Recap from Week 1
So I actually did pretty well with the lineup I posted last week.
If you read my Week 1 edition of DFS, you may recall that my lineup looked like this as of Wednesday: QB1: Aaron Rodgers, QB2: S. Bradford, RB1: E. Lacy, RB2: J. Stewart, WR1: Julio Jones, WR2: B. Cooks, TE: D. Walker, D/ST: Dolphins, Flex: Davante Adams, and Flex2: Josh Hill.
I tweaked the lineup a bit before Thursday's deadline, and decided that it was best NOT to go withe Rodgers and Lacy in the same line-up. So I swapped Lacy for Chris Ivory, whose match-up I loved against Cleveland. That freed up enough cash for me to upgrade from Hill to Jarvis Landy with my second flex. The move turned out to be a good one as Ivory outscored Lacy -- and Landry outscored Hill, who didn't even see a target. (Note: I think it is safe to drop Josh Hill now if you need room on your fantasy roster!)
I won money in all three contests in which I plugged in that lineup.
After Week 1 It Gets Harder
As I mentioned last week, the first week of the season is always so very interesting. So many unexpected things happen that no one anticipated. Also there are many players whose statuses were last updated weeks prior to the start of the season, and their respective DFS salaries are out-of-date. That is why Adams was not such a great play after all -- the news of his moving up the depth chart after the Jordy Nelson injury was common knowledge -- and he was used in over 100% of DFS lineups in Week 1. (As it turns out, the better play would have been fellow GB receiver James Jones!)
Beginning this week it is much harder to find those hidden value gems. The good news is that if you do your homework and have some intuition, you may be able to find buy-low candidates that no one else is talking about.
Let's start with the expensive, stud players. As I wrote extensively in the preseason, I have come around to preferring the the safety and value at the wide receiver position at the more premium spots in my lineup. Antonio Brown, who has caught at least 5 passes in every game he's played in the last 2 years, is like money in the bank. So $149,900 is expensive -- but it is money well spent.
I like balancing risk and value, so I am going to let the collapse of Denver's defense last week against Baltimore work to my advantage rather than worry too much about it. That is why I like Demaryius Thomas this week. Without the hysteria surrounding that Week 1 performance by the Broncos, Thomas wouldn't be available this week at the price of $130,500. That is in the same ballpark as DeAndre Hopkins and Jordan Matthews, neither of who should be nearly as highly evaluated as Thomas, regardless of match-up. The Chiefs, who Thomas and Broncos face this week, were wide receiver friendly last week against QBs way below Peyton Manning's level.
With the pool of stud RBs ever dwindling, I love the productivity that Matt Forte provides, especially in PPR formats. This one is 1/2 PPR, and I personally have Forte ranked as my #1 fantasy RB in such a format. He is also #1 in our Weekly Player Rankings. Comparatively, at $130,300 he is the #7 ranked RB in DFS this week, which I believe is good value.
The QB Dilemma
Since I spent so much on the WR positions and Forte, that means that my QB budget is limited. My big-play QB candidate this week is Drew Brees (going against the Bucs), but I can't afford to pay the $168,000 price for him and still have enough left over to fill my remaining spots with meaningful options. I am going to play the match-ups this week -- and apply some contradictory logic.
The name that jumps out to me is that of Peyton Manning. He is competitively priced at just $135,000, and there is part of me that wants to hop on that deal, as he may NEVER be priced that low again. However, since I am already gambling by taking D. Thomas, taking Manning would doom my lineup if the Broncos give us an encore of last week. Diversify! Honestly, if you are one of those owners who submits multiple lineups each week, then the Manning/Thomas combo may be a smart play, given the high upside. Still, I bet I will keep lingering on this one right up until kickoff.
Instead, for just $8,500 more, I love everything about Carson Palmer this week. He is coming off a great game slinging the ball against the Saints and shaking the doubts about his knee in the process. Palmer also gets a great match-up against the Bears. I have him ranked as a top five QB this week, so his #6 value is decent.
The team that gave up the most fantasy points to QBs last week was the Pittsburgh Steelers. They aren't facing Brady again this week, but they are matching wits with Colin Kaepernick, who was not asked to do much on Monday night. In fact, Kaep did very little but still wound up with 10.7 points. It's funny what a few rushing yards here and there will do for a fantasy QB. I expect the Niners to have to lean on him more heavily this week against Big Ben and the Steelers, and I like his $125,300 price tag.
For the mid-range players, I am going with the Williams boys: DeAngelo ($76,000) and Terrance ($88,000).
DeAngelo had a great first week against the Patriots, but he faces a 49er defense that looked ominous on Monday night. That is why DeAngelo has such a low price tag. I know, I know. San Francisco more or less shut down the Vikings and held the great Adrian Peterson to just 31 yards. That was a great job by the 49ers, obviously, but I am willing to bet that was more bad Minnesota than great San Francisco. Seriously, the fact that AP only got the ball 10 times (in a game that wasn't truly decided until the 4th quarter) and was standing on the sidelines way too often, is an indictment of the Vikings' coaching staff. The Steelers' coaches won't be as foolish. Also, Le'Veon Bell comes back next week, so I expect Pittsburgh to get their money's worth from DeAngelo before he makes way for Bell.
Terrance was THE top wide receiver this week in our Best Bets piece. With Dez out for the next several weeks, it makes sense that T. Williams moves up in our rankings. I have him ranked #20 at the position this week in a very favorable match-up against the Eagles, but at $88,000 he is priced more like a WR3.
So with my starting QB, RB, WR and one Flex position filled, I must use my remaining cash on Defense, Tight End and one more flex. This is where we dig deep, since my budget is about $160,000 for all three positions.
At TE, a name that hops out to me is Vernon Davis. A forgotten man last season, he was in on 72 of the team's 73 snaps Monday night. He saw 6 targets in the game, which isn't horrible considering that the 49ers were having such success running the ball. As I mentioned with Kaep, I suspect that the flow of the game against Pittsburgh will be very different. At just $52,600 he is almost an afterthought (priced below the likes of Antonio Gates who isn't even playing). Remember, the Steelers also gave up FOUR touchdowns to tight ends last Thursday night. Yes, I know that 3 of them went to Gronk, but still... Any production I get from VD is gravy -- and, as I said, I think he has a sneaky good game anyway.
I am not one to over-think defense. Last week I liked Miami because of the match-up against the Redskins and the fact that I thought they were seriously under-priced. With budget in mind, a defense that I can stomach this week is the NY Giants. Does that mean I think they are a great defense or that they can keep the Falcons in check? No. But they did create some turnovers Sunday night against Dallas, and Matt Ryan can be careless with the ball. He tossed 2 INTs and could very easily have tossed 3 more against Philly. I can live with whatever they give me for $40,300.
That leaves a little over $60K, and I note that Lance Dunbar, who is a Waiver Wire sensation, has a price tag of just $58,900. He was Romo's most-targeted receiver Sunday night. While that may not be the case again this week, I think his role as the 3rd down, pass-catching RB is clearly defined. With Dez out of the mix, Dunbar could be a big PPR performer in a contest against the Eagles that could be a shootout.
And that leaves me with $4,100 left over. Are there some slight tweaks I can make to get Peyton Manning into my lineup?
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