Fri Sep 13 1:40pm ET
By MIKE BARNER
Josh Allen provides value Week 2
The first week of action across the NFL was a fun one, especially from a DFS perspective with so many teams putting up massing scoring numbers. There were plenty of surprise performances, as well as some studs who came away with monster stat lines. Let’s dive into the action for Week 2 and see which players could help lead you to a profitable entry.
Top-tier option: Patrick Mahomes, KC at OAK ($7,000): The Chiefs’ offense looked just as potent as last season when they hung 40 points on the Jaguars in Week 1. Mahomes was once again productive, throwing for 378 yards and three touchdowns. While he did suffer an ankle injury, he is expected to play Sunday against the Raiders. Losing Tyreek Hill (collarbone) is significant, but Mahomes still has plenty of weapons around him, making him the most appealing option in cash contests.
Cheap target: Josh Allen, BUF at NYG ($5,800): While Allen and the Bills were moving the ball well in the early going against the Jets, turnovers resulted in them failing to score in the first half. Allen and the offense stepped up in the fourth quarter, eventually pulling out a one-point win. Allen’s 254 passing yards and one passing touchdown aren’t great, but he once again provided value on the ground with 38 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown. This is a favorable matchup against a Giants’ defense that was torched by the Cowboys, leaving Allen as a prime target at this price.
Player to avoid: Kirk Cousins, MIN at GB ($5,900): Cousins didn’t get to do much in the Vikings’ first game against the Falcons, completing 8-of-10 passes for 98 yards and a touchdown. They raced out to a big lead and rode Dalvin Cook to victory. The 10 pass attempts are certainly an anomaly, but the fact that Cook was heavily involved is not. The Vikings want to run the ball more and the Packers showed some promising improvement on defense against the Bears, making Cousins too risky here. I’d much rather save $100 and roll with Allen.
Top-tier option: Saquon Barkley, NYG vs. BUF ($8,200): If the Giants are going to have any chance of winning games, it’s going to be on the shoulders of Barkley. That’s why it was surprising that he only received 11 carries against the Cowboys. He certainly made them count, racking up 120 yards. While his 19 receiving yards weren’t great, the six targets that he received is the stat to focus on. Expect him to receive more carries this week and have one of the highest floors at his position.
Cheap target: Matt Breida, SF at CIN ($5,900): Running backs are dropping like flies again on the 49ers. First, Jerick McKinnon (knee) was placed on IR for the second straight season. Then Tevin Coleman sprained his ankle against the Bucs. Even Breida had to leave that contest to get an IV. Breida is fine for this matchup, but Coleman won’t be able to play. With the lion’s share of the workload set to fall to him, Breida could provide tremendous value based on his ability to both rack up rushing yards and catch passes out of the backfield.
Player to avoid: Phillip Lindsay, DEN vs. CHI ($6,500): What we saw from the Broncos in their opener against the Raiders was not great for Lindsay’s prospects moving forward. He was on the field for 53.1 percent of their offense snaps while fellow running back Royce Freeman played 46.9 percent of the snaps. A time share against one of the best defenses in the league is certainly a matchup to stay away from.
Top-tier option: Keenan Allen, LAC at DET ($6,800): Allen was his usual productive self against the Colts, catching eight of 10 targets for 123 yards and a touchdown. While that’s already a lot of targets, he could see even more this week with Hunter Henry (knee) out and Mike Williams (knee) trending in the wrong direction. That leaves Travis Benjamin, Dontrelle Inman and Virgil Green as his main competition for targets. Need I say more?
Cheap target: Cole Beasley, BUF at NYG ($4,000): Beasley and John Brown are two key additions for the Bills and they both played well in Week 1. Although Brown had the juicier overall numbers, Beasley still received nine targets. The Giants’ defense is very soft in the middle of the field, which is where Beasley thrives. His touchdown upside isn’t great, but look for him to accumulate a lot of receptions here.
Player to avoid: Courtland Sutton, DEN vs. CHI ($5,300): I’m basically avoiding everyone on the Broncos. If the Bears could hold Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to 10 points, think about what they could do against Joe Flacco and the Broncos, who were limited to 16 points by the Raiders on Monday. There will be other weeks in which the up-and-coming Sutton warrants consideration, but this isn’t one of them.
Top-tier option: Travis Kelce, KC at OAK ($6,900): Kelce only caught three of his eight targets against the Jaguars, but he at least converted those receptions into 88 yards. With Hill now sidelined, Kelce is likely going to take on an even larger role within the offense. This is a prime matchup against the Raiders, who he torched for 230 yards and two touchdowns in two games last season.
Cheap target: Darren Waller, OAK vs. KC ($4,500): With Antonio Brown gone, Tyrell Williams takes over as the number one wide receiver for the Raiders. Their other options at the position aren’t great, which means Waller should be heavily involved at tight end. After catching seven of eight targets for 70 yards in Week 1, he has significant upside as the Raiders try to keep pace with the Chiefs’ high-powered offense.
Player to avoid: Eric Ebron, IND at TEN ($5,200): Ebron was one of the biggest surprises in fantasy last year with his 13 touchdown receptions. He started off this season slowly, catching one of three targets for eight yards versus the Chargers. While that’s bad, the really scary stat from a fantasy perspective is that he was only on the field for 39.7 percent of the Colts’ offensive plays compared to 68.3 percent for fellow tight end Jack Doyle. With Doyle now healthy, expect Ebron to continue to have a limited role.
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.
May 14th: Draft Values
Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said that quarterback Lamar Jackson must make defenses pay if they stack the box against the Ravens offense in 2020. "Those corners are going to be one-on-one and those safeties are going to be one-on-one against receivers, especially on some downfield throws, and we got to make them pay for it. We absolutely have to make them pay," Harbaugh said. Jackson led the league with 36 touchdown passes in the NFL's highest-scoring offense in 2019, also setting an NFL record for rushing yards for a QB with 1,206 on his way to MVP honors. At age 22, he was the youngest QB to win the award. But on throws that traveled at least 15 yards, Jackson ranked 27th in completions (35) and 22nd in completion rate (43.8 percent). He certainly has the arm to make teams pay, and it would be good news for second-year wideouts Marquise Brown and Miles Boykin if Jackson takes the next step as a deep thrower. Even if Jackson runs less than he did a year ago, he should be either the first or second QB selected in fantasy drafts.
Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones hasn't had much traction with the team on a contract extension, but both sides still have until July 15 to work something out. Jones has yet to sign his franchise tender, but he's kept in touch with the Chiefs during the virtual offseason program, according to sources. The market for high-end defensive tackles like Jones is $20-plus-million per season. The 25-year-old former second-round selection in 2016 has racked up 33 sacks in his four seasons with the Chiefs, including 14.5 the last two years. He was a Pro Bowler in 2019 for the first time in his career and should be considered a top-20 defensive lineman in IDP formats.
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Matt Judon signed his one-year franchise tender on Thursday, according to a source. The one-year deal will carry a value of $16.27 million in 2020. The Ravens and Judon still have until July 15 to work out a long-term extension, but that's unlikely to happen considering the Ravens initially tagged Judon with the possibility of trading him. The former fifth-round pick in 2016 has 135 solo tackles, 45 tackles for loss, 82 QB hits, 28.5 sacks, eight passes defensed and seven forced fumbles in his four seasons. Judon was a Pro Bowler in 2019 when he had a career-high 9.5 sacks, 14 tackles for loss and 33 QB hits. He'll be entering his age-28 season in 2020.
New York Jets quarterback Joe Flacco (neck) says that he is embracing his new role as the backup quarterback to Sam Darnold. He says that his job is to help the team get better and to help a young quarterback see things as clearly as possible. Flacco started the first eight games for the Denver Broncos before suffering a season-ending neck injury. He still believes he can be a starting quarterback in the league, but understands his new role with the Jets.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins expects to put up numbers in the team's pass-happy offense under head coach Kliff Kingsbury in his first season in 2020. "So myself, being a receiver, of course I see my stats going up. ... But I definitely see myself having one of my more productive seasons," Hopkins said. He also said he hasn't met up with quarterback Kyler Murray yet, but he plans on getting together with him and the other receivers "soon." Arizona has plenty of aerial weapons in an attack that will feature a lot of four-wide sets, but Nuk will be the No. 1 option for a young QB with a ton of potential. He's consistently one of the most efficient fantasy wideouts on a yearly basis and is a no-doubt top-five fantasy receiver for drafts this fall.
The Carolina Panthers agreed to terms on an undisclosed one-year deal with cornerback Eli Apple on Thursday. Apple agreed with the Raiders earlier in free agency, but the Raiders backed out of the deal and put Apple back on the open market. The 10th overall pick in 2016 by the Giants, Apple failed to live up to his draft billing in two-plus seasons in the Big Apple, and he was underwhelming in 15 games for the Saints last year (53 solo tackles, no interceptions, four passes defensed). But with Donte Jackson and Corn Elder currently set as the two starting corners on the outside, Apple should see plenty of playing time for a Carolina secondary with plenty of questions.
Baltimore Ravens running back Justice Hill played sparingly during his rookie season last year. Hill finished the year with just 66 touches after getting stuck behind Mark Ingram II and Gus Edwards. The Ravens added to their crowded running back room in the 2020 NFL draft when they used a second-round pick on J.K. Dobbins. That leaves an unclear role for Hill in 2020. Head coach John Harbaugh is still high on Hill, however, stating that he expects the sophomore runner to make a big jump. He also went on to tell reporters that there is a role for all four runners in Baltimore. Hill remains a deep dynasty stash but he may not be fantasy relevant until 2021 when Ingram is presumably out of the picture.
The Las Vegas Raiders re-signed tight end Paul Butler to an undisclosed deal on Thursday. In a corresponding move, tight end Nick O'Leary (undisclosed) was placed on the Reserve/Non-Football Injury list. Butler hasn't appeared in a regular season game in two years in the NFL with the Raiders and Lions. O'Leary was signed as a free agent after catching 13 passes for 109 yards and a touchdown in 12 games (five starts) with the Jaguars and Dolphins in 2019. He was buried on the tight end depth chart to begin with, behind Darren Waller, Jason Witten and Foster Moreau. Las Vegas also has Derek Carrier and rookie Nick Bowers at the position.
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew II has impressed new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden with his work during the virtual offseason program. Gruden likes how Minshew has taken charge and seems to have a good grasp of the offense. "He has shown a skill set where he can sit in a pocket, step up, make things happen outside the pocket. He's accurate, he's tough and obviously he's a great leader, so he's got the intangibles you want in a quarterback," Gruden said. The sixth-round pick went 6-6 as a starter in his rookie season and had the highest passer rating and fewest interceptions among rookie QBs in 2019. The 24-year-old took the league by storm last year out of nowhere and has the ability to make things happen outside the pocket and with his legs, as he rushed for 344 yards in 2019. All things considered, though, Minshew is a low-end QB2 that will likely see more inconsistency in his second season.
Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur is looking for his offense to find more explosive plays under quarterback Aaron Rodgers in 2020, the coach admitted on ESPN Wisconsin's Wilde & Tausch. The Packers ranked 19th in explosive-play rate in 2019, according to Sharp Football Stats. However, other than free-agent addition Devin Funchess in the passing game, the Packers didn't really give Rodgers any added help outside of receiver Davante Adams and running back Aaron Jones. It will be on LaFleur to scheme up more explosive situations this year, but it definitely helps to have Rodgers throwing the passes, even if he's getting older. What's certain is that the Packers will need someone besides Adams and Jones to step up for Rodgers to hold off the naysayers.
San Francisco 49ers left tackle Trent Williams agreed to a restructured deal in the final year of his contract in 2020. Williams is due to make $12.5 million this year, but the 49ers agreed to give him some of that up front after he didn't make any money in 2019. The Redskins traded Williams to San Francisco during the draft in April, where he'll immediately become the blind-side protector for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo after not playing at all last season. Even though Williams will turn 32 years old in July, the seven-time Pro Bowler is an immediate upgrade for the team's offensive line and should continue to be one of the better left tackles in the NFL.
Arizona Cardinals All-Pro linebacker Chandler Jones has more sacks and forced fumbles than any defender since he entered the league in 2012, and his 96 sacks through eight seasons are four more than Bruce Smith, the all-time sacks leader, at the same point in his career. Jones was one of two players in NFL history in 2019 to have 19-plus sacks and eight-plus forced fumbles in a single season. He's been really good, but he wants to work on improving against the run, his eye placement and his hand work. Jones plans to spend more practice time with the defensive line so that he can get more comfortable playing between the tackles. The two-time All-Pro and member of the league's 2010s All-Decade team can certainly get to the QB, but he'll need to improve his tackling numbers in order to justify his high price in IDP leagues.
Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson said he hasn't really had any contract talks with the team as he enters the final year of his current deal. "I feel I have a lot to prove," Peterson said. He also said he would love to stay with one team in his career and praised the organization. The 29-year-old was suspended for the first six games of 2019 and was a bit rusty upon his return. He finished with 53 tackles (46 solo), two interceptions, seven passes defensed and one forced fumble in his 10 games. The Cardinals have potential on defense with some playmakers in the middle of the field, but they'll need Peterson to return to his All-Pro form in order to make some noise in a loaded NFC West division.
The Philadelphia Eagles are interested in both running backs Devonta Freeman and LeSean McCoy, who remain free agents. The Eagles offered a contract to Carlos Hyde before he signed with the Seahawks. Freeman also received an offer, but he's also weighing another offer from the Buccaneers. Philly has yet to make an offer to McCoy. The Eagles would like a veteran presence behind Miles Sanders as he heads into his second NFL season, with Boston Scott as his current backup. Both Freeman and McCoy are past their prime, but they could be effective in spurts while spelling Sanders behind a solid offensive line. Freeman would probably have more fantasy appeal as a handcuff on early downs and in goal-line situations.
Las Vegas Raiders linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski started eight games last season for the Bears before signing a three-year, $21 million deal with the Raiders this offseason to become a full-time starter. A fourth-round pick in 2016, Kwiatkoski played a bit role his first three years, but the 27-year-old showed off his abilities when he was granted more playing time in 2019 due to injuries to the position. He had 76 tackles (eight for loss), three sacks, one forced fumble and an interception while impressing as a blitzer, against the run and in coverage. Kwiatkoski will be asked to be the leader of Las Vegas' linebacking corps in 2020, and it's something he's very comfortable with. The middle of the Raiders defense has been a problem spot for a while, so they're hoping Kwiatkoski's addition will change that.
Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott was accurate on only 60.9 percent of his throws with three receivers running a route in 2019. However, that mark increased to 81.8 percent when he had four pass-catchers available to him and 79.3 percent with five receivers running a route.
Las Vegas Raiders QB Derek Carr was 72.3 percent accurate on his throws in the fourth quarter of games in 2019 - the best such mark of any qualified quarterback last season.
Free-agent defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is in no rush to sign with a team, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. The Browns and Seahawks have made offers to Clowney and the Titans have also been monitoring him, but he's in no hurry to sign with anyone. The former No. 1 overall pick is by far the biggest name still on the free-agent market. His slow market also has to do with teams wanting a physical for the six-year pro after he underwent offseason surgery for a core muscle injury that limited him to 11 starts in 2019 with Seattle. Cleveland apparently has been the most aggressive for Clowney, but it remains to be seen if he'll choose them. Clowney's sack numbers aren't impressive, but he is still plenty disruptive as a pass-rusher when he's healthy.
Houston Texans WR Will Fuller finished with 670 receiving yards in 2019 - the second-highest total for a player who played fewer than 12 games last season - although more than half of that total (357 yards) came in two of his 11 contests.
Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson finished 19-for-25 and threw for 12 touchdowns against Cover-0 coverage - an all-out blitz with man coverage and no deep safety - in 2019.