This week, we'll discuss the following topics:
The staffers we talked to this week are Phil Alexander, Chris Feery, Will Grant, Dan Hindery, Devin Knotts, John Mamula, and Jeff Pasquino.
[Hester]: Heading into Week 5, there appeared to be plenty of value plays, especially at running back (particularly after news of Latavius Murray's injury broke mid-week). But low-priced options like DeAndre Washington, Jerick McKinnon, and Terrance West disappointed while even Melvin Gordon III and C.J. Anderson at a higher pricing tier also failed to reach value.
Alexander: As it applies to running back specifically, the answer is to chase market share of team touches. David Johnson, Ezekiel Elliott, Carlos Hyde, LeSean McCoy, Todd Gurley, DeMarco Murray, and the aforementioned Gordon all finished as top-15 running backs, and all of them came into Week 5 handling at least 70% of their team's total backfield touches. Bell and Jordan Howard can be added to that list if we only look at the two games played since they took over starting duties for their respective teams. With so few running backs seeing enough volume to safely project at least a 2x return, it's almost a necessity to pay up for at least one of these guys each week.
When it comes to the RB2 slot, I have no problem looking for a cheap guy in a good situation. Last week that was McKinnon who was criminally underpriced across the industry coming off a Monday night game in which he ran for 85 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. Of course, McKinnon went on to sabotage rosters this week, but it wasn't because using him was bad process. I had McKinnon on about 25% of my GPP rosters. If you had told me the Vikings were going to win 31-13, and McKinnon was going to touch the ball 21 times, it would have been upwards of 60%. Sometimes the results just aren't there, but that doesn't mean we should stop looking for value at running back. A low-priced player stepping into 20+ touches (especially one with McKinnon's athletic ability) will continue to be a plug-and-play for me in just about every conceivable scenario.
Mamula: Phil nailed it. It's all about touches at the RB position. We have enough data to know who are the bell cow backs are throughout the league. A number of players that Phil mentioned will be DFS targets for me moving forward. You need at least one – if not more – of these backs on your roster. If you are playing multiple entries, spread out your exposure over the bell cow backs who are in the best matchups for the week. That would be Murray, Bell, McCoy, and Lamar Miller this week for those of you taking notes! There is just too much variance with low-priced running backs like we saw last week from Washington and McKinnon, who I had everywhere in my GPP rosters.
The other lesson that I learned is that I want to be paying up for the QB position. Give me Tom Brady or Ben Roethlisberger everywhere this week, with maybe a small amount (10%) exposure with Cam Newton or Russell Wilson. No thank you to Alex Smith because he is – well – Alex Smith. I have been burnt too many times by bad quarterbacks even in good matchups, such as Ryan Tannehill or Derek Anderson last week. Smith has a low floor every week, even in this matchup in Oakland. For DFS quarterbacks, I think there is more risk in missing on your QB position points rather than needing to land a value guy. My best rosters always seem to have an upper tier player at QB. The top tier guys usually score about the same. It seems to me that DFS is usually won or lost at other positions. Find your value elsewhere in both cash and GPP. This season, you can find value at the WR, TE, and Defense position on a weekly basis. Spend down at those positons and up at QB and RB and you will win all the monies!
Pasquino: I’m not going to use another “cheap” running back that has the possibility of losing goal line touches ever again, even if he looks like a feature back (yes, I’m talking about you, Mr. McKinnon). What I want from a running back is a volume of touches – carries or catches – with a strong likelihood of getting the ball 20+ times. That should lead to required cash game value point most of the time, especially for backs that catch the ball with the extra boost at either half-PPR or full PPR sites.
I’ve also learned the second side of that coin, which is that it is far easier to find value at wide receiver than it is at running back, as long as you have a cheaper option that is likely to get eight or more targets as a receiver or tight end. With all of the misses across the board at tight end this year, that is probably the safest place to pay down, and a single touchdown catch will allow for a punt tight end to hit cash value. That is particularly true on full PPR sites with low tight end salaries like DraftKings, but even on FanDuel with half-PPR, a punt tight end is a viable option given that many starting tight ends are just $4,500. That makes a single touchdown catch for a tight end at least 75% of value.
Knotts: I think over the course of the first few weeks, we were all caught up in the narrative that was last year that there isn't much difference between the top end of the running backs and the cheap guy who is going to get touches. This is primarily because we had Johnson, Gurley, DeAngelo Williams, Darren McFadden, and Chris Ivory, who were all underpriced at times due to starting the season low or starting the season as the backup. All of these running backs went over 1,000 total yards last year. This year, it is a completely different story, where the elite running backs are proving that they're elite as Johnson, Bell, and Elliott dominate the running back position. Meanwhile, DeAndre Hopkins, Odell Beckham Jr, and Allen Robinson continue to struggle on the wide receiver angle. I think the lesson learned is that if you're going to go cheap, you need to evaluate the running back and his overall talent and not just the running back who is cheap that is starting.
Feery: The running back position was full of landmines last week, but we shouldn’t take that as a sign to completely change the way we approach the position. As the guys have already noted, volume of touches is critical regardless of salary. That should prompt us to find the expensive bell cow back that’s in the best spot for the week. In a perfect world, there will be a lower-cost option or two that’s in line for a healthy workload for us to plug into the RB2 spot.
As we saw last week, that becomes tricky when the options are in unsettled situations. McKinnon looked especially appealing at his price last week, but it turns out the Vikings are not sold on him for goal line work. Going forward, I won’t completely shy away from the cheaper options just because I was burned on him, but I’ll definitely dig a little deeper to make sure I’m not chasing fool’s gold.
Absent a cheaper option for RB2, the best option may be to bite the bullet and spend up at the position for both spots. There’s typically a solid value play or two to be found between wide receiver and tight end, and that can free up more than enough salary to build a competitive roster.
Grant: As others have said, going cheaper with guys who can reach value with a high volume of touches is the way to go. The consensus rankings articles are a good place to see the players on staff are targeting for value picks. The other article that I use to find wide receivers who have a chance to exceed value is Ryan's Trendspotting article. His subsection Targets Lead to Touchdowns is pure money when it comes to finding receivers who can exceed value. If you followed his picks last week, you got touchdowns from Beckham Jr, Amari Cooper, and Brandon Marshall. Moderator's Note: thanks for the plug, Will. The check's in the mail! If you can pick receivers who aren't going to break the bank and can still exceed value, it will make up for a couple of more expensive options at other positions.
[Hester]: Assuming we're starting cash lineups with at least one "bell cow" running back this week, we're going to have to save somewhere. Talk about one quarterback outside of the top 15, one tight end outside the top 15, or one wide receiver outside of the top 25 in terms of price who you'd feel comfortable with using in cash games.
Alexander: Brian Hoyer has passed for at least 300 yards and two touchdowns in all three of his starts this season. Over the last three games, the only quarterbacks with more cumulative fantasy points are Matt Ryan and Ben Roethlisberger, yet Hoyer is still priced in the QB 18-20 range across the industry. His last two matchups with the Lions and Colts may have been ripe for the picking, but to Hoyer's credit, he capitalized on them. With the Jaguars traveling to Chicago this week, Hoyer once again has the opportunity to take advantage of weak opposition. Jacksonville ranks as a bottom-10 fantasy defense against quarterbacks per Austin Lee's Normalized Strength of Schedule, and Chicago's implied team total is north of the 24 point minimum we should be targeting for quarterbacks in cash games.
Mamula: I am comfortable paying down at TE or WR on a weekly basis. This week, two lower-priced options that I would feel comfortable starting in cash games are San Francisco's Jeremy Kerley at Buffalo or Philadephia's Zach Ertz at Washington. Kerley has been a target monster over the past couple of games. Last week vs. Arizona, Kerley had 8 receptions on 13 targets for 102 yards and 1 touchdown. In Week 4, Kerley had 6 receptions on 9 targets for 88 yards and 1 touchdown. He is still very cheap across the major DFS sites and starting to break out as the number-one option with the 49ers passing attack. The Bills have allowed 279 passing yards per game thus far this season.
Ertz is the other option that I would feel comfortable starting in cash games. TE has been such a hit or miss position that it often makes sense to pay down for a decent TE that is in an optimal matchup. This week, Ertz squares off against the Redskins pass defense, which has allowed 275 passing yards per game this season. Last week, Dennis Pitta had 7 receptions for 59 yards vs. the Redskins. Ertz is a few weeks removed from his rib injury and should be involved in the passing attack this week.
Knotts: Phil nailed it on the head with Hoyer as he is a guy I am strongly considering this week. At the tight end position, Gary Barnidge is a great value if Josh McCown is starting this week. We all saw what Barnidge was able to do with McCown last season as he ended up as the overall TE2. Barnidge has done very little this year, but that is largely because of the Browns being committed to the running game. However, with Joel Bitonio (Cleveland's best offensive guard) out for the time being, I expect that they will be looking to throw the ball more now that they have the veteran McCown back instead of Cody Kessler. The matchup is an average matchup this week, although the Titans have not faced a tight end of Barnidge's ceiling. The only comparable would be Kyle Rudolph, who had 4 receptions for 65 yards (but with Shaun Hill as his starting quarterback).
Pasquino: Tight end is easy for me this week; it's Pitta. With Steve Smith banged up and the Ravens getting a new offensive coordinator, I see Joe Flacco going to the Pitta well early and often against the Giants. Pitta has had six or more catches in three out of four weeks so far, and if the targets tick up with Smith likely out, I see Pitta reasonably likely to hit cash value against New York.
At quarterback, I would feel most comfortable with Trevor Siemian if I was playing on the Thursday-Monday slate, with two strong wide receivers that are always productive. But I will throw two other names out as the only two quarterbacks I would consider outside of the top15. First is rookie Carson Wentz, who seems to hit value every week for the Eagles. Helping Wentz's cause is the fact that Washington’s defense is not very good. The other is the guy I would probably go with, which is Marcus Mariota against the Browns. Mariota’s legs alone could have him reach cash value this week.
The wide receiver position outside of the top 25 gets a little sparse, but I can see going with Michael Thomas of the Saints or Quincy Enunwa of the Jets. Both of them have seen a ton of targets working out of the slot, and any time Drew Brees is at home, all of his targets are in play. Enunwa has shown a knack for getting open and moving the chains for New York, and now that Eric Decker is on Injured Reserve, Enunwa becomes a solid option.
Grant: I already talked about Cameron Meredith in the other topic, but he's definitely one that I'd look at for value. Last week, even with a healthy Eddie Royal, Meredith had 12 targets for 130 yards and touchdown. He's not quite the minimum price across the industry, but he's definitely a guy who is cheap for WR standards and a guy who has a reasonable chance to reach cash value again this week.
Sammie Coates Jr is another WR that you might think about if you're short on funds this week. Coates has gotten six receptions in each of the last two games, and this week he faces a terrible Miami defense. The Dolphins gave up touchdowns to Rishard Matthews and Andre Johnson last week. The week before, A.J. Green lit them up for 176 yards and a touchdown, and the week before that, Terrelle Pryor had 144 yards receiving. Danny Amendola had two scores in Week 2, and Doug Baldwin had 92 yards and a touchdown back in Week 1. Coates will be massively overshadowed by Antonio Brown this week, but Coates is still a nice cash play with a good chance to reach value.
Feery: At quarterback, Alex Smith looks like a fine option for this week. He’s typically bypassed pretty quickly for fantasy purposes due to his game manager reputation, but he offers up consistent production. Add in that he’s not afraid to tuck it and take off, as well as the fact that the Raiders have struggled against opposing signal callers so far this year, and he could be one of the week’s top value plays at the position - as well as a quarterback that's more than safe enough for cash game rosters.
As Jeff mentioned, wide receiver is little barren the further south you head on the salary scale this week. Thomas is a name that’s jumping out to me as well. Over the past two games, 20 targets have headed in his direction. It’s clear that the rapport between him and Brees is growing, and the Panthers secondary is nothing to be frightened of in 2016.
For tight end, I’m actually looking slightly out of the box and becoming increasingly intrigued by Charles Clay. He hauled in all five of his targets last week for 73 yards. If he would have found the end zone, that’s a solid day at his bargain basement price. In the absence of Sammy Watkins, Tyrod Taylor will continue to look his way plenty of times. Clay could see a boost in production as the season progresses, and this looks like a great opportunity to buy low.
Hindery: I am a bit late to the party and see he's been mentioned a couple times already, but I agree that Thomas is a strong cash game option this week as a cheap WR3 who allows you to pay up at quarterback and running back. Thomas has generated buzz from the first day of OTAs, shined in the preseason, and has been coming on strong early in the regular season. His role in the offense has steadily grown to the point where he has been on the field 64 snaps per game over the last two. Thomas has a decent floor considering his price. He has caught at least four passes every game. He also has an intriguingly high upside, which is equally important, even in cash games.
Thomas has scored in back-to-back games, and there should be plenty of receiving touchdowns to go around again this week. Brees has thrown at least three touchdown passes in each of his last seven home games and the 6’3" 212-pound Thomas is the best red zone option on the roster. While Carolina’s defensive reputation may scare some away, the matchup for Thomas is solid. Carolina ranks just 22nd in DVOA against the pass, and the game is expected to be a shootout with the highest over/under of the week at 53 points.
Units to Attack
[Hester]: We have at least four weeks of data on every team (and five weeks on most). So let's draw some conclusions. Which unit are you putting at the top of your list to attack each week (including this week, of course)?
Alexander: After allowing three touchdown passes to Marcus Mariota at home last week, I'm ready to declare open season on the Miami defense vs. quarterbacks and pass catchers. Miami has allowed the 13th-most raw fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, but not all quarterbacks are created equal. Normalized Strength of Schedule shows no team has allowed more fantasy points per game to quarterbacks than the Dolphins after adjusting to better represent their opponents’ true performance.
It's a long way of saying you should eat the chalk on Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown this week, despite the Steelers' highly publicized home/road splits. Football Outsiders ranks the Dolphins pass defense 29th at defending the opposition's WR1, which is supported by Doug Baldwin, Terrelle Pryor, and A.J. Green's game logs vs. Miami. Pittsburgh's offense is rolling with Le'Veon Bell back in the lineup, and they're projected for nearly 28 points by Vegas. You might even be able to get the slightest of ownership discounts on the Roethlisberger-Brown stack due to the home/road narrative and Brown's astronomical price throughout the industry.
Mamula: The Cleveland Browns are the top of my list of teams to attack. The Browns have allowed at least 25 points in every game this season. Tom Brady dissected them last week with 406 passing yards and 3 touchdowns. Washington running back Matt Jones had 138 total yards and 1 touchdown the week prior. Even Ryan Tannehill and Jarvis Landry had a solid performance, scoring 30 points a few weeks back! The Browns have a legitimate chance of going 0-16 this season. You can attack this defense however you please as they are equally bad vs. the rush and the pass. They are the first team that I look to attack each and every week. Some other teams that look to attack are Indianapolis (particularly their rush defense), New Orleans, Miami, and Oakland. But the cream of the crop is still the Browns! Make sure you roster DeMarco Murray this week, as he is in a prime spot.
Pasquino: When it comes to picking defenses to target, I’ll start with the really obvious bad teams like John and Phil pointed out with Miami and Cleveland, respectively. No question that these teams give up a ton of fantasy points, but I also like to find the teams that are really susceptible to particular positions. I’ll start with tight ends vs. Atlanta, as I see big things for Jimmy Graham this week. Graham is going to go under the radar in Week 6 after a bye, but before that, he had two 100-yard games in consecutive weeks against San Francisco and the Jets. Russell Wilson is healthier after a week of rest, but Tyler Lockett still has a knee concern, and I expect both Doug Baldwin and Graham to have big games against a Falcons defense that has not really shut any quarterbacks down this year. Note that there are several good teams to target tight ends against, such as Detroit and Carolina, but Los Angeles does not have a solid tight end option. I would not vote against using Coby Fleener this week, especially with Drew Brees at home, but I think Brees just loves to hit the open man, whoever it is.
Similar teams top the list for quarterbacks and wide receivers as well, but Oakland hasn’t been mentioned yet. They did change their personnel in Week 3, but San Diego didn’t seem to care in Week 5, nor did Baltimore in Week 4. That’s why I am looking at the trio of Alex Smith, Jeremy Maclin, and Travis Kelce across the board against the Raiders in a big, big game for the Chiefs this week. Oakland may be 4-1, but Andy Reid is 15-2 after a bye week, and I suspect the entire passing attack will come to play on Sunday, including both Spencer Ware and Jamaal Charles. Smith could easily reach value and push for well over tournament value in a performance that may rival his Week 1 against San Diego (363 yards, two touchdowns passing with a touchdown run).
The last one I will throw out there is Lamar Miller against the Colts. When is this guy going to get going? Indianapolis is one of the worst run defenses on the year (over 800 combined yards, including 30 catches, and 7 touchdowns against to running backs), only behind San Diego in points allowed to running backs. Miller is a scary option for most this week as he has yet to hit value all season long, but he could finally find the end zone on a nationally televised Sunday Night Football contest at home against a very porous defense.
Grant: San Francisco absolutely can't stop the run. They've given up 100 yards to Fozzy Whittaker in Week 2, 106 yards and 2 touchdowns to Christine Michael in Week 3, 138 yards and a touchdown to Ezekiel Elliott in Week 4, and 157 yards and 2 touchdowns last week to David Johnson. This week, the 49ers are an eight-point underdog as they travel across the country to face a red hot Buffalo team. LeSean McCoy just put 150 yards on the Rams last week in L.A. McCoy is probably going to be in every cash lineup that I have this week.
Jeff's also got it right with Smith, Kelce, and Maclin against the Raiders this week. The Raiders are giving up 330 yards per game through the air this season and have given up 12 passing touchdowns. The only team to not have at least one 100-yard receiver against them was Tennessee. New Orleans had two back in Week 1, and the Chargers nearly had three last week (Hunter and Gates combined for 104 at the tight end position).
Knotts: One thing to be careful here is just looking at stats and ignoring who the opponents have actually played. On the surface, you could look at Oakland and say start all quarterbacks against them as they're averaging allowing 330 passing yards per game, but in reality, they have faced three great passing attacks with New Orleans, Atlanta, and San Diego. When I'm looking at who to attack, it has to be the Pittsburgh secondary. So far this season, they have allowed 300 yards per game passing, and have only faced one top passing offense this season (Cincinnati).
This is a team that in 2015 was the 30th-ranked pass defense in terms of total yards allowed, and they are trending in that direction this season as well. When a team that gets to play Cleveland's historically inept passing attack twice per year and still has a bottom-ranked pass defense, it's definitely one that you want to attack. They often get into shootout type games where their opponent abandons the run early, as shown by their opponents having the most pass attempts against the Steelers than any other team. They tried to address the position in the offseason by drafting Artie Burns in the first round, but so far it has not improved their defense.
Feery: To add some more names to the list, let’s start with the secondary of the New York Jets. Once a feared unit, it’s clearly open season as teams continue to air it out at will. As a result, Antonio Brown and Sammie Coates Jr were incredibly appealing options last week that delivered solid returns. Those that are playing slates that include the Monday Night affair will find similar options from the Cardinals this week, namely Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown.
On the ground, I’ll keep looking at teams facing off against New Orleans. Three of the four teams they have faced have found the end zone multiple times on the ground, and the Panthers could very well make it four out of five this week. Interestingly, six of the eight rushing touchdowns they have allowed thus far have come while they were playing at home, and they just so happen to be playing at home this week. It’s an incredibly small sample size, but I’ll continue to at least look in this direction until they manage to start keeping opponents out of the end one.
Hindery: New Orleans ranks in the bottom seven in DVOA against both the pass and the run. The early returns in 2016 confirm what we saw over 16 games in 2015, the Saints defense gives up fantasy points in bunches. After being historically awful last season, the Saints have given up at least 34 points in three of four games this season. New Orleans has been especially exploitable on the fast track at home. In two home games, the Saints have allowed 80 points.
Carolina’s offense has been struggling in recent weeks, but Week 6 looks like a classic get-well spot. Carolina put up 41 points in New Orleans last season and have an implied team total of 28 points this weekend. The other factor making players facing New Orleans an especially attractive DFS option is how strong the Saints offense is, especially at home. Opponents cannot let off the gas with an early lead, because the explosive Saints offense can put up points in a hurry. We have also seen the Saints have a very tough time holding on when they build early leads (see: Oakland in Week 1).
[Hester]: Discuss a line or total on the Week 6 slate that was a surprise to you. Are you sticking with your original opinion or allowing Vegas to persuade you into thinking about the game differently? In either event, what actionable conclusions have you reached in terms of which players to use this week?
Alexander: Even with Kansas City winless on the road so far, I was a little surprised to see them open as an underdog in Oakland, coming off their bye week. It seems like the sharp bettors agreed with me, as the line had already moved to a pick 'em on Tuesday, despite 57% of the tickets coming in on the Raiders up to that point. It's not just the "Andy Reid is 15-2 following a bye week" narrative. Oakland is coming off an emotional divisional win in their last game and could be in for a letdown after winning several tight games and getting off to a 4-1 start. While there's no way for me to quantify that hunch, it's easy enough to put numbers to how terrible Oakland has been defensively.
The Raiders have allowed 330 passing yards per game and 8.7 yards per pass attempt (both worst in the NFL). Not surprisingly, they've allowed the most raw fantasy points per game to both opposing quarterbacks and wide receivers. If it weren't for opponents scoring 75% of their touchdowns via the pass against Oakland, their numbers against the run would look far worse. The Raiders have ceded 4.9 yards per carry this season (30th in the NFL) and have allowed at least one total touchdown (rushing or receiving) to a running back in all five of their games.
Jeremy Maclin stands out as underpriced on all sites and is one of my favorite options for both cash games and GPPs. Alex Smith is essentially priced as a backup across the industry but has demonstrated 30 fantasy point upside as recently as Week 1. And while using him will depend on how practice reports progress throughout the week, there are some sites where you can snag Jamaal Charles as low as RB17. We should see a lot more of Charles now that he's had some additional time to rest over the bye week, and even if he's losing some work to Spencer Ware, it's not like Charles has needed mega-volume in the past to post some of the biggest fantasy performances we've ever seen. He may end up a popular play by the end of the week on sites where he's dropped way down in price, but Charles should remain at sub-5% ownership anywhere he's still priced in RB1 territory, making him an enticing GPP play in this matchup.
Mamula: There were a couple of Vegas lines that stood out to me this week. The first was Seattle opening as six-point home favorites to Atlanta. I expected the line to be much smaller. I anticipated Seattle opening as a two- or three-point favorite. Perhaps I am giving the Falcons too much credit, but a decisive win in Denver last weekend impressed me. I did not expect the Falcons to put up 23 points on the Broncos defense in Denver. I am not currently planning to target this game from a DFS perspective but, I may look into the individual matchups a bit more.
The other line that stood out is Tennessee favored by seven points over Cleveland. While I anticipated a similar line, it confirmed my thoughts for the matchup. I plan to have DeMarco Murray as one of my core plays this Sunday, regardless of expected ownership percentage. Murray has been a beast this season with a minimum of 18 touches per game (with 27 and 32 touches in each of the past two). The Titans are second in the NFL with 148.6 rushing yards per game. The Titans offense runs through Murray. Murray looks like the 2014 Dallas version of himself. The Browns have allowed 114.2 rushing yards per game. This defense allowed Washington's Matt Jones to combine for 138 total yards and 1 touchdown two weeks ago. If Jones can put up those stats, imagine what a vastly more talented Murray can do.
Pasquino: Every week I write For the Win (not much success so far this year), but as part of my process, I try and guess the Las Vegas line before looking. The one where I was off the most was the Baltimore-New York Giants game, as I thought that the Ravens would be favored after just how bad the Giants looked against both Minnesota and Green Bay in consecutive weeks. New York has averaged just 13 points in those two games, and Eli Manning has looked like he has only a little more time than Andrew Luck, which is to say not much. Throw in that the Giants have given up 100+ yards in the past two weeks and that the Ravens were highly-criticized for their offensive calls, which resulted in Marty Mornhinweg replacing Marc Trestman as offensive coordinator this week. Baltimore abandoned the run against Washington after Terrance West put up 60 yards on just five carries in the first quarter on Sunday, but had only six more carries after the first 15 minutes. I expect the Ravens to run the ball down the throats of the Giants with West getting 100+ yards and a touchdown and beat New York this week. I like both West and the Baltimore defense for Week 6 against that stagnant New York offense.
Grant: I'm a little surprised to see Chicago -2.5 vs. Jacksonville this week, even though they are at home. The Jaguars are coming off a big win in London two weeks ago, and unlike Indianapolis, they took their bye week last week. So if Jacksonville beat the Colts in London and the Colts beat the Bears, then Jacksonville should beat the Bears with two weeks to prepare right? I'm joking of course, but there is some truth to this thinking. Most notably, the Bears are really playing lousy football, and the Jaguars have had two weeks to prepare against them. Allen Robinson has been a rock for the Jaguars in their last two games with 21 targets, 12 receptions, and 3 receiving touchdowns. The Chicago secondary gave up a ton to T. Y. Hilton last week, and Robinson is in a great position to do the same. The fact that Jacksonville can't run the ball either is even more of a reason to think Robinson does well this week.
Jordan Howard has had solid success these last two weeks, and if Vegas is telling you the Bears are going to win this week, Howard needs to be in your lineup. He's going to see a ton of opportunities and will even catch a few passes. I like him a lot this week as well.
It's still too early to tell if Jay Cutler is going to be back this week, but the smart money is on Brian Hoyer running the offense at least one more time. Given how he locked on to Cameron Meredith last week, I'd say that Meredith is an interesting value play this week. He's reasonably priced and will easily exceed value if he's targeted anywhere close to 12 times like he was last week.
Knotts: The line that surprises me this week is that Dallas is only a four point underdog going into Lambeau Field. This tells me that even though so far the statistics say that Green Bay has the best run defense in the league, that Vegas thinks that it is inflated due to the Packers not having played a great rushing team this season. With Dez Bryant being truly questionable for this game, it seems as if on the surface this line should be closer -7. This has me higher on Dallas players (particularly Ezekiel Elliott) as for Dallas to keep this close they will have to run the ball early and often.
One surprise from a total standpoint is the Cleveland-Tennessee game only being 43.5 with Tennessee being projected to score only 24.5 points this week. This Cleveland defense is historically bad, allowing 29.6 points per game and have not played any elite offenses so far this season with the exclusion of New England this past week. I am not changing my thinking here this week as I love both DeMarco Murray and Delanie Walker to have big games.
Hindery: The line movement towards Kansas City pushing their matchup against Oakland to a pick ‘em surprised me. The success of Andy Reid teams after a bye that Phil pointed out (15-2 record) probably accounts for much of that movement. Despite the line movement towards Kansas City, I still like this spot for the Raiders offense. Oakland has looked like a better team than Kansas City and plays with a lot of confidence at home. With the exception of a Ryan Fitzpatrick fourth quarter meltdown, the Chiefs defense has not been the same unit it was in 2015. The absence of Justin Houston has hurt, with the Chiefs notching just five sacks total. Oakland’s stout offensive line has allowed only one sack per game. With time to stand in the pocket, Derek Carr should be able to have a big day against a Kansas City secondary that has been very beatable on the road this season.
The line movement towards the Chiefs (and the over) does make me also like the Chiefs offensive players even more than before. Reid is one of the sharpest offensive minds in the NFL, and the Raiders defense has been generous to opposing offenses. Both Maclin and Travis Kelce have favorable matchups and could post big days. The more I look at this game, the more it looks like a potential shootout. A GPP game stack with Derek Carr or Smith at quarterback and some combination of Maclin, Kelce, Michael Crabtree, and Amari Cooper makes for a nice correlation play.
Feery: Like John, I was also taken aback by Atlanta opening up as such a large underdog against Seattle. It appears as if the oddsmakers aren’t completely sold on them at this point, and perhaps they view a trip to Seattle as too daunting of a task after knocking off Carolina and Denver in succession. I’ll definitely dig into the Seahawks passing attack for this one and consider Matt Ryan and company as contrarian selections. That may sound crazy, but they managed to deliver in another imposing environment last week.
On the total side, the Kansas City at Oakland tilt opened up at 48.5 points, but I thought it would be a little higher and hover around 50 points. It’s come down from that point as well, so that made me take a step back and see if I was missing something. I’m pretty confident that I’m not, so that leads me to go with my initial inclination that this game should be a great source of fantasy points. The passing games for both squads are in play, but my preference is for the Chiefs. A Smith-to-Maclin combination is more than affordable, and you can even bump it up to a power stack including either Kelce or Jamaal Charles without issue.
Follow the contributors of this Staff Roundtable on Twitter using the buttons below!
Ryan Hester - Moderator