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Tony’s DFS Fantasy Football Recommendations: Week 2

Denver Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (88) eludes the tackle of Oakland Raiders cornerback Phillip Adams (28) during the first quarter at O.co Coliseum in Oakland, Calif. December 29, 2013; Photographer: San Jose Mercury News/Zumapress/Icon Sportswire

Denver Broncos TE Julius Thomas got all the love last week from QB Peyton Manning. Tony says it should be WR Demaryius Thomas’ turn this week, so get him in your DFS lineups. Photo: Icon Sportswire

Last year I started playing daily fantasy sports at FanDuel, and over a 10 week span during the NFL season, I turned $200 into $700. I’m not able to retire on that, but it is a nice bonus in addition to my expected winnings from my traditional fantasy football leagues. Whether you play at FanDuel, DraftKings, or a host of other salary cap style daily fantasy sports websites, here are some recommendations at each position that could help you Week 2.

Quarterback

Elite, Expensive: Peyton Manning, DEN (Week 2 vs Kansas City)
Being the most dominant fantasy football quarterback, it’s hard to ignore the fact that you might want Manning in your lineup. He will be the most expensive player on the board, but you know he will deliver. In Week 2, Manning gets a banged up Kansas City Chiefs defense that made Jake Locker look like a Top 5 fantasy quarterback. Manning should have no problem dissecting a defense that certainly isn’t the same as last year. Considering Denver is currently a -13.5 point favorite at home, this game could get ugly fast.

Middle of the Road: Colin Kaepernick, SF (Week 2 vs Chicago)
In Week 1, Kaepernick had a gift-wrapped match up against the worst defense in the NFL. However, with early turnovers from the Dallas Cowboys, Kaepernick wasn’t required to do as much as he otherwise would. In Week 2, he gets a Chicago Bears defense that looks like a shell of their former selves after the Buffalo Bills gashed them last week. Taking into consideration that it is San Francisco’s home opener, we’re expecting some noise from these loaded offenses.

Cheap, High Upside: Jake Locker, TEN (Week 2 vs Dallas)
If you are looking for a bargain quarterback, you can’t ignore the fact that Locker had a very nice day on the road. It’s not supposed to be an easy task going into Arrowhead Stadium and putting up respectable fantasy numbers. In Week 2, Locker faces the Cowboys. Everyone expects the Dallas offense to bounce back resulting in what could be a high scoring game. Locker has all the weapons to keep up with Dallas. From Kendall Wright, Nate Washington, Justin Hunter and Delanie Walker, I expect Locker to have a very respectable home opener.

Running Back

Elite, Expensive: LeSean McCoy, PHI (Week 2 @Indianapolis)
Week 1 was not all bad for McCoy. He finished with 74 yards rushing and 6 receptions for 41 yards receiving. There were no touchdowns though, and that is not what owners who drafted him first overall want to see. Jacksonville has an underrated defense, especially with linebacker Paul Posluszny leading the charge. Expect a big bounce back game for McCoy, with a good chance of getting his first regular season touchdown.

Middle of the Road: Frank Gore, SF (Week 2 vs Chicago)
Gore is coming off an underwhelming game against a banged up Dallas offense. He only ran 16 times for 66 yards. Chicago just gave up a combined 193 yards rushing to the Buffalo Bills run game. It’s obvious the weakness on the Chicago defense is still the run game, so an established veteran like Gore should pound the ball over and over again for success.

Cheap, High Upside: Knowshon Moreno, MIA (Week 2 @ Buffalo)
Buffalo is coming off a Week 1 game where they allowed 82 yards rushing and 87 yards receiving to Matt Forte. Moreno is no Forte, by any means. However, that does show Buffalo’s run defense has some issues. Moreno ran for 134 yards against a supposedly great New England Patriots defense in Week 1. Expect more of the same this week.

Wide Receiver

Elite, Expensive: Demaryius Thomas, DEN (Week 2 vs Kansas City)
After a disappointing Week 1, you have to expect Peyton Manning to favor his number one wide receiver in Week 2. All eyes will be focused on Julius Thomas after his monster Week 1 performance. It is a carousel in Denver, and this week the favorite Bronco will be Demaryius Thomas.

Middle of the Road: Jordy Nelson, GB (Week 2 vs New York Jets)
Like Demaryius Thomas, Nelson had a rather quiet day, but that’s what happens when you play the number one defense, the Seattle Seahawks. This week, Green Bay plays a secondary that allowed Derek Carr to post a 94.7 quarterback rating, including two touchdowns. If Derek Carr can do that, you have to think Aaron Rodgers will be spoon feeding his wide receivers. Also, given it’s the Packers home opener, everyone will want to get in on the Lambeau Leap action early.

Cheap, High Upside: Kelvin Benjamin, CAR (Week 2 vs Detroit)
Looking for another bargain player, Benjamin certainly turned some heads in Week 1. He did this with Derek Anderson under center. If Cam Newton returns this week (and he’s expected to), you have to think that he will be eager to get his most dynamic receiver the ball. Carolina also faces a Detroit Lions defense that seems to only show up at home. Being Detroit’s first game on the road, I don’t think they will be as dominant as they were Week 1.

Tight End

Elite, Expensive: Jimmy Graham, NO (Week 2 @ Cleveland)
In his 2014 debut coming off his new contract negotiations, Graham had a solid performance, but disappointed fantasy owners by not getting into the end zone (and not giving us our first goalpost dunk). In what should be a blowout against the Cleveland Browns, expect Graham to get his first touchdown and possibly another in this lopsided Saints victory.

Middle of the Road: Zach Ertz, PHI (Week 2 @ Indianapolis)
Week 1 was the start of a breakout campaign for Ertz. All offseason, experts were talking up Ertz as a sleeper, and he didn’t disappoint with a 3 reception, 77 yard, 1 touchdown performance. Week 2 pits Ertz against the Colts that just allowed over 100 yards and 3 touchdowns to Denver’s tight end Julius Thomas. Don’t expect those numbers from Ertz as Indianapolis will adjust their coverages, but expect a good fantasy game.

Cheap, High Upside: Delanie Walker, TEN (Week 2 vs Dallas)
Walker had a good game Week 1 with 1 touchdown but only 37 yards. Week 2 brings Dallas into town and Dallas just gave up 2 touchdowns to tight end Vernon Davis. Expect another touchdown from Walker as that Dallas defense is struggling to find itself.

Defense

Arizona Cardinals (Week 2 at New York Giants)
After holding Philip Rivers to just 17 points, you have to think one of the most dominant defenses will have a field day with one of the worst offensive lines. Coming into this season, we knew Arizona would be one of the best defenses. I expect the Arizona Defense to feast on Eli “turnover machine” Manning.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Week 2 vs St. Louis)
If you’re looking for a bargain, look at Tampa Bay to smother a team that’s already down to their third-string quarterback. St. Louis Rams struggled to score Week 1 against a supposedly weak Minnesota Vikings defense. Lovie Smith has been known for calling a good defensive game and I expect him to do so Week 2. Given the situation, I feel very confident in the Buccaneers hitting value and then some.

Moving Up: Locker – Ingram – Benjamin, and Moving Down: Griffin – Gore – Britt

Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker (10) throws downfield against the Jacksonville Jaguars during 1st half action at LP Field in Nashville, Tn. November 10, 2013; Photographer: Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire

Tennessee Titans QB Jake Locker a low end QB1? New head coach Ken Whisenhunt did wonders for Philip Rivers last year. So you’re saying there’s a chance! Photo: Icon Sportswire

QUARTERBACKS

MOVING UP

Andrew Luck, Colts
With the Colts defense looking pretty weak, the running game not yet up to speed and the news that the team’s top pass rusher, Robert Mathis, will miss the entire season, Indianapolis may be forced to throw early and often in 2014. That was the case in Week 1 with Luck throwing for 370 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Jake Locker, Titans
With the whispers growing that Locker just might be ready to emerge as a solid starter during his 4th year in the league, he didn’t disappoint in Week 1, completing 22 of 33 passes for 266 yards and a pair of scores. We know that he has the ability to generate fantasy points on the ground, giving Locker an outside chance to finish 2014 as a low end QB1 or upper tier backup.

MOVING DOWN

Robert Griffin III, Redskins
This guy needs to run the ball to be effective. End of story. After a poor performance in the preseason, he was solid in Week 1 but his fantasy owners know that three carries a game isn’t going to be enough to make him anything more than a low tier QB1 at best in 2014.

RUNNING BACKS

MOVING UP

Terrance West, Browns
The Browns heralded rookie runner may have struggled somewhat in the preseason but he came on strong when called upon to replace an injured Ben Tate in Week 1, carrying the ball 16 times for 100 yards against the Steelers.

Mark Ingram, Saints
Ingram looked solid running the ball against the Falcons this week, gaining 60 yards and a pair of scores on 13 carries. Pierre Thomas and Khiry Robinson combined for 13 carries with Robinson poaching a touchdown. If this is an indication of the workload split going forward, Ingram rates as a low end RB2 with upside over the balance of the season.

Alfred Morris, Redskins
So much for all those concerns that new Redskins coach Jay Gruden would go with a timeshare approach for Washington’s running backs. Morris toted the rock 14 times for a solid 91 yards while Roy Helu and Darrel Young combined for just five carries.

Justin Forsett, Ravens
Ray Rice is gone and Forsett appears to be the next man up in Baltimore and not Bernard Pierce. Forsett played for Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak in Houston and his game resembles that of Steve Slaton, who ran for just under 1,300 yards as a rookie for Kubiak in 2008.That being said, don’t sell the farm to get Forsett since this situation has time share written all over it with rookie 4th round pick Lorenzo Taliaferro also in the mix.

MOVING DOWN

Bernard Pierce, Ravens
So much for Pierce getting a two-game audition to steal Ray Rice’s starting job. Pierce fumbled in the 2nd quarter and never saw the field again, with Justin Forsett and rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro taking over. Worse yet was that he totalled just 14 yards on six carries.

Ray Rice, Ravens
Not much to add here since the video says all that needs to be said.

Doug Martin, Bucs and Ben Tate, Browns
We don’t yet know the severity of their injuries but it is questionable whether either will play in Week 2. Preseason injury concerns for both Martin and Tate appear to have been warranted. Tate is the bigger fantasy concern with both Terrence West and Isaiah Crowell playing well in his absence.

Trent Richardson, Colts
It’s not so much that Ahmad Bradshaw looked all that great on Sunday night against the Broncos. It’s that, once again, Richardson failed to impress. The fact is that unless Richardson finds the end zone, he isn’t going to score many points on a weekly basis. At some point, ego must give way to reality for Colts management.

Frank Gore, 49ers
It’s not that Gore looked bad, it’s that rookie 2nd round pick Carlos Hyde looked pretty good. Week 1 may have provided some solid evidence that this could be more of a committee approach than previously expected.

WIDE RECEIVERS

MOVING UP

Josh Gordon, Browns and Wes Welker, Broncos
These two dudes could have their suspensions reduced provided the NFLPA accepts the league’s proposal to overhaul its drug policy on Tuesday.

Kelvin Benjamin, Panthers
The preseason reports were glowing and despite having Derek Anderson at quarterback in Week 1, Benjamin had an outstanding debut, catching six of his eight targets for 92 yards and a touchdown. Benjamin rates as a high end WR4 with upside the rest of the way.

Brandin Cooks, Saints
Another rookie who failed to disappoint in Week 1 was the Saints Brandin Cooks. New Orleans 1st round pick ran the ball once for 18 yards and picked up another 77 yards and a score by catching seven of his eight targets. The only caveat here is that fellow speedster Kenny Stills missed Week 1 with a quadriceps injury. His return could eat into Cooks’ target count.

Eric Decker, Jets
Decker had a solid debut with the Jets, catching six of his seven targets for 74 yards. He goes from fantasy backup to low end WR3 with upside.

Steve Smith, Ravens
Targets – 15. Yards – 118. Touchdowns – 1. Nuff said.

MOVING DOWN

Danny Amendola, Patriots
Little Danny had the 6th most targets on the Patriots this week. That’s okay when your team is playing from behind like New England was for part of Week 1 but we don’t expect that to be a frequent occurrence in 2014.

Kenny Britt, Rams
The lights go on and Britt goes kaput. After glowing reports out of St. Louis in the preseason about Britt rededicating himself to the game, he fell flat in Week 1, failing to catch a ball. With the St. Louis quarterback situation heading south in a hurry and Brian Quick emerging as the team’s most targeted receiver in Week 1, Britt is waiver wire fodder in most formats.

James Jones, Raiders
Coming off the bench behind Rod Streater and Denarius Moore.

TIGHT ENDS

MOVING UP

Martellus Bennett, Bears
A notorious strong early season performer, Bennett caught eight passes for 70 yards and a touchdown this week against the Bills. Alshon Jeffrey left the game with a hamstring injury which partially explained Bennett’s whopping 10 targets.

MOVING DOWN

Travis Kelce, Chiefs
Playing behind Anthony Fasano. Ugh.

In the NOT CONVINCED JUST YET category, we present:

WR Allen Hurns, Jagurs
WR Anquan Boldin, 49ers
WR Brian Quick, Rams
TE Delanie Walker, Titans
TE Larry Donnell, Giants

Defenses To Exploit vs. Run and Pass To Help Early Season Lineup Decisions

Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant to QB Tony Romo: "Hell man, is our defense ever going to get off the field?"

Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant to QB Tony Romo: “Hell man, is our defense ever going to get off the field?”

Week 1 – finally! While we don’t want to get too cute with our Week 1 fantasy football lineup decisions, due to a lot of uncertainty at the dawn of a new season, it is still a good exercise to give some consideration to the upcoming matchups facing your players.

If your players, even fringe starters, are facing a weak defense, you want to get them in your lineup relative to similarly ranked players with neutral or tough matchups. This article points out a few defenses expected to be poor right out of the gate against the run and pass, that owners should factor into their start and bench decisions.

Against the Run

Dallas Cowboys
In 2013, the Dallas Cowboys ranked last (worst) in fantasy points allowed versus running backs, giving up roughly 115 rushing yards and 25 fantasy points per gams. In 2014 it looks to be no different as the injuries keep piling up for the Cowboys. Linebacker Sean Lee is out for the year due to a torn ACL, defensive linemen Demarcus Lawrence is on Injured Reserve (IR) with a fractured foot, Anthony Spencer is still working his way back from microfracture surgery and George Selvie is dealing with a shoulder injury. On top of that, defensive back Orlando Scandrick is suspended four games for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy. With so many holes being filled with backups, rookies, and unproven players, it is no shock the Cowboys top this list.
Upcoming opponents: SF, @TEN, @STL, NO

Buffalo Bills
In 2013, it wasn’t all that bad of a campaign for the Buffalo Bills against the run as they had some standout performances from rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso. The Bills did prove mediocre against the run ranking 13th for the season, however, over the last five weeks (when Alonso wasn’t playing like a beast), they ranked 27th. Coming into 2014, things have only gotten worse. Alonso tore his ACL back in July and will miss the entire 2014 season. Stevenson Sylvester, Alonso’s backup, was placed on IR with a knee injury. To top it off, linebacker Nigel Bradham will miss Week 1 serving a one-game suspension. Not that you weren’t starting Matt Forte anyway, but expect a plus game (potentially big plus) from him this week.
Upcoming opponents: @CHI, MIA, SD, @HOU

Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers didn’t exactly have the greatest success stopping the run in 2013. In fact, they ranked 25th in the NFL at the end of the regular season, allowing 125 yards per game. The loss of B.J. Raji, starting nose tackle and probably their best run defender, for the season due to a torn right bicep doesn’t help the Packers’ chances. The arrow is pointing in the wrong direction for this run defense.
Upcoming opponents: @SEA, NYJ, @DET, @CHI

Against the Pass

Dallas Cowboys
Here they are again. That really says something about this defense this year. This is the number one defense that I absolutely expect to be outright terrible against the pass. Last year the Cowboys gave up 6,645 yards and 432 points, the second most in team history. Despite switching from a 3-4 to a 4-3, little was positive from the Cowboys 2013 campaign. Going into this season, they lost two of their leading rushers in defensive end Demarcus Ware and defensive tackle Jason Hatcher to free agency. This certainly won’t help pressure opposing quarterbacks, which should allow all the time they need to tear up this Cowboys’ secondary.
Upcoming opponents: SF, @TEN, @STL, NO

Minnesota Vikings
Like the Cowboys, the Minnesota Vikings lost their leading pass rusher Jared Allen to free agency. Certainly, this bodes well for opposing quarterbacks, especially when their names are Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, and Jay Cutler. Having to face these three potential top 10 quarterbacks twice doesn’t give the Vikings’ defense a chance to get any better than they were last year.
Upcoming opponents: @STL, NE, @NO, ATL

Jacksonville Jaguars
Surprise, surprise! The Jacksonville Jaguars will be on this list every year until they seriously start addressing their secondary. The total focus of the Jaguars this offseason was their offense: using the third overall pick in the NFL Draft on QB Blake Bortles, signing running back Toby Gerhart via free agency, and adding wide receivers Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson via the draft. Yes, the Jaguars also added defensive ends Chris Clemons and Red Bryant and defensive tackle Ziggy Hood. All these additions don’t do much for a team that, in 2013, only had 31 sacks, which ranked last, and 21 takeaways, which ranked 25th. The line may have gotten a little stronger from last year, but their secondary will put the team defense at the bottom of the barrel again.
Upcoming opponents: @PHI, @WAS, IND, @SD