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: GB @ DET, ARI @ STL, ATL @ TB, BAL @ MIA, CIN @ CLE, HOU @ BUF
Packers @ Lions
Point Total: 46.5
Spread: Packers -3
The Lions have improved dramatically as a pass defense the past couple weeks and have only allowed a QB to throw for more than 200 yards against them once in their past 4 games. That QB of course was Aaron Rodgers who threw for 333 yards versus DET in week 10. Rodgers needed 61 pass attempts in that game however to reach that mark and was very ineffective for much of that game. Rodgers has thrown for under 250 yards in each of his last two starts but with a little extra time to prepare this could be the spot the Packers passing game gets on track. At $7200 I’d consider Rodgers in primetime rosters but outside of that still consider him risky as another mediocre fantasy game is possible here.
Here’s how Rodgers passing targets have broken down the past couple of games:
The Packers WRs have been legitimately awful of late and both James Jones and Davante Adams combined to catch only two of 16 targets last week between them. This might seem like a good time to get off the Davante Adams bandwagon but the truth is he has the best matchup this week from a CB perspective in Nevin Lawson. Both Quandre Diggs and Darius Slay have been much improved of late for Detroit and while I still like Cobb in this matchup (he was better last week), Jones is a complete no go for me versus the improving Slay. I think all the Packers WRs are tournament only options in this matchup but won’t be shocked if Davante Adams bounces back here for a big game. At $4400 he’d be the value target from this group for me if looking at a Green Bay tournament stack.
At RB you have to love the improvement in form from Eddie Lacy (205 yards rushing in last two games) but still hate the fact he’s only on the field for 50% or so of the plays every week. The Packers were without Lacy the first time these two teams met and given their woes passing it makes sense that the Packers do everything in their power to get him involved early. At $5000 Lacy’s affordable and should have a decent workload, he’s definitely someone I’ll consider at RB this week.
Matthew Stafford had a nice game last week versus the Eagles laughable secondary and has now had two games at home where he’s passed for more than 4 TDs. Still it’s hard to trust Stafford in this matchup. Stafford’s been the 9th most sacked QB in the league thus far and with the Packers pass rush tied for 5th in the league in sacks this matchup will pose problems for him. I’d advise not to chase the points here with the inconsistent Lions QB this week.
At receiver the Lions pass targets for the year look as follows: Calvin Johnson 117, Golden Tate 93, Theo Riddick 66. The Packers secondary has been great all season and while I don’t love the matchups for either Calvin Johnson or Golden Tate given the inability of the Lions to run the ball you can expect a ton of passing from Detroit in this game. While Tate is much cheaper, Calvin Johnson has looked healthy and in good form of late, and so even though he’s getting a much sterner test versus Green Bay this week, I think another big game is possible here. The Lions will definitely need a huge game from him if they’re going to keep this matchup close and he’d be my main target from their receiving core… I officially want nothing to do with the Lions run game but would still consider RB Theo Riddick as a value play. As you can see, Riddick is third on the team in targets for the year and is basically a WR who plays RB. He’s also second on the team in red zone targets and at $3500 his ppr points make him a pretty attractive as a value play. Don’t be shocked if catches a few more passes than usual as the Packers secondary is good at covering WRs.
Gameflow: I know the Packers have looked a little out of whack at times this year but this is still a good football team who are only a few breaks away from being 10-1 right now. The Lions have had a nice run of late too but they still have no run game and I think they will have trouble moving the ball consistently in this game. I could see some points put up here by both sides but ultimately think the Packers win this game. I’m not convinced the Lions can beat the Packers twice in a season.
Packers 24 Lions 20
– Calvin Johnson $7600
– Eddie Lacy $5000
– Davante Adams $4400
– Aaron Rodgers $7200
– Theo Riddick $3500
Cardinals @ Rams
Point Total: 43
Spread: Cardinals -5.5
The Rams as a team are falling apart fast and do not have a passing TD in their last 3 games (and only 1 in their last 5). This lack of a passing attack has really hurt RB Todd Gurley who has only scored 15.6 fantasy points in his last two games as teams are now stacking the box with regularity against him. At $7300 Gurley’s simply too expensive to be anything more than a high risk tournament option and against a good ARZ run defense he’s not someone on my radar this week, expect the Rams offensive woes to continue in week 13.
Outside of Gurley the only other person worth mentioning on the Rams for fantasy purposes is WR Tavon Austin. Austin’s been shut down as a receiver lately but still has some value as a return man and runner, as he’s averaging 4 carries over his last 4 games. At $4300 Austin is probably going to see a lot of Patrick Peterson in coverage which makes him even more risky than usual however. My best advice for this game is to just avoid STL altogether, this entire offense needs an overhaul.
The STL defense has also not been playing up to their usual high standards lately either. After being stingy against the pass for most of the year the Rams secondary has now allowed 3 passing TDs in two of their last three games to opposing QBs. Cards QB Carson Palmer had a slow day last week versus the 49ers on the road but if you buy into the idea that the Rams have “given up” on HC Jeff Fisher using Palmer this week in tournaments is definitely an OK idea. Palmer’s ownership should be low off of possibly his worst fantasy game of the season and the Rams could be ripe to give up a big fantasy game.
Here’s how Palmer’s targets have been distributed over his past two games:
While this may not be the greatest matchup for Zona WRs I still think this group are decent tournament targets and especially like the price you’re getting with John Brown this week. Brown finally looked fully healthy last weekend versus the 49ers and had his best game in a while, while playing on over 80% of the snaps. The Rams secondary is good but Brown went for 7 rec. and 75 yards against them in week 4 and at only $4800 I think he offers a lot of upside this week for his price. While I also love the heavy targeting Larry Fitzgerald has been receiving lately at $7400 I’m not sure if I’d pay up for him in this matchup and feel like Brown is the better option this week. Brown’s a tournament target for me and has one of the highest upsides in my book for WRs who are under 5k.
With Chris Johnson out indefinitely and Andre Ellington battling turf toe, head coach Bruce Arians has deemed rookie RB David Johnson as his “lead guy”. If you’re new to the playbook you can read my preseason draft write up on Johnson here http://playbook.draftkings.com/nfl/nfl-draft-breakdown-nfc-west/ , but the long and the short of it is that Johnson is an amazing receiver and for his size runs with amazing burst. In extremely limited usage he has 8 TDs on the season already and my opinion is that given a full workload he could explode here for a monster game and should, at the very least, pay off his meager $3400 salary in ppr scoring alone. I wouldn’t worry about ownership this week and would get some exposure to this player, he’s a fantasy stud in the making.
Gameflow: The Rams are still a talented team (at least on defense) and so there’s always the possibility they rise up at home to make a game of this, but given the way they’ve played the last two weeks I think the likely scenario is that Arizona cleans house. The Rams have been getting sloppy on defense lately and Zona has the weapons to make them pay. The Rams offense is in no shape to come from behind.
Cardinals 27 Rams 10
– David Johnson $3400
– John Brown $4800
– Carson Palmer $6700
– Cardinals D $3900
Falcons @ Buccaneers
Point Total: 46
Spread: Buccaneers -2
Who would have thought five weeks ago that the Bucs would be favorites in this matchup? After squeaking out some close games early Atlanta has been struggling mightily of late and are now losers of 4 in a row. However as easy as it would be to write off Matt Ryan for fantasy in this game the matchup this week is heavily in his favour. The Bucs have a bad secondary and a pretty middling pass rush. They’ve also allowed 4 games of 300 yards and 2 or more passing TDs by opposing QBs. While I don’t trust Ryan enough to use him in cash games (HU’s, double ups etc) I do think he’s got enough big game upside to be a decent tournament option and will be considering him at QB this weekend.
Here’s the target distribution for the Falcons over their past two games:
It was bizarre to see Roddy White lead this team in targets and receiving last week after not doing much of anything all season. While that’s not a trend I’d expect to continue it does give you a slight pause on Julio Jones’ fantasy value this week. Jones has another incredible matchup against a weak Tampa secondary whom he shredded for 12-162-1 five weeks ago. While the loss of targets to White concerns me I think you have to play the matchup here and expect Ryan to lean heavily on Jones again in this game. Jones is someone I’d consider in all formats and someone I’d recommend getting at least some exposure to if you’re making multiple lineups.
At RB Devonta Freeman should return this week after missing last week’s game with a concussion. The Bucs run D has been superb of late however allowing zero rushing TDs in their last 8 games. The Bucs have been susceptible to RBs who catch the ball a lot however and Freeman has been a huge force in the pass game this season, catching at least 5 balls in 6 of his last 7 starts. At $8000 Freeman’s price and injury concerns should keep his ownership low which makes him a great tournament play in my mind as he should receive big volume and could still post a huge game through the air.
The Bucs Jameis Winston returned to normal last week against the mediocre secondary of the Colts. Outside of his one big game Winston has just 2 TDs in his last 5 games and also has 3 INTs. I don’t see much upside in Winston versus an ATL team who’s yet to allow more than 2 passing TDs in a game and would avoid Winston this week at all costs… On the other hand I’d highly consider using RB Doug Martin in this matchup. Martin has been running great all year and only really been slowed down by game flow. With the Bucs favoured in this game and Atlanta playing so poorly its likely Martin gets a decent workload here and could reel off a monster game versus the Falcons who just gave up over 190 yards and two rushing TDs to the Vikings. The price on Martin isn’t great ($5900), and he’s still losing snaps to Charles Sims, but I think he’s got potential to be the highest scoring RB of the week and love him for tournaments.
Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson have almost split targets equally over their past two games (18-16 Evans) which definitely makes Evans more of a risky target as he costs $2500 more in salary this week than Jackson who is still only $4700. To honest though I’m not sure if I’ll be rostering either of these players as the Falcons secondary has been lock down versus the WR position all season. The Falcons have only allowed 3 TDs to WRs, on the entire year, and while I do like the price and potential upside on Jackson he’s definitely a tournament only target this weekend. Atlanta’s secondary is quite simply one of the best in the league… The Falcons have been quite giving to TE’s however and Cameron Brate, who is only $2500, has 11 targets over his last two games making him someone to consider if you need a bottom barrel play at TE or flex. He’s the only other Bucs receiver I’d even consider but he’s been getting consistent targeting as the third wheel in this offense and is a potential steal for his price.
Gameflow: This game represents quite a reversal in fortune ad two teams seemingly headed in opposite directions. While I picked against the Bucs on the road last weekend I do like them at home in this matchup versus their division rivals. The Falcons, outside of their secondary, aren’t that good and I think the Bucs can control this game on the ground and squeak out a win. A Julio Jones break-out game is certainly possible but I simply don’t trust Matt Ryan to win games late anymore.
Bucs 23 Falcons 20
– Julio Jones $9000
– Doug Martin $5900
– Cameron Brate $2500 (if Austin Seferian-Jenkins is out)
– Devonta Freeman $8000
– Matt Ryan $6700
Ravens @ Dolphins
Point Total: 43.5
Spread: Dolphins -4.5
The Dolphins run game has really sputtered the past two weeks with Lamar Miller failing to gain over 50 yards on the ground in any of his last 5 games. To make matters worse Miller has now lost control of the backfield and actually played on less snaps than rookie Jay Ajayi in week 12. The Fins fired their OC this week and have talked about “establishing” a run game this week, but against Baltimore, who’ve only allowed 4 rushing TDs all season, I’d avoid this backfield completely and look for better matchups. A coaching change is not going to change 12 weeks of futility.
QB Ryan Tannehill took advantage of a weak Jets secondary last week to post one of his best games of the season and gets another nice matchup this week against the struggling Ravens pass defense. Outside of a game against the pathetic Rams offense, the Ravens have allowed 2 or more passing TDs by opposing QBs in each of their last seven games. At $5300 Tannehill is probably going to go under the radar but has a fantastic matchup and is definitely in a spot to succeed this weekend. I’d look for another big game here as the Dolphins will have no choice but to air the ball out against this Ravens defense. Tannehill might have the most upside of any QB under 6k in salary this weekend.
Here’s the passing targets for the Dolphins from their past two games:
Jarvis Landry had a monster week 12, although a lot of what he did was precipitated by the Dolphins getting behind big. While the matchup is in his favour here I wouldn’t expect the Dolphins to get blown out this week. At $6700 I still think there’s still plenty of upside here though and with Rishard Matthews out Landry’s now clearly going to be main target for Tannehill going forward, he’s someone I’d consider in all formats on DK this weekend… Rookie DeVante Parker finally got some playing time last weekend (due to the Matthews injury) and encouragingly played on more snaps than 3rd WR Kenny Stills. While both Stills and Parker should see a bump in playing time with Matthews out I think Parker is the more likely one to produce and the one who did more with his targets last weekend. Parker was great at catching TDs in college and could be a red zone favorite of Tannehill this weekend, he’ll be a prime target of mine as he’s nearly min priced this week at $3300.
Ravens rookie RB Javorius Allen had a strong debut as a starter against the Browns and flashed some nice skills as a receiver as well. The Dolphins have secretly been awful against the run all season and I like this matchup for Allen as his ppr ability should allow him to post a decent game even if the Ravens get behind. It was a little discouraging to see Terrence West play on 22% of the snaps last week (and play well) so I would still be cautious here and probably limit Allen to tournaments only, he’s a strong play but could see his value diminished if the Ravens start to use West in the red zone.
As for the Ravens passing game, Matt Schaub had a decent debut against a failing Browns secondary, but still threw a pick 6 and will probably throw one again this week. The Miami defense hasn’t been great but at home could tee off on Schaub in this matchup. My preference here is to avoid the Ravens pass game—as the targets have been incredibly spread out—and consider the Dolphins defense as a value play at only $2300. This is a great way to get a defense with a good chance for a defensive score at under $2500 and play I’ll be looking to use them in tournaments.
Gameflow: The Ravens barely squeaked by the floundering Browns last week, and while the Dolphins haven’t been much better than Cleveland of late, I can’t see Baltimore and Matt Schaub picking up two road wins in a row. I think you could see the Fins defense pick things up here and also possibly see another big passing day from Tannehill. This is a hard game to predict between two hard to predict teams but I’ll take the less offensive of the two in a possibly ugly game.
Dolphins 27 Ravens 20
– DeVante Parker $3300
– Jarvis Landry $6700
– Ryan Tannehill $5300
– Javorius Allen $5400
– Dolphins D $2300
Bengals @ Browns
Point Total: 43.5
Spread: Bengals -10
The Browns defense has been incredibly giving over their past four games allowed 12 passing TDs over that span. Andy Dalton and the Bengals got back on track last week versus a tough STL secondary and now get the gift that keeps on giving for fantasy (and comedy) in the Cleveland Browns. The only concern I have in this game is that the Bengals get up big and simply run the ball more limiting Dalton’s fantasy day. Other than that however Dalton is a great play and is someone I’ll be targeting in all formats, a massive game could be on tap here.
Here’s the Bengals passing targets from their last two games:
While you have to love the red zone usage on TE Tyler Eifert his overall targeting gives me cause for concern as he’s been under 5 targets in his last two games and very close to some pretty terrible fantasy performances. Eifert is also questionable for this game with a neck issue so there’s a possibility he might not play. If he does play I’d consider him for a tournament stack with Dalton but wouldn’t risk him in cash games… If Eifert doesn’t play (and even if he does) you have to love this spot for A.J. Green. Green had a slow game versus the Browns in week 9 but that was mainly due to Tyler Eifert catching all of the TDs. With Eifert possibly slowed or out Green might see more targets and be free to slaughter this weak secondary who has now given up 4 TDs and an incredible 450+ yards to WRs in their last 2 games. Green should be high on your list of must plays this week.
At RB the Bengals continue to go with a split in time at RB and in last week’s blowout gave Jeremy Hill his largest workload since week 6. The Browns are just as bad against the run as they are versus the pass and a multi-TD performance from Hill is certainly possible here. At $4800, with the potential for a lot of clock killing carries, I love Hill as a tournament pay and think he’s got one of the highest upsides of any RB under 5k this week.
The Browns offense lost QB Josh McCown last week and will be led by journeyman Austin Davis in week 13. The Browns cannot run the ball and the Bengals pass rush and D-line has been lights out most of the year. The Ravens knocked Josh McCown around last weekend and the Bengals could easily knock Davis out of this game before all is said and done (hope for Manziel fans). I’d 100% avoid the Browns offense in this game and consider paying up for the Bengals on defense. Their secondary is now up to 6 INTs in their last 3 games and outside of one game (versus Carson Palmer) haven’t allowed more than 1 passing TD to a QB since week 3. Austin Davis isn’t Carson Palmer and the Bengals defense could put up a huge score for fantasy in this game.
Gameflow: This game is quite possibly the biggest mis-match on the board this week. The Browns actually have some nice skill players on offense but those weapons are negated by the fact their starting QB is now out and they can’t run the ball. Their defense is the biggest liability of all though and seeing as the Browns had trouble stopping the Ravens last week, the Bengals skill players might put up some huge days. Either way it’s Cincy by a lot.
Bengals 35 Browns 14
– Bengals D $3400
– A.J. Green $7600
– Andy Dalton $6400
– Jeremy Hill $4800
– Tyler Eifert $5800
Texans @ Bills
Point Total: 41.5
Spread: Bills -3
The Texans are on a roll, especially on defense where they’ve now allowed 1 passing TD in their last four games and are now tied for 6th in the league in sacks as a team. I love the way Tyrod Taylor performed last week versus a tough KC defense and the Bills will need a similar performance from him this weekend if they’re going to take down this tough Texans team. Ultimately I don’t see this game as being particularly high scoring (low game total) and even though Taylor’s dual threat capabilities intrigue me I’ll most likely be leaving him out of my week 13 plans.
At receiver for the Bills it’s hard for me to trust anyone outside of Sammy Watkins in this offense. Since coming back from injury Watkins has been heavily targeted downfield by his QB and is now 6th in the league in yards per reception. The Texans secondary is playing extremely well though and rookie Kevin Johnson, who projects to be covering Watkins in this matchup, has played well all year. That being said, I do think Watkins is fully capable of beating the rookie downfield for a couple big plays and considering the opportunities he’s getting I’ll consider him once again as a tournament option, although I’m admittedly not as high on him as I was last week.
The Texans haven’t given up much on the ground of late but LeSean McCoy has on been fire since coming back from injury and is now averaging 22 fantasy points over his last 4 games. One of the best parts about rostering McCoy lately has been his ppr totals and he’s now averaged 7 targets over his last three games. This is a case where I would simply ignore the matchup and play McCoy, as he’s in top form and no longer losing snaps to rookie Karlos Williams (only 5 snaps on offense last week). At $5700, McCoy’s one of the top RB plays of the week for me.
The Texans have been much more conservative on offense lately as QB Brian Hoyer hasn’t thrown more than 27 times in his last two games. The Texans defense has allowed a more balanced offensive approach, meaning less passing attempts and more work for RB Alfred Blue, who’s averaged 18.5 carries and 2 targets in his last two games. The Bills defense has been getting worse as the year has progressed and with big straight-forward runner Spencer Ware putting up a big game versus them last week it’s conceivable that Blue, who runs similarly to Ware, could put up a big game here too. At $4600 using Blue as a cheap option at RB is worth considering in tournaments as the Texans D could afford him his third big workload against a struggling Bills front.
As for the Texans receivers here’s how the passing targets have been distributed over the past two games:
DeAndre Hokpins saw his fewest targets in a game all year last week and that, along with the improved play of the Texans defense, is enough for me to consider Hopkins a tournament only target this weekend. The Bills have been awful against WRs of late though and just allowed Jeremy Maclin, who plays in one of the most conservative offenses in the league, to have a massive game. Don’t go nuts on Hopkins, but also don’t be afraid to target him in tournaments as he’s fully capable of breaking a big play or two and posting a massive game versus the sketchy secondary of the Bills… The other play I might suggest from this passing game: Cecil Shorts. Shorts has been getting the Tavon Austin treatment lately and now has 5 carries in his last two games (including one rushing TD). A former high school QB, Shorts has run some wild cat offense in the past few weeks too and even threw for a TD in week 11. At only $3600 a big play is certainly possible (running, throwing or receiving) and I love his potential at such a small price.
Gameflow: The Bills have been holding it together all season but this might possibly be the week it all falls apart. The Texans haven’t just been winning lately they’ve been dominating teams and even though the Bills have some life on offense their defense has been failing them badly of late. I like the Texans to keep rolling in this game which could have a few interesting fantasy plays attached to it.
Texans 24 Bills 20
– LeSean McCoy $5700
– Cecil Shorts $3600
– Sammy Watkins $5600
– DeAndre Hopkins $8800
– Alfred Blue $4600
NFL GAME BREAKDOWN – PAGE 1