Every week for a video segment (shown above), I’ll have a group of cohorts sending in blind resumes for a group of three players at a different position (QB, RB, WR, and TE). My job will be to unbox the player with the best on-paper resume, removing any name-value or personal bias from the equation. The idea is to solely focus on production, volume, and matchup rather than outside noise.
Here in the article version of the piece, I’ll be unpacking some of these decisions further; deciding whether the players I picked in the segment truly make sense as plays or whether other options in the trio make more sense. Additionally, I’ll share some picks that I’m actually interested in making in my DFS lineup for the given week.
Let’s unbox some daily fantasy plays together.
Ben Roethlisberger $35
Blind resume fact: Completed 69.8 percent of passes (104/149) at home in the last eight weeks of the 2018 season.
Of course, Ben Roethlisberger threw up all over his shoes in a road start against a great team, especially when that team is the Patriots. It’s worth wondering what Bill Belichick says about Mike Tomlin behind his back at the league events considering how hard he dunks on him every year. It’s also worth wondering if we need to recalibrate expectations for this offensive unit with the dearth of talent in the pass-catching corps.
It's just one night but if you were worried about Pittsburgh's offense severe lack of playmakers, this game has to really bother you.— Matt Harmon (@MattHarmon_BYB) September 9, 2019
(It bothers me)
Roethlisberger is in a prime spot for a rebound as he returns home in Week 2. The Seahawks secondary showed major holes against an under-manned Bengals team last week. Outside cornerback Tre Flowers, in particular, got dog-walked. He gave up eight catches for 150 yards and a score on eight targets, per Sports Info Solutions. Don’t be surprised if Roethlisberger and Donte Moncrief ($10) end up a strong low-rostered discount stack after the latter drew 10 targets but flopped in the season-opener.
Verdict: Not a core option but would play.
Philip Rivers $32
Blind resume fact: Has the second-most TDs on passes of 20-plus yards since the 2017 season.
While Philip Rivers has a long history as a downfield passer, given their current personnel it’s hard to see how they can operate that way. Hunter Henry can be a seam-ripper but he’s likely out at least a month. Mike Williams is their one major downfield threat in the receiver corps but the coaching staff is worried about his status for Week 2.
Rivers looks like a quarterback who will have to get the ball out quickly as it is, given the state of his offensive line. He went down for a sack on 10.3% of his dropbacks in Week 1 and was under pressure on 12 of his 34 pass attempts, per SIS. That issue could be more apparent against an improved Lions front that sacked Kyler Murray five times and held him to a 3.8 yards per attempt when under pressure.
Verdict: Not an option.
Russell Wilson $30
Blind resume fact: Has thrown 23 touchdown passes on throws of 20-plus yards since the 2017 season — most among NFL quarterbacks.
The Seahawks at Steelers matchup carries a pretty modest projected point total of 46.5. That’s not totally surprising considering Pittsburgh’s offense looked dreadful in Week 1 and Seattle is on the road. However, we already covered how Ben Roethlisberger has historically played much better at home and the Seahawks-struggling-on-the-road narrative has been dead for a few years now. Last season Russell Wilson ranked second in both passer rating (114.5) and yards per attempt (8.6) in away games. He trailed only Patrick Mahomes.
If you think this game has a shot to go over the projected total, Wilson makes for a fine pivot play. He’s currently priced outside the Top-12 quarterbacks in Yahoo DFS. His pass catchers, and even Chris Carson, all make for easy value stacking candidates.
Verdict: Not a core play but makes sense in the right construction.
Guys I actually want to play:
Jared Goff $35
Stat note: Has thrown 53 touchdowns when not under pressure since the start of the 2017 season, fifth-most among quarterbacks.
The Rams offense has been even more productive at home in the Sean McVay era. Jared Goff’s 342.1 yards per game in Los Angeles leads all starting quarterbacks since the start of the 2017 season. His 9.0 yards per attempt ranks second only to the quarterback he’s facing in Week 2, Drew Brees. The arrival of Brandin Cooks only made Goff’s splits starker; the Rams receiver nearly doubled his catch total in LA versus on the road and averaged 95.8 yards per game.
The Saints offense showed no signs of slowing down in Week 1. Of course, it was in the safe confines of the Superdome but Brees did rank second only to Kyler Murray with 243 air yards in the opening slate of the season. Even more notable for Goff’s outlook, while New Orleans was able to get after Deshaun Watson last week, Goff has a much better pass protection unit. He was pressured on just 11 of 41 dropbacks against the Panthers. Meanwhile, the Saints were rotating Marcus Davenport (a player who once cost them two first-round picks) off the field in crunch time.
Derek Carr $26
Stat note: His Week 2 opponent faced the most pass attempts in the NFL last season and the 13th-most in Week 1.
Derek Carr didn’t need to push the envelope much in Week 1 with the Broncos but he was efficient, completing 84.6% of his passes. Oakland looks like it has enough horses in the stable between Tyrell Williams, Josh Jacobs and of course, Darren Waller, to give chase to a high-scoring opponent.
This week, that will most likely be the outcome. The Raiders draw a matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs. Carr has already offered strong fantasy outings against this same team, uncorking three touchdowns in each of his last two homes games against the Chiefs. Carr can punch back at the Chiefs with a top-level fantasy performance in catch-up mode. Kansas City still clearly has holes in their defense, as they just allowed the fourth-highest net yards per attempt (10.2) among Week 1 defenses to Nick Foles and Gardner Minshew. Carr is my favorite play.
Dalvin Cook $30
Blind resume stat: Over 20 touches in Week 1, Week 2 opponent allowed 8.8 yards after the catch to RBs last season
Dalvin Cook was one of the big winners of Week 1. Not only did he crush his own individual performance, his team clearly showed they want to run the offense through the ground game. The Vikings ran on 77.6% of their plays against the Falcons, leading the NFL by a wide margin. The second-highest team was Baltimore at 63%.
Here in Week 2, we might see more of Cook working as a receiver. The Vikings obviously did not run many passing plays in their first game, but Cook was still third on the team with seven routes. The Packers limited receiving backs in 2018 by allowing the second-fewest catches (62) in the league. However, the Bears attacked Green Bay linebackers with Tarik Cohen as a slot receiver (eight targets) and got an explosive play (27 yards) from David Montgomery.
Verdict: The kind of volume he’s going to see makes him a core play option every week.
Derrick Henry $28
Blind resume fact: Rushed for 10-plus yards on 20% of his carries in the last eight weeks of the 2018 season
Derrick Henry is a monster. He was able to make a massive play in the passing game for six and popped in a touchdown inside the 10-yard line. Henry was one of just 10 backs with four-plus red zone carries. His passing game usage was a mixed bag. While Dion Lewis had more targets than Henry, they both totaled 10 routes run in Week 1.
The Colts allowed the Chargers a 57% success rate on rushing plays, including four explosive runs. All four of those came on second down. Austin Ekeler punched in a red zone score. This game should be low-scoring and that will keep Henry fed.
Verdict: Henry is unlikely to be a core play but he’s a lock for volume and still may go under-rostered given the lower total in this game.
Marlon Mack $26
Blind resume fact: 5.7 yards per carry on first down since the 2017 season.
Week 1 was an excellent showing for Marlon Mack. Even in a game the Colts lost, Mack was the engine of the offense. Indianapolis posted a 67% rushing play success rate, leading all teams in Week 1. We still have some questions about his passing game role as he ran zero routes last week compared to seven for Nyheim Hines.
In a close game, Mack should get plenty of work. Week 1 gave us a look at Henry’s volume upside in any given slate. We saw them operate as a run-heavy team in a trailing script and the Titans are certainly a worse offense than the Chargers.
Verdict: Similar to Henry, Mack should get plenty of work but is not likely to be a core play.
Mark Ingram $23
Blind resume fact: One of five RBs to rush for 100-plus yards in Week 1 and Week 2 opponent has allowed 27 rushing TDs since the 2017 season.
The Ravens blew out the Dolphins and came away with the second-highest run play percentage of Week 1 (63%). Mark Ingram was a clear beneficiary as the lead back, banking in two scores inside the 10-yard line. No running back registered more carries (five) inside the 10 than Mark Ingram. His backup also handled four such carries.
Ingram and the Ravens rushing game get another great spot in Week 2. The Ravens are 13-point favorites in Week 2 against a Cardinals team that are wildly undermanned on defense.
James White $22
Blind resume fact: Has gained 689 yards after the catch since last season.
With how packed the pass-catching corps is in New England and with a legendary 18.5-point spread, it’s hard to see the logic in playing James White here. There will be games for him, this just doesn’t appear to be it.
Chris Carson $21
Blind resume fact: Had 27 rushing attempts in the red zone in the last eight weeks of the 2018 season.
Chris Carson was a strong Week 1 play and proved the offseason hype about his pass-catching role was no joke. His 35% target share led the entire team and he ran the third-most routes.
That role will come in handy this week in a game that could be even more of a back-and-forth affair than their match with the Bengals. If you play Russell Wilson, stacking him with Carson makes for an intriguing move. Not only does Carson have a clear pass-catching role but it helps you horde all the possible Seattle touchdowns.
Guy I really want to play:
Alvin Kamara $35
Stat note: Handled 75% of the snaps and ran 28 routes.
Alvin Kamara was a workhorse back for the Saints in Week 1. Latavius Murray was merely a bit player with eight touches on the night. He is going to be the anchor of many strong lineups in a game that has a 52-point over/under. He’s going to be in a ton of my lineups, high sticker price be damned.
Julio Jones $36
Blind resume fact: Week 2 opponent had the 30th worst passing defense in the NFL in 2018.
The Eagles had issues covering the backend last year, especially as injuries mounted. That still appeared to be a problem in Week 1. The Case Keenum-led Washington offense went up and down the field on this secondary in the first half. They let third-rounder Terry McLaurin get loose and collect the ninth-most air yards on the slate.
Julio Jones was stifled until garbage time but figures to get rolling early in this Sunday Night Football match. The Eagles at Falcons has a 51-point total, the third-highest projected in Week 1. Julio could go overlooked in contests that include SNF as the most expensive receiver (with Tyreek out) and coming off a slowish week.
Verdict: Having a tough time reading this SNF game but feeling like a Julio sprinkle would be wise.
Keenan Allen $24
Blind resume fact: Has induced over 100 targets four times in his career
Keenan Allen has been a high-target receiver for the duration of his NFL career and now with injuries to Mike Williams and Hunter Henry, the volume in Los Angeles’ offense is only becoming more highly concentrated.
If the Lions pass rush does indeed force the ball out of the poorly protected Philip Rivers’ hands faster, Allen will be the benefactor. Larry Fitzgerald just thumped the Lions for 6-106 out of the slot in Week 1.
Verdict: Allen is a core play that’s way too cheap.
Cooper Kupp $22
Blind resume fact: Has six five-catch games in his career
Cooper Kupp started off hot early, catching four passes right off the bat. He and the rest of the Rams offense slowed down against Carolina as the game went on and he finished with just 46 yards on seven catches. All of that production came from the slot. The Saints did allow two touchdowns from the slot last week and three catches apiece between DeAndre Hopkins and Kenny Stills.
Verdict: Kupp is a fine play but finding myself gravitating more toward Brandin Cooks among the Rams wideouts.
Tyler Lockett $21
Blind resume fact: Has never attracted more than 75 targets in his career
Volume was once again an issue for Tyler Lockett in the Week 1 win over the Bengals. He drew just two targets in a neutral game script, trailing running back Chris Carson and rookie D.K. Metcalf. You can find a reason to write this off as a fluke while recognizing that William Jackson is the lone quality Bengals corner and he saw Lockett a decent amount in this game. His lone catch, for a 44-yard score, came with Jessie Bates in coverage on a slot route.
That alignment is also key for Lockett. He took 62.5% of his snaps in the slot against the Bengals. His Week 2 opponent, the Steelers, had three touchdowns dropped on them by the Patriots via the slot.
Verdict: Makes for any easy cheap stack with Russell Wilson.
Guys I actually want to play:
Amari Cooper $23
State note: Was targeted eight times inside the 10-yard line last season and his Week 2 opponent allowed nine receiving touchdowns inside the 10-yard line last season (seventh-most).
Amari Cooper has struggled with consistency throughout his career but it looks like he may have all the baseline numbers for a No. 1 wide receiver this season. His 35% share of the team’s air yards and 28% target share are figures of a top wideout. Cooper thumped this same Washington team for his first breakout game with the Cowboys in 2018 (8-180-2 TDs) on Thanksgiving.
John Brown $19
Stat note: His 13.3 average depth of target was almost a full three yards closer to the line of scrimmage than his 2018 figure (16.1).
Not only did John Brown smash in Week 1, but all the positive peripheral numbers were also there. Brown led the Bills in routes run, saw 10 targets and Josh Allen registered a 100% on-target percentage when throwing to his No. 1 receiver, per Sports Info Solutions. Now Brown gets a pristine matchup against a Giants secondary that allowed a perfect passer rating and over 400 yards to Dak Prescott in Week 1.
Donte Moncrief $10
Stat note: His 10 targets led the team and his 12.5% drop rate actually didn’t.
How much do you actually hate yourself? In a game that could go over the total, I might hate myself enough to play someone who bungled their Week 1 opportunity despite the beefy volume. You’re only paying $1 per target from last week.
Jared Cook $17
Blind resume fact: Failed to reach at least 20 yards receiving just once last season.
Jared Cook feels like a play destined to go overlooked after a disappointing 2-37 performance in Week 1. He was left out in the cold as the offense flowed exclusively through Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas. That’s a possibility every week but Cook could bounce back in a possible Week 2 high-scoring game.
The Rams allowed the second-most yards to the tight end position (1,075) in 2018. Color me skeptical that the additions of Clay Matthews and the loss of LaMarcus Joyner fixed their middle of the field pass defense.
Verdict: My first pass of lineups don’t have enough Jared Cook exposure.
Eric Ebron $13
Blind resume fact: Only had triple-digit receiving yards once last season.
The only blind resume pick I was legitimately upset they picked for me. Jack Doyle and Eric Ebron both caught just one pass and were near dead even in routes run. Ebron registered 16 and Doyle hit 13. One will just sap value from the other and leave both difficult plays to trust.
Vernon Davis $13
Blind resume note: Failed to score a touchdown in 2015.
Vernon Davis needs more respect as one of the NFL’s ageless wonders. In Week 1 he finished third in yards after the catch (55) at the tight end position and broke two tackles, per Sports Info Solutions. He’s still as explosive as ever and finished 4-59-TD in place of Jordan Reed.
If Reed isn’t cleared in time for Sunday, he becomes an option. The Cowboys allowed the sixth-most catches to tight ends in 2018 and let Evan Engram run wild for 11 catches in Week 1.
Verdict: Only an option if Jordan Reed doesn’t play.
Guys I actually want to play:
Mark Andrews $16
Stat note: Tied with Seth Roberts for the team lead in routes run (18) in Week 1.
It’s shocking Mark Andrews’ price isn’t higher. He has it all. Not only was he hyper-efficient in the Ravens’ opener, but he also checked the opportunity box. His 74 air yards were the second-most at the position in Week 1, per Sports Info Solutions.
Andrews’ Week 2 opponent, the Arizona Cardinals, let T.J. Hockenson finish with the most air yards among tight ends in Week 1 (75). He thumped them for a record-breaking 131 yards.
Darren Waller $13
State note: His 31% target share ranked third among Week 1 tight ends.
Darren Waller and Tyrell Williams will be core buys for most DFS players in Week 2. The matchup with the Chiefs is right and their prices don’t reflect their Week 1 production. Not only did he finish second on his team in routes, Waller’s 2.8 yards per route run ranked fourth among Week 1 tight ends who registered five-plus targets.
Waller’s 55 yards after the catch in Week 1 show what a specimen he is. He’s a season-long stud you don’t need to overthink — and don’t fade him this week, either.