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NFL DFS plays to build a winning lineup for Week 2

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Heath zeroes in on pricing and air yards data from Week 1.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at New England Patriots David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

I am playing exclusively on DraftKings this weekend. Next week I’ll probably pick up FanDuel, and each week I may even weave in some Yahoo plays as I want to play the NFL Yahoo Cup this year—I like the idea of it and that it is free to play. Anyway, there are mountains of information one can sort through each week. For my part, I am attempting to streamline the information I spend chasing with what little time I have to devote to building a handful of lineups each week. I’ll look at pricing and I’ll scope out air yards. In a perfect world I’ll have an idea of the cheaper stacks to build around, and of the guys who left some points on the field in the week prior. Let’s do this...

COUNTING STACKS

I’m subscribing to the idea that matchups are already baked into price and that my short time available for studying each slate should be devoted to seeing how much a given stack is going to cost me. And I should probably include the opposing team’s weapons, so I’ll do so with the obvious choices and see what sort of salary remains.

Ben Roethlisberger ($5,800) vs. Seattle Seahawks

Big Ben is the QB5 on Yahoo, the QB9 on Fanduel, and the QB12 on DraftKings. JuJu is the WR4 on FD, WR5 on Yahoo, and WR5 on DK. So not a huge discount there. But still, on DK you can snag Ben-JuJu-James Washington for only $16,900 (or 33.8% of your salary cap). If you run it back with Chris Carson ($6,400) and Tyler Lockett ($6,200) you still have an average of $5,125 on average for your remaining RB/TE/FLEX/DST spots. Compare that to some other teams and you’ll get an idea of the savings:

Mahomes-Kelce-Watkins = $22,000 or 44% of cap. Cheaper than the Saints? And easily stackable with the Raiders? You’re looking at mega-chalk. Why, you say? if you add in Derek Carr’s top two options in Tyrell Williams and Darren Waller, you still have $5,075 on average remaining for your RB/RB/WR/DST.

Brees-Kamara-Thomas = $22,400 or 44.8% of cap (no Jared Cook for me until I see him more integrated into the offense). I’d run this back with Brandin Cooks ($6,300) first, bring the total remaining salary to $21,300 or $4,260 per position. I don’t know how excited I am for Brees on the road. I sort of just prefer Kamara, honestly.

Brady-AB-Edelman = $20,300 or 40.6% of cap (would drop a little with Gordon instead of one of the others). In a game the Pats should win with ease, what is the upside? I’m leaning towards Sony Michel if I go here. Also leaning towards that Patriots defense, as Fitzmagic loves him some INTs. Michel is more appealing on FanDuel, where he is priced as the RB15 (RB10 on DK). Also pouring cold water on your Patriots stacks is this insane fact: The Dolphins have beaten the Patriots in five of the last six games played in Miami. Crazy. Maybe it’s the heat?

Goff-Cooks-Woods = $18,600 or 37.2% of cap (looks nice, and drops a bit if you include Kupp, who is $300 cheaper than Cooks). However, you’d likely run this back with Kamara ($8,200) and/or Michael Thomas ($8,000), which means you’d have $3,800 for your remaining RB/TE/flex/DST positions. Better unearth some value that you like!

Carr-Williams-Waller = $12,800 or 25.6% of your cap (again, welcome to the chalk). OAK is appealing despite their apparent popularity, in a game where they should be chasing the Chiefs and where we can safely assume Tyrell Williams and Darren Waller will be the top passing options by a country mile.

Feel free to add up some other stacks on your own. Those are just the ones I chose for reference. I view Ben-JuJu-Washington as a way to get off of the Raiders chalk. I can still weave Waller or Williams into my lineups, anyway. And regarding James Washington, here’s a nugget:

I included Paulsen’s tweet specifically, since it can link you to airyards.com and to the work of @friscojosh. I love that site don’t frequent it nearly enough. Anyway, here’s some air yards data for ya...

After the Week 1 dust settled, it was DeAndre Hopkins (216 air yards), John Ross (172 air yards), and James Washington (169) atop the leaderboards. Meanwhile, Donte Moncrief played his “worst game ever,” managing only three catches for seven yards (10 targets). The veteran wideout dislocated a finger during training camp, so perhaps it is still troubling him? Moncrief isn’t using that as an excuse, but I sure can. At any rate, Washington ($3,600) is $400 cheaper than Moncrief on DK this week. I’ll bite.

AIR YARDS UPDATE

Since we’re on the topic, here are some interesting performances from Week 1:

TE T.J. Hockenson, 142 air yards, same as DeSean flipping Jackson. A tight end who ranked 10th (tied with DJax) in air yards among all receivers in Week 1? And who is priced as the TE20 on DK? Where do I sign up for 100% exposure? Hockenson is only $3,000, or $300 cheaper than Darren Waller. It appears I may be weaving Tyrell Williams into my squads instead of Waller (I don’t plan to burn my flex spot on a tight end if I can help it). And for giggles, Mark Andrews draws the Cardinals defense this week, and Andrews ranked third among tight ends in Week 1 with 74 air yards (despite splitting reps with Nick Boyle and Hayden Hurst). If you’re into the “jam in what worked last week” philosophy, Andrews should be in consideration.

WR Christian Kirk, 139 air yards, 12th overall. Kirk was a spot ahead of Michael Thomas (137), John Brown (133), and Tyrell Williams (125), for reference. Cornerback Jimmy Smith improves the outlook somewhat for Kirk and for Larry Fitzgerald, but I’m not super-excited for either. Banking on garbage time stats seems a dicey proposition. This is more of a nod to you season-long owners...be patient with Kirk.

WR Will Fuller had an aDOT (average depth of target) of 37 yards in Week 1, tops among all NFL players. Cornerback A.J. Bouye is out, so I’ll try to have some Fuller exposure if I can. Newcomer Kenny Stills only saw 28 of 67 snaps in Week 1, or a mere 41.8%. Perhaps Stills’ presence and the possible return of Keke Coutee will scare people away from Fuller. Not me, though.

Similar to Fuller, Tyler Lockett had an aDOT of 34 yards, ranking third overall in Week 1. He only had two targets, but he is in a great spot for Week 2 if you decide to play the Steelers (which I am, obviously). Run it on back with Lockett, folks.

IF YOU PLAY IN CASH, I PITY YOU

I don’t play “cash” games, but if I did I would potentially consider a resurgent Marcus Mariota and feel at ease pairing with Delanie Walker. Mariota is the QB20 on DK (QB13 on FD) and Delanie is his main man. I expect the Colts to put up a fight at home. I have no idea why Walker is priced at $3,500 as the TE12. He is $100 cheaper than Ben Watson, who is suspended for the first four weeks of the season? What am I missing?

Get ready to see tons of Raiders in those cash games, folks. I hope it works out for all of you. I’m really thankful I’ve never had any passion for so-called “cash” games. I’d rather weave Williams or Waller into my GPPs and use Ben Roethlisberger at home, coming off a bad game against the World Champion New England Patriots. So what if the Patriots own the Steelers? Don’t they own everybody? Did you guys watch the Super Bowl? Give me all the Big Ben over Derek Carr this week.

Other plays to consider are...

Bills DST ($3,400) at Giants
Texans DST ($2,800) vs. Jaguars
TE Mark Andrews ($3,800) vs. Cardinals
TE Vernon Davis ($3,200) vs. Cowboys
RB Matt Breida ($5,200) at Bengals
RB Josh Jacobs ($4,700) vs. Chiefs
RB Chris Thompson ($3,900) vs. Cowboys
QB Jared Goff ($5,900) vs. Saints

What did I miss? Who are you guys playing in Week 2?