This is a weekly review of all the important DFS news and notes from all games played this past weekend. I give my thoughts on the relevant fantasy performances and future daily fantasy impact from each game for week 6. Below is part 1.
Falcons @ Saints
The Falcons have been semi-falling apart the past two weeks and were lucky to be undefeated heading into this game. With Julio Jones hurt Matt Ryan (30-44, 295 yards 2 TDs) hasn’t been great. The Falcons pass game is a mirage in the sense that without Julio there’s really no one else on the field who can make plays and Ryan simply isn’t good enough to make his secondary receivers into studs. Ryan wasn’t helped much in this game as Leonard Hankerson (4 rec. 37 yards) had two or three absolutely brutal drops, but a lot of the blame still remains on Ryan who hasn’t been sharp the past two weeks. I’m not big on using Ryan for fantasy unless he has a healthy Julio and a nice matchup, there isn’t enough big play upside without those two variables.
The one facet of the Falcons offense which is working well is RB Devonta Freeman (13 car. 100 yards TD, 8 rec. 56 yards TD). Freeman is getting a ton of carries and targets and just continues to be effective in the full time role. There was worry about Freeman’s workload getting knocked down with Tevin Coleman’s return but that didn’t happen in this game. Coleman had a fumble early and the rest of the game was all Freeman, who broke off a ton of big chunks running and as a receiver. Freeman is taking full advantage of the massive workload he’s been getting and is approaching Le’Veon Bell territory in terms of usage and production. He has to be considered for your lineups every week at this point.
The Saints played well in this game but it wasn’t because of a vintage Drew Brees (30-39, 312 yards, TD) offensive performance. Brees is still throwing for a lot of yardage but the days of multiple TDs every week are gone as the Saints power running game did a lot of work in the red zone in this game. You have to downgrade Brees from previous years even off this solid week… The Saints main receiving target in this game was Ben Watson (10 rec. 127 yards TD). I’m not shocked to see him used more but thinking Watson can replicate this games production next week is a mistake. The Saints spread it around a lot and this week it was the TE’s turn to be a star. Next week, it could be a RB or a WR… the Saints don’t have a favorite target.
Studs: Devonta Freeman, Mark Ingram, Ben Watson
Duds: Leonard Hankerson
Broncos @ Browns
There’s two stories you need to know about the Bronco’s for fantasy. The first is everyone on the Bronco’s offense should be nearly off limits. Peyton Manning (26-48, 290 yards TD 3 INTs) is basically a risk to throw an INT every time he steps back right now and even though he can still get the ball deep his short-medium accuracy is shot. Paying up for Sanders or Thomas at WR is just capping your upside at a spot where other elite targets exist. As far as the run game goes, Ronnie Hillman (20 car. 111 yards) got going a bit in this game but it’s still in an even timeshare and whatever production the RBs got in this game came against one of the worst run Ds in the league. It’s not a high upside spot either, continue avoiding both he and CJ Anderson.
The second point about Denver is that the defense remains a weekly must play. I can’t emphasize enough how good this defense is against the pass and as pass rushers. Denver keeps racking up sacks and INTs at the highest rate in the league, as a cash game play they are a must (against non-elite teams anyways).
The Browns offense actually came off pretty good in this game. Travis Benjamin (9 rec 117 yards) is getting a ton of targets now that Josh McCown (20-39, 213 2 TDs 2 INTs) is in permanently at QB. Benjamin is one of the fastest players in the league after the catch and the Browns are using him on short quick screens as well as on stretch plays down the field. Against Denver Benjamin was still effective and against weaker defenses he is both a volume and big play possibility going forward, no longer just a running joke, you have to take him and the entire Browns passing game seriously for DFS… The other Browns pass game target that has come alive with McCown entrenched at QB is TE Gary Barnidge (3 rec. 39 yards 2 TDs). Barnidge is simply the best red zone option on a team chalk full of smaller WRs and the fact he was able to cash in twice against a great Denver D shows he has some legit receiving skills. I’m not sure if I’d pay up elite money to roster Barnidge but if he remains semi-reasonable in price using him in a stack with McCown will have some value, especially considering how many yards the Browns D has given up… game flow will often be in his favour.
Studs: Denver D, Gary Barnidge, Travis Benjamin
Duds: Demaryius Thomas, Peyton Manning
Patriots @ Colts
The Colts passing game got going a bit in this game which surprised me and likely a few other people too. Andrew Luck (30-50 312 yards 3 TDs) looked better in this game than he has at any point in 2015 which bodes well going forward. Luck started out on fire and made some great throws to give the Colts the lead, for a while he looked like the Andrew Luck we’ve all come to love for fantasy for the past two years or so. The Patriots defense and offense eventually started rolling though and pretty much put a stop to him, but the fact he had a decent quarter or two against a solid D is still encouraging. I dislike paying up for QBs in DFS but Luck might be worth it over the next week or two as it looks like he’s found his swagger again.
Both Donte Moncrief (6 rec. 69 yards TD) and TY Hilton (6 rec. 74 yards TD) had decent games this week with the Luck resurgence. I still prefer TY for tournaments as I see him as the higher upside play, but with Luck playing better both are probably going to be viable most weeks. Hilton looked good on deep routes and against a worse team might have had a bit more room to maneuver for a big day. Moncrief on the other hand might benefit from the deep coverage Hilton draws and have a few big games against teams who decide to shift coverage over to TY. It’ll be a weekly battle choosing which one to target with Luck for tournaments.
As for the Pats, don’t be scared off Dion Lewis. This is the third time LeGarrette Blount (16 car. 93 yards, 1 rec. 11 yards TD) has had a big game vs the Colts and it wasn’t shocking to see him as a big part of the game plan. I fully expect Lewis to be more involved next week, especially against a team with as good a run D as the Jets. This is likely a one game blip for Lewis… The Pats pass game is almost a weekly must play at this point and was again dominate for most of this game. Teams cannot fully shutdown either Julian Edelman or Gronk and both are essentially locks to reach mid double digit fantasy points as their floors on most sites. Unless I am super high on a specific TE, the best DFS strategy for me most weeks will be to simply use Gronk and then look for value at other positions.
Studs: Andrew Luck, Tom Brady, LeGarrette Blount
Duds: Dion Lewis
Cardinals @ Steelers
The Steelers defense is one of the most underrated groups in the NFL right now. Last week they nearly shutdown the Chargers (who had 500 yards passing against the Packers) and this week they limited the NFC West leading Cardinals, who had been leading the league in points per game, to just 15. You have to be careful when targeting teams against the Steelers from here on out, they’re not the automatic soft target some people assume them to be, especially against the run.
There’s not a ton more to say about the Steelers offense. Once Big Ben comes back this whole dynamic is going to change and you’ll need to start targeting everyone. Martavis Bryant (6 rec. 137 yards 2 TDs) returned this week and scored an 80+ yard TD. Bryant showed that even with Landry Jones running things that he is a big fantasy play waiting to happen every week and just going to be a nightmare for the opposition to deal with when Big Ben returns… When Roethlisberger is healthy and allowed to spread the field again things will also open up for Le’Veon Bell (24 car. 88 yards) who was pretty much shut down by a stout Cards defense in this game. The bottom line is this offense is about a week or two from being a juggernaut again, keep an eye on how Ben is progressing this week and don’t be shy to jump on them if he’s a go for week 7.
The Cards got pretty much shut down on the ground which meant a ton of passing from Carson Palmer (29-45 421 yards TD 2 INT) in this game. It was interesting to see John Brown (10 rec. 196 yards) get rolling and to see Palmer go to him so much when the game was on the line. Brown made big play after play and almost all of his receptions were of the 15+ yard variety. With teams shifting a little more attention to Fitzgerald it’s possible this expanded role for Brown continues as his speed creates mismatches all around the field. Brown is someone I would advocate staying on for the next week or two as the Cards pass game is all about throwing down field and not really game flow dependant.
Studs: John Brown, Martavis Bryant
Duds: Lev Bell, Antonio Brown, Chris Johnson
Chargers @ Packers
This game bordered on absurd. The Chargers got behind early like they almost always do these days and were forced to pass their way out of the hole. Phillip Rivers ended up throwing the ball 65 times in this game for 503 yards and 2 TD and it still felt like he left points out on the board. The Chargers get almost no push on their O-line in the run game and essentially gave up trying to establish Melvin Gordon (7 car. 29 yards) after he lost his second fumble of the day. Rivers isn’t the problem for San Diego as he was shredding a very good GB defense all afternoon. While I don’t expect 65 passes every game I do expect the Chargers to keep having to throw a lot every week, especially when they face good teams. You simply have to consider this team as a possible weekly stacking target from here on out.
Keenan Allen (14 rec. 157 yards) had to leave this game early with an injury to his hip or he might have caught 20+ passes. Allen has looked phenomenal to me to start the year and in the Chargers pass happy scheme he is getting open almost at will across the middle. I expected a big game from him but seeing Allen dismantle a solid secondary was pretty eye opening, assuming he’s healthy for the near future he’s is a must target to me against everyone except the Bronco’s (who he still plays twice unfortunately).
The Green Bay offense is a complete Bermuda Triangle for fantasy purposes right now. Somehow this team keeps putting up 20+ points every week and somehow there are no big games for fantasy coming from the stars. This a complete by committee approach right now as the most receptions recorded by a GB receiver in this game was 2, with 7 different people reaching that number… You have to seriously downgrade Randall Cobb (2 rec. 38 yards) and just assume his shoulder is keeping him from doing more. Cobb had one nice catch in this game and then wasn’t heard from again.
The running back position is even more perplexing for GB. Eddie Lacy (4 car. 3 yards) has looked fine running the ball to me most games, but was outplayed by James Starks (10 car. 112 yards TD) early in this contest and then was never heard from again. I’d love to recommend one or the other but right now this is a complete guessing game. All I know is that Lacy is simply not the lead back right now and can’t be trusted till you see a heavier run approach and him getting a bigger percentage of the snaps… Starks looks fine and tore up the putrid Chargers run D. He’ll likely remain fairly cheap for DFS but against a tougher opponent I wouldn’t expect huge numbers from him either.
Studs: James Starks, Keenan Allen, Phillip Rivers
Duds: Eddie Lacy, GB passing game
Texans @ Jacksonville
I officially rename Blake Bortles (30-53, 331 yards 3 TDs 3 INTs) the garbage monster for fantasy football. Bortles just keeps making bad decisions and ruining his team’s chances for a win but because of his mistakes he keeps getting late time at the end of games to rack up yardage and cheap TDs. This week Bortles threw a late INT in the red zone at the end of the half and a pick six with his team down 10 to essentially lose the game for the Jags. Against a weak team like Houston I think using Bortles was actually a smart play for fantasy even though I wasn’t personally advocating for him this week. The Jacksonville D is Swiss-cheese pretty much everywhere so you know they will be giving up points as well. With Bortles having rising star Allen Robinson (6 rec. 86 yards TD), a nice deep threat in Allen Hurns (2 rec. 31 yards TD), and now a stud TE in Julius Thomas (7 rec. 78 yards TD) to throw too expect the garbage monster to keep producing… target him at will against weaker opponents.
The Texans actually have a lot of similarities to the Jags. They have below average QB play, but have real playmakers at RB and WR. DeAndre Hopkins (10 rec. 148 yards 2 TDs) is essentially the number one play at WR in fantasy for the time being. Not only is he getting targeted at an insane rate but he’s making catches that are so difficult in nature that he’s almost un-coverable. Hopkins had two or three circus catches in this game and then went out and completely burned the Jags for a deep ball late. With the Texans D being so bad garbage time will also boost Hopkins most weeks too. You have to consider him as a top 3 option at WR every week until something changes.
Arian Foster (18 car. 53 yards, 5 rec. 59 yards TD) returned and produced OK for fantasy but honestly doesn’t look 100% to me yet. I expected more against a weak Jags team but could give him the benefit of the doubt and would still advocate for him in a weak matchup. You have to love that he’s essentially the Texans secondary receiver at the moment behind Hopkins.
Studs: Arian Foster, DeAndre Hopkins, Blake Bortles, Allen Robinson
Duds: Jacksonville D
Ravens @ 49ers
It’s hard to fathom after several years of inconsistency but the Ravens are a bad team right now… and not just average bad but Jacksonville bad. The good thing about this for fantasy however is that games like this will now become targets for us going forward. The Ravens can’t stop anything in the passing game and so that means you can expect Joe Flacco (33-53, 343 2 TDs 2 INTs) to have to throw a ton just to stay close most weeks. Flacco had a decently big game against a pretty equally bad 49ers D and paid off pretty nicely on most sites for DFS. I expect more days like this ahead for Flacco and for his sidekick Steve Smith (7 rec. 137 yards TD). I had pretty much written off Smith for use this week as reports were he wasn’t fully healthy… he of course responded with a massive game. Smith is such a competitor that I think he’ll take pleasure in burning teams weekly even if most of his season will be played in garbage time. Expect more games like this from this duo as the Ravens season goes down the drain.
The 49ers did a good job in taking advantage of possibly the worst secondary in the league. While you love to see production from Torrey Smith (3 rec. 96 yards TD) he’s pretty much just a tournament dart in this offense but one that hit the bullseye in what was a “revenge” game for him for fantasy. I don’t trust any receiver but at least with Torrey you know you’re getting a complete boom or bust player for tournaments. Target him only against weaker opponents.
I had high hopes for Carlos Hyde (21 car. 55 yards) in this game as I foresaw the 49ers getting up and then sealing the game away with the run. Hyde never got going and was injured mid game with a foot flare-up. With San Fran not being the best team Hyde’s a risky play most weeks as game flow will rarely be in his favour, going forward he’s someone I don’t want any part of until I know he’s 100% healthy. Stay away for the time being.
Studs: Torrey Smith, Colin Kaepernick, Steve Smith, Joe Flacco
Duds: Carlos Hyde