Jacksonville Jaguars at Tennessee Titans
Fool me once, shame on the Jags. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool us all season, shame on us all. After being unable to produce against what was the league's worst pass defense in the Oakland Raiders – at home, no less – we cannot count on the Jags producing against Dick LeBeau's upstart Titans defense Thursday night.
The Titans struggled to contain Andrew Luck last week, but they are still top 10 against fantasy QBs, RBs and WRs. Forget the 42-39 shootout between these teams last year, both sides have trended in opposite directions.
If you're playing anything from the Jags, we suppose you buy low on the struggling Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns or the emerging Marqise Lee. At least their targets have been consistent, even if the production has not. Lee has been particularly intriguing at his cheap price, going 7-107 last week and seeing no less than six targets in each of the past four games.
As for the running game timeshare between T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory? You probably have to look away. Not only do they share carries, but the Titans have yet to give up even an 85-yard rusher, boasting a top-10 run defense (No. 6). They're up there with the stud fronts of the Packers, Jets, Vikings, Ravens and Seahawks – with far less fanfare.
The Titans side is intriguing, starting with red-hot Marcus Mariota. He has nine TDs (one rushing) in the past three games (113.1 QB rating) and torched the Jags last December for 268-3 passing and 112-1 rushing. Now, we get it, you need to trust his targets, but DeMarco Murray and Delanie Walker are as consistent as anyone, while WRs Kendall Wright and Rishard Matthews are worth their prices, especially if Tajae Sharpe (knee) is out or limited.
This should be a productive night for both kickers and the Titans D/ST provides some value against the struggling Blake Bortles, who gets sacked a lot and throws picks with the best (er, worst) of them.
Washington Redskins vs. Cincinnati Bengals (in London)
London games tend to be sloppy, disappointing DFS games, which sets up nicely for the resurgent Bengals running game. The Redskins have been bottom 10 against the run and fantasy RBs.
Both Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard are viable plays against a Redskins defense that has given up the third-most rushing TDs to fantasy RBs. Hill has been banged up, so Bernard looks like the better value, but either should get in the end zone.
We should fade A.J. Green if the Redskins' Josh Norman (concussion) makes the trip and plays. The coverage and increased snaps of TE Tyler Eifert might take some of the high volume off Green. If Norman is out, look out. Green and Eifert are viable stacks with the RBs.
On the Redskins offensive side, there might be value on RB Rob Kelley if he gets the start for Matt Jones (knee). We think it's more likely Jones plays, at least some, and does so in a limited capacity. The Redskins' best play would be TE Jordan Reed (concussion), who should return to the starting lineup and draw volume against a Bengals defense that has been seventh worst against TEs.
On the stuff more downfield, we have little confidence in Kirk Cousins, DeSean Jackson or Pierre Garcon. They were disappointing last week in Detroit and the Bengals haven't given up much since that Week 3 thrashing by the Broncos WRs. Jamison Crowder has been the most consistent of the wideouts, so consider him a cash-game option. We just do not see this game lighting up the DFS scoreboards.
Kansas City Chiefs at Indianapolis Colts
This is one of the more intriguing DFS games on the board, if only because the Colts score so many points at home and their defense is so pliable. We fade the defenses and expect points in this one.
The best matchup is Spencer Ware against the Colts run defense that is bottom eight in the NFL and fourth worst against fantasy RBs. Jamaal Charles is not quite ready for a full workload and Ware has been productive as a runner and receiver, so there is no reason to rush him into taking touches from Ware. The Colts have give up three consecutive 100-yard rushers.
We should assume Vontae Davis will match up on Jeremy Maclin, making him a fade and Tyreek Hill a sleeper downfield. Also, Travis Kelce should get volume and red-zone chances against a Colts defense that has given up the eighth-most fantasy points to TEs, including 6-85-1 and 7-84-1 in back-to-back weeks.
For the Colts, the Chiefs have been second worst against fantasy WRs, making T.Y. Hilton intriguing. Also, if Donte Moncrief (shoulder) makes his return, he is a huge sleeper. TE Jack Doyle is a must-play option if Dwayne Allen (ankle) remains out or limited.
Luck should be etched in for 300-3 at home, particularly if Moncrief returns to action. Luck's past performances there have been 385-4, 331-1 and 332-2. Luck's price is strangely in the bargain range at FanDuel and DraftKings. Considering the Chiefs are going to score on the Colts defense and their run defense should force the game out of Frank Gore's hands, you should feel pretty good about Luck getting volume. We like a Colts stack in this one.
Oakland Raiders at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Raiders make yet another 1 p.m. trip east, and this one is as promising as any. Although the Bucs have not given up a 100-yard rusher or receiver all season, they haven't played an offense as capable as the Raiders' since the Atlanta Falcons in Week 2 (the Derek Anderson quarterbacked Panthers don't qualify).
Latavius Murray and Michael Crabtree are steady and value-priced plays, while Derek Carr, Amari Cooper and Clive Walford are tougher to expect to produce up to their prices. Crabtree remains one of the most underpriced receivers in DFS, outproducing Cooper on a consistent basis, especially in the red zone.
Murray, in particular, has the most favorable matchup – although it makes him the most popular – in that the Bucs are eighth worst against fantasy RBs, allowing eight TDs to fantasy RBs in six games. Murray is generally good for at least a TD, if not 80 combined yards.
For the Bucs, Jameis Winston and Mike Evans are a nice stack, especially if Doug Martin (hamstring) remains out. The Raiders are dead last against the pass, fifth worst against fantasy QBs and sixth worst against fantasy WRs. The heavy reliance on each other has been even more evident as injuries have happened around them, including Vincent Jackson (IR) and the release of Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
Jacquizz Rodgers has had back-to-back 100-yard games and the Raiders are a bottom-five run defense and ninth worst against fantasy backs, but we are fading him based on his recent workload, increased price and lack of true TD potential. Peyton Barber is more of a big back the Bucs may give the TDs carries to, and his price is far more favorable than Rodgers'.
All told, this is a very good game to expect GPP game-changers from, but we tend to look toward the bargains above than the premium guys.
Seattle Seahawks at New Orleans Saints
What a bummer, in an Alanis Morrisette-kind of way. You get the Saints at home, where Drew Brees and Brandin Cooks steadily go bonkers, but they have to try to do it against the Seahawks pass defense. A little too ironic, I really do think.
The Saints are a contrarian play, after all, the Seahawks have allowed back-to-back 300-yard games to QBs. But, we advise you to fade Brees, Cooks, RB Mark Ingram and TE Coby Fleener.
Our favorite Saints play is Michael Thomas, the rookie who runs a lot of underneath routes for Brees and has been drawing high targets and producing consistent numbers for DFS at a fraction of the cost. Thomas is coming off 10-130-0 after going through consecutive games with TDs. The difficulty of the matchup keeps his price in the value-and-play range.
The Seahawks defense is also a contrarian play in the matchup, because we never get them at this low of a price. The likelihood of the Saints getting too pass happy and Brees forcing the ball downfield in the second half makes it a nice buy for a pick-six.
Christine Michael might be on tap for the best performance of his career. Not only is seldom-deployed rookie C.J. Prosise behind him in the pecking order, but the Saints are dead last in fantasy against RBs, allowing an NFL-high 12 TDs to fantasy backs in just six games. With Russell Wilson banged up, the game-plan figures to be heavy on Michael, run and pass.
The Saints do have the third-worst pass defense and are eighth worst against fantasy QBs, but we don't love Wilson's price, shaky health and recently modest production. We will fade WR Doug Baldwin for that reason and consider Jermaine Kearse the best of the buys, as he hits the downfield home runs off play-action.
That latter point, not to mention his ballyhooed return to New Orleans, make Jimmy Graham a premium play at tight end. You have to bet he and the Seahawks cannot wait to get him into the end zone, at least once.
Detroit Lions at Houston Texans
We are not in love with this game for DFS purposes. Both sides figure to play more conservative than you might expect.
First, the Texans have one of the best pass defenses in football, mitigating the surprising production of Matthew Stafford, particularly in Houston. Houston is No. 2 against the pass and No. 3 against fantasy QBs and WRs. We are fading all of the Lions' WRs here, including the returning Eric Ebron against a top-10 fantasy team vs. TEs.
The returning Theo Riddick, on the other hand, is a very advisable play. Not only will he get volume at a price reduced by injury question marks, but the Texans are fourth worst against the run and were ripped to shreds by the Denver Broncos' backs. Riddick might be good for 100-plus combined yards and multiple scores in his return.
The Texans, meanwhile, might finally have a chance to get something started downfield. The Lions are dead last against fantasy QBs, allowing a league-high 18 TD passes (plus two rushing TDs). It should open up things for DeAndre Hopkins, at least, if not the maligned Brock Osweiler. We would not dare playing the latter, but the former has been lurking in the DFS weeds for weeks, if not months.
Lamar Miller (shoulder) is a tough play here. Sure the Lions are seventh worst at yards per rush (4.6), but they also are the only team yet to give up a rushing TD to a fantasy RB. There are too many things working against the play of Miller at his price.
Our play here is Riddick – and maybe Hopkins – and look elsewhere.
New York Jets at Cleveland Browns
There is going to be some rare love for the Jets' value plays because of the matchup, especially RB Matt Forte, WR Brandon Marshall and the Jets D/ST. The latter might be the most popular play on the board against a very limited offense that won't be able to do the one thing you can remotely assume they do well: run the ball.
The Jets have the second-best run defense in football, keeping anyone from considering Isaiah Crowell. That might lead you to consider Duke Johnson because of his pass receiving ability, though. We just don't see either running back getting into the end zone.
The fact QB Josh McCown is returning to the starting lineup should excite you for a play on TE Gary Barnidge, who has had a rapport with the veteran backup. The Jets have been in the bottom 10 in receptions allowed to fantasy TEs, too. Fade Terrelle Pryor against a resurgent Darrelle Revis.
The Forte play is backed by the Browns being the second worst against the run and the fifth worst against fantasy RBs. Even Bilal Powell can be a sleeper for 60 yards and a TD at a backup's price.
Both Marshall and Quincy Enunwa are considerations against the Browns defense that has been fifth worst against fantasy WRs. The problem is you have to trust Ryan Fitzpatrick to go at least 280-2. If you do that, can you really trust the Jets to prop up that many DFS options in one game? They would be doing it at value prices, at least.
New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills
There is no way on God's green Earth we can see the Pats getting swept in a season series, especially not against Rex Ryan's Bills. That leads up to a lopsided set of plays in this one.
Start your lineups with TE Rob Gronkowski, who has scored his most TDs against the Bills (10), and faces a defense that allowed Martellus Bennett to go for 109 yards with Jacoby Brissett at QB. Gronk loves playing his childhood team in the city he grew up near.
We will fade Tom Brady against fantasy's No. 4 team vs. QBs, along with the disappointing Julian Edelman and the mediocre cast of receivers. That then, lines this game up to be RB-friendly, so give LeGarrette Blount a nod for 100-1 and James White a look at his price for change-of-pace duty and passing-down work.
On the Bills side, we cannot trust LeSean McCoy's hamstring or Mike Gillislee's foot. The expectation of a slowed running game will make things even tougher on Tyron Taylor and the Bills' banged-up receivers. Marquise Goodwin (concussion) is out and Robert Woods (foot) is less than 100 percent.
If you want to capitalize on the Bills' injuries and the possibility the Pats give them their best shot to avenge a prior loss, the garbage time numbers put DFS value on Taylor, Justin Hunter and TE Charles Clay. We are more go to the Pats side, and even line up their D/ST as a bargain play against a banged-up team.
Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers
We see this game lining up nicely for Carson Palmer and the wideouts. Not only are they priced down because of David Johnson's past volume and success, but the Panthers are a top-10 run defense and third-worst against fantasy QBs.
Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald are stacking plays, whether you trust Johnson in the matchup or not. Palmer is priced down the board, but it is too easy to forget he threw for 342 yards on the Seahawks defense last week. The Panthers gave up 503-4 to Matt Ryan and 465-4 to Drew Brees before the bye. Even Blaine Gabbert threw for two TDs and scored one rushing against them.
Fitzgerald is a volume play, especially with Jaron Brown (IR), John Brown (hamstring) and Michael Floyd (hamstring) all banged up. This makes J.J. Nelson a value play, too, against the Panthers' young and struggling corners.
The Panthers side is tougher to gleam value from. Cam Newton is out-priced for the matchup – the Cards have the third-best pass defense – and Jonathan Stewart won't have it easy against the No. 2 team in fantasy against RBs. The best we can say is WR Kelvin Benjamin and TE Greg Olsen are steady cash-game plays because the motivated Cards can push this game over the total.
Definitely avoid the defenses. The Panthers have played in some wild games this season.
Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons
If there a number you wouldn't like this game at? Two potent offenses with hot QBs facing a pair of suspect secondaries. Light up the scoreboard, and collect the DFS pieces in this one.
First, for the Packers, with no true running back in the fold and facing the Falcons' second-worst pass defense (fourth worst against QBs), you have to figure Aaron Rodgers and Co. are prepared to sling it all over the place.
Rodgers, RB Ty Montgomery, WRs Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Davante Adams – love it all. Even RB Knile Davis is a candidate for 60 yards and a TD as a red-zone back, too. Find ways to get exposure everywhere here.
That includes the Falcons' side. Matt Ryan is not only facing a banged-up Packers secondary, but the league's No. 1 run defense to boot and the Falcons will be without one of their primary backs – Tevin Coleman (hamstring). Ryan, Devonta Freeman and Julio Jones will all get big volume and production in this shootout.
Consider the kickers, fade the defenses and maybe throw a token bargain play on Mohamed Sanu.
San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos
This is one of DFS's best gifts of the week: Devontae Booker takes over as the feature back in a Gary Kubiak offense on a backup's salary.
You have to play Booker coming off his 17-83-1 performance last Sunday night and the fact C.J. Anderson (knee) is now out makes it all the more worthwhile. We don't even need to tell you the Chargers are sixth worst against fantasy RBs, allowing 10 TDs in seven games. This lines up perfectly for Booker to be the most-play RB on the board – so fade him if you have to go contrarian in GPPs.
Booker might not rush for 100 against the eighth-ranked run defense, but he will be featured out of the backfield and around the goal line, as has every Kubiak back before him.
We will fade Trevor Siemian and Demaryius Thomas (hip) in a rematch from just a few weeks ago that turned out so badly for the Broncos minus Kubiak on the sidelines. If you have to load up on Broncos not named Booker, then consider Emmanuel Sanders to hit a home run over the top off play-action.
The Chargers side is bad news for Philip Rivers and all of his targets, including his tight ends. The Broncos are No. 1 against the pass, No. 1 against fantasy QBs and WRs and really ticked off about how that Thursday game went in San Diego.
This bad news for Melvin Gordon, too, who needs TDs to produce and might not get near the end zone this time around in Denver. Fade your Chargers and load up on Booker. Rarely is DFS analysis so easily discernible.
Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys
We have given up on given up on Jim Schwartz's Eagles defense. It is second against fantasy QBs, seventh against WRs and third against TEs.
All the more reason to keep riding the horse than is Ezekiel Elliott. His rushing totals before the bye that rested heavily used legs: 140, 138, 134, 157. That does not include passing yardage or the TDs. It's all good against an Eagles front that is in the bottom 10 in average yards per rush allowed.
Dez Bryant's return jumbles up the values of the Cowboys receivers and TE Jason Witten's use, but frankly the matchup was bad for them anyway. This is Elliott's team, and easy pickings for DFS (on him at least).
For the Eagles, we don't love any of it enough. Sure, they will score points in some fashion. We just cannot be sure quite how. Ryan Mathews and Zach Ertz have underperformed, while Carson Wentz has cooled after a hot start.
We suppose if you're going with Eagles, roll up volume-based plays on RB Darron Sproles and WR Jordan Matthews.
Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears
Is there any more certain play on the board than that of the Vikings defense against Jay Culter? He has been the DFS gift that keeps on giving, dozens of times over, in his career. Returning with rust is just too perfect.
For the Vikings offensive options, the Bears have quietly been strong against fantasy RBs (fifth best) and have allowed under 4.0 yards per carry. The ankle issue for Jerick McKinnon, in addition to the goal-line opportunities, make Matt Asiata an intriguing play at his price – especially when you assume the Vikings should control this game against a division bottom-feeder.
Sam Bradford and Stefon Diggs are too inconsistent to trust in most DFS contests, but they might be a sleeper combo if you're playing just the prime-time slate. Kyle Rudolph is consistent and a red-zone threat, so expect him to be heavily used in those.
On the Bears side, we won't touch the RBs with Jeremy Langford (ankle) potentially returning and cutting Jordan Howard's snaps, touches, carries, receptions and value. We will say, though, because the VIkings should be heavily favored here, Alshon Jeffery's price has fallen into the bargain range and this might be a good week for him to rack up some garbage-time production.
In general, we expect this to be a disappointing game for DFS, outside of Asiata, Rudolph, the Vikings D/ST and perhaps Jeffery.
Read the rest of this article for FREE!