When I’m looking into the DFS slate each week, I like to go game by game and identify players or situations that intrigue me. In every game, on every team, there’s a situation that’s relevant for DFS purposes. Whether it’s for a positive or negative reason, doesn’t matter. It informs us of how we should be attacking each slate. Each week, I’m going to go through that process here and give my view on a player or situation based on what we know so far and what we can expect to see in the future.
David Johnson ($8,200) was bailed out by a touchdown in Week 1, scoring just 14 DK points. That came out to about 0.7 points per opportunity (Targets + Carries) which is nearly 0.3 points fewer than he averaged in his last full season. To call his usage confusing would be an understatement. In 2016, he saw 34.9 air yards per game. In week 1, he saw seven total air yards on his nine targets (0.8 aDOT). As the fourth-highest-priced RB and seventh-highest overall, I’d consider him a GPP play. They face off against the Rams, who surrendered nine receptions to Jalen Richard last weekend. They made a concerted effort to get Richard the ball, though, which is something I’m unsure the Cardinals will be willing to do.
The Falcons are coming off of an 18-12 loss in Philadelphia on the first night of the season. Julio Jones ($8,400) saw a whopping 48.7 percent target share in the first game. Some receivers go an entire month without seeing the targets (19) and air yards (282) that Julio saw on this past Thursday. Unsurprisingly to the #NeverJulio crowd, he didn’t score a touchdown, but you have to like the usage and 22.1 DK points. Atlanta is home against Carolina this week, who just allowed Cole Beasley to score 14 PPR Points on eight targets.
LeSean McCoy ($5,700) boasts just the 20th-highest RB salary this week. He’ll carry relatively low ownership after a game where he only saw 10 opportunities. The fact of the matter is, though, that the Bills were run out of the stadium last weekend. A 47-3 game isn’t the time or place that McCoy, or any RB for that matter, is likely to succeed.
Christian McCaffrey ($7,000) benefited greatly from Greg Olsen’s injury in 2017. We never root for injuries but the fact that Olsen is now considered “month-to-month” means that we can anticipate an uptick in McCaffrey’s usage. He scored nearly 4 extra PPR points per game while Olsen wasn’t on the field last year. Schematically, Atlanta is perfectly content allowing RBs to catch passes out of the backfield and just make tackles. While that may not bode well for McCaffrey from an NFL perspective, it’s exactly what we want from a DFS perspective.
Jarvis Landry ($6,300) is coming off of a 15-target performance where he saw 214 air yards (14.3 aDOT). For comparison, in Miami, Landry posted just a 6.6 aDOT. He was able to turn just seven receptions into 106 yards. It’s clear that he’ll be used early and often in Cleveland as evidenced by his 91 percent snap share (81 out of 89 snaps). The Saints defense didn’t show the same teeth last week as it did in 2017, as they were shredded by Ryan Fitzpatrick and company. I wouldn’t expect them to give up another 48 points, but Landry’s usage is going to be there either way.
Case Keenum ($5,800) is an interesting option this week. He put up 25 DK Points against the Seahawks last week as he went for over 300 Yards and three TDs. The Denver Broncos are implied for the 6th highest total as they take on the Oakland Raiders at home. Quarterbacks that are home, favored by five or more points, and are less than $6,000 have historically averaged 18.74 DK Points. Another 20-point game is well within his range of outcomes.
The Lions ran 3WR sets at the third highest rate in the NFL last season. They have a guy in Kenny Golladay ($4,800) that is growing in importance every time he steps on the field. Golden Tate ($6,500) will most likely remain the alpha in Detroit, but until the price on Golladay catches up to his usage, he will be a value in DFS. He saw four more targets (12) than Marvin Jones ($6,200) did against the Jets. He also accounted for six first downs, which led the team.
Green Bay Packers
In one of the more exciting games of Week 1, Randall Cobb ($4,600) led the Packers in targets as he pulled in nine of his ten targets for 142 yards and a TD. When targeting Cobb, Aaron Rodgers’ passer rating was 152.1. The long TD may have people thinking that his performance was fluky, but even without that, Cobb would’ve been good for a 15-point day. He’ll see snaps out of the slot and avoid the Xavier Rhodes treatment. It’s gross to say, but I’m not even sure I care if DeShone Kizer ends up playing. They’ll likely look to get the ball out of his hands quickly.
Lamar Miller ($5,400) saw 20 rush attempts which was good for fourth in the league during Week 1. That total included four red-zone attempts, which was also good for fourth in the NFL. He came up just short of 100 yards as he was on the field for 57 of 74 snaps. There’s some hesitancy, as he’s a road favorite and targeting home RBs is usually the play. The lack of competition for touches in Houston, though, means that we have a safe floor in Miller.
Andrew Luck’s love affair with the TE position is one of the more obvious trends of his career. He spread the ball around in his return to NFL action, targeting nine different Colts. They ran 77 plays on offense, 55 of which were passes. Of those 55 pass attempts, 16 (29 percent) went to the TE position. While Eric Ebron ($3,500) scored the TD, Jack Doyle ($4,000) was targeted 10 times which led to seven catches for 60 yards. The usage is there for Doyle to be a top TE option, especially if he’s able to find the end zone.
The Jaguars host the New England Patriots as slight home dogs. In the six similar opportunities Blake Bortles ($5,400) has had in his career, he’s averaged just over 17 DK Points and hit point expectation 66 percent of the time. The game script should force the Jaguars to lean on the pass a bit more. Bortles can also add points on the ground as he’s averaged just over 20 yards rushing per game over the past year.
Kansas City Chiefs
Last week’s game against the Chargers was a disaster for Travis Kelce ($5,900). He cost $6,400 last week in a game in which they scored 28 points, but it was the Tyreek Hill show in Week 1. Kelce saw six targets but was only able to convert one of those into a reception for six yards. He was on the field for every single snap, though, and was tied for eighth in targets among TEs. Look for Kelce to get back on the good foot and finish in the top six TEs against the Pittsburgh Steelers in a game that Vegas thinks will be a shootout (53 O/U).
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers game this week doesn’t have the highest total, at just 43. But, they have an above average team total and have a few viable options against the Buffalo Bills this weekend. Melvin Gordon ($7,400) is the guy that you need in just about any format. We can discuss whether or not we think he’s a “good” RB, and many people will say he isn’t. I’ll take opportunity over perceived talent every day of the week, and Gordon has that. He played 62-of-82 offensive snaps while rushing the ball 15 times and being targeted in the passing game 13 times. That isn’t a typo. No RB saw more work in the passing game and just six players in the NFL saw more targets than him. Gordon is a cash game lock this weekend.
Los Angeles Rams
On this week’s On The Daily, I talked about how much I like Jared Goff ($6,300). We want exposure to games that are going to score a lot of points and the Rams are implied for the second-highest total on the slate. Their team total is over 29. QBs as home favorites with that high of a team total always have a safe floor. In Sean McVay’s offense, the Rams can score in bunches. Goff has a 30+ point ceiling this weekend, fire him up.
Kenny Stills ($5,700) put up WR1 numbers in Week 1. Any time you approach 30 points as a WR is solid. Doing it on five targets is impressive, but also might be a bit unsustainable. He caught four balls for 106 yards and two TDs. We obviously can’t expect that to happen every week. He needs to see more targets this week to pay off his inflated price. He’s worth a shot in GPPs, but the volume is slightly concerning.
Kyle Rudolph’s ($4,200) usage was concerning, to say the least. He saw the same amount of targets as C.J. Ham and only one more than David Morgan. If not for the TD, Rudolph would’ve completely busted last week as he only saw 16 air yards. You’d really need to see the volume come back up before playing him in a spot like this. Road dog TEs with low totals hit salary expectation less than 40 percent of the time. Pass.
New England Patriots
Chris Hogan ($5,400) reeled in just one of his five targets on Sunday, posting an abysmal 2.1 DK Points at nearly 20 percent ownership. Hogan was in on 68 of 75 snaps and is still the WR1 on his team at least until Julian Edelman returns. If snap counts aren’t enough for you, how about 151 Air Yards? Low ownership and high air yards equal an excellent GPP play.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints are going to be extremely chalky this week. With the most expensive RB, the second-most expensive WR, and the most expensive QB, it’s going to be difficult to fit all of them in the same lineup. In the Millionaire Maker last week, Alvin Kamara was over 33 percent owned and Michael Thomas was nearly 20 percent owned. But, those who stacked them got the combination at only 4.87 percent owned. If you threw Drew Brees into that stack, it only accounted for 2.8 percent of Milly Maker lineups. If you think, like Vegas does, that the Saints are going to score close to 30 points, you want a lot of exposure to New Orleans.
New York Jets
Quincy Enunwa ($4,700) is cash-worthy this week. The Jets are fresh off of a solid performance where they scored 48 points in Detroit. Considering that rookie QB Sam Darnold only attempted 21 passes, it’s safe to call Enunwa the focal point of the passing game with 10 targets. I’m not expecting the Jets to drop almost 50 points again this week, but there’s something to be said for a young QB who is comfortable targeting one of his receivers. Enunwa is in play in all formats until further notice.
Jared Cook ($3,600) is in the mid-tier of TEs this week thanks to the Monday Night Football discount. There’s no way that he’s under $4,000 if pricing comes out after he caught 9 of 12 targets for 180 yards. It appears that the Oakland offense, for better or worse, is going to target Cook. He accounted for 70 percent of Raider first downs through the air. That being said, Oakland is going into Denver as six-point underdogs and are only implied to score 20 points. He’s in play for GPPs, but there are cheaper options at TE that will find their way into my cash lineup.
If you can afford him, I like Zach Ertz ($6,100) to bounce back this week. He missed just 2 of 72 offensive snaps for Philly last week as he saw 10 targets. The usage was there but the efficiency wasn’t. I don’t think that’s a trend that continues. Somewhat surprisingly, Ertz is actually a touch better (1.3 PPR Points) with Nick Foles than Carson Wentz since 2016. So it isn’t a function of the backup QB. He’ll be low owned in Week 2 and makes for a solid GPP play if you want to pay up at TE.
Playing Antonio Brown ($8,800) and/or James Conner ($6,700) should be pretty obvious. Jesse James ($2,900) might be less obvious but he needs to do very little to pay off his price this week. Pittsburgh is at home, favored by more than a field goal, and implied to score nearly 30 points. There will be plenty of scoring to go around, and James would pay off immediately with a TD catch. Even if he doesn’t, I’d consider him a safe bet for five or six targets which gives him a solid floor for his price.
San Francisco 49ers
It’s looking more and more likely that Marquise Goodwin ($4,800) will miss this week’s game against Detroit. I like this game to shoot out and go over the total, so I want exposure to both offenses. I’m targeting Pierre Garcon ($5,000) in cash and will have some exposure to Dante Pettis ($4,000) in GPPs. The passing matchup for San Francisco is significantly easier this week, compared to their game against Minnesota. Garcon couldn’t do much with the six targets he earned last week, but he’ll have an easier go this weekend at home.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Ryan Fitzpatrick-led Buccaneers managed to go on the road and drop 48 on New Orleans in Week 1. We might be losing our revenge game narrative as DeSean Jackson is banged up, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have anything to watch for from Tampa Bay. Peyton Barber ($4,000) is dirt cheap and saw 19 of 22 running back carries in Week 1. If you’re getting a running back at that price with that touch expectation, you need to consider getting exposure to them in just about any format. His ownership most likely doesn’t get above 5 percent, so you can fire him up in a just a couple of GPP lineups and be overweight.
Jonnu Smith ($3,100) is the beneficiary of the Delanie Walker injury. If you listened to The Fantasy Football Report this week, you heard the recommendation to spend all your FAAB on Smith. His athletic profile is basically a Create-A-Player on Madden with near-unlimited points. Smith is 6 feet 3 inches, 248 pounds and ran a 4.62 forty. Per Player Profiler, his breakout age, college dominator rating, and SPARQ-x score are all above the 90th percentile. It’s pretty easy to see the Titans slotting him into a majority of the Walker role, which means volume. Walker and Smith combined for five catches on 10 targets for 64 yards. That alone would’ve been good for a mid-TE1 last week.
Chris Thompson ($5,900) was the highest targeted player in a Washington uniform last week. He turned his seven targets into a six catch, 63 yard, one touchdown performance. There’s clearly a rapport there with new QB Alex Smith, as he was targeted three times in the red zone. Thompson also made the most of his limited work on the ground, taking his five carries for 65 yards. His big-play ability and nose for the end zone make him an intriguing GPP play at relatively low ownership.