Tuttle's Take: Week 2
Having qualified for countless live finals, Dan Gaspar (MrTuttle05) knows what it takes to win in DFS. In this space each week, he’ll guide you through the lineup building process for both cash games and tournaments by going in-depth and giving out his “Tuttle’s Take” for every game on the schedule.
Indianapolis Colts @ Washington Redskins (-5.5) 46
Week 1 Andrew Luck was mostly what we expected – effective, but not truly unleashed. Luck threw the ball 53 times, completed 73.6% of his attempts and his 5.7 aDOT was fourth lowest of the week. It’s likely that we see a similar approach to their Week 2 passing game – short targets with a lot of involvement out of the backfield. Tight ends and running backs accounted for 28 of Luck’s 53 attempts. Eric Ebron received the only Colts tight end touchdown but Doyle was Luck’s go-to target as he out-snapped Ebron 77-to-36 and doubled Ebron’s targets 10-to-5. T.Y. Hilton (11 targets) and Ryan Grant (9 targets) were also heavily involved whereas Chester Rogers (3 targets) was mostly an afterthought.
The Redskins dominated time of possession in their Week 1 matchup against the Cardinals as they held onto the ball for 38 minutes by riding veteran RB Adrian Peterson for 26 carries and 96 yards. Adrian Peterson’s 96 rushing yards were actually greater than Alex Smith’s 95 air yards. Smith saw Luck’s low 5.7 aDOT and raised him with a 3.2 aDOT – far and away the lowest of Week 1. Part of Smith’s low aDOT was due to game script whereas part was due to lack of strong outside wide receivers. Like the Colts, the Redskins focused on tight ends and running backs in the passing game and that’s likely to continue going forward. Jordan Reed converted five targets into four receptions, 48 yards, and a touchdown. Chris Thompson received the most targets (7) on the team and should continue to be a focal point of the passing game moving forward. Paul Richardson led Redskins’ WRs with six targets, whereas Jamison Crowder led the wide receiving corps with 32 yards.
Alex Smith is popping in some optimal lineups largely due to his price tag and a strong matchup against a Colts team that ranked 32nd in pass DVOA last season. The Colts secondary held their own for the most part last Week with a 38-yard touchdown reception by AJ Green being their biggest leak. Despite the strong matchup and a high implied team total of 26, I’m looking elsewhere at QB this week. Albeit partially game script dependent, the Redskins willingness to milk clock combined with their dink-and-dunk passing game approach in Week 1 has me concerned about Smith’s fantasy ceiling. I think there are guys with similar floors and much better ceilings available.
Jordan Reed and Jack Doyle are the only two fantasy-relevant pass catching pieces from this game. I think both guys will go a bit overlooked despite being two of the more reliable options at the tight end position. I’m only interested in these guys as one-offs in GPPs with the lower priced TEs garnering all the attention and ownership this week.
Don’t expect another two catch, 70-yard performance out of Adrian Peterson this week. Don’t expect another 26 carries either. We saw AP’s ceiling in Week 1 and I’m not interested in chasing it at an increased price. Chris Thompson is a little more interesting to me in GPPs as he’s basically just a WR that will also see a handful of carries. Thompson will be more valuable in negative game scripts and it doesn’t seem likely that the Redskins will be playing from behind in this one.
Carolina Panthers @ Atlanta Falcons (-5) 44
Julio Jones saw monster usage in a Week 1 loss against the Eagles as the Falcons WR was thrown the ball 19 times and lead the league with 282 air yards. Julio converted the 19 targets into 10 receptions, 169 yards, and no touchdowns #NeverJulio. That kind of usage is tough to ignore as Julio accounted for 44% of the Falcons targets and 74% of their air yards. Mohamed Sanu was the next guy in line with six targets and 49 air yards. Devonta Freeman out-targeted pass-catching back Tevin Coleman 5-to-2 and was more productive on the ground (6/36 vs 9/19). Freeman is battling a knee injury and his Week 2 status is up in the air. Coleman averaged 19.5 touches in the two games Freeman missed last season.
The Panthers’ 16-8 victory over the Dallas Cowboys was an unsurprising boring, grind it out affair. Perhaps we should have been a little more wary of CMac’s Week 1 fantasy upside in such a game but the Panthers’ RB still put up solid numbers despite losing a fumble at the goal line. McCaffrey played on 57-of-68 offensive snaps, carried the ball 10 times for 50 yards, and turned a team-high nine targets into six receptions for 45 yards. CMac’s Week 2 matchup gets a boost with Falcons pro bowl LB Deion Jones placed on IR. Greg Olsen re-fractured his right foot and will be out for the foreseeable future. Ian Thomas will replace him. Devin Funchess was the biggest beneficiary in Olsen’s absence last season and figures to see an increase in targets going forward – Funchess did receive 50% of the Panthers’ Week 1 air yards. Rookie WR DJ Moore was out-snapped by Jarius Wright and Torrey Smith and only ran four routes.
Any time a WR is going to see the type of volume that Julio Jones is going to continue to see, that player should be considered in all formats. Julio may see lower ownership due to a similarly priced Antonio Brown soaking up most of the attention which makes him an excellent GPP option as a pivot off AB84. Playing both AB and Julio in the same GPP lineup is a fun approach to GPPs as most people will only be paying up for one of the two.
The matchup is a poor one but Tevin Coleman can be looked at in GPPs if Freeman is indeed out. I’m not interested in either Falcons RB if Freeman is active.
CMac, CMac, CMac. This guy is a lock and play for me even with his increased price tag on DraftKings. McCaffrey had five receptions each time these teams played last season and now gets to face the Falcons sans their best LB in Deion Jones and with an increased workload on the ground. McCaffrey should see 20+ touches in this one and still isn’t priced like the true bell-cow that he is.
It’s not a great matchup for Devin Funchess as he will battle Marcus Alford and Desmond Trufant, but in theory, the big-bodied wideout should see an increase in targets with Olsen on the sideline. There are too many similarly priced alternatives to roster Funchess in cash games but he is a fine GPP target and could be used as a leverage play off of the much higher owned Christian McCaffrey.
Los Angeles Chargers @ Buffalo Bills (+7.5) 43
Phil Rivers was one of Week 1’s top fantasy producers. Despite four drops from his pass catchers, Rivers threw for 424 yards and three touchdowns. Perhaps the most notable takeaway from the Chargers offensive dominance against the Chiefs in Week 1 was the running backs involvement in the passing game. Melvin Gordon led the Chargers with 14 targets and backup Austin Ekeler converted five targets into five receptions, 87 yards and a touchdown. All in all the Chargers backfield accounted for 35% of the targets. Unsurprisingly, Keenan Allen was the next in line turning 12 targets into eight receptions, 108 yards and absolutely burning journeyman Orlando Scandrick for a TD. There had been off-season talk that the Chargers wanted to get Gordon more involved in the passing game but 14 targets far exceeded expectations and aren’t something to bank on moving forward. The corpse of Antonio Gates was on the field for 33-of-82 offensive snaps. Despite catching a two-point conversion and still maintaining some value in the red zone, Gates remains an unattractive fantasy option. Tyrell Williams out-snapped Mike Williams 62-to-44 but was out-targeted 6-to-5. Tyrell caught one TD and dropped another.
Any guesses who recorded the third most air yards in Week 1? That would be Kelvin Benjamin with 195 yards. Benjamin, however, only caught one of his eight targets for 10 yards. It’s difficult to extrapolate any relevant usage notes from a 47-3 blowout. LeSean McCoy was only on the field for 34-of-65 offensive snaps but that was largely thanks to the blowout, not because the Bills love what Marcus Murphy has to offer. This Bills offense will be one to avoid for the majority of the season.
This Bills team is bad. Almost too bad to the point where you fear starters losing fourth-quarter run due to a blowout. Melvin Gordon is the Chargers player that draws the best on-paper matchup as the Bills ranked 30th in rush DVOA last season and 62% of the touchdowns scored against them were via the run. Ekeler had a strong Week 1 performance but was still only on the field for 27% of the plays. Make no mistake that MG3 is the Chargers’ RB1. Melvin is a secondary option for me in all formats.
Keenan Allen is the only Chargers receiver we can rely on for consistent volume. Allen lined up in the slot on 60.4% of the snaps in Week 1 and draws a slot matchup against Bills fourth-round rookie CB Taron Johnson this week. Keenan should absolutely eat in this matchup. The biggest concern surrounding Allen is a blowout and an exploitable ground matchup. Simply put, the Chargers may not need Keenan to produce in this one. I love Allen in GPPs.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Pittsburgh Steelers (-5) 51
Week 1’s most dynamic duo, Tyreek Hill and Patrick Mahomes, get another road game, this time in Pittsburgh. Hill returned a punt for a touchdown and Mahomes threw him two others en route to a seven catch, 169-yard performance for the freak athlete. Mahomes threw two other touchdowns including a dime to fullback Anthony Sherman. Mahomes fourth touchdown pass was a little flick of a pass to Tyreek Hill from the 1-yard line that had Kareem Hunt owners tilting. Hunt’s lack of production was noteworthy but nothing to worry about. Hunt was on the field for 71.4% of the Chiefs offensive snaps and handled 80% of the running back carries. Perhaps more concerning was Hunt’s lack of involvement in the passing game as he was only targeted once. Travis Kelce is another Chiefs player that was unproductive from a fantasy perspective but isn’t someone you should freak out about. Kelce was only able to convert six targets into one reception and six yards. His 1.6 DK pt performance was a massive dud. However, Kelce did see 22% of the Chiefs targets and I’m not too worried unless that number starts to drop drastically.
The Steelers will once again be without Le’Veon Bell in Week 2 and there’s a possibility Ben Roethlisberger isn’t able to suit up for this one either. If Big Ben does sit this one out then no Steelers option can be considered a “safe” play. However, if #7 is under center for the Steelers than look to jam in both James Conner and Antonio Brown. Conner converted 36 (36!!) Week 1 touches into a 38.2 DK point performance. Conner still isn’t priced for that sort of workload. Brown was targeted 16 times and caught eight balls for 93 yards and a touchdown. JuJu Smith-Schuster was the most productive Steelers pass catcher turning five receptions into 119 yards. Notably, AB only lined up in the slot on 21% of his 84 total snaps while JuJu lined up in the slot on 86.7% of his 64 snaps. Kansas City’s best corner is their slot corner, Kendall Fuller.
As mentioned above, James Conner still isn’t priced appropriately for the massive workload he should continue to see. The Chargers running backs tore the Chiefs apart combining for 15 receptions, 182 yards, and a touchdown. Conner won’t see that sort of usage in the passing game but his usage as a receiver still gives him a strong floor to pair with the 15-20 carries he should see. He’s a core play across the industry unless Big Ben is out, in which case he should still receive heavy volume but efficiency concerns could warrant looking elsewhere.
It seems relevant to post AB’s splits with Big Ben and without Le’Veon Bell here once again. Including last week, totaling 14 games, AB averages 13.9 targets, 9.6 receptions, 131.6 yards, 0.86 TDs and 28.1 DK pts (bonus pts not included). AB was relatively silent in Week 1 with a nine catch, 93 yards and one touchdown performance as he only put up 24.3 DK pts. The Steelers get an even better matchup in Week 2 and possibly more importantly, better weather to play in. Despite a handful of drops from the Chargers receivers, the Chiefs secondary still allowed Rivers to hang a 424/3 performance on them in Week 1. This Chiefs secondary is not good, with their only solid cover corner, Kendall Fuller, spending most of his time in the slot. Brown only ran 21% of his Week 1 snaps in the slot and the Steelers are smart enough to move him around enough to take advantage of terrible cover corners Orlando Scandrick and Steven Nelson on the outside.
Depending on your read on Big Ben’s injury situation, the Steelers quarterback is a fringe cash game option. My current lean (I’m writing this on Thursday) is that Ben will play but there’s enough injury concern where I would avoid him in cash and just pair with Conner + AB in GPPs.
Patrick Mahomes wasn’t overly accurate but was efficient en route to his 28.34 DK pt Week 1 performance. There are a handful of QB options you can look to in the $6K price range on DK and the $7.5K range on FD and Mahomes leads the way. He can be considered in all formats.
Kareem Hunt is a strong buy-low candidate. As I mentioned above, I’m not too worried about his overall involvement in the Chiefs offense moving forward. Hunt represents a strong, low-owned GPP option that not only should receive plenty of volume but is talented as well.
Houston Texans @ Tennessee Titans (+2) 44.5
A lot was made of Deshaun Watson’s “obvious” regression as he struggled against the Patriots in Week 1. Watson completed 17-of-34 passes for one touchdown, one interception, and 176 yards. Unsurprisingly, DeAndre Hopkins was Watson’s most targeted receiver as he converted 13 targets into nine receptions and 95 yards. Will Fuller fill-in Bruce Ellington drew eight targets and caught a late game touchdown. Ellington lined up in the slot for the majority of his snaps and may not see reduced playing time even if Fuller is active in Week 2. Despite Alfred Blue stealing a rushing touchdown late, Lamar Miller was a true bell-cow back seeing 57-of-74 offensive snaps and carrying the ball 20 times to Blue’s five. Miller wasn’t heavily involved in the passing game only seeing two targets. Ryan Griffin put up a goose egg but did see five targets and was on the field for 85% of offensive snaps.
Marcus Mariota was unable to finish a forgettable Week 1 performance against the Miami Dolphins. Delanie Walker was also injured in that contests and while Mariota is expected back Week 2, Walker is out for the season. SPARQ freak and fantasy Jonnu Smith will start at tight end in place of Walker. Corey Davis drew 14 targets and saw 35% of the Titans targets. I would not be surprised if he saw a similar market share moving forward with Walker on the sidelines. Davis caught six balls for 62 yards and saw his price decrease across the industry. Dion Lewis dominated running back snaps for the Titans. Lewis was on the field for 49-of-69 offensive snaps whereas Henry was on the field for the remaining 20. Lewis out-carried Henry 16-to-10 received the Titans sole rushing TD and drew eight targets, catching five for 35 yards. It’s fair to question if Lewis’ Week 1 dominance was game script dependent – this is still an RBBC and overall a situation to avoid.
I feel like I have been here before, and it typically ends poorly, but Lamar Miller is way too cheap on DraftKings at $5,400. Last season the Titans’ defense was strong against the run ranking seventh in rush DVOA but struggled against RBs as pass catchers, ranking 32nd in DVOA. Volume > efficiency and Miller has a stranglehold on backfield touches for the Texans. Miller is a core play for me on DK and more of a secondary option on FanDuel.
DeAndre Hopkins will always be a volume driven GPP option but there are too many high-end pass-catching options that I like to have many DHop shares.
I love Corey Davis in GPPs as a cheap WR option that should continue to draw a lot of targets. Jonnu Smith is a fine low-priced GPP option – he makes for a better play on FanDuel where he’s only $4,200.
Minnesota Vikings @ Green Bay Packers
There still isn’t a line on this contest as Aaron Rodgers status remains up in the air. Rodgers suffered a knee injury early in Week 1’s contest against the Bears and then returned in the second half to lead the Packers to a 24-23 comeback victory. Randall Cobb had a monster game capped off by a game-winning 75-yard reception – Cobb totaled 142 receiving yards despite only 58 air yards. Davante Adams and Geronimo Allison each had eight targets, five receptions, and a touchdown. Off-season acquisition Jimmy Graham was a disappointment converting four targets into two receptions and eight yards. Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery split running back snaps 37-to-23. Williams out-carried Ty Mont 15-to-2 while Ty Mont out-targeted Williams 3-to-2. Williams is locked into early down work for at least another week as Aaron Jones remains suspended.
The Vikings will look to go 2-0 as they travel to Green Bay after a 24-16 home victory against the 49ers in Week 1. Adam Thielen dominated the wide receiver usage in Kirk Cousins Vikings debut with 12 targets and a 62% air yards market share. Stefon Diggs had a quick start to Week 1 with an early second quarter TD and then faded as the game went on – he finished with three receptions and 43 yards on six targets. WR3 LaQuon Treadwell was on the field for 38-of-71 offensive snaps and drew four targets. Treadwell will become fantasy relevant if either Diggs or Thielen miss time. The biggest surprise to me was Dalvin Cook’s usage. I was under the impression that Latavius Murray would cut into Cook’s work a bit but that really wasn’t the case. Dalvin was on the field for 80% of Minnesota’s offensive snaps, carried the ball 16 times, and drew seven targets. In my defense, Murray did receive 11 carries of his own.
Aaron Rodgers status is going to dictate which fantasy plays are relevant. I’m likely avoiding the Packers offense either way as this is a tough draw for them. The Vikings defense would become the top defensive play of the week if Rodgers sits. I’m interested in Dalvin Cook regardless of Rodgers’ status but he does become a better play if Rodgers sits as it becomes more likely that Cook can be used to grind out a win. Cook is a fringe cash game play for me on FanDuel where he’s underpriced for his expected workload at $6,500. Vikings pass catchers can be used in GPPs but I’m not high on them against an improved Packers secondary.
Miami Dolphins @ New York Jets (-3) 44
Sam Darnold and the Jets defense led New York to a surprising blowout on the road against the Lions on MNF. Other than his first pass, which was intercepted and returned for a touchdown, Darnold looked sharp and targeted Quincy Enunwa heavily. Enunwa led all Week 1 receivers with a 48% target share. Robby Anderson converted his only target into a touchdown and was out-targeted by journeyman Terrelle Pryor who drew three targets. Jermaine Kearse may be active in Week 2 which would push Pryor to four wide receiver sets. Both Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell saw 24-of-60 offensive snaps for the Jets. Powell out-carried Crowell 12-to-10 and had one target to Crowell’s zero. Crowell was more productive on his touches parlaying his 12 carries into 102 yards and two touchdowns.
The Dolphins beat the Titans 27-20 in a game that featured two special teams touchdowns. Jakeem Grant, who drew 25-of-62 snaps in DeVante Parker’s absence led the Dolphins in targets with seven. DeVante Parker could be back in Week 2. Danny Amendola was next in line, converting six targets into 26 yards – Amendola ran 69.2% of his snaps in the slot. Kenny Still was the most productive Dolphins receiver turning five targets into four receptions, 106 yards, and two touchdowns. Kenyan Drake was on the field for 46-of-62 offensive snaps, carried the ball 14 times and saw five targets (17% target share). Frank Gore was on the field for 29% of the offensive snaps, carried the ball nine times and didn’t see a target.
Quincy Enunwa is the only player worthy of a look in this game. Enunwa’s usage is unlikely to continue at such a high rate but he should continue to draw a lot of targets from his rookie QB and is underpriced for his role in the offense.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+3) 44
The Eagles offense was ugly in the 2018 opener as Foles and the passing game struggled to get anything going offensively. Zach Ertz and Nelson Agholor led the Eagles with 10 targets each but neither was able to post strong overall numbers. Agholor caught eight of the balls thrown his way but only totaled an impressively low 33 receiving yards. Ertz grabbed five balls for 48 yards and dropped two. Darren Sproles, who has yet to practice this week, caught four of seven targets for 22 yards. Mike Wallace racked up the most air yards (109) by a wide margin but only had three targets overall. Jay Ajayi barely saw the field in the first half as he missed a lot of practice time leading up to Week 1. Ajayi was the centerpiece of the second half offense and ended with 15 carries, 62 yards, and two touchdowns.
By now everyone is well aware of what happened in New Orleans. Fitzmagic happened. Ryan Fitzpatrick made the Saints defense look silly as he completed 21-of-28 passes for 417 yards and four touchdowns. Oh, he also ran the ball 12 times for 36 yards and a touchdown. Mike Evans dominated a matchup against Marshon Lattimore by converting eight targets into eight receptions, 144 yards, and a touchdown. DeSean Jackson looked like his young self-catching all five targets for 146 yards and two touchdowns. Adam Humphries operated as Bucs slot receiver as he ran 82.1% of his 44 snaps from the slot – he caught 3-of-5 targets for 27 yards. Last but not least, Chris Godwin was on the field for 70% of the Bucs offensive plays. Godwin out-snapped DeSean Jackson 46-to-20 but was much less efficient – he caught three balls for 41 yards and a touchdown. DeSean Jackson is dealing with concussion symptoms but was able to turn in a limited practice on Thursday.
The production wasn’t there for Zach Ertz or Nelson Agholor in Week 1 but the volume was. I love both guys in a rebound spot against a much worse Bucs defense. Agholor is receiving a lot less hype than those priced around him on FanDuel but Agholor is my favorite option out of that low $6K, high $5K group. He’s a fringe cash game play for me. Ertz is a fringe cash play for me as well.
Jay Ajayi ran hot to parlay 28 offensive snaps into 20.2 DK pts but should see a heavier workload in Week 2. I am not sure I’ll have any shares of Ajayi – I like the Eagles’ passing game more and there’s a lot of opportunity cost at the RB position.
I have low expectations for this Bucs offense coming off an improbable Week 1 performance. I’m not interested in their run game (although Barber’s workload was encouraging) and am only interested in their passing game in game stacks with Agholor and/or Ertz. Chris Godwin does get a boost in value if DeSean Jackson is inactive but not as big of a boost as people expect – Godwin already out-snapped DJax 46-to-20 in Week 1.
Cleveland Browns @ New Orleans Saints (-8.5) 50
Jarvis Landry totaled 1023 air yards last season with the Dolphins. He racked up 223 air yards in Week 1 with his new team the Cleveland Browns. Juice was clearly Tuh-rod’s favorite option as he targeted Landry 16 times – more than double the targets the next guy in line saw, David Njoku with seven. Josh Gordon disappointingly only saw three targets but turned one of those targets into a nice 17-yard touchdown pass. I would expect targets between Landry and Gordon to even out as the season progresses – someone as talented as Gordon will demand more than a 7% target share moving forward. Editors Note: Josh Gordon has been ruled out for Week 2 The Browns’ running game distribution was exactly what we expected – Carlos Hyde dominated early down work while Duke Johnson took over on third down and hurry up situations. Johnson was targeted six times but only caught one ball for eight yards. Nick Chubb remains an afterthought, being on the field for just 4-of-89 offensive snaps and carrying the ball three times. He’ll need a Hyde injury to become relevant.
The Saints offense is something dreams are made of. It reminds me of Steelers’ offenses of old where the volume is heavily concentrated between three players in Drew Brees, Michael Thomas, and Alvin Kamara. Kamara and Thomas combined for 66% of Brees’ targets as both guys put up monster stat lines (Thomas – 17/190/2; Kamara – 9/112/1). Tedd Ginn accounted for another 12% of Brees’ targets as he converted six targets into five receptions, 68 yards, and a touchdown. Kamara also ran the ball eight times for 29 yards and two touchdowns. He accounted for 8-of-12 RB carries while Gillislee and Williams filled in sparingly. We still don’t have a strong indication of how Kamara will be used moving forward in games where the Saints are leading.
The Saints are 10-point favorites and are likely to see a game script more in line with what we expected last week – playing with the lead as opposed to from behind. That does have me a little concerned with what Kamara’s usage will look like. Kamara saw 12 targets last week and I think cutting that in half is a fair target projection for this week – that still gives Kamara a high floor but a rising price tag gives you less room for error. Despite Gillislee losing a fumble last week, I do think Payton will be unwilling to grind Kamara too hard if playing with the lead which could limit Kamara to 15-20 carries to go along with his six targets. That’s still a strong workload for the Saints running back but he has less room to return value this week with a $9,000 tag on FanDuel and a $9,500 tag on DraftKings. I do have Kamara as the top overall RB on the slate but am undecided on if he’ll be a cash game play for me.
Michael Thomas is in the same boat as Kamara, priced as WR2 on both FanDuel and DraftKings. Again, Thomas gets a strong matchup against the Browns but he needs to see massive volume in order to justify his high price tag. I’m playing Antonio Brown over Michael Thomas in cash games, which makes MT more of a GPP option for me.
I think there is value to be had in the Browns passing game. Marshon Lattimore is the Saints’ DB to avoid. Jarvis Landry ran 62.7% of his Week 1 snaps in the slot which would keep him away from Lattimore the majority of the game. Landry did see his price tag raise but there’s still some meat on the bone for a guy that demanded 16 Week 1 targets. Landry is a secondary play whereas Gordon is best used in GPPs only.
David Njoku carried over his pre-season usage as he was on the field for 87.6% of the Browns offensive snaps and drew seven targets. Njoku is cheap across the industry and can be used in all formats.
Arizona Cardinals @ Los Angeles Rams (-13) 46.5
The Cardinals offense looked ugly in Week 1 as the Redskins flew into Arizona, dominated time of possession, and held the Cardinals to 213 total yards. Larry Fitzgerald unsurprisingly led all wideouts with 10 targets and a 29% target share. Chad Williams and Christian Kirk operated as WR2 and WR3 and were irrelevant. It’s tough to envision either player having a big role moving forward. Ricky Seals-Jones had a promising six targets and 18% target share. He only caught three balls for 19 yards but his role in the offense was promising – he was on the field on 49-of-53 offensive plays and ran a route on 36 of them. Game script completely neutered David Johnson who tried to claw his way to value with a late touchdown run. You don’t want to overreact over a one-week sample size but the overall effectiveness of the Cardinals offense is a huge concern for DJ. Johnson did at least receive nine targets in the passing game.
Brandin Cooks addition to the Rams offense may end up resulting in a fantasy nightmare. If Week 1 is any indication, targets are going to be spread out across a handful of guys – all three of Cooks (8), Cooper Kupp (9), and Robert Woods (9) were targeted nearly equally and Todd Gurley chipped in with five targets of his own. A more concentrated offense with fewer mouths to feed is much better for predictability and fantasy purposes. Woods totaled the fewest yardage out of the group with 37 yards but dominated total air yards with 161 yards and a 49% market share. Woods targets may be less efficient but his 17.9 aDOT give him upside appeal. In addition to Gurley’s five targets, the Rams running back carried the ball 20 times for 108 yards. Gurley accounted for 20-of-21 running back carries and is a true bell-cow back.
I don’t foresee myself rostering many players against the Rams defense this season and I don’t even feel all that comfortable rostering David Johnson here. I’m avoiding the Cardinals offense.
Todd Gurley is the player to own in this contest as the Rams are 13-point home favorites and Gurley has a stranglehold on all Rams’ running back duties. Gurley has the highest touch floor on the slate. I prefer Gurley over Kamara if paying up at the RB position.
Detroit Lions @ San Francisco 49ers (-5.5) 47.5
Matthew Stafford had a forgettable 2018 debut as the Lions QB threw four interceptions against a traveling Jets team. Somewhat encouragingly for Stafford’s high volume moving forward was the fact that the Lions running game remains an absolute mess. With Ameer Abdullah inactive and a pass-heavy game script, Theo Riddick led Detroit RBs playing on 41-of-70 offensive snaps. Riddick turned seven targets into 15 yards. Kerryon Johnson was on the field for 16 plays and received five carries and three targets (caught all three balls for 20 yards), while LeGarrette Blount totaled -3 yards on four carries and 13 snaps. Johnson seems like the best bet moving forward but I’m not confident the Lions are smart enough to realize that. The Lions wideouts saw a lot of action with a pass-heavy game script – Golden Tate led the way with 15 targets, Kenny Golladay received 12, and Marvin Jones tallied eight. Despite just a 15% target share, Jones led the wideouts with 168 air yards.
Jimmy G also had a rough 2018 debut as he threw three interceptions against the Vikings dominant defense. Somewhat surprisingly Garoppolo only threw the ball 33 times – the 49ers were committed to a run-pass balance as Matt Breida (11) and Alfred Morris (12) totaled 23 carries in a game where San Francisco was playing from behind. Breida out-targeted Morris 2-to-0. Marquise Goodwin was only able to play 17-of-67 snaps as he sustained a quad injury. Goodwin’s absence led to an increase in targets for George Kittle (9), Pierre Garcon (6), Trent Taylor (6), and Dante Pettis (5). Pettis was the direct beneficiary of Goodwin’s absence and would be again if Goodwin is unable to suit up in Week 2.
George Kittle figures to be the chalk at TE this week and rightfully so. Kittle’s volume is strong for a low-priced TE and the matchup is strong as the Lions struggled to contain the tight end position last season, ranking 26th in DVOA in defending the position. With Darius Slay and Quandre Diggs pass coverage dominance, I wouldn’t be surprised to see targets funneled to Kittle. Kittle is a SPARQ freak who is one of the most athletic tight ends in the league.
There isn’t enough separation between Morris and Breida to take a stab at either back in GPPs. It’s a situation I’ll avoid in Week 2 and hope we get some clarity moving forward.
Lions’ wide receiver usage may be tough to peg moving forward with targets being spread between Golladay, Tate, and MJJ. I am avoiding all three in cash games but do like pairing each one of them in GPPs with Stafford.
New England Patriots @ Jacksonville Jaguars (+2) 45
If you rostered Rob Gronkowski (7/123/1), Phillip Dorsett (7/66/1), or James White (4/38/1) you were happy last week. If you rostered Chris Hogan (1/11/0), like me, you were not happy. Hogan did account for 37% of the Patriots air yards but wasn’t able to do anything with his five targets. Dorsett was the biggest Week 1 surprise as he caught all seven targets thrown his way and was on the field for 57 of the Patriots’ 75 offensive plays. Another year, another mess in the backfield for the Patriots. Expected goal line back Jeremy Hill suffered a Week 1 injury, forcing Burkhead to see an influx of carries (18). Burkhead is now in the concussion protocol and his status for Week 2 is up in the air. Sony Michel may be active in Week 2 but is unlikely to see a heavy workload. That leaves the Patriots with pass-catching back James White and newly acquired special teamer Kenjon Barner.
The Jaguars traveled to New York and beat the Giants 20-15 despite losing Leonard Fournette early in the game to a hamstring injury. As of Friday, Fournette has still not practiced and is looking unlikely to play in Week 2. T.J. Yeldon handled running back duties in Fournette’s absence – he turned 14 carries into 51 yards and caught three-of-seven targets for 18 yards and a touchdown. As predicted, wideout targets were spread out and largely invaluable. Dede Westbrook led all receivers with six targets playing 82.6% of his snaps out of the slot. Donte Moncrief totaled five targets while Keelan ‘Chalk’ Cole converted four targets into three receptions and 39 yards. The newly acquired Austin-Seferian Jenkins drew five targets and was on the field for 55-of-63 snaps, blocking on 30 of them.
This is the most important game to monitor from an injury standpoint and is, unfortunately, one of the last games to start on the slate. If we don’t have news before kickoff, take advantage of the unknown. Work some potential late swaps into your lineups as Yeldon becomes a cash game option in Fournette’s absence and James White a stronger GPP option in Burkhead’s absence.
With a handful of low priced tight ends drawing a ton of attention, Rob Gronkowski is an elite GPP play at expected low ownership. He’s an excellent game theory play that will lead to unique roster construction by paying up at a position most people will save at this week.
Oakland Raiders @ Denver Broncos (-6) 45
The biggest take away from the Raiders Week 1 game against the Rams wasn’t that Derek Carr is horrible but rather that Jon Gruden will game plan to attack the opponent’s’ weakness. That bodes well again for tight end Jared Cook who converted 12 targets into nine receptions and 180 yards last week. The Raiders receivers once again draw a brutal CB draw against the trio of Chris Harris Jr, Adam Jones, and Bradley Robey. It won’t take much for Amari Cooper to top his one catch, nine-yard performance but this is far from a breakout spot for the talented wideout who Gruden hyped up in the off-season. I have no interest in old man Jordy Nelson, either, who drew four Week 1 targets. Jalen Richard was used as the Raiders pass catching back and seemed to be a part of Gruden’s game plan as the RB converted 11 targets into 9 receptions and 55 yards. Heavy involvement from Richard again in Week 2 would not be surprising.
Things were much more promising for the Broncos offense in Week 1. Both Emmanuel Sanders (10/135/1) and Demaryius Thomas (6/63/1) received double-digit targets and remained the focal point of the Broncos passing game. A lot was made about the Keenum-to-Sanders slot connection in the preseason and their rapport paid off heavily in the season opener but it was also reassuring to see DT still receive a 23.4% target share. Courtland Sutton operated as WR3, played on 44-of-74 snaps, and drew five targets. Royce Freeman acted as the Broncos starting running back but only out-snapped Phillip Lindsay 29-to-26 and only handled 47% of Denver’s carries. He and Lindsay both carried the ball 15 times while Devontae Booker chipped in with two. Freeman was inactive in the passing game whereas Lindsay was targeted three times and Booker was targeted twice.
Demaryius Thomas’ price tag actually dropped $100 on DraftKings after an 18.3 DK pt performance. $5,600 is too cheap for Thomas in a favorable matchup against an Oakland team that ranked near the bottom in pass DVOA last season and got burned in Week 1. DT’s $7,000 price tag isn’t as attractive on FanDuel where there are a lot of strong options in the low $6K range. Emmanuel Sanders is too cheap on both sites for his expected usage. Sanders ran 62.2% of his Week 1 snaps out of the slot and will draw a matchup against 33-year old slot corner Leon Hall.
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