Week 5 led us to my favorite kind of roster construction, “stars and scrubs.” We are not as lucky in Week 6. There just aren’t a lot of strong plays under the $5000 mark, meaning we need to be very price-sensitive and locate underpriced players in the mid-range. We also have to get the Patriots vs. Colts game right, as there will be a lot of points scored there but it’s difficult to be certain about who will score them. For more on that, check out Episodes 18 and 19 of our Daily Fantasy Football Edge podcast.
The point of this column is to use the news, snap count, usage and trends to both be a little contrarian and avoid whiffs.
MATCHUPS TO EXPLOIT
1. Matthew Stafford and the Lions pass game against the Bears
So far, the Lions have faced the Chargers (18th in passer rating against), Vikings (7th), Broncos (5th), Seahawks (21st) and Cardinals (4th). It’s been an absolutely brutal schedule, one that’s been complicated by Matthew Stafford’s various injuries and poor offensive line play. But now they get some relief in the form of a home spot against the Bears (28th in passer rating against). This Chicago defense has generated just nine sacks in five games, while corners Kyle Fuller, Tracy Porter and Sherrick McManis all grade out in the bottom half of PFF’s coverage rankings.
Maybe I’m crazy, but I still think Stafford is capable of big numbers. Over the previous four seasons, he’s averaged 295.5 passing yards and 1.75 TDs per game. Now he costs just $5300 — $300 over the minimum. The 0-5 Lions are favored by three points in this game and the sharps are on them. Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate are all very much in play for me this week.
SITUATIONS TO CAPITALIZE ON
1. Richard Rodgers quietly seeing his role rise
In the first 19 games of Richard Rodgers’ career, he never saw more than five targets in a game. He played on just 44.7 percent of the snaps in last year and was in on 65.8 percent through the first three games this season. But everything changed for Rodgers when Andrew Quarless’ sustained a serious knee injury in the Monday night win over the Chiefs. Since then, Rodgers has played on a whopping 91.4 percent of the snaps and seen six targets followed by eight targets. He’s turned all that increased usage into 11-90-1 over the last two weeks.
So even though Rodgers’ skill set leaves a lot to be desired, he’s playing just about every snap with Aaron Rodgers and is a featured red-zone target at 6’4/257. This is an example of prioritizing opportunity over talent. At just $3100, Rodgers represents much-needed savings over the Gates/Martellus/Eifert/Kelce tier.
2. Arian Foster’s health
When Arian Foster is actually healthy, he eats just about every time. On a per-game basis, he was fantasy’s RB2 in 2014, RB20 in 2013, RB2 in 2012, RB1 in 2011 and RB1 in 2010. The problem over the last few years has always been various soft-tissue injuries that he’s struggled to overcome. But Foster is healthy right now, as evidenced by his 28-touch outing against the Colts in Week 5 and a full 10 days to recover from that workload. Foster is actually practicing in full this week for the first time all season.
“Now I’m at the point that if (the groin) is going to re-tear it’s going to re-tear so I’m just going to go full-go,” Foster said. With worries about the surgery behind him and a matchup against a Jags run defense that has gotten humiliated by New England and Tampa this year, Foster is an elite play at $7000. I don’t think rostering a negatively correlated duo like Foster and DeAndre Hopkins in the same lineup is a good idea, so we’re forced to choose here. I choose Foster.
CONTRARIAN GPP STACKS
1. Andy Dalton and Giovani Bernard
A lot of people are going to just toss out the Bengals this week because they are playing at the Ralph. And I get that. But when we know exactly how a team will try to move the ball against an enemy, there’s value. Per PFF’s Mike Clay, opponents have called pass against the Bills on 70 percent of their snaps – tops in the league. This is a Giovani Bernard game, one where the Bengals figure to spread it out and let Andy Dalton do his thing. Using “passing” running backs against tough run defenses is a play I learned from Jonathan Bales when he won a Q with Dion Lewis at Buffalo Week 2. Ownership is going to be low on a guy who has clearly separated from Jeremy Hill and averages 3.4 catches per game in his career.
1. Le’Veon Bell vs. Cardinals
As Al Zeidenfeld mentioned on the Edge Podcast Thursday night, it’s rare that we don’t want to roster Le’Veon Bell. There isn’t a better combination of talent and usage floor in the league. But if you watched Monday night’s game at San Diego or the Week 4 game against the Ravens, you can see what Michael Vick is doing to this once-elite offense. He’s ruining it with an inability to accurately complete simple slants or screens. He’s forcing them to slow down when they are built to play fast. So after a cupcake matchup against the Chargers bottom-barrel run defense, Bell now has to face a Cardinals unit that has swallowed up everyone they’ve faced except Todd Gurley this year. The worst part is that Bell costs $8500 – $900 more than Adrian Peterson, $1400 more than Matt Forte and $1500 more than Arian Foster. In a week where we need to be very price-sensitive, those savings are important.
2. LeGarrette Blount vs. Colts
I am well aware of the “big back” numbers the last three times the Patriots faced the Colts. LeGarrette Blount 30-148-3, Jonas Gray 37-201-4 and Blount 25-166-4. The Pats have taken decidedly run-heavy gameplans, embarrassing Indy by just ramming it down their throat. While I expect them to attempt that again, this isn’t the same Colts defense.
They have three new starters on the defensive line (Kendall Langford, David Parry, Henry Anderson) and a bunch of new faces at the linebacker position. The run defense has actually been a strength – notably holding Arian Foster to just 41 yards on 19 carries last week. Meanwhile, the pass defense has been a total disaster – even after Greg Toler (neck) returned. We also have the arrival of Dion Lewis, whose abdomen injury isn’t considered serious and who can run between the tackles. On a full-PPR site with yardage bonuses, Blount figures to go way overowned.
WHO I’M CONSIDERING IN DRAFTKINGS CASH GAMES
(No particular order)
QB: Carson Palmer, Andy Dalton, Matthew Stafford, Colin Kaepernick, Sam Bradford
RB: Dion Lewis, Charcandrick West, Eddie Lacy, Arian Foster, Matt Forte, Adrian Peterson
WR: DeAndre Hopkins, Julian Edelman, Larry Fitzgerald, Jordan Matthews, Jarvis Landry, Allen Robinson, Eric Decker
TE: Rob Gronkowski, Richard Rodgers, Derrek Carrier, Larry Donnell, Antonio Gates
D: Broncos, Seahawks, Bengals, Jets, Cardinals