This article is part of our DFS NFL series.
We have two Monday Night Football games to enjoy, with the Bills and Titans kicking off the festivities. Even given the Titans' shocking Week 1 loss to the Giants, it's a bit surprising to see the Bills favored by 10 points on most books. With a lopsided spread like that, roster rates will tilt heavily in favor of the Buffalo offense. For large-field tournaments, a simple way to gain leverage is to play Derrick Henry or Ryan Tannehill, players likely to be key figures in any upset bid.
As a quick overview of a Showdown slate, there are captain slots on both FanDuel and DraftKings. The setup is a bit different based on site, as there is no price increase to select a player as captain versus regular flex option on FanDuel, while there is on DraftKings. That makes things more straightforward on FanDuel, as you're primarily looking to simply maximize your points while also factoring in projected roster rates, which varies in importance based of the contest being entered. On DraftKings, the Captain selection will have a more direct impact on the way a lineup is built, and that build will also change more drastically based on cash vs. tournament contests. The rest of the roster can be filled by any position without specific designation.
Josh Allen ($12,600 DK, $17,500 FD) looked up to the task of being pegged as the top fantasy quarterback throughout preseason by posting a huge Week 1 line against the Rams both on the ground and through the air. There's little reason to believe Allen won't be able to pick apart the Titans' defense after it allowed Daniel Jones to average 9.0 yards in the opening game of the season. Now, the team will be without Kristian Fulton, who played every snap in the secondary. Allen is the easy choice as captain, but he'll need a big game to meet his lofty price tag.
On the other side of the matchup, Ryan Tannehill ($9,200 DK, $14,500 FD) will look to manage the team to an upset win after a disappointing loss to the Giants in the opening game of the season. He took to the air 33 times to reach 19.3 fantasy points. There are a few concerns about playing him in this matchup. The first is the most obvious in that he is heading into Buffalo to face one of the better defenses in the league. Even for those who want to get contrarian and bet against the heavy favorite, the Titans clearest path to victory is slowing the game and relying upon Derrick Henry. To play Tannehill, the narrative you have to is that the Titans will be chasing points but have the offensive power to at least keep the game close.
We'll start in Tennessee because the situation is pretty clear to diagnose. Derrick Henry ($11,000 DK, $15,000 FD) is not only a lock to lead the Tennessee backfield but is also likely to be the foundation of the team's offense. It might, therefore, seem silly to question Henry's potential volume, but he saw only one target in Week 1. With Dontrell Hilliard out, it's possible that Henry sees increased involvement as a receiver, but it's difficult to roster him with that production built in as part of the expectation. Efficiency is also a concern. Henry averaged only 3.9 yards per attempt in Week 1 and generally lacked explosiveness. He now faces one of the better projected run defenses in the league. Hassan Haskins ($1,200 DK, $5,000 FD) will slide into the backup running back role in the absence of Hilliard, but it's difficult to envision him being a large part of the offense even with the promotion in role after he earned zero carries in Week 1. Trenton Cannon ($200 DK, $5,000 FD) will also bump up the depth chart, but he's been almost exclusively a special teams player since 2019.
Unfortunately, the picture is far more complicated in Buffalo. Before we jump into the running backs, it must be noted that Josh Allen led the Bills with 10 carries in Week 1. Allen's role in the rushing attack immediately cuts into the potential fantasy points of any of Devin Singletary ($7,400 DK, $10,500 FD ), Zack Moss ($3,600 DK, $7,000 FD) and James Cook ($1,400D DK, $6,500 FD). The usage of that trio was not as expected in Week 1. Singletary led the team in rushing attempts. However, Moss saw six targets and converted each into receptions to lead the backfield in touches. Meanwhile, Cook appears to be an afterthought in the short term, particularly after he fumbled on his only carry of the game. Moss is a decent gamble at cost, and the hope is he continues to catch a few passes and also falls into the end zone. Given the combination of his price and usage against the Rams, he's also likely to be heavily rostered and is therefore a very reasonable fade in larger-field tournaments. Singletary is simply too expensive for his current role. Cook is an OK punt play in the hopes that he'll shift up the depth chart, just understand there's no indication at this point that the team has any such plans.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Stefon Diggs ($11,400 DK, $14,000 FD) had an incredible Week 1. He's the best wide receiver on either team in this game, regardless of matchup. There's a possibility he'll match up regularly against rookie Roger McCreary, only enhancing his chances of having a blowup performance. There are plenty of occasions when it is smart to fade the chalk, but this isn't one — at least on paper. That's even more true if Gabe Davis ($8,800 DK, $12,500 FD) is unable to suit up, which would only further condense the target share in Buffalo. Davis actually led the team in routes run in Week 1, but his role in terms of commanding targets was clearly secondary to Diggs. Davis is a big-time deep threat — he had two receptions of more than 20 yards and one of more than 40 in Week 1 — but he has never caught more than five passes in any regular season game. That makes him a slightly better fit on FanDuel if he suits up, but the 100-yard bonus on DraftKings gives Davis some additional upside on DraftKings.
If Davis doesn't play, Dawson Knox ($5,800 DK, $9,000 FD) becomes significantly more intriguing as a potential play. He had a disappointing effort in the season opener, but he still finished third on the team in routes run. Already a favorite of Allen near the end zone, Knox is the most natural candidate to absorb any of Davis' vacated targets near the goal-line. Even if Davis plays, Knox is a viable pivot who is likely to be far less popular.
Isaiah McKenzie ($5,600 DK, $7,500 FD) was the preferred slot option against the Rams, and that should remain the case against the Titans. On the other hand, his line was inflated by a seven-yard touchdown. McKenzie doesn't possess overlapping skills with Davis, so his ability to score points isn't likely to significantly change based on Davis' status. Jamison Crowder ($5,200 DK, $7,000 FD) was targeted four times despite running only 13 routes, which came nearly exclusively out of the slot. He's extremely overpriced based on his projected usage.
As was just laid out, the team lacks a natural replacement as the second outside receiver if Davis is out. Jake Kumerow ($200 DK, $5,000 FD) didn't run a route in Week 1, but he becomes a great punt play if Davis is sidelined. Khalil Shakir ($200 DK, $5,500 FD) likely would be active if Davis is inactive, but he didn't get a helmet in Week 1 and appears buried on the depth chart even without Davis.
While Buffalo presents a relatively orderly pecking order at wide receiver, Tennessee is more difficult to sort out. His production didn't reflect it, but Robert Woods ($6,600 DK, $10,000 FD) operated as the top receiver in Week 1. He's a good contrarian play, as I'd expect the Titans to be more intentional about getting him involved in the offense.
Next up is a dichotomy between a pair of rookies in Treylon Burks ($6,200 DK, $11,000 FD) and Kyle Philips ($5,000 DK, $7,500 FD). Philips is getting all the attention after commanding nine targets and tallying six receptions against the Giants. He'll be used near the line of scrimmage and in the slot, which doesn't exactly scream upside. Nevertheless, his Week 1 usage suggests he's an OK cash play on DraftKings. Burks was less involved in the offense overall but saw five targets on only 13 routes. His aDOT was 18.2 yards — double that of Philips — and the Titans might need his big-play ability if they are chasing points as projected. In short, he's a perfect large-field tournament play, with a significant possibility of bottoming out but also a decent chance of being Tennessee's most productive receiver. Nick Westbrook-Ikhine ($4,400 DK, $6,500 FD) was on the field for 41 offensive snaps in Week 1 but ran only 21 routes and saw one target.
Austin Hooper ($3,800 DK, $6,000 FD) was surprisingly uninvolved in Week 1 but only Robert Woods ran more routes among Tennessee pass catchers. Hooper isn't likely to get any attention among fantasy managers, but if Gabe Davis plays there's a case to be made for playing Hooper over Knox.
Conditions will get rough in Buffalo at some point this season, but things look relatively clear Monday. Given the betting lines/expected outcome, Tyler Bass ($4,200 DK, $9,500 FD) is natural kicker to lean toward. He's proven to be accurate overall in two seasons as a pro but is just 6-for-10 from more than 50 yards for his career. Randy Bullock ($4,000 DK, $9,000 FD) got off to a tough start in 2022, missing a game-winning kick as time expired in Week 1. He made only nine of 14 kicks of more than 40 yards last season and has already missed one such attempt in 2022.
As noted, the Buffalo defense ($4,600 DK, $9,000 FD) is among the best units in the league and it showed its upside from a fantasy perspective by piling up seven sacks and three interceptions against the Rams in Week 1. There's a pretty easy case to be made to play them as a result, but we should expect the Titans to both play slower and attempt fewer passes than the Rams. That will lead to less opportunity to put up fantasy points.
There's an interesting case to be made for the Tennessee defense ($3,200 DK, $8,000 FD). The secondary is in tough shape with Kristian Fulton sidelined, but Jeffery Simmons is among the most disruptive players in the league along the defensive line. With an expected heavy flow of passes coming from the Bills offense, there should be opportunity for the Titans' defense to make plays. The defense makes particular sense in a contrarian build that centers around a game narrative where Tennessee wins outright or keeps the score closer than projected. A starting stack of Henry-Burks-Tennessee defense makes some sense as an example and isn't likely to be all that popular.