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Daily Fantasy NFL Football Picks for FanDuel, DraftKings, and Starsdraft - Week 2
Everyone in daily fantasy football is smashing the panic button right now. After a week 1 that saw many big name wide receivers no-show (or something like it) pretty good match-ups, we're left wondering who we can possibly trust. As always, we want to be cautious about using 1 week sample sizes, but we believe there are things we can glean about deploying some of these big name guys on DraftKings and FanDuel as we head into week 2. Let's get into it.
Let's start with a disclaimer:
None of this is to be taken as gospel. All of these guys are huge talents, of course, and making any sweeping generalizations based on a single week of NFL performance is a pretty awful idea. Still, daily fantasy football is about finding edges where they lie, and while each of these guys is still a tremendous talent in his own right, in many cases you'll be picking between them on a week to week basis. This article is here to help tip the scales for you as you split these hairs going into week 2, and to start pointing out trends as they emerge early in the season. Enjoy!
Not scared at all
Odell Beckham - FD 8700 DK 8800 Starsdraft 8200
Beckham is a daily fantasy football darling after putting up video game numbers for the second half of the 2014 season, and it became sort of a thing to dream on a sophmore slump for him in the 2015-2016 season. Still, DFS football owners were largely unmoved by such concerns, and he was one of the most popular plays of the week (particularly on DraftPot, where he was 80% owned in their salary-cap free Fan Mode $100k giveaway). Well, he was a pretty big disappointment in week 1 - his receptions, targets, and receiving yards were all his lowest since his first match-up with Dallas on October 19th of last year. So, should we be worried? No. One thing that Beckham has on his side that you can't say about the other guys on this list (barring Sammy Watkins, who is a different case entirely), is age. It's very uncommon to see receivers of Beckham's pedigree and performance simply fall off a cliff given the same supporting cast around him. While some of his huge 2014 was due to the fact that the league wasn't ready for him, most of it was due to his being a physical freak and great route runner. I remain very bullish on him going forward.
Also, real quick - this is probably a terrible monetary decision for me since there was so much overlay on DraftPot this week (they gave away $93,000+ of real money), but here goes.
Cautious and Watching
A.J. Green - FD 8100 DK 7500 Starsdraft 7200
I'm honestly not totally sure what to make of AJ Green, here. On one hand, he's absolutely had performances like this even during seasons where he put up monster numbers. Eye-ball tests have him looking pretty good on Sunday, and really no one is talking about the bicep troubles he had last year, or the concussion he sustained that knocked him out of the Bengals' wild card match-up in last season's playoffs. His 8 targets were, low, but not unheard of - and I mean, his line was nearly the same as Beckham's, so wouldn't I be a little inconsistent in worrying about him? And again, it was clear that the Bengals saw something they liked in Tyler Eifert's match-up. But isn't that sort of troubling? Would 2013 AJ Green have lost so many red zone targets to Tyler Eifert? And as our NFL Analyst Chris Raybon pointed out in his week 1 FanDuel and DraftKings picks article, Oakland's group of corners is nothing to write home about. In 2014, Oakland had a 16.7% DVOA against WR1s - the 5th most generous figure in the league. San Diego, Green's week 2 match-up, was actually tough on WR last season - posting better than average numbers against #1 wide-outs. This one kind of feels like a wait and see, to me.
Demaryius Thomas - FD 8500 DK 8400 Starsdraft 7900
The exception to the "the targets are there - he'll be fine!" rule. All of which is to say - we're dealing with a one week sample size, and he might just wind up being fine. But when anecdote meets statistics, there is some reasonable cause for concern. Thomas' 8.6 yards per reception was the 5th lowest since 2010. He's only had 4 games where his longest reception was less than the 11 yard catch he hauled in on Sunday. Now, Thomas is a YAC monster normally, and some of this bad result was just Baltimore cheating up on his wide-receiver screens. But this is still a surprisingly bad result. His 2 stinkers last season came against the teams ranked #3 and #4 in terms of preventing #1 wide receivers from being effective - Buffalo, and Seattle. I'm not saying we're in all-out panic mode, here, but this result in combination with lingering concerns about Peyton Manning's arm strength leave me feeling cautious on Thomas even in a pretty nice match-up with Kansas City. He'll be a chalk play for many, and might be an interesting guy to go against the herd on.
Out until further notice
Calvin Johnson - FD 8100 DK 8200 Starsdraft 7700
God, it hurts my heart to list Megatron on my "out" list, but here we are. Reading reports (read: excuses) about why Calvin missed all of the preseason reads like people being apologetic for a guy for whom they hold a lot of fond memories. But let's get real for a second. Johnson turns 30 on September 29th. Wide receivers who play well into their 30s are not exactly common, but they usually do share Johnson's freak athleticism, so he's got that going for him. But we're now looking at a guy who's had something like 3 great fantasy performances since his basically unprecedented 3 game stretch in 2013 where he put up 26 receptions, 591 yards and 5 touchdowns. That last great game against the Steelers was on November 17th of 2013. That's an eternity in football time, and since then we've seen mostly hobbled Megatron. I just don't get the "he should be considered a WR1 next week" talk - I prefer basically all of the other guys priced similarly to him until he can at the very least draw 10 targets in a game.
Sammy Watkins - FD 6600 DK 6200 Starsdraft 5300
We obviously can't call Watkins a WR1 for daily fantasy football purposes, but it's worth breaking down his week 1 zero anyway. Many have pointed out that Watkins was up against Vontae Davis, a young fella who was part of a Colts unit that put up a sterling -11.8% DVOA against WR1 last season. The difference this season, of course, is Chuck Pagano's apparent willingness to let Davis shadow first string wide receivers, something he did not do in 2014. People aren't talking about Watkins' hamstring being an issue - but does it even matter? With Tyrod Taylor throwing him the ball, and Taylor finding a good connection with Harvin in week 1, I'm not really a believer. This is an important point, actually - we've seen plenty of talented receivers see their production die when a new QB finds a better rapport with another ball-cathcer. I think I'll just let other people grab him as a "value play" until he at least starts to get a bunch of balls thrown his way.
I'm bummed out about TY Hilton. He felt like a sneaky play, especially on Yahoo, where he was priced a full tier or two below the other big names. The good news is, a bruised knee shouldn't necessarily be an injury that lingers on him. But I'll obviously have to keep an eye on the reports as the week progresses. The sad truth is that he'll likely be a day to day, game time decision type, which won't help us a lot since he has a Monday night meeting with the Jets.
And by now, you've heard the news on Dez Bryant. Another sad one. Nothing more to report here, other than I like Doug Norrie's analysis on Terrance Williams being a good (if obvious) sleeper going into week 2.
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- Cowboys Giants Football: (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)