This is a weekly review of all the important DFS news and notes from all 16 games. I give my thoughts on the relevant fantasy performances and future daily fantasy impact from each game.
Broncos @ Chiefs
- Broncos QB Peyton Manning (26-45, 256 and 3TDs, INT) could have easily had about 4 INTS in this game and the Chiefs could, and should, have won going away. Peyton really looks like he is approaching retirement time fast and his bad O-line is not helping matters by allowing him to be sacked at an alarming rate. However, Peyton is still savvy enough that regardless of his arm strength he will have fantasy performances like this from time to time, but the days of him being automatic for fantasy are over.
- WRs Emmanuel Sanders (8 rec. 87 yards, 2 TDs) and Demaryius Thomas (8 rec. 116 yards) are both going to be viable plays many weeks but the days of them “going nuts” might also be over. Both men had 14 targets in this game but the fact the Broncos were down late had a lot to do with those numbers. Denver’s D and a newfound commitment to running the ball (even when it doesn’t work) will limit their numbers many weeks. With Peyton’s arm gassed Thomas seems like the middle of the field option where he can simply box out his defender and come down with a “jump ball” catch and Sanders is the quick out option when crucial short yardage is needed. Both should get red zone looks.
- Denver’s defense literally won this game, stonewalling KC on numerous occasions, getting crucial turnovers inside their own red zone and a game winning TD. The speed and skill on this defense means every week they will contend for number 1 in fantasy, regardless of match up.
- As for Denver’s RB, I don’t know what to tell you. Both CJ Anderson (12 car. 27 yards) and Ronnie Hillman (9 car. 34 yards) got shut down by a very good KC front. Going forward the Denver RBs could have immense value but it’s hard to say which man (if either) will be getting the bulk of the carries.
- The KC defense also looked very good in this game. They will be getting CB Sean Smith back soon and are probably close to being one of the top units in the league as well. They’re another fantasy defense to target against weak offenses.
- As for KC’s offense I would not overreact much to this game, as everyone will struggle against Denver this year. I still think WR Jeremy Maclin (4 rec. 57 yards) will be in for many big weeks and we’ve already seen what TE Travis Kelce and RB Jamaal Charles can do (when not fumbling). Don’t be afraid to roster this offense in good and even average matchups.
Studs: Emmanuel Sanders, Denver defense
Duds: Alex Smith, Travis Kelce
Cardinals @ Bears
- There were a ton of turnovers and strange plays in this game which made for some weird fantasy lines. Cards QB Carson Palmer tossed 4 TDs but did not crack 185 yards mainly because the Bears turned the ball over so much in their own territory. Palmer picked apart the hapless Bears in this game and is going to be pretty consistent for fantasy this year. He’s yet to take on a tough defense in 2015 though and he may find the going a bit tougher in future games.
- Cardinals Rookie RB David Johnson had two TDs in this game, one on the opening kickoff where he took the ball 99 yards or so for a TD and one on a nice 5 yard run near the goal line. David Johnson is an awesome blend of speed and power and an absolute fantasy stud in the making, but is being blocked by his coaches insistence on playing a less effective veteran—Chris Johnson (20 car. 72 yards)—in front of him. I want to tell you to roster David Johnson going forward but until I know he’ll get more work I can’t because he won’t be returning kickoffs for TDs every game. Keep an eye on him though as his usage has to go up at some point.
- At WR for the Cards John Brown (5 rec. 45 yards) had 5 targets while Larry Fitzgerald (8 rec. 112 yards and 3TDs) had a whopping 11 and a massive fantasy day. Brown is quite simply going to be more boom or bust (he had some big PI calls in this games which were nearly long TDs) while Fitz looks to be reignited with Palmer back and possibly a really consistent fantasy option for 2015.
- Bears QB Jay Cutler got hurt in this game and looks likely to miss week 3. I would cross all of the Bears pass receiving options off your list until he returns. In fact I might even avoid this offense altogether. Matt Forte is going to see a huge number of stacked boxes while teams dare Jimmy Clausen to beat them. The Bears are circling the drain already.
Studs: Larry Fitzgerald, David Johnson
Duds: Martellus Bennett, Jay Cutler
Buccaneers v Saints
- The Saints are not a good team. I’ve talked about Peyton Manning’s regression a lot this year but Drew Brees (24-38, 255 yards TD INT) looks nearly done to me as well. Reports are coming in that he has a shoulder issue as well which could result in him missing multiple weeks. The issue with Brees is that with no zip on the ball he can no longer get Brandin Cooks (5 rec. 62 yards) the ball in tight spaces or down the field on bombs. All he’s done through two weeks is turn the ball over and float screens to his RBs. I am sadly downgrading Cooks for fantasy going forward as he once again had a flat game, which could have been worse if not for two garbage time catches. Cooks is still a mega-talent but working in a below average offense.
- You didn’t see him much in this game but I am positive that CJ Spiller will be the best offensive weapon for the Saints going forward. Spiller played sparingly due to his recent knee issue but almost broke off a longer TD on his lone catch of the day. Spiller will be vital for Brees as his successful days of throwing downfield seem over.
- Don’t be fooled by Bucs QB Jameis Winston (14-21, 207 yards TD). This is still 100% one of the top three QBs in the league to target for fantasy. Winston got almost zero pressure from a lifeless Saints defense and still nearly gave the game away late with a horrid fumble. He can make throws when given a lot of time and space but he will really struggle against good teams/defenses. The only case you can make for him in fantasy is that garbage time will likely pump up his number every week as the Bucs are still a very bad team.
- Hopefully people realize now how much a not so great Winston and a bad Bucs team will hurt the Tampa Bay WRs/TE for fantasy purposes. Tampa Bay has three great receiving options but a QB who struggles with pressure and a defense who will almost never give them great field position. There’s almost no chance more than one of WR Mike Evans (0 catches 3 targets), TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (2 rec. 29 yards) and WR Vincent Jackson (3 rec. 54 yards TD) have a decent game in the same week and picking which one will “go off” will be a semi-maddening experience. You’ve been warned.
Duds: Mike Evans, Austin SJ, Brandin Cooks, Drew Brees
Cowboys @ Eagles
- What a horrible game. This was the highest point total on the board in Vegas this weekend (55 points) and the final tally came in under by 25 points. The Eagles offense showed a complete inability to run the ball… Demarco Murray actually ended up with 13 carries but only 2 yards total. This is concerning and for fantasy you have to down grade all Philly RBs at this point with the exception of RB Darren Sproles (4 rec. 23 yards) who gets a bump up since we now assume the Eagles Offense will have to pass a ton to score. Sproles once again was used a decent amount in the pass game against the Boys and will likely remain cheap on most DFs sites going forward. I expect this offense to figure it out eventually but it’s no guarantee they bounce back week 3.
- Try not to get too sour on WR Jordan Matthews (6 rec. 80 yards and a TD). He’s still extremely talented and the clear number 1 WR on this team. As mentioned above, the Eagles will probably be throwing a lot by the looks of it and so massive days could eventually be in his future.
- The Eagles defense is still decent and will have the odd big day for fantasy. They stuffed the power run game of the Cowboys repeatedly but just got no help from their O. That being said they will get burned by elite WRs this year as their corners are still being left in man-to-man coverage all day and not good enough to stop even the likes of WR Terrence Williams (4 rec. 84 yards and a TD) from scoring.
- The Cowboys lost QB Tony Romo for upwards of 8+ weeks. It’s hard to say where the Cowboys will go on offense with Romo out, perhaps TE Jason Witten gets a huge bump, but I don’t know if I trust any pass catchers with Branden Weeden at QB. Keep an eye on new additions WR Brice Butler and RB Christine Michael in the coming weeks, Michael particularly could be a decent play down the road as the Boys look to keep the ball out of Branden Weeden’s hands.
Duds: Demarco Murray, Sam Bradford
Patriots @ Bills
- I almost feel like I should have seen this coming. QB Tom Brady and the Patriots again took a hugely pass heavy approach against a team that is dominate against the run. Brady threw 59 times for 466 yards and a 3TDs despite being up for much of the game. Do not expect this every week from Brady though. The Patriots had a game plan and executed it to perfection against one of the toughest defenses in the league, against weaker run defenses they will be more balanced.
- Rob Gronkowski (7 rec. 113 yards and a TD) and Julien Edelman (11 rec. 97 yards and 2 TDs) should continue to be massive plays many weeks with Branden LaFell out. Last year LaFell, Edelman and Gronk all received close to equal attention and so right now there are extra targets going around to these two to share in New England. Both found the end zone in this game, were the unquestionable prime targets of Tom Brady and will be going forward.
- On Buffalo even though RB Lesean McCoy (15 car. 89 yards and 3 rec. 27 yards) didn’t score for the second straight game he at least showed he was healthy and ran well. Game flow stopped him from getting a bigger workload against the Pats and he got pipped on the goal line again by rookie Karlos Williams… the TDs should come eventually.
- QB Tyrod Taylor (23-30, 242 yards 3 TDs, 3 INTs…5 car. 43 yards TD) showed he can be a massive play for fantasy due to his duel threat abilities. He threw for three TDs and scored once with his legs. In shootout games like this one he will be a massive play regardless of the turnovers, but beware since the Bills will not be giving up 40 points most weeks and their offense will generally be more conservative.
Studs: Gronk, Edelman, Brady, Lewis, Tyrod
Texans @ Panthers
- I wouldn’t get too worried about DeAndre Hopkins (5 rec. 53 yards) bad performance in this game. The Panthers Josh Norman is one of the top corners in the NFL right now it appears and Hopkins just had trouble converting on his 11 targets with Norman on him all day. The good news is that the Texans appear to be throwing the ball more with Arian Foster out Ryan Mallet isn’t afraid to fit it into tight spots. I think Hopkins has much bigger and better days ahead for fantasy.
- You may not like Ryan Mallet (27-58, 244 yards TD and INT) as a QB, he was inaccurate in this game and made some bad decisions, but for fantasy he could be an interesting play going forward. The non-Foster RBs on this team are truly not great and so that means Mallet will be forced to use his cannon-like arm more. As a cheap play I might key him up against weaker opponents.
- I really think you’ll see more games like this in the near future from Cam Newton (18-37, 195 yards TD INT… 10 car. 76 yards TD). Newton ran the ball ten times in this contest and scored a rushing TD. In games where the Panthers get behind Newton may take even more of the offensive burden on his shoulders and be a very reliable fantasy producer. The Panthers have no choice but to let him loose this year with his legs.
- The Panthers also have no WR options they can trust and TE Greg Olsen (6 rec. 70 yards) is having trouble escaping coverage. He caught 6 balls in this game but had an astounding 14 targets thrown his way. Even though you love the attention that is not a good conversion rate, and something to keep in mind as he won’t see so many targets every game.
Studs:Cam Newton, Ted Ginn
Duds: DeAndre Hopkins
Chargers @ Bengals
- This is one of the few games that went almost exactly how I expected it to go this week. Both teams have above average passing defenses and limited any huge passing days, although Andy Dalton did throw 3 TDs. Neither defense is a great opponent for your fantasy players.
- That being said, the Chargers run defense has now been burned for two decently big games in a row by shifty RBs Gio Bernard (20 car. 123 yards) and Ameer Abudallah. Jeremy Hill (10 car. 39 yards) fumbled twice in this game and so going into next week don’t be shocked if you see even more Gio for the Bengals. He may not get goal line carries or be super effective against tough run defenses but Bernard is always a big play threat.
- Once again TE Tyler Eifert (4 rec. 49 yards TD) outscored WR AJ Green (3 rec. 45 yards TD). This doesn’t necessarily mean that it will continue this way all year, but gone are the days when Green was the only legitimate passing option on the Bengals. A balanced attack helps the Bengals offense and so expect Green to maybe not have as many of those massive, 12 catch days as he has had in past years.
- WR Stevie Johnson (5 rec. 45 yards TD) was again utilized a lot on quick screens (and scored on one again), while WR Keenan Allen (2 rec. 16 yards) was essentially shut down by the very solid corners on the Bengals. I think Johnson is actually going to be the more consistent option on this team for fantasy as he’ll see more higher-percentage targets while Allen will be more matchup dependant (but have some bigger days). After throwing 40+ times week 1 the Chargers only threw 27 times week 2 so be careful when targeting their passing options, game flow will factor into how much they throw the ball.
Studs: Gio Bernard, Stevie Johnson, Tyler Eifert
Duds: Keenan Allen
Titans @ Browns
- This is a classic example of a game you don’t want to read too much into for fantasy. WR Travis Benjamin (3 rec. 115 yards and 2 TDs, return TD) scored 3 times in this game on 4 targets. Benjamin is fast, and an excellent deep threat/return man, but this type of production in this offense will not be sustainable. I would consider pairing him with the Browns defense against weaker teams but otherwise I do not recommend paying up for him next week, let others chase the points.
- The other thing you don’t want to read too much into, the fact Browns QB Johnny Manziel (8-15, 172 yards, 2 TDs) outplayed Marcus Mariota (21-37, 257 yards 2 TDs 2 Fumbles). The Titans were on the road, coming off of a huge win against an underrated Browns defense and so the letdown was semi-predictable. The Titans defense is hardly a bunch of luminaries and their below average run D and secondary was on full display. Continue to target Manziel with your fantasy defenses.
- As for Mariota he is neither as good as he was in his first game or as bad as he was in this game. There will be tough weeks as the Titans are still not a great team and not exactly deep at receiver on offense. He’ll have some upside in higher scoring games but only target him in limited situations going forward.
- I still think Kendall Wright (2 rec. 17 yards) is the WR to target in this offense, even though he had a horrible week 2. Wright injured his ankle early in this game but came back and finished. He should be fine for week 2 and I’d continue to consider him as a pairing with Mariota when optimal matchups arise.
Studs: Johnny Manziel, Travis Benjamin, Anthony Fasano
Duds: Kendall Wright