This is a weekly review of all the important DFS news and notes from all 15 games. I give my thoughts on the relevant fantasy performances and future daily fantasy impact from each game for week 4. Below is part 2.
Texans @ Falcons
This game was a destruction from start to finish but had two very important players for fantasy purposes. Devonta Freeman (14 car. 68 yards 3 TDs, 5 rec. 81 yards) is the clear beneficiary of the Julio Jones explosion from weeks 1-3. Freeman was getting unstacked boxes and allowed to roam free in the pass game against LBs all day in this game as the Texans sent safety help and consistently doubled Julio Jones (4 rec. 38 yards). Freeman is also getting all of the snaps (and I mean all of them) for the Falcons without Tevin Coleman in the lineup. You can continue to ride this train but I warn you, when Coleman comes back his time will be reduced. Coleman is probably more talented RB and will offer fresher legs. Watch the news because once Coleman gets healthy it’ll time to reconsider Devonta as an automatic every week.
The other huge story of this game is the rise of DeAndre Hopkins (9 rec. 157 yards) to every week DFS play. Hopkins is getting targeted an insane amount to start the year as the Texans have gotten down in pretty much every game they’ve played, and there might honestly not be another WR I love watch playing more than Hopkins right now. He’s quite frankly the best pure pass catcher in the league at the position and might actually rival Odell Beckham in terms of athleticism. A lot of Hopkins points in this game came in garbage time and as the Texans continue to spiral down the drain you might see more of this type of a game from him every week.
Arian Foster (8 car. 10 yards) returned in this game but didn’t play much and was ineffective when he did. He may have a negative impact on Hopkins targeting long term but he might also open up the floodgates for more big plays for Hopkins as well. I’m not getting off the Hopkins express any time soon.
Studs: Devonta Freeman, DeAndre Hopkins
Duds: Julio Jones, Arian Foster
Packers @ 49ers
This might have been the ugliest game of the week for DFS purposes. The Packers simply came in and beat up San Fran with their defense, moved the ball a bit on offense and left with an ugly 17-3 win. Eddie Lacy (18 car. 90 yards) will probably have a few big games this year but the idea that the offense will somehow run through him more with Jordy Nelson out is gone. Lacy is running fine but still not getting all the goal line snaps and still ceding a lot of time James Starks. He’s also been averaging under 2 receptions a game which means his floor is also pretty bad for PPR sites. You have to get off Lacy now as a solid “safe” pick unless his price goes way down or you’re looking for a one week tournament gamble.
James Jones (5 rec. 98 yards) on the other hand is going to keep getting work in this offense and be a consistent play every week. Randall Cobb (5 rec. 44 yards) had a slow game and is still bothered by his shoulder, while Davante Adams remains sidelined. Jones just missed a bigger game against SF and still had a few great catches, he’s basically the Packers best downfield option and has Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball. Jones is going to get 6-10 targets every game with Adams out and maybe even when he gets back.
I don’t know if there’s a worse offense in the league right now then San Francisco. While there’s appeal in going after their athletic players like Colin Kaepernick (13-25 160 yards) and Carlos Hyde (8 car. 20 yards) in tournaments at some point you have to really just have to say enough is enough. The 49ers were beat up and shut down at every corner by the Packers defense—who limited Carlos Hyde to 8 carries—and have shown some real bite their last two games. The Pack might be a good defense to consider against some of the lesser offenses in the league. As for the 49ers, I still think you’ll see them get their running game going at some point (against certain opponents) and a big day or two from Carlos Hyde before all is said and done. I’m not completely crossing him off my list for the year but he’s relegated to very high risk play.
Studs: GB defense, John Kuhn
Duds: Everyone else
Rams @ Cardinals
This was my favorite game of the weekend. The Rams finally got something going on offense and it was because of two factors. The first being the emergence of Todd Gurley (19 car. 146 yards). I said last week it might take a week or two for Gurley to get up to speed… well it took less than that cause he’s ready now. Gurley basically turned the Rams pathetic run game into a nightmare to stop for the Cardinals, who have a very good run defense by the way. Even when the Cards were penetrating at the line you could see Gurley’s ability allowing him to make cut backs and avoid taking losses. Any questions about his speed were answered to as he made numerous long runs as well, outsprinting defenders to the edge. Expect Gurley to only get better with a few more games under his belt, he gets Green Bay next week.
The other factor for the Rams on offense was Tavon Austin (6rec. 96 yards). I thought Austin would be a non-factor in this game but credit the Rams for using him smartly and Nick Foles (16-24 171 yards 3 TDs) for throwing some awesome passes his way. Austin was a factor in the deep and short pass game and was basically just a terror the Cards to defend. With the Rams lacking any real number 1 WR and Gurley creating new problems for opposing defenses, don’t be shocked if this is more than a one game spike. I almost wrote off the Rams offense last week but am now holding out hope again. A Gurley-Austin emergence could end up having some bigger fantasy days for this offense.
As for the Cardinals it was again nice to see David Johnson (3 car. 18 yards, 5 rec. 63 yards TD) get involved again. He’s almost as talented as Gurley and even though he had a bad drop and a fumble the talent is clearly there. In this offense though I doubt he’ll see big volume this year as Bruce Arians is committed to making CJ2K a thing again. I Can’t justify taking another shot with David Johnson for DFS unless injuries occur to other RBs in Zona. As for their pass game the Cards targeted John Brown and Larry Fitzgerald almost equally. With Fitz getting more attention now from defenses you might see a shift back to Brown as more of a main target. This is a great downfield passing offense and I won’t be shocked if Palmer/Brown explode for a game or two soon.
Studs: Todd Gurley, Tavon Austin
Duds: Kenny Britt
Vikings @ Denver
This game was a lot closer than I expected but really came down to two plays. The first was brutal Peyton Manning (17-27 213 yards TD INT) INT right before half time which led to an easy Vikings TD and cut the Broncos lead from 10 to 3. Then after being up 10 again Adrian Peterson (who was shut down all game) broke free for a 40 yard TD. Other than those two plays the Denver defense was pretty much on lock down mode. This is still one of the best D’s in the NFL and a nightmare matchup for opposing offenses.
The targets in the Denver passing game have shifted recently from Emmanuel Sanders (3 rec. 68 yards) to Demaryius Thomas (9 rec. 93 yards). This was the second game in a row Thomas led all receivers for Denver in terms of fantasy points. It’s possible there’s a bigger game coming for Thomas soon as he still hasn’t broken off any huge runs after the catch. One of the reasons I’d keep an eye on Thomas is that the Denver running game finally got going a bit this week. Ronnie Hillman (11 carries 103 yards TD) finally put in a big game, mostly off the basis of one huge TD run. It should be noted than even though Hillman has performed better than Anderson this is really still a split backfield. Anderson also ran for a decent 4 ypc in this game.
As for the Vikings they did struggle with the Denver defense, as expected, but you have to commend Teddy Bridgewater (27-41 269 yards TD) for how he played. Bridgewater avoided getting picked off in this game and almost led the Vikings to a game tying field goal late. The Vikings are a completely run first, low output offense but there will probably the odd game where Bridgewater is forced to save the Vikings with his arm. Don’t be afraid to target him if the lines and spread all point towards a higher than normal output and pair him with Mike Wallace (8 rec. 83 yards TD) who has actually played like a pretty solid all-around WR in this offense.
Studs: Ronnie Hillman, Mike Wallace
Duds: Manny Sanders, Peyton Manning
Eagles @ Redskins
The Eagles finally got their down the field pass game going a bit against the Redskins. Sam Bradford (15-28, 270 yards 3TDs) connected with three different Eagle receivers for TDs as the run game was once again pretty non-existent for the Eagles. This was a nice spike from Bradford but I wonder if this was more about the lack of depth in the Redskins secondary than some kind of revelation offensively for the Eagles. It will be interesting to watch going forward though as the Eagles can be explosive on offense if they get their act together. Bradford and the WRs will all be gpp considerations for me going forward next week… I don’t know what to tell you about the Eagles run game however. If all three RBs are healthy it’s probably best to just avoid all.
After all the Matt Jones (7 car. 11 yards) love the past few weeks the Redskins RB who scored the most points for the Skins for the second week in a row… Chris Thompson (6 car. 53 yards 2 rec. 24 yards). The Redskins backfield is becoming one of those clear avoids for fantasy (and there’s a lot of those unfortunately). I might actually consider gambling a bit with Thompson if he’s cheap in the coming weeks since he’s so involved in the pass game, just remember he makes a much better play on full point ppr sites.
TE Jordan Reed unfortunately got injured in this game (concussion and sprained MCL) and it’s a huge shame as he had a great matchup next week and was playing great as well. With Reed likely out week 5 TE Derek Carrier is the next man up for the Skins, who have been ravaged at the TE position. Carrier is actually pretty athletic himself and used to be a WR so don’t be shocked if he shows up and produces right off the bat. I also would also be interested in rookie WR Jamison Crowder (7 rec. 65 yards) if both Reed and Desean Jackson miss week 5. Crowder has been showing up more and more in the score sheet and offers a nice outside speed option for the Skins.
Studs: Sam Bradford, Chris Thompson
Duds: Jordan Matthews, all the Eagles RBs.
Raiders @ Bears
This was a pretty ugly game played by two mediocre teams. The Raiders looked good the past two weeks but they’re still in “learning mode”. Derek Carr (20-33 196 yards 2 TDs INT) played OK but still missed a few throws and didn’t do enough to get the Raiders a win. I think Carr is a player to target in games where the Raiders are projected as underdogs and he’ll be forced into throwing it more. Against the Bears as favorites I wasn’t shocked to see an ugly game transpire.
RB Latavius Murray (16 car. 49 yards, 3 rec. 12 yards) had a rough game. He lost a fumble and dropped an easy pass that actually turned into an INT. The Raiders have a tough schedule ahead so Murray won’t be on people’s radar as much but remember there’s still a ton of talent here and he’s seeing a ton of field. I might not be as adamant about playing him vs. the Bronco’s next week but with their secondary being so good it makes sense that the Raiders try to feed him a lot. Keep Murray in mind for GPPs.
As much as I like Amari Cooper (4 rec. 49 yards TD) it is interesting to note that Michael Crabtree (5 rec. 80 yards) has been almost as good this year and comes at a cheaper price for fantasy. I like Crabtree as a value play as he’s seeing a lot of targets but don’t play him vs. the Bronco’s next week. The Bears offense actually gets some consideration with Jay Cutler (28-43, 281 yards 2TDs) back at QB. My main target from this group would undoubtedly be RB Matt Forte (25 car. for 91 yards, 4 rec. for 64 yards). Forte hasn’t scored in a couple games but with RB scoring often being so unpredictable you have to love the fact Forte is involved in nearly 50% of all of the Bears offensive plays. Cutler is not only better at getting the ball to Forte in the pass game but he also gives them a legit passing threat again and means teams can’t stack the box. I’m really going to be targeting Forte in the next couple weeks and hoping for another point explosion.
Studs: Martellus Bennett
Duds: Latavius Murray
Browns @ Chargers
This was an interesting game for fantasy purposes because it was essentially between teams with two very bad defenses. The biggest evolution on offense for the Browns in this game was the fact that RB Duke Johnson (9 rec. 85 yards, 8 car. 31 yards) finally started getting used. Johnson is a great runner in space and was pretty electric in his time at Miami so the fact the Browns finally started to get him the ball outside the tackles was a good sign. I’m not sure if 9 receptions every night is sustainable but with the Browns offense not being great expect him to see some targets every game. If his price stays down he’s in play for me.
The other revelation on the Browns offense is the fact that WR Travis Benjamin (6 rec. 79 yards) has essentially evolved into an every down player and a real fantasy target. Benjamin was targeted 11 times in week 3 and caught 6 passes for 79 yards in week 4. You can stop calling him the lucky guy who scored three times in week 2 and start considering him for your lineups. Again, with the Browns D handing out points so freely expect Benjamin and the pass game to get a lot of work in garbage time and potential shootouts against other bad teams.
The Chargers run game controversy can pretty much be put to bed now. Melvin Gordon (12 car. 38 yards) is not happening and quite frankly it may never happen. The Chargers faced one of the worst rush defenses in the league in this game and still Gordon could still only produce a ypc average of 3.16. This is as much a talent issue as it as a workload issue… Regardless of if you agree with me on Gordon the fact is the Chargers prefer Danny Woodhead (8 car. 54 yards, 4 rec. 84 yards) at RB. Woodhead keeps racking up red zone touches and targets in the pass game. He was also the better rusher in this game too. This is essentially his backfield for fantasy purposes now with Gordon essentially only getting early down work between the 20’s.
Studs: Duke Johnson, Phillip Rivers
Duds: Melvin Gordon
Lions @ Seahawks
The Seahawks barely escaped with a win in this game. Their O-line is in pretty bad shape and QB Russell Wilson (20-26, 287 yards TD, 10 car. 40 yards) is pretty much running for his life every play. This sounds bad but it’s actually not horrible for fantasy. Wilson is a threat to run on pretty much every play and his run yards add up quick. He’s a definite buy for me going forward and look for him to have a big game or two eventually as the offense and his line start patching things together.
RB Thomas Rawls (17 car. 48 yards) started the game for the injured Marshawn Lynch in this game but was pretty much shut down. Rawls isn’t anything special but he runs pretty powerfully for a smaller back. Fred Jackson also got hurt in his game and so if Lynch can’t go week 5 Rawls would again be in play for me. The O-line is a concern but if he’s priced near the min again you have to consider him…. As far as TE Jimmy Graham (4 rec. 29 yards) goes he’s a complete fade for me going forward. The O-line is stopping any downfield throws which wrecks Graham’s value and makes him a completely TD dependant play. At his price you need more.
I know Calvin Johnson (7rec. 56 yards) completely ruined this game for the Lions with a last second fumble but he’s come alive a bit the last two games and obviously just missed a TD this week. Johnson gets the Cardinals D in week 5 and he has taken Patrick Peterson to task before. Don’t be shocked if Megatron shows up next week and goes semi-ham. The other player from Detroit who looked very good in this game was RB Ameer Abdullah (13 car. 33 yards). Abdullah may not have put up much on the scoresheet but he looked good and ran hard against possibly the best Run D in the game. If the Lions keep giving him this many touches (big if) than better days will be ahead. Watch the news on Abdullah next week to see if the Lions fully commit to giving Abdullah the lead role.
Duds: Thomas Rawls, Golden Tate, Matt Stafford