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 1: MIA @ NE, DET @ KC, CIN @ CLE, MIN @ CHI
Dolphins @ Patriots
Point Total: 51
Spread: Patriots -8
The Miami Dolphins have outscored opponents 82-36 the past two weeks. QB Ryan Tannehill has an insane 83% completion rate over these two games and has averaged 22.81 fantasy points despite throwing just 48 passes over these two games. The Pats defense allowed Ryan Fitzpatrick to score 21.7 points versus them last week and I don’t see them doing any better versus Tannehill. I’m expecting a high scoring game and lots of passing from Miami, and at $5600 I think Tannehill might actually be the best value at QB this week, feel free to use him in Thurs contests.
Speaking of great value plays, RB Lamar Miller has now averaged over 16 carries and 144.0 rushing yards per game since Dan Campbell took over as head coach… up from 9.3 carries and 32 yards per game in the first four weeks. Miller has a tough matchup this week but at only $4700 he only saw a meager $100 price jump after his massive week 7. As much as I dislike the matchup Miller’s low price should allow him to hit value and if the Dolphins get behind I’d still expect him to be involved in the passing game. I’m not expecting repeat performance of week 6 here but Miller is definitely still viable for me and represents a solid play.
Here’s how the Dolphins passing targets have been distributed the past two weeks:
Both Rishard Matthews and Jarvis Landry have been insanely good at turning their targets into fantasy points this year and have averaged 4.6 (Landry) and 3.44 (Matthews) fantasy points per target over the past two weeks. The Pats have been giving up a lot of points to the WR position all season and have given up at least one TD to a WR in every game except against the Dez Bryant/Tony Romo-less Cowboys. While the shifty Landry is the more reliable of the pair and a great bet for some yards after the catch, Matthews has big time value potential at only $4300 and has played the most snaps of any Dolphin WR over the past couple games. I love Matthews as an under-owned play for tournaments and wouldn’t be shy about using either of these players in Thursday night contests… I’m expecting a lot of passing from Miami.
Tom Brady is averaging a sublime 28 points per game on DraftKings and with the Patriots projected team total at around 30 right now another big game is likely on tap. With the Dolphins likely to push the Pats a massive game could happen here as Brady could be forced to pass a lot late into the game and is already averaging 41 attempts per game. Don’t be scared off using him this week, the Brady train should keep on rolling.
Here’s the distribution of passing targets from the Patriots last game:
I’d expect to see Julian Edelman return to a more prominent role after being covered by Darrelle Revis last week and playing through a minor finger injury. The Dolphins coaching change can’t change the fact they have one of the weakest secondaries in the league and I expect a big bounce back in this game from Edelman. At $8100 he’s expensive but could be a key Thursday night play and someone I’d target in a Patriot tournament stack… TE Rob Gronkowski is also playing this game. Gronk destroyed the Jets last week and received a season high 16 passing targets. With the Dolphins run D being much more giving than the Jets you might see a slight decline in targets for Gronk this week but I still wouldn’t be put off using him again in tournaments. This game has a lot of fantasy potential and he could easily follow up his big week with another… While you have to like the uptick in targets for Danny Amendola, with Dion Lewis set to return week 8 I’m not keen on his upside in this game. Expect him to return to a less prominent role.
At RB for the Pats expect to see a lot more Dion Lewis this week, if he’s healthy. Lewis has a great matchup versus the Dolphins who have given up multiple big games to the RB position this year and just allowed Arian Foster to rack up a huge point total versus them through the air last week. If I knew Lewis was 100% healthy going into this game he’d be one of my highest recommendations but for now I’d just say make sure you watch the injury reports, if he’s active consider him as a upside play in tournaments.
Gameflow: This is shaping up to be one of the best matchups of the year thus far. The Dolphins have the talent to seriously challenge the Pats and are coming in with a huge amount of confidence and swagger. The Pats are the Pats though and will be ready to fire back. I see a high scoring back and forth game with Tom Brady getting the final shot in and booking a narrow win.
Pats 34 Dolphins 30
– Rishard Matthews $4300
– Ryan Tannehill $5600
– Jarvis Landry $6200
– Julian Edelman $8100
– Lamar Miller $4700
– Rob Gronkowski $8000
– Tom Brady $8300
Lions @ Chiefs
Point Total: 45.5
Spread: Chiefs -5
Matthew Stafford has now thrown for 6 TDs versus one INT in his last two games but has been atrocious on the road thus far in 2015. The Lions underwent a coaching change at offensive coordinator this week which could give them a boost, but I think the better play is to target the KC defense who has really tightened things up recently and only allowed 223 passing yards per game over the past three weeks. I’d avoid Stafford in this early “London” game and look elsewhere for points at QB.
The Lions run game has been truly atrocious this year as no back has been able to crack 50 yards total in rushing yards on the year. Pass catching RB Theo Riddick continues to see a ton of snaps however and was in on 56% of the Lions plays from week 7. With the Lions projected as 5 point underdogs and unable to mount any real rushing attack Riddick will likely see a prominent role once again. At $3400 he’s the only RB play I’d consider from this offense and is a decent bet to see 7-8 targets.
Slot receivers have decimated KC all year as Randall Cobb and Emmanuel Sanders put up 5 TDs in two games versus the Chiefs working primarily from that position. With standout rookie corner Marcus Peters slated to cover Lance Moore, Golden Tate could be free to roam in this game and I won’t be shocked if he breaks out. KC has allowed a WR to record 100 yards or more against them in 5 games thus far in 2015 and while I’d consider playing either Calvin Johnson or Tate this week I like Tate’s matchup and price ($5000) more… he’s a high risk, high reward tournament play week 8.
The Chiefs run game got going last week as Chacandrick West received a full workload and played on 87% of the snaps. West ran extremely well against a strong Pitt front and gets a much tastier fantasy matchup versus the struggling Lions who have allowed RBs to score 9 TDs versus them already in 2015. I love West as a value play in this game. At only $4700 you’re getting a RB who is getting all the carries no matter the situation and whose team is favoured to win the game by 5. This could be another big game for West, don’t be shocked if he puts up a similar stat line to week 7.
Here were the passing targets from last week for the Chiefs with Jeremy Maclin out:
It was great to see rookie Chris Conley get involved in this offense. Conley has some seriously eye popping physical metrics and could be a huge red zone target in the future for KC. Unfortunately if Jeremy Maclin returns this week, which he is likely to, I’d really want no part of any KC wide receiver. At $6200 Maclin is too expensive to roster considering the Chiefs are favoured and will probably go with their usual conservative game plan on offense. Either Conley or Wilson could be great value plays at only $3000 if Maclin sits but that doesn’t appear likely to happen… as for TE Travis Kelce, last week with Maclin out was supposed to be “his week” and yet he still only received 6 targets in the pass game. Kelce is simply priced too high for someone who never gets close to double digit passing targets and scores way too few TDs. I’m off rostering him till I see more commitment to him by KC.
Gameflow: This game looks ugly on paper and probably will be in real life too. I expect the Chiefs defense to play solidly again, like they did last week, and capitalize on a Detroit team who has struggled to get the ball downfield all year. The Chiefs meanwhile may not be flashy on offense but shouldn’t have too much trouble moving the ball versus the Lions who haven’t put up much of a fight in any area on D. I like the Chiefs to keep rolling in an ugly overseas win.
Chiefs 21 Lions 17
– Charcandrick West $4700
– Golden Tate $5000
– Chiefs D $2800
Cardinals @ Browns
Point Total: 46
Spread: Cardinals -5
The Browns haven’t been great at limiting opposing QBs this year and Zona QB Carson Palmer is playing perhaps the best football of his career at the moment. The issue for fantasy is that the Cards have been getting up on teams and then just sitting on them. In three games this year Palmer has attempted less than 30 passes and only thrown it more than 40 twice. As good as he’s playing Palmer is a tournament consideration for me but with the Cards 5 point faves his upside might again be muted. I’m not a huge buyer on him as his price ($7000) rose exponentially this week too.
Here’s the Cardinals passing targets from the last three weeks of play:
John Brown is averaging 15.19 yards per catch this season, the third highest total in the league of any WR who has caught 35 or more balls thus far in 2015. I love targeting Brown in this offense going forward and right now I believe he has the best upside of anyone from this talented group. The issue this week is that Brown might not play due to hamstring issues. If he does rest then Michael Floyd, who has also looked good of late, would be a massive play at only $3500. Cleveland’s been up and down as a secondary all year and is likely to be without Joe Haden again who is still in the league’s concussion protocol. I love this spot for all the Zona WRs and would consider any of them, but would really bump up Floyd if Brown sits. He’s a great value play at only $3500.
RB Chris Johnson is seeing the bulk of the work right now for the Cards (around 50% of the snaps week 6 and 7 combined) and is also seeing the most red-zone carries of anyone on the team (5 in last two games). CJ has turned back the clock this year and been a big reason why Arizona is currently 4th in the league in the number of rush plays over 10 yards with 27. Meanwhile the Browns defense is one of the worst units in the league at stopping the run and have now been gashed for at least 140 yards by RBs in every game but one (versus the Chargers). At $4600 Johnson’s still sharing touches and that might make him an iffy cash game play, but for tournaments he has tons of upside.
The Browns QB Josh McCown is currently questionable to play in this week’s game although reports are that he’ll be suiting up. Against a Cards defense who have held opposing QBs to under 200 yards passing in 4 of 7 games this year and also recorded 12 INTs I hate this spot for a possibly not 100% McCown. I’d consider the Zona defense a great target this week and would make them a must, must play if backup Johnny Manziel started… With the Cards passing defense being shut a shutdown unit I’m not sure there’s much point in considering any of the Browns pass catchers either. TE Gary Barnidge has been on a nice roll, but the Zona defense hasn’t allowed a TD to the TE all season. I love Barnidge’s targeting and his pass catching ability but hate this matchup and his price. I’m not a fan this week… As for the Browns main WR target Travis Benjamin he was completely shut down by the Rams ferocious tackling last week and I fear a similar fate might befall him in week 8 as Patrick Peterson, the 5th best graded corner on the year per Pro Football Focus, will likely be shadowing him. At $5300 there’s simply better upside and better matchups at WR.
The Browns RB snap count from last week looked like this: Duke Johnson 29, Robert Turbin 27, Isaiah Crowell 19. While Robert Turbin has seen a lot more love from Cleveland of late, Duke Johnson remains the only RB I’m interested in from this group. Duke’s reception abilities in the Browns quick hitting pass scheme make him a decent play in DraftKings full PPR scoring system and he’s now caught 6 or more passes in 4 of his last 5 games. The Duke might be the Browns best chance at moving the ball versus the Cards, I’d definitely consider him in tournaments as a cheap value play.
Gameflow: The Browns are a scrappy team at home and so there’s some hope they engage the Cardinals in a close game and force Carson Palmer into pass heavy made and induce a big fantasy game. Ultimately I can’t see the Browns pass or run defense holding up to the Zona attack and I see Arizona eventually pulling away for the win.
Cardinals 27 Browns 20
– John Brown $5800 (if healthy)
– Michael Floyd $3500 (if Brown sits)
– Chris Johnson $4600
– Cardinals D $4000
– Duke Johnson $4200
– Carson Palmer $7000
Bengals @ Steelers
Point Total: 48.5
Spread: Bengals -1.5
Ben Roethlisberger is slated to return this week and that could mean big things for the Pittsburgh offense. In two of three games without Ben WR Antonio Brown has failed to catch a TD and only recorded an average of 4 receptions per game as well. Brown’s price has dropped dramatically on DraftKings to $7800 (he was nearly 9k a few weeks ago) and with Ben back he’ll once again have top three upside at the position. I also love this matchup as Brown had no issues burning the Bengals last year, posting 17 rec and 245 yards versus them in two games. Brown will represent elite talent at a reduced price in week 8 (assuming Ben plays), take advantage where possible.
Since his return to the Pittsburgh lineup Martavis Bryant has received 7.5 targets per game, up from the 4.25 targets per game he received over the last 4 games of 2014. So far in his young career Martavis has produced at least 13.5 fantasy points when he’s received 6 or more targets and with Ben at the helm I see he’s upside as almost limitless. I don’t think anyone in the Cincy secondary can truly shut down Bryant and at only $5300 he’s in play for me everywhere this week (assuming Ben plays).
Le’Veon Bell might be the tournament X factor in this offense this week as many people will likely focus on the Pitt passing game in fantasy (again, assuming Ben returns). At $8300 Bell is expensive but still producing and averaged 5.16 ypc without Ben at QB. With him back to spread the field Bell’s production could actually rise and his red zone carries should also go up. The Bengals haven’t been great at stopping the run and allowed shifty backup Thomas Rawls to run for a big game versus them in week 6. This could be a monster game brewing. The Steelers may attempt to limit Roethlisberger’s exposure by continuing to use Bell more in his first week back and the matchup is there for him to exploit. I love Bell in tournaments this week and think he will make a push for top fantasy scorer.
On defense for the Steelers both starting safety Will Allen and starting CB William Gay are banged up and questionable for this contest. That is good news for Andy Dalton who at $6000 remains quite underpriced considering that he’s yet to post less than 21 fantasy points in a game on DraftKings since week 1. Dalton’s had success versus the Steelers in the past and with Pitt sporting a good run D I think Dalton is set for another solid day, he’s a great cheap target for all contests in week 8.
Here’s the pass targets for the Bengals from their past two games:
I would expect a return to relevance this week for AJ Green. Green has been the victim of bad matchups and a talented Bengals receiving core who has cut into his weekly targets. This week though he gets the Steelers secondary who he torched for over 300 yards and 19 receptions in two games last year. I expect Dalton to exploit the injuries in that part of the Steelers offense and in a close game, go to Green early and often. He’s another player I could see exploding in this game and love him in all formats this week… The Steelers have also been weak against the TE and that bodes well for Tyler Eifert who has been an effective red zone target, turning 9 RZ passes into 6 TDs so far in 2015. The Steelers will have their hands full this week and Eifert may also break out, again. He’s a definite consideration and could push for top spot at TE.
Rounding out the fantasy goodness from this game is the Bengals RBs. Even though Jeremy Hill has seen a price drop and is only $500 more than Gio Bernard ($4800) Bernard has simply outplayed Hill all year averaging 5.5 ypc to Hill’s pathetic 3.1 ypc and is also producing some nice work in the pass game (3 rec. per game). At $4800 I think Gio is the more likely back to see a big fantasy game as the Steelers have only allowed one rushing TD all season. He’s great value and would be a great tournament target.
Gameflow: This should be an exciting game as these teams feature two of the most talented offensive units in the league. I think this game will get wild at some point and should see some massive fantasy totals too. I know the Bengals have been playing great but with Ben back I think the Steelers offense really gets rolling and does enough to get by Cincy. It should be a close, back and forth affair regardless.
Steelers 30 Bengals 27
– Antonio Brown $7800
– Martavis Bryant $5300
– Le’Veon Bell $8300
– A.J. Green $7600
– Andy Dalton $6000
– Giovani Bernard $4800
– Tyler Eifert $5300
Vikings @ Bears
Point Total: 42
Spread: Vikings -1
Teddy Bridgewater has averaged 35+ pass attempts in his last three games, over 10 more than he did over his first three. Bridgewater has an insanely good matchup against the Bears weak secondary who just made Matthew Stafford look like Joe Montana week 6. The Bears as a defense rank 4th worst in sacks per game right now and with no pressure to worry about Bridgewater could be on tap for another big day. At $5100 he’s the best of the min priced QBs by far for me and a great option in week 8.
The Vikings pass targets have looked like this over their last two games:
Stefon Diggs has been a revelation so far in Minnesota. Not only is Diggs dominating the targets now for Minn but he’s also producing with those targets and is now 7th in the league in yards per reception with a healthy 17.05. Diggs gets the Bears this week who as a team have been awful at defending the WR position and allowed 12 TDs to players at that position in only 6 games. At only $4800 Diggs might be the must play of the week at WR, use him in all formats.
Adrian Peterson has now gone two games without a score and hasn’t cracked the 15 point barrier in those games either. The issue with Peterson isn’t so much performance as usage. Last week even with the game close Peterson only played 60% of the snaps for Minnesota and isn’t really a huge factor in the pass game. The Bears have actually been solid versus the run and haven’t allowed a rushing TD in four weeks. At $7400 Peterson’s price is simply out of whack with his usage and actual fantasy upside at the moment. He’s benched for me until further notice.
The Vikings have been dominate against opposing QBs, not allowing a team to throw for more than 300 yards or more than 2 TDs in a single game thus far in 2015. While I’m not high on Jay Cutler this week I do think it’s likely you’ll see WR Alshon Jeffery have his second big game in a row. Jeffery gets matched up with Xavier Rhodes who has had trouble guarding against big WRs all year and allowed Demaryius Thomas, Keenan Allen and Calvin Johnson to post big games against him already in 2015. Jeffery has burned Rhodes before and famously put up a monster 249 yard 2 TD game versus him in 2013. I love Alshon as a play this week and at $6400 expect him to have a great shot at a 20+ point day on DK.
RB Matt Forte is the other cog on the Bears offense who is worth considering. It should be noted that since getting exposed week one by Carlos Hyde week 1 the Vikings have been solid versus the run allowing only one rushing TD in 5 games and limiting opposing teams RBs to 74 yards a game. Forte is somewhat matchup proof though due to his high volume and passing targets but I’d still feel better about limiting him to tournament action in this game. At $7300 he’d need a big game to justify his salary and as discussed the Vikings defense is a tough matchup.
Gameflow: The Vikings are playing incredibly solid football in all phases at the moment and get a Bears team who have played solid but still have massive holes in certain areas. I think the Bears come out firing and Alshon Jeffery’s presence helps keeps this game close, but ultimately I see Bridgewater and the Vikings prevailing. Minnesota is definitely a team on the rise.
Vikings 24 Bears 22
– Stefon Diggs $4800
– Teddy Bridgewater $5100
– Alshon Jeffery $6400
– Matt Forte $7300
NFL GAME BREAKDOWN – PAGE 1