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: JAX @ NE, CIN @ BAL, OAK @ CLE, IND @ TEN, ATL @ DAL
Jaguars @ Patriots
Point Total: 47.5
Spread: -13.5 Patriots
This is the second largest point spread we’ve seen all year. The game total is 47 but the Patriots alone are slated to score over 30 points. With the Jags actually doing a decent job limiting opponents rushing through two weeks—allowing only 89 yards and zero TDs—I again expect another aerial attack by Tom Brady and the Patriots offense to take place. Brady will be highly owned on DraftKings after his massive week 2 game but I still see no reason to fade him… he’s playing at an MVP level right now and a great bet to throw for multiple TDs again.
Here’s Brady’s pass distribution through two games and for the year:
The Pats obviously threw a ton week 2. As I mentioned here last week, RB Dion Lewis will be used more this year against stout rushing defenses. As the Patriots clear passing back Lewis played on 85% of the snaps last week, collecting an absurd 11 passing targets (he’s now up to 16 for the year). Lewis has actually fumbled twice already this season and has seen no reduction in playing time. Against a rather stout Jags rush defense, I see no reason to think that he won’t again get the bulk of the carries and be a good fantasy play week 3… With the emergence of WR Aaron Dobson (8 targets week 2) I’d probably be more willing to pay up for Gronk ($7400) at TE this week than Edelman ($7000) at WR. Gronk has now converted 4 of his 5 red zone targets into TDs for the year and with that type of production gives you higher upside at a similar price tag… Finally, with Dobson now playing the LaFell role in this offense rather effectively (7 rec. 87 yards week 2) don’t be afraid to use him as a tournament option this week. He’s only $3000 on DraftKings and played on 81% of all snaps week 2.
QB Blake Bortles had a decent week two producing over 20 fantasy points on DraftKings and recording 2 TDs and zero INTs. The Pats have been rather kind to opposing QBs so far this year allowing 4 TDs, and nearly 300 yards passing in two games, but they do have 4 INTs and also lead the league in sacks with 11. Even though he’s priced near the min I fear the pass rush and Bortles’ own inability to get rid of the ball quickly. I’m avoiding Bortles altogether and also considering the Pats defense as a target this week.
Here’s how Bortles has distributed his passes, both in week 2 and for the entire year:
I showed both YTD and week 2 targets to illustrate two points. First, WR Allen Robinson is clearly going to be the primary target in this offense, at least until Julius Thomas returns. The Patriots have been burned badly through the air in two games, allowing 3 TDs to WRs and an over 70% completion rate on all WR targets. With the Jags slated to be down big in this game, Robinson should see a massive number of targets again and possibly be in for another big fantasy day, I love the value you’re getting with him at only $5200… The second point I wanted to illustrate is that with Rashad Green out for week 3 and beyond (thumb) the door is now open for another WR to possibly see a big uptick in targets in this offense. I won’t be shocked if second year pro Marqise Lee picked up many of those balls that Green is now leaving behind while also benefitting from any extra attention given to Robinson in this game. I see Lee as a decent tournament play week 3 at only $3400.
RB TJ Yeldon played 85% of the snaps last week for Jacksonville and saw 25 carries but still only produced a measly 11.3 fantasy points on 2.8 ypc. Backup Denard Robinson is out week 3, but with game flow likely meaning the Jags will have to rely more on the pass over the run I still want zero to do with any RB on this team. There’s just better upside at similar prices elsewhere this week.
Gameflow: My only fear in this game is that after a hugely emotional win in week 2 the Pats get a little complacent and have a small letdown when facing the lowly Jags. By no means do I think they are in danger of losing but a sloppy game, but a lower than expected point total in this one wouldn’t surprise me. This is essentially like the Superbowl for the Jags and I expect them to play the Pats tougher than most expect but still get beat convincingly.
Patriots 27 Jags 17
– Tom Brady $7700
– Rob Gronkowski $7400
– Dion Lewis $4200
– Allen Robinson $5200
– Aaron Dobson $3000
– Marqise Lee $3400
– Pats Defense $3100
Bengals @ Ravens
Point Total: 44.5
Spread: -3 Ravens
Andy Dalton has now thrown 5 TDs and 0 INTs though 2 weeks and the Bengals as a team have looked impressive in starting 2-0. The Ravens looked completely lost on defense last week failing to get any sustained pressure against Derek Carr, who had the best game of his career against them. This is an opportunity for the Bengals to essentially end the playoff hopes of the Ravens and gain a massive edge over them in the standings. At $5700 I think betting on a big game from Dalton is a decent play.
Here’s how the targets and red zone looks have been doled out by Dalton through two games:
Part of the reason why I like Dalton this week is the fact the Ravens have been torched by WRs thus far in 2015, giving up over 400 yards and 3 TDs to the position through two games. WR AJ Green may slightly trail TE Tyler Eifert in overall targets but he does lead the team in red zone looks. For DraftKings purposes when you consider the troubles the Ravens have had covering WRs thus far in 2015 I’d definitely lean towards rostering Green over Eifert for this matchup and expect AJ to have his own breakout game in week 3… I also think it’s time to start considering WR Marvin Jones again for tournament play. Jones is now up to three red zone targets and played on 80% of the snaps week 3, making him a nice target at only $3600.
The Bengals RB situation played out exactly how I thought it would last week as Gio Bernard proved to be the more effective back against the San Diego Chargers. Gio also had his workload boosted in week 2 by the fact RB Jeremy Hill fumbled twice and actually ended up receiving all 4 of carries inside the red zone. It’s foolish to suggest Hill will simply be benched this week, but at $7300 he’s no longer assured of the red zone work which made him so valuable in the past. I’d recommend fading Hill again and consider using some Bernard at only $4700, a price he could easily pay off even in limited work.
The Ravens QB Joe Flacco had a nice day fantasy wise in week 2, but will likely find the going much tougher in week 3 against a much stouter defense. DE Geno Atkins is again healthy and a constant force up front, helping the Bengals record 6 sacks through the first two games. I hate this matchup and don’t see enough upside in the Ravens passing game, I’ll simply be leaving Flacco out of my DraftKings plans for this week.
I’m also not hugely fond of the Ravens WRs. Steve Smith led all targets for Baltimore last week with an insane 17, but also gets a much tougher matchup week 3. The Bengals completely shut down week 1 star Keenan Allen (2 rec. 16 yards) last Sunday and the solid duo of Adam Jones and Leon Hall are capable of a similar performance against the veteran Smith. I love the targeting but not the matchup and am therefore avoiding Smith for fantasy… It’s interesting to note that TE Crockett Gilmore (2 TDs last week) is currently tied for second on the Ravens with 11 targets. Gilmore played 93% of the snaps week 2 (compared to only 24% of rookie Maxx Williams). At $3300 Gilmore makes for an interesting tournament option given that most of the Bengals attention will be on Steve Smith.
At RB, Lorenzo Taliaferro returned to the lineup last week and significantly cut into Justin Forsett’s production. Taliaferro played on 41% of the snaps, saw three targets in the pass game and also got a goal line carry (and scored) in week 2. I’ve never seen Forsett as a 3 down back (at least not long term) and so am not shocked at this development. Given that Forsett is still $6000 in price on DraftKings for week 3 it’s truly hard to recommend him since he might cede more goal line work and half the snaps. I might actually consider Taliaferro this week for tournaments though as he’s only $3000 and could pay that salary off rather easily with receptions or a short yardage TD.
Gameflow: I’m not sure why the Bengals are +3 point dogs. The Ravens have been pretty bad through the first two weeks and did not respond well to losing their best defensive player in week 2. Their offense got going a bit against the Raiders but they face an increasingly confident and talented Bengals team who will be going for the kill-shot this week as they try to essentially end Baltimore’s season. The Bengals are simply the better team right now and I think they pick up a tough road win in week 3.
Bengals 28 Ravens 20
– AJ Green $7200
– Crockett Gilmore $3300
– Lorenzo Taliaferro $3000
– Andy Dalton $5700
– Gio Bernard $4700
Raiders @ Browns
Point Total: 41.5
Spread: -2.5 Browns
Derek Carr comes into this matchup off his best game as a pro to face a Browns team who did a great job squashing rookie star Marcus Mariota in week 2. The Browns may be a bit of a laughing stock but back 18 games now the Browns have only given up 3 games of 300 yards or more passing and never allowed more than 2 passing TDs in a game during that span. Carr was great last week but he’s a clear avoid for me week 3 in a bad matchup.
Here’s who Derek Carr targeted the most through two games, including in the red zone:
With Michael Crabtree priced at only $4600 and rookie Amari Cooper much more expensive at $6200 choosing between these two Raider WRs seems easy. With solid corners Joe Haden and Tramon Williams likely limiting any big plays downfield Crabtree’s targeting numbers and cheaper salary make him the much safer play and much more likely to pay off for you in DraftKings 1pt-per-reception scoring. I’d simply leave the explosive Cooper on the bench against the Browns and wait for better matchups.
The position I am really targeting for fantasy this week on Oakland is RB. Latavius Murray has had a semi-quiet start to the season but has still averaged 4.2 ypc on 26 rushes through two games. He’s also seeing the field a ton and played 76% of the snaps week 2 while getting 3 targets in the pass game (up to 10 on the year). The Browns rush defense is still not good and they’ve picked up right where they left off from 2014 by allowing over 300 yards on the ground and 2 TDs through 2 games. I love Murray on DraftKings this week and think you could see a real breakout game.
Even though the Browns won their first game of the season with Johnny Manziel under centre last week the Browns have decided to go back to Josh McCown for this game. The Browns only threw 15 times last week and are an extremely low passing output offense. It doesn’t matter who’s at QB in Cleveland, the message is the same, avoid them for fantasy.
At WR for Cleveland return man Travis Benjamin had a week 2 to remember, scoring three times while compiling well over 100 yards receiving on just 4 catches. While it would be nice to be able to recommend Benjamin this week, as DraftKings playbook author Adam Leviton has pointed out here, Benjamin actually only ran a total of 9 receiving routes in week 2 meaning his production was a complete outlier based on how much he was actually on the field. Based on that info I can’t seriously recommend Benjamin—regardless of matchup—for fantasy usage until I know for sure he’ll see way more snaps and be more involved in the offense.
RB might be a position to consider on the Browns. Through two games the Browns have now run the ball on over 52% of their plays, the third highest average in the league. Here’s a look at how the Browns RBs have split work through two games:
As much as I’d love to recommend Duke Johnson it’s pretty clear now that Isiah Crowell is the red zone back and will have a better chance at getting you a multiple TD game. I actually think Crowell has some value this week at $4500 against a poor Raiders rush defense who has already given up 3 TDs through 2 games. I wouldn’t go nuts with him but he’s getting carries in the right places on the field and thereby has multiple TD upside.
Gameflow: This should be an ugly game and you will probably see a ton of running plays as both rush defenses are among the worst in the league. Cleveland has the edge being at home but the Raiders have the more talented squad on offense and that could make the difference. I was right about the Raiders last week and I’m going with them again here to ride their stud RB and grind out a week 3 win.
Raiders 23 Browns 17
– Latavius Murray $5800
– Michael Crabtree $4600
– Isaiah Crowell $4500
Colts @ Titans
Point Total: 45
Spread: -3.5 Colts
Let the Andrew Luck panic wash over you… good… now stop. Luck is going up against an extremely weak Tennessee secondary who just allowed Johnny Manziel to torch them for two long TDs. Tennessee may have nice DvP numbers (above) to start the year but remember they’ve only faced two bottom feeding teams in Tampa and Cleveland. This is a must win for Indy and I expect Luck to rebound in a sweet matchup and be one of the top 3 players at his position for fantasy this week.
Here was Luck’s targeting and conversion rate for week 2:
Donte Moncrief emerged as the essential go to guy for Luck in week 2 when a comeback was being mounted. Moncrief is 6’2 and ran a 4.4 flat 40m coming out of college, he flashed lots of skill as a rookie but followed up his big games in 2014 with some disappointing ones. This year though Moncrief has now received 19 targets from Luck through two games and is the clear number 2 option. Against Tennessee and with Hilton possibly not 100% I can’t not recommend him at only $4800. He could easily see close to double digit targets again and have a real shot at some big plays … As much as I like Moncrief this week I also think TY Hilton is a great tournament option. With so much buzz on Moncrief a healthy TY could really go under owned this week… he still leads the Colts in targets with 21 over two weeks. Check the news on him Sunday, if he’s 100% roll with him in tournaments.
RB Frank Gore still had trouble finding room to run last week and lost a horrible fumble near the goal line. I still think Gore has value in this supposedly high powered offense but only against weaker opponents in good matchups. The Tennessee run defense is still pretty leaky and coming off a weak where they allowed the Browns to run for well over 100 yards and a TD. At only $4500 Gore holds value as a low-owned tourney option who should see red zone work and pass targets.
Titans QB Marcus Mariota had a tough week 2 but still produced decent numbers for fantasy (18.18 points). The Colts secondary is really hurting right now and all three of their top corners (Davis, Toler and Butler) are in danger of missing this game. The Colts didn’t exactly shut down Tyrod Taylor or Ryan Fitzpatrick in their first two games and I expect to see Mariota really bounce back this week with a good game in his home opener. At $6100, I think he’s a great bet to pay off that small salary and has big game upside.
Last week Titans slot receiver Kendall Wright missed some time with a leg injury but returned and finished the game. Considering how effective Eric Decker was against Indy working from the slot in week 2 (8 rec. 97 yards TD) I could see Wright having a similar result this week if he’s healthy. If the news is good on Wright I’m fully recommending him for play against a depleted secondary… My other suggestion would be to follow the news on TE Delanie Walker who missed week 2 with a sore wrist but looks like he’ll return to face the Colts. So far 31% of all of Marcus Mariota’s passes have gone to the TE position (including 17 to TEs last week). Walker is a great athlete and had the fourth most yards after the catch amoung TEs in 2014. If he plays I could see him having a monster day v. the Colts.
After seeing Bishop Sankey split carries with Terrence West week 1, last week saw Dexter McCluster dominate touches by playing 59% of all the snaps. Game flow likely had a ton to do with this number as the Titans were in pass/catch-up mode the entire second half. As underdogs in this week’s game and with an entirely unknown division of labour I can’t recommend any of these backs. My suggestion would be to simply look elsewhere at players with more upside and more guaranteed workloads.
Gameflow: I think this should be an exciting back and forth game. Last year I would have picked the Colts in a landslide coming off of two losses but Tennessee’s D has improved a bit and they now have some weapons on offense. I think Luck sells out and does everything he can to get the Colts a win and it ends up being a fairly close, high-scoring affair.
Colts 31 Titans 28
– Andrew Luck $7900
– Marcus Mariota $6100
– Donte Moncrief $4800
– Delanie Walker $3400 (if healthy)
– TY Hilton $6700 (in tournaments, only if healthy)
– Kendall Wright $5000 (if healthy)
Falcons @ Cowboys
Point Total: 45
Spread: -2 Falcons
The Cowboys defense has been a nice surprise this year. They’ve limited opposing QBs to just over 200 yards passing and just under 10 fantasy points in the first two games. Even with Tony Romo out for the Cowboys I don’t know if there’s enough upside this week to play QB Matt Ryan on DraftKings as the Cowboys should still be able to move the chains on offense with their run game and limit the Falcons chances on offense. A big game seems unlikely and so I’m avoiding him this week.
Matt Ryan’s targets for the first weeks have broken down like this:
I can’t not recommend Julio Jones at this point. When a player is being targeted 15 times a game with the skill level of Julio he becomes a weekly must play option regardless of matchup. I will say that the pace of this game could affect him negatively. Of the top three WRs (Julio, Antonio, Odell) Julio would probably be 3rd for me this week in rankings… Leonard Hankerson saw a huge boost in targets week 2, while Roddy White was almost ignored. White still played on over 79% of the snaps however and I won’t be shocked at all if the veteran ends up being the go to option in this game with Julio drawing so much attention. Don’t forget the Cowboys did a good job limiting Odell Beckham in week 1. I like Roddy as a low-owned tournament option this week.
At RB Devanta Freeman is now the lead back for the Falcons with Tevin Coleman likely out nursing broken ribs. The Cowboys were great last week in stuffing the Eagles run game and so far Freeman has been terrible on the ground averaging under 2 yards per carry. There is still some fantasy hope here however as Freeman should get both goal line work be targeted in the pass game (he has 12 targets through two games already). I like Freeman in fantasy this week purely for workload purposes and his affordable price tag ($4600).
The Falcons defense has actually been quite decent thus far in 2015 limiting opposing QBs to just 3 TDs and 2 INTs. This week they get Brandon Weeden who sports a career 57% completion rate and a 27/28 TD to INT ratio. There’s a lot of good fantasy matchups this week from a defensive perspective and I think this one might be one of the most overlooked. Weeden can produce turnovers with the best of them and the ATL defense is better than most people realize. Think about Atlanta when filling in your defensive positions this week.
Weeden’s presence is probably going to hurt the production of most receivers on the team too, here’s how the targets shook out week 2 without Dez Bryant:
I don’t think there’s any safe receiving option for fantasy with Weeden now playing QB but it should be noted that in Weeden’s one game last year where he started (v Zona) TE Jason Witten led all Cowboys with 6 receptions. Witten has been banged up but practiced on Wednesday and should be good to go. He’s worth a flier as a tournament target at TE… Given the Cowboys likely run heavy approach I don’t see nearly enough upside to recommend any other receivers.
At RB Joseph Randle again led the Cowboys in carries (16) and snaps (42%), although Lance Dunbar was right behind him as he played on 35% of all snaps and saw 4 targets in the pass game. Dunbar is intriguing as the Falcons have been burned badly through the air by RBs the first two games surrendering a league high 199 yards and 24 receptions. I like the idea of using Dunbar at only $3200 and hoping he racks up PPR points by being Weeden’s safety valve in this game
Gameflow: After shutting down Odell Beckham and the Eagles the Cowboys have another tough test this week with Julio Jones coming to town. I expect the Cowboys to really try and control the game clock as much as possible by running the ball a lot and keeping the ball out of their own QBs hands. I think the Cowboys can limit Julio but will likely be burned by the Falcons other weapons and their own offensive liabilities. I see the Falcons doing just enough to win this game and edging out a semi-ugly road win.
Falcons 20 Cowboys 17
– Julio Jones $9000
– ATL defense $2900
– Roddy White $5000
– Devanta Freeman $4600
– Lance Dunbar $3200
– Jason Witten $4500
NFL GAME BREAKDOWN – PAGE 2