Herein is another edition of “Fantasy Draft Dominator” where we will examine the salaries of players at each position on FantasyDraft and make recommendations for both your cash games and tournaments. Below you will find a list of recommended players for both formats. Cash game players are the top overall values of the week and can be used without regard to expected ownership percentage. GPP players generally have high-upside, but are too risky for cash games. Expected ownership levels is also a major consideration in determining the top GPP options. In some instances, the value for a player is so strong, he will fall into both categories.
FantasyDraft Dominator will be posted each Thursday morning, but will also be updated throughout the week as new information becomes available. Should you have any questions or players you want to discuss, hit me up on twitter (@hindery).
Special Note for Week 2: Weather could play a huge role this weekend. Rain is in the forecast for over half of the games. Make sure you check the weather conditions on Sunday morning before finalizing your lineups and pay special attention to the wind, which can seriously depress passing game production. If you are entering Thursday contests, weather should factor in as a slight concern for Cincinnati-Pittsburgh, San Francisco-Carolina, Dallas-Washington, Miami-New England, and Baltimore-Cleveland. The current forecasts do not call for high winds, so none of these games should be avoided. But it may make sense to break ties against players in these contests when facing tough lineup decisions, especially if we start to see some of the game totals creep downwards later in the week.
Cash Game Considerations
With Carson Palmer priced under $13,000 and Cam Newton at home in a favorable matchup also fairly priced at under $15,000, it feels like a week where we won’t want to get too cute at the position. If you are desperate for some cost savings at quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo is the most attractive of the cheap options.
Top Cash-Game Options
Cam Newton (Cash and GPP; $14,900) The Panthers have the highest implied team total on the slate at 29.5 points. San Francisco is flying cross-country on a short week after playing into the early morning hours of Tuesday (east coast time) and the early kickoff should benefit the Panthers. While it is a minor concern that the Panthers go run-heavy should they build a big lead (Carolina is favored by 13.5), we saw Newton and the Panthers continue to pour it on opponents last year even after jumping out to an early lead. Newton’s own usage as a runner around the goal line also makes game script less of a concern and gives him massive upside in a GPP. Chip Kelly’s fast-paced offense has also historically meant even more snaps for opposing offenses.
Carson Palmer (Cash and GPP; $12,900) Palmer had a relatively quiet Week 1 performance (271 yards and 2 touchdowns) in primetime against the Patriots, which should help to keep his ownership levels in GPP at a relatively low level. The Buccaneers are an attractive matchup for Palmer. Arizona is favored by 6.5 points and has one of the highest implied team totals on the slate (28.5 points). Coming off of a big division win over Atlanta, the Bucs have to travel cross-country and face a desperate Cardinals team coming off of a loss. The Buccaneers are developing into a tough run defense (just 42 yards on 20 carries in Week 1 against Atlanta), but are still susceptible against the pass. Tampa gave up 322 yards and 2 touchdowns to Matt Ryan in Week 1. Palmer should throw a bunch and makes for a nice GPP stack with David Johnson, who could have a big game catching passes out of the backfield.
Eli Manning (Cash and GPP; $14,300) The last time the Giants played the Saints, it was a 52-49 shootout. This time around, the Giants have the week’s second-highest implied team total at 28.5 points as 4.5 point favorites in their home opener. The Saints pass defense was historically awful in 2015 and could be even worse in 2016. New Orleans just lost their best cornerback, Delvin Breaux, who went down with a broken leg late in Week 1. Manning probably has his deepest group of pass catchers ever to attack the Saints vulnerable secondary. Odell Beckham Jr, Jr. is one of the league’s elite talents and should dominate whoever New Orleans matches up with him. If teams double Beckham, Manning now has fallback options much more talented than Rueben Randle to go to. Sterling Shepard is one of the more polished rookie receivers to enter the league in recent years. He excelled in the preseason and caught three of his four targets (including a touchdown) in Week 1. Victor Cruz made his long-awaited return against Dallas and played surprisingly well, catching all four of his targets and also scoring a touchdown. Expect Manning to be one of the slate’s most popular GPP options, but the ability to mix and match stacking options with his receivers may help to craft more unique lineups.
Top GPP Options
Jimmy Garoppolo (GPP; $11,000) Garoppolo threw for 264 yards against one of the league’s best defenses on the road against Arizona. And he did it without Rob Gronkowski. In Week 2, he returns home to face an overmatched Dolphins secondary and should have a full complement of weapons at his disposal. While the Dolphins defense held up surprisingly well against Seattle’s beat up offense, it may be a stretch to expect a similar performance again. Josh McDaniel is masterful in finding matchups to exploit and with Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Martellus Bennett, Chris Hogan, James White and others at his disposal, he will have some nice options against Miami. Edelman and White are priced attractively and make for strong stacks.
Philip Rivers (GPP; $12,000) The Chargers are 4-point home favorites in a game with a solid 47 point total. But it is easy to see how this game could turn into a shootout. Both teams skew pass-heavy and are ill-equipped to play a conservative, run-heavy brand of football to protect the lead. So we should see a high total number of plays and plenty of pass attempts on both sides. Rivers is without his best weapon after Keenan Allen tore his ACL. But he has trusty standbys in Antonio Gates and Danny Woodhead along with plenty of speed outside (Travis Benjamin and Tyrell Williams) to keep defenses honest and open up the middle of the field. We could easily see a 300-yard, multi-touchdown performance from Rivers. He stacks well with any combination of Woodhead, Gates, Benjamin or Williams (all of whom are underpriced).
Cash Game Considerations
There is tremendous value in the $9,000 to $13,500 range this week. While C.J. Anderson and DeAngelo Williams aren’t cheap, they are priced significantly below the top receivers and possess similar ceilings. Both are strong cash game options. Mid-priced options Jeremy Langford and Danny Woodhead should see plenty of touches and heavy usage in the passing game. With less obvious value at the wide receiver position, it is a good week to run three or four running backs out in cash games.
Top Cash-Game Options
C.J. Anderson (Cash and GPP; $12,700) Anderson put up 141 total yards and two touchdowns against one of the league’s best defenses (and a loaded front seven) in Week 1. He looked quick and decisive, as he showed up in better shape than in previous years. His usage was also extremely encouraging. He played 83 percent of the offensive snaps and received 85.7 percent of the team’s red-zone carries. The matchup against Indianapolis could not be much more favorable. The Colts have been absolutely decimated by injuries and were destroyed by Detroit’s running backs. In Week 1, Indianapolis allowed 109 rushing yards, 120 receiving yards, 10 receptions and 4 touchdowns to the Lions running backs. If Anderson can manage even half those totals, he will pay off handsomely in cash games.
Jeremy Langford (Cash and GPP; $9,100) Langford may not be the most exciting option against a solid Philadelphia defense. But from a pure expected touches per dollar perspective, he is amongst the top options on the slate. He played nearly every snap in Week 1 and touched the ball 19 times (63 total yards and a touchdown) against the stout Texans defense. The Bears return home and are 4-point favorites with a solid 23.25 implied team total. Langford should see in the neighborhood of 20 carries and 4-5 targets. Priced at just $9,100, he provides a very solid floor and plenty of upside for the price. He also allows you a bit of extra cap space to pay up at receiver, which is huge on this slate of games.
DeAngelo Williams (Cash; $13,300) In eleven games when Le’Veon Bell was out last season, Williams rushed for 100+ yards six times and averaged 1.0 touchdowns per game. He picked up right where he left off in Week 1 of 2016, with 143 rushing yards and two touchdowns. The monster rushing performance shouldn’t overshadow the equally important fact that Williams saw 9 targets as well (6 catches for 28 yards). The receiving aspect of Williams’ game is what pushes him close to must-start status in Week 2. The Bengals allowed 7 catches for 66 yards to the Jets RB duo of Matt Forte and Bilal Powell in Week 1 and have been generous to opposing runners in the passing game. The Bengals defense gives up very few touchdowns, but plays a bend-but-don’t-break style that often leads to big fantasy games for opposing rushers in full PPR scoring. In two games against the Bengals last season, Williams and Le’Veon Bell combined for 8 receptions. Williams should see 20+ carries and a handful of targets in the passing game, which makes him one of the safest options on the Week 2 slate overall.
Danny Woodhead (Cash and GPP; $10,200) Despite a strong sophomore debut from Melvin Gordon III, Woodhead played 50 snaps to just 23 for Gordon. The Chargers played from ahead nearly the entire game, so the heavy playing time for Woodhead wasn’t simply due to game script. Woodhead had 21 touches (16 carries and 5 receptions) and put up 120 total yards and a touchdown. The Jacksonville matchup should be favorable for Woodhead. The Jaguars have been fairly stingy against the run (just 68 yards rushing allowed to the Packers in Week 1), but are susceptible against the pass. Expect the Chargers to go with a pass-heavy game plan to attack the Jaguars defense. Woodhead could see nearly double-digit targets in the passing game with Keenan Allen out and the Chargers breaking in a pair of new receivers. The heavy passing game usage gives Woodhead a solid floor for cash games.
Top GPP Options
David Johnson (GPP; $14,300) With Anderson and Williams having favorable matchups but costing $1,600 and $1,000 less, respectively, Johnson’s GPP ownership should remain fairly low. The uber-talented young back has massive GPP upside as a big home favorite against the Buccaneers. While Tampa has been fairly stout against the run recently, they can be attacked in the flats by opposing backs. In Week 1, the Bucs gave up 10 catches for 123 yards to Atlanta’s running backs. David Johnson is one of the league’s best receiving backs and should have a big game catching the ball. He will likely also see nearly 20 carries and has proven difficult to stop around the goal line.
Terrance West (GPP; $6,400) West led the Ravens backfield with 14 touches in Week 1 (12 carries for 32 yards and 2 receptions for 6 yards). While the efficiency wasn’t there, the usage was encouraging. The Cleveland defense has a way of curing efficiency problems for opposing offenses. Baltimore is favored by a full touchdown on the road. If the Ravens can build an early lead, West is the back who is most likely to dominate touches. He is a big physical back who the Ravens are going to ride when they can build leads. He is also the team’s go-to back in the red zone. With the offense projected to score almost three touchdowns, West is a good bet to find the end zone. With a near-minimum price, a touchdown and 60 yards and a couple receptions is enough to reach GPP value and rostering West makes it infinitely easier to squeeze an extra elite receiver into your lineup.
Cash Game Considerations
The pricing is a bit tighter in Week 2, but you will still want to get at least one of the elite receivers (A.J. Green, Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr are the three most attractive options) into your lineup. Ideally, you find a way to squeeze two of them in if you feel comfortable enough with some cheaper options at other positions. In GPPs, there’s a strong case for a “stars and scrubs” approach due to some intriguing value options with major upside (Will Fuller V, Tyrell Williams, Michael Thomas, etc.) and the crazy weekly ceiling that each of the top receivers possess.
Top Cash-Game Options
A.J. Green (Cash and GPP; $16,700) Green has averaged 7 catches and 93 yards per game against the Steelers in his career. Even more impressively, he has 36 receptions for 556 yards and three scores against the Steelers, and he has been targeted a total of 54 times in the four games, with at least 13 targets in three of those outings. Green is one of the most talented receivers in the NFL and should put up big numbers if he sees 13+ targets on Sunday; he turned 13 targets into 12 receptions, 180 yards and a touchdown against Darrelle Revis and the Jets in Week 1.The Steelers defensive game plan generally centers around taking away the run and forcing teams to beat them through the air. Against Washington in Week 1, the Steelers gave up just 47 rushing yards to the Washington backs (on only 11 rushing attempts). While the Bengals will not completely abandon the run game, they know they will have to do most of their damage through the air to beat the Steelers. The game total has creeped up almost two points since the Vegas lines came out and now has one of the highest totals of the week at 48.5, so expect more of a shootout than we’ve seen in recent Bengals-Steelers matchups. Green comes at a $1,300 discount to Odell Beckham Jr Jr. and a $1,900 discount to Antonio Brown, so he allows you an upgrade at another position if you pivot to him off of one of the other elite receiver options on the slate.
Antonio Brown (Cash and GPP; $18,600) Brown may be the best player in the NFL right now and is again looking like the top dog in fantasy football after a monster 8-126-2 performance to open the season in Washington. As long as Ben Roethlisberger is healthy, Brown is going to be one of the top cash game options every week regardless of matchup. The Bengals have done a better job than most teams of holding Brown in check. He has averaged just under 95 yards and only scored two touchdowns in his last 4 outings against the Bengals. But he’s caught at least five passes in eight straight games against Cincinnati and is going to be extra motivated to play well after the Bengals ended his 2015 season on a late hit. Brown carries a hefty price tag and faces one of the league’s best defenses, so he is not quite a “must-play,” but he’s still one of the top options on the slate.
Odell Beckham Jr Jr. (Cash and GPP; $18,000) The Saints pass defense is atrocious and the Giants implied team total of 28.5 is the second-highest on the slate. Beckham will spend much of his day matched up against rookie cornerback Ken Crawley. According to Scott Barrett, Crawley earned PFF's 6th-worst pass coverage grade in college football last season (104 qualifying) at Colorado. Crawley also ranked dead last of 100 qualified cornerbacks in Week 1. Devante Harris (80th of 100) and P.J. Williams (51st) also ranked poorly. For the first time in his career, Beckham is playing with capable receivers to take some defensive pressure off of him. Sterling Shepard and Victor Cruz combined to catch 7-of-8 targets and two touchdowns in Week 1. While the upgraded Giants passing game options should help keep defenses from focusing too much attention on Beckham, it may also serve to limit his targets (he saw just eight in Week 1). Beckham could be the most highly-owned player in Week 2 GPPs, so you will probably want at least some exposure if you are multi-entering. He will swing tournaments in a big way if he gets loose for a long score against the shaky Saints defense.
Will Fuller V (Cash and GPP; $8,400) Should you trust a rookie receiver playing in his second career game in cash? On this slate where value is somewhat tough to come by and we badly want to spend up on the top receivers, it makes sense to roll the dice on Fuller even in cash games. While he is somewhat reliant on big plays (his average depth of target was a whopping 22.4 yards in Week 1), the fact that he led the Texans with 11 targets last week is extremely encouraging. We also saw Houston attempt to get the ball to Fuller on short screens (like the one he took for a score against the Bears) and he is more than just a deep threat. The matchup against Kansas City also looks favorable for Fuller. DeAndre Hopkins is likely to be shadowed by Marcus Peters and could again see fewer targets than normal.
Larry Fitzgerald (Cash and GPP; $12,100) As mentioned above when discussing Carson Palmer, the Week 2 matchup against Tampa sets up very favorably for the Cardinals passing game. Fitzgerald should be a prime beneficiary if Palmer has a big game. Palmer leans heavily on Fitzgerald in the red zone (Fitzgerald scored both of the Cardinals receiving touchdowns in Week 1) and the 28.5 point team total bodes well for Fitzgerald’s touchdown projection. While Fitzgerald is battling a minor injury, he looked excellent in Week 1 and made a few spectacular catches. If you are going to roster older receivers in daily fantasy, do it in the first quarter of the season when they are fresh. We often see the 30-something receivers fade down the stretch, but in the early part of the season there’s a real opportunity to take advantage of under-the-radar value with these seasoned veterans.
Top GPP Options
Tyrell Williams (GPP; $7,400) The Chargers are going to throw the ball a bunch (40 passes in Week 1 despite playing much of the game with a big lead) and Philip Rivers is one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Top receiver Keenan Allen is out for the year with a torn ACL, meaning Travis Benjamin and Williams are set to take the field as Rivers’ top two receivers. Williams is the slightly higher-upside play and comes at a $1,300 discount compared to Benjamin in Week 2. Williams is a former undrafted free agent out of Western Oregon, but he has first-round physical tools. At 6’4, 205 pounds, Williams ran a 4.38 forty-yard dash and posted elite workout numbers across the board (including the quickest 3-cone drill time in his class) at his pro day workout. Williams caught two of his five targets against the Chiefs in Week 1 and both went for gains of 30+ yards. Getting an ultra explosive big-play threat like Williams who is almost guaranteed to see 7+ targets from Philip Rivers at a near-minimum price is an attractive proposition for GPPs.
Emmanuel Sanders (GPP; $11,300) Injuries for both the Broncos and Colts make Sanders one of the top GPP sleepers of the week. Cameron Wolfe of the Denver post described Demaryius Thomas as "grabbing his hip" and "grimacing" during Wednesday’s practice, and his status for Week 2's game against the Indianapolis Colts is up in the air. If Thomas is out (or more likely playing but limited), Sanders should see a big bump in targets against a poor Colts coverage unit that has been decimated by injuries. Here is the Colts Wednesday injury report for just the defensive half of the roster: LB Trent Cole (back), CB Vontae Davis (ankle), S Clayton Geathers (personal), FS T.J. Green (knee), LB Robert Mathis (foot) and CB Patrick Robinson (head) did not participate in practice. DT Henry Anderson (knee), CB Darius Butler (ankle), CB Antonio Cromartie (hamstring), DT Zach Kerr (foot) and DE Kendall Langford (knee) were limited during practice. The Colts are in a worse place with defensive injuries than any team in the league and it showed in Week 1 as Stafford completed 31-of-39 passes for 340 yards and 3 touchdowns against them.
Michael Thomas ($7,800) The monster performances by Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead IV over-shadowed an extremely promising debut from Thomas. He caught all six of his targets for 58 yards. He was a staple of the Saints base three receiver offense. Expect the Giants to focus extra attention on Cooks and Snead, which should lead to plenty of favorable one-on-one matchups for Thomas. With the Saints-Giants game expected to turn into a shootout, Thomas is a strong contrarian play in GPPs where his ownership should come in well below his teammates despite the bargain price tag.
Julian Edelman ($11,700) Julian Edelman looked good against the Cardinals in Week 1 and was able to be productive despite often being matched up against Patrick Peterson. He caught seven passes for 66 yards, and the routes didn't differ from what we see him run with Brady at QB. The underneath, high percentage throws that are a staple of the Patriots offense are Garoppolo’s strength and favor Edelman. On Sunday, Garoppolo was 10-of-11 for 126 yards, five first downs and a touchdown when targeting Edelman and Chris Hogan. With a much easier home matchup looming against he Dolphins overmatched secondary, Edelman is a sneaky GPP play with huge upside in FantasyDraft’s full PPR format.
Cash Game Considerations
Delanie Walker is the chalkiest option at a value price and facing the Lions defense. If you can stomach the risk of an unproven commodity like Virgil Green, his $5,500 salary allows you to put together some otherwise loaded lineup combinations.
Top Cash-Game Options
Delanie Walker (Cash and GPP; $8,400) Walker disappointed in Week 1, with just three receptions for 42 yards (on five targets). Expect a bounce back performance in Week 2 against a Detroit defense that has proven incredibly vulnerable to opposing tight ends. The Lions have given up a whopping 15 touchdown catches to opposing tight ends in their last 17 games. Detroit allowed 33.8 points (7-88-3) to the Colts tight ends in Week 1. At a very reasonable price point, Walker provides both a solid floor (at least 3-4 receptions) and major touchdown upside.
Virgil Green (Cash and GPP; $5,500) Playing Green in Week 2 requires a small leap of faith because he has very little past production to point towards. However, a couple factors point to a potential breakout performance. First, the Indianapolis defense has been decimated by injuries (see the Emmanuel Sanders writeup for full details). They lack any true pass rush threats, so Green will not be forced to stay in as a blocker too often. Second, with Demaryius Thomas ailing, Green is the second best healthy pass-catcher on the team behind Sanders. He should see an increased workload in Gary Kubiak’s tight end-friendly system. The near-minimum price is the main attraction to Green however. The pricing is fairly tight in Week 2 and if we want to use multiple top options at running back and receiver, we have to find some cap savings somewhere. Green is a nice option to save some money and still have decent upside at the tight end position.
Greg Olsen (Cash; $10,500) Olsen is about as safe an option as you will find at tight end. He put up a strong 77-1,104-7 line last season and picked up right where he left off in Week 1, catching 7 passes for 77 yards. Carolina’s implied team total of 29.5 is the highest on the slate, so expect Olsen to continue to put up solid numbers. While the high floor is enticing, it may be tough to pay up so much at tight end given the massive upside of the top players at other positions.
Top GPP Options
Jordan Reed (GPP; $12,700) Reed is always a strong option in GPPs due to his talent and proven upside. A relatively quiet Week 1 and a huge $2,200 bump in price will combine to severely depress his ownership. While Reed played just 50 snaps in Week 1, he ran a pass route on 84% of them and was targeted a whopping 11 times. His 42 routes run were third most amongst all tight ends. The Washington passing offense bogged down in the red zone against the Steelers, but Cousins and Reed have proven a dangerous red zone combination in the past year.
Cash Game Considerations
The lack of standout value options at quarterback and receiver makes it tougher to pay up for top defenses like Carolina and Seattle, despite the excellent matchups. A mid-priced option like the Patriots or Ravens is still relatively safe and should give you more bang for your buck.
Top Cash-Game Options
Patriots (Cash and GPP: $5,900) The Patriots defense ranks tops in value in the Footballguys IVC. The Dolphins are tied with the Rams for second-lowest implied team total of the week. After traveling out to Seattle, Miami has to head to New England for another brutally tough matchup. The Patriots defense acquitted itself well on the road against a loaded Cardinals offense in Week 1. As a 6.5-point home favorite, the game script sets up well for the Patriots DST. They should be able to jump ahead and force Miami to take to the air to try to come from behind. In what is expected to be a rainy game at Foxboro, the Patriots look like the chalk play in Week 2.
Ravens (Cash and GPP; $5,900) The injury to Robert Griffin III III isn’t necessarily a positive for the Ravens fantasy prospects. Veteran Josh McCown threw just four interceptions in eight games as a starter in 2015. This is still a plus matchup for the Ravens however. The Browns team total is just 17.75 points and rain is in the forecast for Cleveland. The Ravens have a stout run defense and adding Eric Weddle on the back end is a major upgrade for the pass defense. The Ravens allowed just 160 total yards to the Bills in Week 1. Against one of the worst offenses in the league and expected to be playing from ahead, Baltimore should be in a good spot to pin their ears back and rush the passer, which is exactly what we’re looking for out of our fantasy defense. The price point on the Ravens is especially attractive. At $1,800 less than the Panthers and $1,400 less than the Seahawks, we get a top defense at significant savings.
Top GPP Options
Chargers (GPP; $4,900) After a close home loss to the Packers, the Jaguars have to head west to face the Chargers. While San Diego's defense has done little to inspire confidence (unable to hold a big lead late against the Chiefs in Week 1), the price point and low expected ownership makes the Chargers an attractive GPP play. The Jaguars have been a poor rushing team and as road underdogs are likely to have to throw the ball a bunch. Home favorites at a bargain basement price with low projected ownership are always a decent bet in GPPs.