot here it would be with the aforementioned Amendola.

Kenyan Drake doesn’t look too bad from a snap share perspective, and he was out there for 72% in Week 1. I would say the rest of his Week 1 performance is a bit more disconcerting. His weighted opportunity rank of just 21st doesn’t place him anywhere near the top tier, though it is just one week. With Frank Gore lurking and the Jets DST favored in this game, I can’t get excited about this situation in Miami.

The Factor: Jets DST
The X-Factor: Danny Amendola

Arizona Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Rams

Arizona Cardinals

How on earth are they going to move the ball? They DID NOT run David Johnson creatively on deep routes. Sam Bradford was inaccurate. The Rams DST is loaded with game changers across the board, and there is no telling whether or not they’ll line up one of their best corners on Larry Fitzgerald to try to slow him down. Suffice to say this is a tough spot for them. There is always some merit to trying to bet on DJ, but for now let’s let others have this one if they want to gamble. I don’t see the light.

If you must attack something on LAR, attack the tendency against opposing TEs. It seems to have been a thing last year, and Jared Cook just slashed them for a huge game in Week 1. That’s Ricky Seals-Jones if you’re scoring at home, and he’s at least affordable on DFS sites.

The Factor: Rams DST
The X-Factor: Ricky Seals-Jones

Los Angeles Rams

Adrian Peterson looked like Walter Payton out there last week, and so we should immediately be thinking of how to find a spot for Gurley in Week 2. The Cardinals allowed the most explosive runs of any team, and also allowed the second highest success rate to RB pass catchers. The Rams are massive favorites in this game, and the only real concern for Todd Gurley here is that they blow them out too early and we see backups in there. If that’s the case, Gurley probably already had a huge game anyway.

So yeah, let’s not be on the Rams passing game too much if we are fearful of run game dominance. A 13-point home favorite status is not the time to be game stacking or feeling frisky with an offense that spreads the love in the passing game anyway. The Cardinals do also have Patrick Peterson out there, and it just seems super likely the Rams will be setting up to do more damage on the interior. I will say that they graded out poorly against both the pass and the run in Week 1, and if you can’t help yourself, Cooper Kupp is the dart throw of choice for me.

The Factor: Todd Gurley
The X-Factor: Cooper Kupp

Detroit Lions vs. San Francisco 49ers

Detroit Lions

Reports are that the Jets stole Matthew Stafford’s hand signals in Week 1, and that helped them gain an advantage in the passing game. Whether it’s true or not, I would expect the Lions to perform better against the 49ers, who did well to slow down the Vikings rush attack but buckled in the intermediate area. They allowed plenty of passing 10-19 yards downfield to guys like Diggs and Thielen. Kenny Golladay is my favorite to capitalize on this if the issue persists, and he is overall one of my favorite ascending players in the NFL landscape. He’s going to break out sooner or later, and it might have happened last week.

I’m not highly excited by the idea of Kerryon Johnson being featured, but that could be the case if LeGarrette Blount is “hurt” but not injured. It looks like he’s practicing, so I’m not holding my breathe. For me, the Lions are a passing game only situation until something clears up. The room is far too crowded with backs that just aren’t good enough to overcome the inconsistent usage.

The Factor: Kenny Golladay
The X-Factor: Matthew Stafford

San Francisco 49ers

George Kittle exploded last week and many of you saw it coming for a long time. He has some issues getting injured a bit too often, but if we’re getting anywhere close to 28% target share we should be interested even if he’s limping. Thankfully he’s not at the moment, and the Lions were heavily targeted with TEs in the inside 10 area last season (third most). They were also mid pack in TE target rate and success. Assuming that Kittle is going to maintain a large role in the offense (probably not 28%), he’ll be on the list of very popular TE options for the weekend. Pairing him with Jimmy G and building game stacks here in this situation seems like a fun way to live life.

The Factor: George Kittle
The X-Factor: Jimmy Garoppolo

New England Patriots vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

New England Patriots

I’m not interested in rostering the Patriots here much, and only slightly more than I was in rostering some Giants last week. Running back targets put some of the backfield on the map, but at this juncture, I’m just not sure I want to take the chance. The Jaguars created pressure which even Tom Brady isn’t immune to, and the vision of this being the GPP winner is hard to imagine. Gronk is always of interest particularly in the day and age of Phillip Dorsett being a factor for this team. Even so, he’s no lock to crush as we saw in the AFC title game.

Assuming Rex Burkhead is healthy (big assumption), he’d be the other character on New England worth using as a dart. The Patriots use backs and TEs way to often to be totally ignorant of the possibility.

The Factor: Rob Gronkowski
The X-Factor: Rex Burkhead

Jacksonville Jaguars

Wide receivers should be the position of interest against New England. They’ve been smoked before (ranked fifth in target success allowed with a similar group in 2017) and the likes of Keelan Cole and Dede Westbrook could do it again. It’s interesting that Moncrief dominated air yards in Week 1. That’s not a vision I had for this offense coming in. Keelan Cole is the best overall prospect of the group, and Dede is probably the most vertically inclined. I’m not super interested in the spot right now, but as dart throws, I can’t help you cross them off the list. They have a chance.

The Factor: Keelan Cole
The X-Factor: Dede Westbrook

Oakland Raiders vs. Denver Broncos

Oakland Raiders

The Denver Broncos tend to allow a lot of production to the TE position. The most likely scenario in this game is that they shut down the outside WRs Nelson and Cooper, and push targets to the backs and TEs. Amari Cooper looks like he is really struggling, and I’m not sure he has any excuses left. At this point, he needs to step up or else we can consider him exactly what his numbers say he is: just a guy. A 10% market share of air yards isn’t allowable even in the worst matchups. So we’re thinking Jared Cook here again if we want to get a piece of Oakland at all, but I have a better idea. Let’s just play some Denver DST. They have new pass rush weaponry that should serve them well if they get a lead, and as of now the betting market lines and other factors suggest that is a solid probability. They should be the chalk, but that sounds accurate as I scan the matchup and pricing here.

The Factor: Denver DST
The X-Factor: Jared Cook

Denver Broncos

The Raiders secondary is looking like a place we can find value again this season. While guys like Leon Hall could once change fortunes, it seems like the trio of Hall, Conley, and Melvin is the softest landing spot for attacking this D. The Raiders ranked 25th in Week 1 getting pressure on Goff, and not pressuring Keenum will allow him to pick and choose which of his deadly WRs to gash them with.

At this moment, Sanders is the in-style option. I think Demaryius Thomas may be the better DFS option at lower prices on DraftKings. He saw 10 targets last week, but the issue was target depth. Perhaps he’ll never see an increase there in 2018 under the new setup, but the end zone might be a place he could see increased usage. That’s where his value will lie week to week, and this could be a week to try your hand at finding him in the box.

The Factor: Demaryius Thomas
The X-Factor: Emmanuel Sanders

New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys

New York Giants

Saquon Barkley delivered the goods (and some of the bads). Mostly just the goods though, and he did so in a tough matchup. Now he gets to face the Cowboys, who rated as one of the worst run defenses from Week 1 and per PFF had some of the lowest expectations as a run stopping group coming into the season. Barkley saw a huge share of the work for Giants and currently ranks first in the league in team dominator ratings. He showed off his elusive ability and his explosive ability vs. the Jags, and I am personally excited to see what he can do against weaker competition.

Eli Manning might end up being the play strictly due to the talent surrounding him. He didn’t lose Odell Beckham’s number during the offseason. It’s still 13. He dialed it a number of time vs. Jacksonville to the tune of a team-leading 58% share of air yards for Beckham. If he was able to find some room to work against Bouye and Ramsey, I don’t suspect he’ll have much trouble vs. the Cowboys secondary. We’ve already talked about two high volume stud play makers on this team, and we haven’t mentioned Sterling Shepard or Evan Engram. It’s all good news for Eli, and he’ll have strong performances at some point this season due to the weaponry. Nothing about this matchup says it can’t be Sunday night.

The Factor: Saquon Barkley
The X-Factor: Eli Manning

Dallas Cowboys

How in the world can you trust this passing game? They were barely trustworthy with Dez and Witten, and now they feature a hoard of has-beens like Deonte Thompson, Tavon Austin, and Allen Hurns to carry the load. It helps nothing that the offensive line is down a key body and generally playing poorly anyway. They do face off against a secondary with some beatable aspects such as Eli Apple, but generally speaking, the WR group is perhaps the third-best way for the Cowboys to attack this the Giants defense.

The second-best way might be the tight end group, but the catch there is that we can’t trust any of them for DFS worthy volume. The Giants ranked 25th in Pass Success rate to the TE in 2017, and they were often mentioned among the spots to target for TE production. Nothing sounds less fun on a Sunday night than a Blake Jarwin / Geoff Swaim sweat.

That of course leaves us the obvious best way to attack the Giants in Ezekiel Elliott. The Cowboys have been successful using a gap block heavy strategy in the past and it happens that Giants were not very good against gap block run plays in 2017. We know Zeke is gonna get fed the rock, and the question is whether this line can improve their blocking. The Cowboys were just the 25th graded unit from Week 1, and that’s a departure from how they’ve been perceived in years past. It’s volume over efficiency here when it’s all said and done, and we know where the Dallas Cowboys are going to be providing us volume on a week-to-week basis.

The Factor: Ezekiel Elliott
The X-Factor: Dak Prescott

About the Author

  • Chris Gimino (ChrisGimino)

  • Chris Gimino is a top mind in the DFS industry and one of the primary contributors at RotoGrinders including one of the most accurate ownership projection systems in the industry. A multiple time live-finalist, Chris delivers actionable tools and advice for RotoGrinders Premium subscribers that helps them make informed decisions for their lineup builds.

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