The NFL Game Breakdown will be a weekly analysis of every game on the NFL schedule in extreme detail. From targets to game flow and other matchup variables, this article will be your one-stop-shop for everything you could ever need to prepare for DraftKings NFL contests.
Want to see a specific game breakdown? Jump to the applicable page!
PAGE 2: SD @ CIN, DET @ MIN, TAM @ NO, ATL @ NYG, PIT @ SF
Chargers @ Bengals
Point Total: 45.5
Spread: -3 Bengals
This is a matchup of 1-0 teams who both looked good in their week 1 victories. The Chargers were once again stifling with their pass defense allowing the Lions to gain only 246 yards through the air (which included a semi-garbage time final drive). QB Andy Dalton had a nice opening week and even though the matchup in week 2 isn’t the best but he will be at home and is only a paltry $5800 on DraftKings. Dalton has great weapons and given his price I could see him paying off for fantasy.
TE Tyler Eifert was the star of week 1, cashing in for 9 rec. 104 yards and 2 tds. Eifert’s 12 targets were 1 better than WR AJ Green received and until further notice it’s clear that Eifert’s become the clear second passing option for the Bengals. Green had a much more muted day with only 5 rec. and 63 yards, he and Dalton struggled to connect in preseason and that trend continued somewhat week 1. Green is slated to see CB Branden Flowers in this matchup which isn’t good but a lot might depend on whether the Chargers decide to double him or not. The Chargers gave up some big games to WRs when on the road in 2014 and I’d be willing to bet Eifert’s week 1 means he draws a little attention away from Green. I like AJ as a high upside tournament option on DraftKings for week 2.
Both RBs Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard had good games to start the year. Gio was actually the more effective back averaging 7.9 ypc over 8 carries and while also catching 6 balls. San Diego was burned badly by similar shifty/pass catcher Ameer Abudallah week 1 and at only $4500, compared to the $7400 you have to pay for Hill, I actually really like Gio’s upside in this game and am recommending him as a play in week 2.
The Chargers got down 21-3 early in week 1 forcing Phillip Rivers to air it out 42 times for 404 yards and 2 TDs. I don’t expect the Chargers to throw nearly that much every week but it does show you that Rivers has upside when game flow forces his hand. Like the Chargers the Bengals pass D is also quite competent and allowed the 3rd fewest fantasy points to QBs in 2014. Given that the Chargers are underdogs you could possibly see a lot more passing from him again in week 2 but I don’t see tremendous upside and am leaving him out of my plans because of it.
The Chargers week 1 pass targets broke down like this:
You to love the targeting on Allen but Bengals corners Pacman Jones and Leon Hall did a good job limiting Amari Cooper week 1 and I see a similar fate possibly in store for Allen week 2. I’m interested in Stevie Johnson given his smaller price-tag ($4200) and for the fact he was used on quick screens a lot. Johnson could benefit from the extra attention Allen gets this week and he’s still a great value play… I’m very interested in TE Ladarius Green going forward. Rivers was not shy about going to Green, especially near the goal line where he received 2 red zone targets (and converted one). If the WRs are going to be well covered Rivers is smart enough to compensate by making the Bengals pay through the big (6’6) fast (4.45sec) Green. At $3500 Green has huge upside for a much cheaper price than the top TE targets.
The RB snap breakdown for the Chargers was as follows:
The more telling stat though and the important one for fantasy is the fact that the only back to see a carry or target in the red zone was Woodhead (6 red zone carries, 2 red zone targets). Woodhead ($4000) is still a $1000 less than Gordon ($5000) and makes for a decent cheap option at RB. Until Gordon starts to see red zone snaps there’s no point in considering any else for San Diego.
Gameflow: This is another very intriguing matchup. The Bengals get a much tougher opponent but now will be at home, while the Chargers, who beat a decent Lions team week 1, now go on the road. I expect the Bengals to be able to control this game with their RBs and eventually force the Chargers to take some risks on offense. These teams are close so there’s a possibility for a bit of a back and forth type shootout to develop but ultimately I think the Bengals avoid a Detroit-like collapse from last week and hold on for a win
Bengals 27 Chargers 20
– Gio Bernard $4500
– Ladarius Green $3500
– Stevie Johnson $4200
– Danny Woodhead $4000
– Andy Dalton $5800
– AJ Green $7500
Lions @ Vikings
Point Total: 43
Spread: -3 Vikings
The Lions D got busted up in the passing game by Phillip Rivers week 1 and that bodes well for QB Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater may not have looked great to start week 1 but finished strong completing over 80% of his last 20 passes. I like using Bridgewater as a tournament option to attack this weak Lions secondary for fantasy, especially in tournaments, his price ($6400) gives you a ton of flexibility
At WR I’m also giving Charles Johnson a pass. Johnson was invisible in game 1 taking in just 2 receptions on 3 targets. Johnson has a cupcake matchup week 2 though against Rashean Mathis who got torched for 15 catches by Keenan Allen. Johnson also has the lower salary on DraftKings ($4800) to counterpart Mike Wallace ($5400) who finished week 1 with 6 catches on 8 targets… he’ll also have speedster Darius Slay covering him. I’m siding with Johnson this week for fantasy purposes… The Adrian Peterson “revenge” game was an absolute disaster. Not only did Minnesota only give All-Day 10 carries, but they also took him out in the end of the game for Matt Asiata when playing catch up. Peterson looked a little rusty week 1 but you have to figure there’s juice left in the tank. The Lions loss of Ndomukong Suh makes them more vulnerable to the run than in past years. I’ll ride Peterson in gpps for one more week and give him a chance to redeem himself in front of his home crowd.
Detroit QB Matt Stafford started out week 1 strong but suffered a bit of an arm injury that may have affected his performance the rest of the way. The news out of Detroit is that Stafford is OK but it’s still possible the injury limits him a bit. For fantasy purposes the Vikings strength is actually their pass defense and they allowed the 12th fewest fantasy points to QBs in 2014. I have no desire to risk using a not 100% Matt Stafford on the road in a game with a projected low point total.
Both WRs Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate had extremely slow days in week 1 and I don’t love their chances for a huge day in week 2. Last season in 2 games vs the Lions Minnesota was great at limiting the Detroit WRs:
Top corner Vikings CB Xavier Rhodes is slated to be on Calvin again this week and did a great job limiting him in week 11 last year. Golden Tate has a better matchup against the beatable Captain Munnerlyn. With the Lions slated as underdogs and on the road, Tate could be a sneaky play given both the possible game flow of Detroit being behind and Stafford’s injury limiting his ability to throw deep. I’d consider Tate for tournaments.
The Detroit situation I’m most interested in this week is RB. Carlos Hyde lambasted the Viking run defense in week one and that makes rookie RB Ameer Abdullah a very interesting play in my opinion. Abdullah lived up to his own preseason hype by running for a 24 yard TD and showing off his “off the charts” agility. More importantly for fantasy was the fact he was also involved in the pass game and caught 4 balls for a productive 44 yards. The snap count between the Detroit RBs looked like this week 1:
With Detroit projected to be down at some point in this game I can’t see Abdullah not getting at least the same kind of volume he did in week 1, and with Detroit on the verge of going 0-2 I can’t see them not upping the rookies snaps and hoping he can work some magic for them against a weak run D. I love Abdullah for fantasy this week.
Gameflow: I think I see the Vikings as the team that bounces back here. Minnesota is not as bad as they appeared in week 1 and I really disliked what I saw from the Detroit defense. The one saving grace for Detroit could be if rookie Ameer Abudallah can work some magic and get free for a big play or two. It’s possible but I’m still calling for Teddy and the Vikings to nail down a win in what could be a higher scoring affair.
Vikings 27 Lions 24
– Ameer Abdullah $4500
– Teddy Bridgewater $6400
– Adrian Peterson $7700
– Charles Johnson $4800
– Golden Tate $6300
Buccaneers @ Saints
Point Total: 47
As predicted here last week, and in all my preseason articles on the playbook, QB Jameis Winston self-destructed before our eyes under real NFL pressure. This week he gets a depleted Saints secondary with Keenan Lewis, Jarius Byrd or Rafael Bush. Even though the Saints are nowhere near an elite team anymore they are still favoured by a whopping 10 points at home. Winston could be in line for garbage time points once again but I doubt you’ll see enough for it make him a good play. Avoid.
The problem with the line of this game is that it means the Bucs will likely have to abandon the running game early like they did week 1. RB Doug Martin looked great in week 1 and averaged 4.7 ypc on 11 touches but barely saw any work the second half. Martin now gets a saints D who gave up a rushing TD to the diminutive Andre Ellington and also allowed the fourth most fantasy points to RBs in 2014, but will lose passing snaps to Charles Sims if the Bucs are down late (and they’ll likely be down late). I can’t recommend Martin as anything more than a tournament play as the workload is too unpredictable.
Here’s how Winston’s targets shaped out from week 1:
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins had a big day in week one and really benefited from the absence of Mike Evans (hamstring). You have to be buoyed by the fact that New Orleans allowed Zona TE Daniel Fells—a much slower less agile TE—to catch 4 balls and score a longish TD against them. At $4100 ASF appears to have a great matchup here and could be big once again if Evans misses out… I do also like the garbage time appeal of the Tampa Bay WRs, especially for tournament lineups as big days can develop fast against soft coverage. Last year with Mike Evans out Vincent Jackson torched the Saints for 8 catches and 144 yards and if Evans is even a bit limited in week 2 VJax at only $5500 is likely the man I would pick for this matchup… really watch the injury news this week as a healthy Evans would take away targets and fantasy appeal from both these two.
For the Saints QB Drew Brees fired over 40 passes, accumulated over 300 yards passing week 1 but only found the end zone once. While Brees continues to rack up passing yardage his TD totals have dropped each of the past two years (43-39-37) and last year in two games against the Bucs he threw only 2 TDs and 6 INTs. Brees is now at home against a pass D that looked awful week 1 against a rookie. I’m a buyer on Brees this week I won’t be over committing, the Saints are not the team they once were.
I do think that regardless of what Brees does Brandin Cooks should bounce back and have a big game. Cooks was targeted 8 times but only took in 8 catches week 1. This week though he won’t have Patrick Peterson shadowing him and will be going up against the same group that allowed Kendall Wright to have a big game. This may be simplistic thinking but if Kendall Wright can drop 100+ yards on 4 catches Cooks can likely do the same and possibly even better. He’s a main target for me in this game.
At RB the Saints employed Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson a ton in the passing game with the two combining for an insane 16 targets. This week I think your likely to see a bit more rushing from both as the Bucs Run D is nowhere near as good as Arizona’s and allowed 123 yards to a very average Bishop Sankey/Terrence West duo in week 1. I like Ingram in this game, almost as much as Cooks, and could see one or both of them having a monster day.
Gameflow: The Saints have been really hard to predict the past couple years. They used to be unbeatable at home but are no longer in the category of elite teams and had some bad losses in 2014. This could go either way for me, a complete Saints blowout, thanks to Jameis Winston and an inept Bucs D or a really close game where Doug Martin takes control and shreds a weak Saints D. I think ultimately the Saints win but the game remains a lot closer than what Vegas has it slated for.
Saints 24 Bucs 20
– Brandin Cooks $7100
– Mark Ingram $5900
– Vincent Jackson (if Evans limited or out) $5500
– Austin Seferian-Jenkins (if Evans out) $4100
– Drew Brees $7800
– Doug Martin $5600
– Saints D $2800
Falcons @ Giants
Point Total: 51.5
Spread: -2.5 Giants
Matt Ryan and the Falcons come off a huge home win Monday night to face the Giants who had a heartbreaking loss the day before. The Giants D recorded zero sacks of Tony Romo in week 1 which bodes well for Ryan’s fortunes as he was under constant pressure by the Eagles in week 1. Romo sliced the Giants D without Dez Bryant for 356 yards and 3 TDs and Ryan could very well have a similar goal in mind this week. This is one of the highest game totals of the week and with the Falcons projected to score around 25 points Ryan makes for an excellent high upside play.
My favorite play of the week in all games might be the Falcons rookie RB Tevin Coleman. Coleman is a speedster who runs with great power for a back his size and ripped off 80 yards in week 1 against one of the top run defenses in the league last year. The Giants D gave up over 210 total yards to Dallas RBs in week 1 and allowed the 6th most yards rushing in 2014… oh and they’re still without their best runner stopper Jason Pierre Paul. Coleman may lose a few snaps to Devonta Freeman but he out performed Freeman so badly week 1 (4.0 ypc to 1.8 ypc) that I wouldn’t be shocked if he got the bulk of the work. He’s got humongous upside at only $4500.
At WR the Falcons targets went like this week 1:
Julio Jones put up a mammoth day in week 1 and looks poised to repeat this feat in week 2. He’ll likely draw Dominique Rodgers Cromartie in coverage who is no slouch but has struggled in the past against larger WRs. Last season Julio dropped 11 catches and 100+ yards on the Giants and that type pf line is well within reach again. Julio is the most expensive WR but should have big time upside, again… Roddy White looked very healthy and spry in week 1 and is still the clear second target for Ryan in this offense. At $5800 it’s not out of the question the Giants decide to try and take Julio out of the equation and let Roddy roam free for a big day. I’d consider him for tournament play as a low-owned contrarian pick.
QB Eli Manning threw the ball 36 times week 1 but failed to get it into the end zone and failed to crack 200 yards passing. A lot of the Giants failures on offense had to do with game flow but it was still a poor game by Eli. The Falcons D held up OK vs vaunted Philly offense but still allowed Sam Bradford to pick them apart near the end of the game. With the Giants projected for at least 27 points I am dusting myself off and getting back on the Eli train for week 2.
The Giants trio of RBs all saw time in week 1 and the snap count and red zone work broke down like this:
As predicted here, with the Giants trailing and passing all the time RB Shane Vereen is going to see the field a lot. Vereen is going to be hit or miss as Rashad Jenning (4 red zone carries week 1) will still get most of the goal line work, but in shootouts and high scoring games (like this one) Vereen could easily see more snaps and score you a big game through PPR points. With the Eagles RBs torching ATL for 14 receptions I could see Vereen having one of his big days here against the Falcons.
The biggest disappointment fantasy wise from week 1 had to be WR Odell Beckham. Beckham gets a shot at redemption quickly though and the game flow this week should be more in his favour. The Falcons have been burned in the past by elite WRs and last week was no different. Jordan Matthews caught 10 passes for over 100 yards and should have had a TD as well (thanks for not challenging Chip!). Going back to last season, Antonio Brown, Jordy Nelson and Mike Evans all had big games against them. I want nobody but Odell this week at WR from the Giants and think he is primed for a big rebound game.
Gameflow: This will probably be the shootout everyone expected the Giants would be in last week as these are two passing oriented teams with elite WRs going against suspect pass D’s. The key for ATL might be the emergence of RB Tevin Coleman who might feast on the weak Giants run D. I’m predicting a late rally by the Giants that is not enough to hold off the Falcons who get to 2-0.
Falcons 33 Giants 30
– Odell Beckham $8800
– Tevin Coleman $4500
– Matt Ryan $7400
– Julio Jones $8900
– Eli Manning $7100
– Shane Vereen $4200
– Roddy White $5800
49ers @ Steelers
Point Total: 45.5
Spread: -6 Steelers
For as well as the 49ers played week 1 they are still not the same defense they were last year. Whereas Teddy Bridgewater and the Vikings tried to play small ball all night, I foresee Big Ben airing it and challenging the 49ers secondary downfield and having success. Even though they didn’t allow any TDs the 49ers still allowed Bridgewater to complete over 70% of his passes and allowed Mike Wallace a nice 9 yards per pass caught, per Pro Football Focus. I like Ben as an under the radar pick at $7200 and expect a big game might be forthcoming.
The Steelers pass catching targets without Martavis Bryant week 1 looked like this:
WR Antonio Brown obviously had a nice start to the year and I don’t see any reason for him to be limited this week against SF. He’ll likely see second year corner Dontae Johnson who graded out poorly in PFF’s coverage ratings last season. As for the rest I want nothing to do with either Heyward-Bey or Wheaton. Both dropped potential TDs in week 1 and both looked unready to take on a bigger role and excel as the number 2 option… TE Heath Miller got a ton of targets with Bryant out. There’s limited upside after the catch with him but he also saw 4 red zone targets in week 1… I’m predicting he finds the end zone in week 2 and like him as a play at a very affordable $3500 on DraftKings.
In week 1 with Lev Bell out RB Deangelo Williams played 61 snaps, the third highest total of any RB. San Fran’s D still looked decent against the run last week as they limited Adrian Peterson to a mere 31 yards rushing. Still, even if Deangelo doesn’t get a ton of rushing yards this week my guess is that he’ll be more involved in the passing game and that should make him productive. My only worry with Deangelo is the fact he ceded goal line carries to the full back against NE. It’s a small bump in value but enough for me to only use him in tournaments and not 50/50’s or heads up games where consistency is a little more valued.
RB Carlos Hyde looked fantastic week 1 running with both speed and power to the edges. The Steelers D actually did a decent job limiting Patriot RBs in week 1 to just 70 yards on 20 carries. The problem I foresee for Hyde is that the Steelers will likely sell-out to stop him and dare Colin Kaepernick to beat them. It’s also disconcerting that the 49ers are 6 point underdogs in this game. If the 49ers get down early Hyde will likely lose a few snaps to newcomer Jarred Hayne and just generally receive less work. I expect Hyde to be highly owned off his monster game but am passing on him in week 2.
The Steelers passing defense got lit up week 1 by Tom Terrific but this week they only have to deal with QB Colin Can’t (Kaepernick) who started out his season with a below par fantasy day (165 yards on 26 attempts). Still, there’s some potential in this game for Pittsburgh to put up a bunch of points and force Kaepernick’s hand. Since the Steeler secondary is legitimately bad I am keeping Kaepernick in mind for tournament lineups as he might be forced to use his legs more in this game just to keep things close.
I am definitely considering WR Anquain Boldin this week. As mentioned the Steelers secondary looked completely unprepared week 1 and was un able to even limit large target Rob Gronkowski. Boldin tied with TE Vernon Davis for 6 targets week 1 and is a similar big body receiver who should be able to find his spots when he needs to. With the game flow leaning toward more San Fran passing, Boldin could be a sneaky play for you week 2.
Gameflow: My feeling is that the Steelers are probably going a little under the radar this week and that most people’s estimations of the 49ers are too high. I foresee a big game here for Big Ben and I like the Steelers to eventually pull away from an undermanned 49er team and coast to a big win.
Steelers 33 49ers 17
Ben Rothliesberger $7200
– Antonio Brown $8800
– Heath Miller $3500
– Anquan Boldin $5700
– DeAngelo Williams $5300
NFL GAME BREAKDOWN – PAGE 2