Those of us playing on the full-week slates all want in on the Falcons-Patriots matchup, of course. Its 54-point Vegas projection and bevy of explosive stars make it the week's sexiest, and like last week's sexy-for-other-reasons Giants-Broncos tilt, it will likely draw extra attention to the primetime slates. Whether you're playing the slate yourself or not, walk us through both the no-brainer cash plays in the game, if there are any, as well as your favorite contrarian stance and why you'll invest in it.
Alessandro Miglio: It's #TouchdownRegressionWeek for me, so Julio Jones is front-and-center in my lineups. That is especially true in cash games.
Dan Quinn talked about getting Jones more opportunities after last week's failure. Finally – Jones had one red zone target this season, and he was off the field in some passing situations that left me scratching my head. Now that Quinn has noticed, I'd bet Jones gets extra offensive attention this week going up against a Patriots defense that just allowed Josh McCown to carve them up. Perhaps they load up to try to stop Jones, but I have a feeling he will see double-digit targets with a strong chance to score this week regardless.
Rob Gronkowski is the only other obvious cash game must-play for me in this matchup, but his price is going to be especially tricky to get around. With Travis Kelce playing on Thursday night, options are limited in cash at the position for the main slates. Hence, it might be worthwhile paying up while chasing value elsewhere.
Dan Hindery: There is not a single player in this game I am interested in for cash games. The quarterbacks are both good bets for strong performances but are priced too highly to squeeze into a cash-game lineup with similar options priced much cheaper. Julio Jones is also priced too high for cash games when you consider the fact that he has only one red zone target all season, and the success New England has historically enjoyed in taking away the opposition’s top weapon. On the New England side of the ball, Tom Brady has such a deep stable of weapons that it is hard to know where the targets are going to go each week. The one relative constant has been Rob Gronkowski, but he is priced slightly too high for me to plug into a cash lineup.
My contrarian stance on this game is to take a shot in GPPs on the backup running backs. Tevin Coleman’s price has fallen to a point ($4,800 on DraftKings) where the risk/reward proposition makes sense in tournaments. He has scored double-digit fantasy points each of the four weeks, which gives him a decent floor considering his price. His big-play ability, pass-catching role, and occasional goal-line touches give him plenty of upside as well. New England has given up a lot of receptions and receiving yards to opposing running backs this season and could struggle with Coleman's speed, if Atlanta can get him the ball in space. On the other side, Dion Lewis and James White are both intriguing options. White obviously had the monster game against the Falcons defense in the Super Bowl, so we know what his upside looks like if the Patriots decide to lean heavily on him. Lewis is my preferred option, however. He has been the Patriots’ best back over the past two weeks. and his ability as both a runner and receiver could make him the go-to option for the Patriots this week.
Devin Knotts: It's hard to trust Matt Ryan at this point, as he has faced 3 consecutive bottom-10 defenses against the pass and averaged just 261 yards and 1.3 touchdowns in those games. Atlanta's passing game, in general, is just a solid avoid for me this week, as in cash they will be too risky and in GPPs they will be too popular. I can get behind both Freeman and Coleman on DraftKings, but just Freeman on FanDuel due to pricing. These running backs can both catch the ball, and if Atlanta is trailing, will see some dump off work in this game.
I like New England in this game, though, as this is the perfect get-right game for Tom Brady and crew. With that said, the only players that I am interested in this week are Brady and Rob Gronkowski on DraftKings. Gronkowski is just $400 more than Zach Ertz which, while I like Ertz and he has been more consistent so far this season, Gronkowski still has the upside that no other tight end has. I will be building two-tight end lineups with Gronkowski, essentially treating him as a wide receiver. The only play on FanDuel that I like is Chris Hogan, and that is due to price. Brandin Cooks seems too expensive for me as he has not been scoring touchdowns, while Hogan has so far this season.
Danny Tuccitto: On DraftKings, there aren't any no-brainer cash game plays in Falcons-Patriots, or at least that's what my value probabilities are showing. Seven players in this game are at 33% or higher (i.e., 3x is more likely than not), but the highest is only at 38%. Here's the list:
Tom Brady (38%)
Tevin Coleman (38%)
Austin Hooper (37%)
Matt Ryan (37%)
Rob Gronkowski (37%)
Devonta Freeman (33%)
Julio Jones (33%)
Based on the above, I'm in tune with Devin on Brady and Gronkowski, as well as in agreement with Dan on Coleman being a sneaky play, especially in tournaments. (At 18%, he has the fourth-highest GPP value probability among all running backs this week.)
Chris Feery: I agree with Alessandro. The fact that Dan Quinn specifically mentioned that Julio Jones needs to see the ball more points to the chance that extra targets will be sailing in his direction. The caveat to that is that the Patriots do a nice job of mitigating the damage from an opponent’s top weapon, in spite of their limitations on defense this year. I’ll definitely have some exposure to Jones, but I won’t be going all-in. The other player that jumps out is Tom Brady. Brady in a potential shootout is too appealing of a prospect, and he’s a fine choice for GPP rosters.
Dan makes a good point about potentially focusing on the respective team’s running games. Interest will be high in this game for the full-week slates, and that makes for an excellent way to get some exposure at a lower ownership percentage than the passing game targets. Devonta Freeman is the safest option, but there is potential upside with both Tevin Coleman and Dion Lewis. However, I’ll caution that Coleman and Lewis are selections of the boom-bust variety.
Justin Howe: Dan perfectly drove home why I don’t want much Julio Jones this week. At the risk of getting too “Xs and Os” here in DFS discussion, I’ll point out that Bill Belichick’s career modus operandi is (a) finding his opponent’s true strong point and (b) neutralizing it at the expense of the other, less dynamic options. It seems he’ll happily allow Devonta Freeman to run for 150 yards, or Austin Hooper to catch a career-high number of passes… just as long as Jones, who’s more capable of dominating, doesn’t get a chance to beat him. For that reason, I see Jones as fool’s gold in this slate. He’s perma-hurt, he’s allergic to the end zone (despite being priced like a guy actually capable of scoring touchdowns), and he’ll probably be schemed for heavily.
If I’m dipping into this game for cash, I also won’t be touching the quarterbacks, who are far too pricey to fit into a lineup I like. I’ll be working in Freeman – opposing backs have torched the Patriots in a similar fashion to receivers – and Coleman when I need to diversify in GPPs. I’m looking hard to Rob Gronkowski as my main cash tight end on FanDuel, where the positional value is a little more scarce and he looks like the most dynamic option by far.