Matt Savoca’s Fantasy Football Matchups Column returns for Week 2 of the 2021 NFL season. The column will break down key matchups for the most important players each week, helping you prepare for your NFL daily fantasy football picks on DraftKings and FanDuel while also providing tips for NFL player prop bettors, and season-long fantasy football setting lineups on Yahoo, ESPN, Sleeper and CBS. Let’s dive into the all of the NFL DFS tips matchups and fantasy football lineup decisions.
Week 2 Daily Fantasy Football Matchups & Player Props
Tom Brady vs. Atlanta Falcons
Brady faced a tougher test than expected against Dallas in Week 1 but ultimately eked out their victory of the season in a high-scoring contest on opening night. Now the Falcons come to town, and on paper this looks like another smash spot for Brady. Over the last five games, Atlanta’s defense ranks eighth worst in series success rate and sixth-worst in success rate allowed to opposing passers. Football Outsiders ranks Atlanta 27th in DVOA as well. With all three wide receivers fully healthy and Rob Gronkowski looking more like the Gronkowski of old, this offense could demolish and Atlanta secondary that could not stop Jalen Hurts and the Eagles’ outside weapons at all last Sunday. The Awesemo projections suggest taking the over on both Brady’s passing prop lines of 309.5 yards and 2.5 touchdowns passing. Brady and his receivers rank No. 1 in Awesemo’s top stack probability, making the Tampa Bay passing game a superb play in all DFS formats.
Justin Herbert vs. Dallas Cowboys
Demarcus Lawrence went down in practice this week and is out an indefinite amount of time after undergoing surgery. Dallas has lost arguably their most talented defensive player for an indefinite amount of time, as Lawrence ranked seventh among all edge rushers in PFF defensive grades a season ago. Even with Lawrence in the lineup, Dallas struggled to stop opposing passing attacks in 2020, and it looks like that trend will continue this Sunday on the road against the Chargers. Herbert threw for the sixth-most yards passing in Week 1 (on the eighth-most passes) against a significantly more impressive Washington defense last week and should be able to carve up a Dallas secondary that ranks ninth worst in PFF’s team secondary grade after ranking sixth worst in 2020. Dallas has no answer to the trio of Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Jared Cook. The player props tool projects Herbert’s yards to fall around his current prop line of 302.5 but to smash the over on his touchdown prop of 1.5 touchdowns. Keenan Allen looks like a fantastic play in DFS lineups this weekend as well.
Jalen Hurts vs. San Francisco 49ers
Regardless of the reputation of the Falcons secondary, the Eagles had one of the most impressive starts to the season of any squad in Week 1. Hurts was fantastic, ranking best in the league in true completion percentage, third in play-action completion percentage and top-five in red-zone completion percentage while also adding 62 yards on the ground. In Week 2, however, the 49ers come to Philadelphia in what will be a much tougher test for Hurts. San Francisco ranked third in the NFL in PFF’s team coverage grade in 2020, and over their last five games they have ranked third in the NFL in defensive series success rate allowed. They are also fourth toughest in adjusted fantasy points against opposing quarterbacks. Expect the 49ers to do their best to keep Hurts from scrambling, forcing him to beat them as a pocket passer. Hurts may be extremely tough to pull the trigger on in fantasy lineups, but the Awesemo player props tool identifies some intriguing value for Hurts, even in this grueling matchup. Take the over on Hurts’ modest prop of 229.5 yards passing and the under on 49.5 yards rushing.
Christian McCaffrey vs. New Orleans Saints
McCaffrey assumed his rightful place as the most valuable running back in the game with a productive Week 1 against the Jets. McCaffrey ranked third in snap share, fourth at his position in carries and first in weighted opportunities, and as usual he is the highest-salary running back on both DraftKings and FanDuel. This week will be a much tougher test for the entire Carolina offense, as they face the stout New Orleans defense. Over their last five regular-season games, the New Orleans defense ranks third in run success rate allowed and 10th in red-zone success rate allowed, and they rated as the toughest defense in the league against opposing running backs. McCaffrey’s workload is unquestionable, and his target share keeps his floor high for fantasy football, but his probability of a ceiling game is lower than it typically is. Still, a prop line of 66.5 yards rushing is quite modest, and the Awesemo projections suggests he has a 60% probability of reaching that mark.
Nick Chubb vs. Houston Texans
The Texans surprised many in Week 1 with a victory over the Jaguars, displaying a competent offense with Tyrod Taylor at the helm. Still, the defense looked highly suspect in a winning effort, giving up 332 yards passing and three touchdowns to rookie Trevor Lawrence in his first NFL start. Last year Houston ranked 27th in PFF’s team coverage grade and 31st in overall defensive grade. And they have been incredibly susceptible to opposing running backs, ranking 29th in run success rate allowed and dead last in adjusted fantasy points allowed to running backs. Chubb ranked fourth in the NFL in yards per touch, second in breakaway runs and first in evaded tackles per touch a season ago. He looked dominant against the Chiefs, averaging nearly 6 yards per touch, totaling 101 yards and scoring twice. Even without a built-in receiving game floor, Chubb is viable in all DFS formats this weekend and is particularly intriguing on FanDuel. The player props tool suggests smashing the over on his current prop line of 84.5 yards rushing.
Joe Mixon vs. Chicago Bears
The Bears have a reputation for being an above-average defense, particularly in their front seven, due to the presence of All-Pro Khalil Mack. They also ranked fifth in the league in yards per carry allowed last week, and yet the advanced metrics tell quite a different story. Over their last five regular-season games, the Bears defense has been well below average in defensive series success rate and bottom 10 in run success rate, pass success rate and red-zone success rate. And most shockingly, PFF graded Chicago as the worst overall defense in the NFL in Week 1 after Matthew Stafford and the Rams torched the Bears last Sunday night. Next up for the Bears’ struggling defensive unit is Mixon, who had one of his most impressive days as a pro, ranking first in carries and yards rushing, fourth among running backs in receptions and evading 10 tackles in the process. Mixon appears healthy and should be able to dominate in this matchup as a receiver and a rusher. The Awesemo projections suggest taking the over on Mixon’s 64.5 yards prop line, and while the margin’s razor thin, the projections suggest Mixon will outpace his receiving props of 3.5 receptions and 23.5 yards receiving .
Cooper Kupp vs. Indianapolis Colts
If Week 1 is any indication, the Rams’ offensive potential with Stafford under center is stratospheric. Stafford annihilated the Chicago secondary, averaging 14. adjusted yards per attempt, best among all quarterbacks, while throwing for 321 yards and three touchdowns. Kupp was the main beneficiary, as he has always excelled at separating from defenders, gobbling up short and medium-range targets, but now, with Stafford Kupp could see his deep targets skyrocket (as they did in Week 1), transforming Kupp from a possession receiver to a bona fide No. 1 receiving option. The Colts were without four defensive starters in Thursday’s practice, including Xavier Rhodes and Darius Leonard. All four have questionable statuses heading into Sunday’s game, and even if they do play, they will almost be less than 100%. And as Russell Wilson showed last week, the Indianapolis secondary is susceptible deep, making Kupp all the more exciting at his modest salary on DFS platforms. He has a near 70% probability of surpassing his prop line of 65.5 yards receiving
Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb vs. Los Angeles Chargers
The Cowboys offense looked primed for another season of shootouts with Dak Prescott back at quarterback. After Michael Gallup was sidelined with an ankle injury, Prescott began peppering Lamb and Cooper with opportunities, as the pair combined for 54% of the team’s targets (including 63% target rate in the red zone) and 77% of the team’s air yards. This week they will head to Los Angeles to take on the 1-0 Chargers, and the Chargers defense is an entirely different beast with Derwin James back in the lineup. The Chargers ranked 11th in yards per pass attempt allowed a week ago, fifth in PFF overall defensive grades and first in team coverage grade. Even without James in the lineup last year, the Chargers were the seventh-toughest team against opposing wide receivers, which dampens the expectations for both Lamb and Cooper. Dallas still ranks fourth in probability of being the top stack in DFS, but the team has a negative leverage score.. The Awesemo projections suggest staying away from Cooper’s receiving props but predicts Lamb will stay under his 76.5 yards receiving prop line.
Stefon Diggs vs. Miami Dolphins
Diggs was quiet by his standards in Week 1 but still commanded a massive amount of the Bills’ receiving opportunity despite middling production. Diggs saw nearly 32% of the team’s air yards and over 30% of team targets, ranking fourth in total air yards last week against Pittsburgh. Diggs is the clear focal point of the Bills’ pass-heavy offense and still managed 15.9 fantasy points. The floor for Diggs is once again incredibly high as the Bills face division rival Miami this weekend. The Dolphins will likely use Xavien Howard to shadow Diggs, as they did when these two teams faced each other in Week 17 last season, and Howard limited Diggs to his lowest target total in his previous 10 games. Diggs still caught all five targets thrown his way with Howard the nearest defender in that Week 17 matchup. Still, there are some concerns about Diggs’ ceiling in this game, as the Dolphins currently seventh in defensive coverage ranks on PFF. The Awesemo projections consider Diggs’ prop line of 86.5 yards as too rich.
Noah Fant vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
With Jerry Jeudy going down for an indefinite amount of time with a high ankle sprain and Courtland Sutton blanketed by the Giants’ James Bradberry, Fant stepped right into the No. 1 receiver role, earning eight targets. This week Fant and the Broncos face a Jacksonville defense that ranks among the worst in the league in nearly every notable defensive metric. PFF ranks the Jaguars defense as the fourth worst in pass defense, making this an enticing matchup for the entire Denver offense, and Fant could benefit greatly. Fant appears to be one of the better options at his position in DFS this weekend, but the Awesemo props tool is surprisingly right in line with Vegas’ expectations for Fant. His current receiving prop lines of 4.5 receptions and 45.5 yards receiving looks fair, meaning he would need a touchdown to return significant value in fantasy football.
Darren Waller vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
The Raiders are heavy underdogs against a Steelers defense that ranks top three in PFF’s team defensive grade, having successfully neutralized Buffalo. Waller will not have 19 targets and 203 total air yards in every single game, but since Week 13 he has averaged more PPR fantasy points per game than every single wide receiver in the league and ranks second among all tight ends. The Steelers rank sixth in defensive series success rate in that same span, lowering Waller’s floor, but his ceiling is as high as any receiver in the NFL. His 30.1 expected fantasy points per game this season is a number typically reserved for top-tier running backs. In DFS Waller is coming in at a reduced ownership, making him an excellent pay-up move, but the Awesemo projections suggest Waller’s receiving prop lines of 6.5 receptions and 75.5 yards receiving are reasonable. Without Travis Kelce on the slate, and even against the strong Steelers defense, Waller still presents a unique combination of opportunities-based floor and sky-high ceiling.
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