Hey all! I’m super excited to share my debut NFL article this week! Starting in Week 3 of the NFL season, I’ll also be writing an FTA Matchups article, breaking down the week’s best and worst matchups for QBs, RBs, WR1s, WR2s, TEs, and DEFs according to our own spreadsheet. The matchups article will be paywalled. My weekly GPP article (this one!) will be free.
In this article, I’ll discuss plays and strategies to create leverage on the field (diversify your lineup), correlation plays that maximize your upside while creating leverage with chalk, and which of the chalk I’m most comfortable fading. Let’s get to it.
Ownership is almost always flatter across the QB board than any other position. This week appears to be no different. The most popular plays appear to be Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Andy Dalton. Deviating from these three won’t create the type of leverage you create by fading a chalky RB, but there are some good options, nonetheless.
- Cam Newton has all the upside of Brees and Brady at about half the projected ownership.
- When Sean Lee plays, Dallas is quite good against the run. Cam will be most of the offense this week.
- Russell Wilson was QB1 last season, but has a tough matchup at Denver.
- Wilson has a depleted cast around him, and his #1 WR is ~85% healthy and facing lockdown slot corner Chris Harris. However, the altitude could actually work IN his favor, as tired defenders have to chase him on scrambles. Wilson ran 95 times for just shy of 600 yards last year and could have to do more of it this season. At under 5% ownership, he’s an outstanding tournament play.
- Andrew Luck is more talented than his chalk-counterpart Andy Dalton.
- Luck, or at least the Colts play-calling, was conservative in the preseason. Luck’s lowest seasonal average depth of target was above 8. In the preseason, his aDOT was 5.7. This makes him unplayable in cash, but his career home/road splits scream gpp appeal. He averages a higher completion percentage along with more yards, TDs, Y/A, AY/A, and rushing yards at home, with fewer interceptions.
- Tyrod Taylor was chalky before weather reports began calling for extreme winds.
- Interestingly, Ryan Collinsworth of FantasyLabs found that rushing quarterbacks actually thrive in windy conditions.
Running back is a tough position to find quality leverage. Since RB is the most predictable position based on volume, the chalky options are more frequently the best options, and ownership tends to be more efficient.
- David Johnson is projected for about the third of the ownership of Alvin Kamara.
- Kamara could see Gillislee vulture red zone opportunities. David Johnson has no such risk. The Saints may be reluctant to give Kamara a workhorse load. Johnson had 373 touches in 2016.
- James White is projected for half the ownership of his teammate Rex Burkhead.
- Burkhead’s knee is cause for workload concern, whereas White’s role in the passing game is a near certainty. In fact, White’s 60 and 56 receptions the past two years are probably a floor estimate for him this year with the depleted receiving corps. The early absence of a slot receiver boosts him even further.
- Odell Beckham Jr. will not be this cheap again. Nor will he be this low owned (~5%).
- The matchup is really tough at first glance against Ramsey. However, the Jaguars actually struggled against target monsters last year, including two solid games from AB and Hopkins. Ramsey likely won’t follow OBJ into the slot, either.
- Marquis Goodwin averaged $5700 after Jimmy G’s debut, finishing the season at $6600. That makes his $4600 salary a major discount, obviously driven by the matchup.
- In his outstanding weekly breakdown, Evan Silva predicted Goodwin would actually see more of Trae Waynes than Xavier Rhodes. He and I agree that this would make the matchup tougher for Goodwin. However, Rhodes saw most of his snaps on the right side of the defense, lining up against the left receiver. Garcon saw more time on the right side, and Goodwin saw significantly more time on the left. If Goodwin gets more time against Rhodes, it would be a major speed mismatch, especially since Rhodes was limited with a hamstring issue this week in practice. Goodwin is one of my favorite plays this week.
- Tyler Lockett is my other favorite leverage play of the week.
- Doug Baldwin will be battling with Chris Harris all day. With no more Aqib Talib, Lockett will find himself in a winnable matchup vs Bradley Roby. Lockett graded out very well in Matt Harmon’s Reception Perception.
- Kenny Stills isn’t nearly the sleeper that Goodwin and Lockett are this week, but he’s not chalky either.
- Stills is poised for a big year and there’s no reason that shouldn’t start this week.
- Tyler Eifert is the best, most talented TE in the CIN-IND matchup, yet Jack Doyle is projected for far more ownership.
- Eifert also has full command of the TE position. Doyle could have a lot of his role from 2017 zapped by the addition of Eric Ebron.
- Nick Vannett was a popular target of Wilson’s in the preseason.
- Like Lockett, Vannett could see an elevated role if Baldwin is shut down by Harris. TE was a Denver defense vulnerability last year.
- Cleveland is minimum priced against a team and quarterback that struggles on the road.
- Roethlisberger likes stretching the field, which will be risky in the 20-30 mph wind gusts.
This section will focus on pairing leverage plays from the previous section with chalkier, high-expectation plays. Doing so will simultaneously provide the correlation that maximizes your upside while diversifying your lineup. Bold players appeared in the Leverage Section. Italicized names are the chalkier options.
- James White – anyone in the HOU-NE game.
- I especially like pairing White with Watson, as White’s snap count would likely rise if NE had to play catch up.
- Tyler Eifert – Andrew Luck/Andy Dalton – AJ Green
- I LOVE Eifert this week. Gronk and Eifert will be the only TEs I use.
- Cam Newton – Christian McCaffrey
- If McCaffrey is shut down in the run game, he’ll just get his touches in the passing game, helping both of these guys.
- Odell Beckham Jr. – Keelan Cole
- Big fan of this one. Cole is a budding star under $4k and opposing passing games is an under-utilized correlation play.
- Russell Wilson – Tyler Lockett – Nick Vannett – Emmanuel Sanders
- This is my favorite stack of the slate for tournaments. Let’s hope the defenses are drained by the heat and elevation and the game goes way over the total. I’ll run this without Vannett since I’m all over Gronk & Eifert.
- Antonio Brown
- Big Ben is bad on the road, and it’s crazy windy.
- Rex Burkhead
- The Patriots have a habit of throwing curveballs with their running back rotation. With some knee concerns for Burkhead, it’s not hard to imagine James White getting most of the RB targets, and Jeremy Hill vulturing TDs.
- Jack Doyle
- Eifert is the same price in the same game environment. Doyle is probably the second most talented TE on his own team, and third most talented TE in this game. Doyle is projected for ~20% ownership, Eifert 1%.
- Drew Brees
- The Saints should have no problem with the Winston-less Bucs. If I’m paying up for a non-running QB, it’s for guy in a game that I think could become a shootout (like Brady).