When we think about what will be chalk in a given week, it’s not always just about players. Sometimes it’s about roster construction.
Week 2 on DraftKings is a good example of this idea, as there are a ton of mid-priced running backs to like while the wideout position is very pricy. Quarterbacks and tight ends (outside of Rob Gronkowski) remain underpriced. So we know what the majority of lineups are going to look like, even if we can’t be certain on exact ownership percentages. People are going to spend big at wideout, take the value at running back and fill in the rest after. It’s something to keep in mind when trying to differentiate in GPPs.
The point of this column is to use the news, snap count, usage and trends to both be a little contrarian and avoid whiffs.
SITUATIONS TO CAPITALIZE ON
1. Tevin Coleman separating from Devonta Freeman
In Coleman’s first career NFL game, he out-snapped Devonta Freeman 45-28 and out-carried him 20-10. He also averaged 4.0 yards per carry, netting a robust 2.1 yards after contact per attempt against a very good Eagles front seven. Meanwhile, Freeman was anemic at 1.8 YPC and 1.3 YAC/attempt. All this is important because we can safely project Coleman as the lead back for Sunday’s game at the Giants, where the Falcons boast a big team total of 24.25. It’s a very plus spot against defense that only has talent at one position: cornerback with Prince Amukamura and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. The Giants linebackers and safeties are among the league’s worst.
At just $4500, Coleman is in play for cash games thanks to a 14-18 touch-range projection. He’s also a great GPP play as his calling card is busting big runs (7.12 YPC in college, 4.39 speed). The Falcons falling behind in this letdown spot (off Eagles Monday night win) is a concern, but Coleman did run 14 pass routes in Week 1. Freeman ran 13. Coleman is going to break off multiple long runs this season that will change fantasy weeks – a matchup with this lackluster Giants defense is a great place to start.
2. Saints as a 10-point favorite at home
Double-digit spreads are not as common you might think. But when they do happen, it’s almost always a great thing for the favorite’s running back. I’m way higher on Mark Ingram this week than Drew Brees because the Saints ideally want to be a run-heavy team. They traded away Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills this offseason, choosing to invest draft capital and resources in the offensive line/running game instead. They explicitly said the wanted to reduce the amount of points needed to win.
Ingram averaged 17.3 rushes per game last season and is a great bet to top the 20-carry mark in this one. Even if C.J. Spiller (knee) ends up active, I think he’ll be eased in very lightly as a change-of-pace behind Ingram. And when the Saints have a big second-half lead to protect, they’ll choose to grind with Ingram – not put the ball in Brees’ hands. At $5900, Ingram is grossly underpriced in this spot.
MATCHUPS TO EXPLOIT
1. Martellus Bennett against the Cardinals
The sharpest bettors in the world are on the Bears this week. Although everyone else is betting the Cardinals, the line continues to hover around ARZ -2. So how are the Bears going to win the game? Certainly not with their defense and probably not with their running game against a rugged Cardinals front. They’ll do it with the pass game via a healthy Alshon Jeffery, and also with tight end Martellus Bennett. Only the Bears and Redskins have been worse against tight ends (in terms of DraftKings salary expectation) than the Cardinals over the last year. In terms of raw points, the Cardinals gave up the fifth-most points to tight ends last season. Jason Witten/Tyler Eifert will be more popular and I’m fine with both, but I like Bennett a little better.
2. Ameer Abdullah against the Vikings’ run defense
I had zero Carlos Hyde last week and that was a mistake. Not a mistake like Tyler Eifert, because I don’t see any way I could have gotten to him. But a mistake because the Vikings gave up the seventh-most points to fantasy running backs last year and were the fifth-worst in terms of points allowed against DraftKings’ salary expectation. The 49ers were also at home in a spot where everybody loved the Vikings, which made the Hyde play even stronger.
Anyway, regrets are not the point. The point is we should be seeking out reasons to attack this Vikings run defense. We should also be seeking reasons to roster Ameer Abdullah while his price is so low ($4500). With Xavier Rhodes set to duel with Calvin Johnson again and Joique Bell predictably ineffective Week 1, this is a great spot for Abdullah. His floor is only 8-10 touches, but I think he could see closer to 15 in this particular game. When OC Joe Lombardi was asked this week if Abdullah had passed Bell on the depth chart, he said, “We’ll see.”
1. Russell Wilson and Jimmy Graham
No one is talking about Russell Wilson this week even though the Seahawks sport one of the higher team totals at 22.75. That’s a mistake. Wilson faced the Packers twice last year, averaging 200.0 passing yards, 27.0 rush yards and scoring four total touchdowns. Both those games were at home as a favorite. Things are different now, as the fat/happy Seattle defense isn’t the same without SS Kam Chancellor and CB Byron Maxwell. The Seahawks know it, as they’ve resorted to moving Richard Sherman off his island. So it’s going to be on Wilson to produce more points if he’s going to win this game at Green Bay as a dog, and he now has better weaponry with the additions of Jimmy Graham and Tyler Lockett. After a lot of talk about Graham’s blocking role, he ran a whopping 48 pass routes in Week 1. He was asked to pass block four times.
1. Naked TyGod
If the Colts offense had shown up in Week 1, Tyrod Taylor would have had 30 DraftKings points. I’m not exaggerating. Taylor was everything we thought he would be against the Colts, racking up more than 90 percent of his 15.9 DraftKings points in the first half. Then the Bills got out to a 24-0 lead and completely took their foot off the gas. Now Tay’or’s price has gone up to $6200 and his ownership will be miniscule as he’s facing the Patriots. But he’s still at home and still has a floor of 40 rushing yards – to go with a legit ceiling of 100. The Patriots are also far easier to attack in their Darrelle Revis-less secondary than they are on the ground.
1. Carlos Hyde at Pittsburgh
The 49ers’ offense played at their peak on Monday Night Football Week 1. Probably 95 out of 100 – just about as good as they can play. Now they have to go on the road, all the way across the country for a 10am PST game against a Steelers team that has been off for 10 days. I think the 49ers will play at 40 out of 100 in this spot, or maybe even worse. And that’s a big concern for Hyde, mostly a two-down back who benefits greatly when his team is ahead or in the red zone. With Reggie Bush’s injury and a pricetag of just $5100, we could see Hyde at 30 percent or more in DraftKings GPPs. I’m not on him.
WHO I’LL HAVE THE MOST OF IN DRAFTKINGS CASH GAMES
QB: Sam Bradford
RB: Marshawn Lynch, Mark Ingram, Justin Forsett, Lamar Miller, Ameer Abdullah, Tevin Coleman
WR: Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham, Brandin Cooks, Jarvis Landry, Terrance Williams
TE: Martellus Bennett, Jason Witten, Jordan Reed, Heath Miller
D: Saints, Ravens, Dolphins, Rams