When it comes to daily fantasy football, you can try to identify value plays or evaluate matchups in any way you see fit. But at the end of the day, there is no one formula to finding the right lineup – there are just so. many. options.

Do I spend big on QB?  Load up on WRs?  Try to find the cheapest defense on the board? There is no one best answer to any of these questions.  Obviously the very best way to build a team – the mythical “perfect lineup” – will change week to week, but even within a single week there can be multiple paths to victory.

So you end up looking at your choices in one position or another, clicking on a few guys you like, then going back and editing and editing again as you fill in the next positions and try to make the salaries fit.

And in the end, it all comes down to feel.  You spend enough time looking at those options, and you start to internalize whether the top wide receivers, running backs, or quarterbacks have the easiest route to success (due to matchup or weather, or anything else).  You look at which position has value plays you think you can trust, you make a few roster decisions you’re willing to stick with, and you’re on your way.

So that’s what I am going to do here – I’m going to do my best to show you the way my train of thought would have gone through this process for Week 2 while giving you a few of the names I would have clicked on as potential options as I constructed my roster.


Running Backs

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers

Whether because of injuries, or just the early flashes of potential from some more mid-range guys in the preseason ranks, there appear to be a few value plays to choose from among running backs this week.  But perhaps more importantly, it is easy to look at a bunch of the top guys and either nitpick their matchup (Forte) or worry about their week 1 performance (Charles).

You could consider at someone like Terrance West ($4,800), who is going to get a shot with Ben Tate missing time.  He ran for 100 yards last week, but lost two potential touchdown opportunities when Crowell, the third back on the depth chart, scored instead.  And while that might happen again, and Crowell did look good, the carries last week were 16-5 in favor of West, and that kind of ratio is likely to continue.  But this is not only an argument in favor of volume – in the opportunities he has had, in the preseason and last week, West has consistently shown an ability to make plays against NFL defenses, and New Orleans can be attacked on the ground, so the idea of him having a significant role is not out of the question.

Then there is a much more veteran type of choice, going with Darren Sproles ($5,100).  He might not be as shiny and new, but I have gone over this at length: in this offense, once a back is on the field, he’s not coming off.  So, the carries are going to be there in a way they simply were not on the Saints, and we already know about his value in a PPR format.  There really isn’t a lot more to say.

If you don’t want to rely on all running backs who are quite that deep into the rankings, you can also consider Giovanni Bernard ($6,300) a bit of a value compared to his preseason rankings, especially considering the matchup with what might be a pretty terrible Atlanta defense.  Bernard didn’t exactly shine in Week 1, but even then, he had six catches. That kind of volume in the passing game, combined with his big-play ability means that he alone could vault you to the top of any contest.


Wide Receiver

The same principles that applied to running backs above hold true for wide receivers this week as well.  Calvin Johnson is awesome, obviously, and he can destroy anyone, but do you LOVE starting him against the Panthers, when you have so many other (and cheaper) options?  A.J. Green  ($8,200), Demaryius Thomas ($7,000), Percy Harvin and Andre Johnson are the only receivers in the top ten with what can be considered plus matchups, and at least a couple of them have other concerns.  So, if you’re going to go big on receiver this week, Demaryius and Green are shaping up to be the best bets.

But if you’re not going big, the options seem endless.  While there is risk associated with all of these players, it doesn’t feel stupid starting any of these guys:

Cordarrelle Patterson ($6,300) v. NE

Emmanuel Sanders ($6,000) v. KC

Michael Floyd ($6,000) @ NYG

DeAndre Hopkins ($4,800) @ OAK



NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Denver Broncos

Where are you going to spend all the money you saved on running backs (other than maybe Jimmy Graham)?  Well, this is one of those weeks where you look at the quarterback position and think, man, if I don’t have those top guys and someone else does, they might kill me.

I know QB can be a spot to save some money in a lot of weeks, but on the other hand, Peyton Manning ($8,800) is facing off against a Chiefs defense that just lost two key contributors, in Denver.  And, for what it’s worth, he did HAVE over 700 yards and 6 TDs in two games against a fully healthy KC defense last season.  And then there is, of course,  Andrew Luck ($8,400), who outscored Peyton last week, and is going to be playing at home on Monday Night Football against Philly, in what you could easily see being a very high-scoring affair.  He runs a little, and he’s going to throw a lot, and it doesn’t matter who his passes are going to, apparently, because the fantasy points just pile up around him.  Either one of these players could help you win any contest, and are very unlikely to hurt you – unless they’re on someone else’s team.

Inevitably, there is at least one difficult choice, or one player you’re not 100% comfortable with.  It would be too easy otherwise, right? Don’t worry – sometimes the guy you’re least comfortable with ends up being your MVP.  Good luck.