While you’re sweating out Monday Night Football, you know your mind will already be on next week’s lineups, and I don’t blame you. It’s never too early – and there could even be a lot of benefits to thinking through Week 3 issues with Week 2 still fresh in your mind. In an attempt to help you organize those early thoughts, here are a few players at every position and why I think he may or may not be worth the price next weekend. Good luck!
Tom Brady vs. JAX ($7,700) – The Patriots seem very comfortable running this offense they’ve had on display for the first two weeks, with anywhere from two-to-four tight ends on the field, Dion Lewis playing the Kevin Faulk role to perfection, and Edelman just juking d-backs out of their shoes four steps from the line of scrimmage. And by “the Partiots,” I mean Tom Brady. Tom Brady looks comfortable. He returned basically all of his pass-catchers from last year, and he finally seems to be on the same page with Amendola, who might not be a viable fantasy option himself, but definitely is helping Brady by filling a very specific role on the outside. All the pieces are in place for Tom to continue picking defenses apart week after week (to the tune of 754 yards and 7 TDs so far).
Ben Roethlisberger vs. STL ($7,200) – He is playing great football right now. You are getting every bit of the upside of the the top options for an $800 savings with this pick. The reason you’re getting the savings is that, based on prior years, you’d have to say that, week-to-week, he also has a lower floor. But he is getting very proficient running this Todd Haley offense, now in it’s fourth year in Pittsburgh, and he seems to have taken his game to a new level. Based on what we’ve seen this year, there is a chance that low floor has been raised. In a game where nothing went his way in Week 1, he still threw for 351 yards and a score. Yesterday’s 33.66 output would have been more if the Rams had made it more of a contest. And a quarterback who is almost always good for 20 points and has a chance at 40 is about as solid a fantasy option as you can hope for.
Carson Palmer vs. SF ($6,600) – Welcome to Week 3, the final week to get Carson Palmer at this price. Up $200 since last week, he then threw for four touchdowns in Week 2. He only threw the ball 24 times this week, so his yardage total wasn’t that high, but that’s why he’s not one of the most expensive options on the board – in other words, that’s baked into the price. He is playing highly efficient football in this offense, just like he was last year, and the Cardinals are moving the ball and scoring points. He is completing well over 60% of his passes, he has weapons all over the field, and remember, this is daily fantasy football we’re talking about. You don’t have to be a season-long owner, or a Cardinals fan, fainting with every hit he takes – you can just enjoy it as long as it lasts, whether that’s three weeks or 16.
Andy Dalton @ BAL ($5,700) – Baltimore’s secondary is vulnerable, as evidenced by the 351 yards and 3 TDs dropped on them by Derek Carr in Oakland’s 37-33 win on Sunday. You do still have to worry about their pass rush, but Cincy’s line has played very well through two weeks, and the team already looks like it is well on it’s way to another double-digit win season. Dalton himself is coming off of a game with 214 yards and 3 TDs on only 26 attempts in a win over San Diego. In that game, Giovani Bernard took overall for Jeremy Hill after Hill lost a pair of fumbles, and if that leads to more playing time for Bernard going forward, his dynamic pass-catching ability could also help Dalton’s numbers.
Adrian Peterson vs. SD ($7,500) – For my money, if you are picking a top-tier RB, he is the guy this week. He looked awesome yesterday, totaling 31 touches for 192 total yards, but didn’t get in the end zone. The Chargers gave up 123 yards to Giovanni Bernard yesterday, and in week 1 they allowed Ameer Abdullah to average 7.1 yards per carry and score a rushing TD. Peterson will continue to be featured in this offense, and should almost certainly total over 100 yards. The question is whether he scores zero times or four times. Either is possible.
Latavius Murray @ CLE ($5,800) – Murray is definitely trending in the right direction after yesterday’s performance. He only had 65 yards, but he did it on only 15 carries, for a respectable 4.3 yards per carry. He got in the endzone, and he caught all three of his targets (he now has ten catches on the year, a nice bonus). And, while he “only” had 15 carries, the Raiders as a team attempted just 17 rushes, so he is, for all intents and purposes, the man right now in Oakland. His number of touches should only keep creeping upwards, and next week he draws a Cleveland defense that has given up well over 100 yards rushing in each of their first two games, against the Jets and the Titans.
Giovani Bernard @ BAL ($4,700) – The thing about Gio is that he’s really good. Jeremy Hill came into the season with plenty of hype, and deservedly so after the way he performed down the stretch last year, but most running backs don’t have a back-up like this guy. After Hill lost two fumbles yesterday, Bernard came in and killed it, with 20 carries for 123 yards, to go along with three catches. And no, even though the fumbles cost Hill the rest of his day yesterday, I don’t think it landed him on the bench permanently. However, even in week 1, Giovani had 14 touches for 88 total yards. No matter what Hill does or doesn’t do to redeem himself, if his “back-up” keeps coming through with solid performances like that, you should be able to continue to expect to see at least 15 or so touches every week, a steal at this price. Against Baltimore next week, you might have expected to see more of him than usual anyway, as his speed out of the backfield and ability to create plays in the short passing game might fit well in a game plan against the Ravens defense, so it could be the perfect weekend to get him in your lineup.
James Starks vs. KC ($3,000) – You know what this one is about. You just monitor Lacy’s status and if his ankle doesn’t allow him to go on Sunday, you have a cheap RB option. He’ll be a popular choice if that’s the case, for sure, even against the Chiefs defense, which has played well so far. Reports say that Lacy’s X-Rays came back negative, but it didn’t seem like the mild variety of a sprain, so missing at least next week wouldn’t be shocking. But here’s the thing: if Lacy was healthy for this game, you probably wouldn’t consider him at his price because of the success Kansas City has had defending the run. With Starks, yes, you are getting a cheaper option who ran really well last night against another tough defense. But just being cheap doesn’t make you a value – he could end up being a cheap option who still doesn’t return much on the investment if the Chiefs defense is legit and the Packers rely on Rodgers’ arm to get the win.
Antonio Brown @ STL ($8,900) – I mean, obviously, right? I recommended Ben Roethlisberger earlier, and this guy is half the reason why. Maybe more than half. Nine catches, 195 yards and a late TD in Week 2, on the heels of nine catches for 133 yards and a late TD in Week 1. Wait until the early touchdowns start coming. This is the deal, as I see it: if you want to spend on a top WR, the only reason to pick anyone else is to be contrarian, until further notice, no matter who they are playing.
DeAndre Hopkins vs. TB ($7,400) – Hopkins is a talented guy, and he is priced right around a bunch of other talented guys, and he has a good matchup. Good choice, right? Unfortunately, no. It might get better – in fact, it seemed to even just in the second half – but Mallet did not look competent yesterday. He completed less than 50% of his passes, and just didn’t seem composed enough in the pocket to let anything deep develop for a guy like Hopkins. I know it was only one game, but DeAndre averaged just over 10 yards per catch yesterday after averaging 16 last year. If he is going to be running shorter routes in an inefficient, low-scoring offense, he isn’t going to be priced in this tier of receivers for long.
Randall Cobb vs. KC ($7,300) – This is the perfect example of what I am talking about above. Spending an extra $100 to get Hopkins when you could have Cobb for this price seems like lunacy to me. He dominated the targets last night, and caught eight of them for 116 yards, after scoring a TD in Week 1. He seemed to be moving around better this week than last, and if his shoulder injury is continuing to heal and that trend continues, the sky is the limit for his production, and, frankly, for his price over the next few weeks. You have to love the possibility of success for the clear #1 in Aaron Rodgers’ offense, playing against a Kansas City team that struggles against the pass but can shut down the run. It almost makes too much sense.
Julian Edelman vs. JAX ($7,000) – Let me start by talking about LeGarrette Blount. Hear me out. He had two carries for 4 yards yesterday. Dion Lewis ($4,200), on the other hand, had seven carries to go along with six catches. The reason Lewis was out there so much is that right now, the Patriots are thriving on the up-tempo, short passing game offense centered around Gronk and the other TEs, Edelman, and , most importantly, Brady. That might change later in the year, but right now, there is no reason to expect to see Brady under center, handing it off. Yes, it was Blount’s first game back, but he was with them for all of training camp. Sure, the Bills have a tough defense to run on, but they also seemed plenty comfortable with this offense against Pittsburgh. Against a Jacksonville team with a talented front seven, in Gillette Stadium, I’ll be looking for double-digit catches out of Edelman for the third week in a row.
Darrius Heyward-Bay @ STL ($3,500) – Bonus cheap option. Here’s what we’ve learned so far: Heyward-Bay is the #2 until Bryant returns. I know, I know, it’s Heyward-Bay. But he could have had a TD in week 1 and he did have a TD yesterday, and even if this is Le’Veon’s first game back, it seems like Pittsburgh is prepared to have Big Ben sling it plenty.
Rob Gronkowski vs. JAX ($7,400) – You don’t need me to tell you Gronk is a decent option. You also probably don’t need me to tell you about the struggles you might have with the rest of your roster when you spend this much on a TE. I bring him up anyway, though, to point out one thing. When you see his name up there, and his price, and then the number next to that, the opponents rank against position – you know what I am talking about – please just ignore that last number. This week, it happens to be a little red “5th” because Jacksonville has done well against tight ends. Here’s the thing, though – that is how they’ve done against other tight ends, which is not applicable here, because this man is a monster. So consider him, decide if you can live with the players you can afford at the other positions, and base your decision on that. Because he is the number one option in a high-powered offense, and he has now gone eight straight games with at least one TD, and because neither Jacksonville nor anyone else has a defender to match up with him.
Greg Olsen vs. CAR ($4,800) – The consensus third or fourth tight end coming into the year, depending on who you asked, the reason why was on display yesterday. After the injury to Kelvin Benjamin, the Panthers were left with some combination of Funchess (a rookie), Corey Brown (2nd year), Tedd Ginn (a kick returner) and Jerricho Cotchery to compete for targets at the wide receiver position. And then you have Olsen. Yesterday he had 14 targets, and converted them into 13 fantasy points. I think he can improve on that conversion rate, while seeing the targets continue. A better than 50% chance at double-digit points from your TE is about all you can hope for, realistically, especially if you are playing in a 50/50 or something similar and not simply hoping to hit the jackpot in a big tournament by rolling out someone who is less consistent.
Austin Sefarian-Jenkins @ HOU ($4,100) – He is what I mean by “less consistent.” The upside is certainly there (31 fantasy points in week 1), but yesterday he had 2 catches for 29 yards. He might win you a tournament, and he might lose you a 50/50. Here’s his biggest problem: we’re not yet at the point where we can realistically expect multiple touchdowns from Jamesis Winston on any given Sunday. So in week 1 it was him, and in week 2 it was Vincent Jackson. And now Mike Evans is back, which only adds another challenge for the young TE. But Evans had zero catches on only three targets yesterday, so it seems like, until he is fully integrated in the offense, the chance of success for Sefarian-Jenkins might be at it’s highest point of the season.
Eric Ebron vs. DEN ($3,300) – This is the third time in a row I’ve brought him up, and so far I haven’t been wrong. With five catches and a TD in each of the first two games, he is actually emerging as receiving option 2B to Golden Tate. I am relatively sure he won’t score a TD every week, but he is a massive red zone target, so these TDs are not necessarily a fluke.
New England Patriots vs. JAX ($3,100) – Yes, they lost some people this off-season, but after watching what the Steelers just did to the 49ers despite missing Le’Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant, it makes me think again about the fact that the Pats only surrendered 21 points in Week 1. Even if the Steelers left some points on the board, holding that offense to 28 still wouldn’t have been a bad job. Their secondary is young, but they have some talent (4 picks already), and their front seven has played remarkably well, totaling 11 sacks so far through two weeks.
Atlanta Falcons @ DAL ($2,900) – I might not have the guts to pull the trigger on this one, but it makes sense. We are talking about the Tony Romo-less, DeMarco-less, Dez-less Cowboys here, being led into this game instead by Weeden, Williams and Randle. There is no question that the Falcons have the opportunity to stumble into a couple of turnovers in this one, and that the Cowboys might struggle to get any serious amount of points on the board. No matter what you think of the defense in general, that’s all it takes.