NFL Week 2 wraps up with a Monday Night Football contest between the Las Vegas Raiders and the New Orleans Saints at 8:15 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 Drew Brees at captain and take advantage of the scoring boost, you’ll have to pay $15,900 as opposed to $10,600.
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.
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Alvin Kamara is the most expensive player on today’s slate, and he could be looking at a monster workload today. The Saints will be without Michael Thomas, which opens up a bunch of opportunities in the passing game. Thomas garnered 185 targets last season and led the league with 149 grabs for 1725 yards.
The Saints don’t have a ton of viable WR options to absorb those targets, so Kamara could see a solid bump out of the backfield. The Raiders also struggled at defending RBs in pass coverage last season, ranking just 30th in Football Outsiders‘ DVOA vs. the position.
Brees is another stud option for the Saints, but the absence of Thomas will likely be a detriment to his fantasy stock. He’s played just one game without Thomas over the past four seasons, and he struggled to just 257 yards and zero touchdowns. The result was 7.48 fantasy points, which would be disastrous at his current salary.
Brees also has some pretty drastic home/road splits over the past four seasons. He’s averaged nearly 60 fewer passing yards and 0.5 fewer passing TDs per game away from the Superdome, and he’s historically averaged a Plus/Minus of -2.89 when playing on the road (per the Trends tool).
Brees and Kamara have a pretty drastic negative correlation at -0.39, so I think limiting your exposure to Brees in favor of Kamara is definitely viable. You can actually lower Brees’ projection by a pre-set amount whenever Kamara is in your lineup using one of the new rules in our NFL Models:
Josh Jacobs is the most expensive player on the Raiders side, and he’s coming off a very impressive rookie season in 2019. He finished with 1150 yards over just 13 games, and his 4.8 yards per carry was tied with Christian McCaffrey for the 10th-best mark in football.
The only negative to his game from a fantasy perspective was his lack of involvement in the passing game. He caught just 20 total passes last season for 166 yards and consistently lost work to guys like Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington in that department.
If Week 1 is any indication, that’s not going to be a problem in 2020.
Jacobs finished with six targets and four catches for 46 yards, so he’s on pace to smash his receiving production from last season. If he can add that to his ability as a runner, he could be poised for a massive season.
The Raiders would be wise to utilize Jacobs in the passing game against the Saints since that was one of the areas where they struggled on defense. They finished 10th overall in defensive DVOA in 2019 but were merely 16th in passing DVOA vs. RBs.
Derek Carr rounds out the stud position, and he was solid in Week 1 vs. the Panthers. He completed 73.3% of his passes and posted an adjusted yards per attempt of 7.97, but that didn’t necessarily translate to fantasy success. He ultimately finished with just 13.56 DraftKings points.
The biggest problem was his lack of touchdown production. He threw just one TD pass, which seems almost impossible considering the Raiders scored 34 points last week. Jacobs hogged virtually all the TDs on the ground, which simply didn’t leave very much for Carr. If he couldn’t provide fantasy success in a week where the Raiders offense went off, what’s going to happen in a week where they struggle? The Raiders are currently implied for just 21.5 points, so there could be much less scoring to go around today.
Emmanuel Sanders and Jared Cook figure to garner massive ownership in this range given the absence of Thomas. They stand out as the likely primary targets for Brees in the passing game.
That said, Sanders doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence after his performance in Week 1. He finished with just three catches for 15 yards, but he did salvage his fantasy performance by finding the endzone. Sanders could be on the decline at 33 years old and without a full offseason to get acclimated with Brees and the New Orleans’ offense. Asking him to fill Thomas’ shoes seems like a very tall task.
Cook is the more appealing target, particularly on DraftKings given his Bargain Rating of 87%. He finished second on the team with seven targets last week and still presents a lot of problems for opposing defenses. He was a physical freak when he entered the league – he ran a 4.50 40-yard dash at the combine at 6’5” and 248 pounds – and he reeled in a 48-yard catch last week vs. the Buccaneers. The Raiders were also pretty dismal vs. opposing TEs last season, ranking just 25th in pass defense DVOA vs. the position, so Cook could take advantage of a few additional targets in this matchup.
Darren Waller stands out as the primary option in the Raiders’ passing attack. He was one of the biggest surprises in 2019, catching 90 passes for 1,145 yards. The only thing that kept him from a monster fantasy season was the fact that he scored just three TDs. He’s underpriced at just $7,400 on DraftKings, resulting in a Bargain Rating of 93%.
After Waller, the Raiders’ pass-catching options are a bit of a question mark. Henry Ruggs III is expected to be the No. 2 guy after being drafted with the 13th pick, but he’s currently questionable with a knee injury. He was able to gut it out after sustaining the injury last week and practiced in full on Saturday, but you’ll still want to monitor his status before locking him into your lineup.
If he’s active, he could have some fantasy value vs. a Saints’ team that ranked just 18th in DVOA on deep passes in 2019. Ruggs has blazing speed – he ran a ridiculous 4.27 at the combine – so he’s definitely a threat to get behind a defense.
Values & Punts
- Tre’Quan Smith: $6,400 on DraftKings, $8,000 on FanDuel – Smith has been priced up pretty aggressively on DraftKings with Thomas out of the lineup, but he’s very interesting at just $8,000 on FanDuel. He entered the league as a promising athlete but has struggled in a crowded New Orleans’ passing game. Perhaps he can take a step forward with a few additional opportunities.
- Defenses & Kickers – All four of the defense and kicking options are in play in the single-game format. This contest could also be a bit lower-scoring than expected – the total has dropped by 3 points since opening – and the defenses and kickers typically have more appeal in those contests.
- Latavius Murray: $3,400 on DraftKings, $7,500 on FanDuel – Murray figures to be the most popular DFS option in this price range. The Saints could look to lean on their running game a bit more with Thomas out of the lineup, and Murray saw 15 carries in Week 1. He also saw six carries and one target in the red zone, which further increases his appeal. It might be tempting to pair Murray with Kamara at his current salary, but those two players have a correlation of -0.40 on DraftKings. You’re probably better off going with one or the other. That’s another rule you can easily incorporate with our lineup builder:
- Deonte Harris: $2,400 on DraftKings, $7,000 on FanDuel – Harris is another potential option for the Saints’ shorthanded WR corps today. He is primarily a special teams player – he was actually Pro Bowler in 2019 as a return man – but the Saints designed a couple gadget plays to get him involved offensively in Week 1.
- Taysom Hill: $2,200 on DraftKings, $7,000 on FanDuel – I’m still not sure I fully understand why the Saints love Hill so much, but he’s apparently not going away in 2020. He threw a pass and had three carries in Week 1, and the Saints often utilize him in goal line situations. He could be a cheap source of a TD on today’s slate.