San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks (Thursday, 8:25 p.m.)
Vegas O/U: 41.5 pts, Seahawks Total: 23.75 pts, 49ers Total: 17.75 pts
This will strike a lot of DFS gamers as a classic avoid-and-move-on Thursday night game featuring a low Vegas total and a pair of mostly dysfunctional offenses.
The thinking is sound, but I think there are some viable DFS plays here. The 49ers have put Colin Kaepernick under center, limited the length of his drop backs and taken some of the guesswork out of his role as signal caller. The results have, so far, been good in two plus matchups: Kap has 603 passing yards and four touchdown tosses over his past two games.
The back end of Seattle's defense isn't the fantasy killer it once was, as the Seahawks have allowed at least 18 fantasy points to quarterbacks in four of their six 2015 contests. While Kaepernick certainly doesn't have the ceiling he had last week against the ghost of Baltimore's secondary, I think he can meet and exceed his DFS value against Seattle.
I would recommend a look at a 49ers tight end here, but with Vernon Davis' playing time dwindling and Garret Celek seeing limited route running duty, it's best to avoid San Francisco tight ends against a Seattle squad that has been ripped by opposing tight ends this year. And however bad Seattle has been, they still shut down receivers, making Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin dicey plays, at best. Only Denver is stingier against opposing wideouts.
San Francisco is seeing opposing runners gain four yards a carry, though a lot of that has come in garbage time as opponents milk the clock. Still, Marshawn Lynch, after resuming his normal workload against Carolina in Week 6, is a solid if not spectacular option against the Niners. The Seahawks piled up 122 and 125 yards on the ground in two games against the Niners last season. Vegas projections say the Seahawks could be in a position to let Lynch chip away at the clock with a nice lead here. His DFS price tag remains a touch suppressed.
Russell Wilson continues to save his fantasy days with a healthy dose of rushing yards. Maybe we can just bake that into his weekly production at this point. Wilson's per-drop back production has fallen off a cliff though, as he now averages 0.46 fantasy points per drop back. It's a far cry from the 0.61 mark he had in 2014. I don't see a pressing need to deploy him on Thursday.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Buffalo Bills (Sunday, 9:30 a.m.)
Vegas O/U: 42 pts, Bills Total: 23 pts, Jaguars Total: 19 pts
Tyrod Taylor, who averages more fantasy points per game than all but a handful of quarterbacks, is priced at a fantastic discount on every DFS site, including FanDuel, where he's priced below 14 signal callers. Against a Jacksonville coverage unit giving up 18.9 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks, I think Taylor is a rock-solid cash game passer, despite his injury-ravaged pass catching crew. He won't need to do a whole lot to prove a value.
There really aren't a lot of screaming daily fantasy values on the Buffalo side of the ball, though LeSean McCoy had a shockingly nice stat line against a tough Bengals' front seven in Week 6, and now takes on a Jags defense seeing 29.7 rushes run against them every week. McCoy's price tag is fairly high, however, and I think there are better, more reliable running back plays in his price range.
Buffalo, with a run defense that has continually forced opposing passers to the air in 2015, has been something less than stellar against the pass. Quarterbacks are throwing 2.17 touchdowns per game against the Bills. Only Marcus Mariota has failed to crack the 16-point mark against Buffalo.
This all makes Blake Bortles an appealing low-cost play – a growing theme in 2015. The Jaguars' projected total isn't tasty, but really, it never is. Bortles, fantasy's fourth highest scoring signal caller, continues to produce despite a very low completion rate. He's thrived on volume. Only Philip Rivers has dropped back to pass more than Bortles in 2015. That's good enough for me, although Bortles would see a marked downgrade if oft-injured Allen Robinson is unable to suit up for this one. Julius Thomas is also iffy for Week 7, further blurring Bortles' outlook. Without Thomas and Robinson, Bortles becomes a GPP-only option.
Buffalo has been stiff competition against tight ends this season, shutting down all comers not named Rob Gronkowski. But that shouldn't count. Gronk is Gronk. Thomas, if he plays through bruised ribs, could see another game of nice volume here. He's coming off a 13-target performance in which he snagged seven balls for 78 yards and a score. I would highlight pass coverage grades for Buffalo's linebackers and safeties, but Pro Football Focus made that data unavailable to subscribers last week. Our loss, I suppose.
Allen Hurns, a cheap DFS play on most sites, could see double digit targets if Robinson sits in Week 7. Hurns became Bortles' go-to option when Robinson exited Week 6's game against Houston. Hurns, who has seen seven targets per contest, should be a cash game receiver if Robinson is declared out. He has the week's 12th best WR-CB matchup, according to PFF, as Hurns will go head to head with struggling cover man Stephon Gilmore.
Detroit Lions vs. Minnesota Vikings (Sunday, 1:00 p.m.)
Vegas O/U: 44.5 pts, Vikings Total: 23.75 pts, Lions Total: 20.75 pts
Matthew Stafford took full advantage of a cake matchup at home against a heinous secondary in Week 6. I hesitate to say we're back to fantasy-relevant Stafford though, as he faces a Minnesota defense that has only given up two decent quarterback performances this season.
The Vikings are the seventh best defense against quarterbacks, when adjusted for strength of schedule. Stafford won't make it into any of my cash lineups this week.
Minnesota's front seven has proven weak against the run. Only nine defenses allow more yards per carry than the Vikings through six weeks. The Lions' backfield is a complete and total mess, but any clarity in who might see a starter's workload against Minnesota would go a long way to spotting a runner with a high floor in this one. Probably Theo Riddick is your safest Detroit running back play this week. He's seen a hearty 7.8 targets per game over Detroit's last three.
The Lions, when adjusted for strength of schedule, are allowing the seventh most weekly fantasy points to opposing wideouts. I think it's fairly clear that Stefon Diggs is emerging as the team's top receiving option with Charles Johnson injured and Mike Wallace unimpressive through nearly half a season. Diggs has seen 18 targets over the past couple weeks and Minnesota coaches are considering inserting the rookie into the starting lineup. Diggs would be an excellent, high-ceiling tournament option if Vikings coaches commit to their best pass catcher. Touchdowns are coming.
Adrian Peterson flamed out against the Chiefs last week, but it's hard to move on from a guy seeing so many carries. Three running backs have more totes than Peterson this season. While his efficiency has been what you'd expect from an old runner (0.14 points per carry, 38th in the league), Peterson remains a high-floor back. The Lions are seventh worst against opposing running backs, and gave up 149 rushing yards and a score to Minnesota in Week 2. Fire up Peterson in cash formats, as per usual.
Indianapolis Colts vs. New Orleans Saints (Sunday, 1:00 p.m.)
Vegas O/U: 52.5 pts, Colts Total: 28.75 pts, Saints Total: 23.75 pts
This shapes up to be a glorious game for fantasy purposes. And it's not just because we have two potentially high-powered offenses going head to head. We also have a couple highly exploitable defenses that have been gashed in 2015.
Frank Gore has shown flashes of being a real-life fantasy option. Against a New Orleans defense being gouged to the tune of 4.8 yards per tote, I'm into Gore at his DFS price point. Opponents are gaining a league-high 6.4 yards per play against the horrendous Saints' defense. I think you can get away with stacking Gore alongside at least one Colts pass catcher.
That leads us to Donte Moncrief, who is still – in my estimation – underpriced as a key cog in Andrew Luck's offense. Luck appeared to be back to normal against New England, quelling concerns that his receivers might be shaky plays going forward. Moncrief not only provides some cap relief this week; he also comes with a nice, high floor in what Vegas believes will be Week 7's highest scoring affair. One note of caution on Indy's receivers against New Orleans: for as bad as the Saints' secondary has been, the most fantasy production they've allowed to a wideout is 13.7 points. That came from Josh Huff in Week 5.
I think Luck is back to safe cash game status. Not only did he shred via the air against he Patriots, but he also tacked on some oh-so-important rushing points to his total, taking off four times for 35 yards. I'm more confident in deploying Luck than I am any of his pass catchers against the Saints. No signal caller has a higher Week 7 floor.
Drew Brees continued to be a creature of volume last week, though the Saints appeared determined to run it inside the 10-yard line. It makes sense seeing that their lone red zone weapon is now catching passes in Seattle. Brees' efficiency is a tad disturbing. He's scoring 0.40 fantasy points per drop back, a long way short of his 0.54 mark in 2013 and 0.47 mark in 2014. I'm OK with him here against a Colts secondary that has seen enemy passers throw at least two touchdowns in four of six 2015 contests.
Willie Snead, New Orleans' new No. 1 receiver, will have a plus matchup this week against Darius Butler. Snead's matchup is the second best WR-CB matchup of Week 7, per Pro Football Focus. I can overlook his slow Week 6 and toss him into lineups this week.
Playing Benjamin Watson this week looks an awful lot like chasing last week's points. The veteran tight end hadn't even cracked 20 fantasy points on the season headed into his Week 6 explosion (18.7 points) against Atlanta. The positive: Watson has been in on at least 75 percent of the Saints' offensive snaps in every 2015 game. The negative: it wasn't until last week that Watson saw more than 7.7 percent of the team's targets. His Week 6 performance reeks of an outlier
Keep Watson away from your cash game lineups. I don't think he has the ceiling of a GPP play. Indy is 11th best against opposing tight ends when adjusted for schedule.