Week 2 Player Grid
This Player Grid will hold little value for you without first reading this.
READ THE SENTENCE DIRECTLY ABOVE!
Note: Players in a given tier are not listed in any particular order.
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I have my week narrowed down to five quarterbacks I really like, and I’m going to put all of them in Tier 1, because there is really so little that separates one from another for me this week. I’ll list them in the order I like them, and I’ll list the things I like and dislike; but really, I like all five, and would be fine with any, depending on how this final push of Roster Construction works out.
- Ben Roethlisberger :: The Steelers are in a bounce-back spot after their embarrassing tie at the Browns — at home, where Ben plays better; vs a Chiefs defense that plays worse on the road, and is a bottom-five NFL defense. His wide receivers match up perfectly with what KC aims to do. This is my favorite offense this week, which makes Ben my favorite QB.
In cash games on FanDuel, I wouldn’t even move past Ben, as it’s just so easy to fit him compared to these other options. On DraftKings and FantasyDraft, I don’t know that I’ll have the money to get up to Ben; and even on FanDuel, there can be a Strategy Case made for moving away from the top option, so here are the other guys I’m looking at:
- Deshaun Watson :: I’m not concerned after last week, as Watson still put up 13 points without Will Fuller, in a surprisingly difficult matchup, in his first game back from an ACL tear. I’m pegging his floor lower than Ben’s (I have his floor at 16 points), but his ceiling is as high as any quarterback’s on the slate. This will be sneakier than it should be, but that’s not why I like it. It’s just a great play.
- Patrick Mahomes :: If I don’t have the money to make it up to Ben on DraftKings, my big question on my main team will be ‘Watson or Mahomes?’ Mahomes has a slightly tougher matchup and we know less about his floor, but the game environment in Pittsburgh is so sweet this week, vs a Pittsburgh offense that should go nuts on Sunday. Mahomes will have to attack all day, and he should be in line for a really nice score, with tourney-winning upside.
- Matthew Stafford :: The Lions should bounce back this week, running literally the same offense they had last season, with improved weaponry. San Fran is not a defense to fear, and the 49ers should put up points against the Lions, forcing Detroit to stick to their pass-heavy ways (second in the NFL last year in pass play percentage). With Marvin Jones and Golden Tate healthy, and with Kenny Golladay ready to make a second-year leap, there is a lot to like in this spot.
- Matt Ryan :: He would be listed higher if his arm hadn’t looked so concerning in Week 1. He has traditionally torched Ron Rivera’s defenses, and the Falcons like to attack the Panthers deep, which adds to Ryan’s upside. He’s my fifth guy on the list, but it’s a “close fifth.” Honestly, I would be fine with any of these five.
The running back position has tightened up this week, but there are a few guys I really like a lot. I’ll try to get at least two of these guys on any roster I build.
- Alvin Kamara :: It’s close between Kamara and Gurley for me, and I actually lean slightly toward Gurley, simply because volume is higher, which raises his floor compared to Kamara’s. Ceiling is the same on each guy, and each is massively unlikely to fail. I would love to find Kamara and/or Gurley on my rosters this week; and on FanDuel, where pricing is more flexible, it makes a ton of sense to even try to fit in both of these guys.
- Todd Gurley :: When the Rams score, it’s often because of Gurley. And the Rams should have a clear shot this week at four touchdowns — giving Gurley a clear shot at a couple of his own. Add in his yardage floor/ceiling and his pass-catching role, and he’s a guy who fits on any type of roster. With tighter pricing on DraftKings and FantasyDraft, there are clear cases to be made this week that you might be able to build a better overall roster without these guys. But I’m building rosters with both approaches: with Kamara and/or Gurley, and without Kamara and/or Gurley, in order to find something that maximizes the overall floor and ceiling of my roster as a whole.
- James Conner :: He is the most underpriced running back on this slate. Period.
- Melvin Gordon :: I will likely pivot down to Gordon on DraftKings if I cannot fit Gurley/Kamara. With tight pricing and $1800 separating Gordon from that top range, there is a chance a better overall roster can be created with this approach. (On FanDuel, where Gurley is only $700 more, it makes sense to find the money to play the clearly superior on-paper play.) If we played out this slate a hundred times, Gordon’s role and matchup would allow him to outscore Gurley on this slate about 30% of the time, and he is also massively unlikely to earn you a dud. I encourage messing around with both approaches this week on DraftKings (and FantasyDraft!) and seeing what you feel creates the better overall roster.
- T.J. Yeldon — if :: If Fournette misses this game (note: It’s not official, but as of Saturday night, Fournette is expected to miss), Yeldon becomes a Tier 1 play for me on DraftKings and FantasyDraft only (while becoming Tier 2 on FanDuel). He should catch six or seven passes and will be heavily involved in the run game, with around 15 carries. The touchdown ceiling is low in this spot, but the yardage ceiling is notable for the price on a week with tight pricing. Of course, this is complicated by the fact that this game kicks off late and Fournette is still considered a game-time decision; but if we get word earlier (or if you are struggling after the early games and need to pivot to improve your roster), I like Yeldon as a high-floor, moderate-ceiling play.
Because my goal with my player grid is to narrow things down to the smallest possible point, I am leaving a few guys off this list that I really like: Michael Thomas, DeAndre Hopkins, and Keenan Allen. If you read the NFL Edge, you will see that I like all three of these guys a lot. All three are strong plays. All three can be considered comfortably in cash games and tourneys of all shapes and sizes. They are only being left off the list because there are five high-priced wide receivers in all who require attention this week; and one of them is a lock-button play for me, so that leaves a max of one remaining spot for paying up at WR. I wanted to narrow down those remaining four to a favorite.
- Antonio Brown :: If he scores 17 points on DraftKings and FantasyDraft, and 14 points on FanDuel, that will be a really disappointing game. He also has 35- to 40-point games in his range of outcomes. There is so much that lines up well in this spot, I’m not even considering rosters without A.B. I don’t use “lock button” lightly. He’s locked onto my rosters this week.
- Julio Jones :: You can find more details on this matchup in the NFL Edge writeup for this game, but last year Steve Sarkisian relentlessly attacked deep against the Panthers — feeding Julio an incredible 435 air yards across two games, with an aDOT of 18.9. Those are insane numbers. Julio should get nine to 13 targets, with many of them coming downfield. There are question marks here that keep his floor lower than A.B.’s (deeper targets are less likely to be completed, even if they are more valuable over large sample sizes; and the Falcons’ red zone woes continue). And in fact, I’m pegging Julio’s floor slightly lower than the three guys mentioned above. But his ceiling is enormous. He’s the only guy besides A.B. who has a clear shot at 40+ points on this slate. I prefer the higher-priced running backs in cash, but Julio is in a smash spot if things go right, and he could become one of the most valuable plays on the slate.
- JuJu Smith-Schuster // Emmanuel Sanders // Adam Thielen :: Each of these guys is running a ton of routes out of the slot — which is one of the greatest new trends in the NFL: coaches using explosive weapons from the slot to get them good matchups (rather than focusing on possession-type receivers from the slot). Thielen fits funny on this list, because he’s not a guy people will think of in cash games; but all three of these guys have a floor of around seven targets, with upside for 10 to 12; all three have a quality matchup; all three have Spiked-Week upside. You could throw Jarvis Landry in here as well (I had him above a couple of these guys earlier in the week), but he’s now below these three for me, simply because of how bad his offense appears to be. Totally fine with any of these four, however, and I would love to have one of them on my main roster.
- Jack Doyle :: This Colts offense is completely focused on short passes — particularly short passes over the middle of the field. Doyle ran 55 pass routes last week (an incredible number) and did not pass block once. Washington filters targets away from wide receivers and to tight ends. Doyle is an awesome play this week.
- George Kittle :: You may have noticed that Dante Pettis is not in Tier 1. (We’ll get to him shortly.) But with Marquise Goodwin out and with a pair of running backs in San Francisco who do not catch passes particularly well, there will be a lot of targets this week going to three guys: Pierre Garcon, Dante Pettis, and George Kittle. (Trent Taylor will also soak up underneath targets; but Jimmy likes going downfield, and these are the three guys he will look to.) We are left guessing who star corner Darius Slay will be covering this week…but we know it won’t be Kittle. This leaves Kittle as the surest bet, with eight to 10 targets his likeliest range. He’s the rare tight end who can post a 50-yard gain on any given week. His floor is great, and his upside is tremendous.
- Tevin Coleman :: As of right now, I will not be playing Tevin Coleman this week — which obviously indicates I do not see him as a “must play.” As noted in my update on the Falcons/Panthers game, Coleman and Freeman combined for only 3.93 receptions per game last season, and against the Panthers last year they combined for 49 rushing yards per game. Even with Thomas Davis out, this is a tough matchup, and Sarkisian does not use these backs as creatively as Shanahan used them. With that said: Coleman is a very strong play. I like his usage-driven floor (I’m giving him 10 points on FanDuel and 11 on DraftKings/FantasyDraft in a 20th percentile game for him; and I’m pegging his 80th percentile game at about 22 on FanDuel and 25 on DraftKings). If roster construction works out to have him, he’s a strong play with a high price-considered floor and a nice ceiling. Not a guy I’m prioritizing if money doesn’t work out quite right, but he’s a guy I’ll be happy to find on my team if it works out that way.
- James White :: If Rex Burkhead misses (still no word on this…), White will step into a good 70% to 80% of the Patriots’ snaps; and with no Edelman, their best means of moving the ball will be with White underneath. It’s tough to peg an actual “floor/ceiling” number because of how unpredictable the Patriots’ offense is; but I feel comfortable with White as a safe play with decent upside if Burkhead misses. (If Burkhead plays, White moves down to Tier 3 as a less-safe option, but I still like him as a sneaky tourney play in that scenario.)
- Christian McCaffrey :: McCaffrey can slide into Tier 1 comfortably, and I only have him down here because his lower touchdown equity and his poor offensive line (not to mention his questionable fit as a between-the-tackles back) give him less pure upside than the high-priced guys mentioned above. But his floor is in the same range as those guys, and he does have a strong ceiling. In isolation, he’s a Tier 1 play this week. Compared to the other Tier 1 plays, I have him down in Tier 2 myself.
- Lamar Miller :: Miller needs to be mentioned in this group every week right now until his price rises, as his role is secure in this offense. He’s not sexy, and he’s not going to have many blowup games; but he’s a quietly safe option, with a similar floor/ceiling projection to Tevin Coleman above.
- Quincy Enunwa :: Enunwa is being used like the tight end in this Jets offense — as a big body over the middle, with wide receiver skills. The Dolphins’ strong secondary and zone coverage scheme are not as good of a fit for Enunwa as last week’s matchup against the man-heavy Lions (new O.C. Jeremy Bates was able to get Enunwa covered by a linebacker or safety a laughable number of times). But Enunwa’s role is clear, and his floor is secure. His talent gives him enough upside to be considered this week.
- Cooper Kupp :: Kupp is locked into at least six or seven targets every game, with upside for nine to 11 looks. This gives him a high floor — and while his yardage ceiling is not notable, his red zone role does give him enough ceiling to be worth our time. He’s a very safe guy to lock into cash game rosters, especially on full-PPR scoring sites DraftKings and FanDuel.
- Dalvin Cook :: Cook played over 80% of the snaps last week and ran almost all of the running back pass routes (Latavius Murray ran only two routes all game). It still seems likely that the Vikings want to limit Cook’s touches on the goal line in order to preserve his health, so his chances of hitting for a big game are lower, and it’s tougher to peg his floor. But given this guy’s explosive talent, the upside is there for a couple long touchdown runs. He’s a very intriguing tourney play this week — especially on FanDuel, where he is way underpriced.
- Dion Lewis :: With fresh value opening up at running back, people are going to forget about Lewis, which makes him a strong tourney consideration in large-field tourneys. His floor is literally as low as six or seven points; but this matchup sets up well for the Titans to feature Lewis over Henry again — and if they do, he has 20- (FanDuel) to 25-point (DK/FDraft) ceiling. If no one is on him and he outscores Tevin Coleman by eight or nine points, he could provide a big edge this week. These are the types of plays we should be hunting for in large-field tourneys, knowing that they yield positive ROI over the course of a season.
- Jay Ajayi :: Because the Eagles deploy their backfield with game-plan-specific approaches, it’s always more dangerous to rely on these guys than it would be to rely on others. But with Nick Foles struggling and Tampa on tap, this is a perfect spot for Philly to feature Ajayi. The uncertainty is worth it on a guy who has legitimate 30-point upside. He’s worth a play in some large-field tourney action this week.
- Kenny Golladay // Marvin Jones :: Golladay can absolutely be played in cash games — particularly on FantasyDraft and DraftKings, with tight pricing this week. We are going to have to take some value that doesn’t have the highest “floor” in order to max out our ceiling with the awesome high-priced guys available this week. Golladay is easily the “1C” option in this passing attack, at worst. In a potential shootout against a 49ers defense that tries to push passes outside, Golladay and Jones both have huge ceiling; and Golladay’s price-considered floor is high enough for him to feature as a solid cash play. His floor is a little lower than Enunwa’s, but his ceiling is higher
- Dante Pettis // Pierre Garcon :: In that same game, the 49ers should feed about six to eight targets apiece to Pettis and Garcon. Garcon is likelier to draw Darius Slay, but it seems unlikely the Lions will waste his shadow coverage in a spot like this. Pettis shapes up similarly to Golladay (lower floor than Enunwa, but higher upside), while Garcon is a guy no one will think to play who has a genuine shot at a 20+ point game.
- Tyreek Hill :: With Hill rarely drawing more than eight targets in a game, we cannot peg his floor in the same place as the five high-priced wide receivers mentioned above. But his ceiling is absolutely the same! He’s an awesome tourney play this week, as a guy unlikely to wreck your roster, with week-winning upside.
- Mike Evans :: Simple here — and covered in the NFL Edge. The Eagles’ weakest link is their corners, and Evans is going to get targets. With so many expensive WRs to love this week, no one is going to use Evans; and while his chances of hitting are lower than the more appealing options, his ceiling is there, and he’ll go vastly overlooked. Strong for large-field tourneys.
- Geronimo Allison // Mike Wallace // Courtland Sutton :: In spite of my strict “no WRs vs the Vikings” rule: if Rodgers plays and Xavier Rhodes ends up shadowing Davante Adams, Allison could be in for another seven to nine targets. He’s a talented player and he’s priced cheap, with Rodgers throwing to him; I’ll be taking the plunge in a few spots in tourneys. No one is going to play Mike Wallace, and he had over 100 air yards last week and is playing Tampa; if he catches a long touchdown or two, he could break the slate open (obviously, he has a legitimate floor of zero; but he does have week-winning upside). Sutton saw five targets last week and ran the same number of pass routes as Demaryius Thomas. He has a tremendous matchup against the Raiders and is going to have some 20- to 25-point games this season.
- Jonnu Smith :: Smith is stepping into Delanie Walker’s role and is a great athlete, giving him a clear path to 15+ points. The offensive line injuries for the Titans and the concerns at QB lower his floor below Kittle and Doyle and send him down to Tier 3. But his ceiling is still appealing.
- Jordan Reed // Zach Ertz :: I won’t be playing these guys, because I want the savings at tight end. But most people won’t be playing these guys, and will be taking the savings at tight end. With each guy carrying clear 20-point upside, they are worthwhile tourney plays. In isolation, they’re both Tier 1 plays; but with pricing considered (and with what else is available at the position), they become Tier 3 plays for me. No need to spend up here in cash (even on FanDuel, I would rather use that money to get from Gordon to Gurley), but they make sense in tourneys.
Last week, the Ravens were a Tier 1 defense with legitimate locked-in points. I don’t see a Tier 1 D this week, but these are the units I like quite a bit
- Texans :: The Titans’ offensive line is a mess, and their offense is out of sync.
- Vikings :: They become Tier 1 if Rodgers misses. Even if Rodgers plays, he’ll be stationary in the pocket, and the Vikings should be able to get some sacks and a turnover or two.
- Rams :: If the Rams aim to take away Larry Fitzgerald and push Sam Bradford’s passes outside the numbers, they’ll be in line for a Pick 6 this week. Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib love jumping routes, and the Cardinals’ sad excuse for perimeter receivers will have no chance against them. Bradford’s tentative throws out there will be trouble spots for the Cardinals all game.
- Chargers :: Flow Chart: defenses against the Bills are a good play.
- Broncos :: Derek Carr is a mess right now. The Raiders’ line is a mess right now. This is a great spot for the Broncos.
- Eagles :: If Ryan Fitzpatrick trades in his magic for one of his three-pick games against a tough Eagles defense, this could be a really strong upside play.
Hopefully this gives you a great opportunity to compare your thoughts against my own.
I’ll see you at the top of the leaderboards this weekend; and I’ll see you on the site next Thursday morning for the Week 3 edition of the NFL Edge!