The second week of the NFL season delivers a slick two-game slate locking at 7:15pm ET. Getting things started will be the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints at 7:15pm ET followed by an AFC North matchup between the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers. The downside is that neither game has a projected total over 40 points. And we’ve obviously had some injuries to monitor for these two games as well. Two-game slates are not ideal for cash games. Let’s get that out of the way. There are too many overlapping players and with both games projected for low totals, it could prove to be difficult to make a unique build. But we have you covered to build up some NFL DFS lineups for this evening’s two-game slate and we’ll give you enough options to potentially make some NFL DFS Showdown lineups as well.
At 7:15pm ET, the New Orleans Saints (-3) travel to Charlotte for a divisional matchup with the Carolina Panthers. The Saints took a while to get going in Week 1, but they did get the victory over the Tennessee Titans and Derek Carr threw for over 300 yards in his debut with the organization. He made great use of Chris Olave, Michael Thomas, Rashid Shaheed, and Juwan Johnson. Bryce Young, the first overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, looked okay in the first half against the Atlanta Falcons, but the dirty birds made some adjustments at halftime and gave the rookie fits in the second half. But Bryce Young seems to have more weapons at his disposal this week as he looks to get his first win in the NFL.
An hour after kickoff in the NFC South showdown we get an AFC North matchup between the Cleveland Browns (-2) and Pittsburgh Steelers in the Steel City. The big news breaking just before kickoff on Sunday was that Amari Cooper would be absent for the Cleveland Browns. This is obviously huge for the likes of Elijah Moore and David Njoku. But I also throw in an additional pass catcher or two for Cleveland to be weary of so be sure to give the Playbook a full read. On the other side of the ball, the Pittsburgh Steelers will be without Diontae Johnson in this matchup and that presents a lot of opportunity for all their pass catchers as well as Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren.
Two-game slates are not the most inviting for me as a DFS player, especially when the pricing is so soft. One tip I would recommend is being okay leaving salary on the table. If we had to venture a guess, we can probably assume at least 95% of lineups for this slate will try and spend every dollar in salary that they have. A good way to make your lineup(s) unique would be to leave some money on the table. Don’t feel obligated to spend every dollar of your budget. DFS scores will be low and we’ll see some smaller tournament contests featuring players with snowflakes next to their name.
Deshaun Watson – Watson is the most expensive quarterback on the slate and he comes in at a reasonable price tag of just $6,400 on DraftKings. Truly not terrible. But the reports throughout training camp weren’t exactly ringing endorsements. Accuracy has been a big problem for him and that was clear last week as he barely completed over half his pass attempts. His day was salvaged by a rushing touchdown. The good news is the Steelers offense did not look very good last week as the San Francisco 49ers were able to put up over 390 yards of offense on Pittsburgh. Brock Purdy, normally a game manager, threw for 220 yards, a pair of touchdowns, and even ran for 20 yards on the Steel Curtain. The loss of Jack Conklin certainly hurts the Cleveland offensive line, but the Steelers will at least be without Cameron Heyward.
Derek Carr – If you’re just looking at the box score, Carr had a solid game last week against the Tennessee Titans. There were some growing pains though as it wasn’t all perfect. Carr completed 69.7% of his passes but it wasn’t until late in the game where he got the 300-yard bonus on DraftKings with a deep pass to Rashid Shaheed. We didn’t get a real good look at the Carolina secondary against the Falcons since Atlanta made great use of their running backs, but it likely wouldn’t surprise anyone if Carr was the only quarterback on the slate to get that 300-yard bonus on DraftKings.
Bryce Young – We only have two games so I’ll preview all four starting quarterbacks. I was actually pretty impressed with Bryce Young in the first half of last week’s game. The Panthers were moving the ball well and were tied at halftime. But Atlanta made adjustments in the second half and finished with a pair of sacks on the rookie quarterback and they forced a pair of interceptions. Young would go on to post the worst passing grade for a Week 1 rookie since Jameis Winston in 2015. I imagine they lean a little more heavy on the run game, but that’s a bit of a tall ask. He’s probably my least favorite quarterback on this slate so I’m not overly excited to play him.
Kenny Pickett – I’m surprised Pickett is the cheapest of the four starting quarterbacks on Monday’s slate. He had a brutal start last week against San Francisco, but at the end of the day he still attempted 46 passes. He was under pressure on 45% of his drop backs against San Francisco and honestly, that could be the case Monday night. Obviously, it’s still a tough matchup and he didn’t really light it up in his lone matchup last year against Cleveland, but it’s a high variance sport and if building 20+ lineups, some Pittsburgh stacks are warranted.
Nick Chubb – You shouldn’t have any trouble fitting Nick Chubb into your lineups Monday night. He’s the most expensive running back on the board at $8,500 on DraftKings. Next is Najee Harris at $6,200. Chubb didn’t find the end zone last week, but he still touched the ball 20+ times and ran for over 100 yards against the Cincinnati Bengals. It’s worth mentioning that with Cameron Heyward on the field in 2022, the Steelers allowed 4.0 yards per carry to opposing running backs. Without Heyward, that number inflates to 4.6 yards per carry. He’s easily the chalk running back on this slate.
Najee Harris – This is such an odd slate because truthfully there’s only one true reliable running back and we already discussed him. No matter how inefficient Harris has been throughout his young career, we could always trust the volume. But he only had eight touches in Week 1. He had six carries for 31 yards and caught both his targets for a paltry two yards. He had one carry that went for 24 yards. Take that away and he averages 1.4 yards per carry. That’s pretty brutal. Here’s something you can hang your hat on at least… He’s at least scored a touchdown in all four games he’s played against the Browns and he averages about 100 yards per game against Cleveland. But you really have to wonder if they’re monitoring his workload early in the year.
Jamaal Williams – Williams had volume last week and he didn’t do a damn thing with it. He had 18 carries for 45 yards and two catches for seven yards. We all waited for him to at least score a touchdown and it just didn’t happen. Perhaps the Saints use this game as an opportunity to give more work to Kendre Miller who was inactive last week. But if there’s goal line work, Williams is probably still the guy. The Panthers allowed 177 total yards to the Atlanta Falcons’ backfield last week and Tyler Allgeier and Bijan Robinson scored three touchdowns combined. Volume in the run game can wear this defense down.
Miles Sanders – For his debut with the team, Sanders did okay last week. You love to see that he had 20+ touches including four catches on six targets. He did lose a fumble but there isn’t really a sense of him losing his spot on the depth chart. The Saints may not be easy to run on. They did lose their defensive line coach in the offseason and they had some turnover on the defensive line. But in Week 1 they allowed the Titans to rush for only 104 yards. The matchup isn’t ideal but it’s easy to see a game script where he sees 15+ touches again. I’m not going to highlight Chuba Hubbard but he’s a clear pivot to Sanders who will likely not see a ton of exposure in Tournaments.
Jaylen Warren – With only four teams playing, we have a pretty good idea of which running backs will get touches. Last week, Warren only touched the ball eight times, but he did have six targets to Najee’s two. Last season, Warren came on strong and was easily more efficient when he had the ball in his hands. He may have been out snapped by Najee, and the veteran ran more routes. But at Warren’s price tag he might be a better value than Najee if it’s true that they may split the workload a little bit more. But Najee has the better track record overall against Pittsburgh. If you need a deep field GPP or Showdown option for this slate and game, Connor Heyward could vulture a touchdown as the team’s fullback. I prefer him more in Showdown slates than for the two-game main slate though, but just be aware he’s listed at tight end for the two-gamer.
Kendre Miller – Miller was a limited participant in practice over the last week as he’s been dealing with a hamstring injury. He’s currently Questionable to play but if he is active, I would want a little exposure at such a cheap price tag. Just scroll up to read what running backs did to the Carolina Panthers defense last week. I wouldn’t expect too much from Miller in his first game, but he is a value running back to consider Monday night.
Chris Olave – The top wide receiver on the slate has an opportunity for another productive day. Last week against the Titans, Olave had SIX first down receptions, 63 yards after the catch, and averaged 3.50 yards per route run. All those metrics ranked in the top four at the wide receiver position in Week 1. The emergence of Michael Thomas last week might actually shift focus away from Olave which can only benefit him in this spot. He had a 31% target share and should command most of Derek Carr’s attention Monday night.
Michael Thomas – With Amari Cooper out for this two-game slate, the Saints have the two most expensive wide receivers on the board. Thomas isn’t the player he used to be, but he had a solid Week 1 with five catches for 61 yards. The 24% target share was certainly a good thing to see and it wasn’t even the best performance for Derek Carr. This is a weird spot for the Saints pass catchers because we don’t know how good this Carolina secondary is. We can probably assume they’re not very good but Desmond Ridder and the Atlanta Falcons didn’t provide as much of a test as New Orleans will Monday night.
George Pickens – Pickens is in a great spot because while he’s mostly a highlight reel for great catches, yet he does do very well in press coverage. The Cleveland Browns played press coverage on 68% of their defensive snaps and per Jacob Gibbs of CBS Sports, that normally results in less efficiency in yards per route run. However, Pickens crushes press coverage. His yards per route run against press coverage actually goes up 244%. It’s truly wild. Without Diontae Johnson there are targets that open up in this offense and Pickens is arguably WR1 in this offense.
Elijah Moore – With Amari Cooper pretty much out for Monday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the general belief is that Elijah Moore becomes WR1 for this game at least. This is great news for Moore for a few reasons. First of all, he came off the field for some two-wide receiver sets. However, he had an 11.2 aDOT and ran 64.3% of his snaps out of the slot. Having already shared the lead in target share with Cooper, he stands to assume an even larger role Monday night.
Allen Robinson – Here are some more fun stats from Jacob Gibbs (once again) regarding Allen Robinson’s potential value for the Steelers. Wide receivers used in pre-snap motion are 38% more likely to be targeted than non-motion wide receivers. Robinson was used in pre-snap motion on seven plays last week. On top of that, once Diontae Johnson left the game, Robinson tied for the team lead in routes (28), he was the leader in targets (five), and he led the team in receiving yards (51). Now it is worth mentioning he may have not garnered the attention of Pat Freiermuth and George Pickens at the time, but he took 85.3% of his snaps out of the slot so that’s probably where we can assume he’ll be Monday night. He may not have the big play potential of Pickens, but he should see a decent amount of targets.
Rashid Shaheed – Plenty of big play potential with Shaheed and we saw that last week. He caught five-of-six targets last week for 89 yards and a touchdown. Despite losing a fumble he was still utilized and connected with Derek Carr late in the game for a deep bomb to essentially put the game away. Shaheed has had a 30+ yard reception in seven of his last 11 games and he had a 16.3 aDOT last week. He may be the third wide receiver to be targeted in this aerial attack but he still has plenty upside as we saw last week.
DJ Chark – It’s hard to believe the most expensive wide receiver for the Carolina Panthers is just $4,000 on DraftKings. Chark has been dealing with a hamstring since late August but he did log a full practice session on Saturday so I’m operating as if he’s a full go. He was inactive last week and we know hamstring issues can flare back up. Even in this matchup he isn’t a lock, but assuming the Panthers fall behind, then they’ll be throwing it more. I can’t say I’ll be going to dedicate much exposure to him mostly because I don’t like Bryce Young in this spot, but it’s a nice price tag for a receiver that should be involved.
Adam Thielen – He only saw two targets last week and now DJ Chark will be starting. Carolina pass catchers won’t be very popular on this slate and it’s easy to see why. Fortunately for them it is a home game at least. Everything mentioned in the Chark section can apply to Thielen in terms of game script. He’s an okay bring back option to New Orleans stacks but the volume he saw in Week 1 is concerning. It may have been due to his prior ankle injury so maybe he’s more involved this week.
Jonathan Mingo – Jonathan Mingo has exceptional size and speed. He can win contested catches and has the potential to be a special player in this league. He looked to be in a smash spot last week. Chark was out, Thielen had an ankle issue, Terrace Marshall was even beat up. Mingo did see five targets but only caught two of them. Assuming Chark plays that is a knock on the rookie especially with how bad Bryce Young looked at times. Big things could still be in the making for this kid but I’m not playing any Carolina pass catcher with a ton of confidence. Terrace Marshall and Laviska Shenault should also be considered in this matchup as GPP dart throws and I like them even more for the Showdown matchup.
Calvin Austin – Austin is a great value play to get into your lineups Monday night. When Diontae Johnson left the field last week, George Pickens and Allen Robinson ran 28 routes, but Austin still got in for 24. It should be mentioned that he had one more target than Pickens when Johnson left and he had more receiving yards. I’m going to assume he still comes off the field on two-wide receiver sets. But he still is a nice GPP piece on a short slate.
Cedric Tillman – If there was a player that could potentially break this slate wide open, it could be Tillman at minimum price for the Cleveland Browns. Elijah Moore and David Njoku will definitely draw most of the attention in this matchup. Donovan Peoples-Jones likely gets some looks. But Tillman was one of the bigger bodies in this year’s draft class at 6’3” and he can win contested catches. The last time Tillman played at Acrisure Stadium was in college against the Pittsburgh Panthers where he grabbed nine catches for 162 yards and a touchdown. He has big play ability and hopefully gets some work Monday night. A lot of people might go to Donovan Peoples-Jones because there’s a little more name recognition there. On a two-game slate where I know I have to make some bold calls with my DFS lineups I’ll lean towards Tillman while sprinkling in some shares of DPJ.
David Njoku – You get the sense that if any tight end on this slate scores a touchdown they’ll likely be optimal. The good news is that you have to feel good about Njoku stepping up and getting more looks with Amari Coop out. Njoku was second among tight ends in terms of red zone targets last year with 12. Njoku did have a pass blocking rate of 17.2% last week but you kind of expect that will change and he’ll be called upon in a more active role. The matchup could be tough, but the opportunities will be there. As a pivot, you could consider Harrison Bryant who will have less ownership. But he’s a bit of a touchdown-or-bust type of play. Bryant found the end zone last week, but he only had two targets.
Pat Freiermuth – Assuming he’s healthy, you have to imagine he could see a slight uptick in his workload. Freiermuth saw three endzone targets last week. Not red zone targets. ENDZONE targets. And he was the only player in the league in Week 1 to get three looks in the endzone so it’s good to know that Kenny Pickett looks for his tight end where it counts. He only caught one and it was his lone catch of the day but at least it was a touchdown. He did suffer a chest injury during last week’s game, but it does sound like he’ll be a full go with no limitations Monday night.
Juwan Johnson – The only argument against Johnson is that he’s in a pretty loaded offense where he likely isn’t a top two target week-to-week. It’s okay for now because he did get five targets last week and he was on the field for 49 snaps and he ran 32 routes. Let’s not forget that he is an athletic freak and he had seven touchdowns last year and has the quarterback upgrade this year. He logged a full practice on Friday and is ready to roll Monday night.
Hayden Hurst – Kudos to Andrew Cooper for calling Hurst a value play last week at the tight end position. The Panthers were a little depleted at wide receiver and that opened things up for Hurst and he found the end zone for Bryce Young’s first career touchdown and then Hurst proceeded to launch the football into the stands. He might be called upon to block more in this matchup and you probably don’t need to go this cheap at tight end since the previous three names mentioned were all between $4,100 and $4,700 on DraftKings.
Taysom Hill – I normally advise against rostering Taysom Hill in season-long or DFS unless he’s starting at quarterback and you can play him at Tight End (looking at you, ESPN). But I digress. If there’s ever a time where I’m intrigued to play Taysom Hill it’s on a little two-game slate like this. And I’m not even saying that I have “someone in the know” that says the Saints are going to feature him heavily. I don’t have a clue. But this is hoping that he can just get in there for a few snaps and given how inefficient Jamaal Williams was last week, maybe he vultures a touchdown or two. He did have a target and three carries last week, so if he somehow breaks a big run or finds the end zone, you imagine he’s optimal at just $3,900 on DraftKings.
New Orleans Saints – You have to like the Saints against a rookie quarterback who didn’t look all that impressive last week. The Saints held the Tennessee Titans to just 15 points and 285 yards of offense with three sacks and three turnovers. Despite the personnel turnover in the offseason, the Saints defense looked about as good as they do year in and year out and they looked pretty stout per usual against the run.
Pittsburgh Steelers – It’s not ideal without Cam Heyward, but he may be a bit past his prime anyway. The Browns offensive line may struggle Monday night without Jack Conklin. On top of that, Jedrick Wills is nursing a foot injury but it looks like he’ll play. The Browns look like they’ll start Dawand Jones in Conklin’s place so this could be a spot where the Steelers pick on the rookie and get ample pressure on Deshaun Watson.
Cleveland Browns – I’m pretty high on the Browns D/ST for this short slate. The Steelers offensive line was pretty beat-up last week. They allowed Kenny Pickett to be sacked five times. While the Browns only sacked Joe Burrow twice last week against Cincinnati, they still generated plenty of pressure and allowed just 142 total yards of offense.