Last week proved to be one of my most profitable of the year thanks to crafting together lineups featuring the “Big-Three” running backs: Ezekiel Elliott, David Johnson, and LeVeon Bell. Fitting their hefty salaries together took some serious salary cap crunching, but thanks to Marcus Mariota’s salary remaining low for one more week I was able to do it. The DFS world has finally caught on to Mariota being the hottest QB in fantasy so his price is no longer sexy, I will have to alter my QB-range once again starting this week.
If you are playing in Monday night contests, we get to see if Brock Osweiler can actually get it done versus a pretty un-inspiring Oakland secondary. Last year, Osweiler had his best game as a pro against these Raiders. The Raiders have had difficulty with opposing WR1s, so DeAndre Hopkins at a ridiculously low price is definitely in play. Oakland also has no idea what to do with opposing TEs, so recent success-story, C.J. Fiedorowicz is easy money. As for Lamar Miller, Oakland has been stingy against opposing RBs of late, but Miller’s price is low enough to make him very tempting. The Texans defense has been very good against the pass. I doubt Carr tops 250-2. This means that while both Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree have a chance at a TD, neither is a sure thing. I tend to favor Crabtree a slight bit more since he will draw Houston’s #2 CB. Latavius Murray is once again the unquestioned #1 RB for Oakland and he makes a solid but unspectacular play this week at a price just below Miller on DK.
For those playing on FD, I recommend targeting: Cairo Santos, Matt Prater, and Chandler Catanzaro at kicker. Those games present the best opportunity for kicker points. None of them cost more than 5K. Of course, this is likely to be the first week of the season where weather concerns could come into play so make sure that your kicker is either indoors or out of the wind/rain/snow.
At defense, the Seattle Seahawks, Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills, and New York Giants are the best plays of the week. Seattle and New York are the priciest options of the lot, but Miami might be my favorite of the four against Jared Goff in his first start.
Matthew Stafford and Kirk Cousins are the best pairing of intermediate cost and potential exponential return. Sure Mariota and Ben Roethlisberger have sexy matchups, but their price is only slightly below value. I’ll definitely have a couple shares of each of them, but will prefer Stafford and Cousins. I also have this scary desire to play Colin Kaepernick, in a game he’ll be forced to throw extensively, paired with Jeremy Kerley or Vance McDonald. I’ll throw at least one of these stacks into a GPP and see if it sticks.
LeVeon Bell is the easy money this week. I will probably put together at least one “ground-and-pound” stack again featuring Bell, Shady McCoy, and/or DeMarco Murray. Chris Ivory and James Starks are the volume discount plays I like this week, and Dion Lewis is the ultimate wildcard.
I have reason to be hesitant on pretty much all of the top ten WRs this week. Dez Bryant and T.Y. Hilton are the only two I am confident will blow past their price point in terms of return. Fortunately, there is a who’s who of value options here this week. You should be able to easily afford two big buck RBs, one of these two, and two cheap WR2-3s.
This week at TE I’m avoiding the top and bottom and settling on a “big middle”. Martellus Bennett, Dennis Pitta, and Julius Thomas are all Scarlett Johansen level hot this week. I’ll be really tempted to use one of these three as my FLEX on DK in addition to the regular TE slot. Travis Kelce and Delanie Walker are the only guys I’d happily consider paying up for.
Here are my recommendations for this week’s price range targets by position.
At DK: 6-6.5K at QB, 15.5K for LeSean McCoy & either LeVeon Bell or DeMarco Murray, 7.2K for Dez Bryant or T.Y. Hilton and no more than 10K for WR2 & WR3, 3.5K for your starting tight end and another 3.5K for your second TE/Chris Ivory as your FLEX, and 2.9K or less for Buffalo or Miami defense.
At FD: 8K or less at QB, 16K-17K for two of those three RBs, 7.4K for Dez or T.Y. and 12K or less for your WR2 & WR3, 5K-6K for Kelce or one of my TE favorites, and roughly 9.5K combined for kicker and defense of your choice.
Prices indicated: Red = Negative Value and Black = Acceptable Value and Green = Great Value
Weekly strategy – Big Ben and Mariota are the safest plays in the high dollar range so I’ll have some exposure to them, but Stafford and Cousins are my favorite plays of the week. If you want an upgrade at WR2, you can punt here with Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick, or whoever starts for Cleveland.
Your Fantasy Four Pack
Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers @ CLE ($7500 DK, $8400 FD)
Ben Roethlisberger gets to feast on a Cleveland secondary that has the most passing TDs. This includes multiples in every game except one, and three touchdowns in six of their last eight games. Plus, last year Big Ben throttled Cleveland to the tune of 728-6 over two games.
Tom Brady, Patriots @ SF ($7800 DK, $9300 FD)
The only reason I’m not giving Tm Brady a full GREEN rating is that New England will likely be without Rob Gronkowski and they won’t have to throw the ball anyways. This game will be filled with lots of Blount-Force-Trauma. I still envision Brady with about 295-2, which is better than most, but worse than the other guys in this price stratosphere.
Matthew Stafford, Lions vs. JAX ($6600 DK, $7900 FD)
Good god will this game be ugly from a defensive standpoint. The only reason to not like Matthew Stafford this week is because Theo Riddick will do a heavy dose of their work. Jacksonville doesn’t give up a ton of passing yards simply because teams don’t have to pass on them. In this case however, the Lions best running back is actually a screen-pass possession receiver type guy. Detroit’s running yards this week will primarily come on short swing passes and screens to Riddick. The nice thing about that is that all of those yards and potential scores go on Stafford’s log as well. Of course, this comes on top of the 200-2 that Matthew will share with Ebron, Jones, Boldin, and Tate. By the end of this game I would not be surprised if Stafford is this week’s top scorer amongst QBs.
Marcus Mariota, Titans @ IND ($6700 DK, $8000 FD)
Marcus Mariota has been the best QB in the league, in terms of TDs produced, over the last six weeks. This week he faces an Indianapolis team that has allowed multiple passing TDs in every game since Week 4, and six in the last two weeks. Mariota is super-safe to continue to roll with, even though FD finally jacked his price up. I’d expect about 275-3 here.
Alex Smith, Chiefs vs. TB ($5300 DK, $6700 FD)
Count me amongst the many anxious for Kansas City to move on from Alex Smith. The career game-manager frustrates the fans and his fantasy owners (plus the owners of Travis Kelce and Jeremy Maclin) on a weekly basis. This week at least presents a positive opportunity for Smith to better his stock going into next season. Tampa Bay’s scorched-earth secondary held the worthless Jay Cutler in check last week, but before that they gave up 857-8 over the two prior weeks. His price is nearly 2.5K less than Tom Brady at DK. I expect them to finish with very similar lines. You don’t get to say that too frequently.
Colin Kaepernick, 49ers vs. NE ($5200 DK, $7000 FD)
San Francisco will no doubt be playing from behind in this game. That means that Colin Kaepernick will be forced to throw the ball (perhaps more than he would like). This is why I will have a few stock shares of Kaepernick with Vance McDonald and/or Kaepernick with Jeremy Kerley. He is bound to be under-owned, and if you stack here, you will be able to afford two big RBs and two big WRs.
|Duke Johnson Jr.||$3,800||$5,000|
Weekly strategy – For the second week in a row, I am going to pay heavily at RB. Most of my lineups will have two of these four: LeVeon Bell, LeGarrette Blount, LeSean McCoy, and DeMarco Murray. Theo Riddick is the only intermediate tier guy I like this week and Chris Ivory is my favorite punt play. Either of these could be my DK FLEX (if I don’t go Double-TE) or my RB2, if I really want to upgrade at WR2.
Your Fantasy Four Pack
LeVeon Bell, Steelers @ CLE ($8800 DK, $9100 FD)
Anyone versus Cleveland is pretty much a no-brainer. However, when a top-three guy faces Cleveland, the main question is how many TDs will he have before he is benched for Fitz Toussaint? I’m guessing LeVeon will play three quarters, and finish with about 175 total yards, six receptions, and a minimum of two TDs. That should guarantee you a DFS point total in the 30’s from your RB1. In two matchups last year, Bell finished with just one TD but over 300 total yards. The TDs will come this week since Cleveland has allowed seven RB rushing scores over the last four games.
DeMarco Murray, Titans @ IND ($8200 DK, $8500 FD)
This matchup is perhaps the only thing surer than the LeVeon Bell play this week. Due in part to this, I will likely go “Ground-and-Pound” and play them both. Indianapolis has already given up 127-1 to DeMarco Murray this season, and that was before Tennessee got that mojo working on offense. That was actually less than the 141 combo yards per game that Indy is allowing to opposing RBs. The 140 is definitely in play this week, and barring a vulture by Marcus Mariota, I firmly expect Murray to cross the stripe twice.
LeSean McCoy, Bills @ CIN ($6900 DK, $7500 FD)
The Cincinnati Bengals have allowed only five RB rushing touchdowns this year. Of course, all five of those have come in their last five games. In his last five healthy games, LeSean McCoy has topped 100 total yards every time. This included tough matchups with the Cardinals, Rams, and Seahawks. Cincy’s run defense is not on par with those three teams. McCoy may find himself in some of my DK FLEX slots if I want to go three-RB again.
David Johnson, Cardinals @ MIN ($7900 DK, $8300 FD)
Normally, I’d recommend benching your RB1 against the Minnesota Vikings. David Johnson, however, is not your typical RB1. He is truly matchup proof. Much like LeVeon, Johnson can beat you on the ground and through the air. His PPR numbers alone put him in 20-point range most weeks. I think the matchup this week makes him less sexy than the three listed above. Nevertheless, Johnson will still top 100 total yards and score once. That is better than most of the chaff below him on the price sheet.
Theo Riddick, Lions vs. JAX ($5100 DK, $6700 FD)
Jacksonville has had roughly the same amount of success stopping opposing RBs as Wile E. Coyote had at stopping the Road Runner. Theo Riddick is probably the worst RB in football (not active on Minnesota’s roster) at running the ball between the tackles. You don’t roster him in DFS for his yards on the ground; you roster him for his price, and his WR2-like reception output. If he manages 50-1 on the ground, that is just gravy.
Chris Ivory, Jaguars @ DET ($3600 DK, $5400 FD)
If you are stooping to start Chris Ivory this week, you are probably hoping to spend up at QB or WR2. Based on volume alone, Ivory is a solid play. That said, he will probably have a high ownership percentage. I do like however, that Jacksonville is starting to commit to the run. Plus, they appear to have finally realized what I have been saying all year about T.J. Yeldon being a steaming pile of cow manure.
|Odell Beckham Jr.||$8,500||$9,000|
|Steve Smith Sr.||$6,000||$5,500|
|Terrelle Pryor Sr.||$5,600||$7,200|
|Marvin Jones Jr.||$5,000||$6,500|
Weekly strategy – I’ll probably need to roster Antonio Brown at least once, but I think Chicago shuts down Odell Beckham, Jr. this week. Dez Bryant or T.Y. Hilton will be my primary WR1. They will be paired with two of the following: Jeremy Maclin, Terrelle Pryor, Mike Wallace, Golden Tate, Rishard Matthews, Marvin Jones Jr., Eli Rogers, and Jeremy Kerley. If Jeremy Maclin doesn’t play, Tyreek Hill would also be in play.
Your Fantasy Four Pack
Antonio Brown, Steelers @ CLE ($9500 DK, $8900 FD)
Joe Haden appears to be rounding back into shutdown status, and that is perhaps the only reason that I am scared to be overly invested in Antonio Brown this week. That said, all Brown did to Cleveland last year was post a redonkulous 23-326-3 over two games. Of course, a lot of that was not against Haden. I feel by hook or by crook, Brown will still get 100-1. I just don’t know if I want to spend this much for a lower ceiling than usual from him. I’d be particularly concerned if the score gets out of hand early and LeVeon becomes the focus of Pittsburgh’s offense.
A.J. Green, Bengals vs. BUF ($8300 DK, $8200 FD)
Buffalo has not given up a ton of WR touchdowns this year, but they have been abused from a yardage standpoint. Only once all year have they not allowed 150+ yards to an opposing WR corps. Not to mention, that they have given up all these yards to QBs and WRs that are not nearly as good as A.J. Green and Andy Dalton. A.J. Green is virtually matchup proof anyways since he is third in receptions and second in receiving yardage. This includes three games with over 160 yards already this year. Depending on Pittsburgh’s game script, I would not be surprised if Green outperformed Antonio Brown this week.
Dez Bryant, Cowboys vs. BAL ($7200 DK, $7400 FD)
On paper, this is the best WR matchup of the week. His price is much lower than Brown, Green, and the rest of the expensive crayons. He also has a cake pairing against a Baltimore defense that has given up ten WR touchdowns this season despite facing only three halfway decent QBs. The Baltimore defense’s strength is against the run, so Dak Prescott will have to win this one through the air (although I’m still not benching Zeke – just downgrading him some). That should mean a healthy dose of targets for Dez Bryant. Since returning from his injury, in the two games that Bryant was not shadowed by Joe Haden, he has posted 10-229-2. I’d settle for half of that, but can expect even more.
T.Y. Hilton, Colts vs. TEN ($7700 DK, $7900 FD)
This matchup here is the only other higher-priced option that I will have some shares of. T.Y. Hilton still ranks sixth in yardage and 12th in receptions despite fighting some lingering injuries over the last couple weeks. His ten targets per week are also very appealing. Tennessee has been allowing a ridiculous 212 yards per game to opposing WRs over the last five games.
Golden Tate, Lions vs. JAX ($5300 DK, $6600 FD)
The Jacksonville Jaguars have allowed the seventh-most WR touchdowns this year. Meanwhile, Detroit has forgotten about early-season hero Marvin Jones, Jr. and given most of their passing attention towards Golden Tate. Over the last four weeks, Tate has 43 targets, 32 receptions, 379 yards, and 2 TDs. This game has huge over potential, I want as many shares of anyone here I can get.
Jeremy Kerley, 49ers vs. NE ($3500 DK, $5300 FD)
I mention above my desire to have some representation of stacks involving Colin Kaepernick along with either Jeremy Kerley or Vance McDonald. Last week, Doug Baldwin went crazy against the Patriots with a mobile QB throwing him the ball. This week a mobile QB will be forced to throw the ball to keep up with Tom Brady. He will throw it to a WR that much like Baldwin plays a fair amount out of the slot. This WR is the same height, and the same age, and nearly the same weight as Doug Baldwin. His name is Jeremy Kerley. I’m not saying he is going to replicate Baldwin’s line, but there are a lot of similarities here. Plus, in five of Kerley’s eight career games versus New England, he has topped 50 receiving yards and/or scored a TD.
Weekly strategy – I don’t dislike the top options this week, but I just don’t need them. Travis Kelce and Delanie Walker are really good higher priced options, but Julius Thomas, Dennis Pitta, and Martellus Bennett are also so juicy that they should pay off well above price point. This is why I will likely roster my DK FLEX from amongst this five-some as well. Ladarius Green, Vance McDonald, and Charles Clay are my three punt plays here (but I doubt I’ll be heavily invested in them).
Your Fantasy Four Pack
Jordan Reed, Redskins vs. GB ($5900 DK, $6900 FD)
Freakin’ Vernon Davis cost me a big payday on FD last week. If those Davis points would’ve gone to Reed, I’d be sitting here typing this with more padding in my wallet. Davis has been very active the last few weeks, but that really coincided with Reed’s injury. The member-berries are about to run out for the Vernon Davis’ resuscitation campaign. That means Reed will gain back his top tier status.
Delanie Walker, Titans @ IND ($5700 DK, $6400 FD)
This matchup is very sexy. Over the last five weeks, Indianapolis has allowed an average of 8.4-96 to the TE position. They have also given up three tight end TDs over that span. I want to roster more of Delanie Walker this week, I just don’t know if I will. He may make me put Bennett or Thomas into my DK FLEX just so I can have him as well.
Travis Kelce, Chiefs vs. TB ($4700 DK, $6100 FD)
The other high-priced option I like this week is Travis Kelce. Tampa has only given up three TE touchdowns over the last three weeks. They have also given up big yardage to Atlanta and Oakland during that stretch (not exactly TE hotbed spots). Travis Kelce was inexplicably shutdown by Carolina last week. I doubt that he allows that to happen again.
Martellus Bennett (assuming Rob Gronkowski doesn’t play), Patriots @ SF ($3700 DK, $5200 FD)
This is the biggest no-brainer play in history. Martellus Bennett’s price tag is that of a backup TE this week. Of course, right now it appears that he will get to play the role of Rob Gronkowski in the Patriots offense against arguably the worst defense in football. Five different quality tight ends have pummeled the Niners already this year. Bennett gets to make it six this week. Without Gronk, we are seriously looking at 8-120-1 range here.
Charles Clay, Bills @ CIN ($2600 DK, $4800 FD)
Charles Clay has to be the most overrated TE in football. Every year, somebody expects him to breakout, and ends up drafting him. He gets cut right away, and probably gets yo-yo’ed five or six times during bye weeks, but never surfaces on a roster for more than one week at a time. Over the last four weeks, opposing TEs have produced 40-539-3 against Cincinnati. This is the week you want him on your roster.
Ladarius Green, Steelers @ CLE ($2500 DK, $4500 FD)
Cleveland has allowed the TE-Triple Crown (most receptions, most yards, and most TDs). I am only half-seriously considering doing a roster with both Jesse James and Ladarius Green. I wish we knew who would be the most active this week. What we do know is Green played a fair amount last week in his first appearance of the year. We also know that Green had a better pedigree coming into this year. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Green is cheaper. I like green.