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Welcome to Week 2 of the football season. I’ll be providing you with DFS content each week, covering Running Backs and Defenses. We’ll take a look at some potential cash-game plays as well as some pivots that could be used in tournaments. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to reach out in the comments section below.
Cash Game Options:
Latavius Murray, NO ($7,400) at LAR
Murray is a very cheap option at the running back position this week in a game that has one of the top-two highest point totals. Playing in the vacated Mark Ingram role, Murray had eight touches last week and scored a touchdown. I can see that line improving if the Saints can stay in a more positive game environment this week. Either way, Murray has a floor of 8-10 touches behind a top-five offensive line and goalline work. Also, playing Murray should allow you to grab one or two of the stud running backs and insert them into your lineup.
Chris Thompson, WAS ($8,400) vs. DAL
Last week, Thompson resumed his role as the Redskins primary pass-catcher out of the backfield. He had three carries, a team-high seven catches, and ten targets for 68 yards. I fully expect the Cowboys to control this game from the get-go, thus leading to a favorable game script for Thompson. The Cowboys play a lot of zone defense which leaves space for tight ends and running backs to catch a lot of passes. Last year the Cowboys gave up 6.3 catches to running backs per game, and the Giants backs had seven a week ago. Thompson is cheap enough to allow us to try and fit in a couple of the top-end running backs and receivers.
Matt Breida, SF ($10,500) at CIN
Tevin Coleman is out multiple weeks with an ankle injury, now making Breida the lead back on the 49ers. Breida led the 49ers in snaps and touches at the position despite leaving the game briefly for dehydration issues last week. The Bengals did a solid job bottling up the Seahawks heavy running game but did give up some receiving work to running backs last week 6 receptions, 34 yards, 1 touchdown. Breida should get plenty of passing game work along with at least half of the early-down work. If you are going up to the mid-range at RB, I like Breida in cash games.
David Johnson, ARI ($12,900) at BAL
Johnson will likely go under-owned because of the matchup with Baltimore, but his volume and passing game role make him in play every week. He had 24 touches, 137 yards, and 1 touchdown in week one putting him fifth-best at the position in points. The Cardinals and Ravens both want to run a lot of plays, the Ravens by running the ball at a high volume and the Cardinals playing up-tempo. This sets up well for Johnson, and being a road underdog should mean a lot of passing game work coming his way. Johnson also makes a nice pivot off of some flashy names around his price range in Dalvin Cook, Austin Ekeler, and Leonard Fournette.
Todd Gurley, LAR ($12,900) vs NO
I think Gurley will go under-owned because of the other options priced around him and costing just a couple thousand less than the elite running backs. This game is projected to be one of the top-two highest totals on the slate, and I want to play as many guys as I can from this game. People are worried about Malcolm Brown. He should continue to have a role, but Darrell Henderson surprisingly was only in on two snaps in week one. We can work with a two-man backfield. Gurley got 15 touches last week and looked great on them, getting 101 total yards. Including Gurley with your Rams stacks or the lone piece if you are running Saints stacks makes sense, as he should be low-owned.
Chris Carson, SEA ($11,200) at PIT
The Seahawks weren’t lying when they said they wanted to get the running backs more involved in the passing game. Carson led the team in targets with seven and had 6 receptions, 35 yards, and 1 touchdown through the air. Combine that with his 15 carries and a score on the ground and he was your RB 8 in week one. Notably, Carson also played 77% of the running back snaps ahead of Rashaad Penny. Carson’s RB 1 usage and the fact the Seahawks want to run the ball so much put him in play for tournaments.
James Conner, PIT ($12,100) vs SEA
I figure the Steelers to be lower owned in general this week, but I think this is a big bounceback spot for them coming home after getting embarrassed up in Foxborough in primetime last week. Conner’s usage was intact, handling 82% of the backfields touches, and is now a home favorite. A Ben Roethlisberger, Conner, JuJu Smith-Schuster team stack makes a lot of sense and should come in low-owned. There are a lot of good running backs in this range of pricing and recency bias should push ownership off of Conner.
Cash Game Option:
Dallas Cowboys ($5,500) at WAS
I’m not a big proponent of paying up for my defenses in cash, choosing to allocate that salary elsewhere. The Cowboys are the 13th most expensive defense, but I think they have a top-7 matchup this week against the Redskins. The Eagles talented defense only had one sack against the Redskins a week ago. I still believe they are an opposing offense to target for our defense. This is a game that the Cowboys should control, thus leading to more pass attempts and sack/turnover opportunities. I also don’t believe the Redskins offensive line is very good, especially the left side, without stud left tackle Trent Williams.
Kansas City Chiefs ($6,500) at OAK
I think the Patriots defense against Miami and the Texans defense against the Jaguars and their backup quarterback will carry the most ownership among the expensive defenses. They are both in a great spot, but I like the Chiefs defense as a pivot against the Raiders. The key to a big week for a defense is sacks and turnovers, hopefully leading to a defensive score. To give us the best opportunity for sacks, and thus turnovers, we want the opposing offense to drop back to pass a lot. I think the Chiefs offense will score at will against the Raiders, letting their defense pin their ears back and try to pressure quarterback Derek Carr.
New Orleans Saints ($4,400) at LAR
I don’t think it is necessary to punt defense this week, but if I am in tournaments I kind of like the Saints defense. The Saints have some talent on the defensive front and in the secondary. This is also projected to be a high scoring game which usually means lots of pass attempts and chances for sacks and turnovers. Points against is an overrated component of defense in fantasy because it is just not that common in today’s NFL for opponents to be shut out or give up less than seven points. Combine that with the Rams offensive line not projecting to be as good as last year, losing two starters on it, and I think the Saints make sense as a low-cost punt in your tournament lineups.
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