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 9.
Browns @ Cleveland
This game went exactly as expected for me. The Cleveland defense has been falling apart for some time. While everyone knows they’re weak against the run their pass defense has also now started to show huge cracks. This was obviously an issue for them against Andy Dalton (21-27, 234 yards 3 TDs) who is working with a hugely talented core of receivers and RBs. Dalton had basically zero pressure all game and thus was able to pick apart Cleve’s D however he chose. That meant using Tyler Eifert (5 rec. 53 yards 3TD) a ton this week. Eifert is a mismatch regardless of who’s covering him, and might be the closest comparable to using Gronk in fantasy these days as multi-score days like this are always on the table against the right opponent.
The other Bengals note in this game is that Gio Bernard (13 car. 72 yards) is simply the better back for Cincy right now. Gio has always looked more suited to just a passing role but this year he’s been far more productive as a straight ahead runner. The Bengals keep giving Jeremy Hill (15 car. 52 yards) a lot of love but I’m still of the belief that a breakout for Gio is coming at some point. Bernard again broke off huge chunks running straight ahead through the pile in this game and out-produced Hill by going 5.5 ypc to Hill’s 3.5 ypc. Don’t be shocked if you see Gio finally getting more snaps soon.
As for Cleveland it’s hard to make too many assumptions about their offense. Cleveland has been extremely effective in the passing game all season and if Josh McCown can get back they’re an offense I’d continue to target. With a leaky defense a lot of passing will be needed just to keep games close. While this was definitely the week to avoid Gary Barnidge and Travis Benjamin with Johnny Football at the helm in a really tough matchup. With this poor game in the books though using Cleve’s popular targets could be profitable in weeks ahead in softer matchups.
Studs: Tyler Eifert, Andy Dalton
Duds: Gary Barnidge, Jeremy Hill
Raiders @ Steelers
Antonio Brown (17 rec. 284 yards, 2 car. 22 yards) went insane in this football game. The Raiders simply had no answer for the Steelers number 1 WR in this game as he was open short and deep all game. Brown was unlucky not to get into the end zone a couple times and could have had an even bigger game. Targeting the Raiders secondary going forward is probably a good idea, as they are relying heavily on almost 40 year old Charles Woodson and don’t have the personnel on D to keep up with elite WRs.
As nice a day as Brown had don’t expect too many more of them in the near future. Ben Roethlisberger left this game and looked like he suffered a major foot injury. Brown is still viable if Ben is out but he’s not going to be nearly the consistent big play option he was with Landry Jones at QB. You have to downgrade him big time after this huge game unfortunately.
For the Raiders, QB Derek Carr (24-44, 301 yards 4 TDs INT) is quite simply, one of the best QBs in the league at the moment. His and improved accuracy on downfield throws was on full display in this game as he hit both Amari Cooper (7 rec. 88 yards TD) and Michael Crabtree (7 rec. 108 yards 2 TDs) on long TDs multiple times. I was a little worried about Carr facing the Pitt pass rush in this game but he showed good mobility and looked great throwing on the run multiple times. This is an offense you definitely want more of going forward. Michael Crabtree is playing out of his mind at the moment and is getting more red zone targets than rookie Amari Cooper, but long term Cooper is still going to be the Antonio Brown of this offense and started to see more targets in the red zone this week too. Don’t be shocked if Cooper puts up a few massive games before the season ends.
Studs: Antonio Brown, DeAngelo Williams, Michael Crabtree, Amari Cooper
Duds: Injured Big Ben
Giants @ Tampa Bay
In a battle between two defensively challenged teams it wasn’t a shock to see both big name WRs put up pretty big days. Jameis Winston (19-36 249 yards) had another pretty solid passing day but it could have actually been better if not for some drops by his WR Mike Evans (8 rec. 152 yards). Evans probably dropped 3-4 very catchable balls that would have added a lot of points to both their total and made this an even bigger day for him. Before you get too excited though about either of these players note that the Giants are one of the worst defenses in the league at getting pressure and recorded exactly zero QB sacks. When the Bucs have been able to protect Winston he’s been fine but is still not really putting up big numbers regardless of the opponent. The truth is I hate this passing offense for fantasy and even though I like the talent on Evans he’s someone I’d use caution with against better passing D’s.
The Bucs RB’s had a great matchup in this game but both ended up fumbling and lost some playing time as a result. Once the Bucs got behind there were a lot less run plays called too. I love how Doug Martin (11 car. 31 yards) has looked this year and still think he’s a viable play going forward but you have to choose matchups with him carefully too. Against good teams where the Bucs project to be behind he’s a clear fade.
The Giants Odell Beckham (9 rec. 105 yards) had his way with the Bucs secondary as expected and just missed out on a long TD at one point which would have given him another big day. The Giants are pretty healthy at the moment in their receiving corps and so Beckham isn’t getting the crazy targeting that say Antonio Brown or Julio Jones is. He’s still the Giants main weapon but they spread the ball more than people realize, something to keep note of… After his big day Eli Manning (26-40, 213 yards 2 TDs 2 INTs) went back to being pretty average. The Giants could certainly be in more shootouts as the year rolls on but Manning has proven to be more fantasy dud than stud this year. Be careful with how much exposure you have to him outside of gpps every week.
Studs: Mike Evans, Odell Beckham
Duds: Doug Martin
Packers @ Panthers
This was the sort of big game I had been waiting for with Cam Newton (15-30, 297 yards 3 TDs, 9 car. 57 yards TD INT). The Packers defense has been crumbling the past couple weeks and in a showdown between two top teams Cam displayed his ability to rack up a ton of fantasy points very quickly when needed. I’ve said this before numerous times already this year but Newton is running the ball a ton right now and is as healthy as he has been for a while. You’re going to get at least 40 running yards every week when you take Cam and probably some red zone rushes in there too. While his accuracy is still and will always be an issue, against middling defenses a big game is always on the table with Cam this year. The Panthers are rolling.
The Packers on the other hand are rolling, in the wrong direction… Green Bay has been gashed two weeks in a row on D and there was obvious in fighting going on in this game with the defense to boot. While I had pegged Green Bay as a near lock down D the first 5 or so games after the past two weeks they get a significant downgrade and are looking like a good matchup in future weeks for opposing skill players.
The good news though is that with the downgrade to the Packers D comes an upgrade to the Packers passing offense for fantasy as they’ll now be forced into more usage in future weeks. Aaron Rodgers (25-48 369 yards TD INT) was great in the second half of this game and nearly ended up forcing OT after being down as many as 27 points. While many may jump on Richard Rodgers (5 rec. 19 yards 2 TDs) after his two TD performance the player I’m most excited about going forward from this offense is Davante Adams (7 rec. 93 yards). Adams looked good in his return and was able to beat the Panthers elite secondary in this game for some decent production. With the Packers having no run game Adams could see a lot of work in the coming weeks as Green Bay really needs an outside presence to compliment Randall Cobb. Keep an eye on Adams.
Studs: Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, Greg Olsen
Duds: Jonathan Stewart, Eddie Lacy
Colts @ Broncos
Well just when everyone writes off Andrew Luck (21-36 252 yards, 2 TDs) he goes and has his most effective game of the year versus the league’s best defense. I honestly don’t know what is up with Indy this year but I do know that with Luck at QB and an explosive WR like TY Hilton (5 rec. 82 yards) they are never truly out of a game. Hilton beat the elite Denver corners a few times in this game for big gains and even though he got pummelled a few times and was reportedly nursing an injured foot he looked fine to me. While I’m nowhere near calling Luck and Hilton a lock for the rest of the year I do know that for Indy to beat even average teams big production is going to be needed from Hilton many weeks. Don’t be shocked if he’s a big DFS play in the last portion of the season.
As far as the Denver D goes, just take this game as an anomaly and move on. The Broncos got a little too cocky after their big win versus the Packers and on the road versus a desperate Indy team they came out flat and undisciplined. They’re still the best, most elite D in the league right now.
Denver’s offense on the other hand remains a complete bust for the most part. They had their running game going for the past couple weeks but couldn’t muster more than 35 yards against the pretty terrible Indy run D. After two 100 yard+ games, Ronnie Hillman was a huge disappointment and might have had an injury derail his production. With the split in carries I’m not even sure I’d consider the Denver running game as a gpp play anymore… just Avoid it.
Emmanuel Sanders (6 rec. 90 yards TD) took advantage of the Colts issues covering slot WRs but week to week it seems like either him or Demaryius Thomas (5 rec. 50 yards) have been a letdown. This offense can’t support two big days at WR anymore. Denver is just a clear avoid for me right now in DFS… outside of their D of course.
Studs: Andrew Luck, Emmanuel Sanders
Duds: Ronnie Hillman, Denver D
Dolphins @ Bills
Well, just when we thought Miami had turned the corner and was headed towards being a contending team they get blasted for the second week in a row. The Miami run D still is really bad and allowed Lesean McCoy and Karlos Williams to run all over them. McCoy has looked really good in this offense the past couple games but left late with a bad shoulder which allowed Williams to pick up some nice yardage too. Buffalo plays on Thursday which would probably make Williams a huge play at min-price if McCoy can’t go. Either way targeting this running game against weaker defenses is a good idea, the Bills threw less than 15 times in this game and will look to keep it simple on offense when they can.
As for the Bills pass game it was basically all Sammy Watkins all the time. Watkins caught 8 of the 12 passes attempted on the day by Tyrod Taylor and had his way versus a pretty bad Miami secondary. Watkins should open up things again for the Bills offense although expecting huge days like this versus teams with shutdown corners probably isn’t a good idea. The Bills play the Jets next week and I don’t like Watkins in a matchup with Darrelle Revis, expect Buffalo to go more to TE Charles Clay instead.
Even though Lamar Miller and the Fins didn’t have a huge day running the ball he still saw put up a huge day fantasy wise in the pass game and scored two short TDs to also boost his total. Miller is almost approaching Devonta Freeman status now that he’s become more of the centre piece of the offense. If his price remains reasonable he’ll be a must start over the coming weeks. The suddenly run happy Fins are relying on Miller to make plays for them over the inconsistent Tannehill and it’s likely going to mean this run Miller is on extends itself until they face an elite defense.
As for Miami’s pass game, Jarvis Landry had a ton of receptions (11 rec. 69 yards) but couldn’t get free for any big gains. Miami’s passing attack is still very short and not so sweet. Landry still has value as a ppr play on sites that award full points for receptions but I don’t trust anyone from Miami receiving wise as anything more than a gpp play right now (unless they play Houston again, then play everyone).
Studs: Lamar Miller, Lesean McCoy, Sammy Watkins
Duds: Charles Clay
Eagles @ Cowboys
The Eagles passing game got going a little bit in this game and I dare say Sam Bradford (25-36, 295 yards TD) looked better than he has all year. Bradford was much more accurate than he has been the past couple weeks and avoided the INTs that have been plaguing him for most of his stint with the Eagles. Maybe, just maybe it’s time to start thinking about playing him and Jordan Matthews (9rec. 133 yards TD) again. Matthews also looked much better than he has in past weeks too and was consistently getting good separation and big yards after the catch all game. I love Matthews as a talent so will probably be sucked back into using him again at some point. If the Eagles do get rolling they could be a sneaky gpp pick in coming weeks.
At RB for Philly both Demarco Murray (18 car. 83 yards TD, 6 rec. 78 yards) and Ryan Mathews (11 car. 67 yards TD) ran it very well in this game. Mathews is actually the more explosive looking back right now but Murray’s been great in the pass game and that’s a huge boon on ppr sites. Again, both of these players can be looked at as gpp plays going forward now. Mathews as a cheap punt who’s getting some goal line work and Murray as a ppr/volume play. The Philly run offense looked very solid here.
As for the Cowboys, many might view Cole Beasley as a great cheap PPR option for week 10 after his monster 9 rec. 112 yard 2 TD performance. I’m not of the opinion that you should chase points here. Darren McFadden only caught one ball in this game and against other opponents who don’t cover the RB as well he’ll eat into Beasley’s targets. With Matt Cassel at QB I still want nothing to do with this pass game. Dallas only got this game to OT because of a completely ridiculous Hail Mary throw by Cassel who also threw a pick 6 right before this play. You don’t want to rely on stuff like that happening every week for your DFS rosters. Dez and the Beas will both be risky until Romo gets back.
Studs: Cole Beasley, Jordan Matthews, Demarco Murray
Rams @ Vikings
This game went exactly as planned. Two tough defenses going against two very sub-par’ish passing offenses with two elite RBs getting most of the yardage and scores for their respective teams. The one thing I will say about this game from the Rams perspective is that I love the way they are using Tavon Austin this year. He wasn’t super effective as a receiver in this game but had a couple big runs and actually had 8 carries for 66 yards rushing and broke some really long runs. Tavon’s the only Ram receiver I’d consider at the moment.
As for Minnesota’s top WR Stefon Diggs (3 rec. 42 yards) he was bottled up by the impressive Rams secondary. The Rams have been on complete lock down versus WRs of late and they are 100% a no go for players going up against them right now. They’re limiting yards after the catch with great tackling and making life difficult for any QB they face with pressure. As for Diggs, he’s still the main target in this offense and pretty much the only person I’d consider for DFS outside of Adrian Peterson (29 car. 125 yards TD) on Minnesota. Don’t fault him too much for one bad game.
Studs: Adrian Peterson, Todd Gurley
Duds: both passing games
Bears @ Chargers
The Bears played great in this game. They got some big performances from backup RB Jeremy Langford (18 car. 72 yards TD, 3 rec. 70 yards) and their D and took advantage of a San Diego team who at the moment simply can’t deal with all the injuries they’ve sustained. Langford honestly isn’t anything special but he was used a bit in the pass game and took advantage of a really soft Chargers run defense for a short TD. I wouldn’t expect such a good performance against stouter run defenses but Langford’s still very viable against weak ones like Chargers, he projects to get lots of work until Matt Forte returns.
The Chicago player who’s essentially a must roster at this point is Alshon Jeffery (10 rec. 151 yards). Jeffery simply dominated the Chargers secondary after their top CB Jason Verret left the game and is getting 12+ targets a game at the moment. I love that Jay Cutler used Alshon’s size numerous times in the game when under pressure, just throwing it up to the big man and letting him box out his opponents and come down with the ball. Jeffery is still being underpriced in spots by DFS sites and is almost a must play every week at this point.
As for the Chargers their season is done and their defense is horrible but that probably only upgrades their passing options for fantasy. Phillip Rivers (26-42, 280 yards TD) once again had to pass a bunch late as the Chargers simply can’t or won’t establish a run game. I love Stevie Johnson (7 rec. 68 yards) going forward in this offense as he looked like the only WR capable of consistently getting open and making a play with Keenan Allen out. Some big days could be ahead for him before the season is over.
Studs: Alshon Jeffery, Jeremy Langford
Duds: Melvin Gordon
Jaguars @ Jets
Well he’s back! Garbage time hero Blake Bortles (24-40, 381 yards 2 TDs 2 INTs) rode again in this game and for those who started him versus the Jets it was glorious. Bortles literally fumbled the Jags into a three score hole and then proceeded to throw some deep jump balls to Allen Robinson (6 rec. 121 yards) which got both their totals up for fantasy. I actually really like some of the Jags receiving options and the fact Robinson was able to produce while going against Revis for part of the day tells you just what kind of talent he is. Against weaker secondaries you could see Robinson explode for a couple big games in the second half of the season.
The other Allen for Jacksonville, Allen Hurns (5 rec. 122 yards TD), is also a consistent receiving threat now and has scored in 6 straight games. I liked this matchup for Hurns as team’s secondary receivers (ie those not getting shadowed by Revis) have typically had a lot of success this year vs the Jets. Hurns came through and is really benefitting from Blake Bortles willingness and need to chuck it deep late and from Allen Robinson getting so much attention from opposing CBs. Jacksonville is actually a pretty legit stacking option for tournaments right now and a passing game I’d consider every week.
As for the Jets their D hasn’t looked all that good in the past few games and has been getting killed through the air of all places. Outside of Revis the Jets look pretty thin in the secondary at the moment… something to keep in mind as many people have them as auto fades for DFS when that is certainly not the case.
Studs: Allen Hurns, Blake Bortles
Duds: Julius Thomas
Titans @ Saints
If you just looked at the scoresheet you’d swear Marcus Mariota (28-39, 371 yards 4 TDs) played awesome and is the second coming of Steve Young. If you watched the game you know that Mariota got insanely lucky a couple different times in this game on throws that should have been intercepted. On the Titans first TD he threw a horrible lob ball into 3 Saints corners who bobbled the pass and deflected it straight into the hands of Delanie Walker (7 rec. 95 yards 2 TDs) who was about 4 yards from the play for a long TD. It was so ridiculous you’d swear they planned it like that. On the next TD, also to Walker, the Saints just allowed the Titans leading receiver to walk into the corner of the end zone unguarded form the 1 yard line. I love Mariota, every times he runs he looks like he is being shot out of canon. But the Titans aren’t using him as a runner and he’s simply not a natural pocket passer despite what this stat line says. Against better defenses this offense will struggle.
One reason why the Titans will struggle against better defenses is because their RB, Antonio Andrews (19 car. 88 yards) is basically a 4.8 40m fullback. On a couple different occasions Andrews probably could have had long TD runs against the Saints but was caught easily from behind. I want no part of him going forward, the upside just isn’t there.
Drew Brees (28-39, 387 yards 3 TDs INT) and the Saints offense had a great start but were actually semi-shut down in the second half. It was a great 6 quarter run, but when the Saints needed offense in this game it wasn’t there. Part of the issue is that Mark Ingram (22 car. 54 yards, 4 rec. 42 yards) looked almost as slow as Antonio Andrews in this game. Maybe it was the Titans D but Ingram looked horrible, and to top things off never got any goal line carries even when the Saints where in the 1 yard line. Even with no Khiry Robinson Ingram is going to be volatile (based off this game anyways) and you can only hope he gets better lanes and better usage in coming weeks.
Studs: Drew Brees, Delanie Walker, Marcus Mariota
Duds: Mark Ingram
Redskins @ Patriots
I honestly don’t have a huge amount of takeaways from this game. The Pats ran the ball a ton with LeGarrette Blount (as I predicted in my contrarian plays this week). Blount ran well and probably could have had two more TDs but lost a fumble and got stuffed a couple times near the goal line. With Dion Lewis now out for the year expect to see a little more Blount as the season wears on. Just don’t go overboard, the Pats are very game plan specific they still have a ton of receiving options even without Lewis. Against better run D’s it will still be the Gronk/Edelman/Lafell show.
Speaking of Brandon LaFell, he went over 100 yards in this game on 5 catches and just missed a long TD on an underthrown ball. If LaFell keeps getting priced too cheap you can keep playing him. He’s easily the Pats best downfield receiving option (outside of Gronk) and should be a factor every week from here on out.
As for the Skins O they were shut down by the Patriots emerging defense. The Pats don’t get much love in DFS on D but they are near the league lead in sacks and have a great pass rush this year. The Skins could get nothing going in this game. I’m still a big fan of Jordan Reed going forward but wasn’t shocked to see him shutdown outside of a short TD catch. He’ll have much better days ahead against softer competition.
Studs: LeGarrette Blount, Brandon LaFell
Duds: Desean Jackson, Jordan Reed