We’ve finally gotten our feet wet with some Week 1 action, and now that we have the lay of the land, things are looking a little clearer entering Week 2 (aside from the Dolphins and Bucs, who we still need to feel out). Below is an early look at some potential targets for Sunday’s main slate, although in some instances I’ll be telling you why I might shy away from a certain player given his price, matchup, etc. Let’s get to it!
Tom Brady ($7,900) – TB12 is the most expensive QB on the slate, heading to New Orleans for what’s fully expected to be a shootout. The Pats allowed 42 points to the Chiefs at Gillette in the season opener, and now Brady will be tasked with outscoring Drew Brees and the Saints in the Super Dome. Brady failed to connect on a TD pass in Week 1, but had one to Gronk called back, and also had several penalties put the offense on the goal line, which led to a trio of rushing touchdowns. I love the bounce-back potential here, but many others will too, so beware of popularity. The Saints just made Sam Bradford look like an all-timer on MNF.
Drew Brees ($7,700) – I’m not venturing too far here, as Brees will likely be another popular option on the other side of this matchup. The Patriots defense looked thin, to begin with, and then totally collapsed after Dont’a Hightower exited Week 1 with a sprained MCL. He’s questionable to play as of Tuesday. Frankly, Brees shouldn’t have a problem carving this defense up in New Orleans’ home opener, despite his struggles in Minnesota Week 1. Green Bay vs. Atlanta might be an equally popular game to pick QBs from, but both of those teams struggled to score in Week 1.
Carson Palmer ($6,000) – Palmer was already my favorite value QB on this slate, but the huge news that David Johnson is expected to miss extended time only makes me love him more. The Colts just got absolutely dominated by the Rams, and I expect the Cardinals to be able to do the same in Indy. Johnson will be missed, but the lack of RB depth behind him means Palmer could be asked to throw the ball more. After a down game in Week 1 in which he tossed three picks against the Lions, this could be a time to capitalize on rostering him. If this defense got gashed by Jared Goff, I’m not too worried about Palmer holding his own.
DeShone Kizer ($5,100) – Kizer had a pretty solid debut in all aspects … a three point loss to the Steelers is practically a win for the Browns. But the rookie put up big numbers as well — 20-for-30 for 222 yards, a TD, an INT and another 17 yards plus a touchdown on the ground. Playing in Baltimore presents a little bit more of a challenge, but Kizer should be playing from behind and in desperation mode once again. That typically gives a player a pretty high floor, and the price is certainly right.
Le’Veon Bell ($9,800) – Bell is very interesting in Week 2. He had a TERRIBLE opener and has a lot of fantasy players pretty angry at the moment. His 47 yards on 13 touches was his worst game in four years, and with a tough matchup against Minnesota, he could be tough to trust. But this is still Le’Veon Bell, so anytime we can get a less popular version of him, it’s worth considering. The problem is that with David Johnson out, Bell is the only top level option to choose from, so beware of Johnson’s absence likely upping Bell’s ownership.
LeSean McCoy ($8,600) – For all of the reasons stated above, McCoy is my guy to pay up for at RB in Week 2. He predictably shredded the Jets in Week 1, taking 22 carries for 110 yards, and hauling in five of six targets for 49 yards (along with missing out on a touchdown because he subbed out of the game with a brief wrist injury). Carolina is a much more difficult opponent, but Carlos Hyde managed a decent game, and Shady is the clear focal point of Buffalo’s offense. Save yourself the $1,200 it would cost to roster Bell.
Ty Montgomery ($5,800) – Ty-Mont is the perfect mid-priced RB this week. Not only did the converted WR have a fantastic game against a terrific Seattle defense in Week 1 (93 total yards, four catches and a TD), but the Packers proved to us that they’re 100% committed to him as the workhorse back. Rookie Jamaal Williams drew two carries and wasn’t even targeted in the passing game, while Montgomery caught all four of his targets and handled 19 carries (good for a career-high 23 touches). Assuming he shoulders a similar load in Atlanta, I’d expect an even better-looking stat line.
Chris Carson ($4,100) – We had some indications this could happen in the preseason, but nobody saw it happening quite this fast — Chris Carson looks like the lead RB in Seattle. Eddie Lacy was atrocious in Week 1, playing seven snaps and gaining just three yards on five carries. Thomas Rawls is still battling an ankle injury, while C.J. Prosise handles the passing downs. That leaves the impressive seventh-round draft pick at the top of the totem pole for the time being. Carson gained 39 yards on six carries and caught a 10-yard pass in Week 1, and should only improve against a 49ers team that allowed the most DKFP to RBs last season. Fellow rookie Tarik Cohen is priced at the same salary and coming off a huge debut himself, so Carson could be a good pivot play (while Cohen makes for a solid value play as well).
Antonio Brown ($9,400) – Brown was as impressive as we expected him to be against Cleveland in Week 1, reeling in all 11 targets for 182 yards. While I like him against Minnesota in Week 2, the matchup gets much tougher, and Pittsburgh may make a point of forcing the ball to Bell to get him going after a poor game. I’m a fan of going with Julio Jones after a quiet game for $200 cheaper. The Packers showed well on defense last week but ranked dead last against WRs last season. The last time the Packers and Falcons played, Julio went off for 42 DKFP in the NFC Championship game.
Brandin Cooks ($8,200) – Cooks caught three of seven targets for 88 yards in Week 1, but was much closer to a huge game than people think. One of he and Brady’s misconnects was a near-touchdown catch, and Cooks also drew three penalties on plays that looked like he had the potential to break loose. Facing his former team in the Super Dome, Cooks has the potential for a monster game against a horrible Saints defense (ranked 27th against WRs in 2016). Brady’s options in the passing game are already limited, so this just has the gut feeling of the game these two find their stride.
Randall Cobb ($5,900) – Cobb is another underrated piece of Green Bay’s offense in the early going. It’s been a while since we’ve seen him fully healthy and involved, but there were plenty of signs in Week 1 indicating that’s the case. Cobb played on 77% of the snaps and was the Packers’ leading receiver in categories across the board. His 13 targets translated into nine catches for 85 yards against a stingy Seattle secondary, so Cobb’s Week 2 upside in Atlanta is undeniable. I’m completely fine rostering him and Montgomery together.
Cooper Kupp ($4,100) – Kupp showed a good connection with Goff during the preseason, and that carried over to the regular season. Kupp posted numbers you wouldn’t believe during his college days and managed to snag four of six targets in his NFL debut for 76 yards and a score. Now the question is can he do it against a team that isn’t the Colts? The rookie seems like the type of reliable option that Goff needs, so I’m looking for a repeat performance against Washington. Sammy Watkins is great in his own right, but Goff has trouble delivering the ball, so a short route receiver like Kupp seems more compatible.
Rob Gronkowski ($6,900) – Gronk had a tough go in Week 1, but did have a TD called back where the ball just barely touched the turf. Even with the great matchup against the Saints, it’s hard to justify paying up at TE until we see Gronk look like himself. It could be a good time to roster a likely unpopular Gronk given his high ceiling, but there are just too many values for me to justify it, as you’ll see below.
Jason Witten ($3,400) – The reason I like Witten, aside from his friendly price tag, is that other TE values priced similarly to him should be very appealing, leaving the safest player of the group lower owned. Zach Ertz’s salary skyrocketed nearly $2K, and expectedly so, meaning it’s time to start over when it comes to finding value. Austin Hooper is coming off a game with 128 yards and a touchdown and is just $3,500, while Jesse James caught a pair of touchdowns last week and is only $3,200. Both of them had kind of fluke performances but could generate a lot of Week 2 interest. Right in-between them in the player pool lies Witten, who turned nine targets into a 7/59/1 line last week. Denver ranked just 20th against TEs last season, and Dak Prescott may need to rely on the vet against a top notch defense.
Cardinals DST ($4,100) – After the Rams mopped the floor with the Colts last week, the Cards DST is likely going to be an extremely popular play (and Arizona just surrendered 35 points in Detroit). I like pivoting to the Seahawks DST for just $100 cheaper, set to host a pretty poor 49ers team. They’ll also be looking to avenge a 0-1 start at the hands of the Packers while playing in front of the 12th man for the first time this season. It feels like a dominant performance could be in store.
Packers DST ($2,300) – And speaking of the Packers, they were one of the most shocking Week 1 success stories on the defensive side of the ball. They tallied nine DKFP against the Seahawks in a game that was projected to be a shootout, keeping them out of the end zone for the entire game. It’s an obvious risk to roster them in Atlanta, but the Falcons didn’t look great against a weak Bears squad themselves. Meanwhile, the Green Bay DST looked like a refreshed unit. There’s a lot of GPP upside here given the price tag.
Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter with comments or questions: @julianedlow.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is jedlow) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.