FanDuel Daily Fantasy Football Helper: Week 2
Welcome to our weekly FanDuel NFL primer, where we give you an overview of the Sunday main slate to help you get started on your research.
As always, we recommend checking out all of numberFire's daily fantasy tools at your disposal. In particular, our weekly projections can help you nail down who might be the slate's top scorers and best values, while the heat map is a great way to get a general overview of the slate's implied totals and every team's strengths and weaknesses.
Now, let's run through some of this week's top plays of the slate.
Lamar Jackson ($8,200 on FanDuel): With names like Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, and Jalen Hurts all off the board, this week's selection at quarterback feels a bit lacking compared to what we'll see on most slates.
This might lead to the public flocking to just two or three names, and Jackson will almost certainly be one of them.
Jackson had a solid if unspectacular performance in his opener against the Jets, scoring 21.22 FanDuel points off three passing scores but lacking in overall yardage. Most notably, his production as a runner was uncharacteristically modest, tallying just 17 yards on six rushes.
It's hard to see that rushing yardage staying this low moving forward, though. As a reminder, he's averaged 10.5 carries and 62.5 rushing yards over his career.
Perhaps a more back-and-forth affair will force him to use his legs more, and we could get that on Sunday, with the Ravens being just 3.5-point home favorites over the Dolphins. Baltimore has a solid 24.00 implied total, and even though Miami only gave up seven points to New England in Week 1, this likely has more to do with a Pats offense that struggled in the preseason and has huge question marks in 2022.
numberFire's model projects Jackson for the most FanDuel points at the position.
Kyler Murray ($8,500): Although Murray was completely overshadowed by Mahomes in a matchup that Kansas City dominated pretty much from start to finish, we could have a more competitive game on tap against Las Vegas.
The Raiders may not have suffered a total beatdown in a five-point loss to the Chargers, but their pass defense did little to prove that it will be a vastly improved unit this year. While the Cardinals rank 32nd in adjusted pass defense following the opening week, per numberFire's metrics, it's actually the Raiders who sit 31st.
It may be one week, but it's an encouraging sign that this could result in a fantasy-friendly shootout between these two squads, and that's reflected by a slate-high 51.5 over/under.
Murray is a 5.5-point road underdog, but this game is much less likely to get out of hand compared to last week. The dual-threat has a top-five median projection at quarterback, and he's projected for the third-most rushing yards among his peers.
Derek Carr ($7,300): On the other side of that potentially lucrative matchup, we have Carr, who was largely underwhelming last week and doesn't possess a lick of rushing upside. And yet, surely we surely have to consider the home favorite in what could be the premier fantasy game of the week, right?
The Raiders have the highest implied total on the board (28.50) and are up against a defense that just got annihilated for five passing touchdowns, yet Carr comes in with just the 11th-highest salary at the position.
Carr has rarely demonstrated a high fantasy ceiling in his career, but he did log six 300-yard passing games in 2021 (including a season-high 435), and that all came without superstar Davante Adams in town yet.
In terms of efficiency, he's been above-average in Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back in each of the past three seasons, which is an encouraging sign that he might be able to produce some tournament-worthy spike weeks in 2022.
Joe Mixon ($8,300): If you can get up to Jonathan Taylor ($10,000), Christian McCaffrey ($9,000), or Saquon Barkley ($8,800) then by all means do so, but we shouldn't discount the workload and matchup for Mixon, and his salary will be slightly easier to fit into lineups.
While it was partially aided by overtime, Mixon logged a whopping 45.0 adjusted opportunities (carries plus 2x targets) in Week 1 that was only matched by Taylor. For context, no other player earned more than 32.
Sure, we won't see Mixon reach such heights every week, but he showed promising usage across the board, ranking seventh among backs in snap rate (75.5%) and ninth in target share (17.0%), and he also earned four of the team's five red-zone carries.
And then there's the matchup. The Bengals are 7.5-point road favorites against a Cowboys team that's expected to struggle behind Cooper Rush, which could open up more opportunities for Mixon and the offense.
D'Andre Swift ($8,200) and Antonio Gibson ($7,400): I'm lumping Swift and Gibson together as game-stack options within an intriguing Commanders-Lions matchup. The two teams are combining for the second-highest total of the slate (48.5) and they're separated by just a 1.5-point spread.
This is right up there with the Cardinals-Raiders game as one of Sunday's most likely shootouts.
While last week's 22 adjusted opportunities are a little underwhelming at this salary, Swift should see more than 3 targets in most games considering he saw the league's 11th-highest route rate at the position (60.5%). In 2021, he averaged 6.0 targets per game and exceeded 3 targets in all but one of his 12 games where he saw over 50% of the snaps.
Teammate Jamaal Williams vultured a pair of red-zone scores, but some of that could be attributed to bad luck after Swift was given breaks following long runs. There's no question that Swift was the lead back (65.2% snap rate), and he should have another big performance on tap against a Washington defense that ranked 29th in adjusted rush defense last week.
As for Gibson, he saw a similar snap rate in Week 1 (64.3%), but he took advantage of 8 targets off a 19.5% target share, helping him earn a fantastic 30 adjusted opportunities.
His rushing matchup could be even more enticing than Swift's, too. The Eagles ran all over the Lions in their opener, leading to Detroit having the 32nd-ranked adjusted run defense through the first week.
With both backs projected for roughly 15 or more carries and showing encouraging signs in the passing game, they could both excel this weekend.
Darrell Henderson ($6,200): Henderson will almost certainly be the chalk value at running back after dominating the workload in the Rams' backfield last week. Henderson would go on to log 81.8% of the snaps, with Cam Akers being rendered a total afterthought.
Henderson tallied 13 of the Rams' 16 running back carries, and Akers would get zero looks in both the red zone and passing game. Considering the Bills would ultimately turn this into a blowout, Henderson's 23 adjusted opportunities were pretty noteworthy under the circumstances.
The game script should be far more favorable for the running game this week. The Rams are 9.5-point favorites over the Falcons, and Atlanta is another team that didn't rate well against the run last week (30th in adjusted rush defense). Expect Henderson's raw touches to go up this week, helping him cash in as a great point-per-dollar option.
Davante Adams ($8,800): Any worries about Adams' fantasy upside on a new team were quickly squashed after logging a 48.6% target share and 57.7% air yards share in Week 1. It's abundantly clear that Carr and the Raiders seem intent on utilizing Adams in much the same way as Green Bay did, and he could very well end up as the most popular play at wide receiver.
While we won't see Adams garner nearly half the targets every week, he should once again be the focal point against an Arizona defense that could struggle to defend the pass this year.
Adams is tied with Cooper Kupp ($9,700) as the slate's top wideout in numberFire's model, but he doesn't carry the sky-high salary.
Terry McLaurin ($7,300): It was fellow wideout Curtis Samuel ($5,700) who got all the attention in the Commanders' first game, and Samuel certainly warrants a look as a value play. But McLaurin's lack of volume in Week 1 could open the door to him going overlooked despite this stellar matchup against Detroit.
McLaurin's 4 targets certainly left a lot to be desired on a day when Carson Wentz chucked it 41 times, but he still led all Washington wideouts in snap rate (88.6%) and route rate (92.9%), so he very much still looks like the team's top option. Additionally, McLaurin also led the Commanders with two deep targets (20-plus air yards), which is another promising sign for his future production.
Being able to click on a lowly-rostered number-one wide receiver in one of the top games on the slate is definitely something to consider in tournaments.
Courtland Sutton ($6,800) and Jerry Jeudy ($6,300): Touching on a game we haven't highlighted yet, the Broncos laid an egg in primetime last week, but this is an ideal bounce-back spot as 9.5-point home favorites over the Texans. In fact, Denver has the third-best implied total behind only the Raiders and Rams.
While the high spread lessens the chance of a back-and-forth matchup, Houston did hang tough in a tie with the Colts, so perhaps they can keep things just competitive enough.
But what really makes Sutton and Jeudy intriguing is that they have clearly defined roles as the top-two wideouts in this offense.
Both players tied for second in team targets with seven apiece, and it's quite unlikely we see running back Javonte Williams pacing the team in targets on most weeks.
Sutton would lead all pass-catchers in snap rate (95.3%), route rate (97.7%), and air yards share (43.3%), while Jeudy would rank second in the three categories at 89.1%, 90.9%, and 25.4%. Both players saw two deep targets each, as well.
It's easy to imagine Russell Wilson putting up a big performance in his home debut, and if he does, he'll take Sutton and Jeudy up with him.
But there's a lot to love about Chark's usage, and he may even have the better shot at being a tournament-winning play this weekend. That's because Chark is clearly the bigger big-play threat after earning a 40.9% air yards share while leading the team with 3 deep targets.
Pairing all those air yards with a solid 21.6% target share is a pretty great deal at this value salary, and Chark makes for one of the most appealing ways to gain exposure to this spot.
But if you can't shell out the dough to get there, this could be a great time to buy in on Pitts after he burned people for 2.9 FanDuel points last week.
Despite the result, Pitts tied Drake London for the team lead in targets (7) with a promising 21.9% target share and 30.6% air yards share. He also logged an 84.5% snap rate and a 75.8% route rate.
While Atlanta is a significant underdog to L.A., a negative game script should force Marcus Mariota to air it out, and he exceeded expectations against the Saints. There should be better days ahead for the Rams' defense -- facing Josh Allen will do that -- but it's still worth noting that they ultimately finished 30th in adjusted pass defense and 32nd in pressure rate last week.
Tyler Higbee ($5,300): Higbee is another player who didn't exactly light up the box score, but his role remains encouraging at the start of 2022. In Week 1, he was second on the team behind Kupp with 11 targets (26.8%) while playing 93.9% of the snaps and running a route at an 85.4% clip.
Those are all marks that are easy to get on board with at this salary, and the Rams should have a far easier time tacking on touchdowns against the Falcons.
Still, we have to like their chances of taking advantage of backup Cooper Rush, who finished Week 1 with the league's worst mark in Passing NEP per drop back (-0.44). The 29-year-old has barely seen any NFL action in his career and will be making just his second career start.
Cincinnati projects as the slate's best value at defense in numberFire's model.
New England D/ST ($3,700): If last week was any indication, this could be another mediocre year for the Patriots. But that has more to do with their listless offense, and it wouldn't be shocking to still see a trademark Belichick-led defense on the other side of the ball.
Despite falling to the Dolphins by a 14-point margin, New England's defense only allowed one offensive touchdown and a pair of field goals, and they actually put up the league's third-highest pressure rate on their way to three sacks.
On the other hand, although the Steelers pulled off an upset win over the Bengals, that had more to do with a mess of turnovers from Joe Burrow and much less to do with the play of Mitchell Trubisky and this Pittsburgh offense. Trubisky was another quarterback who logged negative Passing NEP per drop back (-0.10), and he and the team did little in the run game, either.
The Steelers' offensive line is expected to be one of the league's worst again this year, too. It all points to a strong showing from the Pats' D this weekend.