Time is absolutely flying this season and we’re already over halfway through the NFL season. This slate is interesting at first glance. There’s plenty of games to like, and there’s some flat out puzzling salaries. For the first week all season, we have a back-loaded slate with six of 11 games in the 4 PM window. That should make for some fun sweats late. We’ll dive into all of those facets and more in the NFL Game by Game Breakdown Week 10 to figure out who the Core Four will be!
QB – It’s taken Dwayne Haskins getting benched and Kyle Allen suffering an injury, but Alex Smith is back as a starting quarterback. I’m fairly torn on him. On the one hand, he threw three interceptions last week and this offense is flawed to say the least. On the other hand, Smith still managed to hit 17 DK points with three turnovers because he threw for a score and 325 yards. I’m going to be slightly tempted to have some exposure with how cheap he is. Detroit is allowing the 18th most passing yards per game and they are also 18th in DVOA against the pass. Topping it off, the Lions have a 17:5 TD:INT ratio allowed this year. I don’t believe I’ll go for him in cash but I may well stack him with a very interesting option.
RB – I understand the game script was fairly awful for the Washington running game last week. Still, just nine touches for Antonio Gibson? He only gets 46% of the snaps? I will absolutely have shares of him since I don’t think the game script gets that far away this week. Additionally, the Lions have allowed the third-most rushing yards to running backs and 15 total scores. The touchdowns allowed are tied for the most in football. Sporting the 25th ranked DVOA against the run doesn’t help the case for the Lions stopping Gibson this week if he gets the touches.
The Lions have also allowed the seventh-most receiving yards, and we should not overlook J.D. McKissic. So far with Smith under center, McKissic has accounted for over 35% of the targets which is staggering. He actually played the most snaps of any back last week and saw 14 (!!) targets. Making his potential even more appealing is the fact he’s been in the slot almost 40% of the time the past two weeks. Maybe it won’t continue to be that many targets, but he’s a wonderful DK play under $5,000 in GPP’s this week. The fact we have other cheap options means he’s going to be super under the radar. He’s even a rare running back that can be stacked with the quarterback. No, I do not trust him in cash.
WR – This remains a Terry McLaurin stan zone and does not change this week. Even in a difficult matchup last week, McLaurin hung 7/115/1 on eight targets. He’s up to the WR12 in PPR and is the WR8 in salary this week. McLaurin leads the entire NFL in air yards share at 46.6% and sits eighth in target share at 28.4%. He’s projected to see some of Desmond Trufant, which should work out well. He’s battled injury this year but he’s also allowed a 2.30 pPT, 12.8 YPR (yards per reception) and a 135.7 passer rating.
There’s not really a receiver that interests me outside of McLaurin. He’s about as close to a one man show as we get in the NFL and McKissic takes up so many targets, there’s not much left for anyone else. Anything extra should likely go to Logan Thomas.
TE – I sort of liked Logan Thomas last week, at least as much as you can like a sub-$4,000 tight end option. He’s just one target behind McKissic for being second on the team in targets at a 16.9% share. Thomas is also one RZ and EZ target behind McLaurin for the team lead in that category, so his role is what we look for in a cheap tight end. He is wildly cheap and he falls into the “touchdown or bust” category. Detroit is a tough matchup as far as DK points per game. They’ve allowed the fourth-fewest receptions and second-fewest yards but five scores.
D/ST – I’m not in love with the price here. They still sit fifth in pressure rate at 25.7% and are third in sacks on the year. Detroit’s offensive line has allowed pressure 23% of the time so far and only have nine turnovers so far. That’s tied for the sixth-least in the league.
Cash – McLaurin
GPP – Smith, Gibson, McKissic, D/ST, Thomas
QB – I really don’t know what to do with Matthew Stafford. He hasn’t had more than one game over 24 DK points all season long, and he’s not in the top 10 in attempts. Considering he’s only 19th in pDB, Stafford needs the volume to make up that ground and he may not get it here. Stafford also has only 13 touchdown passes despite being seventh in RZ attempts on the season.
Not only that, but Washington is a solid defense. Granted, they didn’t show it last week as much as we thought but the stats are still in their favor. They’ve taken over as the number one passing DVOA defense on the season and lead by about 12 yards in fewer passing yards allowed per game. Stafford is under $6,000 which gives me pause but I’m not excited to play him. Add in the fact he may be down Kenny Golladay and Stafford is easy to fade.
RB – This backfield is completely miserable. All of the sudden, Kerryon Johnson ran the most routes last week. D’Andre Swift did play the most snaps but the touches got chopped 17/13/7 between Swift, Adrian Peterson and Johnson. As it has been, Swift is still the player we want. Even though Coach Matt Patricia is driving me batty with his usage, he did get 13 carries to lead the team. I don’t know why he wouldn’t have the most targets, but I digress. Washington is 17th in DVOA against the run but have held backs to under 100 yards rushing per game. A facet that doesn’t work in Swift’s favor is how Washington has played backs in the passing game. They’ve allowed the fewest receiving yards and are one of six teams to not allow a receiving score. Swift is the play to chase if you use a Detroit back.
WR – Kenny Golladay didn’t practice again on Thursday so it’s fairly safe to assume he’s out this week. That means number one duties will fall to Marvin Jones, who hasn’t exactly been good in that role this year. He’s yet to exceed 13.3 DK in games that Golladay has missed and has just one game all year with more than three four receptions. Jones also will face mostly Kendall Fuller, who has only a 1.10 pPT and 22.2 passer rating allowed. That’s a hard pass for me.
I’m scared to say it but I believe Danny Amendola is my preferred option of the receivers. Not only did he see 10 targets last week, he gets Jimmy Moreland in the slot and that’s the best corner matchup of the bunch. He’s allowed nearly a 70% catch rate and a 1.40 pPT. Amendola only needs about 12 DK to hit 3x and that’s easily in the realm here, especially if Jones is getting muted. Marvin Hall earned over 70% of the snaps last week and was targeted five times. I just feel we have much better options later in the slate against worse defenses.
*Update* Golladay is officially out, as expected
TE – T.J Hockenson is quietly having a really solid fantasy season, as far as his position goes. He’s the TE3 in PPR and has scored five times with a t least four targets in every game. Golladay has missed the majority of the past two games and that’s been a big boon for the targets for Hockenson. He’s gotten 18 targets and leads in raw targets, target share, RZ looks and EZ looks. Statistically, he’s been given the chance to be the alpha in this passing game. Defending that position has been an issue for Washington. They’ve allowed the fifth-most DK points per game and have also given up six scores. Hockenson is my overall favorite Lions player if Golladay is inactive again.
*Update* Hockenson has been dealing with a toe injury all week and I’ve cooled a little bit on him. I’ll likely just go Hooper in the majority of lineups, but Hock is still a worthy GPP play.
D/ST – Washington is fourth in turnovers this year so I suppose you can make a small case for the Lions defense? The issue is the Detroit defense only has seven turnovers forced and 11 sacks through eight games. They could be worth a shot, but I have a feeling Alex Smith might well be better with a full week of practice as the starter.
Cash – None
GPP – Hockenson, Swift, Stafford, Amendola, Jones
QB – What a start for Jake Luton. I somewhat passed him over last week because I much preferred Drew Lock. That worked out but it shouldn’t be passed over that Luton played extremely well in his first NFL action. He threw it 38 times and completed 26 of them for 304 yards. He even added a rushing score and brought the Jaguars down the field to almost tie the game (a two point conversion failed). Luton is still quite inexpensive, but has really the same issues as last week. Mainly, we don’t know what he is. A one game sample doesn’t state much but this game should lead him to production. The Packers started the week as the heaviest favorite and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Luton throw 45 times or more. I don’t want to dismiss him against the 22nd ranked DVOA against the pass.
RB – The price came back down for James Robinson and I feel slightly better about playing him this week than last week. Something about that $7,000 threshold spooks me with him. He’s up to 159 total touches in eight games, which is fantastic volume. Defending the run can be a vulnerability for the Packers as they are 20th in DVOA and have allowed the sixth-most rushing yards to backs with eight games played. My main problem with Robinson this week is can he stay involved in a blowout? He has an 11.7% target share but that’s not something that is massive. He’s tied for the fourth-most targets on the team. Robinson is mostly going to be a game-script dictated pass for me, with maybe a sprinkle in GPP. A certain back in the next game is only $200 and is in a nuts spot.
WR – It hasn’t always been the case this year, but D.J. Chark was the unquestioned alpha last week with 12 targets. We weren’t especially sure how Luton would play but he fed Chark for a 7/146/1 day that was highlighted with a 73-yard touchdown. It’s notable that Houston corner Bradley Roby was out. The Packers could be in a similar situation as their top flight corner Jaire Alexander suffered a concussion last year. Playing Chark is a simple equation for me. If Alexander is in, I won’t look at Chark. If Alexander is out, wheels up for Chark who is probably playing catchup. As of Thursday, Alexander hasn’t practiced yet. Chark missed Thursday with a “non-Covid illness” so that’s not a worry to me at this point. If he gets another 10+ target game with no Jaire, he’s likely to smash his price again.
*Update* Alexander is officially doubtful and that means he is likely out since it was a concussion. It would be a serious upset to be released from the protocol at this point. I really like Chark provided the weather cooperates which could be an issue this week. Yes, I’m rolling my eyes.
The secondary receiver is tough to call. Laviska Shenault only played 10 snaps before injury prevented him from coming back. Chris Conley got the bulk of the targets behind Chark with eight. He is minimum price so if Shenault were to sit again, Conley becomes pretty interesting. He’d square up with Josh Jackson through a good bit. Jackson has allowed a 112.0 passer rating and nearly a 68% completion rate. However, Shenault is back at practice so the secondary options get murky. Viska could be a good sleeper pick since game log watchers won’t be on him.
*Update* Surprisingly, Shenault is out this week so Conley lines up as an excellent punt, and Keelan Cole is worth a look in MME formats.
TE – Along those same lines, perhaps Tyler Eifert is worth a look if Shenault misses. Luton targets him five times this past week although none came in the RZ or EZ. He did have the lowest aDOT of any receiving option this week so he’s definitely looking like a safety blanket to the sixth-round rookie. Green Bay has really done well against the position so far with just one touchdown given up so Eifert would only be a punt for GPP since 10 DK is about 4x.
D/ST – L.O.L.
Cash – Chark if no Alexander
GPP – Conley, Luton, Robinson, Cole, Eifert
QB – Honestly, the only thing that could stop Aaron Rodgers in this game is the Packers calling off the dogs. Perhaps there’s a chance this game goes like the Dallas/Pittsburgh game last week when the Cowboys almost pulled the upset, but it’s difficult to see that path. AR12 is third in pDB, touchdown passes, ninth in yards and seventh in RZ attempts. These numbers are more impressive when you consider he’s 22nd in pass plays per game. Jacksonville is dead last in passing DVOA and is one of three teams allowing at least 25 DK points to the position per game. We don’t need to spend a ton of time here. Play Rodgers with impunity in any format.
RB – It’s Week 10 and I think we may have found the absolute height of disrespect as far as salary goes. Why in the world is Aaron Jones only $7,100 in this spot?? Yes, I understand that he’s missed two games and didn’t put up a huge score last Thursday night. However, he’s one of the best backs in all of fantasy and in a smash spot. Jacksonville is 21st in DVOA against the run and have allowed over 1,100 scrimmage yards and 10 touchdowns in eight games. Jones has a 17% target share as it is and he came out of the 49ers game healthy. He had 20 touches in that game and was playing in garbage time. I expect him to be full speed and Jones is likely my top overall play this week. He is for sure in my Core Four and I will not fade him in cash. His price is hard to not be heavy in GPP as well.
*Update* Lineman David Bakhtiari is back in the lineup, which is a big boost for the Packers in general but definitely for Jones.
WR – Something to start considering is the floor of certain receivers on DK and how they may actually be safer plays than some running backs. Case in point might well be Davante Adams. The price is astronomical, but shouldn’t it be? He’s played five full games this season (he got hurt against the Lions, so it’s not fair to count that). Adams has been over 30 DK points in four of them and over 40 in two of them. I would argue his ceiling is higher than every single running back on this slate with the exceptions of Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffrey, who may not even play. While Adams is tied for the highest salary, I’m not sure you’re wrong to eschew a pricey back to play him this week. He’s going to destroy the Jacksonville secondary. Adams is seven PPR points away from being the WR1 and only has six starts under his belt on the year.
Allen Lazard looks like he’ll be back in the lineup and is fairly cheap himself. I don’t think he takes anything away from Adams, but he could be worth a look as well. It’ll only take a couple plays to pay off and a spot against Tre Herndon shouldn’t scare anyone. He’s allowed a 2.00 pPT and a 123.0 passer rating. If Lazard isn’t quite ready, Marquez Valdes-Scantling slides into that spot well.
TE – Robert Tonyan continues to fade back into fantasy irrelevance with Adams and Jones both healthy. He only saw one target this past week and has a total of 14 over the past four weeks. That’s equated to just a 10.5% target share and zero RZ or EZ targets. I believe even at $3,600, there are better investments, especially if Lazard is back as well.
*Update* Tonyan was DNP on Friday, which is usually not a great sign for a questionable player.
D/ST – I have a hard time finding reasons to play Green Bay’s defense at this salary. Luton is still a target, but $3,700 for a defense that has six turnovers on the year and allows almost 25 points per contest? That seems sketchy. I believe the Packers produce a pick or two with a couple sacks but the salary is really a non-starter for me. I know others may be higher on them but if they’re down the best corner, it’s not for me.
Cash – Jones, Adams, Rodgers
GPP – Lazard (if active), MVS
QB – The beat goes on for Deshaun Watson, who racked up another game of 24+ DK points with a new coach. This was really his “worst” game since Bill O’Brien got canned, throwing for two scores, 281 yards and a 59.4% completion rate. If that’s the down game, sign me up. Watson is under $7,000 and we should send DK a fruit basket or something for that. I can’t imagine a reason why Watson should be under $7,000 the rest of the way, especially in this spot.
The Browns are 20th in DVOA against the pass and have allowed the fifth-most passing yards of teams that have played eight games. They are 24th in pass yards allowed per game, so Watson has an easier matchup based on the metrics. Now we add in that he’s seventh in pDB, eighth in points per game, seventh in pass yards and eighth in touchdowns on just the 15th most RZ attempts. There’s no reason to shy away from Watson here and if he’s not popular, even better. The ceiling is pushing 30 DK.
RB – It’s trending towards David Johnson not being active this week and that’s a huge opening for Duke Johnson (in a revenge game at that). Duke recorded 20 touches last week and scored, although the efficiency was fairly awful with a 2.6 YPC. Still, turning away from 18-20 touches in this range is difficult to say the least. Cleveland is only 18th in DVOA against the run so Duke is a solid volume play. I wonder if he goes overlooked to some extent since we have a $4,000 play that should be locked into cash later on in the article.
*Update* David Johnson is officially out and Duke is an excellent play in my eyes.
WR – It was another week that Brandin Cooks saw more targets than Will Fuller, though Fuller had the better fantasy day. It was close as Fuller went 5/100/1 and Cooks went 3/83/1 but Cooks held the advantage 8-5 in targets. That has been the story since BOB was let go, with Cooks going for a 39-30 lead in those four games. The RZ and EZ targets are identical for both at four and two respectively, and even the air yards share is right around 31-32% for each player. To me, Fuller is obviously a walking long bomb every play but when the salary difference is $1,100, Cooks makes just as much sense if not more.
The Browns don’t use Denzel Ward as a true shadow corner, but he should see more of Fuller this game and he can run with a 4.3 40-yard dash. That should help him to some extent and he only allows a 1.20 pPT. Cooks will see more of Terrance Mitchell who is up to a 13.9 YPR, 111.2 passer rating and a 1.90 pPT. I certainly don’t mind either but the salary gap is startling.
TE – The Texans were cautious with Jordan Akins in his return, as he only played 34% of the snaps to 52% for Darren Fells. However, Akins earned one more target and he’s going to be the tight end we want for fantasy. We have no evidence to suggest he won’t take back the snap lead and be the main target at the position, and is capable of a big game based on salary. Akins still leads in target share at 12.4% to 8.4% for Fells despite three fewer games. That says enough right there, especially against the Cleveland defense. They’ve allowed four scores to the position and over 400 receiving yards. Akins may turn out to be my favorite sub-$3,000 punt.
D/ST – With Baker Mayfield back in the saddle, I’m not terribly interested in Houston’s defense. They are awful against the run and are playing one of the best running teams in the league. There’s no need to go there.
Cash – Watson, Duke, Cooks, Fuller
GPP – Akins
QB – Baker is off the Covid list and active for this game but I’m not horribly interested. Mayfield has played eight games and been over 30 attempts exactly one time. He’s basically a Kirk Cousins, if Cousins was in commercials. Mayfield is 17th in pDB but 27th in yards, 13th in touchdowns and 30th in pass plays per game. If Cleveland can run the ball down Houston’s throat, they will do so and Mayfield has a very limited ceiling by projected game script and what Cleveland does well.
RB – By all accounts, Nick Chubb should be back in the Browns lineup this week and that means he’s going to be in my lineups. Chubb should not be under $7,000 very often and he draws one of the best possible matchups in his return to the field. Houston is ranked 28th in DVOA against the run and lead the entire league in rushing yards allowed despite playing only eight games. Cleveland is top five in churning out rushing yards per game, right at 150 yards per contest on the nose. Chubb had found his stride after a tough Week 1. The next two games he racked up 232 yards and four touchdowns. He was well on his way to a massive game against Dallas with 43 yards on just six carries before his injury. He was spotted with no brace on Thursday, which is great news.
A really nice pivot is Kareem Hunt, as both backs are typically involved every week no matter what. If Chubb is limited in any way, Hunt could take the bulk of the work and draws the exact same matchup. The price is going to keep most people away, is this is GPP only. If Cleveland can control the game, both backs can hit. Hunt had 24 and 14 DK points in the games Chubb went nuts before the injury and Cleveland is still eighth in rushing attempts per game. Furthermore, Hunt is more involved in the passing game (25-3, that’s not all from Chubb missing games) so he has upside there.
*Update* There is no reason to think Chubb isn’t ready for a full workload as of Friday night, meaning he is underpriced in this spot.
WR – It’s nearly impossible to get a read on this situation before the game starts. Odell Beckham is out, but the last game the Browns played the wind was a major factor. The passing game was non-existent and neither team accomplished much throwing the ball. On top of that, Austin Hooper is due back and he’s missed the last couple games as well. Rashard Higgins and Khadarel Hodge played almost identical snaps last game but combined for three targets. Jarvis Landry saw the bulk of the work with 11 targets and he’s likely still underpriced for the workload we can expect. He and Hooper are likely going to be the primary targets in this passing offense moving forward. Landry should also avoid Bradley Roby, who will be mostly on Higgins. Landry is about the only receiver I’m looking at in this offense.
TE – Salary included, Hooper might be my favorite tight end option for cash and maybe the whole slate. He was starting to jive with Baker before the appendectomy with three straight double-digit DK point games and a total of 23 targets. He had one touchdown in that time span but the price is so low, he doesn’t even need a spike to hit 3x. Since Week 4, Hooper has a 25% target share and is second in raw targets despite playing two fewer games than Landry. Houston in in the bottom 10 in DK points per game against tight ends and Hooper is an easy fit to any lineup. With no Beckham, we could really get a 4-5x game from Hooper here.
D/ST – It seems like Myles Garrett is good for a sack every week, but doing much else has been an issue with Cleveland. They do have 20 sacks overall and 14 turnovers but nearly 29 points per game is worrisome against Watson. Granted, Watson is tied for the fourth-most sacks but this play isn’t my favorite.
Cash – Chubb, Hooper, Landry
GPP – Baker, Hunt, Higgins
QB – Far be it for me to say Carson Wentz doesn’t have some flaws in his game. He’s truly not playing all that well this season, but it has to be noted that the offense around him would make a MASH unit look healthy. The good news for Wentz is reinforcements are on the way. The week before the bye, he welcomed back Jalen Reagor and Dallas Goedert. This week, he should get back Miles Sanders. Things look decidedly less bleak than two weeks ago against this very Giants team.
The good news for us is folks have been so critical of Wentz that it’s kind of obscured he’s been pretty decent in fantasy. He’s the QB6 among players that have eight or fewer games played but yet he’s under $6,000. Five rushing touchdowns have certainly helped and the Giants have fallen to 28th in DVOA against the pass. New York is up to the fourth-most total passing yards allowed and 25th in yards per game. Some in Discord might not be happy, but with the weapons back and coming out of a bye, Wentz is in the running for my cash QB at this salary.
RB – I have a feeling that Arron Jones and Nick Chubb are going to get a lot of attention, which means Sanders could fly under the radar. He could be a super interesting GPP option since he’s the cheapest of the three and has a great matchup of his own. The Giants are 11th in DVOA against the run but they’ve also given up over 1,200 scrimmage yards. A big part of that reason is they lead the league in receiving yardage given up to backs at 503. Sanders is at a 13.5% target share on the year to go with his 71 carries in five games. Only once through those five games did he not post at least 14 DK and he faced Baltimore and Pittsburgh, two of the better run defenses in football. Sanders played over 75% of the snaps in every healthy game and we shouldn’t expect much different coming out of the bye week.
WR – Travis Fulgham is the toast of the town in Philly, as he should be. He came out of nowhere in Week 4 with a game-winning touchdown. Since Week 5, he sits sixth in target share across the entire NFL which is insane. The last time these teams squared off, James Bradberry of the Giants held him mostly in check. Fulgham saw 11 targets and went 5/73/0. With additional weapons available in this game, I might not have a ton of Fulgham. He doesn’t need targets funneled to him in this spot and Bradberry is at a 9.9 YPR and a 79.8 passer rating.
Instead, Reagor stands out to me at such a cheap price. He’s $2,200 less than Fulgham and has the better matchup. I mentioned this is the Waiver article, but Reagor still has over 20% of the air yard share in this offense with just three games played. He had a rush attempt last game and was targeted six times. Facing Issac Yiadom is better than Bradberry as well, who has allowed a 14.3 YPR and runs a 4.5 compared to Reagor’s 4.47. I’ll take 6-8 targets in this spot with a player that has a 16.1 aDOT with a QB that is fourth in air yards per attempt.
*Update* Receiver Alshon Jeffery will make his season debut, and that does muddy the waters a bit. I’d be surprised if he makes a big impact and it doesn’t change how I feel about Fulgham or Reagor.
TE – I was all over Goedert in the showdown format last game and he flopped massively. The crazy part was he played 84% of the snaps and ran a route on nearly every Wentz drop back. That’s in stark contrast to his 56.9% route rate on the season. When we look at Zach Ertz, he is at 94.5% which is second in football. Since Ertz is still on IR, I expect Goedert to take that role and last game’s metrics back that up. We can hope the production now follows given extra time for Goedert to get healthy and the price is very reasonable. New York has only allowed two scores on the season from the tight ends, and Goedert could be quite sneaky on this slate with no boom games for almost the entire season.
D/ST – Philly is pricey but they should be in this spot. They are sixth in pressure rate and third in sacks on the season, which creates mistakes from the other team. The Eagles have 10 turnovers forced and Daniel Jones always has multi-turnover ability in every game. They are among the top options if spending up at defense this week.
Cash – Wentz, Reagor, Fulgham, D/ST
GPP – Sanders, Goedert
QB – The best fantasy game of the season for Jones came against this Philly defense but let’s pump the brakes. Nine of his 22 DK points came from rushing, including an 80-yard scamper that ended in an all-time blooper. He only generated 13 DK points through the air, and that remains a huge issue with Jones. He’s 32nd in pDB, 27th in passing touchdowns, 30th in points per game, 20th in yards and 32nd in yards per attempt. Jones is honestly just not a good quarterback at this stage and maybe he never will be. He’s out another 13 turnovers in nine games and it’s hard to come up with reasons why you should play Jones ahead of Alex Smith at the same price.
RB – It’s never a good sign when a player can’t finish a practice and that’s what happened to Devonta Freeman on Thursday. That’s likely to leave Wayne Gallman as the lead back again, which he has been for the past two games plus some. In the last three games (Freeman left the Philly game early), Gallman has hit double-digit carries every time and has 43 total touches. Philly is 10th in DVOA against the run and that stands out against Gallman here. The Eagles have only given up 888 scrimmage yards and seven scores. Normally, Gallman could be a prime source of value but it’s hard to play him over Duke and one we still have to talk about in the next game.
WR – Sterling Shepard remains ridiculously cheap for his role since he’s returned to the lineup. He’s seen 26 targets and 26% of the air yards, which are both second on the team. Shepard is also jus one RZ target off the team lead and leads in receptions with 20 and yards at 172. He should not be $5,000 on DK with this workload. He’s not even been in the slot very much, so he should face Nickell Roby-Coleman who is allowing a 1.60 pPT and a 76% catch rate.
Unfortunately for Darius Slayton, he has taken a (way) back seat in that same time period. He only has 13 targets although he remains an air yards darling with 25.5% in those three games. The aDOT of 12.4 is right about double Shepard, so that gives us a good idea of who is in what role. Darius Slay also looms for Slayton, which doesn’t help matter much. Not only did Slay hold him to 2/23/0 the first time, but Slay sits at a 1.30 pPT. Slayton is a fine GPP option, but it must be understood which format he suits. Shepard in cash, Slayton in GPP. Even if Golden Tate is active, I’m not interested given his usage and general unhappiness.
TE – If Shepard is only second in receiving categories, that means that Evan Engram has to be the one by default. He has 29 targets over the past three games, has played 80% of the snaps and leads in RZ targets. Running a route on 93.8% of his snaps is quite useful, as is sitting in the slot 33.1% of the time. Engram’s price really hasn’t moved enough yet and the Eagles have gotten blasted by tight ends all season long. They are tied for the third-most touchdowns allowed and in the bottom five of DK points allowed per game. Engram should be eager to make up for his game-killing drop from the last Philly matchup as well.
D/ST – The Giants are at the exact same price they were last week and they’re in play just like last week as well. With Wentz leading the league in interceptions, New York has a shot at 8-10 DK points and that’s what we look for in a cheap defense. They generate an above average pressure rate and have 15 turnovers already. They rank 22nd in overall DVOA but the salary and matchup keeps them in the running.
Cash – Shepard, Engram, D/ST
GPP – Slayton, Gallman
QB – Tom Brady and the Bucs got humbled the old country way (Iron Sheik joke, he’s a funny follow on Twitter) and they’re looking to get right here. Brady is a bit of an oddball with some of his metrics. He’s only 15th in pDB and 12th in points per game. Yet, he sits fourth in touchdowns with 20, sixth in passing yards and third in RZ attempts. You would think he’d be a bit better on a drop back basis. He really can’t ask for more weapons in this offense and the price is about as low as it’s been all season. You can play the narrative of a ticked off Brady against a pass defense that ranks 21st in DVOA. They have only given up 13 touchdown passes, which is impressive at this point. Part of that is how bad they’ve played against the run but still. I think I’d only play Brady in game stacks this week.
RB – This situation is ugly, and I mean real ugly. The past three weeks have seen Leonard Fournette play far more snaps that Ronald Jones, to the tune of about a 2-1 ratio. He’s had four more carries and nine more targets. This all sounds like we should know Fournette is the target right? Well, maybe. All three of these games featured either a blowout in one direction or Tampa playing catchup. What happens if the game is close? Is it still Fournette, or does Jones get more run? I really want to play one of these players since Carolina is 24th in DVOA against the run and have allowed 1,305 scrimmage yards with 11 scores. We’ll see how the week develops but if we get a bead on which player is the lead back, we could be in business.
WR – If the backfield was a mess, the receiving corps might be even worse. All of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown played at least 78% of the snaps on Sunday night. Evans and Godwin had six targets and AB had five. That’s really going to make them tough to peg moving forward, if they even all play that much consistently. With the Bucs being down 20+ points in the blink of an eye, it’s hard to tell if this is the real usage or game script dictated. I don’t think I’ll be making a heavy investment in any of them.
I would caution about translating the big game for Evans the first Carolina matchup to this game. Godwin was out, AB was suspended, and Gronk was still resurrecting himself to a football player. Evans does have the toughest matchup in Rasul Douglas as well. Brady has shown the tendency to just not throw to Evans if he doesn’t have to. Brown and Godwin have the easier matchups and if playing anyone, Godwin is the favorite here.
TE – We saw Rob Gronkowski’s production take a big hit Sunday as well with his worst game since Week 2 against Carolina. It broke a string of three straight games over 14 DK for Gronkowski and now might be the best time to remember that there’s only one football. He still got six looks but it’s going to be difficult to asses if that’s stable or not. Having four big name targets might be great for the Bucs but in fantasy this is not going to be a fun time. The Panthers have only allowed three touchdowns so I do prefer a couple cheaper options at this position.
D/ST – It feels hard to justify playing the Bucs defense here. I don’t want to be a prisoner to the moment too much but they have a combined 14 DK points in their last three games. This is still a good unit. They still rank first in overall DVOA, have 16 turnovers forced and 29 sacks. Only the Steelers have ah higher pressure rate. Carolina has played sound football with only nine giveaways in nine games and 18 sacks allowed. This is a buy-low opportunity, but one I would reserve for GPP.
Cash – Possibly Fournette or Jones
GPP – Brady, Godwin, AB, D/ST, Gronkowski, Evans
QB – On paper, no position is in a good spot for this week for the Panthers. The Bucs number one DVOA rank is backed up by being second against the pass and third against the run. Teddy Bridgewater has been matchup sensitive so far this year. His worst games have come against Chicago and Tampa, both in the top four in DVOA against the pass. He did have a poor outing against the Falcons, but getting banged up and weather mitigated that game.
Bridgewater is only 19th in pDB and 20th in points per game, and the lack of touchdowns remains an issue. He’s only thrown 11 on the season and that’s not even in the top 20. The flip side is he’s fifth in passing yards so the offense can move the ball. It also should be pointed out that Teddy B did have 30+ DK points against the Chiefs last week, who are the sixth best DVOA against the pass. I don’t trust him in cash but perhaps in game stacks I can get on board.
RB – Christian McCaffrey is all but ruled out this week, so it’s time to lock in Mike Davis. I know what folks are saying in the Discord. It’s the Bucs defense who just got embarrassed and they are angry. You’re not wrong, and the Bucs still rank first in rush yards allowed per game and third in DVOA. However, they allow the second-most receptions and sixth-most receiving yards to backs. Davis hit 15.5 DK points on 33 snaps the first meeting. Past success does not truly indicate future success, but I have to stress Davis could hit 4x at this price without gaining a single rushing yard. If he happened to go 8/80 receiving (and he went 8/74 the first time), he’s at 16 DK. He could go 5/50 and score, and still get to 4x. That’s without a rushing yard. The Carolina offense is geared towards backs catching passes, the glaring weakness for Tampa. I will have plenty of Davis and if he happens to score and have just 30-40 rushing yards, you could be talking 20+ DK in a hurry.
*Update* CMC is officially ruled out
WR – The receivers for Carolina are likely priced right about where they should be this week with Robby Anderson leading the group. He’s the clear leader in target share at 27.1% and has the air yards share lead as well at 38.6%. He’s a top 10 receiver in PPR formats despite scoring just one touchdown on the season and the matchup didn’t stop him the first time around. He went for 9/109/0 on 10 targets and has that style of outcome here again. He gets Jamel Dean who has been solid with a 1.60 pPT. Still, Dean does allow a 64.8% catch rate so we can see why Anderson was good the first time around.
What to do with D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel is a lot less clear. Out of nine games this year, Moore has just three games with more than six targets and the past three weeks have totaled just 14 total. On the other side, Samuel has 20 and seven rushing attempts to go with it. Samuel is still scary since he’s under 68% of the snaps and could disappear pretty much any game. Still, it’s not like Moore brings any safety either. I am more content with playing Samuel ahead of Moore now that CMC is likely out. Samuel also benefits in the matchup with Sean Murphy-Bunting ahead of Moore’s spot against Carlton Davis.
*Update* Davis is questionable for the Bucs, which would be a hit to their secondary.
TE – Ian Thomas is under a 6% target share and is not a part of the offense in any significant fashion.
D/ST – I know we just saw the Bucs get whooped on Sunday night, but the Panthers don’t have the same talent. They only have nine sacks on the season and have the third-lowest pressure rate in the league.
Cash – Davis, Anderson
GPP – Bridgewater, Samuel, Moore
QB – I expected Drew Lock to be more expensive since he was coming of a 30+ DK game but he is still super affordable. Lock is still hard to gauge. He’s put together his two best games of the season but that’s about all we have to go on. Last week was somewhat lucky as well since his completion rate was under 53% but he kicked in 47 rushing yards and a score. This is another great matchup for him. Vegas ranks 26th in DVOA against the pass and have a matching 26th rank for passing yards allowed per game. Looking just at Lock isn’t inspiring. He’s 29th in pDB on the year and 28th in points per game. That is skewed by leaving early but still, it’s not ideal. It’s also important to remember that he looked even worse last week. I’m wasn’t thinking I’d use him in cash again, but it’s possible.
RB – It was some mighty bad production from the duo of Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay last week. They combined for 14 carries for 41 yards and only one reception. However, the matchup gets an awful lot better. Atlanta is eighth in run DVOA and we talk about how they are quietly stout against the run. Vegas ranks 32nd in DVOA and they have given up 1,195 scrimmage yards with 11 touchdowns. Even though the Broncos trailed through most of this game, Gordon still saw over 60% of the snaps and he would be my preferred play in this backfield. The fact this is a split does lower my overall interest though.
WR – It might not be a coincidence that Jerry Jeudy has had his two best games in the past two weeks. He’s started to play more on the boundary instead of the slot, which is maybe just where he’s comfortable. He’s always been a fantastic route runner and he’s totaled 24 targets the past two weeks, combining for 11/198/1. His price jumped almost $1,000 but he’s still cheaper than he should be at this target share (28.9% in those two weeks). The individual matchup is against second year corner Trayvon Mullen, who has allowed a 113.3 passer rating and a 1.90 pPT.
*Update* Coach Vic Fangio said he’s “confident” Jeudy will play, which is a little bit scary. I’d likely avoid in cash with that line from the coach.
Don’t overlook Tim Patrick or K.J. Hamler either. Patrick returned to the lineup and saw nine targets and scored, while Hamler saw 10 and went for 15 DK. The game script might not be as bad as last week but this one could well shoot out. Patrick gets Nevin Lawson who is almost the exact carbon copy of Mullen. Hamler should man the slot a good bit which means LaMarcus Joyner and he only runs a 4.5 40-yard dash. That means Hamler could torch him deep on any given play.
TE – It’s a shame that Noah Fant has had injury issues seemingly all year. He aggravated the ankle again this past week according to Coach Vic Fangio, but at least he returned to the game. We’ll see if he’s able to practice all week but the price is still solid. Fant is under $5,000 and may only be running the 17th most routes, but he still has upside. The Raiders have been good against the position so far with only three scores allowed but Fant is not that matchup sensitive to cast aside.
D/ST – Vegas has only allowed 14 sacks and they have nine turnovers, so they don’t check my boxes for offenses to attack. Denver is ninth in overall DVOA and have generated 22 sacks, but don’t have a massive strength to fall back on. At least they aren’t expensive but I prefer a play like the Giants.
Cash – Lock
GPP – Jeudy, Patrick, Hamler, Gordon, Lindsay, Fant
QB – Playing Lock over Derek Carr likely saved me to a big extent in cash last week as Lock more than doubled him up in points. Carr did maintain his penchant for throwing two touchdowns, but the 165 yards was fairly disappointing. Even with some bumps in the road, Carr is still at a 16:2 TD:INT ratio on the season. Looking at the metrics, Carr is right about average across the board. He sits 16th in yards, 11th in touchdowns, 15th in pDB and 12th in RZ attempts. His deep ball still remains a good weapon with a 46.7% completion rate, good for 11th in the league. Denver is 17th in passing yards allowed per game and 12th in DVOA, so I don’t have any pressing need to play Carr this week.
RB – It was a little jarring to see Josh Jacobs only have 14 carries and perhaps he was nursing that knee injury more than we thought. We’ll need to keep an eye on the practice reports, but Denver is 13th in DVOA against the run. That’s mostly shown up in the production as well with only 737 rushing yards allowed through eight games. They’ve also allowed only four scores and 279 receiving yards, so there’s not a glaring weakness to attack. With Chubb, Sanders and even Jones sitting within $600 of Jacobs, I know where I’m heading.
WR – When Carr only throws for 165 yards, there’s not going to be a receiver that stands out. Nelson Agholor continues to live his best life with 55 yards and another score on just three targets. That’s better than Henry Ruggs who did not record a reception this past week. Ruggs has yet to record more than three receptions and has two or fewer in every game but one. He is the textbook definition of a boom or bust play, and he only has one boom game on his resume thus far. That doesn’t mean he’s incapable, it’s just what he’s put on the field to this point.
Agholor should face A.J. Bouye and that’s not great for Agholor. He’s battle injuries and I think he’s a lot better than the 2.10 pPT allowed to this point. Ruggs get Michael Ojemudia and has a significant speed advantage. It’s not often a corner runs 4.45 and is 0.2 seconds slower than the receiver they face. Even Hunter Renfrow has a tougher matchup with Bryce Callahan, who has a 1.20 pPT and 62.9 passer rating on 50 targets.
TE – There’s never really a doubt of who to stack Carr with if that’s the route you want to take. It’s Darren Waller, who leads in target share at 28.5%, RZ targets at 12 and EZ targets at five. No other player has more than four RZ targets (Renfrow) and only Agholor has more than two EZ targets (four). Waller leads the team in receiving yards, although that’s much closer and is the TE2 in PPR settings this season. Here’s my issue with him – he’s really pricey at $5,900.
Waller has had one game so far this year where he would have hit 3x at this salary. The price came up after 13.2 DK last week, which makes little sense. Being the most expensive option at the position does him no favors in my eyes, as he hasn’t shown the ceiling to be worth it. The one facet Waller has going for him is the Chargers have struggled a bit with tight ends without safety Derwin James. They’ve given up the ninth-most DK points per game to the position and six scores already. The only way I’m paying for Waller is game stacks.
D/ST – I’m tempted since Lock is still very much a question, but the nine sacks and five turnovers forced through eight games isn’t very redeeming for Vegas. Perhaps if I love the rest of my lineup and only have $2,500 left in GPP.
Cash – None, Carr is closest
GPP – Waller, Jacobs, Ruggs, Agholor
QB – Not that I was out on a limb or anything, but it was nice to say Josh Allen was about my favorite quarterback last week and see him smash. He almost hit 40 DK points, throwing three touchdowns and running one in for good measure. Yes, Seattle is really that bad on defense. This matchup is a good bit different as Arizona is 11th in DVOA against the pass and are 19th in passing yards allowed per game.
Lest we think Allen can only get it done in great matchups, he has two huge games against the Dolphins and Rams, who are top 10 in DVOA against the pass. He’s seventh in pDB, sixth in points per game and fifth in passing touchdowns. Adding five rushing scores doesn’t hurt and Allen is still a prime candidate in any format. Of the top five QB’s in salary this week, I’d rank him about fourth behind only Kyler Murray, Aaron Rodgers and then it’s tough with Russell Wilson and Watson. Still, you can’t go wrong with Allen.
RB – This backfield is a pain but we also have to remember Buffalo barely made an effort to run the ball last week against Seattle. Memo to Pete Carroll – other teams know that your weakness is against the pass. You may want to expect it from now on. Anywho, back to the task at hand. Zack Moss out-snapped Devin Singletary for the second straight week and had nine carries to two for Singletary. The targets and receptions were in favor of Singletary…by one each. It really seems like Moss is who we want to play, but I’m not overly pumped with the price for a split backfield. The Cards are just a mediocre 16th in DVOA against the run so this spot isn’t anything the we have to chase like crazy. They have allowed over 1,100 scrimmage yards so if you take this route, Moss is the guy.
WR – Stefon Diggs has been one of my favorite receivers in football for a while now and I love seeing him thrive. However, I want to urge just a hair of caution here. This is the highest price he’s been all season long. At this salary, he needs 22.5 DK to hit 3x. Out of the eight games played so far, he’s gone over that mark three times and two of them were 23 points. That isn’t to say he can’t, especially in a shoot out style game. After all, he sits ninth in air yards share in the NFL and is third in target share at 29.3%. I still have every intention playing him in any format because I do think the ceiling is in play here. Patrick Peterson has allowed a 115.7 passer rating and a 71.4% catch rate this season on 56 targets.
Can I interest you in a John Brown revenge game? I’m really only kidding, but the ex-Cardinal is a significant part of this passing game. He was healthy this past game for the first time since around Week 2 or 3 and he went for 8/99/0 on 11 targets. His 17.78 target share actually edges out Cole Beasley and ha’s in fewer games and playing while hurt. I prefer Brown as the second receiver and if you take the route of stacking with Allen, it’s these two first and foremost. Brown gets Dre Kirkpatrick who has been dreadful this season. He’s over a 70% catch rate and an 11.2 YPR.
*Update* Safety Budda Baker is questionable, which would be a massive loss for Arizona.
TE – Yes, I know Tyler Kroft caught a touchdown last week but this offense doesn’t use that position. None of them have a target share over 6.2% and that’s for Dawson Knox. Kroft has five RZ targets but that’s not enough to get me to play him this week.
D/ST – I’m not really looking to play either defense in this game and Buffalo is down to 17th in overall DVOA. They have gotten home often with 24 sacks but they’re not even super cheap to make a case for them.
Cash – Allen, Diggs, Brown
GPP – Moss, Beasley
QB – Remember when Kyler Murray might have gone to play baseball? Yeah, good thing that didn’t happen. He is going berserk right now and is the 2020 answer to Lamar Jackson, only he has better passing upside. Murray would be eighth in rushing yards among running backs, let alone any passing production. He’s on pace to set the NFL record for rushing touchdowns by the position with 16. Oh by the way, he’s racked up 2,130 passing yards, 16 passing touchdowns and has cut down on the sacks this year as well. He’s taken over as the QB1 on the slate and with no Mahomes, he is a worthy player to be the most expensive option. He needs to hit 24 DK to hit 3x and that is his floor this year. He’s not been lower than that mark and has four games over 30 DK, two over 40. There’s zero reason to shy away from the salary and he’s in play in all formats, stacked or not.
RB – Well, Chase Edmonds flopped pretty hard and that much I could handle. My frustration came from he got the exact workload I thought he would. When a back gets 28 touches, it’s hard to argue that you shouldn’t have played him. It just didn’t work out. I’m going to be tempted to go right back to the well if Kenyan Drake is out again as well. Buffalo is 22nd in DVOA against the run and have allowed the sixth-most rushing yards to backs. For all of Kyler’s touchdown prowess, he only has 15 RZ attempts to 22 for Drake and seven for Edmonds. Kyler is always a three to run it in, but it might be a little exaggerated since he has 84 rushing yards on those 15 attempts. He’s had goal line carries for sure but he’s also had some from just inside the 20. Drake was limited Thursday so let’s see what Friday brings.
*Update* Drake is questionable, and with six games in this window you can take the risk he plays with other pivots. I’m interested either way, whether he plays or it’s Edmonds again.
WR – DeAndre Hopkins has fallen to eighth in raw targets across the league, although he is still top five in target share. This is going to be interesting. Over the last three weeks, Christian Kirk has been a monster, posting three consecutive games over 20 DK and scoring five touchdowns. That’s come off 19 targets to 23 for Hopkins. Kirk also has the RZ and EZ target lead and I wonder if everyone just flocks to Kirk. He’s $2,000 cheaper and doesn’t face Bills corner Tre White. Kirk faces Levi Wallace who statistically hasn’t been too shabby. He’s at a 74.2 passer rating allowed and only a 1.40 pPT.
Nuk has paid off his current price tag four of eight games but if he’s not going to be popular, I might wind up preferring him to Kirk in GPP. I’m not sure I feel comfortable playing other in cash right now. Kirk just seems too good to be true. With Nuk, White has really struggled this year with a 2.60 pPT and a 16.2 YPR allowed. It’s only been 31 targets but yikes. He could be really interesting leverage if Kirk is more popular.
*Update* Safety Micah Hyde is questionable and just like Baker for the Cards, it would be a massive loss for the Buffalo defense that is beleaguered as it is.
TE – The tight end isn’t utilized in this offense and we can pass on it quickly.
D/ST – The only reason you’re playing this defense is hoping that Allen makes a mistake or two in a pass heavy script. He could fumble as well, but Arizona scuffled against a rookie quarterback in his second start last week. I don’t love them here either.
Cash – Kyler, Edmonds if Drake is out
GPP – Nuk, Kirk
QB – It appears that Justin Herbert has been put on this Earth to play quarterback and chew bubblegum, and this dude is all out of bubblegum. He had no fewer than three different touchdown passes dropped last week (two consecutive plays to end the game) but Herbert put the ball in the right spot each time. He’s averaging 26.9 DK points and that’s fifth in the league. The rookie trails only Russ in yards per game at over 306 and just seems to come through each and every week. The Dolphins are no walk in the park, as they are eighth in DVOA against the pass but 21st in yards allowed per game. The facet keeping them afloat is the “bend but don’t break” philosophy. Miami has only given up 11 touchdowns through the air, tied for the third-least. If Herbert gets looked over for the upper tier, he makes for a dynamite GPP play with 30 point upside.
RB – Do you absolutely hate the idea of Mike Davis? Can I interest you in Troymaine Pope? I will be much heavier on Davis, but Pope could line up to be a gutsy pivot. Justin Jackson is supposed to be rested this week, leaving Pope, Kalen Ballage and Joshua Kelley as the active backs. Ballage got 16 touches while Kelley got 14, but neither did a ton with it. Ballage scored but past that, the scores were about the same. Pope came out of nowhere two weeks ago for 15 touches on just 15 snaps. This backfield is a mess, but if playing anyone you may as well take a show at the player who’s the exact price of Davis and saw seven targets in his last active game.
*Update* Ballage was called back up from the practice squad but I’ll stand firm as ranking the backfield Pope>Ballage>Kelley.
WR – We just talked about Keenan Allen being in play every single week and he still is. However, if there was a week where I might hedge a bit it could be this one. Allen is playing under 45% of his snaps from the slot, which isa bit low for him. When he’s on the outside, facing either Byron Jones and Xavien Howard is no picnic. He’d likely face more Jones than anyone, but if LAC is smart they just leave Allen in the slot 100% of the time. Neither corner is over an 8% slot rate and they will not be comfortable in that alignment. I think Allen is still a cash play, but this is as “unsafe” as he’s been with Herbert in my eyes.
Mike Williams was among the most tilting plays of the weekend (must be something about wearing a Chargers uniform) as he dropped two touchdowns. I’m not particularly on him in this spot, though he does have the ability to just high point the ball over about any corner in football. He should see more Howard who has only allowed a 55.0 passer rating and a 1.50 pPT. The “easiest” corner matchup is Jalen Guyton on Nik Needham. We can even play the Brian Tulloch angle since Brian played him last week and needed that 70-yard bomb. He’s wholly unstable but has a 14 and 16 point DK game. It takes just one play.
TE – It continues to just be frustration after frustration for Hunter Henry. He’s yet to exceed 14 DK with Herbert and he’s only broken double-digits twice. It would be easy to stop playing him if he wasn’t getting targeted but he is, and a good bit at that. The 17.4% target share is second on the team under Herbert and he still ranks 29th in catchable passes. The 33 receptions are good for ninth at the position but Henry just always seems to flop. It’s wise to have a share or two if you play multiple lineups, because he could be due a multi-touchdown game. It’s just hard to tell when that’s coming.
D/ST – LA is not really a defense that I want to target. They give up about 27 points per game, have only seven turnovers forced and only have two sacks per game. The pressure rate is in the top half of the league but they just can’t get home.
*Update* They are down Joey Bosa now as well, so no real interest here.
Cash – Herbert, Allen
GPP – Pope, Kelley, Williams, Henry
QB – We got to see a little more of what Tua Tagovailoa is going to look like in the NFL and it wasn’t too shabby. He probably should’ve thrown a pick or two and got a little lucky, but settled in as the game went on. Tua wound up going 20-28 with two passing touchdowns and scampered around for 35 yards rushing. He only has one turnover so far in two games, which is a credit to him. In the early going, he has a 0.42 pDB and that’s right about in line with Matthew Stafford. That’s nothing spectacular but I could be far worse this early. His completion rate under pressure stands out as well at 54.5%. The Chargers are 14th in DVOA against the pass so it’s an average matchup. I don’t feel the need to play Tua but maybe a sprinkle in MME wouldn’t hurt. I do prefer other options under $6,000.
RB – Holy smokes this is rough. Matt Breida was limited Thursday but missed last week. Jordan Howard is dust. DeAndre Washington should be active after coming over from KC, but they could be mixed into a three man RBBC. I want to see what Friday dictates before making any decisions, but I’m not psyched about this backfield in the least.
*Update* Friday Brough no real clarity and there’s just so many other options this week.
WR – This is an interesting spot. DeVante Parker is sure to get attention since Preston Williams is on the IR. The price is very cheap and so far with Tua under center, Parker is second in targets behind Williams. It’s important to remember that the Rams matchup was weird and Tua only attempted 24 throws. I don’t think we can conclude that he won’t throw to Parker since he had seven targets this past game. Michael Davis should draw most of the assignment and has played well this year, with a 78.8 passer rating and a 10.6 YPR on 52 targets.
Jakeem Grant enters into the punt conversation as well. He only played 48% of the snaps but he saw most of his work after Williams left. Grant is likely cast in the slot and he does have some big-play ability. He’s the kind of receiver that can take a 5-yard slant to the house as he’s shown in the return game a little bit. At bare minimum and with Desmond King now in Tennessee, he does make sense as a punt. My fear is he could see some Casey Hayward but at the minimum, it’s a fine chance to take because Hayward isn’t going full shadow on Grant.
TE – It has been a very slow season for Mike Gesicki. The hope had been that Tua starting could jumpstart his season but so far, that’s not happened. Gesicki is fourth in targets and receptions with Tua and it’s harder every week to recommend playing him. It’s especially annoying to look at his metrics. He has the third-highest slot rate among tight ends, sixth-highest route rate and eight RZ targets. Yet, he’s the TE21. He’s not even really cheap, so I’ll likely find other options and weep when he has a big game.
*Update* Durham Smythe is questionable so that could lead to more snaps for Gesicki.
D/ST – The Chargers offense is good but I feel like we shouldn’t sleep on the Dolphins here. They struggle to defend the run at 29th in DVOA, but they are eighth against the pass. Coach Brian Flores has coaxed 20 sacks and 13 turnovers out of this unit so far while only giving up 20 points per contest. It’s a strength on strength matchup but anytime Miami is under $3,000, they are in play.
Cash – D/ST, Parker is close
GPP – Grant, Tua, Gesicki
QB – I don’t believe I want to get too involved with this situation. Nick Mullens had another two turnovers last game and has six to five touchdown passes. He’s already been yanked mid-game once and that is always on the table. You can build the argument the this is a let-down spot for the Saints (it is after an emotional win Sunday night) but I’m not sure Mullens can do much here. His pDB is only 0.39 and he would need to produce a ton in garbage time like he did last week. Since he’s priced among some more accomplished quarterbacks, I’m likely going other directions.
RB – Oh Kyle Shanahan how I despise you somedays. After reports of JaMycal Hasty being the main back and Jerick McKinnon nursing “tired legs”, McKinnon was the one who got all the work last Thursday night. His legs were tired but he was in there when the game was over a 25 point difference. Okay, Kyle. We see you. He played 74% of the snaps while Hasty got 26% and the touches were skewed that bad as well. McKinnon had 15 touches to just six for Hasty and the problem now is we can’ be sure who’s the lead back. The game before, Hasty had 12 carries to three for McKinnon. If you pick wrong here, you’re likely dead in the water. On top of that, New Orleans is fifth in DVOA against the run and have only allowed 802 scrimmage yards and five touchdowns so far. I’ll let someone else mess with this backfield.
WR – So I don’t think we can project Richie James to score 36.4 DK again, possibly ever in the history of the league. He had all of 23 total snaps on the season before that explosion and he may not even be on the roster this week, but we’ll see. Even if he is, I don’t think I’d want to play him again. San Francisco should welcome back the duo of Brandon Aiyuk and Kendrick Bourne.
Aiyuk is very cheap and the 49ers should be chasing points here. Aiyuk is the active target leader on this team with George Kittle out for the foreseeable future. He’s put together two strong games back-to-back before the Covid diagnosis. Aiyuk combined for a 14/206/1 in those games and is a nice value, regardless of Marshon Lattimore. He only seems to play well against Mike Evans anymore and is up to a 2.20 pPT and a 120.5 passer rating allowed. Bourne typically plays at least 70% of the snaps if Deebo is inactive and has a 14.9% target rate on his own with 21.4% of the air yards. The air yards is third on the team and target share is third among active players so don’t forget about him.
TE – The snap share was heavily in favor of Ross Dwelley over Jordan Reed last week to about a 75%-25% rate. I do have to wonder if a longer week helps Reed get onto the field more this time around. It kind of feels like Reed gutted through not being healthy yet to try and help the team. We know that Reed has some big upside at this salary with a 24 DK point DK game this season. Granted, that was against the Jets but New Orleans has been a bottom 10 team to tight ends this year for DK points allowed. The six touchdowns allowed is tied for third-most. With them being about the same price, I’d prefer to gamble with Reed.
D/ST – They’re in the dome and the Saints are at full strength on offense for the first time in a long time. I’ll pass here.
Cash – Aiyuk
GPP – Mullens, Reed, Bourne
QB – Drew Brees might be picking up some steam here. He’s been over 23 DK in three of the past four games, and the 19 DK in Chicago is fairy impressive as well. In those four games, Brees has gone for nine touchdowns which is over half his season total. The yardage hasn’t been crazy high but at his current salary, 22-24 DK would be right about a 4x return. The veteran is still lagging far behind the pack in deep throws with just nine on the year and that does cap the yardage to some extent. Still, the 0.51 pDB is up to 13th and he has his full offense back. Brees seems fairly cheap given he’s in New Orleans and I wonder if he flies under the radar here.
RB – Alvin Kamara might be outside of the top 15 backs in carries, but the 72 targets more than makes up for everything else. This isn’t the easiest matchup with San Francisco ranking sixth in DVOA against the run but they are about average as far as defending receiving backs. Kamara is more or less matchup proof. He doesn’t have the huge games the past few weeks that will catch people’s eyes either. Kamara only had 14 touches last week and really wasn’t needed that much. If 14 touches and 15.9 DK is the floor, that tells you where the ceiling is on any given day. Most will flock to the cheaper backs leaving Kamara as an excellent GPP play.
Latavius Murray continues to get a good chunk of carries (he’s actually 27th in the league with 81) and if this game goes sideways, he may approach the 12 touches he had last week. If he scores a TD, he would have a shot at a 3x return and with Mike Davis at the same price, nobody is playing him. This would be an MME only play for me.
WR – Michael Thomas made his return to the lineup but only played 55% of the snaps. That’s not something I’m very worried about as the Saints had zero incentive to push him with a 21 point lead so early. We just saw the 49ers get dominated by Davante Adams and while Adams>Thomas, MT is still very cheap for his typical production. He only has a 17.7% target share on the year but I can’t get past the price here. Even the matchup against Jason Verrett isn’t enough to completely leave me off Thomas. I will have some exposure without any question and he could be a great pivot off the Rams receiving options we’ll talk about next game.
Emmanuel Sanders and Tre’Quan Smith both caught touchdowns but Sanders remains the primary target in the corps. He had five targets to just two for Smith, and most games won’t go like Sunday night. Sanders draws Emmanuel Moseley, who has been targeted 48 times and has a 1.90 pPT allowed. Kamara, Thomas and Sanders will be the main three cogs in the passing game. Sanders is fairly cheap and has a 20.3% target share with nine RZ targets, most on the team. He’s worth looking at in game stacks, especially a Brees/MT/Sanders style play.
TE – It was not a good game for Jared Cook Sunday night, with only three targets and a fumble. He’s down under a 13% target share on the season though he does have eight RZ and five EZ targets. You have to wonder how much of that he retains with Thomas back, just like Sanders. His price is not all that appealing to me and San Francisco has only allowed two touchdowns so far. It really seems like he’s going to be the fourth option in this passing game and a pricey one for the position he plays.
D/ST – The Saints are likely my favorite mid-range defense on this slate. The price is affordable and they are in the top half of the league in pressure rate, generating 22 sacks so far. The turnovers forced have been average at just nine, but Mullens should help that rate a little bit this week.
Cash – Brees, Thomas, Kamara, D/ST
GPP – Sanders, Cook, Murray
QB – It was a pretty humbling loss for the Seahawks this past week. In the past three games for Russell Wilson, he has a total of seven turnovers. You’ll likely hear that a good bit in any MVP discussion but his DK point totals in those three games are still excellent at 35.9, 28.7 and 29.1. He still leads the league in touchdowns, is fourth in yards, second in pDB and second in points per game. The biggest fear in my eyes is the mismatch in the trenches. Wilson is under the fifth-highest pressure rate in the league and some of that is Wilson’s fault as well. He’s tied for the third-longest pocket time. The Rams have generated 25 sacks already and Aaron Donald looms large. Russ has the third-highest completion rate at 53.1% but there is some danger here. Having said all that, Wilson is still cheap and well in play here.
RB – We still need some clarity here as Chris Carson is not practicing yet. The trio of Travis Homer, DeeJay Dallas and Alex Collins all split snaps last week, with Homer playing the most at 48%. He and Dallas had nine touches each and Homer had more targets, which is likely the most valuable of what we need. This game should shoot out so Homer is the pick if Carson can’t go, but I don’t like any player a ton. Collins only got two touches so I wouldn’t take that route at all.
*Update* Carson remains questionable. Just like Drake, we have enough options you can pivot to him once we know if he’s active, but we really won’t know until Sunday.
WR – This might be about the weirdest season ever for Tyler Lockett. He’s WR5 in PPR settings but yet of the eight games he’s played, four have been under 10 DK points. Six have been under 20 and then two have been over 40! When he’s hit, Lockett has been close to a slate breaker but the he hasn’t, he’s sunk your lineup. D.K. Metcalf has drawn the tougher matchups but has been far more consistent. Seven of his eight games have been over 17 DK and four have been well over 20. Metcalf has 10 fewer receptions than Locket but almost 200 more yards and one more touchdown.
We’ll be putting that theory to test again this week because Metcalf could get Jalen Ramsey this week. Myself and Ghost seem to think he could face Lockett more. Ramsey has played plenty of slot so they might opt to have Ramsey shut Lockett down and turn Seattle into just one receiver. Even if Metcalf gets Ramsey, I don’t care much. Metcalf has already burned Stephon Gilmore and Tre White, elite players at the position. David Moore could be a very deep punt in this game, with nine targets over the past two weeks. If Metcalf or Lockett has a slow game again, Moore could pick up a little slack.
*Update* Ramsey himself said he won’t shadow Metcalf. Game on.
TE – The tight end spot has evolved into a messy situation. Jacob Hollister, Will Dissly and Greg Olsen are all under 50% of the snaps but Hollister might be the best option here. He played the most snaps last week and drew seven targets. I don’t think that repeats very often but if you wanted a tight end punt, Hollister works to some extent.
D/ST – This unit has actually made some splash plays with 14 turnovers forced and that’s tied for third-most. The sacks are only at 19 but I don’t like the idea of playing them against the Rams coming out of a bye. I have to expect Rams Coach Sean McVay has a plan to exploit these weaknesses.
Cash – Russ, Metcalf
GPP – Lockett, Moore, Hollister
QB – Seattle has faced the most passing attempts on the season, but I’m not sure that’s an excuse to be giving up 362 passing yards per game. Atlanta is still second at 310, a 52 yard difference. To their small credit, Seattle has only allowed 16 touchdown passes but I still want a piece of Jared Goff. He only ranks 20th in pass plays per game and 19th in pDB but the matchup is just too good. Time after time, Seattle has gotten ripped in the passing game. Typically, Goff would have to be crazy efficient for a ceiling game because the Rams are fifth in rush attempts per game. If Goff and McVay don’t throw the ball here against the 29th ranked DVOA against the pass, I have to question just how smart McVay actually is.
RB – One of the reasons Seattle has faced the most passing attempts is because they’re ninth in DVOA against the run and fourth in yards allowed per game. That’s not a great mix for a potential RBBC with Darrell Henderson, Malcolm Brown and possibly Cam Akers. Henderson is supposed to play but with it being a split backfield in a bad matchup on paper, I’m not interested to any real capacity. I would lean Henderson over anyone else.
WR – We should love all three of the main receivers this week and yes, I did say three. Cooper Kupp is still my favorite even though he’s the most expensive. Kupp has been in the slot the eighth-most this season at 53.9% and the Seahawks have no player to cover him in that alignment. He’s been banged up this week so we need to monitor that closely. D.J. Reed isn’t going to stop him so the only thing that could is injury.
Robert Woods is slightly cheaper and is just as good a play and I will have shares of both in game stacks. Woods is averaging two rushing attempts per game and has two rushing touchdowns, raising his floor just a little bit. Only Curtis Samuel has more rushing attempts from the receiver position (no I’m not counting Cordarrelle Patterson and you can’t make me). Woods should get some Quinton Dunbar but that matters little. He played clearly hurt last week and that could be the same story this week.
My favorite wide receiver punt on the slate is Josh Reynolds. He has a respectable 13.9% target share, is one air yard off the team lead behind Kupp and leads in RZ targets. Reynolds also has the second-most EZ targets and the highest aDOT on the team. In a high scoring game, Reynolds could see the eight or nine targets he saw the previous two games and is in a smash matchup.
*Update* Dunbar and Shaq Griffin are both out for the Seahawks and the receivers really should have a field day here.
TE – Tyler Higbee made it back into the lineup before the bye week, but he’s still a tough sell for me. His 51.4% route rate is only 30th among tight ends and he’s fourth on his team in target rate at 10.4%. What’s worse is he’s only got three RZ targets all season. Outside of his three touchdown game against the Eagles, Higbee doesn’t have a game over 8.6 DK all season.
D/ST – I actually really don’t mind the Rams as a punt defense. We talked earlier about the mismatch along the lines and that could cause sacks and turnovers. Wilson has been sacked the third-most times and even if the Rams give up a lot of points, they can still score 6-8 DK which is more than fine at the salary.
Cash – Goff, Kupp, Woods
GPP – Reynolds, D/ST
QB – This is among the toughest matchups that Joe Burrow has faced and he has been somewhat matchup sensitive. His worst game so far has come against Baltimore, who are seventh in DVOA against the pass. He managed to hit 20 DK against the Colts but scored a rushing touchdown. The Steelers represent the best passing DVOA he has faced so far at third. Burrow does have volume in his favor, as he’s second in attempts per game and he sits eighth in passing yards. Pittsburgh has only allowed the fifth-least passing yards per game and even with the volume built in, I don’t love Burrow here. The completion rate under pressure rate is 32nd at 28.6% and the Steelers have the highest pressure rate in football.
RB – We may as well assume that Joe Mixon will not be active this week since he’s still not practicing after the bye week. That’s going to leave Gio Bernard as the lead back and he’s had 18 touches in each game without Mixon. The Steelers have been a bit rough against the run lately, with over 140 yards allowed in each of the past two games. Gio is going to be under the radar with Duke Johnson and Mike Davis cheaper, at the least. Still, I’m not sure this a risk worth taking. Pittsburgh is still fourth in DVOA against the run and they still rank in the top 10 in rushing yards allowed per game. Gio will mostly be a pass for me.
WR – I think even though he’s priced the highest, Tyler Boyd has to be the first play out of these receivers. He not only leads the Bengals in target share at 221.2% but he draws perhaps the softest matchup of the group as well. Mike Hilton is in line to return for Pittsburgh but he’s allowed a 71.4% catch rate and a 115.0 passer rating so far. Boyd’s aDOT is the lowest of the receivers and Burrow is going to have to get the ball out quick. If Pittsburgh is foolish enough to play base defense and leave a guy like T.J. Watt on Boyd like they did with CeeDee Lamb last week, Boyd will score.
*Update* Not that he scared me, but Hilton is questionable. That would be an ever bigger reason to like Boyd.
The projection is that Joe Haden will mostly see Tee Higgins and that’s going to be a tougher task for the rookie. Haden is down to a 1.20 pPT and only a 73.2 passer rating allowed. In fairness, he has been fairly consistent after he started to get on the field Week 3 with no games under 10.2 DK points. I just don’t prefer him in this spot. Also, I’m not really looking at A.J. Green. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me six times, that just makes me an idiot.
TE -Drew Sample really isn’t part of the offense in any major way and has just 14.4 DK points in the last four games. Two of those games were goose egg performances, so the floor is legitimately zero. With a route rate of only 64.7%, he could block an awful lot this week.
D/ST – Check back with me if Ben Roethlisberger is out.
Cash – Boyd is closest
GPP – Burrow, Higgins, Gio
QB – As a note, this is written as if Big Ben is going to play in Sunday. He hasn’t tested positive, so he still does have a legitimate shot to suit up. If he does, his price is super low and he finally flashed his ceiling last week. Of course, it did me no good since I wasn’t on him as a 14 point favorite but we know the veteran still does have it. He’s still just 18th in pDB but he’s also seventh in touchdowns. Cincinnati is 25th in DVOA against the pass and 23rd in passing yards allowed per game. They are also tied for the fifth-most touchdown passes allowed, so this is a good spot and Roethlisberger is at a very low price. With the defense showing some cracks the past two weeks, it’s possible this turns into a shoot out.
RB – The game script was in Bizarro World last week, but it’s still tough not to notice how James Conner was under a 50% snap rate. He still had 11 touches but Anthony McFarland and Benny Snell were on the field a lot last week. I don’t think it’s anything to worry about at this juncture and Conner should be back to workhorse duties this week. The Bengals represent a great bounciest back spot, as they are 25th against the run in DVOA and have allowed the third-most rushing yards among teams with eight games. I really don’t care for the price, as it didn’t move after a four point DK game. He has only hit 3x at this salary three times so far this year and I could see him being a little disappointing.