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: ATL @ NO, ARI @ PIT, CHI @ DET, CIN @ BUF, DEN @ CLE
Falcons @ Saints
Point Total: 51
Spread: -3 Falcons
The Saints RBs got shut down against a good run defense in week 4 but should feast this week at home against an exploitable Falcons squad that has now given up the most TDs and receiving yards to the RB position through 5 games. Even after a slow week 5 Mark Ingram is averaging 6 targets a game and has also seen 14 red zone carries so far in 2015 (no other Saint RB has more than 1). This is a possible big game brewing for Ingram and I’m fine paying up a bit to get him. He’s my top play of anyone on offense for the Saints this week.
Drew Brees may not be pumping out 30 point fantasy efforts anymore but he’s still racking up huge yardage and has now thrown for over 330 yards in three of four games played this season. The issue is that despite the decrease in big games and TDs this year Brees is still the 4th highest priced QB ($7000) on DraftKings making him a pretty big investment. With the high game total, and the fact the Saints are at home using Brees as a “safe” fantasy play in cash games is probably OK, but I do think his days of having huge upside are gone. The Falcons have also only allowed 6 passing TDs through 5 games so I don’t love the spot or his price.
As for the Saints receivers, here’s their targeting over the last few weeks of play:
The Saints targeted their WRs more last week but that might have been a one week blip against a Philly defense who struggles on the outside. Overall the Saints have targeted their RBs almost as much in the pass game. With this kind of trend, I’m simply not willing to pay up for Brandin Cooks at $5700, especially when Willie Snead, who has been matching his production over the past few weeks, is still only $3300. Snead remains a great value play in this game and with 6+ targets should see more than enough work to pay off his meager salary, he’d be my main target from the Saints WR core.
For all the hoopla surrounding Julio Jones big fantasy start his QB Matt Ryan has only thrown for over 300 yards once in 2015 and has yet to throw for more than 2 TDs in a game. Ryan struggled mightily week 5 and with Jones banged up you have to slightly downgrade him for fantasy. Matchup wise though there is big game potential. The Saints have allowed 300 yards passing and multiple TDs to QBs in 3 of 5 games thus far, and Ryan himself has passed for more than 300 yards in 6 of his last 8 meetings with New Orleans. I consider Ryan a slightly risky, but high upside tournament option week 6.
WR Julio Jones is questionable for the Thursday night game, although as of writing he looks like he is going to play. If Jones sits or is used more as a decoy that potentially opens up things for Leonard Hankerson and Roddy White. Hankerson suffered bruised ribs in week 5 and wasn’t very effective versus the Redskins but has still been the better and more targeted player this year over White. At $4200 Hank carries some risk, but like Ryan also carries lots of upside in a potentially high-paced, high-scoring game… Through 5 games the Saints have allowed 87 yards per game receiving to the TE. With Jones hurting TE Jacob Tamme emerged week 5 as a go to player gobbling up 10 targets. He’s the bare minimum ($2500) and a great bet to hit or exceed value. Tamme’s my favorite value play of this game by far.
At RB for the Falcons Devonta Freeman suffered no ill effects from the return of Tevin Coleman to the lineup as he still played 85% of all the snaps week 5 and piled up 157 yards and a TD versus a tough Redskins defense. Freeman’s price has risen to elite status at $7000 but versus the Saints, who have allowed a TD per game to the RB position in 2015, this probably isn’t the game to avoid him. The Falcons are running the ball great as a team and I expect them to rely on Freeman even more week 6 with their passing game suffering. He’s a must play until further notice.
Gameflow: The Falcons were lucky to escape with a win week 5 but will be facing a much less intimidating Saints team week 6. While the Falcons have been giving it up to the RB position this year their secondary has been pretty good at limiting any huge passing days and at getting turnovers. The Falcons should have enough offensive juice to slide past the Saints but injuries will make this a tight contest.
Falcons 24 Saints 21
– Mark Ingram $6000
– Devonta Freeman $7000
– Willie Snead $3300
– Matt Ryan $6900
– Jacob Tamme $2500
– Leonard Hankerson $4200
Cardinals @ Steelers
Point Total: 44
Spread: Cardinals -3
Even through a couple of blowouts Carson Palmer has averaged just under 22 fantasy points this year making him one of the most consistent and reliable QBs so far for fantasy. The Steelers defense is actually 5th in the league in sacks but might have trouble getting to Palmer who has only gone down 5 times through 5 games. If the Steelers can’t get pressure Palmer might have a massive game week 6 as all of his receiving options have the speed to take advantage of the man coverage and mismatches created by Pittsburgh’s blitzing. Palmer’s great value and a great play at only $6600.
The Pittsburgh secondary has actually been pretty good at limiting the big plays to the WRs on the outside however they are injured at the safety position and got torn to shreds in the middle of the field last week by Antonio Gates. While Larry Fitzgerald is still technically a WR he’s been lining up in the slot on well over 50% of the snaps so far in 2015 (and even used a blocker on some plays). Working the middle of the field I expect Fitzgerald to run wild in this matchup and think he has monster fantasy potential… At the other receiver positions both John Brown and Michael Floyd have received 14 and 12 targets respectively the last two games. While Brown has been more productive Floyd is much cheaper at only $3000. Floyd would again be my preference between the two (merely due to price) if looking to stack Palmer with another receiving option.
At RB here was how the snaps and red zone carries broke down for the Cardinals week 5 with all three of their RBs healthy:
Chris Johnson remained the main back last week but Andre Ellington saw more work in the passing game, while David Johnson was the primary red zone back. While you could make a case for Chris Johnson at only $4600 you can see that his production is getting cut into, both in the pass game by Ellington and in the red zone by David Johnson (the most talented back of the entire group). With the Steelers sporting a solid run D the smart move here is to simply avoid this RBBC week 6 and look for places with more upside.
The Steelers ran 26 pass plays vs. 27 run plays last week and outside of one long pass (a 70 yard TD on broken coverage) they really had trouble moving the ball through the air. It looks like Michael Vick will get at least one more start and the matchup this week is a nightmare. The Cardinals haven’t allowed a QB to throw for more than 200 yards in a game versus them since week 1 and have multiple INTs in 3 of 5 games this year. Don’t even think about using Vick this week but do give a lot of thought to the Cards defense as a play… You should also be leaving all of the Steelers receivers on your fantasy bench this weekend. Under Vick, stud WR Antonio Brown has caught 8 passes for 88 yards in two games. That used to be a slow half for Brown who’s deeper routes have been reduced/made ineffective by the limitations of his new QB. At $8300 you’d be crazy to risk rostering Brown or any Steeler WR… look to other teams for value at WR this week.
While the Cards defense has been stout against the pass there is some hope that Le’Veon Bell can have another monster game week 6. Bell was involved in nearly 50% of his teams plays last week and you might see that figure increase this game considering the lethalness of the Arizona secondary. With the Steelers effective game total set at 21, you would have to expect Bell to be involved on at least one scoring play in this game. While I’m not as high on Bell as I was last week I do think there’s enough big game upside to pay the $8500 price tag for him in tournaments. Just be wary as the Cards are a quality opponent.
Gameflow: As much as I enjoyed watching the Steelers scrap their way to a win last Monday night, I don’t think we’ll see them pull off the same feat two weeks in a row. The Cardinals are a much more complete team than the Chargers and should be able to put some points up on the board against what has been a pretty solid Pitt D since week 1. I expect Carson Palmer to use Larry Fitzgerald a ton and for the pair to carve out a nice week 6 win.
Cardinals 27 Steelers 20
– Carson Palmer $6600
– Larry Fitzgerald $7000
– Le’Veon Bell $8500
– Cardinals D $3600
Bears @ Lions
Point Total: 43
Spread: Lions -2
You can’t trust anything on offense for Detroit right now. Matthew Stafford has been awful this season throwing for under 250 yards in three of five games while compiling 8 INTs v just 6 TDs. The Bears haven’t been great as a team but they’ve done extremely well at limiting the passing output of opposing QBs and have only allowed more than 200 yards passing against them only once. Put a big X through Stafford’s name for fantasy this week and possibly the rest of the season.
WR Calvin Johnson got only 7 targets in last week’s blowout and isn’t getting as open as he used to (at least against good corners). I don’t think Calvin’s done by any means, as he’s still moving around the field well enough, but he needs better play from his QB to make a difference for fantasy right now and he’s not getting it. At a still pricey $7300 he’s way off my list of approved plays this week… WR Golden Tate had maybe the quietest 18 target day ever in fantasy week 5. Tate only converted 8 of those targets into catches and has not flashed any of his great after the catch running abilities yet this season. At $5200 you could consider him as the Lions may start incorporating more quick screens to limit Stafford’s mistakes but he’d be a wildly variable tournament option.
The Lions snap chart and targeting for the RBs looked like this week 5:
Ameer Abdullah lost a fumble last week and was essentially benched afterwards, but the truth is the Lions are deploying Theo Riddick as their main passing back regardless of circumstance. I would not expect 13 targets from Riddick every game but don’t be shocked to see him play in front of Abdullah again… Unfortunately for those thinking of playing Riddick at his ridiculously cheap price of $3300 the Bears as a defense have been excellent versus the RB all season and haven’t allowed more than 3 receptions in a game to the position. While it’s tempting I’m not seeing much upside form this group, and even at discounted prices I’ll be avoiding all Detroit RBs.
The Bears pass game has been a week to week adventure with a different player seemingly “going off” for fantasy every game. Last week Marquess Wilson had a big game catching 6 receptions for 85 yards and a TD. Wilson’s a good red zone target and one I’d consider at $4000, but only if both Royal and Alshon Jeffery were out again as his upside is strictly tied to getting a few more targets with those players out… TE Martellus Bennett also has a good matchup as the Lions have given up a TD to the position in all but one of their games. At $4800 he’s a good tournament consideration and would get a massive boost if Royal or Jeffery were to sit again.
The player I like the most on the Bears this week is RB Matt Forte. Forte hasn’t scored a TD in the last three games but has now averaged well over 20 points a week when Jay Cutler has started at QB for the Bears. Forte, like Le’Veon Bell in Pittsburgh, is involved on almost half of his team’s offensive plays and playing on almost every snap, but at $7100 Forte’s actually much cheaper than Bell and also has a much better matchup. My opinion is that if you’re paying up for a high priced RB this week Forte is the best bang for your dollar and most likely to deliver a monster game.
Gameflow: I expect this game to be as ugly in real life as it looks on paper. The Bears have played teams tough this year but still don’t have much firepower on offense and will look to slow things down with lots of Matt Forte. Detroit meanwhile will likely cut back on any risky plays since Matt Stafford keeps turning the ball over and be content with a slow pace too. As much as I hate having to do it I’ll take the Bears to win this possible snooze-fest as they’re simply the more disciplined, well-coached team right now.
Bears 21 Lions 17
– Matt Forte $7100
– Marquess Wilson $4000 (if Royal or Jeffery out)
– Martellus Bennett $4800
Bengals @ Bills
Point Total: 42.5
Spread: Bengals -3.5
Andy Dalton has been unstoppable so far in 2015 and has now thrown for over 300 yards in each of his last three games. While Dalton may seem like a must start I am wary of using him versus the Bills. Buffalo started the season by giving up a ton of yards passing but have limited opposing QBs to just 399 yards in the past two games. At only $5700 Dalton’s insanely cheap but will be playing on the road this week against a team who likes to slow things down a bit on offense and may limit his chances. I’m not suggesting you bench the hottest man in football but do exercise some caution, this could be a slow week for the Red Rocket.
Here’s the targeting for the Bengals in the past three games:
AJ Green will see his second elite corner in a row this week as he takes on the Bills Stephon Gilmore. Even if Green doesn’t get Gilmore rookie Ronald Darby has been playing exceptional and is the second best rated corner through 5 games according to Pro Football Focus. This isn’t a matchup I’m willing to pay full price on Green for at $7600… one reason why I’m OK skipping AJ this week is because the Bengals are loaded at other positions. WR Marvin Jones has looked exceptionally quick after the catch this year and is getting fairly consistent targeting as well. The Bills have allowed teams secondary WRs to have big games (Dwayne Harris, Rishard Matthews) and at $3500 he’s the perfect price for a tournament gamble play at WR… The other weapon I would not hesitate to use on this team is TE Tyler Eifert. Eifert’s been unstoppable in the red zone this year and has now converted 5 of his 8 RZ targets into TDs. The Bills have been better of late against the TE but are still in the bottom tier of the league in terms of defending against the position.
No single player has gained more than 50 yards rushing versus Buffalo so far in 2015. Because of Buffalo’s prowess against the run this is simply not the game to use power runner Jeremy Hill who got out-snapped 19-66 last week by running mate Gio Barnard. While Hill is completely off limits Bernard will offer at least some upside in this game because of his role as a receiver. At $4600 I expect Gio to once again out-snap Hill and be a big part of the passing attack as the Bengals try to spread the ball more versus a tough Bills front. He’s a well-priced value play at RB.
There’s a ton of injuries on offense for the Bills right now. Tyrod Taylor, Lesean McCoy Sammy Watkins and Karlos Williams are all highly questionable as of time of writing and all four might potentially miss this game. Since the Bills will be down so many weapons I expect them to be very conservative on offense and limit what potential week 6 starter EJ Manuel’s responsibilities will be. While Manuel looked decent in the preseason I want nothing to do with him in this game for fantasy if he starts as I expect the Bills will have trouble moving the ball on offense… While Manuel’s presence will likely limit the viability of many Buffalo receivers for fantasy it’s possible TE Charles Clay will benefit from his presence. Clay should see lots of targets on short passes over the middle as the Bills do their best to keep things simple. Don’t be shocked to see Clay rebound after a poor week 5… I think he’s a decent target for tournaments as he’ll be low owned and is at a lower price tag than many other elite options at the position.
The biggest area of concern for the Bills on offense will be at RB as Dan Herron and Boobie Dixon could only managed 52 yards rushing on 19 carries in last week’s game. Karlos Williams is very questionable at the moment but would be a good play if he got cleared in time. The Bengals have given up over 4.6 ypc to RBs and can be exploited by more explosive backs as we saw when they played the Seahawks and Thomas Rawls broke out for a big game. However if Williams sits I would not risk playing any other Bills RB. Neither Boobie Dixon nor Dan Herron looked good last week running the ball and are simply not worth the risk.
Gameflow: I see this as a bit of a trap game for the Bengals who are coming off of a big win and have a bye week 7. With EJ Manuel in at QB I expect the Bills to slow things down as much as possible and to be able to keep this game tight with their stout D. With so many weapons though and Andy Dalton playing so well I still can’t see Cincy getting upset but I do see a tight game that comes down to the final drive.
Bengals 23 Bills 20
– Andy Dalton $5700
– Tyler Eifert $4900
– Marvin Jones $3500
– Charles Clay $4300
– Karlos Williams $5300 (if healthy)
Broncos @ Browns
Point Total: 42
Spread: Broncos -4
Josh McCown is averaging 384 yards passing in his last three games. McCown’s resurgence has been built on the Browns playing against softer defenses and getting down in games early (and needing McCown to throw tons to get them back in the game). This week McCown faces the Denver defense who has allowed only three passing TDs through 5 games and leads the league in sacks with 22. To put it lightly, regression is coming for McCown this week, do not consider him in any format and don’t be scared of using the Denver D against him.
Here’s the Browns passing targets for the past three weeks of play:
I would not touch any of the Browns WRs in this game either. The Broncos have allowed one TD to the position thus far in 2015 and have arguably the best cornerback duo in the league at the moment with Aqib Talib and Chris Harris… leave 2015 phenomenon Travis Benjamin at home. While Gary Barnidge might seem like a great option at TE he’s getting fairly expensive at $4400 and facing a team that hasn’t allowed a single TD to the position through 5 games. I don’t see enough upside in this matchup as Barnidge will have a rough time repeating any of his recent success against this vaunted D, I’m avoiding him as well… RB Duke Johnson played on 61% of the snaps week 5 and at $4500 the Duke could see a ton of targets again as the Browns attempt to avoid throwing at the Broncos’ cornerbacks. He’s probably the only Browns offensive player I’d give consideration to in this game, but I’d only consider him as a tournament longshot. Avoiding the Browns offense altogether and playing the Denver D is probably the best fantasy strategy I can give for week 6.
Quarterback Peyton Manning threw two more terrible INTs last weekend to raise his total to 7 for the year. Age has finally caught up with Manning who has seen a dramatic dip in production and performance this year under the new head coaching regime. The Broncos are content to play ball control and win games with their defense now and will continue to limit their aging QBs pass attempts and exposure. There’s no more big game upside with Peyton, look elsewhere for fantasy.
Here are the Broncos’ passing targets from the past three games:
At this point it’s getting really hard to discern where the big game is coming for the Broncos in the passing game. While both Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders have had decent starts to the year gone are the days of the weekly massive fantasy games for Broncos WRs. Both players have only recorded one 100 yard receiving game each in 2015 and have only seen the end zone 3 times between them. With both priced at or above $7500 I’m not a fan of rostering these expensive receivers anymore as they don’t have the same upside they did back in 2013-2014.
At RB for Denver CJ Anderson continues to share carries with Ronnie Hillman and both continue to be pretty worthless for fantasy. The matchup this week is the best the Broncos’ RBs will have all year as the Browns have given up over 150 yards rushing to RBs in all but one game in 2015. Hillman may have tweaked his hamstring at the end of last week and if he’s in doubt for this game Anderson would be a major play despite the running woes of the Broncos. If both are healthy though I’d avoid this situation altogether. Even in a tasty matchup the split in work and lack of success by either to this point would make a big game extremely unlikely.
Gameflow: The Browns are probably in big trouble in this game. They’ve been feasting on offense off of bad defenses and relaxed coverages but will find no such luck in their week 6 opponent. The Broncos defense is the all-star unit of the season thus far and should put to rest any Josh McCown MVP discussions people were dreaming up. I expect the Broncos to find enough offense to build a lead and their defense is more than capable of doing the rest.
Broncos 23 Browns 10
– Denver D $3600
– CJ Anderson $4500 (if Hillman out or limited)
NFL GAME BREAKDOWN – PAGE 1