Thursday Night Lights: NFL Week 2

Generally, the sharp move when playing the Thursday NFL slate on FantasyDraft is to fade the Thursday night game completely. For one, the players carry higher ownership than they should as the reasoning for people to play the Thursday slate is often to have a chance to roster the players in that game. Secondly, the teams are usually coming off of short weeks which often results in the games being sloppier and lower-scoring, which is not good for fantasy points! Lastly, the Thursday night game has a tendency to be one of the worst matchups on the slate as the NFL clearly prefers to keep their best matchups for Sundays. Last week was the opposite of this as the season-opener featured the defending Super Bowl Champions and two fully rested teams. Now that we are in Week 2, Thursday Night Lights might as well be called Thursday Night Frights, with two teams who combined to score seven points last week facing off with the Houston Texans visiting the Cincinnati Bengals.

 

TARGETS

DeAndre Hopkins, WR, – Texans – $11,000

The Texans quarterback situation may be incredibly murky but the one consistent tendency of anyone throwing the ball for Houston is that they absolutely pepper Hopkins with targets. Between Tom Savage and Deshaun Watson, Hopkins saw the ball com his way 16 times on Sunday, an absolutely monstrous number. He only caught seven of them, but if he can see anywhere near that number again it will be almost impossible for him to miss value. Monitor the news on the Houston side of this one, but it appears that Watson will get the start this week, which would be great for Hopkins’ value as 11 of Watson’s 23 pass attempts went in his direction, an absolutely staggering amount. Volume is money in fantasy football, and no one will see more than DeAndre Hopkins.

Deshaun Watson, QB, – Texans – $10,000

A mobile quarterback at minimum price? Sign me up! As mentioned earlier, Watson appears to be the favorite to start in this short-week game. Playing Watson will not be for the faint of heart – if he does play it will be his first career start, but he is a much more talented player than Tom Savage and does bring rushing upside to the table. Yes, he was an uninspiring 12-23 for 101 yards with a touchdown and an interception on Sunday in relief of Savage, but he did gain 16 yards on his two carries and this is the area you can expect fantasy points from him Thursday night. Inexperienced quarterbacks have a tendency to rely on their legs when they think they have run out of passing options, so seeing Watson run the ball 10-12 times would not be a surprise at all. The yardage should get you the points you need to hit value and if he can score on the ground (similar to DeShone Kizer on Sunday) he has the potential to really exceed expectations.

AJ Green, WR, – Bengals – $14,700

Death, taxes, and AJ Green seeing at least ten targets in a game. After averaging 11 per game last season, Green again saw ten passes come his way from Andy Dalton last week. This is truly his target floor at this point and he hit it despite Dalton only having 31 passing attempts in the game. Dalton will again go back to Green at each and every opportunity on Thursday, especially with rookie John Ross still out with injury. Houston took a big hit in their secondary over the offseason with the loss of AJ Bouye and there is no other corner on this defense that can keep up with a truly dominant receiver like Green. There are six receivers with salaries greater than his on the full FantasyDraft slate, and a case can be made for Green over all six of them. Do you really think there are six receivers in football better than AJ Green, with his target share? Me neither.

Bengals D/ST, – Bengals – $7,700

Despite their terrible performance in Week 1, there was one member of the Houston Texans offense who potentially came away smiling – stud offensive tackle Duane Brown, who is holding out in the hopes of landing a better contract. His case improved greatly as the Texans gave up TEN(!) sacks to a stout Jacksonville front seven. Cincinnati doesn’t have quite the firepower up front as the Jaguars do, but expect Carlos Dunlap and company to be licking their chomps coming in to this one. Going up against an exhausted, depleted offensive line coming off of a short week is quite the opportunity. With a rookie quarterback likely at the helm (I expect him to do well, but he is still a rookie) the Cincinnati defense is in an excellent position.

 

FADES

Lamar Miller, RB, – Texans – $10,000

Miller was a safe play last week with his low price and his high projected volume. Once again, he did very little with it, turning 17 carries into an uninspiring 67 yards. Not only is he inefficient but he also projects to lose a significant amount of his workload to rookie D’onta Foreman. Foreman was expected to play very little, if not at all last week as he worked his way back from some minor injuries (he played two snaps and had one carry). That will change this week as Coach Bill O’Brien has already conceded that Foreman will pick up more snaps and carries than last week. No one will be surprised if Foreman takes the starters job from Miller in the near future and it could come as soon as this week.

Running Backs – Bengals

This is a three-headed monster with nobody getting enough volume to warrant a spot on your roster. The one positive thing is that the roles are quite clearly defined – Jeremy Hill is the short yardage back, Giovani Bernard is the passing-down back who can also carry the ball, and Joe Mixon can perform both roles but is currently just mixing in as the backup to both. There should come a time this season where Mixon takes over as the full-time lead back (likely at the expense of Hill) but for now this is a situation to avoid.

 

Good luck on this slate and I will be back later in the week to break down the top options for the Sunday and Monday games. Tread with caution on the Thursday night slate, the best thing you can generally do is fade the entire game as they tend not to be the most fantasy-friendly affairs.

Cecil Peters

Cecil Peters

You can catch Cecil Peters at FantasyDegens.com where we love to chat all things sports and have great tools available to help you evolve your DFS game or on Twitter @cecpetes.

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