There is something I’m realizing about this NFL season. I’m not sure if this is something that is independent of this NFL season or if it’s always been in place and I’ve never considered it.
Matchups don’t seem to mean much this year
It’s weird to me that in the same week, you would have a matchup of Cincy vs Carolina and Chicago vs ATL and the exact opposite of what you expected to happen would happen. I would have bet my house that Matt Ryan and Julio Jones completely shred the Bears secondary and you’d get a 40-37 type game, and I likewise would have expected the Cincy/Carolina game to be a little more of an ugly grind em out blowout. And I set my DFS lineups accordingly. Unfortunately for my DFS teams the opposite happened and my great ideas didn’t pan out like I expected.
Part of that has to do with evolving your expectation of what you expect to happen. It’s pretty safe to say that Carolina should no longer be considered a good defense as they have been shredded for the 4th consecutive week and it’s looking like the Pats exploited the way to carve up the Bengals (they can’t generate a pass rush with only 4 guys)
The Chicago/ATL game is a little bit harder to explain. ATL at home should have been a really great play for their big offensive players. I ultimately expected Chicago to win, but didn’t think it would be by that much. My read is that ATL’s offensive line is really terrible and it allowed Chicago to rush 4 guys all game, while dropping the rest in coverage. Whatever the reason, I think it’s fair to be a little skeptical of the Falcons moving forward. With the notable exception of Touchdown Hamster, my new nickname for Antone Smith—who seems to get a touch down every 4 times he touches the ball.
Before I get into my perfect team. I’m going to give a few ancillary notes on players to keep an eye out for that didn’t make my perfect team.
Jerick McKinnon, RB—Minnesota: I think McKinnon is sitting on a huge game vs the Bills. He got the surprise start last week vs the Lions and had a very productive afternoon. The Bills are a tough defense to run on, but they are the worst defense in the NFL against receiving running backs—which McKinnon has shown to excel at. I will certainly be doing a lineup or two with McKinnon in the picture.
Whoever is the starting RB on Cleveland: It’s Ben Tate until he gets hurt, but keep an eye on whoever is getting the start and look at them for a mid-priced RB option. The offensive line in Cleveland is legit even without Alex Mack. Any running back could get 4 ypc running behind that line, and a guy with the talent of Ben Tate is doing it at nearly 6.
Whoever is the QB facing the Bucs: Tampa Bay has gotten eaten alive in the passing game this season. They have the rare combination of an inefficient pass rush and poorly-rated DB’s….It’s going to be a long season and I will be looking at them kind of like how I look for DST’s that are playing Jacksonville.
Keenan Allen, WR—San Diego: I resisted the temptation from including Allen in my lineup again this week. Look, it has not been a good season for Allen but he only costs 6,500 and is the no.1 WR on the best passing offense in the NFL right now. I don’t get it, and am not going to make any promises—but I’m a believer in his talent, I’m a believer in the offense and I think it’s going to click at some point. On the Brightside….his ownership percentage has got to be close to 0 at this point, so if he does go off, you’d have that market cornered.
Cardinals when Carson Palmer is healthy: Michael Floyd and Andre Ellington specifically. Palmer is not a perfect QB, sure…But he’s good and he is the right kind of QB to make this Cards’ offense fly. He throws a majestic deep ball and is good at throwing his RB’s open in the dump off game (an underrated and important skill when considering pass-catching backs). I put Michael Floyd on a big year before the season, Palmer’s injury has kind of put a pause button on that…but with Palmer back healthy, I think Floyd’s breakout season can officially resume.
QB: Teddy Bridgewater, Vikings—5,700: A starting QB in the NFL, with a decent matchup is under 6,000 dollars. It’s free money. Part of this has to do with how terrible the Vikings offense in general has looked the past couple of weeks, even with Bridgewater. However, the Lions have been statistically the best defense in the league up to this point and it was clear the Vikes had a fairly conservative game plan to ease Teddy back into the fold. I think they look to open things up this week vs a Bills defense that is kind of a mixed bag vs the pass.
The Bills have a very good defensive line an extremely poor secondary. Keeping Bridgewater upright is going to be an issue for a Vikes O-Line that has been surprisingly bad, but if they can do that I’m betting Teddy gets his first (couple) career touchdown passes. Even if he’s held to a moderate passing day, if you can get 15ish points out of 5,700 you’re going to put yourself in good position to make money this week.
RB: Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati—8,900: You beat the Colts by running the football. They are one of those defenses that is nearly impossible to pass on, as they have a fine defensive coordinator who gets great pressure on his QBs and a good set of DB’s, but they are easily susceptible to the run. Arian Foster just torched the Colts for a big day, and I see similar things in Bernard’s future. Make sure to monitor the injured shoulder that Bernard sustained in the third quarter of last Sunday’s game though. He should be fine, but just make sure.
RB: Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburg—8,400: Bell has oddly not scored a touchdown since week 1 but has been all over the Pittsburg offense, running and catching like a madman. The Texans, much like the Colts, are a tough team to pass on but fairly easy to run on. I’m betting on a big day for Bell and think he’ll get back into the end zone again.
WR: Jordy Nelson, Green Bay—8,900: The Packers play the Panthers, a team that has been completely dreadful vs the pass this year. Mohammad Sanu just torched them for a huge game, what the heck are Nelson and Rodgers going to do this week? Nelson is sitting on another god-week.
WR: Alshon Jeffery, Chicago—7,900: The Bears return home after thrashing the Falcons defense to face a Miami Dolphins team that Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb each had great fantasy days against. There are enough balls to go around in this Bears offense and Jeffery is clearly the no.1 guy Cutler looks to, at least until Marshall returns to full health. Jeffery is a no.1 guy, on a top 6 offense, with a great matchup, who’s under 8,000=he’s a must play in Fan Duel.
WR: Jarius Wright, Minnesota—4,800: In what ended up being a train-wreck of an offensive performance for the Vikings, Wright still managed to pull in 4 receptions and 5.8 fantasy points. Not great, but given the circumstances—I think it shows he has a legit role in this offense with Bridgewater at the helm. My main reason for throwing Wright in here is how cheap he comes. If he could even get you 10 FanDuel points, he’d easily merit having him on your team. For as much as Bridgewater looks to him in the short passing game, I think it’s very realistic. Looking at some of the other talent he’d allow you stack up…I think it’s worth it.
TE: Clay Harbor, Jacksonville—5,500: Blake Bortles looks to Harbor all day. I was following the Jacksonville game on Fantasy Cast and noticed how many times it said “Pass to Harbor.” Now, he only caught 3 of those (for 91 yards and a TD mind you) but I think Harbor is the kind of player that can get you quality production on a budget. They play the Cleveland Browns who have been surprisingly not great vs the pass, and I think this is another situation where you can get some cheap points.
K: Nick Novak, San Diego—5,000: Nick Novak plays on the team with the most efficient offense in football. He’s always in the red zone. Ironically, the fear with Novak is they score too many TD’s, which would leave him with only single points. All Novak needs for a huge fantasy day is 2 tries from distance though, at 5,000 he’s a very good value for kickers.
DST: Dallas vs NYG—4,600: Sounds crazy. I know. Consider this though, Dallas has actually be pretty solid. They aren’t going to kill you and get you a negative scoring game and their pass defense has been pretty good…which pass defense is really what you want out of a fantasy defense as they are going to be the ones to create game-changing turnovers. The Giants offense has seemed to hit a wall (at least when they go on the road) and it feels like Manning is due for his annual 3+ turnover game.
Additionally, one thing I love about finding good fantasy defenses is getting teams that have good offenses. If an offense is going to keep drives alive and make it so their defense is always rested and fresh when they go on the field, the defense is going to have a lot easier time not wearing down as the game goes along and opposing offenses won’t have time to get in-sync. Think about it.
Let me know what you think. Follow me on Twitter @JustinPinotti