Welcome everyone to my fourth game-by-game breakdown of the 2018 NFL season! If you read this article last season, welcome back! And if you’re new here, grab a seat! My goal here is to give you my overall thoughts on each game and narrow down my overall player pool for you. I’m predominately a cash game player, but I do play in more tournaments for football than I do baseball and basketball. My cash game pool will be narrowed down even further in my Building Blocks article that will also be available here via DFS Karma on Friday’s. Let’s get it!
Minnesota Vikings @ Los Angeles Rams
Vegas Insight: Rams 28.5, Vikings 21
Quarterbacks: This *should* be an extremely fun real-life game to watch and that’s pretty odd considering this game takes place on Thursday night football. Kirk Cousins, and the Vikings in general, had an extremely rough game last week at home against the Bills laying a massive egg. The Rams have been a really tough pass defense so far this season, but that will presumably change with Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib both out for this game. I think that will definitely make it easier for the Vikings offense, as the Rams defense is predicated on strong corner play.
On the Rams side of things, Goff has been exceptional this season as well as the Rams offense as a whole. I do think I prefer Cousins in this matchup though, the Vikings defense is a top-five unit in the NFL and they are nowhere near as bad as they were last week, even without Everson Griffen.
Running Backs: It appears that Dalvin Cook may be able to play in this game, despite how unlikely that looked earlier on in the week. If he is active, he becomes playable on the single game slate, but keep in mind he could be limited after missing their last game and most of practice this week. If he is out, Latavius Murray is thrust back into play, but I don’t think he is a must play. He failed to reach 60% if the snaps last week in negative game script, but he did see seven targets which is encouraging since he isn’t known as a pass catcher.
Todd Gurley is pretty much as matchup proof as it gets in the NFL, so if I was playing the single game slate I don’t think I could stomach fading him. His usage, especially in the passing game, is too great for me not to lock in for all formats. This is not a good matchup, even with Griffen out, but it is worth noting the Vikings have allowed a few big plays to running backs out of the backfield this season.
Pass Catchers: This is the area I’m most excited to attack in this game, as I noted both Peters and Talib will miss this game. Adam Thielen leads the NFL in targets through three weeks, and will continue to provide a volume-heavy role in this Vikings offense. Diggs was set to have an extremely tough night, but with both of the Rams All-Pro CB’s out he should be able to have his way with this Rams secondary. I really am expecting a big night from Kirk Cousins, and I would like to pair them both with him on the single game slate.
As for the Rams receiving corps, I fully expect Xavier Rhodes to follow Brandin Cooks all night, which severely bumps up Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp. I was all over Woods last week, and he delivered with a 10-104-2 performance. Kupp also caught a long touchdown, and probably has the best overall matchup in the slot. I like them both significantly more than Cooks tonight, and will be fading him on the single game slate for either of the other options on the Rams.
Overall Outlook- Like I said above, I think this should be a really fun game to watch which is something we aren’t used to on Thursday nights. Anyone that has read my content knows I am a huge Sean McVay fan and have been on the Rams bandwagon since they hired him as their coach. That being said, while I respect Wade Phillips I really think the Rams defense could struggle with these losses tonight and the Vikings offense should have a nice night. I still think the Rams could win outright, but this has the makes of a shootout.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Atlanta Falcons
Vegas Insight: Falcons 28, Bengals 23
Quarterbacks: We start off the main slate this week with what should be one of the best overall games, as you can tell by the 51 O/U. Both teams are top-ten in points scored this season and with it taking place on the fast track in Atlanta we should see plenty of fantasy points. If you watched my cash game podcast with Anthony Carson this week, you know that early on we are focusing on Andy Dalton in cash games. He is way too cheap across the industry for this expected shootout, and while the Falcons have still been good at limiting splash plays, they are very banged up after losing Ricardo Allen, a third starter lost on this defense. Dalton has two touchdowns in each week so far, and I think he is mis-priced for the expected environment of this game.
As the week went on last week, I moved away from Matt Ryan as a core play and boy did he shut me up! This offense looks increasingly better each week, and despite losing last week it did not fall on the shoulders of Ryan and the offense. The Bengals have allowed a few big games to opposing QB’s this season, including last week to Cam Newton and I like him again this week in all formats.
Running Backs: If these situations shake out like they should, we will want to target the backfields in this game as well. If Joe Mixon misses again this week, Gio Bernard becomes a smash play in all formats once again. He handled all of the running work for the Bengals last week with Mixon out, and also saw nine targets. We always attack this Falcons defense with running backs that can catch passes, and they have given up 29 catches over the last two weeks to Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara.
Tevin Coleman will be in line for another 16+ touches should Devonta Freeman miss again, and while he isn’t going to see the same workload as Bernard, this Bengals defense continues to struggle against the run without Vontaze Burfict. They allowed McCaffrey to cross 100 yards on the ground for the first time in his career last week, and I like Coleman as a floor play should Freeman miss, though I will note his upside is somewhat capped unless he scores multiple touchdowns.
Pass Catchers: As you can tell, there are a ton of strong plays in this game and it’s most likely going to be a focal point of cash game roster construction. Like I said above, this Falcons defense is extremely banged up, but they can still limit big plays. Green leads the Bengals in air yards –per airyards.com — and has seen over eight targets in each game this season keeping him playable in all formats if you can fit his salary. My favorite play in this group is actually Tyler Boyd, once again this week. Boyd will see the most time in the slot, which is the best matchup for the Bengals as he squares off with Brian Poole. He’s still cheap, and he is clearly a top part of this Bengals offense this season.
Julio Jones, oh Julio Jones. Jones was chalk last week, and didn’t do anything outside of a long catch in the second half. He clearly was somewhat affected by the matchup with Marshon Lattimore, but the Bengals don’t have anyone of Lattimore’s ability in their DB group. Jones continues to lead the NFL in air yards, and it’s only a matter of time before the big game comes. Calvin Ridley exploded for three touchdowns last week, and he once again has a strong matchup as he should see the bulk of Dre Kirkpatrick’s coverage this weekend. I definitely prefer Julio in tournaments, but lockin in Boyd/Ridley for cash games and paying up at running back makes sense for this week.
Cash Game Outlook: Andy Dalton, Gio Bernard, AJ Green, Tyler Boyd, Calvin Ridley, Tevin Coleman, Julio Jones, Austin Hooper
GPP Outlook: Matt Ryan, Tyler Eifert
UPDATE #1: Devonta Freeman returned to practice on Thursday, so he does now have a shot to play and that would take Coleman out of the cash game range for me.
Houston Texans @ Indianapolis Colts
Vegas Insight: Colts 24, Texans 22.75
Quarterbacks: This is a very interesting game for daily fantasy, mainly because Andrew Luck really does appear to not be fully himself yet and the Colts defense has been one of the biggest surprises of the season (good). Despite this Colts defense being not bad, I still am completely fine with Deshaun Watson in all formats. He’s averaging over 25 fantasy points per game over the last two weeks, yet he hasn’t looked good to me in either game. He also hasn’t ran a touchdown in yet on the ground, and we know that it’s only a matter of time before that happens. He continues to provide a solid floor with his rushing yards, and if we get him on the week when he is having a good game passing he is going to absolutely smash.
Typically, I’m fine targeting this Texans defense but I just can’t play Andrew Luck at this point. He was removed from the game for the last play last week when the Colts threw a hail mary, and that showed me all I need to know. He doesn’t trust his shoulder enough to fully let it rip, and he owns the lowest yards per attempt average in the NFL.
Running Backs: I much prefer the pass catchers than the backs in this game, as we have a pretty ugly situation on both sides. I like Lamar Miller’s workload a lot, he is the only guy in Houston right now, but he has pretty much zero value in the passing game. He’s going to get the touches, which is king in fantasy football, but this offensive line is so bad he is touchdown or bust week in and week out.
I’m just crossing the Colts backfield completely off my list, there are too many mouths to feed here, though look for Nyheim Hines to be the main fantasy asset in this backfield sooner rather than later given his ability to catch passes.
Pass Catchers: I ended up moving up to Patrick Mahomes in cash games last week, but I still played Will Fuller and he delivered with a 5-101-1 line on 11 targets! Casual players are used to Fuller being a boom-or-bust deep threat from last season, but he’s seen 9 and 11 targets through his two games this season. Fuller is too dynamic to be under-priced while receiving that type of workload, and he and Deshaun Watson clearly have chemistry. I prefer Fuller if using one of these guys in cash games for the price, but that doesn’t mean you can’t pivot to DeAndre Hopkins in tournaments. He comes in second overall in the NFL in air yards and has seen 10+ targets in all three games. Note that he also got a touchdown called back last week, and the big game is coming.
Even though I’m not interested in Andrew Luck, I am interested in two of his pass catchers. If Jack Doyle misses this game, Eric Ebron becomes the top overall value at tight end on the slate once again this week. He didn’t smash last week, but he led the Colts in targets (11) and failed to connect on three targets in the end zone with Luck, the volume will be there 100% and his price hasn’t moved. In tournaments, I think you can look at TY Hilton especially at home in the dome. He’s not going to see a large average depth of target, but he has at least 10 targets in every game this season and nobody will be looking at him if they are playing Ebron.
Cash Game Outlook: Deshaun Watson, Will Fuller, Eric Ebron
GPP Outlook: DeAndre Hopkins, TY Hilton
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Chicago Bears
Vegas Insight: Bears 24.75, Buccaneers 21.75
Quarterbacks: This is a semi-boring game, but there are a few viable daily fantasy plays within. I fully expect Ryan Fitzpatrick to continue to start even with Jameis Winston back from suspension, but I do think that shortens Fitzmagic’s leash a bit and this is a tough environment on the road against this Bears defense. Fitz is a boom-or-bust QB and he was looking like a bust in that first half last week against the Steelers. I really don’t wanna mess with this Bears defense, so I’ll pass this week.
I love that the Bears brought in Matt Nagy as coach, and I love that they took advantage of Mitch Trubisky’s rookie contract and traded for Khalil Mack. That being said, while I am bullish on the Bears, Trubisky has looked like nothing more than a game-manager early on this season. I want to pick on this Bucs secondary, but again I’ll pass here.
Running Backs: The Buccaneers backfield has pretty much been the worst overall for fantasy production so far this season, and it says a lot that their high pick Ronald Jones can’t even make the active roster on game day. Peyton Barber is going to get all of the work again, but he will be in for a long day against this Bears defense.
Jordan Howard is coming off a monster 26 touch game against the Cardinals, but he has been extremely inefficient and has disappointed me in particular this season. The Buccaneers scheme to stop the run, so it’s not a good matchup and Howard hasn’t shown me anything this season to consider him in DFS despite being a home favorite in expected positive game script.
Pass Catchers: Mike Evans has a touchdown in every game this season, and has been a fantasy beast with Fitzpatrick running the offense. He’s top-five in air yards this season and has seen 12 and 11 targets over the last two weeks. Chris Godwin and DeSean Jackson have been very good as well for the Bucs, but this really seems like the game where the magic can run out and if I’m investing in anyone in DFS it’s going to be the volume of Evans.
Allen Robinson is sneakily one of my favorite overall options in DFS this weekend, and I’m hoping he can fly a bit under the radar. He had a “rough” game last week, but he still saw seven targets and Trubisky missed him on a would-be long touchdown in the second-half. The Bucs have been flamed by Michael Thomas, Nelson Agholor and JuJu Smith-Schuster in the slot each week this season, and Robinson’s slot usage should rise with rookie Anthony Miller sidelined. Burton is another guy who will see some time in the slot, and will positively benefit from the absence of Miller. The Bucs have also struggled against tight ends…*insert Vance McDonald stiff-arm .gif*.
Cash Game Outlook: Allen Robinson
GPP Outlook: Mike Evans, Trey Burton
Buffalo Bills @ Green Bay Packers
Vegas Insight: Packers 27.5, Bills 17.5
Quarterbacks: Well, well, well. Josh Allen showed exactly what he is going to be at the NFL-level last week in Minnesota. Inconsistent, boom-or-bust, but can be fun to watch. The questions with Allen were never his athleticism or ability, it’s the inconsistency that is going to affect him throughout his time in the NFL. He can look like that any given week, and he can overthrow a screen pass by 15 yards the next week, and he has no real weapons to rely on right now. You would be foolish to think that Allen can replicate that exact game this week, and I anticipate this Packers secondary to improve throughout the season as it’s anchored by a pair of promising rookies. His rushing ability, will continue to make him interesting in fantasy as the season wears on, however.
Aaron Rodgers lines up perfectly in this spot at home against this Bills secondary. Last week was the prime example of why you can’t count on game-script in the NFL because literally anything can happen in such a variant sport. The Packers *probably* won’t need to throw in the second-half, but they can do enough damage in this game for Rodgers to pay off and I do expect him to be low-owned.
Running Backs: LeSean McCoy is questionable for this weekend, and even if he plays I’m not sure you can trust him with a rib injury despite a good matchup. Allen’s rushing ability should open things up more for Shady as the season progresses, but it’s a bit thin in DFS this weekend.
Aaron Jones looked really good to me in his first game back from suspension, and I think he is clearly going to be the guy as we get later into the season. For now though, there are three mouths to feed in Green Bay and you’re going to have to guess which one scores a touchdown which is pretty tough for me to stomach in daly fantasy. I’d be stashing Jones on all my season long teams if he is still available, though.
Pass Catchers: This Bills receiver corps is absolutely dreadful, and even if I was playing Allen I would roll him naked and bank on his rushing ability.
The Green Bay passing attack should provide some value, even if you aren’t rostering Rodgers. I do expect Davante Adams to be matched up with Bills stud CB Tre’Davious White, and even though his touchdown equity is there I can’t play him in that tough of a matchup in DFS. The Bills have been burned in the slot to start this season, which is why I have Randall Cobb as cash game playable. He flashed his upside in week one, and Cobb is right there with Robinson and other mid tier plays as a cash game choice in week four.
Cash Game Outlook: Randall Cobb
GPP Outlook: Aaron Rodgers, Jimmy Graham
New York Jets @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Vegas Insight: Jaguars 23, Jets 15.5
Quarterbacks: This is probably the biggest snooze-fest of the weekend overall, with a rookie quarterback heading into Jacksonville to take on one of the top defenses in the NFL. I’m going to be brief in my analysis here because I don’t want to write just for the sake of writing. My goal is to provide you my overall thoughts on the main slate, who I’m focusing on playing and why, and this is not a game I will be actively targeting. Darnold has a ton of potential, but he is going to have an up-and-down rookie campaign…he’s the youngest QB in the NFL. I’m not playing him in Jacksonville.
Blake Bortles burned everyone last week, after a monster game against the Patriots, he put up a nice 8.9 fantasy point (DK scoring) dud against the Titans. Leonard Fournette should be back in the mix this week, and that will affect the Jags game plan as a whole.
Running Backs: Isaiah Crowell has score touchdowns, but Bilal Powell continues to be the guy for me in New York. Powell has all of the pass catching ability, and Crowell hasn’t looked good. Either way, I don’t want either of them in this matchup, but I expect Powell to get more work once they are trailing this Sunday.
If Leonard Fournette is active, I will absolutely have interest in him in GPPs. The public will be scared off with him missing two games, but the Jets have been so bad against the run and the Jags really have no reason to push Fournette is he isn’t good-to-go in this matchup. Carlos Hyde went for 98 yards and two touchdowns in this matchup last week, and I will certainly take advantage of the low-ownership on Fournette.
Pass Catchers: Despite the Jets lack of appeal this weekend, Quincy Enunwa is another mid-priced WR that will garner cash game consideration. The matchup is not good whatsoever, but Enunwa has dominated work from Darnold with over eight targets in each game. Darnold will have to get the ball out early against the Jaguars, similar to what he did against Cleveland, and Enunwa will be his safety blanket once again.
The Jags pass catchers are entirely dependent on Bortles, as we saw last week. I don’t think the game plan will be to pass a ton this week with Fournette expected back and the great matchup on the ground, so I won’t be targeting any of them in DFS.
Cash Game Outlook: Quincy Enunwa
GPP Outlook: Leonard Fournette
Detroit Lions @ Dallas Cowboys
Vegas Insight: Cowboys 23, Lions 20
Quarterbacks: I’m just going to come out and say that I have no idea how or why the Cowboys are favored in this game. I get they are at home, but they haven’t looked good whatsoever this season (as expected) and now they are likely going to be without Sean Lee. According to NFL’s Next Gen Stats, The Cowboys allowed the highest passer rating in the NFL without Lee in the lineup last season…as well as the highest YPC. I think if Lee is eventually ruled out, this becomes a great spot for Stafford in tournaments at low-ownership, though I could see the let-down factor after a big emotional win against the Patriots in primetime.
Dak Prescott, and the Cowboys offense, has been absolutely horrid to start the season, but to me it’s not Dak’s fault. Prescott gets slammed on social media and television every day, yet he plays in an archaic offense with literally no weapons in the passing game. Ryan Fitzpatrick gets to throw to Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, DeSean Jackson…Dak gets Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns and Michael Gallup. Okay, yeah…all Prescott’s fault! Either way, I won’t be playing Dak any time soon.
Running Backs: This is one of the spots I’m most excited about this weekend, and it’s about to be Kerryon Johnson SZN. Word to Matt Patricia, it’s time to unleash him! Like I mentioned above, Dallas allowed the highest YPC in the NFL without Lee in the lineup last week, and Johnson is fresh off being the first Lions rusher to surpass 100 yards since I was like 10 years old…literally. The problem with this Lions team is, if Blount is in the game…they are running. If Riddick is in the game…they are passing. If Johnson is in the game…you don’t know because he can do everything! I don’t think he will be super-owned, and while I don’t think he will fit my cash game build I love him in all formats. I will be over-exposed compared to the field.
Ezekiell Elliott hasn’t had that big game yet this season, but the volume has been uber consistent and that’s not going to change. He’s probably not going to be a cash game play ever, unless it’s crazy with bye weeks, but he will routinely be a volume-heavy tournament play and will always go overlooked in tournaments.
Pass Catchers: All of these Lions pass catchers are going to be in play in good matchups, but with three strong options it’s tough to take a true stance. Kenny Golladay has clearly been the guy, and is going to be moving forward in my opinion. The problem is, he is no longer cheap and is priced out of the cash game conversation for me. Marvin Jones is top-three in the NFL in end zone targets, and will be lower owned than Golladay pretty much every week now.
If you read my analysis on Dak above, apply that to his so call “pass catchers” as well.
Cash Game Outlook: Kerryon Johnson
GPP Outlook: Ezekiel Elliott, Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, Matthew Stafford
Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots
Vegas Insight: Patriots 27.5, Dolphins 20.5
Quarterbacks: This is a really interesting game, and I actually don’t like as much in it for DFS as I originally had planned. The Dolphins always play the Patriots tough in Miami, but in Foxboro it’s a different story. The Pats are looking for their 10th straight win at home against the Dolphins, and even though their offense has looked legitimately bad I’m not going to discredit Brady at home. I don’t think I’ll be spending up for him in cash games this week, but he is right there with Aaron Rodgers for tournaments.
Ryan Tannehill has been really good this season, and so has the Dolphins offense in general. The Dolphins are actually last in the NFL in pass attempts per game so far in 2018, and even though they have looked good I think Adam Gase ideally wants to use him as a game-manager. That’s enough to knock him out of my player pool.
Running Backs: I want to play Kenyan Drake. Kenyan Drake is good. This matchup against the Patriots is good. But, I just can’t fire him up with confidence yet. The presence of Frank Gore is hurting Drake’s touches enough that I don’t see a point in playing him. The things that sticks out the most is that even when Miami has been trailing, Drake’s workload hasn’t changed. Until Gore is out of the picture, I really can’t trust him.
The Patriots backfield is one of the more intriguing situations of the week. Before we get to my analysis, let’s pour one out for my man Rex Burkhead who was placed on IR this week. Gone, but never forgotten. Now, I think that with Burkhead out of the picture and Jeremy Hill also on IR, it’s clearly going to be the Sony Michel and James White show from hear on out. I think Michel will potentially be decently owned, but I really don’t think this matchup. The Dolphins defense has been sneaky-good, and they are top-five currently in run-defense DVOA. White is the guy that I am interested in, he has had the most secure role in this offense thus far this season and he is first overall among running backs in air yards. I probably won’t go here in cash games, but if I do it would be White.
Pass Catchers: As I noted with Tannehill, the Dolphins are currently throwing the least in the NFL and that’s going to affect my interest in their receivers. Kenny Stills is the one guy that’s been steady this season with three touchdowns through three weeks. His role is going to continue to be affected by the return of DeVante Parker, but if I was reaching in this game it would be with him and his big play ability.
On the Patriots side, this *should* be a prime Rob Gronkowski game. We have attacked the Dolphins with tight ends dating back to early last season, and it almost worked with Jared Cook last week as he had a touchdown called back. Josh Gordon should be active for this game, but I’m unsure of how he will be sued early on. Either way, he will garner attention and it won’t be as easy for teams to double-team Gronk. The other guy I like a lot in tournaments is Chris Hogan, this is the perfect recency bias situation. Hogan hasn’t seen ANY volume, which obviously I don’t like, but things should open up more if Gordon is active and Jordy Nelson…yes, that Jordy Nelson ripped up this Dolphins defense in the slot last week.
Cash Game Outlook: James White, Rob Gronkowski
GPP Outlook: Chris Hogan, Tom Brady, Sony Michel, Kenny Stills
Philadelphia Eagles @ Tennessee Titans
Vegas Insight: Eagles 22.75, Titans 18.75
Quarterbacks: We close the 1PM EST games with what looks to be an un-inspiring fantasy game between the Eagles and Titans. Carson Wentz returned last week to a wet game against the Colts posting 13.2 DraftKings points. He rushed for just 10 yards, and he is going to continue to be somewhat limited in terms of mobility while he returns from his knee injury. He is fairly priced across the industry, but I don’t think he possesses the upside I’m looking for in daily fantasy…yet.
Marcus Mariota is playing hurt, and was forced to enter the game after Blaine Gabbert was crushed by the Jaguars defense a week ago. He acted mainly as a game-manager, and I’m not going to roster someone in fantasy football that has said he doesn’t have feeling in his fingers. I do want to shout-out Titans Head Coach Mike Vrabel, as they are somehow 2-1 and won a tough game in Jacksonville last week despite being up there with the Cardinals and Cowboys for overall worst offense thus far this season. I was very high on the Titans coming into the season, and he is helping me feel a bit better about that.
Running Backs: As of early Thursday afternoon, it looks like Jay Ajayi is going to be available for this game. His return would further complicate an already spread out running game, and I will just avoid it altogether if that’s the case. If Ajayi ends up looking unlikely to play, I will update this article with my thoughts per usual.
The Titans backfield, and offense as a whole, has been a legitimate dumpster fire to start 2018. Derrick Henry truthers are nowhere to be found as he has seen significantly less work than Dion Lewis, and Lewis’ value has been hurt by the horrid QB play. I want to attack this Eagles team through the air, not on the ground, and this is an easy avoid for me this week.
Pass Catchers: Nelson Agholor was not affected by the addition of Jordan Matthews last week, he still played saw a large chunk of the slot snaps, but he also saw just five targets though the weather was not pass-friendly. It looks like Alshon Jeffery may be back this week for the Eagles as well, and while I don’t expect him to be on a full snap-count I also would like to wait and see how the offense looks as a whole. Zach Ertz is the one guy that I think is playable everywhere, I don’t have him as cash game playable because I rarely spend up at tight end in cash, but that has nothing to do with Ertz. He’s second among tight ends in air yards and is averaging over 14 DraftKings points per game despite not yet finding the end zone.
On the Titans side, I’m going to avoid it overall but I do think you can take a shot on Corey Davis in tournaments if you are playing a lot of teams. I’m not a believer in this Eagles secondary and Davis has the ability to post big games, he just needs to get the ball in his hands.
Cash Game Outlook: None
GPP Outlook: Zach Ertz, Nelson Agholor, Corey Davis
Cleveland Browns @ Oakland Raiders
Vegas Insight: Raiders 24, Browns 21
Quarterbacks: As a Browns fan, I am very excited to watch Baker Mayfield make his first career start this weekend in Oakland, but I do want to temper expectations *a bit*. This isn’t your typical rookie starter as Baker did play his full allotment of college football, so he is more experienced than most rookies, but at the end of the day, it’s still a rookie going cross country to make his first start. Per FootballOutsiders, the Raiders are now last in the NFL in sack rate, which means Mayfield will have plenty of time to throw and with someone as accurate as him, that could be deadly. That being said, with how QB is priced on DraftKings this week I see no reason to play Mayfield in cash games, but you can consider him in GPPs.
I’m not going to include Derek Carr in my player pool this weekend, out of respect for this Browns defense. I think this defense is actually legit if healthy, and Drew Brees couldn’t get off against them at home I’m not taking my chances with Carr, that seems a bit thin to me.
Running Backs: One of the most noteworthy things to start the year for me has been Carlos Hyde’s usage in this Browns offense. All signs pointed to him being 100% the guy in preseason, and they have held true through the first three weeks. Even when trailing, his usage has been off the charts and when they get into the red zone it’s been all Hyde thus far. I think it’s pretty bad that the Browns have failed to get a weapon like Duke Johnson involved in the offense, but you have to love it if you own Carlos Hyde in season long. There are a lot of strong running back plays this week, but Hyde is firmly in the tournament mix.
As for Marshawn Lynch, I really don’t want to attack this Browns run-defense but he is a home favorite and has three touchdowns already this season. The Browns allowed two first-half touchdowns to Isaiah Crowell last week, and Lynch is going to get looks in the red zone. He profiles better on FanDuel given his inability to catch passes out of the backfield.
Pass Catchers: The Browns pass catchers are going to be much more in play weekly with Mayfield taking over for game-manager Tyrod Taylor. Jarvis Landry is top-ten in air yards this season and he has more than doubled his average depth of target. Antonio Callaway was Mayfield’s favorite target in the preseason, and he actually led the Browns in targets last week with 11. I think they are both fine tournament options, along with David Njoku who should be brought to life by Mayfield’s willingness to throw over the middle of the field.
I typically would be interested in Amari Cooper in this spot, but the Browns and Gregg Williams scheme their defense to prevent splash plays and I think that hurts Cooper’s ceiling as a whole. They haven’t been as bad against tight ends this season, but they still willingly allow completions over the middle of the field and I think Jon Gruden could scheme some looks to Cook early, like he did against the Rams in week one. I think this, overall, is a great game for tournaments but there are other more appealing to target in cash games.
Cash Game Outlook: None
GPP Outlook: Baker Mayfield, Carlos Hyde, Jarvis Landry, Antonio Callaway, Amari Cooper, Jared Cook
New Orleans Saints @ New York Giants
Vegas Insight: Saints 26.75, Giants 23
Quarterbacks: This, along with the Cincinnati/Atlanta game, is going to be one of the biggest focuses on the main slate especially for cash game rosters. Typically, I wouldn’t have Brees as a cash game play on the road outdoors, but I think that his passing volume with Mark Ingram still out is too great to ignore. It’s literally Alvin Kamara carries, and that’s it, everything else is passes even if they are short ones to Kamara. There’s a reason Brees has had this monster start to the season and that very well could be it.
I can’t believe I’m typing this, but I actually like Eli Manning this week. I don’t think I will end up playing Brees in cash games due to the presence of Andy Dalton and Matt Ryan, but I think the sharp pivot is to play Manning in tournaments, and then load up on other pieces of this game for your game stack. He looked much better last week in Houston, and we now have three games telling us that this Saints defense was a legitimate fugazi last season.
Running Backs: Alvin Kamara is seeing historic passing game usage, and with no Todd Gurley on the main slate he is the clear top overall play. Let’s get this straight, he’s top-five in the NFL in targets…and he’s a running back? Yup! With Dalton and cheap receivers available again this week, I won’t be moving off Kamara on my main team.
Saquon Barkley has looked like everyone thought he would in his firs handful of games for the Giants. He’s averaging over 20 DraftKings points and over 20 touches per game , and that shouldn’t change this week against the Saints. The big question, for me, is going to be Barkley vs Melvin Gordon, who we will get to in our next game. I’m fine with both, but I think right now I would prefer Gordon only because I want to play another Giants player 100%.
Pass Catchers: So you know how I mentioned that Kamara was top-five in targets? Yeah, Michael Thomas is too. That right there shows how much the Saints have been passing, and while I love that I don’t expect that to continue when Ingram returns. Regardless, Thomas has a legitimate best receiver in the NFL case and he is the perfect pivot off of Kamara in tournaments, the same situation as last week.
Odell Beckham is an amazing tournament play once again this week, but that Giants player i 100% want to play in cash games is Sterling Shepard. Shepard is under $5,000 on DraftKings, and has seen at least seven targets in each game this season. His usage should increase even further with Evan Engram sidelined, and he has a great matchup in the slot where the Saints will be without slot corner Patrick Robinson (IR).
Cash Game Outlook: Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard
GPP Outlook: Odell Beckham, Eli Manning
San Francisco 49ers @ Los Angeles Chargers
Vegas Insight: Chargers 28.75, 49ers 18
Quarterbacks: This would of been one hell of a game had Jimmy Garoppolo not went down with a torn ACL last week. If you read my content, you know how much of a Jimmy G fan I am so if we poured one out for Rexy, it’s only right to do the same for Garoppolo. Gone, but never forgotten. With CJ Beathard back under center, the entire 49ers offense takes a drastic hit. As you can see, this game owns just a 47 O/U in Vegas, but the Chargers account for over 60% of those expected points. With cheapies like Dalton, Mayfield and Manning, why go with Beathard?
On the other side of this expected blowout, Philip Rivers falls into the Aaron Rodgers category of someone that is expected to be up so big that nobody will consider playing them out of game-script fear. Rivers is averaging over 24 DraftKings points per game this season, and this horrible 49ers secondary will be without Richard Sherman…fire him up in GPPs.
Running Backs: The one guy from the 49ers I am interested in is Matt Breida. As JJ Zachariason of numberFire pointed out earlier this week, last season Carlos Hyde averaged over eight targets per game with Beathard at quarterback, once Garoppolo came in, that number dipped to under four. Beathard is a check-down king and I’m much more confident in Breida’s ability to catch passes than Alfred Morris.
The 49ers are top-ten in DVOA against the run this season and have actually looked competent, unlike last season. They did allow a pair of one-yard scores to Kareem Hunt last week, but overall they have looked strong. The reason I don’t care about that with Melvin Gordon is, we know he is going to get the volume, and even with Beathard at QB this 49ers offense is going to play at a fast-pace which means more plays for the Chargers as well. The game-script should be well in Gordon’s favor this week, but even if it’s not he will get a ton of passing game work making him pretty much a matchup proof option. For only $200 more, you can see why I slightly prefer him to Barkley but it’s really splitting hairs.
Pass Catchers: Given CJ Beathard’s limited abilities, I won’t be rostering any 49ers pass catchers this week and that’s mainly why I don’t think this game can stay all that close.
Mike Williams has been a touchdown machine and has out-snapped Tyrell Williams, but given the expected game flow I think that would be a pretty thin reach in week four. I do think that you can use Keenan Allen in all formats, however, despite the “negative” expected game script. Allen has been bottled up the last two weeks, but he still has seen 15 targets over that span and this 49ers defense has been a clear pass-funnel through the first month of the season. Again, with this Vegas implied score, Rivers to Allen stacks are going to be extremely under-owned relative to Gordon, and you can definitely include him for a Chargers onslaught if you’re feeling frisky.
Cash Game Outlook: Melvin Gordon
GPP Outlook: Philip Rivers, Keenan Allen, Matt Breida, Austin Ekeler
UPDATE #1: It is worth noting, at the time of writing this Keenan Allen still hasn’t practiced this week. If he ends up being a game-time decision this could really affect the slate and bump up Mike Williams (and Tyrell) pretty significantly.
Seattle Seahawks @ Arizona Cardinals
Vegas Insight: Seahawks 21, Cardinals 18
Quarterbacks: If you thought that Jets/Jaguars was a snooze-fest, this is the snooziest (if this isn’t a word I just made it one) of them all. Russell Wilson is in play solely because of his name brand, but behind this offensive line with limited offensive weapons even he hasn’t been Russ-like this season. Josh Rosen is making his first NFL start against this Seahawks defense that is no longer what it once was, but still a formidable opponent as long as Earl Thomas is active. Rosen actually din’t look bad to me after being thrust into the game against the Bears at pretty much the worst possible time, but this is still his first start and I have zero faith in this Cardinals coaching staff…fade all around.
Running Backs: Chris Carson finally had a good game against the Cowboys last wek going over 100 rushing yards, and he is in another fine matchup this week with a Cardinals run-defense that comes in having allowed the most touchdowns on the ground. The matchup is good, but Carson’s offensive line is not and I still think I’d rather go Kerryon/Michel/White is needing a cheapie at RB.
It’s truly amazing what has happened to David Johnson this season, and it just goes to show how much coaching actually matters in football. Think about Todd Gurley under Jeff Fisher and Todd Gurley under Sean McVay. It’s an other-worldly difference. As much as the price is enticing me, I can’t play him right now, I just can’t.
Pass Catchers: It’s a pretty large all around for the Arizona pass catchers with Rosen making his first start, but hopefully this can get Larry Fitzgerald going a bit. As for the Seahawks, it actually looks like Doug Baldwin will be back but I have virtually no confidence in him at this point. All that does is screw up my interest in Tyler Lockett, just focus on the attractive games in DFS.
Cash Game Outlook: BLEH!
GPP Outlook: Chris Carson, Russell Wilson, David Johnson
Written by Ben Hossler (Follow @BenHossler on Twitter)
All air yards data was provided by airyards.com
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