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.
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PAGE 3: STL @ WAS, MIA @ JAX, DAL @ PHI, SEA @ GB, NYJ @ IND
Rams @ Redskins
Point Total: 41
QB Nick Foles is coming off of a great week 1 where he threw for 297 against one of the best passing defenses in the league. This week he gets to play one of the worst. The Redskins may have done well limiting Ryan Tannehill week 1 but they still allowed the most fantasy points to QBs in 2014 and the 7th most passing yards overall. The thing I love most about Foles this week, his price. At only $5500 he offers you a severe discount and one that will allow you to roster a lot of big time players. I love Foles as a play in all formats this week.
Here was the target breakdown for the Rams receivers in week 1:
WR Tavon Austin scored twice last week and looks to be a serious part of the Rams offensive plans this year, he not only had 5 targets week 1 but also had 4 carries, one of which he scored on. Since Austin returned a punt for a TD he ended up being a great correlation play when paired with the Rams defense. Given the weakness of the Redskins offense, there’s no reason this play can’t work again this week and it’s definitely one to consider making in tournaments… As for the other options, I like the idea of taking a shot on WR Kenny Britt. As evidenced last week, Foles is a great downfield passer and with the Skins weaker corners Britt could see more targets and burn them deep for a big play or two, I like him at $4100 for tournaments… You also have to give consideration to TE Jared Cook again. Cook was very productive for his under 3k price tag in week one and gets a better matchup at a similar price ($3000) this week.
At RB Benny Cunningham showed he could produce when given a full workload, but news out of St. Louis is that Tre Mason is now almost ready, and star rookie Todd Gurley is also getting close. As of writing this, it looks like Mason will be ready to play meaning he’ll probably split work with Cunningham in this game. The Redskins limited speedy Lamar Miller to just 51 yards and one catch week 1 and I’m not fond of the timeshare brewing here in St. Louis, I’m passing on both unless news comes out saying one is getting all the carries.
As for Washington, QB Kirk Cousins again did his best Jay Cutler imitation throwing for under 200 yards and two INTs in week 1. The sad part about this is that it gets worse for Cousins. The Rams defense is absolutely terrifying up front and will put Cousins under pressure all day long. The Skins will likely counter by going run heavy, but since the Rams limited Marshawn Lynch to 73 yards I don’t really like RB Alfred Morris’ chances for a big day either. Morris ran well week 1 but again showed his fantasy limitations as he caught zero passes and failed to find the end zone. RB’s with no passing skills on bad teams are generally not good for fantasy. Passing on Cousins and Kirk is an easy choice for me this week.
The one position you could consider on Washington is at receiver. WR Desean Jackson is out for week 2 and both TE Jordan Reed and WR Pierre Garcon will benefit. Reed is finally healthy and showed off how good he can week 1 by producing 19.3 fantasy points on 11 targets. I don’t love the matchup against the Rams, who limited Jimmy Graham for most part week 1, but with Washington a more than 3 point dog he could again be in for a lot of catches… The player I really like this week for the Redskins though is WR Garcon. The weakest position on defense for the Rams is likely at corner and Garcon is one of the toughest, most physical receivers in the league. I could see him being the only option that works for the Skins in this game and beasting as a result.
Gameflow: As I mentioned at the start I don’t hold out much hope for Washington in this game. Nick Foles is the superior QB and the Rams defense is all kinds of nasty. There could be a let down from the Rams after a huge week 1 but I don’t think so. Look for St. Louis to jump on Washington early, cause Kirk Cousins all kind of problems, and coast to a safe win.
Rams 24 Redskins 7
– Nick Foles $5500
– Jared Cook $3000
– Rams D $3100
– Pierre Garcon $5000
– Kenny Britt $4100
– Tavon Austin (use with Rams D) $3500
Ravens @ Raiders
Point Total: 43
The Raiders got absolutely killed week 1 against the Bengals. Part of the issue was that QB Derek Carr got hurt early in the game and couldn’t finish. Carr now looks to be 100% healthy and should start week 2 but will have a tough matchup against a Ravens defense who sacked Peyton Manning 4 times and held the Broncos to just 17 points (7 of them from their defense). I want zero Derek Carr for fantasy, there’s simply not enough upside with him—one 300 yard game in 17 starts—and even with the loss of Terrell Suggs, and he’s going to be facing an angry Ravens defense.
You have to love the fact that even though the Raiders were down all game RB Latavius Murray was on the field for 37 of 48 offensive snaps and caught 7 passes. This is great news for his fantasy value as he is essentially the lone wolf in this offense at RB and won’t be sharing many touches. With Suggs out I’ll entertain using Murray again this week in tournament play. The game flow really ruined his chances to get a big game going in week 1 but the humiliation of getting beaten so badly might fire up the Raiders O-line to do more for him in week 2.
Here is Oakland’s receiving targets from week 1:
Considering the fact that both Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas racked up 15 catches between them in week 1 vs the Ravens, it makes sense that Cooper could have a big PPR day too in week 2. Cooper will likely be getting Jimmy Smith in coverage however—Pro Football Focus’ 7th best coverage man in 2014—and so he might have a tough time breaking free for any big gains. I’d definitely consider the rookie but keep him to tournament play only.
As for the Ravens QB Joe Flacco had possibly his worst game as a pro in week 1 but gets a middling Oakland pass D who got zero sacks in week 1 and allowed Andy Dalton to pick them apart. Flacco’s O-line had problems of their own week 1 but the matchup week 2 is so much better I would not be shocked to see Flacco semi-“go off” and throw for a few TDs. At $6400 he’s cheap enough to consider and will be very low owned.
The position most people will target on the Ravens in week 2 will be the RB. Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard combined for 27 carries and 126 and 2 TDs week 1 and many will figure RB Justin Forsett might be in for a big day in this game. I can’t find fault with that argument, even if Forsett isn’t the biggest or most powerful runner he’s still going to get a lot of work and be involved in the pass game against a bad run defense. One thing to look for with Forsett is if backup Lorenzo Taliaferro is active, he might eat into Forsett’s work a bit. As of writing this it did look like Taliaferro was healthy and so even though it’s a great matchup I am downgrading Forsett a tad in my rankings.
At WR for the Ravens I do think that Steve Smith should be in for a bounce back week. He was shut down by Aquib Talib week 1 but will get a more exploitable Raiders secondary week 2. Smith continues to be the only real viable threat on the Ravens with Breshad Perriman out and I expect Flacco to go to Smith early and often in this game to try and get both him and the offense fired up.
Gameflow: On paper the Ravens should win this game going away but honestly something strikes me as not quite right about the Ravens. Their defense looks fine but the offense has been up and down since the start of preseason and they severely lack any real playmakers. Add in a miffed Raiders team at home and no Terrell Suggs and I think you have an upset special brewing.
Raiders 23 Ravens 20
– Steve Smith $6000
– Justin Forsett $6200
– Amari Cooper $6400
– Latavius Murray $5800
– Joe Flacco $6400
Dolphins @ Jaguars
Dolphins @ Jaguars
Point Total: 41.5
Instead of shredding a weak Redskins secondary week 1 Dolphin QB Ryan Tannehill missed open receivers, threw multiple balls that should have been picked off and just generally wasted opportunities. Dating back three years Tannehill has only thrown for 3 TDs or more 5 times (over 48 games) and is getting to be a very hard QB to figure out for fantasy. This week he gets another softer matchup against the Jaguars and one he should take advantage of. I can’t recommend him with full conviction however after last weekend and would only consider him as a tournament option.
I do like the way RB Lamar Miller ran last week (4.1 ypc) against a tough run D and think he could be in for a big week 2. Miller had limited opportunities to touch the ball week 1 but was on the field for 46 of 59 offensive snaps and should see more work in this game as Miami is favoured by almost a touchdown. Miller didn’t see many passes in week 1 but those are likely coming too. If the Dolphins get up expect them to utilize Miller more in every facet to help kill clock and minimize risk. At $5500 he’s got multiple TD upside.
The Dolphins receiver targets panned out like this week 1:
Landry is the clear number one option in this offense and might be one of the best bets in the NFL for 5+ catches every game going forward. He was a one man wrecking crew week 1 taking a punt return to the house and racking up 8 catches on 12 targets. He’ll likely be covered by CB Aaron Colvin in this game who is unlikely to slow him down at all. I expect Jarvis to push for 7-10 catches once again and be a decent value play at $5900… The other receiving option you really have to love on Miami is TE Jordan Cameron. Cameron looked terrific against the Skins and just missed a TD of his own. I think Cameron might actually have more upside against the Jags as the Dolphins should be in Jags territory a lot in this game and he did tie Landry for 3 red zone targets week 1—most on the team. At $4000 he’s priced well under many top TE’s and is great value.
There’s not a whole lot to like about Jacksonville offensively. Blake Bortles got people’s hopes up in preseason but was a huge flop week 1, throwing 2 ugly INTs and failing to crack 200 yards passing. In 17 games as a starter Bortles has now failed to crack 300 yards passing in 16 of them and thrown for under 200 yards in 7 of them. Miami’s D is legit, and lots of sacks should be on their way soon as DE Cameron Wake starts to benefit from Ndamukong Suh’s presence on defense. I see no upside with Bortles in this matchup and will be rostering the Miami D a lot week 2.
At WR Allen Robinson bruised his knee in week 1 but looks like he’ll be ready for week 2. Robinson caught one pass on 6 targets and was essentially a victim of Bortles’ inaccuracy and inability to throw downfield with any conviction. To make matters worse, Robinson will have crafty CB Brent Grimes covering him in this game. The Jacksonville WRs are simply not worth the fret and do not have a ton of upside for fantasy, look elsewhere.
At RB TY Yeldon started for the Jags in week 1 but failed to do much. Yeldon averaged 4.4 ypc but lacks the explosiveness he needs to beat a solid defense like the Fins. It’s also a huge blow to his value that the Jaguars are likely to be down in this game (6 point underdogs) and so his usage will likely suffer at some point… As mentioned last week in this column, you could make a wild stab at RB Denard Robinson who remains priced at the min ($3000) on DraftKings. He’s the better pass catching back and could break off some long runs if given the space.
Gameflow: It’s possible the Jags manage to keep this game close for a while. The Dolphins can sometimes play down to the level of their competition but eventually they should pull away. The Jags are simply abysmal on offense and with their best WR hurting it will likely get even more painful for Jags fans this Sunday. I see Miami ultimately winning easily.
Dolphins 28 Jags 10
– Lamar Miller $5500
– Jordan Cameron $4000
– Dolphins Defense $3300
– Ryan Tannehill $7000
– Jarvis Landry $5900
Cowboys @ Eagles
Point Total: 55
Tony Romo looked amazing in his week 1 comeback against the Giants. This week however he’ll be on the road against a miffed off Eagles team and also without his number 1 WR. The Eagles may have allowed Julio Jones to go semi bonkers but they also did a great job of pressuring Matt Ryan all game and forcing him into a couple turnovers. Last year in two games against the Eagles with Dez Romo only threw 3 TDs while also turning it over twice. I’m fine leaving Romo out of my week 2 plans.
With Bryant out expect extra targets to flow to all those who remain standing, including Jason Witten, Cole Beasley, Devin Street, Terrence Williams and possibly even newcomer Brice Butler (who the Cowboys acquired early this week). With Butler unlikely to make a huge impact week 1 news out of Dallas is that second year WR Devin Street will get the start in 2 WRs sets. Even though Terrence Williams is only $4200 and likely to be the more popular fantasy play, he had weak outings against the Eagles in 2014 and isn’t someone I see thriving as a #1 WR. I’d recommend instead taking a shot with Street in tournaments. At $3300 Street is almost free and will see the field a lot in this game… I’d also guess that TE Jason Witten has another big day. In week 14 last season Witten had a big game vs the Eagles and with Dez out Romo will likely go to the veteran as much as possible. He might see the biggest increase in targets of all the receivers I mentioned and should be safe play at TE week 2.
At RB here’s how the snap totals and production shook out for the Cowboys week 1:
It’s interesting to note how extensively Dunbar was used week 1, especially with the Cowboys projected to trail in this game. Dunbar is only $3000 on DraftKings this week and might again lead the Cowboys in snaps and see extra targets with Dez out. He’s definitely worth a shot in tournaments as his price is the min but his upside in a high scoring game is pretty decent. As for the other two, don’t forget that Christine Michael might be active this week, if he is I am fine simply avoiding the situation altogether. The Eagles are still a very good rushing defense and I don’t see a ton of upside in this group for week 2.
The Eagles threw the ball 52 times in week one. QB Sam Bradford looked better as the game wore on and I expect that confidence to flow into game 2. While I also expect the Eagles to run the ball more week 2 don’t be shocked if Bradford is a little more efficient with a game under his belt in this new offense and ends up with a big game.
At WR for the Eagles Jordan Matthews dominated the targets with 12 and also saw the field on 85% of all offensive snaps, huge for a team that likes to rotate personnel a lot. Even though the Cowboys did a good job shutting down Odell Beckham week 1 the Eagles do such a good job spreading the ball around and move at such a quick pace, shadowing Matthews will be nearly impossible for teams this year. With Matthews still priced under other elite wide outs, he’s a great fantasy option this week yet again.
The three headed RB monster from Philly shook out like this week 1:
As much as you have to love the production from Sproles in game one, with the Eagles projected to be ahead in this game and with DeMarco Murray facing his old team (narrative street alert!) you have to really love using Murray in this spot for fantasy. Even though the snap count totals from week 1 scare me, the Eagles still love to run the ball and run a ton of offensive plays each week. I think Murray is worth his $7000 salary this week and a big game could be ahead.
Gameflow: I think the most likely scenario is that we see an Eagles romp in this game. The Falcons played extremely well in week 1 and were still lucky to come away with the win, while Dallas played poorly and barely squeaked by the Giants. I don’t see the Cowboys defense as being able to do much to stop the Eagles and without Dez Bryant points might be hard to come by for them. I am predicting a good old fashion stomping as both teams go to 1-1.
Eagles: 35 Cowboys: 14
– Demarco Murray $7000
– Sam Bradford $6900
– Jordan Matthews $7100
– Jason Witten $4300
– Devin Street $3000
Seahawks v Packers
Point Total: 49
In two games last year vs the Packers QB Russell Wilson wasn’t extremely productive throwing for just 3 TDs and 4 INTs. I think Wilson does make for an interesting play in this game as the Seahawks should be desperate to avoid dropping to 0-2. With the point total high and the Hawks projected to be behind at some point, I could see Wilson taking the game into his hands at some point and having a monster day rushing and passing. I like him for fantasy this week as his upside at QB is second to none.
AT RB here is Marshawn Lynch’s previous three game totals vs the Packers:
The Packers got lit up by Matt Forte on the ground week 1 and I expect Beast Mode to have a lot more success this week than he did last against the tough Rams front. Lynch will also be on the field regardless of the score and so his value in fantasy is almost unparalleled when he has a soft matchup. He’s my number one RB this week and think he’ll have a monster day.
At WR for the Seahawks you have to love the emergence of Tyler Lockett. Lockett not only returned a kick for a TD in week 1 but also played on 70% of all the offensive snaps which is massive for his fantasy value going forward. While you have to remember that Doug Baldwin is the de facto number 1 WR Lockett’s time is coming and it could be this week. I expect him to see more work and possibly be a huge value play at only $3400 on DraftKings, he could be the key to a massive score for someone this week… Don’t forget about TE Jimmy Graham in this contest either. Graham had a semi-slow week 1 against a tough D but now gets the Packers who struggled keeping Martellus Bennett out of the end zone in week 1. Jimmy saw 8 throws from Wilson in week 1, including 4 red zone targets, the most of any one on the Hawks. He’s a definite threat to have a monster game here in week 2 and will also benefit from any game flow that has the Seahawks behind and passing at some point.
Aaron Rodgers had a very efficient week 1 and now gets a Seahawks team who is still without Kam Chancellor and just allowed Nick Foles to throw for 297 yards against them. Rodgers has struggled against the Hawks in the past failing to crack 200 yards passing them in their last two meetings. I have a feeling we may see a different story this week however. The Packers now get the Hawks at home, who are semi-reeling, and with a huge score to settle after choking away last year’s conference final. I am recommending you take a shot or two with Rodgers in tournaments on DraftKings this week as the revenge factor is huge and “Angry Aaron” can light up any team.
At WR here’s how the targets shaped up week 1 for Green Bay:
All the Davante Adams owners were likely peeved last week when James Jones came in and stole his thunder. The truth is though, out of this group I actually like Adams the most for a big game in this contest. While Cobb is still nursing a bum shoulder and is set to face off against shut down man Richard Sherman, Adams is likely to see lots of DeShawn Shead, a player who is getting more time thanks to Kam Chancellor’s absence. A lot of people might chase the points with Jones from last week but I actually think the right move is to be contrarian and hope the talented Adams comes through at an affordable $4900 in a good matchup.
For the Packers, RB Eddie Lacy played on 77% of all snaps week 1 and is the undisputed workhorse. Still, he has a tough matchup in this game. The Seahawks allowed the second fewest points to the RB position for fantasy in 2014 and Lacy himself averaged under 3.3 yards per carry in two games vs them last year. At $7100 Lacy is simply too expensive for my tastes in a bad matchup this week.
Gameflow: I think this will be more of a high scoring affair than in years past between these two teams. In one corner you have a desperate Seahawks squad who would hate to fall to 0-2 and in the other a pissed-off Green Bay team who has been dreaming of revenge for over 6 months. I think Packers jump out early and force the Hawks to play catch up. I am predicting a shootout with the Packers getting in the final shot.
Packers 35 Seahawks 31
– Russel Wilson $7300
– Marshawn Lynch $7200
– Jimmy Graham $5800
– Tyler Lockett $3400
– Aaron Rodgers $8300
– Davante Adams $4900
Jets @ Colts
Point Total: 47
The point total in this game is rather high as the Jets are actually full TD underdogs meaning there’s a good chance Jets QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has to sling it 40 times just to keep up. I really like the way the game flow is pointing for Fitzpatrick’s fantasy use and the fact he’s only $5500 on DraftKings. The Colts let Tyrod Taylor have a decent game against them last week and so there’s some hope Fitz-magic can do the same. I’ll have some exposure to him in my lineups this week.
The Jets WR targets broke down like this week 1:
Brandon Marshall led the Jets in targets week 1 but is now slated to go up against vaunted Colts CB Vontae Davis—the second best corner in coverage according to Pro Football Focus in 2014—which should unfortunately limit his upside. As much as I want to fully recommend Marshall there’s a chance he gets shut down by Davis and hence I’d suggest keeping him to tournament play only this week… I might also recommend venturing a gamble on WR Eric Decker. If Marshall gets taken away by Davis, Fitzpatrick will likely have enough smarts to start looking Decker’s way and possibly push him to big numbers in fantasy. At $5100 he’s not super cheap but has big game upside you want for tournaments.
As much as you have to love RB Chris Ivory’s start to the year, and the matchup against the Colts, the fact the Jets are projected to be down a lot in this game might seriously limit his upside. Bilal Powell didn’t take much work away from Ivory in game 1, but he did have 4 passing targets and would get more work if the Jets needed to start passing more. I’m avoiding all Jets RBs for week 2 as the upside isn’t very high in this matchup.
As for the Colts they are coming off an ugly loss to the Bills week 1 and may be without leading WR TY Hilton for week 2. Excluding Hilton, here’s how the week 1 targets were distributed for the Colts:
Even though Moncrief and Johnson received 10+ targets they both did little with the attention. Moncrief had an extremely poor completion rate catching just 6 of his intended 11 targets, while both men also had poor yards after the catch numbers (well under 3 ypr) according to Pro Football Focus. I expect Darrelle Revis to possibly shadow Moncrief ($4600) if he starts and so I am not recommending him or Andre Johnson ($5800) who really looked uninterested in week 1 and comes with a high price tag. The WR I might focus on in this game is rookie Phillip Dorsett. Dorsett has 4.33 speed and is quite frankly the most talented Colts WR after TY Hilton. It was interesting to note that after Hilton left the game Dorsett received two quick targets from Luck and converted them both for catches. While it looks like Moncrief will start, Dorsett will still see the field a lot in week 2 as the Colts run a ton of three WR packages. I love the big play ability and cheap price tag of $3300 you get with Dorsett… I’d also advocate rostering Dwayne Allen this week. Allen once again outscored Coby Fleener in week 1 against a tough Bills front. The Jets were awful covering the TE in 2014 and Allen could be in for a big game week 2.
Even though QB Andrew Luck and RB Frank Gore had poor starts to the season you have to love both this week as fantasy options. Even with the addition of Revis, Luck will be playing the Jets at home where in 2014 he threw for over 300 yards in 6 out of 8 games. The Jets defense were also one of the worst against the QB position in 2014, allowing the fifth most points in the leagues to the position. After fading him week 1, I’ll be firing up Luck in my DraftKings line ups week 2.
As for RB Frank Gore he expectedly had a tough time running against a tough Bills front. He might not find the going much better in this contest as the Jets were a top ten team against the rush in 2014. There’s a chance Gore starts to get involved in the pass game this week and at only $4800 he’ll also still see most of the red zone work in a game the Colts are heavily favoured in. While I don’t see this as a great matchup it’s better than last week… I’ll consider Gore for tournaments.
Gameflow: Even though I think this game might be closer than people realize I do believe the Colts come out with a win. The Jet’s offense looks much better at moving the ball in 2015 and the defense still has some bite too it, especially in the secondary. Still, there’s this guy on the Colts named Andrew Luck and I think he does enough to carry a somewhat weakened Colts squad to a victory in their home opener.
Colts 26 Jets 24
– Andrew Luck $8200
– Phillip Dorsett $3300
– Dwayne Allen $3300
– Brandon Marshall $6400
– Eric Decker $5100
– Ryan Fitzpatrick $5500
– Frank Gore $4800
NFL GAME BREAKDOWN – PAGE 3