Week 2 opens with a Minnesota Vikings–Philadelphia Eagles matchup that could be one of the higher-scoring games of the slate. While the Eagles are favored by 6.5 points, there could be plenty of scoring all around, as this 48.5 over/under is the week’s second-highest mark.
For those unfamiliar, single-game slates feature five flex spots with identical scoring to the main slate. However, kickers are included in these contests, and there is an “MVP” roster slot. The MVP receives 1.5 times his total fantasy points, making this spot crucial.
FanDuel Research’s Brandon Gdula has done a deep dive on single-game strategy, and numberFire has projections if you select the game from the slate tab. It’s worth checking out both before making your lineups.
The MVP conversation has to begin with Jalen Hurts ($17,500), who averaged 25.6 FanDuel points per game and led all QBs with 13 rushing touchdowns in 2022.
While Hurts disappointed for 12.5 FanDuel points last week on the road against the New England Patriots, the Pats were the top adjusted defense in numberFire’s metrics last season, whereas these Vikings were below average, most notably ranking just 28th against the pass. In 2022, Hurts threw for 333 yards and tallied three touchdowns (two rushing) against Minnesota, leading to a monstrous 34.0 FanDuel points. He shouldn’t have nearly much trouble moving the ball tonight.
However, as much as Hurts is the most likely candidate to emerge as our optimal MVP, he also figures to see a far higher roster MVP percentage than anyone else.
The obvious MVP alternative to Hurts is Justin Jefferson ($16,000), who picked up right where he left off in Week 1. Logging a 27.3% target share and 37.5% air yards share, Jefferson would go on to haul in 9 of 12 targets for 150 receiving yards versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
This is admittedly a tough test, though, as Philadelphia was numberFire’s top adjusted pass defense last year. Sure, they gave up 316 passing yards and three scores to Mac Jones in Week 1, but that required a week-high 54 pass attempts. numberFire’s initial rankings still place the Eagles’ adjusted pass defense top 10 after the opening week.
That being said, we also saw Kirk Cousins ($15,000) sling it 44 times last week, and he was fourth in pass attempts last year. The passing volume ought to be there for Jefferson in a game where the Vikings could be playing catch-up. The Eagles will also be without cornerback James Bradberry and safety Reed Blankenship in the secondary.
All in all, it wouldn’t be the least bit shocking to see Jefferson emerge with the night’s top score.
Speaking of Cousins, the presence of both Hurts and Jefferson could leave him third in MVP popularity, making him intriguing despite his lack of rushing upside.
Last week, he threw for the second-most passing yards (344), and the aforementioned Mac Jones was the overall QB2 facing these Eagles. Although Cousins did struggle in this matchup in 2022, Philadelphia’s injuries on defense should help this time around.
In 2022, Brown and Smith finished as the WR5 and WR10, respectively, combining for a massive 56.0% of Hurts’ targets. Brown held the edge in all of target share, air yards share, and end zone target share, so he’s the better bet for a spike week — but Smith should be the one who gets a much lower MVP roster percentage. Both players saw 10 targets in Week 1.
As a touchdown underdog, running back Alexander Mattison ($11,500) probably won’t be overly popular in the multiplier slot, particularly after recording just 44 scrimmage yards on 11 rushes and 4 targets last week.
However, he probably deserves a pass on that production against a Tampa Bay team that ranked first in adjusted rush defense in 2022. He’s the Vikings’ clear three-down back, as he played 73.0% of the snaps, and that included logging three of their four red zone carries.
Philadelphia’s adjusted rush defense actually rated near the bottom last year, but New England’s running backs weren’t able to get much going in Week 1, and game script could also leave Mattison with fewer opportunities.
Perhaps this slate’s toughest decision will revolve around the Eagles’ backfield. Kenneth Gainwell dominated playing time (62.3% snap rate) and opportunities (14 rushes and 4 targets) in Week 1, but he’s already been ruled out due to a rib injury.
This leaves D’Andre Swift ($8,500), Rashaad Penny ($7,000), and Boston Scott ($7,500) in a committee where it’s anyone’s guess how the snaps and touches shake out. Swift (27.9% snap rate) and Scott (13.1%) saw minimal roles last week while Penny wasn’t even active as a healthy scratch.
It’s gross, but these are also low salaries, so if one emerges with the majority of touches, he has a good chance of landing on the optimal lineup. Given that Swift played the most last week, he should theoretically be the next man up, but if Penny is active, it’s possible he takes a lot of the rushing work vacated by Gainwell.
For what it’s worth, numberFire’s projections are pegging Swift for the most FanDuel points but have the work split somewhat evenly between all three.
Goedert scored… zero points on one target in the opener, but we might want to get him a pass against the Patriots. He played nearly all the snaps (93.4%) and ran plenty of routes (83.3%), so he ought to see closer to the 19.2% target share we saw in 2022 moving forward.
In Week 1, Watkins saw two targets, but much like Goedert, he was out there a lot with a 77.0% snap rate and 75.0% route rate. He rarely saw more than a handful of targets last season and likely needs to convert a couple of chunk plays and a touchdown to move the needle.
Hockenson was second on the team with nine targets (20.5%) last week, and that target share falls in line with what we saw in 2022. He should once again be one of the league’s best fantasy tight ends, and it can’t hurt that New England’s Hunter Henry was the opening fantasy TE1 facing these same Eagles.
Osborn was well ahead of Addison in snaps (90.5% vs. 55.6%) and routes (93.5% vs. 67.4%) despite the two seeing six targets apiece. We shouldn’t doubt the talented rookie by any means, as he basically doubled up Osborn with 61 receiving yards and scored a touchdown, but the giant gap in salaries does make Osborn an intriguing value play.
Defenses can often be an afterthought, but the Philadelphia D/ST ($9,500) has appeal against what should be a pass-heavy attack, and we did just see the New York Jets D/ST and Dallas D/ST crush it on the last two island game slates. Cousins threw three picks against the Eagles in 2022 and had three turnovers last week.
Likewise, among the kickers, Jake Elliott ($9,000) is the preferred side as the home favorite. While we shouldn’t expect the Eagles to stall in opposing territory very often, Elliott scored 18 FanDuel points with four field goals in Week 1.
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