This week, we'll discuss the following topics:
As you know, DraftKings offers a three-point bonus for 100-yard rushing and receiving performances. Rank the following WRs in order of their likelihood to reach 100 receiving yards:
- Julio Jones ($9,200) vs Tampa Bay
- DeAndre Hopkins ($8,700) vs Tennessee
- Odell Beckham Jr ($8,500) at New Orleans
- Antonio Brown ($7,800) vs Cincinnati
- Larry Fitzgerald ($7,700) at Cleveland
Phil Alexander: Here is how I would rank those five:
- Antonio Brown: Brown is tied with Hopkins for most 100 yard games this season. The Bengals defense can be exploited – especially by WR1s. However, if Ben Roethlisberger sits again, I'd drop Brown all the way to fifth on this list.
- DeAndre Hopkins: He is averaging 14% more targets per game than the next closest wide receiver. Titans cornerbacks are banged up and not very good to begin with.
- Julio Jones: Jones looks healthy again. Coming into last week, Football Outsiders ranked Tampa Bay dead last at defending opposing WR1s.
- Odell Beckham Jr: T.Y. Hilton showed last week how easy it can be to get behind the Saints defensive backs. His lingering hamstring injury is the only concern.
- Larry Fitzgerald: Fitzgerald should once again approach double digit targets, but Carson Palmer has been spreading around the production recently.
Dan Hindery: I completely agree with Phil on his list.
- Brown: He has given the Bengals real problems of late. Not only did he top 100 yards both games last season, but he has also scored a punt touchdown in three of his last four home games against the Bengals. He should top 100 yards again. I also really like his teammate Martavis Bryant this weekend. Assuming Adam Jones (who is arguably having a career year) covers Brown, Bryant should see a lot of Dre Kirkpatrick. Kirkpatrick has really struggled this year.
- Hopkins: The Arian Foster injury should help him. The Texans are a bad team, and it wouldn’t surprise if they find themselves playing from behind again -- even against the Titans.
- Jones: The extra three days of rest this past week looked to have done Jones a lot of good. He was really close to having a three-touchdown day, but a bad throw by Ryan and a close call at the goal line limited him to just one. Freeman’s emergence hurts Jones a little bit, but he is so far and away the best receiver on the team right now, it doesn’t really matter.
- Beckham Jr: He draws a tough matchup against Delvin Breaux. While Breaux gave up a couple big plays late to T.Y. Hilton, he mostly clamped him down for the first three quarters.
- Fitzgerald: We’ve seen older receivers start out like gangbusters and then fade as the season went on. Steve Smith Sr in his last few years with the Panthers always started off with a couple monster performances in the first quarter of the season before fading in the second half. I’m worried we will see the same thing with Fitzgerald this year. I’m sure I will be very much in the minority, but he’s not a guy who I am considering as a number one receiver going forward.
Scott Bischoff: My list has the same players at the top and bottom but differs in the middle.
- Brown: He's an amazingly explosive wide receiver in a perfect situation for his particular set of skills. Steelers quarterback Roethlisberger is excellent at extending plays which allows Brown more time to freelance outside of the play design. I see Brown easily getting to 100 yards in this game with Roethlisberger back in action. I agree with Phil that if Roethlisberger doesn't play, then I see Berown at the bottom of this list.
- Jones: The Buccaneers have done a horrendous job of covering WR1s this year, and this matchup looks like an offensive show. Jones should have his way with the Tampa Bay secondary and get to 100 yards easily.
- Beckham Jr: Beckham is one of those guys that is one big play away at all times, and it is tough to keep him under wraps for 60 minutes. Vegas likes this game to be high scoring, and I think Beckham makes a few big plays to get him to the century mark.
- Hopkins: The Texans are a mess right now, but it hasn't slowed Hopkins from getting an incredible amount of targets this season. He has been able to turn the heavy volume into great production to this point, except for last week. The Dolphins made life miserable giving him extra attention, which led to receiver Nate Washington's big day. Hopkins will be slowed by the Titans secondary as they've played pretty well in 2015, but with as much volume as he's seeing, Hopkins should get to 100 yards. I simply think Brown, Jones and Beckham have easier paths to that number.
- Fitzgerald: Fitzgerald and the Cardinals travel to Cleveland this week, and it's always tough to project how west coast teams will fare traveling to the east coast for 1:00 PM EST games. On top of that, we've seen Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer spreading the ball around within their offense. Receivers John Brown and Michael Floyd have become bigger parts of this offense, and going forward it's tough to see Fitzgerald being "the" guy in this offense.
Jeff Pasquino: I think I might be alone in my top pick here. I choose Hopkins. Houston has zero run game, and they have a very fast pace of play (first in the NFL), so Hopkins may get 20 targets come Sunday. I think he's a lock for 10 catches and 100 yards, and probably much more. I put his chance of 100 yards or more at 80-90%.
Beckham and Brown are close at two and three for me. The Saints gave up a lot of yards to both T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief last week, and Beckham is due for a big game. Brown gets Roethlisberger back and had 100+ yards against the Bengals twice last season. I put both at 60-75% shots at 100 yards.
Julio Jones is next, as the Falcons have two real game script options: run it with Devanta Freeman or throw it to Julio Jones. Of course they can do both, but Freeman could limit Jones' upside some. I still have Jones at 50-60% chance of 100 yards. I do not expect Fitzgerald to get 100 yards. Cleveland is soft against the run, and I think Arizona uses that weakness with their three tailbacks. The Cardinals also have John Brown and Michael Floyd, so Fitzgerald may see fewer targets on Sunday. I put him at maybe a 20% shot at 100 yards.
BJ VanderWoude: Here is how I would rank them.
- Jones: He hasn't reached 100 yards since Week 3 but has come close the last two weeks (92, 93). Tampa Bay has allowed 100 yard games to Kendall Wright, Allen Hurns and DeAndre Hopkins, so I expect a big game out of Jones that includes well over 100 yards receiving.
- Brown: No one will benefit more from Ben Roethlisberger's return. In the three games that Roethlisberger played, Brown averaged 145 yards receiving.
- Hopkins: He faces off against a Titans defense that has only let up one 100-yard receiving game (Travis Benjamin). Jones -- who is the best comparison to Hopkins' elite skill set -- recorded 93 yards receiving against the Titans in Week 7, and I expect Hopkins to put up similar numbers.
- Beckham Jr: The Saints let up their first 100-yard game to a receiver last week, when TY Hilton racked up 150 yards on only four catches. Beckham has the deep speed to reproduce Hilton's numbers; it just comes down to how his hamstring responds to running deep routes.
- Fitzgerald: There are receivers not listed here who I prefer to FItzgerald.
OK then, guys, which receiver(s) not listed do you think has the best chance to reach 100 yards?
VanderWoude: Mike Evans looks completely healthy and is starting to click with rookie Jameis Winston. The Falcons have had trouble containing number one receivers (Jordan Mathews 10/102, Odell Beckham Jr 7/146, DeAndre Hopkins 9/157), and Evans presents a severe mismatch with his wide catch radius and ability to out leap defenders on jump balls. He's reached 100 yards in two of his first four games.
Keenan Allen also has a great matchup against a Baltimore defense that has allowed Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, A.J. Green and Anquan Boldin to all eclipse 100 yards. He's averaging 98.5 yards receiving, and this is one of the better matchups he will have all season.
Alexander: Brandon Marshall has the best shot at 100 yards of the receivers not listed. He's tied with Brown and Hopkins for the league-lead with four 100 yard games this season and the Raiders don't employ a cornerback capable of defending him. A.J. Green on the road in Pittsburgh is a close second.
Hindery: Keenan Allen (at Baltimore), A.J. Green (at Pittsburgh), Mike Evans (at Atlanta) and Brandon Marshall (at Oakland) are the four guys not listed who look to me to have the best shot at cracking 100 yards. Each is the top target in his offense, and none face an elite cornerback.
Bischoff: I also like Allen, Green, and Marshall and see them as WR1s on their teams facing defenses without number one cornerbacks to limit them.
Which tight end do you give the best chance to reach the century mark?
Alexander: At tight end, I like Greg Olsen to go over 100 yards for the third time this season. The Colts have allowed the seventh-most receiving yards to opposing tight ends this season, and they've let up more receptions of 20+ yards than any team in the NFL.
Pasquino: I like Ladarius Green for San Diego with Antonio Gates likely out, and I think Jason Witten is a very sneaky option against Seattle, as the Seahawks do not cover tight ends very well at all. In terms of fantasy points against, Seattle is comparable to Oakland in the amount of points they are yielding to tight ends. Pittsburgh is third in that category, so keep Tyler Eifert on your short list here too. The Giants and Saints round out the top (Bottom?) five, so Ben Watson might even approach the century mark.
Bischoff: At tight end, I like Martellus Bennett to get there this week. The Vikings struggle to cover tight ends, and the Bears are a different and much better team at home than they are on the road.
VanderWoude: Tyler Eifert has broken out this season and cemented himself as one of the top tight end options each week. Fellow elite tight ends, Rob Gronkowski (5/94/3), Antonio Gates (9/92/2) and Travis Kelce (5/72) have all fared very well against Pittsburgh.
It's looking like Ben Roethlisberger will return this week. How will the Pittsburgh offense respond? On one hand, their star quarterback returns. On the other hand, they have a divisional game against a difficult opponent in Cincinnati.
Phil Alexander: Ben Roethlisberger's pending return is a huge boost for the entire Pittsburgh offense. The Bengals middling defense has been masked by how good their offense has played this year. They'll have their hands full at Heinz Field, where Roethlisberger's average fantasy points per game increase by 80% since the start of last season.
Dan Hindery: In regards to their middling statistics, the Bengals have been jumping out to big first-half leads pretty consistently. Thus, the overall defensive numbers are a bit misleading. The Bengals have given up quite a bit of “garbage time” yardage that does not reflect how strong the defense has been when it mattered. For example, the Bengals have only given up two first-half touchdowns the entire season.
I would also add that the Steelers offensive line could have a tough time with the Bengals defensive line. Geno Atkins is fully recovered from the ACL injury he suffered late in the 2013 season and playing at an elite level. He has been able to push the pocket consistently, which has allowed the Bengals talented defensive end duo of Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson to get around the corner and get pressure. The Steelers have been playing all season with backup center Cody Wallace, but the recent loss of left tackle Kelvin Beachum could prove even more costly. In his first start, Alejandro Villanueva (who almost gave up football recently) had a tough time with Tamba Hali. He gave up a strip-sack to Hali that clinched the game for the Chiefs. If Roethlisberger is even less mobile than normal and the line struggles to contain the Bengals pass rush, the entire Steelers offense could disappoint DFS owners.
Who benefits the most with Roethlisberger's return? Which player is the best value based on DraftKings pricing?
Alexander: Antonio Brown's splits in the three games Roethlisberger played: 11.7 targets, 9.67 receptions, 145.33 receiving yards, 0.67 touchdowns
And in the three games Roehtlisberger missed: 7.75 targets, 4.25 receptions, 58.75 receiving yards, zero touchdowns
Martavis Bryant is an excellent value at $5,300 and Le'Veon Bell will see an uptick in production as well, but Brown with a healthy Roethlisberger is the overall WR1 in PPR scoring. You're stealing him as the WR5 on the Sunday-Monday slate.
Hindery: I agree with everything Phil has said about who will benefit. Both Brown and Bryant are real bargains this week assuming Roethlisberger is back and able to play at or near his normal level. If the Steelers can overcome the offensive line issues I mentioned above, there is real potential for this game to turn into a shootout. And I'm intrigued by a Bengals-Steelers GPP stack with Roethlisberger, Brown, and/or Bryant from the Steelers and some combination of Tyler Eifert, A.J. Green and Marvin Jones from the Bengals.
Scott Bischoff: Both Phil and Dan have made excellent points, and I think we'll have a consensus on what Roethlisberger's return means for this offense. We might get Brown this week at the lowest price he'll be the rest of the season. And he has the potential to lead all receivers in scoring this week. In this full-PPR scoring system, I think Brown is a cash game lock at his price of $7,800. As Phil pointed out, he could easily be PPR WR1 this week.
Bryant ($5,300) is a player I'll have in as many GPP lineups as I can. He is an incredible vertical threat, capable of scoring in a flash. Seven catches, 100 yards, and a score gets him to value for GPP play, and I'd put his chances of getting there higher than what his ownership numbers will be.
Having said all that, I think the player that benefits the most from Roethlisberger returning is tight end Heath Miller. Milller saw 11 targets in Week 1 and two in Week 2. Roethlisberger was injured in Week 3, and has seen eight total targets in the four games Roethlisberger has missed. He has been completely removed from the offense, and he'll return to TE1 type numbers when Roethlisberger returns.
Jeff Pasquino: Let's just look at the straight pricing here. Brown is at $7,800, the sixth-most expensive wideout this week. That feels about right considering he has good upside but doesn't deserve to be a top-five guy just yet until he and Roethlisberger get back in sync. To be a cash lock, he would need a clear path to 22 points, which means about a 7-120 line without a touchdown. That's doable but not a lock. He did have two games last year comparable to that value: Week 17, 7-128-1 (28.8 points, 22.8 without the touchdown); and Week 14, 9-117-0 (23.7 points). I think he is a reasonable cash pick with 4x GPP upside.
Martavis Bryant has 20+ point upside, which is what you look for at his price point of $5,300 when you are seeking 4x value. He has a good shot at hitting that number, especially if Roethlisberger hits him on a deep touchdown.
I have to wonder about Heath Miller. The matchup may not be there as Miller did virtually nothing against the Bengals last year. I would stick to the wide receivers for value here.
Darren McFadden looked like a fully healthy, younger version of himself on Sunday. Coach Jason Garrett has said that McFadden has earned more playing time.
With Joseph Randle potentially still nursing his injury and Christine Michael still not getting a real chance, would you take a chance on McFadden at his low price ($3,800) despite a tough matchup vs. Seattle?
Phil Alexander: I'm not getting too excited about Darren McFadden this week. Vegas' opening line has the Cowboys as 5.5 point home underdogs with a measly 17.5 point implied team total. The game script sets up poorly for the run, and Seattle's defense is the second-stingiest unit to opposing running backs. Even if he's in on over 80% of the snaps again, McFadden's ceiling is too low for me to use him in GPPs. In cash games, McFadden's target score is 11.4 points, which is attainable on about 50 rushing yards, four receptions, and 25 receiving yards. If Joseph Randle is out, those projections seem safe enough, provided McFadden -- who just touched the ball more times in a game than he has since 2012 -- can make it through another four quarters in one piece.
Scott Bischoff: I agree with Phil to a large extent, and the only thing I'd really want to add is about McFadden's usage as a pass catcher out of the backfield. It's what can take him from an average cash game play to a good cash game play. I see this game just like Phil does, low scoring and overall just a bad matchup for the Dallas running backs. As Phil points out, there is a significant risk in playing McFadden as his inury history makes him generally unreliable.
Jeff Pasquino: Last week, I correctly predicted that the Cowboys would try and run the ball on the Giants (pats myself on the back) to protect Matt Cassel and also rely on their strength in their offensive line. Seattle is in the top 10 in yards per game against for their rushing defense, far better than the 21st-ranked Giants defense. Seattle is going to stack the box and force Cassel to beat them, and I doubt that he will. As Phil and Scott have accurately pointed out, McFadden is an okay cash game option, but his ceiling is too low against the Seahawks for tournament consideration.
Garbage Time Production
Week 7 was littered with garbage time production. Houston, Indianapolis, and San Diego were all teams who were losing and put up big stats against soft defenses. While most fantasy analysts will say that we shouldn't rely on garbage time, sometimes it can be predicted by looking at possible game scripts.
Which Week 8 game (or games) do you see as potential blowouts where the losing team can still produce valuable fantasy numbers?
Dan Hindery: Predicting the blowouts can be pretty tough. Indianapolis and San Diego were both healthy home favorites but surprisingly fell behind by 20+ points early in their games. Houston vs. Miami was not supposed to be a lopsided game either.
However, I do think we’ve seen in recent years where certain teams (and specific players) have regularly fallen behind and then been able to put up big numbers in comeback attempts. A few years back, Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford put up career seasons and some monster games when their porous defense put them in big holes early. Last year, Kelvin Benjamin was a regular beneficiary of garbage time touchdown catches.
This season, we’ve already seen Philip Rivers having to play from way behind in more than half of the games so far. The odds that it continues in Week 8 are relatively high as the Chargers are currently underdogs (+3) at Baltimore. I could foresee a game script in which the Ravens ride Justin Forsett to build a double-digit lead early and then have to hang on as Philip Rivers and the Chargers attempt to pass their way back into the game. It’s rare to stack a running back against the opposing quarterback in the GPP format, but I like the idea of running out Rivers and Forsett in the same lineups this coming weekend and betting that the Ravens will be playing from ahead. If you’re really betting on this particular game script, Danny Woodhead has also been a garbage-time hero this season and makes for a nice stack with Rivers on DraftKings.
Phil Alexander: Andrew Luck and the Colts have been making a habit of falling behind early and racking up fantasy production in the second half of games. Check out Luck's first and second half splits this season:
- First half: 86 pass attempts, 485 passing yards, two touchdowns
- Second half: 124 pass attempts, 913 passing yards, nine touchdowns
In total, Luck has accumulated 74% of his passing fantasy points in the second half of games, and a staggering 86% of his production has come while the Colts were trailing. Vegas has Carolina favored over Indianapolis by nearly a touchdown this week, so it seems likely Luck will once again be playing from behind. The only question is whether or not Carolina's defense will bend late in the game. My first guess would be no; the Panthers allow only 18 points per game (fifth-fewest in the league) and Indianapolis' 19.75 implied team total doesn't inspire confidence. But that does leave two to three touchdowns to be had for the Colts, who have scored on pass plays 75% of the time. Considering Luck's price and the overwhelmingly bad matchup, he'll check in under 5% owned in tournaments. I'm not adverse to placing a chip on a low-owned player with Luck's week-to-week upside, knowing at the very least he has garbage time all-star potential.
BJ VanderWoude: San Diego would be my first choice given how productive Philip Rivers has been in second halves this season. He is producing the most fantasy points for his receivers, mostly on the strength of short precise passes and efficiency in the red zone.
Detroit is five point underdogs in London vs. Kansas City, and the Chiefs should be able to take advantage of a terrible Detroit defense that is allowing the second-most points in the NFL (200 total points, 28.6 points per game). Given Alex Smith's relative strengths as a passer, he should have a field day, as the Lions are allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 73.3% of their passes for 313 yards and two touchdowns per game. They are allowing the most yards per attempt (9.1), which is over a half yard more than the next worst team (49ers at 8.5). I expect the Chiefs to get up early in the first half and force Detroit to abandon the run game, which is something that comes easy for a Lions team averaging the fewest rushing yards per game (68 yards per game).
I could see this game playing out similarly to Detroit's Week 2 loss at Minnesota. Matthew Stafford finished with 286 yards passing with two touchdowns and one interception. Most importantly, though, he completed 32 passes. Calvin Johnson (10 receptions - 83 yards - 1 touchdown), Eric Ebron (5-43-1), and Golden Tate (6-80) all had double digit targets while Theo Riddick finished with a respectable five catches on six targets (5-41). The biggest difference between the two games will be that instead of facing a Minnesota pass defense ranked seventh in the league (233 yards per game, eight passing touchdowns allowed, 7.2 yards per attempt), the Kansas City secondary has been much more generous (265 yards per game, 15 touchdown passes allowed, 7.6 yards per attempt). With Kansas City allowing the second-most passing touchdowns, the potential for second half and garbage time production will certainly be there for Matt Stafford and the rest of the offense to take advantage of. The main beneficiaries for GPP's would be Calvin Johnson and Eric Ebron, while Theo Riddick and Golden Tate should hold value in cash game lineups.
Phil Alexander: One more team that needs to be mentioned here is Tampa Bay. They're seven-point road underdogs at Atlanta in a game with a 48 point over/under. Tampa got their doors blown off when they visited the Falcons last year, and it certainly wouldn't be surprising to see Atlanta ride Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman to a big lead this week. The projected pass-heavy game script for the Bucs, combined with Vincent Jackson's probable absence (knee) sets up Mike Evans to lead the league in targets this week. Despite his 33-point effort last week, Evans remains under-priced at $6,800 (down $900 from Week 1) due to his injury-induced slow start. If Jackson does indeed miss the game, Evans is nearing must-play status in all formats. The Buccaneers falling behind early would also set up Charles Sims ($3,600) for more touches than usual. Atlanta has allowed the most receptions and receiving yards to opposing running backs this season.
Jeff Pasquino: I think Phil touched on the crux of what to look for here with the Tampa Bay pick, and that's big underdogs. I can see the Buccaneers, the Colts (already mentioned), and also Cowboys putting up late points in a comeback effort but falling short. I would also not be surprised to see the "we always lose by one score" Ravens do something similar on Sunday (and yes, I know that Baltimore is favored). Frankly the best game to target this week for passing value is San Diego against Baltimore, as both Philip Rivers and Joe Flacco should have big games.
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