Indianapolis at Houston – THU, OCT 9
Over/Under: 46 Points
Spread: IND -2.5
The Colts and Texans meet on Thursday Night Football in Houston. The Texans are certainly in a rebuilding season but come into this game with the same 3-2 record as Indianapolis and a statement win at home would certainly elevate their chances of making a run in the watered down AFC South. We’ll begin with their offensive matchups against an improved Colts defense over the last few weeks. In their three previous games, IND’s secondary has forced 5 interceptions – albeit in matchups against Blake Bortles, Charlie Whitehurst, Zach Mettenberger and Joe Flacco. They’re middle of the pack in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing QBs on the young season but in that three week span they’ve allowed the 4th fewest FPPG to opposing receivers. That’s not great news for Fitpatrick and his two major weapons – Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins. Johnson continues to be his top target, seeing 8 looks in Week 5 and leading all Texan receivers in targets in every game this season. Unfortunately that hasn’t translated to big success yet, as he hasn’t recorded a receiving TD or a 20 fantasy point game yet in 2014. Still, Johnson leads HOU in red zone targets among receivers and it can’t be long until Fitzpatrick connects with him for 6. In coverage, look for Johnson to see Vontae Davis on the majority of snaps. Davis is PFF’s #4 rated coverage corner this season and has only allowed 8 catches for 79 yards on 20 targets against. If the Texans want to get him into a better matchup (or any of their receivers) they’ll want to target the slot receiver. Slot Corner Greg Toler has been the biggest weakness in the IND secondary, allowing 227 yards, 1 TD and 2 INTs on 18 catches this season. DeAndre Hopkins plays a large role in the slot receiver game and Johnson has also found himself coming out of the slot on around 25% of snaps this season.
The Texans might be best served using running backs to attack Indy’s defense though, specifically using their talented back Arian Foster in the passing game. The Colts have lost a number of linebackers this year and that’s left them slow-footed in the second level of their defense – leading to huge receiving numbers for opposing RBs. Sproles had the 7 catches for 152 yards in Week 2 and overall the Colts are allowing the 3rd most receiving yards to opposing backs this season at a shade over 60 yards per game. Foster is heavily used in the passing game and has 15 targets in his last two games. Assuming the Colts are able to get a reasonable lead in this game, Fitzpatrick could be forced to drop back and throw a lot which means at least a few checkdowns to Foster. Coming off a solid 30+ fantasy point game, it’s hard to argue Foster’s relative value in this matchup with the full point per reception awarded on DraftKings.
For the Colts, Andrew Luck has been in the weekly perfect lineup on DraftKings on two occasions this year and has been the best overall fantasy QB through the first 5 weeks of the season. The Texans will try to combat that with a fairly talented secondary of their own. In the slot, look for Reggie Wayne to see Kareem Jackson on the majority of snaps. Jackson has rated out as the 24th best coverage corner on PFF but has struggled at times. On 16 targets he’s allowed 12 catches for 179 yards and a TD – a 2.24 fantasy points per target average. Wayne looks like a high-risk, high-reward pick in this matchup. If he can see 10+ targets (something he’s done twice this year) he could be looking at a 20+ fantasy point game. The other big name receiving option is T.Y. Hilton, who now has at least 80 receiving yards in three consecutive games. Hilton flies under the radar but he seems to be locked into 15 fantasy points each and every week right now. He’ll see a mixture of Johnthan Joseph and Andre Hal in coverage. Joseph is an above average coverage corner and has allowed 26 receptions for 328 yards and a TD on 41 targets this season. Still, it’s not an elite matchup and Hilton should be able to contribute his typical fare. The last piece of this Colts offense is the tight ends, who have at least one touchdown reception among the three of them in every game this season. Dwayne Allen has been the most reliable, accounting for 4 touchdowns this season already on 6 red zone targets. His snaps fluctuate, but he has seen around 75% of snaps a few times this year and when he gets that much playing time he can be a high-upside daily fantasy option. Houston is middle of the pack in coverage against TE’s, meaning you probably shouldn’t upgrade or downgrade the typical expectation on Allen and fellow top-TE Coby Fleener.
On the ground, last week was the first time all season where Trent Richardson saw more snaps than Ahmad Bradshaw. Despite the time share, the Colts seem hell bent on using their rushing attack with Bradshaw getting 15 carries and Richardson seeing 9 in Week 5. The duo also had four receptions each, while neither found the end zone on the ground or in the air. The Texans front seven is impressive at rushing the passer, but they struggle against opposing backs. Week 5 marked the 3rd time HOU has allowed 100+ rushing yards to RBs this season and DeMarco Murray was the 2nd individual runner to accomplish the feat. Over the last three weeks, they’re allowing the 12th most fantasy points per game to opposing backs. Bradshaw is the far safer play in this situation but monitor Richardson’s workload closely – if he continues to see more snaps than Bradshaw he might slowly become an intriguing daily fantasy option (although I’m not sold that it starts this week).
- T.Y. Hilton – $5800
- Reggie Wayne – $5900
- Dwayne Allen – $4400
- Andrew Luck – $9000
- Arian Foster – $8100
- DeAndre Hopkins – $5800
Chicago at Atlanta – SUN, OCT 12
Over/Under: 53.5 Points
Spread: ATL -3
This game should be a blast on the turf in the Georgia Dome. With the O/U set to 53.5, this might be my favorite game of the weekend to stack up a ton of options from. We’ll start with the Bears who continue to get a little healthier at WR and will have Brandon Marshall + Alshon Jeffery at close to 100% on Sunday afternoon. Coach Trestman also came out this week and said Marshall needs more targets, so we could see the first inklings of that in Week 6. Marshall is staring at a really good matchup this weekend as he’s coming out of the slot on over half of snaps and the Falcons lead slot corner, Robert McClain, is ranked #118 in pass coverage this season. McClain has allowed 123 yards on 11 catches and at 5’9″ he gives up 7 inches to Marshall who is 6’4″. This is a huge mismatch that Jay Cutler and company will look to take advantage of. The other stud WR has actually been more reliable this season and that’s Alshon Jeffery, Jeffery typically lines up wide left for the majority of his targets, although he moves a lot so he’ll see a mixture of coverage. When he is wide left, look for Robert Alford to sit in coverage against him. That might be the best matchup the Falcons offer, as Alford has allowed 12 catches for 187 yards and 4 touchdowns on the season – tying with McClain in coverage rating on PFF at #118 overall. Those are extremely enticing matchups, but the other thing to consider here is that the ATL secondary struggles aren’t entirely based on a lack of talent. These corners are being hung out to dry by a front seven that can’t get after the quarterback and can’t stop the run.
Speaking of not stopping the run, Matt Forte comes into Week 6 as the top running back play in my eyes. Over the last two games Forte has combined for 160 total yards in both weeks while hauling in 100 yards rushing in Week 4 and 100 yards receiving in Week 5. He does it all and his involvement in both the rushing and passing game makes him highly valuable on DraftKings week to week. Beyond being red hot, the matchup here should suit Forte as well. Atlanta is dead last in the NFL in terms of fantasy points per game allowed to Running Backs. The only team not to tally 100+ rushing yards against this defense was the Buccs in the Week 3 blowout on Thursday night football. You can attribute that one more to the scoreboard than the validity of Atlanta’s defensive line. We’re looking at a team that could be similar to last year’s Bears – they just don’t have anyone who can stop the run. Forte should run free and as mentioned above, he’s my top play at the running back position this week and it’s not even close.
For the Falcons offense, we can start with the #NarrativeStreet play of Devin Hester who seems a little salty that he was never even offered a contract by the Bears in the off-season. Hester is most known for returning punts but he’s found a home in Atlanta as a receiver as well. Hester has a 5 rec, 99 recyd game this year and a 5 rec, 70 recyd, 1 TD game in 2014 as well. Outside of that he’s been relatively quiet but on the home turf of the Falcons in a revenge game you could see him emerge as a reasonable option. That goes even more if Harry Douglas is again unable to dress. Douglas is the Falcons primary slot receiver (82% of snaps from the slot) and Hester fills in when Douglas is out (he missed Week 5). Tim Jennings is the Bears slot corner and has been mediocre at best in a limited sample size this season but ranks #134 in coverage on PFF among corners. The narrative may be the reason some give, but if Douglas is out Hester could be a high upside tournament play even without the narrative angle. Of course if we’re talking about the Falcons passing game then you need to be talking about Julio Jones who sits as the most expensive WR option on Sunday. Jones quietly had 11 catches for 100+ yards last weekend against the Giants – his 3rd 100+ receiving yard effort this season. He continues to fly under the radar a bit and his ownership this week could again be low owned considering his price being just above last week’s star – Demaryius Thomas. Julio should find himself tangled with Kyle Fuller on the majority of downs this week, and while Fuller has been impressive in his rookie season, slowing down Julio on the outside isn’t the standard assignment. Last week he was admirable in slowing down the physical Kelvin Benjamin, but Jones’ speed represents an entirely different threat.
On the ground, the Falcons certainly haven’t been an elite rushing team as they only rush the ball on about 37% of plays. Still the man, myth and legend Antone Smith continues to grow. He now has 4 touchdowns and 277 yards on 17 total touches (rushes + receptions) this season. Those are absolutely baffling numbers. I can’t possibly imagine pushing a player who sees so few touches, but it’s something to keep in mind moving forward. If he starts to get more looks, he might be a viable DFS play. Beyond Smith, Steven Jackson carries the bulk of the rushing load although he hasn’t received more than 15 carries all season. Jackson is high-risk and low-reward so even with a good matchup against this Bears front seven, I wouldn’t put him in consideration.
- Jay Cutler – $8000
- Matt Forte – $8800
- Alshon Jeffery – $6500
- Brandon Marshall – $6300
- Matt Ryan – $8600
- Julio Jones – $8400
- Devin Hester – $4500
- Roddy White
New England at Buffalo – SUN, OCT 12
Over/Under: 45 Points
Spread: NE -3
The Patriots come off back-to-back primetime games with a trip to the Bills who recently announced a new ownership group. These teams are tied atop the AFC East at 3-2 each, yet both have had their share of turmoil this season. Both teams are also coming off of emotional wins – the Bills came back against DET behind new QB Kyle Orton and the Patriots bounced back on SNF with a dominating win against the Bengals. It shouldn’t have a huge impact on this game, but the overall quality of play could dip a bit. Beyond that mentality, we can start with the New England offense which finally came out in the no huddle last week and shoved the ball down Cincinnati’s throat. They had their way on the ground with Stevan Ridley going for 113 yards and Shane Vereen adding another 90. Getting that going again could be a tall task against this Bills front seven that’s allowing the 5th fewest fantasy points per game to opposing RBs on the season. Still, there are some holes that could make the Bills more vulnerable than usual. Kyle Williams was out last week and is not expected to return in Week 6. Nigel Bradham is another defensive lineman who missed last week and could sit this one out as well. If neither of them can suit up, the Bills are certainly much more vulnerable against the run. Look for the Patriots to try and commit to Ridley/Vereen again this weekend with Ridley seeing about 20 carries and around 8-10 for Vereen.
In the air, the Patriots were able to get newly acquired Tim Wright involved early and he tallied 5 catches for 80 yards and a TD. After utilizing the speed of Wright (who played under 20 offensive snaps), they went to their other tight end – Rob Gronkowski. Big Gronk had the best game of his season so far with 6 catches for 100 yards and a TD. The stats are obviously what you look for in fantasy contests, but I was happier to see that he played 69/87 offensive snaps. He’s getting healthier and looks like he’s close to returning to the same Gronk we all knew and loved in 2012. He also led all receivers with 11 targets in Week 5. Edelman was the only other WR to see at least 6 targets (he saw 8 total). Edelman moves around in this offense a lot and should see a mixture of the Bills corners Stephon Gilmore, Leodis McKelvin and Nickell Roby (slot). None of these guys rank in the top 100 in coverage right now on PFF. The worst has probably been Roby in the slot who has allowed 206 yards on 12 receptions this year. Last week, Golden Tate had 3 catches for 74 yards out of the slot. Edelman will lineup there at times, as will Tim Wright, but the other slot receiver for the Patriots has been Danny Amendola. He’s struggled so much this year that I wouldn’t dare recommend him but he did have 10 catches for 104 yards in last year’s season opener at Buffalo. Maybe I’m not recommending him but somewhere deep in my mind I’m convincing myself he might be a viable play.
For the Bills offense, the target breakdown for Kyle Orton last week was more in line with what most people expected when they drafted Sammy Watkins. Watkins dominated the looks – getting 12 targets compared to just 6 for the next highest Bills receiver (Scott Chandler). Fred Jackson was actually second in targets though, with 9 looks from Orton. The fact that Orton spread 15 targets to Jackson and Chandler tells me that he was looking to check down in his options fairly often. Why does that matter? Because Watkins is about to meet Darrelle Revis in coverage and could find himself blanketed much like how A.J. Green was blanketed last week. Green ended up having a decent day but did his most damage on a TD grab when Revis had just left the game. For the most part, Revis looked like the shutdown corner that the Patriots had acquired. Expect Watkins to be shadowed and Orton will likely need to find 2nd and 3rd options through the air. That means more looks for Scott Chandler and Fred Jackson (who is listed as questionable but is expected to play). If FJax doesn’t play, you could see C.J. Spiller emerge in a huge role in both the passing and rushing game. As it stands right now, the Bills coaching staff seems hell-bent on getting Jackson the bulk of the touches so Spiller has low relative value.
New England Targets
- Tom Brady – $6000
- Stevan Ridley – $3700
- Rob Gronkowski – $5800
- Tim Wright – $3000
- Danny Amendola – $3000
- Julian Edelman – $5900
- Fred Jackson – $5000
- Scott Chandler – $3000
- C.J. Spiller – $5300
Carolina at Cincinnati – SUN, OCT 12
Over/Under: 45 Points
Spread: CIN -7
The Panthers and Bengals will do battle in Cincinnati and the biggest storyline here is the injury to A.J. Green in practice this week. Green is very unlikely to play this week and for a few weeks moving forward. Add that on top of the nagging injuries to Marvin Jones and suddenly the Bengals are a bit more one dimensional. There’s been a lot of love for Mohamed Sanu since he’ll dominate Dalton’s targets but I’d also be wary that not having Green makes the Bengals offense extremely predictable. Ignoring that, Dalton will have a receiving corps of Mohamed Sanu, Brandon Tate, Dane Sanzenbacher and Jermaine Gresham. Sanu actually saw more looks than A.J. Green last week with 9 targets and had 5 grabs for 70 yards and a TD. He typically lines up in the slot, but with Green out he might slide outside a little more often as well. In the slot he’ll see Bene Benwikere who has not been great, allowing 12 catches for 116 yards on 17 targets (NOTE: Benwikere is questionable this week). I’d expect Sanu to also see a bit of Melvin White and Antoine Cason on the outside, with Brandon Tate seeing them as well. Both Cason and White have struggled mightily this season. Cason has allowed 290 receiving yards with 27 receptions and 3 TDs on 33 targets. That’s an average of 2.21 fantasy points per target allowed. White has been even worse, allowing 2.31 fantasy points per target. With those two struggling so much, you might be able to go contrarian and roll Brandon Tate instead of the much more popular Mohamed Sanu.
The rushing game is another area where the Bengals should have success. Carolina ranks 29th in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs and they’ve been obliterated both between the tackles and in the passing game. Sure you could say they improved last week by holding Forte to only 60 rushing yards, but he added 100 more in the receiving game. The week prior, Justin Forsett and Lorenzo Taliaferro both found pay dirt while tallying 110+ combined rush yards. And in the week before that vs. PIT, both LeGarrette Blount and Le’Veon Bell had over 100 yards rushing against this defense. So what’s happened in the last three weeks that’s led to this demise? Well Greg Hardy was suspended indefinitely and in his absence they’ve been torched on the ground. I didn’t see his injury having such a drastic impact on their rush defense but it really is the only explanation right now. With Hardy out again this weekend you can expect Gio Bernard – a back very similar to Matt Forte – to put together a really solid performance.
For the Panthers offense, it looked early on like Greg Olsen could be in a very good spot against this Bengals defense. Last week Cincy allowed 185 receiving yards to Patriots tight ends including the surprise break out game from Tim Wright. The biggest reason behind that struggle was the absence of Vontaze Burflict, one of the best coverage linebackers in football. Burflict is however expected to return this week so I’d downgrade Olsen a bit – although he’s still an option considering how effective he has been through the first five weeks of the regular season. Beyond Olsen, it could be an interesting week for the stud rookie receiver Kelvin Benjamin. The Bengals don’t move their corners around much in coverage and allow opponent scheming to dictate the bulk of their play. Benjamin has lined up as the LWR on 57% on snaps this year, which puts him across from Adam Pacman Jones. Jones has rated outside the top 100 in coverage on PFF, allowing 208 receiving yards and a TD on 20 targets (14 receptions). He’s been far and away the Bengals worst corner, so I’d imagine that the Panthers will try and get Benjamin into that matchup as often as possible. You’ll likely see him lineup on the left side of the field more often, although if he really starts burning them it will be interesting to see whether or not the Bengals use Terrance Newman on him more often from the other side of the field.
The last potential value area in this game is the Panthers running situation. We saw the Bengals get torn apart on the ground last week by a relative soft Patriot offensive line, so expect the Panthers to try and dictate the pace on the ground. The bigger question is who will shoulder the load. Darrin Reaves struggled last week in the win against the Bears and Chris Ogbonnaya can see a few carries here and there but doesn’t have a ton of daily fantasy value. The player to watch is Jonathan Stewart whose status will be determined on Friday. If Stewart plays, I think his upside/ceiling is pretty high considering he’d be getting the bulk of the carries in the Panthers backfield. It’s a risky play since he’d still only get around 15 carries total, but if the Bengals struggle up front again it could be a nice payoff for a cheap guy.
- Kelvin Benjamin – $5800
- Greg Olsen – $5700
- Jonathan Stewart – $3400 (if healthy)
- Andy Dalton – $6500
- Giovani Bernard – $7700
- Mohamed Sanu – $5300
- Brandon Tate – $3000
Pittsburgh at Cleveland – SUN, OCT 12
Over/Under: 47 Points
Spread: CLE -2
Lots of divisional battles this weekend and this game puts the Steelers and Browns on the field in a rare occasion where Cleveland is favored over the dominant AFC North team of the last decade. The Browns are coming off an extremely emotional win at Tennessee where they made the largest road comeback in NFL history. The best player in that game was Travis Benjamin who used 4 targets to haul in 4 catches for 42 yards and 2 touchdowns. The touchdowns are interesting, as are the pair of red zone targets, but Benjamin’s targets stand out to me and tell me that the Cleveland passing game might have a different top performer in Week 6. Andrew Hawkins saw 9 looks last week and that was actually his fewest of the season. With the full point per reception scoring on DK, he might be the guy to own against a porous PIT secondary. Speaking of, Hawkins moves around a bit but does typically come out of the slot (52% of snaps) which would line him up against Brice McCain. McCain hasn’t played a ton this year but has been pretty solid when on the field. If Hawkins moves outside (the typical areas for Travis Benjamin and Taylor Gabriel) the matchups would be against William Gay (#18 on PFF in coverage this year) or Cortez Allen (#150). It’s pretty easy to see which match up is best to target of that grouping. Miles Austin is actually the guy who plays the most RWR for the Browns, which matches him up with Allen on most snaps, and could be an under the radar play this week although his targets have fluctuated between 3, 10, 7 and 3 so far this season. The last receiver to mention is Jordan Cameron who continues to look more and more healthy and has a great chance of finding pay dirt on Sunday. The Steelers are below average in terms of FPPG allowed to tight ends on the year.
The other option for the Browns is Ben Tate who came back from an injury last week and torched the Titans with 123 rushing yards on 22 carries. The carries are the most intriguing part of that stat line, since it was unknown how much he’d be used with Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell performing admirably in his absence. It didn’t appear to be much of a time share though and Tate saw 22 carries despite the Browns furiously trying to come back from a huge 2nd half deficit. The Steelers front seven has been better of late, allowing just 42 rushing yards to JAX backs and 44 rushing yards to TB rushers, but neither of those teams were able to develop an early lead and neither of those teams have an offensive line as solid as that of the Browns. The Browns offensive line has the 4th highest rush block rating on PFF this season and shouldn’t run into a ton of problems with the Steelers who allowed Terrance West to tally 100 rushing yards in Week 1 this season.
Moving over to the Steelers, a devastating loss to the Bucs at home followed by a narrow victory over Jacksonville doesn’t exactly instill a ton of confidence in this team. Many of the PIT stud players were daily fantasy let downs in Week 5 including Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. There’s reason to get back on the bandwagon this week though, and we’ll start with the stud RB Bell. In Week 1, Bell shredded the Browns front seven with 109 rushing yards on 21 carries and 88 receiving yards on 6 receptions. He finished the week as the highest scoring RB. Since then, the Browns have allowed 100+ rushing yards to opposing backs in two of their three games. Last week Roethlisberger admitted to abandoning the run game at times by switching out of rush plays at the line of scrimmage. I can’t imagine that happens again on Sunday against a defense that really hasn’t performed well against opposing backs. Look for Bell to get back on track and be one of the top RBs again in Week 6. He could also be a little lower owned since many people will abandon ship after the disappointing (he still had 82 rush yards) Week 5 game.
In the air, the matchup discussion when these teams meet is always Antonio Brown against Joe Haden. The only problem is that Haden hasn’t been very good this season. In Week One, Haden was targeted 3 times (all against Brown) and Antonio had 2 catches for 53 yards and a TD. Overall this year, Haden has allowed 16 receptions for 240 yards and 2 TDs on 22 targets – an average of 2.36 fantasy points per target. Haden should follow Brown around the field and while it’s hard to give up on a guy who was elite last year, I don’t think that necessarily downgrades Brown’s value that much. He’s still a Top-5 wide receiver target in the DraftKings scoring system. Also worth noting, Haden is uncertain for Sunday’s game right now. If he can’t dress, then upgrade Brown significantly. The other matchup that may be intriguing is Markus Wheaton. Wheaton has been quiet lately but he is still playing the majority of snaps for the Steelers and should see a good amount of Buster Skrine in coverage this week. Last week Skrine was absolutely roasted by Justin Hunter and Kendall Wright. Skrine was moved to the outside to replace the struggling Justin Gilbert. He was then thrown at 6 times, allowing 5 receptions for 122 yards and 2 touchdowns. Skrine isn’t very talented and Wheaton should be able to have a field day against him. Again, if Haden sits then Skrine and the a fore mentioned Gilbert will start on the outside and you could be looking at a monster passing game for Roethlisberger and the entire Steelers offense.
- Ben Roethlisberger – $6500
- Le’Veon Bell – $7200
- Antonio Brown – $7900
- Markus Wheaton – $3800
- Ben Tate – $5500
- Andrew Hawkins – $4600
- Taylor Gabriel – $3000
- Jordan Cameron – $3600
Jacksonville at Tennessee – SUN, OCT 12
Over/Under: 44 Points
Spread: TEN -7
The two worst teams in the AFC South will meet in Tennessee with the Titans starting as a sizeable 7 point favorite. The Titans are coming off an embarrassing loss to the Browns where they squandered a huge lead by trying to force the ball in the air through backup QB Charlie Whitehurst rather than rushing the ball with Bishop Sankey or Shonn Greene. It was an interesting approach to say the least and I don’t see them making a similar mistake this weekend if they get ahead. Greene is listed as questionable for this one but is expected to play against a soft Jaguars front seven. Sankey has been productive when he gets touches but his snap count and overall number of carries are really concerning. Why a rebuilding Titans offense refuses to utilize their early round RB draft pick is beyond me. Still, the matchup here makes playing Russian Roulette with the Titans RBs a worthwhile premise in large field tournaments. The Jags have allowed 100+ rushing yards to opposing offenses in 4 of their 5 games this season. So who should you target this week? Well Greene had 11 carries in Week 5 compared to just 8 for Sankey, but last week Sankey played 22 snaps to Greene’s 18. Neither of those numbers is enticing though since the Titans ran 70 offensive plays. My gut says that Greene could be an under the radar punt play this weekend, since most expect Sankey to take the reigns at some point but if you wanted to have exposure to either in a contest such as the Millionaire Maker I wouldn’t knock you for it.
UPDATE: Shonn Greene is doubtful to play this weekend. Assuming he is out, Bishop Sankey becomes a solid tournament play. Sankey may not see the touches we’d like, but he should see an uptick with Greene out and could put together a good day against this Jags defense with 15 or so looks.
The passing game is another area where the Jaguars are vulnerable, with 6 receivers having 80+ receiving yard games against them so far in 2014. The Jags rank 30th in FPPG allowed to QBs, 28th in FPPG allowed to WRs and 30th in FPPG allowed to TEs. That’s great news for the likes of Charlie Whitehurst (Jake Locker not expected to play), Justin Hunter, Kendall Wright and Delanie Walker. Last week we saw Hunter finally break through with some huge plays, hauling in 3 of his 5 targets for 99 yards and a TD. He’ll line up across Alan Ball on the majority of snaps. Ball is ranked #135 in coverage ratings on PFF this season and has been one of the most porous CBs in football. Hunter should be able to exploit that matchup but remains a high-risk/high-reward play since even in his best game of the season he saw only 5 total targets. The other viable play here is Kendall Wright who had a similarly impressive Week 5. Wright took 8 targets for 6 receptions, 47 yards and 2 TDs. With the Titans slot receiver you probably can’t count on the touchdowns being there consistently, but I would expect his targets and receptions to go up a bit in this matchup. Out of the slot he’ll see Will Blackmon in coverage. Blackmon has allowed 199 yards and 17 receptions on 23 targets this year for a below average 1.60 fantasy points per target. This is a solid matchup for Wright and he tends to be one of the most consistent plays on DraftKings with the full point per reception scoring.
For the Jaguars offense, the lead RB has been the discussion of the week in terms of whether or not Storm Johnson will take over as the premiere rusher. I can see the merit but would argue that Toby Gerhart’s struggles can be amounted to a really bad offensive line that’s just not creating holes for Gerhart to run through. The measurables between Johnson and Gerhart actually favor Gerhart, so I’m not necessarily buying that Johnson could step in and suddenly become daily fantasy relevant – even in a juicy matchup against the Titans defense that has ranked in the middle of the league in terms of FPPG allowed to RBs. The opponent is enticing but given the O-line struggles for Jacksonville paired with the fact that the Jags are always going to be heavy underdogs on the road, there are much better value running backs than Storm Johnson for this weekend’s slate.
In the passing game, Blake Bortles continues to try and adjust to NFL defenses. Oddly enough, he’s struggled most when under no pressure in his first three games. According to PFF he has a 67.7 QBR with no pressure compared to 82.6 when he’s rushed. That could benefit him against a Titans pass rush that has ranked 6th on PFFs team ratings so far this season, but it’s hard for me to imagine a scenario where a rookie QB having less time makes him more effective. Regardless, he’ll need to bounce back from his worst game so far in Week 5 if the Jags want to beat Tennessee on the road. On the outside, Allen Robinson should see Blidi Wreh-Wilson on the outside as the rookie CB is expected to return for Week 6. Wreh-Wilson has really struggled this year, allowing 16 receptions, 215 yards and 3 TDs on 28 targets against. This should be a matchup that Robinson, who has had 28 targets in 3 games with Bortles at the helm, can exploit. The concern is that the Titans may shadow Robinson with Jason McCourty, an elite corner who doesn’t necessarily hold firm on one side of the field. I’m expecting Robinson to see more McCourty than Wreh-Wilson, and ignoring the ‘side of the field’ matchup a bit in this one. McCourty is better than his numbers may indicate this year, as he’s allowed 409 yards receiving through five games. He hasn’t allowed a TD though and has 2 INTs on the year. The other option for Bortles is Allen Hurns, who also saw 11 targets in Week 5. If Hurns comes out of the slot (has done so on 44% of snaps this year) he’ll run into Coty Sensabaugh who has an average corner at best. He’s allowed 81 receiving yards and 10 catches on 13 targets in a somewhat limited sample size. It’s not the best matchup for Hurns but he’ll also move outside and when he does so, he should see the a fore mentioned Wreh-Wilson in coverage if the Titans shadow Robinson with McCourty.
- Allen Hurns – $4400
- Charlie Whitehurst – $6200
- Bishop Sankey
- Kendall Wright – $5500
- Justin Hunter – $4800
- Delanie Walker – $5300
Green Bay at Miami – SUN, OCT 12
Over/Under: 49 Points
Spread: GB -3
An intriguing matchup sends the Packers to Miami to take on a Dolphin team coming off of their bye. The Packers had some extra rest this week after playing on TNF in Week 5, so don’t expect the Fins to have too much of an advantage on that front. As far as matchups go, we can start with the Packers since their high-powered offense is almost always on the radar of daily fantasy players. Their offensive staple is the passing game led by Aaron Rodgers with his WR weapons Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. The other guy pushing his way into the mix is Davante Adams who has been talked about a lot this week after finding pay dirt in Week 5 and after Rodgers came out and said it looks like Adams is getting good separation from coverage during a press conference this week. What’s encouraging is that Adams played 46 of Green Bay’s 57 offensive snaps last week. Still, despite all of the love from his QB it’s hard to picture a guy who has 7, 3, 3 and 4 targets in his four games played this year being a really trustworthy play – especially with Jordy and Cobb fighting for targets as well. Adams will slide back and forth from LWR to RWR in this one with the Packers most likely trying to get Jordy in the best matchup on any given down. Adams (and Nelson) should see a mixture of Brent Grimes, Cortland Finnegan and Jamar Taylor in coverage. Grimes is a stud but has allowed a pair of touchdowns this season and is just outside the top 40 in terms of coverage ratings on ProFootballFocus. Finnegan slides into the slot in certain packages but has rated out as the 12th best corner on PFF this season. I’d expect Finnegan to play a ton of slot this week against Randall Cobb and the Packers 3-WR sets. That means Taylor will play more on the outside, along with Will Davis. Davis struggled against Oakland so don’t be surprised to see Taylor, who is unproven, to get more chances against the likes of Adams and occasionally Jordy Nelson. It looks like Adams has the best matchup here but the bigger concern is targets. I’d still be wary of all the Packers receivers against a defense allowing the 8th fewest FPPG to opposing WRs this year. Beyond the CB/WR matchups, it looks like the Packers will be equipped to slow down the Dolphins high octane pass rush. Green Bay has ranked 6th so far this season in pass protection ratings.
On the ground we finally saw Eddie Lacy get it going, albeit against the Vikings. Still, taking 13 carries for 105 yards and 2 TDs might be the sign we needed to jump back on the Lacy train. That’s good news as the Dolphins run-stopping is far inferior to their pass coverage. They’ve allowed the 12th most FPPG to opposing RBs on the season and they could be a little thin on the defensive line with Derrick Shelby getting arrested during the bye week. Shelby isn’t an essential piece, but if Green Bay commits to the ground and pound attack and controls the ball they should be able to wear down the Dolphins. Lacy looks like he has pretty decent upside in this matchup, although I would worry a bit that he hasn’t been given more than 17 carries in any game so far this season.
For the Dolphins, they’ll face a Green Bay defense ranking 11th in terms of FPPG allowed to QBs, 9th to WRs and 8th against TEs. The only weakness, fantasy-wise, has been the front seven which is 23rd in FPPG allowed to opposing running backs. With that in mind, we’ll start with the tandem of Knowshon Moreno and Lamar Miller. Moreno is expected to return this week and it looks like it’s his backfield again with Miller providing the change of pace role. That guess comes from the 38 total carries that Miller saw over three games with no Moreno and as the Fins primary back. It also comes on the heels of a 2013-14 season where he was repeatedly out-touched by Daniel Thomas. Miami didn’t bring in Moreno to keep both backs fresh, they clearly just don’t view Miller as a lead rusher for some unknown reason (if anyone can explain what goes through Joe Philbin’s mind I’d be appreciative). With that in mind, look for Moreno to see the bulk of the workload this weekend against this Packers defense allowing 124.4 rushing yards per game to Running Backs.
In the passing game, the Packers have actually held up pretty well. Their two big tests so far have come against Matt Stafford and Jay Cutler – with the pair combining for around 502 PaYd, 2 PaTD and 4 INTs. The Packers corners have been impressive and their safeties have been excellent as well – with Green Bay sitting in 5th in yards per pass attempt allowed at 6.0 YPA. They haven’t been torched by the deep ball very often, which hurts some of the value of Mike Wallace and his 12.4 yard average depth of target. Wallace is especially valuable when he can get involved on a few big plays and boost his numbers in a hurry, which seems unlikely in this one. He’ll match up with a mixture of Davon House and Sam Shields. Shields has ranked 20th this season on PFF’s coverage ratings and should be a difficult matchup for Wallace to exploit. House is a little more vulnerable, but has still held up his end as well – allowing 82 yards and 1 TD on 16 targets.
Green Bay Targets
- Aaron Rodgers – $8400
- Eddie Lacy – $6300
- Jordy Nelson – $7700
- Davante Adams – $3000
- Knowshon Moreno – $4200
Detroit at Minnesota – SUN, OCT 12
Over/Under: 44 Points
Spread: DET -2
Yet another divisional clash on Sunday pits the hapless Vikings and the disappointing Lions offense on the same field. The Lions offense has been a huge let down of late, with Megatron nursing an injury and Stafford struggling. Calvin Johnson is looking less and less likely to play this week, but luckily he hasn’t really been a factor the past couple of weeks so we have a pretty good feel for who can step up in his absence. The first candidate is Golden Tate, whose game logs in Weeks 4 and 5 with Not-So-Megatron look like this:
- Week 4 vs. NYJ – 10 Targets, 8 Receptions, 116 RecYd, 0 TD
- Week 5 vs. BUF – 9 Targets, 7 Receptions, 134 RecYd, 1 TD
Tate has been terrific filling in for Stafford and should be looking at an enticing matchup with the struggling Captain Munnerlyn. Munnerlyn hasn’t been targeted for a huge sample size out of the slot this year (he plays 63% of snaps from the slot corner) but he has allowed 10 catches on 12 targets for 138 yards and 3 TDs. Tate on the other hand played about 75% of snaps out of the slot last week despite an ailing Calvin not being available on the outside. I’d expect him to play out of that role a lot again this weekend and he’s staring at another huge afternoon. The other player who could pick up some of the slack for Stafford is Eric Ebron. Ebron had just 4 targets last weekend and has just 16 targets on the year but 3 of those targets have come inside the 20 yard line. Tate isn’t a huge guy, so Stafford may need to find a more physical receiving option to force the ball to in red zone situations. It’s not a safe play by any stretch but he could provide some salary relief this weekend and haul in a touchdown.
With no Calvin, you can also expect the Lions to run the ball a lot more. Unfortunately (for Lions fans), it looks like they’ll also be missing Reggie Bush this week. Fortunately for daily fantasy players that means Joique Bell should carry the load for this Lions offense and the matchup is ripe. Last week the Vikings allowed 105 yards on 13 carries to Eddie Lacy (with 2 TDs). They’ve now allowed opposing backs to combine for at least 100 yards rushing in every game since Week 1 this season. Look at some of these game logs:
- Week 2 – Stevan Ridley: 25 Carries, 101 RuYd, 1 RuTD
- Week 3 – Khiry Robinson: 18 Carries, 69 RuYd, 0 RuTD
- Week 5 – Eddie Lacy: 13 Carries, 105 RuYd, 2 RuTD
Their struggles have led to them allowing the 10th most FPPG to opposing backs and it looks like we could have a rare moment of clarity in the Lions backfield with Bush sitting out. Bell also gets involved in the passing game, so he could have even more upside on DraftKings this weekend.
For the Vikings offense, it looks like Teddy Bridgewater will play but he’ll be facing an uphill battle against a really surprising Detroit defense. The Lions are allowing the fewest FPPG to opposing QBs, the 10th fewest to opposing RBs and the 3rd fewest to opposing WRs. Their front seven is as solid as any team’s in the NFL, so looking to Asiata doesn’t seem to be promising this weekend either. Rashean Mathis, the Lions top corner, is the 4th rated corner on PFF this year and will likely see Cordarrelle Patterson in coverage a bunch. When Patterson isn’t looking at Mathis, he’ll likely see Darius Slay who has been impressive in 2014. Given his usage lately, it doesn’t seem like Patterson is all that relevant anyways. Combining how good the Detroit defense has been with how bad the Vikings offense has been probably means steering clear of all Minnesota weapons in Week 6.
- Joique Bell – $3700
- Golden Tate – $6300
Denver at NY Jets – SUN, OCT 12
Over/Under: 47.5 Points
Spread: DEN -8
The matchup here almost seems to good to be true, with the Broncos prolific passing attack taking on the Jets and their miserable secondary. You have a Jets defense that has a 12:1 TD to INT ratio in 5 games this season. They’re allowing the 4th most FPPG to opposing QBs and 7th most to opposing WRs. Three different receivers have 100+ yard games against them so far this year and now they have to try and slow down Demaryius Thomas coming off of an 8 catch, 226 yard and 2 TD game. Everyone is going to be on Demaryius this weekend, literally everyone, and I can’t blame them. He’ll see a mixture of Antonio Allen and Dee Millner in coverage. Here are there stats allowed this season:
- Antonio Allen: – 37 targets, 23 Rec, 283 RecYd, 1 TD
- Dee Millner: (only 2 GP) – 12 targets, 7 Rec, 145 RecYd, 1 TD
Thomas, Sanders and even Welker look to have elite matchups this weekend. Welker should get Kyle Wilson in the slot. Wilson has allowed 10 catches for 136 yards and a TD in slot coverage this season. All three options, along with Peyton and the tight end Julius Thomas are viable plays. I will say that using a guy like Welker or Sanders this week may be the best approach to being contrarian. Both saw 9 targets last week and both are capable of being high-value PPR plays. I wouldn’t argue against stacking a pair or trio of their receivers together, but don’t get tunnel vision on Demaryius and forget that Peyton likes to share the wealth. With Demaryius coming off that monster game, it might be Sanders or Welker who gets the next chance.
The next variable of value into Denver’s offense is Ronnie Hillman who will take the reigns as the lead back for the Broncos with Montee Ball injured. Hillman has been the toast of waiver wires and daily fantasy value segments all week and for good reason after his 15 carry, 64 yard game against the Cardinals last week. My one caution would be that the Jets front 7 is REALLY good. Sure they were torched by Branden Oliver last week for almost 200 total yards but beyond that they’ve shut down Reggie Bush, Matt Forte and Eddie Lacy. They were the best run stopping defense in the NFL in 2013-14 and have carried much of that success over to 2014-15. I don’t doubt that Hillman will see 15+ carries I just question how much he’ll honestly be able to do with them. Again, for the price point he’s not a bad play but just be wary that he might not give you the fireworks you’re looking for and received from, for example, Branden Oliver last weekend.
For the Jets, there are all sorts of problems with their offense right now and a visit from one of the AFC’s best teams isn’t exactly what they wanted to see to turn it around. It looks like it’ll be the Geno show at home once again and despite ALL of his struggles, I’m about to make an argument why he might be viable this weekend against the Broncos. First, he’ll have Eric Decker back which means he’ll at least have one decent receiver (assuming Decker’s absence last week helped him get healthy). Second, the Broncos are likely to open up a pretty decent lead in this game. Sure, the Jets fell apart and had something like four first downs in San Diego, but at home I’d expect them to be throwing a lot late in garbage time trying to catch up. The Broncos have allowed at least 250 passing yards in every game this season despite facing the likes of Russell Wilson, Alex Smith, Drew Stanton/Logan Thomas and Andrew Luck (Luck is different but couldn’t leave him out). Denver has talent at corner with Aqib Talib and Chris Harris (#2 coverage corner on PFF) but they still allow massive yards because their offense scores in a hurry and their defense is forced to play a ton. One of Geno’s favorite options, Jeremy Kerley, has a good matchup here as well against Bradley Roby out of the slot. In slot coverage, Roby has allowed 15 receptions on 20 targets for 191 yards. Geno also had half a dozen 20+ fantasy point games last season. I’m not saying he’s a safe play, I’m just saying if you want to go against the grain he could pay off for a bargain.
- Peyton Manning – $9400
- Ronnie Hillman – $3000
- Demaryius Thomas – $8000
- Emmanuel Sanders – $6900
- Wes Welker – $5600
- Julius Thomas – $6700
NY Jets Targets
- Geno Smith – $5500
- Jeremy Kerley – $3600
Baltimore at Tampa Bay – SUN, OCT 12
Over/Under: 43 Points
Spread: BAL -3
Ravens and Buccaneers in a game between two teams coming off Week 5 losses. The Ravens struggled to move the ball against the Colts while the Buccs lost an OT heart breaker in New Orleans. Starting with Baltimore’s offense, they should be looking at solid matchups across the board with Tampa Bay ranking 24th or worse against all positions in fantasy points per game allowed this season. It could be a nice spot for Joe Flacco to get back on track following a Week 5 dud, considering the last three teams to face this Tampa secondary have all tallied 300+ passing yards (Matt Ryan/T.J. Yates, Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees). For Flacco’s weapons, it’s an interesting dynamic since the Cover 2 defense of Lovie Smith is designed to prevent the deep ball, which hurts Torrey Smith’s value, but the better corner should be on the X Receiver for the Ravens – Steve Smith. Steve will lineup with Alterraun Verner in coverage on most snaps and Verner has had an up and down season so far but is talented enough to deal with the Ravens veteran WR. Verner has allowed 2.07 FP/target this year but PFF ranks him 29th among all corners in coverage ratings. Torrey on the other hand has a juicier matchup with Johnthan Banks who is ranked 168th among all corners on ProFootballFocus. The last caveat is that Goldson, arguably the best safety for the Bucs, won’t play this weekend – leaving the TB defense in shambles. The goal might be to prevent the deep ball but it may not have the assets to do anything about it. Both receivers do move around a fair amount in the offensive scheme though, so I’d expect Steve Smith to have more success as the possession receiver, specifically with Gary Kubiak’s offense getting him so many targets. Last week was the 2nd time where Torrey had more looks than Steve, but again Steve had more receptions. The other play I really like here is Owen Daniels. Daniels is coming off of a 5 catch, 70 yard game against the Colts and faces a TB defense allowing the 5th most FPPG to opposing Tight Ends this season.
The rushing attack for the Ravens hasn’t gained any more clarity after none of the Forsett/Pierce/Taliaferro trio saw more than 6 carries in Week 5. Forsett found the end zone though and if you’re going to use any of these three I’d rely on the guy who is most involved in red zone plans. Last week, Forsett saw 8 red zone opportunities compared to a combined 0 for Pierce and Taliaferro. He now has 27 red zone opportunities through five weeks of the season. Even at the beginning of the year with Pierce serving as the featured back, Forsett was dominating the red zone looks. Tampa Bay’s front seven isn’t horrible, although they do have some holes. I don’t necessarily love any of these backs to have a huge game but Forsett’s red zone usage makes him a viable play this weekend, especially with the Ravens sitting as slight road favorites.
For the Buccs offense, they might be able to find some breathing room through the air against this Ravens secondary. A team usually known for its staunch defense, the Ravens have allowed at least 260 passing yards in four of their five games this year. That includes 300+ yard games allowed to Andy Dalton and Andrew Luck, along with a 290 yard game allowed to Brian Hoyer. Mike Glennon has been solid for Tampa, throwing for 550+ yards, 4 TDs and 2 INTs in two starts this year. The concerns here are the injuries with Vincent Jackson questionable but likely to play and Mike Evans looking like a true game time decision. Jackson should match up on the outside with either Jimmy Smith or Lardarius Webb, depending on which side of the field he goes out on. Jackson plays a mixture of LWR (39%), Slot WR (33%) and RWR (28%) so he’ll get chances against all of the Ravens corners. Smith has been great for Baltimore, ranking 10th on PFF in coverage among all corners. Webb has struggled since coming off an injury, allowing 7 catches on 10 targets for 85 yards in two games. Last week he was picked on at times by Andrew Luck who threw his way 9 times for 6 completions and 61 yards. That should be a matchup VJax is able to exploit. On the other side, you look at Mike Evans and whether or not he plays. If he does play, it probably boosts Jackson’s value as the Ravens will be less inclined to shadow more coverage towards the Buccs top receiver. If he doesn’t play, Jackson might be the focal point of the Ravens secondary and Louis Murphy, who has 18 targets, 9 receptions, 134 yards and a TD over the last two weeks, might be looking at another decent afternoon.
- Joe Flacco – $6700
- Justin Forsett – $6100
- Steve Smith Sr. – $6200
- Owen Daniels – $4300
- Torrey Smith
Tampa Bay Targets
- Vincent Jackson – $5700
- Louis Murphy Jr. – $3800
San Diego at Oakland – SUN, OCT 12
Over/Under: 43 Points
Spread: SD -7
The Chargers visit Oakland as one of the hottest teams in football right now. They draw a Raiders team coming off a bye week where they fired their coach, buried a football and desperately tried to convince themselves they were starting fresh. San Diego has some issues as well though, with Donald Brown going down last week they’re onto their fourth string running back and the loss of Doug Legursky means they’re onto their fourth string Center. It didn’t seem to matter much last week against a stout Jets rush defense, as Branden Oliver took the reigns and went bonkers with 19 carries, 114 rushing yards, 4 receptions, 68 receiving yards and 2 total TDs. Oliver heads into this matchup as the featured back with only Ronnie Brown (signed this week) sharing snaps in the backfield. Enter an opponent in Oakland allowing the 7th most FPPG to opposing running backs and there’s reason to believe that Oliver will be in for another solid performance this weekend. Also looking at the Vegas Line here, this game should play out with San Diego protecting a lead. The only downside on Oliver is the price tag this week that has elevated him above a number of other backs who might have better overall value. The high tag combined with how raw he is makes him a difficult play to trust in head to head games but also makes it difficult for him to explode well beyond his target value in tournaments. I’m not advising to avoid him, especially since he could get 20 touches again, but I’d be cautious of his ownership percentages and fading him on a few teams could be the right course of action.
In the passing game, it will be interesting to see how many times Rivers is asked to drop back and pass. After their 31-0 drumming of the Jets last week it’s hard to picture San Diego really struggling with Oakland and again the Vegas Line tells us that he could be handing the ball off late quite a bit. With that said, Rivers has been impressively consistent over the last four games. He has multiple touchdown passes in each game and over 20 fantasy points in all but one – including 22 FPs in the dominating performance against the Jets. All of that said, the Raiders secondary hasn’t been nearly as porous as you might expect and Tarell Brown + T.J. Carrie have held up reasonably well on the outside. The biggest question mark for this defense has been the level of competition they’ve faced so far this season. Their schedule hasn’t exactly matched them up with world beating QBs, but they’ve yet to give up a monster game to any of them:
- Week 1 vs. Geno Smith – (23-28), 221 PaYd, 1 PaTD, 1 INT
- Week 2 vs. Ryan Fitzpatrick – (14-19), 139 PaYd, 2 PaTD, 0 INT
- Week 3 vs. Tom Brady – (24-37), 234 PaYd, 1 PaTD, 0 INT
- Week 4 vs. Ryan Tannehill – (23-31), 278 PaYd, 2 PaTD, 1 INT
Some of this can be attributed to the level of competition and some of it can be attributed to the Raiders not keeping many games close enough to force opponents to throw, but for whatever reason opposing QBs haven’t been putting up the huge numbers you’d like to see against the Raiders. They’re actually 9th best in the NFL in FPPG allowed to opposing QBs. While that may push me away from Rivers a bit, you can still consider using some of his weapons. Eddie Royal looks to have the best matchup coming out of the slot against Carlos Rogers who’s allowed 149 yards and 19 receptions on 22 targets so far this season – dropping him to the #144 ranked coverage corner on PFF. We could also be on the verge of Keenan Allen finding the end zone. A year after he caught 5 touchdowns in the final four weeks of the regular season he’s yet to find pay dirt. Last week he was targeted 3 times in the red zone though and none of the Raiders primary outside corners are over 6’0″ tall, giving Allen a nice size advantage inside the 20 yard line.
For the Raiders offense, they’re not quite the team you want to be stacking up on your daily rosters but there could be one or two places to find value against the Chargers. Looking at pure opportunities, Andre Holmes was targeted 12 times by Derek Carr in Week 4 and converted for 5 catches, 74 yards and a TD. Holmes will see a mixture of Chargers corners but could get the bulk of snaps against Brandon Flowers which is as difficult an opponent as the NFL has to offer so far this season. Flowers is PFF’s #1 rated coverage corner, allowing just 14 catches on 24 targets for 104 receiving yards. Holmes does move around a lot though and it’s unlikely that the Chargers will be shadowing any of the Oakland receivers (it would likely be James Jones if anyone). Holmes could slide across the field on most snaps and try to take advantage of a matchup with Jason Verrett, a relatively unproven corner filling in for the injured Shareece Wright. If Oakland is able to get that matchup on a good number of plays, Holmes could potentially be looking at another solid afternoon. Still, don’t forget that he has a rookie QB giving him the ball so even a great matchup (which this is not) doesn’t always lead to big production.
San Diego Targets
- Branden Oliver – $5500
- Eddie Royal – $5500
- Keenan Allen – $5800
- Andre Holmes – $3000
Washington at Arizona – SUN, OCT 12
Over/Under: 45 Points
Spread: ARI -3
Leave it to Bruce Arians to make analyzing this game between the Redskins and Cardinals nearly impossible. On Friday Arians announced that his quarterback situation will be decided at game-time, of a 4 PM ET game, between three different quarterbacks. Add on the fact that the Redskins defense has been a sieve recently and this could be one of the most frustrating situations to analyze. Instead of analyzing the quarterback position for the Cardinals, let’s try and look at some of the individual receiver matchups that might be beneficial regardless of who’s throwing them the ball. I will say that if Stanton or Palmer start (and one of the two seems most likely with Stanton passing his concussion testing on Friday), you don’t need to downgrade any of the ARI receivers. If Logan Thomas gets the ball, consider making late swaps to get some of these guys out as the rookie QB could struggle in his first NFL start. Anyways, it looks like Michael Floyd will see a mixture of David Amerson and Breshaud Breeland in coverage, depending which side of the field he lines up on. Amerson has allowed 25 catches for 245 yards on 34 targets this season (#141 in coverage on PFF). Breeland has been picked on since DeAngelo Hall went down, allowing 12 catches on 18 targets for 156 yards and a TD. Both are below average corners and Floyd, Fitzgerald and Brown should all be able to have success when lined up wide left or right. Floyd in particular has been the Cardinals deep threat this year and could see a nice boost if safety Ryan Clark (questionable) is forced to miss this game. Speaking of Fitzgerald, he’s taken about half his snaps from the slot this season and that means he’ll see a heavy dose of E.J. Biggers. Biggers has been so-so in slot coverage but if the Cardinals go with Drew Stanton on Sunday we could see more Fitz. Over the last three games with Stanton at the helm (majority of last week included), Fitzgerald has been targeted 24 times which is the most among Cardinals receivers.
The next variable in the Cardinals offensive scheme is the dynamic Andre Ellington. Ellington struggled on the ground last weekend but had 112 receiving yards and a TD on 4 catches (he did have a rushing touchdown as well). The most exciting stat with Ellington though is that he’s been given 18 or more total touches in 3 of the Cardinals 4 games so far this year. He’s finally getting the touches and snaps fantasy players had hoped for last season, and with Jonathan Dwyer cut from the team there’s no reason to believe he’ll lose those touches any time soon. Now the Redskins front 7 has been really good this year and they’ve faced really solid competition, but the Ryan Clark injury hurts their rush-stopping ability and an injury to Perry Riley, the Skins leading tackler in 2013-14, weakens them either more. Further, Ellington’s ability to get involved in the passing game gives him a high ceiling in the DraftKings scoring system. The matchup probably makes him a tournament play only, but he’s talented enough to carry a lineup in a large field event such as the Millionaire Maker.
For the Redskins offense, it was impressive how well Kirk Cousins held up against the Seahawks defense on MNF last week. Cousins threw for 282 yards and 2 TDs against the best secondary in football, thanks in large part to a monster game from DeSean Jackson. DJax broke loose on a couple of big plays and ended up with 5 catches for 157 yards and a TD. This week we’ll see a lot of Jackson on the right side of the field against Patrick Peterson. Peterson has been a shell of his 2013-14 self, ranking #148 in PFF’s coverage ratings through the first five weeks of the season. Still, I worry about Jackson’s ability to separate from the Cardinals exceptionally speedy corner. Jackson tends to have more success against physical corners because of his ability to turn on the Jets and blow by them. Last week, Jackson ran by Richard Sherman a few times. Sherman runs a 4.56 40-yard dash compared to 4.35 for DJax. Peterson ran a 4.34 coming out of college and has the type of speed needed to prevent Jackson from burning him over the top. The other potential move the Redskins could make is to slide DeSean Jackson wide left and put him in a matchup with Antonio Cromartie, leaving Pierre Garcon to use his physicality against Peterson. In my eyes, this works out as the better option for the Redskins. Cromartie has been solid this season, ranking #22 in PFF’s coverage ratings. But last week he was exposed by Peyton Manning and Demaryius Thomas who tallied 221 passing yards with Cromartie directly in coverage. He was also responsible for getting burnt on the long touchdown pass Peyton connected with Demaryius on. Regardless, there’s a reason the Cardinals are allowing the 7th most FPPG to QBs so far this season and it looks like Cousins and company could be looking at another good game on Sunday, especially with the 3 point spread favoring ARI. Washington should be forced to throw the ball a good amount on the road.
Last but not least we have to talk about the tight end position against the Cardinals. Jordan Reed is looking more and more likely to return this week and he’s a guy who might fly way under the radar after missing almost all of Washington’s first 5 games. Reed has been injury prone but when he’s on the field he’s been incredibly productive and this week he has the tastiest matchup against this Cardinals defense. The Cardinals are allowing the 4th most FPPG to opposing tight ends this season and they’ve now allowed 3 tight ends to tally at least 60 receiving yards against. The only concern here is the rapport between Cousins and Reed since the two haven’t played together much outside of occasional practice time. Cousins came on late last season when Reed was injured and didn’t become the Redskins QB until after Reed went down this season. Still, Cousins targeted fellow Redskins TE Niles Paul 26 times in 4 games and Reed is just a significantly more talented Niles Paul.
- Kirk Cousins – $6700
- DeSean Jackson – $4900
- Jordan Reed – $3200
- Larry Fitzgerald – $4800
- Michael Floyd – $5400
- Andre Ellington – $5100
Dallas at Seattle – SUN, OCT 12
Over/Under: 47 Points
Spread: SEA -8
I saw an interesting stat on Twitter that it’s been something like 20+ years since a 4-1 team has been more than a 7 point underdog in a game. The Cowboys accomplished that feat as the Seahawks sit as heavy favorites at home against Dallas. It’s not an unreasonable line though, with Seattle being nearly impossible to beat at home and the Cowboys still being hard to trust. For the Seahawks offense this week, I think it starts and ends with Marshawn Lynch. The Cowboys defense has played better this season, but they still have gaping holes on their front seven. That front seven has slowly gotten worse over the last few weeks against opposing backs as well:
- Week 3 vs. STL (Stacy, Cunningham, Watts) – 26 carries, 120 RuYd, 4.61 YPC, 6 Rec, 59 RecYd
- Week 4 vs. NO (Robinson, Cadet, Thomas) – 11 carries, 96 RuYd, 8.73 YPC, 10 Rec, 92 RecYd
- Week 5 vs. HOU (Foster) – 23 carries, 157 RuYd, 6.82 YPC, 2 RuTD, 2 Rec, 15 RecYd
For those keeping track at home the Boys have now allowed an average of 6.22 yards per carry over their last three games. The Seahawks, again, are eight point home favorites. They should be up big during this game and will go to their talented back to shoulder the load late. And perhaps the best part about Lynch this season is that he’s finally getting involved in the Seattle passing game. Over the last three weeks he has 12 receptions for 112 yards and 3 TDs. He has a damn receiving touchdown in three consecutive games. The Cowboys are as vulnerable an opponent as any on the ground and I honestly expect their numbers to get progressively worse as the season wears on. Look for Lynch to be a Top-3 running back this weekend.
In the air, Russell Wilson was relatively quiet against the Redskins on MNF last week. The bulk of his damage was done with his legs where he tallied 100+ rushing yards and a rushing touchdown en route to being the 2nd highest scoring fantasy QB in Week 6. It was his 2nd consecutive game with 20 or more fantasy points, but my only concern is that the Seahawks were in close games in each of those games (vs. DEN Week 3 and vs. WAS Week 5). Wilson was forced to do more, and he certainly stepped up to the task, but Vegas seems to be thinking that this game gets a little bit uglier. The other option that has intrigued daily fantasy players this week is Percy Harvin. Harvin had a ridiculous 3 touchdowns called back from penalties in the MNF game last week. If ever there was a reason to be tilted, those yellow flags probably had a number of people crying wolf during their Monday Night Sweats. My worry with Harvin has been his usage. Even if you include those three plays called back, he was only targeted 8 times in that game. He usually gets 4-6 carries per game as well, but he’s heavily reliant on scoring touchdowns right now which makes him extremely high risk. He also doesn’t seem to have that upside he had in Minnesota and he’s yet to post over 60 receiving yards in a game this season. Further, his matchup this week isn’t all that great. Harvin takes the majority of his snaps out of the slot which means he’ll see mostly Orlando Scandrick in coverage. Scandrick is PFF’s 14th highest rated coverage corner this season and has only allowed 81 yards on 8 receptions in slot coverage in 2014.
Transitioning to the Seahawks defense against the Cowboys offense, the trend of targeting receivers vs. SEA is actually starting to pay off. It sounds crazy, but the Legion of Boom has been pretty mediocre at least in terms of fantasy numbers allowed this season. If you guessed that Seattle would be allowing the 11th most FPPG to opposing QBs and the 13th most FPPG to opposing WRs through four games, I would have laughed in your face. But that’s been the case and some low-owned receivers in tournaments have been difference makers in 2014 against the Seahawks secondary:
- Wk1 – Jordy Nelson: 9 Rec, 83 RecYd, 17.9 FP
- Wk2 – Eddie Royal: 7 Rec, 69 RecYd, 13.9 FP
- Wk3 – Emmanuel Sanders: 11 Rec, 149 RecYd, 28.9 FP
- Wk4 – DeSean Jackson: 5 Rec, 157 RecYd, 1 RecTD, 29.7 FP
The Seahawks secondary might be human after all and the big games allowed to Sanders and Jackson recently prove that. In Week 3 it was Byron Maxwell who was touched up by Emmanuel Sanders for 6 receptions and 95 yards. In Week 5, Richard Sherman was hit up for 2 receptions, 85 yards and a TD by DeSean Jackson. Sherman seems less shaky, but I have my share of doubts when it comes to Maxwell in coverage. With Seattle remaining hell-bent on not shadowing receivers, you’d have to expect the Cowboys to keep Dez Bryant as the LWR against the a fore mentioned Maxwell. It’s not the safest play but I actually think he could have a pretty solid game in that matchup, especially if the Cowboys are down big and forced to throw a lot late. The days of blindly avoiding this Seahawks secondary may be over, at least until Maxwell starts playing better in coverage.
The rushing attack for the Cowboys has been their bread and butter though and you’d expect them to come out early and try to run the ball a lot to take the crowd out of the game and keep the score reasonably close. I mentioned last week how often they’re running the ball and that trend continued in Week 5 with Murray taking 31 carries for 136 yards. I don’t see his rushing totals going that high with the Cowboys being such heavy underdogs, but he also gets involved in the passing game and he’s been efficient enough this season that it’s hard to avoid him. The biggest worry here is that despite the Seahawks drop-offs in their secondary, they’ve been even more ferocious in their front seven. They have yet to allow a single opposing running back to top 40 yards. Contrast that with Murray who has 100+ yards in each of his first four games. Something has to give here and I’d guess that it’s Murray’s numbers that take the hit because of the expected flow of this game. He’s not out of play, his ceiling is just a little bit lower here.
- Dez Bryant – $6600
- Russell Wilson – $7600
- Marshawn Lynch – $8600
NY Giants at Philadelphia – SUN, OCT 12
Over/Under: 50 Points
Spread: PHI -2.5
This game comes in with the 2nd highest O/U of the weekend and I’d probably say that it has the 2nd most fantasy options available this weekend as well, behind ATL/CHI. These NFC East foes will duke it out on Sunday Night Football with both teams playing well of late. The Giants might be playing the best football of any team in that division behind a suddenly less turnover prone Eli Manning. Manning has multiple touchdown passes in four consecutive games with just 3 INTs in that span. 3 INTs still isn’t good, but over his last three games he’s been picked off just once which is a nice surprise. This week he gets a really poor Eagles defense that has been disastrously bad in coverage despite some relatively easy matchups. They oddly enough put together their best game, yardage wise, against Andrew Luck in Indianapolis. Other than that, they allowed 18 FPs to Chad Henne, 21 FPs to Colin Kaepernick, 31 FPs to Kirk Cousins and 33 FPs to Austin Davis. Even Luck who only threw for 172 yards had around 20 fantasy points. Those numbers have led to a 23.88 FPPG-allowed average against quarterbacks and a dead last ranking so far this season in DvP splits. This all leads to Eli Manning looking like one of the most popular plays of the weekend. Beyond Manning, some of his weapons on the outside should be looking at solid matchups as well. Odell Beckham Jr. is coming back from an injury but kicked off his rookie season last week in good fashion with 4 catches for 44 yards and a TD. He played just 38/71 snaps and I’d expect those numbers to rise pretty quickly as he gets adjusted to life in the NFL. Beckham lined up wide left on 68% of those snaps and if he does so again he gets the tasty treat of Cary Williams in coverage. On the season, Williams has allowed 349 yards in coverage on 25 receptions with 3 touchdowns – ranking him 190th among all corners on PFF. On the other side, expect Reuben Randle to see a lot of Bradley Fletcher in coverage. Fletcher is 93rd in coverage on PFF this season and has been only slightly less exposed than Williams. He’s allowed 21 receptions for 282 yards and 3 TDs in 2014. The only receiver who isn’t staring at a +EV matchup is Victor Cruz out of the slot against Brandon Boykin. Boykin has yet to allow a TD this season and is tied for 4th in coverage ratings on PFF. Cruz, who has had his red zone struggles over the last year or so, certainly looks to be the odd man out in this game. The final receiver in Eli’s arsenal is Larry Donnell. He may have overachieved through the first few weeks but last weekend the Falcons really focused on jamming him at the line of scrimmage which led to a bagel fantasy point day. I don’t love his upside as much but he’s still a red zone threat and the loss of Mychal Kendricks for the Eagles will be huge in their efforts in stopping the tight end position.
Next up for the Giants is Andre Williams filling in for the injured Rashad Jennings. Williams is a pure rusher, meaning he’s very unlikely to get involved in the passing game which limits some of his upside on the DraftKings scoring system. Still, it’s hard to argue with his production over the last couple of weeks while playing a secondary role to Jennings (Jennings left last week around half time). In Week 4 against Washington he took 15 carries for 66 yards and a TD in garbage time. Last week he got 20 carries for 65 yards and found the end zone once again. When you look at the style of back that has given the Eagles fits this year, Williams seems to fit the bill. He’s a power back who hits the hole hard. Similar backs that have beaten up on Philly this year are Trent Richardson (21 carries, 79 yards), Alfred Morris (23 carries, 77 yards) and Frank Gore (24 carries, 119 yards). The Eagles haven’t necessarily been bad against the run, but they are in the bottom half of the league in fantasy points per game allowed to opposing running backs. The biggest risk on Williams is the expected pace of play here. The Giants will likely try to slow down the Eagles offense by running the ball early but in Philadelphia it’s going to be a challenge slowing them down fully. If Philadelphia is able to speed up the pace and score quickly, then the run game might be abandoned a bit and this could turn into a real shootout. These two teams rank 5th and 6th so far this season in offensive plays per game, so don’t be surprised if this does start going back and forth – specifically through the air.
Speaking of that high powered offense, let’s take a look at how the Eagles match up with the Giants defense in Week 6. This is a Giants team that has been much improved on the defensive side of the ball, and they haven’t allowed more than 20 points in their last three games. That’s not exactly going to scare off Philadelphia though as they’ve scored 30+ points in four of their five games this season. As mentioned above, the Eagles are running the 5th most plays per game this season at 68.2 offensive snaps and they’re passing the ball on nearly 62% of downs. Compare that to the 53% passing play rate that the Eagles churned out last year and it’s very telling for the value of both LeSean McCoy out of the backfield and the Eagles other skill position players. Since they are passing so heavily, we’ll start with Nick Foles and his receivers in this game. The Giants went out this season and acquired a couple of nice pieces to supplement their secondary and it’s worked out pretty well so far. They are in the bottom half of the league in FPPG allowed to opposing QBs, but their corners have done a nice job shutting down opponents primary receiving options. In the last three games, the G-men have allowed just 3 passing touchdowns compared to 8 INTs from their secondary. The Giants are also not one of the teams buying into the whole “put your corners on one side of the field” epidemic stemming from Seattle’s incredible defense a year ago. Instead they’re moving Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Prince Amukamara around. Still, we can expect DRC to see a lot of Jeremy Maclin in coverage. Maclin has seen a ton of targets this season (58 through 5 games) and while Rodgers-Cromartie is a very good corner I don’t think he’s going to keep Maclin from producing his typical stat line this weekend. Given the expected pace of play here, Maclin should end up as one of the top receivers when all things are said and done for Week 6. On the other side, Riley Cooper found the end zone in Week 5 but he’s been unreliable so far this season and will have to contend with Prince Amukamara on the majority of snaps. Amukamara is 11th in coverage rating on PFF this season, allowing 200 yards receiving and 0 TDs. The last receiver is Jordan Matthews who doesn’t play a ton of snaps but typically comes out of the slot when he’s on the field. You can expect to see him go up against Trumaine McBride and while McBride has graded out well so far this year, I still think Matthews has reasonable upside for large field tournaments this weekend. He’s a big receiver who can do wonders in the red zone against this ball-hawking defense.
There are two other weapons at Foles’ disposal who could play a vital role in the Week 6 matchup with the Giants. The first is Zach Ertz who has been quiet of late after starting the year with 77 and 86 yards receiving in Weeks 1 and 2. The Giants are actually #1 in fantasy points per game allowed to opposing tight ends this season, but those numbers seem like a bit of a mirage. They’ve faced the Lions, Cardinals, Texans, Redskins and Falcons this season. The best tight end on any of those teams was Niles Paul. That’s right…the best tight end that the Giants have faced this season was Niles Paul. A year ago the G-men were in the bottom third of the NFL against the TE position and their linebacking corps isn’t loaded with top pass-coverage guys. This will be the biggest challenge they’ve faced to date this year at the TE position and with how good the Giants corners have been, Ertz could be the beneficiary of more targets this weekend. The other weapon for Foles referenced above is Darren Sproles. Sproles hasn’t been used nearly as much in the passing game recently but last week we saw Antone Smith convert a huge play out of the backfield for the Falcons and Sproles has that similar big play upside. After Week 2 he was the toast of the town but he’s fallen back to earth and his ownership levels might be extremely low this weekend. He might be the boom or bust play that can win you $1 million.
Last up for the Eagles offense is LeSean McCoy. I went heavy on McCoy last weekend expecting him to finally break out of this early season slump and he rewarded me with 24 carries for 81 yards. The good news for McCoy is that he’s getting the ball a lot, with 20 or more carries in four of the Eagles 5 games this season. The bad news is he hasn’t done much with that and has yet to put together a 100+ yard rushing day. This weekend he’ll get a Giants defense that is 27th in FPPG allowed to opposing running backs despite only allowing 87.6 rushing yards per game to opposing RBs. They’ve struggled a lot in the screen game and while I mentioned Sproles’ value above, McCoy is also a threat in the passing game and those receptions certainly increase his floor in the DK scoring system. His price tag is crazy low this weekend, to match his struggles, and he might make a decent head to head or 50/50 play for the current value.
NY Giants Targets
- Eli Manning – $7800
- Rueben Randle – $4600
- Odell Beckham Jr. – $4200
- Andre Williams – $5400
- Nick Foles – $6800
- LeSean McCoy – $6000
- Darren Sproles – $5600
- Jeremy Maclin – $6800
- Zach Ertz – $3800
San Francisco at St. Louis – MON, OCT 13
Over/Under: 43.5 Points
Spread: SF -3
The final game of the Week 6 slate and let’s be honest, I don’t think anyone expects it to be chalk full of daily fantasy value. The 49ers visit the Rams in an NFC West matchup in St. Louis. For the 49ers offense, the biggest question mark to me is how they’ll handle the pass rush of the Rams. They’re not nearly the same at getting after the QB as they are with a healthy Chris Long, but weapons like Robert Quinn are still there and the absence of Anthony Davis has left Jonathan Martin on the 49ers O-line. Martin has allowed 4 sacks since getting on the field and has been a huge liability. If Quinn and company are able to get after Kaepernick, we could be looking at an upset on MNF. The Rams defense overall has been below average against the pass, allowing the 12th most FPPG to opposing QBs and the 15th most to opposing WRs. Still, no QB has thrown for more than 217 yards against them, which could be a factor of the slow pace that St. Louis tries to play at. On the outside, both of the Rams corners have been really solid this season. Janoris Jenkins is 26th on PFF in coverage ratings and E.J. Gaines is 17th. Michael Crabtree, who has been banged up and not very fantasy relevant, should see a healthy mix of both in coverage and we could be looking at another pretty boring day from him. The guy I liked last week, and like again in Week 6, is Anquan Boldin. Boldin saw 8 targets last weekend and had 4 grabs for 72 yards. It wasn’t a banner day but it was decent enough and this week he has a good matchup with the Rams slot corner Lamarcus Joyner. Joyner doesn’t play a ton but I’d expect Harbaugh to move Boldin into the slot a little more often than his 64% slot route rate on the season to take advantage of this matchup.
The rushing game could be another area where the 49ers find some breathing room, especially on the road in primetime they’ll want to quiet the crowd and establish their pace. Frank Gore has been excellent over the past two weeks, topping 100 yards rushing in each and averaging 21 carries per game. The talk of Carlos Hyde stealing carries has quieted down and while Hyde has still seen 10 carries in each of the last two games, there’s been enough work for Gore to still be extremely relevant. The concern with Gore, as it has been for most games over the past two years, has been his ceiling. He’s rarely involved in the passing game, meaning he really has to find the end zone multiple times to wind up as a top-3 running back for any given week. The Rams are 11th in FPPG allowed to opposing backs so the matchup isn’t overly exciting, but he’s running well and his floor is pretty high so I wouldn’t rule him out as a head to head or 50/50 play for Week 6.
Moving over to the Rams, Austin Davis has been outstanding over his past two starts against the Eagles and Cowboys defenses. He’s thrown for a combined 702 yards with 6 passing touchdowns and 2 INTs. Unfortunately the 49ers aren’t quite the defensive sieves presented by Dallas and Philadelphia, as they’re allowing the 7th fewest FPPG to opposing quarterbacks on the season. Davis’ recent success has bumped his price tag up quite a bit, making me wary to go near him in a difficult matchup. On the outside, his most productive receiver has been Brian Quick. Quick added 5 catches for 87 yards and 2 TDs in Week 6 to his 2014 resume, and he’s now seen 9 targets in three of the Rams’ four games played. Quick will see a heavy dose of Chris Culliver in coverage and this might be an exploitable matchup for the Rams offense. Culliver has allowed 194 yards receiving and 15 receptions on 24 targets while ranking 77th in coverage on PFF. I’d imagine that St. Louis will leave Kenny Britt on the right side of the field as well to contend with Perrish Cox, who has ranked 7th in coverage on PFF this season. Britt had a decent Week 6 (3 rec, 68 yards, 1 TD) and has now seen 13 targets in the last two games but given the matchup and Britt’s proclivity to disappearing, I don’t think he’s a reasonable play this weekend. The biggest area of weakness for the SF secondary though has been Jimmie Ward out of the slot. Ward has allowed 119 receiving yards and 3 TDs in slot coverage this season and will line up across from Austin Pettis, the Rams primary slot receiver. Pettis did see 6 targets last weekend but I’d expect the pace of play in this game to be far slower and the opportunities for all of the Rams receivers should drop off quite a bit. The matchup is solid for Pettis but his workload isn’t there yet so avoid him in this game as well.
For the Rams rushing game, I’ll keep this relatively simple and to the point. San Francisco is #1 in fantasy points per game allowed to opposing RBs this season. After allowing 118 yards and a TD to Demarco Murray in Week 1, they’ve yet to allow another back to find the end zone. Zac Stacy has seen over 12 carries just once all season and his total number of touches are dangerously close to that of backup RB Benny Cunningham. Even though the Rams are at home and I’d expect him to get closer to 15 looks, I don’t have any faith that he’ll be able to convert that into 5-6 yards per carry and a TD or two. His floor is extremely low (3-5 fantasy points) and his ceiling in this matchup just isn’t that high, meaning it’d be very surprising to see Zac Stacy spin a gem on Monday Night Football.
San Francisco Targets
- Anquan Boldin – $4600
- Frank Gore – $4800
St. Louis Targets
- Brian Quick – $5800