DraftKings Plays - Week 2
Each Friday this column will offer a lineup tailored for play in cash games offered by DraftKings (Head-to-Head, or 50/50 contests), followed by some thoughts on higher-variance upside shots for use in tournaments (GPP). The previous week’s recommended cash game lineup will be reviewed at the bottom. Last week’s did well, so let’s see if we can go streaking.
The players in the cash games lineup are chosen primarily with strong salary value, significant projected touch volume, and favorable matchups that occur in games with a high Vegas over/under. While not every single selection will come from games with large totals, most will – with the quest for a high statistical floor a common theme.
Don’t forget to check out our customizable Daily Fantasy Tool, available to Gold subscribers through a link on the weekly projections page. It quickly combines PFF Fantasy’s weekly projections with DraftKings and FanDuel pricing to give a head start when setting your lineups.
QB: Peyton Manning ($8,800) vs Kansas City Chiefs (51)
Jake Locker is an interesting quarterback, received some deserved preseason buzz, and has a hell of a matchup this week – but if his scattershot arm can complete 67 percent of his 32 passes for 266 yards and two scores against Kansas City’s defense, Manning can probably show up drunk and match it. There are plenty of attractive quarterback values this week, but we’re paying up for safety here. He skewered the Chiefs last year when they were a better defense, and now his offensive line is improved (13.5% of Week 1 dropbacks with pressure; 25th-most). No need to overthink this one.
RB: Marshawn Lynch ($7,200) at San Diego Chargers (44.5)
The Chargers were PFF’s 28th-ranked run defense last year and did little to upgrade. While they did a competent job holding the Cardinals to 112 yards on 26 carries (4.3 YPC) last week, Arizona has a bad offensive line blocking for an injured running back. Seattle has no such issues. Lynch got 20 carries and a reception last week and has little competition for backfield touches. Seattle has nine full days to prepare for this game, while San Diego gets five. The Seahawks don’t play as well away from home, but don’t be surprised if that’s one of Pete Carroll’s points of emphasis as they defend their championship.
RB: Giovani Bernard ($6,300) vs Atlanta Falcons (49)
Make no mistake, we will see more of Jeremy Hill at home against an Atlanta defense that will struggle to stop the run. However Bernard’s PPR scoring floor is high, especially without Tyler Eifert available for the short-to-intermediate targets on which the Falcons have no prayer of stopping. Drew Brees completed 25 of 31 targets inside of 10 yards downfield against them last week, including eight of 10 to running backs. Even if Bernard only gets 14 carries again, he’ll see double-digit targets for a team that went hurry-up on 62.5 percent of plays (2nd-most), against a defense that allowed the seventh-most snaps.
WR: Demaryius Thomas ($7,000) vs Kansas City Chiefs (51)
We often hear that Peyton Manning likes to keep his receivers happy and targets them often after bad games. That might just be a fluffy narrative, but in the four games after Thomas scored single-digit PPR points he followed it up by averaging 21.4 points. He scored 8.8 last week. Last year against these same Chiefs cornerbacks, he averaged an incredible 28.4 yards on eight receptions – although it took 18 targets. Eric Decker caught four touchdowns against Kansas City, but obviously won’t be a red zone factor. Julius Thomas scored three times last week, but this smells like a DT game – for an excellent price.
WR: Marques Colston ($5,400) at Cleveland Browns (47.5)
Colston was close to a monster Week 1 if not for two drops and a fumble. He otherwise looked excellent and still produced 110 yards on five catches (eight targets) against dwarfed defenders. The 6-foot-5 slot receiver (63.2 Slot %) will see a lot of Buster Skrine (5’09”), the only Browns cornerback who covered the slot last week (25 snaps). “Covered” might be a stretch, since he allowed completions on all three attempts while manning the slot and a 102.8 quarterback rating. He was PFF’s 98th-best coverage corner in 2013 (-8.5). When Colston is healthy, and he is now, he’s as solid as it gets.
WR: T.Y. Hilton ($5,000) vs Philadelphia Eagles (53.5)
Although he didn’t lead his team in targets last week, Hilton’s 11 looks still tied for seventh-most among receivers. Reggie Wayne saw 15 targets while running 82.1 percent of his routes from the slot, while Hilton’s mark was just 25.9 percent. Wayne will see a lot of Brandon Boykin, the only Eagles cornerback who can cover football players. Whether Hilton gets Bradley Fletcher or Cary Williams, he’ll have an advantage. Soft coverage plus high projected target volume and an elevated over/under equates to a bargain for the 35th-highest priced wideout. He also fits GPP lineups well.
TE: Charles Clay ($3,200) at Buffalo (43)
With tight end scoring extremely variable, we’re going to shoot for a high floor, strong value ($347.8 Cost/Pt), and a killer matchup. The Bills were seventh-best against fantasy tight ends in 2013, but are already giving up the third-most after one game. They lost Kiko Alonso, PFF’s second-best coverage inside linebacker (+13.1) and are now relying on Brandon Spikes (-2.7; 38th), who can’t cover Alonso’s grandmother, and rookie Preston Brown – who was roasted last week. The duo gave up nine catches on 10 targets for 79 yards and a touchdown in Week 1. Top cover safety Aaron Williams also may be out with a concussion.
Note: Clay was limited during Thursday’s practice (hamstring), so keep an eye on reports on his health. If you’re uncomfortable substitute Travis Kelce for Clay, save $200, and use it to buy Andy Reid a clue.
FLEX: Fred Jackson ($4,000) vs Miami Dolphins (43)
Just like last week, our Daily Fantasy Tool has Jackson pegged as a value with a $330.6 Cost/Pt average, which is second-lowest among rushers. He delivered a solid week despite only 10 touches due to the Bills uncharacteristically tying for the fifth-fewest snaps. They still attempted the fifth-most rushes and face a Dolphins’ team that will be without all three starting linebackers, and potentially strong run-stopping tackle Randy Starks (turf toe). In two games last year against Miami, Jackson rolled up 141 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries, with six catches for 56 yards.
FLEX: Frank Gore ($4,900) vs Chicago Bears (48.5)
Game flow robbed us of Frank Goreging Dallas’ run defense, with no need for San Francisco to tax their elder running back while holding a commanding early lead. While Chicago’s run-stopping isn’t as bad as it was last year, or quite as putrid as the Cowboys’ is expected to be, this is still a plus matchup for an underrated back at a great price ($340.3 Cost/Pt; 4th-cheapest). If you have concerns over Jackson’s light workload last week (I think it will increase), pay the extra $900 for more assured touch volume. The difference can be made up by dropping from Manning to Aaron Rodgers (more on him below).
DST: Denver Broncos ($3,100) vs Kansas City Chiefs (51)
A tendency exists to avoid defenses in games with high totals, but there usually isn’t much fantasy juice to squeeze out of low-scoring slugfests. Kansas City will need to open up the offense to have a prayer of keeping up with Denver now that the Chiefs’ defense has turned back into a pumpkin. Their offensive line is a disaster area and they rank 31st in both pass and run blocking so far. Other than Jamaal Charles their weapons are question marks or far worse than that. Alex Smith’s three Week 1 interceptions came when trying to force the issue, something he will have to do often in Denver.
Total Salary: $50,000 (both with A. Rodgers/F. Gore, and with P. Manning/F. Jackson)
Indianapolis’ coaching staff can cluck all it wants about slowing the game down, but they’re not running on the Eagles (+14.8 Week 1 run defense grade; 1st). Plus this game isn’t hitting Vegas’ total 2.9 yards at a time. Even if Pep’s boys beat their heads against the wall for a quarter or two, we know how the second half will look for Andrew Luck ($8,400).
Philadelphia’s offense will do its part to keep the pressure on, and the Colts have passing game mismatches in their favor all over the field. Buying exposure to this shootout is expensive, but Luck is a good lineup diversifier. He’s barely cheaper than Manning, and costs more than Drew Brees, Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan, and Nick Foles – so his ownership percentage could be surprisingly low, and he stacks well with Hilton.
A bargian bin option here is Ahmad Bradshaw, who saw nearly 60 percent of Week 1 snaps as the Colts attempted to pass their way back against the Broncos. He’ll get some carries on draw plays against the Eagles’ stout run defense, but will make his hay in the passing game – where he averaged 14 yards on five catches (six targets) last week. Along with pretty much everything else, Bradshaw is also a better pass blocker than Trent Richardson.
Foles is $200 more expensive than Rodgers, but is the better tournament option. More people will be on Rodgers at home against a potentially porous Jets secondary. However he may be protected by two highly questionable tackles. Bryan Bulaga’s replacement if he can’t gut it out is Derek Sherrod, who registered a -6.9 overall grade in just 42 Week 1 snaps (63rd “best”) and will have Muhammad Wilkerson in his grill all day. Left tackle David Bakhtiari received a -4.5 grade (62nd) and he’s Sheldon Richardson’s lunch on Sunday. Rodgers will complete a lot of passes (Green Bay won’t run on New York), but he’s not the slam-dunk bargain he appears to be at first glance.
Julius Thomas skewered the Colts defense on Sunday Night Football, and while Zach Ertz is not yet at his level, he’s fast approaching it. Indianapolis’ one linebacker with a significantly positive coverage grade, Jerrell Freeman (+1.1) left with a hamstring injury and hasn’t practiced this week. Along with his Week 1 touchdown, Ertz played more snaps (53) and tallied more receiving yards (77) than in any 2013 game. He ran more pass routes (34) than in all but one. He’s a solid bet to score again during a high-snaps shootout, and his seventh-highest tight end salary ($4,800) should keep his ownership percentage on the low side. He makes for a nice stack with Foles.
Last Week’s Lineup
Drew Brees (19.52) – Could have been more if not for Colston’s fumble and three short rushing TDs.
Frank Gore (6.60) – Would have been more if not for Romo wetting himself during the first half.
Ben Tate (4.10) – West’s 100 yards and Crowell’s 2 TDs were Tate’s.
Marques Colston (18.00) – Did what was expected and fumbled away even more.
Kendall Wright (16.60) – The touchdown was a nice bonus because the usual target volume was missing.
Emmanuel Sanders (14.80) – More than half of lineups owned him in most leagues, for good reason.
Julius Thomas (38.40) – Here’s your difference maker. We got lucky here after being unlucky elsewhere.
Fred Jackson (10.40) – He received surprisingly low volume, but it will more than likely rise.
Detroit Lions (7.00) – Eli actually outplayed his numbers, or this would’ve been a lot better.
Total Points Scored – 135.42
Pat Thorman is a Lead Writer for PFF Fantasy and was named 2013 Newcomer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. You can follow him on Twitter at @Pat_Thorman