Week 1 was a reminder that we shouldn’t get too fancy at RB — even in tournaments.
Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, Chris Carson and Austin Ekeler were 4 of the most popular plays at the position.They all went off and were in tournament-winning lineups.
I had plenty of those guys in my tournament lineups.But I also tried to get cute with contrarian plays like Kerryon Johnson and Miles Sanders.
That didn’t work.
So going forward, I’ll be focusing on just playing the best plays at RB — regardless of projected ownership — and getting my differentiation at the other positions.
On to the Week 2 picks …
Jared Goff, Rams ($5,900)
Goff had some serious home/road splits last season, so it didn’t come as a major surprise that he struggled in Carolina in Week 1.
Now he’s back at home, where he averaged 342 yards and 2.8 TDs per game last year.And he’ll find himself in a potential shootout against the Saints.The game sports a 52-point over/under — 2nd highest on the main slate.The Rams’ 27.25-point implied total is 4th highest.
New Orleans just coughed up 268 yards and 3 TDs to Deshaun Watson on a 67% completion rate and 8.9 yards per attempt.And in Goff’s 2 meetings with the Saints last year — both in New Orleans — he posted 391-3-1 and 297-1-1 passing lines.
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers ($5,800)
We all just watched the Steelers offense lay an egg on Sunday Night Football.But that was against a strong Patriots defense.And it was on the road.
Now Pittsburgh is at home, where Roethlisberger has been consistently excellent.He’s averaged 309 yards and 2.6 TDs at Heinz Field over the past 3 seasons.
That came with Antonio Brown, of course.So there’s a bit more risk with Big Ben as the Steelers figure out their AB-less offense.But there’s also big upside here against a burnable Seahawks pass defense that just gave up 418 yards and 2 scores to Andy Dalton.
Derek Carr, Raiders ($5,100)
Carr looked surprisingly good in the Week 1 win over the Broncos, throwing for 259 yards and a score on an 85% completion rate and 10.0 yards per attempt.WR Tyrell Williams and TE Darren Waller both impressed.
Now Carr finds himself in an excellent spot: at home for an explosive Chiefs squad that figures to force Carr to chuck it a bunch.In his last 2 home games vs. Kansas City, Carr has posted 285-3-0 and 417-3-0 passing lines.
The Chiefs, of course, just gave up 350 yards and 3 TDs to Jaguars QBs Nick Foles and Gardner Minshew, who combined to complete 82% of their passes and average 10.6 yards per attempt.
Josh Jacobs, Raiders ($4,700)
DraftKings’ Week 2 pricing came out before Oakland’s Monday night win over the Broncos.So Jacobs’ price wasn’t adjusted for his workhorse role.
The rookie played 74% of the offensive snaps and handled 23 of the Raiders’ 26 RB carries.Jacobs saw just 1 target — but expect that number to grow when Derek Carr throws it more than 26 times.
Jacobs should be priced somewhere in the $6000s.Let’s take advantage of the huge discount.
Alvin Kamara, Saints ($8,200)
Other than Jacobs, there are no glaringly mis-priced RBs this week.So we’ll go back to the cash-game strategy of paying up for an elite RB.And we’ll give the nod to Kamara, who’s a thousand bucks cheaper than Saquon Barkley.
The way to beat the Rams defense is on the ground.Last year, they finished 27th in Football Outsiders’ run defense rankings and 9th vs. the pass.In this year’s opener, they held Cam Newton to 239 scoreless passing yards but allowed 6.7 yards per carry to Christian McCaffrey.
So look for Kamara to be featured on Sunday (like usual).He totaled 227 yards and 3 TDs in 2 meetings with the Rams last season.
* Bengals RB Gio Bernard will be a strong cash play if Joe Mixon’s ankle injury keeps him out.In 4 games without Mixon over the past 2 seasons, Bernard averaged 13 carries and 6.5 targets.
James Conner, Steelers ($6,800)
As we talked about in the intro, let’s not get too fancy at RB.Conner is in play for cash games and figures to be lower owned than he should be in tournaments after the Week 1 dud.
I’m just tossing that game out for the Steelers offense.The Patriots’ defense is excellent — and they own the Steelers anyway.
Conner got workhorse usage this preseason and looked awesome.Pittsburgh is a 4-point home favorite with a nice 25.25-point implied total this weekend, so I like Conner’s odds for 20+ touches and at least 1 TD.
Damien Williams, Chiefs ($5,800)
LeSean McCoy is the flavor of the week in the Chiefs backfield after out-gaining Williams 81 to 26 on the ground in Week 1, despite receiving 3 fewer carries.
But Williams got the money touches in that one.He out-targeted McCoy 6 to 1.And he garnered 8 red-zone opportunities (carries + targets) to McCoy’s 1.
Targets and TDs are what pay the fantasy bills — especially on DraftKings.As long as Williams continues to get that work, he’ll boast big upside.That’s certainly the case this week against the Raiders, with the Chiefs sporting a huge 30-point implied total.
Cooper Kupp, Rams ($6,000)
He looked like Cooper Kupp in his 1st game since last year’s torn ACL.He finished 2nd on the Rams with 10 targets (25.6% share) and came away with a 7-46 line.Kupp played 89% of the offensive snaps and ran a route on 91% of Jared Goff’s drop backs.
Now Kupp is in a great spot in a likely shootout against the Saints.His slot role will pit him against CB P.J. Hill, who surrendered 3 catches for 41 yards and a score on 4 targets in the opener.Kupp posted a 5-89-1 line vs. New Orleans last year.
Tyrell Williams, Raiders ($4,400)
Like Josh Jacobs, Williams’ didn’t get a price hike for a strong Week 1 because it came on Monday night.
He looked like a true #1 WR in that win over the Broncos, tallying a big 6-105-1 line on a 27% target share.Next up is a flammable Chiefs secondary.CBs Kendall Fuller and Charvarius Ward gave up a combined 14 catches, 217 yards and 1 TD on 15 targets in the opener.
Will Fuller, Texans ($5,300)
I highlighted Sammy Watkins in this spot last week.That worked out pretty well.
Now it’s Fuller’s turn to take on a — dare I say — overrated Jaguars secondary.In that opener, CB Jalen Ramsey coughed up 6 catches, 82 yards and 2 TDs on 9 targets.CB A.J. Bouye surrendered a 4-79 line on 7 targets.
Fuller saw just 3 targets in Week 1.But he made an uber-impressive downfield grab.And he played 97% of the Texans’ offensive snaps.
A healthy Fuller always carries tournament-winning upside.He topped 24 DraftKings points in 3 of 7 games last year.
Mecole Hardman, Chiefs ($4,800)
Here’s a fun one.
We don’t know exactly how the Chiefs will replace Tyreek Hill’s snaps.HC Andy Reid indicated earlier this week that Hardman and De’Anthony Thomas will split Hill’s work.
Here’s what we do know: Hardman played 78% of the Chiefs’ offensive snaps and ran a route on 80% of Patrick Mahomes’ drop backs in the opener; the Chiefs basically drafted him as a Hill replacement this spring; and he boasts 4.3 speed.
Throw in a juicy matchup against the Raiders, and Hardman looks like a guy you’ll want to throw in at least a tournament lineup or 2.
Darren Waller, Raiders ($3,300)
OK, this is the 4th Raider we’ve mentioned.That’s a potential issue considering, ya know, it’s the Raiders.
The biggest decision we’ll need to make in lineups this week is how many Raiders is too many Raiders.At least in cash games, I don’t think you want more than 2.I’ll be prioritizing Josh Jacobs.But Waller might be my 2nd Raider.
He looked the part of a top 10 fantasy TE in the opener.He played 100% of the offensive snaps, ran a route on 93% of Derek Carr’s drop backs and garnered a team-high 31% target share.Now he gets a Chiefs defense that allowed the 3rd most fantasy points to TEs last season.
T.J. Hockenson, Lions ($3,000)
If you need to save a few hundred bucks, pivoting down from Waller to Hockenson makes sense.
The rookie is clearly ready for the big leagues, posting a massive 6-131-1 line in Week 1.He played 73% of the offensive snaps, ran a route on 72% of Matt Stafford’s drop backs and saw 20% of the Lions’ targets.
The Chargers aren’t an ideal matchup.But Hockenson’s talent, role and price make him a strong play.
Travis Kelce, Chiefs ($7,300)
George Kittle, 49ers ($6,800)
I expect Waller and Hockenson to soak up a ton of ownership, which should leave these studs under-owned.
Both guys were relatively disappointing in Week 1, with Kelce posting 11.8 DK points and Kittle 13.4.
But Kelce saw 8 targets and had Patrick Mahomes overthrow him wide open in the end zone.Kittle garnered 10 targets and had 2 TDs negated by penalties.
Their tournament-winning upside hasn’t gone away.
Vance McDonald, Steelers ($3,900)
Here’s an interesting stack with Ben Roethlisberger.
McDonald dudded along with the rest of Pittsburgh’s offense in Week 1.But he did play 72% of the offensive snaps -- a nice bump from his 55% snap rate last year.
If this offense bounces back on Sunday like I think it will, McDonald will be a big part of it.He gets a Seahawks defense that allowed 9 catches and 93 yards to Bengals TEs in the opener.
Yeah, Gardner Minshew was impressive last week.But that was at home for the Chiefs.
Now he heads on the road for his 1st career start against J.J. Watt and Co.Advantage: Texans D.
The price tag and other strong plays like the Ravens and Patriots should keep Chicago’s ownership down.
They get a Broncos squad that just allowed 3 sacks in the opener to a Raiders defense that mustered only 13 sacks all last season.