Week 2 Overview
We have one week in the books and the key to Week 2 success is trying to separate the signal from the noise. Which big Week 1 performances were just the tip of the iceberg of what should be great fantasy seasons? Which were fluky?
On the other side of the coin, we have a chance to take advantage of recency bias by targeting some players who had down Week 1 performances. Derrick Henry, Najee Harris, Mike Evans, and Robert Woods are some players who could bounce back in a big way.
In addition to trying to figure that out, a few things stand out about this slate on FanDuel:
- The quarterback and tight end prices are all in a fairly narrow range. With no tight ends above $7,000 and no quarterbacks above $8,700, the opportunity cost of rostering the elite options at both of those positions is low. Paying up at both positions looks like the optimal approach.
- Value at wide receiver is plentiful. We can get elite WR1 type players for Sub-$7K and there are quite a few strong options under $6K, as well.
Kyler Murray ($8.700) Murray made it look easy in Week 1, throwing for 289 yards and 4 touchdowns while adding a rushing touchdown for good measure. While Arizona has talked about running Murray less often this season, he is still their best weapon down around the goal line. Thus, even if his rushing yardage expectation drops, the rushing touchdown expectation does not. He has 12 rushing touchdowns in his last 17 games. Plus, 60% of Murray’s carries last week came from inside the 10-yard line. With as strong as the Arizona passing offense looks featuring some new weapons and an improved line, Murray is a near lock to hit GPP value if he gets a rushing touchdown. Given that he is only +135 to score on the ground, you have to like those odds.
Jalen Hurts ($7,600) If any of the sub-$8K quarterbacks can produce on par with the highest priced options, Hurts is the guy. He has a massive rushing expectation (50.5 yard over/under) that, combined with his rushing touchdown expectation, has him projected for approximately 8.0 fantasy points as a runner. That is a big edge over the field and we know those rushing points are higher variance than passing points, as well. Exactly what we want in a tournament. The new offensive system installed by Nick Sirianni is perfect for Hurts' skill set and will be a challenge all season for opposing defenses.
Jalen Hurts and the Eagles' offense looked sensational in Week 1.@CoachK_Sanchez went beyond the box score to detail why the Hurts-Sirianni combo was so effective and why Eagles fans should be optimistic about the future.#FrontOffice33 | #FlyEaglesFlyhttps://t.co/lUBVuK8l1c— The Draft Network (@TheDraftNetwork) September 17, 2021
Justin Herbert ($7,600) Herbert is in an obvious blowup spot against the Cowboys. When Dak Prescott has been in the lineup, nearly all of Dallas’ games have been shootouts going back to last season. The Cowboys will also be without their best defensive player, DeMarcus Lawrence. This is a big blow to an already questionable unit.
Herbert passed the eye test with flying colors last weekend against a strong Washington defense. He was putting deep outs right on the receivers and made some pretty throws on the run. While Herbert will be popular, we do not have to worry about roster percentage quite as much at quarterback as other positions. We are getting a high floor with Herbert projected for over 300 passing yards with plenty of upside, as well. At $7,600 he checks all of the boxes.
Other QBs to consider:
Joe Burrow ($7,200) On the low end of the salary spectrum, Burrow arguably has the most upside. He also has three strong stacking options in Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, and Ja’Marr Chase. The Bears secondary had a few breakdowns last weekend against the Rams. If that happens again and the Bengals hit a long touchdown or two, Burrow and one of his wide receivers could be a GPP-winning tandem.
Nick Chubb ($8,400) It is hard to trust the Cleveland passing game but this is a spot where the team should score 30 points. The way they get there is by dominating the Texans on the ground with Nick Chubb. After Week 1, we do have to question our assumptions Houston at least a little bit. Is this a team that will be amongst the league’s worst and only looked good because Jacksonville was a train wreck? Or is Houston a sneakily solid team that is going to be competitive in almost every game? The bet here is the former. This is still a Texans roster mostly devoid of talent and could be in for a rude awakening in Cleveland.
Aside from the matchup, it is always nice having a player like Chubb in your fantasy lineup. He gets the most out of each carry and at least once a game seems to make something from nothing and break off a long gain. In a game script where he should see 20+ carries, we get even more opportunities at a game-changing run. Chubb will be popular but not overly so due to being in the same price range as Alvin Kamara and some other top backs.
Najee Harris ($6,100) Playing Harris did not work out last week. He and Roethlsiberger just missed connecting on a couple passes, including one near the goal line. Buffalo also mostly won the battle in the trenches against Pittsburgh’s mediocre offensive line. There were plenty of positives, however. First, Harris never left the field. This is exceedingly rare in today’s NFL and is the reason why some have been so excited about the upside of Harris this season.
With his price down even further and a matchup against a subpar Raiders defense, this is a prime opportunity for Harris to have his first huge NFL fantasy performance. If it does not happen this week, we will have to reassess his upside.
Chris Carson ($6,700) Tennessee’s defense was torched through the air by the Cardinals last week. Seattle destroyed the Colts on deep balls. Those two factors will lead to the crowd targeting the passing game in this matchup. Meanwhile, Tennessee may adjust and stack the box less than they normally do, which would open the door for Carson to have a big day. With Rashaad Penny sidelined, Carson has the backfield to himself in one of the league’s better offenses. At a price point of under $7,000, he brings both a high floor and realistic multiple-touchdown upside.
Other RBs to consider:
Derrick Henry ($8,000) In the dynasty space, Adam Harstad likes to talk about the value of heuristics. Boiling complex concepts down to something simple like: “Situation changes faster than talent.” In this case, I think there is real value in a simple DFS heuristic with Henry: Fade him when he’s popular and play him when he’s not. After a down Week 1 and playing as a road dog in Seattle, he probably won’t be very popular this week.
Alvin Kamara ($8,800) and Christian McCaffrey ($10,000) The matchups are below average and the prices are high but we want to get these guys into our lineups as often as we can regardless of matchups every week. There is so much value at wide receiver, getting up to the top plays is relatively painless.
CeeDee Lamb ($6,800) Lamb is underpriced by at least $1,000. He is an elite young talent in one of the NFL’s top passing offenses and saw a whopping 15 targets last week. The game against the Chargers has shootout potential. What’s not to like? The only potential negative here is that Lamb should be one of the more popular plays on the slate. In this case, he is such a strong value that it is worth eating some chalk to roster him as a cheap WR1.
Mike Williams ($5,600) While Lamb is a fantastic play, the best bang for your buck in the Cowboys-Chargers game (when you take into account ceiling and projected popularity) is Williams. The coaching staff told us in the offseason that he was going to produce big numbers. Based upon Week 1 (8-82-1 on 12 targets), we have no reason to doubt them. While there are a number of different ways to attack this game, Williams should be a staple of game stacks both paired with Justin Herbert or as a correlation play alongside Lamb or Amari Cooper.
Ja'Marr Chase ($5,500) Chase put up stupid numbers almost every single week in college while catching passes from Joe Burrow. In his first career NFL game, he did the same (5-101-1). That may just be what we can expect from him on a weekly basis. He is a player who could soon be priced at $7,000+ and stay in that range for years to come. If you buy into the notion that Chase will be one of the league’s best wide receivers, then it also makes sense to try to take advantage of the inaccurate pricing while we can. Based upon reputation, the matchup on the road against Chicago is a tough one. The Bears secondary struggled mightily in Week 1, however. Matthew Stafford averaged 12.4 yards per attempt and connected with his wide receivers on a number of big chunk plays. While we should credit Stafford, three of the big gains were due either to busted coverages or pitiful tackling attempts by the Bears. Blowing a coverage or missing a tackle again this week against Chase would be dangerous because he is as explosive an athlete as there is at the position.
Mike Evans ($6,700) Last week, all of the Buccaneers top pass catchers went off for big games except Mike Evans. Antonio Brown (5-121-1), Chris Godwin (9-105-1), and Rob Gronkowski (8-90-2) far outpaced Evans. That fact will keep Evans from being overly popular this week despite a juicy matchup and bargain price point. This is one of those situations where a smart quarterback like Tom Brady knows that he has to keep his top playmakers happy and will look to feed the guy who hasn’t yet had a taste. Plus, if Week 1 is any indication, Tampa Bay is again going to have a very large passing pie to split up. The Buccaneers threw for 379 yards and 4 touchdowns last week while Jalen Hurts picked apart the Eagles secondary for 264 yards and 3 touchdowns (a number that could have been worse if the game wasn’t a blowout).
Some people had concerns about Mike Evans' stat sheet at the end of the @Buccaneers' Week 1 victory.— 10 Tampa Bay (@10TampaBay) September 15, 2021
But, as @ECloskyWTSP and the guys at @LockedOnBucs pointed out, "there's only so many receivers you can hit" in a game.
Listen here: https://t.co/TEyNWBvLYJ | #GoBucs pic.twitter.com/NnXYZdD8xo
Other WRs to Consider:
Robert Woods ($6,500) As with Evans, Woods was the odd man out in the Rams passing attack last week. His down week will limit his ownership and place an onus on the coaching staff to get him more involved in Week 2. Cooper Kupp is also a strong play but recency bias and the $300 salary difference likely leads to a fairly large gap in popularity that favors Woods.
Bryan Edwards ($4,900) The full game stat for Edwards (4-81-0) were just fine. But if you look at the context of the production, there may be even more here. The Raiders did not go to Edwards until the game was truly on the line. At that point, he took over and made multiple game-changing catches. It would be shocking if his role does not increase in Week 2.
Rondale Moore ($4,900) Moore was overshadowed by Christian Kirk in Week 1 but his time is coming. The fact that a 4-68-0 line in his NFL debut was seen as a disappointment is an indicator of how high his fantasy potential is. The modest Week 1 numbers are going to make Moore a strong contrarian option at a low rostered percentage and is the favored stack with Kyler Murray.
Darren Waller ($7,000) Last week, Travis Kelce was featured here as the obvious best play with Waller off of the main slate. He rewarded our faith in him with a 6-76-2 performance. Kelce and Waller have been lapping the field in terms of fantasy production at the tight end position for more than a year now. This week, it is clear that Waller is the top option by a good margin and Kelce is off of the main slate. Interestingly, it does not seem that his popularity is going to be all that high with George Kittle potentially coming in at a higher rostered percentage. The matchup versus Pittsburgh is a difficult one but does it matter if Waller sees another 19 targets like he did Week 1? He has been on an historically strong fantasy run going back to last season.
In his last 20 games, Waller has averaged 6.8 catches on 9.4 targets for 78.4 yards and 0.5 touchdowns, just under 14 FanDuel points per game. Those are special numbers from the tight end position. Given that he is priced only slightly above the rest of the pack, Waller is a no-brainer tournament option this week.
Noah Fant ($5,700) With Jerry Jeudy out and Courtland Sutton showing signs he is not fully recovered from his knee injury, Fant may actually be the top target in the Denver offense moving forward. He caught 6-of-8 targets for 62 yards in Week 1. With a juicy matchup on deck against a bad Jaguars defense, Fant has the chance to break out with a huge Week 2.
Other TEs to consider:
Kyle Pitts ($6,000) Nothing went right for the Falcons offense in the Week 1 blowout loss to Philadelphia. Pitts managed just four catches for 31 yards. On the bright side, the usage was there. He saw eight targets in his NFL debut and for a guy with his speed, playmaking ability, and red zone prowess, you take your chances on what he can do with eight targets per game.
Cole Kmet ($5,100) Last season, T.J. Hockenson had what I called a “slow rolling breakout,” where he did not put up monster numbers in any one game but showed up well in the box score every week. We may see the same thing from Cole Kmet in his second season. He had 5-42-0 last week on seven targets and should see a similar share of targets against a worse defense in Week 2. At this price, you just need a touchdown and handful of catches to feel good about rostering Kmet.
Cleveland ($4,200) The Browns will be chalk and for good reason. Cleveland has one of the league’s elite pass rushers in Myles Garrett and could have the best cornerback duo in the league by the end of the season if rookie Greg Newsome II continues to emerge across from Denzel Ward. Houston played well in Week 1 but the zone-heavy Browns defense will be a new challenge for Tyrod Taylor.
Tampa Bay ($4,500) If this goes according to script, the Buccaneers (13-point favorites) should jump out to an early lead and force Atlanta to be one-dimensional on offense. If the Buccaneers talented front seven can tee off on Matt Ryan, the odds of a big defensive play are high.
New Orleans ($4,300) The Saints defense has typically better at home and does have to go on the road to face Carolina. However, that Week 1 performance was so dominant against Aaron Rodgers that we have to be excited about what they can do against a lesser opponent. While everything has been positive for Sam Darnold so far in Carolina, his big bugaboo has been turnovers and we need more than a one-game sample size to believe he has put those issues behind him.