Nathan Smith (@Nathan___Smith)
Sunday, September 17, 2017
This is a weekly article focusing on DFS strategies for the Sunday and Monday night NFL games. Draft Kings scoring and pricing is referenced unless otherwise noted.
Week 2 brings us two juicy primetime matchups. Here’s what our DFS slate looks like:
- Green Bay Packers @ Atlanta Falcons (Sunday, 8:30 ET on NBC)
- Detroit Lions @ New York Giants (Monday, 8:30 ET on ESPN)
Plug Players of the Week
These are players that I recommend plugging into be in 80-100% of your lineups, depending on your confidence level. Last week, Melvin Gordon, Ezekiel Elliot, and Adam Thielan were featured as plug players. They all shined, with 18.9, 22, and 27.7 points respectively. This week’s #PlugPlayers are featured at the end of this article, and will be excellent building blocks as you finalize your primetime lineups tonight.
Green Bay Packers @ Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons play host to Aaron Rodgers and company in a rematch of last season’s NFC Championship game. Both teams come into this game at 1-0, with a chance to get an early head start in the race for the playoff home field advantage. The Packers will have revenge on their mind after the Falcons closed down the Georgia Dome with a dominant 44-21 spanking. The Falcons played at Chicago in week 1, but they return home this week for the debut of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, in their first game in front of their home fans since their heart-breaking Super Bowl defeat. We can expect fireworks in this game, and a potent offensive showing from both teams.
Atlanta’s new stadium has a retractable roof. Tonight, the roof is OPEN and weather could play a slight role. Temperatures will be in the mid to high sixties, with a small chance of rain. Wind conditions will be mild, with an innocent breeze that should stay under 10 mph.
This game offers an interesting opportunity at quarterback. Both QBs are absolutely viable options and the clear-cut best choices ahead of Matt Stafford and Eli Manning. Deciding which QB to play depends the game theory behind your lineup. If you want to play Matt Ryan, you probably don’t want a lineup without at least one correlated Atlanta receiver, if not two or even three in this case. The same goes for Aaron Rodgers of Green Bay. For example, it likely won’t be optimal at all to have a lineup made up of Falcons and Monday night receivers, that also features Rodgers at QB. To capitalize most on Rodgers’ upside, it is crucial to pair him with one or more of his weapons in the passing game. You can apply this concept to Ryan as well, as it certainly isn’t unique to one team. However, it is very important to note that just because you are playing Matt Ryan, it doesn’t mean you can’t play someone like Jordy Nelson. Instead, if you love the Jordy Nelson play, this means that you may want to have a roster construction with Nelson and a Falcons receiver or two.
At the end of the day, game theory will dictate which QB makes the cut in your lineups. There is a very interesting strategy for those of you who multi enter tournaments that we will briefly explore. I could write a whole article on just this concept alone, but I’ll go over the basics for now. Let’s say you have 10 DraftKings lineups. In 5 of them, you could deploy Matt Ryan, and feature a lineup more geared towards the Atlanta aerial attack. For the other 5—yep, you guessed it—you would want to insert Aaron Rodgers and adjust your exposure to the Green Bay passing game accordingly.
Ty Montgomery might have the safest workload of any non-QB in this game. Atlanta is not very good at defending pass catching backs, and Montgomery of course is a former running back-turned wide receiver-turned running back again. With a role change that started in the middle of last season, Montgomery has shown unique versatility and is far from a scat back. The Stanford product is very capable of running between the tackles as well as outside the tackles. It would benefit Green Bay to rack up some time of possession, and keep the home crowd fueled Falcons off the field for just a bit longer. If Green Bay were to fall behind, Montgomery can still make a considerable impact by picking up chunk yardage on check downs. Ty Mont isn’t a pass blocking liability that can’t play in come from behind situations either, so there isn’t really a situation other than an unfortunate injury or multiple fumbles that would force him off the field. Therefore, we can theorize Montgomery won’t be relying on a certain game outcome in order to excel in our lineups. Go ahead and lock him, he is a #PlugPlayer of the week.
Devonta Freeman will be the Falcon running back that everyone will want to gravitate towards, and with good reason. Freeman’s home numbers are much better than his numbers on the road, as he seems to thrive in front of Atlanta’s fans. I want to have lineups with both Freeman and Tevin Coleman, as well as lineups with one or the other. As we saw last season, the Falcons offensive game plan often calls for a large and diverse role for both players. I would not be shocked to see Coleman have two touchdowns. With ownership being an increased factor on a small two game slate, differentiating your lineup can be key, if you want to take down a GPP tournament. Both Falcons’ running backs have a great chance to excel. Much like the Packers likely use of Ty Montgomery, the Falcons will probably want to run the ball frequently to keep the clock rolling, move the chains, and try to keep Aaron Rodgers and his crew on the sidelines as long as possible. While Freeman and Coleman are both very strong plays in their own right, Montgomery is the plug play because of his unquestioned role as workhorse back, something that neither Freeman nor Coleman can boast.
Julio Jones absolutely dominates when he returns to Atlanta, after games in which he struggled. Jones also tore up the Packers’ secondary in the NFC title game, to the tune of 9 catches for 180 yards and 2 touchdowns. He is a must start play. Barring some unforeseen development, where the Packers cornerbacks become elite overnight, Julio Jones should be targeted early and often. He will dominate the Packers once again, and he should be featured in your lineup. If you want to hedge that outcome, a great pivot would be the under-owned Taylor Gabriel, who offers more big play upside than Mohammed Sanu, although Sanu is a much safer target. Pairing Jones with one of these players is certainly in play as an effective strategy as well. This game should be extremely high scoring, so do not be afraid to take a lot of offensive players here.
For the Packers, Jordy Nelson is the obvious play but Randall Cobb is slightly sneakier, and might be my favorite play of the bunch. Davante Adams can’t be ignored and had a habit last year of bouncing back after average or bad games. I recommend deploying several different combinations with the Packers’ passing game.
Martellus Bennett is a volatile, high risk/reward play. With so many people latching on to the Packers’ wide receivers, Bennett makes an excellent pivot play in lineups without Jordy Nelson, DaVante Adams, or Randall Cobb.
Austin Hooper is extremely interesting and arguably even more viable than Bennett. With more mouths to feed in Green Bay, I believe Bennett has lower upside than Hooper. Bennett showed last week that he is still able bodied and ready to be an effective tight end, but on this slate every dollar matters. I would rather save a few hundred and go down to Hooper, who showed impressive game breaking ability last week against the Bears. Although he only had two catches, he broke coverage in the fourth quarter and turned a catch in run into an 88 yard touchdown that ended up being the difference in the game. There have been rumors and rumblings that Hooper seems to be gradually moving past Taylor Gabriel in the Falcons’ passing game pecking order. Hooper was hardly asked to pass block at all last week, leaving us to conclude this high scoring game should enable him to surpass last week’s number of catches. With Hooper’s imposing size and added athleticism, he is absolutely in play as a red zone factor as well. In total, there are several signs pointing towards Hooper having a solid game.
Detroit Lions @ New York Giants
All the news this week seems to surround Giants’ superstar wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who much like last week is a game time decision. Rumors swirled this week that Beckham could be facing a multi week or even a multi month absence, however with news coming that he may play on Monday, this no longer seems to be the case. The Lions come into The Big Apple very much under the radar, despite recently making Quarterback Matt Stafford the highest paid player in the NFL, at 27 million per year. Both teams feature similar backfields, with a young lead back looking to prove himself in tandem with reliable veteran pass catching back. This game should feature far less scoring than the Sunday night game, in a close battle between two NFC teams.
More content will be added for Monday Night Football during the Sunday Night game. For now, I’ll identify a couple of targets from the Lions @ Giants game, before wrapping up Primetime Preview later on.
The Giants’ secondary is one of the best in the entire NFL, and they should be able to make things tough on Matthew Stafford’s receivers. Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick are both capable of catching the ball out of the backfield. Both running backs will both need to be active in that role, if Detroit expects to have success.
Just like the rest of us, the eyes of the Lions will be intensely focused on the injury news surrounding Odell Beckham Jr. If you don’t believe his banged-up ankle will stop him from not only playing, but being productive on Monday night, then it would be wise to prepare for such a scenario. Many people might not want to even risk it, which could drastically lower his ownership even more than expected. Last week, I suggested Sterling Shepard would be an ideal pivot off of Brandon Marshall. I would be lying if I said I expected Marshall to be that bad, but the logic remained valid, and does again this week. Shane Vereen and Paul Perkins make for sneaky lower owned plays that could offer a nice boost from the flex spot to close out the primetime slate.
This game’s full content, including positional analysis/breakdowns and more, will be added to this article during the Sunday Night game. With so much fantasy relevance in the Packers/Falcons game, it is important to construct your DFS roster based on players and decisions from that game. Don’t be afraid to go heavy on your exposure to Falcons or Packers players, or even both.
Be sure to check back on Monday, for crucial in-depth coverage of the Lions @ Giants game. While the Packers @ Falcons matchup clearly yields more fantasy gold, we cannot ignore what will happen in New York. For now, we wrap up with #PlugPlayers of the week, and remind you to enjoy the games and most importantly, to trust your research.
Plug Players of the Week
It’s time to give the people what they want. Here are your week 2 #PlugPlayers of the week:
- Ty Montgomery, 5800
- Julio Jones, 9200
- Theo Riddick, 4500
- Matt Ryan or Aaron Rodgers**, 7500 & 7400
- **You have to play one of these QBs. They are both better options than Stafford or Manning.
The Monday Night content will be added to this article before the conclusion of the Sunday Night game. With so much fantasy relevance in Atlanta, it is important to construct your DFS roster based on decisions in that game. Other upcoming articles include, but are not limited to:
- DFS Terminology & Concepts
- Week 3 Primetime Preview
You can follow me on Twitter, @ Nathan___Smith
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I write about the NFL and more for TheSportsTalk
Follow me on Twitter: @Nathan___Smith