Fantasy is a speculative game. Predict the future, and you look like a genius. Don't, and you're painfully human. Gazing into the crystal ball, here's our view on 10 intriguing over/unders for the upcoming season.
Yahoo DFS Bargain Bin. What cheaply priced RB/WR/TE will turn the biggest profit in Week 1?
Brad – MATT JONES ($17). There is no other rusher with more Week 3 potential for less than an Andrew Jackson. Jones is a menacing downhill runner with plus burst, excellent short-field wiggle and reliable hands. Alfred Morris hasn't passed off the baton yet, but it would be a shock if Jay Gruden didn't feed him some 13-15 times Thursday night. Against a Giants D that's conceded 5.5 yards per touch to RBs thus far, he's a strong bet for 75-85 total yards and a score. Hop aboard 'The Motorhome.'
Andy – ISAIAH CROWELL ($19) gets the Raiders at home, and he's coming off a sneaky-good game (15-72-1). I doubt the game-flow will tilt away from him in this matchup, so I'm expecting another 15-plus carries, with a fair chance of multiple spikes. (Honorable mention: GRONK, while expensive, is probably the WR/TE most likely to score multiple touchdowns.)
Scott – As much as I respect the Chiefs defense, if Eddie Lacy is a no-go Monday (and the flow isn't going his way right now), JAMES STARKS ($12) is the easiest punch of the week.
Liz – BRANDON MARSHALL ($25). Over two weeks, Marshall has racked up 163 receiving yards and two touchdowns. In Week 1 he beat Cleveland’s vaunted CB Joe Hayden on a scoring grab. In Week 2 he flustered CB Vontae Davis before Indy’s shutdown corner left the game with a concussion. After Davis exited the contest, Marshall feasted on a buffet of back-up talent. This coming weekend he figures to be a ball hog with Eric Decker likely out of the lineup. Additionally, Byron Maxwell – who Pro Football Focus has gifted with the sixth worst coverage rating – is expected to cover the rejuvenated veteran receiver for the majority of his snaps.
Brandon – DUKE JOHNSON ($11). Johnson picked up 12 carries last week, the kind of workload that should pay out nicely against a still-cruddy Raiders defense this week. And I expect Cleveland, last in the league in RB receptions (2), to also finally get Johnson in the mix in the passing game. Gio Bernard picked up 88 yards from scrimmage against Oakland in Week 1, and I can envision Johnson (who has drawn Bernard comparisons) posting similar numbers, with the possibility of breaking something loose for a TD.
Dalton – DONTE MONCRIEF ($19) is fast becoming a major part of Indy's offense. The Colts have struggled through two games, but I fully expect them to return to being one of the best in the NFL, likely as soon as Sunday when they face a Titans secondary that's yielded 8.0 YPA so far. I have Moncrief as a top-15 wide receiver this week, but he's not priced nearly as such.
Conversely, what player, at any position, are you fading hard in Week 2?
Andy – CALVIN JOHNSON is an all-time receiver, but I'm not messing with him against Denver's D. The Broncos still haven't allowed a passing score. Upside for all Detroit skill players is limited here.
Dalton – DEMARCO MURRAY ($32) is banged up, but I'd list him here even if he were 100% healthy. He's gained 11 yards on 21 rushing attempts this season and goes up against a Jets defense that's allowed the second fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs. Murray is still listed here as the seventh most expensive RB, the same as Jamaal Charles.
Scott – MIKE EVANS ($28) is not someone I'm willing to play on spec at the moment. When he shows me he's healthy and somewhat in sync with Jameis Winston, fine, I'll reevaluate. But there's too much downside in the meantime. His Week 2 bagel sunk a lot of overzealous DFS and seasonal owners.
Liz – GOLDEN TATE ($24). Coming off of an injured quad with a banged up Matt Stafford under center and Chris Harris breathing down his neck? Yikes.
Brandon – LAMAR MILLER ($29). Not only are the Dolphins struggling to get anything going on the ground (Miller posted a 10/14 line last week), but Miller is dealing with a sore ankle and he's facing maneater Marcell Dareus and the Bills defense. No thanks ...
Brad – MATT FORTE ($35). If you like burning Benjamins, by all means, invest in any Chicago Bear this week, including the usually reliable Forte. The stage is set for a Little Bighorn-type massacre in Seattle. The Seahawks, embarrassed defensively in Weeks 1 and 2, are 0-2 and motivated to turn their slow start around. Meanwhile, future cell-phone salesman, Jimmy Clausen, is under center for the Bears. Ummm, stacked boxes? Forte may catch upwards of 6-7 passes, but anticipate modest yardage overall. Seattle has limited opposing rushers to 3.73 yards per carry this year. Avoid.
Brandin Cooks, who has owners ready to press the eject button, receptions at Carolina with or without a bum shouldered Drew Brees 4.5.
Dalton – UNDER. Even if Brees plays, he'll likely be at far less than full health, and Cooks is dealing with an ankle injury himself that's cost him practice time this week. He's been highly unimpressive through two games and faces a Carolina secondary that's yielded an NFL-low 4.4 YPA this season.
Scott – UNDER. No healthy player has disappointed me more in the first two weeks. Blame the Brees wing, blame the Payton offense if you want, fine. But I have shifted into "believe it when I see it" mode with Cooks.
Brandon – UNDER. Cooks has been often drawing the top corner from the opposition, so there's a high likelihood he'll be seeing a whole lot of Carolina CB Josh Norman, not a good thing for his fantasy upside. Maybe Cooks can get to 5-plus catches, but the point here is that they aren't likely to amount to much.
Hotshot rookie David Johnson, who Bruce Arians claims that his role will grow little-by-little each week, total touches, excluding returns, against San Francisco 11.5.
Scott – UNDER, because when teams are winning, there's often little incentive to change the game plan. You run the risk of a coach thinking that splashy plays are coming *because* of the usage patterns, not *in spite* of them. See Todd Haley and Jamal Charles in Kansas City a few years back.
Brandon – OVER. The rookie has made something happen just about every time he's touched the ball, scoring on the ground, through the air and in the return game, thus far. In a game that should be a little more contentious than the first two, I expect Arizona to give him more opportunities to work his big-play magic.
Liz – OVER. Yes, Bruce Arians favors veteran players, but David Johnson has touched the ball a mere seven times and has already racked up 100 all-purpose yards and 2 TDs (and that’s not including his 108 yard score on last Sunday’s opening kickoff). His playmaking ability is too good to ignore, especially in contrast to CJMehK’s 3.6 YPC. This Sunday he’ll face off against a 49ers defense that gave up three scores to a 32-year-old DeAngelo Williams. I’m projecting 13 total touches for the younger Johnson (10 on the ground and three through the air) for a total of 82 yards and a touch.
With Jason Witten a possible injury casualty and Austin Seferian-Jenkins donezo for the next 4-6 weeks, what under 50 percent owned TE is worth picking up and plugging in: Crockett Gillmore (vs. Cin), Richard Rodgers (vs. KC), Ladarius Green (at Min), Eric Ebron (vs. Den) or WILDCARD?
Liz – CHARLES CLAY. Second in team targets for back-to-back weeks, Clay is figuring to be a solid security blanket for QB Tyrod Taylor. In Week 2 he put up TE1 fantasy numbers, hauling in three of his five targets for 19 yards and a score. This coming Sunday he’ll head back to his old stomping grounds and try to make good against a secondary that gifted Jacksonville receiver Allen Robinson with a 155 yard and 2 TD day.
Brad – RICHARD RODGERS. The Rodgers-to-Rodgers connection is starting to gain momentum. Aaron continues to lock in on the oversized target near the goal-line, evident last Sunday night against Seattle. In a game where a pushover KC D should get blitzed vertically, Richard is a good bet to splash pay-dirt for the second straight week.
Scott – CROCKETT GILLMORE is your huckleberry. He didn't just run past and around the Raiders, he ran through them en route to last week's breakout game. And he's now the No. 2 option on the Baltimore passing tree, a rank these other guys can't match.
DeMarco Murray, who has totaled a blistering 9 rush yards in two games, the same number as Andy Dalton, combined rush/receiving yards on the road against the Jets 59.5.
Brandon – UNDER. This is more about Murray's health than it is what I'd expect him to do if fully healthy. If Murray plays, I'd be worried about his ability to shoulder the load without a setback with his hammy. Under healthy circumstances, I'd go Over here because Murray is versatile and can easily pad his numbers with 30-50 receiving yards. And I have no doubt that the Eagles have added some new wrinkles in the run game to get that attack out of the mud.
Liz – UNDER. Murray has looked slow since the start of the season, and now he’s tweaked his hammy. Additionally, Chip Kelly’s makeshift offensive line is porous at best, receiving negative grades from Pro Football Focus. Plus, the Jets defense is stout, allowing the second fewest fantasy points to RBs.
Brad – UNDER. TEN of Murray's 21 carries this season have gone for 1-yard or less. You read that correctly, TEN. Behind Philly's shoddy offensive line and given Chip Kelly's sudden lack of imagination, he's must-sit material against the Jets. New York has allowed a mere 2.86 yards per carry to RBs this year. Oh how quickly the mighty can fall.
QB Cheapies. Pick one: Ryan Fitzpatrick (vs. Phi), Nick Foles (vs. Pit), Marcus Mariota (vs. Ind), Ryan Mallett (vs. TB), Blake Bortles (at NE) or Andy Dalton (at Bal) ?
Brad – FITZMAGIC. Admittedly, I'm on the record for loving Foles, but to shake things up, give me Captain Caveman. Philly's ineptitude against the pass poses a problem, with or without Eric Decker. Against Byron Maxwell, who's given up a 78.9 catch rate and 153.8 QB rating to his assignments, Fitzpatrick and Brandon Marshall connect roughly 2,346 times for a billion yards and multiple touchdowns.
Dalton – MARIOTA. I have him at least one tier ahead of the rest of this group, as the Colts' offense will likely bounce back and put up points, whereas their defense remains highly questionable. It's a good setup for the rookie.
Andy – MARIOTA, please. He's playing at home and the Colts have a serious shortage of healthy corners. There's a very good chance Tennessee falls into a shootout in this one. I doubt Indy's D will hold the Titans below, say, 24 points.
WR head-to-head. Pick one to roster rest of season: Andre Johnson, Marques Colston, Roddy White, Anquan Boldin, Charles Johnson or Percy Harvin.
Andy – BOLDIN. His game is aging well enough, plus he remains the closest thing to a No. 1 receiver on this team. I'd grudgingly accept RODDY or ANDRE (17 targets), too. You can have the rest.
Dalton – WHITE. Leonard Hankerson had the much bigger game last week, but White actually led all Atlanta wide receivers in snaps. It remains a nice setup on a team with a strong passing attack and a mediocre defense and running game. White has the upside to be big if Julio Jones were to go down as well.
Scott – BOLDIN. I will never dispute that man's will to be great. When do the Colts move Johnson to offensive tackle? He runs about as well as one.
Matt Forte, who is bound to see overloaded boxes with Jimmy Clausen under center, total rush/receiving yards this week in Seattle 89.5.
Andy – OVER, slightly. Let's give him an empty 94 total yards on maybe 26 touches, with zero spikes. This game really should not be close.
Dalton – UNDER. Forte has looked terrific this season, but the Bears have been vocal about not overworking their 29-year-old back, so I could see him sitting out most of the second half in a game that could get ugly fast.
Brandon – UNDER. With Clausen behind center, if the Bears offense isn't a trainwreck on Sunday, I'll be shocked.
Fill in the blank. _________, under 50-percent owned in Yahoo leagues, has the most shocker special appeal in Week 3 (Any position).
Brad – CECIL SHORTS. He's surprisingly recorded 20 targets through two games. Ryan Mallett is piss poor, but should make strides in his second start. Tampa's unimpressive secondary also lends hope for a breakthrough performance. DBs Alterraun Verner and Jonathan Banks both rank outside the top-50 in pass coverage according to Pro Football Focus. A top-30 effort might be in the cards.
Andy – TYLER LOCKETT. Have you seen Chicago's kick coverage? How about Chicago's defense? Lockett won't need many touches to make noise in this one. He's gonna have a Travis Benjamin-ish game, soon.
Liz – LANCE DUNBAR. Owned in just 17 percent of Yahoo leagues, Dunbar is a sneaky PPR play in Week 3. Currently the RB21 in PPR leagues, Dunbar has dominated the pass-catching duties in Dallas’ backfield. With Brandon Weeden under center and TE Jason Witten banged up, I think he’ll see a lot of check down action. Plus, his match against the Falcons – who gave up 76 yards to receiving RBs in back-to-back weeks – is delectable.
Scott – With the Patriots more focused on Allen Robinson, ALLEN "The Hit Man" HURNS will make a few big plays in Foxboro this Sunday. Ah, garbage time.