In redraft leagues, this is the first week of the playoffs. In most years, we see a boost in DFS play this week as teams who have been eliminated from the money chase begin to peruse alternate money-raising activities. Still, this is 2020, and we don’t know if these same casual players will just bounce completely once their season ends this year. Perhaps a real test will be in the next two weeks as basketball starts back up.
We also are finally past all of the byes, so the main slate player pool will expand some. As of now, we don’t have any rescheduled games. This means that the main slate will have 26 of the 32 teams in it. A bigger player pool plus more potential entrants equal a harder to win GPP. So don’t get distraught if you have a rough week in tournament play. Take this opportunity this week to smash cash games harder. Don’t ignore tournament play, but don’t overexpose yourself to it. Also, remember that hitting the “good chalk” is even more important in this scenario. We should have a better idea by Week 15 of how the last couple of weeks will shake out.
DFS: The Primetime Slate
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Buffalo Bills
Once again we get Pittsburgh, Buffalo, and Baltimore in the Primetime slate. This week, these three teams are joined by the upstart Cleveland Browns. Ben Roethlisberger has looked shaky in his last two outings against a pair of very good pass defenses. Buffalo is not as strong against the pass as Washington or Baltimore, but they aren’t a cakewalk either. As a match to the defense, Ben is probably the QB2 on this slate. I just don’t know if I trust him over Josh Allen here. Speaking of Allen, he would get the QB3 slot if we just looked at the opposition’s defense. Pittsburgh’s pass defense is easily the toughest on this slate, but Allen can get it done on the ground as well and Pittsburgh has been losing ground in their ground defense.
By Sunday Night, James Conner should finally be ready to return from his COVID diagnosis. It isn’t as if Pittsburgh was giving him an abundance of carries anyway. Perhaps, Conner being gone is part of the offensive struggles that Pittsburgh has seen the last two weeks. Still, if they aren’t going to have him on the field up 20 in the fourth quarter, then why bother having him on the field at all? Buffalo is easily the worst run defense on this slate, but I still doubt I will be in on him as more than a FLEX play. Benny Snell would have even lesser appeal if Conner still isn’t back from COVID’s clutches. As for Buffalo, Zack Moss got benched last Monday. He went from being a split-carry option to a no-carry option instantly. Apparently, Sean McDermott is channeling his inner Bruce Arians. If we knew that Moss would stay in the doghouse, I’d be all over Devin Singletary at a reduced price versus the other starting RBs on this slate. He is useful in both the run and pass games, making him a decent bargain here. That said, neither Moss nor Singletary is a TD-threat since Josh Allen either takes it in himself or Buffalo throws a 1-yard pass to their tight end du jour. Even if Moss is allowed to play, I am still gonna consider Singletary as a FLEX. Moss, however, is all-out for me.
The Pittsburgh wheel-of-wide receivers landed on Diontae Johnson and James Washington last week. This meant Chase Claypool and JuJu Smith-Schuster were left out in the cold once again. Diontae and JuJu are receiving the lions’ share of the targets, so they are arguably the safest plays in this quartet. It will be interesting to see which one Tre’Davious White chooses to lockdown. Despite his presence, opposing WR1s have been successful recently against Buffalo. I think he shadows Johnson, which downgrades him significantly. These other WR1s would’ve likely have seen a larger dip in production if they had other weapons to safely siphon targets away from the #1. Ben has two/three other very good options to look at when he sees who is lined up opposite White. Looking quickly at the game logs against them, slot WRs have destroyed Buffalo this year. This screams to me that JuJu is set to explode this week. He will likely be my WR1 on this slate. Claypool will be my second choice from this game, and he is a worthy WR2 option. Despite the ridiculous target share coming in, Diontae is my third-choice from this group. Washington is also an outside guy, but there isn’t much chance he gets any of White’s attention in four and five-wide sets. He is a cheap WR3 option and a great Showdown slate play. Stefon Diggs would be the WR1 overall on this slate if he was facing any team other than the Steelers. We saw last week what Pittsburgh did to Terry McLaurin and he and Diggs are very comparable. I frankly don’t want anything to do with him here. There are at least four (probably five) other receivers on this slate that I like better. Much like Buffalo’s defense, Pittsburgh’s weak point is against slot receivers. For Buffalo that is 100% Cole Beasley territory. He is the best WR2 option this week, and it isn’t close. He is one of the four/five I prefer to Diggs this week. Gabriel Davis has been an above-average replacement for John Brown, but against a tough pass defense, he is no better than a FLEX play here.
Eric Ebron is quickly becoming a valuable fourth option in the passing game for Pittsburgh. Considering that Pittsburgh is using a spread offense on EVERY play, you would think his numbers might be muted. They aren’t. Pittsburgh is actually running him in those spread sets. Buffalo has really struggled against opposing TEs this year, so feel free to use him as your TE2 on this slate. Choosing the Buffalo TE that is going to score each week is impossible. All we know is that one of them will score. Pittsburgh just got assassinated by Logan Thomas last week, but none of the Buffalo TEs are on that talent spectrum. Dawson Knox has been the one used the most the last four weeks and I’d argue he is the most talented of their TE room. He also has TDs in two straight games. So if you are in a money pickle, you could use him. Just know that this play is purely a punt. I don’t mind either of these teams as your defense this week, but Baltimore is the more obvious play.
Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns
With as many bad outings as he has had recently, Lamar Jackson getting the QB1 rating on a slate is a bit of a surprise. Cleveland is certainly easier to throw against than run against, but they can be beaten both ways. It helps that Jackson has three passing TDs in each of his last three games against Cleveland. Baker Mayfield went ham last week against Tennessee. That won’t happen this week. In five career games against Baltimore, Mayfield has thrown for eight touchdowns. He does have a couple of 300-yard games, but a lot of that has been in garbage time. Frankly, I don’t see any non-contrarian reason to use him here.
Now that JK Dobbins has passed the COVID protocols, he is the clear RB1 for Baltimore. He should also be the RB2 on this slate. Cleveland is pretty good against the run, but so are two of the other three teams on this slate. The Browns do give up a few RB rushing scores, so a TD isn’t out of the question. Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards have been relegated to backup duty and neither deserves a play in an otherwise crappy RB-matchup. Nick Chubb for Cleveland gets the RB1 slot here. Baltimore is also elite against the run, but Chubb is far-and-away the most-talented back on this docket. Kareem Hunt is clearly second-fiddle to Chubb, but he is used enough to warrant consideration as a FLEX play (Assuming you don’t also use Chubb).
Marquise Brown caught a TD pass two weeks ago from Trace McSorley. With Lamar Jackson under center, Brown has been a bit of an afterthought. The Ravens will get back Willie Snead and Mark Andrews this week and Dez Bryant has arguably passed Brown on the pecking order as well (if he doesn’t quit). Still, Cleveland has been abhorrent against opposing WRs. Earlier this year, Cleveland was equally bad against slot receivers and outside receivers. In Week 1, Brown topped 100 yards and Snead scored a TD to go with 64 receiving yards. The Browns have been stingier of late to slot receivers, so I’m leaving Snead as nothing more than a punt WR3. As for Brown and Bryant, either could be used as a WR2 here. As good as the Ravens’ pass defense is, they have given up one decent WR performance in pretty much every game. In most of those cases, the decent performance came from an opposition’s WR1. For Cleveland, that is clearly Jarvis Landry. He has scored in two straight games and actually outperformed Odell Beckham back in Week 1 against the Browns. Based on volume alone, Landry deserves WR2 consideration. Only two teams have had two decent WR performances against Cleveland in one game. Cleveland isn’t talented enough to achieve this level. You can maybe hope for a long score for Rashard Higgins or Donovan Peoples-Jones, but they won’t have enough catches to be legitimately worth playing here.
Mark Andrews returns just in times to face a Cleveland defense that is the easiest to beat on this slate by TEs. He is the easy TE1 here. Although, I could see an argument for playing both him and Ebron in a Double-TE lineup. Baltimore is somewhat amenable to opposing TEs, so Austin Hooper gets feint consideration as TE3. I’m not going to use him, because I just don’t think Cleveland will score enough to warrant the play. Baltimore’s defense is the clearcut top choice here. Cleveland is the clearcut bottom choice here.
The Main Slate: My recommended DFS lineups
At DK: $5.5K for Andy Dalton. $7.6K for Aaron Jones. $6.5K for David Montgomery. $9.3K for Davante Adams. $6.5K for Amari Cooper. $3.5K for Darnell Mooney. $3.5K for Dalton Schultz. $5.2K for Melvin Gordon at FLEX. $2.4K for the Dallas defense.
At FD: $6.8K for Dalton. $8.7K for Jones. $6.6K for Montgomery. $9.6K for Adams. $6.8K for Cooper. $5.1K for Collin Johnson. $5.1K for Schultz. $6.1K for Gordon at FLEX. $4.9K for the Saints’ defense.
At Fanball (SuperFlex – includes Sun Night): Aaron Rodgers, Dalton at SF, Derrick Henry, Montgomery, Adams, Cooper, Collin Johnson, Schultz, and Gordon at FLEX.
Weekly strategy – There are so many great pay-up plays this week at QB. Russell Wilson in a “get-right” game is my favorite option. That said, Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes, and Tom Brady are all great choices. Even Ryan Tannehill could have a solid game, although I expect Tennessee to concentrate on the run. If you are looking to save money Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, and Mitchell Trubisky deserve consideration. Then we come to my favorite play of the week, Andy Dalton, in the revenge game against Cincy. I want more money to spend at RB/WR this week, so despite all the decent matchups up top, I am spending down here this week.
Fantasy Four Pack
Russell Wilson, Seahawks vs. NYJ ($7900 DK, $9000 FD)
Over the first eight games, Russell Wilson had four games with four or more passing TDs. Over his last four games, Russell has a total of four TDs. Facing a 29th ranked Jets squad should be just the medicine Wilson needs to cure his uncommon cold streak. It’s true that Seattle won’t have to throw the ball in this game, but with Wilson off-kilter, you know they will. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if Wilson is allowed to throw for 450-4 here before the dogs are finally called off. It will help his cause that New York should be able to put up points in response to keep this game competitive.
Aaron Rodgers, Packers @ DET ($7500 DK, $9100 FD)
Detroit has allowed the eighth-most passing TDs this season. They have also given up the seventh-most passing yards. Yes, they are also rotten against the run. So, there is a great likelihood that we will see a lot of Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams this week. Still, getting Aaron Rodgers to not throw the ball just to take advantage of a good run matchup is not in Rodgers’ persona. He ceded the heavy lifting to Jones in their first meeting, but he still posted multiple TDs. This is the trend in this matchup as Rodgers has multiple TDs in 16 of their 21 hookups. The last time he failed to net multiple TDs against Detroit was in 2018. In that game, he was injured and he only got five pass attempts. You have to go back another four years just to find another game where Rodgers didn’t net multiple scores against this defense. Oh, by the way, those previous incarnations of the Lions’ defense were better than this one.
Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs @ MIA ($8100 DK, $8900 FD)
Miami is middle-of-the-pack in passing yards allowed. That said, they are the best team in the league in terms of passing TDs allowed and only four teams have more interceptions than they do. Still, this is Patrick Mahomes. If anyone can put a dent in Miami’s defensive stats it is him. After all, Mahomes is a better QB than guys like Joe Flacco, Brandon Allen, Sam Darnold, Drew Lock, and C.J. Beathard. These are five of the QBs that Miami has boosted their stats against.
Tom Brady, Buccaneers vs. MIN ($6900 DK, $7800 FD)
Only four teams have allowed more passing TDs than Minnesota. Normally, Minnesota would try to run the ball to control the clock and momentum. That won’t work against the Buccaneers. They hold the best RBs in check. Kirk Cousins is going to have to throw the ball to keep this one competitive. If Cousins is throwing, then of course Tom Brady will be throwing. He has three studs at WR to choose from and Minnesota has a bunch of rookies in their secondary. They have improved since the start of the season, but they haven’t seen this many threats at once yet. I like both of these guys to throw for 300-3 here as this game could approach 60 combined points.
Andy Dalton, Cowboys @ CIN ($5500 DK, $6800 FD)
Andy Dalton’s revenge game against the Cincinnati Bengals’ mediocre secondary…sign me up! It is too bad Joe Burrow won’t get to defend his honor in this contest as well. If I’m Dallas, I let Dalton throw for as many yards and TDs as he wants.
Mitchell Trubisky, Bears vs. HOU ($5600 DK, $6800 FD)
Mitchell Trubisky has been efficient since taking back over as Chicago’s starting QB. He probably could’ve posted a bigger game last week, but Chicago did so much damage on the ground. David Montgomery will have another cakewalk rushing game this week, but Trubisky should get in on the fun too. Houston has allowed above average yardage numbers to every QB they have faced this year except Baker Mayfield in a monsoon. This includes solid passing lines from bums like Jake Luton and Cam Newton.
Weekly strategy – Derrick Henry and Aaron Jones are the obvious top two choices at the position this week. Ezekiel Elliott could also be in play as a pivot that will be low-owned. I love David Montgomery for a second-straight week. He will be my likely RB2 in most lineups. Kenyan Drake and Melvin Gordon are the other two middle-priced guys I will consider here. J.D. McKissic and Ty Johnson should get the volume as replacements for their injured counterparts, but neither has a great matchup. This makes them both no better than punt options (and then only at FLEX). The better punt play might be Giovani Bernard against a Dallas defense that is abysmal.
Fantasy Four Pack
Derrick Henry, Titans @ JAC ($8700 DK, $9600 FD)
Derrick Henry gets his turn against the Jacksonville defense that was just gouged the last two weeks. Over that span, they are allowing just under 250 combo yards per game to opposing RBs. Henry is the main guy for Tennessee. He has been responsible for 83% of Tennessee’s RB touches this year. I’ll take 83% of 250 yards. The TDs are just gravy – yes I said TD(s), plural. It isn’t will he have more than one, it is how many more than one will he have.
Aaron Jones, Packers @ DET ($7600 DK, $8700 FD)
Detroit has allowed a league-worst 23 total TDs to opposing RBs. The next-worst team has allowed only 16. Three of those TDs were scored by Aaron Jones back in Week 2. In that game, Jones also posted 236 total yards. The Lions also gave up an additional 84 total yards to the rest of the Green Bay backs in that game. This is one of the few times where I could see doing a full stack of QB-RB-WR.
Dalvin Cook, Vikings @ TB ($9400 DK, $10200 FD)
You cannot run against Tampa Bay. No one can. This includes Dalvin Cook. Still, only two teams have allowed more RB receptions than Tampa. Dalvin Cook might not get it going on the ground but he should still be good for seven or eight catches and a total of 100 combined yards. That puts him in play in DFS formats that favor full PPR like DK and FanBall.
James Robinson, Jaguars vs. TEN ($7500 DK, $8000 FD)
James Robinson has the third-most rushing yards among RBs and the fourth-most total yards among RBs. Not bad for a guy who wasn’t even projected as the Jacksonville starter prior to the season. He only has nine total TDs, but he also only has two games with fewer than 90 total yards. The TDs will be there this week as Tennessee has allowed the fourth-most total TDs to the position.
Melvin Gordon, Broncos @ CAR ($5200 DK, $6100 FD)
We can argue until we are blue in the face whether Melvin Gordon is the top RB on his own team. All that matters is that Denver’s coaching staff fees that he is. Both Gordon and Phillip Lindsay are averaging 4.6 YPC but Gordon has a 7-1 TD advantage and 10 times as many receptions this year. Carolina has improved from last season against RBs, but then again they could have put 11 chimpanzees on the field and improved from last year. They are still definitely touchable. At this price, both Gordon and Lindsay are legit FLEX options.
Giovani Bernard, Bengals vs. DAL ($5000 DK, $5700 FD)
Giovani Bernard has watched his stats get neutered thanks to the presence of Brandon Allen under center. He still is getting the lion’s share of the touches but he has faced some very good run defenses recently. Ryan Finley relieved Brandon Allen following the latter sustaining a chest injury. Perhaps Finley under center will improve Bernard’s outlook for this week. If not at least he has the Dallas defense to look forward to. They just allowed Baltimore’s RB hodgepodge to run for 26-223-1 plus an additional 11-71-1 to their running QB Lamar Jackson.
Weekly strategy – Davante Adams has managed to blow up the last couple of weeks despite facing premium coverage. That alone earns him the top spot in most of my lineups this week. Both, DK Metcalf and Keenan Allen could be a pivot from him. Still, I love the idea of Adams at WR1 paired with one of the Cowboys (Amari Cooper or CeeDee Lamb) at WR2. If I don’t use one of these two at WR2, I will likely use Michael Gallup at WR3. My other choices at WR2 include Allen Robinson, one of the Vikings, Robby Anderson, Antonio Brown, and Corey Davis. With the added players this week, it would be easy to punt up top here. For me, it will depend on how much I spend at QB. If you need to spend down at WR2, you could use Keke Coutee, Jamison Crowder, D.J. Chark, or Tyler Boyd. Cheaper WR3 options to consider include Tim Patrick, the other Bears’ WRs, the other Jets’ WRs, and the other Jaguars’ WRs. Among them, Darnell Mooney and Collin Johnson offer the most value to me.
Fantasy Four Pack
Davante Adams, Packers @ DET ($9300 DK, $9600 FD)
Despite facing a murderer’s row of coverage in the last three weeks, Davante Adams has posted 23-288-4. This is just the tip of a seven-game run during which he has recorded 61-776-11. Those 11 touchdowns would rank third on the season and he has that in just his last seven games. Detroit has actually been successful at holding opposing WRs out of the end zone. Unfortunately for them, they have given up the fourth-most yardage to the position (and the most over the last four weeks). Apparently, their defensive backs must be great at pursuit, catching opposing WRs down in the red zone after long plays.
DK Metcalf, Seahawks vs. NYJ ($8400 DK, $8600 FD)
Only two teams have given up more receiving yards to opposing WRs than the Jets. DK Metcalf has also been run through a chamber of horrors over his last seven facing elite level cornerbacks from Buffalo, Arizona 2x, Philadelphia, the Rams, Giants, and Niners. All he has done over that span is accrue the third-most receiving yards in the league. Russell Wilson’s passing TDs have fallen recently but he is due to have a monster game this week. Metcalf will be the primary beneficiary.
Keenan Allen, Chargers vs. ATL ($7700 DK, $8500 FD)
Atlanta’s pass defense has allowed the second-most WR receiving yards. They have particularly struggled with possession and slot WRs. The numbers look slightly better recently, but that coincides with facing Drew Lock, Taysom Hill, and Derek Carr. Even against those “vaunted” arms, featured possession guys like Michael Thomas, Jerry Jeudy, and Hunter Renfrow have posted big lines. Meanwhile, Keenan Allen has a couple of limited outputs in the last two weeks. He still scored in one of them. In fact, he has scored in five of his last six games. With questionable alternate resources to throw to, Justin Herbert will pepper Keenan Allen until the cows come home. In this game that should equal 9-90-1
Tyreek Hill, Chiefs @ MIA ($8500 DK, $9000 FD)
Miami’s cornerbacks are very good but facing Tyreek Hill is a challenge that keeps even the best CBs up at night. Plus, some of the better performances against them this year have come from “speed” WRs. Hill is riding a heater of nine TDs in his last six games. It helps when he can get behind any defensive back at any time and when he has a QB that can throw the ball the length of the field with accuracy.
Jamison Crowder, Jets @ SEA ($5300 DK, $5600 FD)
Seattle remains the worst in the league against opposing WRs. They have played better recently since the activation of Jamal Adams, but they still sit at the bottom of the barrel for the year. All season, they have had issues covering inside WRs when there have been other talented WRs on the field simultaneously. That will be the circumstance this weekend as Breshad Perriman should provide enough of a nuisance to free up Jamison Crowder inside. Last week, it allowed Crowder to score twice. The outlook would be even rosier if Denzel Mims was available, but he is dealing with a personal issue and is expected to miss this week’s game. Crowder’s biggest success has come with Sam Darnold under center and that won’t change this weekend.
Keke Coutee, Texans @ CHI ($5000 DK, $5600 FD)
People who follow me on Twitter will attest that Sunday morning I was begging players to use Keke Coutee after the news of Will Fuller’s suspension came out. It didn’t matter that Houston was facing the all-world Colts’ defense, since Deshaun Watson was going to throw the ball all over the field regardless. Chicago also has a good defense, but they are trending the wrong way. Over the last four weeks, they are allowing a league-high six WR scores. Coutee has a skillset well designed to fill in for Fuller. He even has Fuller’s propensity for injury. As long as he doesn’t get knocked out of the game, he will put up another huge line.
Weekly strategy – Paying up for Travis Kelce or T.J. Hockenson would be nice this week but I am simply spending too much elsewhere. Rob Gronkowski, Hunter Henry, and Robert Tonyan are more likely the expensive options I will roll with. That said, with the amount I am spending elsewhere, I will likely punt down to one of the Titans, one of the Seahawks, one of the Texans, one of the Jaguars, or my favorite plays Logan Thomas and Dalton Schultz.
Fantasy Four Pack
Travis Kelce, Chiefs @ MIA ($7400 DK, $8200 FD)
On paper, Miami has looked very good against TEs this season. They also have faced a bunch of crumb bums. The THREE above-average TEs they have faced have done well against them. They also just gave up a very solid line to Drew Sample last week. Travis Kelce, you may have heard of him. He is a smidge more-talented than Drew Sample. His QB is just a shade better than Brandon Allen. Despite playing TE, Kelce is the #2 overall receiving option in football right now. He is only five yards behind DK Metcalf for the league title. He has one game all season that he has not either topped 70 receiving yards and/or scored. What I am saying is it doesn’t matter who he is facing, Kelce will always be the TE1 on the slate.
Rob Gronkowski, Buccaneers vs. MIN ($4800 DK, $6200 FD)
I was already concerned about the Vikings’ defense trying to stop the Buccaneers’ passing offense. That was before the Vikings’ lost their best LB to injury during warmups to last week’s game. Eric Kendricks’ status for this week is very much up in the air. If he doesn’t play, an already depleted secondary will have no prayer here. Rob Gronkowski will likely score in this game even if Kendricks is on the field. If he misses this one Gronk may lead all athletes not named Davante Adams in scoring this week.
T.J. Hockenson, Lions vs. GB ($5000 DK, $6000 FD)
T.J. Hockenson has the third-most yards and the sixth-most scores among TEs this season. This includes his averaging 5-80 over the last three games. Green Bay has been solid against the position this season but over the last three weeks, they have gotten bitten some by volume. If Matthew Stafford gives Hockenson the volume he has seen recently, a 7-70-1 line is certainly attainable.
Hunter Henry, Chargers vs. ATL ($4400 DK, $5600 FD)
The entire Chargers’ offense crapped the bed last week versus New England. This week will be a little bit easier. Whereas the Patriots have allowed one TE score this year, the Falcons have allowed nine. Hunter Henry only saw two targets last week. This was only the third time this season he failed to have six targets or more. If Justin Herbert is going to turn around his recent struggles, he will need to lean on Henry again.
Dalton Schultz, Cowboys @ CIN ($3500 DK, $5100 FD) Only three teams have allowed more TE receptions and no team has allowed more receiving yards to the position than Cincinnati. This includes giving up 17-233-1 over the last two weeks. Dalton Schultz has seen his numbers flutter since Dak Prescott’s injury. That said, over the last couple of weeks, Dalton has started to get on the same page as his QB. With the revenge game in play for Andy Dalton, I love the stack with his TE and one of his WRs. This will save you big bucks for using at RB and WR1.
Logan Thomas, Football Team @ SF ($3300 DK, $5200 FD) When Antonio Gibson was knocked out of the Washington game versus Pittsburgh last week, I expected J.D. McKissic to be absolutely peppered. He got a ton of targets, but the other winner was Logan Thomas. Thomas scored for the second-straight game and he caught all nine of his targets for 98 yards. The Niners have been very good against the position, but they haven’t faced a lot of studs. It will be interesting to see if Thomas remains a top two or three passing game option for Alex Smith. At this price on DK, he is definitely worth the risk.