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 2: HOU @ IND, KC @ BAL, TEN @ NE, CLE @ SEA, GB @ OAK
Texans @ Colts
Point Total: 48
“Mos Eisley spaceport. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.” – Obi Wan Kenobi
The AFC South has been a wretched place for football this year and while I’m not super high on this game from a fantasy standpoint there’s definitely some plays we can consider. Texans QB Brian Hoyer looks likely to miss this game and possibly the rest of the season after suffering another concussion. T.J. Yates will start this game at QB and while I’m not considering Yates as a play I don’t think he’s necessarily a reason to downgrade the Texans passing options.
WR DeAndre Hopkins posted a nice 5-118-2 TD line the last time Yates started and I see no reason to downgrade Hopkins based on QB alone. Matchup wise the Colts have been hurt by injuries in the secondary and been brutal against the WR position lately allowing an insane 5 TDs to the position over their last 2 games. Hopkins might see a lot of Vontae Davis in this matchup but given that Davis’ level of play hasn’t been great this year—and that Hopkins traditionally gets moved around the formation a lot—this isn’t a big concern. I love DeAndre as a player to target for tournaments this week and think he’ll be drastically under owned coming off his most recent flop.
As far as secondary receivers go Nate Washington and Cecil Shorts have seen 15 and 13 targets between them respectively and are both in great spots in this matchup as well. Both Darius Butler and Greg Toler have been two of the lowest ranked CBs on Pro Football Focus all season and have been hugely exploitable in coverage. While both men have played around 80% of the snaps the last two weeks I do like the increased usage with Shorts as a runner and would probably lean towards him if choosing between these two, but both could be considered for tournaments.
As for the Colts, here’s how their passing targets have been distributed over the past two games:
AT WR there is really no play other than T.Y. Hilton for me in this offense right now. Donte Moncrief has posted the odd big game here and there but he’s generally been horrible this season and only converted 3 of his 10 targets into catches last week. Hilton has been up and down with Matt Hasselbeck at QB but has now posted two games of 20 fantasy points or more in his last three starts. The Texans boost a decent CB combo in Jonathan Joseph and Kevin Johnson and while both have played well I still like this spot for Hilton who has had big games against Joseph and the Texans in the past. At $5900 I think he continues to be a tournament only option this weekend but one that can deliver for you with a big game should he find the end zone this weekend.
At RB Frank Gore continues to see most of the work for the Colts but hasn’t seen more than 20 carries since 9 and has also only taken in 6 receptions over his last three games. The Texans have been pretty good at defending the RB and allowed their first TD to the position since week 7 last week when James White plunged one in late for the Pats. With no Luck, and Gore not as spry as he used to be, I have no love for him in this game and don’t see the fantasy upside, even at a measly 4k. I’ll be looking elsewhere for cheap RBs.
Gameflow: This game could decide the division so even if it’s not great for fantasy it should be a close, hard fought game. The Texans lost their starting QB last week, possibly for the season, but have a pretty capable backup who’s already proven his worth in a start this year. The Colts are really headed in the wrong direction after getting blown out in consecutive games and even though they could certainly turn things around here I think the Texans end up pulling this one out in a close one.
Texans 23 Colts 20
– DeAndre Hopkins $8500
– T.Y. Hilton $5900
– Cecil Shorts $3600
Chiefs @ Ravens
Point Total: 42
Spread: Chiefs -7.5
“These aren’t the droids you’re looking for” – Obi Wan Kenobi
Baltimore Ravens QB Matt Schaub is not the QB you’re looking for in fantasy this week. The Ravens will likely be starting Schaub again at QB which makes little difference to me as I’ll be avoiding this pass game for the most part. The Chiefs defense has been on a mission the last 4-5 weeks and are now fourth in the league in sacks as a team. Given Schaub’s propensity for turnovers and the fact the Chiefs now have 16 INTs in their last seven games KC might be the number 1 defensive play of the week for me.
Here are the Ravens passing targets from their last two weeks of play:
Jeremy Butler is an intriguing prospect who’s been forced into action this season due to injuries and is now seeing the most playing time of anyone outside of Kamar Aiken. Fantasy wise Butler has a decent matchup this week as well. The Chiefs secondary has improved over the course of the year but still isn’t great at covering the WR position and has given up the 5th most receptions to WRs overall in the league this year. At $3700 Butler’s in shape to be a decent value play for large tournaments simply due to his ppr usage and recent targeting… AT RB you also have to love the targets Buck Allen has been getting since taking over as the lead back. Allen was a terrific pass catching back while in college and has seen an obscene number of passes thrown his way the past couple of weeks. Even though Allen is playing all the snaps for Baltimore he does have a really tough matchup versus the Chiefs who have been hard to run on all year. Still, KC has given up an average of 8 receptions to RBs in their last two games and at only $4500 Allen is definitely someone I’d consider if I needed a value play at RB, he could pay off through pass catching alone.
The Chiefs passing game has a great matchup this week, but even though I like Alex Smith as a QB he hasn’t thrown the ball more than 32 times in game since week 6. What I do love about Smith though is his running ability as he’s now taken 5 or more carries in each of his 6 games and is averaging well over 30 yards rushing in that span. After seeing what Russel Wilson did last week I think considering Smith as a tournament play in a game stack is a decent idea and he’s someone I’ll be looking at if I need a cheap QB this Sunday.
WR Jeremy Maclin had his second decent game in a row last weekend and continues to see far more targets than any other KC receiver (18 in in his last two games). The Ravens have been dreadful at covering WRs all season and given what Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett were able to achieve against this group last week I love targeting Maclin in this game as his talent could lift him to a similar type of fantasy performance. At only $5500 I think he offers some real elite upside this week at a reduced price… TE Travis Kelce has been hugely disappointing this year and is only averaging 5 targets over his last three games. Its always possible Kelce bounces back at some point but I’d much rather look to higher upside targets like Julius Thomas or Jordan Reed this week than chance another slow game from Kelce.
At RB things could be much clearer this week for fantasy purposes in KC as Spencer Ware has bruised ribs and currently looks doubtful for this game. Chancandrick West has had three very slow games in a row but with Ware out of the way he’d be line to receive almost all of the touches and an increase in targets as well. The Seahawks Thomas Rawls was well on his way to destroying the Ravens defense last week before he went out and in a game where KC is favoured by over a TD I’d definitely make West a target this week, at only $4800 he has multi-TD upside and should get a huge workload.
Gameflow: I see this game as going very similar to last weeks Ravens game. The Chiefs may not have a supercharged offense but they have been shutting down almost everyone on D and with their QB playing well should be able to put up more than enough points to get by this beaten down Ravens team. A small offensive explosion here by the Chiefs wouldn’t surprise me either and I expect KC to dominate form start to finish.
Chiefs 24 Ravens 13
– Charcandrick West $4800 (if Ware out)
– Jeremy Maclin $5500
– Chiefs D $3700
– Javorius “Buck” Allen $4500
– Alex Smith $5100
– Jeremy Butler $3700
Titans @ Patriots
Point Total: 47
Spread: Patriots -14
“Now witness the power of this fully armed and operational battle station.” – Emperor Palpatine
The Patriots are very close to being back to full power on offense. Rob Gronkowski is back in the fold and Julian Edelman is back practicing which means he might suit up for this game as well. The Tennessee Titans secondary has gone completely in the tank recently having allowed 11 passing TDs over their last three games, and so a huge game could be incoming for both QB Tom Brady and his passing targets. AT $7800 Brady’s a QB I’d definitely consider paying up for in all formats.
Here are the Patriots passing targets over their last two games
If Julian Edelman plays I think you will definitely have to downgrade Danny Amendola who at $5700 would be too expensive to pay for someone who’d be losing a ton of targets. If however Edelman misses I think both Amendola and the embattled Brandon LaFell are in play this week. LaFell has really struggled to get on track so far in 2015 but the Titans weak secondary could be the tonic that ails him this week, and with the Pats on track to blowout TENN, perhaps he gets a few more targets his way to boost his confidence. Amendola would obviously be the safer play for HU and 50/50 games but LaFell the more intriguing and lower owned option in tournaments… As for Rob Gronkowski this is definitely a week I’d consider stacking Brady and Gronk in tournaments. The Titans have given up 5 TDs in their last 5 games to the TE position and so Gronk finding the end zone this week seems about as close to a lock as you get in fantasy. Even though his price is expensive paying up for the big guy in tournaments is a good play as the Pats are projected to score right around 30 points.
With LeGarrette Blount out for the year the RB position is now a position of intrigue for the Patriots too. While some new names have been bandied about as replacements expect James White and Brandon Bolden to carry most of the load in this game. Bolden out snapped White 34-25 in the last game and at only $3200 will likely handle most of the early down work. In a game where the Pats are favoured by 14 points it’s not out of the question that he sees the end zone more than once, and as a tournament play I’d probably say Bolden carries a little more upside than White who will be limited more to passing downs. Consider both players for use in tournaments and look to Bolden if in need of a real min-priced play at RB.
As far as TENN goes I really dislike this spot for rookie QB Marcus Mariota. Mariota’s struggled against better teams this year putting up zero TDs and 3 INTS versus the likes of Carolina, Buffalo and the Jets. While there may be some good fantasy garbage time here in a game where the Titans are projected to be down big late the Patriots pass rush has been dominant and held the opposition to just 3 passing TDs in their last four games. I’d avoid Mariota altogether this week and consider the Patriots defense in all lineups this week, this matchup doesn’t get any better (or worse if you’re Mariota).
Receiving wise the only consistent option in this offense all year has been TE Delanie Walker. Walker is averaging 90 yards and 7 receptions over his last four games and now leads all TEs in receptions for the year. Given the fact the Titans will likely need to throw a ton in this game it’s possible Walker sees upwards of 12 targets this week and ends up being a huge play simply off of ppr points alone. Consider Walker in tournaments this week but be wary that a blowout, early benching, or simply the dominant Patriots pass rush, limits his production.
Gameflow: The Titans have been pretty marginal all year and lately have just been getting killed via the pass. This is not good news when you are about to take on possibly the best QB of our generation and his monster TE. The Titans might get some a few plays here and there but ultimately the Patriots probably get up and then just cruise. Expect mucho fantasy points from a few Patriots, including their defense.
Patriots 34 Titans 14
– Tom Brady $7800
– Rob Gronkowski $7700
– Danny Amendola $5700 (if no Edelman)
– Patriots D $3700
– Delanie Walker $5600
– Brandon LaFell $4500
– Brandon Bolden $3200
Browns @ Seahawks
Point Total: 43
Spread: Seahawks -14.5
“Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm.” – Yoda
Russell Wilson may not be over six feet in stature but he’s arguably the best QB in the NFL at the moment and on a tear unlike any other in fantasy throwing an incredible 16 TDs versus 0 INTs over his last 4 games. Rather than sit here and dream up reasons for you not to play Wilson I’m simply going to say that the Browns secondary is not good, that their pass rush has been below average, and that their offense will have trouble moving the ball as well. At $7000 Wilson is going to have every chance in this game of putting up his fourth huge game in a row and I would suggest getting some exposure to Wilson this week if possible.
Here are Wilson’s passing targets over his past two games:
The progression on Tyler Lockett has been outstanding the past couple of games. After leading the team in targets week 13 the Hawks followed that up by using Lockett on set plays around the end zone, short screen passes and of course on deep routes as well. While his targeting is not off the chart it is at least consistent and considering the upside he has in the return game as well I see no reason not to recommend Lockett and the Seattle D as a correlation play once again. At only $4200 there’s plenty of upside here for both plays and a return TD could mean huge things… Doug Baldwin has been flying wingman on Russell Wilson’s historic run and is now up to 8 TD catches in his last 3 games. This sort of pace is obviously not sustainable and Baldwin’s price is up to $5800 this week which makes him less of an automatic play for me. Given the fact that Cleveland has allowed 7 TDs to WRs in their last 4 games however Baldwin’s perfectly fine as a stacking option again this weekend to pair with Wilson, I’d just avoid relying on him too much as his price isn’t as attractive as it once was.
AT RB this weekend the Hawks will be starting Bryce Brown in all likelihood but since he was a late add to the Hawks roster he won’t be available for use this week on DraftKings. Avoid this position and make sure not to roster any other Seahawks at RB as Brown will likely get most of the carries.
Isaiah Crowell had his best day as a pro last weekend but is going to run into a brick wall this week against the Seahawks who have allowed the fewest fantasy points to the position all year. The Hawks are so good versus the run that in their last four games no RB has gained more than 37 yards versus them and they’ve completely shut down the likes of Adrian Peterson and Deangelo Williams. Avoid using Cleveland RBs and seriously consider the Hawks D this week. The Browns will be forced into pass mode early and turnovers could be come fast and furious when they do.
Receiving wise there is some possible value in the Browns players. Outside of a couple big games to elite passing offenses the Seahawks have been dominant against WRs, but Travis Benjamin projects to see a bump in targets this week with Brian Hartline out and should be matched up most of the time with Deshawn Shead who really has not been great this season. At $4500 you can project Benjamin for 10+ targets in this game as the Browns will be short on options this week and looking to exploit the matchup with Shead… The other Brown I would consider this week is TE Gary Barnidge. Barnidge performed well with Manziel at QB last week and considering the struggles of the Seahawks in covering the TE position it follows that he might be their best chance of moving the ball consistently. With no Hartline and a limited cast of WRs, Barnidge could easily see 10+ targets in this game and be a real ppr threat at TE.
Gameflow: The Browns played well last week but are going to be forced to play into the Seahawks hands this week and air the ball out more. This isn’t a good thing when you have a thin receiving core and a pretty streaky, unpredictable QB. Defensively though is where the Browns will really struggle as Russell Wilson could put up another 30+ points with his arm alone in this game given the struggles on D for Cleveland this year. All in all, expect the Browns to provide a little fight but expect Seattle to romp.
Seahawks 35 Browns 14
– Russell Wilson $7000
– Tyler Lockett $4200
– Seahawks D $4000
– Gary Barnidge $5000
– Travis Benjamin $4500
Packers @ Raiders
Point Total: 47
Spread: Packers -3
“It’s a trap!” – Admiral Akbar
The Raiders trapped the Broncos with their violent pass rush last weekend as LB Kahlil Mack recorded 5 sacks and was just an all out menace late in the game. The Raiders have certainly improved as a defense as time has worn on this year but have still given up some big games to QBs. With a decent point total and a close spread I think Aaron Rodgers makes for an interesting tournament play this week. The Raiders have been weaker against the pass than the run for the most part and with Mike McCarthy calling plays ARod and gang might finally have their swagger back. Consider Rodgers as a likely low owned tournament option in week 15.
Here’s the distribution of targets over the Packers last two games:
With Mike McCarthy calling plays Randall Cobb saw 14 passes thrown his way last weekend and was finally the target monster we all assumed he’d be this season when Jordy Nelson went down. With Cobb playing from the slot a lot he’s going to be avoiding the underrated David Amerson most snaps in this game and instead will be going up against the burnable T.J. Carrie in coverage. This is 100% a matchup Cobb can exploit and with his rise in targets I expect him to do just that. At only $6300 Cobb is a steal for me and one of the best values on the board this week… While I don’t love the price increase ($4300) I do think using TE Richard Rodgers as a tournament play or as part of a Green Bay stack makes some sense this week too. The Raiders have given up an average of 7 receptions to TE’s over their last three games and Rodgers is now an every-down player and trails only Cobb in red zone targets on the year.
At RB for the Packers the workload was fairly even last week as Eddie Lacy out-split James Starks 49-32. With Lacy running so well versus Dallas—20+ carries, 124 yards (and a TD)—the Packers would likely want to get him the ball a bunch this weekend as well. The Raiders however have been excellent at defending the run lately and will be at home coming off the largest win of the season so a big game here is by no means an automatic. I’m personally likely to avoid Lacy as I think the better way to attack this Raiders team is through the air and the split workload with Starks scares me as well. Lacy’s still a viable play but I’d be somewhat careful here chasing the points.
Raiders QB Derek Carr has 6 games this year where he’s thrown for over 300 yards or more and is coming off a solid road performance over the elite defense of the Broncos. While the Packers have an elite pass rush themselves, Carr has shown the ability all season to overcome bad matchups. While I wouldn’t advocate Carr for use in cash games, as a tournament play I do think he makes sense and he will be extremely low owned in all likelihood. The Raiders may have to air it out late and Carr could post some gaudy numbers as a result.
Receiving wise Amari Cooper appears to be dealing with a foot issue and hasn’t looked 100% in his last couple of games. With that being said Green Bay’s top corner Sam Shields is dealing with a concussion and is questionable himself for this game. If Cooper gets in a full practice later this week and Shields misses this game looking to Cooper as a tournament play might be a decent play although I’d make sure the news was good on him before fully committing… Michael Crabtree has led the Raiders in targets over their last two games with 17 and continues to be the most popular red zone target for Carr as well. Were the news on Cooper’s injury poor Crabtree might see 12+ targets in this game and could even see double digits regardless of whether Cooper plays or not. With his price down below 6k ($5700) Crabtree is once again a consideration this week for tournaments.
RB Latavius Murray struggled against the Broncos but still played on 80% of the snaps last week. At only $4500 Murray’s an intriguing value play this weekend as the Packers did fellow upright runner Darren McFadden to post over 100 yards versus them on just 9 carries in week 14. While I wouldn’t go overboard with the talented back I do think there’s some potential for him to break off some big runs in this game with his elite 4.38 speed, he’s a decent value play at RB this weekend.
Gameflow: I think this game has some potential for fantasy purposes and could be somewhat of a back forth affair. Both of these QBs are capable of putting up big passing days which means if one team gets too far behind fireworks could ensue rather quickly. I love the way the Raiders played last week but think that the Packers offense will prove a more difficult challenge for them. Ultimately I see a close game in which the Packers come away with a victory.
Packers 27 Raiders 24
– Randall Cobb $6300
– Derek Carr $5600
– Richard Rodgers $4300
– Aaron Rodgers $7400
– Michael Crabtree $5700
– Latavius Murray $4500
NFL GAME BREAKDOWN – PAGE 2