Call me crazy. I know, it’s PPR. But it feels like a running back week. Last week, not so much. But these are the kinds of feelings you simply have to act on if you’re going to succeed in daily fantasy football without driving yourself crazy. Without a way to frame your thinking for a given week, the limitless options can be overwhelming.
Last week, clearly, was a wide receiver week. You had big-time guys with big-time match-ups, so you’d want to spend the money on them. And then they delivered. Whether it was Antonio Brown (7, 131, 2 TD), Jordy Nelson (10, 108, 2 TD) or Steve Smith, Sr. (7, 139, 2 TD), any of these players could have carried you to victory. And not only that, but the chances of having these more costly players on your team were enhanced by the fact that there were some cheap running back options with appealing match-ups (think Matt Asiata, Lamar Miller, Donald Brown) to be had in order to make the salaries all fit (even if those cheap backs didn’t all exactly pan out perfectly).
Well, this week is the opposite. Taking a look at the running back landscape, you can see that some of the less expensive options have evaporated. Either a new platoon has arisen (see: McKinnon), an injured veteran has returned (see: Ben Tate), or the injury replacement is dealing with injury issues of his own (see: Donald Brown). So, what to do? They’re expensive, but any one of these guys (never mind the perfect combo) could prove to be the key roster decision that, I don’t know, wins you a million bucks:
DeMarco Murray ($7,500): The Texans D is so-so, but that doesn’t even matter at this point. What matters is a gigantic, athletic and discilpined offensive line, and a serious commitment to the run game. Murray has at least 22 carries every game so far this year, and there is no reason to believe that Houston will be able to shake them off that gameplan. And even if they do, Murray’s got nine catches on the year so far, too.
Le’Veon Bell ($7,300): Great back, great matchup – not breaking new ground here. But consider this: you might see a matchup with the Jaguars and think it is good for the running and throwing games alike, but in both Steelers wins this year, they got up big early, and were run heavy from the get-go. It was only in losing efforts or closer contests that Big Ben started airing the ball out close to 40 times a game. So if you believe the Steelers have a chance to win this one easily, it could very well turn out to be a Bell day, and not a Brown day.
Giovanni Bernard ($6,700): Even if you think the Patriots defense is not quite AS bad as they looked on Monday night, a simple look at the numbers will show you that the Dolphins and the Chiefs both managed to gash the Pats on the ground badly (Charles, Davis, Moreno and Miller ALL were decent fantasy starts against them). This means, then, that the two “good” performances from the New England defense came at the expense of the Raiders (enough said) and the Vikings, who were dealing with both the immediate aftermath of AP’s transgressions as well as an all-out Matt Cassell meltdown.
Rashad Jennings ($5,500): Again, good back, playing well, good matchup against the Falcons. But the Falcons D is so bad you might wonder what’s going to make the Giants keep it on the ground? Well, the Falcons are susceptible to the deep ball in the passing game, which is why opposing backs might occasionally see limited touches despite high yards per carry figures (their QBs and WRs are simply scoring too fast). But if you look at Eli’s passing metrics this year, you definitely see a more efficient QB who is getting that done by distributing the ball to receivers closer to the line of scrimmage than we’ve seen from him in the past. Simply put, if there is one thing that the Falcons do best on defense, it is defend the short and intermediate passing games that Giants have been relying on, which could cause New York to turn to the run even more than usual.
But like Matt Asiata last week, you’ll need cheaper WR options in order to fit these guys into your lineup. Thankfully, if you look hard enough, you can unearth the kind of narratives you’ll need in order to make yourself feel comfortable starting these more cost-effective pass catchers:
Emmanuel Sanders ($5,100): The concern here is too many weapons. Maybe some unpredictability coming off the bye. But bottom line – the kind of production you have seen from him so far is usually more expensive than this. A lot more.
DeAndre Hopkins ($4,800): You’re rooting for a touchdown with this pick, because he’s not necessarily a high-volume player. But he does have three touchdowns on the year so far and is looking like the new primary target in Houston.
Kelvin Benjamin ($4,800): Thirty-six targets so far to start his career. And nine of them came last week, when Olsen was back. He’s a rookie getting looks like he’s a seasoned vet. They need someone to replace all that production Steve Smith brought with him to Baltimore, and they’re trying to find it in Benjamin.
Sammy Watkins ($4,800): He’s open. A lot. The QB change can only help.
John Brown ($4,500): Think garbage time. He’s really fast, and Denver’s D specializes in the pass rush. If Drew Stanton is looking to get rid of it quickly, Brown could be the beneficiary.
Andrew Hawkins ($3,500):Well, he’s cheap. And he’s got 21 catches in three games this season. If he hauls in a score for you this week, you could have a gem in your lineup and save plenty of cash to throw around elsewhere.
You might still be calling me crazy. But it’s a theory. And even if you don’t choose all these guys, maybe this will help you start to organize your choices, make sense of the options you see in front of you, and start piecing together that Millionaire-Making lineup. Good luck!