STLCards' NFL Field Stretcher: Week 2
Justin Van Zuiden, also known as STLCardinals84, has proven time and time again that he’s one of the best tournament players in the DFS industry. Join him each week as he gives you a glimpse into the mind of a GPP maestro.
The Week 2 Slate – An Overview
Greetings, football fans! Welcome back to the Week 2 edition of the GPP Field Stretcher. If you are new to this article and missed out on Week 1, welcome! The goal of this article is to look at the slate from a complete GPP focus, analyzing the top plays and the sleepers with an eye on projected ownership. We’ll start by taking a birds-eye view of the landscape for the week as shown by Vegas odds, so let’s get rolling!
LAR -13 vs. ARI
NO -9 1/2 vs. CLE
LAC -8 at BUF
Highest Game Totals
KC/PIT – 53
CLE/NO – 49 1/2
DET/SF – 48
Highest Implied Team Totals
LAR – 29 (vs ARI)
NO – 29 (vs CLE)
PIT – 29 (vs KC)
WAS – 27 (vs IND)
SF – 27 (vs DET)
Lowest Implied Team Totals
ARI – 16 (at LAR)
BUF – 18 (vs LAC)
CAR – 19 (at ATL)
OAK – 20 (at DEN)
A few things stood out at first glance:
1) The KC/PIT total has jumped about four points since the open, and there are plenty of elite skill players to target in this game. It’s an ideal candidate for a potential stack game in GPP formats, and we’ll delve into that a little deeper in the correlation section.
2) The Rams are MASSIVE home favorites over a Cardinals team that looked awful in Week 1, but it’s still rare that you see a two touchdown spread in an NFL game given the overall parity of the league. There are potential game flow concerns for the Rams’ passing attack here, should the game play out as indicated. However, that’s never a certainty; just look at what happened to the Saints last week!
3) Expect a solid performance from the Saints as they look to rebound from a tough home loss to Tampa Bay. It’s funny how a week can change things. If New Orleans would have won last week, we would be calling this a potential let down spot at home against the Browns with the Falcons looming next week. However, after New Orleans lost the opener and gave up 48 points, we are calling this a “get right” spot for the Saints. It’s funny how mental things work, but it’s difficult to envision them laying two eggs in a row.
4) The Chargers are pretty large road favorites for a West Coast team headed to the East Coast, especially since they are playing an early kickoff. I know the Bills profile as one of the worst teams in the league, but don’t be surprised if the Bills make this a game. I will be lower than the field on most Los Angeles skill players this week. For the first time this year, I wrote “San Diego” and had to remove it. There will probably be a few times when I don’t catch that. One down.
Leveraging Projected Ownership – Chalk To Fade?
Melvin Gordon (25% pOWN FD / 16% pOWN DK) – There are a lot of sure-fire highly owned running backs that I will happily get exposure to this week. It will be hard to fade Tevin Coleman with Devonta Freeman now ruled out. James Conner still seems a little too cheap for his newfound role in the Pittsburgh offense. Christian McCaffrey should be set up for a bounce-back week. If there is one chalky running back that I feel a little more comfortable fading this week, it’s Gordon. As I wrote above, I feel like this is a potential trap spot for a West Coast team traveling to the East Coast, and everyone is going to over-react to the Bills losing by 44 points last week (especially after the Ravens lost on Thursday this week). Gordon has never averaged more than four yards per carry in any NFL season and simply makes his living with volume. He’s not going to catch nine passes for 100 yards every week. While the increased passing game usage is encouraging, when you account for his lofty projected ownership, I’m just not a big fan. If I’m eating chalk, give me Coleman and Conner over Gordon in Week 2.
Kenny Golladay (14% pOWN FD / 14% pOWN DK) – As a Northern Illinois University alum, it pains me to list Golladay here. His price tag is very reasonable. His Week 1 usage was encouraging. However, this is a receiver who is going to be dependent on big plays, and he’s going to post some low weekly scores on weeks where game flow doesn’t go quite like it did in the opener. Marvin Jones and Golden Tate are still going to eat up their fair share of targets, as well, and I expect Detroit to at least try to establish the run this week after rushing for just 39 yards as a team last week. Give me other mid-range WR options over Golladay in GPP formats.
Rob Gronkowski (11% pOWN FD / 10% pOWN DK) – This is all about salary cap and positional flexibility for me. There are loads of great values at tight end, with the likes of George Kittle and Jared Cook providing screaming value at the position on a week where we certainly don’t mind having some cap flexibility. I love Gronkowski in general, but Jacksonville is a tough matchup, and they might even stick one of their elite corners on Gronk at some point during this game. The salary is just a little high for my liking, and I’ll be underweight here. While I might throw some Gronk teams out there if I am building 100 or 150 lineups, he’s definitely not a core piece, and I would definitely roll the fade in a single lineup type of situation.
Eagles Defense (11% pOWN FD / 11% pOWN DK) – You will see this theme every week – you can always fade a defense that is going to be owned in double-digit figures. The JETS of all teams had a massive defensive score in Week 1. There is a lot more variability in team defense than some realize, and we can use that to our advantage. I was somewhat surprised to see the Eagles projected in the double digits here, on the road against a team that scored 48 points in Week 1. While I certainly don’t expect the Bucs to pour out that kind of offensive effort again, they are a team with some talent, and it’s not like the Eagles are the 1985 Bears on defense. I’ll pass at a top-three GPP ownership level this week.
If Leonard Fournette is out, you can maybe add T.J. Yeldon to this mix as well. Yeldon is a journeyman who has never really held up with a full NFL workload. He’s best served as a change of pace, and the Jaguars have at least paid lip service to getting Corey Grant more involved. I wouldn’t feel comfortable going heavy on Yeldon in any case this week.
Leveraging Projected Ownership – Low-Owned Gems
Demaryius Thomas (8% pOWN FD / 8% pOWN DK) – Everyone is going to flock to Emmanuel Sanders this week for the obvious reasons after Sanders had a massive game in the opener. That gives us some potential leverage in tournaments with Thomas, who obviously has the size and skill set to do well in his own right against a Raiders defense that doesn’t offer much resistance without Kahlil Mack around to terrorize opposing quarterbacks. I love Case Keenum as a potential value QB option this week, and I will have plenty of exposure to both Sanders and Thomas. However, I will be more overweight on Thomas, and I love the fact that we have him projected at a very reasonable 8% ownership mark.
Mike Evans (3% pOWN FD / 3% pOWN DK) – Here’s your correlation if you want to fade the Eagles defense, as I wrote above in the “chalk to fade” section. Mike Evans had a disappointing 2017 campaign, to the point where a lot of DFS players have completely written him off as a weekly option. The good news is that he seems to have a nice rapport with Ryan Fitzpatrick, as Evans caught all seven of his targets for 147 yards and a touchdown in the season opener. Our projections have Evans slated to line up against Jalen Mills this week, and Mills just happened to allow the most touchdowns in coverage in 2017 (per ProFootballFocus). The logic is pretty simple on this one, especially when you consider the laughably low ownership projection we have on Evans. If you want to get frisky by fading the likes of Antonio Brown (not recommended) or Julio Jones (I can see that one being viable), here is your silver platter pivot.
Lamar Miller (2% pOWN FD / 2% pOWN DK) – Lamar Miller is not exciting. I get that. He’s going to plod his way along to about four yards per carry, catch a few passes, and maybe fall into the end zone. That “falling into the end zone” is the key to his potential DFS value. He’s viable as a three down back in a reasonably talented offense, and Miller is always a guy I am willing to target in games where we expect the Texans to score points. That should be the case this week against the Titans, who don’t offer one of the most talented defenses in the NFL. Miller got 20 carries last week to just five for Alfred Blue, and Miller should approach 25 touches once again this week. His ownership projection is at dirt-level lows, and I like the combination of floor and potential ceiling that he offers at that GPP ownership.
Jamaal Williams (2% pOWN FD / 3% pOWN DK) – If you want a little bit more risk/reward sauce with your mid-range running back play, give Jamaal Williams a look instead of Miller. He has locked down the starting job in Green Bay for now with Aaron Jones suspended. Game flow took Williams out of the mix last week against the Bears, as the Packers fell behind by three scores in the second half and needed to rely on a heroic performance from Aaron Rodgers in order to pull the game out at the last minute. Williams logged 15 of the 17 running back carries for the Packers in that game, and he should be a focal point in the game plan this week with Rodgers still ailing to some degree. It’s a tough matchup with the Vikings, but this is another low owned, three down back that carries plenty of GPP appeal in Week 2.
Dalvin Cook (12% pOWN FD / 13% pOWN DK) – If you are not sold on the Packers being able to get a lead in this week’s game, give the running back on the other side a look. Dalvin Cook played on an encouraging 80% of the snaps in the Week 1 game against the 49ers, and he should be free of any restrictions moving forward. Remember, this was a dynamic talent who was on his way toward being one of the best running backs in the league a year ago prior to his injury. Green Bay allowed 139 rushing yards and five yards per carry to the Bears in last Sunday’s game, and Cook is more dynamic of a running back than anyone the Bears have. This is a slate-breaking potential play that you can get at very reasonable ownership. I’m on board.
Here are a few other possible low-owned options to consider:
1) How contrarian is Aaron Rodgers going to be if he plays? We have him at 1% pOWN right now. The matchup is terrible and he’s on a leg and a half… but he’s also Aaron Rodgers. This isn’t a crazy idea in a GPP.
2) Will the Dolphins give Kenyan Drake a lot of carries? He produced late last year when given more work, but Frank Gore was somehow good in Week 1, and that doesn’t bode well for Drake’s usage. I can still see using a few shares of Drake in deep, deep field GPPs, though.
3) I was going to list Amari Cooper here, but I was trying to type while eating a plate of food, and I then dropped it on the floor. Karma.
5) With the Rams likely to be nursing a big lead this week, everyone is lower on their passing game. While it makes sense, the passing game weapons are intriguing targets if you think the game can stay close.
Top Spots to Gain Positive Correlation
PIT passing game + KC running game – The highest totaled game of the week is this KC/PIT game with a whopper of a total of 53 points. I am fine with getting correlation however you see fit in this game. If you expect KANSAS CITY to get a lead, fire up their running game (i.e. Kareem Hunt) and the Pittsburgh passing game (i.e. Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown). The good news is that we have two offenses here that funnel the ball to a small subset of players, so we can get a high percentage of offensive production out of fewer players. Combine that with the high Vegas total, and you get all sorts of fantasy goodness.
KC passing game + PIT running game – The same circumstances apply if you expect PITTSBURGH to get a lead in this game. If that’s the case, fire up their running game (i.e. James Conner) and the Kansas City passing game (i.e. Mahomes and Tyreek Hill and/or Travis Kelce). This is the most logical plan for this game, but it will also be the flow that carries heavier GPP ownership. Everyone will be on Conner after last week. Everyone will be on Hill after last week. Everyone expects the Steelers to get a lead. The contrarian approach is better served with the PIT pass/KC run correlation, but I will be building stacks on both sides, as this game is just too juicy to ignore.
Christian McCaffrey + ATL running game – The Falcons should be playing with the lead in this game, and now Devonta Freeman has been officially ruled out. Tevin Coleman is the slam dunk, obvious value running back play of the week regardless of matchup or game flow. When Coleman has gotten the opportunity to produce at the NFL level, he has proven himself to be just fine. On the other side of this game, look for McCaffrey to have a huge role for the Panthers. The coaching staff has consistently stated that they want to get him 22-24 touches per game, and the Atlanta scheme sets up to allow running backs to catch passes. The loss of Deion Jones leaves a gaping hole with their ability to stop McCaffrey after he catches the ball. It would surprise me greatly if C-Mac doesn’t break at least one big play in this game, and his ownership will not be nearly as high as it was a week ago. This game has lots of potential, and you can even consider the Atlanta passing game or Cam Newton if you want to add some pieces in GPP formats, as well.
Alvin Kamara + Saints Defense – As I mentioned in the introductory section, this is no longer a “look ahead” spot for the Saints. They should be 100% focused on the task at hand — beating the Browns. Cleveland was gift-wrapped a bunch of turnovers from the Steelers last week and still couldn’t pull out a victory, and New Orleans is a healthy favorite in this game. Expect a heavy dose of Kamara on the ground this week after the aerial attack a week ago, and the Saints should be seething on defense after their abysmal opener. They have more talent on that side of the ball than they showed against the Bucs, and nobody is going to want to play the Saints defense. Give me the Kamara + D combination as a fine correlation play here.
Adrian Peterson + Redskins Defense – Well hello there, vintage Adrian Peterson! He put up a turn back the clock performance against an Arizona team that didn’t exactly treat him right, as he racked up a massive 166 yards from scrimmage on 28 touches. Game flow certainly helped to some degree, but Peterson is clearly better than the likes of Rob Kelley for this team. Chris Thompson will steal more snaps in games where the Redskins are behind, but I don’t expect them to fall way behind a scuffling Colts squad here in Week 2. Joe Mixon logged 5.6 yards per carry against the Indianapolis defense last week and added 5/54 through the air, making this a fine matchup. Peterson is a fine mid-range selection, especially if he is going to get overlooked in GPP formats. Pair him up with a sneaky upside defensive unit, and hope game flow goes in your favor.
Stacks On Stacks On Stacks
PIT/KC Game Stack – This one should be obvious from the other discussions throughout this piece. You can stack up this game ten ways from Sunday if you want. Imagine the possibilities, as shown through the lens of our new LineupHQ “Stack Finder” tool:
I would be 100% comfortable with any of these combinations as part of a GPP game stack, and I hope we can see a 35-31 type of game here. Remember, these teams funnel production to a small number of players, which really helps us in DFS. Play around with the Stack Finder tool and find some combinations that you like best. The possibilities are endless, and the tool is absolutely fantastic.
Drew Brees + Michael Thomas – If you aren’t on the Kamara + Saints Defense train that I talked about in the correlations above, then you must be on Brees and Thomas. These two clearly have a lot of chemistry working, and the Saints are going to score points at home. Thomas and Antonio Brown are the two high-end receivers that are almost a lock for production this week, and it’s hard to completely fade either player. Get yourself some correlated exposure to the Saints this week, however you choose to do it. Brees and Kamara is an interesting way to go as well. I wrote that up last week, and it worked for anyone who used it, but I don’t expect Kamara to be as involved in the passing game this week (assuming the Saints don’t fall behind again).
Deshaun Watson + DeAndre Hopkins – Hopkins was relatively quiet in Week 1, and he doesn’t seem to be generating the buzz that the other high end receivers are right now. Hello, contrarian play! This is a much better matchup for the Texans than what we saw a week ago. The Titans offer little resistance in the way of pass rush, and they have no corners that can match up with Hopkins — as not many teams do. This should be a game where Hopkins gets peppered with targets; remember, he led the NFL in that department a year ago. I absolutely love this combination as a totally off the radar GPP stack, and it’s one that could easily go for three touchdowns.
Case Keenum + Demaryius Thomas and/or Emmanuel Sanders – I’ve described this above in the discussion about Thomas, but I want to reiterate it here. In fact, I think you can play Thomas AND Sanders together with Keenum if you want. These two primary wide receivers are going to soak up a huge percentage of the target share for Denver, and the team did chuck the ball 39 times in an opener that was competitive throughout. Most DFS players will only use one pass catcher with a quarterback, but this is a spot where it might be logical to use two and hope both find the end zone. If we can get greedy, maybe one of them can score twice.
Sam Darnold + Quincy Enunwa – Looking to go cheap with a QB/WR combination? This might be one of the last weeks to get Darnold and Enunwa at a discount. Check out some of the quotes that were posted from Darnold on Friday:
“It’s awesome to be able to throw to him.”
“He’s smooth but he is also physical”
“He is very sudden, a very quick dude.”
“The routes he runs are very crisp, but very violent.”
“It’s cool to be able to … see how much separation he creates for himself.”
Hello, Man Crush. Darnold clearly likes this guy, and the rapport has been seemingly instant. The Jets have a winnable game against Miami this week, and there’s no reason we can’t take a chance on a few cheap stacks here.
Additional Injuries, News, Notes, and Late Week Updates
1) Well, that Josh Gordon situation escalated quickly. After coming down with a surprise “injury” on Friday, rumors are now swirling that the Browns will release him on Monday. In any case, he’s not playing this week. Jarvis Landry might have to deal with Marcus Lattimore when he lines up outside, but I don’t expect a shadow situation, and Landry is going to get a ton of targets if the Browns are playing from behind. He gets a huge boost in full PPR formats.
2) It doesn’t sound good for Leonard Fournette this week. Assuming he is out, T.J. Yeldon enters the FLEX conversation. As I discussed in the article, though, I’m not exactly huge on him here, especially given the fact that we have a ton of playable RB options in Week 2.
5) Joe Mixon is now out 2-4 weeks. That’s irrelevant for this week’s DFS play since the Bengals played on Thursday, but Giovani Bernard will be a fine value going forward on sites where he doesn’t get proactively priced up.
Curating a Weekly Player Pool
As I did last week, I will list what could be used as a general GPP player pool in this section. Do not think of this as a “be all, end all” list, and I encourage you to read the rest of the article as opposed to just skipping down to this section.
High End – None – this is a spot to save, save, save!
High End – DEN, LAR
Mid Range and Value – NYJ, WAS
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