New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers
Just a month ago these two teams locked up in a legendary shootout that lit up DFS scoreboards. We should not expect the same result at Carolina, which has tightened up its defense some, but there are a lot of plays to love.
First, the Saints' No. 1-ranked offense, thanks to its No. 1 passing game, faces a bottom-10 opponent against the pass, fantasy QBs, WRs and TEs. The Panthers have struggled to replace Josh Norman on the corner with young and raw players. There have been some decent efforts, but Drew Brees went 465-4 in New Orleans, while the Panthers have also allowed 503-4 to Matt Ryan and 363-3 to Carson Palmer (in Carolina, no less).
Brees is always a solid bet for 300-3, a plateau he has hit in two-thirds of a games this season. It makes Brandin Cooks, Michael Thomas and Willie Snead – in that order – all solid options. Cooks went 7-173-1 in the past meeting, although he tends to be more productive at home (22-471-5), than the road (22-223-1). Thomas tends to be the better play on the road, so make sure he is in your Saints stack. Even seldom-targeted TE Coby Fleener is an option, having gone 6-74-1 in the past meeting and facing the fourth-worst team in fantasy vs. TEs.
If you're fading anything in this game, other than the defenses, it should be the Saints' backs. Not only are Mark Ingram and Tim Hightower in a timeshare, but the Panthers boast the NFL's No. 2-ranked run defense and are No. 3 against fantasy RBs. They have allowed just four TDs to fantasy RBs, and only the Miami Dolphins and Detroit Lions have allowed fewer (three).
As intriguing as the Saints passing game is, the Panthers plays might even be better, playing at home in prime-time, facing the generous Saints D, being hungry after a bad first half and vengeful after the prior loss. The best news of all is the Panthers are modestly priced, save for elite QB Cam Newton, and their usage and touches are more centralized on primary pieces.
Start with Jonathan Stewart against a Saints D that has been third worst against fantasy RBs, allowing 14 TDs in nine games. Stewart scored twice in the past meeting, and this should be Stewart's busiest game of the season.
Newton will score in the 20s with his own mix of the run and pass, too. He went 322-2 with a rushing TD in the past meeting. It makes WR Kelvin Benjamin and TE Greg Olsen premium plays at their prices. Neither scored a TD in the past meeting, but they will here. Olsen is another player who is markedly better at home (26-417-1) than the road (24-295-2).
The tough question in this game is not whether to load up on it in DFS, but who might blow the top off things. We say Brees, Stewart, Benjamin and Thomas are our favorite values of them all.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns
The Steelers are reeling, giving them the perfect opportunity to erupt against the league's lone winless team. It makes for a bunch of popular plays, if not a stacking opportunity.
The Browns are second worst against fantasy QBs, fourth worst vs. RBs and WRs and dead last against TEs. Anyone on the Steelers side has value, including their maligned defense.
Big Ben should be good for 350-3, while WR Antonio Brown, WR Eli Rogers, TE Jesse James and even TE Ladarius Green are all capable of producing up to their prices. Rogers and Green are nice bargains. RB Le'Veon Bell's premium is even worth it against the second-worst run defense in football. Bell hasn't had a 200-yard (rushing and receiving combined), multiple-TD effort yet, but it comes here.
For the Browns, Duke Johnson is a nice play for his receiving totals in garbage time. The Steelers have been the second-worst team in fantasy against RBs, so Isaiah Crowell might even be good for 60-1.
We have far less confidence in WR Terrelle Pryor, WR Corey Coleman and TE Gary Barnidge, even though the Steelers are fifth-worst against the pass in the NFL. We cannot trust the Browns' QB situation. Even if rookie QB Cody Kessler starts, we could see veteran Josh McCown return under center like last time out.
Las Vegas' line is trending downward, so the public believes the Steelers will blow this one out. We wouldn't seen a issue with playing anyone, though, because garbage time can come for the Browns, too. You are going to want to have exposure to this game, since both defenses are playing so poorly.
Baltimore Ravens at Dallas Cowboys
Two of the NFL's most run-oriented teams – one of which is actually good at it – facing two of the best run defenses in football. Sounds like a good to look to the pass, if not ignore altogether for DFS purposes.
But we have long since given up fading Ezekiel Elliott and that Cowboys offensive line against anyone. Heck, when anyone fades fantasy's No. 1 running back it is even more of a time to play him. Remember the matchup at the Green Bay Packers? They had the No. 1 run defense when Elliott came to town.
What did Elliott do? He rushed for a career-high 157 yards. Load up exposure on Elliott, as the Cowboys always do.
For the Ravens, fade their slogging running game against the Cowboys, No. 3 against the run and No. 5 against fantasy RBs. Steve Smith and Dennis Pitta are their most intriguing plays. If you see the Cowboys scoring points as they always do, Smith and Pitta will get volume and red-zone chances.
Cowboys WR Dez Bryant and TE Jason Witten are nicely priced, as well, if only because so much production has come from Elliott those two veteran stalwarts have underperformed. Dak Prescott is as productive as ever, though, so a Cowboys stack looks viable against anyone.
Throw either side's kicker into numerous lineups, but can fade both defenses, which are much better plays in more favorable matchups.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Detroit Lions
Two teams you just cannot bury. The Lions are making believers week-to-week, while most have given up on the Jags on competing, it has allowed Blake Bortles, Allen Robinson and Julius Thomas to revive statistically in throw-away games the Jags have been making their DFS dents in for years now.
We are going to dismiss the Jags running game against the Lions, top 10 against fantasy RBs, especially since T.J. Yeldon or Chris Ivory just cannot prove consistent or worthy of the feature-back role. Neither projects to hit 100 combined yards nor score a TD against a Lions team that has allowed the fewest in fantasy to the position.
Robinson and Thomas' revival have been buoyed by the absence of Allen Hurns (concussion), but we would trust AR-15 or Thomas plays at their prices, especially against a Lions team that has given up the fourth-most points to fantasy QBs and the second-most points to fantasy TEs.
The best play in this one is RB Theo Riddick. The Jags have the NFL's fourth-worst run defense and Riddick impacts the game via the pass and in the red zone, two things that given him far more value than his DFS prices suggest.
We are going to fade Matthew Stafford against a Jags defense that is quietly improving and is top 10 against fantasy QBs, WRs and TEs. Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, and Anquan Boldin have had their moments, while TE Eric Ebron is surging, but none of it is trustworthy and we have a feeling the Lions are going to dictate the tempo of this game at home, keeping it far less of a shootout than these teams have played at times this season.
Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts
There is not a more exciting DFS game on the Week 11 Slate. Not only are the Colts built to compete in shootouts, but the Titans have played nothing but those of late. After a hot start defensively, Tennessee is dead last against fantasy QBs in the past five games. The Colts are fifth worst for the season.
Load up on both sides, run or pass.
The Titans' DeMarco Murray is arguably the best RB play of the week against a bottom-10 team in fantasy vs. RBs. The Colts are 22nd against the run and the Titans figure to want to play keep away from Andrew Luck with a ball-control offense, especially considering how poorly they have been playing defensively.
Marcus Mariota is DFS's hottest quarterback, but there has to be a tipping point, right? Maybe not this week in this projected shootout. Keep expecting him to produce passing and rushing numbers, while taking the bargains on his targets. Kendall Wright is our favorite, but you haven't gone wrong playing Delanie Walker, Rishard Matthews or Tajae Sharpe of late either.
But if you're considering Mariota at his increased price, you probably should be pivoting to Luck at his modest one relative to his career standards. Luck went 353-3 in the past meeting and has the healthiest supporting cast he has had all season. We don't love the plays of T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief or the Colts TEs as much as we love the fact Luck can use all of it in a division shootout at home.
Fade Frank Gore against the Titans' No. 8-ranked run defense, which is also a top-10 team against fantasy RBs.
Here is how we line up plays in this one: Luck to catch all the Colts' production, while Murray to get volume-based feature-back exposure and Wright to catch a bargain WR.
Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals
Something has to give with these two sliding teams, and we believe it will be the run defenses on both sides.
First, a hamstrung LeSean McCoy should be better coming off a bye and facing a bottom-10 run defense in a run-heavy Bills offense. This could be a 25-120-2 McCoy day, if you're a Bills believer. You certainly cannot count on Tyrod Taylor or any of their downfield "weapons."
Then, if you're a Bengals believer – they are at home – you have to love the value of Jeremy Hill. He has scored a TD in each of the past three games and the Bills have given up 10 rushing TDs to fantasy RBs in nine games.
As much as we like how WR A.J. Green and TE Tyler Eifert are going of late, we cannot trust Andy Dalton against a Bills secondary that has given up just 10 TD passes, good for sixth fewest in the NFL. Only the Seahawks, Cardinals, Texans, Broncos and the Giants have given up fewer – and that is considering the fact the Bills have been ripped by Tom Brady and Russell Wilson in the past two games, leaving them dead last against the position in points allowed to the position over that time span.
Because both offenses figure to be stubborn with the run and play conservatively, we fade both defenses – despite the tempting prices – and perhaps use that to play their kicker.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Kansas City Chiefs
As much as these teams have screamed value at time this season, this just doesn't look like a great source of DFS production this week. Both offenses have as much explosion as it does inconsistency; yet, both defenses have conversely shown much of the same.
The Chiefs are in the bottom 10 against fantasy QBs and WRs and sixth worst against the run, but every time we trust Jameis Winston, Mike Evans or Doug Martin, they let us down. We cannot bring ourselves to trust any one of them against a Chiefs D that is better than it has shown this season and likely welcoming All-Pro LB Justin Houston (knee) back this week.
The Las Vegas line agrees with that. Fade the Bucs in one of the NFL's toughest environments.
The question is what can you trust from the Chiefs side? The Bucs are sixth worst against fantasy QBs, dead last against fantasy WRs, and bottom 10 against the run.
But this is Alex Smith we are talking about. We tried to load up on the resurgent Bears against the Bucs, and it didn't work out a week ago.
We suppose RB Spencer Ware, WR Tyreek Hill (especially if Jeremy Maclin (groin) is held out again) and TE Travis Kelce are viable plays on price and value, but those games are just as iffy as both of these defenses. The Bucs and Chiefs play up and down to their opponents, which give us no faith in any of the plays above.
Chicago Bears at New York Giants
Speaking of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, we present you the Bears at Giants.
Forget Jay Cutler and Co. after that disaster in Tampa. Forget Jordan Howard against a defense that is the only one to limit the Cowboys' Elliott to under 83 yards. Scoring at the Giants, No. 3 vs. fantasy QBs and No. 7 vs. the run, doesn't not appear to be in the cards.
But we suppose you can be contrarian, if you're a risk-taker. Howard will get volume, and a TD chance or two. Also, someone from the Bears' rag-tag replacements for the suspended Alshon Jeffery (four games) can prove to be a bargain sleeper. It might even be TE Zach Miller once again.
Or, you can do yourself a favor and ignore it all and just play a resurgent Giants defense.
The Giants' passing game is where the plays will be at against the Bears, second worst in fantasy vs. WRs. The Bears are fourth best against fantasy RBs, so Rashad Jennings' great price and midseason revival is a bit less promising.
At home, Eli Manning has thrown for 10 TD passes in his past three. The two home games before that? He threw for 368 and 350 yards, respectively. Odell Beckham, Sterling Shepard, Victor Cruz and TE Will Tye are all able to trump their prices.
A Giants stack might be popular here, especially since it would have worked out so well at Tampa Bay last week. DFS reality is you should Jekyll and Hyde your plays elsewhere.
Arizona Cardinals at Minnesota Vikings
Two of the NFL's best defenses (No. 2 and No. 3), featured in two of its most disappointing teams in the postseason race. We would be inclined to tell you to look away like we did above, but we won't.
There are opportunities here, starting with RB David Johnson. He is the bell-cow back that has mitigated a lot of the perceived value of Carson Palmer and his cast of targets. Sure, the Vikings are top 10 against the run, No. 6 against the pass, No. 4 vs. fantasy QBs and No. 2 against fantasy WRs but no one slows Johnson. Not only is he a TD machine, but no one has held him under 100 combined yards to date.
Stuff him in the run game, as the Panthers did recently, he will rack up points via the pass. He is a defensive matchup nightmare and a DFS gift to us all. A premium back well worth the price on volume, particularly if a perceived tough matchup reduces his price below the top tier.
We will fade Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald and any non-Johnson Cards receiver you can name.
For the Vikings, we should dislike it all, too. As good as the Vikes are defensively, especially at home, the Cards are No. 2 against the pass, No. 5 against fantasy QBs and WRs and No. 1 against fantasy RBs and TEs. The Vikes are an RB-TE team, despite the fact WR Stefon Diggs keeps proving doubters wrong.
The Vikes are still QB'd by Sam Bradford and their banged-up offensive line should be a nightmare against the Cards' No. 2-ranked defense.
Stick by the tried-and-true here: Johnson and Diggs. Ignore the rest, even the defenses and kickers.
Miami Dolphins at Los Angeles Rams
Jared Goff takes the helm for the Rams, and it is a perfect time for it. Not because the Dolphins are suspect against the pass, or even playing that poorly defensively, as much as they are third worst against the run.
It is time for Todd Gurley to finally go over 85 yards rushing. The Dolphins have allowed a fantasy-low three TDs to RBs, but if the Rams score 19.25 points as Las Vegas projects, we don't give rookie QB Goff much of a chance to be the one pushing them across the goal line. It will be Gurley, perhaps more than one. We love the value of the Gurley play in Goff's debut.
The rest of the Rams? Forget it.
On the Dolphins side, expect RB Jay Ajayi to lead the way on volume. Since taking over for the now-retired Arian Foster, Ajayi has rushed for 200-plus yards twice and averaged aver 25 touches per game. The problem with playing him is the Rams are at home, the No. 7-ranked defense in the NFL and in the top 10 with just 3.9 yard per rushing attempt allowed.
This game will be a slugfest of sorts, but not the kind that excites DFS players.
Fade all of it, save for the Wal-Mart-priced Gurley.
New England Patriots at San Francisco 49ers
This game is so clearly in the Pats favor, we struggle to find any reason not to like everything on the board here. Because once Tom Brady and Co. – coming off a loss, mind you – rack up their easy and early points, the 49ers are going to be toiling in garbage time against Pats roster-cellar-dwellers.
Or favorite play is TE Martellus Bennett, because of the likelihood the Pats hold out Rob Gronkowski (lung) in a non-conference game that means nothing. Bennett is going to be the most popular DFS TE on the board in Week 11 … perhaps the only reason not to go there.
Brady against his childhood team in San Francisco for the first time in his career? Love it.
Julian Edelman, lurking underpriced for most of the season? Sign us up.
LeGarrette Blount, coming off three rushing TDs against the tough Seahawks, and now facing the NFL's worst run defense that ranks dead last against fantasy RBs? Of course.
The Pats defense against a Chip Kelly offense that is, predictably, dead last in time of possession? Sure, let's go for it.
All of that makes us consider Colin Kaepernick a candidate for 250-2 passing and 50-1 rushing in garbage time. Carlos Hyde might not come close to 100 yards, but he can be a candidate for multiple short TDs as the 49ers rack up late points in a game that has well be decided.
If you love the Pats in this one, you should like Kaep and perhaps even Hyde.
Philadelphia Eagles at Seattle Seahawks
Messing with the Seahawks in Seattle has been bad, bad news. Doing it while they are scorching hot coming off a big victory is even worse.
We cannot give much praise to the Eagles in DFS this week, save for their welcoming prices. With the expectation of a sound Seahawks effort, we likely can only consider RB Darren Sproles for his ability to impact the short passing game as the run and downfield stuff is taken away by the elite Seahawks defense playing at home.
Ryan Mathews can be a contrarian play again, too, since he scores the TDs (four in the past three games) and usually winds up with the production we want out of Sproles.
The Seahawks side is a lot more promising, particularly after the Eagles were shredded by the Giants in their past road game – where they have been fair more shaky defensively. Also, Russell Wilson is making up for his injury-plagued first half.
Wilson is a nice play at his price amid his resurgence, which therefore make TE Jimmy Graham, WR Doug Baldwin, and RB C.J. Prosise viable stacking options. Sure, Thomas Rawls (ankle) is returning, but you won't get an elite DFS producer right away and Prosise will impact the passing game as the Eagles' top-10 defense vs. fantasy RBs slows the run.
Finally, the Seahawks defense is a bit overpriced in a matchup against an Eagles offense that doesn't give up much in the way of turnovers or sacks.
Green Bay Packers at Washington Redskins
Aaron Rodgers has been a monster since Eddie Lacy (ankle) went down, shouldering a huge offensive load – if not a relative defensive one, too, after the Packers were ripped by Marcus Mariota and the Titans. The Packers best defense is Rodgers with the game in his hands.
It makes Rodgers a safe bet for 300-3 even if you love the fact Josh Norman becoming a lock-down guy has helped the Redskins avoid allowing that to a QB since Big Ben in Week 1. WR Jordy Nelson and WR Davante Adams are solid plays, despite Norman looming.
The best Packers play is James Starks against the Redskins' bottom-10 run defense that has given up 11 rushing TDs in nine games. Even if the Redskins stuff Starks at the line of scrimmage like they did the struggling Vikings run game, Starks is an accomplished pass receiver in a Rodgers-led, pass-happy offense. We start all plays in this one with Starks, who should assume feature-back duties for a team sorely in need of someone to do just that.
Kirk Cousins should be able to rack up at least 280-2 opposite Rodgers, especially if you see the Packers' No. 4-ranked run defense as capable of taking away the run of Rob Kelley. The Packers are sixth best against fantasy RBs, making Kelley difficult to trust, particularly considering the woes the Packers secondary are struggling through.
The Packers are fifth worst against fantasy WRs, making the values of Jamison Crowder, DeSean Jackson (shoulder, if he's active) and Pierre Garcon intriguing. But we prefer putting exposure and volume on TE Jordan Reed more than those shaky DFS options. Reed is coming off a quiet week against a good defense and should rebound at a nice price against a bad one.
Starks and Reed are plays for far more than just the prime-time DFS slates. They should find their way into main GPP lineups, too.
Houston Texans at Oakland Raiders
The public loves the Raiders, but we have to admit, we like this matchup a lot less for them. The Texans still have one of the toughest pass defenses in football, ranked No. 1 against fantasy QBs, and No. 3 vs. WRs and No. 3 overall against the pass.
It won't be as tough or as bad for Derek Carr as last week against the Broncos, particularly since this is at home, but Carr is more of a 250-2 option than a 300-3 in this matchup.
It makes us like the running game more, though. Latavius Murray went into the bye with a 114-3 effort and should come out of it as fresh as can be expected amid his midseason ankle woes. As an added bonus, the way to beat the Texans defense is to run right at it. The Texans are seventh worst against the run. Murray looks capable of carrying the Raiders in this one.
Fade Amari Cooper as a 5-60-0 producer and only consider WR Michael Crabtree if 5-60-1 looks good enough at his price.
The Texans, meanwhile, should struggle to pass on the steadily improved Raiders defense – not that you should trust Brock Osweiler to accomplish much at this point anyway. DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller have given up volume, production and DFS value to TE C.J. Fiedorowicz, who we even struggle to line up in this one.
The best Texans play is Lamar Miller. He will carry the offensive onus against a Raiders defense that has been 11th worst against fantasy RBs and 12th worst against the run.
This figures to be a game that disappoints us in DFS a bit, unless you're taking the RBs and punting the rest.
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