This article is a data-driven deep dive on strategic decision-making and roster construction for DFS cash games and tournaments. It relies heavily upon FantasyLabs’ large suite of analytical DFS tools, as well as advanced metrics and film study. First, I walk through narrowing down the player pool at each position. Then, I lay out how to choose the highest-floor lineup combinations for cash games. Finally, I go game-by-game to present the biggest edges (stacks, pivots, leverage opportunities, etc.) in each.
Week 2 shmoney time.
- Jared Goff ($5,900 DK, $7,500 FD) vs. NO
- Lamar Jackson ($6,700 DK, $8,200 FD) vs. ARI
- Patrick Mahomes ($7,500 DK, $9,000 FD) at OAK
As a starting point for narrowing down my cash game player pool, I like to use our NFL Trends tool in combination with value projections from our NFL Player Models to tier players. Fresh off a 17-of-20, 324-yards, 5-TD, 0-interception performance against Miami and now up against the up-tempo Cardinals, Lamar Jackson stands alone in my Tier 1 on FanDuel (at home, Projected Plus/Minus +4.0 or more), which has generated a 73% Consistency and a +4.5 average Plus/Minus since 2018.
Jackson also makes my DraftKings Tier 1 (at home, projected points per dollar 3.0 or more) along with Deshaun Watson, Ben Roethlisberger, and Jared Goff. QBs who fit the trend have collectively produced 76% Consistency and a +6.7 average Plus/Minus since 2018. Goff is averaging 313 yards and 2.1 TDs at home in the Sean McVay era and is viable, but I would reserve Watson and Big Ben for tournaments. Watson has struggled against the Jags, and we don’t have a large sample size of Big Ben without Antonio Brown, adding volatility to his projection.
Patrick Mahomes fits the trend of…being Patrick Mahomes. He’s averaging 27.3 DraftKings points, +8.0 Plus/Minus, and 75% Consistency in his career, which improves to 30.6/+11.6/90% on the road.
For more on QBs, read Matthew Freedman’s NFL Week 2 Fantasy QB Breakdown.
- Josh Jacobs ($4,700 DK, $6,500 FD) vs. KC
- Austin Ekeler ($6,100 DK, $7,500 FD) at DET
- Alvin Kamara ($8,200 DK, $8,700 FD) at LAR
- Saquon Barkley ($9,200 DK, $9,200 FD) vs. BUF
Josh Jacobs is the only one who makes my RB Tier 1 on DraftKings (3+ Pts/$). RBs who fit that trend have posted 76% Consistency and a +6.7 average Plus/Minus since 2018. Jacobs also makes my top tier on FanDuel (2.1-2.2 Pts/$) along with Saquon Barkley, Leonard Fournette, and Matt Breida. These RBs have posted marks of 67% in Consistency and +4.3 in average Plus/Minus since 2018, but I’d prefer to save Fournette and Breida for tournaments — Fournette due to lining up alongside a rookie QB making his first start on the road, and Breida because Cincinnati finished with the third-best run defense grade from Pro Football Focus last week against a better rushing attack in Seattle.
Austin Ekeler played 48-of-64 snaps last week and found the end zone three times. Ekeler is essentially Danny Woodhead, stylistically, and Melvin Gordon, statistically.
Alvin Kamara has better splits on the road (22.8 DK Pts, 75% Consistency, +5.0 Plus/Minus) than at home (20.6, 63%, +3.0). He’s been even more of a monster than usual in his three career meetings with the Rams, ripping off 138.3 scrimmage yards and 1.7 total TDs per game, good for 31.1 DK points per contest.
Saquon Barkley is averaging 25.3 DK/20.1 FD points, a +5.9DK/+6.1 FD Plus/Minus, and 75% Consistency in his career at home and faces a Bills defense that just got hit up for 17-60-0 on the ground and 6-32-1 through the air last week.
Giovani Bernard averaged 18.0 touches for 91.0 scrimmage yards and 1.5 TDs in two games without Joe Mixon (ankle) last season and is also in play is Mixon is ruled out.
For more on RBs, read Matthew Freedman’s NFL Week 2 Fantasy RB Breakdown.
- Tyrell Williams ($4,400 DK, $5,900 FD) vs. KC
- Larry Fitzgerald ($4,600 DK, $5,500 FD) at BAL
- Tyler Boyd ($6,500 DK, $6,300 FD) vs. SF
- Cooper Kupp ($6,000 DK, $6,800 FD) vs. NO
- Robert Woods ($6,400 DK, $7,300 FD) vs. NO
- Sammy Watkins ($7,200 DK, $7,400 FD) at OAK
Tyrell Williams is the only WR in my DraftKings Tier 1 (Pts/$ 2.8+, Opponent Plus/Minus no lower than -1.9). These WRs have put up 67% Consistency and a +4.0 average Plus/Minus since 2018. All three Jags wideouts caught a TD last week, so Williams should be able to get his after dropping over 100 yards on Vic Fangio’s Broncos.
On FanDuel we’re looking for at least 1.7 projected points per dollar, as WRs who fit this trend since the start of last season have produced 58% Consistency and a +2.6 Plus/Minus. Sammy Watkins (9-138-3 last week), Tyler Boyd (8-60-0), and Larry Fitzgerald (8-113-1) each fit the bill and each posted at least eight catches in Week 1.
Like Goff, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp have both been at their best at home:
- Kupp at home: 73% Consistency, +7.0 Plus/Minus
- Kupp on road: 59% Consistency, +4.1 Plus/Minus
- Woods at home: 67% Consistency, +4.1 Plus/Minus
- Woods on road: 59% Consistency, +2.8 Plus/Minus
As mentioned in our Rams-Saints betting guide, Saints corners are their weak link, and Kupp and Woods figure to see the least of the best of the bunch, Marshon Lattimore.
There are other playable options (Keenan Allen, Juju Smith-Schuster, etc.), but this group gives the best mix of value and exposure to two of the three projected highest-scoring offenses on the slate per the Vegas lines in the Chiefs and Rams (the Patriots lead the way but have too many question marks usage-wise to be relied upon in cash games with Antonio Brown now entering the fray).
For more on WRs, read Matthew Freedman’s NFL Week 2 Fantasy WR Breakdown.
- Darren Waller ($3,300 DK, $5,400 FD) vs. KC
- Mark Andrews ($3,800 DK, $6,100 FD) vs. ARI
- Evan Engram ($5,200 DK, $6,400 FD) vs. BUF
- Travis Kelce ($7,100 DK, $8,000 FD) at OAK
My Tier 1 on DraftKings consists of TEs projected for 2.8 or more points per dollar and has generated 74% Consistency and a +5.8 average Plus/Minus since 2018. Evan Engram, Mark Andrews, Darren Waller, T.J. Hockenson, and Delanie Walker qualify. Hockenson’s matchup gets tougher against a Chargers defense that held Colts tight ends to 31 scoreless yards, and Walker has a good matchup but played only 48% of the snaps. I like Waller for his floor given that he played 100% of snaps for the Raiders, and though Andrews (42%) also wasn’t a full-time player, I like him as a way to get exposure to the Ravens passing attack in lineups not using Lamar Jackson, as the two have a +0.70 correlation.
On FanDuel, TEs with a Projected Plus/Minus of +2.5 or more have posted 62% Consistency and a +3.6 average Plus/Minus; Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and Engram fit the bill. Engram is averaging a 4.7-60-0.3 line in five games without Odell Beckham Jr. since Pat Shurmur took over at the start of 2018.
For more on TEs, read Matthew Freedman’s NFL Week 2 Fantasy TE Breakdown.
- Giants ($3,500 FD) vs. BUF
- Texans ($2,800 DK) vs. JAC
The Texans DST is an easy play against Gardner Minshew at just $2,800 on DraftKings, but their $4,800 cost on FanDuel is somewhat prohibitive, so I’m inclined to punt with the Giants DST. They’re bad (like, really bad), but DST is more about matchup than anything else, and DSTs against the Bills have posted 11.7 FD points, 71% Consistency, and a +4.4 average Plus/Minus since the start of 2018.
DraftKings: Mahomes–Kamara-Ekeler-Jacobs-Woods-Kupp-Williams-Andrews-Texans is my favorite build on DraftKings. Andrews has a +0.70 correlation with Jackson, so using him offsets fading Jackson and allows you not to have three Raiders. My top Jackson build would be Jackson-Kamara-Ekeler-Jacobs-Watkins-Boyd-Fitzgerald-Waller-Texans, which gets Watkins in to offset fading Mahomes and still limits the lineup to two Raiders.
FanDuel: Jackson-Kamara-Ekeler-Jacobs-Watkins-Boyd-Fitzgerald-Engram-Giants and Goff-Barkley-Ekeler-Jacobs-Boyd-Williams-Fitzgerald-Kelce-Giants my go-to on FanDuel. Mahomes-Barkley-Kamara-Jacobs-Boyd-Williams-Fitzgerald-Waller-Giants is intriguing as well, as it allows you to get in all of Mahomes, Barkley, and Kamara, but it also presents the three-Raider problem and is absent of a Tier 1 TE (it has historically been more optimal to pay up at TE on FanDuel than DraftKings). If using this, it will probably been my lowest-exposure lineup.
GPP Edges for Every Game on the Main Slate
Saints at Rams
Jared Goff, Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, and Cooper Kupp are all projected for single-digit ownership and are all cheaper than Todd Gurley on DraftKings; Gurley is cheaper than them all on FanDuel…but so is Malcolm Brown, who out-carried Gurley 5-0 in the red zone in Week 1, scored two TDs, and is projected for 0-1% ownership. (You can also view their past ownership using our Ownership Dashboard.
Everyone will be off Jared Cook (0-1% projected ownership), but the Rams funneled nine targets toward Greg Olsen last week and led the NFL in schedule-adjusted target rate at the position last season, per data from Football Outsiders.
Chiefs at Raiders
Derek Carr is expected to be in as many or nearly as many lineups as Patrick Mahomes, and Josh Jacobs, Tyrell Williams, and Darren Waller are expected to be in more lineups than any of the Chiefs skill players.
GPP advantage: Roster Chiefs, fade Raiders.
Additionally, Demarcus Robinson should be on the field as much as Mecole Hardman, but is projected for a tenth of the ownership.
Patriots at Dolphins
I thought Sony Michel would be sneaky after is 15-carry, 14-yard performance on national TV, but we’re projecting him for more ownership than Tom Brady. The Pats went without a tight end on 36% of the snaps last week, which creates more upside for the wide receivers.
Brady has been negatively correlated with Julian Edelman, but positively correlated with Josh Gordon. His strongest correlation among wide receivers, though, is to Phillip Dorsett, who would be replaced in the lineup by some guy named Antonio Brown.
Seahawks at Steelers
Both of these defenses received top-four run-defense grades and bottom-six coverage from PFF for Week 1, yet James Conner and Chris Carson project for more ownership than Ben Roethlisberger and Russell Wilson.
The presence of Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright in the middle tends to funnel the ball away from the tight end and to the outside instead. JuJu Smith-Schuster is always in play, but Donte Moncrief (10 targets last week) could be the prime beneficiary after John Ross shredded Seattle for 7-158-2 last week. James Washington is more of a dart throw after operating as the No. 4 wideout last week behind Juju, Moncrief, and Ryan Switzer, but a good one at that, as he saw the eighth-most air yards in the league (168, per AirYards.com).
On the offensive side for Seattle, they could look to (or as road underdogs, be forced to) exploit the Steelers’ back end. Cornerback Joe Haden (shoulder) is questionable to play for a defense that got lit up for 341 yards and 3 TDs last week, so this is a bounce-back spot for Tyler Lockett and an eruption spot for D.K. Metcalf.
Cardinals at Ravens
Lamar Jackson projected ownership: 13-16%. Kyler Murray projected ownership: 2-4%. Correlation between opposing QBs since 2014: +0.58 (per our NFL Correlations Dashboard). KeeSean Johnson and Christian Kirk have top-three Projected Plus/Minuses on DraftKings and FanDuel, respectively.
And don’t forget about David Johnson, who played 77-of-89 snaps last week and put up 18-82-0 rushing and 6-55-1 receiving and can likely be had at single-digit ownership.
Chargers at Lions
T.J. Hockenson is expected to be one of the highest owned TEs on the slate, but despite the absence of safety Derwin James (foot; IR) for the Chargers, Eric Ebron, Jack Doyle, and Mo-Alie Cox combined for 3-31-0 on six targets while Marlon Mack (25-174-1) ran wild and T.Y. Hilton (6-87-2) caught two TDs. Kerryon Johnson, Kenny Golladay, and Marvin Jones all project for sub-5% ownership and make for smooth pivots off T.J. Chalkenson,
Cowboys at Redskins
The Redskins are 31-24 against the spread as an underdog under Jay Gruden and 6-2 ATS as a home dog since the start of last season, per Bet Labs. After choking away a game in which they jumped out to a big lead and finished with a better DVOA than the Eagles — all the while reportedly losing some in the locker room by making Adrian Peterson inactive — I expect the Redskins to keep it close and Gruden to lean on AP against a Cowboys run defense that PFF graded second-worst in Week 1. Our Models have AP as a top-five value on both DraftKings and FanDuel.
If the Redskins instead find themselves in comeback mode, note Vernon Davis has a top-six ceiling projection at 0-1% projected ownership against a defense that allowed 11-118-1 to Evan Engram last week. Chris Thompson (5-8%) and Terry McLaurin (2-4%) also top-four Projected Plus/Minuses at their respective positions on DraftKings, while Paul Richardson (0-1%) clocks in with the ninth-best mark among WRs on FanDuel.
49ers at Bengals
PFF graded the Bengals as the No. 3 run defense despite facing a formidable Seahawks rushing attack, but earned a ranking of 20th in pass coverage, yet George Kittle is expected to be in fewer lineups than Matt Breida and all of the other stud TEs while Jimmy Garoppolo — who left about 100 yards on the field last week — projects for 0-1% ownership. (Don’t ask me about the 49ers wide receiver rotation; I have no clue.)
Bills at Giants
Many will look to Devin Singletary in this game first, but the Bills passing game is intriguing in a game with a climbing over/under (view live odds here). Here’s what I wrote about the matchup in our Bills-Giants betting guide:
It’s not often you’ll see the Bills’ passing game on the right side of a biggest mismatch, but quick! Name someone in New York’s secondary besides Jackrabbit. I bet you can’t. (OK, maybe Jabrill Peppers. Maybe). Now, name someone in New York’s secondary other than Jenkins who who forced even one incompletion last week.
This time, I know you can’t because none of them did. At all. On 18 targets. While Jenkins held his own, allowing 2-19-0 on five targets, the rest of the Giants safeties and corners got mashed for a combined 18-of-18 for 269 yards and four touchdowns, per Pro Football Focus.
Jenkins gave up the second-most TDs in coverage last season, and the Giants may be unable to play much man coverage. anyway, because it would allow Josh Allen to run wild, so I wouldn’t hesitate to stack him with John Brown, who went 7-123-1 last week. Allen owns the top Projected Plus/Minus on DraftKings and has a top-five ceiling projection among QBs on the slate.
Even slot man Cole Beasley is viable; he has a top-10 in Projected Plus/Minus on DraftKings and posted one of his biggest games of the season (6-94-1) against the Giants in Week 17 last year. All make sense stacked with Saquon Barkley or Evan Engram.
Colts at Titans
Derrick Henry‘s favorite/underdog splits since Mike Vrabel began coaching the team in 2018:
- Favorite: 17.8 touches, 105.3 yards, 1.3 TDs, +10.2 DK/+9.9 FD Plus/Minus
- Underdog: 13.0 touches, 62.3 yards, 0.5 TDs, +0.3 DK/-0.4 FD Plus/Minus
The Titans are -3 favorites at home, and after seeing defensive coordinator Dean Pees stifle Baker Mayfield and Co. last week, it’s likely that Tennessee’s defenses keeps them in this one against Jacoby Brissett as well. Henry has scored 10 TDs over his last six games dating back to last season.
Jaguars at Texans
The Jaguars’ PFF pass coverage grade dipped from No. 1 in 2017 to No. 11 in 2018, and they rank 29th after one week this season. Deshaun Watson has a top-five Projected Plus/Minus on both sites, DeAndre Hopkins has the top median projection at the position, and neither Will Fuller nor Kenny Stills are expected to crack double-digit ownership.
On the other side, the Texans rank dead last in PFF run defense grade after one week, and Leonard Fournette is averaging +7.2 DK/+6.8 FD Plus Minus and 88% Consistency in eight career games as a road underdog.
Vikings at Packers
The Vikings only threw 10 passes last week, but on those snaps they earned PFF’s worst pass-blocking grade of Week 1(26.9). The Packers defense, meanwhile, sacked Mitch Trubisky five times and earned a No. 13 ranking in pass rush, as well as No. 5 and No. 7 marks in run defense and coverage, respectively. Packers DST has a top-four ceiling projection this week.
Bears at Broncos
The familiarity with Vic Fangio and Mitch Trubisky works both ways, and with Matt Nagy having extra time to prepare while the Broncos are on a short week, it would work in the Bears offense’s favor. Derek Carr went 22-of-26 against Fangio’s defense last week, with Tyrell Williams going 6-105-1 and Darren Waller 7-70-0. Allen Robinson went 7-102-0 last week and finished seventh in the league air yards (153), per AirYards.com, and projects for under 5% ownership. Trubisky and Trey Burton, who finished tied for fourth among tight ends with six catches last season, are projected for 0-1% ownership.
Let’s get this shmoney!
Chris Raybon is a Senior Editor at the Action Network and a co-host of “I’ll Take That Bet” on ESPN+. He has watched every snap of every NFL game since 2010 — even the kneel downs. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisRaybon and read about how he quit his accounting job and got paid to watch sports.
Pictured above: Saints running back Alvin Kamara (41)
Photo credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports