Week 6 2017
This was a much better week for me even with exposure to Ajayi, Parker, Hyde, and Bell. Just to explain my personal style, I handcraft 20-25 lines each week focusing on a very tight group of guys. This week, Gordon, Green, Jones, Torrey Smith, Dez, ASJ, and Hilton all came through for me, so hopefully we can all keep it rolling this week. While having a small pool does open you up for a great risk of a loss, when it hits, you hit big, and I feel like this is the best long-term EV+ move.
PHI (21.5) @ CAR (24.5)
As we saw last week, TNF games are fickle beasts. At any given point, one or both teams can come in wildly unprepared and what should have been an otherwise entertaining game becomes a snoozefest. Hopefully, this is a good one, but there is always inherent risk in these games.
Lane Johnson exited last week’s game with a concussion, and he looks very doubtful at this point – he is a literally huge piece here and I cannot overstate this. So far this year, he has graded out as the 7th-best run blocker and 4th-best pass protector, good enough for the 3rd-overall best tackle. Blount will probably get his normal 15ish carries, but CAR is very difficult to run on as I noted last week, and they still haven’t let a back go for over 56 yards on them. I won’t be surprised if Blount gets around 70 yards, but his ceiling is probably capped around 13 points if he does hit this and also gets a TD (and this ceiling will be even harder to reach if Johnson is out). With Smallwood out this past week, we saw Barner and Clement step into his role, and it remains to be seen whether Wendell can play here or not. Either way, I don’t want to go with any Eagles’ back here due to the timeshare and negative game script. We have seen them become much more run heavy over the past two weeks, but they have led for most of that time, and are the 10th-most pass heavy team in the NFL when trailing or tied.
Carolina is fairly strong against TEs, but we saw Gronk put up 4-80-0 on them in Week 4 and Darren Fells just pasted them with 2-24-2 last week, so I’m not that scared of them versus Ertz here. Ertz is averaging just about 10 targets a game and has either scored a TD or gone over 80 yards in each of them so far. He is clearly Wentz’s go-to guy and the Eagles actively scheme to get the ball in his hands, and the game script projects to be in his favor here. Agholor gets another excellent match-up against Munnerlyn in the slot (the Captain grades out as the 82nd CB out of 109), and the Panthers have given up receiving TDs to slot receivers in 2 out of the past 3 weeks. Agholor’s usage has been sporadic, but he has seen increasing targets in each of the last 3 weeks – 5>4>3. One of my favorite plays in this game is Alshon Jeffery. He has started the year off against Norman, Peters, Jenkins, Hayward, and Peterson so far and, as you can guess, doesn’t have many big numbers to show for it. (He did put up 22.2 points on the Chiefs, but his TD and a big chunk of that yardage came on the side opposite of Peters.) This week he gets Kevon Seymour or his replacement if he gets benched. While Jeffery has seen his targets decline in 4 straight games, I think that they make a concerted effort to get the ball in his hands here. This is purely speculative, but between his by far best match-up of the year and pass-heavy game script that the Eagles should find themselves in, I think he sets up as a great under the radar play.
As we saw this past week, CMC continues with his minimal running workload and a decent-sized pass complement. He finally made it into the end zone on a short pass and the Eagles are 21st against receiving backs, and as we saw from Ellington who put up 9-65-0 through the air, players like these make a great release valve for all of the pressure that Philly brings. Thus, I’m fine taking him on smaller slates, but I will steer well clear on the big Thurs-Mon beast. Stewart continues to get most of the carries and continues to be wildly inefficient with them, and this game should follow suit against a stout Eagles’ run D (they have only allowed Hunt to go over 35 yards on the ground against them).
Funchess figures to primarily run into Jalen Mill’s coverage and as everyone knows, I love picking on Mills. I have said this repeatedly recently, but haven’t actually provided any figures to back this up for a few weeks, so here is where he stands currently versus other CBs: targeted the most (54), given up the 2nd-most yards (354), and 4th-most TDs (3). Funchess has also seen 27 targets to Benjamin’s 12 over the past 3 weeks. Speaking of K-Benj, he gets Douglas, but I’m betting on Benjamin in this match-up as we just saw him beat Slay last week and Douglas is no Slay. After Dickson’s massive game last week where he put up a 5-175-0 line and with him clocking in at a head-scratching $3000 this week, he will most assuredly be heavily owned here. We have to at least consider him at that price, but the Eagles have been good against TEs for the last several years and have only allowed Kelce to put up over 9.5 points on them so far this year. If you think that he can achieve Kelce numbers, go for it, but I’m fine with rolling the dice on the Eagles shutting him down and gaining massive leverage against the field in GPPs.
CLE (18.25) @ HOU (28.25)
Ok, so I might have been wrong about Foreman and Miller – I do still think at some point Foreman will take over for Miller, but I have no idea when that will be. Miller just out-snapped him 56 to 9 this past week, but part of that could be because Foreman lost a fumble early on. Foreman is apparently also dealing with a hip injury that has limited him in practice, which could also explain his dearth of touches. Regardless, CLE is a huge funnel defense as they rank 3rd against the run and 30th against the pass, so rostering a RB against them remains riskier than many assume. The only two 13+ point games that they have given up so far were to Gio and Buck Allen who both needed a receiving TD and volume in the pass game to hit this. While Miller has been more heavily involved in the pass game than Foreman and he does project to be in a very positive game script, I wouldn’t go too overboard here unless Foreman continues to be limited. My concerns with Miller are that he has only seen more than 3 targets in a game once this year and I think his ceiling is capped with Watson potentially vulturing goal line carries. He is an excellent leverage play on Watson and Hopkins, however.
As noted above, the Browns continue to be exceptionally weak against the pass as they have bled points to both WRs and TEs. Last week, ASJ was only the second TE to go under 15 DK points on them for the year, and he just missed that mark with 14.9. Since returning from his concussion, Griffin has seen an average of 5 targets/game, but unfortunately gets the “Browns bump” to his pricing as it is up at $4000 here. Hopkins has still seen back-to-back 12 target weeks even with Fuller back, so it looks like he will maintain his high volume, which is great for his fantasy outlook. The only thing potentially holding him back is whether or not the Browns can actually put up some points to force Watson to keep throwing here as we have seen a couple of big lines from WR1s already(11-182-0 to AB and 7-153-1 to Hilton), but others didn’t quite pan out due to game script (Green with 5-63-1). As you can infer from all of this, the Browns have given up an average of 24 points/game to QBs, which is good enough (bad enough?) for 5th-worst. After Watson’s back-to-back huge weeks, I assume that he will be a popular option on this slate against this defense. Myles Garrett came in and immediately had 2 sacks against the Jets last week, and I think he has a good chance at several more this week as the Texans have given up the most in the league (20). I do also just want to point out that Watson only had 16 completions last week, so having them go for 5 TDs is incredibly fluky.
Speaking of rookie QBs, Kizer lost his starting job after getting benched again last week (as I noted last week, he is #godawful). This means that Hogan will get to show what he has, and currently, he has as many TDs as Kizer, 3, on 121 fewer attempts. Hogan should also not face too much pressure in the pocket here as both JJ Watt and Whitney Mercilus are done for the season and the Texans just signed Lamarr Houston off the street to hopefully do something. In regards to his receivers, it looks like Louis might be his favorite as he ended up with 5-71-0 against the Jets on 8 targets. I do think that Njoku will probably get more play moving forward though as he had several outstanding catches and definitely looks like their most athletically gifted option here (he ended the day with 3-48-1 on 3 targets, all of which came from Hogan). While HOU does rank 6th in DVOA against TEs, we have seen both Kelce and Gronk put up big lines against them so far. While I’m definitely not saying that Njoku is at their level, he has looked good so far, will have positive game script, seems to have rapport with Hogan, and only costs $3000. He is obviously very high risk and I don’t know what his ceiling is in this offense, but he will have next to no ownership and intrigues me a lot here.
While DJ-lite did have a 3-63-1 receiving line that salvaged his fantasy day, he did only see 3 targets, his lowest number on the year. This could definitely be a fluke, but it also could be a sign of his usage under Hogan, so with a lot of other cheap RB options, I won’t roster him at $5100. We can continue to ignore Crowell as far as I’m concerned.
DET (23) @ NO (27)
Sharp money is both on the Saints and the under here, as NO has only received 41% of the bets while they have seen a 0.5 point swing in their favor. The under bet is much more extreme as it has received only 27% while forcing the line to drop by 0.5 points.
I just want to say that I freaking called this a few weeks ago – the Saints traded away AP. Not only did he look like a poor fit, but I have to assume that he expressed a lot of displeasure in the locker room about his usage (or lack thereof). It also means that Payton is very comfortable with Ingram and Kamara as his RBs. I think we can look at their last game against MIA as a mold for how they will proceed moving forward as AP only got 4 carries in that one, while Ingram got 14 carries and 8 targets to Kamara’s 5 carries and 10 targets (Ingram also saw 36 passing and running snaps to Kamara’s 23). Ingram is also by far the most trusted pass blocker as Kamara didn’t see a single snap in that regard. Both are reasonably priced with Ingram at $4400 and Kamara at $4500, but I assume that Kamara will garner more ownership with how explosive he has looked so far. Personally, I like Ingram here for a couple of reasons:
- The Saints figure to control this game.
- He is the lower priced option who will also see lower ownership.
- If anything, he should see the majority of the carries that AP is leaving behind (obviously, this isn’t huge volume though).
- DET just lost Haloti Ngata to the IR. While Ngata did grade out better in the pass rush than run defense, he wasn’t a weakness against the run by any stretch, and I do expect cohesion problems within the Lions’ d line with him out.
- Terron Armstead might be back for this one and this will obviously be a big boost for the Saints’ o line.
While DET does rank 9th against the pass, they do only rank 28th against TEs as we saw Ed Dickson destroy them last week with his monster 25.5 point game. With that being said, I’m worried about Fleener’s usage here since Snead is returning and I could see them cannibalizing each other’s touches (but who knows how much Snead will play since Coleman has been functional out of the slot). Regardless, I will stay away from Snead/Coleman as they get a tough match-up against Diggs in the slot. Thomas does interest me a lot here as we saw last week what big-bodied receivers do against the Lions with both Funchess and K-Benj putting up 15+. If Slay ends up shadowing him, Thomas has 3” and 20 pounds on him. If they play sides, he will get the bad combo of Nevin Lawson and DJ Hayden (both are bottom 15 in the league). Thomas averages over 9 targets a game and has 3 straight games of 85+ yards with TDs in his last 2. While he hasn’t gone over 100 yards in a single game this year, we know that will change and soon. I’m going to fire him up here with confidence.
Stafford got a little banged up last week as he had a cut on his hand and was limping by the end of the game, but it didn’t seem like his leg injury was anything serious and I assume he will play this week since he finished out the 4th quarter. Either way, the Lions need him since they figure to trail by quite a bit. Surprisingly, NO’s outside corners both grade out in the top-10 per PFF, so this will be tough sledding for MJ and the other Jones. Tate, on the other hand, gets a pristine match-up against Kenny Vaccaro in the slot, who grades out as the 84th-best CB. In their losses against the Panthers and the Falcons, Tate has seen at least 8 targets in each along with 3 RZ targets over those two contests. Even though he hasn’t done much in his last two, DK has him priced up $6800 this week as I assume they are still pricing up players against the Saints as that is what their algorithm did last year.
The Saints are still very weak against the run as they rank 30th in DVOA and, outside of Ajayi in London, they have allowed a runner to put up 17.6+ points on them every week. If we combine all 3 main NE backs from that 17.6 week, however, we get a total of 43.9 there. Unfortunately, I don’t think we can trust Abdullah’s ceiling in this spot as he has still never gone over 100 yards in his career and drops down to an average of 12 carries/game in the Lions two losses. Riddick averages 7 targets per game in these two, but with all of the other cheap options at a similar price point, I can’t really stomach banking on this usage at $4300.
If Stafford is out or at all limited, I think that we have to seriously consider the Saints’ D here. The Lions have allowed the 4th-most sacks in the league so far with 18 (tied with BUF and IND), and the Saints already have 4 picks and 5 forced fumbles.
MIA (16.5) @ ATL (29.5)
It turns out that the Miami o-line coach really likes his lines – and I’m not talking about the one protecting Cutler. He resigned early this week, but why should we really be surprised with what a mess this team is?
Vic Beasley also might return this week for the Falcons, which won’t help the Dolphins pass protection at all. Parker left last week’s game with an ankle injury, but will return this week as it is only ‘minor.’ The major problem for him is Cutler. Cutler has thrown for 256 yards combined against the Saints and Titans over the past two weeks and only managed a meager 12.7 points the week before that against the Jets. Parker will get the Falcons’ weakest CB, Alford, for the majority of his snaps, and he will be in a favorable game script, but can you really trust Cutler here? As of Thursday, Parker is still not practicing, however, and if he cannot play, I don’t hate a volume based flyer on Landry. He has seen 10+ targets in every game except 1 this year, and he will be in a very positive game script. His price tag of $6600 is tough to stomach when I have questions about his ceiling, but he could potentially go 12-60-1 here.
With the coaching boondoggle, how bad Ajayi has looked anyway, and the negative game script, I’m going to steer well clear. ATL has one of the worst rush defenses in the league as they rank 29th, but Ajayi couldn’t do anything against the 30th-ranked Saints two weeks ago. He also failed against the 17th-ranked Titans last week.
Remember, Sanu will be out for this one, so we might finally see Julio become the focal point of this passing offense. MIA is also one of the biggest funnels in the league as they rank 2nd against the run and 29th against the pass, and they have given up either 100 yards or a TD to a WR in every game so far this year except against TEN, and here are a few of the notable lines:
|Week||Recs||Rec Yards||Rec TDs||DK Points|
In that Titans game, they did still give up a passing TD from Cassell, but it was to TE – Cassell to Supernaw if we want to get precise. There’s a connection everyone predicted. Julio will also go up against the rookie, Cordrea Tankersley. Class is in session here. We could also look at Hooper here as I assume that he will assume at least some of Sanu’s volume and MIA isn’t great against TEs either (20th in DVOA). My only concern with either option is that the Falcons won’t have to throw much since the Dolphins won’t be able to answer them offensively.
While MIA is strong against the run, they have given up 20+ point days to Gordon and Kamara so far (most of this did come through the air for each though). Coleman is averaging 4.75 targets/game so far with another 7ish carries, but I just can’t go here at $5000. Freeman has been trending in the right direction as he has seen at least 18 carries in each of the last 3 weeks along with 2-3 targets per game. His price tag of $7400 is still a tough ask for a timeshare like this, but he has the 7th most RZ carries in the league with 14 even though he has already had his bye, and game script will be in his favor. He has also out-targeted Coleman 3 to 2 in the RZ and had at least one TD in every game so far this year, but this obviously won’t continue to happen each week. I like Freeman as a contrarian play here and will have some ownership accordingly.
NE (28.5) @ NYJ (19)
Bilal Powell wasn’t utilized very heavily and then went down with a calf strain in the second half. At this point, he is listed as “day to day,” but it sounds like he will probably miss this one. While initial reports stated that Elijah McGuire is in for a “heavy workload,” Forte returned to limited practice on Wednesday. Keep an eye on the news here as this might not be cleared up until close to lock and, if both Forte and Powell miss this one, McGuire will immediately become a top tier option that you can get at low ownership if news breaks late. Just in case you were wondering, NE is 27th against the run and 27th against receiving backs.
Due to the negative game script, McCown will probably have to air it out here. NE is dead last in pass DVOA, and the only week that they haven’t given up multiple passing TDs is the last one against a very underprepared Bucs squad. Even with that game factored in, they are still allowing 29.5 points per game to QBs so far this year. I don’t hate McCown, but I really don’t know what his ceiling is as it doesn’t seem all that high, so I don’t know if I can go here again. None of the Jets WRs grade out all that well, but Kearse gets the best match-up on Gilmore, so take a flyer if you want to. The receiving option that I really love here is ASJ. He was the absolute chalk last week and put up “only” 14.9 points on 8 targets. His price has risen this week, and I assume he will be wildly under-owned here. Everything that we liked about him last week holds true and he gets another super soft match-up. Remember, the Patriots have given up receiving TDs to a TE every week so far except against the Panthers (i.e. so 80% of the time).
While the Jets defense has shown to be better than I thought they would be going into the year, they have faced the Browns, JAX, Miami, the Raiders, and Buffalo. These are incredibly weak offenses except for the Carr-led Raiders, who promptly put up 45 on them. Guess which offense the Patriots are closest to? Either way, the Jets grade out 18th against the pass and 25th against the run, but I do think that those already iffy numbers are skewed by their opponents. The biggest problem for the Pats is that Tom Brady has an AC joint sprain in his non-throwing shoulder. Obviously this is better than having one in his throwing shoulder, and he said that he has already played through this injury earlier in his career, but I’m not sure if this will have an impact on his throwing motion as I don’t know enough about the injury. Either way, Brady is by far the most expensive QB this week at $8300, which is a full $1000 more than Rodgers. Brady could obviously end up putting up more points on the board than anyone else, but the Pats could run it in 3 times instead, severely hampering his upside. I might end up with one Brady team, but I assume my exposure will be limited.
Anyway, on to his pass catchers. Cooks will run against Claiborne who’s slow enough to fall into the territory where Cooks does well, but Cooks still comes at the hefty price of $7600. Hogan has nearly caught up to him, however, as he clocks in at $7000, which is partly due to him catching 5 TDs in his last 4 games. Amendola has seen his targets increase over the past couple of weeks, but I assume that mainly stems from Gronk’s injuries. I don’t want to pay $5600 for a possession receiver, even one in a good offense, as I really don’t like his ceiling with all of the other options on this team. Speaking of the man, the myth, the monster, the Jets come in at 2nd in DVOA against TEs. They have, however, already allowed Njoku and Clay to catch TDs on them, and Gronk is clearly a separate beast than anything that they have faced so far. This week, because of the speed match-up, lower ownership, similar cost, and upside, I prefer Cooks to Hogan. Gronk is always an excellent option as well since he is cheaper than both of them and has just as much, if not more, TD equity. The Patriots are always one of the toughest teams to call though, so feel free to disagree with me if you have a compelling argument.
The Jets are also exceedingly generous to RBs. Not only are they weak against the ground game in general, they are also 26th against receiving backs, and here are some lines that they have given up so far this year:
Gillislee has seen exactly 12 carries per game in each of the last 3, but hasn’t done anything with these touches. He is currently tied for 2nd in the NFL with 18, which is obviously good, but 13 of these came in the first 2 weeks of the year. White continues to be a PPR monster with 30 targets over his last 4 games, and this includes his inexplicable 1 target game against HOU. He also saw enhanced RZ usage last week presumably at Gillislee’s expense as he had 2 carries and 2 targets there. Lewis has seen his carries increase each week over the last 3 – 2 to 4 to 7 – and looked explosive against the Bucs as he averaged over 7.5 ypc there. Just like with the receivers, trying to predict this backfield is always a nightmare. I think that Lewis makes the best tournament play between his increased usage, how he looked, his exceptionally low price tag of $3800, and he will see the least ownership out of the three. Also, remember that he put up a lot of crooked lines two years ago before he was injured, so we know the talent is there. Gillislee would probably be my second choice as he has the best chance at getting 3 TDs on the day, and is probably a slightly safer pick than Lewis. White is the one with the safest floor since he will probably see another gaggle of targets here.
CHI (16.5) @ BAL (23)
I have to admit that Trubisky impressed me quite a bit last week against the Vikings. He came out and read through his progressions before taking off and running, and this is something that I really want to see from a rookie as too many stare down their first option. He also fit in some really good passes into tight windows, but the game definitely started dragging after the first drive or two and he had trouble moving his team effectively. This isn’t necessarily a knock on him as his pass catching corps are giving the Giants a run for their money for the “Worst in the League” title. The one piece that interests me here is Zach Miller as the Ravens are dead last against TEs in DVOA and Miller appears to be Trubisky’s preferred option as he saw a team-high 7 targets last week.
BAL is ranked a surprisingly low 22nd in DVOA and have given up 4 rushing TDs in their last 3 weeks. Outside of the massive 37.6 point game that they gave up to Bell though (35-144-2 rushing and 4-42-0 receiving), they haven’t allowed another back to put up more than 17 points on them, and that was Fournette. I do think that this is most likely due to who they have played as they have faced the committees of the Raiders, Browns, and Bengals, however. Howard will continue to see his heavy workload – he has averaged 20 carries over the past 3 weeks – and DK priced him at a very reasonable $5900 this week. Thus, I find myself liking him quite a bit as a GPP option here. He didn’t see any targets from Trubisky, however, so he might have lost that part of his game. Since Cunningham has come back, Cohen has inexplicably lost a lot of market share, so I’m not rolling either of them. Seriously, why would you not use Cohen here?
Chicago has given up a receiving TD in every game so far as they have been gashed by both WR1s and TEs. Maclin has seen his target share rise in 3 straight – 8>6>5 – so I assume that his rapport with Flacco is growing. Wallace has put up 17+ points in back-to-back weeks right now and you only ever need 1 big play from him, but he is still seeing very few targets outside of his 10-target outlier versus PIT. Both are similarly priced at $4400 for Maclin and $4300 for Wallace, and I don’t hate a flyer on either here, but neither is heavily involved in the RZ, which is a little concerning. I assume that both will see low ownership, but Wallace will probably be higher due to the box score watchers and he does get the easiest match-up against Fuller on the outside.
Terrance West left last week with a calf injury, and he looks doubtful for this one, which will leave Allen and Collins as the only two available backs. After West went down, Allen took over with the majority of carries (I presume due to Harbaugh still hating Collins for his fumbles), but again proved very inefficient as he averaged <3.5 ypc. A TD and his receiving skills saved his fantasy day, however, as he ended up with 18.5 points. Collins is clearly the better runner, but has very little involvement in the passing game, so I assume that he will eventually become the early-down back with Buck coming in for the thirds. Either way, CHI is middle of the road against RBs and slightly stronger against receiving backs (12th in DVOA). No back has put up over 95 rushing yards on them so far, but they have given up a rushing TD every week so far this year. This partially stemmed from Glennon continually putting them in compromising situations, but it also came from defensive fatigue and injuries. We shall see how Trubisky does moving forward (he can’t possibly be worse), but the injuries are a big concern here as it looks like they have 5 LBs out this week. All-in-all, I won’t be surprised if Collins gets a lot of work here since they should have the lead, but if he fumbles (or if he is still in Harbaugh’s doghouse) then Allen will get all of the touches in a very favorable situation.
There have been a lot of #hotbucky takes this week, so Brandon, Dan, and I have a pound of jellybeans riding on Allen versus Howard versus Ingram, DK scoring. Dan is rolling with Ingram for the strawberry daiquiris, I’m riding Howard for lemon, and Brandon will take anything other than black licorice.
SF (17.75) @ WAS (28.75)
Washington has a fairly strong defense in general as they rank 7th against the pass and 4th against the run, but they are fairly weak against TEs (29th). Between this and the benching/injury/hot-hand approach that led Carlos Hyde to taking a backseat last week (I’m assuming his injured hip is bothering him more than they are letting on since they were literally talking about a contract extension the week before that game), I don’t really have any interest in either Hyde or Breida.
WAS is without Norman this week, so that should hurt their pass defense quite a bit. As I touched on last week, Garcon has seen heavy volume every week that they haven’t played against SEA – he is averaging almost 10 targets a game over the other 4 – and he gets another positive game script in this one. He is also very reasonably priced at $6300, and should match up against 90th-ranked CB, Bashaud Breeland. As I mentioned, WAS is weakest against TEs and they get George Kittle this week. I think it says a lot about Shanahan’s trust in him that they threw his way on 4th down during the game-tying drive last week, but his usage in that game seems like a bit of an outlier as he had more targets (9) than he had in his last 3 combined (8). I also think it is worth showing everyone what WAS has given up to TEs so far (a TE has been the highest scoring receiver on the team against WAS in 3 out of 4 games so far and has had the most yards in all 4):
|Rec TDs||DK Points|
Kelley is expected to miss this one with his ankle injury, so Perine will get the majority of the carries. In his last game as lead back against Oakland, he only put up 49 yards on 19 carries, which is uninspiring. Game script will be in his favor and the 49ers just released prolific run-stopper, Navarro Bowman, so you do get him in a situation where he should see 18+ touches at only $4400. Personally, I haven’t been impressed with what I have seen so far and have to question his ceiling. I also think that Gruden could just have Cousins air it out more with SF being stronger against the rush than the pass. We have also seen Thompson return to earth with his easily predicted regression. I’m still not in love with paying $5000 for him here with the other options available on this slate.
To build on the above, SF is a lowly 26th in DVOA against the pass and have given up four 19+ point performances over the past 3 weeks with 27.7 to Hilton, 21.5 to Jaron Brown, 31.6 to Watkins, and 19.8 to Woods. Gruden wants to get Crowder more involved, but we will see what happens here as I take statements like that with a grain of salt. Up to this point, Crowder has only 106 yards on the year even though he has had several excellent match-ups, so I have trouble believing that he will put up a good game here even though he gets the 103rd-ranked K’Waun Williams. Pryor gets the not much better Rashard Robinson, who grades out as 97th. While Pryor hasn’t seen the volume that I expected over the past 3 – his game high over this period was 5 targets – but he final does seem to have some chemistry with Cousins as he got his first TD of the year in the last one. At $5700, I really like him as a tournament option in this beautiful match-up. Jordan Reed said that he is “good” for this week, but also admitted that he isn’t 100 percent healthy. At this point, I don’t think I can trust him especially since he is $5000 here and SF is #1 against TEs.
GB (24) @ MIN (21)
MIN has stayed as 3 point ‘dogs even though they have only received 18% of the bets, because I think that a lot of the sharps believe that Keenum can still put up points against this secondary, which looks like one of the weakest in the league to me. It will definitely be tougher for them without Diggs, but Thielen should be force fed targets in the slot, and GB has given up 3 TDs to slot receivers over the past 2 weeks. GB’s slot corner, Quinten Rollins, is currently ranked a corresponding 101st in the league. Whoever ends up on the outside will also have an ideal match-up, so let’s see what we can find here. Wright ran only 2 routes last week, while Treadwell and Floyd both saw 20. Out of these 3, Floyd is the only one who saw a target last week, and it was only 1 target at that. GB is 12th against TEs, but we saw Witten perform as Dak’s safety blanket last week and put up 8-61-0 in that role, so I assume that Rudolph will perform much the same function this week. It is also encouraging to see that he led the team in targets with 9 last week.
McKinnon will probably be the highest-owned RB on the week at $4100 as Monday’s rampage came after pricing was set. Not only did he see 6 targets that he turned into 6-51-0, but he also ran for 16-95-1, which severely outshone Murray. Latavius seems to still be dealing with his ankle injury, but I can’t imagine that he will out-carry McKinnon here. GB’s run defense isn’t great as they grade out as 20th in DVOA, but they are even worse against receiving backs at 25th. The lead back against the Packers in each of the last 4 weeks has scored at least 13 points, which would 3x McKinnon’s salary.
Jordy Nelson had a hamstring injury and missed the game-winning drive this past week because of it, but he seems fine at this point. Rhodes has been very good so far this year when tasked with shadowing the opponent’s WR1, but the Packers have done a good job in the past of getting Nelson out from under his coverage (the CBs also inexplicably failed to follow orders for a half in the first game last year where they didn’t put Rhodes on Nelson). If Rhodes does end up shadowing Nelson and if they can get him to stick, that should effectively neutralize him, but that would put the #bad Trae Waynes on Adams. I’m honestly not sure how the Vikings play this as they might actually end up having Rhodes just play a side. I will have exposure to both Adams and Nelson accordingly as I don’t want to miss out the Waynes match-up. We have also seen TEs score a TD in 60% of the games against MIN so far, but apparently “getting Bennett more involved” last week meant dropping his targets from 7 to 3 week-over-week. Cobb is always an option as well, but he has only seen 9 targets over the past two weeks combined, so I’m a little hesitant to roll the dice with him especially when Jordy and Adams are eating up most of the RZ targets (Adams leads the league with 11, Jordy comes in at t-4th with 9, and Cobb only has 4).
MIN has been fairly stout against the run so far this year and rank a corresponding 11th in DVOA. They have yet to give up 100 rushing yards to a single back and they have only allowed 1 rushing TD so far. If TyMont ends up sitting, I’m willing to roll the dice with Jones again with how he has looked, but it sounds like Montgomery might be back for this one.
TB (23.25) @ ARI (22.25)
Andre Ellington seems to be the preferred safety valve here, and this definitely puts a dent in Fitz’s value as they seem to have him running safer routes. Fitz is still seeing huge volume even with Ellington in this role, however, as they both saw 10 targets last week. I’m not as concerned about Ellington’s value with the addition of AP because AP doesn’t catch passes. I am curious to see if they run a lot of two back sets as this seems like a damned if they do, damned if they don’t situation since we know AP can’t block. Also, even though AP is very cheap, I have no interest in him here as he:
- Is behind a bad o-line
- Not involved in the passing game
- Has 3 days to understand the playbook
TB is also missing most of their LB corps currently and rank a disappointing 21st in DVOA against receiving backs. I have trouble rostering Ellington at $5300, but he has averaged over 10 targets a game for his last 3.
The Bucs are allowing, on average, the 5th-most fantasy points per game so far this year, while also facing the Pats, Manning, Case Keenum, and Mike Glennon. So far, they have given up 20+ points to Hogan and Diggs, while allowing 15+ to Amendola, OBJ, and Deonte Thompson (Thielen just missed this group as well at 14.8). The Cardinals move all of their receivers around quite a bit, so each should get time on the very beatable Hargreaves and McClain. As I have previously mentioned, Fitz has very high TD equity, but he has put up some stinkers this year in other very favorable matchups. I also still doubt he can put up another 100+ yard game, so let me talk to you about my love for John Brown instead. While he will see the most of Grimes who offers the toughest match-up, that is for only 29% of the time. Also, Grimes ran a 4.57 40 on his pro day, 11 years ago, while Brown does that in 4.34. Finally, Brown has seen 7 targets in each of his last two and has finally been removed from the injury report. Ole Smokey is ready to rock out here.
As discussed last week, every team targets all pass options other than the WR1 when facing ARI:
|Torrey Smith||Outside WR2||5||1||-3||0||3||70||1||15.7|
|Brice Butler||Outside WR2||3||0||0||0||2||90||1||17|
|Kenny Golladay||Outside WR2||1||0||0||0||4||69||2||22.9|
This means that both D-Jax and Brate are in excellent positions here. D-Jax did put up 5-106-0 last week for 18.6 points, but he almost had a 60 yard bomb for a TD on top of that, which was just slightly overthrown. His chemistry with Jameis is clearly still improving and he has the potential to put up a 30 point day. Brate has seen both his volume and RZ volume increase every week so far this year, with targets of 9>6>4>3 and 3>2>1 respectively. While I don’t even want to consider this, Peterson got put on the injury report late in the week with a quad issue, so if he is limited, Evans will make for an excellent low-owned option here. He is also priced down at only $6900 because of the difficult match-up.
While the Cardinals are stronger against the run, 7th in DVOA, Martin looked very good in his first game back. At the end of the day, I could see him having a line similar to Hyde’s from two games ago where he went 16-68-0 on the ground and 5-27-0 through the air (14.5 points). If he gets a TD on top of that, he will reach the minimum value we are looking for, but I feel like 20 points is more of a reach than a likelihood.
LAR (19.75) @ JAX (22.25)
The Rams should have really stuck with the run last week as Gurley only ended with 14 carries and, much like SEA, you need to attack Jacksonville on the ground. Thus, I’m worried that McVay will pull a Todd Haley here against the Jags. Hopefully, last week was just a blip though, and Gurley gets back to the 20+ carries and 6+ targets that we got used to seeing from him in the previous weeks where he had such monster days. Jacksonville is still ranked 1st against the pass and they are now the still-very-bad-but-no-logner-last-after-the-Steeler’s-boondoggle 31st against the run. For the love of god, just run the ball here.
The Rams are also better against the pass than the run, 8th to 18th, and have given up 6 rushing TDs on the season already with three games of 24+ points to RBs to go along with this. I really wish that Fournette didn’t have that garbage time 90 yard run against the Steelers last week as he would be a much sneakier option here. Either way, we know that Jacksonville will force feed him the ball in a good match-up, so we do have to consider him here.
I’m not considering the pass game from either team because of, a) #1 pass D versus the Rams and b) do you ever want to consider the Jags’ passing game this year?
LAC @ OAK
Derek Carr should be back for this game even though it originally looked like he would be out longer, so this is obviously great news for the Raiders. While the Chargers do rank 12th in DVOA against the pass, they have given up a 17+ point game to a WR in every game except 1 so far this year. I really don’t know what LA plans to do with Hayward here as they usually have him shadow the WR1 of the other team, but who do they consider to be OAK’s WR1 at this point? Cooper has looked truly horrific all of this year while Crabtree already has 4 TDs (granted, most of these came in his 3 TD explosion Week 1), so has Crabtree who they have him shadow? Or do they just say, “screw it” and have him play sides? Or do they actually ask him to shadow Cooper? I’m really hoping for one of the first two options as I’m ready to dip my toe into the Cooper waters again. While he has looked atrocious, $5000 is way too cheap for his talent, and he is tied for 7th in the NFL with 8 RZ targets. Positive regression will come for him at some point here.
The Chargers are weaker against the run as they rank only 26th in that regard, but I still can’t trust anyone from the committee of the Raiders backfield here.
Rivers and the Chargers’ coaching staff continues to funnel the passing offense through Allen as he literally has twice the number of targets, 52, as the next receiver, TyWill. Allen is also tied for 4th in the NFL with 9 RZ targets so far this year, but also has only 1 TD to show for it, so he is another excellent candidate for positive regression moving forward. Mike Williams figures to play his first game this week, but I won’t be surprised if they keep him on a snap count and we need to keep an eye on how they utilize him moving forward, especially in the RZ. With Williams returning and OAK’s CBs being strongest on the outside, I don’t have much interest in either Williams or Benjamin here. Overall, OAK is ranked 30th against the pass, so Rivers should be able to pass at will on them.
While OAK is better against the run, they are still a ‘meh’ 19th in DVOA. The Chargers did revert to the run game last week as they finally gave Gordon a 20 carry game. He predictably had his best game on the year as he pasted the Giants with 37.3 DK points and he has seen his price skyrocket a shocking $1800. He can certainly 3x his salary here with 24 points as that was par for the course last year, but I think I prefer Gurley, Freeman, and Fournette all in this price range.
PIT (21.5) @ KC (25.5)
Todd Haley continues to astound me with his idiotic play-calling. I first noticed how bad it was during last year’s playoff game against the Pats (shame on me for not picking up on it before that), when they clearly were playing not to lose instead of to win. I can go into all of the issues with that if you want me to, but let’s focus on this year for now. In the past game against the Jags, who are literally the best against the pass and worst against the run, he decided to give Bell, one of the best backs in the game, 15 carries. Instead, let’s have a washed up Big Ben air it out and, shocker, he threw some picks (him throwing 5 was actually pretty shocking, but at least a couple were guaranteed with that game plan). With all of this being said, I think we can label the play calling as “moronic” and not necessarily trust them to attack an opponent as they should moving forward.
It looks like this idiocy is already set to continue this week as the coaching staff is discussing giving Martavis Bryant “a break” this week, which would move Juju outside and put Eli Rogers in the slot. While I like Juju, he is doing fine in the slot, and Martavis is clearly one of the premier big-play receivers in the game. While they do move AB around the formation quite a bit, he will spend 51% of his time against Mitchell and 15% against Gaines. While I feel like he is one of the few WRs that can reliably beat Marcus Peters, he is going to miss him for the majority of the day. AB has also seen double-digit targets in 4 out of 5 games so far, so paired with a negative game script, we should a lot more Antonio this week.
While KC also ranks weaker against the run, 24th in DVOA, it’s hard for me to really love Bell here. He’s averaging over 7.5 targets through his past 3, so he definitely has a very safe floor, but his carries have swung drastically over this period from 15 to 35 to 15. Martavis being utilized lightly might free up an extra couple of targets for him, but outside of Gillislee in Week 1, we haven’t seen another back go over 14 points on the Chiefs. Bell is clearly in a class of his own compared to the competition they have faced so far, but you are really hoping for 100-1 on the ground with another 5-40-0 through the air for him to get to tournament value at $9600.
PIT is a surprising stout against both the pass and TEs as they rank 3rd in DVOA in both categories. Kelce is in the league’s concussion protocol right now, but he did return to full practice late in the week, so he should play here. While he is always a premier TE play and should see volume, I don’t love him here due to how well the Steelers have defended the position and due to negative game script. While PIT hasn’t given up more than 55 receiving yards to a receiver this year, I do think that this will change this week against Hill, as he will square off against the very beatable Joe Haden. Hill only sees around 6-8 targets per game, however, so volume and game script are a concern here. Regardless, I like the idea of taking some shots with him at low ownership in a good situation.
Kareem Hunt continues to see extreme volume as he has gone from 13 to 17 to 21 to 29 carries over the previous 4 weeks. The problem is that he seems to be getting less efficient as the season goes along as his ypc has dropped in each of the last 3, and West is getting more and more involved in the passing game (he had two receiving TDs in the last game alone). Hunt is still seeing passing targets as he has had 4 in each of the last two weeks, so he isn’t completely removed from that aspect of things, but he hasn’t had a RZ target since Week 1. PIT is weaker against the run, 15th in DVOA, and they have given up 34+ points to both backs that have had over carries against them so far this year (Fournette and Howard). Overall, Hunt is an extremely safe play here with a massive ceiling, but I do have concerns about how he is holding up under all of the carries (part of this could just be regression to the mean, but seeing him dip to 3.7 ypc last week is particularly concerning).
NYG (13.5) @ DEN (25)
The Giants passing game is now officially decimated as they lost all of OBJ, Shepard, and Marshall. Out of the 3, both Marshall and Beckham will be out for the rest of the season. I feel really bad for both of them, but OBJ in particular as he is clearly the best player on this team and they better do right by him and give him a massive contract (remember, he didn’t holdout because they told him that the team would respect that more). Shepard will miss at least this game and maybe one or two more, but that is TBD. Regardless, we have already seen what this passing game can do without OBJ – or perhaps, more accurately, cannot do – earlier in the year. I do think that we need to look at both Gallman and Engram solely as PPR options as they will be force fed volume, but this whole offense is incredibly weak. Engram in particular makes for a great play here due to his extreme athleticism and DEN’s relative weakness against TEs (26th in DVOA). Just as a side note, it is extremely perplexing that Engram saw only 4 targets last week with all of the injuries, but I’m going to chalk this one up to poor play calling.
The Giants secondary just got even weaker as they suspended DRC after he decided to leave the team (he was unhappy about not being able to continue playing outside after the coaching staff temporarily put him out there in replace of Apple last week). Up to this point, they have ranked 22nd in pass DVOA, but we can fully expect that to drop now. While Janoris Jenkins remains elite and he should shadow Thomas in this one, Sanders will have his way with this secondary. He was already the preferred RZ option between the two of them, but he could have an absolutely monster week here. The only concern is game script since they shouldn’t have to pass much, but he could easily put up 8-100-1.
As I have harped on relentlessly, the Giants remain bad against TEs:
|Rec TDs||DK Points|
But the problem is that Green sees minimal targets as 3 is his high water mark on the year, with 0 coming in the last game. I’m going to be hands off here, but if we hear anything about Butt getting immediately involved, he becomes an interesting flyer for the small slates.
The Giants are also terrible against the run as they rank 28th in that regard, and we just saw Gordon rip them for 37.3 points. Outside of that tough game against the Bills, CJA has seen 20+ carries in every game this year and should have a field day here (he has averaged at least 4.0 ypc in every game so far this year). Olivier Vernon will probably also sit again here, which is obviously a hit to the d-line. One of my favorite pairings on the big Thurs-Mon slate is CJA and DEN.
IND (20) @ TEN (28)
Luck has been ruled out already again to no one’s surprise. Brissett has proven fantasy viable in his absence with 3 rushing TDs, but doesn’t actually seem like a real-life long-term option as he only has 2 passing TDs in this time. Doyle should be back for this one as he has returned to practice, but double-check that he has actually cleared the concussion protocol before lock. Per Vegas, Indy should have to throw in this one, so this does bode well for all of their pass-catchers and TEN also ranks only 25th against the pass and 21st against TEs (I do just want to say that I think the spread is off in this one and Indy should not be 8 point dogs to begin with). This is also borne out through the game logs as the Titans have given up multiple passing TDs in 3 out of their 5 games so far this year. Fire up both Hilton and Moncrief with confidence here , but Moncrief is by far the sneakier option.
We also have Chuck Pagano’s sage coaching opinion that Marlon Mack is still “a work in progress” and not ready to be an every-down back or a third-down back per Rotoworld. This is really unfortunate since he flashed last game, but I’m also assuming that the coach is lying here since he also said that the kid earned more playing time. While TEN has done a reasonable job against backs so far, notably limiting Fournette to 14.1 points and not letting a single back go over 80 yards on the ground against them on the year, they did give up a monster game to Miller who scored both on the ground and through the air. I’m rolling with some Mack shares in the small slates, but I’m not trying to hammer him in regardless.
Indy has given up a receiving TD to a TE in 3 consecutive weeks now, and we all know that Walker is one of Mariota’s favorite targets anyway. I feel like a sneaky play here is going with Rishard Matthews against Vontae Davis. As I have previously mentioned, we should not fear Vontae anymore as he has wildly underperformed both last season and in this one (he is currently 111th out of 114 CBs per PFF).
Since the Titans should lead this one, I really like the idea of attacking Indy on the ground as well since we have seen McKissic, DK-lite, and Gurley all put up 19.5+ points on them. I’m fine with rolling with either Henry or Murray on the small slates since you need to take risks, but I would lean towards Murray if you have been contrarian in other spots already since we saw him inexplicably take over as the lead back last week (it is even stranger since he is the one that lost the fumble and not Henry). The other option is that it was just a fluke because Cassel was at the helm and they lost to the freaking Dolphins.
Quick Hits for Bye Teams
BUF – Clay will miss multiple weeks after he tore his meniscus and sprained his MCL
SEA – Prosise will be back in Week 7, and apparently Rawls and Lacy are still on equal footing
DAL – Sean Lee is practicing during the bye, so he should definitely return next week, but Elliott just got his injunction vacated, so his suspension is back in place (at least for now)