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: OAK @ SD, DAL @ NYG, PHI @ CAR, BAL @ ARI
Raiders @ Chargers
Point Total: 47
Spread: Chargers -4
The Chargers have been outstanding against the pass this year and did well limiting Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers to just 250 yards and a couple TDs week 6. That being said, I love the way Derek Carr has been playing this year and I still think he’s got upside in game with a 47 point total where the Raiders are 4 point underdogs. The Chargers have been playing in a lot of run and gun games of late and at $5300 using Carr, who’s coming off a bye, in a tournament stack is a decent play.
Both WRs Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree have been playing well for Oakland but have a stiff test this weekend as the Chargers offense has been the best in league in shutting down WRs. Of the two Crabtree is not only over $2000 cheaper at $4300 but also has a much better matchup as he’ll most likely be getting CB Brandon Flowers (currently the second worst graded corner on Pro Football Focus) in coverage. With Cooper seeing more of the highly talented Jason Verret I think targeting Crabtree makes a ton of sense. The Raiders are 4 point dogs and could be in pass mode late here. I love Crabtree as a value play at WR week 7.
The Chargers have been brutal against the run allowing the most fantasy points to RBs and the second most yards rushing per game so far in 2015. The talented Latavius Murray has had a couple poor weeks but is still the main carry RB for the Raiders and capable of a breakout against a group who just made the unheralded James Starks look like Barry Sanders. I love the upside with Murray in this matchup and think he’s good enough to use in all formats this week.
Phillip Rivers leads the NFL in passing yards by nearly 400 yards through 6 games. The Chargers have been un able to mount any serious kind of rushing attack and that has meant a ton of passing for Rivers and a ton of big fantasy games. The Raiders should be a plum target this week as they’ve allowed an average of 308 passing yards per game and teams facing them have averaged over 41 attempts per game as well. At $6500 Rivers is basically a must play in cash games and a solid choice in any format.
Here’s how the Chargers passing targets have been distributed since the return of Antonio Gates:
Keenan Allen was on track for 20+ catches last week before he went down with a hip flexor injury. Reports are that he’ll be ok for this week’s game but the fact he’s $7700 and at possible risk of re-injury means Allen would be a tournament play only for me. I love the upside in this matchup but his price and injury concerns means I’ll limit the exposure… As for TE Antonio Gates he’s been reinstalled as a huge part of the offense and gets what can only be described as the matchup of the century in week 7. Outside of their matchup with Denver, who doesn’t really use their TE anymore, Oakland has given up at least 80 yards a TD in every game to the TE position. If Allen is hurt or limited Gates might actually see even more than the 75% of snaps that he played in week 6. At $5000 not using Gates in at least some lineups this weekend is probably going to cost you.
I was all aboard the Melvin Gordon train last weekend and he responded by fumbling twice and getting benched. Danny Woodhead ($4600) is the only RB to trust in this offense for the time being and should see more field this week as the Chargers can no longer afford another mistake by Gordon. Even if Woodhead only sees 7 or so carries a game the fact he’s been getting 7 or so targets as well makes him an excellent bet to hit value. He could be a sneaky big play in this game too if Allen is limited in any way.
Gameflow: The Chargers have been involved in a lot of higher scoring/crazy games of late and I could see this game adding to that total. The Raiders have some serious talent on offense and could once again force Rivers and crew to have to engage the other team in an all-out sling fest. Ultimately I like San Diego to win this game but I am expecting a close back and forth battle.
Chargers 30 Raiders 27
– Latavius Murray $6100
– Antonio Gates $5000
– Phillip Rivers $6500
– Michael Crabtree $4300
– Danny Woodhead $4600 (bump up if no Allen)
– Keenan Allen $7700
– Derek Carr $5300
Cowboys @ Giants
Point Total: 45
Spread: Giants -3.5
The Cowboys will go with a different look on offense this week as QB Matt Cassel and RB Christine Michael will be starting on offense. While Matt Cassel is definitely an upgrade over Brandon Weeden he’s still not in play for me in fantasy this week. Cassel will be working with a thin receiving core as Dez Bryant is unlikely to play in this game and his upside will simply be too limited by his receivers and Dallas’s run first approach… Michael on the other hand is a completely different story. The Cowboys O-line remains one of the best in football and Michael is a rare combination of power and explosiveness, as evidenced by some of his measurables from college. While this is no slam dunk (Michael has struggled to get playing time up until now) at only $3000 and with a Giants run defense who has struggled the past couple games I’m fine recommending him in all formats simply due to his bottom floor pricing alone… don’t be afraid to fire up C-Mike in week 7.
The Cowboys passing targets have looked like this over the past two weeks:
While I’m not super high on any Cowboy receiver I do expect Matt Cassel’s insertion to really help out Terrence Williams. Williams has been stagnant since Romo went down but has still been getting the most targets of any Cowboy wide-out, and will now be going up against a thin and suddenly exploitable Giants secondary. Williams is primed for a bit of breakout here in my opinion and this is a great spot to deploy him as a contrarian/low-owned tournament play.
Outside of his big game against San Francisco Eli Manning has averaged 15.74 points per week on DraftKings and only broken the 20 point barrier once. Meanwhile DE Greg Hardy returned last week and promptly sacked Tom Brady twice adding a boost to the pass rush of the sagging Cowboy defense. Eli got pressured-sacked all game in week 6 and unfortunately for Giants fans I could see a similar fate befall him in week 7. Regardless of if I’m right or not, I simply don’t see enough upside in this matchup to risk using him this week in daily fantasy and will be staying off him in week 7.
Here are the targets for the Giants WRs over the past two games:
Outside of Odell Beckham the Giants passing game has been hit or miss. Both Dwayne Harris and Reuben Randle have had decent games this year but with both healthy neither is getting a huge number of targets. Harris is much cheaper at only $3200 and playing against his old team this week though so looking at him as a cheap tournament option isn’t a bad idea. My preference would be to simply fade them both though… As for Odell, he came out of last week’s game healthy and should be ready to go for week 7. Don’t be scared off of him as he’s still the best playmaker the Giants have by a country mile and should play a pivotal role in this important division clash. He’s more of a tournament play for me this week but his upside is by no means limited by this matchup.
At RB for the Giants the duo of Rashad Jennings and Shane Vereen played almost 85% of the snaps in week 6. Jennings was the much more productive back and as the main carry RB has a much better matchup then passing specialist Vereen. The Cowboys have been gashed on the ground in their last three games and have given up 6 TDs to running backs in that same span of time. Jennings ran well last week and in an effort to counteract the Dallas pass rush could see more work in week 7. At $4000 he’s in play as a cheap tournament option who should have a great shot at scoring a TD this week.
Gameflow: The Cowboys will be throwing out a little different look this game as they try and stop their losing skid. I like the upgrades of Matt Cassel and Christine Michael and also liked the fact the Cowboys defense is looking a little more ferocious with the despicable but talented Greg Hardy on their D-line. This is my upset special as I think Dallas gets their *&%$ together this week and comes through with a clutch win.
Cowboys 24 Giants 23
– Christine Michael $3000
– Odell Beckham Jr. $8700
– Rashad Jennings $4000
– Terrence Williams $4200
Eagles @ Panthers
Point Total: 46.5
Spread: Panthers -3.5
Cam Newton’s been one of the most consistent and unheralded QBs in fantasy this year averaging 22.7 points per game thus far in 2015. Cam’s averaged 10 carries on the ground per game giving him an extra source of points most QBs don’t have access to. He does have a surprisingly tough matchup this week though. The Philly defense has looked improved over their last few games and will be getting one of their best players back for week 7 in LB Mychal Kendricks. Cam’s playing too well for me not to consider him but in this possible defensive struggle I’d leave him to large field tournament play only.
The Philly run defense has been outstanding against the run this year and haven’t allowed a single TD to the RB position in 2015. Jonathan Stewart may have showed up last week versus the tough Seattle front but he’s still going to get wally-pipped many weeks by his QB in the red-zone. I’m not high enough on him in a tough matchup to recommend him in week 7.
As for the Panthers passing game there’s really only two options to consider. TE Greg Olsen has been up and down all season but decimated Seattle last week with a monster game. The Eagles have been very good at covering the TE under Chip Kelly and the fact they will have a healthy Kendricks back at LB makes me think this is a week to avoid Olsen and not chase the points. I’m looking elsewhere for TEs in week 7… The other option to consider on the Panthers is WR Ted Ginn, who got shut down versus the tough Seattle secondary in week 6 but gets a much more inviting matchup versus the exploitable Philly secondary in week 7. At $3400 I like using Ginn as a value play or to pair with Cam in tournaments and think he could be the breakout player for Carolina on offense this week.
QB Sam Bradford’s been an utter disappointment for fantasy in 2015. He’s now had three games where he posted under 13 points on DraftKings and is only averaging 16 points per game total. The Panthers defense is extremely solid in most areas and might actually be an OK target for use this week in tournaments as an INT or two from Bradford seems almost inevitable most weeks now. Avoid Bradford at all costs week 7.
Here’s the distribution of Philly’s passing targets over the past three games:
The Philly pass game isn’t a great fantasy target right now as poor QB play and a lack of defined workload is taking the fantasy upside off of most players, including Philly’s top WR Jordan Matthews. That being said the matchup for Matthews this week isn’t as bad as people think as he’s not likely to see shadow coverage from Panthers stud CB Josh Norman. Matthews is still extremely expensive at $6400 but probably offers some upside as the most consistently targeted and most talented WR on Philly… As for the rest of the Philly receivers, don’t bother. Guessing who might catch passes from the rest of their group is an exercise in futility.
At RB Demarco Murray played on over 56% of the snaps in week 6, the highest percentage for any Philly back thus far in 2015 when all three have been healthy. Murray looked pretty good in week 6 and does get a Carolina D who has given up points via the ground in past matchups. I expect the Eagles to give Murray another healthy workload in this game and would consider him as a tournament option. The Eagles run game has looked improved the past couple weeks and a big game could be lurking here.
Gameflow: these are two very solid defensive units who are being weighed down by a couple of extremely volatile offenses. The Eagles looked dominate on defense last week and I think the Panthers could be in a bit of a letdown spot after beating the two time NFC champs on the road in week 6. I’m picking the Eagles here in a possible defensive stalemate to take down Carolina and reduce the ranks of the unbeaten in week 7.
Eagles 23 Panthers 20
– Ted Ginn Jr. $3400
– Cam Newton $6600
– Greg Olsen $6100
– DeMarco Murray $6400
– Jordan Matthews $6400
Ravens @ Cardinals
Point Total: 48
Spread: Cardinals -7.5
The Ravens have allowed 26 fantasy points per game to QBs on DraftKings so far in 2015 and been awful in defending the pass. This is a layup of a matchup for Carson Palmer who even in a tough game versus Pittsburgh last weekend was able to score over 20 fantasy points (he’s averaging over 22 a game). At $6700 Palmer’s a name you need to be including in all your cash games this weekend as his floor is likely the highest of anyone on the slate.
Here’s the distribution of targets for the Cardinals WRs from the past three weeks of play:
It was interesting that under pressure and needing points late last week, Carson Palmer favoured John Brown over Larry Fitzgerald. Brown has now out-targeted Fitzgerald in two of the last three games and might be pushing for at least a timeshare in terms of who is the number 1 WR in Arizona. Against the incredibly flimsy Raven secondary I’m not sure it matters who the official number 1 is as they’ve pretty much let everyone score against them via the pass. Still, with Brown being $1900 cheaper than Fitzgerald he’s a pretty nice value play and would be my choice if wanting to choose one for use over the other… Meanwhile WR 3 for the cardinals Michael Floyd has quietly moved himself up the wrung and has now averaged over 7 targets a game for the past three weeks of action. At $3200 he’s a great way to attack this Raven defense in tournaments as he’ll be the lowest owned of the Cards big three receivers.
I’m not super high on the Zona running attack at all right now. The three way time share between Ellington/David Johnson and Chris Johnson takes away upside from all involved and the Ravens have been extremely good versus the run anyways, even as their season has circled the drain. Avoid all three players and don’t get caught guessing where the points might go.
As far as targeting the Baltimore Ravens for use in this game goes, I’ll make my analysis short and sweet… I’m not super high on anyone… WR Steve Smith has been getting a ton of targets but has an incredibly difficult matchup versus Patrick Peterson/Tyrann Mathieu. At $6200 he could score again in garbage time but also runs the risk of getting shut down completely by the elite CB duo. He’s simply not worth the risk for me in an impossible matchup… QB Joe Flacco carries the same type of risk. The Cards have been one of the better teams in the league at defending the QB position and even though Flacco might carry garbage time potential he also runs the risk of getting shut down completely. There’s simply too many better plays at QB this week for me to want to risk rostering him in this spot.
RB Justin Forsett is seeing a lot of snaps and has actually seen an uptick in targets the past few games as well. He’s unfortunately pretty expensive at $6100 or might make for a good target as the dump pass should be a popular option this week for Flacco as he tries to avoid Peterson/Mathieu. I’ll make him my one tournament recommendation from Baltimore and a player you could target from the Ravens if looking to stack this game from both sides.
Gameflow: This game seems unfair. The Ravens are playing pretty uninspired football and can’t stop anything through the air while the Cardinals have been lighting up weaker opponents with aerial assaults every other week. I expect this one to go as planned. Expect the Cards to eventually wear down the Ravens and for the floodgates to open once they do. Look for an easy Cards victory with the possibility of a blowout/bloodbath.
Cardinals 30 Ravens 14
– Larry Fitzgerald $7400
– John Brown $5500
– Carson Palmer $6700
– Cardinals D $3600
– Michael Floyd $3200
– Justin Forsett $6100
NFL GAME BREAKDOWN – PAGE 3