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With Week 1 in the books, we have a little more information for DFS this week, as we’ve seen at least a partial picture of how teams intend to run their offense. The prices this week are tougher than they were Week 1, but not everyone’s price has changed enough to reflect their new situation. Below are my recommendations for a few DFS plays, for both cash games and tournaments. For cash games, I generally prioritize spending up for running backs and receivers with high workloads, whereas for tournaments it’s important to also consider how highly owned that player will be by your opponents and to focus on upside more than you would in a cash game lineup.
Cash Game Option:
Ben Roethlisberger, PIT ($10,400) vs. SEA
For cash games, I typically look for cheap quarterbacks that allow me to spend up and secure volume at other positions. Ben Roethlisberger is only $400 above the minimum price for quarterbacks, and he gets to play at home against a Seahawks team that gave up 418 yards and two touchdowns to Andy Dalton last week in a one-point victory.
Roethlisberger seems to be priced down because he was terrible in prime-time on Sunday night against the Patriots, but this is the same quarterback that led the NFL in passing attempts last season. At this price, Roethlisberger does not need to have a huge game to return value and he should easily get to 250 passing yards and two touchdowns in this spot against a west-coast team coming across the country for an early-afternoon game.
Seattle gave up six passing plays of over 20 yards last week, so the ceiling for Roethlisberger should also be fairly high. If Seattle’s secondary problems persist into this week then Roethlisberger should turn in a big game, and finish as one of the best values on the slate.
Cash Game/Tournament Options:
Josh Allen, BUF ($11,100) at NYG
Josh Allen‘s high turnover rate makes him a little riskier as a cash game target, but this week he is cheap enough to make it work. Allen turned the ball over four times last week against the Jets and still managed to score 20 fantasy points in a game where his team only scored 17 real points. His floor comes from his rushing ability, which last week resulted in 10 carries for 38 yards and a touchdown.
Allen seems to have improved as a passer, decision making aside, and the additions of John Brown and Cole Beasley give him more upside in the passing game. Buffalo will play in the same stadium this week, this time visiting the Giants team that was just torched by Dak Prescott and the Cowboys. Prescott, a mobile quarterback himself, threw for 405 yards and four touchdowns while only attempting two passes in the fourth quarter.
Allen’s passing volume last week was inflated by the Bills trailing the Jets for much of the game, but he’ll be much more efficient against a bad Giants secondary. His rushing floor coupled with the potential passing upside this matchup offers makes him a great play for both tournaments and cash games this week.
Matt Ryan, ATL ($11,600) vs. PHI
Matt Ryan was able to salvage a tough game last week by picking up two late touchdowns on the road against a tough Vikings defense. Now Ryan comes home to face the Eagles and their very beatable secondary. This game has the third-highest total of the slate at 51 points, and the game should stay competitive which means there’s a decent chance this one turns into a shoot-out.
The Eagles surrendered 380 yards and three touchdowns to a Washington passing attack led by Case Keenum that featured a 35-year old Vernon Davis and rookie receiver Terry McLaurin as their top weapons. It is a safe bet that Ryan and Julio Jones should be able to take advantage of this matchup, and Carson Wentz and the Eagles will score enough points to force Atlanta to stay aggressive in the passing game. Whether it comes in garbage time or not, Ryan has a great chance at racking up passing yards and throwing for multiple touchdowns at a very reasonable price.
Lamar Jackson, BAL ($13,100) vs. ARI
One of the biggest stories of last week’s games was the passing performance of Lamar Jackson, who threw for five touchdowns after only throwing for six all of last season. It wasn’t necessarily surprising that Jackson led all quarterbacks in fantasy points last week, but doing so while only rushing for six yards on three attempts was shocking.
While it’s true that Jackson doesn’t get to take advantage of the possibly-tanking Dolphins defense this week, getting to play the Cardinals at home might be the next best thing. The Cardinals secondary is bad, made even worse by the continued absence of Patrick Peterson due to suspension, and their offense plays fast which means more plays for the Baltimore offense. Jackson almost certainly won’t be as efficient as he was last week, throwing a touchdown once every four attempts will be tough to duplicate, but that can easily be mitigated by an increase in rushing volume.
Arizona will be more competitive than Miami was, which should keep Jackson throwing in the fourth quarter instead of sitting on the bench. Jackson is too expensive to make my cash lineups, but he’s an excellent tournament option and it would not be at all surprising to see him match his fantasy total from last week.
Cash Game Option:
Juju Smith-Schuster, PIT ($13,400) vs. SEA
Similar to Ben Roethlisberger above, Juju Smith-Schuster is in a great spot this week. Juju had a bit of a letdown last week, going for six receptions and 78 yards on eight targets. He averaged over ten targets a game last week, so the low volume seems to have been the result of the Patriots game-planning to limit him as much as they could. Assuming his target number regresses to what it was last season he has a very solid floor playing at home with an implied team total of 25.5.
The Seahawks gave up seven receptions for 158 yards and two touchdowns to John Ross and eight receptions for 60 yards to Tyler Boyd, who spent 31% and 43% of their snaps in the slot respectively. Juju played 59.6% of his snaps in the slot last week and is a more talented receiver than either of those players. He should have a safe floor in this game as the top option for the Steelers passing attack, and this Seattle secondary looks very beatable for big plays. That bodes well for Juju, who has four career touchdowns of at least 75 yards.
Cash Game/Tournament Option:
Sammy Watkins, KC ($14,000) at OAK
Sammy Watkins was incredible last week, posting nine receptions for 198 yards and three touchdowns against a highly-regarded Jacksonville secondary. He led the team in targets, and that will likely continue to be the case going forward as Tyreek Hill will miss several weeks due to injury. Watkins is talented enough, and the Chiefs offense is explosive enough, that as long as he’s getting consistent targets he should be a borderline top-ten receiver every week regardless of matchup.
This week the matchup happens to be a very favorable one, as the Chiefs take on the Raiders coming off a short week. Oakland just surrendered seven receptions and 120 yards to Courtland Sutton, and that was before the lost starting corner Gareon Conley and starting safety Jonathan Abram to injury. The Chiefs should score a lot of points in this game with an implied team total of 30 points, and Watkins should benefit the most from that as the team’s number one receiver. His salary has come up a lot as a result of his monster game, but with Hill out Watkins should easily see the volume to pay off his salary and obviously has an incredible weekly ceiling.
Cooper Kupp, LAR ($11,300) vs. NO
This game between the Saints and Rams should produce a lot of fantasy production for everyone involved, and my favorite target from this game is Rams slot receiver, Cooper Kupp. The Saints number one cornerback Marshon Lattimore will probably shadow Brandin Cooks, which opens up more opportunities for Kupp and Robert Woods.
Kupp turned his ten targets into seven receptions for only 46 yards, but the Rams passing game as a whole struggled on the road. Quarterback Jared Goff has performed much better at home, and we saw in the first half of last season how much Goff loves throwing to Kupp. Excluding the week where Kupp was injured after just one target, he averaged almost eight targets and about one touchdown per game. His size makes him a mismatch on most slot cornerbacks, particularly in the red zone, and he has a great chance at a touchdown in this game’s high scoring environment. Woods ($12,100) is also interesting here, but I’ll take Kupp and the discounted price without sacrificing any upside.
Dede Westbrook, JAX ($10,100) at HOU
As one of the highest-owned receivers last week Dede Westbrook was pretty disappointing, managing to save his day with a late touchdown but otherwise not contributing much. Part of that was probably due to the injury to Nick Foles, and some of it was probably gameplan dependant as the Chiefs outside cornerbacks are very exploitable.
Rookie Gardner Minshew will start at quarterback this week after an impressive relief effort last week, and it would make sense for the Jaguars to plan for a lot of short throws to keep him comfortable against J.J. Watt and the Texans pass rush. It helps that the Texans slot cornerback was so bad on Monday night that he was cut, and it will be tough for them to drastically improve that part of their defense on a short week. Westbrook is reasonably cheap and should come with an ownership discount after losing his starting quarterback and having a bit of a letdown week. Trusting an unheralded rookie to support the fantasy production of a receiver is always risky, but Westbrook makes for a great tournament play this week.
DK Metcalf, SEA ($8,400) at PIT
Last week Russel Wilson only passed the ball 20 times, with six of those passes being targetted at rookie DK Metcalf. Metcalf was recovering from an injury going into that game and still managed to finish second on the team in targets behind running back Chris Carson. This week Seattle should need to throw more playing on the road against the Steelers, and Metcalf is such a threatening deep threat that any increase in targets for him is valuable.
The Steelers gave up two touchdowns of over 20 yards to Phillip Dorsett, a small receiver whose best attribute is his speed. Metcalf has that same 4.33 speed, but he’s also a huge target. He may not be the best route runner, but at this price, he only needs one big play to return value. As Metcalf gets healthier and more comfortable in this offense I expect his price to rise significantly from where it is, so this may be the last chance to get him this cheap if he continues to see anything close to this percentage of the team’s targets going forward.
Cash Game Option:
Darren Waller, OAK ($6,400) vs. KC
All of the Oakland players seem a little underpriced this week, probably a result of the prices coming out before the Monday night games had played, but Darren Waller is the most underpriced and one of the most obvious plays of the slate. Waller led the Raiders with eight targets and turned that into seven receptions for 70 yards. Oakland featured tight end Jared Cook as their primary target last season, and it appears that Waller will be similarly involved.
Waller is an incredible athlete with a high floor thanks to his involvement in the offense, but his price hasn’t caught up to his target share. Even better, Waller is home against a Chiefs offense that plays fast and should score enough to force the Raiders to stay aggressive in the passing game if they want to keep up. The Chiefs gave up six receptions of over 20 yards last week against the Jaguars, and Waller is more than fast enough to take advantage of a weak Chiefs secondary. Waller will be highly owned, so it makes sense to try to get away from him in tournaments if you plan to use other high-owned players, but don’t overthink it for cash games. Lock Waller in for what will probably be his last week even close to this price.
Mark Andrews, BAL ($8,200) vs. ARI
Mark Andrews is my preferred choice to stack with Lamar Jackson this week, as Andrews led the Ravens eight targets. His touchdown may have come after Jackson was pulled from the game, but Andrews and Jackson connected for three plays of over 20 yards. Andrews isn’t on the field enough to warrant cash game consideration yet, but his big-play ability is perfectly suited for tournament lineups. The Arizona secondary he plays this week just allowed T.J. Hockenson to go for 131 yards and one touchdown on six receptions in his debut, so those big plays should be there for Andrews this week.
Evan Engram, NYG ($10,700) vs. BUF
Sterling Shepard is currently in the concussion protocol and that means Evan Engram could see a massive target share this week against the Bills. Engram saw 14 targets with Shepard playing last week, and while it’s hard for that number to increase it should at least hold steady which is more than enough for Engram to return value on his salary. Engram had an average depth of target of 5.1 yards last week, meaning he operates in the same part of the field as Jets slot receiver Jamison Crowder who just had 14 receptions on 17 targets against the Bills.
Engram is a talented player that should be a big part of the Giants offense this week, particularly in the red zone, but his price hasn’t adjusted to how involved he is now that Odell Beckham Jr. is gone. Engram is a great play in all formats until his price catches up, but I prefer him in tournaments this week due to the discount available in Darren Waller.
Featured Image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)