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 2: NYG @ NO, SD @ BAL, SF @ STL, TB @ ATL, TEN @ HOU
Giants @ Saints
Point Total: 49
Spread: Saints -3
The Saints have played inspired football on defense the past couple weeks and, outside of some broken plays near the end of the game, really shut down both Andrew Luck and Matt Ryan. Outside of one big game versus the 49ers Eli Manning has only averaged 14.18 fantasy points per game and not looked great. I may be drinking the Saints Kool-Aid but after watching them play so well in consecutive weeks I’d actually consider them as a defensive play at only $2000. At home this team could take it to Manning early and cause some big turnovers, at that price they’re worthy of consideration in tournaments.
Giants WR Odell Beckham has now posted back to back quiet games after semi-injuring his hamstring versus the 49ers. What’s more concerning for fantasy is that the Giants haven’t been able to get him the ball in space very well thus far in 2015 and his current 12.48 yards per reception total is nearly two yards less than it was in 2014. Outside of a stumble or two last weekend versus TY Hilton, Saints corner Delvin Breaux has been one of the top graded players in coverage at his position on Pro Football Focus and will be tasked with stopping Beckham this week. I don’t love this matchup and am still concerned Beckham might be suffering from some health issues. I’m fine avoiding him week 8 and waiting to see if this situation turns itself around.
Because the Giants RB situation wasn’t confusing enough for fantasy they decided to add another back to the mix week 7 as Orleans Darkwa played on 14 snaps and produced 48 yards and a TD on 8 carries. There’s been no indication that Darkwa is getting a promotion or will suddenly be featured and so expect the full blown 4-man RBBC to continue week 8, and avoid at all costs.
The Saints passing targets have been distributed as such over the past few games:
Three different receivers have led the Saints in receiving the past three weeks making them a difficult target for fantasy. Still, the Giants have been giving up a lot of passing yards lately and both Ben Watson and Brandin Cooks have looked great to me of late with Cooks just missing out on a few big plays in week 7 versus Indy. With Prince Amukamara still out Cooks is slated to up against backup CB Jayron Hosley this week who will undoubtedly have trouble with the shifty WR. At home, I’m definitely on Cooks in tournaments, the upside for a big day versus the Giants is there… As for Watson, at only $3500 he’s definitely a consideration too. The Giants have allowed 76 yards passing per game to TEs in 2015 and Watson has proven himself as the primary passing option for the Saints at that position. He’s a decent tournament play as well.
The Saints snap counts at RB looked like this from week 7: Mark Ingram 44, CJ Spiller 20, Khiry Robinson 23. Mark Ingram had a massive week 7 but his snap percentage has been dropping of late with the return of CJ Spiller to full health. Normally I’d try to avoid a three headed committee but the Giants have been roasted on the ground the past three weeks giving up 4.91 ypc and 354 yards total to the likes of Demarco Murray, Darren McFadden and Carlos Hyde. Ingram’s expensive at $6400 and will possibly get pipped at the goal line by Robinson but he’s still in a great position to post some big numbers here. He’s got 100 yard, TD upside and is a tournament play for sure week 8.
Gameflow: The Giants were lucky to walk away with a win last week while the Saints probably should have won by more. With the Giants D suddenly looking very vulnerable in certain areas I expect the Saints skill players to have some big days and vault them out to an early lead. From there the Saints D is talented and healthy enough to do the rest as the Giants and Eli Manning have been sputtering of late too.
Saints 27 Giants 20
– Brandin Cooks $5400
– Mark Ingram $6400
– Saints D $2000
– Ben Watson $3500
Chargers @ Ravens
Point Total: 50
Spread: Ravens -3
This will be a popular game to target for fantasy. Philip Rivers has now averaged 57 pass attempts over his last three contests as the Chargers have been falling apart on both defense and in the run game, forcing Rivers to try and pull them through games with his arm. You can likely expect this torrid passing pace to continue this week as well as the Ravens D has been decent against the run but awful versus the pass in 2015. At a still affordable $6600 Rivers might be close to a must play at QB in double ups and HU matches as decent passing totals are almost a guaranteed at this point, he’s a week 8 target for sure.
The Chargers passing totals looked like this week 7 with Antonio Gates out:
Keenan Allen keeps getting a ton of looks every game and just missed a late TD which would have really boosted his week 7 totals. However with Antonio Gates looking doubtful and a matchup against very burnable Jimmy Smith in this game this could be a monster game for Allen as the Chargers aren’t likely to mount much of a running attack. He’s got one of the highest upsides for me of anyone week 8… As for Danny Woodhead and Ladarius Green, both players are still very affordable this week ($4500 and $3000 respectively) will likely continue to be big parts of the Chargers offense. Woodhead really benefitted from the Chargers being down last weekend had a monster drive late in the game which boosted his totals exponentially. He’s guaranteed at least some production as the Chargers passing back and has an incredibly high floor for his price. Green on the other hand played on almost every snap in week 7 and will once again see a ton of field if Gates is out. He’s a matchup nightmare for most teams and will likely be Rivers’ preferred option once they get close to the end zone, a big game is certainly possible. I love they value on both these players and won’t be shocked at a repeat performance from either, deploy them at will week 8.
As for the Chargers defense, their once vaunted pass D took a hit last week as both Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree had big games. With Eric Weddle out this secondary becomes much more attackable and I really like this spot for both Baltimore Ravens QB Joe Flacco and his number one target Steve Smith. Flacco played admirably versus the Cards in week 7 and has thrown for over 300 yards in three games already in 2015. Meanwhile Smith has picked up right where he left off after coming back from injury and has 11 targets in each of his last two contests. With San Diego circling the drain as a team and banged up on D I think the Smith/Flacco combo could have a big week 8, I love this stack for tournaments and at $6200 think Smith is a great target in all formats.
The other receiving option you can consider this week on the Ravens is at TE with Crockett Gillmore. At $2500 Gillmore has received 6 targets in each of the past two contests and could also benefit from the absence of Weddle at safety for the Chargers. With rookie Max Williams out Gillmore played over 80% of the snaps week 7 and has shown good chemistry with Joe Flacco all year. I love his price and think he’s a value target which allows you to fit in a lot of big name players at other positions.
At RB for the Ravens Justin Forsett is back to his workhorse role as he’s played on well over 80% of the snaps in the last two games and also dominated the red zone carries. Forsett gets a great matchup this week at home versus the Chargers who rank dead last in defending the RB position and have now given up a horrendous 8 TDs to RBs in their past 5 games. Forsett’s a middling talent but his workload and the matchup mean a big game is on tap here, and at $6100 I’d definitely consider paying up for him as the Ravens could bulldoze this lifeless Charger squad.
Gameflow: This game has all kinds of fantasy potential. Both teams have major holes and have played well under expectations thus far in 2015. I liked the way the Ravens came out last week against a strong Cardinal squad though and think they could ride that momentum this week. I expect, like always, Philip Rivers to give his full effort and make a game of this one. Expect lots of points but ultimately a Ravens win.
Ravens 30 Chargers 24
– Justin Forsett $6100
– Steve Smith $6100
– Keenan Allen $7700
– Ladarius Green $3000
– Danny Woodhead $4500
– Philip Rivers $6600
– Joe Flacco $5500
– Crockett Gillmore $2500
49ers @ Rams
Point Total: 39.5
Spread: Rams -9
Before we do anything we need to discuss the spread in this game. The Rams are 9 point favorites with the game total being a measly 39.5. That means the Rams are slated to score around 24 points with the 49ers around 15. This is not good. The 49ers have been utterly dominated by divisional opponents this season and scored just 10 points as a team versus both the Cardinals and Seahawks… both teams the Rams have beat! It gets worse. In those two games Colin Kaepernick has thrown for only 191 yards and 4 INTs and no 49er receiver has caught more than 3 balls total… Do not pass go, do not collect $200, just go directly to jail if you roster a 49er in fantasy week 8.
As for the Rams, RB Todd Gurley was 67% owned in the Millionaire Maker tournament on DraftKings in week 7, but was in pretty much every lineup who finished in the top 100 of that tournament. I tell you this because Gurley’s price may have gone up in week 8 but his upside might be higher in this game. The Niner’s got run over by the shifty but much slower Marshawn Lynch last week and are ill suited to stop the outside burst that Gurley has shown since coming into the league. The Rams (God Bless them) have been staunch about getting Gurley the ball as many times as possible each game and even started to use him a bit in the pass game last week (4 rec. 35 yards). Using Gurley and the Rams D might be popular (again) and it might cost you a bit more salary this week but it’s unquestionably one of the best plays you can make from an upside standpoint. Don’t worry about ownership, just ride this train until Gurley or the Rams give you a reason not to.
As for the Rams receiving core, here’s their targets and production from last week:
Tavon Austin has sneakily become the number one receiver for the Rams, and even though that might not be saying much he’s still got some value for me in this matchup. The 49ers have given up a ton of big plays so far in 2015 and have allowed at least 5 rec. and 60 yards to every teams number 1 WR. Given the success fellow return speedster Tyler Lockett had in week 7, I can see Tavon having a big game and possibly breaking out in this spot too. At $4600 he’s a got a lot of upside in a game I expect the Rams to dominate.
Gameflow: This might be the game that gets Colin Kaepernick benched. The Rams have been extra tough at home in 2015 and would love to put the 49ers out of their misery this week while also inching closer to the division lead. If the 49ers can’t mount any offense at the start expect the Rams to get a lead and start looking for the kill-shot on defense or with Gurley. I’m predicting a Rams blowout.
Rams 27 49ers 6
– Todd Gurley $6300
– Rams D $3200
– Tavon Austin $4600
Buccaneers @ Falcons
Point Total: 49
Spread: Falcons -7
The Bucs Jameis Winston had his best game as a pro last week throwing for just under 300 yards and 2 TDs versus a crumbling Washington secondary. This week though he gets the Falcons defense, at home, who have recorded 8 INTs already this year and have been stellar at limiting big games from opposing QBs. Winston may have thrived in week 7 but Atlanta’s proven to be a very opportunistic defense and will be aided by Winston having to deal with the Atlanta home crowd for the first time in his career. At $3400 I love this spot for the Atlanta D and think they could turn in a big week.
At WR the Bucs have been dealt a couple of significant injuries as Louis Murphy is done for the year and Vincent Jackson is out for multiple weeks with a knee injury. The good news is that as of writing second year TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins might be back this week making both him and Mike Evans good targets in this game. The Falcons have given up an average of 6 rec. and well over 50 yards to the TE position thus far in 2015 and at only $2800, and virtually assured of seeing at least 5 targets, Jenkins would be a huge value play for me this week if he’s healthy. Make sure you check his status later in the week… WR Mike Evans is coming off his best performance of the year in a game in which he saw 14 targets and man handled his way around Washington’s secondary. Evans has a tough matchup this week but will likely not go head to head with stud corner Desmond Trufant. Atlanta has allowed WRs to post big games versus them and so I won’t be shocked is Evans repeats his week 7 fortunes as his targeting will likely be through the roof again due to injuries. He’s once again a great tournament play.
RB Doug Martin has looked virtually unstoppable at times in 2015 and is coming off of his third 100 yard rushing game in a row. Martin is running with better burst than he did in any of his first three seasons and has a nice matchup against the Falcons this week who have allowed 11 TDs to RBs so far in 2015. With the Bucs such big underdogs it’s possible they have to abandon the run at some point in this game which makes Martin slightly risky, but I’d be remiss if I weren’t to recommend him as a tournament play. He’s playing at a high level and could put up a huge day too.
Matt Ryan’s been a pretty huge fantasy disappointment thus far in 2015 and despite some soft matchups is only averaging 16.9 points every week on DraftKings. With the Bucs having already allowed three QBs to throw for 3 TDs or more against them through 6 games, and Ryan having one of the best weapons in football to throw to, I could see him finally breaking out in this game. At $7100 Ryan’s expensive but would still be on my list of approved tournament options… the Bucs are that bad on D.
Here’s how Atlanta’s targeting has shaken down the past two games:
With Julio Jones healthy and receiving over 50% of his teams total targets he is quite simply a monster play this week. The Bucs will have no shot at doing anything but limiting Jones and I can’t see him not finding the end zone at least once in this game. At $9200 he’s again the priciest WR on DraftKings but his upside makes him worth making room for in at least some of your lineups… With Julio healthy everyone else’s production took a small hit on ATL last week. Devonta Freeman failed to break 20 fantasy points for the first time since week 2 and received his lowest number of passing targets in a game since taking over as lead RB. There’s no reason to truly fear a horrible outing from Freeman versus Tampa as he’s still churning up yardage on the ground and will be a vital part of the Falcons attack. At $8000 though I’d prefer to keep him as a tournament option as he appears to have gone back to being the number 2 option again on offense.
Outside of these two players I also think TE Jacob Tamme deserves consideration this week. Tamme’s only $2700 and been gaining a bigger role of late as he played on 80% of the snaps week 7. With WR Leonard Hankerson possibly out Tamme could continue to see increased involvement and might be a shock big play in this game.
Gameflow: This is another good matchup to target for fantasy. The Bucs aren’t going to be able to stop the big weapons on Atlanta but have some of their own offensive firepower which should allow them to keep things relatively close. Ultimately overcoming the Falcons at home will be too much for Jameis Winston and co and I see a late pick 6 or two making the final spread a bit bigger.
Falcons 30 Bucs 21
– Julio Jones $9200
– Mike Evans $6800
– Austin Seferian-Jenkins $2800
– Devonta Freeman $8000
– Falcons D $3400
– Doug Martin $5500
– Jacob Tamme $2700
– Matt Ryan $7100
Titans @ Texans
Point Total: 43
Spread: Houston -4
The Titans might be without Marcus Mariota for the second week in a row in this game. If so backup Zach Mettenberger would get his second start, and would be getting a Houston D who’ve been burned for 7 passing TDs in their last two games. I don’t love the player but Houston is so bad on defense right now that a multiple TD game is possible here for Mettenberger. At only $5100 he’s at least worth considering as a tournament play although not my first choice if going for a cheap QB this week.
The Titans targets from last week with Mettenberger at QB looked like this:
Delanie Walker continues to be a main target for the Titans and was used excessively in a short check down role by Mettenberger in week 7. I like Walker and against the tackle-challenged Texans he could easily find the end zone in this game. I’m definitely a buyer on him at $4100 and he offers a good shot at getting at least double digit points with the potential for more… I mentioned the Titans running game was an avoid last week except for the possibility of Dexter McCluster who was starting to see more snaps and targets. McCluster was the other main check down used by Mettenberger last week and you have to think he’ll once again be employed a lot is Mariota is out. At $3400 he’s got value in this game as a cheap RB play and probably more upside than normal considering the state of the Texans D.
Despite the Texans problems as a team QB Brian Hoyer actually played pretty well the past three weeks and will be relied on even more with Arian Foster out of the picture for Houston. I don’t love this matchup as TENN hasn’t allowed a 300 yard passer or a 3 TD game to a QB all year but at $5300 I still like Hoyer as a cheap tournament play more than his counterpart on TENN. With 8 TDs and just 2 INTs in his last 3 games Hoyer’s going to need to throw a lot and has pretty decent upside.
The Texans are back to relying on the RBBC of Jonathan Grimes, Chris Polk and Alfred Blue at RB and I’m not interested in any of them. Outside of one big game from Blue where he was given an absurd number of touches no one from this group really emerged the last time Foster was out. I’d look elsewhere for a min priced flex play this week if you need the savings, this backfield is back to being a weekly headache.
The passing targets for the Texans last week were dominated by two players as Nate Washington (16) DeAndre Hopkins (12) were the only WRs to receive any real attention. With Cecil Shorts out Nate Washington took advantage of the softer coverage by the Dolphins late in the game to rack up a huge score while Hopkins was held quiet. This week these two get a Titans secondary who appears like they will be without both of their top two corners meaning perennial burn victim Blidi Wreh-Wilson will likely be charged with covering Hopkins. I like both of these players this week but am really expecting a massive bounce back from Hopkins. Before last week Hopkins had posted at least 8 catches and 100 yards in each of his last four games and with the Texans at home and still somehow in the hunt for their division title expect him and the offense to rebound.
Gameflow: This is a weird matchup between two pretty bad teams who are both somehow still in the hunt for a playoff spot. The Titans are banged up on D or I might have picked them for the mild upset but with Brian Hoyer playing surprisingly well and the Texans being at home I could see a big passing day leading Houston to glory.
Texans 27 Titans 20
– DeAndre Hopkins $8700
– Brian Hoyer $5300
– Delanie Walker $4100
– Dexter McCluster $3400
NFL GAME BREAKDOWN – PAGE 2