I’m not sure why it surprises me every year, but the crazy amount of post-Week 1 overreaction is incredible. In the land of DFS it’s not quite as bad as it is in season-long leagues, but that’s part of why we’re here. Not reacting emotionally to what we just saw in Week 1 will set you up to exploit some salaries in Week 2. Recency bias is very real, and if you leverage it correctly you’ll be in position to cash each week.
Part of the early season struggle lies in understanding what data to apply to the analysis. How relevant is defensive data from last season? How safe do you feel trusting a player’s efficiency from one year to the next? I think there’s some gray in questions like that, and I’m going to help you weave your way through it. Once we get to Week 4 or 5, we’ll be able to use more relevant information based on what has actually happened rather than relying on a mix of what happened last season and what we expected to happen this season. Make sense?
Thanks to amazing sites like Pro Football Focus, Football Outsiders, and 4for4, there has been a tremendous wave of actionable analytics in football over the past few seasons. I’ll be introducing you to some of those stats this season, and I hope you find them helpful to your lineup building process. I’ll also be referencing the Expert Consensus Rankings from FantasyPros in order to understand how players are viewed each week, and then related it to their price here on DraftKings.
If you’re new to the daily fantasy community, welcome, you’re in for a whole lot of fun. If you have questions, please find me on Twitter, @RyNoonan.
Cream of the Crop
Matt Forte, Chicago Bears (vs. Arizona Cardinals) -$7,700
There likely won’t be many weeks this season where Matt Forte falls outside of this top tier. If he doesn’t against the Cardinals and their stout run defense, then I can’t see another spot where he’d be a bad play. I don’t expect Forte to have a ton of room to operate against the Cardinals, who limited the Saints to just 54 yards on 20 carries in Week 1, but it’s worth noting that Mark Ingram caught eight balls for 98 yards in that contest. I mentioned last week that a ton of Forte’s value is tied to his league-high average snap total (60 last season, next highest was 48), and that’s still in play. In Week 1 we saw new offensive coordinator Adam Gase pushing the tempo more then we saw under former coach Marc Trestman, and that only helps Forte’s fantasy outlook moving forward. He’s the least game script dependent back in the game (not named Le’veon).
Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks (@ Green Bay Packers) -$7,200
I was pleasantly surprised to see Marshawn Lynch’s productive stat line against the Rams on Sunday, especially pleased to see his five receptions. If he continues to be the every-down back that he’s been the past few seasons then I’m too low on him again. Perhaps it’s just coach speak, but Pete Carroll has really talked up Fred Jackson and his usage on passing downs, and it spooked me last week. On the road against the Rams made it easy, but the Packers front is unlikely to offer the same type of resistance. Matt Forte was able to keep the Bears in the game until the 4th quarter in Week 1, and I expect the Seahawks to lean on their ground game in Lambeau to help neutralize Aaron Rodgers and company. Lynch tore them up for 157 yards on 25 carries in the NFC title game, and the Packers haven’t done enough to expect drastically different results than last season’s 24th-ranked run DVOA.
Justin Forsett, Baltimore Ravens (@ Oakland Raiders) -$6,200
Here’s your first opportunity to act on the general public’s recency bias. Justin Forsett was a bit of a Week 1 disappointment, running for just 43 yards on 14 carries and pulling in four of his seven targets in the passing game. Here’s the deal; Denver’s defense is legit. It’s deep and athletic in the front seven and they had a bit of help with the Ravens lost LT Eugene Monroe early in the first quarter to a concussion. The Raiders aren’t likely to be as difficult to move the ball on. Cincinnati lit them up in Week 1, including 4.1 yards per carry and a slew of running back receptions to boot. The Raiders added some talent on the defensive side of the ball this offseason, but on Sunday they resembled the unit that ranked 25th in aFPA (schedule-adjusted fantasy points per game) to running backs last season. An early look at Fantasy Pros Week 2 running back rankings shows Forsett as the #3 running back yet his salary isn’t among the top-10 at his position.
Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals (vs. San Diego Chargers) -$7,400
The Raiders have a tendency to make everyone that they play look good, but Jeremy Hill doesn’t need much help. He’s clearly the lead back in Cincinnati’s offense which boasts an improved offensive line and more balance with A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert finally healthy. It only sets Hill up for more red-zone touches as the season wears on. Hill’s matchup with the Chargers is fairly neutral, both in terms of run DVOA (defensive-adjusted value over average) and aFPA, and we saw the Lions get 4.3 yards per carry against them in Week 1. As a 3.5-point favorite here at home, the game script lines up favorably for Jeremy Hill in this one.
Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers (@ Pittsburgh Steelers) -$5,100
Oh, you like Carlos Hyde this week?! Cool.
So will everyone else.
Since pricing for Week 2 came out prior to Hyde’s Monday Night Football coming-out-party, there’s a ton of value at this $5,100 price point. Hyde had 26 carries in Week 1, a result of a positive game script and aided by the loss of Reggie Bush early in the first quarter. Without knowing Bush’s status yet, I like Hyde’s chances at being a volume monster again even though his 49ers are 5-point underdogs on the road. He has the chops to compete on passing downs, and a lack of positional depth only helps his cause. I’d worry about being too overweight with Hyde shares in tournaments, but he’s a strong cash game play despite the game script concerns.
Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints (vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers) -$5,900
The Saints opened as 10-point favorites this week at home against the Buccaneers. That alone sets up Mark Ingram to return value at his sub-$6K price. He didn’t have a ton of room to run against the Cardinals on Sunday, but the Bucs are not the Cardinals. They were among the bottom third in both run DVOA and aFPA to running backs last season, and they did little at home against the Titans to change my opinion of them. He’s still likely to shoulder the load with C.J. Spiller’s status unknown, and shouldn’t struggle to return value this week.
Middle of the Pack
Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings (vs. Detroit Lions) -$7,700
This may be the lowest ownership week that we see from Adrian Peterson this season. He never really got going against the 49ers on Monday night, and the game script got away from Minnesota a bit as well. Now Detroit and their stifling run defense come to town. The Lions were the league’s top team in run DVOA last season and while they’ve had some personal changes up-front, they’re still a stout unit. They held the Chargers to 3.2 yard per carry in Week 1 but have their hands full with Adrian Peterson this week. Vegas has installed Minnesota as a 3-point favorite at home, and if they’re to win they’ll need to lean on AP in this one.
Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins (@ Jacksonville Jaguars) -$5,500
A few things went poorly for Lamar Miller in Week 1. First, Washington jumped out early on them which forced Miami to go pass-heavy, something they appeared inclined to do any way. Washington has a lot of issues but stopping the run is not one of them, something I failed to fully account for last week. I thought the Vegas line was soft (it was) so I anticipated positive game flow for Lamar Miller and that wasn’t the case in the first half. The Dolphins are on the road again in Week 2, but the opposition isn’t quite as strong. Jacksonville’s defense in on the rise, but the improvements are more on the pass rush and defensive backfield side of the equation. I’m not sold on them as a run-stuffing unit quite yet. Vegas has installed the Dolphins as 6-point favorites here, and Miller should benefit.
Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs (vs. Denver Broncos) -$7,600
I mentioned in my Justin Forsett blurb above that Denver’s D is legit. Like, legit-legit. They ranked in the top-3 in overall DVOA last season, finishing in the top-5 in both run and pass DVOA, and a repeat performance is likely this season. In his two appearances against the Broncos last season, Jamaal Charles had a combined total of 18.1 DraftKings points, something that’s difficult to justify at $7,600. His big-play ability makes him a tournament option every week, but there are better ways to allocate funds in Week 2.
Danny Woodhead, San Diego Chargers (@ Cincinnati Bengals) -$4,000
Fantasy football value is all about opportunity. We can argue all day about how the Chargers want their running back hierarchy to line up since they traded up to nab Melvin ‘Dancing Shoes’ Gordon in the first round, but the reality is the Chargers trust Danny Woodhead and use him when and where it matters. He had 6 carries and 3 targets inside the 10 yard line last week and it’s clear that the Chargers are more comfortable with Woodhead on the field in those situations. Over time I believe that Melvin Gordon will figure it out, but this is clearly a time-share right now and I want in on the Danny Woodhead side. If this game gets turned on its head, that’ll only help ole’ Danny boy. The Chargers are 3.5-point dogs on the road in Cincinnati, a line that feels a bit soft in my opinion. Danny Woodhead is the 14th best running back in Week 2 according to the expert’s at Fantasy Pros, yet there are 42 running backs that’ll cost more than his $4,000 salary this week.
Tevin Coleman, Atlanta Falcons (@ New York Giants) -$4,500
Tevin Coleman took advantage of his opportunity in Week 1. With teammate Davonta Freeman dealing with a nagging hamstring injury, Coleman rattled off 80 yards on 20 carries against the Eagles on Monday night. Freeman played and run for just 18 yards on 10 carries. I believe that Coleman is the superior talent here and if he continues to get anything near a 2:1 split in touches he’ll be a value under $5K. The Giants defense is full of question marks, and the unit ranked 27th in run DVOA last season.
Ameer Abdullah, Detroit Lions (@ Minnesota Vikings) -$4,500
Without a doubt, Ameer Adbullah passed his first real NFL test with flying colors. It’s crystal clear who the top back in Detroit is, but the question remains, how quickly will it take for the Lions to notice? Now, I don’t want to pretend that I know more than the Lions front office and coaching staff, that’d be ridiculous, but I’m curious to see if Abdullah will continue to get the ‘lion share’ of snaps. Detroit had an exceptionally low number of plays last week, impacting the fantasy output for all of their players, but A.A. out-snapped Joique Bell 21 to 17 and had 11 touches to Bell’s 8. Adbullah’s touchdown run was a thing of beauty and he faces a Vikings team that ranked 25th in run DVOA last season and were gashed on MNF by Carlos Hyde. I’m a bit reluctant to move him up where I think he belongs because I still expect Bell to be in the way.
DeMarco Murray, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. Dallas Cowboys) -$7,000
It’s difficult to pay $7,000 for DeMarco Murray based on what we saw from Philadelphia on Monday night. Chip Kelly appears to be very comfortable relegating the defending rushing champ to part-time duties, limiting Murray to just 45.9% of the Eagles snaps against the Falcons. Murray was able to salvage the evening by finding the end zone, but overall it was a disappointing night for Murray owners. The public will likely play up the ‘Narrative Street’ angle pretty hard here, leveraging the revenge factor against his former team, and I’m willing to buy in to that on a very small level. The problem is that I think he’ll be a tad over-owned due to this, taking away any upside that comes from playing him. He has the talent to be playing 70% of the snaps here, but until he does $7,000 is too much coin.
Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers (vs. Seattle Seahawks) -$7,200
There’s no way around it, Seattle’s run defense is still the real deal. They were second in the league in run DVOA last season, and basically shut Eddie Lacy down in both matchups last season. He fared a bit better in the playoff game (21 carries, 73 yards, 0 catches or TD’s) than he did in their 2014 Week 1 matchup (15 touches, 43 yards, 0 TD’s), but I feel like the playoff game performance is his ceiling this week. He could fall in from the 1 yard line I suppose, but predicting a touchdown here feels like the wrong move. I much prefer his counterpart, Marshawn Lynch, for the same price.
Chris Ivory, New York Jets (@ Indianapolis Colts) -$4,700
There are a number of things working against Chris Ivory here this week. First is the anticipated game script. The Jets opened as 7-point dogs on the road against Andrew Luck and the Colts, and playing from behind is not something that bodes well for Ivory. Second, the preseason noise around Ivory’s passing game contributions appear to be just that, noise. Bilal Powell saw a healthy amount of snaps on passing downs, limiting Ivory’s upside if he’s truly just a two-down back. Lastly, the fact that Ivory exceeded expectations last week at just $4,100 and was quite popular in doing so will bring a lot of people back to the well, making him an easy fade in tournaments. I’ll have a bit of exposure because the way to beat the Colts is to pound it down their throats until they complain about air pressure in the footballs, etc., and if the Jets are going to stay in this one they’ll need to control the tempo and keep Andrew Luck on the sideline.
Frank Gore, Indianapolis Colts (vs. New York Jets) -$4,800
Things will get easier for Frank Gore, eventually. He opened on the road against the Bills and now faces the Jets at home in Week 2. These two AFC East clubs were tied for allowing the second fewest schedule-adjusted fantasy points per game to running backs last season and have shown no indications that they’ll take a giant step backwards moving forward. The Jets have a few more question marks up front than Buffalo does, but they’re still a strong unit. Game flow will be in Gore’s favor though, as Indy opened as a 7-point favorite here, and the loss of T.Y. Hilton for the next few games might help Gore’s usage as well. His price is appealing, but he’ll need to find the end zone because a 20-carry 100-yard game feels unlikely.
Rest of the Field
LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills (vs. New England Patriots) -$6,600
We know that Buffalo wants to run the ball this season, and they will, with success. I’m just not sold on the fact that LeSean McCoy will spearhead that attack. If healthy, there’s no doubt that McCoy is the best back in Buffalo but I’m worried about his toe and hamstring issues that seem to be carrying over from last season. He saw the ball 17 times but managed just 2.4 yards per carry against a Colts team that tried to put Jonas Gray in Canton last season. The Bills did score two rushing touchdowns against the Colts, but neither came from Shady. The Patriots struggled to stop the run after losing DT Dominique Easley early in the first quarter in Week 1 so they’re ripe for the picking while he’s out, but I’m not confident in McCoy’s ability to return value at $6,600. I’m also not confident in the fact that he’s not a bit creepy.
DeAngelo Williams, Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. San Francisco 49ers) -$5,300
DeAngelo Williams brought us all back to 2009 last week, gashing the Patriots time and time again and looking like a top-5 fantasy back like the good ole’ days. I could be selling him short this week, but this spot in the ranking doesn’t mean I don’t think he’s a viable option. Projected game script appears favorable, as the Steelers opened up as 5-point favorites against 49ers, and Williams has one more week to rule the backfield snaps for Pittsburgh. I don’t know what to make of the 49ers defense quite yet. Things went well for them on Monday night and they held Adrian Peterson in check, but I’ll need to see it a few more times before I’m confident calling this Patrick Willis-and-Justin Smith-less ‘9ers unit a top run defense in 2015.
C.J. Anderson, Denver Broncos (@ Kansas City Chiefs) -$6,700
I don’t want to overreact to a poor Week 1 showing, especially since I opened with how ridiculous I think it is when people freak out after one game, but you can’t be thrilled right now if you’re a Broncos fan. Yes the defense is outstanding and there’s little reason to doubt that they’ll be back in the playoffs, but…..Your QB has given you little to be confident about over the past 6-7 games and your lead back had a less-than-stellar preseason that’s rolled right in to the regular season. Anderson was facing a solid opponent in the Ravens, but he sprained his toe in the process and his status is unknown heading into Thursday night’s contest in Kansas City. A Sunday evening-Thursday night turnaround is tricky, and with Anderson not practicing on Tuesday it’s hard to feel great about him this week.
Chris Johnson, Arizona Cardinals (@ Chicago Bears) -$3,800
Is this real life? I’m writing up Chris Johnson as a viable option this week? Oh boy… Well let’s back up and see how we got here. The Cardinals lost Andre Ellington to a knee injury last week and he’s likely sidelined for the next 2-3 weeks. After Ellington went down, Chris Johnson was the only Cardinals back to receive a carry. Now they do have rookie David Johnson on the roster, and he showed his potential by taking a screen to the house in the fourth quarter, but Bruce Arians has made it clear that CJnomoreK is his lead back while Ellington is out. I expect we’ll see more and more David Johnson as the week’s progress, but it’s safe to assume Chris out-snaps and out-touches David by a solid margin against the Bears this weekend.
*This week we have Dion Lewis, Lance Dunbar and Darren Sproles as viable RB2/Flex options. Guys like this are always appealing punt plays in tournaments. If the game script doesn’t go as planned, they go from 3-5 touches to upwards of 10, and they’ll cost you near-minimum salary.Continue Reading This Week’s Rankings SeriesNFL Quarterback Rankings: Week 2
NFL Wide Receiver Rankings – Week 2
NFL Tight End Rankings – Week 2
NFL Defense Rankings – Week 2