Will the Patriots again bludgeon the Colts’ soft defense with a thoroughly dominant running game? Can Josh McCown and the free-swinging Browns offense maintain their remarkable run against the league’s top defense? How can we fill out a sexy Sunday lineup without world-beaters Devonta Freeman and Julio Jones, or bargain bin superstar Willie Snead? Without much ado, let’s examine the juiciest plays for DraftKings’ Week 6 slate.
Tom Brady ($8,100)
The Patriots simply match up well with the Colts, as we’ve seen manifested over their last few meetings. So while it may seem Brady’s outlook suffers in terms of game flow, his decisively strong floor – 25+ points in all four games, all comfortable Patriots wins – makes him the ideal cash QB in spite of the high salary. He’s the best bet among the high-dollar guys to return the 3x value you need to land well in a cash contest.
Andy Dalton ($5,700)
Speaking of which, the perpetually underpriced Dalton has returned 3x value in all five games thus far. The Bengals offense is just taking up residence in opposing red zones, so even their run-heavy tendencies have allowed Dalton to throw 11 scores. That pairs nicely with his 304-yard per-game average – he’s reached that bonus three weeks running – and gives him as good a range of QB1 outcomes as anyone.
Josh McCown ($5,400)
The week’s No. 1 h-value option at QB, McCown has overachieved mightily, as his pass-catching talent has provided plenty of big-play opportunities and garbage/rally time has abounded. He’s thrown for a minimum of 341 yards since returning to the lineup in Week 3, with two touchdowns in all three games. His GPP value is actually boosted this week by a daunting matchup, which should keep your competitors away and his ownership relatively low. The vicious Broncos defense will likely give McCown fits, but sheer volume (47 attempts per game over the last three) should afford him at least the opportunity to keep that 300-yard, multi-TD streak rolling.
Ryan Fitzpatrick ($5,000)
Washington’s stingy run defense points to another high-volume day for Fitzpatrick, who threw 92 passes over the two games prior to Week 5’s thrashing of the Dolphins. His ceiling is lower than you’d like to chase in a GPP, but there’s strong touchdown upside here, with red zone dominator Eric Decker back in the lineup and Brandon Marshall rolling all over the field. This is his best outlook yet for a 20-point finish.
With Jamaal Charles sidelined and Devonta Freeman playing on Thursday, these three represent by far your best shots at elite RB production. Bell is the unquestioned focal point of a Steelers offense doing its best to keep the ball out of Michael Vick’s hands; his powerful combination of ceiling and floor remains the crown jewel of a full-PPR contest. But Peterson looks like the savvier play. With a robust 18 red zone rushes (nine from inside the 10) through four games, he offers a similar touchdown projection to Bell at a hefty discount.
Offering noticeable salary relief from both Bell and Peterson, Forte boasts a similar volume outlook without all of the upside. He’s not dominating anyone – just 3.8 yards per carry since his huge Week 1 line – but has seen 19+ touches in all five games, and 23 or more in three of them. His matchup with a floundering Lions defense suggests just enough 3x upside to make him an elite cash play.
We all know the narrative/punchline: when the Patriots and Colts face off, Bill Belichick sends the power run game into overdrive and mows down a helpless front seven. In their two 2014 meetings, Jonas Gray and LeGarrette Blount combined for 348 ground yards and a head-shaking seven touchdowns. Belichick is unpredictable, but it’s perfectly fair to dip into either Lewis or Blount in taking down a GPP. Of the two, Lewis offers the best h-value based on recent usage and performance, but it makes a little more sense to lean toward Blount. He’s the clear power back and closer and looks to benefit most from expected game flow – and comes at a very helpful discount.
Duke Johnson, Jr. ($4,500)
So this is what the Browns coaches meant during the offseason, when they described the specialty packages they’d installed to cash in on Johnson’s outstanding pass-game skills. As the Cleveland offense has erupted over the last three weeks, Johnson has contributed 21 receptions on his way to providing 3x value in each one. With the Browns likely to throw at breakneck pace Sunday, consider 6-7 catches and 70-80 total yards as Johnson’s floor – a great pairing with his quadruple-value ceiling.
With Jamaal Charles out, these two will duke it out for opportunity in a relatively high-usage backfield. Ideally, DFSers should probably wait a week or two as the situation unmuddies, but their low salaries make them strong GPP considerations off the bat. And Kansas City RBs have produced 37 touchdowns over their last 37 games, so there are real fantasy stakes in this battle. It’s hard to nail down their exact roles going forward, so it makes far more sense to target West, who comes much cheaper and dominated the backfield after Charles’ injury (7-2 in rushes, 2-0 in targets). Both are dynamic athletes, but Andy Reid has already highlighted the similarities between West’s game and Charles’s. He looks to be in the driver seat for the heavier role at the moment.
Projecting very similarly for Week 6, these two target dominators have provided far more than just high reception totals. They’ve also excelled in the red zone and routinely posted triple-value floors. Hopkins, the league’s target leader, has commanded a whopping 39% of Texans looks from the red zone, giving him as strong of a touchdown outlook as anyone. Simply put, he’s the complete package as a cash game receiver. And Fitzgerald has been an absolute revelation near the goal line, where he’s turned five of his seven red zone targets into touchdowns. He’s licking his chops in preparation for a dance with the Steelers’ talent-starved secondary. It’s hard to go wrong in choosing between the two, as both project to easy WR1 lines, but Fitzgerald does offer a very helpful $700 discount.
Jeremy Maclin ($6,500)
Maclin has clearly and definitively broken the spell of Alex Smith’s aversion to WRs, drawing 36 targets over the last three weeks. In fact, thus far in 2015, his lowest total was Week 2’s seven, which still produced 11.7 points. With a dynamite 1.96 points per target since then, Maclin brings one of the best ceiling/floor combinations around. He’s a rock-solid WR1 option at a borderline-WR2 price tag.
Brandon Marshall ($7,100)
Marshall and Eric Decker dominate Ryan Fitzpatrick’s attention, so both carry strong Week 6 outlooks. The clear go-to option outside the red zone, Marshall has seen an average of 11 targets on the year, resulting in an average line of 8 catches and 100 yards. But Decker’s red zone prowess hasn’t damaged Marshall’s touchdown upside – he’s scored three times thus far and exceeded 3x scoring value in each of his last three games.
Eric Decker ($4,900)
Marshall has seized the target hog role in New York, but hasn’t sapped Decker’s weekly WR2 value much at all. Decker remains an elite target near the goal line and carries a strong touchdown projection every week: through his three games, he’s turned five red zone targets into three touchdowns. That’s not a fluke – he sports an eye-popping 13.2% TD rate over a career that’s seen him paired with the likes of Tim Tebow and Geno Smith. Savor this Week 6 salary, which is untenably low for such a consistent scoring threat.
Jamison Crowder ($3,600)
The diminutive rookie, No. 9 in h-value for the week, has seized a hefty role in the offense in DeSean Jackson’s absence. He’s drawn 26 targets over the last three weeks and caught 21 of them. Especially encouraging is the fact that he’s been targeted four times in the red zone over that span, and twice inside the 10. Clearly, Jay Gruden wants to work Crowder’s electric playmaking ability into his ravaged offense. Keep riding the PPR train in Week 6, where Crowder looks like a rock-solid bet to catch 6+ balls from the slot as Darrelle Revis tangoes with Pierre Garcon.
James Jones ($5,800)
Jones’s production has plateaued due to a sudden drop in red zone opportunity – he scored three short touchdowns over the first two weeks, but hasn’t seen a target there since. But that’s been a great thing for his DFS value, keeping his salary affordable while he’s maintained his offensive role and contributed huge chunk plays outside the red zone. Project a normalized compliment of attention near the goal line, and you can expect a solid WR2 line from Jones, regardless of Davante Adams’s status.
Gary Barnidge ($4,400)
Entering the season, Barnidge looked like no more than veteran depth behind Rob Housler, who many laughably expected to seize the starting job. But the dynamic Barnidge has looked truly adept at getting downfield and creating plays, and the Browns are throwing the ball at a wild pace right now. That volume should even magnify if the Broncos control this Week 6 matchup as expected. Barnidge is still notably underpriced for that kind of floor and ceiling, so bask in the low salary that all but guarantees him a strong chance to triple his value.
Antonio Gates ($4,600)
Roaring back from suspension with a monstrous Week 5 line, Gates slips back into weekly high-end TE1 consideration. And with Stevie Johnson likely to miss another week, Gates again projects very well in a likely pass-heavy Week 6 matchup. The Packers have defended Martellus Bennett, Jimmy Graham, and Travis Kelce fairly well this year, but Gates should have gobs of volume on his side Sunday.
Rob Gronkowski ($7,600)
This week may not provide Gronkowski with his best DFS outlook. The Colts are a hot mess at the moment and unlikely to be competitive Sunday night, so even though the Patriots love to throw with a lead, his volume outlook isn’t overwhelming. But he is who he is, and he serves well this week as a dynamic centerpiece for the right GPP roster.
Derek Carrier ($2,500)
Subbing for Jordan Reed, Carrier found the end zone in Week 5, more than meeting expectations for his minimum salary. He’s an athletic guy, one who prompted Washington to trade for him in the offseason, so he’s not a mere shot in the dark. Rather, he’s a savvy $2,500 stab with a solid chance at quadrupling that value.
Ladarius Green ($3,200)
It’s clear the Chargers value Green’s contributions more so than Dontrelle Inman’s. Missing Stevie Johnson in Week 5, the team eschewed multi-WR sets and played Gates and Green together frequently. The dynamic duo responded quite well; Gates exploded, while Green posted an encouraging five-catch, 50-yard stat line. Green will be exceptionally hit-or-miss going forward, but has staked his strongest claim ever for value alongside Gates. And a likely shootout with the Packers provides a fine outlook for all of the Chargers’ healthy receiving options.
Denver Broncos ($3,700)
Don’t jump off this train. The Browns offense is rolling, but is still captained by Josh McCown, and this is a defense that’s averaging 4.4 sacks and 2.8 takeaways. They’re also allowing just 42% of red zone trips to land in the end zone, so it’s hard to expect a particularly active scoreboard this Sunday.
New York Jets ($3,100)
Kirk Cousins does not belong in a starting lineup, especially when his wideouts line up opposite Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. Expect a rattled, mistake-filled performance against a Jets defense that’s created 13 turnovers and seven sacks through four games, while allowing more than 14 points just once.
Tennessee Titans ($2,900)
Don’t look now, but this is suddenly a defense capable of capitalizing on an advantageous matchup. They’re creating solid pressure, with 13 sacks through four games, and should prey upon a toothless Dolphins “attack” that’s undergoing a heavy coaching change.
Green Bay Packers ($3,200)
Few defenses are creating more big plays than the Packers, who have generated 16 sacks and six turnovers over the last three weeks. And it’s unlikely they’ll be owned too highly this week due to matchup perception. The Chargers boast an offense that’s generally potent, but they’re certainly not scoring off the charts.