4 Daily Fantasy Football Matchups to Exploit in Week 2
The beauty of daily fantasy football is that, unlike a season-long draft where someone is tied to their top players all year, any top players in the NFL can make their way into your lineup. While that can be a blessing, it can also be a curse.
While being able to roster Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, and Derrick Henry all at once if a player truly wants to, it is unlikely that all three running backs are all optimal play at their respective salaries for a particular week. There are many elements to decide which players will, and a large aspect of daily fantasy is the matchup a player has.
While usually encompassed in some respects inside the salary figure, a soft matchup can take a good running back to a great week. On the other hand, a tough matchup can make superstars suboptimal to roster.
Especially in Week 1 with no current-season data, which matchups are lurking in this weekend's games that we can take advantage of on FanDuel?
Seahawks Passing Attack vs. Titans Secondary
Of the poor showings of many secondaries in Week 1 of the NFL, the Tennessee Titans' struggles seem to have the most staying power.
Tennesee gave up the fifth-most FanDuel points per game (36.1) to wide receivers in 2020, and DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Kirk, and the Arizona Cardinals torched them for 57.1 FanDuel points in Week 1. Only Tampa Bay ceded more. It is starting to become apparent over a long sample that the Titans' secondary just is not performing to its name value and coaching staff.
Seattle may do Tennesee several favors; their 42% situation-neutral pass rate is the third-worst in the NFL through Week 1. Pete Carroll's staff just simply does not play to the strength of their star quarterback and pass catchers. Assuming the Titans keep pace, however, Russell Wilson will be forced to throw a decent amount, and that is tremendous for the fantasy potential in this offense. Wilson was fourth in the NFL last week at 0.59 Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back.
Many "strong" secondaries struggled last week, but the Tennessee one is proving to be weak, and they travel to a lion's den this Sunday.
Nick Chubb vs. Texans Defensive Line
As was stated in my bold predictions column, I am all about Nick Chubb's 55% snap share this week despite the dozens of great workloads for running backs in Week 1.
The Houston Texans defensive line was PFF's worst projected unit in the NFL to start the year, and a bizarre Week 1 game script hid them from relevance against Jacksonville. The Jags threw the ball on all seven plays in a situation-neutral environment, and they had a 76% pass rate overall. When tested, though, they struggled as expected. Houston's rush defense allowed 0.11 Rushing NEP per carry in Week 1, which was fifth-worst in the league. It just never impacted the game.
Enter Nick Chubb. Chubb and the Browns have a tremendous offensive line, and it surprised no one to see them leading the NFL in Rushing NEP per carry (0.38) against an injured Kansas City defensive line last week. Most importantly for Chubb, however, is his projected game script; the efficiency will always be there.
Cleveland is a 12.5-point favorite at home against Houston. For many running backs, that would actually be a drawback, but Chubb needs a positive script to see the field. 14 of his 15 carries in Week 1 came tied or ahead, and he only saw a single carry when trailing.
Cleveland projects to be out front, paving the way for Chubb to see an above-average workload against a weak rush defense.
Jared Cook vs. Cowboys Linebackers and Safeties
Sometimes, paying down at tight end as part of a game stack is the right call due to scarcity at the position. With Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, and T.J. Hockenson off the slate, and Darren Waller in a tough matchup, that may be the case for Week 2.
One of the best game stacks on the slate is the Cowboys/Chargers contest in Los Angeles, and Jared Cook is an interesting consideration for a spot inside of one. Cook's 45% snap share last week is concerning on the surface, but when he was on the field, he got the work. Cook ran 59% of their total routes, and he also saw 8 targets, catching 5 of them for 56 yards. Unlike many "hot" tight end candidates, he did not score against Washington.
At $5,400 on FanDuel, his usage is solid, but his matchup is even better. The Dallas defense was weak by just about every measure, but especially against Tampa Bay. Dallas allowed 3.13 adjusted FanDuel points per target to Tampa tight ends, which was the second-worst mark in the league.
Rob Gronkowski's monster day came with yardage upside and two scores on two red-zone targets. Cook also saw two red-zone targets in Week 1, and if Dallas has an issue with larger tight ends near the goal line again, Cook could easily pay off his salary by finding paydirt.
Patriots DST vs. Jets Offensive Line
Wilson was pressured on 46.5% of his dropbacks, which was first in the NFL by a mile:
QB pressure rates per Pro Football Reference
1. Zach Wilson 46.5%
2. Josh Allen 36.4%
3. Joe Burrow 34.4%
4. Sam Darnold 33.3%
5. Kirk Cousins 32.7%
— The 4 Man Rush (@4ourmanrush) September 15, 2021
The Jets will now be without Mekhi Becton for 4-8 weeks after Becton injured his knee against Carolina. Becton's struggles aside, the giant left tackle is not backup caliber, and that means a poor New York offensive line should be even worse in Week 2.
While Wilson played well, all things considered, his offense is still a target for a daily fantasy defense given this horrifying offensive line play. He was sacked six times against Carolina, and he also threw an interception.
New England has historically struggled to generate quarterback pressure, but two sacks last weekend against Miami indicates their offseason spending on Matt Judon and Kyle Van Noy has helped a great deal. Their two contests with New York are likely to be their highest-upside DST games of the season, so their $5,000 salary on FanDuel seems worth prioritizing with plenty of value elsewhere.