JOHNNIE WALKER BLUE LABEL (TOP SHELF PLAYS)
Aaron Rodgers ($9,400) - Rodgers makes a second consecutive Blue Label appearance after toying with Chicago for 315 yards and six TDs. While another nuclear performance may be asking a lot, this week’s matchup with the Eagles is awfully enticing. Outside of Chicago, no team has allowed more fantasy PPG to opposing QBs this season than Philadelphia. Vegas has the Packers pegged for 30 points in this one, and Rodgers accounts for 81.25% of their offensive TDs. Just like last week, you can bank on three TDs, and four is a strong likelihood.
Drew Brees ($8,300) - You can’t go wrong in cash games or tourneys with Rodgers, Luck, Brady, or Manning this week, but Brees is over $1,000 cheaper than all of them, and playing at home, where he averages an additional eight fantasy points per game over the last three years. The Bengals defense is banged up and playing poorly, especially on the road, where they’ve been outscored 70-17 in their last two away games. Brees is a threat to score 30 every time he steps into the Superdome, and I have a feeling he’ll be lightly owned compared to the other high end QBs. He’s approved for tournament play.
Jamaal Charles ($7,100) - I’m hoping the crowd looks at Charles’ matchup with Seattle and goes in a different direction. The Seahawks have let up 20% less fantasy points to opposing RBs than the league average this season, but matchups don’t matter for Charles. In the last three weeks, he’s finished as the third, twelfth, and fifth highest scoring RB, despite facing a string of top 10 rush defenses (Rams, Jets, and Bills). Kansas City is a 1.5 point favorite at home this week. If they’re going to stay in this game, as Vegas is predicting, it will be on the back of Charles, whose 81 total touches rank 6th in the NFL over the last month.
Le'Veon Bell ($7,200) - I debated changing this selection to Matt Forte ($10,100), or Arian Foster ($8,500), but the former’s price tag is prohibitive, and the latter is an in-game injury risk whose offense may go up in flames with Ryan Mallett at the helm. I’d rather take the discount and use Bell, who faces a Titans team that’s been destroyed by workhorse RBs this season. The Steelers’ opened as 5.5 point favorites on the road, so the game script sets up nicely for Bell to flirt with 20 carries. Justin Forsett posted a 20-112-2 line on Tennessee last week, and Arian Foster went for 20-151-2 the week prior. Bell is the most heavily targeted RB besides Forte, so his floor will remain high on DraftKings (full PPR) in the event he fails to find the endzone on the ground for the first time since Week 1.
Calvin Johnson ($8,500) - Megatron proved his health last week (7-113-1) just in time for a juicy matchup with Arizona’s secondary. The Cardinals have allowed the eighth most fantasy PPG to opposing WRs, and were on the wrong side of the two biggest WR fantasy performances of the season (Demaryius Thomas’ 8-226-2 in Week 5 and Jeremy Maclin’s 12-187-2 in Week 8). Johnson has historically brought his A-game when matched up with Patrick Peterson and company. In his last two visits to Arizona, he’s totaled 16 catches, 237 receiving yards, and two TDs. If you’re spending this heavily at WR, DeMaryius Thomas is only $100 more in a lopsided one-on-one matchup with Rams CB Janoris Jenkins, but my money is on Calvin to lead all WRs in scoring this week.
Julio Jones ($7,000) - After getting back on track last week against Tampa Bay (8-119), Julio gets a second consecutive dream matchup. In a division game that unbelievably carries playoff implications, Jones will square off with Carolina CB Melvin White on the majority of his routes. Pro Football Focus ranks White 98th out of 106 qualifying cornerbacks in pass coverage. He’s let up 16.7 yards per catch, and 4 TDs when thrown at this season, giving a now healthy Jones a high probability of going bonkers in this game. Given his relatively low cost, I like Julio just a hair better than Antonio Brown ($7,800), and DeSean Jackson ($7,300) this week.
Rob Gronkowski ($7,900) - Vegas has the over/under for Indy-New England at 57.5, which is the highest point total I recall seeing this season. Loading up on players in this game is a sound strategy, and there’s no better place to start than Gronkowski. Before last week’s bye, Gronk had finished as the top scoring tight end in each of his last two games. This week’s matchup with the Colts is a favorable one (not that it matters). Indianapolis has allowed a double digit PPR performance to every starting tight end they’ve faced this season besides Garrett Graham.
Detroit Lions Defense ($3,400) - I’d feel much better about this call if Detroit weren’t on the road (the Cardinals are always a tough out at home), but Drew Stanton stinks. He’s the least accurate QB in the NFL this season by a wide margin (49.5% completion percentage), and it’s only a matter of time before some of those scattershot passes turn into interceptions. Detroit’s run defense gives up a league low 3.2 YPA, so Stanton will likely be forced to throw if Arizona wants to stay in this game.
JACK DANIELS (MODERATELY PRICED PLAYS)
Robert Griffin III ($6,300) - Rookie year RGIII might not be walking through that door any time soon, but the version we saw in Minnesota two weeks ago will do just fine against Tampa Bay’s awful pass defense. Despite the Bucs keeping Matt Ryan in check last week (not exactly a great accomplishment these days), only the Jets and Bears have allowed more passing TDs this season. Griffin looked good coming off his ankle injury, showing nice touch on his throws and even using his legs on some designed runs. With a bye week to help shake off the rust completely, he should be good for at least 20 fantasy points in this matchup.
Mark Ingram II ($6,200) - Pierre Thomas and Khiry Robinson still aren't practicing, causing the Saints to sign free agent RB Brian Leonard earlier this week. Another monster workload is in the offing for Ingram, who leads the NFL in rushing attempts and rushing yards over the last three weeks. When we last saw the Bengals, their battered defense was letting up 169 yards and three TDs to the combination of Terrance West, Ben Tate, and Isaiah Crowell. I expect Ingram to be widely owned (he’s easily the most intriguing RB who’s not priced through the roof this week), but I won’t be fading him in tournaments. He has the potential to return 5x his salary in fantasy points.
A.J. Green ($6,000) - Simply put, Green’s price is absurdly low, and you have to play him this week. In his first game back from a toe injury, Green posted a 3-51-1 receiving line despite playing only 56% of the offensive snaps vs. Jacksonville. He was lousy last week, catching only three of nine targets for 33 yards, but Joe Haden’s had his number recently, and Andy Dalton’s horrific play vs. the Browns inspired tweets like these:
🎶Andy Dalton sucks so bad🎶 pic.twitter.com/7HePPIceD2— Fantasy Jeanyus (@FantasyJeanyus) November 7, 2014
Let’s put that mess behind us, and focus on the positive - Green proved his health last week, playing on 88% of the Bengals’ offensive snaps. He’s playing in a dome, where he’s combined to catch 12 of 17 targets for 270 yards, and one TD in his two career indoor games. The only cornerback the Saints employ who can shut down wide receivers (Keenan Lewis) came out of last week’s game with his knee looking like this. With the over/under in this game set at 50.5, 25 fantasy points are very much within Green’s range of possible outcomes.
Brandin Cooks ($5,800) - Cooks is priced a bit higher than I had hoped due to his 5-90-1 Week 10 performance, but he’s become an automatic start in home games. He averages nearly 20 PPG on DraftKings inside the Superdome vs. 9.9 PPG on the road. Vegas is predicting 31.5 points for the Saints this week, so the opportunity should be there for Cooks to continue the trend.
Ahmad Bradshaw ($5,700) - If the Colts want to keep Tom Brady and the Pats offense off the field, they'll look to establish the run, which would be good news for Bradshaw (and perhaps Trent Richardson to a lesser extent). However, even if the rushing attack falters, and Brady has his way with the Colts’ defense, Bradshaw is immune to negative game script. The Patriots represent the fifth best matchup for opposing RBs, and particularly struggle containing backs in the receiving game. New England has allowed a league leading six receiving TDs to RBs this season, to go along with averages of 6.2 receptions, and 45.8 receiving yards. Bradshaw ranks sixth among RBs in both receptions and receiving yards, and leads all RBs with six receiving TDs.
Shane Vereen ($5,500) - On the other side of the ball, the Colts have allowed at least five receptions and 50 receiving yards to four different RBs this season. In the two games this season in which New England was an underdog (the Colts are 2.5 point favorites this week), Vereen has averaged 15.5 PPG on DraftKings. It’s a small sample, but it seems to jive with the prevailing notion that you want to use Vereen in close games, and avoid him in blowouts, since he won’t be used late to kill the clock. In a game that could easily see over 60 total points, Vereen (three receiving TDs in his last three games) makes for a sneaky addition to your Brady-Gronk stack.
Travis Kelce ($4,000) - Kelce has failed to reach double digit fantasy points on DraftKings in four out of his last five games, so it’s best to avoid him in double-ups where a high floor is your goal. However, there are plenty of reasons to roll him out in your tournament lineups this week. For starters, the matchup against Seattle is favorable. The Seahawks allow the fourth most fantasy PPG to opposing tight ends, and only the Jets have allowed more TDs to the position this season. With Anthony Fasano missing consecutive practices with a knee injury, Andy Reid is talking up an expanded role for Kelce, who has averaged 2.5 more targets, and 26.7 more receiving yards per game in his four home starts.
Denver Broncos Defense ($3,000) - The Broncos are tough to run on (3.2 YPA against), favored by double digits, and matched up against Shaun Hill. I like them even better than Detroit this week for two reasons - the big spread makes it more likely St. Louis will be forced to throw, and Rams’ QBs have been sacked 30 times this year, fourth most in the league.
LIMOUSINE LIQUOR (DIRT CHEAP PLAYS)
Mark Sanchez ($5,800) - I wouldn’t roster Sanchez with the expectation he’s a lock to post 24 fantasy points like he did last week, but he’s $800 cheaper on DraftKings than a mangled Nick Foles, and the same exact price as Kirk Cousins. I’m pretty sure that qualifies the Sanchize as a screaming value. Sanchez’s matchup against Green Bay is neutral for QBs, but Vegas predicts about 24 points for Philadelphia, which leaves plenty of room for a 250 yard, two TD performance. Nick Foles - the last QB to receive the Chip Kelly bump - finished under 15.5 fantasy points only once this year. Sanchez has a high enough floor for cash games, as well as a high enough ceiling for tournaments.
Alfred Morris ($5,400) - I tend to look past Morris on DraftKings because he’s a zilch in the passing game, but his modest price and multi-TD upside are difficult to ignore this week. Contrary to popular belief, the Tampa Bay run defense isn’t terrible (3.90 YPA against), but they get consistently beaten down by the run anyway since their opposition is usually playing with a lead (Tampa has allowed the fifth most carries to RBs this season). Washington is a seven point favorite at home against the Bucs this week, so if the game stays on script, Morris will see at least 20 carries. Also, Robert Griffin boosting Morris’ fantasy value is not a baseless narrative. In 31 career starts with Griffin behind center, Alf averages 90.42 rushing YPG vs. only 67.2 YPG in 10 games without RGIII.
C.J. Anderson ($4,800) - The table is set for a huge game for the Broncos rushing attack. Denver is a double digit favorite in St. Louis, and the Rams have decided their third string QB gives them the best chance to keep pace with the NFL’s second highest scoring offense. The question isn’t if Denver will be salting away a double digit win for most of the second half, it’s which of their RBs will be doing the salting. No one’s ever accused me of being risk averse, but I’ll gladly take a big swing on Anderson. He ran like a stud last week, his competition for carries (Montee Ball) hasn’t played a down since Week 4, and the context clues are beginning to point in his direction. The floor might be scary low here, but there isn’t another player priced in Anderson’s tier with a higher ceiling.
Keenan Allen ($4,500) - Allen failed to capitalize on his Week 6 matchup with Oakland (3-27-0), but there’s reason for optimism in the rematch. He’s seen 32 targets across his last three games, and reached double digit fantasy points on DraftKings in two of his last three. According to Football Outsiders, the Raiders are the second to worst team in the NFL at defending opposing WR1s. The Chargers are coming off a bye, and looking to get right after three consecutive losses. All of their skill position players get a bump in this matchup.
Jordan Matthews ($4,500) - Matthews won’t be taking Green Bay by surprise after last week’s breakout, and his matchup in the slot with Packers’ CB Casey Hayward is not a favorable one, but there’s no arguing he’s emerged as Mark Sanchez’s favorite target. Like Sanchez, Matthews’ price didn’t catch up to his production because the Eagles played the Monday night game. The market might be a little oversaturated this week, but value is value - make sure you have some exposure.
RUBBING ALCOHOL (MINIMUM PLAYS)
Vernon Davis ($3,000) - There’s no sugarcoating how awful Vernon Davis has been this season. He hasn’t caught more than three passes, or scored a TD since Week 1. Still, there’s something about a player with his talent level, being available for the minimum price that makes me raise an eyebrow. Prior to facing off with Seattle (who employ something called Cooper Helfet at TE) in Week 10, the Giants had let up multiple TDs to tight ends in each of their previous three games. Would it really come as a shock if Davis scored 15 fantasy points in this matchup?
Alfred Blue ($3,000) - As of this writing, it doesn’t look promising for Arian Foster to suit up on Sunday. If Foster can’t go, get ready to plug in Blue, and deck out the rest of your roster. While an Arian Foster-less, Ryan Mallett led offense has clear dumpster fire potential, Blue would be too enticing to pass up at minimum salary, in a matchup with the Browns. Cleveland’s defense has let up 4.7 yards per rushing attempt this season, second worst in the league.