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by Josh Shepardson | @BChad50 | Featured Writer
Sep 14, 2018

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  • 1st place wins the Lifetime FantasyPros Subscription
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Week 2 Contest Advice

Winning a tournament requires hitting on your high-end studs and unearthing low-owned gems. Hitting on the right stack is also often a huge component for winning a Guaranteed Prize Pool. In this piece, though, I won’t be touting any specific stacks. Instead, I’ll offer some high-ceiling options as well as potential low-owned difference makers. These players could power you to a lifetime FantasyPros subscription in our Week 2 contest.

Christian McCaffrey (RB – CAR): $7,000 @ Atlanta
Let me start by saying I don’t believe McCaffrey will be a low-owned difference maker. However, his ceiling warrants inclusion in this piece, and after a ho-hum opener, I think there’s potential for him being a pinch lower owned than he should be. Greg Olsen will be out for an extended period of time, and that means one less mouth to feed in Carolina’s passing attack. The second-year back led Carolina in targets (nine), receptions (six), and receiving yards (45) in the season opener. He wasn’t a monster on the ground, but he did average an excellent 5.0 yards per carry en route to 50 yards on 10 carries. Cam Newton scored a short rushing touchdown in the red zone, and fullback Alex Armah poached a one-yard touchdown run, too. However, on the plus side, McCaffrey was the back in the backfield on both of those scoring plays, and being in the red-zone packages is the only way to eventually score touchdowns.

Circling back to McCaffrey’s receiving skills and increased opportunities in the passing game in the wake of Olsen’s injury, this week’s matchup is dreamy for that facet of his game. Per Pro-Football-Reference, Atlanta has ceded the most receptions to running backs each of the last three years. McCaffrey didn’t torch them last year in two games, but he did post solid totals of 80 yards rushing and one touchdown on 21 carries while adding 14 targets, 10 receptions, and 68 yards through the air. The upside for McCaffrey exceeds his modest work against them last year.

Chris Thompson (RB – WAS): $5,900 vs. Indianapolis
Washington’s satellite back is $400 more than backfield-mate Adrian Peterson. Peterson thrashed Arizona for 96 yards rushing and a touchdown on 26 carries while surprisingly also adding 70 yards on a pair of receptions. I suspect he’ll be the back that gets most of the love from the daily community, but Thompson quickly reminded people of his explosive playmaking ability in the opener. Thompson needed only five carries to tally 65 yards (his long was 16 yards, so it wasn’t one carry getting him to that total, either). He also caught six of seven targets for 63 yards and a score. The seven targets and six receptions led the team in Week 1. Despite concerns he might be eased back into action, Thompson played a healthy 42% of Washington’s offensive snaps (Peterson played 53%, for the sake of comparison).

Indianapolis has a first-time defensive coordinator in Matt Eberflus, so there isn’t a large sample of work to look at in regard to how his defenses handle running backs in the passing game. If last week is any indication, though, the answer’s not well. Joe Mixon secured five of seven targets for 54 yards, and Giovani Bernard caught his only target for 11 yards. I fully expect Thompson to have an ownership rate south of 10%, and it could be closer to 5-8%. He doesn’t have a bargain price, and teammate Peterson should siphon significant ownership for gamers looking to attack Indianapolis with a running back.

Julio Jones (WR – ATL): $8,400 vs. Carolina
Like McCaffrey, I don’t expect Jones to have a low ownership rate. However, I do expect it to — justifiably — lag behind Antonio Brown’s. That makes Jones a nifty pivot at $400 cheaper. He’s also a fine play along with Brown, namely if you use the affordable running back pairing highlighted above. Jones allergy to the end zone is no secret at this point. He scored only three touchdowns last year. Woes in the red zone are the primary culprit for his low touchdown output, but Jones didn’t allow his aversion to scoring touchdowns prevent him from helping gamers in Week 1. He torched Philadelphia for 10 receptions for 169 yards receiving on 19 targets.

Speaking of torching teams, Jones has tormented his division rival Carolina. Last year he posted lines of 6-118-0 and 5-80-0 on 12 targets and 11 targets, respectively. Strong showings, but if you go back to his first matchup with them in 2016, you’ll see his silly 12-300-1 line on 15 targets. In six games over the last three years, Jones has posted at least 80 yards in five contests, and bested 110 yards in half of those games. He’s also reached pay dirt twice in that six-game stretch spanning three years. He has a monstrous ceiling. Additionally, if you use him with McCaffrey you’ll have a game stack that can increase your team’s scoring ceiling in the event that game turns into a shootout.

Courtland Sutton (WR – DEN): $3,500 vs. Oakland
Sutton is the “other” guy in Denver’s loaded receiving corps. Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas are the clear top two options in the passing attack, but that still left ample playing time (59% of Denver’s offensive snaps last week) in play for their intriguing rookie receiver. Denver’s tight ends are an underwhelming and inexperienced group in the pass catching department, so there’s room for a third receiver to make waves in a given week behind Sanders and DT. Last week, Sutton was targeted five times and converted them into two receptions for 45 yards. Oakland is coming off of a Monday night game in which they saw a different talented trio of receivers. They didn’t handle the trio of Brandin Cooks (5-87-0), Cooper Kupp (5-52-1), and Robert Woods (3-37-0) well. Woods’ line isn’t impressive by any stretch, but he got behind Oakland’s defense on a few occasions, and Jared Goff missed him on a deep ball that could have easily gone for six (it grazed off of a diving Woods’ hands). Oakland tied for the fewest pressures (five) in Week 1, per Austin Gayle of Pro Football Focus. If Case Keenum doesn’t face pressure, that bodes well for all of his receivers, including Sutton. Add in the rookie’s bargain price, and there’s a lot to like here.

Jonnu Smith (TE – TEN): $3,100 vs. Houston
I love George Kittle at tight end this week. Seemingly everyone else is going to love him as well, and he’s only $3,800, so his salary won’t be obstructive to rostering him. Looking for a pivot? Smith fits the bill at a $700 discount. Delanie Walker suffered a season-ending injury in the opener, and Smith is poised to sit atop the depth chart for the Titans. As you can see here at his PlayerProfiler page, he’s a measurables dreamboat. The second-year tight end was picked with the 100th pick overall in the 2017 NFL Draft after a productive four-year career at Florida International. He’ll have the biggest opportunity of his young career with Walker out, and the bar’s low for him to return value at his small salary.

Make sure you take a good hard look at your lineups this week, a HUGE prize is on the line!

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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is JoshShep50) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.

Josh Shepardson is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Josh, check out his archive and follow him @BChad50.

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