Good Gawd last week was awful. How many obvious plays can fail in one week and how many NFL upsets can we possibly stomach from a DFS standpoint. It’s one thing to lose your player to injury early on and just know that a lineup(s) is kaput, it’s another thing altogether to watch the entirety of several high-end teams flop against their decrepit competition. Weeks like this last can lead even the most degenerate among us to question our lot in life. Still, I woke up Monday morning just like every other week of the year and put on my big-boy sweatpants, and got busy prepping for that night’s podcast recording and setting Showdown lineups for MNF. Thank heavens for that slate (and particularly Pat Freiermuth) saving my butt this week.
Much like last week, we have four teams on bye, but this time only Cincinnati (and to a small extent the Giants) are loaded with fantasy-relevant players. We actually lose far more talent to the Thursday and Primetime slates.
DFS: The Primetime Slate
Patrick Mahomes has struggled over the last month. I’m scared to even call this a get-right game for him. At this point, I feel we need to see Mahomes perform in a Mahomes-like fashion before we can justify paying his salary. I’ll rank him at QB2 this week, but I’m seriously not sure that he will finish above QB3.
That QB3 role will settle on Derek Carr. The KC defense looked adequate against Jordan Love, but adequate won’t do it here. Carr is a skilled veteran with decent receiving threats to target. Don’t be surprised if he outscores Mahomes.
Darrel Williams has been a more efficient running back for the Chiefs than their original starter Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Unfortunately for Williams, Derrick Gore has begun to cut into his workload. Darrel is still the primary option, and on this board, he is the RB3 and a possible FLEX Play. Gore gets the RB7 nod and really should only be used as an injury pivot on Showdown contests. Jerick McKinnon would also have value if Williams got hurt, but not as much as Gore.
Josh Jacobs has performed like an RB1 when he has been on the field this year. This is impressive since he has split opportunities with Kenyan Drake at a 16-10 rate per game. Jacobs is the RB2, and Drake is the RB5 here. I won’t have both in my lineups but will have one or the other. At this point in his career, Jalen Richard is simply Drake’s handcuff. Even if Kenyan were to miss the game, I wouldn’t rush out to play him. Alec Ingold has some value in Showdown with his receptions and chances in the red zone.
Tyreek Hill has always performed well against the Raiders. Based on the current situation with Mahomes struggling, I will bump him to the WR2 on this slate. Still, there is a good chance that I ultimately fade him and use Cooper Kupp as my WR1. Mecole Hardman has been getting the volume of targets necessary to be useful but he hasn’t done much with the targets. In a plus-game script, I could see using him at WR3, but there are similar more reliable options on this slate. Byron Pringle could also be a WR3 choice, but he is slightly less reliable than Hardman. DeMarcus Robinson has done nothing the last month, and his snap count is way down. You can ignore him completely.
One of my plays from last week that did work out favorably was Hunter Renfrow (ankle). As expected, the absence of Henry Ruggs led to Renfrow tying his season-high in both receptions and targets. He also scored. I expect a repeat performance this week against a lesser defense. He will be in my lineup somewhere. Zay Jones and Bryan Edwards both have some potential against a bad defense but neither has gotten enough usage this season. Edwards has more talent, so if you wanted to use two Vegas receivers in this game, he would be my choice of those two. Desean Jackson recently signed with Vegas, but we don’t know how much or if he will play. I’ll throw him into a couple of Showdown lineups because of his long-TD potential. Still, I would not use him in any larger tourney until we see his role.
Travis Kelce is a stud and has destroyed the Raiders in recent years. Over their last six meetings, he has averaged 7.5-110 with five total scores. This slate is loaded with great TEs, but he is the best of the best. This week screams of souble-TE or maybe even triple-TE.
No team has given up more yards to the TE position than KC. Darren Waller is sitting on a huge game here. He doesn’t have the historical receptions and yardage numbers against KC that Kelce has had against them, but he still should approach 7-75-1 here. It should be noted that he scored in both contests last year. Foster Moreau didn’t end up in the box score last week with the return of Waller. He still makes a sneaky, TD-dependent play against this inept defense. I will have him in many of my Showdown lineups.
I don’t particularly like using either of these defenses here.
Matthew Stafford gets a back-to-back Primetime slate opportunity after he laid an egg on SNF against the Titans. San Fran is middle-of-the-pack against the pass but they have been eaten alive by rushing QBs this year. Unfortunately, Stafford hasn’t scored a rushing TD since 2016. Plus, he suffered a small ankle injury last week. I’ll keep him at QB1 on this slate, but only because I cannot imagine him blowing it twice in a row.
Jimmy Garoppolo has topped 320 passing yards in back-to-back games but a lot of this past week’s numbers came in garbage time. The Rams are a better defense than he has faced in those two games, so I cannot expect a three-peat performance. In fact, Jimmy G. is the clear QB4 on this slate. At least we shouldn’t have to worry about the Niners throwing Trey Lance to the wolves in this game.
I have Darrell Henderson slated as the top RB here. Much like the rest of the Rams offense last week, Henderson failed to light up the scoreboard. Prior to that game, he had scored five times in four previous games. He obviously is licking his chops watching the footage of what James Conner just did to the Niners. Sony Michel scored the garbage time TD for Los Angeles last week, but he is no better than RB6 on this docket. To save money, he could be used as a punt-Flex play, but I prefer using a second TE there.
Eli Mitchell didn’t do much on the ground last week. The Cardinals are actually very strong against the run, so that should be no surprise. What was surprising was that Mitchell actually got a few looks in the passing game. He had more catches and targets this past week than he had had the entire season combined coming into the game. What was also surprising is that Jeff Wilson didn’t see the field. Shanahanigans suggest that Wilson might get force-fed this week for no apparent reason. That said, I will trust that the coach actually isn’t completely brain dead and that he will actually use his newly found bell cow. Mitchell gets the RB4 assignment since he does have to fade Shanahan’s antics and because the Rams have a studly defense. When San Francisco falls behind in this game, James Hasty and Kyle Juszczyk could have some value in the passing game. I don’t love either of them, but they both will have marginal value here. I’ve won some decent money in the past with Juszczyk at Captain on Showdown contests.
The one person who did not disappoint for the Rams last week was Cooper Kupp. Still, his line didn’t feel on par with his recent explosions. I’ll go to the well once again for him here as the WR1. Every legit WR1 to face San Francisco has succeeded against them. The Niners have been so-so against opposing WR2s. I could see using Robert Woods at WR2 if you fade Kupp. That said, I would only do that if I chose to use Tyreek Hill at WR1. Even then, I may choose to opt for Van Jefferson at WR3 instead. Van has been getting consistent targets, and he could be a safe floor play to gain exposure to this game at a cheaper cost. Odell Beckham is signing with the Rams. At this point in his career, if you look up OBJ in the dictionary, it says “see also Gordon, Josh.”
Deebo Samuel will have to do battle with Jalen Ramsey this week. This isn’t an automatic bench in regular leagues but it should be in DFS. Especially since Samuel doesn’t get a price cut for the matchup. I don’t see any legitimate argument for using him at all. Brandon Aiyuk finally did something last week. Perhaps, he is finally out of the doghouse. He gets the better matchup of the two starters and can definitely be considered at WR2/3. Mohamed Sanu is likely to miss this week with a knee injury, opening a minimal number of targets for Trent Sherfield. Jauan Jennings could also see an uptick in snaps, but I don’t see using either of them with so many better WR3 options.
I was very lucky on the primetime slate last week to use Pat Freiermuth instead of Tyler Higbee. This week, Higbee won’t be the top TE option. He will be the bottom TE option. If he was given a price discount, I might consider him. He won’t be though, so you can ignore him as anything more than a game exposure, double-TE FLEX. To use him here, you really have to be ignoring every other part of the Rams’ passing game.
It isn’t often that George Kittle will find himself as the TE3 on a small slate. Tight end is one of the few positions that you can use to attack the Rams through the air. Plus, Kittle was not on the announced snap count last week in his return from injury. He makes a great double-TE play or even triple-TE play here, especially if you take a chance on Jimmy Garoppolo at QB.
Matthew Stafford was running for his life versus Tennessee. If you believe that this offensive line is actually broken, I could see using the San Francisco defense. In reality, I think that last week was an outlier. As long as Stafford’s ankle doesn’t prove to be an issue, he should be fine. The Rams have actually managed to improve their All-Pro defense with another future Hall-of-Famer. This does not bode well for San Francisco. Jimmy Garoppolo suffered five sacks last week. It may be worse this time out.
The Main Slate: My recommended DFS lineups
At DK: $6k for Matt Ryan. $8.1k for Jonathan Taylor. $7.9k for Najee Harris. $5k for Russell Gage. $4.8k for Donovan Peoples-Jones. $4k for Michael Gallup (assuming he plays – otherwise James Washington for $3.5K – which also opens up Jarvis Landry at $5.2k instead of DPJ). $3.5K for Dan Arnold. $8k for Dalvin Cook at FLEX. $2.6k for the Tennessee Titans defense.
At FD: $7.3k for Ryan. $9.4k for Najee. $8.5k for Cook. $6k for Gage. $7.4k for Mike Evans. $7.2k for Michael Pittman. $4.7k for Adam Trautman. $5.4k for D’Ernest Johnson at FLEX (assuming Nick Chubb doesn’t play – otherwise Melvin Gordon). $4.1k for the Tennessee Titans defense.
At Fanball (SuperFlex – includes Sun Night): Tom Brady, Carson Wentz at SF, Devin Singletary and D’Ernest at RB, Evans, Pittman, Hunter Renfrow, Dalvin Cook at FLEX, and Noah Fant (assuming he plays, otherwise Pat Freiermuth).
Weekly strategy – It is crazy that we have several QBs with great matchups but some sort of reason to question their situation. Josh Allen has a great matchup, but he pooped the bed last week, and the Jets are kind of a run-funnel defense. Tom Brady has an easy matchup as well, but he may be without two of his top three WRs and his top TE. Aaron Rodgers faces a weak Seattle defense – assuming he is allowed to play. Russell Wilson is also in play in that same game – again assuming he comes back from his injury. Really, the only top-dollar QB with no questions is Justin Herbert. He has the easiest path to 3x value. With so many questions, this feels like the week to pay down at the position. I really like Matt Ryan, Carson Wentz, Ben Roethlisberger, and Taylor Heinicke. That said, I don’t like any of the punt options here except for maybe P.J. Walker or Trevor Lawrence.
Justin Herbert, Chargers vs. MIN
($7,300 DK, $8,000 FD)
Minnesota hasn’t been horrible against the pass. Unfortunately, they will likely be without their top two CBs and their top safety. Plus, their numbers against have been deflated because they have faced a couple of subpar QBs. Herbert should have an easy time throwing for 300-3 at home here.
Tom Brady, Buccaneers @ WAS
($7,600 DK, $8,300 FD)
Washington is so bad against the pass that even potentially without Antonio Brown and Chris Godwin, Brady should have a big game. It is only this potential absenteeism that keeps me from guaranteeing a 3x performance. Still, the GOAT could always end up throwing five TDs to some combination of Cameron Brate, Tyler Johnson, and Scotty Miller.
Josh Allen, Bills @ NYJ
($7,900 DK, $8,700 FD)
My pocketbook is still smarting from Allen’s inability to school the Jaguars last week. Dare I say, this matchup may be easier yet. The Jets have decent numbers against the pass only because they have become a run-funnel defense. That shouldn’t affect Allen too much as he is arguably the top RB on this roster, too. I like him to throw for a pair of scores here, but I expect him to run at least one in as well.
Aaron Rodgers, Packers vs. SEA
($7,100 DK, $7,800 FD)
It is not 100% certain that Rodgers will play this week. However, if he plays, it is a great game for him to reveal his new “heel” persona. Hopefully, the refs will be watching closely to see if he delivers an eye gouge or a low blow or two in this one. At the very least, I am expecting a crotch-chop or double-birds. I’d also expect at least a pair of passing TDs. If both Russell Wilson and Rodgers play in this game, we could see a pinball affair as neither team has much to write home about on defense.
Matt Ryan, Falcons @ DAL
($6,000 DK, $7,300 FD)
Little did we know that the secret to waking up the Atlanta offense was for Calvin Ridley to go on personal leave. Ryan is using his rookie TE and a cast of misfit toys to produce reasonable numbers. Meanwhile, Dallas has been sloppy on defense all year. I really love the stack of Ryan along with Kyle Pitts and Russell Gage.
Carson Wentz, Colts vs. JAX
($5,900 DK, $7,500 FD)
Yes, Jacksonville did stymy the Bills last week. I’m gonna call that one an outlier. Their defense didn’t suddenly figure out how the game of football was played. This is still the defense that gave up big numbers to the likes of Tyrod Taylor, Tua Tagovailoa, Teddy Bridgewater, and freaking Geno Smith. The only thing that will slow down Wentz this week is the excessive success of his own team’s rushing attack.
Weekly strategy – This week I am going to be top-heavy at RB. I absolutely love Jonathan Taylor, Dalvin Cook, Najee Harris, and Austin Ekeler. By hook or by crook, I will have two and possibly three of this foursome in my lineups. If James Robinson misses another game, I could see using Carlos Hyde as a punt play. I also don’t mind Nyheim Hines as cheaper exposure to the Colts-Jags game. Since you cannot run against New Orleans, J.D. McKissic could be a sneaky play as well. Still, the two best value plays this week are injury fill-ins. D’Ernest Johnson and Devin Singletary each have the opportunity to receive bell-cow level carries against bad defenses with their respective lead backs potentially out due to injury. Mark Ingram could also see a full ledger of carries if Alvin Kamara (knee) misses this game. His matchup just isn’t as good as the other two.
Jonathan Taylor, Colts vs. JAX
($8,100 DK, $9,400 FD)
That FD price is high, but don’t be surprised if he gets to 3x there, too. On DK, it is going to be easy. Jacksonville will, in all likelihood, hold Indy under 300 yards rushing, but Taylor and Nyheim Hines could both top 125 combo yards here.
Najee Harris, Steelers vs. DET
($7,900 DK, $9,400 FD)
Harris is the Pittsburgh rushing attack. There isn’t any better example of a one-man operation anywhere in the league currently. Everyone else has a change-of-pace back behind them or a solid handcuff who gets a few carries, or even a pass-catcher that fills in on third downs. Then there is Harris. He is the do-everything back for Pittsburgh. Detroit is tied for the league lead with 16 running back scores allowed. For the mathematically challenged, that is TWO touchdowns per game. That is Harris’ floor here since he doesn’t have anyone to steal touches from him.
Dalvin Cook, Vikings @ LAC
($8,000 DK, $8,500 FD)
Cook may have some personal issues to deal with outside of the gridiron, but at least for this week, he won’t face any action from the league. That is good for business if you are a Vikings fan. The Chargers have been one of the worst defenses against the run allowing 150 combo yards and 1.5 total RB scores per week.
Austin Ekeler, Chargers vs. MINk
($7,600 DK, $8,600 FD)
Both sides in this game should produce some huge numbers on the ground. Amazingly, Dallas was the only team to not have at least one double-digit PPR running back performance against the Vikings. Ekeler underperformed last week (like pretty much everyone else on my rosters), but I will trust him again here. Prior to last week, Ekeler had scored seven times in his previous five games.
D’Ernest Johnson, Browns @ NE
($4,700 DK, $5,400 FD)
Kareem Hunt is out. Nick Chubb is likely out with COVID. So, once again, we will have D’Ernest as the primary ball carrier. New England has allowed a minimal number of TDs to opposing running backs, but the Pats are giving up over 160 combo yards per game to the position
Devin Singletary, Bills @ NYJ
($4,700 DK, $6,000 FD)
The Jets have allowed a ridiculous 197 total yards per game and TWO touchdowns per game to opposing running backs. With Zack Moss sitting in limbo in the concussion protocol, I have to presume a decent game by Singletary. The only way that Devin fails here is if Josh Allen steals all of the touchdowns.
|Amon-Ra St. Brown||$3,800||$5,400|
Weekly strategy – With so much money spent at RB this week, I will need to play it cheap at WR. If I do spend up, Terry McLaurin and Mike Evans deliver the best bang for the buck this week. Other lower WR1 options include Keenan Allen, Diontae Johnson, and DK Metcalf. I’m likely fading most of these guys, although Evans could be a must-start if both Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown are out. My target at WR1 will probably be Michael Pittman. At WR2, I am targetting Russell Gage. I also like PPR options such as Jarvis Landry and Cole Beasley. The Saints could produce a solid WR2, just good luck choosing which WR it will be. I feel safer playing Deonte Harris or Kenny Stills as a WR3. Other bargain-basement options for me to exploit include Jamal Agnew, Adam Humphries, James Washington, or perhaps a returning Michael Gallup.
Terry McLaurin, Football Team vs. TB
($7,600 DK, $7,100 FD)
Tampa Bay remains dreadfully short-handed on defense. Still, their run defense remains stingy forcing the opposition to throw the ball. McLaurin is clearly the top WR on the Football Team, and he should be targeted frequently this week (especially if Logan Thomas remains out). Among the higher-priced options, he is easily the safest.
Mike Evans, Buccaneers @ WAS
($6,900 DK, $7,400 FD)
With Antonio Brown and Chris Godwin both questionable for this contest, Evans could be very busy this week. In the three games that Brown has missed, Evans and Godwin have combined for seven TDs. Obviously, if all three play it may hurt their overall production. Or, it may not, since Washington has allowed multiple double-digit PPR wide receiver performances in all but one game.
Keenan Allen, Chargers vs. MIN
($7,000 DK, $7,200 FD)
Stupid luck forced me to choose the wrong Los Angeles WR last week. I had every reason to believe that Allen would take a Slay ride, leaving Mike Williams wide open to have his way with the rest of the Philly secondary. I was wrong. Minnesota is woefully desperate for healthy bodies for their secondary right now. The veteran Allen should make a mockery of these bums. I like Williams to have a big game, too, making this one of my favorite game stacks. Unfortunately, I don’t trust the usually reliable Minnesota WRs (at their prices) to run it back against the Chargers’ cornerbacks. Perhaps, you can run it back with Tyler Conklin.
Davante Adams, Packers vs. SEA
($7,900 DK, $8,700 FD)
Once again this comes down to Aaron Rodgers playing. If ARod suits up, Adams could easily hit 3x value against a pitiful Seattle secondary. Even if it is Jordan Love this isn’t an awful play. Every true stud WR to face Seattle has gone ham on them. If Russell Wilson is able to play for Seattle and Rodgers starts for the Pack, this game will be exponentially high-scoring. In that environment, Adams has slate-busting upside here.
Russell Gage, Falcons @ DAL
($5,000 DK, $6,000 FD)
Trevon Diggs has tremendous ball skills. He also has serious issues with coverage blowing. While he has splashed with nearly one interception per week, he has also been burned with what seems to be at least one huge blown coverage each week. Still, opposing WR1s line up opposite him most often. Due to Calvin Ridley walking away from football, Gage is suddenly the Falcons’ top WR. He also appears to be fully recovered from the groin injury that slowed him earlier this year. Stack Gage with Matt Ryan and Kyle Pitts.
Cole Beasley, Bills @ NYJ
($5,200 DK, $6,100 FD)
Beasley continues to be a target hog for the Bills. It remains to be seen if a returning Dawson Knox affects that. The yardage wasn’t there last week, but he still racked up eight receptions. This gives him 25 catches over his last three games. Meanwhile, the Jets have struggled with inside receivers all year. As long as we don’t have a repeat of last week’s what the heck performance by Buffalo, Beasley should finish with 8-70 and maybe a score.
Weekly strategy – Most of the premium TEs are on the Primetime slate this week. Throw in that several of the top-10 priced options have some degree of health concern and this might get ugly. Kyle Pitts has a great opportunity, but I don’t know if I can afford him. Noah Fant (assuming he plays) will be my top choice. If Fant cannot go even after his activation, then I will likely use Pat Freiermuth. The other pivot plays that I like are Dan Arnold and Tyler Conklin. The punt plays are few and far between this week. Either of the Colts, Adam Trautman, or Tommy Sweeney (only if Dawson Knox doesn’t play) are really the only ones to consider.
Kyle Pitts, Falcons @ DAL
($5,800 DK, $6,900 FD)
Pitts barely qualifies as expensive, but I still will struggle to fit him into my huge money RB lineups. Yet, Pitts should put up a solid line against a below-average Dallas secondary that has been beaten up by quality tight ends. If you can afford Pitts feel free to stack him with Matt Ryan.
Noah Fant, Broncos vs. PHI
($4,300 DK, $5,700 FD)
Now that Fant is off of the COVID list, I can confidently say that he will challenge Kyle Pitts for the top tight end spot on this slate. Philly has allowed the most TE touchdowns and receptions, plus the second-most tight end receiving yards. Albert Okwuegbunam reinjured his knee last week, but he may play this weekend. This could cost Fant a few targets, but it shouldn’t heavily alter the bottom line for him.
Dalton Schultz, Cowboys vs. ATL
($5,000 DK, $6,000 FD)
The Falcons have faced three upper-echelon tight ends this season: Dallas Goedert, Rob Gronkowski, and Mike Gesicki. All three scored at least once against them. The Falcons defense, in general, has improved as the season has progressed, but with many Cowboys wide receivers nursing small maladies, Schultz may have to handle more work this week. Schultz faced Atlanta in Week 2 of last season and hauled in 9-88-1 on 10 targets. I’ll take two-thirds of that line this week and be happy.
Zach Ertz, Cardinals vs. CAR
($4,600 DK, $5,200 FD)
Ertz hasn’t had the immediate impact with Arizona I envisioned when they went out and acquired him. Last week can be excused on Colt McCoy, but I still expected more from him. If Kyler Murray can make it back this week, I will feel more confident about Ertz. That said, there isn’t much to choose from up top this week and TE is one of the few positions that you can successfully attack Carolina with.
Dan Arnold, Jaguars @ IND
($3,500 DK, $5,100 FD)
Indy has allowed the second-most receptions and scores to opposing TEs. Meanwhile, Arnold is quietly establishing himself as one of the top targets for Trevor Lawrence. Since arriving in Jacksonville, Arnold leads the team in targets, receptions, and receiving yards. Now if only he could get into the end zone that would be the cherry on top. Against the Colts, I think he does just that.
Tyler Conklin, Vikings @ LAC
($3,400 DK, $5,300 FD)
Conklin has been serviceable as a third or fourth option in the Minnesota passing attack. This week, Conklin faces a team that is stingy against opposing WRs, but very bad against opposing TEs. With Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen struggling to get open, I expect the Vikings to do everything possible to get Conklin involved. If you really want to stretch, Chris Herndon could even see some action here.