The player pool takes a small ding this weekend as we get Saturday football. This means that ten teams will be out of the main slate pool. So, in addition to our main slate and primetime slate coverage, I will provide a breakdown of the Saturday games too. As crazy as this season has been schedule-wise, part of me will miss football happening nearly every day.
DFS: The Saturday Slate
Buffalo Bills @ Denver Broncos
Baltimore finally leaves the specialty game slates, but Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Buffalo all remain.
Josh Allen would be the QB1 on most slates, but he slides in behind Aaron Rodgers here. Drew Lock is no better than QB3, but he has a decent floor if you choose to use him.
Zack Moss got benched two weeks ago and then was given nearly a 2-1 touch advantage over Devin Singletary this week. I’m glad to see Buffalo’s coaching staff doesn’t hold grudges long term. Still neither did much this last week. Perhaps the only clarity is that Singletary is the pass-catching option. Denver doesn’t give up much through the air to opposing backs, so Moss looks like the safer play. That said, neither will be better than the 4th choice among RBs on this board. Melvin Gordon has completely dominated Phillip Lindsay over the last three weeks. Unfortunately, Gordon suffered a shoulder injury late on Sunday, so watch his practice status on this shortened week. If Gordon can go, he will be the RB3 on the docket. With Lindsay checking in at RB5 or RB6. If Gordon misses the game, Lindsay is an easy RB3 here and my favorite FLEX play.
Stefon Diggs can easily finish as the WR2 on this slate, but fitting his salary will be tough unless you fade Davante Adams. Cole Beasley is probably the better play here due to his volume and reduced cost. He should be in everyone’s thoughts at WR3. Since John Brown cannot go, Gabriel Davis is also a great WR3 play at a cheap price as well. Even after losing Courtland Sutton for the season, Denver has some weapons to choose from at WR. Jerry Jeudy’s targets have shriveled the last few weeks and I’m afraid he will see Tre’Davious White this week. That leaves him off my radar. Tim Patrick has been the team’s most reliable option recently and I love him as a WR2/3 option this week. KJ Hamler is also in play as Buffalo has struggled all season with speedy slot receivers. I wouldn’t go as low as Daesean Hamilton though, except maybe in Showdown slates.
Dawson Knox saw an uptick in targets and yards last week. He also scored TDs in each of the prior two games. I was high on Knox coming into this season, so I’m glad to see he is finally healthy and getting some love. He still is more TD-dependent, but with Noah Fant questionable, he may be the defacto TE2 here. As I just mentioned, Fant is questionable for this week due to a non-COVID illness. If he plays, he has the best matchup on the slate and will finish no lower than TE2. Still, with the short week, we don’t know how much his illness will limit him. If Fant is out or appears limited, Nick Vannett gets a bump to TE3 here and becomes a MUST-START on Showdown slates. Troy Fumagalli even gets some consideration as he had a big day in Fant’s absence too. Buffalo’s defense gets the #2 spot here as Drew Lock does like to throw picks. Denver’s defense isn’t worth using, but I do like them better than Carolina.
Carolina Panthers @ Green Bay Packers
One-TD Teddy Bridgewater gets a familiar matchup with the Green Bay Packers but I cannot trust him to finish better than QB3 here. If DJ Moore and Christian McCaffrey both return, Teddy might surpass Lock’s performance. Still, I’m not starting him over Aaron Rodgers or Josh Allen. Speaking of Rodgers, he is the top QB on this docket, just barely beating out Allen.
Christian McCaffrey is trying to return for this game. It goes without saying that if he plays he is the RB1. If he cannot go (which is likely), Mike Davis still gets RB1 and no worse than RB2 consideration against a bad GB run defense. Aaron Jones will finish as RB1 or RB2 on this slate too as Carolina has been bad against RBs for half a decade now. The right play is to just start both of them at RB1 and RB2. If you need to save some money, you can use Gordon or Moss at your RB2 and then use Jamaal Williams at FLEX, but I’d rather just fit the two big RBs in there and work from a much juicier WR2/3 class to save money.
DJ Moore is likely to return this week. His matchup is decent against a Packers’ defense that can be beaten by speedy WRs. Still, I am a little concerned that he is only three weeks removed from an ankle injury. This could reduce some of his rapidness. It also doesn’t help that Teddy Bridgewater likes to spread the wealth. I could see using him at WR2, but I feel stronger about playing Curtis Samuel in this role. Robby Anderson has been a stud when Moore was not on the field. If Moore doesn’t play, his value is much higher. However, I will fade Robby at his price if Moore is back out there. Davante Adams is set-it-and-forget-it at WR1. The only possible pivot from that line is to use Diggs. Carolina was just picked to shreds by Drew Lock and now Aaron Rodgers has entered the chat room so all of his secondary weapons can be considered at WR3 or FLEX. Allen Lazard was still on a snap count last week allowing Marquez Valdes-Scantling to outperform him. Both are solid plays this week. In Showdown slates you may also want to look at Tavon Austin. Rodgers hasn’t had a reliable slot machine since Randall Cobb left town. The usage was slim in his first game with GB, but when he was on the field they got him the ball.
Ian Thomas had three catches last week with DJ Moore out. It tied his season-high. So much for Carolina establishing a TE position after the departure of Greg Olsen. Green Bay isn’t great against the position, but don’t get cute. He is no better than the TE5 here assuming Fant plays. Robert Tonyan will jockey with a healthy Fant for the top TE option this week. Of course, Tonyan’s QB is much more reliable, so I give him a slight edge. I’ve used Marcedes Lewis in Showdown slates since back in his Jaguars’ days. He is 100% TD-dependent. I’m not using him in any multi-game tourneys though. Jace Sternberger missed last week with a concussion. If he plays, I trust him more than Ian Thomas, but that is hardly a vote of confidence.
DFS: The Primetime Slate
Cleveland Browns @ New York Giants
So, Baker Mayfield had a good game against a good defense on Monday. Can he make it two in a row? Perhaps more importantly though is will he need to? Against New York, Cleveland should just run the ball 80% of the time and not let Baker have a chance to lose the game. Still, with the ineptitude at QB on this slate, he is still no worse than QB3. If his hamstring will hold up, Daniel Jones will tussle with Baker for the QB2/3 slot. Cleveland’s secondary wasn’t tested by Lamar Jackson’s arm, but he ran all over them. Jones is no Jackson, but he has been a factor on the ground this year. Still, with a bum hamstring, his ability to run the ball is severally limited. Jones will likely sit out if his hammy is still bothering him. If he plays, I assume the coaching staff trusts that he is healthy enough to not be a detriment to the team. If Jones doesn’t play, Colt McCoy isn’t a recommended QB. The matchup is better than Cincy’s, but not by much.
If I was Cleveland, I would give Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb a combined 40 touches this week. Chubb is the RB1 on this slate and it isn’t close. Hunt is no worse than RB4 here. I could see a legit argument for using both of them in a single lineup. Wayne Gallman is the likely RB2 here due to volume. Unfortunately, a negative game script could hurt him. It still will be hard to fade him at FLEX.
Jarvis Landry and Rashad Higgins get a bump with James Bradberry out due to COVID. I’m still not sure how much passing we will see this week, but this makes it easier. Both could probably be considered as WR2 types. I like Landry slightly more for the PPR factor. Donovan Peoples-Jones has been a boom-bust play recently. I don’t think there will be enough passing to make him anything more than a punt WR3. Darius Slayton led the Giants in targets last week, but in earlier appearances with Colt McCoy at the helm, he was nowhere to be found. If Jones starts, Slayton deserves a WR3 consideration. If McCoy starts, leave Slayton on the bench. Sterling Shepard gets enough volume with either QB to be a WR3 option weekly. Golden Tate is probably best left on the bench regardless of who is under center.
David Njoku had a season-high four targets last week. He actually posted an acceptable stat line despite splitting looks with Harrison Bryant. Both will find themselves back on the bench this week if Austin Hooper can return from a minor neck injury suffered in practice last week. The Giants are decent against the position, so in a three-way split, you can ignore them all. Hooper is the only one I’d even consider, but he is no better than TE3 on the slate. Evan Engram on the other hand will battle Eric Ebron for the top spot on the docket. Engram has received a fair split of the targets with both McCoy and Jones at QB. So, I have no problem using him regardless of who gets the start. Pittsburgh is the obvious defense start. This makes Cleveland a valuable pivot play (especially if Jones misses the game). The Giants are a good defense, but they are clearly the #3 option here.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cincinnati Bengals
Let’s make this easy. Barring a weather emergency, Ben Roethlisberger is QB1 on this slate. Brandon Allen gets an extra day for his leg to heal up. That is all he has going for himself. Both Allen and Ryan Finley are the worst options at QB here…even below Colt McCoy.
If Pittsburgh wanted to run the ball, James Conner would be the clear RB2 here. Still, he hasn’t topped 13 carries in his last four appearances. Plus, it appears that he now is battling a quad injury as well. At this point, despite the cake matchup, he is doing battle with Hunt for your FLEX slot. I’d almost be happier if he just sits out and Benny Snell gets a full complement of work. At least that would make me think about starting Snell over Gallman at RB2. Unfortunately, a full complement of work for a Pittsburgh RB is not exactly an exciting target to go after. Jaylen Samuels or Anthony McFarland may have some value in the passing game if Conner is out, but neither moves the meter in any other situation. Giovani Bernard is the best back on the Cincinnati active roster. He got benched last week for Samaje Perine and Trayveon Williams because of a single fumble. Against this defense, none of them is recommended. Bernard may have the most value as a pass-catcher since the Bengals will be playing from behind.
Diontae “Featherstone” Johnson got dog-housed last week due to his inability to hold onto passes. He has a ton of talent outside of his stone hands. Against this defense, he is in the conversation with his running mates for WR1. JuJu Smith-Schuster is the better play since Ben trusts that he can catch the ball. Chase Claypool can also be considered as WR2 here. James Washington has been able to exploit the depth in this corps recently drawing poor coverage. He is TD-dependent, but I like him as a possible WR3. Cincinnati has weapons in their passing game and Pittsburgh may be without Joe Haden again. If Haden returns from his concussion, it will make life much tougher on Cincy’s WRs. Still, playing from behind there will be enough passes thrown in the general direction of Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, and A.J. Green to consider them all as WR3 or FLEX. Higgins is probably the safest of the three options.
Eric Ebron is a great play this week. Cincy has been routinely bent over backward by opposing TEs. Choosing between him and Engram will be tough. I could see using both of them in a Double-TE lineup. Drew Sample is also not a bad play this week as Pittsburgh has given up a few yards to the position the last few weeks and Sample has been getting more targets since Joe Burrow’s injury. He still is no better than TE3 here. Pittsburgh defense is the easy DEF1 here, but Cleveland will be lesser-owned. If you start the Bengals’ defense, just set your money on fire. That would be a wiser investment of it.
The Main Slate: My recommended DFS lineups
At DK: $5.5K for Mitchell Trubisky. $9.5K for Derrick Henry. $5.9K for J.K. Dobbins. $6.3K for Brandon Aiyuk. $4K for Keelan Cole. $3.4K for Anthony Miller. $3.6K for Irv Smith. $5.9K for Cam Akers at FLEX. $4.5K for the Rams’ defense.
At FD: $7K for Trubisky. $10.2K for Henry. $7.4K for Jonathan Taylor. $7.1K for Cooper Kupp. $6.9K for Aiyuk. $4.9K for Miller. $5.1K for Cole Kmet. $5.9K for Dobbins at FLEX. $5K for the Rams’ defense.
At Fanball (SuperFlex – includes Sun Night): Lamar Jackson, Trubisky at SF, Derrick Henry, J.D. McKissic, Allen Robinson, Kupp, Danny Amendola or Keelan Cole, Kmet, and Nick Chubb at FLEX.
Weekly strategy – If you spend up this week use Lamar Jackson or Ryan Tannehill. You can also use Tom Brady or Jared Goff on DK, but their FD prices are a little too high. Better yet, just ignore all of the higher-priced options and use Mitchell Trubisky versus the Vikings.
Fantasy Four Pack
Lamar Jackson, Ravens vs. JAC ($7500 DK, $8200 FD)
For a second-straight week, Lamar Jackson gets to face a defense that he won’t have to throw the ball against. We call this playing to our strengths. If he does decide to throw, that will be fine too since Jacksonville is dead last in passing TDs allowed.
Ryan Tannehill, Titans vs. DET ($6700 DK, $7700 FD)
Only four teams have allowed more passing TDs than Detroit. They are also awful against RBs, so Ryan Tannehill may have to live on Derrick Henry’s scraps this week. That may seem minimal, but will likely still be close to 300-3.
Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs @ NO ($7900 DK, $8900 FD)
This is not going to be a Patrick Mahomes cakewalk game. New Orleans is very good on defense. Still, this is Mahomes. A bad game for him is a great game for most QBs. At least both sites gave him a slight discount to make this one more palatable. Plus, this game is indoors, so the weather will not be a factor. Even in two “bad” games the last two weeks, Mahomes has averaged over 350 passing yards.
Kyler Murray, Cardinals vs. PHI ($7000 DK, $8000 FD)
Philadelphia will likely be without three of their top defensive backs this week. That is not a good sign when you are about to face the Arizona air raid offense. Kyler Murray will be able to pick apart this secondary with DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Kirk, Larry Fitzgerald, and the rest of his cast of weapons. Murray has struggled the last three weeks while facing a trio of elite pass defenses. It hasn’t helped that he has been battling a few injuries. Another thing he has to look forward to this week is that no team has given up more QB rushing yards than Philly.
Mitchell Trubisky, Bears @ MIN ($5500 DK, $7000 FD)
Mitchell Trubisky has found a home in my sleeper column. It helps that his schedule has gotten progressively easier since his return to the starting role for Chicago. This week he gets to take on the undermanned Minnesota Vikings. Odds are high that the team will once again be without All-Pro linebacker Eric Kendricks. They are also without their top four CBs from last season, their other Pro Bowl LB, their Pro Bowl pass rusher, their run-stuffing NT, and three other significant impact players from last year’s defense. Rookies Cameron Dantzler and Jeff Gladney have played better of late, but they are both still rookies and the depth behind them are UFAs. The Vikes have allowed the fifth-most passing TDs and Trubisky has thrown for three TDs in half of his six games. So the odds are 50-50 that he throws for three here.
Philip Rivers, Colts vs. HOU ($5900 DK, $7100 FD)
Houston just allowed 285-2 to Philip Rivers back in Week 13. They have also allowed 300+ yard passing days to “elite” QBs like Cam Newton and Jake Luton lately. Oh yeah, Mitchell Trubisky just tossed three TDs against them as well. Rivers doesn’t have the arm he used to have, or the legs, or the accuracy, or the awareness. What he does have is Michael Pittman, T.Y. “Texan-Killer” Hilton, and three good pass-catching RBs, and three good pass-catching TEs, and an all-world offensive line.
Weekly strategy – Your RB1 needs to be Derrick Henry. There really isn’t a pivot. You could possibly use Alvin Kamara and hope that you get “Good Taysom Hill” or maybe Jonathan Taylor and hope that Frank Reich doesn’t play hot-hand football. That said, neither is anywhere near as safe as Henry. If you can afford them both use Henry and Taylor. The cheaper option would be to use one of the other rookie RBs (Cam Akers or J.K. Dobbins) in that RB2 slot. FLEX should also come from RB this week. I like J.D. McKissic, Kenyan Drake, Jeff Wilson, and Damien Harris for this role. I could also see using Gus Edwards if you don’t use Dobbins at RB2.
Fantasy Four Pack
Derrick Henry, Titans vs. DET ($9500 DK, $10200 FD)
Derrick Henry, come playoff time, is ridiculous. If you face him in your fantasy playoffs you will survive only if he lets you. Of course, he won’t let you. Detroit has allowed 23 total RB TDs, the next closest team has allowed only 18. The question this week is will Henry score four TDs or only three. Oh yeah, don’t be surprised if he tops 200 yards again as well.
Jonathan Taylor, Colts vs. HOU ($7200 DK, $7400 FD)
If Frank Reich would stop channeling his inner-Mike Shanahan and just give Jonathan Taylor 20+ touches every game. Taylor would already be over 1500 total yards this season. No RB has more total yards in the last two weeks than Taylor. Meanwhile, Houston has allowed a league-worst 183 total yards per game to opposing RBs.
Alvin Kamara, Saints vs. KC ($7400 DK, $7800 FD)
Alvin Kamara’s usage has suffered from Taysom Hill starting at QB. Still, he has managed seven TDs over his last six games. Hill finally got on the same page with him in the passing game last week. Perhaps, this is the start of something good. Things could be even better if Drew Brees gets cleared to return this week. Kansas City has struggled recently with multi-dimensional backs such as Kamara. That could continue here.
Dalvin Cook, Vikings vs. CHI ($9000 DK, $9400 FD)
Dalvin Cook just topped 100 rushing yards against the best run defense in football last week. He also scored his fifteenth TD of the year. Chicago held Dalvin out of the end zone in Week 10. That was one of only three starts this season that Dalvin has not scored. His volume alone puts him in play, just don’t count on him dominating.
J.D. McKissic, Football Team vs. SEA ($5700 DK, $5800 FD)
I have to admit that I was surprised by J.D. McKissic’s line from last week. His 82 targets and 58 receptions both trail only Alvin Kamara among RBs. That said, he only had four targets and two catches last week. Instead, he had a season-high in carries and rushing yards. I don’t mind the additional ground yardage, but the reason we are playing him is the PPR points. Seattle has allowed the fifth-most receptions and the seventh-most receiving yards among RBs this season. So, the PPR points should be there this week.
Jeff Wilson, 49ers @ DAL ($5100 DK, $5800 FD)
Fading the Shanahanigans in the San Francisco backfield is next to impossible. This week Jeff Wilson looks primed for the lead role as Raheem Mostert is fighting an ankle injury. Just know that Coach Shanahan could go bizarro world and use Tevin Coleman or Jerick McKinnon on a whim. Fortunately for Wilson, those two have combined for a total of seven touches over the last three weeks. Whoever is the lead back this week gets to face a defense that has allowed 182 total yards per game to opposing backs over their last four contests.
Weekly strategy – A.J. Brown and Allen Robinson are the two safest plays at the top of the dollar chart. All four of the players above them on the list have some upside, but each also has a reason to fear them here. Cooper Kupp is also in play at WR1 or he can be used in symphony with Brown or ARob. I also like the idea of spending up for Terry McLaurin or Brandon Aiyuk. If I can figure out how, I might use three of that fivesome. Corey Davis, T.Y. Hilton, and Marvin Jones are the best “cheaper option” at WR2. If I also decide to punt at WR3, there are many options to choose from. I love the Jaguars’ WRs (Keelan Cole may be my favorite cheap play), Lynn Bowden, Anthony Miller, Richie James, the remaining Ravens’ WRs, and the secondary Lions’ WRs.
Fantasy Four Pack
Allen Robinson, Bears @ MIN ($7400 DK, $7300 FD)
Only one team has allowed more WR receiving TDs than Minnesota. None of those TDs went to Allen Robinson, but in their earlier meeting, Nick Foles (Fails) was the QB. In six games with Mitchell Trubisky at the helm, Robinson has four of his six TDs. He is also averaging just under 11 targets during those games and 7-84. At his price, Robinson is a better bet to hit 3X than all the players that are more expensive than him.
DeAndre Hopkins, Cardinals vs. PHI ($7900 DK, $8600 FD)
Philadelphia’s secondary will be short-handed for this game. That is never a good thing when facing a pass-happy offense. Even when they had all their defensive backs healthy, they usually gave up one big WR performance per game. Christian Kirk might be a cheaper pivot option for exposure to this passing game this week, but you cannot argue with DeAndre Hopkins’ nearly ten targets per game.
Tyreek Hill, Chiefs @ NO ($8800 DK, $9300 FD)
Even in a tough matchup with Miami’s cornerbacks last week, Tyreek Hill managed to finagle a pair of scores. The matchup won’t get easier this week as New Orleans has an elite shutdown cornerback as well. Still, nobody in all of football has more total scores than Hill. He will score here and probably approach 100 yards, just don’t expect a pile of catches.
A.J. Brown, Titans vs. DET ($7600 DK, $8300 FD)
Over their last four games, Detroit has allowed 1036 total yards and six total TDs to opposing WRs. That is nearly 200 more yards than the next-worst team (that is kind of surprisingly Indianapolis). A.J. Brown doesn’t have the target count or reception count of the top WRs in football. Still, what he does have is the sixth-most receiving TDs and the 20th-most receiving yards despite missing two games to injury.
T.Y. Hilton, Colts vs. HOU ($5500 DK, $6800 FD)
The Texans have allowed back-to-back big games to opposing WR1s, including 8-110-1 to T.Y. Hilton. This isn’t Hilton’s first huge game against Houston. He has topped 70 receiving yards in 12 of 17 meetings and he has topped 100 yards in eight of those games. He also has 11 career TDs against the Texans. Apparently, someone finally told Philip Rivers that T.Y. Hilton was a decent receiver. Now Hilton is fulfilling his prophecy in the Keenan Allen role in this offense.
Richie James, 49ers @ DAL ($3600 DK, $4700 FD)
Deebo Samuel is out. This means that both Richie James and Kendrick Bourne should see more usage this week. Dallas has allowed the most total TDs to the position this season, so anyone starting makes a great play. James was a huge contributor the week everyone was out, but his numbers have been sporadic since. Still, with his speed, he is a threat to score from anywhere on the field.
Weekly strategy – I am not paying up for Travis Kelce this week, but his matchup isn’t bad. I also doubt I will trust George Kittle in his first game back (if he does indeed play). That leaves three obvious studs up top in T.J. Hockenson, Mark Andrews, and Rob Gronkowski. If you spend up to get one of them. Dallas Goedert and Irv Smith both will be active in their respective offenses making them solid plays. That said, Tyler Higbee or Gerald Everett is the play this week since the Jets have decided that covering TEs isn’t necessary. I also don’t mind punting the position with current Bear, Cole Kmet, or former Bear, Trey Burton.
Fantasy Four Pack
Travis Kelce, Chiefs @ NO ($8000 DK, $8500 FD)
Travis Kelce’s price is finally where it belongs. He still is an elite play, even against a decent New Orleans’ defense. Earlier this year, New Orleans struggled mightily against quality TEs. This is one of their biggest tests to date.
Mark Andrews, Ravens vs. JAC ($5500 DK, $6800 FD)
Without Marquise Brown to drop passes, Lamar Jackson will have to funnel even more targets to Mark Andrews. Andrews was already second on the team in targets despite missing a pair of games due to COVID. Despite trailing Brown in targets, Andrews is tied with him in receptions. This is because Brown can’t catch a football. Only one team has allowed more TE scores than Jacksonville, so Andrews should see both an uptick in catches and at least one TD.
T.J. Hockenson, Lions @ TEN ($5200 DK, $6200 FD)
T.J. Hockenson remains third in every relevant TE statistical category except TDs, where he is tied for fifth. Meanwhile, Tennessee has allowed big games to every premium TE they have faced this season. Matthew Stafford’s absence could hurt Hockenson’s production, so pay attention to his practice status. Still, in Chase Daniel’s earlier relief appearance in Week 9, he trailed only Danny Amendola (another nice punt WR3 option) in targets and receptions.
Rob Gronkowski, Buccaneers @ ATL ($4200 DK, $6300 FD)
Rob Gronkowski may be the safest play this week at the position. Atlanta is fifth in receptions allowed and third in TDs allowed to the position. Gronk had a dud against Minnesota catching only one pass. Of course, that catch was a TD to save his line. This gives him five TDs in his last eight games. A score here is obvious and he should be more involved between the twenties as well.
Tyler Higbee, Rams vs. NYJ ($3800 DK, $5700 FD) Starting a TE versus the Jets this season is like starting a TE versus Arizona last year. Trust the process. New York is tanking and one of their top tank techniques is refusing to have anyone cover an opposing TE. They have allowed a league-worst 12 TE scores. Over the last four weeks, they are giving up an average of 10-92-1.5 to the position. Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett have split the workload for Los Angeles this year, but Higbee has more TDs. So, I like him a little more this week. Still, I wouldn’t blame you for playing either of them.
Cole Kmet, Bears @ MIN ($3000 DK, $5100 FD) Just when I thought Cole Kmet had fully usurped Jimmy Graham in this offense, Graham had to go and catch a TD last week. Kmet still had the same number of receptions and nearly double the number of targets and receiving yards of the veteran, so the trend remains in Cole’s favor. In fact, over the last two weeks, Kmet is seventh among all TEs in targets and receptions. Minnesota is middle-of-the-pack against the position, but with their top coverage LB, Eric Kendricks, out the past two weeks, teams are starting to attack the middle of the field against them.