The Fantasy Football Party will post a values story every week at ZoneCoverage.com to help you set winning DFS lineups for the show listener league and all the other great games at FantasyDraft.com — our exclusive DFS partner for 2018!
Congrats to those who moved on — uh, that would be everybody — in our five-week survivor challenge! This week it gets serious, as we’ll whittle the group down as we roll on towards that ticket to the $500,000 FantasyDraft NFL Championship and other outstanding prizes.
No worries if you missed the boat on the survivor game, as we’re launching a listener league game for Week 2. To play you’ll need to set a lineup, and to set a lineup you’ll want to take advantage of the value plays on the board for this week while astutely avoiding the overpriced options.
And that’s why I’m here.
Let’s run through some of the players at each position who stand out one way or another using the modeling tool at FantasyLabs.com. All scoring projections/rankings are from their cash model for Week 2. (editor’s note: Get half off a trial membership at Fantasy Labs with the code 50OFF!)
Matthew Stafford @ San Francisco: $11,400
One of the toughest DFS lessons for me to learn was to hop back on a proven horse immediately after a bad game. Stafford certainly had that in the season opener, but we also learned that despite their offseason protests this team isn’t committing to the run any time soon. Sixteen quarterbacks are priced higher than Stafford, yet projections have him knocking on the door of the top 10. Pay for last week’s Stafford, hoping the payoff is something more like what we’ve gotten used to from him.
Alex Smith vs. Indianapolis: $11,300
If you, like me, have trouble getting back in the saddle with guys like Stafford (or Ben Roethlisberger, or Dak Prescott), Smith offers a productive value-priced alternative. FantasyLabs projects Smith as the seventh-best quarterback this week, yet his salary falls behind 17 other signal-callers. He gets a home date with an Indy defense that didn’t exactly thwart Andy Dalton and the Bengals last week, which sounds like an invitation to plug him into your lineup.
RUNNING BACK (x3)
Melvin Gordon III @ Buffalo: $14,500
DFS success isn’t just about value shopping; it’s also about picking and choosing the right opportunities to pay up for premium performers. Gordon, the Chargers’ do-everything back, offers such an opportunity this week. Buffalo just got steamrolled by the Ravens, while the Bolts were shooting it out with Kansas City. A shaky defense, a high voltage offense… yep, all the boxes are checked regarding paying up for a stud back.
FantasyLabs agrees, making Gordon their No. 4 running back value despite the hefty price tag.
Bilal Powell vs. Miami: $10,200
Powell and Isaiah Crowell ($8,500) split the workload in the Jets’ season-opening win over Detroit, and either would be a solid addition to your lineup this week. I’m leaning Powell despite the extra cost because Miami has tended to give up receiving points to running backs and that’s more Powell’s gig than Crowell’s.
FantasyLabs likes ‘em both, naming them the Nos. 18 and 28 running back values, respectively, so for a little bit more I’ll go with Powell in this spot.
Javorius Allen @ Cincinnati: $7,400
Allen is locked in as the pass-catching back in Baltimore’s backfield, and this week’s matchup with a Bengals’ defense that surrendered 10 receptions to running backs last week certainly plays in his favor. Kenneth Dixon’s season-ending injury also means Allen would be in line for any change of pace carries should Alex Collins need a breather.
Opportunity, matchup and a low low price tag conspire to make Allen FantasyLabs’ No. 5 value at running back this week.
WIDE RECEIVER (x3)
Adam Thielen @ Green Bay: $13,300
It’s always fun to pour a little local flavor into your DFS lineup, and despite some new additions the Packers have given us no reason to think they’ll be slowing the Minnesota passing game any time soon. Just $300 separates Thielen and Stefan Diggs, but FantasyLabs views the latter as its No. 33 value at wide receiver and the former as its No. 6 value.
You can’t go wrong either way, but if you’re splitting hairs that definitely weighs in on the Thielen side of the ledger.
Jarvis Landry @ New Orleans: $12,000
The Saints just got torched by Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Buccaneers, so there’s plenty of cause for optimism here. Landry checks in at No. 11 in FantasyLab’s projections but #19 among wideouts in salary; that, in a nutshell, is how you make it to No. 5 on the value list.
Like Thielen, Landry is the high-volume member of a talented pass-catching tandem, so once again we’ll lean towards the upside of volume.
Brandon Marshall @ Chicago: $7,000
On the one hand, you have a Seattle offense that will be without Doug Baldwin and is already looking for ways to replace Jimmy Graham’s production; no, they can’t count on 100 yards from Will Dissly every week. Enter Marshall, who showed there’s still something in the tank last week and could be in store for a featured role in the Seattle passing game.
It’s not as if the Bears put the clamps down on Green Bay wide receivers last week, so between the opportunity and the favorable matchup this is a value waiting to happen; in fact, FantasyLabs tags Marshall as the No. 21 value at wide receiver this week.
TIGHT END (x2)
Jared Cook @ Denver: $7,000
Consider Cook the middle ground in playing DFS tight ends. You can spend up for the sure thing that is Rob Gronkowski (this week that price tag is $13,200), or you can throw a dart at a bargain-basement guy (see below). Cook, like Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel, walks that fine line between clever and stupid. He saw a dozen targets in the season opener, partly because the Rams’ defense is so solid outside and partly because Jon Gruden’s offense is a throwback to another era.
This date in Denver presents another favorable matchup for tight ends, so spending mid-tier on Cook leans more towards clever than the other thing.
Nick Boyle @ Cincinnati: $5,000
The Ravens love to feed their tight end; last week it was 13 targets and nine catches. Eventually, that should all become the domain of Hayden Hurst, but while the rookie remains sidelined Boyle appears to be atop the pecking order. With a price tag of just $5,000, it’s a bargain-basement risk worth taking.
Denver Broncos vs. Oakland: $6,000
What was that we were just saying about Gruden’s throwback offense? After the season-opening loss to the Rams, many want to throw back the $10 million coach. There wasn’t much innovation to the Raiders’ attack last week, and Denver has more than enough talent on the defensive side of the ball to make Oakland pay for lack of creativity in sacks, takeaways and defensive scores.
Tennessee Titans vs. Houston: $4,600
Not that the Texans were necessarily bad last week, but it was far from the electric DeShaun Watson we saw pre-knee injury in 2017. With Will Fuller still nursing a hamstring injury and now DeAndre Hopkins banged up, the Texans are short on weapons. A road trip to a division rival isn’t exactly the cure, so if a stacked lineup leaves you dumpster-diving for a defense you could do worse than the Titans at home this week.
There is an endless trove of additional data plus incredible tools for modeling, lineup building and more at FantasyLabs.com. If you play DFS, FantasyLabs will make you a better player. Use the code 50OFF to get half off a trial membership.
The Fantasy Football Party is recorded each week by John Tuvey, Bo Mitchell and Anthony Maggio. You can also find a story from one of the three each week right here at ZoneCoverage.com. Subscribe to the podcast and never miss an episode by clicking here for iTunes or here for Android.
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