Carson Wentz – $7200 vs 49ers
Given the way Wentz has played lately and the defense he is facing, this is a no-brainer. Additionally, we have a high total in this game and the Eagles are favored by more than a touchdown. With San Francisco being 29th against the pass and 25th against the run, Wentz should be able to guide his team to a convincing victory at home.
Kirk Cousins – $6400 vs Cowboys
Cousins is trying to keep playoff hopes reasonably alive, and in this match up against a porous Cowboys secondary, I would expect to see Cousins spread the ball out. The only concern is this Dallas defensive line which is 9th in sack rate according to Football Outsiders data. If they can deal with the pass rush, Cousins looks to have a field day especially with great match ups for his two primary targets in Jordan Reed (who saw a resurgence Monday night) and Chris Thompson.
Deshaun Watson – $6400 @ Seahawks
Now looking at this name, it makes no sense given the match up. However, this is the NFL and there is a surprise every week, so why can’t this one be it. What if Watson is riding high on the confidence he built on the backs of Cincinnati, New England, Tennessee, Kansas City, and Cleveland, and he uses it to attack Seattle? Seattle is only 24th in sack rate, 23rd against the rush (should allow offense to be balanced), and they appear to be weak versus WR2s. It’s not a whole lot, but I could see Houston leaning on Miller and Foreman to get things moving, targeting Hopkins a number of times, and then BAAAAMMMM! Over the top to Will Fuller for a TD! Then Watson breaks a long run for a TD! Then the crowd in the loudest stadium in the NFL goes quiet. The cherry on top to all this…… is you win a GPP because you took a chance against the odds!
Other QBs to Consider:
Philip Rivers – Patriots have no Hightower after surgery which means a weakness in defending the run and the middle of the field in the air. Rivers + Gordon + Henry – Hightower = great production from Rivers on the road.
Josh McCown – Atlanta is clearly dealing with the Super Bowl hangover, and I do not expect them to stop bleeding fantasy points through the air. McCown + Forte + Anderson + Kearse + 46-point total + 25th ranked Falcons passing defense = more than 20 fantasy points easily.
Melvin Gordon – $8100 @ Patriots
The Chargers are 8.5-point road underdogs in this game that projects to be high scoring (Over/Under 48). Even though the Patriots are heavily favored, I think that people are underestimating this Chargers defense, which should keep the game closer than Vegas indicates. Regardless of what happens, game flow won’t remove Gordon from the game plan, but we must beware of the random Austin Eckler vulture TD. New England LB Hightower just had surgery, and last time he wasn’t on the field this year it was killer to the Patriot run defense. Gordon should see at least 20 touches in this game if not more.
Jordan Howard – $6800 @ Saints
The Bears seem to be running an old-school ground-and-pound offense, and they have to given the growing pains that come with a rookie QB in Trubisky. Based on that I could see the Bears running a ton with Howard. The Bears O-line seems to have a significant advantage, and the best way to beat future hall of famers is to keep them off the field. Therefore the Bears must lean on Howard to run the ball.
Mark Ingram – $7400 vs Bears
On the flip side of this game, Mark Ingram is a solid cash play. In this contest boasting a 47-point line, Ingram should be an easy choice given the amount of red zone work he has been getting lately. Chicago’s run defense is ranked 16th in DVOA which is middle of the pack, but the Saints boast the second highest ranking in Run blocking per Football Outsiders. This feels like a no-brainer, especially when they are facing a defensive line that is 25th in stopping the run per the same source.
Chris Thompson – $5800 vs Cowboys
In this division rivalry game Thompson should see a ton of action in the pass and run games. With the Redskins being home underdogs in this game, I could see them chasing points much like Monday night. Even though Rob Kelly has returned, Thompson’s effectiveness against a Dallas defense that is 30th in DVOA vs pass catching backs should be very useful in your lineup.
LeGarrette Blount – $5100 vs 49ers
You might notice the theme of these players being part of games with high totals so far, but its so important to flock to those games that appear to have what we all need to win – points! Given that, LeGarrette Blount is facing a defense that is 29th against the pass and 25th against the run. The Eagles should look to have a better balance of ground-and-pound and the high-octane down-field passing that we have seen lately. The Eagles o-line appears to have a significant advantage over the 49ers D-line, but the loss of JP could become a factor so proceed with a little caution here. Additionally, keep in mind that the 49ers have moved safety Eric Reid in to play linebacker after Bowman was cut. What happens when a smaller man trying to take down Blount with a head of steam? “Business decisions” will likely be made on the field, and that benefit the Eagles and Blount greatly. This game heavily favors the Eagles and Blount could be used as a clock-killer late in the game.
Joe Mixon – $4700 vs Colts
While this is not projected to be a high scoring affair Joe Mixon should be able to do work against the Colts that are 21st against the rush and dead last versus pass catching RBs. The challenge is we have to depend on Marvin Lewis putting his most talented back on the field. I still don’t know what happens when the Bengals lean on Mixon because they really haven’t done it yet. However, John Ross is supposed to return this week, and if he can succeed in stretching the field Mixon could have a field day…. if Coach Lewis comes to his senses. Cincinatti is a home favorite by a wide margin, and given the Bengals defense, we could see Mixon on a clock killing mission late in the game. This has got to be the game there they lean on him right?
AJ Green – $8500 vs Colts
Primed for a great match up, AJ Green is facing the Colts in a match up where they will likely lean on him as they have been recently. Out of 8 indicators for weekly top 5 receivers he has 7 of them (Home, favored, expecting 6+ receptions, bottom 15 in DVOA pass defense (30th), bottom 15 in DVOA vs WR1s (20th), bottom 15 in DVOA vs TEs (24th), and expected team points(26+)). Only indicator missing is the high game total indicator, but that is alright because in games that fall short of a 47-point O/U, we should expect the studs to ball out.
Adam Thielen – $7400 @ Browns
Minnesota is a road favorite against a Browns team that simply can’t seem to buy a win. While many may fade Thielen with Diggs potential return, Diggs return will open things up him. Has great markers including opposing defense being ranked 26th against the pass and dead last vs WR1s in DVOA. While he is the WR2 when Diggs is on the field (Cleveland is 1st in DVOA vs WR2s) he should still be able to produce. These soft tissue injuries have seemed to persist for Diggs, therefore the possibility of re-injury is real and could thrust Thielen right back in the WR1 role.
Alshon Jeffrey – $6700 / Nelson Agholor – $5500 vs 49ers
This should be the game where Alshon finally does what Eagles fans have been expecting since week 1. We have seen what Wentz has been able to do against way better defenses than what the 49ers have so both Alshon and Agholor should be able to eat. Each of them has 6 of 8 indicators for top 5 performances. Agholor has TDs in 5 of 7 games so far which is on pace for 11 TDs this season, and I am a believer in his resurrection from fantasy irrelevance. The toughest thing to decide is which one of these guys is the best value, and honestly, with the way Wentz spreads the ball around (4 different receivers with TDs last week) it could end up being Mack Hollins, Zach Ertz, Torrey Smith, who knows? Think about taking a shot in GPP with Agholor or Hollins, but Alshon is a solid cash play as I believe this is the game where he dominates.
Kelvin Benjamin – $6400 /Devin Funchess – $5900 vs Bucs
While the panthers are road underdogs, we know how bad Tampa Bay’s pass defense has been….. dead last in pass DVOA. Both of these guys should be able to eat especially since the Bucs are also dead last in sack rate, which should afford Cam time to look more like Superman than Clark Kent in this match up. Even though there is a low expected point total in this game, it may be worth taking a shot on either one of these players because this could actually be a sneaky shootout.
Jermaine Kearse – $4800 / Robby Anderson – $4200
Typically I am looking for point totals around 47 for my lineups, but a 46-point total where I would bet on the over is worth consideration. I believe in the over because McCown has surprised multiple times over the past few weeks with some crazy production. While the Jets are home underdogs, it’s a recipe for McCown to throw more to keep pace with a Falcons offense that should be able to put up points. Atlanta is 22nd and 27th versus WR1s and WR2s respectively in DVOA, but a lot of these targets could go to the running backs as well so temper expectations. The upside here, given the price, will be tough to pass on, especially if you are playing studs like Julio on the other side games like this.
Josh Doctson – $3900 vs Cowboys
How is this price still possible? Probably because we have only seen flashes, but it appears to me that Doctson is actually the best receiver in Washington. Dallas is ranked 20 in DVOA pass defense and they are 17th or worse in DVOA versus all possible receiver types. With his arrow pointing up, Doctson will make it into my lineups in positive match ups without thought until he breaks the $5000 barrier. Washington is also at home in a match up where the opponent could be the only thing standing between them and the post season – i.e. a “must win” for them. Word of caution for expectations: Dallas is 31st versus TEs and 30th versus receiving running backs in DVOA. This could affect Doctson’s targets, but I am still playing him.
Jordan Reed – $4700 vs Cowboys
Ummmmm….. Duh? Price and what looks like an obvious resurgence just makes too much sense. Add on top of that an expectation of Cousins to perform, the importance of the game and the fact that Dallas is 31st in defending tight ends? Sign me up!
Jason Witten – $4200 @ Redskins
On the other side of the same game we have Witten who has been targeted frequently by Dak especially when things appear to break down. After that one-handed TD reception, I am convinced that Witten still has it. Washington is 28th against tight ends, and just like Reed …. sign me up!
Other TEs to Consider
Nick O’Leary – Oakland is 25th against TEs in DVOA, Tyrod has been completely dependent on the tight end this season, and Buffalo is favored at home. Also, he will only cost you $3100.
Hunter Henry – I believe he is the reason the Chargers upset New England at home. At $4800 he could be the reason you win a GPP. The TE mantle should officially belong to Henry at this point. Even though the Patriots rank 12th against the tight end, Hightower’s absence will impact their ability to defend the middle of the field.
Eagles – $3800 vs 49ers
C.J. Beathard didn’t look good against the Dallas pass rush last week, and the Eagles pass rush is better. This d-line should be able to force some errant throws and we should see some picks in this game. The Eagles have been able to make teams one-dimensional all season, and if they can succeed in that during this game, there is no way Beathard will be able to carry the team. If the Eagles kill the clock as expected, then the 49ers will have limited opportunities to score points.
Saints – $3400 vs Bears
The Saints have been solid as of late and I can’t imagine that Trubisky beats them through the air. Even though Jordan Howard seems to match up well, I believe the Saints can still keep the opponent’s points low. Saints are favored by 10 and I can buy into the low implied total for Chicago.