This week, we'll discuss the following topics:
Rank the following stacks in terms of appeal based on value. I added salary and defensive passing rank and re-ordered the list by combined salary for everyone's reference.
- Kirk Cousins ($5,500) + Jordan Reed ($4,800) = $11,300; vs NO - 292 Pass Yards per Game (PYPG) allowed (30th)
- Blake Bortles ($6,300) + Allen Robinson ($5,000) = $11,300; at BAL - 283 PYPG allowed (29th)
- Cam Newton ($6,900) + Greg Olsen ($5,100) = $12,000; at TEN - 217 PYPG allowed (3rd)
- Tom Brady ($7,700) + Rob Gronkowski ($5,800) = $13,500; at NYG - 308 PYPG allowed (31st)
[Moderator's Note: I've compiled everyone's rankings and come up with a consensus ranking. Each member's commentary on each stack is included below, and where they ranked that particular stack is in parentheses.]
Will Grant (1st): They are cheapest combination but going against the 30th-ranked passing defense in the league at home. The Saints have given up 24 passing touchdowns against just four interceptions. Cousins isn't going to remind anyone of Tom Brady, but against the Saints, even he can stay clean and have a good game. Vegas has this game at 51 points, and I can see that happening. Reed had a bad week last week, but the Patriots were focused on taking him out of the game. He should bounce back against a soft New Orleans secondary that really struggles on the road.
Chris Feery (1st): Washington has the privilege of facing a Saints defense that has struggled against the pass all year and has been especially inept over the past three games. The Saints have allowed 1,054 passing yards and 13 touchdowns over that span. The game projects to be close and high-scoring and represents a great opportunity for the Washington passing offense to have a productive day.
John Mamula (1st): The Saints pass defense has been terrible over the past three weeks. Giving up 300+ passing yards is the norm in New Orleans. Over the past three weeks, the Saints red zone defense has allowed 18 receptions for 102 yards and nine touchdowns. Delanie Walker had two touchdowns last week. When Reed is healthy, he is a top option in the Washington offense. Target Cousins-Reed in your FantasyAces contests this weekend.
Pasquino (3rd): Cousins/Reed is ranked third for me, not because I don't like Cousins this week (I love the matchup) but because Reed is going to have challengers for targets. Both Garcon and Jackson are going to be active for just the second week in a row, and I see Jackson as a better upside GPP play. Garcon moves the chains more. Reed is solid too, but he is not as likely to command targets as before when Jackson was out.
Lee (1st): The Bortles-Robinson stack stands above the others because Allen Hurns has not yet practiced this week, which means that the Jaguars receiving game would likely be funneled largely through Robinson in Hurns' absence.
Pasquino (1st): If I am going to rank these stacks, the first thing I want to consider is the overall game script, and then the likelihood that this receiver will be at least one of the top two targets for his quarterback. For that reason, I have Bortles/Robinson as my top stack of these four, because Hurns could be out for this game. Baltimore's pass defense is terrible, so Bortles should have a field day. Also, T.J. Yeldon has done very little on the ground. I see Robinson getting seven-plus catches and well over 100 yards with a score here.
Feery (2nd): The combination of Bortles and Robinson has made some serious strides this season and should find some success against a poor Ravens passing defense. Robinson has been targeted a whopping 82 times so far this season and has found the end zone on six occasions. Prior to their bye week, the Ravens allowed at least two passing touchdowns for four consecutive games. The Ravens could show some improvement after a week off, but I still like the value for this duo and believe they will have some success on Sunday.
Mamula (2nd): If Hurns is out, this stack is a "1B" option to the Cousins-Reed "1A" due to the extra volume Robinson would receive. The Ravens are the fourth-worst defense this season allowing 283.9/passing yards per game. Robinson has been a consistent weapon in the Jaguars offense this season. Robinson has at least nine targets in each game over the past seven weeks. If Hurns is out, he is all but guaranteed double-digit targets against a poor pass defense. That is a must play.
Grant (3rd): Baltimore has a terrible pass defense, and the Jaguars don't run the ball well. But the Jaguars are on the road, and the Ravens are coming off a bye week. They will be rested and ready to play. Robinson has had four touchdowns in the last four games. Last week, he didn't reach the end zone, but he had 121 receiving yards. The Jaguars will need to pass to win this game, but on a week's rest, I think Baltimore prevents them from going having too much success.
Grant (2nd): This one was a close second for me. The Patriots have struggled as of late, but against the Giants, they should have a field day. Brady and Gronkowski didn't reach the end zone last week against Washington, but he had over 100 yards and a touchdown in each of the previous two weeks. Look for him to return to the century mark and the end zone again this week even though they are on the road in New York. Brady's salary is so sky high though, it made me hesitate a bit in ranking them on top.
Feery (3rd): As Will mentioned, the price for this pair will make it tough to roster them successfully but you have to like the upside. It’s pretty well-documented that Brady plays with a chip on his shoulder and you have to believe the Giants hold a special place in his heart as the team that took two rings away from him. I would expect the Patriots to come out firing and for the game to live up to its status as the highest projected scoring contest of the week.
Mamula (3rd): The New York Giants are ranked the second-worst pass defense allowing 307.8 passing yards per game thus far this season. The reason this stack is not ranked higher is due to the salaries of Brady and Gronkowski. It is difficult build a high upside lineup when you are committing a significant amount of your salary to this high-end stack. Gronkowski would have to score three touchdowns, and you would have to hit on your low end players to take down a GPP.
Pasquino (4th): That leaves Brady-Gronkowski last for me. This is the priciest of the four, and Brady now has both Julian Edelman and Brandon LaFell as top wide receivers for targets. If Gronkowski was under $5,800, this would be more attractive. However, the Giants are bad against tight ends, and Brady is hot, so the prices are high. I still like them to connect for a touchdown, but in GPP plays (where you are really looking to stack), this price is asking for a lot of production.
Pasquino (2nd): My second-ranked stack is Newton-Olsen. That's relatively cheap, and Newton loves to target Olsen. Newtonhas been looking in other directions lately, so it is probably time to get back to his big tight end again. And I like the matchup this week for Olsen to get back in the end zone again. There are some threats for stealing targets and goal line rushes, so that's why this is my second choice.
Lee (3rd): While Olsen is the primary receiver in Carolina and should not share an excessive number of targets with other receivers (unlike Reed in Washington, the stack I had ranked just above this one), the likelihood of massive volume and multiple touchdowns is minimal for Olsen against the Titans in a game with a low total and likely slower pace.
Grant (4th): Newton will steal a few yards on the ground in this game, but the Titans have a rock-solid passing game. The Saints tight ends had an above average game against the Titans last week, but none of them really had a big value game. The Panthers are on a roll and should easily win this game too. But the Titans are playing with a renewed energy after firing their head coach, and even if Newton and Olsen hook up, they probably won't reach tournament value.
Feery (4th): The Titans came to life after the coaching change and stole a game down in New Orleans, but allowed a boatload of yardage and points through the air in the process. I don’t expect to see the same kind of fireworks in this one and think we could be looking at a surprisingly close game. Newton will still produce and should hook up with his favorite target a few times, but I think the other three combos offer greater value and upside for this week.
Mamula (4th): The game total is only 43.5. I agree with Vegas and see Carolina winning a low-scoring contest with defense and the running game. I am not targeting a Newton-Olsen stack in my GPPs.
Lee (4th): All four of these stacks are relatively close in terms of value (projected points/cumulative salary). The differentiator for me, therefore, becomes opportunity cost. Which stack combination allows me enough flexibility at the remaining positions to not take too many chances at those positions? By taking that stance, I can eliminate the Brady-Gronkowski stack almost immediately. By spending $13,500 on those two players, I am left with only about $4,700 per player to round out my roster (after taking the Denver defense), which is almost impossible given FantasyAces' pricing algorithm; the plus of getting the best stack (Brady-Gronkowski) is mitigated by being forced to consider lesser quality (high risk) players across the rest of my roster.
Cousins in Play?
New Orleans has allowed Eli Manning and Marcus Mariota to combine for 10 passing touchdowns and zero interceptions in the last two weeks and also yielded over 330 passing yards and three-plus touchdowns in three straight games. Dare I say Kirk Cousins is a viable cash game play?
Will Grant: Washington as a team seems to blow hot and cold. It's hard to get a read on which team is going to show up. That being said, the Saints are not a good team on the road, and their secondary give up a ton of yards each week. They also only have four interceptions through the first half of the season. Cousins isn't going to throw for 500 yards this week, but he should have a reasonable game and should be able to stay clean. Given how low his salary is compared to other QB options this week, I think Cousins is a guy that you can take a chance on in cash games.
Chris Feery: Yes, I think Cousins is definitely in play for both cash games and tournaments this week. While it’s hard to envision the Washington offense putting together prolific passing numbers, you have to like their chances against a team that has a horrendous passing defense. The numbers that opposing teams have put together over the past three weeks are pretty staggering. Cousins should easily make value this week and could end up being a great upside play for tournaments as well. As an added bonus, his price is very salary-cap friendly, which makes it easier to pay up for one of the more expensive signal callers for your other quarterback option.
John Lee: Las Vegas really thinks so, as that total is very high at 50 points. The last two wins for Washington have come because of Cousins leading a comeback, and I think that is how they have to move the ball this week against a bad Saints secondary. With Jordan Reed, Pierre Garcon, and now Desean Jackson back, I can see all three having productive days in support of a 300-yard, three touchdown day for Cousins. I think Cousins is in play for both cash and GPP this week. Ironically, the thing that could hold Cousins down is that Brees has not played as well on the road, so if New Orleans doesn't post 27+ points, Washington may not throw as much as they would need to for Cousins to reach GPP value. I think it will happen though as I have this as a 34-31 type shootout, so I say fire up Cousins.
John Mamula: Another vote for Kirk Cousins! He is a good play for cash games and GPP tournaments this weekend. The Saints pass defense has been historically bad this season. They have allowed a league leading 24 passing touchdowns. The Saints are on pace to allow the highest opponents' passer rating of all time (112.0) according to the Elias Sports Bureau. While Cousins is a below average QB, this is the best matchup on the board this week. Cousins' floor is two touchdowns and 250 passing yards in this matchup. Play him with confidence!
Lee: It seems like we're all on the same page here with Cousins; he's a perfect cash game play on FantasyAces, where their tight pricing algorithm continues to force difficult lineup decisions. Entering Week 10, the Redskins offense is averaging only 19.8 points per game (28th in the league). Yet the oddsmakers in Vegas has projected them to score 24.5 points this weekend, which is the eighth-highest team total on the board. Cousins has also put together better performances at home than on the road this season; he is averaging 50% more fantasy points at home than the road in 2015. Given that the last five quarterbacks to face New Orleans have averaged 27.2 fantasy points per game, it is difficult to envision a scenario where Cousins ends the afternoon with less than the 16.5 points necessary to reach cash game value on FantasyAces.
Red Zone Regression
Demaryius Thomas is fourth in the NFL in targets but only has one touchdown. The next player with just one score is 18th in targets. Some positive regression should be in store for Thomas. Do you think it comes this week against Kansas City?
Jeff Pasquino: I certainly think that this is the week Thomas finally finds the end zone. Peyton Manning has been playing better of late, and the way to beat Kansas City is through the air with the wide receivers. Thomas (and even Emmanuel Sanders) have good shots at reaching paydirt this week. The only thing that might hold the passing game value down would be a big lead or the defense stepping up and scoring instead.
John Lee: Thomas is one of my favorite WR plays for DFS this weekend. I have been anxiously awaiting this matchup against Kansas City because no team has allowed more fantasy points to the WR position than the Chiefs. Meanwhile, Thomas has been on the wrong side of variance for the entire 2015 season. He is third in the league in targets per game (11.6), yet has only a single touchdown on the season; he is the only top ten-targeted receiver to have only one touchdown, which indicates that some positive regression is forthcoming. For his part, Thomas has been consistent, collecting at least five receptions and 50 years in every game this season, which would ordinarily make him an attractive cash game option. That said, FantasyAces still has Thomas as the fifth-most expensive WR on the board, despite entering Week 10 as the 17th-highest scoring WR. Because his salary is comparatively high on Aces, where the pricing algorithm has been extremely tight recently, I think that he defaults to a GPP play on their site.
John Mamula: Thomas will have some positive touchdown regression finding the endzone this week. But I do not expect a huge game of 150 receiving yards and two touchdowns in this matchup. Vegas has the game total set at 41.5 points. Denver's defense will dominate the game, and Manning will not need to pass much during the second half. Due to game script, I envision a stat line of five receptions for 80 yards and one touchdown.
Chris Feery: I agree with John’s projection, 5/80/1 sounds about right for Thomas this week. Kansas City's struggles against wide receivers have been well-documented, as have the struggles of the Broncos offense. For this week, I think they meet somewhere in the middle. The Chiefs are coming in off of their bye and went into it on a high note by destroying the Lions in London. We may see an improved team on both sides of the ball after a week off. However, Thomas has a good chance to find the end zone. We just may not see the monster receiving performance some may be expecting.
Will Grant: I hate to be the contrarian, but I'm not as sold as everyone else is with the possibility that Thomas reaches the end zone this week. Looking back at the last five games, the Chiefs have only allowed four total WR receiving touchdowns. In those four games, it was the secondary receiver that reached the end zone. In Week 8, it was Lance Moore while Calvin Johnson had 85 receiving yards. In Week 7, Martavis Bryant reached end zone, but Antonio Brown had 124 receiving yards. In Week 6, Stefon Diggs had 129 receiving yards, but none of the Minnesota receivers scored a touchdown. In Week 5, Marquess Wilson reached the end zone for the Bears, but they were without their top receivers in that game. In Week 4, the Bengals receivers had a solid game, but only Brandon Tate reached the end zone on a 55 yard touchdown (his only catch of the day). I think if I'm looking for a receiver to have a good game from Denver this week, I'd go with Sanders instead of Thomas.
Lee: Sanders did not practice for the second day in a row on Thursday. If he remains out of practice on Friday (or even "limited"), I think Demaryius begins to encroach upon must-play territory across the industry because he could see 15 targets without Sanders on the field. Watch that situation closely on Friday because it could have major implications for Sunday morning.
Discuss a game other than any with players mentioned in the previous questions and predict the game script. Which player(s) will benefit the most if you are right?
Jeff Pasquino: Regarding Miami at Philadelphia, I think that this game could be a run-fest for both sides. Miami just gave up 100-yard games to two Buffalo backs last week (LeSean McCoy, Karlos Williams) so I think that DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews, and some Darren Sproles could be the game plan for the Eagles. I like Murray ($4,850) to lead the way here, but Mathews ($4,550) has also looked quite good of late. Last week both combined for over 200 yards and two touchdowns. I think that they could very well do the same thing again this week. The added benefit for the Eagles is that it takes most of the risk out of their offense as Sam Bradford has been way too turnover prone this year, and his receivers drop too many passes. Running the ball is safer, and Chip Kelly has always loved to run the ball to set up the pass. I think this week he runs the ball to set up more running, and both Murray and Mathews could reach cash value. I've never rostered two backs from the same team, but I would consider it here.
For Miami, I also think that Lamar Miller ($5,100) is in play as well. The Eagles are depleted at the linebacker position, as they have lost several of them to injury so far this season, and they are back to re-signing guys they cut earlier this year. That should be very encouraging for Miller, who had over 140 yards and two scores last week against the Bills, who also happened to have a very successful ground game against Miami. Could I really be suggesting to use three running backs from the same game? Consider that the pace of play from the Eagles is high and that Miami's offense seems to run through Miller now, I think I am. Stranger things have happened, but if you had Miller, Karlos Williams and LeSean McCoy last week you would have been very successful and very unique with that lineup.
John Lee: I'll choose Detroit at Green Bay. Coming out of their bye in Week 8, the Packers were forced to travel to Denver to play the league's best defense and subsequently went to Charlotte to face the Panthers' sharp defense in Week 9. This week, the Packers return to Lambeau as 11.5-point favorites over the Detroit Lions. On paper, this would appear to set up nicely for newly-crowned RB1, James Starks, but I suspect this game will be all about the Aaron Rodgers and the Green bay passing game. Since losing Jordy Nelson to a preseason injury, the Packers' receivers have all struggled with injuries at some point or another, including Randall Cobb (shoulder), Davante Adams (ankle), and Andrew Quarless (MCL).
Last week, both Cobb and Adams appeared to be 100% healthy for the first time all season, while tight end Richard Rodgers and veteran James Jones continued to complement those primary receivers. With Eddie Lacy officially being relegated to the RB2 this week, James Starks should see 16-20 touches, but I expect four to six of those touches to come through the air, which further boosts Aaron Rodgers' fantasy value. Because Detroit allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season, I think this is an opportunity to get a piece of Aaron Rodgers in a great spot with a terrific matchup, all while his ownership is extremely low; I would stack him with Randall Cobb, who saw 12 targets last week, yet only collected four of them. This tandem will be underowned because of the tight pricing, which will give those who roster that stack a leg up on the competition, should it hit paydirt.
John Mamula: I'll take on Houston at Cincinnati. Vegas has the Bengals as 10.5 point home favorites vs. Houston. The Bengals are the third-highest team total (28.75) on the board this week. Houston has allowed the sixth most rushing yards per game (123.5) this season. During Week 4, Devonta Freeman ran wild with 149 total yards and three touchdowns. During Week 7, Lamar Miller exploded with 236 total yards and two touchdowns. Needless to say, the Houston defense does not travel well. Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard are both playing a similar number of offensive snaps over the past three weeks. It is difficult to accurately predict which one to play this week. Hill and Bernard both have the potential for 150 total yards and multiple touchdowns. For this situation, it is either best to play both running backs in separate lineups throughout your GPP tournaments. If one of the two running backs boom, then you will be ahead of the field.
Chris Feery: I'll choose Cleveland at Pittsburgh. This game calls for a projected total of 41.5 points with Pittsburgh a 5.5-point favorite. Ben Roethlisberger is currently doubtful to play this week, but he has expressed optimism that he’ll be able to give it a go. If he were to play, we can expect the total to jump up a bit as the Steelers would employ their regular offensive attack. Assuming Landry Jones is given the start, we could see an even heavier dose of the running game, pointing to DeAngelo Williams having a solid opportunity to provide an encore to last week’s stellar performance. For the receivers, Jones seems to have a bit of chemistry with Martavis Bryant, who could make for an interesting GPP flier. Antonio Brown may be a bit too expensive this week in the absence of Roethlisberger.
For the Browns, there are some question marks as to who will be the starter this Sunday as well. Josh McCown will be given the nod if he’s healthy enough to play, otherwise Johnny Manziel will be given another opportunity. Neither quarterback is a particularly attractive target this week. The Steelers defense is actually an interesting play against an offensively-challenged Browns team. The only Browns offensive player that deserves consideration is Gary Barnidge, who has produced very well on a weekly basis dating back to Week 3, with the exception of last week against the Bengals.
Will Grant: I'll take a shot at Chicago at St. Louis. The Bears pulled off a big road win on Monday night, and their reward is that they get to travel to St. Louis on a short week. The Rams are not the Chargers, and their defense is ranked fifth in total yards allowed, including being fourth in passing yards allowed (with only five passing touchdowns surrendered) and 13th in rushing yards allowed (and just five rushing scores as well). Chicago ranks 24th in rushing yards allowed (with only two touchdowns) and fifth in passing yards allowed (but a whopping 17 touchdowns). A road-weary Chicago team against the stingy Rams defense means bad things for anyone on the offensive side of the ball for Chicago. I'd fade Alshon Jeffery, Jay Cutler, Martellus Bennett, and Jeremy Langford. Vegas predicts that the Bears will only score 17 points in this game.
Given everything else, it could be even less. That makes the St. Louis defense a prime candidate to hit value this week. Todd Gurley has been on fire these last five weeks, posting 738 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns. He has also had more than 100 yards from scrimmage in each of those five games. Against a soft Chicago run defense, expect Gurley to crack the century mark again. He may not reach the end zone though, so I'd hesitate before tossing him in all of your cash lineups. The Rams haven't had 200 yards passing since Week 1, so no one else on the offense is worth considering this week.
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Ryan Hester - Moderator