When I’m looking into the DFS slate each week, I like to go game by game and identify players or situations that intrigue me. In every game, on every team, there’s a situation that’s relevant for DFS purposes. Whether it’s for a positive or negative reason, doesn’t matter. It informs us of how we should be attacking each slate. Each week, I’m going to go through that process here and give my view on a player or situation based on what we know so far and what we can expect to see in the future.
It wasn’t enough for Michael Crabtree ($5,100) to ruin all of my Amari Cooper shares last year, he had to continue to break my heart last week as he earned nine targets and broke 100 air yards for the first time all season. That came at the expense of John Brown ($5,700) who saw just 53 air yards after earning at least 189 in each of the previous four weeks. Oh, and Willie Snead ($4,000) saw 10 targets for 123 air yards. I’m not sure that I know how to make sense of this receiver corp. They play host to the Saints who have given up spike games to WRs.1 I could see sprinkling a couple of GPP shares, but it’s a situation I’m largely avoiding.
Derek Anderson is starting at QB. There probably are worse situations, but I can’t think of many. Kelvin Benjamin straight out refused to work on routes with Josh Allen last week. No one is playable on the Bills in my opinion.
The Panthers have been up and down so far this season. They take their 3-2 record up to Philadelphia in a game where they are underdogs by 4.5 points. What do we like in DFS? Say it with me now … predictability. Christian McCaffrey ($7,700) is priced fairly this week given his touch volume. It appears to be a tough matchup on paper, but the Eagles have only faced one true workhorse in Saquon Barkley. Philly let up 130 yards on the ground and 99 yards on nine catches in that game. I’m not sure that he is cash viable, but CMC in a few GPP lineups wouldn’t be the worst thing for your ROI.
The Bears past two games are a microcosm of the NFL. Before their bye week, the Bears looked unbelievable while they completely boat raced the Tampa Bay Bucs. Then, two weeks later, they cough up a game against the Brock Osweiler-led Miami Dolphins. After steady usage to start the year, Allen Robinson ($6,100) hasn’t broken 70 air yards over the past two weeks. Of the five top targets for the Bears so far this season, Robinson is lagging far behind in AYA.
There are people who aren’t going to play David Njoku ($4,200) this week. Don’t be one of those people. In the games that Baker Mayfield ($5,800) has started, Njoku is averaging ten targets. Ten. His expected points have ramped up from 3 in the Jets game to 20 against the Chargers last weekend. Tampa Bay hasn’t been stellar against the TE. Since Week 2, the Bucs have allowed one TE to score 17-plus points on them each week. They’ve given up big plays, they’ve given up the volume. Njoku has a high ceiling and makes for a great play in all formats.
An underwhelming Dallas team found a way to beat Jacksonville by 33 points last week. They take on Washington, who somewhat surprisingly beat Carolina last week, as 1.5-point road dogs. Ezekiel Elliot ($8,100) remains at a palatable price this week. He’s averaging nearly 25 opportunities per game. Last week was the first time all season that Zeke had seen less than four targets and that was due to game script. He’s found the end zone in four of six games so far this season.
The Lions are going up against Brock Osweiler and the fightin’ Dolphins this week. Brock performed admirably last week, but with Detroit coming off of a bye it could be a rough go for Miami. Both Golden Tate ($6,400) and Kenny Golladay ($6,000) have 19-plus median projections and 26-plus point ceilings. Rotating them through your GPP lineups makes some sense given the matchup. Miami has given up the 27th most PPR points to WRs. If you only want to play one Lion, I’d go with Golladay. Tate hasn’t seen a red-zone target since Week 1, while Kenny has seen four over the past three weeks. He’s Top 20 in WOPR and can break a big play at any point.
Week 6 was the first time all season that the Texans attempted fewer than 32 passes. They won by a touchdown against the Buffalo Bills. This week, they’re going on the road to Jacksonville and are underdogs by five points. That should mean more passes on Sunday for Deshaun Watson ($5,500) and Co. A matchup with the vaunted Jags D might seem scary but a target hog like Odell Beckham got there…and Chris Hogan (who’s largely done nothing this season) found the end zone twice against them as well. It’s almost like defense doesn’t – nevermind. DeAndre Hopkins ($6,900) is priced way down, presumably because of the matchup. The GLSP – WR App is giving Hopkins a median projection of 19 points. At likely depressed ownership and a cheap price, I’ll take that in GPPs all day long.
When you have a quarterback returning from a year off for a shoulder surgery, you just have to find a way to get him on pace to throw over 750 times in the season. Andrew Luck ($6,200) has now hit the 300 yard bonus and 20-plus points on DK in four of six games and has thrown for multiple TDs in all but one game. If you’re stacking in a GPP, Eric Ebron ($5,400) has six TDs in as many games and has been at least a top six TE in each of the past three weeks. Luck has been at his most efficient when targeting Ebron this year and we all know he’s prone to target the TE.
The Jaguars defense has shown some give lately, to put it nicely. Back to back losses of 16 and 33 points, respectively, has many people wondering whether or not they are the defensive juggernaut we thought. Or, perhaps more appropriately, is there even such a thing as a defensive juggernaut in today’s game? TJ Yeldon ($6,400) is just begging to be played in this game. Let’s take a look at how many categories he’s in the Top 15 of for RBs:
- Fantasy Points Per Game
- Total Touchdowns
- Receiving Targets
- Receiving Yards
- Expected Points Per Game
- Red Zone Opportunities
Leonard Fournette still hasn’t made it back to practice yet. It looks like Yeldon is a full go again this week.
Los Angeles Rams
It turns out that $10,000 isn’t too expensive for Todd Gurley ($9,800). There isn’t a price where I won’t play Gurley from this point forward. His role is just too valuable. He’s had 48 red-zone opportunities so far this year. Only three other running backs are even above 20 such opportunities. To give some more perspective, he’s averaging more red-zone opportunities per game than LeSean McCoy has seen all season. Gurley hasn’t scored fewer than 24 PPR Points yet this year, and I don’t think that’s changing against the 49ers.
Nine different receivers saw at least one target in the game against Chicago last week. Now, the Dolphins host the Lions. It’s difficult to make much sense of anything with a Brock Osweiler ($4,700) led team. Albert Wilson ($4,000) and Danny Amendola ($3,900) saw nine and ten targets, respectively, last week. If you’re itching to play someone in Miami then a GPP sprinkle of either of them makes sense, but it’s a stay away for me.
Any doubts that Adam Thielen ($8,600) would be the guy for the Vikings almost seem laughable at this point. He’s seen double digit targets in every game so far this season and is on a record-breaking pace. Thielen is on a streak of five straight weeks with finishes at WR6 or better. He leads the league in targets and WOPR and has seen triple-digit air yards in all but one game. The Jets have been awful against opposing WRs, allowing 11 double-digit scorers through the first six weeks.
New England Patriots
I don’t want to play a Patriots RB. I don’t want to play Sony Michel ($5,500). But he’s seeing a steady workload. They worked him in slowly in Week 2, but he’s seen at least 17 opportunities in each game since then. Michel isn’t seeing the lion’s share of the snaps but when he’s in, he sees significant usage. It’s a tough matchup but his volume at that price makes sense if you want to fit in some of the high priced guys.
New Orleans Saints
Alvin Kamara ($8,500) was only in on 31 of 66 snaps and saw 10 opportunities in Mark Ingram’s return. It’s hard to envision a situation where he sees such little usage again. He had seen 21 red-zone carries through the first four games of the season and then he saw none. Saw 14 red zone targets in that time and just one in Week 5. People will be scared off of him based on what they saw last time out. The ownership discount far outweighs anything else surrounding Kamara. His ceiling is as high as ever.
New York Jets
The Isaiah Crowell ($4,400) situation is one worth monitoring. He’s dealing with a foot injury but he missed a few days of practice last week and still managed to play on Sunday. Crowell has seen 15-plus opportunities in four of six games so far this year but his fantasy point output has been underwhelming. That being said, the GLSPs like him, giving him a 16-point median projection. If that’s the case and he’s good to go, it would be hard to argue against him at his current price.
After missing games to start the season, Alshon Jeffery ($6,300) is emphatically back. On a per-game basis, Jeffery has been excellent. Carson Wentz obviously trusts him in the red zone, he’s seen at least two targets in that part of the field in all three of his starts. In addition, he’s seen at least 98 air yards in all three of his starts. The matchup might scare some, but the Panthers have allowed guys like Tyler Boyd and Calvin Ridley to get there against them. Why not Alshon?
San Francisco 49ers
Replacement level QBs like Derek Carr and Sam Bradford were stymied by this Rams defense, but over the past four weeks that defense has been giving up more production to the position. They’ve allowed an average of 22 points in that time frame. Enter C.J. Beathard ($4,800). He got the MNF discount to a certain extent. Truth be told, I’m not sure how high they’d be willing to price him anyway. Either way, it’s something that we need to exploit this week in cash at the very least. What does Beathard have to do to gain the respect of the fantasy community? I’m not saying he’s a great NFL QB, but you can do a lot worse for under $5,000 on DK this week (I’m looking at you Derek Anderson). If we want to pay for the RB on the other side of this game, we need to find value. It’s not a bad correlation play in this type of game either. QBs to opposing RB1s in this game environment have over a .4 r-squared.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay can score. They can’t stop anyone from scoring. Those are things we like from a team in DFS. The only problem is that the target share dispersion is all over the map. They have targeted at least eight different pass catchers in each of the past three games. Not exactly the target concentration we’re looking for. Even Mike Evans ($7,700), who should see the lion’s share of targets, wasn’t the target hog we hoped for last week. Chris Godwin ($4,600) saw nine targets last week and is at a very reasonable price. I think you can make the argument to stack a popular Jameis Winston ($6,300) with any number of his pass catchers in a game at home that could easily go over.
Which Washington team shows up this week? The one that beats Green Bay by 14 or the one that loses to New Orleans by 24 coming off of a bye? Whether it’s because he helps them get the lead or they need him to come back, I think Jordan Reed ($4,800) makes some sense this weekend. He’ll be a popular option at his price, but I think matching the field in GPPs makes some sense. Besides his disappearing act against the Saints, he has seen 5-plus targets in each game. He’s second on the team in air yards and targets. Tight end is largely a dumpster fire, so taking a shot on a guy that should see targets like Reed makes sense.
- see Ridley, Calvin in Week 3 (back)