What an incredible feeling to once again be basking in the afterglow of another season of football. As the leaves start changing hues and falling from the trees, and the wind starts to feel a little bit nippier in the morning when I rush out to work. These are the feelings that excite me, enthrall me, and engorge me with delight. Only one thing can put that smile on my face and that swagger in my step and that is the return of this pigskin pastime.
As you have come to expect, this year you can find a complete breakdown of every player who could realistically be in your lineup come Sunday. You will find three different grade colors assigned to each player. Players in GREEN are the best values. They will out-produce their salaries considerably. Next you will find players in BLACK. They are players who should perform right at about value. You will likely still want to roster some of them, but be aware that they will give you what you are paying for but not much else. Finally, you will find players in RED. These are the players that you should definitely avoid putting into your DFS lineups. Either they are projected to not perform well, or at best perform well below their salaries value.
Once again we will break those players down for both DraftKings and FanDuel. Each of these sites is slightly different but we will match the content to each of these sites. In other words a player who is a GREEN player on one site might be a BLACK player or RED player on another based on their salaries.
As always, if you have any start/sit or last minute questions just shoot me a Tweet at @NewClearHarley and use the hash tag #HotTubTimeMachine. Every Sunday morning between 9 and 10 AM CST during fantasy season I will step into my Jacuzzi bath and travel to the future with my Grey’s Sports Almanac to give you the heroes and zeroes. Also tune into the @BlitzedPodcast each week available for download on ITunes as well as here at The Huddle.
Prices indicated: Red = Negative Value and Black = Acceptable Value and Green = Great Value
|Robert Griffin III||$5,600||$6,900|
Weekly strategy – I love the matchups several of the top QBs have this week but their haughty prices are killing my mojo. Sure I could throw big bucks at Aaron Rodgers or Andrew Luck, both of whom have great matchups, but I would really be scraping by at other positions. This week I am throwing my big bucks at Philip Rivers and Matthew Stafford both of whom are about $7K, which is $1500 below the top tier salaries on both FD and DK. There are really only three punt plays I like this week and they are Robert Griffin III, Dak Prescott, and Case Keenum. None of those three are super exciting but if you want to go all-in at RB/WR you could sneak one of those three onto your roster for right around $5500. Of those three RG3 is the most appealing because he is the most proven so I will probably roster a couple shares of him. That said if you want to swing for the fences in your GPP take a flyer on Dak. Dallas Cowboys versus New York Giants contests are known to obliterate the over.
Your Fantasy Four Pack
Aaron Rodgers, Packers @ JAX ($8500 DK, $9000 FD)
Only two teams allowed more passing yards per game than the 268.2 that Jacksonville allowed last season. They also gave up multiple passing TDs in nine different games. I believe the Jaguars’ pass rush will be improved but their coverage team still lacks elite talent. It won’t matter anyways because Aaron Rodgers can duck, dodge, dip, dive, and dodge the pass rush and still complete passes at his will. Rodgers had (by his standards) an off year and yet he still managed multiple passing touchdowns in ten different games. This week he will post right around 300-3, which is elite, but also just a nudge above value.
Andrew Luck, Colts vs. DET ($8300 DK, $8700 FD)
This game has point orgy written all over it, as two teams predicated on downfield passing attacks will lock horns. Before going down with a season-ending injury last year, Andrew Luck was averaging 269-2 with multiple touchdowns in every game except one. The biggest issues coming into this game for Luck are that his offensive line is battered and he is suffering from an apparently minor shoulder issue. One big hit could easily knock him out of this game, but if he can stay upright he will out-produce his salary. I just hate to take those kinds of risks at this price point. That said if everyone buys into this same thought process, this could lead him to go under-owned in GPPs make him an interesting reverse-psychology variance play.
Russell Wilson, Seahawks vs. MIA ($7900 DK, $8500 FD)
Russell Wilson is not as bad of a quarterback as we saw the first ten weeks of the season (1 TD per game). He is also not the super-stud QB we saw over the last seven weeks (3.4 TD per game). I’d be happy with an intermediate version where he continues to maintain value with his legs as well as his arms. This week he faces a Miami secondary that has more holes than the Pebble Beach golf course. I’d expect more of the second-half-Wilson box score this time out but don’t pencil that in for the rest of the season just yet. His price tag is just a hair below the top few and makes him the safest/best option if you are going all-in on QB this week (something I refuse to do).
Matthew Stafford, Lions @ IND ($7200 DK, $7400 FD)
I talked above about how high scoring this game could get. Vegas even got into the act giving this one a 51 point line, which I believe will be shattered. Jim Bob Cooter has “resurrected” Matthew Stafford into a premiere quarterback once again. It remains to be seen how the permanent loss of Calvin Johnson affects the psyche of the signal caller, but he did play several games last year without his huge weapon. The Lions also added replacement-tall-man, Marvin Jones, Jr. and rugged-target-hog, Anquan Boldin to the mix; so Stafford has many options to unload the ball to. Stafford will be a lock for 300-2 (with 350-4 upside), which puts his line even with the over-priced studs and makes him a surefire profit-maker at this price point.
Robert Griffin III, Browns @ PHI ($5600 DK, $6900 FD)
I don’t care for Robert Griffin III’s price tag on FD, but I love it on DK. Philadelphia allowed over 275 yards passing per game nine times last year. They also gave up multiple passing TDs ten different times and 21 total over the last seven weeks. They did address the secondary this offseason and preseason suggests that they will be improved. That said they probably would’ve improved by adding my out-of-shape self to a roster that gave up a total of 36 passing scores, including six to opposing pass-catching RBs (are you listening Duke Johnson owners)! RGIII has numerous weapons to throw to right now and he showed in the preseason that he is not scared to air it out. This game between unproven QBs and unproven defenses could be a sneaky over-line buster.
Dak Prescott, Cowboys vs. NYG ($5000 DK, $5000 FD)
I like what I saw this preseason out of Dak Prescott. He reminded me a little of Russell Wilson with his ability to make plays both with his feet and with his arm. He also had some gun-slinger to him as he was not afraid to air it out, unlike most rookies. It certainly helps when you have the top-rated offensive line providing you valuable time in the pocket. It also helps when you have the projected rookie of the year at RB to distract opposing defenses. Matchups between these two teams always end up eviscerating the over so feel confident playing all your skill position players in this contest. If he doesn’t approach 235-2, I would be surprised. I also could easily see him with 40 rushing yards. My only concern with him is that he could get nervous on the big stage opening night so he will likely throw a pick or two.
|Duke Johnson Jr.||$5,100||$6,000|
Weekly strategy – This week I am avoiding overspending at WR and QB because there are a ton of mid-priced options at each of those positions. This is going to allow me to throw big bucks at the top tier RBs such as Adrian Peterson, Todd Gurley, David Johnson, and Ezekiel Elliott. The prices for the top tier at this position are considerably lower than the top tier at QB/WR at both FD & DK further strengthening my desire to spend my dollars here. I can get two of the above players for a combined 15K-16K. If I want to slough a little bit I can slide second tier guys like LeSean McCoy, Ryan Mathews, or Doug Martin (all of whom I expect big games from) for 1-2K less. Otherwise the other second tier and third tier guys are just, Meh. I also might roster my FLEX from this position as there are five bargain basement players that I absolutely love this week in Spencer Ware, Rashad Jennings, Christine Michael, Theo Riddick, and Charles Sims. Ware will likely be a chalk play so you may wish to skip him in GPP, but in 50/50’s and cash games you’d be crazy not to roll with him. Jennings will be the guy I roster at FLEX when I skip Ware. Michael will have value if Thomas Rawls is limited. Sims and Riddick both get to lock horns against a pair of defenses that struggle with pass-catching backs.
Your Fantasy Four Pack
Todd Gurley, Rams @ SF ($7800 DK, $8900 FD)
Any running back should be excited to face the Forty-Niners. Last season no team allowed more running back rushing TDs than San Francisco. Six different teams posted greater than 140 RB rushing yards against them and five different teams scored multiple RB rushing touchdowns against them. Let us be frank, Todd Gurley is the Rams offense. We also should discuss the elephant in the room, which is Gurley’s drop off the second-half of last season. If Gurley struggles in this one then our cause for concern is legit. More realistically expect him to gore these ham-and-eggers for 150 combo yards and a pair of scores.
Adrian Peterson, Vikings @ TEN ($7600 DK, $8200 FD)
Tennessee was actually pretty solid against opposing RBs last year. Only four teams allowed fewer RB rushing touchdowns than they did. Of course a lot of this was predicated on the fact that their pass defense couldn’t stop anything. The Vikings will have to lean heavily on Adrian Peterson this week with backup Jerrick McKinnon hurt and potential QB turmoil with either the octogenarian, Shaun Hill, or the one-week-of-practice, Sam Bradford driving the offense. By sheer volume alone, Peterson will get his this week. Expect 120 combo yards and a score with more pass catches than normal.
Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys vs. NYG ($7300 DK, $7900 FD)
It remains to be seen if it will take a week or two for Ezekiel Elliott to explode as the generational-superstar that he is being billed as. With a fellow rookie at QB, I wouldn’t be surprised if Elliott has a few hard knocks in this first game. That said this game has a high point floor which should imply he will get some sizeable counting stats. There is no reason to believe that Elliott will not be on the field as an every down player so we can expect not just good rushing numbers but also solid receiving numbers from him. The Cowboys gave up 156 combo yards per game to opposing rushing attacks last season. If Elliott plays all four downs – all of those stats will be his.
David Johnson, Cardinals vs. NE ($7500 DK, $8800 FD)
There is a lot to like about David Johnson this year. He has a strong supporting cast. He is a legit every down back who is very active in the passing game. Plus his backup, Chris Johnson is another year older and still Chris Johnson. New England fared well against the run last year, but the games in which they struggled were against multi-purpose every down backs (DeAngelo Williams, LeSean McCoy, and C.J. Anderson) and pass-catching backs (Darren Sproles and Bilal Powell). His price tag is a wee bit high on FD but with money to burn at RB he will be on several of my rosters.
Spencer Ware, Chiefs vs. SD ($4400 DK, $5400 FD)
It is looking more and more likely that Jamaal Charles will not play this week. Zero-RB theorists everywhere are gloating a little more than usual following this news. Of course Kansas City proved last year that whomever they gave the ball to extensively would succeed in this offense. Spencer Ware was the preseason darling for the Chiefs vaulting into high-value handcuff status above both Knile Davis and Charcandrick West. Assuming he gets the lions’ share of the work, Ware should have little trouble dismantling a defense that he scored twice upon and that he trashed to a tune of 7.8 yards per carry last season. Oh yeah that defense also lost one of their best tacklers in Eric Weddle. The biggest issue I have with Ware is that he likely will approach greater than 60% ownership. This may make him a possible fade in GPPs -especially if KC chooses to go more committee approach.
Rashad Jennings, Giants @ DAL ($5400 DK, $6000 FD)
One of the most ignored starting RBs in the league last year at draft time, Rashad Jennings, is now the cats’ ass amongst fantasy prognosticators. Of course this was buoyed by his 140 combo yards per game and two touchdowns over the final three weeks of the season. It is also propelled by the fact that the Giants cut absolute bust, Andre Williams, prior to this season’s start. I have already gone into detail about how many points will likely be scored in this contest. Jennings will be yet another under-priced option ready to significantly out-produce his cost. If I choose to pivot off of Ware, I will definitely roster Jennings. I may even choose to roster both of them with a stud like David Johnson or Gurley to save money for an upgrade at TE or QB.
|Odell Beckham Jr.||$9,300||$9,100|
|Steve Smith Sr.||$4,900||$6,700|
|Marvin Jones Jr.||$4,600||$5,500|
Weekly strategy – With 25-26K spent so far between QB/RB/FLEX, I will need to scratch a little deep to land three decent WRs. It will be simpler this week since the depth at WR is borderline Grand Canyon-esque. I’m going to bypass most of the top tier WRs since their prices are daunting and they all have some warts. The first few guys I’ll consider are Allen Robinson, Keenan Allen, T.Y. Hilton, and Golden Tate. A pair of receivers in that tier will cost me 14-16K so I can’t really afford two of them. I will probably pair one of those three with a combo platter of two players from the following list: Kamar Aiken, Tavon Austin, Marvin Jones Jr., Rishard Matthews, Michael Thomas, and Eli Rogers. I can get a lot of different combos of those players for less than 10K giving me roughly 16K spent at WR. If you want a true punt play how about Terrelle Pryor for next to nothing?
Your Fantasy Four Pack
Odell Beckham, Jr., Giants @ DAL ($9300 DK, $9100 FD)
What’s not to like: 1) Potential high scoring game, 2) Freakishly talented athlete, 3) Plus he has four TDs in four career contests against Dallas. The only things that come to mind as a concern here are the price tag and the addition of Sterling Shepherd plus the returning Victor Cruz. Beckham will score again here and will post a line of roughly 8-100 which should put him as a top scorer in fantasy this week at this position, but his total fantasy points will be under the top RBs despite his price tag being considerably higher than them.
Keenan Allen, Chargers @ KC ($8000 DK, $7400 FD)
Keenan Allen averaged 12 targets per game over the first seven weeks of the season hauling in an average line of 9-99 over those games despite including a 2-catch clunker against the Bengals in Week 2. Allen has missed three of the last four contests with the chiefs but when he has played against them he has averaged 6-90. This week I expect him to take that number and jack it up to the 10-120 range with at least one touchdown. The loss of two of their best safeties and Sean Smith will make the Chiefs’ secondary a lot more questionable than in years past. Philip Rivers and Allen will be the first to get to exploit them in what should be a shootout.
Allen Robinson, Jaguars vs. GB ($8300 DK, $8500 FD)
The Packers overall numbers may appear solid against opposing WRs last season, but they were obliterated by some of the top WR1s. Keenan Allen, Jeremy Maclin, Amari Cooper, Michael Floyd, and Demaryius Thomas (all similar players to Allen Robinson) all posted ridiculous lines against them averaging 8.4-139. Other similar #1-receivers such as Calvin Johnson and Alshon Jeffery also posted quality lines against them twice each. Against a premium offense like Green Bay, the Jaguars will be forced to air it out and that should mean multitudes of opportunity for Robinson. I think 10-125 is legit here and a score is without a doubt.
DeAndre Hopkins, Texans vs. CHI ($8800 DK, $8400 FD)
Chicago has dramatically improved their interior defense but it is their banged-up cornerback crew who will be tested in this contest including the concussed, Tracy Porter. DeAndre Hopkins solidified himself as a top five WR following a season in which he finished third in receptions and yards and seventh in receiving TDs. This of course came with Zip and Pip throwing him the ball. Amazingly, Brock Osweiler will be the best QB Hopkins has ever had the pleasure of working with. It’s scary what Nuk could accomplish if the debilitated offensive line gives Osweiler time to throw. A score is a certainty and I feel 8-90 sounds about right statistically (which still puts him high amongst WRs). I like him even more if Porter cannot play, but his price tag is a little high for a game that has a low-score feel to it.
Eli Rogers, Steelers @ WAS ($4200 DK, $4500 FD)
This week there will be no LeVeon Bell, no Martavis Bryant, no Heath Miller, and Josh Norman shadowing Antonio Brown. This means that Marcus Wheaton and preseason superstar, Eli Rogers will have to step it up. I love that this is a MNF game so if you roster right you could late-swap in Rogers (perhaps with Kirk Cousins) if you need a cheap Hail-Mary play on Monday. Rogers was targeted on four of Ben Roethlisberger’s first 14 targets during Preseason Week 3, and Big Ben has already developed quite a rapport with his new slot machine. Washington allowed multiple WR touchdowns in nine different games last year. The addition of Norman definitely should help that, but he cannot cover everyone. Rogers has a legit shot at 7-75-1 as the non-Brown option in this passing attack. At the very least he will have copious targets to work with in what should be a pass-happy game.
Rishard Matthews, Titans vs. MIN ($3300 DK, $5200 FD)
No one on the face of the earth is as enamored with a player as I am with Rishard Matthews. I own him in pretty much every single season-long and dynasty league that I am in this year. He proved last year that he could be a PPR beast opposite another PPR-hog in Jarvis Landry. Now he gets to be the hog (or at least co-hog with Delanie Walker) on a team that has sneaky scoring upside. Minnesota allowed multiple passing TDs in four of their final seven contests and with the defense aiming to stop Walker I expect Matthews to do some serious damage. I would not be surprised to see a line of 9-80-1 from Matthews in another game that could be higher scoring than Vegas and the rest of America is expecting.
Weekly strategy – I’ve already blown close to 43K so I will need to play the lower/mid tier at TE this week, especially since I still need to save about 3K for my defense of choice (currently leaning Houston, Philadelphia, and Cleveland). Fortunately for me, my top two picks at TE (Zach Ertz and Antonio Gates) each come in at around 4K on DK and my three favorite sleepers (Jesse James, Jared Cook, and Dwayne Allen) come in at that price range on FD. That said, if you decide to pay up for Jordan Reed I would not blame you as he has a sexy matchup plus he is on MNF. If you choose to go that way simply downgrade your RB2 a little bit. As for Rob Gronkowski, I can’t make a decent argument for paying his price tag this week. I’d rather roster Martellus Bennett at his price point instead.
Your Fantasy Four Pack
Jordan Reed, Redskins vs. PIT ($6600 DK, $7400 FD)
Jordan Reed was a beast down the stretch averaging 7-94-1.2 over the last four weeks. That trend should continue in this contest against a disturbingly bad Pittsburgh secondary in what projects as a shootout. Vegas has listed this game with the second-highest line making all the skill players sexy, plus you know how much I love players on MNF because of their FLEX-appeal. With a price tag nearly a thousand less than Rob Gronkowski, if I am going to spend up at TE this is the guy I’d grab. He will definitely approach value if not slightly exceed it.
Rob Gronkowski, Patriots @ ARI ($7400 DK, $8700 FD)
It will not be that frequently that Rob Gronkowski won’t be atop the tight end listings. This week his price tag combined with the presence of Jimmy Garoppolo cause me concern. He is still Gronk and Arizona proved down the stretch last season that even with Tyrann Mathieu in their lineup they can struggle against TEs. Over the last seven weeks, five teams scored against them and three topped the 100-yard mark with their tight ends.
Antonio Gates, Chargers @ KC ($4200 DK, $6200 FD)
When your QB goes to the media and tells them that he intends to get his starting TE a touchdown record fantasy owners listen. Gates has averaged 60 yards per game in 22 career games against KC and he has 15 career scores against them. If there was ever a more mortal lock for a tight end touchdown than this, I don’t remember it. Oh yeah, he’s also $2K less than Gronk in case you needed further reason to skip the Patriots’ stud.
Zach Ertz, Eagles vs. CLE ($4300 DK, $5700 FD)
Rookie quarterbacks love leaning on their TEs. It won’t be any different this week for Carson Wentz. Zach Ertz averaged 9-113 over his final four contests last year as he was targeted a ridiculous 46 times. Those numbers are indicative of what we will continue to see as Philadelphia’s outside receivers leave a lot to be desired. Cleveland allowed ten TE scores last season including more than one in three different contests. Gates or Ertz will probably start in 70% of his lineups this week.
Jared Cook, Packers @ JAX ($2900 DK, $5300 FD)
Jared Cook has been presented the opportunity to seize a role that permitted Richard Rodgers to post eight TDs last year. Cook is physically light-years more gifted than Rodgers but he has never had a QB even half as skilled as Aaron Rodgers throwing him the pigskin. Jacksonville allowed multiple TE scores in three of their last eight games and will have to be concerned with stopping both Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. This should leave Cook lots of room to operate and dissect their safeties for something like 6-60-1.
Jesse James, Steelers @ WAS ($3400 DK, $4500 FD)
The Outlaw, Jesse James, is definitely my favorite sleeper TE this week. First off he is playing on MNF so I can late-swap him in as a Hail-Mary play if needed. He is super cheap compared to the second tier tight ends. Half of the offensive skill position players who were starters for the Steelers last season will miss this game. He has a five inch height advantage on Washington’s tallest safety. Plus, Ben Roethlisberger likes to use his tight ends as a security blanket. Over the final six weeks, the Redskins allowed an average of 7-83 to opposing tight ends. I’d be happy with 5-60 for this bargain basement price and his ceiling is considerably higher.