Week 2 Daily Fantasy Football: Finding the Optimal Lineup at DraftKings
Another week of daily fantasy football of action is here, with week two of the 2016 NFL season officially getting started with a Bills vs. Jets Thursday Night Football clash. We’ve already dug our toes in and looked at matchups and values this week, but now it’s time to piece it all together and come away with our favorite optimal lineup.
Last week was pretty rough for our optimal lineup, as we endured some really rough luck in a crazy first week of DFS NFL action at DraftKings.
That roster produced a massive chalk stud in Spencer Ware and wound up getting quality production out of guys like Julio Jones and Doug Baldwin. Russell Wilson and the Green Bay defense were mediocre and sleeper plays in Martellus Bennett, Christine Michael and Marvin Jones all disappointed with 12.5 fantasy points or fewer. Sammy Watkins was also one of our favorite intermediate plays on the week and he barely topped 8 fantasy points.
As it turned out, trusting in Watkins (bad foot) was a bad idea, as the entire Buffalo offense was awful against a much improved Ravens defense. The same went for Seattle, as Russell Wilson hurt his ankle and just wasn’t the guy we’re used to seeing in a narrow 12-10 win over the Dolphins.
Week one got away from us a bit thanks to injuries and shockingly bad play by some chalky picks, but the grasp is tighter as we head into week two. We’ll explore our favorite top end plays, as well as our favorite value picks as we finalize our week two daily fantasy football optimal lineup:
QB: Philip Rivers – Chargers ($6.4k)
People seem to be down on Rivers more than usual – currently it’s probably because his top wideout just got hurt – but the guy can still sling it and put up huge DFS outings. The reality is he just wasn’t really needed in week one, as the Chargers went up early and tried to hold on for the win.
In the end, Rivers still connected on 69% of his attempts and had 243 yards with one score and zero turnovers. His upside could be unleashed at home against the Jaguars, especially with the game flow probably being less favorable than it was in week one. With Rivers probably taking on a bigger workload this week, he could be in for a huge day and he comes at a solid discount.
While you may not be enamored with Rivers like I am this week, consider this: when you spend big on quarterbacks, they better pay off. Quarterback passing scores only account for 4 points and they need big yardage days to pay off in that department. Rivers is more than capable of putting up 400 yards and multiple touchdowns, making him a great pivot from chalky plays like Eli Manning and the like.
RB: DeAngelo Williams – Steelers ($7.1k)
The value and safety isn’t the same at running back as it was a week ago, so it may make sense to pay up here and find value elsewhere. Williams was a total menace in a huge week one outing and he’ll undoubtedly be leaned on again in a huge game against the Bengals. Considering Cincy allowed Matt Forte to pile on well over 100 total yards in week one, this matchup isn’t overly scary.
RB: C.J. Anderson – Broncos ($6.8k)
I understand some people will want to pay less at running back, but a lot of the would-be value plays are on the road and have tough matchups. That, and their prices have spiked a bit. The most obvious issues lie with Devonta Freeman, Carlos Hyde and Spencer Ware. All three could be great this week, but each have glaring issues that keep me from feeling great about their upside.
Freeman is banged up, wasn’t good at all last week, is sharing the rock with Tevin Coleman and now will be on the road against a talented Raiders defense. Hyde was awesome in week one, but his passing game could make him easy to stop in a bad road date with a good Carolina defense. Ditto for Ware, who has a toe injury and saw his price go up by $1.7k. He gets to try to run past a strong Texans defense in Houston.
None of that sounds appealing and there are countless other options that are scaring us away.
That isn’t the case with C.J. Anderson, who proved he can be an elite feature back in a week one demolition of the Panthers. He’s at home again this week and draws a very favorable matchup with a truly bad Indy defense. The Colts are bad in general, but they gave up a ridiculous 46 fantasy points to the running back position last week. I’d take even half of that for Anderson.
WR: Steve Smith – Ravens ($4.3k)
A torn Achilles is no fun to come back from and it’s possible Smith never truly does, but we can’t ignore three things in week two: his role, his price and the fact that he’s facing the Browns.
Rookie Carson Wentz had zero trouble against Cleveland’s awful defense, so it’s fair to assume Joe Flacco could have a field day. Considering second-year receiver Breshad Perriman is already banged up and Smith drew a whopping 9 targets in week one, he’s a pretty easy flier to roll with. The explosiveness isn’t there at the moment, but if Smith can secure more balls in week two, the points should follow.
WR: Travis Benjamin – Chargers ($4.4k)
Daily fantasy football value is all about opportunity and talent coming together. Much like Smith has a big role and provides potential value, so does Chargers speedy receiver, Travis Benjamin. Benjamin already showed his big play ability in Cleveland last year and in his Bolts debut he caught 7 of 8 targets.
Benjamin was already going to be worth a look no matter what, but with top receiver Keenan Allen done for the year, his value just spike in a major way. He could still easily disappoint, but he’s got the role and speed to deliver a huge DFS performance this week. A matchup with a beatable Jacksonville defense at home only aids his cause.
WR: Odell Beckham Jr. – Giants ($9.5k)
If there is one spot to pay up every week in daily fantasy football leagues, it’s wide receiver. Beckham was too quiet in week one, so he naturally looks like a chalky option that could sound off in week two.
There is so much to love about ODB this week, with a home date against an atrocious Saints defense taking the cake. This defense might even be worse than the one Beckham hung three scores on in New Orleans last season. It’s tough to guarantee a performance close to that, but Beckham could easily vie for 100+ yards and 1-2 scores this week.
He’s definitely expensive, but he’s a stud that normally doesn’t disappoint. If he did disappoint this week, it’d be truly shocking.
TE: Antonio Gates ($4.5k)
Tight end was my second step while building out this team because I only am really considering a handful of options. Rob Gronkowski is super pricey and either not 100% or not even playing, so he’s off my list (although that could make him an amazingly contrarian play). Jordan Reed and Greg Olsen are both appealing a well, but they’re still pretty pricey compared to some value plays I like a little better at the position.
That really brought me to Antonio Gates and Delanie Walker (both $4.5k) or Eric Ebron and Dwayne Allen ($3.6k and $3.5k, respectively). The latter save more cash and have decent roles with what look like good matchups, but they also both feel a little too hit or miss and quite touchdown dependent. If they don’t score this week, I fear they’ll be big gaffes in this optimal lineup.
That boils the tight end position down to Gates or Walker. Neither really lived up to expectations last week, but both could be great plays in week two. Gates is always a red-zone threat, but with Keenan Allen going down for the year (torn ACL), there’s a chance his targets rise by quite a bit. More balls his way should make him safe and his TD upside makes him a supreme value if he can end up being a hit.
Walker hauled in more balls last year and seems like the safer play, but he is not nearly the scoring threat Gates can be. One other thing mildly worries me about Delanie; the Titans are throwing the ball more to their wide receivers and running backs than they did in 2015. Whether that trend remains is worth debating, but so far it might be troubling for Walker. Oh, the silver lining for Delanie is awesome sauce, considering the Lions gave up an insane three scores to the tight end position last week.
All things considered, Gates carries a little more upside and with Allen gone, seems like the no-brainer play at this price. It also doesn’t hurt that he gets a beatable Jaguars defense that let Green Bay move the ball fairly easily at home last week.
FLEX: Tyrell Williams – Chargers ($3.7k)
For the Flex spot, you almost always want someone who can quickly add points as a pass catcher. Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount could fit here and could easily have a big day, but he isn’t a threat to catch passes and if he doesn’t score he will probably be a failure.
That has me liking receiver more and with a Chargers stack already prevalent, it may be a good idea to just go for broke – especially in a big GPP – and see if we can’t strike gold. Again, Keenan Allen caught six balls in just one half before being lost for the year, yet San Diego still had plenty of balls to go around even after that.
All of these Chargers may not score, but they could all be active in what I project to be a shootout in San Diego this week. Williams has a similar body type to Allen and after ripping off 71 yards and two grabs last week, could take advantage of his extra opportunities within the offense.
DEF: Baltimore Ravens ($3k)
This is actually where I started my DFS lineup building process this week – a truly underrated aspect to DFS lineup building. My goal was to first insert a play that I had almost no qualms with. Baltimore was awesome in week one, they get a bad Browns team and they’re a very good priced based on their talent and upside. It’s possible the switch to Josh McCown under center for the Browns provides a spark, but I still think Baltimore gets sacks and turnovers and wins the game. I’ll be crossing my fingers they nab a defensive score for me, too.
DFS NFL Optimal Lineup Notes
To recap, we like Philip Rivers and the San Diego offense this week. Jacksonville does have a talented defense, but they really didn’t stop the Packers at all last week and had Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy not been so conservative late, the Packers probably would have won 31-23.
We already know the Chargers can move the ball and put up points and now they’re at home in a matchup they can win against. That makes a Rivers stack with his top three weapons very interesting.
Behind that we have two mashers for running backs, as the value at running back doesn’t feel as good as it did in week one. We want safety, upside and production at running back and we should get that with D-Will and C.J. Anderson.
Value receivers are pretty key to any optimal daily fantasy football lineup, and it’s obvious we’re going hard on San Diego and a guy in Steve Smith who hasn’t yet proven he’s the same guy we know. Role is super key, however, so we’re banking on these guys shining with targets almost certainly coming their way.
Lastly, you don’t always need the best defense or a defense with the top matchup. You just need a solid defense with a passable matchup that represents some value. The Ravens have it all in week two and figure to be one of the strongest defensive plays on the week.
Hopefully our DFS insight provides you with some help this week. Even if you don’t use this entire optimal lineup, if one of our sleepers or top priced players helps you out, it’s always more than worth it. No matter what, good luck in your daily fantasy football leagues in week two!
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