5 NFL FanDuel Value Plays to Target in Week 2
Studs with sizable salaries are frequently an integral part of winning money in daily fantasy football at FanDuel. However, to fit them under the salary cap, it's imperative to locate underpriced players who over-deliver.
A good place to start when attempting to unearth undervalued players is our projections tool. The tool offers a value option for sorting, showcasing who offers the most bang for your buck. In addition to matchups impacting projections, injuries do as well. On that note, players replacing injured starters are often among the top values. So, staying abreast of injury news and inactives until the start of games is a must with that in mind.
With the tone set for this piece, let's move on. The following quintet of players is among my favorite cap-friendly options in Week 2.
Darrell Henderson Jr., RB, Los Angeles Rams ($6,400)
The workload for Darrell Henderson is everything you could have hoped from him in Week 1. He played a whopping 94.23% of the Los Angeles Rams' snaps. But, amazingly, that silly snap percentage fails to capture his dominance in the backfield fully. Backup Sony Michel received his only carry in the game at the 4:46 mark in the fourth quarter -- well after the game was in hand.
Henderson carried the load with 16 of 17 backfield rushes and reeling in his only target for 17 yards. In all, he accounted for 87 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown. This week, he might be in line for another 15-to-20 touches. According to numberFire's Heat Map, the Rams are four-point favorites with a fantasy-friendly implied total of 25.75 points. I'll gladly roster a workhorse back at under $6,500 who projects for a favorable game script.
Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams ($6,200)
Cooper Kupp established himself as the unquestioned top receiver in the Matthew Stafford-led offense. According to Pro Football Focus, Kupp played all passing snaps, running a route on 27 of 28. He paced the receiver room, besting Van Jefferson's 23 routes, Robert Woods's 18, and DeSean Jackson's 10. He dominated the slot snaps at 71.4 percent. Yet, he also lined up wide 28.6 percent, cementing the fact he'll be on the field in two-receiver sets.
He parlayed his playing time into team-leading marks in targets (10), receptions (7), receiving yards (108), and was one of three players with a touchdown grab. In addition, he was hyper-efficient, amassing 4.00 yards per route run. Also, he sported an interesting 9.2 yards average depth of target (aDOT). His highest season mark was 9.6 yards aDOT as a rookie in 2017, and he's hovered between 7.0 yards and 8.8 yards from 2018 through 2020. I'm fixated on his average depth of target because I expect him to throttle it back this week and feast on the Indianapolis Colts' "Cover 2" zone defense.
Looking at some @SportsInfo_SIS coverage data. The big difference for fantasy purposes is Cover 2 zone vs. the rest of them.
Against C2 zone, a higher % of the targets to WRs are shallow (5 or fewer air yards). pic.twitter.com/SYDTnUy6O5
— Hayden Winks (@HaydenWinks) August 31, 2021
Head coach and play-caller Sean McVay isn't a dummy. Thus, I expect him to scheme up plenty of short targets for his team's top pass-catching option. Finally, it's encouraging to see the Week 2 Daily Football Projections supporting my love for Kupp this week, ranking him seventh in value score (2.02) among receivers on this week's FanDuel main slate.
Elijah Mitchell, RB, San Francisco 49ers ($5,800)
First, let's address the elephant in the room. Trey Sermon could surely be active for Week 2 and muddy the touch distribution for the San Francisco 49ers' backfield. That is within the range of outcomes this week. However, Elijah Mitchell did everything to prove he deserves an extended look as the feature back after an explosive Week 1 showing.
The rookie running back steamrolled the Detroit Lions for 104 rushing yards and a score on 19 carries. Mitchell's a workout metrics freak show, ranking in the 74th percentile in SPARQ-X score, 79th percentile in agility score, 86th percentile in speed score, 88th percentile in burst score, and 97th percentile in 40-yard dash time. Thankfully, his workout metrics translated to on-field performance, resulting in 3 carries of over 10 yards and a 36.5 percent breakaway percentage, per Pro Football Focus. He was also a tackle-breaking machine -- busting six of them.
This week, he draws the single most favorable matchup for explosive runs after the first week. According to Sharp Football Stats, the Philadelphia Eagles yielded the highest average explosive run rate at an eye-popping 23% (6 total explosive runs; also the most in Week 1). So, even if Kyle Shanahan divvies up more touches to a second back this week, Mitchell has a chance to pay off for DFS players who roster him on the basis of just 10 to 15 touches. But, of course, there's upside for more than that, as evidenced by his 19 carries last week. Additionally, the betting info supports using Mitchell, as the 49ers are 3.5-point favorites with a robust implied total of 27 points.
DeVonta Smith, WR, Philadelphia Eagles ($5,600)
Ranking two spots behind Kupp in projected wide receiver value is DeVonta Smith, checking in ninth with a projected value score of 1.98. The rookie receiver looked like every part of the top-flight prospect he was selected to be in this year's draft. He played all 39 of the Philadelphia Eagles' passing plays and ran a route on 37 of them. The second-highest mark was a tie at 27 routes by second-year receiver Jalen Reagor and tight end Dallas Goedert.
His on-field usage is dreamy. Also, he alleviated some of the concerns about his diminutive stature by thriving while playing a whopping 82.1% of snaps outside. He still did net 17.9 percent slot snaps. Moving around should allow him to find more mismatches. Circling back to his production, he led the team in targets (7) and receiving yards (71), tied for the team lead in receptions (6), and reeled in one of the team's trio of passing touchdowns.
I'm also encouraged by some changes from second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Hurts took the longest time to throw in 2020 among qualified quarterbacks at 3.11 seconds, and he sported an average intended air yards depth of 9.5 yards. The propensity for airing it out deep helped contribute to an ugly expected completion percentage of 55.5 percent. In Week 1, he cut his time to throw down to 2.86 seconds, greatly reduced his average intended air yards depth to 3.7 yards, and his expected completion percentage exploded to 68 percent.
More easy throws bodes well for Smith piling up catchable targets. Finally, I'm infatuated with this week's matchup against San Francisco's secondary. Their already thin secondary was dealt a blow in Week 1, losing top cornerback Jason Verrett to a season-ending torn ACL. As a result, I question them having the personnel needed to keep Smith in check.
Kyle Pitts, TE, Atlanta Falcons ($5,500)
Expectations were sky-high for Kyle Pitts last week. Unfortunately, he failed to live up to them, catching only four passes for 31 receiving yards. Thankfully, that might lead to him being on a suppressed number of rosters, despite encouraging underlying numbers.
First, as NFL Network's Michael F. Florio points out, Pitts ranked third among tight ends in target share.
TE target share leaders after Week 1
1. Darren Waller, 35%
2. Adam Trautman, 30%
3. Kyle Pitts, 24%
4. Tyler Higbee, 23%
5. Noah Fant, 22%
6. Travis Kelce, 21%
7. George Kittle, 20%
Everyone else sub 20%
— Michael F. Florio (@MichaelFFlorio) September 15, 2021
Additionally, Pitts ran a route on 31 of 37 passing snaps he played. Comparatively, teammate Hayden Hurst ran 24 routes on 30 passing plays. Further, Pitts was moved around the formation, playing 41.9% inline, 41.9% in the slot, and 16.1% aligned wide.
Brighter days lie ahead for Pitts with his pass-catching tight end usage. Our projections believe those days start this week. He has the third-highest projected scoring output and second-highest value score projection at tight end this week. I love Pitts this week, and if DFS players who were burned by him last week fade him and depress the percentage of rosters he's on, then that's gravy.
Joshua Shepardson is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Joshua Shepardson also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username bchad50. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his/her personal views, he/she may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his/her personal account. The views expressed in his/her articles are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.