NFL Week 2 gets underway with a Thursday Night Football contest between the Washington Football Team and New York Giants at 8:20 p.m. ET.
If you’re unfamiliar with the single-game NFL DFS format, it differs a bit on DraftKings and FanDuel. On DraftKings, you have one “captain” spot and five flexes. The captain will score 1.5x fantasy points, but he also costs 1.5x salary. That means if you want to roster Daniel Jones at Captain and take advantage of the scoring boost, you’ll have to pay $15,600 as opposed to $10,400.
FanDuel’s single-game format features one “MVP” spot and four flexes. The MVP also scores 1.5x fantasy points, but he doesn’t cost any additional salary. That takes away a bit of the strategy and makes the goal simple: Get your highest-scoring player in the MVP spot.
Jones is the highest-priced player on the slate, and he does possess an interesting skill set at quarterback. He’s a solid athlete for the position, averaging 26.0 rushing yards per game, and he managed to score a rushing touchdown last week.
Unfortunately, this is about as poor of a matchup as it gets for Jones. The Giants have some deficiencies on the offensive line, and the Football Team has one of the best pass-rushes in the league. They struggled to generate pressure last week vs. the Chargers, but they should be able to get to Jones on Thursday.
That’s a major problem for Jones. His Pro Football Focus grade dropped from 74.7 with a clean pocket to 35.7 when under pressure last week, and the difference was even more stark last year. His PFF grade of 91.2 with a clean pocket last season was elite, but his grade of 48.2 while under duress was dreadful.
All quarterbacks have appeal in the single-game format, but Jones is not a priority target this week. His Opponent Plus/Minus of -3.2 on DraftKings is the worst mark on the slate.
I’m much more interested in Taylor Heinicke. Not only is he a favorite — which historically bodes well for quarterbacks — but he also might be a good quarterback. The sample size is small, but Heinicke averaged 9.47 adjusted yards per attempt in relief of Ryan Fitzpatrick last week. He also showed well in his playoff game vs. the Buccaneers, nearly engineering an upset of the eventual Super Bowl champs.
Heinicke also brings some rushing upside to the table. He racked up 46 yards and a touchdown vs. the Bucs, and he had 17 yards in limited playing time last week.
Heinicke leads all players in median and ceiling projection in our NFL Models.
Saquon Barkley is tentatively expected to suit up on Thursday, but he will likely be limited. He played on less than 50% of the Giants’ offensive snaps last week, and he finished with just 10 carries and three targets.
That’s probably a reasonable expectation for Barkley’s workload vs. Washington, which obviously makes him overpriced. Still, he’s an interesting option from a pure game theory perspective. He should command minimal ownership, and Barkley is capable of taking any touch to the house. I probably won’t have him in my lineups, but I don’t blame you if you do.
Antonio Gibson’s stock is on the rise. He wasn’t used much as a receiver out of the backfield last year, but he saw five targets in Week 1. J.D. McKissic saw just one target, so it’s possible that McKissic is a true three-down workhorse this season.
The Giants run defense was respectable last year, but it’s certainly nothing to fear. They allowed Melvin Gordon to rip off a 70-yard touchdown last week, and Gibson has the potential to do the same.
Terry McLaurin is top the receiving option for the Football Team, and he’s in a solid spot vs. the Giants. He averaged seven catches in two games vs. the Giants last season to go along with 189 receiving yards and one touchdown.
The Giants do have James Bradberry — who was one of the better corners in football last season – but he was exploited by the Broncos’ receivers last week. They averaged 0.45 fantasy points per route run against Bradberry, which was the worst mark among the Giants’ trio of cornerbacks.
McLaurin also plays 35% of his snaps from the slot, and he’ll have a very exploitable matchup vs. Darnay Holmes in that situation. Holmes earned a PFF coverage grade of just 48.8 last season, and he wasn’t much better to start the new year.
The Giants’ wide receiver corps will likely be one of the tougher situations to decipher this season. Kenny Golladay was given a large contract in free agency, and he was presumed to be their top option. That said, he garnered just six targets in Week 1 vs. the Broncos.
Sterling Shepard operated as the team’s top fantasy producer last week. He led the team in targets, receptions, and receiving yards vs. the Broncos, and he also scored their only receiving touchdown.
It will be interesting to see how the ownership shakes out between both players. Shepard will likely be the preferred target for most given his better Week 1 production and slightly cheaper price tag, which makes Golladay the preferred option for tournaments. Golladay also dominated the air yards for the Giants’ last week, which gives him some buy-low appeal.
Darius Slayton will also factor into the Giants’ receiving corps. There was some question about how large his role would be this season, but injuries to Evan Engram and Kadarius Toney have kept him in the rotation. His snap share was mediocre in Week 1 – he played on just 70% of the team’s offensive snaps – but he still saw seven targets. He’s a boom-or-bust type of player, but he has upside.
Logan Thomas played on 100% of Washington’s snaps last week, and he ultimately finished with 12.0 DKFP. That said, I’m bearish on his outlook moving forward. The high snap count belies the fact that he saw just three targets, and he only managed to salvage his fantasy day with a receiving touchdown. The Giants aren’t great against opposing tight ends, but he still makes for an appealing fade candidate.
Both defenses round out this price range, and both should garner interest. The total on this game sits at just 40.5 points, so most people will bank on a low-scoring game.
Washington will be the preferred side, and they could actually be one of the most popular plays on the slate. Not only should they be able to rack up some sacks, but Jones is also known for his turnover proneness. I don’t have a ton of interest in a chalky defense, but there’s appeal here.
The Giants’ defense should have much more modest ownership, but they also don’t have nearly as much upside. They also don’t have the usual correlation with a running back given the Giants’ likely committee at the position.
- Adam Humphries ($4,800 on DraftKings, $6,500 on FanDuel): Humphries stands out as one of the best pure values in this price range on FanDuel. He played on 60% of the Football Team’s offensive snaps last week and should serve as their No. 3 receiver vs. the Giants.
- Dustin Hopkins & Graham Gano: Kickers are always in play in the single-game format. A game that is expected to be lower-scoring only increases their appeal.
- Kyle Rudolph ($3,200 on DraftKings, $7,000 on FanDuel): Rudolph operated as the Giants’ starting tight end in place of Engram, and he should fill that role again this week. He saw five targets vs. the Broncos, and he also ran a respectable 21 pass routes.
- Devontae Booker ($2,800 on DraftKings, $7,500 on FanDuel): Targeting Booker might have some appeal with Barkley limited, but Booker saw just five opportunities last week. That doesn’t give him much upside vs. Washington.
- J.D. McKissic ($2,200 on DraftKings, $7,000 on FanDuel): This doesn’t feel like the type of game script to target McKissic, especially with Gibson getting more involved in the passing game. However, his price tag has dropped by nearly -$3,000 after last week’s performance, and his ownership should be down as well.
- Kadarius Toney ($1,800 on DraftKings, $6,500 on FanDuel): Head coach Joe Judge talked up Toney before last week’s contest, but they used him almost exclusively as a gadget player. He played just five snaps and saw two targets, which makes him a risky option. It’s possible he sees a few additional snaps this week, but he’s still the No. 4 receiver in the Giants’ passing attack for the time being.
- Dyami Brown ($1,400 on DraftKings, $5,500 on FanDuel): Brown is an absolute steal at this price tag. He started last week in place of the injured Curtis Samuel, and he ultimately played on 51 of 55 snaps. He finished with just one catch for -2 yards, but the snaps predict future success.
- Kaden Smith ($200 on DraftKings, $6,000 on FanDuel): Smith is a potential punt play on DraftKings. He didn’t see a single target last week, but he played on nearly 50% of the Giants’ offensive snaps. He also ran 14 routes last week, and he only needs to catch a pass or two to return value.