The NFL Game Breakdown will be a weekly analysis of every game on the NFL schedule in extreme detail. From targets to game flow and other matchup variables, this article will be your one-stop-shop for everything you could ever need to prepare for DraftKings NFL contests.
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PAGE 1: BUF @ NYJ, CAR @ TEN, CHI @ STL, CLE @ PIT, DAL @ TB
Bills @ Jets
Point Total: 43
Spread: Jets -2.5
The Jets have now allowed 356.5 yards passing and 2.66 passing TDs over their last three games and QBs have averaged over 27 fantasy points against them in that span too. The Bills only passed 12 times last week in Tyrod Taylor’s return but with the Jets D still stout against the run expect to see that number go up quite a bit this week. Taylor’s by no means a guarantee for a big game but people expecting a complete Jets shutdown performance will probably be disappointed. For a primetime game only roster I’d consider him as my QB.
Here’s a list of how secondary WRs (not shadowed by Revis) have done versus the Jets the past three weeks
Outside of Darrelle Revis the Jets secondary has really started to fall apart recently. The Bills targeted Sammy Watkins on 8 of their 12 passes thrown last week but with Revis slated to cover Watkins in week 10 I suspect you might see different patterning from the Bills in this game. The Jets got completely demolished by Rob Gronkowski a couple weeks ago and I suspect that the Bills will likely attempt to attack the Bills in the same way with Charles Clay. Jets head coach Todd Bowles was the former coach of the Arizona defense, which for years was one of the worst at covering the TE position. If you’re going to roster any Bills receiver in this game think about using Clay, he might be the non-Revis option that goes off this week versus the vulnerable Jets secondary.
Outside of getting gashed by Latavius Murray a couple weeks ago the Jets have been incredibly solid versus the run all year. Lesean McCoy is currently questionable for this game and even if he does suit up would be hard to trust at less than 100% in a tough matchup. If he can’t go there would be some value in using Karlos Williams who would see a huge workload and is only $3800 this week. At that price, I’d consider Williams as a tournament play regardless of the matchup as his volume should allow him to hit double digit fantasy points.
The Bills defense has had similar issues to the Jets all season and have allowed certain teams to pass for a lot of yardage against them. While the Bills top corner Stephon Gilmore has been outstanding and is one of Pro Football Focuses top graded corners this year the rest of their secondary has been completely burnable. With Gilmore covering Brandon Marshall this week (and Marshall still slightly banged up) avoiding Marshall at his high price tag of $7400 probably isn’t a bad idea… I would however consider rostering Eric Decker this week at $5300 as a tournament option. Decker has at least 15 fantasy points and 6 receptions in his last 2 games and with Marshall slightly banged up led the Jets in targets week 9. He’s in a good spot and a pretty good value play, I’m expecting at least mid-teen fantasy numbers from him again.
The Bills run defense hasn’t been as shut down as the Jets this year but it’s still very solid and there’s only been one RB to gain 100 yards against them in 2015. Chris Ivory scored twice last week but hasn’t run for more than 50 yards in his last three games. I’m not a huge fan of his price this week ($5900) and don’t like the fact his production has been regressing since his hot start. I’ll be looking elsewhere for RBs.
Gameflow: This should be a contentious game between two average, to above average teams. I think Buffalo actually has the edge in a lot of places (including QB) and should come out fired up as a win will put them back into the playoff race. I see a close game but with some potential late fireworks as both teams have been sloppy on D recently. Ultimately I think Buffalo does enough to get the win.
Bills 23 Jets 21
– Charles Clay $4100
– Eric Decker $5300
– Karlos Williams $3800 (if no McCoy)
– Tyrod Taylor $5500
Panthers @ Titans
Point Total: 43
Spread: Panthers -4.5
The Titans have been extremely solid versus the run the past couple weeks and did a great job in limiting power runner Mark Ingram to under 3 ypc in week 9. This week versus Jonathan Stewart the Titans face another power RB who’s only been able to put up a 3.88 ypc average so far in 2015. While Stewart may seem tempting in this spot he’s a very TD dependant play at the moment in a not great matchup. At his low price ($4300) I’ll consider him as a boom or bust play in tournaments but won’t be having a ton of exposure myself… Mike Tolbert and Cam Newton will always be around to steal some of his red zone carries and TDs.
Outside of last week the Titans have been solid versus the QB all year and have only allowed one 300 yard passing game against them thus far in 2015. Part of this may have to do with the fact that TENN is one of the slowest paced teams on offense and does well to limit their opponent’s opportunities. While I love the way Cam Newton played last week for fantasy last week I’d look for a more subdued performance from him this week as the Panthers are on the road in a game with a much lower point total. I’m expecting TENN to make this game ugly and limit a big day from Cam… as the fourth highest priced QB on DK I’m fine fading Newton and looking for better value elsewhere.
The Panthers have started to spread the ball around a little more of late in the pass game and last week they had 4 WRs catch between 3 and 6 passes. Rookie Devin Funchess had a long score and might be primed for a bigger role going forward but he’s still not someone I’d chance in this game. The Panthers don’t pass a ton and seem content spreading out the work… TE Greg Olsen continues to lead the Panthers in targets by a ton but at $6300 he’s the second most expensive TE on DraftKings and nearly 2k more than other TEs who I feel have as much or more upside this week. I’ll probably avoid Olsen but if you do fancy using him he should be very low owned in tournaments.
Outside of Aaron Rodgers big game last week the Panthers have only allowed 7 passing TDs on the season and are now fourth in the league in sacks. I hate this spot for Titans QB Marcus Mariota who didn’t face much pressure from the very average Saints D whom he quietly picked apart in week 9. With Charles Johnson, Luke Kuechly and Josh Norman all present and healthy Mariota won’t have near the same space or time to maneuver this week that he had versus the Saints. I’m personally off Super Mariota and don’t see near enough upside to consider him as a play.
Here’s the passing targets from the Titans past two weeks of play.
Delanie Walker and Marcus Mariota definitely have a bit of a connection going on and the rookie QB has made good use of his TEs all season. The Panthers have actually been giving it up to the TE position of late, and have now allowed TEs to catch at least 5 passes versus them in their last 4 games. With the Titans WRs having tougher matchups I could see Walker continuing his nice run and again hitting double digit points with a good opportunity for a TD in this game, at $4700 he’s at least a tournament consideration for me… I should also mention the emergence of rookie Dorial Green-Beckham. Beckham didn’t have a huge week 9 but he did lead the Titans in targets and played the second most snaps of any Titans WR. Beckham is still only $3200 and if the matchup was better I’d be recommending him more heavily, but against the Panthers he’s nothing more than a tournament shot in the dark play, and someone to keep an eye on for future weeks.
AT RB for the Titans Antonio Andrews played over 60% of the snaps and got 19 carries in week 9 but failed to do much against a pretty bad Saints D. Andrews is essentially a converted full back who’s too slow (4.82 40m time) to make an impact. I’m avoiding him completely for now unless he gets another soft matchup.
Gameflow: The Titans have been a lot better defensively than people realize and have been good at keeping games close too, especially at home. The Panthers are coming off an emotional win last week and could be in for a bit of a letdown. I see this as an ugly game that probably ends up being a lot closer than people think. The Panthers should eventually prevail though.
Panthers 21 Titans 19
– Delanie Walker $4700
– Jonathan Stewart $4300
– Greg Olsen $6300
– Dorial Green-Beckham $3200
Bears @ Rams
Point Total: 42.5
Spread: Rams -7
The Rams D has been on lockdown mode at home their past couple games allowing zero passing TDs in their last two contests. With a low point total I’m not interested at all in rostering Jay Cutler this week and might consider a complete fade of the Bears offense altogether. The Rams have been that hard to score against while at home, make sure you consider them as a play this week on D.
To give you an example of just how tough the Rams D has been lately, here’s the top WR performances versus the Rams over the past three weeks:
The only thing keeping me from telling you to completely fade Alshon Jeffery this week is the fact Jeffery is so physically imposing that I’m not sure if even the Rams lockdown defense can completely shut him down. Jeffery has also been seeing 15 targets a game and with his insane ability to high point balls in the end zone he might still be able to have a big game here off of one or two big plays. In a week where many big name WRs have poor matchups Alshon is still in play for me but I’ll be limiting my exposure to tournaments only.
At RB Bears backup Jeremy Langford had a nice week 9 versus a porous Chargers run D but gets a very different test week 10. Before allowing Adrian Peterson a big game last week the Rams hadn’t allowed a rushing TD in 3 games and limited opposing RBs yardage to 30 or less in that same span. Langford simply isn’t talented enough to overcome this matchup. Fantasy wise you have to avoid him and look elsewhere for upside.
The Rams offense is getting incredibly easy to target for DFS players. Last week Tavon Austin and Todd Gurley touched the ball on almost 75% of all the Rams offensive plays and gained 190 of the Rams 330 yards on offense. The Bears have been very solid versus the run this year and haven’t allowed a rushing TD versus them since week 9, but with Gurley already showing he can overcome tough matchups to post big games I’m fine paying up the $7300 for him. He’s the focal point of this offense and his volume alone should allow him plenty of chances at posting another massive game… The Player I’m really interested in from this game for tournaments though is Tavon Austin. The Bears passing D has been pretty porous all year and have allowed other teams #1 WRs to catch at least 6 passes in each of their past 4 games. The Rams have actually been increasing their usage on Tavon all year and are using him more as a runner as the season has worn on (he saw a season high 6 carries last week). A Gurley/Austin combo won a DK player a million dollars two weeks ago and I won’t be shocked if using the duo this week pays off for someone in a big way once again too.
Gameflow: The Bears have been playing great football the past couple weeks but get a big step up in competition with the Rams here. With STL just bullying people on D lately and getting good production from their two best skill players I think the Rams will simply be too much for the Bears to handle… although Alshon Jeffery could prove to be the X factor that keeps things close for Chicago. Ultimately I see another Rams victory at home, and another fairly low scoring game too.
Rams 24 Bears 17
– Todd Gurley $7300
– Tavon Austin $4800
– Alshon Jeffery $7100
– Rams D $3600
Browns @ Steelers
Point Total: 41
Spread: Steelers -4.5
The Browns pass D has really been falling apart lately as they’ve allowed 7 passing TDs against them in their last two games and look to be without Joe Haden again this week. Pitt QB Landry Jones (who will be starting for the injured Ben Roethlisberger) probably has some value as a cheap tournament play in this matchup but I would caution against having too much exposure. In his last start Jones threw for a TD and 2 INTs and only completed 55% of his passes versus a bad KC pass D. Jones isn’t a star in waiting and while Pitt has the weapons for him to have a big game he’s far from a guarantee to produce, be careful here.
Here’s the targeting for the Steelers receivers from the last time Landry Jones started at QB:
The Steelers ran the ball almost as much as they passed it in Jones’ last start and so I wouldn’t expect huge targeting for any Steelers receivers. Antonio Brown and Heath Miller have both been getting a ton of targets the past couple weeks with Ben Roethlisberger at the helm but I would expect those numbers to drop dramatically in this spot. At $8800 Brown is the most expensive WR on the slate and carries a ton of risk without Big Ben throwing him the ball, he’s a clear fade for me… However while I’ll likely be avoiding Brown I am interested in Martavis Bryant as a tournament play. Bryant has proven time and time again he doesn’t need a ton of targets to produce big fantasy numbers and I expect Jones to rely on his size and ball catching skills to make up for his own inaccuracy in this spot. Bryant will be my main target from this passing game in week 10 and I am expecting a big play or two from him against this poor Cleveland secondary.
At RB for Pittsburgh you have to absolutely love this spot for DeAneglo Williams. On top of facing one of the weakest run D’s in the league you can expect Pittsburgh to try and take the action out of their backup QBs hands and use DeAngelo a lot in this game, much like they did with Lev Bell in week 7 when Jones started. At $6500 Williams looks fresh and is running great, he’s going to be a target of mine across many lineups this week.
Cleveland’s pass game has been strangely prolific this year with Josh McCown at QB. Even against a murderer’s row of pass defenses in Denver, STL and ARZ McCown was able to average 200+ yards and just under 2 passing TDs in that span. Previously, against weaker opponents SD, Balt and OAK he had three straight games of 300+ yards and 2 TDs. This week he gets the Pittsburgh defense and their suspect secondary who just allowed Derek Carr to toss 4 TDs versus them in week 9. While McCown is risky because of the recent injury concerns I really like him in this matchup if he plays and view him as a great tournament target in this highly underrated passing offense.
Here’s how Cleveland’s passing targets have shaken out the past two weeks:
While Travis Benjamin has seen his usage and targeting drop a little I think this is a great spot for him to bounce back. The Steelers have had issues defending other team’s top targets and just allowed Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper to go for just under 200 yards receiving and 3 TDs versus them in week 9. With McCown at QB Benjamin has averaged 9.5 targets in their last 4 games together and has a lot of upside in tournaments… At TE Gary Barnidge is the clear leader for the Browns in red zone targets with 11 (5 more than the next closest receiver). I love this spot for Barnidge as Pitt has been bad at defending pass more elite catching TEs all season and has allowed an average of 6 rec. and 0.77 TDs per game to the position in 2015. Barnidge could feast in this game and he’ll be someone I’ll be targeting across the board this week.
The Cleveland RB situation may seem like a bit of a lost cause but they did release Robert Turbin last week which should mean more snaps for Duke Johnson. Johnson has looked terrific as a receiver this year and I fully expect him to get a big workload in this game. Pitt has been good at stopping the run but have allowed big pass catching days to backs like Dion Lewis and Danny Woodhead. Using Johnson in a stack for tournaments with McCown is an option I’ll explore in week 10.
Gameflow: If Big Ben was at QB I’d probably pick the Steelers to win by at least 10 but with Jones manning centre things get a little cloudier. If Josh McCown starts at QB, which he appears ready to do then I could definitely see an upset here. The Browns have been producing well in the pass game all year and Pitt just got exploited by Oakland’s passing attack last week. I see the Browns pulling off a big win here in a back and forth type of game.
Browns 26 Steelers 23
– Travis Benjamin $5200
– Gary Barnidge $4800
– DeAngelo Williams $6500
– Martavis Bryant $5500
– Josh McCown $5000
– Duke Johnson $4000
Cowboys @ Buccaneers
Point Total: 43
Spread: Buccaneers -1.5
Bucs QB Jameis Winston has looked better in his past three outings. One of the biggest issues facing Winston this year has been his ability to deal with the pass rush and his QB rating has dropped significantly when teams have applied constant pressure versus him. Winston’s last three opponents have been the Giants/Redskins/Falcons… the three worst teams in the league at recording sacks. While the Cowboys haven’t been world beaters on offense the addition of Greg Hardy has added an increased pass rush element they didn’t have before and I suspect the newest Cowboy will be able to have his way with a still weak Bucs O-line. Avoid Jameis in this matchup and consider the Dallas D as a tournament play.
The other issue for Winston and the Bucs receivers in this game is that the Dallas Secondary has also been fairly stout opponents. The Cowboys have allowed only two WR TDs in their past 5 games and only one WR (Jordan Matthews last week) to catch more than 6 passes against them in that same span. While we saw Mike Evans take advantage of a weak Giants D in week 9 he also had 4-5 brutal drops which really hurt his final tally. Evans is still a pretty raw WR and somewhat untrustworthy for fantasy… I’m fine fading him and the TB passing attack altogether again this week.
The snap counts and workload for Tampa’s RBs has shaken out like this in their past two games
The Cowboys run defense has been their Achilles heel this year and they’ve now allowed an RB to score at least one TD versus them in each of their last 6 games. While I hate the timeshare that is forming in Tampa I am still very high on how Doug Martin has been running the ball in 2015. Martin’s still the clear goal line back for the Bucs and leads the team with 22 red zone carries (compared to Sims 10). With Tampa being small favorites I think using Martin in tournaments is a great play as there’s potential for this to be a game dominated by both teams RBs.
Even though Matt Cassel is coming off of a three TD day versus the Eagles and gets a leaky TB secondary in this game I still wouldn’t recommend him in tournaments. The Cowboys have been running the ball a ton and with RB Darren McFadden emerging as the clear number 1 back he’s now taken at least 20 carries in three straight games while also maintaining a large role in the pass game. Even with the price jump to $4900 the fact you’re getting an RB who is playing on almost 80% of the snaps each week and is a focal point of his team’s offense makes McFadden a huge value play. I’ll once again make him a focal point of several cash and tournament lineups in week 10.
As for the Cowboys passing attack, here’s the distribution of targets for the Cowboys from the past two weeks:
As you can see the targets last week shifted largely in favour of the WRs (who had a good matchup versus Philly). Even though Cole Beasley is min priced at $3000 counting on huge production from him two weeks in a row is probably a recipe for disaster as I expect the targets between Beasley and McFadden to once again even out. Beasley will be over owned after his outburst last week and a tournament fade for me… As for Dez Bryant, he looked 100% healthy last week and burned the Eagles week secondary on a couple different occasions for big gains. While I hate rostering him with Cassel at QB he gets a really nice matchup again this week and with so many other top WRs having similar QB issues or poor matchups I’ll at least consider him as a tournament option.
Gameflow: I’m a little surprised the Bucs are favoured in this game. Dallas isn’t exactly playing at a high level without Tony Romo but they’ve also lost some awfully close games to quality opponents. Meanwhile the Bucs have been enjoying an easy schedule and still not producing many wins. I think Dallas comes out and clobbers Tampa in this game on both sides of the ball in what is essentially a must win for them.
Cowboys 27 Bucs 10
– Darren McFadden $4900
– Cowboys D $2500
– Doug Martin $5600
– Dez Bryant $7800
NFL GAME BREAKDOWN – PAGE 1