Week 1 favors the players as once the initial salaries release on the sites in late July/early August, they don’t change until the conclusion of the first week. There were plenty of bargains that were unveiled, the biggest being James Connor and his performance in rainy Cleveland with the Le’Veon Bell situation playing out as it has. Now, the sites have adjusted their pricing heading into week 2 and the barrage of high scores should level out now. We get Atlanta, Green Bay, and the Los Angeles Rams for the first time on the main slate this week and two of the three teams present opportunities for DFS players to utilize.
Ben Roethlisberger: vs KC (DK 6900; FD 7600)
He’s missed both the Wednesday and Thursday practices but there isn’t enough evidence to believe that he’ll miss this game on Sunday. DraftKings has Ben Roethlisberger priced as a respectable QB2 while FanDuel has him priced as an insulting QB6. His home/road splits come into play here as the Steelers begin the home portion of their schedule after an embarrassing tie to an improved Browns team. The Chiefs defense performed as expected last week as Philip Rivers threw for 424 yards and 3 TDs and could have had more if it wasn’t for a sluggish first half for the Chargers offense. With an angry Steelers team that needs to show who still runs the AFC North, expect Big Ben to come out firing and the Pittsburgh offense to be clicking on all cylinders. Of the higher-priced quarterbacks on Draftkings, he’s the one to roster; on FanDuel at his salary, he is a must-start.
Patrick Mahomes: at PIT (DK 6100; FD 7500)
With his gun of an arm, the freakish speed of Tyreek Hill, and a Chiefs secondary that will consistently put the Chiefs in shootouts, Patrick Mahomes will be in play nearly every week. At the time of this writing, this game has the highest total at 52.5 in a game that has no inclement weather anticipated, perfect weather for slinging long balls. If the Steelers take an early lead in this game, it will force Mahomes to throw early and often to get back in the mix. In an Andy Reid offense, it’s always been pass first so a Chiefs lead still means they will throw the ball as indicated by the 50/50 split between rushing and throwing in a game they never trailed against the Chargers. Add in his rushing upside and you have a quarterback that will certainly return value and then some.
Matt Ryan: vs CAR (DK 5700; FD 7100)
If the belief is that Julio is in for a big week, naturally his quarterback who will deliver the ball will be in play as well. Matt Ryan returns to Mercedes-Benz Stadium for three straight games, the first being against a Panthers secondary that features cornerbacks that he should feast upon. With the Falcons losing two critical pieces to their defense in Deion Jones and Keanu Neal, the Panthers should find it slightly easier to put up points against the Atlanta defense. Add in the Panthers ability to stop the run and it sets up for the Falcons to attack through the air. At an over/under of 44.5, the number doesn’t indicate a shootout but the signs are there for this game to go over the total. If it does, Matty Ice will certainly play a role in that outcome.
Todd Gurley: vs ARI (DK 9200; FD 8900)
This week on DraftKings, it has been made especially difficult to plug in two top running backs after the price adjustments from last week. If you can afford Todd Gurley this week, he should easily return value if you consider the Cardinals performance against Adrian Petersen and Chris Thompson. 45.4 FD/49.4 DK points combined between the two backs in a game the Redskins controlled from the opening bell. With Sam Bradford under center against a tenacious Rams defense, Gurley will see plenty of looks later in the game in what should be an easy road to a 2-0 start.
Melvin Gordon: at BUF (DK 7400; FD 8200)
A trio of Baltimore running backs scored three touchdowns against a Bills team that simply hasn’t improved against running backs on the ground since last year when they allowed the most FPA to them. There were times I wasn’t sure if the Buffalo Bills or the Buffalo Bulls out of the Mid-Atlantic Conference showed up to that monsoon in Baltimore and until they patch up this glaring weakness, attacking it is the best course of action. Melvin Gordon is next on the flow chart and in Josh Allen’s first NFL start, the Chargers should be on their way to an easy win. Start Gordon with confidence in a game that the Chargers must have after dropping a critical divisional matchup to the Chiefs last week.
Christian McCaffery: at ATL (DK 7000; FD 7400)
The two Panthers that will benefit from Greg Olsen’s refractured right foot will be Devin Funchess and Christian McCaffery. In the eight games without Greg Olsen last season, McCaffery has a +3.54 FPPG differential in full PPR scoring than in the eight games that he played. It certainly makes perfect sense considering his +2.62 target per game differential when Olsen doesn’t suit up. Against this Falcons team that hemorrhages fantasy points to pass catching backs, I want to have shares of McCaffery in lineups this week.
James Conner: vs KC (DK 6700; FD 7000)
He helped a lot of people make money in week 1 as an affordable option that assisted In rostering more expensive ones when he touched the ball 36 times in a rainy affair at FirstEnergy Stadium. Should we expect James Conner to carry the ball 31 times again as he did against the Browns? Probably not, the weather absolutely played into that number. Can we expect him to touch the ball 20 times and score 20.1 DK/21 FD points and return value this week? Absolutely. They are using Conner as they would Le’Veon Bell as he saw 96% of the Steelers total snaps; Roosevelt Nix was the only other running back that saw playing time and didn’t record a touch in the 19 snaps he was on the field. He saw six targets against the Browns, a number comparable to Bell’s 6+ targets per game last season. Also add in 14-16 carries and 20-22 touches is definitely in the range of outcomes for Conner against this Chiefs defense. Essentially, you’re paying for Le’Veon Bell and saving $2500 in the process.
Antonio Brown: vs KC (DK 8800; FD 8900)
Antonio Brown has enjoyed great success against the Chiefs as he has 100 receiving yard games in three of his last four. Against the 2018 version of the Chiefs secondary, he should make it four of the last five. Rostering him will be a lot easier on FanDuel as the Steelers overall are underpriced compared to their DraftKings salaries. Not much needs to be said here; if there is room to squeeze him in DraftKings lineups, he will find the end zone at least once and maybe multiple times.
Julio Jones: vs CAR (DK 8400; FD 8500)
Over the last two years, Julio has had a ceiling game that was followed up with a total dud. A 253 yard game last year and a 300 yard game in 2016 were followed up with 24 yard and 29 yard games respectively. He has also posted periods of dominance where he’s accumulated 440, 459, and 445 yards over the course of three game stretches in his remarkable 1,871 receiving yard season in 2015. The concern of a dud following a 169 yard performance against the Eagles should be alleviated with a date against the Panthers. Julio will see quite a bit of the rookie Donte Jackson who will face his first true test in the NFL as well as James Bradberry who was part of the Panthers secondary that gave up the aforementioned 300 yard game to him. This week 2 matchup has the potential to be that one game that Julio has had in the dome over the last two years when he becomes an unstoppable force, something the Falcons need to avoid an 0-2 start.
Devin Funchess: at ATL (DK 4700; FD 6000)
The other benefactor in Greg Olsen missing time; in eight games without their tight end suiting up in 2017, Funchess averaged 7.87 targets per game with Olsen inactive compared to 6.12 targets when he was on the field. The Panthers should certainly use the Falcons inability to stop pass catching backs to their advantage. However, McCaffery won’t be the only weapon utilized in the Carolina arsenal. For the top receiver in the offense, a $4700/$6000 salary is not reflective of the uptick in targets he will see without their tight end.
Mike Wallace: at TB (DK 3900; FD 5300)
Nelson Agholor also has a nice matchup but there are other options in his salary range I prefer. Nick Foles has looked anything but the Super Bowl 52 MVP but he has shown the ability to throw a deep ball; just go back to the 2017 playoffs when he threw touchdown passes of 53, 41, and 34 yards. That’s all we need from Mike Wallace at his affordable salary, a deep ball and a score. While he saw just three targets last week, he played 92% of the snaps last week against the Falcons. With Vernon Hargreaves out for the season and Brent Grimes looking to be inactive this week, Mike Wallace is a nice option that will help roster the expensive pieces of your lineups.
Jack Doyle: at WAS (DK 4000; FD 5600)
It was infuriating seeing Eric Ebron catch a touchdown pass from Andrew Luck against a Bengals team that was susceptible to the tight end in 2017. Until Ebron begins to truly cut into Jack Doyle’s snaps, Doyle will remain Luck’s tight end of preference. He played 77 of the 82 offensive snaps last week compared to Ebron’s 37 and saw 10 targets, second on the Colts to T.Y. Hilton’s 11 targets. In a week where saving salary for other positions of need is necessary, Doyle’s matchup against a Washington defense that gave up the 6th most FPA to tight ends last year in an excellent way to do so.
Jared Cook: at DEN (DK 3600; FD 5000)
He was going to be mentioned in this article before he went off on the Rams to the tune of nine catches for 180 yards. The bad news is that Jared Cook will certainly see a spike in ownership this week against a Broncos team that allowed the 4th most FPA to tight ends last year. The good news is that his salary on both sites was already set before the Monday night played out. The Broncos gave up 116 yards and a touchdown on four catches to the Seahawk tight ends last week, a sign that this 2017 weakness could be exposed again on a weekly basis. With Amari Cooper and Seth Roberts expected to draw Bradley Roby and Chris Harris Jr. respectively, it leaves Jordy Nelson and Jared Cook as the receivers with favorable matchups in this divisional tilt.
Ben Watson: vs CLE (DK 3400; FD 5100)
Most will gravitate towards Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas after their explosive performances against the Buccaneers. Don’t forget about a veteran that Drew Brees has depended on in the past. The Browns are much improved on defense as evidenced last week by their six turnovers against the Steelers. However, they still lack the ability to shut down tight ends; Jesse James should have had a touchdown in that game if it wasn’t for a critical drop. If the Saints defense is as bad as it looked on Sunday, this game could see some offense from both sides. In a high-powered offense at home in the dome, Benjamin Watson is as cheap as I want to go this week at the tight end position.
Los Angeles Rams: vs ARI (DK 3700; FD 4800)
With the additions of Ndamukong Suh, Marcus Peters, and Aqib Talib, this defense is set to create fits for opposing offensive coordinators. Wade Phillip’s defense completely dismantled the Raiders offense in the second half of the Rams 33-13 win on Monday night. Stacking this defense with Todd Gurley should prove to be extremely effective. As long as Sam Bradford remains under center, using opposing defenses against the Cardinals is a strategy worth consideration each week.
Los Angeles Chargers: at BUF (DK 3600; FD 4400)
Josh Allen starting over Nathan Peterman is a vast upgrade for a struggling Bills offense. On the other hand, it’s unfortunate that Allen’s first start is against an angry Chargers team that needs to win this game to keep pace in the AFC West. If they shut down LeSean McCoy, the Charger cornerbacks should not find difficulty in stopping Kelvin Benjamin, Zay Jones, and Jeremy Kerley. This game presents well for the Chargers to come out with a victory and an impressive showing from the defense.
Houston: at TEN (DK 2600; FD 4500)
How DraftKings has the Texans has the 14th priced defense and FanDuel has them as the 3rd priced defense is mind boggling. Despite what the score says, the Texans defense matched up well against the Patriots offense, forcing three turnovers and getting to Tom Brady twice. Not many teams are able to stop Gronk but other than that, they essentially held the Patriots in check. If Marcus Mariota sits out on Sunday, Blaine Gabbert assumes the starting role, a perfect spot to start the Houston defense on both sites. Even if Mariota does play through his elbow injury, the price on DraftKings is just too good to pass up.
Each week, I will identify what players are bargains based on the salary cap percentage difference they represent on the respective site. As mentioned, the pricing on DraftKings leaves little wiggle room to fit two or more studs in lineups this week while FanDuel has a little more flexibility in being able to do so. The studs are just as discounted on FanDuel as they were last week. That being said, there aren’t notable tight end and defense bargains on FanDuel as there are on DraftKings as DraftKings has priced down strong defenses against good offenses (Minnesota and Jacksonville come to mind). Here are some of the notable discounts on both sites:
Tom Brady: 1.17
Aaron Rodgers: .90
Peyton Barber: 2.33
Isaiah Crowell: 1.47
Royce Freeman: 1.4
Ted Ginn: 1.73
Richard Matthews: 1.6
Josh Doctson: 1.5
Tight End + Defense
David Njoku: 2.8
George Kittle: 1.7
Jack Doyle: 1.3
Ben Roethlisberger: 1.13
Philip Rivers: 1.07
Tyrod Taylor: .80
Dalvin Cook: 2.17
James Conner: 1.73
Chris Thompson: 1.47
Nelson Agholor: 2.03
Amari Cooper: 1.7
Jarvis Landry: 1.43