- Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan lit up the scoreboard the last two times they met. Expect more of the same on Sunday night.
The ideal DFS play is a player who gets a lot of opportunities in a high-scoring game, which is why targets, touches, over/unders, and implied team totals tend to dominate the DFS conversation each week. But using these metrics to truly gain an edge requires some nuance. A player’s opportunities are worth more when they come against a defense’s weakness, and the betting lines are more useful for identifying situations in which the odds of fantasy success are elevated than they are for comparing every single player or team. With that in mind, here are five things you need to know before setting Week 2 lineups.
1. Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan combined for 14 passing touchdowns in two games against each other last season.
Rodgers tossed four scores to Ryan’s three when they faced off in Week 8, and Ryan returned the favor by throwing four touchdowns to Rodgers’s three in the NFC Championship game. The betting over/under in this game opened at 53.5 points, indicating another shootout is likely in the cards. In 15 career games with an over/under of 52 or higher, Rodgers averages 312.9 yards and 2.67 touchdowns, 59.6 yards and 0.65 scores more per game than in his 128 other games. Ryan, too, sees his numbers spike. His average of 296.7 yards and 1.82 touchdowns in 17 games with an over/under of 52 or more is 36.1 yards and 0.15 touchdowns more per game than his averages in 128 games with an over/under of less than 52.
2. Ty Montgomery’s 90% snap rate was highest among all running backs in Week 1.
Montgomery put to rest preseason concerns that his potential inability to pass protect would lead to a capped snap rate, instead emerging as a true every-down back. Snaps have a direct correlation to running back fantasy scoring—the more a running back is on the field, the more he will end up getting the ball. And get the ball Montgomery did, piling up 23 touches against Seattle, the seventh-highest total of any player last week. The best thing about Montgomery's newfound role? There’s upside for more. Montgomery touched the ball on only 31.1% of his snaps, more than 12 percentage points lower than any of the other 10 running backs that handled 20 touches or more, per 4for4’s Player Touches App. That upside is likely to be realized this week. Since the start of last season, no team has allowed running backs to post more receptions (120), receiving yards (931), or receiving touchdowns (seven) than the Falcons—and that’s not even counting James White’s 14-110-1 receiving line in the Super Bowl. The Falcons are simply content to allow backs to catch the ball underneath, asking athletic defenders such as linebackers Deion Jones and Devondre Campbell to rally to the ball and make tackles. Montgomery, a converted wide receiver, can exploit this tendency. His four catches from a week ago put him on a 64-catch pace, which would have ranked third among running backs last season. As icing on the cake, the Falcons have proven vulnerable on the ground, as well. After allowing the eighth-most yards per carry in last year (4.5), they surrendered the second most last week (6.6) in their narrow win over the Bears. Despite mustering only 54 hard-earned yards against Seattle’s stout front in Week 1, Montgomery’s career yards per carry average sits at 5.3.
3. Larry Fitzgerald drew 13 targets last week, tied for second in the league.
With the entire NFL player pool at your disposal, winning at DFS is all about using players at the right time. At this stage of Larry Fitzgerald’s career, early in the season is the right time. Starting with the 2013 season, Fitzgerald’s age-30 campaign, he has averaged 72.4 receiving yards and 0.67 touchdowns over 24 games during Weeks 1–6, but only 59.4 receiving yards and 0.28 scores over 39 games from Week 7 on, despite averaging essentially the same amount of targets (8.8 in Weeks 1–6, 8.6 from Week 7 through the end of the season). Fitzgerald’s 13 targets last week accounted for 28% of Arizona’s total, and with running back David Johnson (wrist) out, and wide receiver John Brown (quad) and tight end Jermaine Gresham (ribs) both questionable, Carson Palmer could be without receivers that accounted for as much as 47% of his targets last week. Fitzgerald figures to be the Cardinals predominant means of moving the ball against an inexperienced Colts secondary that allowed 11.3 yards per attempt to Jared Goff, and a 4-76-1 receiving line to slot receiver Cooper Kupp in his first NFL game last week.
4. Coby Fleener averages 8.5 targets per game when Willie Snead is out of the lineup.
The sample size is small because we only have two games of data, but intuitively it makes sense. Drew Brees has always been at his best throwing to the middle of the field, and without slot receiver Willie Snead, who averaged 6.9 targets per game last season, those targets have gone to Fleener. In 80 career home games with the Saints, Drew Brees averages 320.9 yards and 2.7 touchdowns per game. Fleener should get more than enough of that share to pay off his modest salary ($5,300 on FanDuel, $3,100 on DraftKings).
Get Chris's complete breakdown of all the top cash-game and tournament plays on the Week 2 slate here.
5. Defense/special teams averaged 11.4 DraftKings points and 11.1 FanDuel points over the past three seasons when favored by at least 13 points.
The Raiders opened as 14-point favorites against the Jets, while the Seahawks opened as 13-point favorites against the 49ers. No other team is favored by more than 7.5 points this week. Teams favored by 7.5 points or less have averaged 8.3 DraftKings points per game and 8.2 FanDuel points per game over the past three seasons—greater than a 25% drop from favorites of 13 or more. Last week’s betting lines gave both the Titans and Packers implied totals of 26.5 points, and the Raiders and Seahawks defenses held them to 16 and 17 points, respectively.