Welcome to the second week of the 2014 NFL season! Hopefully the first week treated you well and you were able to avoid all the landmines out there at the running back position as several big-time players threw up some duds in Week One. The good news about daily fantasy sports is that every week provides a clean slate, so we can start fresh if the first week was less than stellar. As with every week here at RotoWorld, I will highlight some of the top quarterback and running back plays of the week on FanDuel, along with a couple players to avoid. These positions are often places where gamers wish to spend a good chunk of their salary cap on expensive players, but a lot of times contests can be won (or lost) by taking a flier on a cheaper player at quarterback or running back.
*Note – FanDuel prices in parentheses
You could definitely argue that a stud QB is pretty much a must-get this week as several guys have good matchups, and the Monday night tilt between the Colts and Eagles should have plenty of fireworks. Andrew Luck was a much better player in the second half of the opener against the Broncos, and there aren't many folks who question his upside any longer. Against a porous Eagles defense and with no running game to lean on, expect Luck to carry the Colts' offense in this one and have a great fantasy night.
Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-week $250,000 Fantasy Football Contest for Week 2's games. It's only $10 to join and first prize is $25,000. Starts Sunday, September 14th at 1pm ET. Here's the link.
Don't hold the first poor game against the Seahawks against Aaron Rodgers. The Seahawks' ball-hawking defense is easily the best in the league, and Rodgers literally had no time to throw after Brian Bulaga's first half injury. Things should be much easier this week against a Jets defense that allowed some success to rookie Derek Carr last week. At a significantly discounted price tag from the top guy in Peyton Manning, Rodgers is a steal this week.
Last week I wrote about how I expect the Cowboys' defense to be historically bad this season, and they didn’t do much to dispel that notion in the opener. The 49ers were able to take their feet off the gas in the second half with a big lead, but I expect a full four-quarter fight with the Cowboys and Titans this week. That makes Jake Locker a very intriguing target, and another benefit is that the Titans appear to be willing to air it out this season. They played with a base 3-WR set on numerous occasions last week, and Justin Hunter is a budding superstar at wide receiver. Locker is a solid bet for production at a reasonable price tag.
Season-long players that waited to draft their QB and took Matt Ryan are grinning from ear to ear right now, and his 400+ yard performance in week one should go a long way toward a breakout season for the Falcons' gunslinger. He has a pair of very talented receivers in Julio Jones and Roddy White, and he should be a very safe play most weeks. This matchup isn’t the easiest against a decent Bengals defense, but it’s probably wise to take advantage of the price tag on Ryan before it gets too high.
If you’re looking for a tournament play with upside, I don’t mind a flier on Andy Dalton this week. Checking the RotoGrinders Vegas Odds page, this Falcons/Bengals game has a sneaky-high over/under of 48 points with the Bengals as five-point favorites. The Falcons have one of the worst secondaries in the league, and I expect Dalton to connect with star wideout A.J. Green on several occasions this week. He’s never a safe play, but Dalton is a high-ceiling boom or bust tournament option this week.
At a fairly high price tag and taking on a good San Francisco defense on the road, I’ll be looking away from Jay Cutler this week. The 49ers did a very good job against Tony Romo and Dez Bryant last week even when the Cowboys were in comeback chucking mode. With a fairly high price tag attached, this isn’t the week to target the Bears' passing game. Let their prices come down with a poor game here and target them in the next favorable matchup.
On a similar note, you shouldn’t be looking at Philip Rivers this week either. All indications are that he overperformed in 2013, and his price seems a bit high for his talent. Throw in a matchup against the elite Seahawks defense and you have a clear stay-away here.
As I discussed above, I like the fantasy prospects of the Colts/Eagles game this week. On the flip side of that game, don't forget about LeSean McCoy. He didn't have his best game last week and had a long touchdown snatched up by Darren Sproles, but McCoy still had 21 carries and 6 receptions. There's no concern about his workload. Expect a solid bounce-back performance against a beatable Colts defense.
Andy Reid knows that he messed up in a major way last week by only giving Jamaal Charles 11 carries. That means a correction is coming this week, and it will also serve a purpose as the Chiefs try to keep the ball away from Peyton Manning and the dangerous Broncos aerial attack. Although the price tag on Charles hasn't really dipped much on FanDuel, I think he has good odds of being this week's highest-scoring running back.
Although Stevan Ridley may be the “starter,” it’s clear who the best running back is for fantasy production in New England, and that’s Shane Vereen. He was on the field for more snaps last week, and he even got three goal line carries and a rushing touchdown. Vereen is no longer just a passing down specialist; he’s a big part of the Patriots' offense. He’s a prime target this week against a poor Minnesota defense.
As I wrote above, I like the prospects for the Bengals' offense this week. The Bengals dismissed any notion of a running back timeshare in the opener, as Giovani Bernard received 14 carries to just four for Jeremy Hill. Bernard also caught six passes out of the backfield for 62 yards in the win. There’s too much upside here to ignore, and at a price tag that’s quite a step below the elite backs in the league, Bernard makes a great option for Week 2.
Your value play of the week will be Terrance West of the Browns. With Ben Tate on the shelf for a few weeks, West will be the starting back and receive the majority of the carries. Don’t be fooled by the two vulture touchdowns from Isaiah Crowell. West got 16 carries to Crowell’s five after Tate’s departure, and he turned them into a 100-yard day. Terrance West is without a doubt the guy you want to own as a value option this week.
Not only is Frank Gore not a top back in the league anymore, he’s not even the best runner on his own team. I expect Carlos Hyde to turn this into a full timeshare in the coming weeks, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Hyde have more carries by the time the season is all said and done. He’s a special talent, and Gore has a lot of wear on his tires. Frank Gore has become a full-on avoid for me even in the best of matchups.
Just when you think you know what the Saints are going to do with their running backs, they give you a zag. Khiry Robinson scored the rushing touchdown last week, but Mark Ingram was expected to be the goal line back. Ingram did receive the majority of the carries – and he was successful with them – but this backfield remains too unpredictable on a week-to-week basis for daily fantasy purposes. Most of the production from this team will come via the arm of Drew Brees, and it’s just not worth the trouble to look at their running backs.