We have already had some COVID infections affecting our Thursday night lineups this week. In addition, there are sprinkles of COVID throughout our Sunday lineups. Perhaps the scariest threat stemming from the disease would have been Ben Dinucci having to face Pittsburgh. Fortunately, it sounds like he won’t sniff the field in that game. I guess we can at least applaud that we won’t be losing any potential starters in the Monday night game.
DFS: The Primetime Slate
New Orleans Saints @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Drew Brees may finally get back Michael Thomas this week. It is long overdue and I’m sure Brees will be happy to have him after having his top three WRs out last week. Tampa Bay is much easier to beat through the air than on the ground, so I’ll give Brees the QB2 slot this week. QB1 is of course reserved for Tom Brady, who also gets a stud WR back this week in the form of Antonio Brown. The difference being that Brady has other high-end weapons to work with too (including a possible early return for Chris Godwin – possible but not likely).
Alvin Kamara has a tough matchup this week, but with the lack of talent at the position on this slate, he is still RB1. It helps that Tampa can be beaten by pass-catching backs. I’m not looking deep enough to use Latavius Murray though. Ronald Jones has gotten benched for parts of each of his last two games due to fumbles. He also has ceded the pass-catching downs to Leonard Fournette. The Saints are actually tougher against the run than Tampa, so neither excite me, but again with such a lack of talent here neither is worse than RB4. I could see using one of them as RB2, but I am likely saving FLEX for a WR.
Michael Thomas is due back this week, Emmanuel Sanders is likely back this week. Marquez Callaway returning is also a possibility. Thomas is a must-start and even rusty he is no lower than WR2. Sanders could be used, but he wasn’t used regularly when Thomas was in or out earlier this year – I’ll pass. Callaway is a possible sneaky punt-FLEX to save money (assuming he plays). Don’t even consider Tre’Quan Smith or Deonte Harris, neither will get enough targets to find value. Tom Brady will have all the incentive in the world to get Antonio Brown the ball early and often. On this slate, he should be WR2/3 overall. I’m concerned about Mike Evans’s lack of usage recently. I’m also concerned that he might see the shadow of Marshon Lattimore. Evans is always a TD threat (as was proven on MNF), but his price is often too high for reliable usage. A returning Chris Godwin feels like more of a detraction from Brown than Evans, but if he is out there, I feel it will be as a decoy. Frankly, I’d rather pay up and play Evans than pay up and play a gimpy Godwin. Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson once again slide into semi-obscurity if Godwin plays. I would maybe consider Miller as a punt-FLEX, but you shouldn’t have to.
Jared Cook gets a decent matchup, but with all of the WRs returning, he becomes much more TD-dependent than I prefer. He is still TE2 here, but that isn’t saying much. Taysom Hill gets TE-qualification in some formats, his usage is also sporadic, but at his price, he can reach 3x easily. He should be the fourth option on this slate at TE when he qualifies. Rob Gronkowski is head-and-shoulders TE1 here, and it isn’t close. I even almost like Cameron Brate more than Cook here. I’ll slide Brate in at TE3, just because he doesn’t get quite as much usage. Neither of these defenses should sniff your lineup card.
New England Patriots @ New York Jets
- For the betterment of the league, we should all hope this game is FLEXED off of MNF. It won’t be, but it should.
Cam Newton faces the “we don’t care anymore Jets” but he still is no better than QB3 here since he has no one to throw to. Sam Darnold is hurt and facing a solid Patriots defense. Neither he nor Joe Flacco should be on your roster. They both are so awful, that Taysom Hill when he is QB-eligible is a better start than either of them here.
Damien Harris has boosted his stock following his second 100-yard game of the season. He also scored last week, putting him in RB2 consideration. Just know that Harris is a pariah in the passing game. At the very least, consider using Harris at FLEX. You can also consider James White in that role as he is the most consistent pass-catcher for Cam to throw to. Rex Burkhead is nothing more than a punt-FLEX play here that will only have value if Harris gets Belichick’ed during the game. The Patriots have actually been rotten against the run of late. That said, do you really trust Frank Gore or Lamical Perine with your financial wellbeing. Either could be used in Showdown mode, but neither is more than a punt-FLEX on the main slate.
Julian Edelman is out. N’Keal Harry is still in the concussion protocol from last week. The extra days may get him free for MNF, and he is needed. I’m still not counting on him as any more than a WR3. Jakobi Meyers has looked good filling in as this teams’ WR1, and against the Jets, I actually like him as a WR3 with upside. I used to like Damiere Byrd, but in a featured role, he is not ready for primetime. He is no more than the bottom of the FLEX-worthy barrel. If Jamison Crowder returns for this game, he instantly becomes the lock at WR3 on the entire slate. If he doesn’t play, Braxton Berrios is also in consideration for your WR3 slot. Breshad Perriman missed last week with a concussion. Much like Harry, he gets the benefit of an extra day to recover. Based on volume alone, he could be worth using at FLEX. Denzel Mims is going to be a star – next year. I’ll pass on him here. If Darnold plays, then maybe Mims or Jeff Smith might have some deep punt-value. If Flacco plays, they stand no chance in hell.
If you play Chris Herndon or Ryan Izzo, you might as well just light your funds on fire. These will however be the two defenses that you choose from. The Patriots will be the chalk, so consider the Jets instead. Unless Flacco plays, then set the Pats and forget about it.
The Main Slate: My recommended DFS lineups
At DK: $5.2K for Drew Lock. $8.2K for Dalvin Cook. $6.9K for James Conner. $7.4K for Stefon Diggs. $5.5K for Brandin Cooks. $3.7K for Danny Amendola (or Marvin Hall or Quintez Cephus). $4.6K for Noah Fant. $4.9K for Justin Jackson at FLEX. $3.1K for the Texans’ defense.
At FD: $8.3K for Deshaun Watson. $9.3K for Cook. $8.2K for Conner. $7.6K for Diggs. $6.1K for Cooks. $5.1K for Hunter Renfrow. $5.8K for Fant. $5.9K for J. Jackson at FLEX. $3.7K for the Texans’ defense.
At Fanball (SuperFlex – includes Sun Night): Josh Allen or Watson, Lock at SF, Cook, Conner, Diggs, Will Fuller, Marvin Jones, Fant, and David Johnson at FLEX.
Weekly strategy – I have reasons to avoid each of the top-three priced QBs this week. The biggest reason for avoiding all of them is that the two players priced directly below them are likely to outperform each of them. Deshaun Watson and Josh Allen should be option A and option A1 this week. If you pivot from them Matthew Stafford (if he plays) and Ben Roethlisberger are the only legit options up top. A little lower on the money chart, Nick Foles and Derek Carr have 3X upside. Still, the best option might be to choose one of Drew Lock or Kyle Allen as a punt. Both of them are guaranteed to reach 3X. Although I should state that Lock is much more appealing on DK than FD based on price. If you want to be really ballsy consider Jake Luton.
Fantasy Four Pack
Deshaun Watson, Texans @ JAX ($7100 DK, $8300 FD)
The biggest trade deadline winner was Deshaun Watson. All weekend long rumors circulated that his receiving corps would be decimated through trades. Well, the deadline passed and Deshaun still has Will Fuller, Brandin Cooks, Randall Cobb, and Kenny Stills to throw to. I must admit, I thought there was zero chance that one of them wouldn’t have hopped on the Packers’ plane after their game last week. Jacksonville has allowed three or more total TDs to four of their last six opponents’ QBs. This included a 359-3 performance by Watson.
Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs vs. CAR ($8100 DK, $9300 FD)
Carolina has allowed more than one passing TD only twice in eight games. That said, they have allowed QB rushing TDs in three straight. Patrick Mahomes isn’t a rushing QB like Lamar Jackson or Kyler Murray. That doesn’t matter though. The three “rushing” QBs to score against the Panthers the last three weeks were: Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, and Nick Foles. Mahomes is a more pronounced rusher than any of them. In fact, Mahomes is a better “passing QB” than every other QB in the league, so expecting Carolina to hold him to one or fewer passing TDs seems unlikely. If they can successfully hold him to two passing TDs, and he scores one on the ground, then he would still be a top-3 QB this week.
Josh Allen, Bills vs. SEA ($7000 DK, $8200 FD)
Following a record-pace start to the season with 14 total scores in four weeks, Josh Allen has disappeared of late scoring only five times in his last four contests. Looking closer, you will find that two of those contests were against top-ten pass defenses and he topped 300 passing yards in one of those other “struggle” games. Plus, John Brown was either out or limited in each of the four games. Brown is still not 100%, but Seattle’s defense is historically bad right now. The fact they didn’t address this at the trade deadline is absurdist at best. This smells heavily of the “get-right” game for Allen.
Russell Wilson, Seahawks @ BUF ($7600 DK, $9000 FD)
l have to hand it to Russell Wilson. All trends pointed to him struggling the last two weeks versus Arizona and San Francisco. He proved me wrong throwing for 649-7 and running for another 107 yards. This is his season. Buffalo has been middle of the pack against the pass this year despite having solid defensive backs. They also have limited but not completely stopped Cam Newton and Patrick Mahomes during two of their past three games. This time I refuse to accept that Wilson can be limited. Still, 300-3 seems like both his floor and his ceiling every week right now. Especially, since Mahomes is the only QB they have faced that is on par with Wilson.
Drew Lock, Broncos @ ATL ($5200 DK, $7200 FD)
Drew Lock has played significant snaps in four games this year. Three of them have come against the #4, #9, and #13 pass defenses. Needless to say, his numbers underwhelmed in those three games. Last week he finally faced a bottom-half pass defense and he went off for 248-3. That game also coincided with the return to full health for several of his offensive weapons. Meanwhile, Atlanta has allowed 300 passing yards and/or three or more TDs in all but one game. 300-3 is in play here too.
Derek Carr, Raiders @ LAC ($5700 DK, $7000 FD)
A once strong pass defense for the Chargers has been dismantled by both injuries and now trades too. Five of the seven QBs to face them have recorded multiple touchdowns this season. Derek Carr is very vanilla as is his receiving corps. Choosing the stack each week is next to impossible. Darren Waller is always safe for volume but Nelson Agholor, Henry Ruggs, and Hunter Renfrow have rolled dice to determine who scores week-to-week. Carr has multiple TDs in five of his last six games. The only exception was last week in the 40 MPH winds and rain at Cleveland.
Weekly strategy – The fact that neither site is giving us an injury discount for Christian McCaffrey proves that they believe him to be 100% ready to mash Week 9. I won’t be completely avoiding CMAC, but I’d like to see how much Mike Davis cuts into his workload in his first week back before investing heavily. Besides, you can get the same production from Dalvin Cook for a couple of hundred dollars less. Cook is my favorite based on price and he will be my primary RB1. The cheaper pivots that I like are James Conner and Chase Edmonds (if Kenyan Drake is out). I will also consider using one of those two at RB2. Josh Jacobs could also be an under-the-radar pivot here. There are three others that I really like at RB2 or FLEX: Antonio Gibson, David Johnson, and Zack Moss. If I don’t choose three from all of the above-listed options, Justin Jackson also makes a nice FLEX play. I would also recommend Matt Breida as a volume-based punt play.
Fantasy Four Pack
Dalvin Cook, Vikings vs. DET ($8200 DK, $9300 FD)
Dalvin Cook is coming off one of the best games of his career against the Packers, now he gets to face a team that is almost as bad against the run. The Lions have allowed multiple TDs to four different backs this season and five RB scores in the last two games. Meanwhile, Cook has scored in every game that he has played in this season. He also has averaged 165 combo yards per game over his last four games.
Christian McCaffrey, Panthers @ KC ($8500 DK, $9500 FD)
What can we say? At least they left a little meat on the bones here as they didn’t immediately price him over $10K. Still, give the man an injury discount for crying out loud. It still is Christian McCaffrey and he is still facing a bad run defense in KC, so he is still most definitely in play. Plus, when Carolina falls behind and is forced to throw the ball CMAC will still be relevant. In fact, I’m looking forward to all those potential receptions. My usage will be down this week, but not completely. You never know when he will break a slate.
James Conner, Steelers @ DAL ($6900 DK, $8200 FD)
Despite the interrupting presence of Chase Claypool and Benny Snell, James Conner has still managed to score and/or top 100 yards in each of his last six games. Meanwhile, Dallas has allowed an average of 106 total yards per game and 1.2 TDs per game to opposing top RBs over the last five contests. So 100-1 is a virtual lock here. Snell or Claypool might steal a score here too. Conner is also a great way to get exposure to the Pittsburgh offense this week rather than trying to guess which WRs will score (even though they may all score here).
Chase Edmonds, Cardinals vs. MIA ($6800 DK, $6700 FD)
Right now, Kenyan Drake has not officially been ruled out for this week. This is coach-speak. There is below a razor-thin chance that Drake suits up for this one. Even if he does, he may have completely lost the RB1 role in Arizona. Chase Edmonds looked explosive in his relief of Drake in Week 7. Miami is not good against opposing backs allowing an average of just under 150 combo yards per game. This is mainly due to it being considerably easier to attack them on the ground than through the air.
Zack Moss, Bills vs. SEA ($5200 DK, $5800 FD)
I missed the boat on Zack Moss’ takeover last week. After rewatching the footage, I am firmly in the camp that he is more talented than Devin Singletary. Singletary had a good game last week as well, but Moss looked like the clear red zone favorite. Seattle is allowing 30 points per game over the last three weeks, and only five teams have allowed more red zone opportunities over that span.
Justin Jackson, Chargers vs. LV ($4900 DK, $5900 FD)
Justin Jackson quickly re-established himself as the Alpha running back for the Chargers last week. Even something called Troymaine Pope outproduced Joshua Kelley. Jackson is useful both on the ground and in the passing game and he should have little trouble achieving value against a Raiders’ defense allowing 174 combo yards, 7.3 receptions, and 1.5 total TDs per game to opposing RBs. Yes, he will probably share some of those numbers with Kelley and Pope, but know full well that Jackson is the RB1.
Weekly strategy – I’m glad we don’t have to break down the WR selections from the game on Thursday. It is ugly enough on the rest of this slate. Stefon Diggs and Keenan Allen are the only two sure things right now. If I were to pivot away from one of those two at WR1, it would be with Adam Thielen or Julio Jones (especially if Calvin Ridley doesn’t play). That said, neither of those two nor Tyreek Hill, Tyler Lockett, or DK Metcalf feels 100% safe. I could also consider Will Fuller in a stack with Watson, but this feels like a Brandin Cooks game. Speaking of Cooks, he along with Cole Beasley (if you don’t use Diggs) are my favorite WR2 plays here. I also like JuJu Smith-Schuster in this range, even though it is hard to predict which Steeler will go off week-to-week. I also don’t feel solid about playing both him and Conner at RB because they could vulture each others’ potential scores. At WR3, I am torn between Sterling Shepard and Jerry Jeudy. I could also use one of the other Steelers’ WRs or one of the Raiders. The only punt options that I like are Darnell Mooney, KJ Hamler, David Moore, and Quintez Cephus (if Matthew Stafford plays).
Fantasy Four Pack
Stefon Diggs, Bills vs. SEA ($7400 DK, $7600 FD)
Stefon Diggs gets his turn against this pass defense that has allowed an average of 9-115 to opposing WR1s. None of those top options finished with less than 8-80. Meanwhile, Diggs has scored and/or topped 8 yards in every game this season but one.
Keenan Allen, Chargers vs. LV ($7000 DK, $7500 FD)
Keenan Allen currently ranks fourth in targets and fifth in receptions among all WRs. This comes despite the fact that he has played one fewer game than each of those individuals leading him in those two categories except DeAndre Hopkins. Vegas has only faced four high-end WRs this season and all four posted big games against them. I really like the idea of stacking Derek Carr and one of his WRs in this game and then rolling it back with Allen.
DK Metcalf, Seahawks @ BUF ($7800 DK, $8100 FD)
Choosing between DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett from week-to-week is becoming increasingly more difficult. Looking at the rest of the season, Buffalo has done a good job of limiting speed WRs (not that DK isn’t fast) but the WRs that have had the most success against them are the larger-bodied outside guys. This, I believe, favors Metcalf. Either way, you will want some exposure to each of them, as both have proven capable of being slate-breakers.
Julio Jones, Falcons vs. DEN ($7200 DK, $8200 FD)
I believe that this game will ultimately be a pass-forward shootout. Much like the Allen play above, I see this as a great opportunity to stack Drew Lock and Jerry Jeudy or Noah Fant and then run it back with Julio Jones. Bump Jones’s value up to borderline GREEN territory if Calvin Ridley is out as expected.
Brandin Cooks, Texans @ JAX ($5500 DK, $6100 FD)
Back in Week 5, it was Brandin Cooks that exploded for 8-161-1 against Jacksonville. Will Fuller also finished with 4-58-1, so it wasn’t like he was chopped liver. This is a matter of dollars and cents though. Brandin costs $1.3K less on DK and $1K less on FD. That is the difference between using Deshaun Watson or Josh Allen at QB and using 1-TD Teddy Bridgewater at QB.
Cole Beasley, Bills vs. SEA ($5400 DK, $5300 FD)
What will it take for Cole Beasley to get the pricing respect he deserves? He has six or more targets in six of eight games. He has also topped 50 yards receiving and/or scored in all but one game. He also ranks fifteenth in receptions and 20th in receiving yards among all WRs. His usage has certainly been boosted by John Brown, who has been off-and-on the injury report most of the year. Seattle has already given up big games to fellow non-#1WRs such as Russell Gage, Cedrick Wilson, Damiere Byrd, Michael Gallup, Christian Kirk, and Kendrick Bourne. This means that there should be points to be found for Beasley whether he is the #2 or the #3 this week.
Weekly strategy – There is a ton of value to be found at TE this week. Darren Waller and T.J. Hockenson are right at 3X range, but there are a couple of players that I like just as much for a little less money. Noah Fant is my favorite play of the week. After him, I’d consider using Evan Engram, Hunter Henry, Logan Thomas, or Jonnu Smith. Darren Fells could also be in play here if Jordan Akins doesn’t play. One of the Houston TEs will score, but if Akins is healthy, it’s a tossup. If you need a punt play strongly consider using Greg Olsen, one of the Buffalo TEs, or Albert Okwuegbunam.
Darren Waller, Raiders @ LAC ($5800 DK, $6400 FD)
The Chargers have already allowed big games to fellow athletic TEs like Noah Fant, Travis Kelce, O.J. Howard, and Jared Cook. Put this alongside Darren Waller’s extensive usage (2nd in targets and receptions among all TEs), and this makes a solid PPR game for Waller. Plus, he is about $1.5K less than Travis Kelce on this docket.
Travis Kelce, Chiefs vs. CAR ($7200 DK, $8000 FD)
This isn’t a bad matchup for Travis Kelce. That said, it seems ridiculous to pay his salary, when Waller, T.J. Hockenson, and Noah Fant will produce similar lines for considerably fewer dollars. You still cannot take away from Kelce the fact that he leads all TEs in every fantasy-relevant metric. It should be known that Carolina is decent against the position, but they have given up a few TDs recently.
Noah Fant, Broncos @ ATL ($4600 DK, $5800 FD)
This is the player I will have the most access to this week. The Drew Lock-Noah Fant stack (possibly also with Jerry Jeudy) will print you money. His salary is nearly $2.5K below Kelce and their output this week will be similar. Atlanta has allowed a league-worst 50 receptions and eight TDs to the position and a league second-worst 534 receiving yards. Basically, every starting TE not named Ian Thomas has battered this team. If you take the two games against Carolina out of the stats against Atlanta, the Falcons are allowing an average of 7.7-83-1.3 to opposing TEs. If it wasn’t for the looming vulture of Albert Okwuegbunam, Fant would be ranked #1 overall among TEs this week. He still is poised to potentially bust the slate.
T.J. Hockenson, Lions @ MIN ($5100 DK, $6000 FD)
T.J. Hockenson has scored and/or topped 50 receiving yards in every game this season. Throw into this no Kenny Golladay and a possible scrub QB, and that sets up for heavy usage by the second-year TE. Minnesota has only allowed two TE scores all year, but only three teams have allowed more TE receiving yards. Plus, both of those scores have come in their last three games.
Jonnu Smith, Titans vs. CHI ($3900 DK, $5700 FD)
Jonnu Smith’s usage has been down since his injury. Perhaps, he is not 100% still. Chicago has allowed the league’s eighth-most five TE touchdowns and on the year they are allowing an average of 5.4-53 to the position. That alone will be close to 3X on DK, if Jonnu scores here it is gravy.
Logan Thomas, Football Team vs. NYG ($3700 DK, $5000 FD)
Scoring two weeks in a row pushed Logan Thomas to the top scorer among pass-catchers in Washington. He still trails Terry McLaurin in targets and yardage, but it is clear that Thomas is option B in this offense through the air. The Giants have started to stumble against the position of late. In the last three weeks, they are allowing an average of 5-68 to the position with two TDs allowed. One of those scores went to Thomas in Week 6.