Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers
The public has dragged this line down some, which suggests the expectation of a Broncos blowout.
There is a lot of love on the Broncos' side. First and foremost, the return of Trevor Siemian comes against the sixth-worst team in fantasy against quarterbacks and the NFL against the pass. Siemian's last full game he threw for 312 yards and four TDs.
You might not be excited by Siemian, but you can get exposure to him with the values of Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders in DFS. The Chargers are without top cover man Jason Verrett (IR–knee) and both Broncos receivers are hot right now, at modest prices, each boasting three receiving TDs in the past three games. Siemian might go 250-2, but both wideouts can go 6-80-1. Thomas is the better buy on DraftKings, particularly since he scored TDs in each of the meetings a season ago.
C.J. Anderson (eight TDs in his past 10 games) might be the best play of the Broncos stack. He has cooled after his hot start, but the Chargers are the second-worst team in fantasy against RBs, allowing a fantasy-high nine TDs in five games. They have also allowed the most receptions (48) and receiving yards (375) to fantasy backs. Anderson is going to be heavily involved in this one, as he was with 95 yards and a TD in the past meeting and combining with Ronnie Hillman for 212.
The Chargers side is not as favorable in the matchup – generally you have to avoid plays against the Broncos defense – but they are in the wheelhouse of value options, if you're jumping in on the Thursday night DFS slate. The difficulty of the matchup pulls a potent offense's prices down.
Melvin Gordon leads the NFL with seven TDs and has scored at least one TD in every game this season. He won't get crack 100 yards, but he can score at TD, garbage time or otherwise. The Broncos, quietly, have been the 11th-worst team against the run to date, and generally the strategy is you pound the rock – at least try to – against tough defenses. Jeremy Hill (17-97-2), Devonta Freeman (23-88-1) and Tevin Coleman (4-132-1 receiving) had productive days against the Broncos at matchup-reduced prices.
The Broncos' toughest matchup is for the WRs, against which they are No. 1 in fantasy. Travis Benjamin is a contrarian play here, and he still should get volume, particularly if the Broncos pull ahead early and Philip Rivers is left to play catch-up. Hunter Henry and Antonio Gates are also reasonably priced, with Henry cheaper and more lethal down the seam at this point.
We have a hunch this game goes over the total and proves to be a bit more bountiful than the prices suggest. That has been the case in most of the Broncos' games thus far. Remember just this past Sunday, did anyone see Freeman and Coleman coming in DFS?
San Francisco 49ers at Buffalo Bills
Two teams going in remarkably different directions since the start of the season. The Bills are hot. LeSean McCoy is scorching. And the 49ers are turning back to QB Colin Kaepernick – against a Ryan brothers defense that has allowed just two TDs to QBs (the fewest in the NFL: tied with the Seattle Seahawks – albeit in one less game).
The only way Kaepernick takes a knee in this one is during the national anthem. This one is going to be all Bills back in Buffalo for a 1 p.m. start, which tends to be tough on West Coast teams.
McCoy is the premium play against the 49ers, who are second worst against the run and fifth worst against fantasy RBs. Volume, offensive onus, projected game flow – Bills in control – production and matchup are all on McCoy's side. Among Tyrod Taylor, Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin and Charles Clay, only the TE there is a truly trustworthy DFS option.
The Bills defense will be targeted by many, against the 49ers offense that will unveiling more of a read-option quarterback in Kaep. We cannot trust the surging Jeremy Kerley, unfortunately, since most of his progress was made with Blaine Gabbert as the signal caller. The QB change resets everything we throught we might have learned about the 49ers' passing game.
Carlos Hyde is certain to get volume and the Bills have allowed big backs some TDs and big DFS scores (Matt Forte, David Johnson and Todd Gurley).
Your Bills stack goes McCoy-Clay-Dan Carpenter-Bills D/ST, but few will be stacking a game we might expect to wind up 20-3.
Philadelphia Eagles at Washington Redskins
Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz deserves a lot of credit for what he has brought to the table this year. The Eagles are No. 3 against QBs, No. 7 vs. RBs, No. 4 vs. WRs, No. 1 vs. TEs, No. 2 vs. Ks and top 10 against D/STs – all with a rookie quarterback at the helm and a running back Ryan Mathews on shaky status as the feature back.
Schwartz's crew is No. 3 against the run and No. 6 against the pass. Fade all Redskins.
The Redskins won both meetings last year, including a Kirk Cousins-led blowout that featured his 365-4 effort and Jordan Reed's 9-129-2. Neither will be repeated against Schwartz's D, particularly with Reed doubtful to get out of the concussion protocol. Vernon Davis is a value replacement play, but mitigate his potential by the Eagles having allowed just 8-52-0 to TEs … um, that's all season, not just one game!
If you're going contrarian with the Redskins at home, the play might be Matt Jones. He is better than his numbers to date and has scored a TD in each of the past two home games. Even Las Vega agrees the Redskins won't get shut out.
The Eagles side favors the play of one of the backs against the third-worst team in fantasy against RBs. Mathews gets the start, while Sproles is a play for his receiving prowess. After Wendell Smallwood's disappearance a week ago, we cannot advise him.
TE Zach Ertz let us down last week, but he was potent against the Redskins in the past meeting (13-122). He represents some Eagles exposure if you cannot trust the revolving door of Eagles backs.
Cleveland Browns at Tennessee Titans
Dick LeBeau's defense is another that generates far less respect deserved than it even allows in fantasy points. The Titans are No. 4 against QBs and RBs and No. 6 vs. WRs. They have yet to allow a 300-yard passer or 100-yard rusher. They won't here either.
The Browns are already limited enough, but Isaiah Crowell was shut down last week in the run game and their best wideout, Terrelle Pryor, might have to spend time under center. If Pryor starts at QB, he might be a value at his price, but the matchup is tough.
Gary Barnidge might be the best play, but he is most intriguing if QB Josh McCown (collarbone) can make the start. Fade your Browns, as if fading really is a verb needed to be used here, and consider LeBeau's Titans D/ST an intriguing play at home.
DeMarco Murray is a premium play with the Titans heavy favorites and even rookie Derrick Henry might be a candidate to rack up 50-plus yards and a TD as the Titans run out the clock. The Browns have been ninth worst against fantasy RBs.
In the passing game, Marcus Mariota is making plays and scoring points on the cheap, and the Browns are fifth worst against fantasy QBs and eighth worst against the pass. Perhaps the best way to get Titans exposure is Murray (or Henry) and TE Delanie Walker, though, in the short passing game. The Titans are dead last in fantasy in wide receiver scoring, because Tajae Sharp, Andre Johnson, Kendall Wright and Rishard Mathews just don't move the needle in DFS.
Baltimore Ravens at New York Giants
There is not much to love on either side of this matchup as both teams are fairly stingy on opposing fantasy QBs: Ravens sixth best and Giants eighth. You could suggest the running games, but both defensive fronts are geared to stop the run, too, particularly the Ravens, who are No. 2 against fantasy RBs and No. 4 against the run.
Terrance West is the best value here, because the Ravens will stay stubborn with the run and the Giants' scuffling offense won't be able to pull away to take it out of play either. West has had 113-1 and 11-95 in his two starts taking over as a feature back. The Giants are No. 6 against fantasy RBs, though.
With the inept red-zone offense on both sides, the kickers are viable plays.
On the Giants, side Odell Beckham is a cash-game option because of his modest numbers of late keeping his price in a reasonable range. There is a 10-120-2 performance to come here at some point. The Ravens aren't particularly exploitable defensively, but the Oakland Raiders (a team with similar downfield weapons) did pick up three TDs from Michael Crabtree. Also, Allen Robinson and Corey Coleman each had a pair. The fact even Pierre Garcon got in the end zone might be good news for a bargain play on Victor Cruz.
Passing-wise for the Ravens, the shaky status for Steve Smith (ankle) should put volume on the value of TE Dennis Pitta, who is a Joe Flacco favorite and still underpriced as such. Mike Wallace and Kamar Aiken might be sleepers if Smith is out, but frankly the Giants are getting healthy on the corners, so they should play fairly well against the hodge-podge cast.
Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints
The return of Cam Newton (concussion) and Jonathan Stewart (hamstring) opens this game up as one of the most popular for DFS plays this week. Both are priced to play in a favorable matchup. The last time these teams hooked up, it was a 41-38 shootout – and that was when the Panthers were playing championship-caliber defense (which they are not right now).
Stewart is facing the worst team in fantasy against RBs, and even if he doesn't get 20 carries, he can score TDs against a team that has given up a fantasy-high nine to the position in just four games. Heck, even backup Cameron Artis-Payne might be in play for a TD here.
Newton, Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen (9-181 last week) are all stacking options. Newton went 331-5 in the past meeting and has averaged nearly 300-3 in his past three against the Saints. The Panthers and DFS owners should get healthy against the Saints here.
We wouldn't be wary of any of the Saints offensive weapons coming off a bye, not the way the Panthers defense has been playing against subpar opponents. Brees has 27 TDs in his past seven home games, while Cooks went 6-104-1 in the past meeting and Mark Ingram scored in each of his past two against the Panthers. Also, Coby Fleener is facing the sixth-worst team against fantasy TEs.
A lot of people are going to load up on plays on both sides of this one, rightly so.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Chicago Bears
This is an intriguing game for DFS diehards. Both defenses are vastly improved from last year, statistically, and both sides have quarterbacks who can do some sleeper damage.
We would normal err on the side of caution, but Brian Hoyer has gone 300-2 in each of his past three since taking over as the starter. He just missed the 400 mark last week, too.
The Jags have allowed the fourth-most points to fantasy wideouts, too. Everyone is all over the bargain play of Cameron Meredith (9-130-1) with Alshon Jeffery (hamstring) and Eddie Royal (calf) hobbled, but we feel this is a good time to buy in on Jeffery working with the Bears' now-established starting QB. Zach Miller has been great for Hoyer and DFS in the past three, too.
Jordan Howard has been a revelation as the Bears' bell-cow back, but his price is no longer in the value range and he is facing a Jags defense that has been No. 7 against fantasy backs. It might be a better week to jump on the Bears' recently consistent passing attack.
On the Jags side, we are more apt to fade in DFS. It is not like we don't favor the matchup at Chicago for QB Blake Bortles, RB T.J. Yeldon, WR Allen Robinson, WR Allen Hurns or TE Julius Thomas, it is just we cannot be sure where the modest production against an improved Bears defense might come. It is most likely to be spread among them all, making them all low-end plays.
Los Angeles Rams at Detroit Lions
The only saving grace for the Rams in DFS is they are so certain to be feeding volume to Todd Gurley – and their generally inept QB play makes for a modest price for one of the NFL's rare feature backs. The issue we have with playing Gurley for 100 combined yards in this one is the Lions are the lone team in fantasy yet to give up a TD to a fantasy RB.
That ends here, so consider Gurley a sound cash-game play. The Rams are going to score a TD, and Gurley will be the one that does it.
Kenny Britt, Tavon Austin and Brian Quick are improved of late, and the Lions are third worst against fantasy QBs and ninth worst against fantasy WRs, but the targets and production tends to be too evenly dispersed among them with QB Case Keenum. It makes Gurley even more of the clear lone Rams play for DFS.
On the Lions side, Theo Riddick (ankle) and Eric Ebron (ankle/knee) are consistent cash-game options, assuming they make the start. They get consistent targets, whereas we cannot be sure which of Marvin Jones, Golden Tate and Anquan Boldin will show up on the outside.
In a game with a low line, played between two teams head coached by former defensive coordinators, we would go with the backs Gurley and/or Riddick and not much else here.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Miami Dolphins
The Steelers are just too easy to love in a place the juggernaut (we kid) Tennessee Titans just waxed the Dolphins. The problem with the Steelers is not the tasty matchup, it is the prices of their premium guys and the likelihood they all cannot produce to their value – unless, of course, you're look for the Steelers to hang 50 in Miami … in which case, go all in.
Le'Veon Bell has the dream matchup against the last-ranked run defense, but the Dolphins have allowed just one rushing TD to a fantasy RB to date. And, if you expect the Steelers to dominate this one, which are the chances the Steelers pull back on Bell's usage and give DeAngelo Williams some run in a blowout? Fairly good, we'd say.
Ben Roethlisberger is sure to get his, making him the best bet among the cash-game plays. He can throw TDs to Bell, WR Antonio Brown, WR Sammie Coates and TE Jessie James (three TDs in four games). That is the place we go for Steelers exposure: Big Ben. He makes everyone go and Bell is less likely to score the TDs on the ground, as we said.
Coates and James are cheap and more likely to get volume if the game is not contested closely, too.
For the Dolphins, fade Arian Foster against the Steelers' fifth-ranked run defense. Jarvis Landry is tbe better play against a Steelers secondary that has been third worst against the pass. Even if the game gets blown out by Big Ben, Landry will get opportunities in garbage time. Before last week against LeBeau's Titans, Landry didn't see less than seven receptions in a game. He gets back to that level here.
Cincinnati Bengals at New England Patriots
Usually a Pats home game is a huge opportunity to jump all over a stack, but this is a unique case this week. First, Tom Brady's return has jacked up the premiums on your Pats and the Bengals are a top contender coming off a disappointing loss, so they might be up to slow the Pats and make this game more interesting than they did in Dallas last week.
It's not that the Cowboys are more capable than the Pats, we just have a feeling the Bengals are going to come back up to their water level and compete here.
The Bengals have been mediocre of late, but they have allowed just the two rushing TDs all season (both to Ezekiel Elliott last week), so consider the Pats more likely to score via the air with Brady – not that his DFS-high price is worthwhile. Get exposure to Brady with one of the tight ends, Rob Gronkowski or Martellus Bennett. WR Chris Hogan was also very potent with Brady in his first game back, and his price doesn't reflect that at this point.
If you're all over Brady's Pats in his first home game since the suspension expired, then you should like A.J. Green from the Bengals side. He should get plenty of volume and production if the Bengals are forced into comeback mode. Also, because the Pats are a top-10 run defense and Jeremy Hill is coming off a dud, we might consider Giovani Bernard a sleeper play for his pass-receiving exploits, particularly if the game opens up in the second half with the Pats easily in control.
Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders
Here is one of our favorite games of the week. The Raiders have the worst pass defense in football and the sixth-worst run defense, making a potential return to prominence for Jamaal Charles possibly, if not likely. Charles has more TDs against the Raiders than any other team in his career (10), including five receiving scores (195-4 receiving in one game in 2013).
Outside of the breakaway back, Andy Reid's Chiefs also do a consistent job of getting the ball to its primary weapons. We wouldn't jump on Alex Smith's value necessarily, but plays of WR Jeremy Maclin and TE Travis Kelce look safe, if not high-ceiling'd for GPPs. The Raiders are dead last against fantasy QBs and WRs and eighth worst against RBs and fifth worst against TEs.
We like the Charles, Maclin, Kelce stack – especially since the Raiders are going to get theirs. Maclin went 9-95-1 in Oakland last year and had three TDs in the past two.
Latavius Murray (turf toe) has been out of practice for the past two weeks, so keep the volume on Crabtree and Amari Cooper, who broke out last week. Both are still modestly priced and the Chiefs have been seventh worst against fantasy wideouts.
If Murray is inactive, Jalen Richard becomes a huge sleeper for DFS. His 6-66 receiving totals last week suggest he can impact the game in a variety of ways.
Atlanta Falcons at Seattle Seahawks
As much as we lament the potent combination of Matt Ryan, Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman and Julio Jones in another trip across the country at one of the stingiest defenses in fantasy, we can parlay that into favor for the Seahawks' offensive weapons in this one.
The Falcons can score points and have struggled to slow anyone, so consider loading up on Seahawks here. The Falcons have been second-worst against fantasy QBs, bottom 10 against WRs and third worst against fantasy TEs.
Russell Wilson proved health before the bye with 309-3 and has remade Jimmy Graham back into a potent fantasy weapon, as he has gone 6-100-1 and 6-113 the past two weeks – numbers that belie his price. We are far less certain about Christine Michael or C.J. Spiller against a Falcons run defense that shut down the Broncos and Panthers run games the past two weeks. That just puts more onus on Graham, or the near-min play of Jermaine Kearse getting over the top.
The Seahawks are No. 1 against fantasy QBs, No. 5 against RBs and No. 2 against WRs, so we should fade Ryan, Freeman and Jones at their premiums. A Coleman play as a pass-receiving back in the one that might make the most since for the Falcons. Covering him with a LB is tough and something the Seahawks might just be confident enough to do defensively.
The overriding point here is, if you like the Falcons' offensive potency bending, if not breaking, the Seahawks defense, you should really love the Seahawks' offensive pieces doing damage in a rare wild game in the Great Northwest.
Dallas Cowboys at Green Bay Packers
Here is a classic battle of wills: The best offensive line and potent running game with rookie Ezekiel Elliott facing the NFL's best run defense in the Packers – and it's not even close. The Packers have given up just 171 rushing yards and a paltry 2.0 yards per carry, both tops in the NFL by a long, long shot.
The Packers have yet to allow even a 40-yard rusher!
Elliott's past three rushing totals of 140, 138 and 134 are going to be put to a true test. Odds are he still gets 20-80-1 because he and the Cowboys line are just that good – and his price is in the value range because the matchup has allowed it to be so.
Dez Byrant (knee) is unlikely to play and he is a bad DFS option even if he did. Dak Prescott doesn't have the pieces, the juice, or the play-calling to be a 300-3 threat at this stage, so fade everything in the Cowboys passing game and use all that to like Elliott that much more, even in the bad matchup.
The Packers side has been disappointing because Aaron Rodgers has yet to even reach 260 yards passing in a game to date. Jordy Nelson is the lone sure thing, having caught a TD in each of the first four games and posting five total. Randall Cobb (neck) was resurgent last week 9-108, but we figure this game will be a big on the lower side of scoring.
As for the running game, Eddie Lacy (ankle) is likely to play, but he will be facing a Cowboys defense that has been third best against fantasy RBs, allowing a mere two TDs. We say that gives us even more reason to ride exposure to Nelson in this one.
Indianapolis Colts at Houston Texans
This line has jumped two full points in the past 12 hours, a huge swing in Las Vegas line terms. We tend to see that as a bad sign.
Andrew Luck has been far better at home this season in the small samples and the Colts have been the worst team in fantasy against defenses, mostly because they cannot protect the passer. The Texans are a decent D/ST play for sacks and potential turnovers, even if you don't see this game pushing the total up like the recent money does.
We have to fade Luck on the road against a Texans defense that has been No. 2 in fantasy against QBs and No. 5 against WRs. Luck's remarkable 14-1 record in his past 15 starts against the division is in jeopardy here.
If you're playing just the prime-time slate, T.Y. Hilton is rolling with Donte Moncrief on the shelf. Hilton went 10-171-1 last week and has scored a TD in each of the past three. Also, Frank Gore takes aim on a run defense that allowed DeMarco Murray 95-2 and LeGarrette Blount 105-2.
For the Texans, we love the play of the struggling Lamar Miller on volume against a Colts defense that has been fourth worst against fantasy RBs. He will impact the game on the ground and via the pass for QB Brock Osweiler, who is already 3-0 at home this season. We are chalking this up as a 120-2 game for Miller, rebounding from getting shut down by the Vikings and seeing his touch count slip in every game since the opener.
The Colts are also suspect in the secondary, making DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller cash-game options. We just don't love their ceilings, because Osweiler is more of a 250-yard guy than a 350-3, especially with the damage we expect Miller to be able to do on the ground.
New York Jets at Arizona Cardinals
This is a perfect time for Carson Palmer's return. He comes at a huge value against a Jets defense that has been allowed for aerial shows, ranking fourth worst against fantasy QBs and second worst against the pass.
As much as it is hard to trust any one of the Cards receivers, or RB David Johnson against the NFL's No. 2 run defense, Palmer's price is reasonable. He is the must-play prime-time DFS QB this week. This lines up to be a 350-4 time for him to break through on what has been a disappointing start to the season for the Cards.
Larry Fitzgerald is a strong cash-game play, but the best value comes if you can randomly select which other Cards WR gets the TDs for Palmer here (opposite the Jets' Darrelle Revis, who is likely to shade Fitz). The Jets are second worst against fantasy wideouts and any one of John Brown, Michael Floyd, Jaron Brown and even J.J. Nelson can score big relative to price.
The Jets are going to get the ball to Brandon Marshall frequently (with Eric Decker out of the season), while Matt Forte is also a strong volume play because of his price coming down amid some quiet weeks and his ability to impact the passing game in a Cards blowout.
And, finally, load up on Quncy Enunwa exposure, because he is priced as a backup, gets high volume of targets and receptions and will become a starter now that Decker is done. If this game goes as well as we think it will for Palmer downfield, this should line Enunwa up nicely for garbage-time stats.
Read the rest of this article for FREE!