Week 2 kicks off with a Thursday Night Football matchup between the Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles at 8:15 p.m. ET. The Eagles are listed as 6.5-point home favorites, while the total sits at 49 points.
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You can also combine them to create your own aggregate projections:
NFL DFS Stud Picks
Justin Jefferson had a tremendous 2022 campaign and picked up right where he left off. He caught nine of 12 targets for 150 yards against Tampa Bay. He ran a route on every one of Kirk Cousins’ dropbacks, seeing 27% of team targets.
There’s not much to unbox with Jefferson. He’s likely going to see around a dozen targets, and hopefully, he cashes in on them. He had 6/48/0 when these teams met a year ago, with Darius Slay getting the better of him.
However, this isn’t the exact same matchup. Philadelphia lost both starting safeties and their best coverage linebacker coming into the year. They’ll now be without James Bradberry, Nakobe Dean, and Reed Blankenship due to injury.
Jalen Hurts costs $1,000 less than Jefferson but comes in with a higher median and ceiling projection. Week 1 was forgettable for Hurts, where he mustered just 170 passing yards and one passing touchdown while running for 37 yards on the ground and losing a fumble. The rain was coming down, and the New England defense was no joke, so he got a pass.
This Vikings defense underwent changes under Brian Flores compared to Ed Donatell, as they sent extra rushers at the league’s highest rate last week. They held Mayfield to just over 5.1 yards per attempt, but Hurts is a whole different animal. When facing extra rushers, Hurts has averaged 8.1 yards per attempt. He’s one of the top overall options on the slate.
A.J. Brown dropped a 50-yard catch that would’ve made his stat line look way different overall. He finished with 7/79/0 on 10 targets. He held onto his alpha role, seeing nearly 60% of the team air yards while seeing a 33.3% target share to go with a 28.6% target rate per route run.
The Vikings sent a lot of blitzes last week, and Brown has nearly a 32% target share when the other team sends extra rushers. It’s hard not to envision him having a strong game on Thursday night.
Kirk Cousins was slinging it last week, throwing for 344 yards and two touchdowns. He had some costly turnovers, fumbling right outside the red zone and once in his own territory and throwing an interception in on the Tampa Bay 13-yard line.
This matchup was one to forget for Cousins last year, where he threw for just 4.8 yards per attempt with three interceptions. As stated earlier, though, this may not be the same Philadelphia defense. We also just saw Mac Jones eclipse 300 yards and throw for three touchdowns. He did have to drop back 54 times to reach that total.
Cousins may be under duress, as both Christian Darrisaw and Garrett Bradbury picked up injuries in Week 1. Bradbury has already been ruled out, while Darrisaw is questionable. Jalen Carter led the entire league in pressures last week, and Minnesota is now down to their backup center. Fletcher Cox, Jordan Davis, and Milton Williams are no slouches either.
You’re going to have to decide which narrative to play into: whether all of Philadelphia’s losses in the linebacking corps and secondary catch up to them or Minnesota’s ravaged offensive line gets trampled by Philadelphia’s dominant front. I think the latter is more likely, but I’m sure the rest of the field in DFS contests would agree.
DeVonta Smith is the 1B in this offense but still carries a very strong role. He caught seven of 10 targets last week for 47 yards and a touchdown. With Minnesota’s blitz-heavy approach, it’ll lead to a lot of one-on-one matchups outside for Smith and Brown. It’s honestly a coin flip between the two of them, in my opinion. I suspect Brown to see more ownership, but not by a substantial margin. If the rest of my lineup is unique enough, and I don’t need the salary, I’m happy to roster Brown. If I need the money, or the rest of my lineup is on the chalkier side, I’ll take the savings with Smith.
These five studs all project very well and are attractive pieces on Thursday night.
They’re also a major decision point, as you need upside out of your captain position, and these five surely provide the highest ceilings.
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NFL DFS Midrange Picks
With Dalvin Cook out of town, it was finally Alexander Mattison‘s time to shine. He played on about three-quarters of the snaps, seeing 11 of 14 running back carries for 34 yards. He saw four targets, catching three balls for 10 yards and a touchdown.
New England’s backs saw a lot of work through the air against Philadelphia last week. Rhamondre Stevenson and Ezekiel Elliot combined to catch 11 of 13 targets for 78 yards. Kirk Cousins doesn’t seem to utilize his backs to the same extent as Mac Jones, but it’s surely notable.
Mattison was inefficient with his touches, averaging just 3.1 yards per carry. This Philadelphia defensive line is stout, as they gave up 61 yards on 20 running back carries.
T.J. Hockenson continued his voluminous role that he saw down the stretch last season. He caught eight of nine targets for 35 yards. We need Hockenson to get a matchup where he can become somewhat efficient on his targets. Could that be this week?
With Philadelphia losing their two starting safeties and best coverage linebacker in free agency, it makes this matchup appealing. They also lost Nakobe Dean due to injury, while Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki were able to combine for 8/92/1 on nine targets last week.
Jordan Addison had a solid debut against Tampa Bay, catching four of six targets for 61 yards and a touchdown. He only ran 31 pass routes, compared to 47 for Justin Jefferson and 44 for K.J. Osborn. As the season goes on, it’s likely that Addison surpasses Osborn. For now, it appears Osborn will have more playing time.
Osborn caught three of six targets for 31 yards in the opener but only saw a target on 13.6% of his routes. Despite the talent gap, I personally will take the salary and ownership discount and play Osborn over Addison.
One of my strongest stances for this game comes in the form of Dallas Goedert. It seemed as if Bill Belichick’s game plan revolved around shutting down Goedert, as he had just one target and caught no passes. New England has notoriously been stingy against tight ends as well. The field might see Goedert’s goose egg and overreact, but it’s not like he’s no longer part of the offense.
This is a prime bounce-back spot for Goedert, and he’ll be one of my favorite flex targets. Lineups with him in the captain spot certainly aren’t off the table either.
The Eagles running backs come with various price tags, but it’s worth talking about all together. After an offseason of question marks, Kenneth Gainwell was the lead back, seeing 14 carries and catching four of four targets. Gainwell is out this week, which leaves D’Andre Swift, Boston Scott, and Rashaad Penny to man a three-headed backfield.
Swift saw one carry and two targets last week, and coach Sirianni stated that Swift “is capable of handling a big workload, if needed.” Scott saw a carry and a target as well last week, while Penny was a healthy scratch.
My opinion here is that Swift is likely to be the lead back, with Scott having a decent role as well. Penny is personally off of my radar, as his work would likely come in garbage time, and he didn’t seem to have the same burst that we’ve seen in years past this preseason.
Update: My opinion has shifted with Philadelphia’s backfield. I’m still high on Swift, as I expect him to have a role in early-downs while handling the long-down-and-distance work. Despite not looking like the same back in preseason, I’m now expecting Penny to take a good chunk of early down work as well. He provides some nice salary relief, and betting markets imply that Swift has about a 38% chance of finding the end zone, compared to a 34% for Penny. Both backs are viable on this slate, with Boston Scott off my radar.
NFL DFS Value & Punt Picks
- Defenses & Kickers: These options are always in play in the single-game format, but make sure to correlate the rest of your lineup around them. Given the expected high-scoring nature, these options may appear to be less optimal, but this will likely lead to them being overlooked. With Minnesota’s offensive line banged up, Philadelphia could have more turnover opportunities.
- Quez Watkins ($3,000 on DraftKings, $8,000 on FanDuel): Quez Watkins retained his stranglehold over the No. 3 receiver role, playing on 79% of the snaps compared to just 11% for Olamide Zaccheaus. Watkins saw two targets last week, catching both balls for 17 yards. He’s a viable cheap option, specifically in lineups focused on a Philadelphia aerial attack.
- Josh Oliver ($800 on DraftKings, $6,500 on FanDuel): Josh Oliver ran a route on 33% of Kirk Cousins’ dropbacks last week. He saw three targets, catching three balls for 32 yards. There are far worse ways you can spend your money.
- C.J. Ham ($400 on DraftKings, $5,500 on FanDuel): C.J. Ham saw three targets last week, catching two balls for seven yards. This is unlikely to continue, as he saw just 12 targets all of last season and is primarily just a blocker. However, he played on just over a third of the snaps and has seen goal-line carries before. He’s a viable punt.