Two and a half points! That is going to sting for a while. Thursday afternoon, I finished in a multi-way tie for seventh in the 250K-Afternoon Only at FanDuel. What makes this bad beat story so hard for me to swallow was that the six teams tied for first in front of me had neither LeVeon Bell nor Ladarius Green on their rosters (they did all have Donte Moncrief though). Pittsburgh had just gotten the ball back and there was about four minutes left. I knew all I needed was 2.5 points from that pair and it seemed imminent that Pittsburgh would be running the ball to run out the clock. Then I heard the gut-wrenching news, “Now in at quarterback for the Steelers, Landry Jones.” It sucked to hear, but I knew what that meant. If Big Ben’s day was over, so was the day for LeVeon. Sure enough, first play, Fitzgerald Toussaint takes off for 11 yards. He then gets a couple more carries, gaining more than enough yards to push me into first had it been Bell getting those touches. Finally it got to 3rd down and long and I realized my only hope was if Jones threw the ball to Ladarius. That play, Jones did target a tight end, it was Jesse James, and he missed it. Fourth down, and a Pittsburgh punt, and my dream of a first place finish in that contest went down the drain. Nevertheless, I still cashed big on my minute $3 investment in that contest. Seventh place out of just under 100K entrants is still pretty incredible. We’ll get em next time.
If you are playing in Monday night contests, this week we have two teams with awful pass defenses facing opponents with quarterbacks who have each had their own share of problems. Ryan Fitzpatrick has been a turnover machine and Andrew Luck has been sacked more than any quarterback not on the Browns. I like Luck’s matchup, and his price isn’t awful, but Drew Brees is only .3K more at DK (he is more palatable at FD), so I won’t have a ton of shares of him. Plus he still has to clear the concussion protocol (all signs point to him doing so). Ryan Fitzpatrick on the other hand is dirt cheap (on both sites) and his matchup is just as sexy. Right now, it appears that Vontae Davis (Groin) will play, and Brandon Marshall could see a healthy dose of him. That suggests that Quincy Enunwa is the proper stack with Fitzpatrick this week. The Jets run defense is awesome so Frank Gore belongs on your bench. The Colts run defense on the other hand is awful, so feel confident starting both Matt Forte and Bilal Powell. I do feel pretty comfortable starting both T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief in this game as long as Luck is under center. If he is forced to play, Scott Tolzein could produce a serviceable punt-price line here, but his presence will put a hurt on Hilton and Moncrief’s potentials. The Jets are pretty good at defending opposing TEs, so I’m not jumping to start Jack Doyle or Dwayne Allen. As for the Jets’ offense, I’m fairly certain they don’t even dress a TE, so there is nothing to see there.
For those playing on FD, I recommend targeting: Cairo Santos, Matt Prater, Brandon McManus, Matt Bryant, and Chandler Catanzaro at kicker. Those games present the highest scoring potential for kickers as they are each facing a kicker-friendly defense. Plus each of those four are kicking in a location where weather should not be a factor. I also wouldn’t blame you if you started Justin Tucker after he blew up, last week. His price is a little higher but he has a crazy ceiling every week. Bear in mind, I never recommend chasing points. Of these five, only Bryant and Tucker are over 5K.
At defense, I’m not really keen on any of the matchups. Miami could be a cheap option, and Kansas City has takeaway upside. That said, the team I will roster predominantly is Denver. They have the safest matchup going against the turnover-machine known as Blake Bortles. They will cost you plenty, 3.9K on DK and 5K on FD, but there really isn’t a safer option.
QB is just juicy this week. You get Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady all at home where they rule. All three have high prices, but only Brees has a great matchup on paper. Sure their home-field advantage will make each of them potential ceiling-destroyers, but other than Brees, I will probably pass on the other two. The NO-DET game should destroy the over to the tune of nearly 70 combined points, so Matthew Stafford is also an easy start in the high price range. There are three obvious mid-priced options: Eli Manning, Philip Rivers, and Colin Kaepernick, and there are a few punt plays as well. All that said, with so many great matchups this week, it is all about the stack. That means that I will probably be forced to diversify here, which means probably paying down some, to afford the stack.
Obviously LeVeon Bell and David Johnson can win any contest for you any week. This week however their prices are so high, that it will be really difficult to fit them on your roster. Making it even tougher to play them is that Jordan Howard, LeSean McCoy, and Mark Ingram are all considerably cheaper and have perhaps even better matchups. The middle tier also offers some great values: Theo Riddick, Doug Martin, Latavius Murray, and Carlos Hyde. The only punt play I truly love is Kenneth Dixon. I will have some exposure to him, but more likely will choose to build my RB-pairings from: Howard, Ingram, Riddick, Murray, and Martin.
Once again, the only high-priced WR I will have exposure to is Odell Beckham. All three of the Saints’ starting WRs are in play, and I wouldn’t think it crazy to triple-stack with some combo of Brees-Cooks-Thomas-Snead. I may even do a Quad-Stack with Mark Ingram too. Lots of value can be found in the third tier. Whether I roster Beckham or one (or more) of the Saints, I will pair them with two guys like Golden Tate, Kenny Britt, Tyreek Hill, Steve Smith, Sammy Watkins, Malcolm Mitchell, Anquan Boldin, Jeremy Kerley, or DeVante Parker. I will also likely choose my DK Flex from that range.
This week at TE I’m targeting Travis Kelce as my top option. I probably won’t have enough to afford him in all of my lineups, so I will also utilize Ladarius Green and Vance McDonald as cheap punt options.
Here are my recommendations for this week’s price range targets by position.
At DK: 6-6.5K at QB (or Brees for 7.6K), 11.5-12.5K for two tier two/tier three RBs, 6-7K for WR1 (unless I roster Odell Beckham), and 10K combined for my WR2 and WR3 (at least one of my three will be a QB-WR stack), No more than 5.5K for a WR4 as my DK FLEX, 4.7K for Travis Kelce, and 3.9K for Denver’s defense.
At FD: 7.8-8.3K for QB (or Brees for 9.3K), 15K or less for your two RBs, roughly 7K at WR1, and 12-13K combined for a pair at WR2/WR3, 6.3K for Kelce, roughly 5K for your kicker, and 5K for Denver’s defense.
Prices indicated: Red = Negative Value and Black = Acceptable Value and Green = Great Value
Weekly strategy – I’ll have so much variance this week. It is all about the stack. Whoever you roster, you need to stack them this week. I will have: Brees-Thomas/Cooks/Snead, Rivers-Williams, Stafford-Tate, Manning-Beckham, and even Kaepernick-Kerley. I may even roster Alex Smith in a stack with Tyreek Hill and Kelce at TE. If you do choose to go with Brees, know that your WR3 & DK FLEX (WR4) will need to be a little cheaper, or you will have to punt from Kelce at TE. It is so deep this week, you could even be really crazy and stack Matt Barkley-Marquess Wilson or Brock Osweiler-DeAndre Hopkins. I’m not going to dig that deep, but you could.
Your Fantasy Four Pack
Drew Brees, Saints vs. DET ($7600 DK, $9300 FD)
Drew Brees is averaging 357-3 at home since the beginning of 2015. Meanwhile, only one quality QB Kirk Cousins) has failed to throw for multiple TDs against the Lions this year. In addition, this game is indoors so weather will not be a factor. Brees will hit his 350-3 average again and he has a five touchdown ceiling to play with here.
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers vs. NYG ($7400 DK, $9300 FD)
Ben Roethlisberger gets to put his home cooking on test against a fairly staunch passing defense this week. Ben has averaged 337-3.75 this year at home, and he has thrown for three or more TDs in every home game dating back to Week 10 of last season. Meanwhile, the Giants have allowed the second-fewest passing TDs this year, and only twice has a QB thrown for more than one against them. They have allowed more than 300 passing yards twice in the last four weeks, but they also have only given up three total passing TDs over that span. Something has gotta give this week, my money is on the defense. I think Ben will still do 300-3, but it won’t be a gimme.
Tom Brady, Patriots vs. LA ($7500 DK, $8500 FD)
The Los Angeles Rams defense has improved the last couple weeks as they have gotten healthy. Nevertheless, they still got exposed last week by dynamic QB, Drew Brees. Earlier this year, they also were picked apart Carson Palmer, Matthew Stafford, and Jameis Winston. So they can be beaten by quality opposition. Tom Brady may be the best of that lot in terms of overall skill set. Plus, he will probably be a little surly after the scare against the Jets last week. Look for Brady to put his foot on the gas and not let up this week. 275-3 sounds right even with a diminished receiving corps. He should be very good but he will not out produce Brees.
Matthew Stafford, Lions @ NO ($7000 DK, $8300 FD)
These two teams are always involved in shootouts. In fact, in the five times that Drew Brees has faced Matthew Stafford, these two teams have averaged 60 combined points (so pound the over in this game if you like making money!) In just his last four meetings with New Orleans, Matthew Stafford has averaged 335-2.25. That sounds like his floor for this week as New Orleans’ defense is light years worse than it has been in recent years.
Colin Kaepernick, 49ers @ ATL ($6100 DK, $7800 FD)
Atlanta has allowed the most passing yards per game and the second-most passing TDs per game. Meanwhile, Colin Kaepernick has the second-most total yards amongst QBs since Week 9, and he has accounted for multiple TDs in each of those games. He will once again top 300 total yards and score two or more TDs this week.
Eli Manning, Giants @ PIT ($5900 DK, $7900 FD)
I’m not sure if I would choose Eli Manning over Kaepernick at the same price, but his price is still low enough to make him an easy plus-ROI guy. Pittsburgh’s pass defense has been ho-hum this year. When you pair that with a game script that calls for the Giants to be forced to throw to keep up with the Steelers’ offense; you have the makings of a high-scoring affair. I think 275-2 is a safe floor for Eli.
Weekly strategy – I’ll be passing on LeVeon Bell and David Johnson in most of my tournament lineups. I may have slim exposure to them, but I want to save some money this week. Of course, I will stay true to my recent strategy and do one lineup with both of them and a bunch of chaff just as a shot in the dark. Fortunately, I don’t need them this week. I can afford to ignore them and still save easily this week with guys like: Jordan Howard, Mark Ingram, Latavius Murray, Carlos Hyde, and Doug Martin. I will have almost exclusively pairings from that group. I may also have some minor exposure to Kenneth Dixon or whichever Jacksonville back starts.
Your Fantasy Four Pack
LeVeon Bell, Steelers vs. NYG ($9200 DK, $9300 FD)
Only twice this year has an opponent’s running backs topped 100 yards on the ground versus the Giants. This is still LeVeon Bell though, and he is superhuman. He has topped 100 combo yards in every game except one this year, and he has four TDs over the last three weeks. The Giants are very good at shutting opponents’ WRs out of the end zone. Nevertheless, I’ve already predicted that Big Ben would throw for three scores this week. That means that Bell should be especially active in the passing game this week.
David Johnson, Cardinals vs. WAS ($9500 DK, $9200 FD)
Washington has a lot of trouble keeping opponents’ running backs out of the end zone. They have allowed multiple RB rushing touchdowns in five different games, and they have given up six running back rushing scores over their last six contests. David Johnson can hurt you in so many ways. He may struggle to get yards on the ground this week, but he will still rack up 6-60 through the air. In the end expect 125 combo yards and a score as his floor. Just know that this week you can get similar floors for a lot cheaper.
LeSean McCoy, Bills @ OAK ($7800 DK, $8400 FD)
I am serious when I tell you that LeSean McCoy has a great chance to out produce both Bell and Johnson this week. The Raiders are allowing an average of 140 combo yards per game to opposing RBs. They have also given up three TDs to the position over the last two weeks. McCoy has topped 100 total yards in each of the last six full games he played. He also has eight touchdowns during those six games. If he doesn’t reinjure himself this week, I feel he is assured 125-1.
Mark Ingram, Saints vs. DET ($6000 DK, $7000 FD)
The biggest question marks with Mark Ingram are: How will Tim Hightower be utilized, and will Sean Payton throw a hissy-fit and bench him for no good reason? I already told you how many points these two teams will likely post. That means that every skill position player is in play this week. Ingram has two multi-TD games in his last four, and he has been heavily active in both the run game and receiving game. Meanwhile, the Lions only gave up four RB rushing touchdowns total, but two of those have come over their last four games. Plus, only four teams have allowed more RB receptions than the Lions.
Doug Martin, Buccaneers @ SD ($5700 DK, $6500 FD)
Only one team has allowed more total RB touchdowns than San Diego. They have given up at least one RB rushing touchdown in every game except three. I’m a little concerned that the returning Jacquizz Rodgers could steal some receptions from Doug Martin this week, but not enough to take into account this bargain-basement price.
Latavius Murray, Raiders vs. BUF ($5400 DK, $6700 FD)
There are only three RBs with more rushing touchdowns than Latavius Murray. This sets up beautifully because Buffalo is allowing the sixth-most running back rushing scores. Murray has also helped his cause of late by being more active in the passing game. With Derek Carr battling his finger injury, I wouldn’t be surprised for him to opt for either more run plays or shorter passes. Either way, that means more Murray.
|Odell Beckham Jr.||$8,500||$9,000|
|Steve Smith Sr.||$5,700||$6,100|
|Marvin Jones Jr.||$4,400||$5,600|
|Ted Ginn Jr.||$4,000||$4,900|
Weekly strategy – As I mentioned in the QB section, you must stack this week. Odell Beckham is the best high dollar play, so I will have a little exposure to him. Most of my lineups will consist of a threesome from this list: Michael Thomas, Doug Baldwin, Brandin Cooks, Golden Tate, Steve Smith, DeVante Parker, Sammy Watkins, Willie Snead, Tyreek Hill, Kenny Britt, Marvin Jones, Anquan Boldin, and Jeremy Kerley. I will also roster my DK FLEX from this group.
Your Fantasy Four Pack
Odell Beckham, Jr., Giants @ PIT ($8500 DK, $9000 FD)
The Steelers have allowed huge reception numbers, yards, and/or a score to every WR1 they have faced except (surprisingly) A.J. Green. Odell Beckham, Jr. has been white-hot recording five touchdowns over his last four games and eight scores over his last seven. If Beckham ends up lined up opposite rookie Artie Burns (great name for a CB), Eli Manning will look his way early and often and two scores are not out of the realm of possibility.
Mike Evans, Buccaneers @ SD ($8600 DK, $8500 FD)
Mike Evans leads the league in targets, receiving yards, and receiving TDs. He has scored at least once in seven of eleven games. He has also topped 100 yards in three of his last four despite facing a triple-teaming Chicago Bears’ defense, Desmond Trufant, Marcus Peters, and Richard Sherman. Seven different times this season, San Diego allowed 190 or more yards to opposing WRs. This plays nicely for Evans, since he has nearly as many receptions as the rest of the Buccaneers WRs combined. He also has more receiving yards than all of the rest of their WRs combined.
Antonio Brown, Steelers vs. NYG ($9100 DK, $9000 FD)
Most weeks, Antonio Brown is easily the #1 option at WR. This week however he gets to lock horns with Janoris Jenkins and the New York Giants. Their defense has allowed the third-fewest WR touchdowns this year, including just three over the last six weeks. Brown will still post his usually healthy reception and yardage numbers, especially when he lines up opposite someone other than Jenkins, but expecting a score is fools play.
Doug Baldwin, Seahawks vs. CAR ($6700 DK, $6900 FD)
Carolina has been destroyed by opposing WRs this season. Meanwhile, Doug Baldwin has been hit or miss all season long, but he has been receiving a fair amount of targets and receptions recently. One of the main threats to Baldwin’s success has been the Seahawks piecemeal offensive line. The Panthers will once again be without their inspirational leader on defense (Luke Kuechly), so that isn’t nearly as big of a threat.
Golden Tate, Lions @ NO ($6200 DK, $5900 FD)
Matthew Stafford has apparently forgotten all about Marvin Jones, Jr. since his early season domination. Since Week 8, Golden Tate is leading the Lions in receptions and targets, and Anquan Boldin has become the main red zone threat. Over his last six games, Tate has averaged 6.6-80.5. That sounds like a safe floor for this week in what will be a passing fest. A receiving TD is certainly in play as well since New Orleans has allowed opposing WRs to score five in their last three games.
Tyreek Hill, Chiefs @ ATL ($4600 DK, $5800 FD)
I only started Tyreek Hill in one lineup on DFS last week due to the matchup with the Broncos. That was a mistake. Hill can score any time he touches the ball. Atlanta is light-years worse than the Broncos at defending the pass. They also may be without their best DB once again this week. Even if he was active, he would probably be assigned to the potentially returning Jeremy Maclin. Hill will score this week, the real question is how?
Weekly strategy – It is going to be Jimmy Graham or Travis Kelce wherever I can afford them. When I can’t afford them I will punt with C.J. Fiedorowicz, Vance McDonald, and Ladarius Green.
Your Fantasy Four Pack
Travis Kelce, Chiefs @ ATL ($4700 DK, $6300 FD)
Every team but two has either topped 50 yards and/or scored with their TEs versus Atlanta. Outside of those two outlier games, they are giving up an average of 6.6-70 to the position. They also allowed seven scores over that nine game span. Plus, Travis Kelce has topped 100 yards in three of his last five games. Maclin may be back which could hurt Kelce’s targets some, or it could just open up more real estate for him to operate with underneath.
Jimmy Graham, Seahawks vs. CAR ($5500 DK, $6400 FD)
Carolina has been awful against opposing TEs this year. They have allowed 50 yards+ and/or a score(s) in eight of their last ten contests. Meanwhile, Jimmy Graham has three scores over the last four weeks, and only Greg Olsen has more receiving yards on the season. He should destroy the value line this week and I may even give him some DK FLEX love.
Zach Ertz, Eagles @ CIN ($4300 DK, $5300 FD)
Over the last four weeks, Zach Ertz is the second-most targeted tight end. He is also tied for the league lead in TE receptions during that span. The Bengals have allowed the fourth-most yards to the position. This includes an average of 8.3-101 to the position over their last six games.
Tyler Eifert, Bengals vs. PHI ($5300 DK, $6800 FD)
Philadelphia has been very good against opposing TEs this season, but their worst performances have come in their last seven games. Tyler Eifert is a beast in the red zone. He has played 18 games over the last two years, scoring 15 times. Last week, Eifert was targeted 11 times in his first full game since A.J. Green’s injury. Expect more of the same going forward.
C.J. Fiedorowicz, Texans @ GB ($3800 DK, $5000 FD)
C.J. Fiedorowicz gets to abuse a Green Bay defense that is allowing the third-most yards to the TE position. This includes them giving up an average of 7-80 to the position over the last five weeks. Meanwhile, Fiedorowicz is the sixth-most targeted TE since Week 4.
Vance McDonald, 49ers @ CHI ($2900 DK, $4900 FD)
Vance McDonald has developed a solid repartee with Colin Kaepernick. I fully expect to roll out this stack in a few lineups this week. Only six tight ends have more scores than McDonald. He is destined to score again here against a defense that has lost two of its’ best athletes the last two weeks, and that has allowed TE touchdowns in three straight.