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: STL @ MIN, TEN @ NO, WAS @ NE, ATL @ SF
Rams @ Vikings
Point Total: 39.5
Spread: Vikings -2.5
In a great matchup versus the Bears last week Teddy Bridgewater still only managed 187 yards and a TD, good for just under 13 fantasy points. Bridgewater is actually a great young QB and playing well but caught in a conservative offense which prefers not to push the ball downfield unless absolutely forced to. Both the Rams and the Vikings rank near the bottom of the league in plays run and rostering either QB from this game is just suicide for fantasy purposes. Except a slow paced war of attrition as both teams rely on defense and solid play from their RBs.
Here are the passing targets for the Vikings from their past three games:
The one player who has seemingly been able to overcome the Vikings conservative approach is WR Stefon Diggs. Diggs is almost up to 10 targets a game since he became the starter and has been great at producing with those targets, ranking 7th in the league in yards per reception while also scoring in his last two games. This week though Diggs gets the St Louis D who has only given up three TDs the WRs all year and also not allowed anyone to record more than 50 yards against them yardage wise in their past two games. I love Diggs but hate this matchup. With his price now $5300 I’m fine benching him in week 9.
After a slow start the Rams defense has also been murder to play against for opposing RBs too. They’ve only allowed one 100 yard rusher all season and will be a tough matchup for Adrian Peterson who hasn’t scored a TD in three weeks. At $7300 Peterson is a tough sell but he does have tournament value. The Rams did get gashed by the run week 2 on the road and Peterson is certainly capable of a big game versus anyone. Don’t be shocked if AP surprises and upstages the star rookie in this game. Consider him as a very risky, but very low-owned tournament play that could pay off big if he out-produces the more popular Gurley.
In St. Louis there’s only two players you need to discuss for fantasy. The first is RB Todd Gurley who has now rushed for over 120 yards in 4 straight games, and the second is Tavon Austin who is now up to 7 TDs on the year. The Vikings defense has been better against the run of late allowing no single RB to gain more than 50 yards versus them in their last three games, but the problem is that the Vikings haven’t really faced a healthy elite RB in that span. At $6900 Gurley’s price is rising but in my opinion it hasn’t quite caught up with his potential yet. I expect Gurley to dominate the Vikings in this matchup and possibly bring back nightmares of week 1 for their fans, ride him again week 9… As far as Austin goes he is seeing 3-5 carries and averaging 8 targets over his last two games. With more space to work with due to defenses having to deal with the threat of Gurley, Austin has been wildly effective of late on short screens and end arounds. At $4800 he’s again a tournament approved play for me and could easily get free against Minnesota as they divert their attention to stopping the Rams star RB.
Gameflow: This is an interesting game from a viewing stand point but not really for fantasy purposes. These are two of the most conservative teams on offense and two of the better defenses in the league as well. I expect a very close game with the X factor again likely being Todd Gurley who should give St. Louis enough of a boost on offense to seal the deal.
Rams 19 Vikings 16
– Todd Gurley $6900
– Tavon Austin $4800
– Adrian Peterson $7300
Titans @ Saints
Point Total: 48
Spread: Saints -7.5
The Titans defense hasn’t allowed a three hundred yard passing game against them all season. The Saints Drew Brees is coming off of a dream performance in which he threw for 7 TDs and 500 yards versus the Giants. Brees has actually been putting up big yardage every week and at home has always had explosion potential in fantasy. With the Saints defense being extremely flimsy the idea that another shootout could occur versus the Titans isn’t out of the question. At $7200 Brees is a high end tournament option for me, and although I’m not expecting a repeat of week 8 anything close to it would make him a great play.
Here’s the distribution of targets over the last three weeks for New Orleans:
Brandin Cooks has now scored over 24 fantasy points in two of his last four games and has just missed a couple of other big plays during that span as well. At $5800, and with Drew Brees seemingly healthy and playing much better, Cooks has a lot of potential in this game against a Titans secondary who is still slightly banged up. I like pairing Cooks with Brees in tournaments this week and hoping the hot streak continues… TE Benjamin Watson has now scored over 30 fantasy points twice in his last three games. While Watson’s production could easily dry up quickly considering how well the Saints spread the ball the fact he’s been the most targeted receiver over the past three weeks bodes well for his staying power. At $4000 Watson is still awfully affordable and will again be at home in a decent matchup, he’s someone you can definitely consider week 9 too.
The Saints lost RB Khiry Robinson for the year last week which is great for the future outlook of Mark Ingram. Ingram had been losing snaps to Robinson but projects as the main carry and red zone back for New Orleans from here on out. Against solid run teams the Titans have gotten slammed this year. Both Lamar Miller and Devonta Freeman gained over 100 yards against them in the last three weeks and expecting 100 yards a TD by Ingram (who will be getting all the goal line carries now) is not out of the question. I love Ingram’s potential in week 9.
The Titans should be getting QB Marcus Mariota back this week. At $5300 Mariota can be immediately considered for use as the Saints have given up over 295 yards and 2 TDs in all but two games this season to opposing QBs. If you need a cheap QB Mariota is definitely in play week 9 although there’s obviously a little risk with him coming off an injury… As far as receiving options go no Titans WR has hauled in more than 4 receptions in the past three games. While Mariota returning might help improve those numbers the way to attack the Saints has been through the TE this year as they’ve allowed 5.25 receptions and 71.5 yards to the TE position through 8 games. With that in mind expect TE Delanie Walker, who’s led the Titans 21 receptions over the last three games, to be a big play this week. Walker’s gifted enough to take advantage of the Saints weak coverage and at $4200 offers great upside and consistency.
Here is the Titans RB usage over the past two games:
Antonio Andrews has been told he’s the starting RB for the Titans going forward. At $3600 I don’t hate the idea of using Andrews this week and hoping for a big workload as the new coaching staff tries to establish a lead back for this offense. He’s got some risk as we really don’t know how this play out but I’d consider him as a cheap RB in tournaments. The matchup is definitely in his favor.
Gameflow: The Titans are a real mess and while they may benefit from a coaching change eventually I doubt you’ll see it affect them much this week. Outside of making Eli Manning look like Tom Brady last weekend the Saints have been playing great football and at home, in the dome, versus a rookie QB with a new coach, I smell a blowout. Expect Brees and the Saints to keep rolling.
Saints 30 Titans 17
– Mark Ingram $6500
– Benjamin Watson $4000
– Delanie Walker $4200
– Brandin Cooks $5800
– Drew Brees $7200
– Antonio Andrews $3600
Redskins @ Patriots
Point Total: 52.5
Spread: Patriots -14
The Patriots are currently tied for second in the league with 26 sacks. DE Chandler Jones has taken a huge step up this year and leads the league with 8.5 sacks. The Skins have protected QB Kirk Cousins well this year but have yet to face a pass rusher this dominant and a team playing this well. Expect Cousins to be under pressure all game and don’t be shocked if the Pats record some kind of defensive score (along with a ton of sacks)… you like that Kirk?
In their week 7 win the Skins Matt Jones out snapped Alfred Morris 45-10. While it’s nice to see Jones get a bigger workload, as he’s clearly the higher upside RB at the moment, the matchup versus the Patriots isn’t good. New England all but shut down Lamar Miller and Chris Ivory in consecutive weeks and I can’t see Washington or Jones breaking through on the ground here. Avoid Washington RBs week 9.
The Skins may be getting Desean Jackson back for this game and that could open up the field more for Jordan Reed. Reed was an absolute monster in Washington’s week 7 comeback and I again expect Cousins to lean on him in a game where he might be forced to pass close to 50 times. While there’s always a fear the Patriots will “take away” the opponents best weapon that’s a chance I’m willing to take with Reed as he’s priced very affordably at $4500 and should see a ton of targets.
The Skins were hammered in their last two games by far less capable QBs and passing games and I doubt there will be much the Skins as a defense can do to slow down the freight train that is Tom Brady in this matchup. The only negative thing about Brady this week is his price ($8500) which is $1100 higher than the next QB on DK. Feel free to target Tommy Boy this week, just make sure you pick your value plays carefully when building rosters around him
Here’s the Patriots passing targets form the past two weeks:
There’s no question that at $3200 Brandon LaFell is easily the best value play from this offense. LaFell returned two weeks ago and has seen consistent targeting in both games, and just missed scoring on a long TD last week. LaFell’s a great tournament target and the best way to get cheap exposure to the Patriots this week… While LaFell is a great value play both Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman offer consistency at a much higher price. Both are viable plays but require you to pair them with cheaper options elsewhere. I think there’s a lot of cheaper TE’s in good spots this week so I might consider going with Edelman if forced to choose between the two, but that’s strictly a strategy decision and neither should be avoided for matchup purposes, either or both could have massive games.
One final Patriot you should consider this week: LeGarrette Blount. The Patriots are currently 14 point favorites and everything about this game screams blowout to me. The Skins have given up an absurd 177 yards rushing PER GAME over the last three weeks. Don’t be shocked if the Pats employ a run heavy approach from the start that just keeps rolling and rolling and rolling… Blount’s a risky but very high upside tournament target week 9.
Gameflow: This game is a mismatch. The Skins have barely been holding it together lately and showed some real holes on defense versus the Bucs of all teams. The Patriots just steamrolled another decent team last weekend in the Dolphins and now get the Skins at home this week. Be afraid Washington… be very afraid…
Patriots 41 Redskins 10
– Patriots D $3300
– Julian Edelman $8200
– Tom Brady $8500
– LeGarrette Blount $4800
– Brandon LaFell $3200
– Rob Gronkowski $8000
– Jordan Reed $4500
Falcons @ 49ers
Point Total: 44.5
Spread: Falcons -7
The 49ers have been dreadful versus the pass this year. Outside of two games versus the Rams and Seahawks, who just bludgeoned them with defense and the run, the 49ers have given up 4 games of 300 yards or more passing and 2 TDs to opposing QBs. Matt Ryan hasn’t been great this year but gets a great matchup this week where he could easily breakout with another multi TD game. At $7100 he’s a consideration for tournaments.
Here’s Ryan’s passing targets for the last two weeks:
Injuries and poor play have forced the Falcons to use Julio Jones more than ever this year and his insane level of targeting compared to the rest of the team shows just how one-dimensional ATL is on offense. Versus SF though the Falcons lack of receiving options shouldn’t matter as the 49ers have been brutal at limiting other teams #1 WRs. To give you an idea of just how brutal, since week 1 the worst fantasy total put up by an opposing teams top WR was by James Jones of the Packers who still had 6 rec. and 98 yards versus them. Julio is borderline automatic this week and should again get a ton of attention from Ryan as the Falcons try to right their season.
The other massive fantasy play in this game for the Falcons will of course be RB Devonta Freeman. The 49ers allowed Todd Gurley and Marshawn Lynch to gain close to 300 yards on them the past two weeks and Freeman’s usage should remain high in this game. While I normally hate paying $8000 for running backs Freeman has massive upside in this game and should see a ton of usage as the Falcons should be in a position late to salt the game away with the run. Expect a big game and find some roster space for Freeman on DraftKings in week 9.
The 49ers starting offense in this game reads like this: Blaine Gabbert QB, Kendall Gaskins RB, Torrey Smith and Jerome Simpson WR and Vance McDonald TE. This offense is a nightmare if you’re a San Francisco fan or someone who just enjoys watching offensive football. While many might be expecting a sudden boost from Gabbert taking over at QB, don’t. In 2 and a half years as starter for the Jags Gabbert only threw for more than 1 TD in a game four times and only once had over 300 yards passing. This offense will likely only get worse under him and it’ll be in your best interest to start the opposing defense for fantasy whenever he plays… you’ve been warned.
***OK I’ll throw out one name for San Fran. TE Vance McDonald. McDonald could pick up some cheap catches on screens and shorts outs and for his size is an excellent runner after the catch. With how bad the Falcons are versus the TE he will probably be the 49ers best chance at getting a first down on Sunday. At $2500 you can at least consider him for tournaments if you need a complete punt.
Gameflow: I’m actually really looking forward to this game. This is literally the worst offense any team has trotted onto an NFL field in the past 5 years or so and it should be a complete disaster to watch. The Falcons are getting an absolute gimme this week and should put up some points early and then cruise.
Falcons 24 49ers 3
– Julio Jones $9300
– Devonta Freeman $8000
– Falcons D $3400
– Vance McDonald $2500 (use with caution please)
– Matt Ryan $7100
NFL GAME BREAKDOWN – PAGE 2