The Hail Mary (NFL HuLo GPP Plays): Week 2 FIRST LOOK
September 12, 2017 | Doug Shain
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The Huddle – Opening Statement
Welcome to the 2017 Hail Mary for Week 2. For those of you who read this article last year or any of my stuff on The Fake Hockey and The Fake Baseball you’re going to find this article very familiar. For those of you who are new please allow me to take a moment to explain where I’m coming from and what you’re going to see in this article.
First and foremost I’m mostly a GPP player and that’s who this article is mostly designed to help. I write for players like me – the guy or gal who enters a single bullet in a couple of low limit GPP’s each week; the casual DFS player. This group of players probably makes up a much larger percentage of the DFS community than you think. If you are a cash game player or a high buy-in/high volume/multi-entry GPP player you should still read this because it’ll give you an everyman perspective that you might not get in other articles (there are plenty of those on this site and I urge you to read them as well because they are fantastic).
Be advised that playing a single bullet in a large field GPP is a very volatile game and you’re going to lose more often than you win. That’s a fact and it’s something you have to know before you start playing. Due to the volatility of this game I’m going to try to give you plays that can help you zoom to the top of your GPP leaderboard. These plays are very boom or bust, so please know that going in.
One way that I like to separate from the field is by trying to anticipate ownership rates of certain players. Over the course of the year I’ll get into this more deeply, but just know for now that all things being equal (and even in some cases when it’s not), I’m going to recommend the player that’s going to have a lower ownership rate.
In my mind there are two groups of people who play in large field GPP’s that dictate ownership percentages. One group is the true amateurs who are just going to play for fun and not put too much time into making optimal lineups. We’re going to call them “MOST PEOPLE” – they’ll be referred to as Public Players (or Casual Players). Most people don’t do the DFS thing for a living or for higher stakes and they are going to play players they know and like. They’re not going to dig deep and look for Jacquizz Rodgers and Ted Ginn (yes, that’s digging deep for MOST PEOPLE). They are going to target very well-known players like Aaron Rodgers, Antonio Brown, and David Johnson. These well-known players aren’t going to change much and should have a fairly high ownership every single week regardless of matchup.
One thing to note, the general population is starting to get a lot smarter with DFS but that can lead to them outthinking themselves and leaving some obvious plays as potential value plays. One example of this was last year in Week 16 when, after being terrible all year, Todd Gurley was the chalk against a terrible 49ers defense. That left David Johnson, with a seemingly tough matchup against Seattle, as a guy who ended up with a severely low ownership. Gurley was ok against SF (87 total yards and a TD), while David Johnson was one of the three highest scoring RB that week (136 total yards and 3 TD) and won people GPP’s. I’ll try my best to identify these types of instances (which I did that week) so you can exploit them to your benefit.
The other group of players that play in large field GPP’s are people who follow every fantasy expert on Twitter, watch all the fantasy shows on TV, and are up to date on all the big “sleepers” (there is no such thing anymore as sleepers). We will refer to these players as DFS EXPERTS. They are hip to the ins and outs of DFS, they are well-informed, and they are going to win by playing their big sleepers like Zay Jones. What’s that you say? Everyone who’s ever read anything about fantasy knows that Jones is cheap, is in a great situation, and has a good matchup in Week 1? No kidding, and he’s going to be a really highly owned punt play at WR. Like I said, there are no sleepers.
My goal is to try to find players that don’t fit either of these two categories. I want to find guys that’ll be low owned and could have a good game (I call them HuLo players – High Upside, Low Ownership). These players tend to either be “boring” veterans, very risky plays, or players who are overshadowed by bigger names on their teams. For example, I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of people who are talking about Carson Palmer for Week 1. I think he could be a part of a GPP-winning team. Do I think he will be the highest scoring QB in Week 1? No, I think that’ll be Cam Newton, but I do think he can return significant value because he has a loaded WR corps and is priced in such a way that you can field a winning lineup with him as your QB. Fantasy is all about you finding the value that your opponents didn’t.
I have some “musts” when I set my GPP lineups. I’ll highlight those as I go through the explanation of how I built my teams.
– It is a must that I get a QB that is going to throw a lot when building my GPP teams.
– It is a must that I get RB that are guaranteed touches when building my GPP teams.
– It is a must that my WR have upside when building my GPP teams.
– When building my GPP teams it is a must that my TE is elite or is a punt. There is no in between for me with TE.
– When building my GPP teams it is a must that my defense gets to the quarterback.
– It is a must that I take a min-priced kicker when building my GPP teams.
– It is a must that I include at least some HuLo plays when building my GPP teams.
– It is a must that I remember that chalk is chalk for a reason, and that using chalk isn’t a bad thing.
The Depth Chart – The Plays of the Week
|Public Plays||Expert Plays||HuLo Plays|
|Joe Flacco (BAL) vs CLE||Marcus Mariota (TEN) @ JAX||Cam Newton (CAR) vs BUF|
|Carson Palmer (ARI) @ IND||Sam Bradford (MIN) @ PIT||Kirk Cousins (WSH) @ LAR|
|Alex Smith (KC) vs PHI||Russell Wilson (SEA) vs SF||Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) vs MIN|
|Tom Brady (NE) @ NO||Phillip Rivers (LAC) vs MIA||Jay Cutler (MIA) @ LAC|
|Drew Brees (NO) vs NE||Jared Goff (LAR) vs WSH|
|Aaron Rodgers (GB) @ ATL|
|Derek Carr (OAK) vs NYJ|
|Matt Ryan (ATL) vs GB|
– Raise your hand if you plan on using Drew Brees or Tom Brady this weekend? So, all of you. Cool. Should I even bother talking about other QB’s? Ok, ok so maybe not everyone is going to use them this weekend but geez, we may see some record ownership numbers with this game and with good reason. There’s a high probability that this will be the highest scoring game of the weekend (season) since both teams are pissed after a bad Week 1 loss and neither defense knowing how to stop the pass. Seriously, are Sam Bradford and Alex Smith really that good? Of course they aren’t. The defense are just that bad. Speaking of Alex Smith and Sam Bradford, I think both will be in play this weekend but I want no part of either of them. Both play halfway decent defenses and the regression is coming. As usual, I’m not a big fan of any of the chalkier QB’s for large field GPP’s. I just think that we can do better.
– I may very well have Russell Wilson on the wrong list because everyone is going to tell us that he’s going to take out his frustrations from a bad Week 1 on the 49ers. I’m not totally sure that I disagree but I also think that there’s a very real risk that Seattle tries to establish someone as a lead runner (more on that below) and there are few teams better to do that against than San Francisco (more on that below). One QB I do like this week from the “expert” tier is Philip Rivers. He always plays well early in the season and he should be pumped to play in front of all 75 fans that his new stadium can fit in LA. It might be a little cruel to pick on Miami after all that the state of Florida has dealt with but the fact remains that the Dolphins are probably a bit shaken and it wouldn’t shock me if they laid an egg this weekend.
– My favorite QB tier, as always, is the HuLo tier. I think we may have the key to a GPP win staring us right in the face in the form of Big Ben Roethlisberger. The Minnesota Vikings just dismantled Drew Brees and Roethlisberger is coming off a game that was pedestrian. Don’t let any of that fool you. Ben is a totally different QB at home and he’s crushed excellent defenses year in and year out at Heinz Field when he was totally counted out. Case in point, last year in Week 4 he was coming off a drubbing in Philadelphia where he threw for 250 yards with 0 TD and 1 INT in a 34-3 loss. The Chiefs came into that game having just picked off Ryan Fitzpatrick SIX TIMES (sadly I didn’t have to look that up) en route to a 24-3 win. Everyone was down on PIT that weekend. Someone you may know told you to not follow group think and instead run towards the danger (read what I wrote here). Do you know what happened? He threw for 300 yards and 5 TD and just like I said he would, he won people a lot of money. This week there’s more of that coming our way. ALWAYS PLAY BEN ROETHLISBERGER AT HOME!
|Public Plays||Expert Plays||HuLo Plays|
|Christian McCaffrey (CAR) vs BUF||Buck Allen (BAL) vs CLE||LeSean McCoy (BUF) @ CAR|
|Kerwyn Williams (ARI) @ IND||Jonathan Stewart (CAR) vs BUF||Ezekiel Elliott (DAL) @ DEN|
|Leonard Fournette (JAX) vs TEN||CJ Anderson (DEN) vs DAL||Jordan Howard (CHI) @ TB|
|Kareem Hunt (KC) vs PHI||Ty Montgomery (GB) @ ATL||Marshawn Lynch (OAK) vs NYJ|
|Mike Gillislee (NE) @ NO||Devonta Freeman (ATL) vs GB||Robert Kelley (WSH) @ LAR|
|LeVeon Bell (PIT) vs MIN||Thomas Rawls (SEA) vs SF|
|Tarik Cohen (CHI) @ TB||Carlos Hyde (SF) @ SEA|
|Dalvin Cook (MIN) @ PIT|
|Jay Ajayi (MIA) @ LAC|
|Chris Carson (SEA) vs SF|
– Let’s get this out of the way: if I’m going to load up on the Steelers passing game then I’m definitely not playing LeVeon Bell. I don’t think he’s ready to get his full workload anyway so we might as well take a hard pass, let him be someone else’s problem, and bite the bullet if he goes off (he won’t, all in on Ben). Some other RB that I just can’t bring myself to roster are Kareem Hunt, Kerwyn Williams, Mike Gillislee, and Tarik Cohen. My issue with Kareem Hunt isn’t hit talent or matchup, it’s just that he’s going to be so widely owned and we’ve already seen the best game he’s every going to have in his career. I don’t want to lose the ownership game chasing points. I love Cohen’s talent but his role is very game flow dependent and if he’s not catching passes it could lead to a big hole on your roster. Mike Gillislee is too touchdown dependent for me and with the way that game is going to go I don’t think he’ll be on the field too much. As for Kerwyn Williams, he’s going to be the hottest waiver add in season long leagues with the injury to David Johnson, and that coupled with his matchup is going to make him very popular. I don’t trust his talent at all so he’s definitely a fade for me with a high expected ownership. The chalk play I’m most interested in this week is definitely Jay Ajayi. The Chargers gave up a lot of yardage to CJ Anderson on Monday night and the Dolphins should lean heavily on Ajayi and the run game. If I’m going to spend up and lose the ownership game, he’s one name that I’ll be targeting.
– There aren’t a ton of guys who the experts will be touting that aren’t already going to be popular plays (Cohen, Williams, etc). Buck Allen might not be the most well known name in the Ravens backfield but he probably is the most talented and he gets the Browns this week. He should not only take Danny Woodhead’s pass catching role but he also will eat into Terrance West’s work as well. Jonathan Stewart is still the bell cow for the Panthers and that’s not changing this year. CMC is much more of an “offensive weapon” than a standard RB so I expect Stewart to once again get 15+ carries en route to a good game against the Bills. CJ Anderson looked good on Monday night and I think that Denver is going to keep trying to run the ball against Dallas to take the pressure off of Trevor Semien. I have ready many a tout say that GB sees Ty Montgomery as their version of David Johnson. They totally backed that up last week as TyMont saw more snaps at RB than any other back in the NFL. He’s a solid play in any matchup, but especially against a Falcons team that can’t stop pass catching RB. They’ve been AWFUL for the last two seasons and look what happened in Week 1; Tarik Cohen burned them through the air. Montgomery might be my top RB play this weekend. I love him.
– We’ve got quite a few big boy names on the HuLo list this weekend. The name I keep coming back to is Ezekiel Elliott. People seem to forget that the Broncos are not a very good run defense. If Dak Prescott can keep them somewhat honest, Big Zeke should be able to run all over them in Week 2. I love pairing him with Ty Montgomery for a potentially HuLo backfield. Much in the same vein as Elliott, LeSean McCoy should be just fine against a vaunted Panthers defense. Even in beating the 49ers they allowed Carlos Hyde to accumulate 77 yards on only 15 touches, including 6 receptions. LeSean McCoy should be able to easily outpace that. I know a lot of people don’t like that Mike Tolbert saw so much work in Week 1 but there’s a strong argument that this will help keep Shady fresh all game. You may lose a TD here and there but in the long run, McCoy is going to get his stats. I actually think that Robert Kelley is going to get a lot of work this week against the Rams. Indy saw some success running the ball at times and Kelley is the clear cut top guy in Washington; so much so that Semaj Perine didn’t get a single offensive snap. He’s not a sexy name but there’s something to be said about the workload we should see from Kelley. Finally, remember when I referenced the Seattle running game this week? This is where it’s going to come into play. The 49ers were historically bad against the run last year and in Week 1 they were just about as awful. It might not seem that way since CMC and JStew split the work but SF didn’t do much to stop the run. It’s been postulated that perhaps Thomas Rawls will be the guy to get the work for Seattle this week and if that’s the case he could go off. I don’t trust Eddie Lacy at all (hell, he might not even be a Seahawk by the time I get around to finishing this) and Chris Carson is nice and all but I doubt he gets more than 30% of the work when Rawls is active. CJ Prosise doesn’t factor into this at all as he’s a pass catching back and won’t be the one to rack up 120 yards if a 120 yard game is to be had.
|Public Plays||Expert Plays||HuLo Plays|
|Randall Cobb (GB) @ ATL||Adam Theilen (MIN) @ PIT||Chris Hogan (NE) @ NO|
|Antonio Brown (PIT) vs MIN||Marqise Lee (JAX) vs TEN||Bennie Fowler (DEN) vs DAL|
|Stefon Diggs (MIN) @ PIT||Corey Davis (TEN) @ JAX||Mike Wallace (BAL) vs CLE|
|Jeremy Maclin (BAL) vs CLE||DeSean Jackson (TB) vs CHI||TY Hilton (IND) vs ARI|
|Larry Fitzgerald (ARI) @ IND||Jermaine Kearse (NYJ) @ OAK||Martavis Bryant (PIT) vs MIN|
|Tyreek Hill (KC) vs PHI||Jarvis Landry (MIA) @ LAC||JJ Nelson (ARI) @ IND|
|Nelson Agholor (PHI) @ KC||Doug Baldwin (SEA) vs SF||Travis Benjamin (LAC) vs MIA|
|Brandin Cooks (NE) @ NO||Ted Ginn Jr (NO) vs NE||Kenny Stills (MIA) @ LAC|
|Michael Thomas (NO) vs NE||Michael Crabtree (OAK) vs NYJ||Terrelle Pryor (WSH) @ LAR|
|Jordy Nelson (GB) @ ATL||Paul Richardson (SEA) vs SF|
|Mike Evans (TB) vs CHI||Sammy Watkins (LAR) vs WSH|
|Amari Cooper (OAK) vs NYJ|
|Keenan Allen (LAC) vs MIA|
|Julio Jones (ATL) vs GB|
|Davante Parker (MIA) @ LAC|
|Cooper Kupp (LAR) vs WSH|
– What the heck are we to do at WR? There are so many choices and it’s hard to narrow things down on a Tuesday night (perhaps Wednesday morning by the time this posts). If you’ve been reading this far then you know that I’m going to ball over the duo of Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant. I actually do prefer the chalky AB over Bryant but I could make the case to stack them both with Big Ben. It’d take some stones to do that against the Vikings but it could pay off huge. Obviously I have no issue if you’re using any of the big WR in the NE/NO game. I would probably rank them: Cooks, Thomas, Ginn, Hogan but all of them should get plenty of work. I’ll probably have Cooks in a lot of lineups if I can fit him in with Ben, Brown, TyMont, and Zeke. I can’t really make a great case to talk you off studs like Julio, Evans, Jordy, or Keenan Allen either. They all work just fine for me this week. I probably won’t have much Tyreek Hill because I never use him and I clearly hate money. I just don’t think he’s a WR1 but his number say otherwise. I’ll gladly pass on him for a guy with a lower ownership and prosper heavily when he finally comes back down to Earth. Cooper Kupp doesn’t have a ton of upside but he’s an Eric Decker clone and I’m good with that. I don’t buy the hype with Nelson Agholor or Davante Paker.
– One player that I’m going to look really long and hard at is Michael Crabtree. Last week he was the far superior WR in OAK despite similar numbers to Amari Cooper. Coop had a 38% catch rate while Crabtree had an 83% catch rate. At some point Derek Carr is going to realize that he can move the team down the field better when he’s throwing to Crabtree. Cooper also had 4 red zone targets to zero from Crabtree. That won’t happen again; Crabtree is the far superior red zone target. I also like Corey Davis a lot for the Titans. He led the team in targets in Week 1 and already has the trust of Mariota. He’s ready to be a fantasy WR2 right now. I’ll probably throw some action towards DJax as well because his upside is incredible. Chicago proved that they have a little bit of an issue with downfield coverage against ATL and that’s a bad omen for their matchup against DJax.
– No, I don’t think Bennie Fowler will score this week. Week 1 was a total fluke. Roster at your own risk. I do think that Travis Benjamin is the real deal. He looked great on Monday night and I think he could very quickly slot in as the #2 for the Chargers this season. At the very worst he could run out of the slot and do some of the dirty work for LA, and if the safety presses he can definitely burn them deep. A few other long ball artists that I like in Week 2 are JJ Nelson and Kenny Stills. Someone should burn the Colts for Arizona and I think Nelson is better equipped to do that than John Brown. Similarly, Kenny Stills is the deep threat in Miami and their WR3. Look what the DEN WR3 did on Monday night (that would 2 TD from Bennie Fowler). Finally, I’m going to probably take a shot on TY Hilton against the Cardinals. They got burned in DET and I doubt they’ll be much better against the Colts. I know that whoever starts at QB for IND isn’t Matthew Stafford but their WR crew is half decent and Hilton is too talented not to make a play when given the chance. I think he gets that chance in Week 2.
– It’s a chalky chalk chalk week at TE. You’re either going to spend big or punt (essentially). There’s very little available in the mid-tier that is of any interest. I think that three of the big four TE bounce back this weekend (sorry Jordan Reed, I’m not buying that you’re healthy until you prove it). There’s more than enough value at the RB position to let you spend up at TE but you know me, I hate spending up anywhere. I’ll probably spend down with some of the TE that have juicy matchups. The one guy I won’t spend down on is Austin Hooper. Aside from the one flukey TD, he didn’t have a great Week 1 with only one other target. He’s not going to get a long TD every week, so until he’s involved in the offense more I don’t want any part of him.
– Jack Doyle might be the only reliable option on the Colts. Either of the two QB’s for that team are going to need a safety valve and Doyle is going to be that guy. I really like him in a full PPR format. Coby Fleener had six targets on Monday night. Yes please; sign me up! I don’t know if that level of production will continue once Willie Snead comes back but that isn’t Week 2 so I’m buying on Fleener.
– Do you know who can’t cover TE? That would be the Jets and the Browns. Jared Cook had a quietly good game in Week 1 with a 5-56 line. I think he can replicate that against the Jets while adding in a TD. Look at what Charles Clay did in Week 1, expect the same in Week 2 from Cook. You know what, expect similar from Clay since I’m still not sure who else the Bills have to throw the ball to. He had 9 targets in Week 1 and I can see that being the norm most of the year. The tricky thing this week is going to be to figure out who is the starting TE for the Ravens. Nick Boyle and Ben Watson each got the bulk of the snaps but they only saw a combined 2 targets. That won’t happen this weekend since CLE is historically bad against the position. In my mind Watson is the better player and I think he’s the guy to own. This may change by Friday’s update.
|Public Plays||Expert Plays||HuLo Plays|
|Baltimore Ravens vs CLE||Jacksonville Jaguars vs TEN||Indianapolis Colts vs ARI|
|Carolina Panthers vs BUF||Kansas City Chiefs vs PHI||Tennessee Titans @ JAX|
|Arizona Cardinals @ IND||Denver Broncos vs DAL||Los Angeles Chargers vs MIA|
|Seattle Seahawks vs SF||Minnesota Vikings @ PIT|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs CHI|
|Oakland Raiders vs NYJ|
|Los Angeles Rams vs WSH|
– There are a plethora of defenses to like this weekend. There is so much terrible QB play in the NFL that you can legitimately just target the same few teams to use a defense against and you’ll be ok most of the time. I have no issue with using BAL, CAR, ARI, SEA, or OAK this week but just know that you’re going to have to deal with a huge ownership on all of those teams. On the other hand, the Rams were 20%+ last weekend and nobody was complaining. Speaking of the Rams, I like their defense a lot this year but they’re going to have too high of an ownership considering they are paying a Redskins team that has an actual NFL roster. If I was going to play with that high of an ownership just give me the safety of the Ravens. I’m all over the Baltimore this weekend. Their secondary is incredible, they are playing at home, and are facing a rookie QB. I don’t be getting too cute with my main lineups. If I can swing the price on BAL (which might be hard on a site like Yahoo), then I’m going to just plug and play.
– I’m not a huge fan of the Chiefs or Broncos this week because, wait for it, I can spend only a few dollars more and get the Ravens. Give me the Ravens. I do have a little bit of interest in the Jags because their ownership should be down against a good offense like the Titans. Tennessee may score a few more points than the Texans (hell, you and I could do better than the Texans) but that doesn’t mean that Jacksonville won’t put pressure on Mariota and force a few mistakes. Let’s not forget that one of my “musts” with a defense is that they can get at a QB. I would say that 10 sacks against Houston shows that JAX can get to the QB.
– Speaking of the Titans, they are facing Blake Bortles. I know that he looked like a semi-competent NFL QB in Week 1. I don’t buy it. He’s going to start throwing picks if he gets behind, and there’s a good chance that happens against Tennessee. I know it sounds like I’m talking out of both sides of my mouth but in reality I’m just showing you a few of the potential and realistic outcomes that we could see from this game. The other under the radar defense that I kind of like this weekend is the Colts (good thing I said this now and not in the first paragraph or you might not have made it through the article). Give me a chance to explain before you run away, it won’t take much time. Plain and simple, Carson Palmer sucks when he plays on the early slate. Like, bottom tier QB kind of suckage. This week he’s going to try to be competitive without the best RB in the NFL. I’m not saying that the Colts are a lock but if you want serious double whammy potential (playing a low owned defense against a chalk QB), this is a spot to take a look at. I will definitely have some Colts exposure in my more volatile lineups this weekend.
Check back on Friday night/Saturday morning for a WEEKEND UPDATE with my final thoughts for Week 2.
Your feedback is always welcome. You can find me on Twitter @bankster17. I’m around all the time for questions, advice, and comments. I answer every single person that sends me a Tweet.