FOOLS GOLD

Derrius Guice won’t take his first snap in regular season action until next year as he tore his ACL in the Redskins first August scrimmage in Foxboro.  After an offseason of waiting, Adrian Peterson received the call and will take his talents to D.C., his third team in the last two seasons.  Glancing over his 11 carries for 56 yards, one could be led to believe that this is a rejuvenated AP.  However, fresh legs may be have an attributing factor towards this successful debut with his new team.

Excluding his first four games with the Saints as he was part of a three man committee, Peterson ran for 450 yards in six games with the Cardinals.  Two of those games were off bye weeks where he rushed for 293 yards compared to his 66 carries for 157 yards in the other four.  The Adrian Petersen that will be immortalized in Canton wasn’t rushing for a meager 2.37 yards per carry in his prime with the Vikings.  

If you feel like the Redskins aren’t going to be a contender in a stacked NFC, it’s hard to envision many spots to use Petersen in daily.  If the Skins are consistently playing from behind, he won’t be a reliable option considering he’s hardly used out of the backfield where running back receptions are important in each site’s respective PPR settings.  Theoretically, his legs won’t be fresher than against the Cardinals in week 1 and following the bye against the Saints in week 5.  In those other 14 games, will he be the version of himself that averaged 2.37 yards per carry?  There is a lot of mileage in those battle tested legs and while his price will make him appealing, depending on Peterson in DFS in 2018 feels like it will lead to disappointing results.

REGAINING HIS CONFIDENCE

DeShaun Watson is the 4th most expensive quarterback option on DraftKings and the 3rd most expensive on FanDuel heading into week 1.  In selecting Watson, you are paying for the rushing upside that accounted for 22% of his fantasy production in 2017.  Removing rushing statistics from the equation, his 19.42 FPPG in seven games as a passer surpasses the per game fantasy outputs of names like Tom Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, and Carson Wentz.  Whether that output can be sustained will be determined but if regression as a thrower occurs for Watson, his legs can offset some of that passing reduction.

Each individual recovers not only from the physical aspect of an ACL tear but also the mental one at their own pace.  Watson tore his opposite ACL at Clemson in 2014 thus giving him the prior experience of developing it back to full strength and regaining the confidence to run with the football.  He posted 207 rushing attempts the following year after ACL surgery, a number that’s extremely unlikely to be duplicated in 2018 but illustrates that he is going to still attack opposing defenses utilizing his rushing ability.  While he only recorded one rushing attempts on Saturday against the Rams, it was reassuring to see him do so against an opposing defense for the first time since 2017.  Watson also benefits from his ACL tear happening six weeks earlier than Carson Wentz as Philadelphia deliberates whether their franchise quarterback will suit up week 1 against Atlanta.

TIGHT END COMPETITION IN INDY?

Heading into the third preseason game against the 49ers, Jack Doyle has clearly outsnapped Eric Ebron through two weeks with 40 snaps for Doyle and 12 for Ebron.  In what seemed to be a decision for him to rest, Doyle only played three snaps on Saturday.  Naturally, Ebron took a majority of the tight end snaps and capitalized on that playing time with a touchdown.  However, that shouldn’t raise any concern to where Doyle resides on the depth chart.  

Andrew Luck enjoys targeting his tight ends as he did so 29% of the time in 2016; Jacoby Brissett only threw to the position on 19% of his throws.  It is noteworthy that Doyle saw an increase of 33 targets from 2016 to 2017 despite Brissett’s lack of utilization of the tight end.  Of the 141 targets thrown their way, Doyle saw 108 of them, accounting for 77% of the tight end target share.  The faith of the Colts coaching staff in him continues to be demonstrated as he sees more playing time than Ebron in the early stages of 2018.

With Luck returning under center, one would expect Doyle to be the prime beneficiary of that return.  Ebron possesses enough talent that if he can live up to the first round draft capital that was spent on him by the Lions, he could cut into Doyle’s targets.  However, if Ebron continues to see limited snaps when both tight ends are active, Doyle could be poised for a career year.  At 3600 on DraftKings and 5600 on FanDuel against a Bengals team that allowed the 10th most FPA to tight ends and a team that he crushed last season, he’s an absolute bargain.  It’s a solid expectation of 6-8 targets for Doyle in this matchup considering how Andrew Luck favors throwing to the tight end position.

SECONDARY ISSUE

It’s no secret that the Chiefs secondary took a massive hit with the trade of Marcus Peters to the Rams.  I don’t think anyone envisioned backup quarterbacks like Matt Schaub, Brandon Weeden, and Chase Daniel throwing touchdown passes against the secondary that will take the field against the Chargers on September 9th.  If they’re struggling against quarterbacks that will be warming the bench, what will it look like when they have to face real competition?

David Amerson hasn’t taken the field since week 6 last year and when he was on the field, he was an extreme liability.  If additional proof is needed, google the August 13th video of his teammate Tyreek Hill flying past him en route for a deep touchdown reception.  Kendall Fuller performed admirably in the slot for the Redskins but is now expected to take snaps on the outside, a spot he lined up only on five percent of his snaps last year and 88 total snaps in his career.  Orlando Scandrick allowed a 29 yard touchdown to Kevin White on Saturday and can also be remembered for such performances against Larry Fitzgerald in which he was slaughtered by the future Hall of Famer last year as a member of the Cowboys.  He started out training camp with the Redskins before being released and signing with the Chiefs.  

The Chiefs should be a defense to target for DFS players throughout 2018.  With a potent offense combined with a horrible defense, the Chiefs could find themselves in some shootouts where team stacks of Chiefs or their opponents and game stacks will be necessary for success.  Week 1 features a divisional matchup in Los Angeles against Philip Rivers and a trio of talented receivers that could give the Chiefs secondary mismatches for 60 minutes.  From there, the team travels to Pittsburgh where Ben Roethlisberger is much more efficient and will look to weapons like Juju Smith-Schuster and some guy named Antonio Brown; apparently he’s really good at football.  They finally begin the home portion of their schedule with a visit from Tom Brady’s understudy and the speedy Marquise Goodwin when the 49ers invade Arrowhead.  The secondary looks to be a massive headache for the Chiefs and their fans and unless that group drastically improves, it could make for a very long season that is expected to end at some point in January, even with a new quarterback under center.

LOOKING TO REBOUND

Denver arguably has its best quarterback since Peyton Manning won Super Bowl 50 and rode off into the sunset.  Brock Osweiler was an experiment that failed miserably, Paxton Lynch has performed terribly since being drafted as a first rounder, and Trevor Siemian has shown small flashes but never proved to be the franchise quarterback the Broncos hoped he would be.  Emmanuel Sanders was a victim of this quarterback carousel but the future looks brighter with the addition of Case Keenum in the offseason.

With Keenum as the starter in Minnesota, he completed 68% of his passes, 9% higher than the Broncos most accurate passer in Trevor Siemian.  He threw passes of 61 and 51 yards to Stefon Diggs last year; Emmanuel Sanders has only one such reception of 50 yards or more since the beginning of the 2016 season.  Keenum also threw a half yard farther per target than any of the trio of Bronco quarterbacks at 7.08 yards per attempt.  When his game is predicated on his speed and ability to stretch the field, Sanders will be happy to have a more accurate Case Keenum throwing him passes in 2018.  As long as he stays healthy, he should see a positive regression from his two touchdown catches last year and have his first 1,000 yard season since 2016.  

Week 1 is a rematch of Super Bowl 48 that features a Seattle secondary that is missing key components from the Legion of Boom that helped the Seahawks win its first Super Bowl.  Sanders looks to be an integral part of the Broncos offense as he accounted for all 75 yards of a touchdown drive against the Redskins on Friday and has been targeted 15 times in the preseason.  $5000 on DraftKings and $6300 on FanDuel is a reasonable price on a player with the ability to post a 7-100-1 clip given his improved quarterback situation and against a defense that many assume is the same stalwart from prior years.

A CORNERBACK PAST HIS PRIME

On one side of the Buffalo secondary resides Tre’Davious White, one of the top cornerbacks that offensive coordinators must plan around.  On the other side will be Vontae Davis, the former Colts Pro Bowl corner who was cut midway through 2017 while dealing with a groin issue.  Even after successful offseason surgery, the 30 year old looks to have lost one step too many as John Ross torched him on a 57 yard strike and a score.  Coordinators will look to exploit this mismatch and DFS players should look to do the same.  

John Brown will see snaps lined up opposite Davis when the Ravens host the Bills to begin the 2018 campaign.  Following that game, the Chargers visit New Era Field with their speedsters in Tyrell and Mike Williams followed by a date with Stefon Diggs at US Bank Stadium.  With the exception of Diggs, the other three names are priced no more than $4200 on Draftkings and $5500 on FanDuel for Week 1, meaning a bomb for a score returns value at these inexpensive prices.

ATLANTA’S KRYPTONITE 

With a 28-3 lead in Super Bowl 51, no one imagined the Falcons squandering it the way they did.  The Patriots used James White’s pass catching ability to spearhead the greatest postseason comeback in NFL history.  Fast forward a year and a half later and that same glaring weakness appeared in the Falcons third preseason game against the Jaguars.

Only the Titans gave up more FPA to pass catching backs in 2017 than the Falcons.  In fact, Tarik Cohen and Ty Montgomery both ended up in the perfect lineups on both sites in week 1 and 2 respectively against them last year.  The Jaguars continued to pour salt on that wound as a combination of pass catching backs combined for 120 yards on 13 catches on Saturday night.  

This weakness doesn’t figure to vanish if the Jaguars are exploiting this existing problem in the preseason.  Looking down the line at some of the pass catching backs the Falcons will face down the line should have DFS players salivating.  Le’Veon Bell, David Johnson, Duke Johnson, and Saquon Barkley all get opportunities against the Falcons this season.  If Ezekiel Elliott accumulates more targets out of the backfield, he’s another player that could break out against this team.  Of course, how could I forget about pass catching specialists Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffery who reside in the NFC South and face the Falcons twice a year?  Like starting tight ends against the Giants and Browns, starting pass catching backs against the Falcons should be a strategy worth consideration each week.

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