This week, we'll discuss the following topics:
Pick one game where you feel supremely confident that you can predict the game script and discuss how it will go and which fantasy assets will benefit.
Jeff Pasquino: Carson Palmer is going to tear up the Ravens on Monday. Baltimore has given up a ton of yards to every offense this year, including Oakland, Cleveland, and San Francisco. That isn't exactly a "who's who" of NFL passing attacks. The Ravens are one fortunate missed kick in Pittsburgh away from being 0-6, and a strong case can be made that they are the worst team in the NFL right now. I think Palmer will tear up a secondary devoid of significant talent with three solid options in Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown and Michael Floyd. A 400-yard, three touchdown game is well within reach.
The other game I see going pretty straightforward is Tampa Bay running as much as possible against Washington. The Jets racked up a ton of yards on the ground last week behind Chris Ivory, and Doug Martin is coming off a three score game and a bye week. That screams "run Bucs, run" to me.
Will Grant: Supreme confidence is not something I'd toss around with any game script this year. Jeff and I were just talking about how crazy things have been. Chicago and Detroit put up 71 points last week? Seattle loses at home? It's been a crazy year.
But looking at the games this week, I think the one game you're going to want to have a couple guys from is New Orleans at Indianapolis. The Saints are giving up more than 27 points per game and have been really terrible on the road this year. The Colts are giving up over 24 points per game and are smarting from the loss to the Patriots last week. The Saints come in with a couple extra days rest, and the Colts offense is finally starting to engage now that Andrew Luck is back under center. The Vegas over/under puts this game at 52, and that seems very possible given these two teams.
At QB, both Drew Brees (QB3 - $7,200) and Andrew Luck (QB2 - $7,400) are going to need big games to reach value. There are other quarterbacks that you can take this week that will give you more flexibility in your lineup, so I'd consider other options at this point. You certainly can't take both, but if you have your heart set on one of them, I think Luck is your guy given how bad the Saints defense is.
At RB though, we start to see some potential. Frank Gore is sitting at $4,650, and he should have a solid game against a weak New Orleans run defense. Mark Ingram is a little more expensive at $4,900. He hasn't been burning up the yardage from scrimmage, but he has found the end zone a few times this season to make him a consideration as well. I'd fade C.J. Spiller, though, because aside from the one long touchdown he broke against Dallas, he hasn't done anything from a fantasy perspective.
At WR, everyone is in love with Willie Snead, and his salary is starting to climb. But at $4,300, he represents solid value with a decent chance to his 3x this week if he can hold on to the ball. Brandin Cooks has been consistently pulling in four or more receptions per game. However, his yardage numbers have not been impressive, and he's only reached the end zone once this year. At $4,700, he is an outside consideration, but you're probably safe to fade him this week. T.Y. Hilton at $4,800 and Donte Moncrief at $4,700 represent much better potential at WR. Both reached the end zone against the Patriots last week, and both should be heavily involved in the passing game this week with Luck back and the Saints in town.
At TE, all three are reasonably priced at $3,900, but Dwayne Allen and Coby Fleener limit each other's upside. If you pick the right one and he scores, you'll have the value you are looking for, but they could just as easily turn in a three-catch, 30-yard performance. Ben Watson went off on the Falcons last week, and he's reached the end zone the last two weeks in a row, so he's a much safer pick to have at the TE spot. I do think his upside is limited though, so I'd approach with caution. Don't expect another 10-catch performance this week.
I'd avoid both defenses this week as this game has the potential to be a shoot-out.
BJ VanderWoude: I agree with Will in that supreme confidence is not a phrase I would use with respect to game scripts.
In the effort of diversity, I will tackle the Cleveland-St.Louis game. Cleveland comes into the game giving up 149.8 rushing yards per game, good for worst in the league. On the ground alone, they are letting up 16.3 fantasy points to opposing RB1s. Todd Gurley enters the week averaging 5.7 yards per carry, which is the best mark among running backs with at least twenty carries this season. Since his Week 3 debut where he saw six carries, Gurley has been given 49 carries over the last two weeks, totaling 305 yards. The Rams have cobbled together an interesting group of skill position players who are capable of creating explosive plays, but no one will confuse them with the Greatest Show on Turf. They are built around a talented and aggressive defense, and now they have a true bell cow back who can move the chains, control the clock and lead the offense to enough points in order to win close games. The Rams are 2-3 overall, but 2-0 in their division, including wins over both Seattle and Arizona. This is a winnable game for St.Louis, and I expect Jeff Fischer to put the ball in Gurley's hands 25+ times, which should be more than enough carries for Gurley to eclipse 100 yards and score his first career touchdown along the way.
It may not be the sexiest pick, but stacking Gurley and the St.Louis Defense/ST together will have a positive correlation and provide salary relief. I expect both Gurley and the STL D/ST be inside the top five at their respective positions this week.
Scott Bischoff: The Lions host the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field on Sunday. This is a NFC North showdown featuring teams at opposite ends of the spectrum at this point. The Vikings are 3-2 and the Lions are 1-5, but we don't need to go too far back to see how this game will play out.
In Week 2, the Lions went to Minnesota and they were beaten quite handily, physically dominated at the point of attack on offense by a ferocious defensive line that pressured Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford all day. The Vikings beat up Stafford as the offensive line could not protect Stafford on any level, and he came out of the game very beat up. I'd expect a similar type of game this week.
The Vikings deploy a lot of exotic looks on defense, and this is going to confuse Stafford, as it has in the past. The Vikings have the playbook to stop the Lions, and they showed it in Week 2. Cornerback Xavier Rhodes has the size to stay with Lions receiver Calvin Johnson, and the Vikings will roll safety Harrison Smith to Johnson's side of the field. I don't expect Johnson to have a big day this week; in fact, I'm not considering owning any Lions player on offense, with an expectation to running back Theo Riddick. Riddick should see more playing time with Zach Zenner going to IR this week, and he'll catch his share of passes.
When the Vikings are on offense, I expect Teddy Bridgewater to challenge the Lions linebackers with short passes to tight end Kyle Rudolph, and I think they'll take a few shots down the field when they can get looks they like. At the end of the day, though, I fully expect Adrian Peterson to bounce back nicely from last week and be the main focus of the Vikings offense. The Vikings need to get Peterson going and this week they'll have little problems running the ball against a depleted defensive interior. The Lions are susceptible to the run into the middle of their defense and I expect Peterson to take full advantage of it in Week 7.
Gates vs. Oakland
After starting the season miserably against tight ends, Oakland allowed zero receptions to Denver tight ends in Week 5 and had a bye in Week 6. Have you forgotten about them, or are you inserting Antonio Gates into most of your cash game lineups?
Scott Bischoff: It looks like an ugly stat-line for Denver Broncos tight ends Owen Daniels and Virgil Green in Week 5, but in all reality, the Broncos are really not targeting their tight ends this season. So I see the Week 5 shutout as a black swan. The issues concerning a tight end receiving targets will not be a problem in Week 7 as Chargers tight end Antonio Gates was targeted 11 times in his Week 5 return from suspension, and then 16 times in Week 6 at Green Bay. Gates has 18 receptions in his two games and has tallied 187 yards and two touchdowns, and I see him as a chalk play in cash games this week versus Oakland. He'll be in a lot of my lineups this week.
Dan Hindery: Absolutely. Gates is the top option this week at tight end, and it’s not particularly close. He has seen a ridiculous 27 targets in his two games since returning from suspension. If Keenan Allen is out, those target numbers could climb even higher. When you add in the highly favorable matchup against Oakland, it makes the decision to roll with Gates in Week 7 seem pretty obvious.
Jeff Pasquino: I'm all about the tight end here, and I love Rivers against Oakland. I see Oakland-San Diego as a high-scoring, pass-happy contest. The only ways I see Gates not performing to high numbers is based on the Chargers' play calling or pass distribution to Keenan Allen, Danny Woodhead, or even Ladarius Green stealing targets from Gates.
BJ VanderWoude: Antonio Gates is also among my top options at tight end this week. His salary has begun to normalize, but he still represents one of the best bargains at tight end, especially this week in a matchup with the worst-ranked defense against the tight end position. San Diego has talent at the skill positions, but Gates continues to be the best red zone option for Philip Rivers, which only stands to reinforce his value this week and moving forward.
Will Grant: I like Gates this week against the Raiders for a couple reasons. As others here have stated, I think that the Denver game was an outlier. This defense made some pretty unknown tight ends look like all-stars before the break.
Add in that Gates is getting a ton of looks from Rivers these last two weeks plus San Diego's weak rushing attack, and I think Gates is a good option this week.
10/24 Update: Gates has a sprained MCL, per the San Diego Union Tribune, and is questionable to play. Gates will likely be a game-time decision, potentiall leaving DFS owners hanging as his game isn't until the 4:00pm EST slate. Editor's Opinion Alert: if Gates is ruled out, Ladarius Green becomes a high-end TE1.
In the spirit of the two-quarterback format on FantasyAces, we should be looking for passing touchdowns to bolster our lineups. Choose the game this week that you feel will have the most passing touchdowns and explain which stack(s) will provide the most fantasy value as a result.
Scott Bischoff: This is a very tough question. There don't appear to be a lot of great matchups for passing touchdowns this week, but one that stands out is the matchup on Monday night with Arizona Cardinals hosting the Baltimore Ravens. This matchup has passing touchdowns written all over it. Baltimore has been torched via the pass in 2015, giving up 11 touchdowns through the air in 2015. They've also surrendered 286.2 yards per game and given up a passer rating of 101.7. I'd be looking to stack Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer with wide receivers Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown.
On the other side of the ball, and partially because of the game script, I see the Ravens having to throw the ball to keep pace with the Cardinals. Wide receiver Steve Smith can go off for a big play in a flash, and the Ravens will have to hit a few deep passing plays this week. I see a Joe Flacco-Smith stack as a contrarian type of stack, but one that could pay off for owners.
Dan Hindery: I like Scott’s pick and agree with the idea of double-stacking in the same game. There is a positive correlation between opposing quarterbacks both scoring highly, and betting on a shootout is a nice way of increasing your odds in this format. In addition to the Cardinals-Ravens game, the Colts-Saints also looks like a good one to target for a GPP double stack. The game total is the week’s highest at 52, and it shouldn’t be a surprise if it ends up being a shootout. Both Andrew Luck and Drew Brees seem to be hitting their strides after starting slowly and dealing with injuries in the first quarter of the season. I like pairing Luck with T.Y. Hilton. It just seems like Hilton is due for a big game, and the Saints do not have a shutdown cornerback to worry about. Hilton has been solid but hasn’t been able to have enough of the long catches that made his 2014 season so productive.
Deciding which target to pair Brees with is much tougher, though I’d lean toward Willie Snead. Brandin Cooks will presumably see Vontae Davis most of the game, and Benjamin Watson is unlikely to repeat his Week 6 performance. Snead has seen a consistently high volume of targets over the past month and has been very efficient with a high catch-rate (68%) and strong yards per target (11.5).
Jeff Pasquino: Scott beat me to it on this question, as I love Carson Palmer this week. Flacco-Steve Smith is a decent secondary stack, but remember that Patrick Peterson is no slouch in coverage. I would rather look at Oakland-San Diego as a high scoring passing game. Philip Rivers-Keenan Allen (or Rivers-Antonio Gates) and Derek Carr with either Michael Crabtree or Amari Cooper are two very viable stacks as well.
Will Grant: If all else fails, start with the stats.
Defenses with most passing touchdowns allowed for the first six weeks:
- Chicago - 15
- KC - 14
- Buffalo - 13
- Houston - 12
- Tampa - 12 (5 Games)
Chicago is on a bye this week, but all the rest are playing. Jacksonville would be a good match-up against Buffalo this week, but the game isn't available unless you get into the Thursday night matchups. Tampa Bay is on the road in Washington, but they only have six passing touchdowns total this season. Kansas City plays at home against Pittsburgh, which ranks 18th with only eight passing touchdowns, and they have serious issues at QB. Houston is on the road in Miami who has just nine passing touchdowns this season. So none of them really jump out as quarterback-receiver stacks that you want to target this week.
However, if you look one step lower, you find the Saints tied for sixth with 11 passing touchdowns allowed. They travel to Indianapolis, where the Colts are tied for seventh with 11 passing touchdowns. Luck is an expensive QB to stack with his receivers T.Y. Hilton or Donte Moncrief, but if you're going to target quarterbacks with the best chance for passing touchdowns, Luck looks like your best option this week.
BJ VanderWoude: I'm with Jeff, I like the Oakland-San Diego game. There is some flexibility with who you can stack for San Diego. If Keenan Allen plays, he is obviously a great choice after turning in three games with at least 12 catches and 130 yards. If he doesn't play, I will take advantage of the increased targets that Antonio Gates is likely to see and stack him with Rivers. For GPP's, I can see the value in stacking Rivers with Malcolm Floyd or Stevie Johnson, both of whom have the opportunity to produce a 3x+ multiple on their salary with Rivers likely to spread the ball around.
After a wacky Week 1, Derek Carr has been solid, throwing eight touchdowns to just three interceptions, including three multi-touchdown games. I am leaning towards Carr-Crabtree as my preferred stack. Crabtree is leading the team in targets (45) and receptions (27) and is likely to continue that production this week. His projected match up against Brandon Flowers is an advantageous one for Crabtree. As Phil Alexander pointed out in his column this week, Crabtree has four inches and 28 pounds on Flowers, not to mention that Flowers has graded out as the worst per route cornerback in the league so far this season. Throw in offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave's comments about wanting to get Crabtree more involved in the offense, and I think it is the perfect week to insert a Carr/Crabtree stack in your lineups.
Vegas has set the total for this game at (46.5). San Diego and Oakland have combined for just four rushing touchdowns as compared to 23 passing touchdowns this season. If the game reaches it's projected total, which I think it will, both quarterbacks are likely looking at multi-touchdown games, and the opportunity to exceed a 3x multiple on their salary.
Who's your best "punt play" this week?
Dan Hindery: There are enough attractive mid-priced options that I probably won’t have to punt at any position this week, but if I did want to squeeze one more top player into my lineup, I’d look at one of two Washington players to try to add solid production at near-minimum prices. Derek Carrier ($3,000) at tight end and Chris Thompson ($3,900) are both nice options with real upside. The matchup is a good one against Tampa Bay and with DeSean Jackson expected to miss another week with his lingering hamstring injury and Jordan Reed also not expected back, there are targets to go around in the Washington passing game. Carrier and Thompson should be amongst Washington's leaders in pass targets this week, and Thompson should see at least a handful of carries as well.
10/24 Update: Thompson did not practice all week and is listed as "doubtful." Look elsewhere for a bargain-bin play. Editor's Opinion Alert: Matt Jones should get passing-down work for Washington, making him a decent option who should get plenty of touches at a low salary.
Scott Bischoff: I'm looking at spending near bottom-end dollars on Titans wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham this week with backup quarterback Zach Mettenberger filling in for the injured Marcus Mariota. With Harry Douglas out, the Titans receiving corps is reduced which puts Green-Beckham on the field for a larger number of snaps.
The snap count matters, but so does the quarterback play here. Mettenberger will drive the ball down the field and try to take advantage of the size advantage Green-Beckham will have over anyone in the Atlanta secondary. At his price, it will only take one big play for Green-Beckham to get to value this week, and I see an opportunity for a few big plays in this game.
Jeff Pasquino: I'm going to throw out two possible names:
The first is Christine Michael, RB, Dallas Cowboys ($3,700). Rumors are that the Cowboys are going to give Michael a real shot at being the feature back in Dallas. I think that the Cowboys are going to look to pound the ball at the Giants this week behind their offensive line and test that Giants defensive front. If Michael steps up behind that line, then the pressure goes off a struggling passing game and Matt Cassel.
The second player is Riley Cooper, WR, Philadelphia Eagles ($3,800). Sam Bradford has been a mess, but one thing he is doing of late is looking at Cooper, both deep and in the end zone. If Cooper can get three or four catches and a touchdown, especially if he breaks a long gainer, then a 3-77-1 line gives 4x value. Even if he does not score, cash value (3x) is very attainable if Bradford finds Cooper for a long pass.
10/24 Update: Cooper has a knee injury and is questionable. He should play, though, as he had the issue last week and played through it.
Will Grant: I like Dan's call of Derek Carrier or Chris Thompson from Washington. We talked in Question #3 about Tampa's poor passing defense allowing one of the highest touchdowns per game in the league. Both are priced low enough to be able to give you some serious flexibility at other positions.
Jay Cutler put up 353 passing yards on the Detroit Lions last week. They rank 10th in the league with 266 passing yards, 10 touchdowns against just four interceptions over the first six weeks of the season. Teddy Bridgewater comes to town now with price tag of just $5,600 for a QB (20th). That's a pretty reasonable price to pair with a higher priced quarterback if you're looking to run a stack like Andrew Luck with Hilton or Moncrief. Stefon Diggs is sitting at just $4,000. He had a monster day against the Chiefs last week with seven receptions for 129 yards. Both of these guys are reasonably priced if you're looking to add a low priced WR or QB.
BJ VanderWoude: I like the call on Riley Cooper. Jordan Mathews will have to face off against Josh Norman, so I expect his overall targets to be slightly below his weekly average of 9.6. Cooper seems like a good candidate to pick up some of those targets.
I'm leaning towards Theo Riddick as my bargain running back this week. Riddick is the reception leader among running backs (33) and has the opportunity to increase his role with Zach Zenner out for the year, Ameer Abdullah struggling with fumbles, and Joique Bell struggling with nagging injuries. Riddick has a nagging groin injury of his own, so his presence on my teams will depend on who suits up for Detroit. The Lions rushing attack is awful right now, but there is volume to be had in the passing game, so I would be willing to invest small shares in Abdullah, Bell or Riddick if it meant no competition for touches.
Christine Michael is the hot name for the week, but I wouldn't count out Darren McFadden. The last time the Cowboys played the Giants, Lance Dunbar caught eight passes for 70 yards. Chris Thompson also caught eight passes for 57 yards and a touchdown against the Giants. With McFadden coming off a nine catch effort in Week 5, he is poised to fill the void left by Dunbar's injury. I am not counting on a monster game, but six catches for 60 yards seems attainable for McFadden.
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