This week we discuss the following:
Doug Baldwin ($6,800) leads the NFL in receiving over the last four weeks. Has he become a solid value in cash games, or is he still too untrustworthy to play outside of GPPs?
Mark Wimer: Baldwin has seen a minimum of six targets and a minimum of five receptions for four straight games—it seems like as soon as Jimmy Graham went down, Baldwin became a combination of Russell Wilson's outlet receiver and remains his preferred "crunch time, have-to-have-it" receiver.
With six TDs and two games over 100 yards receiving over the past four weeks, Baldwin is an example of the definition of "red hot"—I think he is a high-floor, high-ceiling option for all DFS formats.
Chad Parsons: At Baldwin's price, I gravitate to Jeremy Maclin far more often this week for $100 more, plus mix in a few Danny Amendola shares at $7,000. Baldwin makes the most sense stacking with Wilson in GPP land and will play him in maybe 5-10% of my cash game lineups.
Jene Bramel: I don't think Baldwin is a tremendous value at this price point, but he's getting enough targets and high leverage opportunity to be a consideration in more than GPP lineups. Still, it's hard to roll with Baldwin in a cash lineup over players like Amari Cooper and Jeremy Maclin at the same salary level.
Alex Miglio: In terms of raw value? Yes, with a caveat—you have to expect Baldwin to continue his recent tear. That's likely considering the matchup and the fact offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell seems freed of the touch and target shackles that are Jimmy Graham and Marshawn Lynch. Baldwin is going to make for a decent cash play simply because he will have a high ownership percentage.
Andrew Garda: I think he's trustworthy enough. I've said it before but I also believe that the Seahawks offense was thrown for a loop with Jimmy Graham and with him out of there they have seemed more like their old selves. Baldwin was a guy Russell Wilson liked to go to pre-Graham so it makes sense that it's gone back that way post-Graham.
I like to go more chalk in cash games, but depending on how I laid out the lineup I would feel pretty confident with him in there against the Ravens.
Chad Parsons: For upside give me Spiller, even though his lack of recent usage is jarring. I have high expectations for Spiller, even with a healthy Mark Ingram II, back in the preseason. The price is right as there are no real overt targets at running back for less than $6,500 on my board. I will throw a dart or two on Spiller in GPP to add another stud around him. In general, avoiding Hightower as he will rely on a positive game script (unlikely) or goal line cracks to hit value.
Jene Bramel: Hightower could surprise and get more touches than expected, but the Tampa Bay rush defense is solid and should continue to be good enough without Kwon Alexander. I'd lean toward Spiller and the New Orleans pass offense, especially with Brandin Cooks unlikely to play with a concussion.
Mark Wimer: The concussion to Cooks does put a different spin on this game for me as Willie Snead IV is also hurt (battling a calf injury) and was limited in practices so far this week. The above means that Brees is likely without Cooks—98 targets for 61/840/7 receiving this year- and potentially down Snead also—71 for 45/676/3—guys who have handled 169 of his 456 pass attempts.
In the scenario where both Cooks and Snead are inactive then I am going to have Ben Watson in a LOT of lineups and Spiller in a small chunk (say 10% of my entries). Brees will need to throw the ball against the Buccaneers if the Saints are to have a prayer to win this game.
Alex Miglio: One word: meh. If this was full PPR and these two were minimum-priced, I might consider putting them into a few lineups. True, they're not much more than the minimum, but neither of these guys is particularly tantalizing based on what we have seen this year and potential. Spiller had one great week, and he well could catch six or seven passes. But will he put up good numbers? Hightower, meanwhile, seems like fool's gold—out of the league for years and never that good, how much is he realistically going to produce?
Andrew Garda: Long term (or the rest of the season) I lean towards Hightower but this week, with Brandin Cooks likely out, I think Spiller has a lot more bang for your buck. They need someone like Spiller who is a dynamic playmaker and so he will probably see a lot of passes thrown his way.
Jene Bramel: Any running back has GPP upside against the Chargers, even with Manti Te'o healthy and Denzel Perryman emerging. I'd rather have the red zone value on Ware than the pass game upside of West on FanDuel, but it's a close call.
Mark Wimer: The Chargers' rush defense has averaged 18.3 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing fantasy backs over the last four weeks (13th in the NFL)—to date, San Diego is ranked 26th in the NFL averaging 124.6 rush yards allowed per game, with 12 rushing scores given out so far. One item to note, though, is that the Chargers haven't allowed a rushing score over their last two games, so I'm not sure that Ware is the best play here. Since I like some other backs who aren't in a committee this week (Shaun Draughn, T.J. Yeldon) I am likely avoiding this muddle for a more-sure shot at 3x value.
Alex Miglio: Absolutely. Charcandrick West is one of the best running back values of the week at $5,800. He doubled Ware up in snaps last week, so there is little to worry about from an injury standpoint. He has a fantastic matchup, too, though he didn't have a big game the last time out against the Chargers. Ware has touchdown upside by virtue of getting goal-line carries, but West is the well-rounded back getting more opportunity.
Andrew Garda: I agree with Doc Bramel that the end zone potential of Ware is attractive but as Wimer also pointed out, the Chargers aren't allowing rushing scores the last two games. So for my money, even though we are looking for upside (and touchdowns are a bigger upside), I go with West for his role in the passing game. It's perhaps not as high a ceiling as Ware has with his scoring, but it's safer and still a nice, high ceiling.
Chad Parsons: I love playing quarterbacks under $7,000 when I feel comfortable with the matchup. Manziel at home against San Francisco qualifies with his rushing upside and improved passing from recent playing time.
Jene Bramel: I'm going to have a hard time trusting the San Francisco or Cleveland offense except in the most contrarian of lineups. Of the three, I'd be most likely to use Gabbert, but I'm likely to be off this game entirely.
Mark Wimer: I actually have plugged in Manziel in a limited number of lineups figuring that his desire to be avenged on head coach Pettine this week will outweigh his desire for partying on Saturday. Manziel has to know he's nearing this final NFL opportunity so I'm rolling the dice that THIS week, he keeps his libations to a dull roar.
Gabbert has been steady and, well, professional during his starts for the 49ers this year. He's limited by a thin and hurt receiving corps (Anquan Boldin has been battling a sore hamstring; Vance McDonald is likely out due to a concussion. But, Gabbert is making do with what tools he has available, and the Browns' pass defense is just awful. The Browns' defense has allowed 25 TD passes this season versus just eight interceptions generated (tied for 23rd in the NFL), while also recording a mere 17 sacks (30th in the league)—it is no wonder they rank 25th in the NFL averaging 262.5 net passing yards given up per contest. Over the past four weeks the Browns are seventh-worst in the NFL averaging 25.5 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing quarterbacks—so I don't share Jene's skepticism about Gabbert this week.
Alex Miglio: These guys feel like huge traps. I suppose you could include C.J. Spiller in here at $4,800, but nobody here screams "big game."
Andrew Garda: I don't trust Johnny Football or Gabbert so I'm staying away. They both have some upside, but the downside is chasm-like so I'll pass. Hartline might have some run in him but not enough for me. I like Willie Snead IV with Brandin Cook possibly out and think his $5700 price tag is reasonable if he plays.
Guys I'll build my rosters around this week: DeAngelo Williams ($7,300), Devonta Freeman ($8,700), Travis Kelce ($6,000), Odell Beckham ($9,300), and Eric Decker ($7,300). Any cause for concern about any of those guys? Any players you like better as core pieces?
Jene Bramel: I'm worried about the stagnant Atlanta offense recently, especially as I'm not certain I can pinpoint exactly why a team with Freeman and Jones is struggling all over the field. I'd feel more confident in Kelce if I didn't worry the Chiefs would ignore him over long stretches again. All of these players are strong considerations this week.
Mark Wimer: I agree with Jene about Atlanta's offense—it is floundering despite the evident talent on the roster (I live in the ATL TV market and have (painfully) watched their implosion over the past seven weeks). I'm not enthused for Freeman as teams are stacking the box, doubling Jones, and daring Ryan to beat them with Justin Hardy and Jacob Tamme. I'm also off Kelce for the same reason Jene stated.
I love Williams, Decker and Beckham Jr. this weekend, and have a lot of lineups with them woven into the fabric.
Alex Miglio: Travis Kelce hasn't been able to produce big numbers in great matchups for much of this year, and his price still seems inflated based on preseason hype. Another great matchup for him this week should hopefully get him to meet value, but his production is worrisome. Freeman isn't a great option for me because that Falcons offense has been abysmal in recent weeks. The Panthers may have given up a ton of points last week, but that defense pretty good.
Andrew Garda: The only one I am nervous about is Freeman. On the one hand, he did get back on track last weekend with a nice combination of receiving and rushing yards. On the other hand is a tough Carolina defense which is going to be happy to let Matt Ryan beat them given his season so far. At least Freeman should have plenty of those receiving opportunities though, which should safeguard his status.
The points about Kelce are also good. I do feel a little better about him than most seem to, but the inconsistent use is problematic and if I were going to plug in a 'stud' tight end, it'd be Greg Olsen.
Williams, Beckham and Decker are all guys I am using somewhere, and if I don't use Decker, I often have Brandon Marshall in somewhere.
That will do it for this edition of the FanDuel Roundtable. Please join us again next week.
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