Thursday, September 17, 2015

Dissecting DraftKings Deals for NFL Week 2

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Week 1 of the NFL season brought plenty of upsets (oh those sneaky Bills) and breakout performances (hello Carlos Hyde!). Week 2 should be fun too, with only one game projected to be a blowout, when the Saints and Bucs do battle in New Orleans.

There's still a lot to be told about the NFL season, and now is a great time to get in on the Daily Fantasy Sports action at DraftKings before prices level out to match performance. Here are a few value plays at each position that could pay off big. With a few potential exceptions, this list usually won't include the higher-priced studs, but taking a few of these players should give you a chance to fit those stars in your lineups.


I tend to target quarterbacks playing in high-scoring games with prices that don't reflect their weekly projections. This week, there are two options that really stand out for both reasons, as well as a few others who look good as well.

Sam Bradford ($6,900) vs. DAL

Cowboys-Eagles is the lone game on the NFL schedule with an over/under of 55 points or more, and it's difficult to project anything less than an old-fashioned shootout. Bradford is priced outside of the top 12 quarterbacks, yet seems very likely to post mid-level QB1 numbers. The risk of in-game injury is always there with Bradford, but he's still a great play in Chip Kelly's offense.

Tony Romo ($7,100) at PHI

Romo faces off with the aforementioned Bradford on the road without his best receiver, which is why he's listed second here. That, and if you can find a way to use the extra $200 you save with Bradford, it can't hurt. They're very close at the top, but I broke the tie in favor of Bradford since he's cheaper, playing at home and has his full complement of skill players. It's hard to go wrong with either.

Andy Dalton ($5,800) vs. SD

This is a price play more than an endorsement of Dalton, but everybody's favorite punching-bag quarterback deserves better. He showed what he can do last week with a healthy Tyler Eifert, and while Chargers cornerbacks Brandon Flowers and Jason Verrett are talented players, they're also short. A.J. Green isn't, and there's a great chance he finds the end zone after a bad touchdown drop last week. Dalton is in play for tournaments, although I wouldn't trust him in cash games.

Other options: Drew Brees ($7,800) vs. TB, Carson Palmer ($6,700) at CHI, Matt Ryan ($7,400) at NYG

Running Back

The criteria I used for quarterbacks still applies to running backs, but I also try to lean towards runners playing at home with a favorable game script. Early-down backs should be used in games where their team is favored, while third-down and pass-catching backs are better plays when their team projects to be trailing.

Mark Ingram ($5,900) vs. TB

Speaking of game script, Ingram has a great one this week even if C.J. Spiller returns from injury. With the Saints playing at home as a double-digit favorite and Ingram's price remaining a bit low, now is a great time to pounce before he rises into the low-to-mid $6000 range where he belongs.

Darren Sproles ($3,500) vs. DAL

It's true that Sproles had a huge Week 1 last season before disappearing from the Eagles' gameplan. It's that volatility and his position on the depth chart that make Sproles more of a tournament play on a weekly basis, but his price makes him a cheap cash option as well, especially in smaller contests based around the late-afternoon games. All he needs is a few receptions to pay off his price, but don't expect performances like last week's too often.

Danny Woodhead ($4,000) at CIN

San Diego doesn't seem to have full confidence in first-round pick Melvin Gordon just yet, which makes Woodhead a potential top-15 back in a game the Chargers should be trailing in. Unlike Sproles, however, Woodhead sees action around the goal line and his role in the offense appears steady. Take advantage of his price now before it rises, and before the team becomes more comfortable with Gordon.

Frank Gore ($4,800) vs. NYJ

Why am I suggesting Gore against the Jets' run defense? Because he's $4,800, the Colts are playing at home, could be looking to salt away a late lead and are likely to be without T.Y. Hilton. After he had just eight carries in Week 1, Indianapolis will want to feed Gore at least twice as often, and the Jets will likely be more focused on stopping Andrew Luck. This play isn't for the faint of heart, and should be reserved for tournaments, but a 15-20 point outing isn't outside the realm of possibilities and returns nice value on his price.

DeMarco Murray ($7,000) vs. DAL

I'm certainly not saying to play both Sproles and Murray in a lineup, but it doesn't mean both aren't good options. Even in a game where he struggled last week, Murray still scored twice on the back of the Eagles' productive and high-paced offense. Dallas isn't exactly a stalwart against the run, and Murray may be out for revenge.

Other Options: Ameer Abdullah ($4,500) at MIN, Shane Vereen ($4,200) vs. ATL, Chris Ivory ($4,700) at IND, Justin Forsett ($6,200) at OAK

Wide Receiver

Generally, I like to tout wide receivers in high-scoring games, ones that are playing at home and also look to be underpriced. Game script matters here as well, but not nearly as much as at running back. Teams that build a big lead could easily do it on the back of their receivers, and teams playing from behind will be throwing more.

Jordan Matthews ($7,100) vs. DAL

Matthews put up 23.2 fantasy points and caught 10 passes last week after a dud of a first half against the Falcons, and with another shootout on the horizon, you can expect Bradford to feed Matthews relentlessly as his top target. Matthews isn't priced with the elite or even the second-tier receivers, but he likely will be soon.

Cole Beasley ($3,300) at PHI

More Cowboys and Eagles. That's what happens when a game has a 55-point line. Beasley also has an increased opportunity ahead of him with Dez Bryant's injury, and a near-minimum price tag. Beasley returned value in his slot role last week and while he won't be moving outside anytime soon, there are extra targets to be had. Double-digit points is a reasonable expectation.

Brandon Coleman ($3,300) vs. TB

I'll cop to being a big Coleman fan since he was at Rutgers, and the 2014 UDFA is finally finding his place in the NFL. Somebody has to replace the loss of Graham in the red zone, and it's unlikely to be the diminutive Brandin Cooks or the aging Marques Colston. That leaves the 6-6 Coleman and Benjamin Watson, and I know who I'd rather give a shot in the end zone if I were Drew Brees. He's a better tournament play than cash, simply because a dud is possible if he doesn't score.

Allen Robinson ($4,900) vs MIA

This is a very risky pick. With that out of the way, there are reasons for optimism on Robinson. He's not priced within the top-40 receivers and while a matchup with Brent Grimes and the inconsistency of Blake Bortles give him a scary floor, he's also the top target on a team that is likely to be losing and therefore, passing. I wouldn't touch him in cash games, but Robinson can bust a big play at any time and is a viable option under $5,000 with some upside.

Terrance Williams ($4,200) at PHI

Williams is another player that looks likely to benefit from Bryant's absence and remains very cheap. He's not really built to be a No. 1 receiver, however, which means the extra attention could nullify the increased role. Another risk-reward tournament play, but people will use him in cash too.

Other options: Eddie Royal ($3,700) vs. ARI, A.J. Green ($7,100) vs. SD, Markus Wheaton ($3,800) vs. SF, Jarvis Landry ($5,900) at JAX, Stevie Johnson ($4,200) at CIN

Tight End

I look at tight ends the same way I do at quarterback, but I lean towards players playing on teams that are favored when possible. Teams that are far behind, unless they have a stud tight end who can stretch the field, are more likely to push the ball downfield to their receivers.

Heath Miller ($3,500) vs. SF

Pittsburgh meets a lot of my tight end criteria this week as a six-point home favorite in a game with a decent over/under of 45.5 points. Miller is priced as the 14th-best tight end this week, but has a legitimate chance at the top 10. His eight-catch, 84-yard performance last week could repeat itself.

Travis Kelce ($5,100) vs. DEN

Most of the Thursday night players are good fades this week in what projects to be more of a defensive-minded game, but Kelce is an exception. After entering "matchup-proof" territory in Week 1 by demolishing the Texans, he's still priced at essentially the same level he was last week. He'll likely be around $6,000 soon, so take advantage while you can.

Jason Witten ($4,300) at PHI

Apparently I like all the Cowboys this week, but at the intersection of increased opportunity and a high-scoring game, DFS value is found. Witten had a huge opener with Bryant hobbled and while the Eagles are a team that has the personnel to stop tight ends, Witten put up seven catches for 69 yards on nine targets in their meeting in Philadelphia last October. Similar volume should be expected Sunday.

Other options: Zach Ertz ($3,600) vs. DAL, Larry Donnell ($3,100) vs. ATL, Dwayne Allen ($3,300) vs. NYJ

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