Let's forget last week ever happened, shall we? The topsy turvy slate of Sunday games threw daily fantasy contests for a loop, and Daily Musings was not spared.
Hopefully we'll see some normalcy in the NFL this week, though Oakland's unexpected victory against the Kansas City Chiefs was a portent for the weekend.
Stacks of the Week
Colin Kaepernick, QB, San Francisco 49ers - $7,300
Anquan Boldin, WR, San Francisco 49ers - $6,800
Who to stack this week? That is the question.
San Francisco hosts Washington this week in a must-win situation, given the 49ers find themselves mired in a battle for second place in the NFC West and fighting for their postseason lives. They couldn’t have asked for a better matchup against a self-destructing Washington team that was just destroyed by a one-win team at home.
Washington’s defense hasn’t been very good this season, and the cross-country trip might make matters worse. San Francisco is favored by more than a touchdown in this one, but it could easily get ugly.
One of the ways in which the 49ers might make it ugly is by throwing the ball to Boldin, who has garnered 37 targets over his past four games.
Zach Mettenberger, QB, Tennessee Titans - $5,300
Feel like gambling? Well, you’ve come to the right place.
Zach Mettenberger played well against the Pittsburgh Steelers last week, but his price was unaffected due to the Monday night spot. This week, the game script and matchup could combine to form a delicious brew in the fantasy realm.
Incidentally, none of those quarterbacks are even starters anymore.
The Titans are huge underdogs in Philadelphia this week, and the Eagles have shown a propensity to go up big this season. Then there is the fact the Eagles have given up the second-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season, as you might expect with that crop of bad quarterbacks all putting up nice games.
As for pairing Mettenberger with someone on the offense, you have two nice choices—target-monger Kendall Wright, or high-ceiling tease Justin Hunter. The latter is so cheap you could form this stack for less than $10,000 at Draft Kings, a huge advantage elsewhere in your lineups, and it would make for one heck of GPP ride.
This stack has some is a massive risk-reward proposition, but it could prove to be the difference in tournaments if it pays off.
Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts - Draft Kings (DK): $9,700, FanDuel (FD): $10,300
Even in a bad game, Andrew Luck delivers a solid fantasy score.
That’s what happened last week when the Colts were throttled by the New England Patriots. Despite putting up just 20 points on offense, Luck threw for 303 yards and a pair of touchdowns. That didn’t quite meet value, but his high floor makes him a solid cash game option on a weekly basis.
This week, the Jacksonville Jaguars come to town. Yes, you should be excited.
The only concern here is that the Colts will get out to a massive lead by halftime—perhaps on the wings of a defensive or special teams touchdown—which will lead to less Luck and more yuck, a.k.a. Trent Richardson. Chances are the Colts won't stop passing the ball until late, at least if previous experience is any indication. With such a good matchup on top of Luck's typical output, he is this week's best option on this end of the salary spectrum at quarterback.
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals - DK: $6,300, FD: $8,200
It’s a bit of a surprise to see Andy Dalton so inexpensive after the great week he had. True, he has had a roller coaster season and he is a full $1,000 more expensive than the was last week over at Draft Kings, but he seems to have gotten his mojo back with A.J. Green, finally.
Dalton rebounded from a nightmarish performance on Thursday Night Football a couple of weeks ago to throw for 220 yards and three touchdowns on the road against the New Orleans Saints. This week, Dalton faces off against a Houston Texans defense that has given up 23.3 fantasy points per game (PPG) to opposing quarterbacks over the past five weeks.
Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears - DK: $7,700, FD: $8,800
This feels like a bad idea, like going off in search of a working phone in the middle of a horror movie.
Jay Cutler just had a big week against the Minnesota Vikings—who sport a decent defense, to boot—and he has a great matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week. So what is there to be afraid of? Those are just noises the house makes when it cools off at night. The phone is in the basement.
Josh McCown, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - DK: $6,600, FD: $7,500
Will Josh McCown be the latest to enact sweet, sweet revenge on his old team this season, or will he be merely be the last to bamboozle honest fantasy owners who believe in that sort of superstition?
Narratives aside, McCown does have a nice matchup this week against the Chicago Bears, who have given up 25.4 fantasy PPG this season to opposing quarterbacks, the most in the league. Some of that is inflated by the fact Aaron Rodgers napalmed that defense twice now, but the Bears have generally been lacking in the defensive department.
Colin Kaepernick, 49ers - DK: $6,500, FD: $7,300
Kaepernick is nicely priced over at Draft Kings as well, making him a solid option for the reasons listed above.
Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings - DK: $5,100, FD: $6,500
Another nice dart to throw this week comes in the form of Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. The rookie quarterback hasn’t really done much in the fantasy realm this season, but this could be an excellent opportunity to be a garbage time hero if the game plays out like the past few Packers games have gone. Green Bay is favored by more than a touchdown in a relatively high-scoring affair despite this being a road game. Should the Vikings fall behind early, we could be seeing plenty of Bridgewater passes.
Eli Manning, New York Giants - DK: $5,100, FD: $7,200
Fun fact: Eli Manning averages about 3.8 standard fantasy points per game more at home against the Dallas Cowboys over the past five seasons than in every other game he has played. For all intents and purposes, that’s almost another touchdown per game in five contests.
Of course, that is more narrative than predictor, but it may be enough to consider Manning in some GPP lineups. Also worth considering is the fact the Giants are home underdogs in a divisional matchup that has an over-under set at 47.5. The Cowboys have been smack in the middle of the pack when it comes to giving up fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks over the past five weeks, too.
DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys - DK: $8,500, FD: $9,000
Hopefully the bye week has freshened up DeMarco Murray’s legs.
The MVP candidate had fallen off in the previous couple of weeks, somewhat due to the fact he got fewer touches. He should see a full workload against the New York Giants this week, a team he torched for 128 yards and a touchdown earlier this season.
Murray is a nice anchor option this week for your cash games, with enough upside to make him worthwhile in GPP tournaments if you can find the room for him on your roster.
Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers - DK: $4,500, FD: $6,400
Last week wound up being a bit disappointing for Ryan Mathews, but it showed that the San Diego Chargers are going to lean on their running back going forward, if he can stay healthy. They gave him 16 carries in his first action since Week 2, coming back from that knee injury.
His mediocre output has him listed at the same price this week, and he should see even more playing time if all goes well. The Chargers are somehow 6.5-point favorites despite their recent struggles and the fact the St. Louis Rams just beat the Denver Broncos and play in the vaunted NFC West. That points to a favorable game script for Mathews, who could get over 20 touches. A touchdown or two would be some nice icing.
Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland Browns - DK: $3,800, FD: $5,500
Terrance West, Cleveland Browns - DK: $3,400, FD: $6,100
The rookie duo has alternated quality games this season, but now there is room for both to shine. At these prices, both are rosterable. But not at the same time—which one should you choose for lineups?
You could feasibly sprinkle these two throughout different lineups this weekend, but make no mistake—Crowell is the one with more upside. That makes him a better GPP option than West, though the latter gives you a bit more roster flexibility over at Draft Kings.
Both will be facing an Atlanta Falcons run defense that has been abhorrent at times this season, giving up the second most fantasy PPG to opposing running backs this season. True, we haven’t seen much scoring from running backs against Atlanta over the past couple of weeks, but the Tampa Bay and Carolina running games aren’t particularly good.
Tre Mason, St. Louis Rams - DK: $4,200, FD: $5,600
If it hasn’t become clear by now, Tre Mason has taken over the lead back job in St. Louis.
The rookie running back has gotten the most touches by far over the past three weeks, including 29 carries for 113 yards against the Denver Broncos last week. He hasn’t had much luck scoring because of a vulture named Benny Cunningham, but it seems you can bet on Mason to have enough opportunity to be valuable in cash games. The Chargers, meanwhile, have given up a ton of fantasy points to opposing running backs over the past several weeks.
The Rams will likely have to flip the scrip to make Mason a huge value this week, but he should see enough opportunity against a mediocre defense to be a solid option.
Jerick McKinnon, Minnesota Vikings - DK: $4,500, FD: $5,600
Tate may have been banished to Minnesota, but he won’t have time to try to poison the Vikings backfield after a couple of practices with his new team. He may get some playing time by virtue of Matt Asiata’s concussion, but recent developments are aligning to give McKinnon a veritable lion’s share of the action in a decent matchup.
Now, the game script might get in the way if the Packers continue their scorched earth policy, but McKinnon may be heavily involved in the offense regardless. He can catch passes out of the backfield, after all, and the Vikings may try to rely on him early to slow down the pace of the game.
Mike Wallace, Miami Dolphins - DK: $4,900, FD: $6,900
The Miami Dolphins roll into Denver to play a Broncos team that may be looking for blood after putting up just seven points in St. Louis. That is bad news for the Dolphins, but it may be great news for fantasy investors everywhere.
The biggest beneficiary might be receiver Mike Wallace, and he is too cheap to pass up in all formats at this point. The Dolphins are big underdogs in a game that's got an over-under set at 47.5 despite Miami's great defense. If Peyton Manning gets his head on straight, Ryan Tannehill and Co. might have to chuck the ball plenty in the second half.
Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys - DK: $8,100
As cash games options go, few seem like surer bets than Dez Bryant.
The beastly Dallas Cowboys receiver is a solid choice on any given Sunday, but the matchup makes this one particularly enticing. Bryant put up nine receptions for 151 yards the last time out against the New York Giants, though he was unable to get into the end zone. He has since gotten into the end zone several times, and he is always a threat from anywhere on the field.
It may seem counterintuitive to have DeMarco Murray and Dez Bryant as plays—though you might want to steer clear of starting both in the same lineup—but both figure to have big games against the New York Giants this week.
Cecil Shorts III, Jacksonville Jaguars - DK: $5,400, FD: $6,300
Marqise Lee, Jacksonville Jaguars - DK: $3,000, FD: $4,700
The rookie receiver will have his opportunity to break out this week now that Allen Robinson is out for the year with a broken foot. Given shutdown cornerback will likely be on Cecil Shorts much of the game, Lee may see softer coverage.
He is certainly a gamble, given we haven't seen much out of him this season. But the Jaguars are likely going to be down big in this game, meaning both of these guys are solid garbage time bets.
Anquan Boldin, San Francisco 49ers - DK: $5,200
Boldin is a nice option at FanDuel on his own, and he is well-priced at Draft Kings. The fact he may catch six or seven passes makes him even more enticing given DK uses a full PPR format.
Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns - DK: $6,300, FD: $7,800
It’s Josh Gordon week! But tread carefully—the talented receiver is strictly a GPP tournament play.
That’s because, despite his balefire 2013 season, we don’t know exactly what we’re going to get on Sunday. The Cleveland Browns might hold him off the field half the time to ease him into action. Atlanta’s best cornerback, Desmond Trufant, might shadow him when Gordon is on the field. The Browns might run the ball 50 times and limit the passing game.
But there is just too much upside to avoid Gordon altogether. Had he been any more expensive, he might have been worth avoiding.
There is also the fact his ownership percentage might be through the roof. This is one of those instances where it might be better to go along with the groupthink—sink or swim along with half the other owners, who could be getting a 30-point explosion while you watch if you stay away.
Kenny Stills, New Orleans Saints - DK: $4,200, FD: $5,900
Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots - DK: $7,900, FD: $7,900
Yes, he is even more expensive than he was last week, but Rob Gronkowski is almost a must-start in cash games these days. He is a bit better value over at FanDuel, given there is such a steep dropoff at Draft Kings at the position. The huge tight end is going to garner a ton of targets on a weekly basis, and opposing defenses don't have much of an answer for him these days.
Larry Donnell, New York Giants - DK: $3,900, FD: $5,500
It has been quite a while since Larry Donnell went nuclear in Week 4, but he has shaken off a rough patch to become a solid option for the New York Giants once more. He had seven receptions for 90 yards the last time out against the Dallas Cowboys—a team that has given up a ton of fantasy points to opposing tight ends—though he did fumble the ball away twice.
Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles - DK: $3,100, FD: $5,000
If you are looking for a near-minimum option at tight end so you can use salary elsewhere, Zach Ertz may be your man. The Tennessee Titans are ho-hum against opposing tight ends, and they may have their hands full worrying about receivers Jeremy Maclin and Jordan Matthews. Of course we could say that any week, but Ertz seems to be primed to blow any week now.
Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers- DK: $3,000, FD: $5,000
Wait, don’t go.
Alright, so Vernon Davis has been an abject disappointment this season, and he has only gotten worse as the season has worn on. It’s no wonder that he is a minimum salary guy now. But what better time to invest than rock bottom?
How about the fact Washington is giving up the 10th-most fantasy PPG to opposing tight ends over the past five weeks?
Niles Paul, Washington - DK: $3,000, FD: $4,800
This one is just as risky as the last, but it could be even more rewarding. After all, Niles Paul is out-producing Davis despite missing some time with injury and being second fiddle to Jordan Reed when he is healthy.
The latter is not healthy this week, which thrusts Paul into fantasy relevance once more.
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks - DK: $7,600, FD: $8,500
The Seattle Seahawks are home, where they have been better through the years. But that offense has struggled for the better part of the past two months, and it’s not as if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are coming to town.
The Arizona Cardinals, meanwhile, have buttoned up their pass defense, which was once horrific this season. Perhaps getting Tyrann Mathieu fully healthy has had something to do with that.
At one point, Arizona was among the most generous defenses to opposing quarterbacks. The Cardinals have been one of the stingiest units over the past five weeks.
That is not to say Wilson won’t do some damage on the ground, but it seems unlikely he will have a huge day. That notion is bolstered by the oddsmakers, who have set the over-under at 41. There may not be many points to go around this week.
Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons - DK: $6,300, FD: $7,600
He is going to tempt you at those prices. Don’t be fooled.
The Atlanta Falcons are going up against a Cleveland Browns defense led by cornerback Joe Haden that has given up the fifth-fewest fantasy PPG to opposing quarterbacks over the past five weeks. Ryan hasn't been particularly good for much of the season, either, and this doesn't seem like a matchup that would be conducive to getting right.
Of course, we have seen much weirder things happen this season, but we are talking about odds here—this doesn't seem to be a good investment.
Michael Vick, New York Jets - DK: $5,200, FD: $7,400
Now that the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills are playing in the comfortable confines of Ford Field in Detroit, you should totally start players from the game. Right?
Consider the fact Vick completed just 50 percent of his passes for 153 yards and zero touchdowns at home against the Bills earlier this season. He did rush for 69 yards, but his fantasy output was nowhere near good. He may do a bit better this week, but there is little reason to believe in anyone on that Jets offense right now.
Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals - DK: $6,200, FD: $8,400
It looks like all systems are go for Giovani Bernard, the more dynamic of the two running backs that dominate the Bengals backfield. The question is whether Cincinnati’s second-year starter should be trusted in his first game back from injury.
Much like other running backs recently returning, Bernard could be on a pitch count. Worse is the fact the Houston Texans are far more stingy against the run than they have been against the pass this season. He is far to expensive to risk this week.
Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills - DK: $5,000, FD: $6,500
Again, just because this game is going to happen doesn’t mean you should acknowledge its existence.
The New York Jets may not be very good, but they have been stout up front. They are allowing just 3.4 yards per carry on the season—third-lowest mark in the league—and four touchdowns on the ground. That translates to the seventh-fewest fantasy PPG to opposing running backs, both on the year and over the past five weeks.
Jackson, meanwhile, is still on the mend from a groin injury that kept him out of Week 11 action.
Jonas Gray, New England Patriots - DK: $5,600, FD: $6,700
Do you hear that? That’s the sound of fantasy owners everywhere running. What are they chasing? Jonas Gray’s points.
New England’s emergent running back went supernova against the Indianapolis Colts last week with four touchdowns, and he is insanely priced for this week’s contests. Or so it would seem.
We’ve been down this road countless times with Bill Belichick before, haven’t we? Let’s all pretend we learned our lesson and stay away from Gray until he proves he isn’t a flash in the pan. That is not to mention Gray was sent home from Friday’s practice because he was late.
If that’s not enough to scare you away, consider the fact the Detroit Lions possess the top rush defense in the league.
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals - DK: $5,700, FD: $6,500
He was a fade last week because of Drew Stanton. While that may still be the biggest factor, Larry Fitzgerald is just not a good option because of injury this week. Fitzgerald is questionable with a Grade 2 MCL sprain, something that seems likely to keep him out of action altogether.
DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans - DK: $5,300, FD: $7,400
Andre Johnson, Houston Texans - DK: $5,200, FD: $6,400
The last time these two were here, they were both plays. Only one of them owund up working out.
This week, Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins go up against the Cincinnati Bengals, a team that hasn’t given up many points to opposing receivers this season, relatively speaking. The game also is a tossup with an over-under set at 43.5, so oddsmakers aren't expecting a ton of scoring in this one.
Julius Thomas, Denver Broncos - DK: $5,300, FD: $7,100
Jacob Tamme, Denver Broncos - DK: $3,00, FD: $5,300
It seems there are several minimum salary guys worth trying this week. Jacob Tamme is not one of those guys, despite the likelihood he will benefit from the absence of the starter ahead of him now that Julius Thomas is listed as questionable for this Sunday’s matchup. If Thomas is a no-go,
Speaking of which, Thomas might be able to play this week after looking like a lock to miss after last Sunday’s game, but it’s best you stay away from a guy who didn’t practice all week. Furthermore, he or Tamme would be going up against a defense that has given up just 2.6 standard fantasy PPG to opposing tight ends over the past five weeks. Tamme comes out of nowhere to score fantasy points at times, but he may be fool’s gold against the Miami Dolphins.
Coby Fleener, Indianapolis Colts - DK: $5,200, FD: $5,400
The third-year tight end had a huge game in a losing effort against the New England Patriots thanks to an unfortunate injury to starter Dwayne Allen. Fleener took full advantage of his opportunity, catching all seven of his targets for 144 yards.
Somehow that merited a massive salary bump at Draft Kings for a guy who has been disappointing his entire career. He is far more palatably priced at FanDuel, but is he really worth starting over some of the other inexpensive options?