So this past week was a lot of fun. Especially for anyone that played somebody in the Monday Night Football game. Of course it should be noted that both FanDuel and DraftKings have dropped MNF games from their million dollar contests. This move eliminates a common play on DK of swapping MNF players out based on needs. The wise amongst us will still swap players out as needed but we will use SNF instead.
The lack of a MNF game in the slate, as well as the London game being off the player grid as well, plus two teams on bye make our pickings a little bit slimmer this week. I have gone ahead and included the MNF and London players in my rankings for the week. That said I will not list those players in my lineup recommendations or the Fantasy Four Pack. For start/sit questions on players in those games feel free to shoot me questions @NewClearHarley.
With the smaller slate, price tags this week are all astronomical (especially at FD). I am going to be forced to pay up some at QB and RB1 but I should be able to roster my RB2 from a large group of “replacement-RB1’s” The top WRs all have warts looming over them and most of the 2nd and 3rd tier WRs are even worse. Fortunately both the bottom of the 3rd tier (DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and Travis Benjamin) as well as the 4th tier (Steve Smith Sr., Tyrell Williams, and Mike Wallace) holds some great options. With lots of value to be found at TE, I will likely roster my FLEX from that position this week. At kicker, I will choose from amongst: Josh Lambo, Brandon McManus, Matt Prater, and Graham Gano. All four have great matchups with over-blowing potential. Defense doesn’t have any sure things this week except for Dallas. At just 2.9K on DK and 4.7K on FD, the Cowboys defense is a nice play (in a sea of questionable ones) at a decent price.
Just like always I will roster many different combos of players each altering my roster-building strategy but when building your team this week here are my recommendations for price range targeting by position.
At DK: 7K at QB, 6.5K at RB1, 4K at RB2, 19K total for all three WRs, 10K total for TE and FLEX (also a TE), and 3K for the Dallas defense.
At FD: 8K at QB, 8K at RB1, 5.5K at RB2, 22K for all three WRs, 7.5K at TE, 4.5K at kicker, and 4.7K for Dallas’ defense.
Prices indicated: Red = Negative Value and Black = Acceptable Value and Green = Great Value
Weekly strategy – There are three higher priced QBs with good matchups this week in Cam Newton, Drew Brees, and Ben Roethlisberger but their prices all seem a bit high. The only two high priced options I really love are Philip Rivers and Matthew Stafford and they will be the backbone of most of my rosters. I’m pretty certain that Kirk Cousins will be over-owned because of his matchup but I still like him for a few bucks less. I also like the value presented by Alex Smith and Joe Flacco. There isn’t a true punt play that I adore this week. However, I would consider Trevor Siemian, Brian Hoyer, Sam Bradford, or Cody Kessler in a pinch.
Your Fantasy Four Pack
Cam Newton, Panthers @ ATL ($7800 DK, $9300 FD)
Atlanta is currently allowing 319 passing yards per game and they have allowed AT LEAST 3 passing touchdowns each week. Cam Newton is coming off arguably his worst game as a pro, and he will likely be surly. He was sacked eight times by the fierce Vikings’ pass rush. This week he won’t have to worry about a pass rush as Atlanta has three sacks all season. That ranks above only one other team.
Matthew Stafford, Lions @ CHI ($7300 DK, $8300 FD)
Matthew Stafford gets to face a depleted Chicago Bears defense that has lost Kyle Fuller and Lamarr Houston. In addition their top CB, Tracy Porter isn’t 100%, plus Danny Trevathan and Eddie Goldman are both likely to miss this week as well. Basically put, Matthew Stafford will have all day to complete as long of a pass as he wishes to whichever wide open receiver he chooses. The only reason he won’t top 400 yards this week is because the Lions will be busy running out the clock in the second half behind the legs of Dwayne Washington.
Drew Brees, Saints @ SD ($7600 DK, $8600 FD)
Drew Brees is electric at home and just ‘aight on the road. Fortunately for Brees’ owners ‘aight is still pretty darn good compared to most QBs. I don’t love Brees’ price here because Newton & Stafford are so close in price to him and their matchups are sick-good. That said with a lot of owners leaning to those other two Brees’ ownership might be low enough to make him a nice contrarian play. San Diego has one extremely good CB, and he was dinged up a bit last week. He will likely play but can only cover one of the Saints’ weapons. The rest of their secondary performs about as foul as durian smells. Only one team has allowed more passing yards and every QB that has faced them has topped 325 passing yards.
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers vs. KC ($7100 DK, $8400 FD)
Which Kansas City defense will we see this week? The one that was brutal the first two weeks or the one that turned Ryan Fitzpatrick into a negative meme last week? Ben Roethlisberger has always performed better at home than on the road. Since the start of 2014, he has averaged 341 passing yards per game at home. The Chiefs have players that can cause turnovers but their risky play also leaves them the chance to get burned badly. Big Ben has the pocket presence to take advantage of this burn-ability.
Joe Flacco, Ravens vs. OAK ($5900 DK, $7700 FD)
Joe Flacco gets his chance to pimp-slap the Oakland secondary this week. The Raiders have given up the third-most TDs and the most passing yards to the QB position. Even when you factor in Marcus Mariota’s crappy performance against them last week, they are allowing 344 passing yards per game. Flacco has deep target receivers in Steve Smith Sr. and Mike Wallace as well as speedy sophomore Breshad Perriman. There is no way that this defense can contain all three of them.
Alex Smith, Chiefs @ PIT ($5600 DK, $6900 FD)
As great as Pittsburgh’s offense has been lately, their defense has been equally atrocious. Three different mediocre QBs have thrown for over 300 yards against them already this year. Alex Smith is next in line and he should be able to pick this secondary apart. At this price, Smith provides you freedom to get two of the top RBs (Zeke and DeMarco Murray or Melvin Gordon maybe).
|Duke Johnson Jr.||$4,000||$5,400|
Weekly strategy – The RB position is juicy this week with a lot of bargains from top to bottom. As I mentioned above I will likely roster a single RB1 in the range of Ezekiel Elliott or DeMarco Murray. I will then pair him (on DK) with a RB2 of either Melvin Gordon or Mark Ingram if I wish to spend a little more here. In most cases and definitely on FD, I will pair that top RB with one of the injury-replacements: (Jordan Howard, Jerick McKinnon, Cameron Artis-Payne, or Dwayne Washington) or with a cheaper starter: (Matt Jones, Isaiah Crowell, Carlos Hyde, or Tevin Coleman). I may even roster Zeke, Gordon, and Jones (at FLEX) on a few DK lineups where I don’t roll with two TEs.
Your Fantasy Four Pack
David Johnson, Cardinals vs. LA ($7800 DK, $8700 FD)
David Johnson has been arguably the most dominant RB in fantasy football so far this year. Even in a blowout loss last week, he accounted for 111 combo yards and two TDs. The Rams have already given up big days to combo-backs Carlos Hyde and Charles Sims, so Johnson remains a solid play here. I don’t love the price here for Johnson but I wouldn’t be scared to trot him out against a front-four that isn’t as good as their name recognition suggests.
Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys @ SF ($6900 DK, $8100 FD)
Ezekiel Elliott has only two scores thus far. This has got to be chaffing the posteriors of those (such as myself) who used a high first-round pick on him. Fortunately for Elliott’s owners, only LeGarrette Blount has more rushing yards than he does. San Francisco has given up 326 combo yards and two touchdowns to opposing backs over the last two weeks. This game will be a laugher and that means a ton of Elliott in the second half.
DeMarco Murray, Titans @HOU ($6800 DK, $7300 FD)
So much for the looming presence of Derrick Henry. He has less than half the touches that DeMarco Murray has through the first three weeks. He also has 2.5 times fewer yards than Murray and DeMarco has outscored him 3-0. Houston has allowed 118 combo yards per game to opposing RBs and they gave up two rushing scores last Thursday. I’m counting on 120 total yards with seven catches and a score this week.
LeVeon Bell, Steelers vs. KC ($7500 DK, $8300 FD)
LeVeon Bell is back but I’m not going to immediately anoint him the top dog right away. First, Bell has to prove that he is capable of staying on the field (both via health and off-field actions). We also need to see Mike Tomlin completely eliminate DeAngelo Williams from the game script. If Bell plays the whole game and out-touches Williams by more than 2x, then he will return value this week against a Chiefs’ defense that is allowing 147 combo yards per game to opposing RBs. I just don’t trust him yet.
Matt Jones, Redskins vs. CLE ($4300 DK, $6600 FD)
Cleveland has a history of atrociousness at defense of RBs. Last year they allowed 145 combo yards per game to opposing backs. This year they are faring slightly better. They are giving up only 128 combo yards per game. Unfortunately, they still are allowing a TD per week to the RB position on top of that. Matt Jones finally ran the ball with some authority last week. He still finished with less than four yards per carry, but at least it held off the catcalls for Rob Kelley for one more week. This week should provide more ammo for Jones’ case as top dog.
Jordan Howard, Bears vs. DET ($3700 DK, $5600 FD)
The Jeremy Langford experiment was ground to a halt last week as he sustained an ankle injury. Enter Jordan Howard. Howard looked sharp in Langford’s stead averaging five yards per carry and hauling in 4-47 though the air. The Bears will be behind early so I’m not counting on a lot of rushing yards, but I could see him catching a lot of passes. That is if John Fox (who normally does not trust rookie RBs) decides to not give the keys to Joique Bell in a potential revenge game.
|Odell Beckham Jr.||$8,700||$8,700|
|Marvin Jones Jr.||$7,300||$7,600|
|Steve Smith Sr.||$4,500||$6,100|
|Terrelle Pryor Sr.||$4,300||$7,000|
|Ted Ginn Jr.||$3,700||$5,900|
Weekly strategy – The only guy in the top 14 that I am really excited about is Marvin Jones, Jr. All of the other options will do well but none screams “play me, play me” at their price. Both Demaryius Thomas and DeSean Jackson have sexy matchups, but each is battling an injury. I will probably consider one of them but not both. The four most used players in my lineups will be Travis Benjamin, Jeremy Maclin, Steve Smith Sr., and Mike Wallace. In 75% of my rosters I will have two of them paired with Jones Jr. I may also roll with Tyrell Williams, Cole Beasley, and Michael Thomas in situations where I overpaid elsewhere or where I want a fourth WR instead of a TE in my FLEX at DK. If you want a very deep punt play based on volume try out Tampa wide receiver, Adam Humphries. He seems to have Jameis Winston’s eye and Denver will have Chris Harris and Aqib Talib lined up on Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans.
Your Fantasy Four Pack
Antonio Brown, Steelers vs. KC ($9700 DK, $9400 FD)
Antonio Brown is averaging 13.3 targets per game to go along with an average of 8-102. Any given week he makes a solid WR1 play and this week will not be different. Kansas City’s secondary is opportunistic but they are also burned regularly and badly (like when your coworker leaves a chocolate chip cookie in the microwave too long). I’m probably going to leave him alone due to the price, but he is a safe bet for 10-100-1 once again this week.
DeAndre Hopkins, Texans vs. TEN ($8400 DK, $8600 FD)
This is another example of one of the top WRs being in a good matchup, but not one where he will out produce his price. DeAndre Hopkins will post a strong stat line (assuming Brock Osweiler doesn’t have another disaster like last week). In six career starts versus Tennessee, Hopkins has averaged 7-116 with five touchdowns. The only reason I’m not giving Hopkins a green rating this week is Osweiler’s crappy game and the presence of Will Fuller stealing a few of his looks. If I knew Osweiler could put last week behind him, I would start Hopkins eagerly.
Marvin Jones, Jr., Lions @ CHI ($7300 DK, $7600 FD)
Marvin Jones, Jr. had a breakout game for the ages last week. His stat line may have been ballooned by a horribly blown coverage and a stiff-arm leading to scores, but the fact remains it was a breakout. He is the unquestioned WR1 in Detroit after averaging 6-136 through the first three weeks on 29 total targets. This week he faces a Bears’ defense missing several key pieces and that was beaten up by every Dallas WR not named Bryant last week (no I’m not bitter).
Demaryius Thomas, Broncos @ TB ($6700 DK, $7900 FD)
Demaryius Thomas seems to have finally shaken his hip issue enough to be a trustworthy start every week once again. The last two weeks he has produced 11-190-1 on 14 targets. His healthy return is coinciding with Trevor Siemian gaining confidence and a matchup with the rotten Buccaneers’ secondary. No team has allowed more WR touchdowns than Tampa Bay. This includes a score by every team’s top WR each week. At 3K less than Antonio Brown on DK, Thomas just makes fielding the rest of your roster so much easier.
Travis Benjamin, Chargers vs. NO ($5900 DK, $6600 FD)
The Saints (amazingly in a point orgy) held Julio Jones in check on MNF but they were humiliated by the two-headed Atlanta running back combo. That is what happens when you sell-out to stop one person. Travis Benjamin doesn’t have Jones’ name recognition so I doubt that New Orleans goes all-in on him. Even if they try, the Saints lack a CB capable of staying in coverage against this speed demon. The first two weeks, New Orleans gave up 17.5-269 to opposing WRs. This included 14-223 to WR1’s Amari Cooper and Odell Beckham.
Steve Smith Sr., Ravens vs. OAK ($4500 DK, $6100 FD)
Prior to stopping the Tennessee Titans’ WRs last week, New Orleans and Atlanta’s WRs combined for 35-564-5 against this ragtag group. This week I expect Joe Flacco to share the wealth amongst all of his pass-catching weapons including his top target, Steve Smith Sr. Smith leads the Ravens in every receiving category except TDs. I still feel pretty good about his chances to score a TD here, but I’ll be happy with 8-70 in what should be a shootout.
Weekly strategy – There are more values than I can count here this week making this my favorite position to roster my FLEX from on DK this time round. I absolutely adore: Dennis Pitta, Eric Ebron, Coby Fleener, and Cameron Brate at their prices. That said I also love: Greg Olsen, Jordan Reed, and Travis Kelce despite their slightly higher prices. I could easily take one from each grouping and smile. That said I could also roster two of the cheaper ones and up my budget elsewhere. On FD my plan is to take one of the three big-priced guys unless I overspend elsewhere. For a punt play, consider either Zach Miller or Hunter Henry (if Gates doesn’t play). They each have a very high ceiling.
Your Fantasy Four Pack
Greg Olsen, Panthers @ ATL ($6000 DK, $7900 FD)
Atlanta just got smoked by Coby Fleener to the tune of 7-109-1. This comes on the heels of their giving up 15-138-3 over the first two weeks. They just have no clue how to stop a talented receiving TE. Greg Olsen (who has scored in half of his meetings with Atlanta) will eat heavily as Cam Newton approaches 400 yards passing in this contest. The absolute floor for Olsen is 10-100-1 and it will likely be much higher.
Jordan Reed, Redskins vs. CLE ($6300 DK, $7500 FD)
Jordan Reed is third in yards and fourth in receptions amongst TEs and he is behind only Greg Olsen and Kyle Rudolph in terms of targets. This week he gets to face a Browns’ secondary that allowed 9-102 to “Bionic-Man” Dennis Pitta in Week 2 and that didn’t fare much better against a borderline rotten Dion Sims/Jordan Cameron combo last week. With rookie, Josh Doctson still questionable expect Reed to be the main target for Washington in the red zone.
Travis Kelce, Chiefs @ PIT ($4800 DK, $6500 FD)
Travis Kelce ranks sixth amongst tight ends with 14 targets. This includes five in the red zone. He also ranks third in receptions and seventh in yards amongst TEs. Pittsburgh has shut out all their opposing tight ends but they have faced only one legitimately talented guy in Jordan Reed. Reed went 7-64 against them in Week 1. That is the floor for Kelce this week.
Rob Gronkowski, Patriots vs. BUF ($6500 DK, $7400 FD)
Rob Gronkowski has faced Buffalo nine times and scored in seven of them. This includes multiple scores in three of those contests. This alone should be strong enough evidence to get a healthy Rob Gronkowski in your lineup. What is holding me back is that we still have no Tom Brady, both Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett are beat up, and Gronk just wasn’t part of the offense last week despite suiting up. Then there is that whole high price tag thing. Rest assured Gronk will return to my lineups in abundance next week with a returning Brady, but until then resist the urge especially with so many sexy matchups this week.
Dennis Pitta, Ravens vs. OAK ($3900 DK, $5400 FD)
Dennis Pitta leads all TEs in receptions through three weeks as he continues his comeback-player-of-the-year campaign. Meanwhile, Oakland was dismantled by Atlanta’s tight ends in Week 2 to the tune of 10-180-1. They then proceeded to give up 3-59 to the complete waste of space known as Jace Freakin’ Amaro. Amaro isn’t half the talent that Pitta is. If he can post 3-59 then Pitta should be good for at least 6-118 easy.
Cameron Brate, Buccaneers vs. DEN ($2800 DK, $5300 FD)
Bye-Bye Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Don’t let that saloon door hit you in the buttocks on the way out. Cameron Brate finally shed the shadow of ASJ leaving all the TE work in Tampa Bay for himself. Denver has a great defense, but perhaps their biggest weakness is covering tight ends. The Broncos allowed Greg Olsen to post 7-73 against them Week 1 and then the Jack Doyle/Dwayne Allen pair netted a combined 6-62 in Week 2. Brate is coming off a 5-46-2 performance on ten targets. With Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans occupied by Chris Harris and Aqib Talib, the targets, yards, and receptions will likely continue to fall to Brate and deep sleeper WR, Adam Humphries.