This article is part of our DFS NFL series.
We've reached the start of Week 2, which features a Thursday Night Football matchup between the Vikings and Eagles. The game is outdoors in Philadelphia, but thankfully weather is not expected to be bad, something that derailed several offenses in Week 1. As a result, we have a healthy point total of 48.5 to 49 points, depending on the sportsbook. As 6.5-point favorites, the Eagles boast an impressive implied team total of 27.5 or 27.75 with the Vikings at 21 or 21.25.
Briefly, for those new to showdown slates, both FanDuel and DraftKings offer single-game contests for Thursday, Sunday and Monday night games, albeit with different setups. FanDuel rosters consist of five players of any position. There is one "MVP" slot, which earns a 1.5 multiplier. The MVP costs the same as the four other flex spots on the roster. The total budget is $60,000, leaving an average of $12,000 per player.
On DraftKings, the "Captain" spot on the roster receives the same multiplier, though the salary also increases. That creates more incentive to get creative and take risks in the captain spot, both to save cap and create different roster builds than will be typical for the rest of the field. There are six roster spots to fill on DK, with five FLEX in addition to the Captain. The salary cap is $50,000, leaving $8,333 per roster spot.
Immediately, there's an interesting discrepancy between sites, as Jalen Hurts ($11,400 DK, $17,500 FD) is the second-most expensive player on DraftKings and the most expensive on FanDuel by $1,500. Hurts was among the players seemingly hurt by weather in Week 1, combined with a tough road matchup at Foxboro. In contrast, the Vikings had among the worst defenses in the league last season and their secondary doesn't look to have improved by a significant margin in 2023. Add in his rushing upside, and there's good reason to expect a big bounceback for Hurts.
Kirk Cousins ($9,200 DK, $15,000 FD) displayed both the good and the bad in his game in Week 1, topping 300 yards with multiple touchdowns but also turning the ball over three times. The end result was a respectable performance, especially on DK where he benefited from the 300-yard bonus. Philly has a strong defense, but they'll be without James Bradberry (concussion) on Thursday, which should open some room for Cousins to connect with his talented wide receiver corps. The matchup in the trenches might be the biggest concern, though Minnesota's line is better protecting the quarterback than opening lanes for running backs.
It should come as no surprise that Hurts is the better play on paper. There's a good chance he's the highest scorer of the game thanks to his rushing ability and potential to find the end zone on the ground. Cousins is viable, but if he has a big game it will likely be with the help of Justin Jefferson, so it makes sense to use Jefferson as captain/MVP and use a FLEX spot on Cousins.
The backfields of these teams couldn't diverge more entering Week 2. Kenneth Gainwell (ribs) dominated touches for the Eagles in Week 1, but he has been ruled out due to injury. Coach Nick Sirianni seemed to tip his hand in comments to the media Wednesday when he said that D'Andre Swift ($4,000 DK, $8,500 FD) is capable of handling a large workload if called upon. He's a standout value on DK and not a bad option on FD, but there is a lot of risk given the Eagles' unpredictable usage. Other options include Boston Scott ($2,200 DK, $7,500 FD) and Rashaad Penny ($1,600 DK, $7,000 FD). Penny was a healthy scratch in Week 1, but Scott likely was active only because of special teams. At a cheaper price and more chance of home run potential, I'd be more willing to take the risk on Penny. Overall, it's a tough backfield to predict, so rostering any of the trio is taking on risk, but Swift, Penny, Scott would be my order of preference.
The situation is flipped in Minnesota. Alexander Mattison ($7,600 DK, $11,500 FD) is the obvious lead back after dominating carries in Week 1. There should be significant concerns about his efficiency, though, as he struggled to rack up yards in Week 1 against Tampa Bay and now faces one of the more talented and deepest defensive lines in the league. Ty Chandler ($1,200 DK, $6,500 FD) is the backup, but there's no reason to play him.
A.J. Brown ($10,600 DK, $13,000 FD) and DeVonta Smith ($9,000 DK, $12,500 FD) dominate targets in the Philly offense and have been nearly even in target rate since the start of 2022. Brown does hold a slight edge of about 2.5 percentage points. Brown is a good play at any time, particularly in a standalone game, because he is capable of putting up scores that make him a must-roster player. Smith is slightly better suited for DK because of his relative lack of touchdowns and the PPR scoring. He also had one more 100-yard receiving performance than Brown last season, which would net a three-point bonus on DK. Quez Watkins ($3,000 DK, $8,000 FD) isn't a great value relative to the potential we get from the Eagles' backfield, but he was on the field for 52 snaps and ran 33 routes in Week 1. In comparison, Smith ran 41 routes and Brown 39.
Justin Jefferson ($12,400 DK, $16,000 FD) is among the best plays any time he takes the field, and he'll benefit from the absence of Bradberry. The Eagles will focus their attention on stopping him, but that hasn't stopped him before. The primary concern would be erratic play from Cousins if the offensive line leaves him under pressure regularly. I'd lean Hurts or Brown in the captain/MVP slot over Jefferson due to context, but Jefferson is capable of taking over the game. K.J. Osborn ($5,000 DK, $7,000 FD) worked ahead of Jordan Addison ($6,400DK, $10,500 FD) for some unknown reason in Week 1, but Addison was more productive and will presumably see the field more as the season continues. If the Vikings hope to stick in this game, they'll need to get him involved. With all the attention on Jefferson, both options are good in theory, but Addison clearly the more talented player.
Dallas Goedert ($5,800 DK, $9,500 FD) was shockingly shut out in Week 1, but immediately after the game, Sirianni said the team needs to get him more involved in the offense. I'd expect him to get some designed plays immediately to start the game, but it's difficult to project a huge performance when both Brown and Smith are on the field. Jack Stoll ($200 DK, $5,000) and Grant Calcaterra ($200, $5,000) ran a combined six routes in Week 1 and can be safely ignored.
T.J. Hockenson ($6,800 DK, $10,000 FD) finished second on the team with nine targets in Week 1, but he racked up only 35 yards. He should be heavily involved as a short option in the middle of the field, which makes him a decent play on DK. In 11 games with Minnesota, he has only three touchdowns. That makes him a harder sell on FD. Josh Oliver ($800 DK, $6,500 FD) is a potential punt play as he ran 13 routes in Week 1, as opposed to Hockenson's 37.
The Eagles ($4,400 DK, $9,500 FD) are an elite defense but are also priced that way. They should rack up sacks and potentially turnovers, but there is a considerable amount of talent on Minnesota's offense. Given the potential values available on this slate, I'd likely look elsewhere.
There's not a particularly compelling reason to play the Vikings ($3,200 DK, $8,000 FD) except to be contrarian for the sake of it. That's not a great reason.
The Eagles offense was too efficient last year to let Jake Elliott ($4,200 DK, $9,000 FD) have an abundance of chances. While they struggled more last week, I'd expect the Eagles to get back on track at home and in better weather. Because of that, I'd rather play Greg Joseph ($3,800 DK, $8,500) as it seems more feasible that Minnesota will be able to move the ball thanks to their skill-position players, but stalling before reaching the end zone.