With two weeks in the books, we’re beginning to learn about the 2018 version of these teams and the reliance on data from last year is beginning to shift towards the current trends and information. Come week 5 and week 6, we’re going to have a better picture of who the 32 teams really are and identify their strengths and weaknesses.
The Patriots are off the main slate which is a shame as they are in a great spot heading into Detroit against an awful Lions defense. The Steelers won’t be back until week 5 when they host the Falcons. Thus, we lose two of the better offenses but there are still great opportunities on the slate to build quality lineups.
Patrick Mahomes: vs SF (DK 7000; FD 8900)
Regression is bound to hit soon, especially with the Broncos and Jaguars looming after this matchup against the 49ers. However, it’s safe to ride Patrick Mahomes one more week before that regression begins. The 49ers have allowed multiple touchdown games to Kirk Cousins and Matthew Stafford and with receivers like Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins that can get behind the defense, Mahomes should make it three out of three quarterbacks to do so. As mentioned last week, his ceiling only rises with the inability of the Chiefs defense to stop opposing offenses. Jimmy Garappolo should be able to manufacture drives and keep this game from getting out of hand which only increases the chances of Mahomes putting together another masterful fantasy performance.
Cam Newton: vs CIN (DK 6000; FD 8300)
On DraftKings, Cam’s salary has decreased every week thus far while the opposite has happened on FanDuel with increases each time. The decrease in price after a 31 DK point performance makes no sense as he has so many avenues to get to value with the ability to use his legs. The hope is Andy Dalton and a rejuvenated Bengals offense going toe to toe with Cam against a Panthers defense that allowed 31 points and 442 yards of total offense to the Falcons. He’s both cash and GPP viable this week on both sites but the discount on DraftKings makes him a must-start.
Blake Bortles: vs TEN (DK 5600; FD 6700)
Both sites refuse to give Blake Bortles the credit he deserves as his price remains under 6000 and 7000 on DraftKings and FanDuel respectively. He’s returned value 11 out of his last 18 games on DraftKings and continues to provide a cheap option at quarterback for players to utilize. We’ll use him as that cheap option again this week against a Titans defense that has allowed four touchdowns catches so far, including 75, 39, and 28 yard strikes. With his additional ability to scramble, there is a good chance he makes it 12 out of last 19 weeks that he returns value.
Alvin Kamara: at ATL (DK 9500; FD 8700)
His price remains the same on DraftKings as he didn’t hit 2x against the Browns. This scenario is exactly what we want as some people will fade Alvin Kamara due to lack of productivity the week before along with his high price tag. He gets a Falcons team that allowed 14 catches for 102 yards to Christian McCaffery; that’s 17.2 FD/24.2 DK points without him running the ball. Realistically, 8-10 targets is a safe number to expect for Kamara in this game which sets us up with a nice floor of eight points just off the bat. It will be tough squeezing him with the tight week 3 pricing but with Deion Jones and Keanu Neal not on the field, Kamara is a top 3 option on the slate this week and in a great spot to crush a Falcons team that cannot shut down pass catching backs.
Jordan Howard: at ARI (DK 6500; FD 7400)
Early on in 2018, the Cardinals are hemorrhaging fantasy points to not just running backs on the ground but also pass catching backs, including 4 rushing touchdowns and a touchdown through the air to the position. The Arizona offense is lifeless with Sam Bradford as the starter and until Josh Rosen assumes the starting duties, this trend isn’t going to change. Enter Jordan Howard who should find great success on the ground as well as lining up in the backfield. He’s seeing 4.5 targets per game through two weeks, an increase of just under two targets per game from 2017. In a game that the Bears should hold a lead, there should be plenty of work for Howard and makes for a great play at his affordable price.
Tevin Coleman: vs NO (DK 6400; FD 7300)
This is simply about volume with Devonta Freeman inactive and exposure to a game with one of the highest totals on the board. In two games last year with Freeman on the bench and last week against the Panthers, Tevin Coleman is averaging 18 FPPG in PPR scoring and seeing 71% of the RB touches in those three games. He is effective out of the backfield and while the Saints have shown slight improvement in that category, they allowed the 7th most FPA to pass catching backs in 2017, something that the Falcons could exploit this weekend.
Corey Clement: vs IND (DK 4300; FD 5800)
Jay Ajayi looks to be inactive against the Colts and with the promotion of Josh Adams from the practice squad, Darren Sproles looks to also be warming the bench this week. With Ajayi coming in and out of the game, Corey Clement led all running backs in touches at 41% against the Bucs in week 2. He excels out of the backfield, an area the Colts defense has struggled defending early on, allowing 14.85 FD/20.35 DK points per game to pass catching backs. On top of Ajayi and Sproles being hurt, Alshon Jeffery may not be ready to suit up following rotator cuff surgery, Mike Wallace is out with a fractured fibula, and Mack Hollins is on injured reserve. In an offense that is lacking options, look for Clement to contribute alongside Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz and see increased volume as a runner and out of the backfield.
Michael Thomas: at ATL (DK 8900; FD 9000)
He’s the highest-priced receiver on the main slate for the first time in his career. Michael Thomas is off to a sensational start while accumulating 62.5% of the New Orleans wide receiver target share; only Larry Fitzgerald and Nelson Agholor are seeing a higher percentage of wide receiver targets. That target share for those three receivers will regress back to a norm over time but with Cameron Meredith possibly suiting up for the first time this year and Mark Ingram serving the third of a four game suspension this week, the Michael Thomas show could continue. In a game with one of the highest totals this week inside a cozy dome, look for Michael Thomas to continue his amazing start to 2018.
Stefon Diggs: vs BUF (DK 7700: FD 8300
Adam Thielen: vs BUF (DK 7800; FD 8200)
The Vikings don’t need Dalvin Cook to win this game; the Bills roster is inferior at all positions as the 16.5 point spread would indicate. It’s a dream matchup for Cook but there’s no need to run him into the ground after not only an ACL tear in 2017 but a hamstring injury that was linked to a cramp at Lambeau Field last week. If anything, him and Latavius Murray could split the carries which limits both player’s ceiling in this game, especially with the Vikings traveling to Los Angeles for a Thursday night game four days later. While most of the attention has been focused on how atrocious the Bills have been against running backs, they’re not much better against the wide receiver position, having allowed four touchdowns in two games. Stefon Diggs will see time opposite the only bright spot on the Bills defense in Tre’Davious White but along with Adam Thielen will also line up against Lafayette Pitts and Rafael Bush, a safety turned slot corner. I prefer Thielen slightly here but both receivers should find it easy to maneuver around this Bills secondary.
Keelan Cole: vs TEN (DK 5600; FD 6400)
Malcolm Butler has struggled in his first two games as a Titan, giving up two touchdowns to Kenny Stills in week 1 and one to Will Fuller last week. This Sunday, he will spend some time lining up opposite Keelan Cole, one of the young, blossoming receivers in the NFL. He may not be as fast as the aforementioned names that have burned Butler early on but he certainly has outstanding hands as demonstrated by that circus catch he completed against the Patriots last week. The injury to Marqise Lee is helping to solidify his role in the offense and as Blake’s favorite target. His salary along with a secondary that is 2nd in FPA in PPR scoring to wide receivers thus far makes him an attractive week 3 option.
Ryan Grant: at PHI (DK 4100; FD 4900)
Our bargain bin option in Mike Wallace fractured his fibula last week. We’ll try again against a cornerback that was among the worst last season and gave up two 75 yard touchdowns against the Buccaneers. T.Y. Hilton also benefits from lining up against Jalen Mills along with Ryan Grant who will also see time lining up opposite Mills who spends nearly all of his snaps lining up on the left side of the field. Grant was targeted nine times against the Bengals in the opener but only saw two balls thrown his way against his former team last week. The Eagles were dominant against running backs at Lincoln Financial Field last year which should make throwing the ball ideal for the Colts in this game. To invest in the pricier options, a cheap option like Grant against an inferior corner provides nice upside in a favorable matchup.
Zach Ertz: vs IND (DK 6800; FD 7000)
As indicated above, the Eagles don’t have many options at this point. With Carson Wentz returning this weekend, the offense should run more efficiently from here on out which will undoubtedly benefit one of his favorite targets. Zach Ertz has already seen 23 targets through two games and I’d expect him to see double digit targets again. With injury comes opportunity and given that 39% of the Eagles pass attempts have been to the tight end through two weeks, he is worth paying up for in a home game where he had a +4.71 FPPG differential in PPR scoring last year at Lincoln Financial Field.
George Kittle: at KC (DK 4500; FD 5800)
It was an underwhelming performance in a favorable matchup against the Lions yet both sites have raised George Kittle’s salary in a matchup against a Chiefs team that was torched by Jesse James to the tune of a 5-138-1 clip. In fact, the Chiefs defense thus far is in the top three in FPA to every position other than the kicker; opposing teams only need their kickers for the PAT against Kansas City. Jimmy Garappolo has targeted the tight end in 27% of his passes, 5th most in the league. The salary is still affordable but with Kittle disappointing fantasy owners last week, expect lower ownership in a matchup where the 49ers should expect to throw the ball to keep up with this explosive Chiefs offense.
Trey Burton: at ARI (DK 3900; FD 5700)
The usage hasn’t been there through two weeks but he still managed to find the end zone on a shovel pass from Mitch Trubisky on Monday night against the Seahawks. The Cardinals defense hasn’t allowed a touchdown to a wide receiver yet because they have been that awful against running backs that opposing offenses don’t need to attack them through the air. However, Jordan Reed and Tyler Higbee have still crossed the pylons against the Cardinals. With four catches and a touchdown, Burton’s path to returning value is easily with the range of outcomes this weekend.
Minnesota: vs BUF (DK 4300; FD 4900)
It was at Lambeau Field and against the great Aaron Rodgers; don’t be alarmed by the 29 points allowed on the road. The Vikings defense is by far superior at U.S. Bank Stadium, allowing 12.5 PPG last year. The Bills were fortunate to put up 20 points against the Chargers at home but Josh Allen is now visiting hostile territory in his first road start in the NFL. It’s a pricy proposition but starting this defense should be as easy as selecting the Vikings in survivor pools this week.
Chicago: at ARI (DK 3500; FD 4300)
Six points scored and 365 total yards of offense through two games with Sam Bradford as the starter. It’s not going to be much longer until Josh Rosen takes over moving forward but until then, this Bears defense that has forced 10 sacks and four takeaways through two games should feast in Glendale. While I prefer the Vikings at home, the savings in salary in rostering the Bears can play a huge role in adding another important piece to lineups.
Dallas: at SEA (DK 2200; FD 3400)
The Texans against the Giants is one option in going cheap at defense with a porous New York offensive line and a quarterback that is all but immobilized but if you want to go even cheaper, the other football team from Texas presents an opportunity to do so. While the Cowboys offense has lived up to the concerns heading into 2018, the defense has raised some eyebrows, giving up just 29 points and getting to the quarterback nine times through two games. Up next is a matchup in Seattle against an offensive line that has allowed Russell Wilson to be sacked 12 times. The offense is missing Doug Baldwin and the struggle of the offensive line is making it hard for the Seahawks to establish a consistent running game, one that’s averaging 3.63 yards per carry. If you’re trying for Alvin Kamara or two of the higher-priced players this week on DraftKings, Dallas at $2200 has an outstanding chance of not just returning value but even more with a defensive score, something that is extremely possible in this game.
Each week, I will identify what players are bargains based on the salary cap percentage difference they represent on the respective site. Here are the notable week 3 bargains from both sites:
NOTABLE DRAFTKINGS BARGAINS
QB Cam Newton: 1.8
QB Matt Ryan: 1.4
RB Kareem Hunt: 1.1
RB Corey Clement: 1
WR Jamison Crowder: 1.1
WR Corey Davis: 1
WR Robert Woods: .9
TE Austin Hooper: 3.4
TE Kyle Rudolph: 1.6
NOTABLE FANDUEL BARGAINS
QB Jimmy Garappolo: .7
RB Dalvin Cook: 3.4
RB Chris Thompson: 1.8
WR Marquise Goodwin: 1.4
WR Pierre Garcon: 1.3
WR Nelson Agholor: 1.2