For years, the Tight End position has been largely an afterthought in Fantasy aside from one or two names at the top of the pecking order each year, but a growing trend across the league of incorporating pass catching Tight Ends at a much higher rate has us salivating over the prospects of adding a valuable fantasy asset late in drafts at the position.
Of course, there have been some spikes at the position in the past – while last season saw 9 players score 150 or more PPR points (up from 5 in 2018), it’s not so long ago (2016) that we saw 11 tight ends reach that mark. Can 2020 be a new high for the position? We’re skeptical, but hopeful.
A Strong Foundation
We’ve looked at the turnover across the other Fantasy positions in our past few articles, but the tight end position doesn’t feature much at all. The elite players at the position all figure to contribute in a similar fashion in 2020. There’s little doubt that Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and Zach Ertz will continue their dominance, but players like Mark Andrews and Darren Waller represent a deepening at the second tier. Can we trust them to push to even greater heights in 2020 is the big question, but we’re confident that there is value all over the rankings.
Rob Gronkowski Returns to Football
The biggest splash at the position may not even be a Fantasy relevant one as Rob Gronkowski followed Tom Brady to Tampa Bay, coming out of retirement to play with his old QB. With two elite pass catchers in Chris Godwin and Mike Evans and an established group of TE’s featuring O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate, it’s unlikely Gronkowski returns to form in Tampa Bay. We’re sure he’ll contribute in the end zone, at least early in the season, but don’t expect sustained greatness in Fantasy terms.
It’s often times fools gold as Tight Ends are drafted early every year and the number that pan out isn’t encouraging, but the last few drafts saw a handful of very good pass catchers land with teams that have a need for them. Post-hype sleepers like Mike Gisicki in Miami, Hayden Hurst with Atlanta, as well as second year pro’s T.J. Hockenson and Noah Fant, all have supressed expectations but represent real value if they contribute fully.
Early 2020 Tight End Rankings
- Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
- George Kittle, San Fransisco 49ers
- Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles
- Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens
- Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams
- Evan Engram, New York Giants
- Darren Waller, Los Vegas Raiders
- Austin Hooper, Cleveland Browns
- Hunter Henry, Los Angeles Chargers
- Jared Cook, New Orleans Saints
- Noah Fant, Denver Broncos
- Hayden Hurts, Atlanta Falcons
- Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles
- Blake Jarwin, Dallas Cowboys
- Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins
- Rob Gronkowski, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions
- Eric Ebron, Pittsburgh Steelers
- Greg Olsen, Seattle Seahawks
- Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts
With the fireworks largely in the rear view mirror, we turn our attention to the 2020 Wide Receivers group, which can attribute much of it’s intrigue to the many quarter back situations that changed across the NFL landscape. That doesn’t mean there weren’t moves at the position that are worthy of talking about, with one giant move leading the way with head scratching consequences for both teams involved.
DeAndre Hopkins Shipped To The Desert
There aren’t many instances in the modern NFL where a top 3 player in their prime is moved, but here we are. In a trade that makes as little sense today as the day it was made, DeAndre Hopkins was dealt to the Arizona Cardinals for David Johnson (and some draft compensation that we don’t need to even touch on). While there are rumors that Head Coach Bill O’Brien and Hopkins didn’t see eye to eye and this was a culture move, the implications don’t change the fact that the leagues best Wide Reciever was just handed to Kyler Murray as a shiny new weapon.
Hopkins has performed well in the past with a litany of mediocre QB’s, so there shouldn’t be much of a drop off in efficiency. The only question becomes how much of the target share does he maintain with Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk established weapons in this offense?
Mid-Tier Receivers Seeking New Pastures
Beyond DeAndre Hopkins, the names changing teams are what you’d normally expect in the NFL off season. Stefon Diggs adds a new weapon for the emerging Josh Allen in Buffalo, Robby Anderson trades in his wings for fangs in his move to the Panthers, hoping he’ll get better production from his new QB Teddy Bridgewater than he did from the mercurial Sam Darnold, and Emmanual Sanders heads to Mardi Gras as he adds a legit number two receiver behind Michael Thomas in New Orleans.
What these receivers all have in common is that when they’re playing at a high level, they’re a must start, but their previous situations had led to plenty of fantasy frustration as consistency was a problem for each of them.
In addition, it will be interesting to see the kind of impact these guys have on the incumbent #1. Michael Thomas is fairly secure at the top of the pecking order in New Orleans, and Sanders should be productive regardless in the dome. John Brown and D.J. Moore should see a bigger cut of their target shares go to the new comers, though. Brown in particular may see a major loss of targets as Diggs represents a fairly large upgrade at the top of the depth chart.
2020 Early Wide Receiver Rankings
- Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints
- DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals
- Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
- Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs
- Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers
- Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions
- Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys
- Kenny Golladay, Detroit Lions
- Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Juju Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers
- D.J. Moore, Carolina Panthers
- Odell Beckham Jr, Cleveland Brown
- A.J. Brown, Tennessee Titans
- Allen Robinson, Chicago Bears
- Adam Thielen, Minnesotta Vikings
- Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos
- Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams
- T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts
- D.K. Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks
- Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons
- Julian Edelman, New England Patriots
- Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks
- Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers
- Jarvis Landry, Cleveland Browns
- DeVante Parker, Miami Dolphins
- Stefon Diggs, Buffalo Bills
- Marquise Brown, Baltimore Ravens
- Brandin Cooks, Houston Texans
- Robert Woods, Los Angeles Rams
- Terry McLaurin, Washington Redskins
- D.J. Chark, Jacksonville Jaguars
- Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals
- A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals
- Marvin Jones Jr, Detroit Lions
- Will Fuller, Houston Texans
- Emmanual Sanders, New Orleans Saints
- Sterling Shepard, New York Giants
- Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers
- Michael Gallup, Dallas Cowboys
- Jamison Crowder, New York Jets
- John Brown, Buffalo Bills
- Christian Kirk, Arizona Cardinals
- Preston Williams, Miami Dolphins
- CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys
- Jerry Jeudy, Denver Broncos
- Justin Jefferson, Minnesotta Vikings
- Henry Ruggs, Las Vegas Raiders
- Golden Tate, New York Giants
- Robby Anderson, Carolina Panthers
While the off season was dominated by concerns over COVID delays and the news that Tom Brady would be wearing a different jersey when the season starts, the running back position featured enough change through the draft and free agency that the fantasy implications are just as large, if not even larger.
Todd Gurley and Melvin Gordon Re-homed
While both top two backs from the 2015 draft class have looked like elite NFL running backs for much of their career so far, the NFL’s new rinse-and-repeat strategy with running backs claims another two victims as both found themselves in new jersey’s to start the 2020 season.
Gurley’s health has always been a concern, and after the debacle in the Super Bowl, he couldn’t shake the doubters. Landing in Atlanta, though, is as good a spot as he could hope for, as the Falcon’s offense should alleviate the need to be the offensive linchpin while giving him ample opportunity to score fantasy points. Gordon ending up in Denver may not have the same affect on his fantasy production.
Sure, one could argue that they signed him to be the workhorse there, but with pass catching specialist Philip Lindsey still in town, and high pick Royce Freeman lurking, there’s not promise that Gordon get’s three downs worth of work. These are both excellent backs, but despite the injury history, I’m expecting Gurley to be the more valuable back come opening kick off.
Rookies With Big Expectations
Following the recent trend of maximizing RB’s rookie contracts, the discussion shifts to which rookie’s will end up providing the best fantasy ROI and who will appear simply as fools gold? The challenge in identifying these backs has been that it’s not necessarily who goes first that determines who finishes first. Opportunity is king in fantasy sports, and players like Philip Lindsey and Raheem Mostert are proof that points come from every tier.
Players like Jonathan Taylor and J.K. Dobbins have huge potential, but also find themselves in backfields featuring pretty good backs in Marlon Mack and Mark Ingram. D’Andre Swift? He’ll fight for touches with Kerryon Johnson. Would I balk at drafting any of these three backs? Not particularly, but I may have an easier decision drafting Clyde Edwards-Helaire or Ke’Shawn Vaughn simply because they have less competition for touches from elite backs and were drafted by teams that have higher end offenses.
It’s important to watch the training camp and pre-season position battles to see who is moving up or down in the rankings, but the rookies look poised to succeed again in 2020.
Early 2020 Running Back Rankings
- Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers
- Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
- Saquon Barkley, New York Giants
- Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints
- Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings
- Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans
- Josh Jacobs, Los Vegas Raiders
- Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars
- Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals
- Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns
- Todd Gurley, Atlanta Falcons
- Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers
- Melvin Gordon, Denver Broncos
- Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks
- Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Kansas City Chiefs
- Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers
- Kenyan Drake, Arizona Cardinals
- David Johnson, Houston Texans
- James Conner, Pittsburgh Steelers
- Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles
- David Montgomery, Chicago Bears
- Devin Singletary, Buffalo Bills
- Le’Veon Bell, New York Jets
- Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams
- Mark Ingram, Baltimore Ravens
- Raheem Mostert, San Francisco 49ers
- Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts
- Kareem Hunt, Cleveland Browns
- Sony Michel, New England Patriots
- Derrius Guice, Washington Redskins
- Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore Ravens
- Jordan Howard, Miami Dolphins
- D’Andre Swift, Detroit Lions
- Kerryon Johnson, Detroit Lions
- Phillip Lindsay, Denver Broncos
- Marlon Mack, Indianapolis Colts
- Damien Williams, Kansas City Chiefs
- Ronald Jones, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Matt Brieda, San Francisco 49ers
Week 4 wasn’t our finest week, but we had a few solid picks and were in the money in one our leagues (nothing major but it keeps us at around .500 for cashes).
- $$$: Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens ($7,100)
- After allowing 20+ points through two weeks, the Pittsburgh defense has played two excellent games against opposing quarterbacks, but we feel that this trend will revert in week 5. Jackson has shown the ability to play within the pocket, while using his legs to supplement a surprising passing game. In this divisional rivalry, I see the Ravens taking it handily, and Jackson performing very well.
- $$: Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($6,200)
- While New Orleans ranks 30th in points allowed to QB’s, it has been a tale of two defenses, with Houston and Seattle balling out in weeks 1 and three, and Goff and Prescott managing less than 25 points combined (with Dak’s 6 points being a low last week). Still, the emergence of Chris Godwin has turned the passing game into a lethal weapon, and Ronald Jones new found efficiency is helping to keep defenses honest. It may not be as high a scoring affair as it would be with Brees, but it should be Winston that benefits from a sub par passing defense.
- $: Teddy Bridgewater, New Orleans Saints ($5,200)
- While he’s been more of a game manager through three games, he’s been efficient regardless, completing over 70% of his passes over the previous two weeks. The Bucs offense has been scoring in bunches, and if it goes to the air (and I believe it will) he has the weapons in Thomas and Kamara to post points without having to do much of the work himself. Considering the Tampa defense has allowed quite a bit of scoring, I expect Bridgewater to be an absolute value in DFS this week.
- $$$: David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals ($7,500)
- Johnson’s volume has saved him from a bit of a difficult start to the season, as he’s drawn three difficult matchups in a row, running to the tune of nearly 3 yards per carry during that time. This week he gets a last place Bengals rushing defense that’s allowed no fewer than 21 points in PPR formats to opposing backs. This could be the turnaround game for the former 2,000 rusher as we expect that volume to remain constant.
- $$: James Conner, Pittsburgh Steelers ($6,200)
- Life with Mason Rudolph was one where the ball rarely went down field, and Conner managed to turn a rough day on the ground into a very productive day as a dump off safety value for Rudolph. With Baltimore a very real threat to get up early, Conner could again be a heavy part of the passing game as the Steelers coaching staff didn’t seem comfortable taking the reigns off their back up signal caller
- $: James White, New England Patriots ($5,000)
- The last time we saw the Patriots, it was against a Bills team that bottled them up all day, but coming into a juicy match up against a Colt McCoy led Washington team, the Pats look to bounce back in a big way. Rex Burkhead is out, Julian Edelman and Josh Gordon are dinged up, and Brady is going to have to look White’s way fairly often, making him a solid cheap play on Sunday.
- $$$: Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons ($7,700)
- Remember when Jones was considered a “can’t reach the end zone” receiver? Jones currently has four receiving TD’s through four weeks, and is still the best receiver in a passing attack that should put up points against Houston this week. The volume is there for Jones, who’s target share has been in the 8-12 targets per week. Start him with confidence if you’re looking for an expensive option for your team.
- $$: Alshon Jeffery, Philadelphia Eagles ($5,900)
- The Eagles looked off last week, but Wentz tried over and over again to fit the ball to his star receiver. Against a Jets secondary that’s providing solid scoring to opposing fantasy receivers, he should again be a target magnet, and I expect him to have far better success this week.
- $: Dionte Johnson, Pittsburgh Steelers ($4,400)
- When the season started, we had high expectations for Donte Moncrief and James Washington, but it looks like rookie receiver Dionte Johnson could be the peanut butter to Juju Smith-Schusters jelly in this offense thanks to an apparent level of comfort with backup made starter Mason Rudolph. As mentioned before, this offense has turned to a check down philosophy, and Johnson looks like he could fit the bill nicely.
- $$: Darren Waller, Oakland Raiders ($5,000)
- The raiders search for receiving weapons has seemed to provide the athletic tight end with extra opportunities so far, and a tough match up against a Bears defense that’s limited pretty much everyone but opposing tight ends from production looks like a solid play here.
- $: Tyler Eifert, Cincinatti Bengals ($3,300)
- Predicting anything in fantasy is difficult, but Arizona seems to love allowing opposing Tight Ends to score. While he’s been an afterthought through much of the season, a trip or two to the end zone shouldn’t be out of the question for the oft-injured tight end.
- Patriots D/ST ($4,300)
- Daily fantasy sites are starting to catch up to the Pats dominance against weak opponents, but against a third string QB and a Washington team that offers very little talent on offense, this could be another dominating performance for a defense that’s strung together several to start the season
- Titans D/ST ($3,000)
- If you’re looking for a cheaper option, the Titans defense has been excellent this year as well, and draws a Buffalo team that may not be 100% on Sunday. With Josh Allen having been knocked out of last Sunday’s contest, it should be interesting to see how he handles pressure this week.
The Dr’s DFS Team
- QB: Jameis Winston
- RB: James Conner
- RB: James White
- WR: Chris Godwin
- WR: Alshon Jeffery
- WR: Dionte Johnson
- TE: Darren Waller
- Flex: Sterling Shepard
- DST: Patriots D/ST
Last week we had a few solid picks but game scripts and injuries kept us from really hitting big. We aim to do better as the year wears on. Of course, it’s important to understand the purpose of this exercise. There are plenty of players we like on different teams, but our aim is to provide value at each tier, to help fill out the last few roster spots that you may have trouble with. Every roster will feature players from each; these are just the guys we like the most this week.
$$$: Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens ($7,000): I’m not too concerned about Mahomes failing to produce this week even against Baltimore’s D, but getting Jackson, who’s nearly kept pace with Mahomes as it is, is a better value this week. This one should turn into a shootout, so getting one of these guys as your “expensive” pick should pay dividends.
$$: Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons ($5,700): Inside, Matt Ryan has played his best football, and while they’re on the road, he draws a favorable match up against an Indy team that should allow him to score some points. I feel that Jacoby Brissett should be half way decent this week (more on that bellow), so both teams may be forced to score.
$: Jacoby Brissett, Indianapolis Colts ($5,200): It seemed like all was lost when Andrew Luck announced his retirement, but Brissett has looked capable in his last few starts. While the red zone efficiency is likely going to come back to earth, this week against a high scoring Falcons team, he’ll be asked to do even more with injuries hampering his backfield.
$$$: Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints ($8,000): I entertained CMC here, but of the two elite backs who are operating without their QB’s, I trust the Teddy Bridewater to get Kamara the ball better than the situation in Carolina. Seattle’s defense has looked solid to this point, but Kamara is the kind of backfield asset who, outside of extenuating circumstances (last week anyone?) nearly always turns in fantasy performances.
$$: Mark Ingram, Baltimore Ravens ($5,700): While we may have expected Justice Hill to have a larger role in the Baltimore offense, it’s been largely the Mark Ingram show, and with a trip to Kansas City in the docket, he could be asked to play a larger role in the passing game. I’m not always keen on highlighting several players like this, but I expect Baltimore to surprise some folks today on offense.
$: Darwin Thompson, Kansas City Chiefs ($3,000): There was a point over the weekend when we weren’t sure if even LeSean McCoy would play, but even if McCoy is on the field, his lingering ankle issue should open the door for Darwin Thompson to see a real valuable role, if just for one week. If Baltimore can keep pace with Kansas City, then expect a high scoring game for this backfield, one way or another.
$$$: Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys ($7,500): Amari Cooper has continued to show us that he’s a far better receiver than his time in Oakland led us to believe. This week, he’ll shoulder a larger burden with Michael Gallup dinged up, and the Miami Defense has yielded a ton of points to opposing teams.
$$: Tyler Boyd, Cincinatti Bengals ($6,500): Speaking of volume, Tyler Boyd has been a target vacuum, seeing a ton in his usual role in the short and intermediate passing game. Buffalo’s defense is a bit better than they get credit for, but with John Ross showing he can take the top off, I like Boyd to see a ton of targets again on Sunday.
$: D.K. Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks ($4,700): Metcalf has looked every bit of the downfield specialist we thought he’d be when he was drafted early by the Seahawks. While Tyler Lockett remains the teams top target, down the field and in the end zone, Metcalf will feature heavily. At that price point, I feel confident that a trip the end zone and a big catch or two is going to give us plenty of value.
$$: Evan Engram, New York Giants ($5,200): The guy has been one of the two or three best TE’s in terms of fantasy scoring (as we expected) and I don’t see that slowing down any time soon. While you may feel concerned with Daniel Jones under center this week, I expect him to be at least replacement level for Eli Manning, and if he plays even a modicum better, then Engram could have another monster week.
$: Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers ($3,700): The news that Cam Newton is going to miss Sunday’s game certainly put damper on the receivers group, but of all the Panther’s pass catchers, Olsen should lose the least amount of work with the backup QB. Arizona ranks dead last in the NFL this season in allowing points to tight ends, and while Olsen carries a question mark of health into Sunday’s match up, if he plays, I like him to produce despite Kyle Allen starting under center.
$$: Patriots D/ST ($3,800): Playing Dallas’ D/ST against the Dolphins may sound like a no brainer, but with an elite Patriots defense costing about $500 of your balance less, and facing off against a third string QB for the Jets, I have to go with the Pats defense in week 3.
$: San Francisco 49ers D/ST ($3,000): There’s a lot of value with D/ST’s as they all inhabit the same airspace in terms of cost, but the 9er’s defense has been scoring with regularity to this point in the season, and draws a banged up Steeler’s offense at home. With Mason Rudolph under center and the health of running back Jame’s Conner up in the air, there’s a chance that the San Fran D could be one of the most valuable starts this week.
The Doctor’s Lineup
- QB: Matt Ryan
- RB: Mark Ingram
- RB: Darwin Thompson
- WR: Marquise Brown
- WR: Amari Cooper
- WR: D.K. Metcalf
- TE: Evan Engram
- Flex: Alvin Kamara
- D/ST: Patriots D/ST
Notes: I had to make a few adjustments just to fit the roster under the cap. I do like Marquise Brown this week against KC’s defense, especially if KC can put up points. While there’s some risk in playing Darwin Thompson this week, his price is basically free and in that potential high scoring match up, that’s the kind of risk that can pay off in spades in Daily contests.
Week 1 saw a handful of guys we picked go off, most notably Lamar Jackson, although we could have done a bit better. Week ones are always unpredictable, so we’ll take it with a grain of salt. Below are our favorite picks, in the format we’ve established from week 1.
$$$: Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs ($7,500) – Against what we considered a solid defense, and without his top reciever for much of the contest, Mahomes did MVP like things, hanging 300+ yards and three TD’s against the Jaguars. Oakland should provide just as many opportunities for Mahomes to rack up points.
$$: Tom Brady, New England Patriots ($6,500) – Defy father time yet again? Check… Acquire one of this generations best receiving talents (despite off the field issues)? Check… Draw what may amount to the worst team in the NFL? Check. This week against Miami, Brady should once again look like a legit top 5 QB.
$: Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions ($5,200) – If you’re looking for a discount, Stafford may be your man. The emergence of T.J. Hockenson only solidifies what may be one of the best groups of receiving weapons he’s had since the departure of Calvin Johnson. Given that the Chargers can score with the best of them, it’s likely he’ll be called on to attempt quite a few passes on Sunday.
$$$: Saquon Barkley, New York Giants ($9,200) – Any of the top three options available (including Zeke and Kamara) are solid options, but drawing the Buffalo Bills should provide plenty of opportunities for Barkley to improve on the low volume/high efficiency start he had to the season.
$$: Sony Michel, New England Patriots ($6,200) – The Patriots offense drawing the Miami Dolphins is an obvious feather in his cap, but the news that James White will miss week 2 action following the birth of his child leaves the door wide open for Michel to assume a much larger workload than usual. If the Patriots get ahead early, they could pound the ball late.
$: Chris Thompson, Washington Redskins ($3,900) – The news that Derrius Guice has been placed on IR means the backfield will see a solid dose of Chris Thompson, especially on passing downs. It may be too early to tag Dallas as a top offense, but if they’re scoring, it’ll be Thompson, not Peterson, with the big day.
$$$: Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints ($8,000) – Don’t be scared off by the Rams passing defense after one week, this is a high scoring Saints offense with a lot to prove after having their season ended last year against this very Rams team thanks to an egregious call. Thomas is going to see a ton of targets every week, and while we have concerns about Brees lasting all season at the top of the mountain, we’re confident he’ll be good early on.
$$: Robert Woods, Los Angeles Rams ($6,400) – He may have had a disappointing week last week, with only 15 PPR points, but his 13 targets should set your mind at ease regarding his usage. As mentioned above, this weeks match up should produce one of the more exciting games of the week, and Woods should see another healthy dose of targets as Goff may not have time to find his down the field targets with the Saints defense getting after him.
$: D.J. Chark, Jacksonville Jaguars ($4,500) – They say backups throw to backups, and Gardner Minshew certainly looked Chark’s way several times after Foles left the Jaguars week one matchup with an injury. This is an offense that has never really established a top receiver, so there’s as much of a chance that Chark continues his torrid pace against a Houston team that could force Minshew to throw it a lot all game.
$$$: Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs ($7,300) – I’m not super confident in either Kelce or Kittle to perform consistently this week as both draw defenses that aren’t excellent for fantasy purposes for TE’s, but Kelce should be involved heavily regardless thanks to Hills extended absence. Last week it was Watkins, but it could very easily be Kelce with several TD grabs this week.
$$: Evan Engram, New York Giants ($5,200) – There seems to be a curse on the Giants receiving group, and Engram stands to gain as much as Barkley thanks to a passing game that will continue to siphon through his hands. With Shepard entering concussion protocol, we can’t be certain who will line up beside Barkley and Engram this week.
$: Darren Waller, Oakland Raiders ($3,300) – Waller saw a healthy dose of action in week one thanks to the departure of Antonio Brown, so expecting him to be involved in what should be a game of catch up isn’t hard to imagine. Kansas City is going to put up points, and Carr is going to have to use his athletic tight end if they’re going to hope to keep pace.
$$: Patriots D/ST vs. Miami ($3,700) – Could the Pats lay a dud like they did last year against the Detroit Lions? Sure, but this defense looks legit at all three levels, and Miami is fielding a disgruntled J.V. roster. Pats should win handily, and I expect a few turnovers as well.
$: Seahawks D/ST vs. Pittsburgh ($2,900) – Are the Patriots really a top 5 defense this year? Maybe, but there seems to be something wrong with the Pittsburgh offense, and Seattle’s defense isn’t anything to sneeze at either. With their smash mouth, grind you down offense, they’re just as likely to keep that Pittsburgh offense off balance, and hold them to another dud in week 2.
- QB: Matt Stafford
- RB: Sony Michel
- RB: Chris Thompson
- WR: Michael Thomas
- WR: Robert Woods
- WR: D.J. Chark
- TE: Darren Waller
- Flex: Alvin Kamara
- Patriots D/ST
In what has become a bit of a running joke, the Thursday Night Football game promises to be a dud more often than not. What does that mean for your fantasy prospects? We’ll take a look in this weeks Thursday Night Preview.
The Teams – Carolina Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last week wasn’t kind to these two teams, as only Christian McCaffrey turned in a worth-while fantasy performance (128 rushing yards, 10 receptions for 81 yards, and two rushing TDs). Cam Newton, Mike Evans, Jamies Winston, and Greg Olsen were all duds, while Chris Godwin and D.J. Moore had solid PPR days, but left a lot on the table. Carolina’s defense did allow 166 rushing yards to RB’s on only 28 total carries, but Tampa Bay features a far less exciting stable of backs than the Rams do.
Conversely, the 49ers offense wasn’t nearly as efficient despite hanging 31 points on the Bucs. Cam Newton will have to improve on his week one performance is the passing game is going to get back on track against a defense that allowed a meager 166 yards through the air to Jimmy Garoppolo.
Jameis Winston: Facing a Carolina defense that held Jared Goff and the prolific Rams passing offense to under 200 yards passing, Winston could have another tough go of it in week 2.
Mike Evans: While I still believe in Evans in year long leagues, I’m concerned about the Bucs offense providing Winston with enough time to find Evans down the field. I could see a game script that’s more run heavy with a lot of short to intermediate passing plays; something that doesn’t help a guy like Evans.
Curtis Samuel: Moore and McCaffrey shared the bulk of the targets, and considering how well Tampa defended San Francisco, it could be more of the same in week 2. Moore is clearly the top target, and if Newton has to lean as heavily on the run game in week 2, the opportunities aren’t going tot be there for Samuel to be a safe play.
Christian McCaffrey: Don’t read too much into the lack of success San Francisco had in week 1; their backfield was thrown into turmoil early on with the loss of Tevin Coleman. CMC is on a different level, and even thought we can’t expect nearly a 7 yard per carry mark every week, he’ll have one of the safest weekly volumes, and is clutch in the red zone.
Chris Godwin: Evans is likely to be the focal point of the Bucs defense, meaning Godwin will have more opportunities to be targeted. If Carolina scores early and often, it’s Godwin, and not Evans, that I’m targeting in daily for week 2.
Thoughts on The Game
I don’t think this will be your prototypical 13-10 Thursday night game, but I expect fatigue to become a factor for the teams playing on the first short week of the season. Of course, these two teams look like they’re continue to filter the ball through it’s best play makers, so feel confident starting most of the top guys in these offenses, but be wary of the Thursday Night curse (low scoring duds).
Waiver Wire Adds
So you’re hit with an injury or five, and you need to add a few players from the waivers? Here’s a few we’ll be considering for our own depleted rosters for week 2.
- Josh Allen (Owned in 20%) may have looked like a polished turd on Sunday, but he’s entrenched as the starter, and puts up points with his legs most weeks. If you’re hard up for a QB, he’s almost guaranteed to be available in your leagues.
- Matt Stafford (Owned in 16.3%) being owned in less than 20% of leagues seems crazy to me, since he’s almost always contributing in fantasy terms. The Lions were bad last year, and shouldn’t be much better this year, but without a broken back and with additional receiving weapons, Stafford is a solid plan b.
- Andy Dalton (Owned in 4.2%) I doubt you need to reach this far into the barrel for a QB, but if you’re in a 2 QB league or superflex, you may need to look his way if you lost Nick Foles. Cincinnati may not put up the numbers it did on Sunday, but it’s clear he’ll be able to help in a pinch.
- Ronald Jones (Owned in 40.6%) – He was by far the more dynamic runner on Sunday, and in a game that went sideways against San Francisco, he still made some noise. Peyton Barber isn’t going to be difficult to leap frog in terms of touches, so snagging Jones now in hopes he continues to breakout will be the least expensive option.
- Giovani Bernard (Owned in 32.3 %) – Will Joe Mixon miss extended time? We won’t know until the results of his MRI come back, but Gio Bernard should be in line for the lion’s share of work. Of course, the Bengals drafted two running backs in the draft, but the best of the bunch, Trayveon Williams, was dinged up himself going into week 1. He’s a flier for sure, but especially for Mixon owners, Bernard can help get you by.
- Chris Thompson (Owned in 18%) – When Adrian Peterson was made inactive in Week 1, it was an odd move, but it opened up a little more opportunity for Thompson to see the field. There’s no guarantee what is going on with Peterson, but Thompson has proven that he can be an effective flex start in PPR formats for years, so if you’re playing in one of the 82% of leagues he’s available, he may be worth an add.
- Malcom Brown (Owned in 6.5%) – It’s been debated since the draft about Todd Gurley and who stands to gain the most from his ongoing knee issues, and I think we saw yesterday that Brown can absolutely be a weapon even if Gurley is on the field. With efficient play and two trips to the endzone, he’s not only an excellent handcuff, but for non-Gurley owners, he’s a solid add regardless.
- John Brown (Owned in 35.4%) – I still have some concerns about Brown’s ability to stay healthy, but until he finds himself injured, Brown figures to be the top passing option in a Bills offense that’s perennially devoid of big time play makers. He’ll have some bad weeks, and likely end up injured at some point, but ride the hot hand while it’s there.
- Marquise Brown (Owned in 28.2%) – Color me surprised, but Brown showed no ill-effects from the lisfranc surgery he had this off season in a monster performance in week one. His speed and Jackson’s ability to push the ball down field could be a wonderful combination that leads to several big weeks for a guy who should slide into your roster as a WR3 or WR4.
- DJ Chark (Owned in 11.8%) – It seems that the Jaguars offense churns out sleepers and busts at a similar rate, but Chark was a major contributor for an offense that lost its QB early. Despite having Dede Westbrook and Marqise Lee ahead of him on the depth chart, Chark showed off the skills that had him a popular breakout candidate last year. He’s a long shot to produce every week, but one that as a bench piece is a nice addition.
- Terry McLaurin (OWned in 7.3%) – I own McLaurin in a few leagues, and have highlighted him on my breakout lists already, but the rookie picked up a big boost following Washington’s decision to cut Josh Doctson, and he did the most with his looks on Sunday to the tune of 125 yards and a trip to the endzone. He has to remain efficient if he’s going to be startable, but if he’s half as good as we saw yesterday, he could be the top option in this offense in no time.
- Mark Andrews (Owned in 51%) – Andrews has teased, but despite how loud the buzz was surrounding him all preseason, he still finds himself a free agent in 49% of ESPN leagues. Add him now, he’ll be a big part of that Ravens offense going forward.
- Jimmy Graham (Owned in 47.6%) – He’s long been a divisive name among fantasy players, as many have chased the upside he showed in New Orleans, but this year may be the year he becomes a big part of the Green Bay passing offense. There’s been plenty of buzz surrounding players like Marquez Valdez-Scantling and Geronimo Allison, but it’s Graham who Rodgers looks to in the red zone when Adams is blanketed. Expect a few down weeks, as any backend TE 1 is likely to have, but if you need a TE, he should pay off in spades.
- T.J. Hockenson (Owned in 30.%) – I’ve been wishy-washy on Hockenson all off season long, sticking to my guns that rookie TE’s typically disappoint, but I ended up drafting him a few times, and it looks like he may contribute more than I expected. With the position being shallow, it’s never a bad idea to stash a high upside youngster on the bench in hopes that you have the next Kittle or Kelce, so Hockenson is an obvious add if you have the bench space to do so.
While there’s still a few Monday Night Football games to be played, we like to take our time on Monday morning to see what we got right, and what we missed wide left on. Of course, playing Daily Fantasy early in the season is a crap shoot, but we’ll start there.
Daily Fantasy – Hits and Misses
Quarter Backs: Nick Foles was injured early in week 1, so we’ll ignore his results for the time being. Besides him, we split the week with a hit on Lamar Jackson, who did damage through the air thanks to his big play rookie Marquise Brown, and we missed bad on Jameis Winston, who threw three picks against a 49ers defense we still don’t think should be very good this year.
Running Backs: It was tough sledding for both Matt Brieda and Chris Carson, who both failed to rush for more than 4 yards per carry despite having the most touches in each respective backfield. Cincinnati has what looks to be a decent defense this year, but I only managed to hit on the easiest of the three; Saquon Barkley. Still, with Dallas up big, he didn’t get nearly the number of touches he needed. Still, Saquon looks like he’s a safe play nearly every week in DFS formats.
Wide Receivers: Woof, I really missed big on this one. Hill may have had a decent week had he not left injured, as Watkins stepped into the league receiver role and had a monster day. But aside from Godwin finding pay dirt to salvage his day, it was a three and out for me one receivers. Trey Quinn managed a handful of receptions, but was overshadowed by one of my favorite rookie receivers in Terry McLaurin, who was lights out in his NFL debut.
Tight Ends: I was close with my tight ends, as Engram certainly turned in a monster performance, and Engram and Uzumoah were targeted plenty given their DFS cost. It seems that year after year, I hit mostly on tight ends, but this is a position that can easily be glossed over. Engram looks like a legit threat to finish in the top 3 at the position again this year, and when the Giants play a capable offense, he’s a must start until his DFS cost catches up to his usage.
Tyreek Hill, Kansas City WR – If you’re like me, and you drafted him in spite of his karmic comeuppance, you may be kicking yourself following his hospitalization following a shoulder injury in week 1. It’s reported it won’t require surgery, but he’ll likely miss several weeks. Sammy Watkins clearly steps in as the top option, but Kelce and Mecole Hardman could see an uptick in usage over the next few weeks.
Nick Foles, Jacksonville QB: Another shoulder injury, another wasted draft pick for Dr. Fantasy. Foles left Sundays game early with what appears to be a broken clavical. This is an injury that will require a lengthy recovery, but Minshew seemed to play alright in relief.
Tevin Coleman, San Francisco RB – Another Dr. Fantasy draft pick (sensing a trend here?) and another week 1 injury. Coleman injured his ankle in Sundays contest and was ruled out. There’s precious little news surrounding the injury, but head coach Kyle Shanahan was quoted as being “concerned” in advance of the RB’s MRI today. We’ll know more later, but Brieda could be in line for a much larger workload going forward.
Joe Mixon, Cincinnati RB – Would you believe this is another Dr. Fantasy RB? Of course you could, because Mixon also left Sunday’s contest with an ankle injury. While he is also slated for an MRI, sources close to the team suggest they believe it’s only an ankle sprain, and a lengthy injury seems unlikely.
Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers WR – One of the prime breakout candidates, Mike Williams has an uphill battle to climb after suffering a knee injury in the Chargers week one contest. Not much is known about the severity of the injury, but he did not return to the game. Keep an eye on this one, as the depth chart beyond Keenan Allen is a bit shallow, and someone likely on the waivers will become a surprise asset should Williams miss time.
Juju Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh WR – In case you thought my rosters were done with injuries, Juju found himself with a toe injury in the last few meaningless minutes against the Patriots last night. There’s optimism that it’s minor and he’ll be good to go in week 2, but it’s something to watch in case it lingers late into the week.
Devin Funchess, Indianapolis WR – Funchess will likely undergo surgery for a broken collarbone suffered in yesterdays action. He wasn’t a likely breakout candidate following Luck’s retirement, but for those who invested in Funchess as a potential TD maven, it’s likely he’ll miss a large portion of the season.
It’s been a hectic couple of weeks and we’ve been unable to provide you our unique brand of fantasy analysis, but we’re back to rectify that. Our weekly DFS article will be delayed somewhat, but we’ll hopefully post our Sunday games targets, so keep an eye out for that.
For now, we’ll take a final look at players who are trending up and trending down, and touch on a few major pieces of NFL news that broke over the last few weeks.
Zeke Elliot, RB – Dallas Cowboys: Yes, this one is low hanging fruit, but with the anxiety everyone felt during the first rounds of their draft, it’s important to remind you that Zeke Elliott is one of the three best fantasy assets in all of football. Even though he didn’t play a snap for the team in pre-season action or see the field in practice, he’s a set it and forget it player who should see massive volume all year long.
Devin Singletary, RB – Buffalo Bills: We teased the possibility previously, but reading the headlines following LeSean McCoy’s release was shocking nonetheless. While Frank Gore and T.J. Yeldon will demand work, Singletary went from being a later round project to being considered the top back in the Bills committee. As a third round pick, it’s clear the team wants to involve him heavily, so don’t be surprised if he carves out a solid role for himself.
Evan Engram, TE – New York Giants: I’ve been pretty vocal about my support for Eli Manning sans Odell Beckham, and while he’s still unlikely to perform in the top 15 at the position, it’s very likely he’s a more efficient passer in 2019 thanks to an improved offensive line and less reliance on forced throws to OBJ. Engram is the most likely to benefit from these factors, as injury and suspension means he’ll likely be the top passing target for Manning this year. We watched him finish atop the position a few years ago in a similar environment, so expecting a top 5 finish at the position is far from a difficult ask.
Honorable Mention: With the news that Jerick McKinnon will likely miss the season, Matt Brieda sees a sizable jump after being placed atop the team depth chart ahead of it’s week one match up. I still feel Coleman should be used heavily, but Brieda could easily work into the RB2 conversation.
The Colts Receiving Group: It’s not their fault that Andrew Luck hung em up following an injury riddled career, but the truth is that with Brissett stepping in on short notice, there’s going to be a tough transition period early in the season. Hilton is likely to continue being a focal point for the office, but even he deserves to fall a few spots in your rankings. Guys like Parris Campbell and Ebron/Doyle need to feel the hammer too as their roles are further reduced until we see how Brissett handles the lead role this year.
N’Keal Harry, WR – New England Patriots: He looked like he may be in for a sizable rookie workload when the Pats brought him in with a first round pick, but the decision to play him early in the preseason despite some lingering injury issues may have led to the IR trip he’ll be taking. While he’s expected back sometime this season, he’ll miss a chunk of games, lending to the idea that he won’t contribute much this year regardless.
Deebo Samuel, WR – San Francisco 49ers: One of the more popular early offseason breakout candidates, Samuel may be a bit behind the curve after seeing the most recent 49ers depth chart. Currently sitting behind Pettis, Goodwin, and Kendrick Bourne, Samuel may not see enough snaps to be worth rostering early in the season. Of course, Pettis and Goodwin have a history of injury, so if a spot opens up, the rookie could see his usage bounce back. Still, temper your expectations early on.
Honorable Mention: It seemed like fate when Duke Johnson slid onto the top of the Texans’ depth chart following a season ending injury to Lamar Miller, but suddenly, he’ll face competition from a former teammate in Carlos Hyde. The two players couldn’t be more opposite, as Hyde profiles as a early down player and Johnson as a top flight pass catcher, but it means fewer touches for Johnson, who was beginning to look like a sneak RB2 candidate. Of course, Hyde could bomb in Houston, but I have to dock Johnson a bit until we know.