For the second week in a row we will be slating small thanks to six teams on bye as well as four teams spread between Thursday and Monday. Last week it made it a little bit easier to identify the obvious plays. Thankfully, it will be more of the same this week – at least we don’t have another London game to thin the slate even further.
If you are playing in Monday night contests, expect a low scoring affair. Seattle’s defense is all that and a bag of chips, but don’t sell short the Buffalo defense which is also very good. Shady McCoy is still questionable but he gets an extra day of rest. Even if he plays, it is not a great matchup and there is always a chance that he plays only sparingly. I wouldn’t consider Mike Gillislee unless McCoy is announced as out. That makes him a playable option based on price alone even though his prognosis doesn’t elicit fireworks in my mind. Christine Michael is a tad bit more tempting but I’m concerned about C.J. Prosise stealing targets from him. I want no part of Russell Wilson or Tyrod Taylor, which takes all their passing weapons out of consideration with the thin exception of Jimmy Graham. I like Graham, I don’t love him. I also feel you can get someone safer for less.
For those playing on FD, I recommend targeting: Mason Crosby, Cairo Santos, Adam Vinatieri, and Dan Bailey at kicker. Those games present the best opportunity for kicker points. Vinatieri is the only one at or above 5K. The Kansas City Chiefs defense is the best play of the week. I’ll probably have an extreme number of lineups with them in it. The other options are: Denver, Philadelphia, and the too-high-priced Minnesota Vikings. Philly is probably the most under the radar but Eli-Face could easily donate a pick-6 to this opportunistic defense. I’m probably skipping Denver & Minnesota and going strictly Chiefs or Eagles.
If Ben Roethlisberger plays his reduced price makes him very sexy. Otherwise, I’m fine with choosing Aaron Rodgers or Andrew Luck in the shootout special. To save money here would also be easy as I do like Marcus Mariota and Colin Kaepernick at a reduced price. With the exception of a “playing” Big Ben, to avoid the chalk, I’ll probably go heavy on the latter two and save the money for elsewhere.
Ezekiel Elliott has the best matchup in the history of professional football. I don’t care how chalk he is, he will be in almost every single one of my lineups. I’ll pass all the other questionable price tag guys and target my RB2 from Charcandrick West, Tim Hightower, and Darren Sproles. With the exception of Hightower on FD, all their prices are similar.
None of the top WRs scream “Play me!” The only one I’d consider is Antonio Brown, and then only if Big Ben starts. Brandin Cooks and Dez Bryant probably make the best WR1 plays at 7.5K. That said, there are several good values in the 5K-6K DK range (6K-7K on FD) and I will likely roster one or two of them in each roster. I will pair two of those guys with someone from the Brian Quick, Marquise Lee, Tyreek Hill, Cordarrelle Patterson range for roughly 3.5K on DK. On DK, I also believe I will roster my FLEX from amongst those 5K-6K guys.
There are three dominant TE plays this week in Kyle Rudolph, Dennis Pitta, and Gary Barnidge. You can have your pick for 4K on DK and 5K on FD. If Hunter Henry is out or limited, I’ll also boost my stock in Antonio Gates.
Here are my recommendations for this week’s price range targets by position.
At DK: 6K at QB, 7.9K for Ezekiel Elliott & 4K-4.5K at RB2, no more than 18K total for all three starting WRs (and another 6K for my WR-FLEX), 4K for tight end, and 3.5K for the Chiefs’ defense.
At FD: 7.5K-8K at QB, 9.2K for Zeke and 6.5 for RB2, 19K-21K for all three WRs, 5K for a tight end of your choice, 5K for your choice at kicker, and 5K for the Chiefs’ defense.
Prices indicated: Red = Negative Value and Black = Acceptable Value and Green = Great Value
Weekly strategy – Big Ben, if he plays, is such a nice price that he would be hard to avoid. I hope people get scared of the re-injury potential making him less owned than he could be. Most of my exposure will be to Marcus Mariota, Joe Flacco, or Colin Kaepernick, but I will pay up in a couple lineups for the Rodgers/Luck shootout. I may also go to the deep well again this week with Case Keenum, although with such a limited selection of big-buck talent at the other positions (outside of Zeke) to choose from – I really don’t have to spend down here.
Your Fantasy Four Pack
Aaron Rodgers, Packers vs. IND ($7800 DK, $9100 FD)
Indianapolis has allowed multiple passing TDs in each of their last five games. Plus, their only decent cornerback, Vontae Davis, remains in the concussion protocol. Meanwhile, Aaron Rodgers has averaged nearly three TDs per week since Week 3. Rodgers is guaranteed to throw three TDs this week, and I like him to run one in too.
Andrew Luck, Colts @ GB ($6700 DK, $8000 FD)
This game should be a shootout as neither team has any talent in their secondary. Of course, you have to like Andrew Luck slightly more than Rodgers because he is 1K cheaper. The only reason I have him ranked lower is the threat that T.Y. Hilton might not play. Plus Luck’s offensive line is considerably worse than Green Bay’s. Luck does have multiple TDs in each of his last five starts and he has added some ground yardage the last couple weeks as well.
Ben Roethlisberger (if he starts), Steelers @ BAL ($6600 DK, $7500 FD)
Ben Roethlisberger has only thrown for more than two TDs against the Ravens twice in his career. Of course, in those two outings he threw for five and six TDs respectively. The Ravens secondary is underperforming right now as they have given up ten passing TDs over the last four weeks. I’m predicting a shootout here, so Big Ben will have the chance to put up some serious points. If he plays, 300-3 sounds about right.
Drew Brees, Saints @ SF ($7200 DK, $8600 FD)
The 49ers aren’t a good defense. They have given up multiple passing TDs to every QB not named Case Keenum. Drew Brees is infinitely better at home, but he isn’t going to struggle against the Niners. In his last seven meetings with San Francisco, Brees has three or more TDs five times. I like him for about 310-3 here.
Joe Flacco, Ravens vs. PIT ($5500 DK, $7500 FD)
The other half of the shootout with Pittsburgh allows Joe Flacco to face a defense that hasn’t given up a ton of TDs but that has given up significant yardage to several mediocre QBs this year. I’m not as excited about Flacco as I am about Marcus Mariota, but 250-2 seems like his floor for 2K less than the top tier.
Marcus Mariota, Titans @ SD ($5900 DK, $7600 FD)
I love this matchup for Marcus Mariota. Over the last four weeks, only Tom Brady has thrown for more TDs than Mariota. He is also always a threat to run one in as a vulture to DeMarco Murray. Six different teams have thrown for more 270 yards against San Diego. Plus, they may be without three of their top five LBs, in addition to their injuries in the secondary.
|Duke Johnson Jr.||$4,000||$5,200|
Weekly strategy – Ezekiel Elliott has the best matchup ever and his price tag should be a lot higher than it is. He will be +90% owned (and rightly so) with so few talented options to pay up for. Charcandrick West, Tim Hightower, and Darren Sproles will also be highly owned options (also rightly so). There is no pivot that I am extremely comfortable with (except maybe Devontae Booker if he gets a clean bill of health). So I’ll go heavy-chalk here and be happy with my guaranteed 50 points.
Your Fantasy Four Pack
Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys @ CLE ($7900 DK, $9200 FD)
He may approach 100% ownership and rightly so. Ezekiel Elliott is arguably the #1 running back in football and he is facing a rushing defense that has allowed the second most RB touchdowns and yardage. This includes them giving up 429-5 to the position over the last two weeks. The only way Zeke doesn’t top 200 total yards and two TDs is if Alfred Morris plays the entire second half. Even then, he still might post 200-2.
LeVeon Bell, Steelers @ BAL ($7700 DK, $8700 FD)
The Ravens are very tough against RBs, but they did just have issues with multi-purpose back, Matt Forte last week. LeVeon Bell is like Matt Forte on steroids. Bell can catch it and run it, and he just never seems to struggle even in tough matchups. Bell is averaging nearly 150 combo yards per game since coming out of suspension. If this game turns into the point fest I am expecting, then Bell should be safe to repeat that figure. I may roster a couple teams with both Zeke and Bell despite the fact that I’d have to roll with like Case Keenum at QB.
Matt Forte, Jets @ MIA ($6500 DK, $7500 FD)
Matt Forte has gotten his mojo back from Dr. Evil scoring four times over the last two games. That sets up nicely for another big game this week against a defense that he has topped 100 total yards and scored at least once against in both of his career matchups. Miami’s defense is just so-so in general, and I expect the Jets to try and control the clock with Forte (keeping Ryan Fitzpatrick from throwing it more than necessary). 100 combo yards and a score sound about right.
Devontae Booker (if he plays), Broncos @ OAK ($6400 DK, $7000 FD)
I shook my Magic 8-Ball this morning and it came back with all signs point to Devontae Booker suiting up this week in this juicy matchup against a rotten Oakland defense. The Raiders have allowed the fourth most total RB rushing yards this season and four different times they have given up more than 125 yards on the ground to an opposing RB corps. Booker proved adept in the passing game, meaning that he will get the lions’ share of touches in this game. Another 100 combo yard performance is a lock. If by weird chance he doesn’t play, I have zero confidence in Kapri Bibbs.
Charcandrick West, Chiefs vs. JAX ($4400 DK, $6400 FD)
This ranking presumes that Spencer Ware will be held out with his concussion. As of today he still remains in the concussion protocol, so I doubt he will suit up. Charcandrick West proved last year when he was given the bulk of the touches in a game that he could be a stud. The Jaguars just gave up 183 yards rushing to DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry and they have allowed four RB rushing TDs over the last two weeks. The biggest concern with West here is that he will be way over-owned, and if you are already playing the chalky Zeke you will have the same pair of backs as most everyone else.
Darren Sproles, Eagles @ NYG ($3900 DK, $4800 FD)
At the start of the week, Ryan Mathews was listed as being benched for Darren Sproles. Now the Eagles are claiming he is still the starter. Even if he is the starter, Sproles has out-performed him in half of the games this year. The only negative against Sproles is that Mathews may very well still carry the rock at the stripe. The Giants are solid against the run for the most part, but they have given up four TDs to the position over the last four weeks.
|Odell Beckham Jr.||$8,800||$8,900|
|Terrelle Pryor Sr.||$6,100||$7,000|
|Marvin Jones Jr.||$5,600||$7,200|
|Steve Smith Sr.||$5,400||$5,500|
|Ted Ginn Jr.||$3,900||$5,500|
Weekly strategy – With the possible exception of Antonio Brown there is a lot of yuck this week at the top of the WR class. I’m a huge fan of Jordy Nelson, Brandin Cooks and Dez Bryant and will have mucho-exposure to them. Donte Moncrief, Demaryius Thomas, Davante Adams, and Michael Thomas are also all likely to find a home on my rosters. I will have at least one of that foursome (and likely two or (three for my DK-FLEX)) on every roster. I will also use one from this foursome: Tyreek Hill, Brian Quick, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Marqise Lee to round out my rosters.
Your Fantasy Four Pack
Antonio Brown (If Big Ben plays), Steelers @ BAL ($8900 DK, $8700 FD)
I posted above that this game could easily divert to a passing fest if Big Ben is healthy enough to give it a go. If Roethlisberger plays, you know he will force-feed his favorite target excessively. In the five games that Ben played completely, Antonio Brown has averaged 11 targets, 7 receptions, and nearly 90 yards. Plus over the last two years, Brown has averaged 8-91 against Baltimore. That smells like his floor.
Dez Bryant, Cowboys @ CLE ($7400 DK, $7800 FD)
Cleveland is bad against the run, bad against the pass, bad against special teams, and even bad against the Cubs. Dez Bryant on the other hand is good, very good. The Browns have allowed multiple WR touchdowns in five of their games and they have given up more than 200 yards to the position in each of their last three contests. Dez is guaranteed to score at least once this week, and 125 yards seems like his floor. I’m not expecting a ton of receptions because he won’t need them. He could catch four passes and still EASILY top 125-1.
Jordy Nelson, Packers @ TB ($7800 DK, $8200 FD)
Indy’s pass defense has been one of the worst this year. They just gave up 200-2 to the Kansas City receiving corps. Sure, Aaron Rodgers might throw a couple passes to Davante Adams and something called Geronimo, but Jordy Nelson will eat heavily here. A touchdown is a virtual lock and I’d be surprised if Nelson didn’t end up with a line of roughly 7-110.
Brandin Cooks, Saints @ SF ($7500 DK, $7600 FD)
Brandin Cooks get the pleasure of facing a Niners secondary that has given up the most TDs to opposing WRs. This includes NINE over the last four games. Michael Thomas is also in play at a cheaper price (at least on DK), but Cooks is the unquestioned #1 here. He will likely score a TD here. He also has the highest ceiling of the top WRs since he could go to the house from anywhere on the field.
Donte Moncrief, Colts @ GB ($5800 DK, $6100 FD)
Donte Moncrief returned to the field last week and scored as well as leading the Colts in targets. A lot of that was because T.Y. Hilton was hurt and playing decoy most of the game. T.Y. might not even suit up this week, and if he does he most definitely will be limited. That makes Donte the Colts top option once again in what should be a high scoring affair. The Packers have allowed five WR scores over their last three games. At least one will fall into Moncrief’s hands.
Tyreek Hill, Chiefs vs. JAX ($3400 DK, $4700 FD)
Tyreek Hill has scored in three of his last four games and he really exploded with Nick Foles at QB last week. Meanwhile, Jacksonville gives up WR touchdowns faster than Hillary Clinton deletes e-mails. Opposing WR corps are averaging 170 yards against them and four different teams have scored multiple WR touchdowns against them. Maclin will probably score too, but his price is way higher than Hill. You need a third WR, why not take one that is cheap and offers this huge ceiling.
Weekly strategy – With six of the top 15 tight ends on bye and the top two remaining with bad matchups , I’m gonna go all-in on one of: Dennis Pitta, Kyle Rudolph, or Gary Barnidge. There is also some sneaky value here in Jack Doyle and Antonio Gates. I refuse to roster Greg Olsen or Travis Kelce, who both have ugly matchups and the highest prices.
Your Fantasy Four Pack
Kyle Rudolph, Vikings vs. DET ($4000 DK, $5000 FD)
Detroit has allowed the second-most receptions, the third-most yards, and the most total TDs to the tight end position. This includes 17-184-1 over the last two weeks. Kyle Rudolph remains one of the top targets for the Vikings, and with a new offensive coordinator calling plays, I expect the Vikes to dump it off to Rudy even more frequently.
Delanie Walker, Titans @ SD ($4600 DK, $6400 FD)
Delanie Walker is one of the few top TEs not on bye this week. Since returning from injury, Walker leads all Titans in receptions, receiving yards, and targets. This sets up nicely against a San Diego defense that will be shorthanded in both their secondary and their linebacker corps. Marcus Mariota is my favorite QB play this week and Walker makes the obvious stack hookup with him. They will be my primary pairing.
Dennis Pitta, Ravens vs. PIT ($3800 DK, $5200 FD)
I kind of wish that Joe Flacco would target Dennis Pitta in the red zone. He just doesn’t. Kenneth Dixon getting more touches certainly won’t help that red zone usage for Pitta. Fortunately for Pitta, he has been getting targeted like crazy everywhere else. Dennis Pitta is quietly in third in targets and fourth in receptions amongst all tight ends. With so many on byes this week, I wouldn’t be surprised if Pitta is the top overall scorer at the position in PPR formats this week.
Gary Barnidge, Browns vs. DAL ($3900 DK, $5200 FD)
Dallas’ biggest defensive weakness this season has been stopping opposing TEs. This year opposing TEs are averaging a robust 6-63 against them. I’m a little concerned that Corey Coleman may steal some of Gary Barnidge’s targets this week, but Cleveland will be forced to throw to keep up with Dallas’ offense. Plus, Dallas will be without one of their best CBs, Morris Claiborne for the foreseeable future.
Jack Doyle, Colts @ GB ($3600 DK, $5300 FD)
Jack Doyle currently ranks seventh in TE receptions. Plus, since Dwayne Allen got knocked out of Week 6, he ranks third amongst all tight ends in receptions. If T.Y. Hilton is limited (as I expect he will be), then Jack Doyle could have a huge week. His price isn’t as low as it used to be, but it still is pretty nice. He also makes a nice stack with Andrew Luck and/or Moncrief.
Lance Kendricks, Rams vs. CAR ($2900 DK, $4500 FD)
My favorite deep-deep-deep-dive stack this week is Case Keenum and Lance Kendricks. I will do at least one of this pairing with both Zeke and LeVeon at RB for fun. Last time I recommended Keenum, he had four total TDs. One of those went to Kendricks. Meanwhile, Carolina has allowed the second-most TDs to the position. The Kendricks’ TD will definitely be repeated, the Keenum-four pack I’m not as certain about.