For the first time all season, I am not looking back at a week where we lost several key players due to injury. In fact, we finally had a week where people started coming back from both injury and suspension. This week we will be rejoined by a few more people as Jon Stewart, Cam Newton, Trevor Siemian, Carson Palmer, Virgil Green, and Arian Foster all are slated to return. In addition, both Dez Bryant and Tyler Eifert are both a little closer to re-entering their owners’ lineups. One word of warning about immediately deploying these returning players, seldom does one perform phenomenally in their first game back from injury. Stewart and Palmer are the only two on that list that I’d trust this week.
If you are playing in Monday night contests, MNF brings the Jets and Cardinals in a game featuring an elite Jets’ run defense against the second best RB in football. At his price tag, I’m avoiding David Johnson like the plague. On the Jets’ side, we have the platoon between Matt Forte and Bilal Powell. Their split touches make neither a great play. This week we also get a turnover prone quarterback against an opportunistic defense. Brandon Marshall and Quincy Enunwa are both ok starts but if I had to choose between them I’d go Enunwa since he is cheaper. Of course, this also means ignore Ryan Fitzpatrick and go all-in on the Arizona Defense. Finally, we have a ridiculously bad Jets’ secondary versus a returning Carson Palmer and his “three-deep” WR group. Start them all with glee!
For those playing on FD, I recommend targeting: Justin Tucker, Caleb Sturgis or Nick Novak at kicker in what should be the highest scoring games of the week. They each cost in the 4.5K to 4.9K range. Owners should target their defense from amongst: Philadelphia, Baltimore, Tennessee, and Buffalo. On DK you can grab three of those teams for around 3.5K and the Ravens are a super-sexy $2.6K. Baltimore will probably get a lot of my defense play there against a “scared” Eli Manning. On FD, you can get any of those four between $4.5K and $4.8K.
This week, the QB and RB positions are both top heavy and bottom heavy with values. What this suggests is that there is a huge Weak Middle that needs to be avoided. Odds are you cannot afford to draft two high-end RBs and a high end QB. That said you will need to draft two high-enders from amongst those three slots.
WR is once again slough-able as there are reasons to avoid 12 of the 15 most expensive options. T.Y. Hilton, Brandin Cooks, and Marvin Jones, Jr. are the only exceptions and rostering one of them plus a couple of third-tier guys like: Sammie Coates, Will Fuller, Chris Hogan, or Robert Woods makes the most sense. If you really want to dumpster dive at WR to fit in a third top option at QB/RB, you could do worse than one of the receivers for Los Angeles, Philadelphia, or Tennessee. Amongst them, I really like Brian Quick, Rishard Matthews, and Dorial Green-Beckham this week.
For a third straight week there are many value plays at TE. With the weakness at WR, it will be easy to consider TE or the bargain basement RBs as my FLEX on DK. That said, I am going to have a hard time not rostering: Travis Kelce, Delanie Walker, or Jimmy Graham as my primary TE. They all are priced to buy and they all have sick-good matchups.
Here are my recommendations for this week’s price range targets by position.
At DK: 7K-8K at QB, 8K at RB1, 6K at RB2, 16-17K total for all three WRs, 8.5K total for TE and FLEX (also a TE or bottom tier RB), and 3.5K (or 2.6K for the Ravens’ Defense) for one of the defenses I listed above.
At FD: 9K at QB, 9K at RB1, 6.5K at RB2, 20K for all three WRs, 6.7K at TE, 5K at kicker, and 4.8K for a defense.
Prices indicated: Red = Negative Value and Black = Acceptable Value and Green = Great Value
Weekly strategy – I’m all over Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees, and Andrew Luck as high-dollar targets. If you choose to go cheap at QB, Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick make nice plays and Tyrod Taylor is reasonable on DK (But not FD). The real punt play would be to start Case Keenum. No one will be on him (except our readers) and Detroit’s defense has been deflated more than Tom Brady’s footballs. All that said, you need to spend up on two of these three slots: QB, RB1, or RB2.
Your Fantasy Four Pack
Drew Brees, Saints vs. CAR ($7900 DK, $8500 FD)
Drew Brees is insane at home and just ‘aight on the road. Since the beginning of last year, Brees has averaged 365-3 at home with never less than 250 yards. Carolina’s secondary is young and inexperienced, and they were burned badly in a track meet against Atlanta a couple weeks ago. This game looks like a point-bomb as well meaning many points for Brees. I could see these two teams putting up 80 points this week.
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers @ MIA ($7500 DK, $8700 FD)
The Dolphins’ secondary is in disarray. They have been pummeled by Marcus Mariota, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Andy Dalton. Ben Roethlisberger is better than those three, considerably better. He leads the league in passing TDs and ranks third in passing yards. This includes three or more TDs in four of five games. Three touchdowns are the floor once again.
Andrew Luck, Colts @ HOU ($7100 DK, $8600 FD)
Houston may be without three of their four starters in their defensive secondary. This is on top of being without J.J. Watt. Thanks to a deep front line on their defense and no offensive line for the Colts, Andrew Luck still won’t have much time to throw the ball. That said when he does throw it, it will be complete, and it will add up to some sizeable yards. In six career starts against Houston, Luck has never thrown fewer than two TDs. This week 280-3 sounds about right.
Cam Newton, Panthers @ NO ($8100 DK, $8900 FD)
Not only does New Orleans score a lot of points at home they also allow a lot of points at home. They have allowed 300-plus passing yards in five of their last seven home contests. Of course, Cam Newton doesn’t care where the game is played. In his last three meetings with New Orleans, he has 12 total touchdowns. The only reason Cam doesn’t have a bright green rating is because I’m concerned that he is still not 100%.
Alex Smith, Chiefs @ OAK ($5700 DK, $6800 FD)
The Raiders have held only one team under 298 passing yards. In addition, three different teams have thrown for three or more TDs against them. Alex Smith has thrown for multiple touchdowns in every career game except one versus Oakland.
Case Keenum (YES, I AM FREAKIN’ SERIOUS), Rams @ DET ($5000 DK, $6500 FD)
Detroit has one premium CB and a lot of whatnot in their defensive backfield. This has allowed them to give up the most passing touchdowns and multiple passing TDs in every game this year. Meanwhile, Case Keenum has quietly put up 2 touchdowns and/or 250-plus yards in each of his last three contests.
|Duke Johnson Jr.||$3,900||$5,100|
Weekly strategy – I will gladly pay up for one of the big three: LeVeon Bell, DeMarco Murray, or LeSean McCoy. All three have golden matchups. I will then pair them with Jordan Howard, Mark Ingram, or Jon Stewart. There are also two PPR-friendly punt plays this week in James White and Bobby Rainey. I don’t love them, but based on volume I will probably throw a couple of them into my FLEX on a few DK lineups.
Your Fantasy Four Pack
DeMarco Murray, Titans vs. CLE ($7700 DK, $8800 FD)
The Browns are giving up 142 combo yards per game to opposing RBs. In addition, they are allowing more than a touchdown per game to the position. Meanwhile, DeMarco Murray is averaging 139 total yards per game over the last four weeks. Not to mention his 19 receptions over that span. I would expect another 140 combo yards and six receptions this week.
LeVeon Bell, Steelers @ MIA ($7900 DK, $9300 FD)
Having LeVeon Bell on your starting roster is like getting to start another receiver that you know you can count on for at least 125 total yards and nearly double-digit receptions. No team is allowing more rushing yards per game than Miami. What is slightly disconcerting is that they have only allowed on running back TD this year. That changes this week as Bell is a TD-machine.
LeSean McCoy, Bills vs. SF ($6900 DK, $8200 FD)
The Niners have an ok defense at home and a miserable defense on the road. They have allowed 83 points in TWO road games. Compare that to the 57 points they’ve allowed in THREE home games. This is a road game for the Niners, so Buffalo will have their shot at the 41.5 points per game that they are giving up. If the Bills score that many, McCoy will easily top 140 total yards. Multiple TDs would also be guaranteed, if Mike Gillislee wasn’t such a vulture.
Todd Gurley, Rams @ DET ($6700 DK, $7900 FD)
Todd Gurley gets to face a Detroit team that was already lacking on defense before losing their top run-stopping lineman, Haloti Ngata, for the near future. There is also a chance that pass-rushing DE, Ezekiel Ansah, could also miss the game. On the year, they are allowing an average of 142 total yards per game to opposing RBs. Gurley has increased his total yards per game in every game this season. Last week he finished with 108 total yards, so I’d be surprised if he finished with less than 120 this time out.
James White, Patriots vs. CIN ($4100 DK, $5700 FD)
The Bengals just got destroyed by Ezekiel Elliott. This just further pumped up a season average of 146 total yards per game allowed to opposing RBs. James White won’t gain a lot of those yards on the ground as that goes to LeGarrette Blount. That said White will get all the receptions and receiving yards. On the year that is roughly 5-43. Throw a few rushing yards in and you have a solid bargain bin play. Of course if Blount suffers a setback on his hip injury, then White gets the whole Kit and Kaboodle.
Bobby Rainey, Giants vs. BAL ($3300 DK, $5000 FD)
Bobby Rainey has seized the reigns as the pass-catching back in New York. It won’t matter if Rashad Jennings returns this week, since he won’t be on the field on throwing-downs. Rainey has 13 catches on 15 targets over the last two weeks. Expect a similar pass load of dump-offs this week with Eli Manning scared to throw the ball downfield. The Ravens are allowing five RB receptions per week; that is likely the floor this week in a game that scripts as pass-heavy.
|Odell Beckham Jr.||$8,800||$8,300|
|Marvin Jones Jr.||$7,200||$7,700|
|Terrelle Pryor Sr.||$6,100||$7,000|
|Steve Smith Sr.||$5,500||$5,900|
Weekly strategy – I lack the funds to roster a lot of shares of Antonio Brown, but he will probably be worth it. I’ll definitely have him in one or two rosters. After that, it is a lot of yuck up top. T.Y. Hilton could be the top scorer this week, but so could Brandin Cooks and neither of them is top-5 in terms of salary. I’m loosely hoping that I can squeeze both Hilton and Jeremy Maclin in a few of my lineups. For that to happen I’ll have to pick up my third WR for league minimum. Sammie Coates will be on a lot of my rosters if he can play. I’ll call him the cheap alternative to Antonio. This makes him a nice stack with Big Ben. One strategy might have me Coates/Chris Hogan/Hilton. No matter what I doubt I go over 18K on DK and 20K on FD. There just isn’t enough high priced value to justify spending heavy here. My punt plays (and possible WR3/FLEX range guys) include your choice of Titans, Rams, and Eagles receivers.
Your Fantasy Four Pack
Antonio Brown, Steelers @ MIA ($10000 DK, $9700 FD)
UGH! Look at that price. If you can stomach it, there will never be a safer play than Antonio Brown versus a Dolphins team that is without its best CB and that has already allowed seven TDs to opposing WRs. One of those touchdowns went to Rishard Matthews last week. He is perhaps as close to a WR1 as Tennessee offers. The other four WR1s to face Miami have averaged 8.5-121 and they’ve scored three TDs. I will probably put one roster out there pairing Brown with Big Ben despite my Scrooge-like WR spending tendencies.
Allen Robinson, Jaguars @ CHI ($7800 DK, $8600 FD)
Chicago just allowed T.Y. Hilton to scorch them for 10-171-1. It should be noted that this performance was away from Soldier Field. I mention this because Chicago is much better at home than on the road. They give up 70 more passing yards per game when they are on the road. Even if Chicago performs better at home, they should struggle with Allen Robinson since their defense is still short-handed. Robinson has scored three times in their last two games and he is averaging double-digit targets. I like him for roughly 6-110-1 this week.
Kelvin Benjamin, Panthers @ NO ($8100 DK, $7800 FD)
This game could easily reach 80 points. Amazingly, New Orleans has only allowed three WR touchdowns. That said, they have allowed the most passing yards per game and their secondary is still depleted. Kelvin Benjamin did next to nothing (he did score once) against New Orleans in his two 2014 meetings against them. Of course, the Saints actually had a pass defense two years ago. They don’t anymore. Benjamin will score here and likely will top his previous season high of 7-108.
T.Y. Hilton, Colts @ HOU ($7700 DK, $7900 FD)
T.Y. Hilton has been targeted the third-most this year. In fact he has been targeted double-digit times in every single game. This week he gets to face a Houston secondary that will likely be without three starters. Last week an undrafted guy out who was signed at a tryout camp dropped a c-note on the Texans. If Adam Thielen can do that, Hilton should be a lock for 8-150-1. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hilton scores more than any WR not named Antonio Brown this week.
Brian Quick, Rams @ DET ($3200 DK, $4500 FD)
Either, Tavon Austin or Kenny Britt will draw the coverage of Detroit’s only legitimate CB, Darius Slay. Brian Quick has a large height differential over every other Lions’ CB. This should make him an attractive red zone target. Through five weeks, three different secondary-WRs have topped 60 yards against the Lions. In addition, a secondary-WR has scored in every single game against Detroit. The only #1 WR to score against them was Jordy Nelson. I can’t predict a lot of yardage or receptions, but 4-60-1 would be nice at this price.
Dorial Green- Beckham, Eagles @ WAS ($3200 DK, $4800 FD)
Washington is missing several key contributors in their secondary. With Josh Norman tied up on Jordan Matthews, this should open up both Dorial Green-Beckham and Nelson Agholor for more success this week. I like them both but lean Dorial because he is taller and because he has exponentially better hands than Agholor. I’m not gonna call a ton of yards, but I feel like 5-50-1 is in Green-Beckham’s wheelhouse this week.
Weekly strategy – Neither site wants to increase the cost of their mid-tier TEs. This just means another week of rostering my FLEX from this spot on DK, since the money WRs are all in rough spots. As for my TE1, I will be rostering a lot of Delanie Walker, Travis Kelce, and Jimmy Graham. I like both Greg Olsen and Rob Gronkowski this week but their price is slightly prohibitive and that other threesome should produce similar numbers for 1.5K less.
Your Fantasy Four Pack
Greg Olsen, Panthers @ NO ($7000 DK, $8100 FD)
New Orleans has done a good job this year shutting down opposing TEs. They also have not faced anyone as talented as Greg Olsen yet. In two games last year, Olsen destroyed New Orleans to the tune of 17-263-2. Plus no one is hotter right now than Olsen. On the season, he is averaging double-digit targets and over 100 yards per game. Unless Cam Newton ignores him again, 8-125-1 should be a safe estimate.
Rob Gronkowski, Patriots vs. CIN ($6700 DK, $8400 FD)
Rob Gronkowski welcomed his good buddy Tom Brady back with a 100-yard stat line and five catches. Strangely enough, now that Brady is back on the field, Gronk is mysteriously once again at full health. Only three teams have allowed fewer receptions to the TE position than Cincinnati. That said, they have allowed three tight end TDs. What that means for this week is that Gronk is probably only gonna catch 4 passes for like 40 yards, but he’ll score twice.
Jimmy Graham, Seahawks vs. ATL ($4900 DK, $6900 FD)
Atlanta has allowed the second-most TE scores. This sets up nicely for Jimmy Graham because a couple weeks ago someone finally let Russell Wilson know that Graham was his teammate. It only took him a little over a year to realize that Graham was there, but now that Wilson has found him, it looks like the best Seattle romance since Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Plus, Graham has done well versus Atlanta historically. In ten career matchups, he has scored eight TDs.
Delanie Walker, Titans vs. CLE ($5500 DK, $6700 FD)
Cleveland has allowed 104 more yards to TEs than the next closest team. This includes them allowing 21-257-5 to opposing TEs over the last two weeks. The yardage and receptions are down this season for Delanie Walker, but he continues to get targeted regularly. He also seems to be fully over his injury from Week 3. Walker should approach 10-100-1 this week as the primary weapon in Marcus Mariota’s passing attack.
Coby Fleener, Saints vs. CAR ($3500 DK, $5600 FD)
Carolina has already allowed four tight end scores. They have also given up big yardage to both Kyle Rudolph and Vance McDonald. Coby Fleener had the bye week to continue to improve his connection with Drew Brees. Hopefully they come into this game on the same page because Fleener should have the ability to do damage against the young and untested Carolina defensive secondary. As I mention numerous times above, this game will make Vegas bend over and grab their ankles on the over. The current line is 53. They will have that beat by halftime. Get as many shares of everyone here as you can.
Jesse James, Steelers @ MIA ($3000 DK, $5400 FD)
Over the last four weeks, Miami has allowed an average of 5-75-0.5 to the TE position. Meanwhile, Jesse James is third on the Steelers in receptions, targets, and receiving yards. He also is second in receiving TDs thanks to his 6’7” frame. He will never get you more than 5-60, but this week he should have no trouble getting into the end zone.