In just a few short hours Monday Night Football will kick off and it is a special one. Tonight will mark the first professional football game in the Las Vegas NEW State of the Art Stadium and you really couldn’t find a better opponent for the black & grey than the New Orleans Saints. It will be tough to beat the Fantasy Goodness that came from last night’s Sunday Night Football Patriots Seahawks match up – but Saints Raiders in Prime Time – give me all of it!
Before I get into my take on DFS Strategy and who I am playing I did want to note two things. First, Real Deal Fantasy HQ’s weekly round up of the Studs & Duds from Week 2 is now live on the site so if you haven’t yet, check it out! Also – did you know we have a YouTube Page? Well if you didn’t take a spin over and search Real Deal Fantasy HQ on YouTube! Ty and I from the site posted an Emergency Pod today talking Week 2 Injuries and the effect on Week 3 including Waiver Targets, DFS and more! Seriously – give it a watch!
Ok – On to the Monday Night Showdown. Tonight the Saints will be without star wide receiver Michael Thomas and are looking to go 2-0 on the season. Meanwhile the Raiders are making their debut in their new home and stadium and there is no way Gruden is looking to stink up the joint. So let’s talk some DFS!
The Las Vegas Raiders
Tonight the Raiders come in the underdog per Vegas oddsmakers but that is ok. John Gruden’s Grinders are fairly used to the disrespect. However there is some reason to be concerned here for the Home Team. Rookie Henry Ruggs has a Q Tag on him and will likely be a game time decision. In week 1 Ruggs saw 3 targets and took them 55 yards, well on his way to a 100 yard game in my opinion before his injury. He also ran the ball for 11 yards. The problem is if Ruggs suits up he will likely be matched with the Saints star corner Marshawn Latimore, who is pretty darn good. Could Ruggs simply run right by him on Go Routes? Likely. However if Ruggs is Limited, can he shake him for underneath throws … that’s a risky proposition. Stay tuned to the news on Ruggs because of the matchup and his Q tag, many DFS players will shy away but I think he is worth a shot in large field tournaments and certainly if you are multi entering, if he plays.
So I guess if we are talking about Ruggs, we need to talk about Derek Carr who threw for 239 passing yards and a score last week against Carolina. He did not throw a pick. Here’s the thing, you know what is not the Carolina defense? The Saints Defense. With Ruggs likely seeing Latimore if he plays and the Ravens other star rookie receiver will likely see a lot of Janoris Jenkins on the other side. I’d prefer the matchup with Jenkins, if it wasn’t for how little Edwards was involved last week. If Ruggs suits up I think Edwards is a good play tonight as I can see him being more involved if the Saints take Ruggs ‘away’. However if Ruggs sits, my interest level in Edwards likely will sit as well. Keep an eye on the Ruggs injury news for sure.
Here’s the thing though. Recent Raiders FA Signee Nelson Agholor saw the Touchdown Pass – and it was a really nice 23 yard catch as well. For all of his past sins against fantasy managers in Philadelphia, the one thing Agholor can bring to this very young Las Vegas receiving core is EXPERIENCE. Big Game experience too. People forget – Agholor has a Superbowl Ring. Believe it or not I like Agholor a lot tonight, especially if Ruggs Plays. First off – NO ONE IS GOING TO PLAY HIM because, you know, he is Nelson Agholor. BUT, he has a nose for the end zone, always has and he is in an offense where he isn’t being relied upon to perform as the #1 as he was for most of the second half of the season in Philly last year. If Latimore is on Ruggs and Jenkins is on Edwards, give me a ton of Nelson Agholor in the seam.
I also will have some exposure tonight to both Hunter Renfroe and Jason Witten. Last year Renfroe was Carr’s security blanket and he could very well be again against an above average Saints Pass Rush. Also with the hype of the two rookies Ruggs and Edwards, I feel like no one is talking about Hunter Renfroe and the success he had in this offense last season. I wouldn’t sleep on Renfroe tonight as well as Jason Witten. I know. I know, I haven’t even talked about Darren Waller yet – how can I mention Witten? Witten is a Multi-Entry play only and yes he only saw 1 target in week 1 – BUT – this season is not your average season. Look at the injuries that have already occurred. I am not saying something will happen tonight and you never know. It isn’t a bad plan to have Witten in a few lineups if you are Mass Multi Entering. You never know.
Well it’s Ku Ku Ka Choo time (thanks Fantasy Footballers!) so let’s talk Darren Waller, my favorite of all of the Las Vegas Pass Catchers tonight. Last season Waller had a true break out year and while quite in Week 1, I believe Waller will be the best weapon for Derek Carr tonight. The Saints have been middle of the road against Tight Ends, but Darren Waller is an above average tight end. He saw 6 targets for 45 yards last week, but let’s be honest – they really didn’t need Waller to be the Baller last week against Carolina’s defense. Tonight will be different. I expect Carr to target Waller early and often and of all the pass catching Raiders tonight I will be over weight on my Darren Waller exposure. I could see him with 75 yards and a touchdown and while I won’t bet my house on it, I will tell you he will be in nearly every lineup I build tonight with or without Derek Carr. I break the matchup like this – if Ruggs Plays the Saints have to contend with two very talented rookies on the outside. They have to contain Josh Jacobs and find a way to control the elusive Hunter Renfroe as well. I think that opens up a lot of opportunity for Waller against the Saint’s 17th ranked TE Defense. Let’s Ball!
Perhaps I am saving the best for last, perhaps I am not, but I also like Josh Jacobs to have a nice game. In Week 1 the commitment to Jacobs was evident. He carried the ball 25 times for 93 yards and a touchdown BUT the most encouraging thing is he also saw 4 targets for 46 yards. Now true – the Saints are pretty good against the run but I think the volume Jacobs will see will more than make up for that. Keep in mind in Week 1 Derek Henry had a terrible yards per attempt against the Broncos but he was the clear work horse toting the rock 31 times. The same can be pointed to for Melvin Gordon this week against the same Steelers team than held Saquon Barkley to only 6 yards in week 1. Gordon saw 19 touches and took that for 74 yards. I think Jacobs gets there tonight. I think he sees close to 30 touches in this game and has the chance to score should the Raiders get into the red zone. Additionally I could see him catching 6 passes as I do expect the Saints to pressure Derek Carr often and Jacobs can be the beneficiary of those dump offs. I will be playing a lot of Josh Jacobs tonight. I also will have some shares of Jaylen Richard who is still considered the Raiders 3rd down passing option and could also see a lot of run tonight if the Raiders are indeed playing catch up. Richard only saw 1 target in last week’ positive game script but I could see him being more involved tonight and should not be forgotten. He also is dirt cheap.
The New Orleans Saints
Let me get this out of the way, I will be playing lineups with the Saints Defense tonight. Despite all I have written about the Raiders, the defense carried the team last week against Tom Brady and the Bucs and as likely as it is that the Raiders score a touchdown it is as likely we can see a pick 6, fumble recovery and multiple sacks. So I will have exposure to the Saints Defense tonight.
Drew Brees is an interesting play tonight. Without Michael Thomas for most of that game, Brees didn’t look all that great. While I don’t expect that tonight with a week to prepare for tonight without Thomas, it does make me wonder if we will see more than our normal dose of QB/TE/WR Taysom Hill tonight. Now, I am not saying you should start Taysom Hill over Drew Brees – don’t get me wrong, but I could see Sean Peyton dialing up some unique formations to try and keep the Raiders Defense on their toes. On a whole, I like Drew Brees tonight to come out firing. He has arguably the best dual threat back in Alvin Kamara out of the backfield. He has a rising star of a tight end in Big Jared Cook to throw too and he has has a former pro bowl receiver in Emmanuel Sanders as well, always a threat in the red zone. Drew Brees is a fine play tonight and I expect him to perform under the bright lights of Monday Night Football.
Both Cook and Sanders are GREAT Plays tonight but I expect both to be extremely popular. For good reason. Without Michael Thomas there I can easily see most DFS players seeing the target funnel it has created for Cook and Sanders. I expect both to be heavily involved in the passing game and both have touchdown upside. However you will need to differentiate your lineups as I expect the stack of Brees, Cook, Sanders, Kamara to be the most popular stack of the night. I don’t hate it – in fact, it may break the slate, but I think EVERYONE will be playing it. So if you run it back with a Raider, maybe look at Hunter Renfroe or Bryan Edwards (both of whom I expect to garner little ownership) to be a little different.
I want to be clear – I am all in on Brees, Cook and Sanders but the Saint I really like the most is Alvin Kamara. Last week Kamara was a stud against a stout run defense in Tampa Bay scoring a Touchdown on the ground and then adding another Touchdown through the air along with 55 receiving yards. The Raiders however are not the run stoppers that Tampa Bay is ranked 20th against the position. With no Michael Thomas I really see Kamara being more involved in the passing game and with Drew Brees under center, I think he will find the box a lot less stacked against him as well. He is my favorite Saint to play tonight and I think he is going to EAT. You will pay to play him though as Kamara is the most expensive Saint on the Slate – but I don’t know if you will cash tonight without Kamara in your lineup.
By the same token, I also like Latavius Murray tonight to also have a nice game. Murray has really taken the Mark Ingram role in this offense offering a one two punch with Kamara and in Week 1 he saw 15 Carries! Murray will be involved tonight I think you will need to have some exposure to him especially if multi entering. I could also see the Saints leaning on Murray on the goal line tonight as he definitely has the size and power to carve a hole in that Raiders line.
Last Saints I wanted to mention are Tre’Quon Smith and Josh Hill. Smith since his rookie season is considered many to have been a disappointment. I look at it differently. His role as a down field threat never developed with Ted Ginn ahead of him. Additionally with Michael Thomas seeing the overwhelming number of targets he traditionally has, it is also tough to see Smith seeing anything more than a handful of targets per game. Well – no more Ted Ginn in the Big Easy and tonight, no Michael Thomas. I could see Drew Brees trying to find the speedy Smith, often tonight. While Emmanuel Sanders will operate as the clear WR1, I think Smith offers sneaky upside as a low owned dart throw tonight. And by the same token while Jared Cook operates as the TE 1, don’t sleep on TE Josh Hill either if you are mass multi entering. The bottom line is Drew Brees likes to look for Josh Hill in the redzone. And while Touchdown or Bust at nearly bare minimum price tags on DK and FD, there is enough potential upside here without Michael Thomas on the field, that I will have some shares of TE Josh Hill.
My bottom line on the Raiders tonight is that if I am playing Derek Carr as a Captain or MVP tonight, I am going to stack him with as many pass catchers as I can starting with Darren Waller. If Ruggs plays, Ruggs and Edwards. If he doesn’t I am more in favor of Hunter Renfroe. I think Carr will need to spread the ball around tonight and while Waller is my lock Raiders play, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a big game from Renfroe either. Josh Jacobs also will be in my lineups as well, as I see the volume he will see will win out. Jaylen Richard will likely also see some looks so he is worth it as a dart throw if you are multi entering but with Jacob’s increased role in the passing game, Richard isn’t nearly the priority for me as he has been in the past.
For the Saints – you have to start Brees, Cooks, Sanders and Kamara. These are your most likely playmakers and while they will be Chalky in tournaments, I expect some combination of the 4 to be what you need to Cash. I think using Latavius Murray in place of one of the big 4 in stacks may be a way to be different while still maintaining some upside. I also do like Tre’quon Smith to show up tonight (finally) but he is more of a end of lineup salary saver/dart throw. Lastly, as much as it pains me – I will have some lineups featuring Taysom Hill. On the off chance they run a wildcat to Hill and he scores a touchdown, I think you will want to at least have some shares of him especially if you are multi entering. And there is also the OTHER tight end Josh Hill who, could find his way to the end zone for Drew Brees.
Good Luck in your Contests!