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: NYG @ BUF, OAK @ CHI, PHI @ WAS, KC @ CIN, CLE @ SD
Giants @ Bills
Point Total: 45
Spread: -5.5 Bills
As good a defense as the Bills have it’s interesting to note they have now given up 7 TDs and the second most passing yards to QBs in the league through three games. Eli Manning continues to throw the ball a ton and you have to go back to week 6 of 2014 to find a game where he threw less than 30 times. Given the Giants lacklustre run game and the fact they are projected to be down late I think you might see Manning in for a big fantasy week. At $7000 he’s got great upside for tournaments.
Here were the targets from week 3 without Victor Cruz in the lineup:
Last week Reuben Randle caught all 7 of his targets for over 100 yards and a TD. With Odell Beckham drawing so much attention the second WR in this offense will almost always see targets and be a viable play for fantasy. With Cruz now out week 4 I think Randle is in play this week again, and I really like him as a value option at $4500 in tournaments … I also wouldn’t shy away from using Odell Beckham in this game. Rishard Matthews burned the Bills defense for multiple TDs last week and with Rex loving to blitz so much Beckham might actually get some single coverage opportunities. Beckham will again be ranked highly for me and I expect a possible monster game … I should also note that TE Larry Donnell is now tied for the Giants team lead in red zone targets. At some point he will have a big game as teams over compensate their coverage to the Giants WRs. At only $2900 he gives you killer savings and some upside for tournaments.
The Giants RB trio of Shane Vereen, Rashad Jennings and Andre Williams split playing time almost equally week 3. I’ve talked up Shane Vereen before in this column but the big game and higher usage has yet to happen. Still, in a game with the Giants projected to be trailing and projected to be throwing a ton late it is only Vereen you should be targeting from this backfield. Vereen’s a hail-mary option only but one that could pay off with DraftKings emphasis on PPR scoring.
Tyrod Taylor has been the biggest surprise at QB this year. Taylor is an obvious running threat (96 yards on 17 carries) but he’s been doing most of his damage from the pocket for fantasy. His completion rate is at an insane 74% and he is up to 7 passing TDs against 3 INTs—all from the Pats game. The Giants have given up 300 yards+ passing in every game so far in 2015 and are also weak at LB, meaning Taylor could have more space to run. There’s a ton of upside with Taylor and at a mere $5800 he’s usable in all formats.
Bills RB Lesean McCoy has been playing injured and looks doubtful to play this week. If he misses rookie Karlos Williams (11 car. 110 yards TD last week) would almost certainly get a full workload. Williams is a fantastic athlete who can run with power but also has speed and some finesse (that he showed on a 41 yard TD last week). The Giants have been bad vs. the run the past two years and I see them having huge problems with Greg Roman’s power run scheme. At $3400 Williams will be the must play of the week if McCoy sits, keep an eye on this situation.
With Watkins out both TE Charles Clay and Percy Harvin racked up decent days in week 3 as both saw 8 targets respectively. The Giants have been burned all season by TEs and Jordan Reed just missed having a monster day against them in week 3. Clay is only $3300 on DraftKings and looked amazing last week on a long catch and run TD. If Watkins misses week 4 he’d be a main target of mine and one I’d consider using in all formats… As for Harvin he will likely see a lot of the tough Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in coverage. If Watkins misses I might actually bypass Harvin and instead give consideration to Robert Woods as a tournament play. Woods is basically min-priced and the kind of home run hitter you want to target in tournaments.
Gameflow: I think this game could see a lot of points. The Giants will have trouble stopping the run game of the Bills and as a result will be forced to air it in order to keep up. With the Bills giving up a ton of passing yards lately this could end up as a “whoever gets the ball last” kind of scenario. The Giants have actually played well in 2015 and are unlucky to be only 1-2, still it’s tough to see them pull out a win in Buffalo against an incredibly solid Bills team who I think ultimately gets takes this one.
Bills 31 Giants 28
– Tyrod Taylor $5800
– Karlos Williams $3400 (if McCoy out)
– Odell Beckham $9100
– Charles Clay $3300 (if Watkins out)
– Eli Manning $7000
– Larry Donnell $2900
– Reuben Randle $4500
– Robert Woods $3100 (if Watkins out)
Raiders @ Bears
Point Total: 45
After only throwing for 300+ yards once in 2014 Derek Carr has now had two straight 300+ yard games in 2015. The biggest change with Carr this year is that after averaging only 5.5 yards per throw in 2014 Carr now actually ranks 13th in that category amoung all quarterbacks in 2015 at 8.1 yards (per Pro Football Focus). Carr has upside at $5300 this week against the Bears who have allowed the second most passing TDs in the league thus far (8), I’d personally keep him to tournaments only though due to the possibility of the Raiders going run heavy in this game.
Here’s the how the Raiders receiving targets and red zone targeting for the year has shaken out:
Michael Crabtree is not only the preferred red zone target on the Raiders but also seeing the most overall targets. After a tough matchup week 3 don’t be shocked to see Crabtree unleash another big game against a weak secondary. He’s a decent value option this week at only $4600… Even though Amari Cooper has yet to see a target in the red zone he’s still the big play option in this offense. Cooper has now recorded multiple passing plays of 40 yards or more and sports a healthy 14.5 yards per completion. While I don’t love Cooper’s price ($6300) it will help keep his ownership levels down in big tournaments making him a target for me—and a good stacking option with Derek Carr—in those formats.
After three games RB Latavius Murray is averaging 4.8 ypc, is 6th in the league with 10 missed tackles (per Pro Football Focus) and is also playing on just under 70% of the snaps on offense. Murray is the perfect blend of speed, size and power and will be playing against a Bears team who has essentially traded away all its veteran players on defense. This could be a monster day/game brewing. Don’t be afraid to pay up for Murray’s $6300 price this week, he’s running like an elite RB and getting elite volume.
Scouting the Bears offense for fantasy this week is pretty simple. QB Jimmy Clausen is likely to start at QB, if he does do not play him. Even against a suspect Raiders defense there’s little upside to Clausen who’s averaging 4.6 yards per attempt in 2015 thus far… As for the Bears receiving options WR Alshon Jeffery is set to return this week and should take in lots of targets. But at $6600 and with Clausen throwing him the ball a big game simply isn’t likely. Avoid Alshon until he gets a half-decent QB to play with… The Raiders have given up 297 yards and 5 TDs to TE’s thus far in 2015 and Bears TE Martellus Bennett did lead the team with 5 targets last week. I’d never use him in a cash game as his QB limits his upside but would consider him as a tournament play. He’s capable of racking up a bunch of catches and possibly even a TD.
RB Matt Forte has now played 80% of all Chicago’s offensive snaps in 2015 and been involved in over 50% of the Bears offensive plays. Usage is obviously not an issue with Forte however the upside is still a question mark as the Bears don’t figure to get a ton of red zone attempts with Clausen in at QB. Forte is getting a solid matchup this week but I still don’t see him as anything more than a volume-oriented tournament gamble. It’s quite possible the Raiders jump out to a big lead in this game and limit his carries significantly. I’m not a huge fan.
Gameflow: The Bears essentially gave up on their season this week by executing a few trades which depleted their defense significantly. They will thusly be going into this game with a backup QB and little to no motivation to get a win. On the other hand the Raiders are flying high and will be looking to get to 3-1 for the first time since neon shirts and guns and roses were all the rage. I see a healthy Raiders win and a couple big fantasy days for their offense.
Raiders 27 Bears 10
– Latavius Murray $6300
– Derek Carr $5300
– Amari Cooper $6300
– Michael Crabtree $4600
– Martellus Bennett $4500
Eagles @ Redskins
Point Total: 45
Spread: -3.5 Eagles
Sam Bradford has yet to throw for multiple TDs in a game so far in 2015. Meanwhile in two homes games the Redskins have done well to limit opposing QBs to 376 yards passing and just two TDs. Still, Bradford has seen a huge price drop since week 1 and is now only $6000 on DraftKings. I’m not fully committed but I do think the Redskins secondary is still very beatable (as we saw last week). I’m recommending Bradford as a tournament play and think he could be the surprise of week 4.
Here is the Eagles targets and red zone targeting for the first three weeks of 2015:
While many may be off Jordan Matthews I love his upside in this game. Matthews just missed another TD last week and now has 4 more red zone targets than any other Eagles receiver. This week Matthews has seen his price drop below 7k to $6600 and will be getting a Washington secondary who is without one of its leaders in Deangelo Hall. I like Matthews in all formats this week for DFS play… TE Zac Ertz has quietly become a decent target in this offense. While he’s still only seeing about 50% of the snaps Ertz is only $3200 and getting over 5 targets per game. He might be a sneaky option in an Eagles tournament stack this week.
So far in 2015 the Redskins run defense has only allowed 3.07 ypc to opposing RBs. With Demarco Murray having injury concerns, and still priced highly at $6500 on DraftKings, he’s an easy fade for me in this matchup. However if Murray doesn’t play I’d definitely have to recommend Ryan Mathews for use as his price tag is still an absurdly low $3800. Mathews would have a tough matchup but since the Eagles target their RBs so much in the pass game (over 30% of the time so far) he could easily pay off through receptions alone… As for Darren Sproles his price increased to $4500 on DraftKings, however given the fact he’s the second leading receiver on this team that still seems like a bargain. If Murray is out I’d fully recommend Sproles as a near must play in all formats, but keep him to tournament play only if Murray is active.
Kirk Cousins has now compiled 4 INTs against 3 TDs and averaged around 238 yards passing over 3 games. The Eagles may have given up some big games to WRs but still have yet to give up more than 2 TDs or 300 yards passing in a game to a QB, and did have 5 QB hits and 15 hurries (per Pro Football Focus) last week vs the Jets. Leave Cousins out of your lineups and consider the Eagles D who should be revved up for a divisional game.
Here’s how the passing targets and red zone targets have shaped up so far in 2015 for the Redskins:
The Eagles have very capable LBs and have been one of the best teams against the TE so far in 2015. While I love the way TE Jordan Reed has played recently I might be more willing to leave him off my radar this week and take my chances with WR Pierre Garcon. The Eagles have been murdered by #1 WRs since the start of last season and Garcon is more than talented enough to take advantage of their deficiencies in coverage. With Reed’s price going up a ton ($4500—5th highest at his position) I am recommending you side with Garcon if taking a tournament flier on the Skins passing game.
As poor as the Eagles have been in defending against WR they have been money against RBs giving up zero TDs and only 3.14 ypc on the year. As much as everyone is talking about Redskins rookie Matt Jones no one seems to have acknowledged the fact that the Skins RB who played the most snaps last week (50%) was Chris Thompson. Thompson is a pure pass catching back and only priced at $3500. The Skins are dogs in this game and I could see them having to pass a ton once again near the end. I’m happy leaving Alfred Morris and Matt Jones on the bench this week but would consider Thompson for tournaments.
Gameflow: This is the game where we find out which one of these teams are for real and which is a fraud. The Skins have looked better than expected so far in 2015 while the Eagles have been disappointments. I think we’ll see the script flip this week and the Eagles offense take advantage of a weakened Skins secondary while also possibly seeing their defense beat up on the very beatable Kirk Cousins. I expect the Eagles to fly to victory and get back to .500.
Eagles 34 Redskins 24
– Jordan Matthews $6600
– Pierre Garcon $5300
– Eagles D $2700
– Sam Bradford $6000
– Darren Sproles $4500 (bump up if Murray out)
– Ryan Mathews $3800 (only if Murray out)
Chiefs @ Bengals
Point Total: 44
Spread: -4 Bengals
In two out of three games the Bengals defense has limited opposing quarterbacks this year to under 250 yards passing. Alex Smith threw 40 times against the Packers but that was mainly due to the fact the Chiefs got down early. I’d personally expect the Chiefs to employ a much more balanced approach this week and attack a weaker Bengals run defense. Smith doesn’t have nearly the same upside in my eyes in week 4, I’m avoiding.
The targets for the Chiefs receivers through three games are as follows:
Outside of Alex Smith the Chiefs offense really is a three man show as no one else on the team has come close to double digit targets through three games. WR Jeremy Maclin leads the team in red zone targets but is going up against a solid secondary who was third best in limiting opposing WRs fantasy points in 2014. Instead of chasing the points with Maclin my suggestion would be to instead target TE Travis Kelce against the Bengals. Kelce just missed a big game last week and now gets to take on a slower Bengals linebacker core whom he should be able dominate. I like the Chiefs to employ Kelce more on some higher percentage passes and look to him in the red zone more too, deploy him this week freely in your lineups.
The player I’m most interested in this week for the Chiefs though is RB Jamaal Charles. Charles was bottled up early vs Green Bay but came alive with some late garbage time TDs. This week he gets a Bengals run defense who has yet to be truly tested and was gouged last year by RBs in fantasy. Charles is now up to $7600 in salary on DraftKings but should have one of the higher ceilings of all RBs for week 4. I’d expect the Chiefs to run a lot in this game and recommend you play Charles where possible.
The Chiefs defense has been burned through the air the past few games but gets a massive boost this week with the return of Sean Smith, who graded out as the third best coverage CB on Pro Football Focus in 2014. The Chiefs have also recorded 9 sacks thus far on the year and still sport one of the best defensive fronts in the NFL. Don’t chase the points in this game with Andy Dalton. I think Kansas City’s defense gets back on track this week and could see them being a sneaky play for fantasy as well.
Here’s the overall and red zone targeting for the Bengals through 3 games:
AJ Green had a monster performance last Sunday but I’m personally going to be avoiding him and his $7600 salary this week. The Chiefs should be much improved in the secondary and I just don’t see another massive day arising against a pretty solid CB duo (now that Smith is back)… Investing in WR Marvin Jones in tournaments isn’t a bad idea though. Jones’ targets and snaps have increased every game and at only $3800 a TD is quite possible and would make him a great value play, I’m a buyer… I also like TE Tyler Eifert for a rebound in this game. The Chiefs have yet to face an elite TE this year and I’d suspect that after coming off of a bagel (zero catches) last week Eifert has a lot more success in week 4 as the Bengals look to avoid the Chiefs corners. I like Eifert as a play in all formats.
RB Gio Bernard has now out-snapped teammate Jeremy Hill 123-81 on the year. With Hill now at $6500 on DraftKings and facing a Chiefs defense who has allowed zero rushing TDs in 2015 he’s completely off my radar this week… At only $5000 Bernard keeps getting more work (4 red zone carries last week) and is also very involved in the passing game for the Bengals. I think he makes for a decent tournament option as I could foresee the Bengals being down late in this game.
Gameflow: I see a slight upset brewing. These are two talented but consistently streaky teams. The Chiefs have lost two in a row but both losses were to elite teams. The Bengals squeaked out a thrilling win in week 3 and might be in for a bit of a letdown. I see the Chiefs defense stepping up this week and limiting the Bengals weapons allowing Jamaal Charles to run rampant and seal a win.
Chiefs 27 Bengals 20
– Jamaal Charles $7600
– Travis Kelce $5300
– Tyler Eifert $4800
– Marvin Jones $3800
– Gio Bernard $5000
– Chiefs D $2800
Browns @ Chargers
Point Total: 44.5
Spread: -7.5 Chargers
The Chargers have been stifling vs. the pass thus far in 2015 allowing less than 200 yards passing per game. QB Josh McCown had a nice game last week but I fully expect the Chargers to shut down the weak passing game of the Browns and possibly create a few turnovers in the process. Don’t waste your time with McCown but do think about the Chargers as a great option at defense.
At WR Travis Benjamin went from barely paying week 2 to seeing 76% of all offensive snaps and getting 11 targets week 3. The only other WR to see over 70% of snaps on Cleve was Andrew Hawkins. With the Chargers being so good vs. WRs this year I still wouldn’t bother paying up for Benjamin this week who is now $4500 and without a ton of upside against one of the best pass D’s in the biz.
At RB for the Browns I’ve included the overall snap counts and red zone carries for the year:
The Chargers have been gutted by the run in 2015 and so using a Cleveland RB as a contrarian tournament play this week makes some sense. Johnson is super cheap at only $3100 but has seen zero red carries. He did catch 6 passes last week though and would likely be involved in that area again if the Browns get down early. I think Crowell offers the most upside though. He’s taken all the carries within the 20 yard line thus far and has multiple TD upside. He’s risky and more expensive at $4100 but definitely could be considered against a Chargers run D who has allowed over 5 ypc thus far.
The Browns were surprisingly bad vs. the pass last game allowing Derek Carr to throw for over 300 yards against. Part of the reason for this big day was the fact the Browns lost CB Joe Haden on the first play from scrimmage. If Haden sits again I could see the value in using QB Phillip Rivers in tournaments (he’s only $6100) as it might induce more passing from the Chargers. I’ll make Rivers a recommendation on the condition Haden sits but otherwise might avoid him.
The Browns run defense has been almost as bad as the Chargers this year as they’ve allowed 5.2 yards per carry to RBs and just got run over by the Latavius Murray train last week. As such, I expect San Diego to go with a run heavy approach and employ a lot of both Danny Woodhead ($4600) and Melvin Gordon ($4900). Woodhead is still the only Chargers back to receive a touch or a target inside the 20 yard line and is also seeing the most snaps. That being said there’s still clearly a lot of upside with Gordon, who could see a lot of carries in this game given the Chargers are 8 pt. faves. My advice on how to play these two is very similar to last week… Gordon should be consider a boom or bust tournament only option while Woodhead’s high floor makes him a much safer play and usable in all formats.
Even though I expect this to be a low volume game passing wise for both teams you could still consider WR Keenan Allen if Joe Haden sits. Allen is now up to 38 targets on the year (over double the next option on San Diego) and roasted the Vikings last week after their stud corner went down. If Haden sits a Rivers/ Allen contrarian stack might be useful in tournaments… With TE Ladarius Green in concussion protocol one other name to consider from the SD passing game is WR Malcolm Floyd. Floyd played on 89% of the snaps last week, was second on the team with 7 targets and also received 2 red zone targets. I’d definitely consider Floyd (who is only $3700) if Green sits as his usage might remain high against the Browns.
Gameflow: The Chargers are better in almost every area and at home. This should be an easy win. The one chance the Browns have is to capitalize on the Chargers poor run defense, but unfortunately they may not have the personnel to really take advantage. While I could see the huge upset happening I’m not buying that it will. Ultimately I think the Chargers win going away and right themselves for a run at the wild card.
Chargers 27 Browns 14
– Danny Woodhead $4600
– Chargers D $2800
– Phillip Rivers $6100 (if no Haden)
– Keenan Allen $7000 (if no Haden)
– Malcolm Floyd $3700
– Melvin Gordon $4900
– Isaiah Crowell $ 4100
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