The NFL Game Breakdown will be a weekly analysis of every game on the NFL schedule in extreme detail. From targets to game flow and other matchup variables, this article will be your one-stop-shop for everything you could ever need to prepare for DraftKings NFL contests.
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PAGE 3: BAL @ SF, SD @ GB, NE @ IND, NYG @ PHI
Ravens @ 49ers
Point Total: 44
Spread: Ravens -2.5
The 49ers have allowed some massive passing outputs thus far in 2015 and got ripped up for 400+ yards by Eli Manning last week. Joe Flacco has thrown at least 30 times in all five games this season and continues to rack up decent fantasy games as his own defense keeps forcing him into up tempo passing situations. At $5900 I’ll take the cheap price tag on Flacco this weekend and like him to continue the streak of big passing days against a weak San Francisco secondary.
With Steve Smith Injured here’s how the passing targets have shaken out the past two weeks for the Ravens:
Outside of Kamar Aiken there isn’t a whole lot to discuss as no other consistent target has emerged for Baltimore. Right now Steve Smith is questionable and might actually play this week. If he were to go I’d highly consider him as a tournament option as even a less than 100% Smith could see 10+ targets. Aiken’s price has now risen to $4300 but if Smith were to sit or be limited than I’d still consider him. The Niners just gave up a pretty decent game to perennial backup Dwayne Harris and Aiken should be able to find some success this week against a struggling secondary too. Watch the injury news but consider both Smith and Aiken this week in a plum matchup.
Justin Forsett tweaked his ankle last week and his status for this game is still up in the air. The only healthy RB behind him at the moment is rookie Buck Allen who I would not count on for a big game even if he were the only active RB for the Ravens. Forsett has been running well the last two games and has a good matchup against San Fran who has allowed 7 TDs to RBs already in 2015. Forsett’s health might make him a risky play though so check back on Saturday to see what his status is before committing.
The Ravens have been dreadful against real pocket passing QBs allowing three games of 350 yards passing or more to the likes of Derek Carr, Josh McCown and Andy Dalton. The good news is that Colin Kaepernick is not a pocket passing quarterback. Kaepernick had success against a Giants team who ranks near the bottom of the league in sacks for the year but will likely find the going much tougher in this game versus a Ravens front who have recorded 15 sacks on the year already. While the matchup screams big game potential here I simply don’t trust Kaepernick and think the Ravens D-line will do enough to disrupt him and limit his big play potential.
The player I am interested in rostering from San Francisco this week is RB Carlos Hyde. Hyde has looked great running the ball this season but been a victim of game flow many weeks. Last week with San Francisco keeping the game close he exploded for another decent game and saw a ton snaps once again. With this game featuring a small spread I like Hyde’s chances for a big game and think he makes a great value play at RB.
Through 5 games Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith have each had a 100 yard receiving game (with a TD) but have essentially been duds in each of the other four weeks they played each other. The Ravens pass defense has been so porous that it’s hard not to imagine at least one of these two having a decent game. With Boldin getting more targeting from Kaep as of late he’d be my choice for tournaments as he could and should be able to find plenty of soft spots in the Ravens secondary.
Gameflow: The Ravens might be small favorites but with them having to cross the country and possibly be very shorthanded again on offense the outlook doesn’t look great for them. I think you’ll see San Fran control the pace of the game early with Carlos Hyde and force Baltimore and Joe Flacco to throw it a lot late to keep things close. I think San Fran wins this game between two teams headed in the wrong direction.
49ers 24 Ravens 21
– Carlos Hyde $4600
– Joe Flacco $5900
– Kamar Aiken $4300 (if no Smith)
Chargers @ Packers
Point Total: 50.5
Spread: -10 Packers
Aaron Rodgers is still playing great but with the Green Bay defense trending toward elite status he simply hasn’t had to throw much. As one of the QBs in this league who can legitimately throw for 4 TDs against any team he’s always in play for me though. The Packers effective total for this game is 30 points right now and at least some of those should come through the air. With a potential high scoring game on tap I think Rodgers could explode after a few slow weeks and makes for a great low owned tournament option.
While the matchup with the San Diego secondary doesn’t look great for the Packers receivers WR James Jones will likely be seeing more of Branden Flowers on the outside in this game than anyone else. Flowers was beaten badly last week on a 70 yard TD and has one of the lowest grades at corner so far in 2015 according to Pro Football Focus. There’s a risk the Packers don’t need to throw much and Jones has a slow game but the upside of a high scoring affair means Jones can and should be used with Rodgers in tournament stacks. Consider him an affordable WR with upside for week 6.
Eddie Lacy has been a huge letdown in 2015 and hasn’t scored since week 1 against Chicago. While Lacy got shut down last week against the Rams part of the problem so far in 2015 has been his usage (or lack thereof). Lacy’s played on less than 60% of the Packers snaps this season and also only seen 10 targets in the passing game so far (2 per game). Lacy has a dream matchup this week against a Chargers team who has allowed over 5 yards per carry to RBs so far in 2015 and 7 TDs to the position as well. With his fall in price (now $6200) I will give Lacy one more shot to produce and would recommend him (for one more week anyways) as a potentially big play in tournaments.
With the Chargers O-line beat up I would expect Phillip Rivers to be under constant pressure all game as the Packers defense has recorded the second most sacks in the league to this point with 20. Still, with the likelihood of the Chargers being down late it’s also very likely we see Rivers throw the ball 40+ times again in this game. At $6200 Rivers is on my radar for big tournaments this week as this game could end up with late game fantasy goodness.
Here’s how the targets for the Chargers were distributed last week with Antonio Gates back in action:
While Antonio Gates might seem like an obvious play in this game I do offer a little warning. The Packers are ten times better at guarding against the TE than the Steelers were/are and will use Clay Matthews to drop into coverage to help out from time to time as well. I don’t expect a terrible game from Gates but I am wary… Keenan Allen looked great last week and just missed having a big game. Allen looks terrific running after the catch to me so far in 2015 and could see some softer prevent defenses later in the game. With Chargers using so many crossing routes don’t be shocked if Allen breaks free for some big gains (the same way Jeremy Maclin did in week 3) and ends up with another monster game. He’s my main target from the Chargers receiving core.
Melvin Gordon was much more involved in the offense week 5. Not only did he see 9 passing targets but he also out-snapped Danny Woodhead 46-29. While the Chargers have had O-line issues the Packers did give up a big game to a rookie last weekend as Todd Gurley sliced the Pack for over 150 yards. Gordon’s a gamble this week but one I’d be willing to take since he’s now getting the targets he wasn’t at the start of the year. He has big game upside as well in a potentially high scoring game.
Gameflow: I think the Chargers might put up a little more fight than people think in this game. The Packers defense has been one of the best in the biz through 5 weeks but the Chargers have weapons on offense and should be pretty fired up as this is a must win scenario for them. Still, the Packers at home are almost unbeatable and I expect Rodgers and the D to do enough to win what I project as a higher scoring affair.
Packers 30 Chargers 24
– James Jones $5800
– Aaron Rodgers $7700
– Keenan Allen $7600
– Eddie Lacy $6200
– Melvin Gordon $4600
– Phillip Rivers $6200
Patriots @ Colts
Point Total: 55
Spread: -7.5 Patriots
In their last four meetings with the Colts the Patriots main carry RBs have rushed for 515 yards and scored a sublime 11 TDs. If history has taught us anything in the matchups between these two teams it’s that RB LeGarrette Blount (who scored 7 of those 11 TDs) should get a potentially humongous workload this week. While the presence and resurgence of Dion Lewis might mean Blount doesn’t get all the glory I still expect the Pats to stick to their past game plan against the Colts (run Blount every play) which has yielded so much past success. At $4400 I think Blount has a ton of upside this week and won’t be shocked if he’s the highest scoring RB of the week in fantasy.
Julian Edelman has averaged 6.6 catches, 77 yards and zero TDs in his last three meetings with the Colts and has clearly had his production affected by the Patriots run first game plan. With RB Dion Lewis now receiving over 6 targets a game and seeing a ton of field be careful how much you rely on Edelman as this game has the potential to be dominated by the Patriot’s RBs… I echo the same concerns with Rob Gronkowski. Gronkowski’s services haven’t been needed much the past two times he’s faced the Colts (only 7 catches) although he did score two TDs during those two games. Both Edelman and Gronk have big game upside any time their feet hit the turf, but they are both tournament only plays for me this weekend as I think the Patriot RBs are better targets. Expect less passing than usual from the Patriots.
One last note on the Pats for DFS, Tom Brady has averaged only 30 passing attempts and 227 yards passing versus the Colts in their last three meetings… all games in which the Patriots lowest team total was 42 points (and average margin of victory was 27). Like Edelman and Gronk I’m advocating caution on using Brady, a big game could manifest itself but another run heavy approach could mean a very quiet fantasy day. Keep him to tournament lineups only if possible.
As for the Colts, it appears Andrew Luck will finally make his return from injury in this game. Luck has had all kinds of issues playing the Patriots and has now thrown 7 INTs vs. them in his last 3 meetings. Luck has thrown for 300 plus yards in two of those 3 games so there’s some hope for a big day but coming off of injury it’s hard to see him producing any real fantasy magic against a team who has absolutely owned him in every matchup since he’s joined the league. The safe play is to leave Luck on the sideline and think about using the Pats D this week at just $3100.
Here’s how the receiving targets for the Colts have been distributed over the past 3 weeks of play:
Since suffering a small knee injury week one TY Hilton has seen his health and play improve every game since. Hilton won’t have to deal with Darrelle Revis in his matchup with the Patriots this year whose secondary have already allowed big games to similar styled WRs Antonio Brown and Sammy Watkins. I think Hilton offers good upside in this game and like his price ($6500) as he’s significantly less than other elite WRs this week… While Donte Moncrief and Andre Johnson have both had a big fantasy game this year neither have been consistent performers. It’s possible with Luck back Moncrief gets more downfield looks but at $5000 I wouldn’t consider him any format outside of large field tournaments.
Frank Gore has averaged 4.47 yards per carry in his last three outings and has looked solid running the ball of late. The Patriots gave up a bunch of yardage to RBs in their first couple games but have been much better since then. After facing three straight AFC South opponents Gore gets a huge step up in competition this week and I’m not super confident in his chances of putting up another decent game. I’m fine fading him and just focusing on the Colts passing game for tournaments.
Gameflow: The Patriots have decimated, annihilated and destroyed the Colts the last three times they’ve played and right now the gap between these two teams couldn’t be bigger. The Pats should come into this game even angrier than usual given it was the Colts who started the entire deflate gate saga to begin with. Expect the Pats to romp in all areas of the game and to not let off the throttle until the Refs make them by blowing the final whistle.
Patriots 45 Colts 10
– LeGarrette Blount $4400
– T.Y. Hilton $6500
– Tom Brady $8100
– Rob Gronkowski $7600
– Patriots D $3100
– Dion Lewis $5800
Giants @ Eagles
Point Total: 50
Spread: -4 Eagles
Eli Manning continues to throw the ball a ton in 2015 and is now up to an average of 39.4 pass attempts per game. While the Eagles have a stout D-line the Giants fast tempo-quick release offense has afforded Eli protection as he’s currently the second least sacked QB in the league through 5 weeks. I think Eli makes for a solid target in this game which could see a ton of points and lots of offensive possessions by both teams. He’s still affordable at $6800 and could put up big yardage totals again week 6.
Here’s how Manning’s passing targets have been distributed over the past three games:
A huge question mark for the Giants this week is the status of stud WR Odell Beckham who is currently nursing a hamstring injury and looks questionable for Monday Night. Beckham would be a huge play if he can go as the Eagles have been awful against the WR thus far in 2015 and have now allowed 4 games of 100 yards receiving and 7 TDs to the position… If Beckham can’t go expect Dwayne Harris to see an uptick in targets. Ever since he started seeing more snaps in week 4 Harris has become a favorite target of Eli and has been looking like the better player over Rueben Randle. With Harris priced at a measly $3100 his recent targeting and the high total of this game makes him a great value play for week 6 regardless of Beckham’s status.
At RB, the week to week roller coaster on fantasy production for the Giants RBs continues as Shane Vereen stepped up last week and had his first big game of 2015. In a tight game last week, and with some of the Giants WRs hurting, Vereen played almost 50% of the snaps and saw a lot of targets. With the Giants currently 4 point underdogs vs the Eagles and Odell Beckham hurting it’s very possible Vereen again sees a lot of snaps and becomes a more primary passing target for Eli. At $4200 he’s a solid fantasy play on DraftKings and the only Giants RB I’d be interested in rostering against a tough Philly run D.
The Giants defense has been very giving against the pass thus far in 2015 allowing 314 yards passing per game. After a slow start Sam Bradford has picked things recently throwing for 5 TDs in his last two games. I like this spot a lot for Bradford against a Giants team who doesn’t get a lot of pressure on the QB. At only $6000 he’s in play for me this week in all formats.
The Eagles have been spreading it out a ton on offense as no player has received more than 9 targets a game in the past three weeks. WR Jordan Matthews has had a quiet and disappointing last couple weeks but gets another tasty matchup as the Giants will be without the services of solid CB Prince Amukamara who was slated to cover Matthews in this game. Despite his woes Matthews still leads the Eagles in targets and red zone looks for the year. I wouldn’t put too much trust in Matthews at this point but he’s still got big game potential despite the slow start and makes for a great tournament option.
Here was the snap and target breakdown from week 5 for the Eagles RBs:
The Eagles look like they made a concerted attempt to get Demarco Murray more snaps last week and also more involved in the passing game. Given how vocal Murray has been about playing more I think this is a trend that could continue into this week. The Giants have done excellent versus the rush thus far in 2015 but have given 8 catches in a game to a RB in two games already this season. While I don’t fully trust anyone in this backfield using Murray in this game as a contrarian tournament option makes some sense. The Eagles are favoured, at home and could run up the score with Murray late if things gets out of hand.
Gameflow: I’m not loving this setup for the Giants who come into this game banged up and off a tough win in week 5. The Eagles meanwhile have seemingly improved on offense each of the past couple weeks and might be primed for a big game versus their division rivals. I like the Eagles to stick it to the Giants and take control of the NFC East with a win on MNF.
Eagles 31 Giants 24
– Odell Beckham $8900 (if healthy)
– Sam Bradford $6000
– Dwayne Harris $3100
– Eli Manning $6800
– Shane Vereen $4200 (big bump is no Beckham)
– Demarco Murray $6000
– Jordan Matthews $6100
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NFL GAME BREAKDOWN – PAGE 3