This week in the NFL is a bit of a weird one. At first glance, there’s only about three or four games our of the 11 on the slate that are super appealing. There’s only five games with an O/U set above 50, which seems like a rarity anymore. Additionally, last week was littered with spots we wanted to attack. We may have to dig a little further to find them this week but that’s exactly what we’ll do in NFL Game by Game Breakdown Week 8!
QB – Indy exits the bye week to take on the Lions and Philip Rivers is once again under $6,000. The game log from his previous game looks appealing since he went for 28 DK but let’s make sure we pump the brakes here. The Colts had to play catchup from 21 points down and Rivers threw the ball 44 times. The previous four weeks, he hadn’t exceeded 33 attempts in a game and that’s just how the Colts want to win. They rank 23rd in attempts per game and with Rivers at 28th in points per drop back, it’s not a positive mix unless the game script demands change.
The veteran is still outside the top 12 in passing yards and outside the top 20 in air yards while he only has seven touchdowns. Week 6 was his first game all season with multiple touchdown passes. The Lions actually have a top 12 DVOA against the pass and have only allowed 11 TD passes on the season. Rivers is 13th in RZ pass attempts so he could have a little more TD upside than he’s shown, but unless you project the Lions to have a big lead he’s not on my radar.
RB – Running back is a tough position to find a ton of players we’re going to love at first blush. Even with some concerns and flaws, Jonathan Taylor is going to check an awful lot of boxes for me this week and he may be a core play. When we talk about core plays, we want volume ahead of almost anything. I do wish Taylor was more comfortably at 20 touches, but he has at least 14 in every game since Week 2. It’s odd, Indy gave him 28 touches in the game and since then he’s not had more than 18. He has yet to hit 60% of the snaps since then either but if he approaches 20 touches here, he should hit 3x easily.
Detroit is 30th in DVOA against the run and have given up the sixth-most DK points to backs. Also, they rank 26th in rushing yards allowed per game so the matchup is pristine. The good news for Taylor is Jordan Wilkins has only played a total of six snaps the past two games. Even in a 60%-35% split with Nyheim Hines, Taylor is worth his salary. The rookie easily leads in RZ attempts with 18 and his 89 total carries are 15th in football. The 8.6% target share isn’t huge but it helps a bit. Taylor should likely be over $7,000 in this spot.
WR – I…I just can’t with T.Y. Hilton anymore. He’s 102nd in points per target, 82nd in points per game, 77th in yards per route, 41st in targets and 55th in receptions. That’s really bottoming out. He should match up with Jeff Okudah a good portion of the game. The rookie has some rough season numbers but has been playing a little better as of late. He only has a 1.50 points per target and being targeted 43 times is not the smallest amount. Still, he can run with Hilton and I’m not that interested.
Zach Pascal is only nine targets behind Hilton and has double the RZ targets at eight and five EZ targets and has two scores to his name. He may not be a volume play, but he’s a Rivers favorite where it counts. That’s enough for a flier, especially if he matches against Darryl Roberts. He’s questionable right now but has allowed a 2.10 poi’s per target thus far. Marcus Johnson is hovering between 55-65% of the snaps and he put up a good game last time, but I caution again what kind of game script he gets this week. If Rivers throws under 30 times, the meat on the bone is a big question mark.
*Update* The Colts activated Michael Pittman, which likely really kills Johnson’s appeal.
TE – Trey Burton is likely still a little too cheap for what he’s done since returning off the IR. No, he may never score another rushing TD in his life but the targets have been steady at 5, 6 and five in three games. He did play four fewer snaps than Jack Doyle last game with Mo Alie-Cox out, but they both run a route about 54% of the time. It’s interesting because Alie-Cox is only at a 35% route rate, so Burton is my main target here. His 15.7% target rate is about as solid as we get for this tier of salary. It does need pointed out that Detroit has been excellent against the position so far. They’ve allowed the second-fewest DK points at a total of 16/164/2 through six games. I’m still fine with Burton but he’s not a need for me. I does help that Doyle may well be out this week.
D/ST – The Colts are third in total DVOA and already have 10 interceptions in just six games. Bookend that with 13 sacks and three defensive scores and you have a great fantasy defense so far. I tend to think they’re playing a good deal over their heads, but for $3,100 they are fairly cheap. Detroit only allows the 17th highest pressure rate at 21.2% and 14 total sacks so the price is fair.
Cash – Taylor, D/ST, Burton (I’m going to prefer a cheaper TE though)
GPP – Rivers, Pascal
QB – Matthew Stafford attempted 36 passes this past week and much like Rivers, that was the second-most attempts of the season. The Lions rank 23rd in passing attempts on the season because when you can get Adrian Peterson 80 carries, you better take that opportunity. It’s frustrating to see where the Lions are in passing, because Stafford is more talented than being 20th in passing yards per game. The 0.45 points per drop back is only 22nd in football, so you need a great matchup and expected volume to really be in love with Stafford. I don’t believe this game represents either facet. It should be a competitive contest and the Colts are currently third in DVOA against the pass. That tracks with their production of a 7:10 TD:INT ratio and the second-fewest passing yards allowed per game. Stafford carries little interest for me at his salary.
RB – Peterson continues to be the proverbial fly in the ointment for D’Andre Swift. The good from last week is Swift did play nine more snaps than Peterson this past week, a slight uptick. The bad news is he only had one more touch as AP still had 11 carries and one reception to nine carries and four receptions for Swift. The other great news for Swift is the past two weeks has seen the RZ work tilt to him in a big way. He has seven RZ attempts and one target to just three attempts for AP. Swift continues to be the play in this backfield even with some very questionable usage. Having said that, it’s a tough matchup for him. Indy ranks sixth in DVOA against the run and is allowing the third-fewest rushing yards per game. They also have allowed the sixth-fewest receiving yards to the position so Swift is mostly a pass for me.
WR – Kenny Golladay continues to be a grown man out there, extending his streak of either a touchdown or a 100-yard receiving game in all four that he’s played in. His price actually went down this week which doesn’t make a ton of sense but he is a victim of questionable volume as well. He’s yet to exceed eight targets and when a receiver is above $6,500, that starts to get a hair worrisome. He sits at a 22.6% target share through his four games and he does at least have a 35.8% air yards share to prop that up.
What is a little disappointing is three RZ and EZ targets because T.J. Hockenson has seven and four, respectively. With a matchup against the resurgent Xavier Rhodes, it’s easy to not look at Golladay this week. Marvin Jones is under a 14% target share with Golladay active so even coming off 13 DK points, I can’t say he’s that interesting.
TE – We talked about the RZ and EZ targets for Hockenson already but he’s actually second on the team in overall targets with Golladay active. Now, that doesn’t say a lot because he’s only had two more than Jones and Swift. Still, commanding 36.8% of the RZ targets over a month long stretch can’t be ignored. I’m not crazy about the price but I wonder if he’s strong pivot off the more popular Darren Waller (we’ll get there). Much like any position against the Colts, it’s not a positive matchup. They are one of two teams to not allow a tight end to score and haven’t allowed 135 yards yet. I won’t have much Hockenson this week, if any at all.
D/ST – Rivers does have some turnover potential, but the Lions only have eight sacks total and a pressure rate under 20%. The other side of the matchup is the Colts allowing the fifth-lowest pressure rate at 15.2% so not much makes sense about playing the Lions.
Cash – None
GPP – Golladay, Swift, Stafford, Hockenson
QB – This is one of the better games to stack on the entire slate and we will be interested for sure. Playing Kirk Cousins isn’t always for the faint of heart. Before the bye, it looked like was on pace for an all-time letdown against the Falcons with early turnover issues. However, he charged back and got it done for fantasy with 29.7 DK and that same style of outcome is strongly in play this week. The Vikings defense has little chance to stop the Packers offense and Cousins is going to have to put up points. In the first meeting, he went for 22.7 DK on just 25 attempts. He’s going to have to throw over 30 times be default in this game. The Packers are in the bottom 12 in DVOA against the pass and Cousins is 19th in points per drop back. Cousins has 4x potential in this spot with the suspected volume and you just hope the game doesn’t get out of hand too quickly.
RB – It certainly looks like Dalvin Cook is going to be ready to roll this week and he’s underpriced. Yes, this game projects to be a shootout but Cook was leading the league in rushing yards before he got hurt. Cook just misses on averaging 100 yards per game and has a 12% target share. Cook has missed one game, a portion of another and had his bye week and he is still fifth in rushing yards. Green Bay is still in the bottom 12 for DVOA against the run but do rank 12th in yards allowed per game. One facet that they have gotten smoked on is receiving to the running back. Only four teams have allowed more receptions and they all have one more game played than the Pack. Additionally, only the Panthers have allowed more receiving yards. Cook is just too involved in all facets to be under $8,000 if he’s healthy.
*Update* Cook went from being not listed on an injury report to questionable and that terrifies me. I will likely have little exposure, and certainly not in cash.
WR – This is such an interesting spot. When these teams matched up in Week 1, Adam Thielen went bonkers with 6/110/2 for a massive 34 DK points. Justin Jefferson played over 60% of the snaps but only had three targets. Not only is Jefferson more involved now, Thielen broke my normal “rule” of not playing the number one WR against Packers corner Jaire Alexander. My original guess was Thielen just went into the slot because Alexander is under a 3% slot rate. However, Thielen is only at 15.6% himself. Jefferson is in the slot more at 27.2% and these WR have been very near identical from the metrics view since Week 3. Take a look –
Thielen – 91.9% snaps, 417 air yards, 33 targets, seven RZ targets, seven EZ targets, 23 receptions, 274 yards, 5 TD – 84.9 DK points
Jefferson – 81.0% snaps, 406 air yards, 30 targets, one RZ target, one EZ target, 23 receptions, 467 yards, 3 TD – 98.7 DK points
Thielen has been safer, but Jefferson has two games over 30 DK in those four so he’s been a bit more of the “boom” player. Given he’s in the slot a bit more, is cheaper and should avoid Alexander more, Jefferson has the edge but both are absolutely in play.
TE – Please let the Irv Smith mini-breakout continue. In the two games prior to the bye, Smith had back to back double-digit DK point games. Before those two games, he had a combined six targets in four weeks but suddenly, he’s seen five in each of the last two games. That coincides with his highest-two snap rates of the season and he’s still only $3,000. In a game where they likely need to pass more than usual I really do like Smith as a punt option. The Packers haven’t been bad to the position with one score allowed but you don’t absolutely need him to score. Smith already runs a route on 70.9% of his snaps so if the targets continue to flow, he’s too cheap.
D/ST – We don’t play defenses against the Packers and yes, sometimes we miss on the Tampa defense at low ownership. Minnesota is not Tampa since they rank 16th in overall DVOA, only has five turnovers and just traded pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue.
Cash – Cook, Jefferson, Smith
GPP – Thielen, Cousins (Thielen in mostly GPP for me because if you spend on one WR, it’s the guy on the other side of this game)
QB – You know that scene in The Office where Ryan comes back after being arrested, and he takes notes on everyone who has wronged him to get revenge later? I feel like that’s all Aaron Rodgers did the entire offseason. He heard you call him washed. He saw the Packers move up to draft his successor (maybe) and he is not happy about it. We’ve seen vintage Rodgers in five of six games so far and the Vikings don’t have the tools to force a bad game from him. He sits at a robust 0.61 points per drop back, third in the league while racking up the third-most passing yards of QB’s that have played six games. The Vikings are 18th in DVOA against the pass and are giving up over two passing touchdowns per game. Rodgers leads the sixth-best passing DVOA offense and is an option in all formats this week.
RB – It certainly looks like Aaron Jones will miss this game as well, and DK didn’t mess around with the price on Jamaal Williams. He’s over $6,000 and he played 89% of the snaps last week. Apparently I did not need to fear A.J. Dillon. Williams racked up 20 touches and a score, and Minnesota is 20th in run DVOA. They’ve only given up five scores total and over 800 yards to the position. I’m having a tough time clicking on his name over $6,000 although the game script really could go in his favor. I think I’d rather go back to Gio Bernard, but I have no real issues with Williams like I did last week.
*Update* Jones is officially out so Williams is well in play at this price.
WR – I’m not sure I’ve ever been so dead set on playing a receiver that is $8,800 but I’m not sure how you avoid Davante Adams this week. He went nuclear for the second time this year and in the first game, went for 44.6 DK points. It’s been seven games since the start of the season. Adams has played three healthy games and one partial. So, basically half the season or thereabouts. He’s the WR15 in PPR formats!! That’s insane. Adams is 21st in raw targets and every single player ahead of him has played at least six games to four for Adams. He’s commanding 34.1% of the targets and 33% of the air yards in the Packers offense. Adams might be the safest investment on the entire board this week. We saw in Week 1 he went berserk on this defense and they’re likely missing corners in this game.
One of the most intriguing GPP options is Marquez Valdes-Scantling. He did bupkis last week and that means the field isn’t paying much attention to him this week. Meanwhile, he has the air yards lead in the offense (unfair with Adams missing but still) and in Week 1 both MVS and Allen Lazard scored and had over 60 yards. If MVS takes some of Lazard’s 4/63/1 from that game and adds it to his 4/96/1… lookout. If playing Rodgers, it makes a ton of sense to have both pass catchers stacked up with him in tournaments. Contrary to last week, Adams usually won’t be the entire passing game.
TE – It’s really hard to get excited for Robert Tonyan. With Adams back in the fold the target share just ins’t really there. It’s not a coincidence that his best games came without Adams at all. He only has a 10.1% target share and that’s gross, even for a tight end. When he only has two RZ targets outside of his monster game against the Falcons (and none since that game), it gets even tougher to eat that target share. He’s a unique way to stack Rodgers but I’d rather play the cheaper MVS.
D/ST – The Packers are in the conversation since Cousins has 10 picks already to go with a lost fumble. I don’t love them, as have the third-lowest pressure rate in the league but they do have 15 sacks. The four turnovers is a concern and if you have the $200, I’d just play Indy.
Cash – Adams, Rodgers, Williams
GPP – MVS, Tonyan
QB – I can tell you from personal experience, just about any outcome is possible when these two teams tangle. We’ve seen slugfests, shoot outs and everything in between. On paper, this should be relatively low-scoring. After Ben Roethlisberger played probably his worst game of the year, this isn’t exactly the greatest spot for a bounce back performance. Baltimore is seventh in DVOA against the pass and Big Ben has fallen to 22nd in points per drop back. The Ravens are right about average as far as passing yards given up per game but have only given up four touchdowns to players not named Patrick Mahomes. There’s one path to success for Roethlisberger and that’s if the Steelers decide to eschew the run game and have him throw 40+ times. With little evidence of that, this isn’t the wisest spend of salary this week.
RB – James Conner logged another game with over 20 touches and 100 scrimmage yards, he just didn’t score to really pay off his day. Like Big Ben, this is not a fun spot for him. Baltimore is third in DVOA against the run and that tracks with under 500 rushing yards allowed in six games. They’ve also allowed only two scores so it’s not easy to get behind Conner here. He still is the man inside the RZ with 21 carries (last week’s Benny Snell vulture notwithstanding) and 110 total touches is great for this point of the season. The matchup is hard enough to tune me out of Conner this week, even with volume duly noted.
WR – Dionte Johnson is back at practice and healthy, so he is the most attractive Steeler to my eye. He leads the team in target share at 21.6% and that’s with missing just about three full games so far this season. Roethlisberger clearly loves him and the Ravens secondary is banged up. Jimmy Smith could draw the assignment but he’s questionable right now. We do know that Johnson will not be in the slot hardly at all, so he avoids Marlon Humphrey.
That assignment goes to JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Humphrey has a 1.40 points per target and only a 79.7 passer rating allowed this year. I’m not really interested in JuJu but Chase Claypool could be the ultimate wild card. He got virtually nothing last week but if JuJu is struggling, Claypool has big upside against Marcus Peters. He doesn’t have the most disciplined eyes and allows a 13.6 yards per reception. Claypool has the speed and size on him as well.
*Update* Johnson has started to grow on me a good bit the past couple days. Yes, the matchup isn’t great but the price is simply not high enough to justify not looking at him. When the QB loves throwing to you, under $6,000 really is a bargain.
TE – The Steelers were patient for the most part on Sunday and kept the ball moving on shorter passes, and Eric Ebron benefited with his season high totals in targets and receptions. He is running a route on 75.8% of his snaps so he’s not being asked to block a ton, which is nice at his price point. Pittsburgh has spread the ball around a good bit in part due to injuries, but Ebron has the lead in RZ targets with five. It seems like someone will be the odd man out in this passing game and last week it was Claypool. The Ravens are average against the position with 332 yards given up and three touchdowns. I suppose if you stack this game, Ebron could fly under the radar but that’s about as far as I would go.
D/ST – They are in play but it was interesting to see them not generate a turnover for the first time without Devin Bush. They still have the highest pressure rate in all of football and the Ravens give up a 24.1% pressure rate. The biggest question is if they can actually get home to make the sack. Usually this unit is an elite option, but that’s not the case this week.
GPP – Johnson, Claypool, Ben, Conner
QB – The likeliest biggest key to this game is if the Steelers can get consistent pressure on Lamar Jackson and keep him from making plays with his legs. From a points per drop back view, Jackson is excellent at 0.56 which is seventh in the league. However, he has the 36th ranked completion rate under pressure at 21.6%. Needless to say, that is terrible and is a major focal point of the Steelers defense.
Jackson is already having a much slower season than 2019, even before what could turn into a tough spot for him. The week before the bye was his first 100-yard rush game of the year and his knee should be fully healthy. Most slates, I’d argue that he’s an elite pivot from Rodgers but I don’t think I’m taking that route this time around. There’s always the chance he has a huge rushing game and I look silly but if Pittsburgh can keep him in the pocket, you could see a floor game as well similar to the Kansas City game.
RB – The expectation is Mark Ingram will be back this week but it almost is irrelevant. The Steelers are the number one team in DVOA against the run and are 0.8 yards per game off the lead after Tampa. hey just held Derrick Henry under 80 yards rushing and Ingram is sharing snaps with J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards. No back has over 50 carries across six games, nobody has a snap share over 36% and nobody has a target share over 8.8%. There is zero need to look at any of these backs, even at low salaries.
*Update* Ingram is not practicing Thursday, and is now doubtful. That doesn’t change this matchup is still very difficult for Edwards and Dobbins. If anything, Dobbins has the slight advantage with PPR upside.
WR/TE – We continue to only really look at Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews in the passing game for the Ravens. I actually think Brown is quite sneaky this week. He leads in targets with a 26.4% share and has a massive lead in air yards at 44.6% and we saw A.J. Brown burn Steelers corner Joe Haden a couple times this past week. Brown is 14th in yards per route at 2.40 and I can see him giving this Steelers secondary fits at times. Pittsburgh has the ninth-worst DK points per games to receivers and they’ve allowed nine touchdowns, tied for the fourth-most. It’s been the Achilles heel for them so far. Especially if the Ravens running game is struggling outside of Jackson, Brown could see more targets than normal.
Andrews falls into a similar boat and he is the main man in the passing game as far as touchdowns go. He has half of Jackson’s 10 touchdown passes so far although he’s been very boom or bust this season. Of the six games he’s played, three have been over 17 DK and three have been under 5.5. You could get more volume for him as well, but the matchup is tougher on paper. Pittsburgh has only allowed one score and 234 yards through three games. If playing a Baltimore weapon, Brown is my choice at the salary involved.
D/ST – Up until Sunday, the Steelers weren’t turning the ball over a ton. Baltimore can get to the QB with almost four sacks per game but Roethlisberger has one of the fastest pocket times in the league at 2.1 seconds. As I said before, there’s a wide range of outcomes in this game and I don’t really want to spend this high on a defense I don’t exactly trust.
GPP – Brown, Jackson, Andrews
QB – This is a premier game of the week and Ryan Tannehill is finally being priced with some respect. He should be near $7,000 as he’s now at 42 total touchdowns in what amounts to his first full season of being the Titans starter. Even in a tough spot, he played well last week and threw for multiple scores. This game gets easier as the Bengals are ranked 26th in DVOA against the pass and Cincy is suddenly up to 15 touchdowns allowed. Tannehill himself is up to fourth in points per drop back with 0.59 and he’s in the top 10 of QB’s on the season. When he’s kept clean, he has the seventh-highest completion rate in football at 80.3%. The Bengals are flirting with being dead last in pressure rate on the season, so Tannehill is a great option. He never seems to be too popular either which is a big help. Considering the next player is set to be chalk, Tannehill and the passing game is a really nice pivot.
RB – Is it Derrick Henry week again? It sure might be, considering Henry is one of the better plays on the board. Yes, we all wish he caught more passes and I don’t know why they don’t set him up with 2-3 screens a game but that’s the Titans offense. Backs who can catch passes are extra valuable in part because they don’t get game-scripted out. Well, neither does Henry. The Titans were down 24-7 at the half last week and Henry still had 22 touches. That’s about as bad as scripts get for a player like Henry but here he is.
The 15.2 DK is nothing great but it came against the best rush defense in football DVOA-wise. That was with missing tackle Taylor Lewan as well. The Bengals check in 21st in that stat this week and are giving up the fourth-most yards rushing to backs. Henry has a 21 carry lead for the most in football and 112 yard lead for most rushing yards (in one fewer game than second place Clyde Edwards-Helaire). I don’t much care about pass catching here and they are six point road favorites.
WR – The prime stacking option with Tannehill is none other than A.J. Brown. He’s just putting together monster performances now that he’s healthy, with at least 21 DK points in all three of those games. Since he’s come back, he’s compiled 18/293/4 in that time and even at a season high price, is well in play. The matchup isn’t one to particularly bad either with Darius Phillips on the other side. He’s giving up a 2.00 points per game and a 16.7 yards per reception.
If going with a Tannehill lineup, don’t overlook Corey Davis either. He walked right back into 10 targets after missing a couple of games and has the same exact target share Brown does at 23%. LeShaun Sims for the Bengals has been a sieve when he’s on the field at 2.30 point per target. Brown has the lead in air yards at 32.8% to 25.6% but the difference in price is stark.
TE – It’s going to be interesting to see what happens with Jonnu Smith this week. He’s had two straight weeks of doing absolutely nothing but he played 70% of the snaps last week so he must be healthy. It’s always a bit scary to bank on touchdowns like Smith was scoring early on because his 54.9% routes run is just 28th among tight ends. He does lead in RZ and EZ targets with seven and five while having a 16.9% target share. The Bengals really struggled Sunday with the Browns tight ends and gave up three touchdowns. That brings their total to six and have allowed 480 yards receiving. Smith is a nice double stack option with Tannehill and Brown.
D/ST – They could get Adoree’ Jackson back to fortify the secondary, but they can’t get pressure on the QB at 19.1% and are tied for the second-fewest sacks in football. That’s not a real great mix for fantasy when the defense gives up over 25 points per game.
Cash – Henry, Tannehill, Brown
GPP – Davis, Smith
QB – Joe Burrow saw his salary rise $700 and I don’t think I care all that much. Do I think he throws for 406 yards and has four total touchdowns again? Not really but he’s still just too cheap. We preach volume and Burrow leads the league in attempts, is third in RZ attempts and third in passing yards. The nine passing touchdowns is one of the few things you can harp on for Burrow, but that could turn a corner any given week. You can nitpick being 29th in points per drop back at 0.38 but with the attempts it really doesn’t matter.
Burrow does also still struggle under pressure with a completion rate under 29% but that’s even mitigated by the Titans non-existent pressure rate. He’s even got some rushing upside with three rushing scores and being in the top 15 in yards. That’s not why you’re drafting him, you’re drafting him because Tennessee is 19th in DVOA against the pass and they give up over 22 DK points per game to the QB. Burrow is till cheap enough for cash and we saw the ceiling last week for GPP.
RB – Joe Mixon has yet to practice since his injury so we should prepare for another week of Gio Bernard. He played almost 80% of the snaps last week and had 18 touches. That is plenty at this salary and the Titans are 19th in run DVOA and are also 23rd in rush yards allowed per game. The 828 scrimmage yards across six games is also quite appealing, as are the seven scores. Taking the targets Gio and Mixon have on the year and you’re approaching 20% of the highest pass volume in the league. Gio is not expensive enough yet to my eyes.
*Update* Mixon is officially out. One facet we have to at least touch on is the injuries to the O-line for the Bengals. They are missing three starters and that is an issue. That leaves Jamaal Williams over Gio Bernard in my eyes, and does scare me a bit with Burrow. Tennessee doesn’t get a ton of pressure but now they’re playing against backups.
WR – The Bengals appear to have figured out how to use A.J. Green or something, because he has 24 targets over the past two games and has produced from a PPR standpoint with 15/178/0 in those games. Perhaps Green just needed to get into the flow after so much time missed the last couple of years. He has the target share lead in the last two weeks at 27.9% but Tyler Boyd is only three targets behind him and has something that Green lacks – RZ targets with a seven to one lead. Boyd has 50% of the RZ targets since Green started to become more of a piece in this offense, and lives in the slot. Having mentioned the past couple of weeks, Green is third in EZ targets at eight and is the only one in the top 20 that doesn’t have a touchdown.
That’s not even to forget about Tee Higgins. He’s clearly third in the pecking order the past two weeks but he’s posted at least 18 DK in those games. Higgins is the likeliest to see Malcolm Butler and even that’s not too scary anymore. It catches my eye that Burrow and his three receivers combined for about 103 DK points last week. At their current salaries, that would be over 4x. That’s not super likely to repeat but the volume that Burrow has makes it at least possible, and you could use A.J. Brown as a run back. That is a long shot and I want to make that clear.
TE – I know Drew Sample was moderately involved last week but that’s only the second time all year he’s had more than five targets. I doubt that’s going to change much since the Bengals run the most three receiver sets in football. Sample will continue to be low on the totem pole in target share and I’m not terribly excited. Tennessee has given up 354 yards and four scores but that doesn’t mean Sample can take advantage.
D/ST – Tennessee doesn’t turn the ball over and has only allowed seven sacks all year. There’s no reason to use the Bengals defense.
Cash – Burrow, Green, Gio, Boyd
GPP – Higgins, Sample
QB – I say this as someone who has played Derek Carr in DFS about 3 times ever, but what is up with his price? He only got $100 raise after scoring 20 DK on the Bucs and now gets to feast on the Cleveland defense, which ranks 25th in DVOA against the pass. He might only be 18th in points per drop back at 0.49 but he’s ninth in touchdowns on the season. The deep ball has gone well for him with the 10th highest completion rate of 52.2% and he’s sixth in on target rate. The Browns have allowed the third-most passing yards and 16 passing TD’s to go with the Raiders ranking seventh in passing yards per game. To me, Carr is one of the best values at the position and even though Jimmy Garoppolo gets the Seahawks, I have much more trust in Carr. I love stacking the Raiders passing game all the way around.
RB – I will have multiple routes of attack for the Raiders offense and if you don’t use Carr in cash, you should turn to Josh Jacobs. It’s been a little bit of a tough season for him consistency-wise. He has two games over 22 DK but four under 15, which typically would leave him as a GPP-only player. Jacobs is the type of player that can get lost in a game script. He’s involved in the passing game with an 11.8% share, but it’s not enough to give him a ton of work if they trail. There’s a reason his two best games have come in wins. Jacobs is third in carries among six game backs and fifth overall, so volume is not a concern. Cleveland has the 19th ranked DVOA against the run, which leads us to think the 483 rushing yards allowed might be a little misleading. The seven rushing touchdowns are tied for the third-most so the upside for Jacobs at a season-low price is tangible.
WR – If you’re not in Discord, you may have missed this but I’m calling my shot with a Henry Ruggs long touchdown in this game. Ruggs only has a 10.9% target share but has struggled with injuries. Now that he appears healthy (75% of the snaps Sunday was a career high) all that needs to follow is the production. He has a 28.4% air yards share as it is and the 20.0 aDOT speaks for itself. He violates about every check mark I have for cash games so I don’t think I can do it for that format but he will be in every single Raiders stack for me. He won’t even see a ton of Denzel Ward, who doesn’t typically shadow.
If we’re stacking Ruggs and Carr, we can use one other player and Nelson Agholor is an option. Agholor is the receiver that could see the most of Ward and his 1.30 points per target allowed. He and Hunter Renfrow 14 and 16 targets each the past three weeks, with Agholor scoring a touchdown in all three games. I lean him slightly, but the RZ work is 3-1 for Renfrow while the EZ work is 3-0 for Agholor.
TE – I don’t think I’ll go so far as to say that Darren Waller will go totally overlooked, but he is the most expensive way to get a stack going with Carr. Folks could just use Ruggs and call it a day. That would be a mistake as Waller leads the team in targets with a 27.6% share, 37.5% of the RZ targets and five EZ targets. Even the air yards are second on the team at 20.9% and he is the alpha in the passing attack. Waller also ranks fifth among tight ends with an 89.1% routes run rate and likely should be over $6,000. Cleveland has given up the sixth-most receptions and four touchdowns already to the position.
D/ST – They don’t even average a single DK point so at $2,900 (um, why?) I have no interest at all. They only have seven sacks and three turnovers on the season, while being ranked 31st in overall DVOA.
Cash – Carr, Jacobs, Waller
GPP – Ruggs, Agholor
QB – Playing Baker Mayfield after dropping five touchdowns really seems like a poor idea on paper. When a QB has a high score on the year of 17 Dk and then he goes bonkers for 30.8, it’s easy to say which outcome is the anomaly. Spending five seconds on the box score doesn’t support an argument that Baker has turned a corner or anything. He threw the ball 28 times and five of those attempts turned into five touchdowns. His two games against the Bengals this year are the only two that he was over a 6.7 average yards per completion.
On the plus side, the Raiders are 29th in DVOA against the pass and have given up the third-most passing yards among six game teams. They are 0.2 DK points per game from giving up the third-most to the QB, so this is a good spot for Baker. It’s a little surprising to see him at 14th for points per drop back but 26th in points per game. That tells you how much they run the ball and they are 29th in pass attempts per game. If the field goes to Carr, Baker checks in as a great GPP option.
RB – Kareem Hunt is still too cheap in this spot and I am highly interested. He played 90% of the snaps on Sunday so we know his injury is a thing of the past. After the Dallas game, he’s had a minimum of 15 touches in all three games and has scored 18 or more in three of them. The clunker was against the Steelers but that’s easily excused. Vegas is 29th in run DVOA and Vegas allows the third-most DK points to the position. That includes nine total scores and over 960 scrimmage yards in six games. With the amount of touches that Hunt should see, he easily has 3x potential here and is in the running for a Core spot. He fits the mold of everything we look for in a cash running back until Nick Chubb is back.
WR – We’re kicking this portion off with Rashard Higgins who is likely chalk and a piece that I’m interested in. He stepped up to an 85% snap share on Sunday and he and Baker have chemistry. Higgins was the WR2 for the Browns in Mayfield’s rookie season and they’ve always played well together when Higgins has been on the field. Trevon Mullen has allowed a 119.3 passer rating and a 2.00 points per target so there’s no reason to run from that.
Jarvis Landry still has a 47.1% slot rate and that leaves him on LaMarcus Joyner through a good part of the game. Joyner has allowed a 10.6 yards per reception and has been targeted on almost 29% of pass plays. Higgins seems like the cash play while Landry is a super interesting GPP play. Khaderel Hodge is also back for Cleveland and he won the number three job in the offseason, but Higgins has said he expects to remain the starter.
TE – Folks who played David Njoku weren’t real happy on Sunday as Harrison Bryant stole his thunder and scored twice. Bryant only had five targets and two of them came in the end zone so things went really well this past week. Njoku only had three targets and the passing game just happened to hit. Austin Hooper is almost surely out this week so it will be this combo again and they do have a slightly better outlook with Beckham out. It’s just hard to get overly excited about either knowing the TD equity was likely fools gold last week.
*Update* Hooper is out
D/ST – Myles Garrett continues the one man assault on QB’s but the Raiders don’t give up a a lot of pressure at 18.6% and Carr has only been sacked 11 times. Even the Bucs defense couldn’t do much so I don’t think Cleveland is the right defense this week.
Cash – Hunt, Higgins
GPP – Baker, Landry, Bryant, Njoku
QB – Normally I might make a smarmy remark about Cam Newton playing so poorly lately, but I’m going to pass on that. Since he returned two the lineup from a case of Covid, he has been putrid. He’s gone 25-40 for 255 yards and five interceptions. It could very easily just be two poor games, but Cam wouldn’t be the first athlete to not be 100% after getting sick. I sincerely hope this is not the case but it’s hard to not notice the drop in play and the sequence of events. I want nothing more than to see him come out and play well this week.
If he does, it’s most likely on someone else’s lineup. Cam’s rushing production keeps him on my mind at this salary, but it’s hard to argue the he’s a better play than Carr or Jimmy G regardless of ownership. Cam is under 200 passing yards per game and is 28th in air yards per game. That’s not entirely his fault but his supporting cast is flat out bad and if he does nothing on the ground, you are likely dead in the water.
RB – The Patriots backfield was the Ravens backfield before they knew it was cool. Rex Burkhead and Damien Harris split the snaps at about 45% each but Harris had 11 touches to lead everyone. James White got virtually no work as the game was out of hand by halftime so it’s hard to like anyone. Buffalo is 26th in run DVOA with the ninth-most rushing yards to backs allowed so if you wanted to take a shot, I’d go with Harris. He does have double-digit carries in two of the past three games but it’s a slim thread to hang on to. White is in play if you think Buffalo leads but doesn’t smack New England, as he does have a 20.6% target share. Harris and White are really only MME options to me.
WR – It’s impossible for any receiver to produce when your QB is as bad as Cam has been the past two weeks. Julian Edelman has the target share lead at 22.5% and 33.8% of the air yards. Sounds great right? Well he’s $4,400 because he’s been under seven DK points since Week 2. In those four games, he has 8/79/0. That’s not a typo. Attacking the Bills in the slot is the route to take and Edelman is in the slot 70.3% of the time but it’s an awfully large leap of faith to play him at this juncture.
He is the only receiver that I would consider from the Patriots at this point. Damiere Byrd and N’Keal Harry both hover around 16-18% of the targets but if Edelman can’t do anything, it’s impossible to find a reason for the others. Harry does at least have eight RZ targets but Cam is always a threat in close so I’ll pass.
*Update* Edelman is out with a knee injury and this passing game is in tatters and Harry is out as well with a concussion.
TE – I’m not 100% sure there is an actual tight end playing for the patriots right now. Nobody has over a 7% target share or more than one RZ target.
D/ST – The Bills are tied for the fifth-most turnovers in the league, so the Patriots are definitely in play. Buffalo has struggled a bit in the past couple of weeks and even though New England is not the unit they were last year, they’re only giving up 22.8 points per game and have 12 turnovers forced in six games. The salary isn’t bad here and Belichick can still coach a defense (49ers beating duly noted).
*Update* There’s at least four starters questionable on this side of the ball as well, including Gilmore. I don’t think I’m touching the Patriots at all this week.
Cash – D/ST
GPP – Harris, Cam
QB – Josh Allen has had a tale of two seasons so far. The first four games of the season he was an NFL MVP candidate and he was a fantasy darling. The past three weeks have been…not so much. In fairness, he did hit 300 yards passing against the Jets and just had some bad TD luck on 43 attempts. Allen is still ninth in points per drop back at 0.54 and fourth in TD passes with 16. We still have a lot to love with Allen including –
RZ attempts – 4th
Overall Attempts – 6th
Passing Yards – 4th
Points per Game – 5th
Going up against Belichick isn’t my favorite spot but this really seems like a spot where nobody is particularly on him. If we can get a very unpopular Allen, this might be worth taking a shot. New England is 23rd in DVOA against the pass and he always has multi-touchdown upside on the ground.
RB – I really want to have some confidence in either back in this backfield. New England has allowed 679 rushing yards in six games and is 27th in rushing yards allowed per game and that tracks with the 25th ranked DVOA. Zach Moss was only five snaps behind Devin Singletary last week and Moss had 10 touches to 10 for Singletary. Moss was more productive as well with 72 scrimmage yards to 47 for Singletary. Moss is also only four RZ attempts behind Singletary despite missing time so I’m leaning Moss as a GPP pick for this week. If they get the same amount of touches on the basic same amount of snaps, it’s really just a toss-up.
WR – Usually, we would mostly avoid Stefon Diggs since he has Patriots corner Stephon Gilmore on the other side of it. Diggs has been wonderful this year with a 27.5% target share and 36.3% of the air yards in this offense, although he’s been a little rough the past three weeks as well. The Jets held him to his second-lowest yards last week but what is interesting is Gilmore hasn’t really been particularly good this year. He’s let up a 102.4 passer rating and has put his house on the market in New England, wanting offers before the trade deadline.
John Brown is practicing in full so he should be back with his 15.9% target rate and he can always break a big play. Considering last game he played he did literally nothing, I’d like to see him completely healthy before using him. That means Cole Beasley is still a value, with a target share approaching 20%. This isn’t a spot of much interest but the price is fair.
TE – Just like the Patriots, there is no tight end worth playing for the Bills. Dawson Knox and Tyler Kroft are both under 8% of the target share and have seven RZ targets between them.
D/ST – The salary is certainly not my favorite but the Bills are around 25 points given up and have 17 sacks. They are 21st in overall DVOA but with how Newton is playing and the general lack of weaponry for the Patriots, this is potentially a get right spot for a defense that hasn’t played to potential quite yet.
Cash – Diggs, Allen
GPP – Beasley, Moss, D/ST, Singletary
The Jets just continue to be an abject disaster and there is once again only two players that I’m interested in. The main player is Jamison Crowder, assuming that he can play this week. The hamstring kept him out of last week’s game but he is still far too cheap, especially in a massively negative game script. Crowder owns a 31.5% target share and is the main cog. Rookie Denzel Mims had a fine debut last week and did play almost 80% of the snaps, but not seeing how he works with Crowder leaves him off my radar for the week.
Seeing how this game is a 20 point spread, it doesn’t normally jive with playing a running back but La’Mical Perine is sort of interesting. He played over 70% of the snaps last week and saw the only three targets directed at running backs. The Chiefs are fifth in DVOA against the pass but they are all the way down to 31st against the run. KC has allowed the third-most rushing yards to backs on the season and are over 1,100 scrimmage yards in five games. If Perine gets involved more in the passing game, he could easily fall into another 13-15 DK game.
*Update* Perine has turned into a Stix Special and Crowder is out for this game
GPP – Perine, Mims
QB – The spread might well scare away some from playing any Chiefs and that’s understandable. However, for the Chiefs to win by 20+ points they will likely get some major contributions from the offense starting with Patrick Mahomes. He is the most expensive player on the slate which likely keeps people away as well but there is absolutely a script where Mahomes tosses four or five touchdowns with 275+ passing yards as well. The Jets are 28th in DVOA against the pass and Mahomes ranks fourth in points per drop back at 0.59. He’s sixth in points per game and that’s with ranking 22nd in deep ball completion rate. New York has no tools to slow him down and with players like Adams and Henry to pay up for, Mahomes is going to be overlooked.
RB – I can bet that Le’Veon Bell is going to get some attention at his salary and with the revenge narrative already starting to roll. Do I think Andy Reid will try and get him a score? Maybe, but if he’s chalky I will have no part of him. He only had six touches to nine for Clyde Edwards-Helaire. It was a super weird game on Sunday that likely won’t be replicated because of the non-offensive touchdowns the Chiefs scored. Well, it’s the Jets so anything is possible and even though they are 14th in DVOA against the run, I still prefer CEH pending who is popular on Sunday. The snaps were 57% to 33% this past week and I would expect something similar this week. The problem is it wouldn’t surprise me if Bell eventually takes over the lead duties, but we don’t know what that will be.
WR – Much like Mahomes, Tyreek Hill is surely in play because he has insane upside in this spot. The price is about as high as I like to go but when a player has 36.5% of the air yards with Mahomes, he should be pretty expensive. Hill is second on the team in targets behind only Travis Kelce and is four RZ targets behind him. Even the EZ targets are close at four for Hill and six for Kelce. Hill is also averaging one rush attempt per game and that’s always a threat for a big play with his speed. I wouldn’t be super interested in the secondary pieces of Mecole Hardman or DeMarcus Robinson with projected script in this one.
TE – Anytime Kelce is cheaper than Hill, it does catch my eye. Kelce still holds a pretty firm lead on the TE1 spot right now so he should be the most expensive tight end on the board. This offense as a whole is just tough to defend. The Chiefs don’t pretend to have him block as his route rate is just about 95% and Kelce is second in that metric, and total routes. He leads all tight ends in air yards and has the target lead on his team, let alone the 11 RZ targets. Hill and Kelce could make for a super stack with Mahomes that not enough people play.
D/ST – The Chiefs defense is in play if you can afford them, but right now they are fairly low on the priority list for me. They’re 13th in overall DVOA because they’re being dragged down by the numbers against the run. They’ve also caused 16 sacks with the third-highest pressure rate in the league and have 13 total turnovers.
Cash – None just in case they get yanked early
GPP – Mahomes, Kelce, Hill, CEH
QB – Looking at Jared Goff, he’s been about the textbook definition of average so far this year. Goff ranks 13th in touchdowns, 12th in passing yards, 20th in points per game and 14th in points per drop back at 0.51. What he does do is lead the league in yards off play action passing, along with the most attempts. Miami is dead last against the run in DVOA and that’s led them to be worse against play action passing. Goff is 16th in both deep attempts and RZ attempts but the play action game is his bread and butter. I’m not sure I’m paying the salary for that facet but Goff would make for a stealthy play this week.
RB – It really seems like Coach Sean McVay does not like rookie CamAkers right now, as he’s seen under 20 total snaps in three games since injury. Knowing it could change any minute, Darrell Henderson is who we’d want to play from this backfield. He leads in carries by 22 over Malcolm Brown, has a 25-12 lead in RZ attempts and only trails Brown by six targets in the passing game. The Dolphins have allowed over 800 scrimmage yards to the running backs this season along with seven scores. I’d bet that Henderson has the best game and maybe even pays off the 3x mark we want, but he seems just a little pricey to be unsure. With McVay, you can never be too sure as we found out when we played Henderson against the Giants a few weeks back.
WR – The Rams move the receivers around a good bit but if you’re playing one I’m going to side with Cooper Kupp over Robert Woods. Kupp has a slot rate of almost 55% while Woods is at 27%. That’s going to leave Woods on the permitter corners of Xavien Howard and Byron Jones more and Kupp draws the softer matchup. That’s usually how I want to decide with these two. They’re almost always right next to each other in price, and the share of the offense doesn’t help much. Kupp drawing Nik Needham for most of the game is enough to tilt it to him.
Both receivers have a target share right around 23% with Kupp leading by five raw targets. Woods leads in rushing attempts by a 14-4 ratio and by about 34 air yards. It’s really splitting hairs between tases two and neither checks in as a must-play this week.
TE – It looks like Tyler Higbee might be back this week, but with him running a route just 55.3% of the time we should be careful here. He also only has three RZ targets which isn’t spectacular but he does have 100% catchable rate for his targets. I’d only be using Higbee with Goff with so few routes under his belt.
D/ST – The Rams are expensive but when you’re facing a rookie QB making his first start, you can’t really argue that. They have 24 sacks, third-most in football and eight turnovers. Additionally, they only allow 17.7 points per game which is the second-least and rank 11th in overall DVOA.
Cash – None in my eyes, Kupp might be closest and Henderson would be the #1 if we treated McVay
GPP – Goff, Woods, Henderson, Higbee
QB – In what many found to be an odd move, Tua Tagovailoa is starting this week for the Dolphins. It’s not odd he’s getting starts, but the timing was sort of bizarre. Ryan Fitzpatrick was playing pretty well and the Dolphins were 3-1 in their last four games. The AFC East looks awfully wide open right now so the pressure is on Tua. The Rams don’t blitz a ton at about 28% but they know how to get home on the QB. If you play 20 lineups, perhaps the unknown is worth a share because rookie QB’s have shown serious upside so far. Still, it’s a total dart throw and the Rams are allowing the seventh-fewest DK points per game to the position.
RB – I’m not really on Tua at all this week but one player that at least gets some interest for me is Myles Gaskin. He’s super cheap for a player that has over 61% of the rush attempts at his position and ranks seventh in carries among all running backs with six games or fewer played. The 14.8% target is excellent as well and helps him stay involved no matter what. Simply put, that is some really cheap volume but you have to assume the Rams start by loading the box and forcing Tua to beat them. The Rams are only 18th in DVOA against the run but they’ve also only allowed three touchdowns from the running backs all year. I tend to think this game stays close enough for Gaskin to be involved and he’s likely my favorite Dolphin at salary.
WR – The pass catchers for Tua are among the toughest spots to figure out on the slate. Since he only had two attempts in garbage time, we have no data on who he favors yet. The Dolphins offense has spread the ball around in a big way with no receiver going over the 20.4% target share for DeVante Parker. One has to assume he’ll see Rams corner Jalen Ramsey for a significant portion of the game, so he’s probably not the wisest investment.
Preston Williams and Isaiah Ford both have 25 targets or more, with Ford in the lead. It’s clear that Ford is the slot receiver at an 89.2% rate in his 56.8% of the snaps. It would not be a surprise at all if the rookie QB focused on shorter throws and Ford has the lowest aDOT of the four main pass catchers for Miami. Ford also gets Troy Hill which is a great matchup. Hill has already allowed 355 yards and an 85.0 passer rating.
TE – Another position a rookie QB can sometimes lean on? Tight end and the Dolphins do have Mike Gesicki, even though you wouldn’t know that recently. Despite spending the third-most snaps in the slot among tight ends and running the seventh-highest route rate, Gesicki has only hit above 8.5 DK points twice. He’s coming off a goose egg with just two targets last game. Gesicki leads in RZ targets at eight and EZ targets at six, but he is not cheap. He would be a game stack only option for me, and the Rams have allowed four scores and 379 yards to this point.
D/ST – I don’t exactly mind the Dolphins defense. They get a traveling offense on a short week after a physical game against the Bears. Miami has a pressure rate over 23% and 17 sacks to go with the 14th overall rank in DVOA. It’s tough to find a cheap defense this week and Miami is in play, even if it’s far from a perfect spot.
Cash – None, Gaskin is closest
GPP – Tua, Gesicki, Ford, Williams, Parker
QB – If you had told me that Justin Herbert was the QB6 in salary in Week 8 at the start of the year, I’d probably have laughed in your face. Yet, here we are and I’m actually still interested. I didn’t think Herbert would be a good NFL quarterback but he’s been dynamite so far, ranking fourth in points per game. He’s already 13th in passing touchdowns and is averaging 308 yards passing per game. For comparison, Russell Wilson is at 315 yards. Denver does rank ninth in DVOA against the pass and they’ve only allowed eight touchdowns through six games. It’s not the smash spot that Herbert had last week when he put up over 40 DK but he brings a bit of rushing upside and I can’t argue with you if you ride the wave in GPP.
RB – The Chargers backfield is really turning into a bear to figure out week to week without Austin Ekeler. Granted, a bit of an injury for Justin Jackson may have played a role last week. He and Joshua Kelley split work with Kelley playing 38 snaps and Jackson playing 31. Kelley led in touches with 17 but only generated 53 total yards while Jackson had 10 touches for 56 yards. With running backs accounting for 28% of the target share, there is value in backs this cheap. I’d feel better if Jackson was getting more work but that could easily flip this week if he’s healthier. It’s certainly not the best spot. Denver is eighth in DVOA against the run and have only given up 672 scrimmage yards to the position with two touchdowns. I’d mostly steer clear, but Jackson has the most upside which is what you’d chase.
WR – Keenan Allen continues to be a monster with Herbert under center, with 31.1% of the targets since Herbert was the starter. That also includes over 30% of the air yards and leading in RZ and EZ targets. He’s the absolute alpha in this passing attack and his price didn’t move after another 25 DK point day. Why, I don’t know but Allen is moving around more. His slot rate is only 40% this year and that should leave him mostly on Bryce Callahan. He’s played extremely well with a 1.20 points per target and 67.4 passer rating allowed, but no matchup scares me off Allen at this price.
While Allen is healthy, Mike Williams has been a ghost. He hasn’t scored over 3.7 DK points in the games Allen has been active for the entire contest and his target share is just 10.5%. That translates to 16 total and half of those came in the Monday night Saints game that Allen left very early. Herbert seems to be locked into Allen, dumping it to the backs and maybe an occasional target for the tight end. The Chargers aren’t going to fix what’s not broken, either.
TE – Hunter Henry isn’t in the exact same boat that he’s not seeing targets, but the production has been very average. The 19.2% target share under Herbert and that’s inside the top six for tight ends. The issue is Henry is just the TE15 on the season and only has a 61% catch rate. That”s 29th in the league but only 70.7% of his passes have been catchable, 32nd. This seems like a lack of chemistry so far so I don’t want to completely erase Henry. He’s overdue a big game but he’s not my favorite either. Denver has only allowed two scores but they do have 311 yards against them in six games and haven’t played too many good options yet, past Travis Kelce and Jonnu Smith.
D/ST – The matchup itself really isn’t scary but the price is fairly absurd here. I don’t feel the need to pay $4,000 for a defense that only has 13 sacks and five turnovers on the season. Perhaps the eighth-best pressure rate starts turning into sacks, but I’m not taking that style of chance at the salary.
Cash – Herbert, Allen
GPP – Jackson, Henry, Kelley, D/ST
QB – I’m trying to find a justifiable reason to play Drew Lock ahead of either Carr or Jimmy G and I’m coming up empty. The Chargers round out the top 12 in DVOA against the pass and while Lock will carry no interest among the field, it’s not a smart chance to take. His receiving corps is banged up again and he’s not looked very good at any point this season. He’s really only played three games but sitting on a 1:4 TD:INT ratio is awful, there’s not way around it. Lock sits at 35th in points per drop back, 32nd in deep ball completion rate and under 700 passing yards. He’s a pretty easy fade.
RB – Here’s a spot where I am interested, because Phillip Lindsay is currently in the concussion protocol. That could leave Melvin Gordon as the lone back for the Broncos and the Chargers just got wrecked by James Robinson of the Jaguars. LA is 17th in run DVOA and have given up the sixth-most receptions to the backs. Gordon is coming off a game where he got nearly 20 touches with Lindsay active for a portion of it. We talked about Myles Gaskin as a value for the volume he gets and Gordon is only $400 more and could have the backfield to himself. He’s approaching 100 touches in six games and you can play the revenge card if that floats your boat. If Lindsay is out, Gordon is a very appealing play.
*Update* Lindsay was not practicing Thursday and is listed as questionable
WR – Is it time for Jerry Jeudy to burst onto the NFL scene? He might be the only receiver of note in this corps if Tim Patrick can’t suit up with an injury on Sunday. The rookie has started very slowly but keep in mind only 62.2% of his targets have been deemed catchable. He does have 19 receptions on 23 catchable targets. Jeudy has been in the slot over 61% of his young career and normally that would put him in a scary matchup with Desmond King. However, King has seen his playing time cut and is giving up a 1.80 points per target.
As it stands, Chargers corner Casey Hayward would see mostly K.J. Hamler and Patrick will see Michael Davis. Hayward is a player I don’t actively target, which puts even more weight behind Jeudy. Let’s see if Patrick can play before making any strong calls, but Jeudy is likely going to be my favorite receiver.
*Update* Patrick was DNP on Thursday and is listed as questionable
TE – Noah Fant is under $5,000 and that is going to tempt me. He leads the team in target share on the season at 19.5% but he’s also only 18th in routes run rate. That…that I don’t quite understand. Yes, the Broncos line isn’t that great (25th in adjusted sack rate) so Fant likely has to help. However, this team is down Courtland Sutton for the season. Give your QB some help. The fact his salary is low does help mitigate the bad facets and the Chargers have allowed four touchdowns. I won’t quite go there in cash since Fant is the victim of just a 76.5% catchable pass rate, but he and Jeudy might have to carry this passing game.
D/ST – I do prefer the Colts at this range, but the Broncos aren’t the worst option. They are in the upper half of the league in pressure rate and do have 18 sacks to go with six turnovers. Herbert has been lights out but he is still a rookie. Could Vic Fangio and company cook up something against him? It’s certainly possible and nobody is playing defenses against Herbert right now.
Cash – Gordon if no Lindsay
GPP – Fant, Jeudy, Patrick if active
QB – I typically do not play Drew Brees on the road, and this is going to be one of those spots in my eyes. The Bears are still third in DVOA against the pass and eighth in passing yards per game allowed at 222.3. That’s not what you want to see for a QB heading against them with potentially not a full clip of weapons. Additionally, the ceiling remains sketchy for Brees since he’s not pushing the ball down the field. He ranks 34th in deep attempts which really isn’t great considering there’s 32 teams in the league. Brees is also outside the top 12 in points per drop back so unless he gets all his weapons back, he’s not even in my pool. Even if the Saints are fully healthy, I believe there’s better spots. Brees has yet to score more than 18.5 DK on the road and this isn’t something new that we can brush off for a two game sample.
RB – There is never a slate where Alvin Kamara isn’t in play, but I don’t find myself going to play him this week. His 460 receiving yards would be 17th among receiver alone and his 46 receptions would be tied for fifth. The rushing yards aren’t spectacular on their own but 121 total touches through six games is all we’re looking for. Really, so many receptions is perfect for DK and his price really isn’t what keeps me away. Chicago is giving up right at 100 yards per game on the ground to backs but they only have allowed 189 yards receiving with no scores. The Bears are actually 10th in DVOA against the run and even with the reception upside, I find myself preferring Henry and others for cheaper.
WR – Michael Thomas is back at practice as of Thursday, so it would seem there’s a pretty good chance he’s playing. He still only has one game under his belt but my goodness is he cheap. I know Brees is on the road and the matchup isn’t great on paper but this is still Michael Thomas. If he’s right, he’s among the fantasy elite of all players. Yes, Bears corners Kyle Fuller and Jaylon Johnson are only allowing about 1.20 points per target but still. Thomas won’t be in my cash lineup but he is too cheap to totally ignore.
Marquez Callaway took away any thunder from Tre’Quan Smith last week as Callaway went for 8/75/0 on 1o targets. He only played six fewer snaps than Smith but he also projects to see most of Fuller. That, combined with Thomas returning is not a good mix. I’m not overly interested in Smith here either as I can just play A.J. Green for cheaper.
*Update* Thomas is out and I’m not much interested in the secondary pieces in this tough matchup and now Callaway is out as well. Kamara could easily catch 10 passes at he rate they’re going.
TE – I feel like I was pretty much spot on with Jared Cook last week because I felt he needed a touchdown to pay off. Well, he scored and put up 12.2 DK which was right about 3x. He’s basically the exact same thing this week. Cook is only 25th in routes run for tight ends and the TE13 in points per game. The target rate isn’t doing him a lot of favors at 12.2% but he is at least third in RZ targets. The Bears have allowed the ninth-most receptions to the position with four touchdowns so Cook is in play, but I’d likely prefer Fant or Jonnu Smith. Cook isn’t going to get more work with Thomas back.
D/ST – As far as the mid-range goes, the Saints might be among the better options. Chicago is 27th in points per game and are 26th in offensive DVOA. They are a disaster on that side of the ball and might even be missing Allen Robinson, which would be crippling. The Saints are about average in pressure rate and only have five turnovers, but we’re attacking Matt Nagy.
Cash – Kamara, D/ST, Thomas (he’s safe but I can’t afford him after Adams)
GPP – Cook, Callaway
QB – It certainly doesn’t appear that Nick Foles is going to be much better than Mitchell Trubisky. Foles has just a 6:6 TD:INT ratio and is 30th in points per drop back at 0.33. He is trying to move the ball downfield with the 12th most deep balls but it’s not exactly clicking with just a 34.6% completion rate on those attempts. New Orleans is just 16th in DVOA against the pass so it’s not an intimidating matchup but Foles has also shown no ceiling in the offense. His best game was in relief against the Falcons so far and that doesn’t say much. Foles has his flaws and he’s not the QB to overcome everything else wrong in this offense.
RB – It’s tough to judge solely on his efforts, but has any back done so little with as much work as David Montgomery has lately? He has over 70 touches in the past three games and an 82% snap rate. That’s all great but he has a total of one touchdown and has about 42 DK points in this games. Asking nearly $6,000 for him doesn’t make much sense to me, especially with the Saints being fourth in DVOA against the run. Considering one of these three games came against the Panthers, I really have no faith in Monty this week. He might not be that good and just like Foles, he’s not the type of player that has shown the ability to rise above poor circumstances.
WR – It doesn’t look exceptionally promising for Robinson as we stand, as he has to be cleared from the league’s concussion protocol. If he’s out, you’re looking at Darnell Mooney as the number one in this offense. He played 81% of the snaps on Monday night to just 59% from Anthony Miller. He also has been relentlessly overthrown by Foles.
Mooney is 12th in deep targets but only 26 of his 37 targets have been catchable. I can’t say I’d be excited for him to be the one in this offense, as he hasn’t had much luck with Robinson in. Seeing the bulk of the coverage isn’t going to do him any favors, even with Marshon Lattimore really scuffling. He’s allowed a 154.4 passer rating and a 2.80 points per target, so if Robinson makes it back he’s a great option. Miller would also have to see more reps, but my reaction if Robinson is out is to pretty much avoid this whole offense.
TE – Since Foles has taken over, Jimmy Graham has been tied for the third-most targets on the team with Montgomery. He also has the same amount of RZ targets as Robinson and is just one behind in EZ targets. He is interesting with the seventh-most snaps in the slot for a tight end and sixth in overall targets. Additionally, he leads the position in RZ targets overall and the Saints allow the second-most DK points to tight ends. Graham has the “revenge” narrative, but I am concerned about this offense overall if A-Rob ends up out. If he’s in, Graham is towards the top of the pack for mid-range salary tight ends.
D/ST – Since they’re under $3,000, I don’t think the Bears are the worst play in GPP. This is the number six overall DVOA defense in the league and they have nine turnovers forced with 16 sacks. The fears are the pressure rate isn’t great at 20.1% and the Saints only have five turnovers. Brees also has the lowest pressure rate in the league, so you’re betting on Chicago’s talent at home.
GPP – Graham, Mooney, D/ST
QB – If I had any faith in Jimmy Garoppolo, he would be the cash game QB. I prefer Carr but Garoppolo is undeniably in the better spot. Seattle is 30th in DVOA against the pass and dead last in passing yards given up per game at a massive 368 yards. Atlanta is 31st at 333! That’s an enormous gap between last and next to last. The only reason the Falcons are the worst team for DK points is they have 19 touchdown passes allowed to 11 for Seattle. San Francisco also is just 25th in pass attempts per game.
Jimmy G is 19th in points per drop back which is actually a bit better than I assumed. His seven passing touchdowns isn’t helping his fantasy points all that much, nor is 202 passing yards per game. I will have some stacks of this game in GPP, but Carr is the more stable option at this point.
RB – This backfield continues to be a bear to figure out. Tevin Coleman looks like he’ll be back for this game, which means it’s now a three-headed monster. Do the 49ers give Coleman a huge workload fresh off the IR? I tend to doubt it which means all three of Coleman, Jerick McKinnon and JaMycal Hasty are likely to get touches. Last week, both of the latter two were under 30% of the snaps but now Jeff Wilson is out so those should increase. If we’re at about a 40% snap share and 20-25% for Coleman, that means nobody is going to be a great bet for fantasy. I steer clear from three-headed RBBC and this week is no different. It also doesn’t help that Seattle should have safety Jamal Adams back.
*Update* Coleman reportedly got the bulk of the work in Thursday’s practice, a sing he’s going to start on Sunday. He is running back minimum, so I would be interested if he’s active. McKinnon has “tired legs” and doesn’t seem to be a threat.
WR – Most of the attention here is rightfully going to be on Brandon Aiyuk with the loss of Deebo Samuel. The rookie is coming off his first 100 yard game in New England, and this spot is decidedly better. The target share is only 15.8% for Aiyuk so far but he leads the team in air yards share at 33.7%. No player has more RZ or EZ targets than he does. Seattle corner Quinton Dunbar is projected to draw the assignment and even as the best corner on paper, still has allowed a 101.0 passer rating and 1.90 points per target. I’m not totally in love with Aiyuk for cash at the salary but he’s a phenomenal GPP play.
I don’t think it’s too crazy to double stack Jimmy G with Kendrick Bourne either. You can choose your route, be it with Aiyuk or George Kittle but folks won’t play Bourne. I don’t think he’s anything special but he does have a 72% snap share and 13.2% of the targets. At this price in this matchup, there’s no reason to think he can’t hit 3-4x.
TE – This is another reminder that points against from each position is a data point, not a bible. The Seahawks are fourth-best against the tight end so far but the best one they’ve played is likely Mike Gesicki. I’ve got some bad news for them, because George “Zero Miedo” Kittle is coming to town and he is NOT Gesicki. Kittle has 391 receiving yards and he’s the only player over 200 yards on the Niners currently, not to mention his 30.1% target rate and 31% of the air yards. There is no matchup with Kittle I really fear, but the price keeps him at GPP only. I just can’t justify spending on tight end this week when I need to fit in Adams and others.
D/ST – I flat out don’t play defense against Seattle this year and the aberration of last week’s Cardinals game doesn’t change my mind.
Cash – Aiyuk is closest, Jimmy G is there but I don’t love it
GPP – Kittle, Bourne
QB – Russell Wilson isn’t the most expensive option at his position, so that always catches your eye. He threw a season-high three picks last week…and he still scored almost 36 DK. That’s the level of play he’s at right now. San Francisco is 13th in DVOA against the pass and have only given up eight touchdowns to eight interceptions, but this is Russ and he’s cooking. He leads the league in about every major statistical passing category. If you play a few lineups and Russ is low-rostered, you have to take a shot or two with him. The ceiling and floor combos are both just too high right now.
RB – Carlos Hyde could bring some salary relief this week if Chris Carson is out, but we’re not sure if which scenario is going to play out yet. With this being the latest kick of the day, it might be a situation we have to avoid. It’s not an easy spot either. The Niners are sixth in DVOA against the run while also ranking ninth in rushing yards given up per game. Carson would be interesting with his receiving upside (11.7% target rate) but it’s a tough road to get behind.
*Update* If we know Coleman is in for the 49ers, I might have a lineup with DeeJay Dallas. It looks like Hyde will miss, and Carson is questionable along with Travis Homer. If those two can’t suit up, Dallas is the only game left in town. You can pivot to Coleman if Seattle doesn’t cooperate.
WR – I know that I said D.K. Metcalf was due a floor game, but I didn’t exactly mean Tyler Lockett would have an all-time top 15 scoring PPR game from a receiver. Lockett gets another potentially soft matchup against Jamar Taylor, who plays the most snaps in the slot for the 49ers. He really doesn’t get a lot of playing time but has given up 3.20 points per target and the Niners secondary is still riddled with injury. Lockett is right under a 60% slot rate on the season.
Metcalf will have to mostly contend with Jason Verrett, who has taken on new life this year. He’s been targeted 23 times but has only allowed a 42.1 passer rating and a 0.90 points per target. He is also really small at under 190 pounds and 5’9″. That’s giving away about six inches and almost 40 pounds. Metcalf is third in deep targets in the league and it really only takes one. I generally will prefer Lockett at the cheaper price.
TE – Greg Olsen is just an afterthought in the passing game. The target rate has fallen under 10% and three RZ and EZ targets each aren’t enough to entice me.
D/ST – Getting Carlos Dunlap is a nice addition for the Seahawks, but A. he’s not eligible to play Sunday and B. Kyle Shanahan is on the other sideline and this unit stinks.
Cash – Russ (but near impossible to spend on him), Lockett
GPP – Metcalf, Hyde (If no Carson)
Davante Adams, Derrick Henry, A.J. Green, Kareem Hunt
The big two are Adams and Henry. Adams is in a complete smash spot once again and even at the price is unavoidable with likely no Jones again and the matchup. Henry was a toss up with Dalvin Cook, but it came down to Henry being a favorite and Cook has some small potential of getting blown off the field. Also, coming back from an injury is a little scary for cash.
Green is so cheap in the best paced game of the week. I wish I had money for Tyler Boyd, but alas. The new addition is Hunt. With the winds projected so high, we have to get Hunt into the lineup for cash. He’s underpriced and could touch the ball 25 times here. Hunt is also projected to be among the chalkiest plays on the slate. I typically try to leave you with a bit more salary to work with so I have a bonus – I’m punting Irv Smith at tight end.
Titans/Bengals – Burrow, Green, Henry, Boyd, Brown, Smith, Higgins, Bernard, Tannehill
Vikings/Packers – Rodgers, Adams, Jefferson, MVS, Thielen, Williams, Smith, Cousins
Raiders/Browns – Carr, Ruggs, Waller, Hunt, Higgins, Landry, Agholor, Bryant, Mayfield
49ers/Seahawks – Russ, Lockett, Metcalf, Kittle, Aiyuk, Bourne, Jimmy G
Rams/Dolphins – Goff, Kupp, Gesicki, Henderson, Ford, Gaskin, Tua, Woods, Parker
Chiefs – Mahomes, Kelce, Hill – Run back with Crowder or Mims
Chargers – Herbert, Allen, Henry, Jackson – Run back with Fant, Gordon or Jeudy
Let’s get after it this week my friends!
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