This is a weekly series where I break down my favorite tournament plays for the upcoming NFL week. I’m going to be focusing on high upside plays and pairings that could really pay off big for you in tournaments.
Marcus Mariota has played decently thus far in 2016 but, has yet to explode for a big fantasy game. This isn’t necessarily bad news though as he still carries a very affordable price tag this week in a game where the Titans have an implied team total of 24 points (as of writing). While many players may look to pair Mariota with TE Delanie Walker, wide receivers have killed Oakland in 2016 as their defense has given up the most yardage and TDs to the position through two games. Although Tajae Sharp is an option, I’d prefer to stack Mariota with Rishard Matthews if I had my choice. Matthews saw his targets and playing time rise in Week 2 and seems to be getting on a better page with Mariota. He’s also $1,500 cheaper and carries similar if not better upside. This pair only needs about 46 points to hit 5x value, and with Mariota’s running ability a big day is possible.
Bonus: Eli Manning ($7,000) and Odell Beckham ($9,100)
Russell Wilson ($7,100): While the ankle injury and the anemic Seattle offense are troublesome, there are some factors here that make Wilson an interesting tournament target. The main one is the fact he’s going up against a Chip Kelly coached team. Last year the Eagles (Chip’s old team) allowed the second most fantasy points per game to opposing QBs, and San Francisco just finished giving up a massive game to Cam Newton. Add this to the fact that the Hawks have no run game at the moment and you have an interesting spot here for Wilson who has proven himself capable of having massive fantasy days when people least expect it. While it’ll be important to watch the injury news on Wilson, he is in a decent spot for a big game here.
Bonus: Alex Smith ($5,800)
LeSean McCoy ($6,500): McCoy deserves your attention simply due to workload. In Week 2 he was on the field for over 90% of the offensive plays, and although he only took 15 carries, the five passing targets is encouraging and could actually increase given the change Buffalo made this week at offensive coordinator. While there have certainly been more productive players through the first two weeks, McCoy is locked into an every down role and should benefit from a change in play calling. This is a player who actually has both a high ceiling and high floor thanks to his workload, and I think he will go overlooked in tournaments this week. A big game is coming at some point if he keeps seeing the field as much as he did the first two weeks.
Darren Sproles ($3,700): Sproles played on 44 snaps in the Eagles Week 2 win and leads all Eagles running backs in terms of playing time thus far. While Ryan Mathews has been the clear goal line back for Philly, don’t expect him to find much running room here against a good Pittsburgh front this week, as the Steelers have allowed the second fewest rushing yards — but also allowed the third MOST receiving yards — to the running back position through two games. This should open the door for more targets for Sproles in the pass game where he could be featured a ton if the Eagles get down in this game. His price makes him a great FLEX play and game stack target in my opinion.
Bonus: Dwayne Washington ($3,600) and Shane Vereen ($3,700)
Jordan Matthews ($7,100): Everyone saw Matthews drop a perfectly thrown ball by Carson Wentz Monday night. The Eagles receiver would have registered his second straight 100+ yard TD game in a row if he had made the catch, but, he didn’t. At any rate, Matthews now has 23 targets on the year and takes on a Pittsburgh defense Week 3 who is excellent against the run but generally struggles against wide receivers. Pittsburgh gave up the most yards and receptions to the wide receiver position in 2015, and even though they limited the great A.J. Green last week, a lot of that stemmed from weather issues and a possibly injured Andy Dalton. Matchup and game flow both seem like they’re in Matthews’ favor here, and a monster game is certainly possible.
Jamison Crowder ($3,800): Crowder saw the field on 72% of the snaps Week 2. Through two games, he’s also averaging 9 targets a game and is on a team who has run the ball on less than 25% of their plays thus far in 2016. Crowder is effective in the short screen game and down the field giving him some versatility and making him a more popular target for Kirk Cousins. With the Giants doing an effective job at stopping the run thus far expect Washington to have to air things out again Week 3, and I expect Crowder to again be good for 8-10 targets. He’s become a reliable fantasy play at a bargain of a price.
Bonus: Tyler Lockett ($4,200)
Jimmy Graham ($3,000): Graham surprisingly played on 82% of the snaps in the Seahawks Week 2 loss to the Rams and looks to be fully recovered from last year’s brutal knee injury. While he only received four targets last week, there is the potential for so much more against a 49ers team who loves to play fast. Both of Seattle’s best wide receivers are banged up and questionable to play this week, and even if both Lockett and Baldwin do go, more targets could still shift Graham’s way here as he’ll likely be called on to block less against a weaker 49ers defense. After scoring one offensive touchdown through two games, I’d expect Seattle to at least attempt to get him the ball when they get down to the red zone this week. There’s big game potential here.
Bonus: Zach Miller ($2,900)
Kansas City Chiefs ($3,200): Kansas City got off to a somewhat slow start this year, but defensively they actually picked things up in Week 2, picking off Brock Osweiler twice and only allowing 19 points against. This week they have a home game against the Jets who might be without their best receiver. The Jets ran the ball well in Week 2, but QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was extremely fortunate he didn’t turn the ball over on numerous occasions. Fitzpatrick tied for fourth in the league last year in INTs — with my last week’s defensive target (Jameis Winston) — and he’ll be on the road here in a hostile stadium. Kansas City is getting healthier on defense by the week, and Marcus Peters is turning into a game changer in their secondary. As three-point home favorites, in a projected low scoring game, they’re a nice GPP swerve off more popular plays this week in my opinion.
Bonus: Cincinnati Bengals ($2,800)
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is wavegoodbye) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.