While most daily fantasy players are more familiar with the usual salary-cap structure, DraftKings also has tournaments in a pick’em style: There are no player salaries, and you simply select one player across the eight tiers.
Here’s a breakdown of the pick’em slate for Week 2 of the NFL season.
Tier 1: Elite Passers
Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
Brees enters this week as the favorite to lead all passers, according to the FantasyLabs models. He’ll square off against the Browns at home in a game that Vegas expects to be a blowout: The Saints are 9-point favorites as of writing (see live odds here) and have an implied total of 30 points.
Brees should get in on the scoring and is a lock in cash lineups.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
Big Ben had a rough season-opener in Cleveland with six turnovers and only 17 fantasy points. But he was facing high winds and torrential rain on the road, where he infamously struggles. This week at home he’ll face a Chiefs defense that ranked 30th in Football Outsiders’ DVOA last year and gave up 28 points to the Chargers in Week 1.
The total has risen from 50.5 to 53.5, making Roethlisberger the first of many stacking options in this game.
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Tier 2: The Next Best Quarterbacks
Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans
Watson returned to the field in New England last week and underperformed expectations. But the biggest takeaway was his willingness to carry the ball.
Watson rushed eight times compared to his 5.7 average from last season. Per the Trends Tool, passers with more than five carries per game have historically been successful fantasy bets, and Watson is no different.
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
Mahomes was brilliant against a talented Chargers secondary, erupting for 28.34 fantasy points and scoring twice from over 30 yards out. The Chiefs have the league’s most explosive offense and an implied total of 24.5 points against the Steelers this week. Doubling down on the passers in this AFC matchup is an ideal tournament strategy.
Tier 3: Elite Flex Plays
Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints
Kamara was targeted 13 times in a barn-burner against the Bucs, and while his eight rushing attempts might not seem extensive, it did account for 61.5% of all of the Saints’ carries. Whether they’re behind and forced to throw or running out a lead, the offense will go through Kamara against Cleveland.
Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
AB might have been overshadowed by James Conner’s breakout, but the receiver was still an integral part of Pittsburgh’s game plan: His 16 targets and 164 Air Yards were more than double that of the next Steelers player.
Poor passing kept Brown from taking over, but at home, expect him to return to his usual dominance.
Tier 4: Volume Plays
Melvin Gordon, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers get the Bills this week, instantly locking them into the largest spread. Vegas has them as a 7.5-point favorite, meaning that a large portion of this game should be Gordon running wild in a positive game script.
Gordon has hit 15 total touches in 13 consecutive games including five games of five or more receptions. As a threat through the air and on the ground, Gordon is a safe cash play in a potential blowout.
Odell Beckham Jr., WR, New York Giants
Gordon will be the chalk of this tier, but OBJ is the tournament move. Beckham caught 11 balls for 111 yards, but was held scoreless by the stout Jaguars defense in Week 1. Backed by volume, the Cowboys’ 18th-ranked pass DVOA defense should be no problem for a player of Beckham’s caliber.
Tier 5: A Fork in the Stack
Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
Stacking the Pittsburgh game comes to a crossroads in Tier 5, with a choice between Conner and Hill.
According to the Correlations Tool, both should have similar correlation coefficients with Big Ben and Brown. However, Hill’s scoring as his team’s WR1 will have a .22 and .06 greater coefficient with Mahomes and JuJu Smith-Schuster than Connor will as his team’s RB1. Hill’s game-breaking speed is the best pick for the game-stack strategy.
Tyreek Hill is WORKING for Chiefs (+3.5) bettors right now…
First a punt return, then this:pic.twitter.com/pIuv8KCkVf
— The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) September 9, 2018
Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers
CMC is a sneaky pivot from Hill, even while rostering Mahomes, for the scenario where the Chiefs hit their implied total through Travis Kelce and Sammy Watkins.
The Panthers will be without Greg Olsen, which has been a boost to McCaffrey’s receiving game in the past:
- McCaffrey with Olsen: 4.1 receptions, 37.8 yards, .12 touchdowns
- McCaffrey without Olsen: 5.9 receptions, 43.8 yards, .44 touchdowns
The Falcons will have to stop McCaffrey without defensive talents Keanu Neal and Deion Jones, which opens up the opportunity for McCaffrey to turn in a good day.
Tier 6: More Flexes
Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings
Cook carried the ball only five more times than Latavius Murray did in the season-opener, but Cook more than made up for it as a receiver. He was targeted seven times and brought down six for 55 yards.
His opponent, Green Bay, gave up the seventh-most receptions to running backs in 2017 and looked no different last week, allowing Bears rushers to secure eight receptions. Cook remains a viable cash play based on receiving usage alone.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Smith-Schuster will draw slot coverage from Kendall Fuller, who was bullied by Keenan Allen last week. Standing at just an inch shorter and nine pounds heavier, JuJu possesses a similar profile to Allen, who had no problem with the Fuller matchup. The Year 2 receiver completes the game-stack for a volatile tournament lineup.
Tier 7: Receivers Galore
Jarvis Landry, Cleveland Browns
Landry was the primary beneficiary of the Browns’ negative game-script in Week 1, targeted 16 times and bringing down eight for 116 yards. As a 9-point dog, he’ll see similar a game script, which could work to his advantage.
His 13.6 average depth of target might be indicative of a larger role than he saw in Miami, too. If Cleveland is using Landry in all parts of the field, he’s a must-start every week.
Nelson Agholor, Philadelphia Eagles
With Alshon Jeffery inactive, Agholorwas targeted a team-high 10 times last week. Jeffery is also expected to miss the Eagles matchup with Tampa Bay in Week 2.
The Bucs secondary, which was torched last week, will be without Vernon Hargreaves III (IR) and Brent Grimes, who hasn’t practiced all week (stay up to date on this situation with our News Feed). Agholor should be able to take advantage of a depleted secondary as his team’s primary target.
Tier 8: Final Flexes
Lamar Miller, RB, Houston Texans
Miller was given 20 carries and two targets in a losing Week 1 effort. This week he gets the Titans as a 2.5-point favorite on the road. Tennessee let Frank Gore and Kenyan Drake combine for 23 carries at 4.7 yards per carry. Miller also got the most red-zone carries of any Texan. Fantasy’s cheapest workhorse is a safe cash option this week.
Devin Funchess, WR, Carolina Panthers
Like McCaffrey, Funchess is another Panther who benefits from the absence of Olsen:
- Funchess with Olsen: 3.1 receptions, 46.6 yards, .3 touchdowns
- Funchess without Olsen: 4.6 receptions, 56.3 yards, .7 touchdowns
Stacking Panthers also acts as a bet on Cam Newton, who has a correlation coefficient of .68 with Funchess and .46 with McCaffrey. This tandem gives exposure to Newton without having to give up the Mahomes-Roethlisberger stack.
Pictured above: Antonio Brown
Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports