NFL DFS Main Slate – Above/Below – Key Plays for Week 2

The 12-game main slate features too many viable combinations to count in a lifetime, even when we eliminate several of the lower-end stacks we are left with possibilities galore at several positions. With NFL DFS picks, tips, tricks, touts, shoutouts, tweets, spreadsheets, slams, and sims coming from every direction all week, the purpose of this article is to feature a few plays for which our projections land above or below what appears to be the industry standard for the week, which will identify plays that are potentially over or undervalued by the public.

NFL DFS Sunday Main Slate Above/Below


Joshua Kelley – Running Back, Los Angeles Chargers – $5,000/$6,300

We are two or three projected fantasy points behind the average of several industry sources when it comes to the Chargers backup running back. By all accounts, premium starter Austin Ekeler will be out this week after not traveling with the team. Kelley is a serviceable backup but all signs point to the Chargers taking to the air in a matchup against the Titans’ pass funnel defense. Tennessee allowed a league-high pass yards total last year and they gave up 282 yards through the air with a 7.6 yard-per-attempt average to the Saints and Derek Carr; Justin Herbert is notably not Derek Carr. With the Chargers airing it out to several key weapons and Kelley seeing just one target last week and 2.1 per game last season the opportunities may be more limited than his significant popularity would suggest. Kelley did put up a solid 5.70 yards per attempt with a touchdown at 91 yards on his 16 carries while playing 48% of the snaps last week, he projects well but we have him behind the average projection and we will be rostering him below the field’s projected popularity.

James Cook – Running Back, Buffalo Bills – $6,100/$6,600

Another running back for whom we simply prefer the passing game in his offense, Cook saw 12 carries and an additional four touches through the air on six targets. The Raiders and Bills both play at a fairly plodding pace with the Raiders leaning into the run and the Bills favoring the pass, neither of which angles well for the Buffalo running game. Cook managed a 3.80 yard per attempt average and broke a 13-yard long while the Raiders allowed 4.3 yards per rush attempt in Week 1 with 94 yards yielded on the ground. Cook will not be as highly owned as Kelley on either DraftKings or FanDuel, but we will most likely fall below the field on the more expensive running back. Our projections are about 2.5 points behind the industry average for Cook.

Puka Nacua – Wide Receiver, Los Angeles Rams – $4,900/$5,800

As much as it pains us after Nacua hit so hard in Week 1 as one of our most enthusiastically highlighted plays, the rookie wideout seems to have a lot working against him in a difficult matchup against the 49ers’ defense. Nacua saw a ridiculous 15 targets (39.5%) and hauled in 10 of them for 119 yards on a 9.6-yard average depth of target, he had an outstanding debut game but he will be facing a San Francisco team that kept passing to 3.9 yards per attempt last week while pressuring the quarterback on 46.2% of dropbacks and coming up with five sacks. Nacua is also dealing with a minor oblique injury, he is questionable but seems likely to play, and he is not expensive on this slate despite his strong performance and his clear talent on the field. While our projections are roughly around the industry average for Nacua, projected public popularity in a difficult matchup and less than 100% status, with other options in an offense that will be challenged to get the ball out, Nacua seems like a “play but undercut” option at wide receiver.

Lingering Lows

  • Dak Prescott
  • Baker Mayfield
  • Javonte Williams
  • Kyren Williams
  • Josh Reynolds
  • Isiah Pacheco
  • Ryan Tannehill
  • David Montgomery

Key Choice: WR2 Jacksonville Jaguars

Above: Christian Kirk – Wide Receiver, Jacksonville Jaguars – $5,100/$6,000 / Below: Zay Jones – Wide Receiver, Jacksonville Jaguars – $4,700/$6,300

In a game that will be popular on both sides, given two good offenses against two lousy defenses and the highest game total on the board in Vegas at 51.5, we are somewhat less enthusiastic than the field about Jaguars wide receiver Zay Jones. Jones will be popular on both sites, but he is no better than the number two option behind Calvin Ridley in a crowded passing game. With teammate Christian Kirk landing at lower ownership marks around the industry on both DraftKings and FanDuel and with our projections slightly under on Jones and slightly over on Kirk, it should be easy to read which direction we will lean for secondary and tertiary passing plays in stacks of Jaguars after rostering Ridley and tight end Evan Engram. The Jaguars threw to Ridley 11 times last week with Jones landing second on the team with seven targets while playing the most snaps among pass-catchers with 89%. Kirk played just 60% of the snaps, seeing most of his work in the slot with a 6.7-yard average depth of target and just one catch on three looks (9.4%). Last season, Jones and Kirk drew equal numbers of targets with Jones producing 6.8 yards per target to the 8.33 that Kirk provided on a 9.1-yard ADOT. Kirk posted 1,108 yards and 8 touchdowns to Jones’ four scores and 766 yards for the season. With lower ownership and at least the idea of a return to more utilization in what should be a pass-heavy attack this week, we lean toward Kirk more than Jones, with Kirk landing about 1.4 points ahead of the industry average and Jones trailing by a similar amount. Calvin Ridley projects about 1.3 points ahead of the average in our model as well.


Daniel Jones – Quarterback, New York Giants – $6,000/$7,500

Look, this is not a pick we want to make either, but Jones projects well in our model in a fairly ideal matchup. Jones will be facing far less pressure this week, which should allow him a bit more than the no time at all that he had to throw the ball last week. The Cardinals allowed 156 passing yards with a touchdown and a 4.2-yard per pass attempt average with a 7.4-yard defensive ADOT. Arizona did manage six sacks last week despite just a 17.9% pressure rate, but Jones has escape ability and should see designed rushing plays, despite his clear flaws as a passer Jones is good at running the ball, which he did 13 times for 3.3 yards per attempt in Week 1. The quarterback posted seven rushing touchdowns and 708 yards on 120 carries last season while cutting fumbles to just six. Jones fumbled the ball twice in Week 1 but neither resulted in a turnover. While Jones operates without a clear number one wide receiver, or even a truly viable number two, he has several options at the position who can produce on the right day and he has two premium targets in tight end Darren Waller and running back Saquon Barkley, both of whom project well. Jones should primarily be deployed with Waller and Barkley, with a rotating pool of his wide receivers as lesser options, those include Darius Slayton, Isiah Hodgins, Parris Campbell, Jalin Hyatt, and Sterling Shepard, with our preference leaving toward Slayton. Arizona running back James Conner is an interesting run-back against Giants stacks.

Justin Herbert – Quarterback, Los Angeles Chargers – $7,000/$8,200

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert should see plenty of opportunities against the Titans’ pass funnel defense this week, he will be popular but getting ahead of the field’s single-digit ownership on both sites should be a priority in lineup building. Unlike the Jones play, Herbert is an option with clear talent as a passer in a situation that leans strongly in favor of throwing the ball, which drives the correlation that lineup stacks require from the position. Herbert threw the ball 33 times in Week 1, posting 6.9 yards per pass attempt with a 7.1 intended air-yard average and 229 yards but only one touchdown. Herbert took several deep shots and had five opportunities to throw the ball in the red zone, he should produce a better NFL DFS score even with similar opportunities and there should be a fair amount of upswing beyond last week’s numbers. While we are less inclined than the field to roster the primary running back for Los Angeles, we will be all over stacking the Chargers’ passing game, with effective weapons including Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Gerald Everett, and rookie Quentin Johnston as priorities (though Joshua Palmer saw more opportunities in Week 1).

Garrett Wilson – Wide Receiver, New York Jets – $7,500/$7,400

Wilson lost the primary reason for his dramatic rise in ADP in season-long drafts the moment Aaron Rodgers’ leg exploded last week. With Zach Wilson taking over for Rodgers the industry is leaping off the Wilson bandwagon as if it were in flames and airborne off the side of a cliff. While things clearly are not good for the Jets’ passing game right now, Wilson projects about 1.5 points ahead of the industry average in our model for Week 2 and he is sure to draw very low ownership against a stout Cowboys’ defense. Dallas destroyed the Giants last week and they are likely going to ruin the day for the Jets as well, but it is important to remember that Wilson did not have Aaron Rodgers throwing to him when he amassed 1,103 yards with four touchdowns on a 10.5-yard ADOT and 7.5 yards per target with 8.6 looks per game as a rookie last season. Wilson has an underappreciated scoring ceiling for NFL DFS action, but the matchup is brutal and his quarterback lacks talent, this is less of a good spot than a talented very large field tournament dart throw.

Rachaad White – Running Back, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – $5,500/$6,200

A disappointing 2.3 yards per attempt and just 1.2 yards before contact and 1.1 yards after contact per attempt should not dissuade gamers from looking back to Rachaad White as the clear lead back in the Tampa Bay rushing attack. White saw 17 carries and an additional two touches on two targets, but he posted just 39 rushing yards and 10 yards through the air while playing 79% of the team’s snaps. The running back has little competition with Sean Tucker picking up just five carries on a 15% snap share and Chase Edmonds carrying the ball only twice in 12% of the team’s snaps. White has an opportunity against a team that had the 29th-ranked rush defense DVOA last season and is projected to rank 31st by DVOA this year. White saw 3.4 targets per game last season, he could see an upswing in the passing game if Tampa Bay takes to the air and he should be the featured back on the ground for the favored team. Last season, White scored just once on the ground and twice through the air, posting 3.7 yards per rush attempt and five yards per target. As an inexpensive option with a bit of volume on his side in a good matchup, White is worth getting in a few lineups beyond where the field is projected to roster him.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Patrick Mahomes
  • Calvin Ridley
  • Geno Smith
  • Chase Claypool
  • Josh Allen
  • Marquez Valdes-Scantling
  • Justin Fields

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