We have an excellent 13-game main slate on tap for Week 2 that begins at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday.
This piece will highlight the top NFL DFS players in our FantasyLabs Player Models in terms of their projected ceiling from our award-winning Director of Predictive Analytics, Sean Koerner.
(Do people even read intros?)
Let’s dive in.
Top Model Quarterback Ceiling Projections
Patrick Mahomes ($7,500 DraftKings; $9,000 FanDuel)
Seeing Mahomes up top will be a common them this season, especially on DraftKings, where you’re awarded points for a 300-yard passing bonus. Even with Tyreek Hill (collarbone) ruled out, Mahomes showed last week that he’s capable of big games after he threw for 378 yards and three touchdowns against the Jaguars.
The Raiders defense shouldn’t provide much resistance to this offense considering the Chiefs are implied for 30 points and Oakland just put their best playmaker in S Johnathan Abram (shoulder) on injured reserve.
To make matters worse for the Raiders, they struggle to get to the quarterback, ranking 32nd in Football Outsiders’ adjusted sack rate in 2018. And Mahomes throttles defenses from a clean pocket. He was second in the league with an 83.3% adjusted completion percentage when not under pressure last season.
Even at his expensive salary, Mahomes possesses a top-seven mark in Projected Plus/Minus on both DraftKings and FanDuel. He’s the perfect high-floor, high-ceiling option for cash games and GPPs.
Deshaun Watson ($6,600 DraftKings; $8,500 FanDuel)
Watson is tied with Lamar Jackson on DraftKings with their 31-point ceiling projections, but Matthew Freedman made Jackson the cover boy in his quarterback breakdown, so I’ll touch on Watson.
Watson is the perfect pivot off Jackson since he boasts an 86% and 97% Leverage Rating on DraftKings and FanDuel. His matchup isn’t ideal against the Jaguars, but I’m willing to bet on this high-powered Texans offense. He adds even more value with his rushing ability as he rushed for 551 yards and five touchdowns on 99 rushing attempts in 2018.
It should also work in his favor if DL Yannick Ngakoue (foot) can’t suit up or is limited. At the time of writing, Ngakoue has yet to log in a practice this week. Watson is notorious for taking plenty of sacks and Ngakoue led the Jaguars in quarterback pressures last season.
I wouldn’t consider Watson in cash games, but he’s the perfect tournament play as a high-upside quarterback with excellent receiving weapons in a perceived tough matchup.
Top Model RB Ceiling Projections
Saquon Barkley ($9,200 DraftKings; $9,200 FanDuel)
Barkley leads our ceiling projections by nearly four points on both DraftKings and FanDuel this week. In last week’s blowout, he saw just 15 touches but still managed to turn that into 139 total yards. In a game with just a 1.5-point spread, it’s easy to think a blowout won’t be in the cards for this one.
Additionally, the Giants are severely banged up with Sterling Shepard (concussion), Cody Latimer (calf) and Darius Slayton (hamstring) all missing practice this week. These potential absences should free up some target share for Barkley, who averaged 7.6 targets per game in 2018.
At the time of writing, Barkley is projected for just 13-16% ownership, compared to 31-40% for the chalkier Alvin Kamara, who is $1,000 and $500 cheaper on DraftKings and FanDuel.
Damien Williams ($5,800 DraftKings; $6,600 FanDuel)
Williams draws some intrigue with his 11th-highest projected ceiling among running backs on DraftKings but priced as the RB16. He wasn’t that efficient against the Jaguars, running for just 26 yards on the ground in 13 attempts. However, he was targeted six times in the passing game and out-snapped LeSean McCoy 45-20. Williams also out-carried 4-1 in the red zone and saw the lone carry from the inside the five-yard line.
This seems like an exploitable spot for a running back on an efficient offense against the lowly Raiders. Williams boasts a Leverage Rating of at least 90% on both DraftKings and FanDuel.
Top Model WR Ceiling Projections
Michael Thomas ($8,000 DraftKings; $8,500 FanDuel)
The Saints-Rams game is projecting be a high-scoring shootout as it’s sporting a total of 52 with a spread of just 2.5 points.
Thomas leads our ceiling projection on DraftKings and is always gonna be a strong play with his high floor and ceiling. In Week 1 he led the Saints with 44% of their Air Yards and 30% of their target share. Not only that, but he’s efficient with his 0.76 Weighted Opportunity Rating (WOPR).
There really isn’t that much that needs to be said about Thomas, we know what we’re getting with him.
Josh Gordon ($5,800 DraftKings; $6,300 FanDuel)
Gordon’s projection for Week 2 screams tournament play. He owns the eighth-highest ceiling projection in our models, but his median projection is outside the top 25.
The matchup against the Dolphins doesn’t get much better considering their team just allowed Lamar Jackson to pass for 324-5 on 20 pass attempts, giving Jackson a solid 16.2 yards per attempt. The Patriots’ 19-point spread makes the blowout factor very real. However, they lead the main slate with an implied team total of 33.5 points, and if the Patriots do get up big, Gordon could play a part in that.
Antonio Brown will not be placed on the commissioner’s exempt list before Sunday and will be eligible to play, so if he’s active, that’d likely suppress Gordon’s ownership even more.
Top Model TE Ceiling Projections
Travis Kelce ($7,300 DraftKings; $8,000 FanDuel)
Kelce could’ve had a massive week in Week 1 if it weren’t for some unfortunate events. He easily has the most upside every week, and his ceiling projection leads all main-slate tight ends by 2-3 points depending on the site.
Kelce absolutely dominated the Raiders last year, averaging 11 targets, 8.5 receptions, 115 receiving yards and 26 fantasy points per game, per the RotoViz Game Splits App. The absence of Hill should only improve his outlook.
Delanie Walker ($3,500 DraftKings; $5,900 FanDuel)
Walker led the Titans with 25% of their target share and trail only A.J. Brown in Air Yards. He boasts the fifth-highest ceiling projection in our models on DraftKings, but he’s priced as the TE10, and he’d actually be a solid cash-game value on DraftKings since his +3.14 Projected Plus/Minus is the fifth-best mark to go along with his 98% Bargain Rating.
The lack of passing volume could be a concern in this run-first offense, but Walker is a stable part of this offense, and it’s an exploitable matchup for tight ends.
Colts defense vs. tight ends last year:
- Completion rate: 79.84% (32nd)
- Yards per game: 74.63 (32nd)
- Yards per attempt: 9.26 (31st)
Top Model D/ST Ceiling Projections
Houston Texans ($2,800 DraftKings; $4,800 FanDuel)
The Texans’ ceiling projection leads the main slate by a rather wide margin. They’re also the only defense with a median projection in double-digits. This isn’t too surprising against a Jaguars team implied for just 16.75 points on the road.
Overall, the Texans’ 2.5 sack prediction is the sixth-highest mark among defenses and it’ll be interesting to see how Gardner Minshew responds after being thrust into the Jags’ starting quarterback role.
Baltimore Ravens ($3,800 DraftKings; $5,00 FanDuel)
The Ravens own the second-highest ceiling projection in our models, but they’re $1,000 and $200 more expensive than the Texans on DraftKings and FanDuel, respectively.
Going into Baltimore will be a tough spot for rookie Kyler Murray, who absorbed three sacks against the Lions in Week 1. The Cardinals’ fast-paced offense could offer up more sack and turnover opportunities for the Ravens, which shows in their slate-high 3.0 sack prediction.
This should be a good spot for the Ravens against a team implied for only 16.5 points.
Pictured above: Deshaun Watson
Photo credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports