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.
Want to see a specific game breakdown? Jump to the applicable page!
PAGE 1: CLE @ CIN, GB @ CAR, JAX @ NYJ, MIA @ BUF, OAK @ PIT
Browns @ Bengals
Point Total: 45.5
Spread: Bengals -11
The Browns are falling apart defensively of late and have allowed three receivers to hit 100 yards or more against them in their last 3 games. They’re also not getting much pressure on the QB and currently 5th last in the league with 13 team sacks. The Steelers pressured Andy Dalton a lot week 8 but I expect him to have more time to maneuver versus the Browns. At $6200 this is a great spot for Dalton and I expect him to pick apart the Browns on Thursday. The only fear for fantasy purposes is the Bengals getting up huge early and running out the clock late, otherwise Dalton is solid as it gets at QB.
Here are the passing targets for the Bengals from the past three weeks:
As you can see the Bengals have really been using all their weapons effectively this year and it’s a big part of the reason that they are 7-0. Last week versus the Steelers AJ Green was called on to make a bunch of tough catches with Dalton under pressure and responded with a huge game. This week, with Joe Haden again out (concussion) I would expect both Marvin Jones and Tyler Eifert to possibly have a lot more space to operate. The Bengals have had a different leading receiver each of the past three weeks and I wouldn’t be shocked if that trend continued versus Cleveland. While Green is still the obvious big game candidate I really like both Eifert and Jones as tournament options to use in a stack with Dalton. Both are averaging over 8 targets and at least one red zone look a game, and come at a significantly reduced price. Consider using them with Dalton for your Thursday tournament rosters.
At RB the Bengals Jeremy Hill out carried Gio Bernard 16-3 last week but the snap count between the two remained awfully close (35-32 in favour of Hill). This week with the Cleveland rush defense amoung the worst in the league and the Bengals coaching staff looking to get Hill more work, expect a breakout game for Hill and for him to out-carry Gio significantly again. The Browns have now given up four 100 yard rushing games in a row to an RB on D and a fifth is likely incoming. Hill is a potentially huge value play this week at only $5200.
The Browns announced yesterday that they will be starting Johnny Manziel in this game. In essentially three full games since he’s arrived in the league Manziel has yet to surpass the 200 yards passing (in a game) while no Browns receiver has caught more than 3 balls with him at centre either. The Browns pass game will take a huge hit this week and I’d expect the Bengals defense—who brought down Big Ben three times last week and are 5th in the league in sacks—to have a field day versus Johnny Football. I can’t seriously recommend any of the Browns receiving options and can only tell you to fire up the Cincy D in what might be the matchup of the week.
At RB for the Browns the snap count last week looked like this: Duke Johnson 24, Isaiah Crowell 20, Robert Turbin 19. While you should expect the Browns to utilize the run game a lot guessing who might get the points form this unit isn’t easy. Duke Johnson could be a factor in the pass game, especially if the Browns are down late but he’s not someone I’d put a huge amount of faith in, especially since he’s not likely to see any red zone carries. The best plan is simply avoid this lot too and move on to better spots. It’s quite likely the Browns are going to have trouble generating offense this Thursday
Gameflow: In case you haven’t received the message yet I am seeing a Bengals massacre here. With the Browns once strong secondary now banged up there’s literally no area the Bengals can’t attack on offense. Andy Dalton should have a field day at home and the Bengals D will likely be giving him great field position all day to do exactly that. Expect a Bengals romp.
Bengals 34 Browns 10
– Andy Dalton $6200
– Bengals D $3200
– Jeremy Hill $5200
– Marvin Jones $4300
– Tyler Eifert $5400
– A.J. Green $7600
Packers @ Panthers
Point Total: 46.5
Spread: Packers -2.5
Aaron Rodgers has now averaged 199 yards passing over his last 4 contests and hasn’t broken 20 fantasy points on DraftKings in his last 4 weeks either. Green Bay is really slowing things down this year on offense and has averaged the second fewest plays per game through 8 weeks. While Rodgers isn’t necessarily playing bad (he was shut down by the otherworldly Denver D last week) he’s simply not throwing enough at the moment to generate a big passing day. While the lightswitch could suddenly flip on for Green Bay anytime the Panthers D have given up less than 2 passing TDs in 5 out of 7 games and likely aren’t the team we’ll see a huge turnaround against. Avoid Rodgers this week and play the matchups at QB with lesser names.
Here’s the distribution of targets for Green Bay over their last three games:
While the Packers didn’t generate much against Denver it was good to see Randall Cobb more involved and it’s looking like he might be back to full health after resting during the bye. Versus Carolina it’s important to play the matchups as Josh Norman is essentially a no fly zone and did excellent in limiting TY Hilton to just one catch week 8. With Cobb playing mainly the slot it’s likely he’ll avoid Norman for the most part and see lots of Bené Benwikere who is Carolina’s worst corner. While I’m not high enough on this game to recommend Cobb as a cash game play he’s definitely got tournament upside and comes as cheaply as he has all year this week at just $6800. Consider Cobb in tournaments this week as he could put up a big PPR total.
If there is a matchup the Packers could possibly exploit in this game it’s in the run where the Panthers have given up 100 yards or more rushing in 3 of their last 4 games and 5 rushing TDs in their last 5 games as well. RB Eddie Lacy received the start last week and out carried James Starks 11-5 but the two basically split snaps for the game. Lacy’s price is still high ($6100) but he looked better last week coming off the bye week. Given the split workload I’m still not sure I would chance Lacy but there is potential the Packers give him a heavier workload in this game. He’s a complete boom or bust play week 9 and one i’ll probably just avoid.
Cam Newton continues to run the ball an absurd amount (10 times last week) and is also now up to 14 red zone carries on the year as well. With Packers LB Clay Matthews possibly hurting (ankle) a Cam Explosion game isn’t out of the question this week as the Packers defense got run over last week once Matthews got injured. While I wouldn’t chance Newton in cash games he’s still a sneaky high upside play for me in tournaments week 9.
The other player who could benefit from Matthews absence/injury is TE Greg Olsen. Olsen has had a great year thus far and leads the Panthers in red zone targets by an absurd amount with 14 through 7 games. With Matthews injured last week Denver TE Virgil Green was able to spring for a big play and that could possibly mean big things for Olsen this week. I love targeting the Olsen-Cam connection in tournaments and look at them as an under-owned stack in week 9.
With Green Bay giving up over 150 yards rushing in two of its last three games Panther RB Jonathan Stewart also has to be considered this week. Stewart has run well recently but has yet to surpass 85 yards rushing in a single game. While Stewart’s lack of passing targets is an issue he’s been seeing more red zone carries of late and is dominating the RB workload for the most part. At $4300 he could continue the Packers woes on run D and is a player I’d consider in pretty much every format.
Gameflow: I think this game has sneaky fantasy upside. The Packers will be desperate to rebound from their week 8 drubbing and the Panthers are a team flying right now and should be up for the Challenge. I expect a back and forth affair with both offenses having some success and Carolina once again sneaking out a late home win.
Panthers 27 Packers 24
– Greg Olsen $6500
– Jonathan Stewart $4300
– Cam Newton $6900
– Randall Cobb $6800
– Eddie Lacy $6100
Jaguars @ Jets
Point Total: 42
Spread: Jets -7.5
After being dominate to start the year the Jets have now given up an average of 344 yards passing and 3 TDs in their last two games. With that being said I think this is a good spot for them to bounce back as a group versus Blake Bortles and the Jags. The Jets have crushed mediocre QBs this year and also played much better at home defensively than on the road. Bortles had a nice run against the weak AFC South defenses but was held to under 190 yards passing versus the Bills in week 7. I think this is a great spot to use the Jets defense who will have a great shot at racking up a big day versus the turnover prone Jags.
Here’s how the Jags passing targets have been distributed the past two weeks:
As I mentioned last week in this column the Jets typically have issues giving up big games to team’s secondary receivers, and last week Michael Crabtree proved my point as he avoided Darrelle Revis and schooled the struggling Antonio Cromartie for a big game. With Allen Robinson getting Revis this week looking to Allen Hurns and possibly even TE Julius Thomas makes a ton of sense for fantasy. Hurns is getting pricy on DraftKings ($5300), but with 5 TDs in his last 5 games and two games of 100 yards receiving or more he’s proven he can be counted on for big plays, I like targeting Hurns for tournaments this week… As for Julius Thomas he’s up 9.5 targets per game since week 6 and could also be a source of production this week as the Jags will likely do everything they can to avoid the Jets best defender. I like Thomas’ upside at $4200 but caution against using more than one Jag in your lineup, this is still a pretty bad spot for them offensively.
As for the Jags running game TJ Yeldon is playing well over 80% of the snaps every time he suits up for but only has one rushing TD on the year. The Jags have been running it better of late but I’m not ready to start using RBs versus the Jets just yet as they still have a great group of run stoppers who I’d definitely favour over the non-explosive Yeldon in this matchup. Don’t use Yeldon this week.
The Jets have also run the sixth most plays on offense per game in the league thus far and at that pace QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (who is starting) will have value against this weak defense. Fitzpatrick is a little banged up and with other cheap options at QBs he’s by no means my favorite play but can still be considered as a QB punt.
The Jets are dealing with injuries at receiver too as Brandon Marshall is banged up and questionable for week 9. His absence would downgrade this entire offense but would mean more targets for both Eric Decker and Jeremy Kerley. Kerley played 77% of the snaps for the Jets in week 8, and if Marshall sits I would feel pretty confident about using him. He’d be a great value play at only $3000. The Jags gave up multiple TDs last week to the Bills backup WRs (and EJ Manuel) and there’s no reason Decker and Kerley couldn’t excel at home versus this same group. Make both targets for your rosters if Marshall sits.
Chris Ivory has had a rough couple weeks but could see an uptick in workload against the Jags with Bilal Powell banged up. Powell missed week 8 and Ivory caught a season high 3 receptions and played on over 60% of the snaps. While the Jags have been pretty solid against the run they have allowed opposing RBs to rack up over 7 catches per game versus them. If Ivory is again thrust into a bigger role in the pass game he could really benefit and I’d make him a target for your tournament teams this week (if Powell sits).
Gameflow: The Jets should win this game although I do fear a motivated Jags team coming off of a win and a bye. Depending on how the Jets D rebounds this game also has some possible fantasy appeal as the Jags have been masters at putting up points against more prevent defenses late in games. While I’m worried about some of the Jets injuries I’ll still take them in this game against a much weaker Jags squad.
Jets 23 Jags 17
– Eric Decker $5300
– Jeremy Kerley $3000
– Allen Hurns $5300
– Julius Thomas $4200
– Chris Ivory $5900
Dolphins @ Bills
Point Total: 44
Spread: Bills -3
Outside of one week against the pathetic Titans offense the Bills have allowed 2 or more passing TDs every game thus far in 2015. Ryan Tannehill has thrown it less under new head coach Dan Campbell but has still averaged 2 TDs and over 280 yards passing under his tenor. At $5700 he’s more of a tournament play for me but has some upside this week in what could be a close, back and forth game.
Here’s the passing targets for the Dolphins from the past three weeks.
Since the coaching change Rishard Matthews has seen a big uptick in usage. The Dolphins have been employing a lot more 2 WR sets under Campbell and Matthews has been playing on almost every snap in that formation. While I like the talent with both Landry and Matthews’s secondary receivers versus Buffalo have been having some big games, and Matthews himself put up 100 yards and 2 TDs versus them in week 3. At $4500 Rishard is a full $2000 cheaper than Landry and has actually been out targeting him over the last three weeks too. For value purposes and the matchup, I’d make Matthews a target in all formats of play on DK this week.
The Bills have been stout versus the run almost all year but have now allowed 5 TDs to running backs in their last 4 games and 100 yards or more rushing in each of their past two contests too. RB Lamar Miller has seen an uptick in workload recently taking 41 carries over his last three games versus just 37 for his first four. At $5000 Miller is still very affordable and should see a lot of snaps in what projects to be a close matchup, he’s a strong volume-based play this week against a suddenly suspect Bills run D… I’d consider him on DK in most formats.
Tyrod Taylor looks ready to return to action for the Bills this Sunday. Before missing two games with a knee issue Taylor had averaged 21.6 fantasy points on DraftKings and tore up the Dolphins soft pass D in week 3 for 270+ yards and 3 TDs. At $5300 Taylor is a great target this week even against the much improved Dolphins. Taylor who is reportedly 100% healthy after sitting for 3 weeks and I’d make sure to target him a lot at QB this week.
Here’s the Bills passing targets from their last game:
While Sammy Watkins looks close he still seems unlikely to return week 9 meaning both Robert Woods and Chris Hogan could be starting again and looking like great value plays. Miami’s been un able to stop the pass all year and given up some massive games to WRs including 4 TDs to the position in their last 2 games. If Watkins sits using one or both Hogan or Woods would be a viable strategy. Even though Woods had the big game in week 8 slot man Chris Hogan appears to have the better matchup CB-wise. At $3400 Hogan’s great value… I’d also really consider Charles Clay at TE this week. Clay has led the Bills in targeting in 3 of the 5 games that Taylor has started and has a fine matchup against the Dolphins who’ve allowed other solid pass catching TE’s to have big days against them. He’s ranked very highly for me at TE and is very affordable at only $4200.
At RB Karlos Williams looks ready to return for the Bills and should cut into some of Lesean McCoy’s workload. I like the way McCoy ran in week 7 but hate his production thus far in 2015 as he’s only scored 2 TDs and failed to accumulate 100 yards rushing in a game thus far. McCoy’s price has come down to a more affordable level of $5500 and after watching Dion Lewis and LeGarrette Blount run through the Fins D in week 8 there’s definitely upside with him in this matchup. I’m considering Lesean a risky tournament play this week but one that has more upside than people realize.
Gameflow: The Bills thrashed the Dolphins the first time they played and this game has a lot on the line for both teams as they chase down a wild card spot. Both defenses have issues and this is another game that could see some offensive fireworks. Ultimately I believe the Bills have better personnel in too many areas and will come out rejunivinated from the bye. I think they take a back and forth shootout.
Bills 30 Dolphins 27
– Tyrod Taylor $5300
– Rishard Matthews $4500
– Charles Clay $4200
– Lamar Miller $5000
– Chris Hogan $3400
– Robert Woods $3500
– Ryan Tannehill $5700
Raiders @ Steelers
Point Total: 47.5
Spread: Steelers -4.5
The Oakland defense has allowed 300 or more passing yards by opposing QBs in 4 of 7 games and at least two passing TDs in every game but one. Ben Roethlisberger looked tentative last week in his return from a knee injury but should be a little more comfortable this week at home versus the Raiders who are only 21st in the league this year in sacks and don’t get a ton of pressure on the QB. I’d expect Ben to have a lot more time and be a lot more effective in this game than he was last week. He’s definitely someone I’d recommend targeting in week 9.
Keenan Allen, Brandon Marshall and Emmanuel Sanders each posted 9 rec. and at least 89 yards versus the Raiders in each of the last three weeks, and I’m expecting Antonio Brown to build on this trend in week 9. With Ben struggling against a good Bengals front Brown had a semi-quiet week 8 but still found the end zone for the first time in forever. This week expect Brown to really dominate the weak Oakland secondary, I’ll be targeting him everywhere week 9… WR Martavis Bryant also had a slow week 8 but was still targeted 10 times. At $5500 Bryant doesn’t bring the consistency of Antonio Brown but he’s definitely got tournament upside in this game. I love the fact his targeting is way up from this time last year (when he was still scoring TDs every week)… Coming off a huge week 8 where he caught 10 balls for 105 yards I expect Heath Miller to be hugely owned versus the Raiders who have allowed a TD to the TE in every game so far this year. At only $2700 I won’t try and talk you off this matchup but will say Miller might not see the love he did week 8 when Ben was under constant pressure and used Miller as his safety valve. He’s more of a value play in cash games for me and somewhat of a fade in tournaments due to the expected high ownership.
With Le’Veon Bell out RB DeAngelo Williams has this backfield all to himself. In weeks one and two when Bell was out DeAngelo played well over 85% of the snaps for Pitt and you can expect him to be a workhorse for the Steelers once again. At $5500 Williams might not be super cheap but he’s got such a high floor due to workload expectations and his involvement in the pass game that he also makes for a great target from this game. There’s few backs out there who will be able to match his workload from here on out.
Since getting hurt opening weekend Raiders QB Derek Carr has averaged well over 20 fantasy points a game on DraftKings and now ranks 10th in the league in yards per attempt (up from last year when he was dead last in this category). Carr has a tough matchup versus Pitt this week who is now 5th in the league in sacks and has been playing great overall defense since getting torn apart week 1. The Raiders have a lot of weapons and QBs have still been able to throw for a lot of yards versus the Steelers so I’m not expecting a total shutdown but I would limit usage on Carr this week to tournament play. The Pitt D is a unit who has been trending upwards for weeks now.
Here are the Raiders pass targets from the past two games:
Michael Crabtree has been the star of this offense lately and he really benefitted from Amari Cooper getting shadowed by Darrelle Revis in week 8. This week though there is no Darrelle Revis to cover and Amari Cooper and I am 100% suggesting you turn back to Cooper in this game. Last week we saw that Pittsburgh has no real answer for an elite WR as AJ Green had his way with whoever the Steelers threw at him. Regardless of whether Amari sees CB Antwon Blake or William Gay I am anticipating a massive game and a lot of targets for him with the Raiders over 4 point underdogs. Pay up for Cooper and target him in all formats for week 9.
RB Latavius Murray had a great game last week against a tough Jets front but has an equally tough matchup this week on the road versus the emerging Steelers D. With the Raiders fairly large dogs in this game and Murray not heavily involved in the pass game of late I’m fine leaving him out of my plans for week 9. The Steelers have only allowed 1 TD to RBs all season at $6000 Murray simply doesn’t have enough upside.
Gameflow: This is yet another matchup I’m really excited about this week for fantasy. You could see the Steelers offense explode in this game as the Raiders don’t have the personnel to keep up with either Antonio Brown or Martavis Bryant. On the flip side I don’t expect the Raiders to wilt as they have their own weapons on offense and could exploit a very weak Pitt secondary. I’m anticipating a close game but ultimately a home win for the Steelers.
Steelers 30 Raiders 27
– Ben Roethlisberger $6600
– Antonio Brown $8100
– DeAngelo Williams $5500
– Amari Cooper $6700
– Derek Carr $5500
– Martavis Bryant $5500
– Heath Miller $2700