A lesson all DFS players learn at some point is not to over-commit to certain players. That was one of my biggest failures last week. I certainly know better, but still found myself fighting the uphill fight due to one decision. I got killed because the Dolphins laid caviar against a rotten Jets’ defense. I was over-exposed to Jay Ajayi and Jay Cutler. Too many of my DFS lineups flamed out because neither Jay lit up.
The biggest (most controversial) news of the week, from a DFS standpoint, was DraftKings’ decision to remove the Sunday Night game from their Millionaire slate. A quick scan of Twitter, will find both sharks and chum equally excited and angry about this. The outcome of this decision will be felt heavier once we get into bye-week terrorism, but in the interim, it removes a few choices from our playbook. If you enter a SNF-inclusive contest (either on Fan Duel or a smaller slate game on DK), then load up on Seahawks’ skill position players and their defense. Don’t even consider starting a Colt this week, yes that means bench T.Y. Hilton too.
The London game is also not part of either sites’ Millionaire-slate. If you play a contest featuring these players, load up on both teams. The Saints are both an explosive offense, and an abdominally-distressful defense. Yes, I will try to reignite the Jays here as well. I doubt they will be a buzz kill in two straight games. There is nobody on either roster I’d be concerned about starting.
Monday night features the Redskins and Chiefs. This is an interesting matchup because both teams have been strong offensively, but both teams are also very staunch defensively. I give a slight edge to Kirk Cousins because he will be able to exploit the MIA, Eric Berry, by tossing the rock to Jamison Crowder, Chris Thompson, Jordan Reed (if he plays) or Vernon Davis (all of them make solid starts). Marcus Peters will likely lockdown Terrelle Pryor so I’ll avoid him this week. I have zero interest in Samaje Perrine or Rob Kelley (if he plays). The Chiefs have two tremendous weapons in Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. If Washington does decide to have Norman shadow one or the other of them, he might shut them down. That said, there is a high likelihood that Norman doesn’t shadow either of them. I’ll start Kelce no matter what, but Hill might be bench-worthy if you learn he gets to face the Norman Conquest. Kareem Hunt is a must-start in any format and at any price.
For those playing on FD my top kickers this week are Matt Prater, Matt Bryant, Ryan Succop, Jake Elliott and Stephen Gostkowski. Gostkowski and Bryant are both slightly over $5K. The other three are only mildly cheaper, but each has huge upside.
The Seattle defense is expensive and chalk this week, as is the Jaguars. I wouldn’t fault you for starting either, but know they will both be highly owned. I’m probably going to have some exposure to each. Cincinnati, Arizona and Baltimore are all a little less expensive and make nice fade plays. I also will have some exposure to the Giants against the interception-prone, Jameis Winston.
Russell Wilson will be popular on FD this week versus Indy. I will probably do a couple stacks with him and Paul Richardson as my WR3 or Jimmy Graham at TE. That said, my favorite plays of the week are Philip Rivers and Eli Manning. They are both playing must-win games against an injury-decimated defense. The only other guys that I feel excited about starting this week are: Jared Goff, Trevor Siemian and Deshaun Watson (and listing those three, I just threw up in my mouth a little). I also wouldn’t fault you if you started Tom Brady, I just despise spending that much at QB.
With only minimal investment at the QB position, I can afford to spend up a little at the other positions. Unfortunately, none of the high-priced running backs scream start me – start me (except Ezekiel Elliott – who I will roster several times). The two players that I will have the most exposure to are Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey. I could easily foresee starting both of these rookies. I also really dig another rookie, Joe Mixon. The one rookie I am probably going to fade is Dalvin Cook. Two non-rookies I will target based on their discount prices are Shane Vereen (if he plays) and Jacquizz Rodgers.
This is the week I am opening the purse strings at wide receiver. A.J. Green and Odell Beckham are both must-starts. Julio Jones, Brandin Cooks and Keenan Allen are right there with them. I will have at least two from this five-some in my lineups. The only two high-priced players I will avoid are Mike Evans and Antonio Brown. In the mid-tiers, I like DeAndre Hopkins and Larry Fitzgerald. If I want to save here there are several quality lower-mid options that I can roll with at WR3 or DK FLEX: Devin Funchess, Sterling Shepard, Allen Hurns, Brandon Marshall and Marqise Lee. I will even dumpster dive for Curtis Samuel (if Kelvin Benjamin cannot go), Robert Woods, and Paul Richardson.
Zach Ertz is the only tight end I will pay up for. I’ll have more exposure to Ryan Griffin, Charles Clay, Cameron Brate, Jared Cook and Evan Engram. Ed Dickson and Tyler Kroft are also great bargain options. I also like the matchup for Marcedes Lewis against the Jets, but I despise chasing points. I will probably fade him, and I expect him to be chalky after last week.
Here are my recommendations for this week’s price range targets by position.
At DK: $5.7 or $6.3K for either Philip Rivers or Eli Manning, $13.5K for two of the rookie running backs or Ezekiel Elliott, $17K for two of the elite WRs, and another $8K for two more wide receivers at WR3 and my DK FLEX, $2.5K to $3K for Ed Dickson or Tyler Kroft, and $2.9K for the Giants’ defense.
At FD: $7K or $7.4K for either Rivers or Manning, $12K to $14K for your choice of the rookie backs/Elliott, $17K for two of the elite WRs, $6.5K or less for WR3, $5.5K for a mid-range tight end, and $8.9K total for Ryan Succop and the Giants’ defense.
Prices indicated: Red = Negative Value and Black = Acceptable Value and Green = Great Value
Weekly strategy – I’m not going to be as “all-in” as last week. That said, Eli Manning and Philip Rivers are about as solid of plays as you will see all season. I’ll throw out one or two lineups with Tom Brady even though his price tag scares me. I will also have some exposure to both DeShaun Watson and Jared Goff. Unless you roster Brady, keep your spending here to 12 percent or less.
Your Fantasy Four Pack
Tom Brady, Patriots vs. CAR ($8000 DK, $9500 FD) Tom Brady blew up last week out-playing his high price tag. This week, it seems that Rex Burkhead will be the only weapon not at Brady’s disposal. With a full arsenal and a disinterested opponent, I wouldn’t doubt that Brady was capable of another 5-spot. That said, I feel New England will let their foot off the gas after Brady scores his third.
Philip Rivers, Chargers vs. PHI ($6300 DK, $7400 FD) The Eagles’ defense is decimated by injuries. Four of their opening day starters and two of their top reserves are likely to miss this game. These injuries helped Eli Manning wake up with a 366-3 performance last week. Much like Eli, Philip Rivers has sleep-walked through the first couple weeks. His alarm goes off this Sunday.
Eli Manning, Giants vs. TB ($5700 DK, $7000 FD) Speaking of Eli Manning, he gets to take on a second-consecutive injury-ravaged defense. Tampa Bay was lucky that they didn’t need their offensive players to go both ways during last week’s tilt against Minnesota. Brent Grimes returning will help some, but there still are way too many holes to plug. Manning has a lot of weapons to choose from and I recommend starting all of them. The triple-stack of Eli, Odell Beckham and Evan Engram will be my favorite play.
Russell Wilson, Seahawks vs. IND ($XXXX DK, $7900 FD) A victim of the DK decision to remove the Sunday Night Football contest from their slate, Russell Wilson, at home, versus a piecemeal Colts’ defense is fantasy gold for FD players. Indy has allowed 90 points through the first three weeks and they have given up 300-yard days to both: Jared Goff and the noodle-armed, Carson Palmer. Russell Wilson blew up against an equally inept secondary last week, 300-2 is a safe floor for this week.
Jared Goff, Rams @ DAL ($5600 DK, $7200 FD) Don’t look now, but Jared Goff is seventh in passing yards and tied for ninth in passing touchdowns. Dallas at home may look tough, but they have some serious secondary injuries to deal with. These injuries are one of the reasons why Dallas has allowed six passing touchdowns over the last two weeks.
Deshaun Watson, Texans vs. TEN ($5100 DK, $7300 FD) DeShaun Watson had a coming out party last weekend at Foxborough. Watson went into Bill Belichick’s backyard and laid a 301-2 line on the Patriots (plus a serviceable rushing line), despite being without two of his top pass-catching targets. Will Fuller may return for this game. If he does, that will open up the underneath pass game for Ryan Griffin and DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins’ targets would likely decrease, but his catches might actually rise. This is another triple-stack to consider this week. Tennessee’s pass defense showed their true colors last week. Only one team has allowed more passing touchdowns than the Titans.
|Todd Gurley II||$7,800||$8,000|
|Duke Johnson Jr.||$4,500||$5,900|
Weekly strategy – It is the week to roll with the rookies. My lineups will usually feature a pair from Christian McCaffrey, Joe Mixon and Leonard Fournette. Ezekiel Elliott will also be frequently mixed into one of those slots. I will also have (extremely) minimal exposure to some cheaper options such as Theo Riddick, Jacquizz Rodgers and Shane Vereen (if he plays). If you must spend up here avoid Devonta Freeman and Dalvin Cook. I also need to point out that spending up will be slightly easier at FD this week than on DK. Either way, try to keep your budget around 27 percent here.
Your Fantasy Four Pack
Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys vs. LAR ($8200 DK, $8500 FD) Ezekiel Elliott’s owners will finally get the payoff for their high-risk pick. The Los Angeles Rams have allowed 173 combo yards per game to opposing backs. Plus, no team has allowed more running back touchdowns. I could see Zeke topping 150 yards from scrimmage and I expect a pair of scores.
LeVeon Bell, Steelers @ BAL ($8700 DK, $8600 FD) The losses of Brandon Williams and Brent Urban to injury transformed a premiere Ravens’ rushing defense into one of the leagues’ worst. Even when Baltimore’s defense was intact, LeVeon Bell bested them for an average of 119 combo yards and a score over their last three meetings.
Leonard Fournette, Jaguars @ NYJ ($6700 DK, $7700 FD) Arguably my favorite play of the week, Leonard Fournette gets to do to the Jets what Jay Ajayi should have done last week. Even taking into account Ajayi’s faceplant last week, the Jets have allowed an average of 150 combo yards per game to opposing backs. This sounds about right for Fournette, and a touchdown is a mortal lock.
LeSean McCoy, Bills @ ATL ($8400 DK, $8300 FD) LeSean McCoy may find ground-yards hard to come by this week. Fortunately for him, Atlanta has allowed the second-most receptions and receiving yards to opposing running backs. They also have allowed four touchdowns to the position through their first three games. McCoy will probably finish with about 60 yards rushing, but he will also have seven or eight receptions for another 50 yards and a score.
Joe Mixon, Bengals @ CLE ($5700 DK, $5600 FD) Bill Lazor immediately unleashed Joe Mixon as the primary back for the Bengals last week. This was further proof that Cincinnati made the right decision by discarding their previous Offensive Coordinator. Cleveland has allowed running backs to score in each of the last two games. They will again here. Mixon got a couple of goal-line looks last week, so he should be in line to get that score.
Jacquizz Rodgers, Buccaneers vs. NYG ($4400 DK, $5300 FD) With their dynamic secondary, the Giants eliminate most teams’ desire to pass. Fortunately for their opposition, their run defense is just meh. Through three weeks, opposing running backs are averaging 151 combo yards against the G-Men. This included allowing 171-2 to the Philadelphia stiffs last week. Jacquizz Rodgers was a victim of game script last week, but he will be very active this time out.
|Odell Beckham Jr.||$8,900||$9,100|
|Marvin Jones Jr.||$4,000||$5,700|
Weekly strategy – Open up those purse strings. Antonio Brown and Mike Evans are the only two high-priced WRs that I want nothing to do with. I will have at least two of: Julio Jones, Odell Beckham, Brandin Cooks, Keenan Allen, DeAndre Hopkins and A.J. Green. My WR3 and DK FLEX will also come from this position. Either Giants secondary receiver or one of the Jaguars makes sense. On FD, either secondary Seattle receiver is also in play. I’m spending 40 percent here on FD and 50 percent on DK.
Your Fantasy Four Pack
Odell Beckham, Jr., Giants @ TB ($8900 DK, $9100 FD) Odell Beckham released a stream of fury (and mimed releasing a different stream) on Philadelphia’s short-handed secondary last week. He gets to face another injury-ravaged team this week. Brent Grimes is probable, but he won’t be 100 percent. I’m going to have maximum exposure to as many Giants’ offensive players as I can.
A.J, Green, Bengals @ CLE ($8600 DK, $8000 FD) Twice this season, Cleveland has allowed more than 200 yards to opposing WR teams. A.J. Green scored for the first time last week, but he has been active in all three games averaging 7-84 on 10 targets per game. Over their last three meetings, Green has averaged 5.6-117 with a pair of scores. I fully expect another 125-1 performance, perhaps with more catches.
Keenan Allen, Chargers vs. SD ($7200 DK, $7300 FD) Thanks to a series of injuries, Philadelphia’s secondary was as soft as melted cream cheese while trying to stop the Giants’ wide receivers last week. Meanwhile, Keenan Allen is fifth among WRs with 29 targets, but he only has one score to show for it. He will get peppered once again here and score number two is very likely.
Julio Jones, Falcons vs. BUF ($8800 DK, $8400 FD) Buffalo has not allowed a wide receiver touchdown through the first three weeks. That will change this week (at least twice). Each week, the Bills have allowed progressively more yardage to the position (91, 158, 228). These numbers came against Josh McCown, a struggling Cam Newton, and a mediocre Trevor Siemian. At this point in his career, Matt Ryan is light years better than all of them. Julio Jones hasn’t scored yet and he only has 16 receptions, but he does have the fourth most receiving yards amongst wide receivers. This could be another Jones blowup game.
Rishard Matthews, Titans @ HOU ($4900 DK, $6000 FD) Rishard Matthews has either scored and/or topped 80 yards receiving in 11 of his last 15 games. Houston’s short-handed secondary was just laid to rest by Tom Brady. Marcus Mariota won’t exploit them that badly, but he should still have a fair day when he escapes the pass rush. Fortunately, he has multiple quality PPR-style receivers to dump the ball off to. Rishard Matthews has averaged eight targets per game this year. He will get at least that many this week. I expect a line very similar to last week’s 6-87-1.
Marqise Lee, Jaguars @ NYJ ($4500 DK, $6200 FD) Marqise Lee is twelfth in targets over the last two weeks. During this span, he is averaging 5.5-71. The Jets just escaped last week with only one WR touchdown allowed. This wasn’t because they are good, it is entirely Jay Cutler’s fault for failing to exploit them. The Jets won’t pull off back-to-back solid defensive performances, there just isn’t enough talent present here. No team has allowed more wide receiver scores than the Jets. Both Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns should cross the stripe this week. I like them both, but Lee will get more yardage and catches.
Weekly strategy – I am absolutely in love with Zach Ertz this season. That said, I am not sure I can afford him this week (especially in a tougher matchup). If I spend a little less at WR3, I might reach for him. Most of my lineups will have Ryan Griffin, Charles Clay, Cameron Brate and Jared Cook. I will also do one triple-stack featuring Eli Manning, Odell Beckham and Evan Engram against a defense that might start people off of the street. When I need to save this week, I will try Ed Dickson or Tyler Kroft.
Your Fantasy Four Pack
Zach Ertz, Eagles @ LAC ($6300 DK, $6900 FD) The Chargers shut down Travis Kelce last week, but Kansas City has fewer outside receiving weapons than Philadelphia. That is why I am not overly scared to roll with Zach Ertz this week. Ertz leads all tight ends in yards, receptions and targets and he remains Carson Wentz’ favorite target. Perhaps temper his yardage numbers here, but the receptions will still be there and he is past due for a touchdown.
Rob Gronkowski, Patriots vs. CAR ($6600 DK, $8500 FD) Most tight ends struggle against the fast linebacking corps of Carolina. You aren’t going to bench Rob Gronkowski in any season-long format, but you don’t have to spend up for him in DFS. I still feel he will score and post 5-50. That is great for most, but just so-so on Gronk’s scale.
Jimmy Graham, Seahawks vs. IND ($XXXX DK, $6200 FD) Why did DK have to take this matchup away from us. Jimmy Graham finally woke up last week, and he gets to face a Colts’ defense that gave up more than 60 yards to the position in each of their first two games and a TD last week. I will definitely do a few lineups where I stack Graham with Russell Wilson. The Seahawks might find themselves under-owned on FD because the computer-generated-lineup sharks may forget it is in play.
Cameron Brate, Buccaneers vs. NYG ($3800 DK, $5300 FD) The Giants have allowed a tight end touchdown in each of their first three games. They have also allowed an average of 7.6-55 to the position. This is the type of line that wins you moolah. With DeSean Jackson and Mike Evans neutralized by the Giants’ phenomenal cornerback duo, expect Jameis Winston to pepper Cameron Brate with passes.
Ryan Griffin, Texans vs. TEN ($3500 DK, $4500 FD) DeShaun Watson spent the preseason looking extensively at C.J. Fiedorowicz. With C.J. injured, it only made sense that Watson would eventually target his understudy. The return of Will Fuller will only open up more of the underneath/inside routes that Ryan Griffin specializes in. Tennessee just allowed 10-125-1 to Seattle’s tight end grouping. I’d be ecstatic with half of that output for this price.
Evan Engram, Giants @ TB ($3000 DK, $5200 FD) Just three games into his rookie season, Evan Engram ranks sixth in both targets and receptions among tight ends. As we mentioned above, Tampa Bay may be missing half of their defense this week. A stack of Eli Manning along with Engram and one of their WRs is very enticing at this price.