Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens (Thursday, 8:30 p.m.)
Vegas O/U: 44.5 pts, Ravens Total: 23.75, Steelers Total: 20.25
This game, before Ben Roethlisberger's gruesome leg injury, was shaping up to be the rare Thursday night barnburner. I think it still might be.
Pittsburgh coaches have pledged to tailor the team's offense around Michael Vick instead of forcing the proverbial square peg into the round hole. That's good news for anyone who wants to plug in the old veteran signal caller at the bare minimum price. Anyone with Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell at their disposure has upside, especially against a Ravens' defense that has fallen to pieces without Terrell Suggs.
Vick, who was 5-for-6 for 38 yards after Roethlisberger went down against the Rams, is more than a desperation, high-variance GPP option here. Only five defenses give up more total fantasy points to opposing teams than Baltimore. The Ravens allow 7.5 yards per pass attempt – eighth worst in the league.
Brown, in my humble opinion, is still a locked-in cash game receiver with Vick at the helm. If this offense is going to move the ball at all with Roethlisberger on the shelf, Brown will certainly be involved. Only the Chiefs give up more production to receivers than the Ravens through three weeks.
Pittsburgh's defense shut down the moribund St. Louis “offense" in Week 3, though I don't see that as a strong indication that DFS gamers should hedge on starting their guys against the Steelers. Marc Trestman's offense finally clicked last week against the Bengals, just in time to face the league's third-worst pass coverage unit in Pittsburgh. The Ravens have a healthy projected total in this one, and with no running game of which to speak in Baltimore, it seems Flacco could continue to be a creature of volume.
Steve Smith managed 11 grabs for 107 yards in two games against the Steelers in 2014. He wasn't seeing quite the volume of opportunity he sees today, however, and he's priced well outside the top-15 receivers on DraftKings. He's averaging 2.84 fantasy points per reception – an extraordinary mark. I'll certainly have exposure to Smith on Thursday night.
Miami Dolphins vs. New York Jets (Sunday, 9:30 a.m.)
Vegas O/U; 41 pts, Jets Total: 22 pts, Dolphins Total: 19 pts
Vegas points to this matchup as one of the least appealing of Week 4. Only Denver allows fewer total fantasy points to opposing teams than the Jets, who now face a Miami offense grasping for an identity and often forced to become a one-dimensional squad.
I can't think of a reason to deploy Ryan Tannehill this week, as New York has shut down opposing pass games to the tune of 5.8 yards per pass attempt and a 54.6 percent completion rate. Miami's entire offense is a fairly easy fade in Week 4, though Rishard Matthews – priced outside the top-50 receivers – makes for an interesting option. He leads the team in targets (17) over the past two weeks, benefitting from plenty of garbage time.
Pressure against opposing passers is a key part of defensive scoring. With pressure comes sacks and errant throws and fantasy goodness. The Jets come into Week 4 with the second-most quarterback hits – a big part of why they've collected 12 turnovers this season. I like the Gang Green defense in this one, and they make for a solid stacking option with whichever running back suits up for the Jets. Keep an eye on Chris Ivory's availability and consider plugging him in (at a suppressed cost) alongside New York's defense.
Miami cornerback Brent Grimes has been decent in 2015, but the Dolphins' secondary has been thrashed of late. Brandon Marshall remains the safer, high volume play here, but don't forget that Eric Decker was taking full advantage of favorable matchups before leaving Week 3's game with an injury. I like Decker quite a bit this week if he's a full go. He's available for a meager 1 percent of your DraftKings budget.
Atlanta Falcons vs. Houston Texans (Sunday, 1:00)
Vegas O/U: 47 pts, Falcons Total: 27 pts , Texans Total: 20 pts
Julio Jones, with Roethlisberger's injury, becomes fantasy's safest cash game receiver. He's on pace for a wild 229 targets and he's continually slaughtering secondaries even as they lean extra coverage his way. He's as safe as safe gets in a matchup with a Houston secondary that was ripped by Alex Smith and Cam Newton to start the year.
That also makes Matt Ryan a viable cash game play. Ryan might be more enticing when you consider that he's priced well outside the elite tier in Week 4. Houston has just four sacks through three games. Ryan could have a clean pocket against a highly exploitable coverage unit.
Atlanta, after being run over by Joseph Randle in Sunday's victory, is allowing more fantasy production to running backs than any other team (33.4). This could be (very) welcomed news for those willing to invest in Arian Foster if he returns from a preseason groin injury. The Falcons' front seven can't stop anyone, as they're giving up 4.8 yards per tote so far in 2015. The best part about a healthy Foster: even if game script goes bad, he's going to be involved in the Texans' passing game, however horrible it may be.
You're not getting a discount on Foster this week, and that sort of soft tissue injury terrifies me to my core.
The Falcons sport a bottom-6 pass coverage unit, per PFF, making DeAndre Hopkins as safe as ever. He's seen double-digit targets in every game this season. With a game script that looks likely to force Houston to the air, Hopkins is a nice correlation play with Julio and/or Ryan. All three guys could fairly easily go off on Sunday. That trio would cost a pretty penny on DraftKings (47 percent of your budget).
Buffalo Bills vs. New York Giants (Sunday, 1:00 p.m.)
Vegas O/U: 46 pts, Bills Total: 26 pts, Giants Total: 20 pts
Karlos Williams, with LeSean McCoy expected to sit one out this weekend, will be deployed across the DFS spectrum against the Giants. And for good reason.
Williams is averaging a ludicrous 1.7 fantasy points per carry after bowling through the Dolphins' front seven for a long score in Week 3. He's notching three yards after contact per attempt – higher than Adrian Peterson and Latavius Murray through three weeks. Priced ludicrously low in Week 4, Williams needs to be a staple in your daily lineups. There's no reason to be contrarian here.
Tyrod Taylor, fantasy's fifth highest scoring quarterback, gets another favorable matchup here against a New York secondary that has given up 50 receptions to receivers in 2015. All three quarterbacks to face Big Blue this season have eclipsed 300 yards and thrown at least one touchdown. Taylor continues to be a cash game option – one whose DFS price tag has hardly budged over the past couple weeks.
We're simply not going to see opposing teams try to run into the teeth of Buffalo's front seven. Perhaps that makes Shane Vereen a more enticing play than Rashad Jennings as the Giants are sure to take to the air in this one. No NFL defense sees fewer rush attempts than the Bills.
Eli Manning is a candidate for upwards of 50 passes against Buffalo. Opponents have averaged 52 pass attempts against the Bills through three weeks. I think that predictable volume makes Eli a somewhat sneaky GPP option, but nothing close to a cash game quarterback. We don't chase volume.
I'm into Charles Clay this week, and not just because he roasted the Dolphins in Week 3. He's seeing 5.1 targets a game and it seems that Buffalo understands Clay is the team's best red zone pass catcher. Giants' linebackers have struggled mightily in coverage as the defense has given up an eye-opening 14.03 fantasy points per game to tight ends. Clay makes for a fine stack with Taylor.