Last week, D'Andre Swift got one carry. This week? Well, he got a whole lot more than one.
Swift was the clear player of the night on Thursday night, and it raised some serious questions about how the Eagles are going to use their running backs moving forward. I'll have more thoughts on that shortly in today's newsletter, but first, here's the injury news you need to know about from Thursday:
- Austin Ekeler (ankle) has yet to practice this week, so we could be looking at Joshua Kelley as the lead back in a Chargers offense that ran the ball exceptionally well in Week 1. He could be a top-15 RB if Ekeler is out.
- Travis Kelce (knee) has practiced on a limited basis so far this week, which seems to give him a chance to play in Week 2, though we'd like to see him get a full practice in Friday just to be sure. You're starting him if he's active, of course.
- DeAndre Hopkins (ankle) has missed two straight days of practice, so we'll have to keep a close eye on his status on Friday's full injury report. If he can't go, I don't think I would elevante Treylon Burks much in my rankings – he'd be a boom or bust WR3/4.
- Jerry Jeudy (hamstring) was a full participant in Thursday's practice session, a good sign that he's going to make his return to the field in Week 2. So long as he avoids a setback, he'll be in that WR2/3 range of the ranks.
- Puka Nacua (oblique) missed practice Thursday, putting Week 2's biggest waiver-wire find in question for Sunday's game against the 49ers. I don't have much interest in Ben Skowronek, so hopefully Nacua's injury is just a minor one. But you should definitely have alternative plans if you were hoping to start him this week.
- Christian Watson (hamstring) and Aaon Jones (hamstring) have both been unable to practice so far this week, putting both very much in doubt for Sunday. AJ Dillon would be an RB2 for me if Jones is out.
- Brandin Cooks (knee) has a sprained MCL and didn't practice Thursday. He may still play in Week 2, but I'd be downgrading him for sure – Cooks would be just a WR4 for me if he plays.
We'll have updates on every injury you need to know about come Sunday morning to make sure you're ready to set your lineup for good, and I'll be answering some of your questions Sunday morning too – both here and on the Fantasy Football Today YouTube channel starting at 11:30 a.m. ET. Join Adam Aizer and I Sunday morning to get your questions answered, or email me directly at Chris.Towers@Paramount.com with the subject line "#AskFFT" to be included.
Now, here's today's newsletter, starting with the Thursday Night Football recap before I give some of my favorite DFS and prop plays for Week 2:
TNF recap: Eagles 34, Vikings 28
The big takeaway
The Eagles' passing game hasn't really worked so far this season, and they pivoted to their bread and butter Thursday, running the ball 48 times for 259 yards. We'll talk about Swift shortly, but I do want to note that there's probably a buy-low window here at least for A.J. Brown, who had a touchdown negated by a penalty, and then on the very next play probably would have scored a touchdown if not for what sure looked like an uncalled defensive pass interference. Jalen Hurts hasn't been nearly as effective a passer as we would have hoped so far, and a couple of those patented QB sneaks helped salvage his game tonight. But the passing production will be there moving forward, while the rushing floor keeps him safely among the elites of the position. I'm buying any discount on Dallas Goedert, who remains a top-seven player at the position for me.
D'Andre Swift. Who else could it be? With Kenneth Gainwell sidelined by a rib injury, Swift ran the ball 28 times for 175 yards and a late touchdown after Hurts vultured two where he did the heavy lifting earlier. That, of course, after Swift had just one carry in Week 1. Boston Scott had five carries, while Rashaad Penny didn't even see the field until Scott left with a concussion. I've been saying all along, it felt to me like the Eagles were waiting for a running back not named Gainwell to give them a reason to trust them, and Swift just did. There's still a lot of uncertainty here about whether this game means Swift will have a big role next week -- not to mention the fact that Swift's previous career-high in carries was followed almost immediately by a four-game absence due to an injury, which has been the biggest thing holding him back in his career. However, he looked like a perfect fit for this offense, as the Eagles line opened up gaping holes for him to explode through, and I'd be a little surprised if they didn't give him double-digit carries the next time out even if Gainwell is active. Swift was too good to be sidelined. I hope.
Alexander Mattison: This has been an absolute disaster of a start for Mattison, who was even worse than his 4.9 PPR-point showing in the box score suggests -- he had another lost fumble in the fourth quarter nullified by a penalty. That one doesn't count against him in the Fantasy line, and it may not count against him in his coaching staff's eyes either. But he's now at 62 rushing yards on 19 attempts through two games and just hasn't given them any reason to think he should be a big part of the offense moving forward. Again, maybe it won't matter -- the Vikings haven't shown much interest in replacing Mattison with Ty Chandler yet. But the case for Mattison wasn't that anyone thought he was an especially good player, but that he was the clear lead back for the Vikings, and now it's fair to wonder how much longer that is likely to be true. The schedule gets considerably softer over the next few weeks, but if he can't get it going against the Chargers in Week 3, it might never happen for Mattison.
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Top DFS picks
Before you read my rankings, make sure you head over to SportsLine, where Mike McClure and Jacob Gibbs have their rankings and top plays available to peruse at your leisure. They'll help you out quite a bit.
Based on my projections and analysis for Week 2, here are my top plays at each position:
I know Smith was terrible in Week 1, but the way I operate is, it takes a lot more than one game to change my view of a player's outlook, barring substantial information. Sometimes a bad game is a harbinger of things to come. Sometimes it's just a bad game. As Heath Cummings rightly pointed out in his QB Preview for Week 2, Smith doesn't have nearly the track record some other QBs do to earn the benefit of the doubt, but I'm not going to be scared off that easily. He's QB15 in FanDuel's pricing and QB12 at DraftKings, so while I like him at both spots, I like him even more on FanDuel. He's my QB10 for this week.
My view on Tannehill is similar: Yes, he looked terrible in Week 1. I think he's better than that, and this should be a positive pass script as the Titans figure to be chasing points, though my view would obviously change if Hopkins is out.
The only thing that makes me potentially go away from Smith at FanDuel is that Burrow is, somehow, only QB8 in scoring. Yes, his Week 1 was even worse than Smith's, but he's also one of those QBs with a longer track record than Smith. Burrow didn't play in the preseason due to a calf injury, so maybe that played a role in how rusty he was in the opener, but I'm very confident he's going to bounce back, even against a tough Ravens defense.
- David Montgomery vs. SEA $5800
- Dameon Pierce vs. IND $5600
- Gus Edwards @CIN $5300
- Josh Jacobs @BUF $7100
- Derrick Henry vs. LAC $7400
Jacobs had a pretty underwhelming first week, but he still got five touches inside of the 10-yard line and was one of just three players with multiple targets for the Raiders. If you were worried his holdout might have changed how the Raiders view him, Jacobs got 21 of 23 RB touches in Week 1. He's still a top-five RB for me.
- David Montgomery vs. SEA $6300
- Dameon Pierce vs. IND $6000
- Josh Jacobs @BUF $7500
- James Conner vs. NYG $6400
- Gus Edwards @CIN $5900
I'm assuming Edwards will be the lead back for the Ravens with JK Dobbins out, but I'd expect Justice Hill to be the more highly rostered player – he's actually $200 more on FanDuel than Edwards, so if you want to play him, do so on DraftKings.
I'm buying the dip on Pierce here, as you can see. His Week 1 usage was disappointing – not just the 11 carries and three targets, but the fact that Devin Singletary got seven carries, too. I was worried Singletary would cut into Pierce's touches, but Texans offensive coordinator Bobby Slowick told reporters this week, "DP should touch the ball more than he did," so I'm going to assume we see a more run-heavy approach against the Colts. He's a nice pivot away from the more expensive options.
- Deebo Samuel @LAR $5600
- Ja'Marr Chase vs. BAL $7900
- Josh Reynolds vs. SEA $3700
- Tee Higgins vs. BAL $6400
- Puka Nacua vs. SF $4900
I wish I had been even more aggressive in recommending Nacua last week, but obviously, I didn't see him earning WR1 usage in his first NFL game. His price is up quite a bit, but I still think he's a nice value on both sites – he's WR18 for me on the slate, while he's WR31 in DraftKings pricing and WR36 on FanDuel. I'd like him on my roster in both, as long as he plays through this injury, of course.
- Ja'Marr Chase vs. BAL $8400
- Stefon Diggs vs. LV $8000
- Davante Adams @BUF $7500
- Deebo Samuel @LAR $6900
- CeeDee Lamb vs. NYJ $7600
Adams' price dropped $700 from Week 1 to Week 2, and while I understand that the Bills defense should be a tough matchup, he was shadowed by Patrick Surtain in Week 1, which wasn't exactly an easy matchup, either. Adams was still targeted on 31% of his routes in Week 1, and the Raiders might be without Jakobi Meyers (concussion), which means Adams should continue to see a ton of targets in what should be a trailing script. I'll buy the dip here happily.
Kincad and Musgrave are the low-priced dart throws, but I feel pretty good about them – especially Musgrave, who ran a route on 80% of the Packers dropbacks and was second on the team in air yards in Week 1. He caught one long pass that could have been a touchdown and had another he couldn't bring in that also could have been a touchdown if he tracked it better. Musgrave's usage in Week 1 hinted at significant upside, but it might be a bumpy ride with a downfield-oriented target profile. That might be frustrating for your year-long team, but it profiles very well for DFS tournaments.
Sadly, that's also Pitts' profile at this point. You're hoping for a couple of big plays in what looks like it will once again be the worst passing environment in the NFL. That's frustrating, but again, it's easier to manage that frustration in a DFS tournament format.
If Kelce plays, he's the top tight end, especially coming off a week when he didn't play and the entire position collapsed. With no T.J. Hockenson or Dallas Goedert on the slate, we're already short of reliable tight end options, so you kind of have to pay up for an elite one or just go low-end. If you want to save money here, Higbee ran routes on 79% of the Rams pass plays in Week 1 and is going to have his moments.
Sample DraftKings lineup
- QB Geno Smith $5900
- RB Derrick Henry $7400
- RB Dameon Pierce $5600
- WR Ja'Marr Chase $7900
- WR Tyler Lockett $6100
- WR Puka Nacua $4900
- TE Kyle Pitts $4200
- FLEX Jaxon Smith-Njigba $4500
- DST Packers $3000*
*The Falcons entire approach on offense is characterized by avoiding mistakes, and they ranked just 20th in turnovers as a team. They were also just 21st in total sacks allowed last season, despite the 27th-highest sack rate in the league. Still, they will, by nature, be a low-scoring defense, and they've got a bad QB, so I still think they're a pretty good matchup for a low-priced DST.
Sample FanDuel lineup
- QB Joe Burrow $7400
- RB Josh Jacobs $7500
- RB Dameon Pierce $6000
- WR Ja'Marr Chase $8400
- WR Davante Adams $7500
- WR Stefon Diggs $8000
- TE Tyler Higbee $5100
- FLEX Tutu Atwell $5500
- DEF Dallas Cowboys $4500*
*The Cowboys are only the sixth-highest priced DST despite what should be a tremendous matchup against Zach Wilson. The Jets will likely try to lean on their run game and avoid having to have too much on Wilson's plate, so you're hoping for the Cowboys offense to put up plenty of points and put Wilson in position to have to throw. That should lead to a bunch of sacks and the potential for lots of turnovers. They're an easy call here.
Some player props I like
Head over to Sportsline to check out Alex Selesnick's (aka PropStarz) prop picks. Here are some props I like this week:
Jared Goff UNDER 1.5 passing TD +118
I'll admit, this one makes me nervous. Goff's numbers playing indoors last season were pretty wild – 24 touchdowns to just four interceptions in 10 games, with eight of his nine multi-touchdown games coming at home to boot. And the Seahawks defense didn't exactly look good against a Rams passing game missing Cooper Kupp. On the other hand, this is a team that is very short on passing game weapons still, and still figures to prioritize running the ball when it gets near the goal line. I've got Goff projected for right around 1.5 TDs, but I'm following the value on the under here.
C.J. Stroud OVER 216.5 passing yards +102
Stroud needed 44 pass attempts, but he got there in Week 1. He likely won't be throwing that much every week, but I think targeting overs against this Colts team is probably going to be a pretty viable strategy this season. The Texans were surprisingly pass-heavy in Week 1, and they averaged the most time left on the clock at the snap, continuing a fast-paced theme from the preseason. For their part, the Texans had the fifth-most time remaining on the clock on average when they snapped the ball, so this could be a game with a relatively high play volume overall, and the confidence the Texans showed in Stroud bodes well for decent volume, if not efficiency.
Dameon Pierce OVER 12.5 receiving yards -115
Texans offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik said this week he wants to make sure Pierce gets more touches in Week 2 and beyond, and while he was primarily talking about the running game, this number is low enough that it represents a nice opportunity to buy in on Pierce having a nice bounce-back showing as the Texans feature him more prominently in their offense. If he doesn't have a breakout game here – and especially if his snap share remains around 50% – Pierce might be in for a rough season.
DJ Moore OVER 42.5 receiving yards -119
I was skeptical about the Moore breakout hype coming into the season, but even I didn't think there would ever be a game where the Bears threw it 37 times and Moore only had two receptions. Justin Fields sure didn't look like he had made a leap as a passer in Week 1, and Jaire Alexander was a tough matchup for Moore, so maybe we should have seen it coming – Alexander sure did. Still, this number is just so low that I think I have to keep hammering it with a guy who has consistently demanded significant snap shares and produced better numbers than this despite poor QB play.
Matthew Stafford OVER 1.5 passing TD +159
Stafford didn't throw a single touchdown last week, which hides just how well he played. He had the deep ball working and averaged 8.8 yards per attempt on 38 passes despite being without Cooper Kupp. Maybe the absence of Kupp will prove to be an anchor that drags his touchdown totals down until Kupp is back, but I was just so impressed with how Stafford looked in the opener that I want to bet on him, and that +159 number is too juicy to pass up. The matchup against the 49ers isn't great, obviously, but it should lead to a pass-heavy game script for Stafford, and I feel very optimistic about how this offense is going to play as long as Stafford is healthy.
Darren Waller OVER 41.5 receiving yards -135
Waller is downplaying the severity of his hamstring injury, though the fact that it's still a concern after he already played through it definitely raises some eyebrows. He had just 36 yards in Week 1, though that was in a game where basically nothing went right for the Giants offense and many starters exited the game well before the final whistle sounded. Waller explained this week that the injury is more of a nerve issue than a muscle one, and I can't decide if that's better or worse news for him moving forward. However, 41.5 is an awfully low number for a guy who still looks like the No. 1 option here.
Kenny Pickett OVER 12.5 rushing yards -109
The Steelers don't use Pickett much as a rusher, but he's a plus athlete for the QB position and has topped this number in nine of 14 NFL games so far. This is one where the number just feels too low, and it might take just one well-timed scramble to hit it.