With all of the top fantasy players at your disposal each week, it can be tough to decide between guys like A.J. Green and Julio Jones when building your lineup. In this weekly article, I’ll take a look at guys on the upper or middle range of salaries at each position (‘”retail prices”), identifying my favorite plays for the week. Make sure to complement these players with “value plays,” and as always be mindful of the different strategies that apply for GPP versus Cash contests.
FanDuel and DraftKings NFL Week 2w Picks: Top QBs, RBs, WRs, TEs and D/ST
Tom Brady (NE, FD: $9,200, DK: $7,900) at New Orleans Saints
Brady enters the weekend as the clear top option at quarterback. He’s the highest-priced QB on both sites as he’ll face a Saints defense that allowed Sam Bradford to throw for 346 yards and three TDs. The Patriots have the highest implied point total (30.5) of the weekend, and have 10 full days to prepare after losing last Thursday. It will be a surprise if Brady doesn’t top 300 yards and two touchdowns, and maybe a bonus touchdown to former Saints WR Brandin Cooks, so don’t shy away from playing the golden boy in what’s set to be a bounce back week for New England.
Aaron Rodgers (GB, FD: $9,100, DK: $7,400) at Atlanta Falcons
While Rodgers should have a big week and be viable on both sites, his DraftKings pricing is really favorable. The Packer QB has annihilated Falcons secondaries throughout his career. He’s averaged 325 passing yards in seven career games (including playoffs) and has thrown at least three touchdowns in his last three outings. Rodgers threw for over 300 yards against Seattle in Week 1, and will head to Atlanta with a full complement of weapons. It’ll be tough to decide between him and Brady on FanDuel, but once again his DK price is just too low to avoid.
Russell Wilson (SEA, FD: $8,100, DK: $6,800) vs. San Francisco 49ers
I expect Wilson and the Seahawks to perform much better against the 49ers at home than against the Packers in Lambeau. Seattle averaged 27.8 points at home in 2016 vs. just 15.6 points on the road. Wilson averaged 250 passing yards and a touchdown against the Niners last season, but Trevone Boykin played a quarter and a half in their first matchup (Wilson left with a knee injury) and nearly the whole 4th quarter in the second matchup (Carroll pulled starters to preserve for playoffs). With Wilson completely healthy and the Seahawks looking to silence doubters after their lackluster showing in Green Bay, I expect him to have a big Week 2.
Ezekiel Elliott (DAL, FD: $8,700, DK: $7,800) at Denver Broncos
The NFL’s leading rusher from a season ago will face a Denver defense that allowed 130 rushing yards per game last season, fifth-most in the NFL. Although the game is in Denver, the Cowboys enter as two-point favorites. Zeke should see plenty of action as he received 29 touches in Week 1. And after catching just 32 balls all of last season, Elliott was more involved in the passing game the Giants, catching all five targets for 32 yards. If Darren McFadden is inactive once again, Elliott should stay on the field in passing situations and get even more touches, which helps his floor on both sites.
Melvin Gordon (LAC, FD: $7,600, DK: $7,000) vs Miami Dolphins
Gordon racked up 132 yards of total offense in a home matchup against Miami last season, a defense that allowed the second-most rushing yards per game (142.7). The Wisconsin product saw 18 rushes against the Broncos even with a negative game script (trailing most of the game), so he shouldn’t have any trouble finding looks with the Chargers as 4.5-point favorites. His involvement in the passing game is legitimate as well, as he caught five of six targets for 25 yards and a score on Monday night.
Marshawn Lynch (OAK, FD: $7,200, DK: $6,000) vs. New York Jets
Lynch should see plenty of work come Sunday, as the Raiders enter Wednesday as 13.5-point favorites over the lowly Jets. Even though Lynch alternated some possessions with backups Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington, he was still the featured back with 70% (18 of 26) of the team’s carries. The Jets surrendered 152 rushing yards to Bills’ running backs in Week 1 as LeSean McCoy averaged five yards per carry (22 for 110). If you watched the Raiders @ Titans game this past Sunday, you’d recall that Oakland elected to throw three straight times on first and goal from the 2-yard line, which resulted in a field goal. I don’t think they’ll make the same mistake this weekend with Lynch in the backfield (of course, tell that to Seahawks fans), so look for him to fall in the end zone while picking up plenty of yards on the ground.
Brandin Cooks (NE, FD: $7,900, DK: $8,200) at New Orleans Saints
I’ll happily pair up Cooks alongside Brady this week, especially on FanDuel. Along with the highest implied point total of the weekend (30.5), Cooks has the revenge-game narrative on his side. New Orleans couldn’t cover anyone on Monday night, allowing Adam Thielen to reel in 9 of 10 targets for 157 yards and Stefon Diggs to catch seven of eight targets for 93 yards and two scores. It’s unclear whether Danny Amendola will play after getting concussed in last Thursday’s game, but if he’s out, Cooks could see an even higher target share in Week 2 (saw 7 of 33 targets in Week 1). This should be a huge weekend for the Pats’ offense as a whole, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Cooks lead the team in targets and yards on Sunday.
Julio Jones (ATL, FD: $8,800, DK: $9,200) vs. Green Bay Packers
It was rare to see Jones receive just five of Matt Ryan’s 30 passing attempts in Week 1, especially considering Mohamed Sanu saw nine and Tevin Coleman saw six. Jones saw 24% of Ryan’s targets a season ago, so I expect him to get more work this weekend against the Packers. The Falcons put up 77 points in two games against Green Bay last season, with Jones playing a huge role in their playoff matchup, catching 9 of 12 targets for 180 yards and two TDs. The Packers’ D looked solid in Week 1 against Seattle, but the Seahawks line was more of a turnstile than a brick wall. They still allowed the most fantasy points to WRs a season ago, and their CBs graded out poorly in Week 1. Per Pro Football Focus (PFF), their three starting corners graded outside the top 50 in terms of coverage after finishing outside the top 90 in 2016. I expect Jones to be much more involved in the Falcons’ home opener, so make sure to get him in your lineups as ownership might be depressed coming off a subpar Week 1.
Jordy Nelson (GB, FD: $8,100, DK: $7,900) at Atlanta Falcons
The #1 fantasy WR from a season ago got off to a hot start in Week 1, catching seven of eight targets for 79 yards and a score. It’s almost a given that Nelson will catch a TD from Rodgers, as he caught 15 TDs in 18 games a season ago, including one in both games against the Falcons. This game features the second-highest total of the weekend (53.5) and a tight spread of just 2.5 points (Falcons favored), so there’s high shootout potential. The Falcons’ outside corners, Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford, ranked 65th and 67th in PFF’s coverage ratings in Week 1. I see no reason why Nelson won’t find success in Atlanta this weekend, so play him with confidence on Sunday.
Keenan Allen (LAC, FD: $7,100, DK: $5,800) vs. Miami Dolphins
Allen is still super cheap across the industry after missing nearly all of 2016 with a torn ACL, but is still the #1 option in an offense that passed for the seventh-most yards per game last season (262.4). The Chargers have a solid implied total of 24.8 and face a Dolphins defense that allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing WRs last season. Allen saw 10 of Philip Rivers’ 33 passes in Week 1, but was only able to catch five for 35 yards and a touchdown against the Broncos’ stifling secondary. I think he’ll get much more downfield work against a porous Dolphins secondary and show why he’s the WR you want for the Chargers.
Larry Fitzgerald (ARI, FD: $6,600, DK: $6,500) at Indianapolis Colts
Fitz saw 13 targets against the Lions in Week 1, tied for second-highest of any wideout and most on his team. The Cardinals lost their number one offensive weapon in David Johnson, so I anticipate Fitz will continue to see significant usage in his absence. Indy allowed 310 passing yards in Week 1 to Jared Goff, so Carson Palmer should have no problem finding Fitzgerald on Sunday. He’s still too cheap to ignore on both sites, and should make for a great value against a terrible defense.
Rob Gronkowski (NE, FD: $8,100, DK: $6,900) at New Orleans Saints
Gronk is in a class of his own when it comes to pricing on DFS sites, as he’s $1,400 more expensive than the second-ranked TE on both sites entering this weekend. There aren’t many favorable matchups for higher priced TEs this weekend, so I don’t mind going up to Gronk against the Saints. As I’ve said under Brady and Cooks, I love the Patriots offense heading into New Orleans after a disappointing Week 1 loss. Gronk caught just two of six targets in Week 1 and had a TD called back, but has still caught 77 TDs in 99 career games, so the odds are in his favor to find his way into the end zone in Week 2.
Jimmy Graham (SEA, FD: $6,300, DK: $4,900) vs. San Francisco Giants
Graham is my favorite retail play at tight end this weekend in regards to points per dollar return. In two games against the 49ers last season, Graham combined for 10 catches, 164 yards, and a touchdown. San Francisco will likely be without one of their best linebackers in Reuben Foster due to a high ankle sprain, which will only increase Graham’s chances of having a big weekend. All six of his touchdown receptions came at home in 2016, so all signs point to Graham performing well in your lineup this weekend.
Arizona Cardinals (FD: $5,000, DK: $4,100) at Indianapolis Colts
It’s no secret the Colts’ offense is terrible without Andrew Luck at quarterback. The Rams led fantasy defenses in scoring Week 1, as they caused three turnovers including two pick-sixes and sacked Scott Tolzien and Jacoby Brissett four times. It would likely be better if Tolzien started, but Brissett was just acquired on September 2nd, so the Colts would have to run a dumbed-down offense with him under center. Either way, the Cardinals should be able to feast on a terrible offense.
Seattle Seahawks (FD: $5,400, DK: $4,000) vs. San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco really struggled in pass protection on Sunday, allowing four sacks to the Panthers (QB Brian Hoyer didn’t help matters). Seattle boasts the best front seven in football with the Legion of Boom behind them, so they should have no trouble taking down Brian Hoyer and turning him over a couple times. As 13.5 point favorites, the Seahawks will likely build an early lead and force the 49ers to be one dimensional. This will allow their D-Line to tee off and get after Hoyer all night long.
Baltimore Ravens (FD: $4,700, DK: $3,700) vs. Cleveland Browns
Baltimore sucked all the life out of Andy Dalton and the Bengals offense in Week 1, turning Dalton over five times (4 INTs, 1 Fumble). They also sacked Dalton five times while shutting out the Bengals, making them the fourth-highest scoring defense of the weekend. They’ll now face rookie QB DeShone Kizer and the Browns, who coughed up an interception and seven sacks to the Steelers in Week 1. The Ravens should have no problem racking up sacks and likely a few turnovers, so fire them up with confidence.