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. Below is part 2.
Bengals @ Ravens
AJ Green (10 rec. 227 yards 2 TD) turned a very good fantasy day into a monster one in the 4th quarter when Andy Dalton hit him on a nice 30 yard pass and the Ravens proceeded to botch two attempts at tackling him, allowing him to go 80 yards for a TD. The game then went semi-nuts after this and Green ended up scoring again late in the fourth to win it for the Bengals. The Ravens secondary is playing awful so far in 2015 and so Green was a good target, but there’s also a big element of luck involved in a big fantasy game like this too. If you had Green you are elated, if you didn’t you have to suck it up for DFS and move on. Certain weeks will see big time players like Green go nuts from time to time and it will always be a case of you had him or you didn’t for fantasy.
The Bengals RB situation is getting a bit clearer for fantasy purposes. Jeremy Hill (12 car. 21 yards) and Gio Bernard (13 car. 49 yards, 3 rec. 34 yards) basically split work in this game with Gio also getting targeted a decent amount in the pass game (while Hill did not). Neither were super effective but the fact Gio ran for around 3.8 ypc and Hill was around 1.9 ypc is pretty telling. Right now it’s clear for me at least that Hill has far less value because he isn’t getting 20+ carries a game the way he’s playing right now. Gio is actually going to be a pretty good play going forward (assuming his price stays semi-low) considering his involvement in the pass game.
I think you might see more and more passing days like this going forward from Joe Flacco (32-49 362 yards, 2 TDs INT) and the Ravens. The Ravens simply cannot run the ball effectively as a team (18 carries 36 yards). This means that Steve Smith’s (13 rec. 186 yards 2 TDs) targeting (which has been off the charts the last two weeks) is probably going to stay high. As for other options, I’ve been impressed with how Crockett Gilmore (3 rec. 40 yards) looks in this offense too at TE. If his price stays low he’s definitely a target for GPPs going forward.
Studs: AJ Green, Steve Smith, Andy Dalton
Duds: Jeremy Hill, Justin Forsett
Panthers @ Saints
After getting targeted 15 times in week 2, TE Greg Olsen (8 rec. 134 yards 2 TD) again saw a ton of targets in this game and this time turned them into a shipload of fantasy points. Olsen is really the preferred and perhaps only target if the Panthers are passing inside the 20 yard line right now. He’s been a nice PPR play in past years but his TDs could spike this year and I won’t be shocked if he ends up as the number 2 overall TE for fantasy in 2015. This is a connection that could be massive in high scoring games. The other receiving option you have to continue to like for Carolina is Tedd Ginn (4 rec. 93 yards), who looked in sync with Cam on his long routes in this game. The Panthers don’t pass a ton but at WR he is literally their best option and is going to continue to get targets from Cam who has the arm strength to make use of Ginn’s speed.
The position I want no part of on the Panthers for fantasy is RB. Jonathon Stewart (14 car. 52 yards) has not looked great to start the year and on top of that he is losing almost all red zone work to Mike Tolbert and Cam Newton (20-31, 315 yards 2 TDs, 7 car. 33 yards TD). Newton had a pretty decent day passing the ball, and he had to as the Panthers got behind early. He again took over 5 carries on his own and scored a TD. Cam is going to be more consistent this year for fantasy than he has been in years past. He’s healthy and the limited passing options mean more run plays being called for him.
As for the Saints, Luke McCown (31-38, 310 yards INT) really executed the game plan well. He rarely threw over 10 yards and was accurate on all his short passes. I’m not recommending him at all, but it was surprising to see him play this well. As for the Saints RBs, with CJ Spiller now healthy none of the 3 RBs are getting huge volume which means none of them are great for fantasy. Mark Ingram (14 car. 50 yards TD, 5 rec. 49 yards) is the lead back and was still involved in the pass game, even with Spiller’s return. He ran well against a tough Panthers defense and has the highest upside of the three but loses too many snaps to be a truly elite option. Unless one of the three backs in New Orleans gets hurt I’m avoiding them all most weeks.
So much for Brandin Cooks (7 rec. 79 yards). Three games so far and he’s yet to find the end zone, yet to have more than 7 receptions in a game and yet to have 100 yards receiving in a game. He did lead the Saints in receiving against the Panthers so I’m still holding out hope he turns into an elite option at some point this year, but until his salary goes way down I’m not chancing him again. I don’t think it’s purely a talent issue but regardless the big games are not there for fantasy at the moment.
Studs: Cam Newton, Greg Olsen
Duds: Jonathon Stewart
Cowboys @ Falcons
The Falcons D got run over in the first half and it looked as if a Dallas blowout was possible. Then the Falcons proceeded to completely shutout the Cowboys in the second half and ended up winning the game going away. The Falcons D is still a decent play and will be in coming weeks as they will be at home against some weaker opponents. Try not to let this one game influence you too much. They simply came out slow, but were pretty dominate the second half.
I admit I did not see the Falcons running the ball 30 times in this game. Devanta Freeman (30 car. 141 yards 3 TDs, 5 rec. 52 yards) ran hard and was also very involved in the pass game. Freeman is not the explosive runner Tevin Coleman is and for all the yards he gained his longest run was only 17 yards. Freeman won’t get 30 carries every game and he won’t score three TDs every game, but if his price stays low enough you can keep riding him. He’s got no completion for carries, is getting a ton of red zone looks in a very good offense.
The Falcons pass game is basically just Matt Ryan (24-36, 285 yards 2 TDs) and Julio Jones (12 rec. 164 yards 2 TDs) playing catch right now. Sometimes other players get a target here or there but Julio is basically open all the time and Ryan knows who butters his bread (and his stat lines). If Julio stays healthy he’s a must play every week, everyone else in this passing game is a complete gamble.
Unlike Freeman (who is playing in a good offense and has competition for carries) I wouldn’t get too excited about Joseph Randle (14 car. 87 yards 3 TDs). Randle ran roughshod in the first half over a still asleep Falcons defense but then got shut down in the second half. He also lost a TD to Darren McFadden (6 car. 35 yards TD) who is still getting work. With Lance Dunbar (10 rec. 100 yards) so involved in the passing game Randle simply isn’t getting the volume that Freeman is and the Cowboys will not be jumping out this quickly every game (meaning Randle won’t be getting two quick scores 10 mins into the game). Don’t chase the points here with Randle, the Cowboys offense is going to struggle in the coming weeks… On that note I should probably point out that the only Cowboys WR who caught a pass was Cole Beasley. Please don’t play any Cowboy receivers until Romo returns.
Studs: Joseph Randle, Devanta Freeman, Julio Jones
Duds: Cole Beasley, Terrence Williams, Roddy White
Jaguars @ Patriots
It’s hard to take too much out of blowout game like this but I’m going to try and extract some fantasy notes for future use. The first thing I’ll say is please stop using anyone in the Jaguars backfield. I’ve seen too many people trying to use TJ Yeldon (11 car. 33 yards, 2 rec. 9 yards) as a sneaky play. First of all, Yeldon is simply not that good. He doesn’t run with a ton of power or speed, as evidenced by the fact he has zero TDs and his longest run is 14 yards in 2015… he averaged 3 ypc against the Pats and was basically shutdown completely. The second reason why you don’t touch this backfield is because game flow is almost always going to be against the Jags running a ton. For Yeldon or any other back to get 20+ carries the Jags would have to be ahead, which they basically never will be. There’s no upside for fantasy.
Allen Robinson (4 rec. 68 yards) will have good days and bad days, his highs will probably be big (like in week 2) and other weeks he’ll simply get shutdown by good teams (like this week). In this game the Pats committed to completely shutting him down and 3 of his 4 catches came in garbage time when there was already 50 points on the board. Some weeks he’ll pay off with garbage time or a soft matchup but other games teams will simply take him out and dare Allen Hurns and TJ Yeldon to beat them. He’s still getting lots of targets so it’s not all bad news but I’d avoid him against tough opponents like the Pats.
For New England the running back situation in this game was interesting to watch unfold. Dion Lewis (8 car. 37 yards, 5 rec. 30 yards) started the game and played spectacularly again, he appeared to be zoning in on a big game after scoring an early TD. But as the lead grew so did LeGarrette Blount’s (18 car. 78 yards) role. Certain weeks and different game plans are customary for New England RBs so don’t get too panicky on Lewis. He’s been playing fantastic and is one of the main RBs in the best offenses in the league. Most RBs are now in a timeshares or worse so even if he splits work he’ll still have upside many weeks. I love him on full PPR sites too because he’s essentially become the preferred third target for Brady with LaFell gone, a massive boost for fantasy.
Studs: LeGarrette Blount
Duds: Allen Robinson
Bills @ Miami
There was a lot of interesting stuff in this game for fantasy. The first is that it appears as if Rishard Matthews (6 rec. 113 yards 2 TDs) is finally being given a chance to be the clear number 2 WR in Miami. Matthews had a monster game and his second 100+ yard receiving effort in a row. This isn’t a blip. Matthews is an extremely talented WR who had been languishing away on the Miami depth chart while they paid huge sums of money to Mike Wallace. Now he is looking like the preferred red zone option on a Miami team who cannot run the ball with any consistency. He made two incredible grabs on his TDs in this game—one in traffic, the other on an underthrown ball—and should continue to see more work from Tannehill going forward. If his price stays low, he’ll be one of the best bargains in week 4.
The other notable performances all come from the Bills side. With Lesean McCoy (11 car. 16 yards, 1 rec. 9 yards TD) hurting Karlos Williams (12 car. 110 yards TD) has stepped up in a major way so far in 2015. Williams is a big talented RB who had some off the field issues while at Florida State. He looked very nimble in this game for his size and was ripping off some big gains against a suddenly poor Dolphin run D. If McCoy misses any time Williams is going to be a 100% must play for fantasy in this highly effective, run-first offense.
The other big note is the fact that Sammy Watkins (1 rec. 39 yards) didn’t finish this game, and both Charles Clay (5 rec. 82 yards TD) and Percy Harvin (7 rec. 66 yards) saw upticks in targets and catches because of it. Harvin actually seems like a better fit for this offense and has been great working underneath and then using his speed to create yards after the catch. Clay looked amazing in this game and is one of the more athletic TEs after the catch, which he proceed to show when he danced his way to a 25 yard TD to open scoring. If Watkins is playing week 4 there might not be enough targets for one Bills receiver to have a massive game, but if he misses time both Harvin and Clay could be considered as potential targets.
As far as QB Tyrod Taylor (21-29, 277 yards 3 TDs, 3 car. 12 yards) goes, the most shocking thing about how well he’s played is the fact that he’s doing a lot of his fantasy football damage with his arm and not his legs. Taylor completed over 70% of his passes in this game and looked like an established, polished pocket passer (not someone starting his third game in the NFL). Even in this low-volume passing offense Taylor’s efficiency and running ability make him great for fantasy and an absolute consideration every week for your lineups.
Studs: Rishard Matthews, Karlos Williams, Charles Clay, Tyrod Taylor
Duds: Lamar Miller
Eagles @ Jets
This was a perfect example of two teams who are not as bad or as good as everyone thinks. The Jets just beat the Colts in week 2 and their defense looked great in doing so. The Eagles just lost to Dallas in one of the worst offensive performances of the year. So of course Philly dropped 24 points and won.
With no Demarco Murray in the lineup Darren Sproles (return TD, rush TD, 4 rec. 19 yards) and Ryan Mathews (25 car. 108 yards, 2 rec. 20 yards TD) each had big days. I think this is a trend worth following as all three of these backs were essentially splitting time before Murray got hurt. When one misses a game both remaining players will get a lot more volume. Mathews particularly looked good running the ball and that is something to take note of as the Eagles could barely gain positive yardage on any of their plays week 2. While Mathews was heavily involved this week if Murray is healthy week 4 he can’t be trusted. Look at Mathews as a good situational week 3 play and move on.
As far as passing goes Sam Bradford (14-28, 118 yards TD) had a tough matchup and didn’t put up much yardage (but he didn’t have to). He’ll still be an OK fantasy play most weeks as he’ll really rack up the yards fast with short catch and run plays. His TD in this game was a great feel throw down the sideline to Ryan Mathews, whom he led perfectly into the end zone. At WR Jordan Matthews (6 rec. 49 yards) had a tough matchup in this game against Darrelle Revis and the Jet secondary, but actually just missed a TD (which would have actually meant a decent fantasy game). Matthews is still a great receiver and will be fine going forward, especially in softer matchups.
As for the Jets offense, the most obvious call of the week in fantasy was Brandon Marshall having a big game. Even with one of the stupidest fumbles in NFL history Marshall still put up 10 catches for 109 yards and a TD. If Eric Decker continues to miss time you have to continue to make room in your lineup for Marshall as he’ll be almost assured of receiving double targets every game. At RB for the Jets Chris Ivory didn’t play which meant that Bilal Powell (10 car. 31 yards, 7 rec. 44 yards) got a ton of paying time and saw 7 targets in the passing game as well. If Powell stays at min price he’s a viable option on full point per PPR sites, but only if Ivory doesn’t play. Zac Stacy might eventually get involved more too if Ivory stays out longer so look out for that situation in the future.
Studs: Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles, Brandon Marshall
Duds: Sam Bradford
Chargers @ Vikings
The Chargers run defense has been burned every single week of 2015. Adrian Peterson (20 car. 126 yards, 2 TDs) had a field day in this game and the Vikings romped because of it. Peterson showed he still has plenty of burst left, as he scored from 40 yards out on one play. The Vikings have now given Peterson the ball 20+ times in two straight games which is encouraging. There will still be days when the Vikings get behind for one reason or another where he’s probably limited but against weak run defenses there’s probably no better play for fantasy. Also be sure to target the Chargers D for your running backs going forward.
There’s not a ton more to talk about for Minnesota in terms of fantasy. When the Vikings get ahead Peterson and the run game will do most of the work and when behind the Vikings still employ one of the most conservative offenses in the NFL. I like QB Teddy Bridgewater (13-24 131 yards) but unless the Vikings are projected to be a high scoring shootout (as underdogs) I want no part of him of the Vikings passing game.
The Chargers are a similar team to the Vikings in that they like to run the ball, but when they’re behind will air it out to stay in the game. Well they got behind and WR Keenan Allen (12 rec. 133 yards 2 TDs) had his second monster day of 2015. Part of this was game flow and another huge part was Viking Corner Xavier Rhodes going down early in the game allowing Allen a lot more room to roam. Still, you have to love the targeting on Allen, he will be a little game flow dependant but in games the Chargers are projected as underdogs he’s probably a safe bet to hit or exceed value.
The Chargers running game is quickly becoming one of those spots to possibly just avoid altogether. Danny Woodhead (5 car. 11 yards, 5 rec. 32 yards) is the main red zone back and passing back but is more of a volume play than an explosive option. Meanwhile Melvin Gordon (14 car. 51 yards) is just not getting goal line or passing down work, which limits his upside greatly. Gordon actually ran pretty well in this game but once the Chargers got down he pretty stopped getting carries. I’d consider Gordon in games where the Chargers were big favorites but that’s about it, most weeks there’s just too much of an even split between these two for either to matter.
Studs: Keenan Allen, Adrian Peterson
Duds: Teddy Bridgewater, all the Vikings receivers
Chiefs @ Packers
I had this pegged as the fantasy game of the week and it didn’t disappoint. Aaron Rodgers (24-35, 333yards 3 TDs) picked apart the Chiefs struggling secondary like a football cyborg. It’s scary that he did all his work in a game where the Packers actually led for the entirety. Against offenses like the Chiefs that can score a little themselves Rodgers makes for a great bet for big games. With Randall Cobb (7 rec. 91 yards 3 TDs) now over a month removed from his shoulder injury he looked back to normal and regularly was beating Chiefs CBs from slot. He actually could have had four TDs in this game but one was called back by a holding penalty. The Cobb/Rodgers combo is going to be almost too good against good run defenses which force the Packers to pass more.
James Jones (7 rec. 139 yards TD) is almost approaching elite status as well. With no Jordy Nelson and an injured Davante Adams he is getting great targeting and still has size and good hands to box hands out defenders in the slot and end zone. He was great in this game making key third down catches and beating CBs to the outside a couple times as well. It’s amazing that the Packers got him for free. You saw Ty Montgomery (2 rec. 14 yards TD) show up in this game with a TD too. Montgomery is built very solidly for someone who has good returner capabilities and can play the slot. If Davante Adams misses time don’t be shocked if he starts to make a bit of an impact down the road.
The Chiefs started slow but got their own offense going in the second half. Jeremy Maclin (8 rec. 141 yards TD) again saw a ton of targets and he’s essentially the only real outside threat in this offense. Maclin had a poor first half but came on late once the Packers got up and played softer coverage. He’s going to be heavily involved in games where the Chiefs have to pass late and showed his big play capability in this game by burning the Packers for a 60 yard catch and run over the middle late. Complain all you want about Alex Smith but in high game totals or against weak secondary’s this combo can and will work for fantasy.
Travis Kelce (6 rec. 80 yards 2 pt con) had an OK game, but he truly missed a couple big plays, including what looked like a guaranteed TD. When he gets rolling on the shorter routes underneath I think is when you’ll see this offense take off some weeks. This wasn’t that week. The Packers and Clay Matthews particularly are good at covering the TE for the most part and Kelce/Smith just couldn’t connect on much. Don’t forget about him when he has a soft matchup. The shorter routes are where Alex Smith excels and Kelce makes a living.
Studs:Cobb, Jones, Rodgers, Maclin, Charles