Top Tier: Drew Brees- I ended on Drew Brees in cash games last week given the abundance of value, and I'm sad to say I don't think that will be possible this week. If you do choose to forego the usual cash game roster construction, Brees would 100% be my top spend up as a monster home favorite implied for almost 30 points against the Browns. If there is any chance that the step back the Saints defense takes is as bad as it looked in week one, Brees is going to have monster season with the weapons he now has at his disposal.
Mid Tier: Jimmy Garoppolo- I am continually growing more in love with this game as the week goes on and I think this is an absolute smash spot for Jimmy GQ. The Lions got embarrassed by Sam Darnold and the Jets on Monday night, and now have to travel across the country on a short week to face the 49ers offense. His pass catchers dropped three would-be TD's against the Vikings and if they hadn't, Garoppolo would probably be set to be much more chalky than he is going to be.
Low Tier: Tyrod Taylor- I like this play on FanDuel a lot more than on DraftKings given that he basically has no shot of hitting the 300 yard bonus that can prove to be so crucial on DK. Despite playing in the worst weather on the slate, Tyrod dropped back to pass over 40 times against the Steelers and rushed for over 70 yards and a score. The Saints are implied for almost 30 points again this week, and Tyrod is going to have to put points on the board unless he wants this to be a Chargers-Ravens type game from last week. My lean as of Friday is to go with Jimmy G on DraftKings and Tyrod on FanDuel.
UPDATE #1: So, after tracking line movement in Vegas and doing hours more research, I'm going to ahead and bump Ben Roethlisberger over Drew Brees in the top tier. The O/U just keeps rising, and it has much more of a chance to turn into a shootout than the Browns/Saints do. I'm sticking with the other options I have listed in their respective tiers, but you can include Patrick Mahomes in the mid tier along with Garoppolo, as I expect him to potentially be the highest owned QB in that price range (maybe at the entire position).
Top Tier: Todd Gurley- This is a self-explanatory play, but what you should be taking away from it is that I have Gurley ranked narrowly ahead of Kamara in cash games as of right now. Kamara should explode against the Browns, but I do like to side with the floor I get with Gurley in cash games especially in this matchup with the Cardinals defense. The Cards were shredded by Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson out of the backfield last week, and while this game could easily turn to a blowout I'm not concerned because Gurley would be an integral part of the scoring.
Mid Tier: Christian McCaffrey- This is probably the best possible spot Christian McCaffrey will find himself in all season. He's matched up the Atlanta Falcons, who surrendered the most pass catches to opposing running backs last season, and they just two KEY defensive pieces in Deion Jones and Keanu Neal. CMC is coming off a career-high in snaps played, and I am anticipating the Panthers riding him in the passing game with now three starting offensive lineman out and Greg Olsen injured with a broken foot. He's going to be owned, but I will be overweight on him this weekend.
Low Tier: James Conner- Some people might see this and think I'm looking at last week's salaries, but here me out. James Conner touched the ball 36 times last week...THIRTY SIX TIMES! That is Todd Gurley+ usage and yet he is still priced under $7,000 on DraftKings. You are going to need pieces of this game in cash games given the monster 53 O/U and Conner is my #1 lock for cash. Nothing will get me to reconsider him.
Now that we have news that Devonta Freeman (knee) is out, Tevin Coleman becomes the true low tier running back this week and he, along with Conner, is a lock for me.
UPDATE #2: Now that Freeman has been ruled out, you can pretty much bump Tevin Coleman into near must play territory FOR CASH GAMES. Leonard Fournette is looking doubtful for the Jags, and that moves TJ Yeldon to a core play as well. I prefer Yeldon to Coleman overall, especially on DraftKings, but both are viable in cash games and you can even play them together along with Conner.
Top Tier: Antonio Brown- Like I just noted with Conner, we are going to need pieces of the Steelers/Chiefs game in cash games this week and it looks like it's coming down to deciding between Antonio Brown and one of Todd Gurley/Alvin Kamara as your top stud spend up. Brown's splits without Bell in the lineup are even more video-game like than what he normally puts up week-to-week. Brown somehow managed 24.3 DraftKings points in the horrible weather situation this past Sunday, and gets a dream matchup with the horrid Chiefs secondary that will be missing Eric Berry again as well.
Mid Tier: Jarvis Landry- This is someone that I don't think a lot of people will play in cash games due to the presence of Emmanuel Sanders in this tier, who is equally viable in this position. The knock on Landry in Miami was his low average depth of target, yet in week one for the Browns he commanded 15 targets while owning the second-most air yards in the entire NFL. He should have a monster season if he gets anything close to competent QB play, and the Browns should be playing catch up in this one. He also will avoid Marshon Lattimore, who should be shadowing Josh Gordon.
Low Tier: Dante Pettis- Marquise Goodwin has been officially ruled out for the 49ers, making Pettis a prime stacking partner with Garoppolo in all formats. Pettis brought in just two of six targets last week, but he turned them into 61 yards and a touchdown and will avoid Darius Slay in this matchup. I'm not sure if people are realizing that the 49ers have the fourth-highest implied team total on the slate, but now you have because I just told you.
UPDATE #3: Goodwin is officially out, confirming the Pettis play. If you need more options in the mid tier with Landry and Sanders, guys I'm looking at or considering are Juju Smith-Schuster, Cooper Kupp, Randall Cobb and Demaryius Thomas.
Top Tier: Travis Kelce- I know people are all up in arms about Travis Kelce and his one catch for six yards this past Sunday. He still saw six targets, and Mahomes had a pair of 1 yard touchdown passes, neither of which went to Kelce. There's too much value at TE this week to spend up, and he does have a tough matchup as the Steelers were the polar opposite of the Browns last season coming in number one in DVOA against tight ends. I would choose him over Gronk this week if I was getting weird though, simply for another piece to what should be an epic offensive game.
Mid Tier: Jack Doyle- I'm not sure what people don't like about Jack freaking Doyle. Sure Eric Ebron scored a touchdown, but he ran 30 less pass routes than Doyle and saw five less targets. We have attacked the Redskins with tight ends for multiple seasons now, and it's worth noting that Luck's yards per pass attempt fell below six yards in week one. Doyle is primed for another volume packed season.
Low Tier: Ben Watson- There are a TON of cheap tight end plays this week and this section is without me listing guys like George Kittle and Jared Cook who both could end up being chalky on Sunday. The reason I like Watson is just how bad the Browns are against tight ends. It's the way that Gregg Williams schemes his defense, and they ranked 32nd, yes dead-last, in DVOA against tight ends last season. Jesse James crawled out of bed and put 60 yards on the Browns in week one, and this is a prime way to get mega-cheap exposure to the highest implied team.
UPDATE #4: I chose not to write up Kittle due to the presence of Doyle, but as the weekend has went on it's looking to me like you are going to need him or Doyle based on matchup, volume and price. You can even experiment playing them together on DK, but that is a cash game only strategy for me.
D/ST Options: Texans, Jets, Redskins, Broncos
Written by Ben Hossler (Follow @BenHossler on Twitter)