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Week 2 fantasy football outcomes may be the most challenging. Unlike week 1, which is the most speculative, week 2 forecasts are partially build upon 2015 game data. While in-season game data is the most useful, week 2 is particularly difficult to forecast due to a small sample problem. Is Marcus Mariota the next Aaron Rodgers or is Tampa’s defense the worst in the NFL? More game data is required.
Forecasting week 2 requires a delicate dance — leverage the rich new week 1 game data while not over-weighting week 2 projections based on a single-game sample. Challenging. At PlayerProfiler.com, we analyze current year play-by-play data, opportunity projections, on-field efficiency metrics from years past, and prospect evaluation metrics going back to a player’s college career to provide a balanced blend of analytics forecasting week 2 performances. Throughout the season, PlayerProfiler and XN Sports will be providing the top plays on DraftKings for each position each week of the NFL season. The following players are noteworthy value plays who could serve as the cornerstones of an optimal cash lineup and/or should show up on GPP/tournament rosters.
The Under-the-radar Bell Cow
Mark Ingram, $5,900
Projected PPR Points: 16.06
Last week at Arizona, Mark Ingram struggled on the ground against a Cardinals defense that allowed 19.4 (No. 31) fantasy points to running backs in 2014. Only the Baltimore Ravens were more stingy to running backs last season. New Orleans running backs rushed for 2.7 yards per carry in week 1 reaffirming that the Cardinals still have one of the NFL’s top rush defenses.
On the surface it appears that Mark Ingram will be sharing the backfield with Khiry Robinson early in the season. Indeed, Ingram and Robinson split early down touches (13 each). While Robinson spelled Ingram for a few drives, Ingram operated as a traditional bell cow running back. Ingram was the Saints’ third down back, two-minute drill back, and dominated both fourth quarter touches and red zone touches.
A critical takeaway from week 1: The Saints demonstrated that Mark Ingram will be the team’s passing down back while C.J. Spiller continues his recovery from arthroscopic knee surgery. Ingram rewarded the Saints’ trust in the passing game by securing 8 of 9 targets (88.8-percent catch rate) for 98 receiving yards. He also rewarded DraftKings players by miraculously manufacturing ~20 fantasy points against a stout defense. This is what bell cows do. Some weeks they roll up rushing yards as the team leans on a lead throughout the second half, sometimes they pile up touchdowns as the primary goal line option, and some weeks they rack up receptions in comeback mode.
In week 2, the Saints play at home against a Tampa defense that is spiraling toward the bottom of the league in all categories. In week 1, Tampa’s defense allowed 42 total points to the Ken Whisenhunt’s Tennessee Titans. More importantly, the Buccaneers allowed Bishop Sankey to match his touchdown total from 2014 (2) in the first game of the season. Mark Ingram is poised to build on 2014’s fantasy RB1 breakout season and join fellow bell cows Eddie Lacy and Matt Forte in the top-5 stratosphere.
The New Target Hog
Jordan Matthews, $7,100.00
Projected PPR Fantasy Points: 17.83
While there were rumblings that Nelson Agholor would the Philadelphia Eagles defacto No. 1 wide receiver in 2014, week 1 game data demonstrated Jordan Matthews is more than a defacto No. 1 option. Matthews posted 13 targets in week 1. Riley Cooper’s 4 targets were second on the wide receiver target pecking order. After an efficient rookie season in 2014 when he posted a +20.2-percent Target Premium, Jordan Matthews is now clearly the Eagles best receiver and fantasy football’s newest WR1 target hog.
Facing a Cowboys defense that held New York Giants target hog Odell Beckham to 5-receptions for 88-yards, Jordan Matthews ownership will be muted in week 2. Chip Kelly’s Eagles are not Tom Coughlin’s Giants. The Eagles were top-5 in pass plays run in 2014, and with Sam Bradford under center (52 pass attempts vs. Atlanta in week 1), the Eagles are on their way to leading the league in pass volume. Jordan Matthews is a high variance volume play in week 2.
Jordan Reed, $3,700.00
Projected PPR Points: 11.12
Jordan Reed is back. Against an improved Miami Dolphins defense last week, Reed secured 7 receptions on a team-high 11 targets. Jordan Reed is enjoying a resurgence partly due to health (Reed suffered a severe hamstring strain in week 1 last year) and partly due to improved quarterbacks play. Kirk Cousins posted a 0.51 (No. 11) fantasy points per drop back compared to Robert Griffin III’s 0.33 (No. 41) last season. Yet, even while hobbled in 2014, Jordan Reed posted a 17.9-percent (No. 1) Hog Rate (targets per snap) last season.
Healthy and with Cousins under center, both Reed and Pierre Garcon are playing football like they have flashed back to 2013. Reed specifically continues to dominate NFL tight end usage rate. Cousins targeted Reed on a Gronkian 35.5-percent of his pass attempts against the Dolphins in week 1. Yet, DraftKings is still pricing Reed like it’s 2014.
This week, Washington plays a St. Louis Rams defense that held Jimmy Graham to 51 yards and a touchdown in week 1. While Washington may not score a touchdown in the game, Jordan Reed will be heavily targeted with DeSean Jackson out for week 2 with a hamstring strain and opposing defenses keying on Pierre Garcon. Take advantage of DraftKings full point PPR scoring by playing Jordan Reed in week 2.
The Cheap Upside
Terrance Williams, $4,200.00
Projected PPR Fantasy Points: 13.62
In case you just arriving from another galaxy, Dez Bryant broke his foot and will miss at least four weeks. Terrance Williams steps in as the Cowboys’ new No. 1 wide receiver. Despite failing to convert multiple contested catches on prime time television last week, Terrance Williams proved to be an efficient receiver over a full-season sample size in 2014. Williams’ +36.9 Production Premium (PlayerProfiler.com’s situation-independent efficiency metric) was top-5 in the NFL last season.
Don’t over-think this one. While Jason Witten may lead the Cowboys in targets in week 2, Terrance Williams will now be Tony Romo’s primary downfield read. The Cowboys also feature one of the best offensive lines in recent memory. This additional time will allow Williams to break free on double moves. Terrance Williams will offer both big play potential and volume against a Philadelphia Eagles secondary that was dead last fantasy points allowed to wide receivers in 2014 and was torched by Julio Jones and Roddy White last Monday night.
May the game flow be ever in your favor.
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