Daily fantasy (DFS) brings a breath of fresh air to the industry, with an emphasis on the excitement of drafting a new team every week. We all know that the late summer drafts and the thrill of analyzing the weekly matchups are the best part of playing fantasy football. The daily game merges those two together to form the newest wave rocking the fantasy world.
Here in the weekly daily fantasy roundup column, we'll break down everything you need to know to pick the best plays on the Week 2 slate. If any of the terminology goes over your head, please refer to the "what you need to know" preview of the roundup.
Top quarterback plays
Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens - The Browns just let up a cool 270 yards and two touchdowns to rookie Carson Wentz in Week 1 after the No. 2 overall pick missed a ton of preseason action. What was all too apparent to anyone watching was the Browns' inability to pressure the rookie passer. Wentz was sacked twice but only hurried on 7.5 percent of his 40 drop backs. Joe Flacco had a solid Week 1, completing over 70 percent of his passes for 258 yards. Marc Trestman's offenses tend to be more pass-heavy but needed little effort to keep ahead of the Bills last Sunday. Flacco has explosive potential if the team opens it up more in Week 2 and due to the ambiguity in his pass-catching corps, you don't need to feel pressured to pair him with one of his wide receivers.
Top running back plays
Jonathan Stewart, RB, Carolina Panthers- The Panthers bell cow back consistently tops 20 rush attempts when the Panthers are likely favorites in their home stadium. It sure looks like this Sunday's matchup with the 49ers qualifies as such. San Francisco shut down Todd Gurley in Week 1, but Stewart actually plays in a real NFL offense with a strong quarterback. Expect the 49ers, traveling from the west coast, to get blown out by Carolina and for Stewart to have plenty of opportunities to salt away a lead.
Spencer Ware, RB, Kansas City Chiefs - Still a value in a range that doesn't reflect his feature back workload, it's not yet time to fade Ware. He'll certainly be highly-owned once again and is not in anything close to as good of a spot as he was in last week traveling to play the Texans. However, Ware is just too good to pivot off of at his current value. He can give you mid to high-end RB1 production while allowing you access to the upper echelon of wide receivers.
T.J. Yeldon, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars - With Chris Ivory set to miss yet another game Yeldon becomes a strong play for the second week in a row. Yeldon played on 88 percent of the Jaguars' Week 1 snaps and touched the ball 25 times. Now, he averaged a putrid 1.9 yards per attempt but the Packers were swarming to the ball. That's something the Chargers aren't as a proficient in. At worst, Yeldon offers appeal as a floor play with a strong chance for four to five receptions out of the backfield. He should get plenty of work in the passing game with this Jaguars and Chargers contest likely to turn into a shootout.
Top wide receiver plays
Top wide receivers - Week 2 looks like a good spot to pluck multiple wide receivers from the top tier. Odell Beckham gets the Saints, Antonio Brown and A.J. Green should be trading blows in their matchup, DeAndre Hopkins is in a prime bounce-back spot, while Alshon Jeffery, Amari Cooper and Allen Robinson all find themselves set to exploit favorable matchups that fantasy owners might not be aware of in Week 2. It'll be a tough squeeze, but with all of these top receivers in potential blow up spots, it feels like a prime week to try and roster two of these elite wideouts.
Willie Snead, WR, New Orleans Saints- One of the top scoring receivers of Week 1, Willie Snead is once again on our radar. In no way is this chasing points, either. Snead is a legitimate ascending talent and in an offense that will need to score on a weekly basis to cover for its porous defense. The Saints offense might not go off again against the Giants quietly improved defense, but they do have a weakness in the interior. New York gave up over 100 yards to Jason Witten, Cole Beasley and Terrance Williams when they lined up in the slot in Week 1. It makes sense from a schematic standpoint as the team does not invest heavily in its linebackers or safeties and rookie Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie moved inside in the offseason for the first time. Snead took 65 percent of his snaps in the slot and another four percent lined up tight to the line of scrimmage.
Doug Baldwin, WR, Seattle Seahawks - The Rams gave up seven receptions on 11 targets to 49ers slot receiver Jeremy Kerley in Week 1. Baldwin takes more snaps on the inside than any other Seahawks receiver. There is a clear point of attack in the Rams stop unit -- throw quick-hitting passes into the middle of the defense to minimize the pass rush. Russell Wilson has long made use of Baldwin on those throws. Especially with his ankle less than 100 percent, Wilson should look to fire passes off quickly from the pocket, and that means plenty of targets for Baldwin.
Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Denver Broncos - Trevor Siemian tied with Robert Griffin III for the fewest pass attempts thrown in Week 1 and had the second-shortest average depth of aimed throw at just 5.6 yards. It will be tough for any Broncos pass-catcher to access their ceiling with the overall volume and aggressiveness of the offense on a severe downward spiral. However, with Demaryius Thomas on the injury report and likely to be limited, this could be a week where the targets funnel solely to Sanders. Against a Colts defense that is a disaster in its current state, Sanders could eat.
Sterling Shepard, WR, New York Giants - Even with Victor Cruz back in the fold Sterling Shepard was the clear No. 2 wide receiver playing on 95 percent of the Giants snaps. New York deployed three wide receivers on all but two of their offensive plays run in their season opener. Shepard will be on the field a ton and should have a chance at another touchdown in this spot. He'll line up against undrafted rookie slot corner De'Vante Harris on the majority of his plays in Week 2.
Vincent Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Mike Evans is likely to get the Patrick Peterson treatment on Sunday, as he's one of the few true shadow corners in the NFL. If that comes to pass, Jackson will see a really good matchup roll his way and square off against rookie Brandon Williams, who gave up a touchdown in blown coverage against Chris Hogan last week.
Top tight end plays
Gary Barnidge, TE, Cleveland Browns - The silent superstar of 2015 dropped a zero spot in Week 1, so you can guarantee he'll come at a fantastically low ownership rate in Week 2. However, Barnidge is in a big rebound spot with Josh McCown back under center. He averaged close to a 6-80-1 line in the eight games with McCown at quarterback in 2015 and 4-50-0 line in the other eight. Similarly, Jordan Reed averaged 4-41 in games with Robert Griffin III from 2013 to 2014 and 7-77 in games he missed. Griffin is a deep passer and runner at heart, and that was true in Week 1. He finished with the second-highest air yards per attempt (11.0) and took off five times against the Eagles. The offense should be more traditional with McCown starting and Barnidge will be the primary beneficiary.
Dennis Pitta, TE, Baltimore Ravens - In one hell of a comeback story, Pitta looks like the top pass-catcher in Baltimore. The veteran tight end hadn't played a down of football since September 21, 2014 but was out on 82 percent of Baltimore's offensive plays. Pitta looks like he is once again a favorite target of Joe Flacco, who he notably shared a storied chemistry with back in the day. The public will be chasing Mike Wallace's Week 1 line (played just 65 percent of the snaps), but sharp players will utilize the more regularly deployed Pitta.
Top defense plays
Seattle Seahawks DEF - It's not hard to imagine the Rams pulling a 180 and showing out against the Seahawks after their Monday night embarrassment, and using road defenses is always dicey. However, who wouldn't want at least some exposure to the stop unit playing that "offense" we saw Los Angeles roll out in Week 1.
Detroit Lions DEF- The Titans looked disjointed and turned the ball over twice for scores in Week 1. The Lions didn't slow down Andrew Luck but have some horses in the front seven to make them a sneaky play against Marcus Mariota, who rather quietly has 10 fumbles and interceptions combined in his last seven games played.
Stack(s) of the week
Matthew Stafford/Marvin Jones, Detroit Lions - After months of speculation, Marvin Jones led the team in targets during the opening week. Jones was also the only Lions player with an average depth of target over 10. His 12.6 aDOT dwarfed Golden Tate's 1.3, Anquan Boldin's 2.0 and Eric Ebron's 6.8. Not a blazing speedster, but a proficient receiver in traffic, Jones is the clear downfield threat for Detroit. He only caught four of his 10 Week 1 targets, but that can easily reverse in Week 2. He'll certainly be less owned after just a solid outing in Week 1. The Vikings let up 103 yards to Stefon Diggs and made Shaun Hill look solid last week. Stafford is dialed in right now.
Eli Manning/Rashad Jennings/Odell Beckham, New York Giants - The Saints gave up ground to not only Latavius Murray, but Jamize Olawale and Jalen Richard in Week 1. Their already subpar secondary will be without top corner Delvin Breaux when they travel to face the Giants. Both Beckham and Jennings, who saw 19 touches as the promised feature back, are in top spots this week. Adding Manning to the stack allows you to hoard all the potential Giants scores against this poor stop unit.
Cam Newton/Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers - Any thought that someone other than Kelvin Benjamin was the No. 1 receiver in Carolina was sharply dispelled in Week 1. Benjamin was supposed to be on a pitch count after struggling with conditioning but was out on 72 percent of the team's plays run in Denver and took a whopping 38.7 percent of the team's targets. One week's worth of experience should only help Benjamin in Week 2. The Rams couldn't expose the 49ers defense, but on the road in Carolina is a different story. Look for Cam Newton to pummel his No. 1 target with passes against a weak secondary in Week 2.
Best contrarian plays
Dez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys - The Cowboys refuse to funnel their offense through Dez Bryant, so you're playing with tenuous volume here. However, the public will be all over a majority of the high-end wide receivers mentioned throughout this column and whip right past Bryant's name in the lineup selection phase. Anytime you can get a talent like Bryant and one to two percent ownership, it's a situation worth taking advantage of in tournaments. Washington left Antonio Brown free to roam away fromJosh Norman in Week 1 without much of a second thought. If they do that this week with Dez Bryant, there is all the chance in the world he makes good on a contrarian deployment in just one or two receptions.
Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle Seahawks - Usage wasn't really the issue for Tyler Lockett in Week 1, despite that being a concern coming out of the preseason. Even though Lockett dropped two passes, which is out of character, he still saw more targets than Jermaine Kearse. Lockett also ran the same number of routes (45) as Kearse despite playing on eight fewer snaps overall. If the Seahawks are going to be the second team in a row to stomp the Rams, we want exposure to the Seattle passing game players. Lockett should go way under-owned after he started 2016 with a whimper.
Best obvious play
C.J. Anderson, RB, Denver Broncos- The Broncos workhorse played 83 percent of the team's snaps against Carolina in Week 1 and racked up 139 total yards and two scores on 24 touches. The Colts gave up a laughable 229 total yards to the running back position in Week 1 as Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick ran circles around them. The average age of the Colts top-five linebackers is 31.4 years old. Anderson is in line for another big game as the Broncos welcome the Colts to their home field.
Player to fade
Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints- It's not that he's a disaster on the road, but Brees averages well over 320 passing yards and multiple touchdowns at home and under 300 hundred and two scores on the road over the last three years. The public will likely be all over Brees after his massive Week 1 performance, and it's tough to fade him in a rematch of a game where the quarterbacks threw a combined 13 touchdown passes last season. However, with a rainy forecast on tap for New Jersey on Sunday and the Saints traveling, Brees might be someone to pass on in DFS.
The near 100 percent exposure player
LeGarrette Blount, RB, New England Patriots - When the Patriots are projected favorites and play a lighter defensive front; those are the contests to use LeGarrette Blount. New England welcomes the Dolphins to Foxboro in Week 2, and that will certainly fit the bill. The Dolphins play a ton of "Wide-Nine" with their defensive ends, which beefs up the pass rush but leaves the interior running lanes exposed to power backs. Blount should roll this week after garnering 22 carries in Week 1, and the Patriots will put him in scoring position. Blount has top-10 running back upside in Week 2 and is a screaming value.
Cheat code of the week
Josh McCown, QB, Cleveland Browns - Last year McCown totaled 669 passing yards and three touchdowns in two matchups with the Ravens, including a 457-yard bonanza in their Week 4 shootout meeting. McCown played eight games last year and had four games with more than 18 fantasy points, including games of 22 and 35 points. He has better weapons to work with this time out in rookie Corey Coleman and Terrelle Pryor, who looks like a legitimate deep threat. The 2015 holdover Browns pass-catching weapons, Gary Barnidge and Duke Johnson, were also much more productive with him under center last season. McCown can offer DFS players a usable stat line and the chance to squeeze several of those high-end wideouts into lineups.