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.
Want to see a specific game breakdown? Jump to the applicable page!
PAGE 1: TB @ STL, ATL @ JAX, NYJ @ DAL, BUF @ WAS, CAR @ NYG, CHI @ MIN
Buccaneers @ Rams
Point Total: 41
Spread: Rams -1.5
“Aren’t you a little short for a storm trooper?” – Princess Leia
Jameis Winston and the Bucs came up way short last week when they took on the helpless New Orleans Saints secondary and this week will get the STL Rams who at least showed some signs of life last week in beating the Lions. Winston isn’t a play for me this week for numerous reasons, but mainly due to the fact he’s only attempted over 40 passes in a game once this season. The Bucs are also coming off a disappointing loss which ended their playoff hopes and will face a Rams D who is getting healthier this week and been tough at home. I’d personally avoid Winston and consider the Rams defense as a sneaky play at D.
Here’s the breakdown of the Bucs passing targets over their last two games:
The biggest news of the weeks for the Bucs is that Vincent Jackson will miss this game. While I don’t love the idea of stacking the Bucs offense I do think both Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Mike Evans will see a bump in targets this week and could produce against a banged up Rams secondary. Of the two I actually think this is a better spot for Seferian-Jenkins as the Rams have been decent in limiting WRs most of the year and will likely be getting back one of their top corners this week in Jenoris Jenkins. The Rams have been quite giving to the TE in the latter half of the season allowing three 100 yard games to the position as well. Seferian-Jenkins saw both his snaps played (45%) and targeting increase in week 14 and with no Jackson I’d expect that trend to continue in week 15. He’d be my tournament play if targeting the Bucs receivers in this game.
At RB Charles Sims had a decent game in week 14 catching 6 passes and playing on 50% of the snaps. The Rams have also been extremely poor at defending the RB out of the backfield and gave up 12 receptions to the Lions RB last week. With this week’s game projected to be close (-1.5 point spread at time of writing) I do expect Doug Martin to be the more used RB of this duo but also see the value in Sims as a cheap tournament option who could explode given the trend of the Rams defense against pass catching RBs. At only $3300 Sims could be considered for a primetime only tournament lineup.
As for the Rams they’ve now gone an incredible 6 games without completing a passing TD. Even though the way to attack the Bucs defense has been through the air I still don’t see any value in any of the Rams receivers. If looking for a Thursday night play TE Jared Cook has seen the second most targets on the year for the Rams and the Bucs have given up 5 or more receptions to TEs in 6 of their last 8 games. I don’t personally think you need to risk using a Rams receiver but at $2500 Cooks is only the min price and could be a target for those playing the short Thurs-Sat slates this week.
RB Todd Gurley finally got on track last week but does face a stiff test in the Bucs defense. Tampa has only given up one rushing TD since week 3 and been one of the best teams against the run all season. That being said Gurley has shown he can overcome tough matchups before, and before shredding the improving Lions D also put up 100 yards or more on quality teams like Green Bay and Arizona. While I wouldn’t advise making a huge investment in the STL running back if you were creating multiple tournament lineups that included the Thursday slate he should probably be on your list after perking up last weekend.
Gameflow: I don’t know what to make of this game. The Bucs playoff hopes ended last weekend and so it’s tough to gauge how they will respond. The Rams have been tough all season at home and even though they might have a joke of an offense I’ll still make them my pick in what should be a very ugly game.
Rams 21 Bucs 17
– Austin Seferian-Jenkins $3400
– Charles Sims $3300
– Todd Gurley $6700
– Rams D $2700
Jets @ Cowboys
Point Total: 42
Spread: Jets -3
“I find your lack of faith disturbing” – Darth Vader
Cowboy fans can still have faith as Dallas is somehow still in play for the division title. Unfortunately, they face a Jets team who still excels in stopping the run. The Jets have only allowed one rushing TD all year and haven’t allowed a back to gain over 100 yards versus them since Lesean McCoy did it in week 10. Darren McFadden played on over 75% of the snaps in week 14 but only received 9 carries despite going for well over 100 yards. While I expect McFadden to get a bigger workload in this game I don’t like this match at all for the Cowboys RB and wouldn’t risk using him outside of the Sat-Thurs night leagues where his volume alone makes him a must consider.
The Cowboys passing offense has been utterly pathetic all season and the passing targets from last week broke down like this: Jason Witten 9, Dez Bryant 6, Terrance Williams 5, Cole Beasley 4. While I wouldn’t risk any one of these players on a full slate roster in the Thurs-Sat leagues you could take a look at Terrance Williams who hasn’t looked awful of late and has a nice matchup against the weak secondary of the Jets. Williams is slated to see a lot of Antonio Cromartie who has been one of Pro Football Focus’ worst corners in coverage this season and got completely destroyed by Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry while Darrelle Revis was out. Williams could be in for a decent game here and be a nice short slate only tournament play.
Ryan Fitzpatrick has now averaged over 27 fantasy points on DK over his last three games. Fitzpatrick has thrived with all the great weapons to throw to this year and at only $5400 remains super affordable this week as well. The Cowboys slow pace of play does worry me a little and the fact that they are weaker against the run than the pass. Still, at only $5400 he might have the most upside of any QB on the Thurs-Sat slate and should be heavily considered for use in those games. Outside of that however I would avoid him as this game has a low point total and doesn’t have the makings of a fantasy blockbuster (at least on paper).
Here’s the breakdown snap counts for the Jets RBs over the past two weeks of play:
As you can see Bilal Powell is getting a bump in workload even in games where the Jets are wining comfortably (like last week). While Ivory ran well versus the Titans and broke the 100 yard mark it’s still disturbing that he is losing so many snaps to Powell. That being said, while I love the price on Powell ($3600) I do think this is a great spot for Ivory to rebound as the Cowboys have given up some big games rushing and looked very vulnerable to power back Eddie Lacy last weekend. The Jets are favoured in this game which should mean less passing overall and more of a chance Ivory sees 20+ totes of the ball. I like both of these backs this week but think it’s ultimately Ivory who gets back on track.
At WR there has not been a more consistent duo in the league this year than Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall. The Cowboys have done well in limiting WRs all season allowing only 7 TDs to the position in 2015, but that being said in a must-win game for the Jets I fully expect Brandon Marshall to do well here. Marshall gets CB Morris Claiborne in coverage this week who’s graded out weakly this season on PFF and isn’t fast or physical enough to stay with Marshall for an entire game. Even if this game isn’t a high scoring, back and forth affair, I still expect Marshall to manhandle the Cowboys corners and post another big game for fantasy. He’d be a main target of mine if playing anyone from the Jets receiving core on Saturday game.
Gameflow: This is the last stand for the Cowboys, and while I expect them to put up a decent fight I think ultimately they are going to be pretty outmatched in this game. The Jets have not been good against the pass this season but that won’t effect them this week against the Cowboys who rely so heavily on the run. The Jets offense has more than enough firepower to get them over the hump in this game.
Jets 24 Cowboys 17
– Brandon Marshall $7600
– Chris Ivory $5200
– Bilal Powell $3600
– Ryan Fitzpatrick $5400 (Thurs-Sat only)
– Terrance Williams $3600 (Thurs-Sat only)
– Darren McFadden $4900 (Thurs-Sat only)
Falcons @ Jaguars
Point Total: 49
Spread: Jags -3
“Do or do not, there is no try”- Yoda
Matt Ryan has struggled get things done this year and now recorded just 2 TDs versus 4 INTs in his last 3 games. The Falcons offense has become increasingly one dimensional (throw to Julio Jones) and Ryan’s lack of arm strength and running ability has made him easy to stop for opposing D’s. While I wouldn’t trust Ryan as a fantasy play at this point (against anyone) the fact he’ll still be throwing to WR Julio Jones 10+ times versus a very weak Jacksonville secondary in this game does make Jones an intriguing target, especially since he’s coming off a couple of slow weeks (for him). Jones is going to have a significant height and weight advantage over Jags CB Nick Marshall and given the fact the Jags have been allowing over a TD per game to WRs over their last 8 weeks of play I like this spot a lot for a Jones breakout and would make him a serious tournament target this weekend… his ownership levels should continue to be increasingly low.
AT RB this doesn’t appear to be a particularly great spot for RB Devonta Freeman as the Jags have been good at defending the run all season and only allowed 1 TD to an RB in their last 5 games. The Jags however have given up the second most receptions to the RB position this year and with Freeman seeing 6-11-10 targets in his last three full games you can expect him to put up a decent PPR game here. While the price tag ($7500) on Freeman is expensive, realize that with the way the Jags cover the pass this could be the week we see a 100+ yard receiving performance from Freeman and a return to the end zone for the ATL back. He can at least be considered for big tournies this weekend and like Jones will be very low owned.
The Falcons defense has been sneakily strong in defending the QB position this season and last week marked the first time all year they’ve given up more than 2 passing TDs in a game. I keep underestimating the potential of Bortles in this passing offense and with the Jags defense allowing so many points this season Bortles has been forced into many shootout-garbage time situations (which is great for fantasy). With game flow seemingly always in his favour and the point total in this game a hefty 49 points, I think Bortles can be considered in all formats this week as his price ($6100) still allows you a ton of flexibility.
Here are the passing targets from the last two games for the Jags receivers:
We saw last week how quickly the targets evened out between the top receivers on Jacksonville with the return of Allen Hurns. While I love the talent on Allen Robinson at $7600 he’s now priced like an elite WR and overall has seen less consistent targeting with Hurns in the lineup. Of the two Jags WRs however Robinson does have the better matchup this week as Hurns is set to see more of Desmond Trufant, ATL’s best cover corner. For that reason, if I was choosing which one of these players to stack with Bortles for tournament purposes this weekend Robinson would definitely be my choice as I think he offers more of that big game potential we saw him produce against TENN two weeks ago… The player I will really be focusing on this week however is TE Julius Thomas. Thomas has seen at least one red zone target in each game since he’s returned and now scored in four straight games. Bortles has been using Thomas in much the same fashion that Peyton Manning did and Thomas’s ability to block out defenders on inside slant routes in the red zone has been on full display lately. With the Falcons being so weak at defending the TE position and Thomas’ price being a mere $4700 he’ll be one of my top ranked TEs on the slate this week.
AT RB TJ Yeldon is out this week for the Jags which means it is quite likely we’ll see a ton of Denard Robinson. The Falcons have been giving it up lately to RBs allowing 5 rushing TDs and 2 receiving TDs to the position over their last four games. Robinson ran great last week averaging 5.4 YPC on 14 attempts and at $4600 should project to see at least 50% of the workload (possibly a lot more). He’s one of the best values at RB this week for me and a player to be considered in all formats.
Gameflow: At this point it seems pointless to fight the trend as the Falcons season has literally gone up in flames after starting 5-0. The Jags are still a sloppy team so it’s possible we see ATL get going a bit on offense after getting shut out last week but I can’t rely on Matt Ryan to close out a game at this point and see Jacksonville eventually pulling this one out in a possible shootout.
Jags 28 Falcons 27
– Julius Thomas $4700
– Denard Robinson $4600
– Blake Bortles $6100
– Julio Jones $8500
– Allen Robinson $7600
Bills @ Redskins
Point Total: 44
Spread: Bills -1
“The force is strong with this one” – Darth Vader
Kirk Cousins has been getting stronger as the year has progressed, and since his “you like that game” has flip-flopped big fantasy games with disappointing ones. Both of these teams play at a rather slow pace (Washington is actually the third slowest team in the league according to Football Outsiders) meaning there’s more potential here for a muted game from the Washington QB, but I still would consider Cousins, who is only $5200, as a tournament option as the Bills passing defense has been struggling as the year has progressed. The Skins QB makes for an intriguing boom or bust QB pick in large tournaments.
Here’s the breakdown in targets from Cousins over his last two games:
TE Jordan Reed proved once again that when the game is on the line he can be the difference maker for the Redskins on offense. Reed was amazing last week catching all 9 of his targets and converting 1 of his red zone targets into a TD. With DeSean Jackson banged up and questionable for this game I expect the Skins will again look to Reed to carry them through this matchup, and while the Bills may have been somewhat stingy versus the TE this year, they’ve given up TDs and big games to more elite pass catching players like Tyler Eifert and Rob Gronkowski. At $5900 I’m not scared of the price increase on Reed and think another big game is in the works here, consider him this week as the Skins make their run for the NFC East title.
At RB the snaps from last week broke down like this for the Skins RBs: Matt Jones 44, Alfred Morris 22, Pierre Thomas 4. Matt Jones has been given lead status for Washington and while the matchup with Buffalo doesn’t appear great it’s not awful either as the Bills have given up 8 TDs to the RB position in their last 7 games. Jones hasn’t exactly taken off with his increased opportunities but has put up a couple big games at home this year. At only $4000 I’d consider him this week as his increased workload vastly increases his potential in an underrated matchup.
The Bills big three, WR Sammy Watkins, RB Lesean McCoy and QB Tyrod Taylor came up short last week in their quest to stay in the playoff hunt but still produced somewhat decent fantasy days. This week however this trio gets an even better matchup in my estimation and should all get huge consideration for inclusion in your lineups. Receiving wise the Washington defense has been one of the worst at covering WRs allowing 10 TDs to the position in their last 7 games. Watkins has 12 targets in 2 of his last three games and is also now up to fourth in the league in yards per reception at 18.4 per catch. Given the matchup here I think you could see a monster game from Watkins who should get numerous chances on deep balls from Taylor who has shown an aggressive mentality at QB… At RB I feel very similarly about Lesean McCoy’s chances this week as well. The Skins may have been solid recently in limiting big game from RBs, but haven’t faced a rushing attack this good since week 11 when Jonathan Stewart ran over them for over 100 yards and a TD. McCoy, despite not getting “revenge” on former coach Chip Kelly, has been playing great this year and hasn’t put less than 13 fantasy points in a game since coming back from injury in week 6. This is a great spot for him too and he’s a top three RB in my eyes this week.
At $5600 Tyrod Taylor’s someone I’d consider this week as well although given the slow pace of play you’d expect to see in this game I’d lean towards keeping him to tournament stacks only (with Watkins or on his own). Taylor’s big game ability and the possibility this game gets a little wild due to the vulnerability of both these defenses have me liking his upside but thinking there may be more consistent choices for 50/50’s and HU lineups this week.
Gameflow: I think this game has the potential to get a little wild. Both of these defenses have serious flaws and the Bills aggressive passing game of Watkins/Taylor and the strong running from McCoy will give the Redskins fits. Washington has been scrappy all year so there’s every chance they could pull this out, but I see this as a bad matchup for the Skins and think that ultimately they lose here and possibly end their playoff chances.
Bills 27 Redskins 24
– Sammy Watkins $6200
– LeSean McCoy $6300
– Jordan Reed $5900
– Matt Jones $4000
– Tyrod Taylor $5600
– Kirk Cousins $5200
Panthers @ Giants
Point Total: 48
Spread: Panthers -5
“Someday I will be the most powerful Jedi ever” – Anakin Skywalker
Panthers QB Cam Newton has been a powerful selection all season for fantasy purposes and now has three games of 30 fantasy points or more on DK in his last 6 starts. With the Panthers less than a full TD favorite and starting RB Jonathan Stewart banged up I think this matchup bodes well for another big day from Cam, who could shoulder even more of the running load (especially around the red zone) if Stewart were to miss. The Giants have also given up 300 yards or more passing in three of their last four games and play at a fast pace of play (3rd fastest in the league according to Football Outsiders) which is great for fantasy purposes. I love Cam in this matchup and think he’s well worth paying up for this week in all formats.
Here are the passing targets for the Panthers from their last two games:
Ted Ginn has been incredibly productive of late with limited targets hauling in long ball after long ball (and even dropping a couple others on the way). I admittedly don’t love this matchup for either of the Panthers WRs however as both Giants CBs Prince Amukamara and Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie have received solid grades per Pro Football Focus for their work this year. While it’s always possible you see Ginn get loose for another long TD the odds of it happening three weeks in a row aren’t great and the fact his price has now risen well above 4k ($4600) makes me think fading him is the right call… As far as TE Greg Olsen goes he suffered a bit of a knee scare in last weeks’ game but looks like he’ll be ready come Sunday. This is great news for fantasy as the Giants have been one of the worst teams at covering the TE all season and even allowed 6 receptions to the lightly used Dolphin TEs last weekend. With the injury scare I think you might find Olsen’s ownership to be quite low this week but I’d definitely consider him in tournaments.
AT RB if Jonathan Stewart misses time I would expect the Panthers to go with a RBBC this week and get all three of Mike Tolbert, Cameron Artis-Payne and Fozzy Whitaker involved somehow. Whitaker actually took 29 snaps last week once Stewart left the game and with Artis-Payne not even active the last few games I would guess Whitaker would handle more work than any of the three. My advice though would be to look elsewhere for RBs this week as there’s better value and more clearly defined workloads in other spots.
The Panthers defense lit up the Atlanta Falcons last week and have been a tough matchup for opposing QBs, especially for fantasy. Outside of one comeback inspired performance by Aaron Rodgers the Panthers have not given up over 300 passing yards in a game all year and have been great at getting pressure on the QB (3rd in the league in sacks as a team). I’d avoid Eli Manning in week 15 and in general try to have little exposure to Giants players this weekend.
Receiving wise for the Giants the big matchup in this game will be Odell Beckham Jr. versus top rated Carolina CB Josh Norman. Beckham Jr. is on another historic fantasy run having now topped 20 points in 6 straight games and 30 points in three of his last 6. While I do expect the Giants to get creative this week (in getting Beckham Jr. the ball) I still think paying up $9200 for him is risky for fantasy. Norman is certainly not going to completely shutout Beckham Jr. but he could limit him and at his price he’ll need a big game to pay off his price. I do like the idea that Beckham Jr. will be low owned in big tournaments but I’d still exercise caution in how much you use him… Outside of Beckham Jr. no Giant receiver has gotten more than 8 targets in a game in the last three weeks. TE Will Tye has been coming on however and now has 14 catches over his last 3 games. At only $3100 he could be important this week to helping the Giants move the ball and at $3100 makes for a decent value pick in tournaments.
Gameflow: It’s really hard to pick against the Panthers at this point, but the Giants will be at home this week and in a dogfight for the NFC East title which makes this matchup pretty intriguing. The loss of Jonathan Stewart means the Panthers run first mentality won’t be as effective without their lead back which could be factor here too. The Giants took the Patriots to the brink earlier this season at home and I think they can do even better here… I’m calling for the massive upset and the end to Carolina’s perfect season.
Giants 24 Panthers 21
– Cam Newton $7800
– Greg Olsen $6900
– Odell Beckham Jr. $9200
– Will Tye $3100
Bears @ Vikings
Point Total: 43
Spread: Vikings -5.5
“When 900 years old you reach, look as good you will not”- Yoda
Adrian Peterson might be over 30 but he still looks pretty darn good running the ball. Last week versus the Cardinals he was again force fed the ball as the Vikings went back to their run first, ultra conservative approach on offense. The Bears have done a decent job of defending the run this year but have allowed a rushing TD in three of their last four games and allowed Peterson to gain over 100 yards versus them in week 8. With the Vikings desperately needing a win and being at home I expect a huge workload for Peterson and for him to post a big game versus the now defunct Bears.
Here’s the passing targets for the Vikings receivers from their last two weeks of play:
It is interesting to note that the last time a Viking receiver went for more than 90 yards in a game was week 8 versus the Bears when Stefon Diggs posted 6-95-1 against their secondary. While I don’t hate this spot for the ultra-talented Diggs, who’s only $4000, the Vikings low volume passing offense means he’s insanely risky. Both Diggs and TE Kyle Rudolph (who has 16 receptions over his last three games) are decent value plays against a weaker Bears secondary but would be complete boom or bust options. Of the two Rudolph might actually be the more intriguing play as he’s been QB Teddy Bridgewater’s favorite target of late and also leads the team in red zone targets. After being held out of the end zone in three straight games a TD is quite possible here and makes Rudolph an interesting value play for tournaments in my mind.
Bears WR Alshon Jeffery has had some of his biggest games against the Vikings and burned them for 6-110-TD in week 8 this season. With the MINN secondary hurting Jeffery will line up against rookie Trae Waynes in this game and the matchup looks great for Alshon to post another huge game as the rookie has struggled to just crack the roster all year. After getting back on track last weekend I’d look to use Alshon lots this week on DraftKings regardless of the format you’re playing… With TE Martellus Bennett now done for the year Zach Miller is going to get a huge chance to step up in the next week or two. Miller played almost every snap last week and saw 7 targets—and converted those into a 5-85-TD game. At $3600 Miller’s a great receiver who I would also recommend using this week. You don’t find the upside he brings at his price very often and he should be the de facto number 2 receiver for Jay Cutler from here on out.
The Bears split snaps between RB Jeremy Langford and Matt Forte almost equally last weekend and more interesting was the fact that the rookie actually out-targeted Forte 7-3 in the pass game. With the Bears underdogs in this matchup and now out of the playoff race I could see Chicago giving more work to Langford and using him more in passing situations late in this game as well. While I don’t love the split workload for either player Langford is exceptionally cheaper at only $3900 and would the one to target from this game if you’re looking for a cheaper, PPR style RB.
Gameflow: This game has slow and ugly for fantasy written all over it as both head coaches don’t mind winning games ugly. As solid as the Bears have looked this year I think this is a semi-bad spot for them as the Vikings should be able to establish their run game early and control the pace of play. There’s always the chance Alshon Jeffery makes things interesting with a big play or two but I’ll take the Vikings to get an important win and bounce back after two straight losses.
Vikings 24 Bears 20
– Adrian Peterson $7100
– Alshon Jeffery $7300
– Zach Miller $3600
– Kyle Rudolph $3600
NFL GAME BREAKDOWN – PAGE 1