Welcome everyone to my eighth 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!
Miami Dolphins @ Houston Texans
Vegas Insight: Texans 26, Dolphins 28.5
Quarterback: This is one of the most boring Thursday night games we’ve had this season, which is funny when you notice that both of these teams are 4-3. The Dolphins are still very banged up on offense and we get the classing #revenge narrative with Brock Osweiler returning to Houston. I don’t have any interest in this game for the Thursday-Monday game with just a 44.5 O/U and a boatload of attractive games on Sunday, but if you are playing the showdown slate you always have to consider the Quarterbacks as core plays. Both him and Deshaun Watson are great plays in that format, with Watson checking in as the higher ceiling option.
Running Back: The Running Backs also make for fantastic showdown plays, Kenyan Drake and Lamar Miller. Drake is still getting out-carried by Frank Gore, but he continues to be effective when given work and he’s seen six or more targets in each of the last three games. This is one of the best get-well spots Lamar Miller has seen all season, he’s up against a defense that has given up some monster games on the ground (see Kerryon Johnson last week), and he is tagged as a nice home favorite. If there was ever a time for him to see positive game script it’s tonight, and if he falls in for a touchdown he could be one of the highest scoring plays on the showdown slate, which says something about this game.
Pass Catchers: The passing games could be pretty interesting in this game, with both Albert Wilson and Kenny Stills out for the Texans and Keke Coutee missing for the Texans. If I was looking for someone to pair with Brock Osweiler on the showdown slate, it would probably be Danny Amendola, but I don’t hate taking a flier on Jakeem Grant and I could definitely see the Dolphins going with one or two trick plays tonight with Grant to try and steal this game. The targets should be all Hopkins and Fuller for the Texans with Coutee back out, and while I have a ton of respect for Xavien Howard that’s not going to keep me off of Hopkins or Fuller on a one game slate. I’m fine playing both of them together or choosing one with Watson/Miller.
Overall Outlook- I don’t anticipate this being a very high scoring game, and I do expect the Texans to win this game at home. That being said, it should be a close game given how the Dolphins have played this season so I really would only be focusing on the single game slate if I wanted some parts of this game. There’s a ton of good games on the Sunday slate, and people will always over-use the Thursday options for something to watch on primetime TV.
Washington Redskins @ New York Giants
Vegas Insight: Giants 22, Redskins 21
Quarterback: We have a few uglier games to kick off the Sunday main slate and we start with a divisional battle between the Giants and Redskins. Neither of these teams play at a very fast-pace and that’s part of the reason why the O/U sits at just 43. Alex Smith has not been good whatsoever fantasy wise this season, failing to throw for 300 yards in any game this season. I don’t think there’s any reason to go there in season long of daily fantasy and the same can be said for Eli Manning. Manning has yet to throw for more than two touchdowns in a game this season and the QB’s that have been able to beat this Redskins defense are guys like Dak Prescott who can run and be mobile, something Manning cannot do at this point.
Running Back: Chris Thompson should be back this week, but even though the Giants are favored I don’t really see them dominating this game to the point that the Redskins are going to feed CT in his first game back. Adrian Peterson is the one guy we can look at in tournaments, the Giants have been bad against the run and they just traded away Snacks Harrison, their best run-stopper. If the Redskins are in this game, or winning, they could feed Adrian Peterson and the matchup is not a bad one at all to attack.
Saquon Barkley has been the shining light on this Giants offense all season, and even though the Redskins were able to stifle Ezekiel Elliott last week, Barkley is first in catches among running backs and his floor remains one of the highest in football. Given his price, I don’t think you can get there in cash games but I’m more than fine with him in tournaments at low-ownership.
Pass Catchers: The Redskins offense is all Chris Thompson and Adrian Peterson when both healthy, and even though I think you can always look at Jordan Reed at tight end in tournaments, this is probably my least favorite game and I’m going to pretty much be avoiding it. For the Giants, Odell Beckham has seen nine or more targets in every game this season and he has yet to really hit his ceiling. This Redskins secondary is good, but OBJ is matchup proof and he is always in the GPP conversation.
Cash Game Outlook- None
GPP Outlook- Saquon Barkley, Odell Beckham, Adrian Peterson
Baltimore Ravens @ Carolina Panthers
Vegas Insight: Ravens 23, Panthers 21
Quarterback: There are some very good games this weekend, and we will get there, but this is not one of them. I will say, this is a fantastic real-life game and it’s going to be fun to watch, just not as much from a fantasy perspective. Joe Flacco made one of my main tournament teams against the Saints last week, and he is still averaging over 40 passing attempts per game. The Panthers rank just 26th in DVOA against the pass, but I’m not sure the ceiling is really there when there’s so many good games on this slate.
Cam caught fire in the second half last week leading the Panthers to 21-17 victory over the Eagles on the road, but this Ravens defense is really not one that I want to pick on in DFS. They’re sixth in DVOA against the pass and while his floor remains high given his rushing ability, I don’t see him exploding in DFS.
Running Back: The Ravens running back situation is still semi-murky and it’s not a great place to attack for daily fantasy. Alex Collins has stole more work from Buck Allen over the last few weeks, but he still lands in the touchdown or bust range and that’s not something I want to bank on against the Panthers. As for Christian McCaffrey, he remains a solid play weekly given his high floor but this is probably one of the worst overall matchups for him. The Ravens are top-three in terms of limiting catches to opposing running backs, making this far from a smash spot. I do think he will be severely under-owned to his ability so you can always look at him in tournaments, but he is not on my cash game list as of now.
Pass Catchers: While the Ravens are throwing a ton, Michael Crabtree and Willie Snead both feature an average depth of target 10 yards or under. Crabtree has been able to get there given his massive target share, but he is similar to Alex Collins in that he will probably need a touchdown to beat value and that’s not something I like to bet on. John Brown, my hero from last week, is one guy I do think you can use in tournaments weekly and he has regained his NFL lead in air yards (per airyards.com) after last week.
Devin Funchess has score in three of his last four, but as you can tell the theme of this game is touchdown or bust. For daily fantasy, it’s Brown and CMC in GPPs for me and that’s about it. Let’s get to the good stuff!
Cash Game Outlook- None
GPP Outlook- John Brown, Christian McCaffrey
Cleveland Browns @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Vegas Insight: Steelers 29.5, Browns 21.5
Quarterback: This game checks in with a nice 51 O/U in Vegas and we can definitely expect some fireworks, especially since this is pretty much Hue Jackson’s funeral. For two years I’ve written in this column about how bad of a coach he is and why he should be fired and we are finally approaching that happening, and I think it’s going to be after this game. Anyways, I want to play Baker Mayfield in this spot at his price, my only issue is the Browns pass protection has been pretty bad the last few weeks and that could be a disaster against the Steelers. Their defense isn’t as good as it once was, but they can get to the quarterback and I’m worried about Baker’s time to throw this weekend.
Roethlisberger would normally check in as a cash game option at home at his price, but I do think they can easily win this game at home and the way to attack the Browns this season has been on the ground NOT through the air. They have only allowed more than two passing touchdowns once this season, and they have given up some big games on the ground over the last few weeks. If the Steelers jump out to a lead I think it’s going to be James Conner’s day again.
Running Back: Nick Chubb carried the ball for 80 yards on 18 carries and added a touchdown in his first game without Carlos Hyde. The issue is he saw just two targets and I don’t expect him to be heavily involved in the passing game right now. If the Browns get down early, that caps his ceiling and there are other mid tier running backs worth considering this week.
James Conner had a massive game against this Browns team in week one, and since then Conner has been the guy for the Steelers without Le’Veon Bell. He’s involved in the passing game, and his red zone usage is off the charts as well. He’s one of the top overall running back plays this week and will be heavily in consideration for my cash game roster.
Pass Catchers: Jarvis Landry salvaged a poor first half and ended with a 10-97-1 line on 15 targets against the Buccaneers. The important thing was the double-digit targets once again and the Steelers have been vulnerable to giving up big games to opposing wide receivers. David Njoku had another big game against Tampa, and he remains one of the top tight end plays weekly as long as Mayfield is the QB in Cleveland.
I think both Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster are playable in all formats this week, it just comes down to roster construction. They both had great games against the Browns in week one, and I do anticipate Denzel Ward to shadow AB, but I don’t care. It’s Antonio Brown and he is matchup proof, even though the Defensive ROY candidate Ward matches up perfectly with Brown in terms of size. If you need the money, drop down to JuJu who will avoid Ward and the Browns have given up some big-time games in the slot, either way I think I would want one of these two in cash games as of right now. You can also use Vance McDonald in cash games as a cheap tight end, but he will probably be over-owned for my liking as we creep closer to Sunday.
Cash Game Outlook- James Conner, Antonio Brown, JuJu Smith-Schuster, David Njoku, Jarvis Landry
GPP Outlook- Baker Mayfield, Ben Roethlisberger, Vance McDonald
Seattle Seahawks @ Detroit Lions
Vegas Insight: Lions 26, Seahawks 23.75
Quarterback: There’s no way that most people are going to realize that this game owns a 50 O/U with some of the other attractive games on the slate, but here we are. Despite the big total, I don’t think I have a ton of interest in the game as a whole outside of tournaments. Russell Wilson doesn’t run anymore, 21 yards on the ground is his top mark of the season and that severely limits his fantasy appeal when he’s dealing with the lack of weapons he gas at his disposal.
Matt Stafford has finally felt the Matt Patricia affect kick in, they’re playing extremely slow now and he would need a random four touchdown game to really go off and win you a tournament.
Running Back: I do like both of the running backs in this game, Chris Carson for tournaments and Kerryon Johnson in all formats if Theo Riddick is sidelined again. Carson was robbed of a red zone touchdown in their last game, but he still led their backs in workload. The Lions are the worst in the NFL in yards per carry, which is exactly why they traded for Snacks Harrison. I can’t use him in cash games, but he’s there with AP for a tournament play that will be low-owned.
Kerryon Johnson finally exploded after they gave him work against Miami, he posted 158 yards on 19 carries and while LeGarrette Blount will steal goal line usage, Johnson still had carries inside the red zone. I’ve said all year he’s clearly their best back and Matt Patricia wants to run the ball. The Seahawks are bottom-ten in YPC allowed as well so the matchup isn’t scaring me off one bit.
Pass Catchers: This Seahawks offense is so bad overall it’s tough for me to trust Russ or anyone he’s throwing too, but Doug Baldwin has seen seven or more targets in two of the last three weeks. He will avoid Darius Slay playing in the slot, and that puts him on the GPP dart list.
The Lions are hard to decipher with such a strong pass catching group, I find it hilarious that a team can trot out Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones and Golden Tate at receiver and want to be a running team, but nevertheless, that’s what we have to deal with. They’re eating into each others usage enough for me to look away in cash games, but the upside is present and we should mention the good ole fashioned Golden Tate #revenge game.
Cash Game Outlook- Kerryon Johnson
GPP Outlook- Chris Carson, Doug Baldwin, Kenny Golladay, Golden Tate
New York Jets @ Chicago Bears
Vegas Insight: Bears 26, Jets 18.5
Quarterback: This is the last “boring” game of the early set of games, but I actually think there are a few viable DFS plays. Sam Darnold, however, does not fall under that category. He’s topped 300 passing yards just once this season and they’re using short-intermediate throws to help him out as much as they can as he develops.
On the other side, Mitch Trubisky saved my week last week and I think he is playable in all formats once again this week. The Jets look like they’re still going to be banged up in the secondary, and Trubisky has topped 300 yards in three straight games. Something I didn’t see coming was his rushing ability, and he rushed for totals of 53, 47 and 81 in his last three games as well. That type of rushing floor is exactly what we want in DFS, and his price is still affordable as well. I think I’d rather get exposure to a better game with my cash game QB, but he’s definitely on my list.
Running Back: Bilal Powell was placed on IR this week with a potential career-ending neck injury, which leaves us with Isaiah Crowell and Trenton Cannon as the backs while Eli McGuire is still out. I don’t have much interest in Crowell, but I do have interest in Cannon in tournaments at his price. Cannon was really good in the preseason for the Jets, and he hauled in four of five targets for 69 yards last week after Powell exited. The pass catching back is going to provide value in this offense while Darnold is developing and they should be trailing this game.
On the Bears side, Jordan Howard was out-touched by Tarik Cohen again even though he did score a touchdown. He should provide some value in games they are easily winning, and they are a home favorite this week, but Cohen is the guy I’m interested and I think he can be used in all formats. He’s seen seven or more targets in three straight games (notice that’s when Trubisky took off as well) and I love how they are using him.
Pass Catchers: The Jets passing game is hard to decipher with Quincy Enunwa out and Terrelle Pryor cut. Robby Anderson is the go-to guy, but he still hasn’t practiced yet this week and Jermaine Kearse is coming off one of the greatest chalk duds in the history of DFS. If Robby plays, I can add him to the tournament list as a volume play, but other than that all I want from this team is Cannon.
The Bears have been spreading the ball around a ton in recent weeks and that’s only going to get worse as Anthony Miller gets healthier. That hurts Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel enough for me to keep them off my player pool. but Trey Burton is definitely in play at the tight end position. He’s scored in three straight games and he broke through will 11 targets in their game last weekend.
Cash Game Outlook- Tarik Cohen, Mitch Trubisky, Trey Burton
GPP Outlook- Trenton Cannon
Denver Broncos @ Kansas City Chiefs
Vegas Insight: Chiefs 31.75, Broncos 21.75
Quarterback: This is one of, if not the overall premier game of the week. People don’t think if the Broncos as a fast team, but they are actually top-ten in pace thus far this season and the O/U should be pretty accurate especially when the Chiefs have 40 point ability by themselves. Case Keenum was severely bailed out by Chad Kelly getting arrested and cut, and now we are stuck with him for the whole season (boo).
While I’m not interested in Keenum, I’m very interested in Mahomes as always, especially on Draftkings where he is just $7,000. I typically want to spend down at QB in cash games, but it’s only $1,000 or so to get up to Mahomes this week and I think he’s the top overall play in all formats.
Running Back: I love both of the running backs in this game. It’s looking unlikely that Royce Freeman will be able to play in this game, but that’s something we do need to monitor up until Sunday. Lindsay was already out-snapping him, and he soaks up usage in the passing game as well. he’s scored 10+ PPR points in every game this season and if Freeman can’t give it a go Lindsay is a great running back play this weekend.
Hunt is where I would prefer to go in cash games, however, and I think it comes down to him vs James Conner in the next tier after Todd Gurley. He’s finally seeing passing game work, and this Broncos run-defense has been shredded in recent weeks.
Pass Catchers: Emmanuel Sanders just continues to produce, and he is clear play from the Broncos that I 100% would want some exposure to this week. The matchup in the slot is actually not a super-positive one, but he gets the volume and he’s been so good this season I’m willing to bite the bullet especially in tournaments as a run back with a Chiefs stack.
The Chiefs defense has pretty much taken on the Browns mantra of giving up shorter plays and refusing to get beat deep for a long touchdown. That certainly hurts Tyreek Hill, but at his price he was GPP only anyways I’m chasing a ceiling game in tournaments so he is still in play. Travis Kelce is playable in all formats, but I’ve tagged him as tournaments because it’s hard for me to envision having this much to spend for a tight end. The most likely cash game route for me right now is to go with a naked Mahomes or pair him with Kareem Hunt.
Cash Game Outlook- Patrick Mahomes, Kareem Hunt, Philip Lindsay
GPP Outlook- Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Emmanuel Sanders
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Cincinnati Bengals
Vegas Insight: Bengals 29, Bucs 25.5
Quarterback: This is probably the second or third best game on the main slate with a now 54+ O/U in Vegas. I’m going to group a lot of the plays together in this game because I think they are all pretty much playable in all formats. Jameis Winston has been on fire fantasy-wise since retaking the starting job, and the Bucs defense is so bad that he’s been forced into shootouts every week. He’s been running more this season, which boosts his floor, and even though I don’t like taking QB’s on the road in cash games typically, he is in play at his price once again. Andy Dalton started off the year hot, but has cooled since given the wealth of injuries the Bengals have dealt with on offense. I think he is a fantastic tournament play this week, he should get left behind in terms of ownership and this Bucs secondary is allowing the most passing yards per game in the NFL.
Running Back: The Buccaneers running backs are a mess fantasy-wise, even with Ronald Jones scoring his first touchdown last week. If I’m using Bucs players, I want the passing game. The reason I don’t have Dalton in the cash game pool is because of the presence of Joe Mixon. With all of their offensive injuries, I definitely think they want to run the ball more and that shouldn’t be a big problem with the Buccaneers missing Gerald McCoy, Vinny Curry and Kwon Alexander on defense this week. Mixon is right there with Conner/Hunt and it shows how difficult the decision making will be this week for cash games.
Pass Catchers: Much like the running backs, the Bucs pass catchers are wide open but this time it’s a good thing. They have so many weapons it’s hard for me to trust any of them in cash games (outside of Howard as a cheap TE) so that means you can fire up any of Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson and Chris Godwin in GPPs. On the Bengals side, it’s much more concentrated with John Ross/Tyler Eifert injured. I think you can play AJ Green in cash games, but I also don’t think he would jump over guys like Davante Adams and Robert Woods for me, so I’m more focused on Tyler Boyd. Jarvis Landry beat the Bucs a number of times in the slot last week and Boyd is still averaging 8+ targets per game this season.
Cash Game Outlook: Jameis Winston, Joe Mixon, CJ Uzomah, AJ Green, Tyler Boyd, OJ Howard
GPP Outlook: Bucs WRs, Andy Dalton
Green Bay Packers @ Los Angeles Rams
Vegas Insight: Rams 33, Packers 23.5
Quarterback: This is definitely the game of the week with a 56+ O/U in Vegas, and we have a situation where pretty much everyone is in play for cash games. This is going to be the basis of a lot of teams on Sunday, and I would 100% want some exposure here on my main team. Rodegrs is priced at just $6,400 on DraftKings and is one of the top overall cash game plays. He should be in catch-up mode against the Rams, and he has reeled off two straight 400+ yard games.
Goff has been the victim of bad game-flow the last two weeks, but I don’t see them blowing out the Packers with Rodgers now pretty much fully healthy and with a full compliment of weapons. Goff has smashed whenever teams have kept the games close, and even though Mike Pettine schemes this defense to stop the pass they haven’t been able to do so this season.
Running Back: Similar to the Bucs, the Packers have too many mouths to feed at running back right now and I’d rather attack the Rams through the air with some of their defensive injuries. The Packers are going to throw it 40+ times in this spot. Todd Gurley needs no introduction, he’s putting up another monster fantasy season and his price remains in check at $9,800 on DraftKings. The biggest roster decision of the week comes down to Gurley and one 7-8K back, or Gurley and one of them. I love to jam in the highest floor at running back each week, so I can definitely see each route being viable.
Pass Catchers: This is definitely the money spot of this game, with so much offense being expected there are going to be string fantasy plays here. Davante Adams is second in the NFL in receiving touchdowns this season, and even with concerns about Allison/Cobb being back he led the team in targets for the month long stretch that they were all healthy with 29. He’s playable in all formats, and I honestly think you can look at Cobb for a cheap option if he’s active as well.
Robert Woods has been the best Rams receiver this season by far, and yet he is priced under $7,000 once again this week. He’s gone over 70 receiving yards in every game since Week 1, and he will continue to see more slot usage with Cooper Kupp doubtful once again this week. Brandin Cooks is the high-upside GPP option, but I prefer Woods if looking for a partner with Goff in cash games.
Cash Game Outlook: Jared Goff, Aaron Rodgers, Todd Gurley, Davante Adams, Robert Woods
GPP Outlook: Brandin Cooks, Jimmy Graham
Indianapolis Colts @ Oakland Raiders
Vegas Insight: Colts 26.75, Raiders 23.75
Quarterback: This is one of the sneakier 50 point totals of the week, and I do think there are some viable DFS plays here. Andrew Luck continues to lead the NFL in pass attempts, and he is sneakily right behind Patrick Mahomes in the passing touchdown race. I’m not scared of this Raiders secondary at all and I think Luck makes for an elite GPP play given the passing volume he’s going to see.
I could see the case for playing Derek Carr this week, but with so many $6,000-7,000 plays at Quarterback I will be avoiding.
Running Back: This is the most interesting spot of this game, as it looked like Marlon Mack was going to miss this game but he ended up practicing in full on Friday. He finally broke out in their last game, and I’m someone that thinks Mack can actually be good if he’s healthy and given the workload. He’s priced right around the Kerryon Johnson, Philip Lindsay tier which makes him GPP-only for me, but I do think he is a cash game option.
With Marshawn Lynch on IR, I’m not entirely sure what the Raiders will do. It would make sense to feature Jalen Richard in a pass-catching role but knowing Jon Gruden he will simply shove old Doug Martin into the Lynch-role with Richards not really changing. That’s too risky for me for cash games but it won’t shock me if Richard ends up having a nice game.
Pass Catchers: TY Hilton has been seeing increasing red-zone usage, and while they aren’t at home he will continue to provide value as long as Luck is throwing so much. They will be getting Jack Doyle back from injury this week, so that hurts Eric Ebron but at the same time it may be able to open the offense a bit more. If I’m playing Luck, I’m stacking him with Hilton first and foremost.
With Amari Cooper out of two, that opens the door for Jordy Nelson and Martavis Bryant to be more productive in this offense. It’s tough for me to trust Bryant, but Nelson will benefit from the increased slot usage with Cooper’s absence and at under $5,000 on DraftKings he’s in the cash conversation.
Cash Game Outlook: Marlon Mack, Jordy Nelson, TY Hilton
GPP Outlook: Andrew Luck, Jalen Richard
Written by Ben Hossler (Follow @BenHossler on Twitter)