Fri Sep 18 10:40am ET
By MIKE BARNER
Ekeler could be busy this week
After a wild first week of the NFL season, we have another exciting slate of games for Week 2. Among the top matchups are the Texans hosting the Ravens and the Eagles taking on the Patriots. On the DFS front, we have plenty of options to wade through, so let’s get right to it and discuss some players to target at various price points, as well as a few to possibly avoid.
Josh Allen, BUF at MIA ($6,400): Allen averaged 28.8 pass attempts per game last season, so it was a surprise to see him attempt 46 passes in Week 1 against the Jets. He made the most of his added attempts, completing 33 of them for 312 yards and two touchdowns. The good news is that he remained busy on the ground, as well, rushing 14 times for 57 yards and another score. Look for him to take advantage of a bad Dolphins defense that allowed 75-rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns to Cam Newton last week.
Tom Brady, TB vs. CAR ($6,000): Brady was faced with a tough matchup in his Buccaneers’ debut, playing the Saints in New Orleans. He wasn’t exactly great, but he wasn’t a total flop, either, with 239 passing yards, three total touchdowns and two interceptions. This is a much easier matchup for him at home against the Panthers, who allowed 34 points against a very average Raiders’ offense in Week 1.
Player to Avoid
Drew Lock, DEN at PIT ($5,900): This is a no-brainer considering Brady can be had for only $100 more. Lock has a much tougher matchup against the Steelers, who had one of the best defenses in the league last year and constantly put pressure on Daniel Jones and the Giants in Week 1. There might be weeks were Lock is a viable DFS target, but this isn’t one of them.
Austin Ekeler, LAC vs. KAN ($7,000): With new quarterback Tyrod Taylor under center, the Chargers offense didn’t look good against the Bengals. Surprisingly, Ekeler only received one target despite totaling 108 targets last season. On the plus side, he did receive 19 carries, which he turned into 84 yards. The Chargers are likely going to have to throw more to keep up with the Chiefs, so look for Ekeler to be much more involved in the passing game in this contest.
Zack Moss, BUF at MIA ($5,100): The Bills’ running back situation isn’t exactly appealing with Moss in a time share with Devin Singletary. They had a close to even split in Week 1 with Singletary on the field for 58.6 percent of the Bills’ offensive snaps and Moss on the field for 44.8 percent of them. However, at this cheap salary, Moss is worth considering in tournament play. The Dolphins were absolutely torched on the ground by the Patriots, who turned 42 carries into 217 yards and three touchdowns.
Player to Avoid
Christian McCaffrey, CAR at TB ($9,200): This might be one of the few weeks to avoid McCaffrey. The Bucs have a good run defense and held the Saints to 82 yards on 34 carries in Week 1. They were one of the few teams that McCaffrey struggled against last season. Across two meetings with them, he finished with only 110 total yards.
Davante Adams, GB vs. DET ($8,600): Adams couldn’t have looked any better Week 1. He received a whopping 17 targets, catching 14 of them for 156 yards and two touchdowns. With so little depth behind him at wide receiver, he should continue to be extremely busy moving forward. Don’t be surprised if he goes off again this week considering the Lions, a team that allowed Mitchell Trubisky to throw three touchdown passes against them last week.
Anthony Miller, CHI vs. NYG ($5,700): The Giants’ weakness on defense is their secondary. They did bring in James Bradberry during the offseason, but their overall depth at cornerback is extremely shallow. That could mean another productive performance is on the horizon for Trubisky, who led a shocking comeback against the Lions in Week 1. Miller was productive in that contest, catching four of six targets for 76 yards and a touchdown. He should continue to be one of their top pass-catching options moving forward.
Player to Avoid
Brandin Cooks, HOU vs. BAL ($6,000): The good news for Cooks is that he’s had some time off to rest his ailing quadriceps since the Texans played their first game of the season last Thursday night. The bad news is that he has to face the Ravens, who completely shut down the Browns in Week 1 and have one of the best defenses in the league. I’d much rather roll with Miller, especially since he comes at a cheaper salary.
Mark Andrews, BAL at HOU ($6,000): With the ease at which the Ravens move the ball on offense, Andrews was able to cash in with 10 touchdown receptions last season. He started off this year with a strong performance in that department with two touchdowns against the Browns. Now he’ll face a Texans team that struggled against the pass last year and allowed a touchdown to tight end Travis Kelce in Week 1.
Jonnu Smith, TEN vs. JAC ($4,700): Smith was expected to take a leap forward in the Titans’ offense this season and he was busy with seven targets last week against the Broncos. He caught four of them, finishing with 36 yards and a touchdown. While the Titans should continue to be a run-heavy team, Smith should receive enough opportunities to provide value at this salary.
Player to Avoid
Mike Gesicki, MIA vs. BUF ($5,000): The Bills allowed the fourth-fewest passing yards per game last year (195.2) and started off well in that department this year by holding the Jets to 202-passing yards in Week 1. Gesicki had a quiet performance against the Patriots last week, catching three of five targets for 30 yards. Points will likely be difficult to come by for the Dolphins here, which should limit Gesicki’s upside.
Mike Barner has been covering fantasy sports since 2007. His work has appeared in Sports Illustrated, Yahoo, SportsLine and RotoWire. Mike was also a finalist for the 2018 FSWA Basketball Writer of the Year award. Follow Mike on Twitter @rotomikebarner.
Five Sleepers: Week 7
The Las Vegas Raiders defense has been statistically one of the worst defenses in the league this season. They are averaging under two fantasy points per game and face an ascending Buccaneers offense this week. Tom Brady is currently fourth in the league in passing touchdowns, and this Tampa Bay offense is ascending after hanging 31 offensive points on Green Bay in Week 6. The Raiders rank 27th in scoring defense and 24th in yards allowed. There is nothing to suggest they will have a good performance this week and should be kept on the bench or dropped entirely.
Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller has a tough test against the Buccaneers this week, but he should be able to produce a solid fantasy performance. Waller has been great at home this season, with 21 catches, 193 yards, and a touchdown in two games. The Buccaneers have one of the league's best defenses, but the Patriots are the only team to hold Waller under five catches so far this season. He currently ranks third in fantasy points per game among tight ends, and he leads the Raiders in targets. The Buccaneers rank sixth in the league against tight ends, but fantasy owners should feel comfortable starting him based on his performances so far this season.
Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs III will have a tough matchup against a good Buccaneers secondary in Week 7. Ruggs had a breakout performance in his last game against the Chiefs, but his value rests with the deep ball at this time. That is not great news considering the Buccaneers are one of the best defenses against the deep ball, ranking third in the league in allowing receptions of over 20 yards. He was able to get loose in the Chiefs secondary with a 72-yard reception in the first half but caught just one other pass the rest of the game. Ruggs' big-play potential makes him a fringe flex option in deeper leagues, but don't expect a lot of targets for the rookie this week.
Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs will face one of the league's best run defenses this week in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Buccaneers are allowing just three yards per carry and rank second in the league in total rushing yards allowed. Jacobs is having a productive year and is certainly a must-start option, but he is averaging just 3.6 yards per carry on the season. Jacobs has just one game this season where he has rushed for over four yards per carry. With that being said, he is still seventh in points per game among running backs. It will not be an easy day for Jacobs, but fantasy owners should feel encouraged that he can put up a solid fantasy performance despite a difficult matchup.
Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr will have one of his most difficult tests of the year against a great Buccaneers Defense. The Buccaneers defense has allowed just seven passing touchdowns and have grabbed eight interceptions in their six games this season. Opposing quarterbacks have a passer rating of 82 against this Todd Bowles defense. They confused Aaron Rodgers and made him uncomfortable, so this will not be an easy day for Carr. With that being said, Carr has thrown for almost 600 passing yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions in two home games this season. The Raiders are coming off a bye, and Carr is having a career year. However, he is likely a bench option this week due to the matchup.
The New Orleans Saints Defense faces a middle-of-the-pack matchup against the Carolina Panthers in Week 7. It's a date with former Saint Teddy Bridgewater, who started five games for the team in 2019. New Orleans' defense is finally starting to get healthy after a rash of injuries, as they will get Janoris Jenkins (shoulder) back and essentially be at full strength. This unit may start to put together some good performances, starting with this week. They can be used as a starting option.
New Orleans Saints kicker Wil Lutz faces a favorable matchup in Week 7 against the Carolina Panthers. Lutz is perfect on the season, having made all nine field-goals and all 18 extra-points. Carolina ranks 22nd in fantasy points allowed to kickers, making this a juicy matchup for Lutz. Expect strong fantasy numbers from the 26-year-old.
New Orleans Saints tight end Jared Cook could see more opportunities in Week 7 against the Panthers. Cook had one of his better games against the Chargers, catching two passes for 52 yards and a score. New Orleans is down two of it's best pass-catchers- Michael Thomas (ankle, hamstring) and Emmanuel Sanders (COVID-19)- heading into the contest against the Panthers. The veteran tight end should see more targets, making him a good start as a TE1 in Week 7.
Seattle Seahawks RB Carlos Hyde (shoulder, toe) fully participated in practice Friday, Oct. 23, and is not on the injury report for Week 7.
Fantasy Spin: Hyde will serve as the backup for Chris Carson but should see a handful of touches during the game. Fantasy players should be able to find better options and can keep Hyde on the bench.
San Francisco 49ers RB Raheem Mostert (ankle) did not participate in practice Friday, Oct. 23, and has been ruled out for Week 7.
Fantasy Spin: Mostert is expected to miss multiple weeks because of the injury, so fantasy players should look for other options to use. Jerick McKinnon and JaMycal Hasty likely will share playing time while Mostert is sidelined. McKinnon probably has more fantasy value and can be a flex option in leagues. Hasty should be rostered in leagues and has a chance to be a flex option depending on the opponent.
Los Angeles Chargers WR Keenan Allen (back) fully participated in practice Friday, Oct. 23, and is not on the injury report for Week 7.
Fantasy Spin: Allen has been targeted at least eight times in four of the five games this season and seems to have a good connection with Justin Herbert. Allen can be considered a No. 1 or No. 2 receiver in fantasy leagues.
Arizona Cardinals WR DeAndre Hopkins (ankle) was limited during practice Friday, Oct. 23, and is listed as questionable for Week 7.
Fantasy Spin: Hopkins likely will be able to play despite the injury, but fantasy players will need to check the inactive list for his status. He is a must-start option in all leagues if he is active for the game.
New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith faces a tricky matchup in Week 7 against the Panthers. However, matchup concerns are alleviated by the fact that New Orleans will be without Michael Thomas (ankle, hamstring) and Emmanuel Sanders (COVID-19). Smith will be busy against a Panthers Defense that has surrendered the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to wideouts. With a good chance of finding the end zone, Smith is looking like a high-end WR3 in Week 7, despite the matchup.
Kansas City Chiefs WR Sammy Watkins (hamstring) did not participate in practice Friday, Oct. 23, and has been ruled out for Week 7.
Fantasy Spin: Demarcus Robinson served as the No. 2 receiver for the Chiefs last week and probably will have a similar role this week. He can be a flex option or bye week replacement in fantasy leagues.
New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara gets an excellent matchup against the Panthers Defense. Kamara has offered fantasy managers the safest floor of any running back, particularly in PPR formats, as he's had at least 19 fantasy points in every game this season. He'll go up against a Panthers defense allowing the fourth-most fantasy points per game to opposing halfbacks. The Saints will probably go with a more run-heavy approach, seeing as their top-two wideouts- Michael Thomas (ankle, hamstring) and Emmanuel Sanders (COVID-19)- are out for the contest. Kamara is a must-start in redraft leagues and is well worth the price in DFS formats.
New Orleans Saints running back Latavius Murray has a favorable matchup in front of him against the Panthers in Week 7. Murray has had at least 13 touches in three of five contests this season, with two of those games coming against teams that struggle to stop the run. New Orleans will be without Michael Thomas (ankle, hamstring) and Emmanuel Sanders (COVID-19) against the Panthers' 24th-ranked run defense. Murray is a good bet for 12-15 touches in Week 7, putting him squarely in the flex discussion.
Los Angeles Rams WR Robert Woods (groin) did not participate in practice Friday, Oct. 23.
Fantasy Spin: Fantasy players will need to keep an eye on the situation to see if Woods will be able to play in Week 7. He can be a No. 2 or No. 3 receiver in fantasy leagues if he is cleared to play.
Los Angeles Rams TE Tyler Higbee (hand) did not participate in practice Friday, Oct. 23.
Fantasy Spin: Higbee probably will need to practice Saturday, Oct. 24, if he wants a chance to play in the Week 7 game. He is coming off his best game of the season and would see a few targets if he plays this week. He could be a low-end No. 1 tight end in some leagues.
Los Angeles Rams OT Andrew Whitworth (non-injury) and DT Aaron Donald (non-injury) fully participated in practice Friday, Oct. 23.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees faces the Panthers in Week 7. Brees will face a sneakily-good Carolina defense without his top two receivers, Michael Thomas (ankle, hamstring) and Emmanuel Sanders (COVID-19). Despite not having Thomas, Brees has thrown for at least 250 yards or two touchdowns in each game this season, giving fantasy managers a solid floor. The Panthers allow the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to quarterbacks, limiting Brees' upside. However, he should be able to finish as a solid QB2 in Week 7.