TUESDAY DFS NEWS NUGGETS
1. Ron Rivera names two guys other than Devin Funchess his starter
When the Panthers selected Devin Funchess in the second round of April’s draft, it was assumed he would immediately start and play in all two-wide sets. So when Kelvin Benjamin went down with an ACL tear in practice, the logical step was to assume Funchess would step into the No. 1 WR role and soak up a large share of targets along with Greg Olsen. It appears Ron Rivera has other ideas – or at least that’s what he’s telling the public.
Rivera named Ted Ginn and Corey “Philly” Brown his starters for Sunday’s opener at Jacksonville, while adding that Funchess and low-upside veteran Jerricho Cotchery are “pushing” them. Funchess certainly had productivity issues at Michigan, but Ginn has repeatedly proven to be a one-trick pony at the NFL level and Brown is coming off a brutal, drop-filled preseason. I don’t think it will take very long for Funchess to assume the role we all expected, but when will it happen? I had him projected for six targets before Rivera’s comments – I’ve scaled it back to 4.5 to be safe. There’s a good chance Funchess will still play a ton and he’s underpriced at $3800, but given the talent concerns and a now questionable role, I won’t have a lot of him. We need to keep reminding ourselves that last year’s rookie wideout class was the best in the history of the NFL and an outlier. We can’t expect the same of this year’s class.
2. Travis Kelce’s ankle is just fine
We got a scare last week when Baby Gronk aka Travis Kelce went down during practice. It turned out to be a minor ankle sprain. So minor, in fact, that the Chiefs confirmed Monday that Kelce practiced Sunday and will be a full go for the opener against the Texans. That puts him squarely in play for all game types at $4800, particularly with Anthony Fasano gone and an every-down role awaiting. Kelce played just 66.6 percent of the snaps last season and saw only 5.4 targets per game, but still produced 67-862-5. Expect something closer to seven targets per game this year.
3. Christine Michael just insurance for now
The fantasy community wants Christine Michael to happen. Going to a wide-open depth chart like Dallas’ was certainly Step 1. But it’s not going to happen overnight, especially given Michael’s well-documented lack of consistency and inability to climb the depth chart in Seattle. We know for certain Michael’s presence won’t affect projections this week as VP Stephen Jones called C-Mike a “long shot” to play against the Giants. Expect Joseph Randle to lead a committee attack that will also feature Darren McFadden and a little bit of passing back Lance Dunbar. At $5900, Randle will likely be underowned relative to the chance he has – home with the league’s best offensive line against one of the league’s worst defenses in a game the Cowboys are expected to control. I like Randle more in DraftKings GPPs than in any season-long format.
4. Blake Bortles talks up Allen Robinson
The Jaguars (over)paid Julius Thomas to the tune of $46M in free agency to be a target monster in their offense. That was especially going to be true in the red zone, where Julius dominated as a Bronco. Well, Thomas will not play against the Panther Sunday due to a finger injury. Here’s what Blake Bortles had to say about Allen Robinson this week, via the Florida Times Union:
“Allen is going to be huge for us, but especially with Julius out. He’s going to have to pick up some slack in the red zone. Obviously, he’ll get more targets.”
Robinson was on pace 130 targets last year when he went down in Week 10. Projecting him for a gaudy nine targets against a banged-up Panther secondary Sunday is not going overboard. If Bortles can find any success, Robinson will pay off his $5400 salary.