Jonathan Bales is the author of the Fantasy Sports for Smart People book series, most recently Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Win at Daily Fantasy Sports.
Follow him @BalesFootball.
Cam Newton, Carolina (vs IND) – $6800
The Panthers are projected to walk all over Indy with 27 implied points as seven-point favorites. That probably helps Jonathan Stewart’s outlook some, but Newton accounts for such a high percentage of their fantasy scoring that he’s always in play. Newton-to-Olsen is the obvious stack, but I also don’t mind using Newton on his own, even in GPPs, given how likely he is to run the ball into the end zone.
Drew Brees, New Orleans (vs NYG) – $6700
Playing at home, Brees faces a Giants defense that has allowed 2.1 DraftKings points per game above expectation to opposing quarterbacks over the past year. The Saints are currently projected over 26 implied points, and Brees costs a very affordable $6700. The only thing I don’t think is the lack of a clear stack. Brandin Cooks is still my favorite option, but he doesn’t see a ton of targets since Brees spreads the ball around so much.
Philip Rivers, San Diego (at BAL) – $6600
Over the past 12 months, the Ravens have allowed 4.3 points per game above salary-based expectations to opposing quarterbacks. That’s a really poor mark, and Rivers already accounts for a massive market share of the Chargers’ fantasy production. The major concern here is the health of his pass-catchers.
VALUE OF THE WEEK
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati (at PIT) – $6000
The Steelers have one of the worst pass defenses in the league and the stack with Dalton is obvious. Given how Dalton is playing, I do think you could end up running into ownership that’s a tad too high.
Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh (vs CIN) – $8300
Bell is going to be aided by Big Ben’s return, and he’s facing a Cincy defense that has been much better against the pass than the run. Actually, in terms of points allowed above expected, they rank in the bottom five in the NFL against running backs since last year. Also, not sure if you knew, but Bell is good.
Matt Forte, Chicago (vs MIN) – $7300
There isn’t much buzz around Matt Forte right now, but he has scored 1.4 points per game above salary-based expected points this season. Still, he hasn’t had the top-tier performances we’ve seen in the past. Given that he’s not actually playing poorly, however, that breakout game is on the horizon.
Todd Gurley, St. Louis (vs SF) – $6300
Guess what? Gurley’s ownership is going to be high. We know that. This is an attractive price against an awful defense. There’s a time to get cute in tournaments and fade high-ownership players because the usage just isn’t warranted, but this is not one of them, in my opinion.
VALUE OF THE WEEK
Jonathan Stewart, Carolina (at IND) – $4100
Like I said, Stewart is an option given the potential game flow in this one. However, Indy is such a high-variance team that I don’t think we can just be sure the Panthers will be running all over them. The other thing that scares me is Stewart often comes out of the game near the goal-line, so you’re sort of banking on him to break a long touchdown run.
Demaryius Thomas, Denver (vs GB) – $7700
Thomas is still getting targets and still racking up yards. What he’s not doing is getting into the end zone, and part of the reason for that is the Denver offense sort of sucks right now. To be fair, Thomas has also dropped a couple passes in the end zone this year as well. I’m willing to bet the one touchdown he’s scored through seven weeks doesn’t repeat itself over the second half of the season, i.e. the scores are coming.
Keenan Allen, San Diego (at BAL) – $7700
Allen is a little banged up, so check on his status, but he should be good to go. Over the past five games, he’s seen fewer than double-digit targets just once, and he has three games with at least 13 targets. If Antonio Gates is out, I think he has a very high probability of scoring in this game.
Martavis Bryant, Pittsburgh (vs CIN) – $5300
Take a look at how efficient the Steelers’ offense has been over the past year with and without Bryant in the lineup. There are so many weapons in this offense that it is really difficult to take him out of the game. The concern with Bryant is always a lack of targets, but he’s worth the risk in GPPs at $5300.
VALUE OF THE WEEK
Stefon Diggs, Minnesota (at CHI) – $4800
I think Diggs is almost a must-play in cash games. In tournaments, I think you could make a case for fading him, even though he’s a clear value. I’ll still have some exposure because I think he’s a really talented player, but the hype has reached a crazy level and wide receivers are still very volatile from week to week.
Greg Olsen, Carolina (vs IND) – $6500
Let me tell you that tight end is very bare for the Millionaire Maker. Gronk already played and Travis Kelce and Eric Ebron are playing in London, and thus not eligible for use. I like Olsen against Indy, but he costs a lot and I think he’s going to be a popular play. The thing is there’s such a lack of talent at the position that his value becomes inflated, especially with no Gronkowski available.
Delanie Walker, Tennessee (at HOU) – $4100
Walker hasn’t exploded yet this season, mostly due to the lack of upside in the Tennessee offense, but he has outperformed his salary in every single contest. He’s getting enough targets to return a high ceiling, though, so it’s just a matter of getting into the end zone—something he hasn’t done since Week 1.
Ben Watson, New Orleans (vs NYG) – $3500
Watson has only one game with more than five targets this year, but he has seemed to be on Brees’ radar more of late. I’m not going to have too much exposure here because a poor game is somewhat likely, but he’s also a big scoring threat on a potent offense at home.
VALUE OF THE WEEK
Ladarius Green, San Diego (at BAL) – $3000
If Antonio Gates is out, Green becomes a clear value.
Seattle (at DAL) – $3700
To me, this is the top play of the week. Matt Cassel is a much better quarterback for a defense to face than Brandon Weeden because the former takes shots downfield. I think Seattle has the best chance of a pick-six for any team this week.
Atlanta (vs TB) – $3400
The Falcons are 7.5-point favorites, at home, against a rookie quarterback who isn’t conservative with the ball. The game script in this one should allow for a lot of low-percentage Winston passes.
St. Louis (vs SF) – $3200
Over the past month, only Denver and Green Bay have scored more DraftKings points than the St. Louis defense. The Broncos and Packers are playing one another, while the Rams get to face a quarterback in Colin Kaepernick who is pretty much a dream passer to face since he takes sacks and makes horrible decisions.
VALUE OF THE WEEK
Oakland (vs NYJ) – $2200
If you want to go super-cheap on a defense, I kind of like Oakland at home against the Jets. You’re saving nearly $1000 over a mid-tier defense, and the Jets are projected at fewer than 24 points. The Raiders’ D/ST has put up 8.3 PPG over the past month.