DFS Roundtable: No LeVeon Bell or Antonio Brown on Main Slate

Life after no LeVeon Bell or Antonio Brown on the Main Slate. 

With Pittsburgh playing Tennessee on Thursday Night Football this week, we will be losing two of the star players at the RB and WR position with Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. With those two big-name players off the main slate of games, what star players out of Leonard Fournette, Todd Gurley, or Kareem Hunt and Michael Thomas, A.J. Green, or Mike Evans do you prefer this week? Pick one of the three RB’s and WR’s and explain.

Justin BonnemaHunt was one of the first players I selected in my early builds this week. If we are to believe that Coach Reid is masterful coming off a bye, then we should have Hunt in 30 percent of lineups. The crowd is going to be scared of him since he hasn’t paid off in several weeks, but not only does he still have total control of the backfield (volume is the most important thing for running backs), he also gets a defense that allows the third most rushing yards per game. I’ll caveat that by noting that the Chiefs are one of the most penalized teams in football. Particularly, they have second most offensive holding penalties in road games, so it could be a frustrating day if Hunt leaves a bunch of yards on the field due to flags. 

For wide receivers, the wildcard is Evans. We have no idea how he’ll play coming off of a suspension and lining up with Ryan Fitzpatrick. The matchup is enticing, especially after seeing the Panthers’ success on Monday night against the Dolphins. Sign me up for at least few Fitzpatrick/Evans stacks.   

John MamulaI agree with Justin as I also have Kareem Hunt ranked as my top RB this week. Fresh off a bye week, Andy Reid will put his playmakers in a position to succeed this week. I want to be overweight on Hunt and the rest of Chiefs playmakers (Alex Smith, Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill) in cash games and GPP contests. WR isn't as clear-cut as most weeks. If I had to choose a WR from that list it would be A.J. Green. But, I am hesitant to load up on Michael Thomas, Green, or Mike Evans right now. Thomas and Green are in sub-optimal matchups and Evans is expected to be without Jameis Winston again. At the WR position, Julio Jones is my top overall player this week. With Richard Sherman inactive due to an Achilles' tendon injury, the Seahawks are now vulnerable to top wide receivers. Devonta Freeman will also miss this week as the Falcons will look to their other playmakers. With only 1 touchdown on the season, we can expect some positive touchdown regression for Julio Jones over the second half of the season. 

Justin HoweKareem Hunt is squarely on my radar against the white-flagging Giants. No, he's clearly not as good as he looked to open the year, and the Kansas City offense is settling in more as sporadic GPP gold than weekly dynamite. But this is certainly a blowup spot, and his salary has dipped again - and I expect his ownership to as well.

A.J. Green will also see decreased ownership, with the "@DEN" scaring away a healthy chunk of DFSers. But this isn't the devastating matchup it was earlier in the year; they've allowed 74+ yards to back-to-back WR1 opponents, and neither was nearly the target hog or dynamic stud Green is. Green will mostly avoid slot terror Chris Harris Jr and see coverage from Aqib Talib, who's a fine cover man but a gambler, and Bradley Roby, who's exceptionally up-and-down. And Green has routinely roasted better safety coverage up the seams than what the Broncos boast. At his lowest price tag (and likely ownership) of the year, Green would pay off massively with another 100-yard game and touchdown.

Chris FeeryI agree with the guys: I’m also firmly on the call of Kareem Hunt for this week. While Leonard Fournette and Todd Gurley always deserve shortlist consideration, there’s just too much appeal in the matchup for Hunt this week. The Giants are reeling, and the Chiefs are coming in off of the bye. It’s incredibly hard to envision a scenario in which the Giants come out raring to go against one of the top clubs in the league. Andy Reid’s success off of the bye has been well-documented, but the result would likely be the same even if the Chiefs were coming in off of a short week. The Chiefs should control the game from the get-go, and Hunt should see plenty of work along the way. 

Things are a bit trickier with the three wide receiver selections, but I’ll lean towards Michael Thomas through a process of elimination. While the Denver Broncos certainly haven’t played the part of late, the pieces remain in place for a solid defensive performance. Those chances increase against lesser opponents, and the Cincinnati Bengals fall into that category. I generally love rostering A.J. Green for his weekly upside potential, but I’m leaning towards taking a pass this week in a game that projects to be low scoring. 

Next up, Mike Evans is not as appealing with Ryan Fitzpatrick behind center. Add in the fact that things seem to be terribly amiss with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season, and I’m not comfortable assuming he’s going to bring a blow-up performance to the table this week. Could he? Of course, but I’m more interested in safety and reliability at this juncture of the season. 

That leads me to lean on Thomas, but I won’t be going all in with him either. While the game projects to be high scoring, the New Orleans Saints have been winning with the run game and strong defense. There’s no need for them to flip the script on what’s working. That said, it’s not out of the question for Thomas to have a nice day against Washington, and he’s definitely the most appealing choice of this trio. 

Dan HinderyThe two who stand out to me most are Kareem Hunt and Mike Evans. The matchup couldn’t be much better for Hunt. 

The Giants season has been a slow-motion train wreck that seems to get worse by the week. It looked like the team gave up in last week’s embarrassing loss to San Francisco. The task only gets tougher for the Giants this week. Hunt leads the NFL in rushing yards and heads to New York to face a defense that has allowed 1,413 total yards to opposing running backs (1,059 rushing and 397 receiving) in just nine games. 

Mike Evans is due for a breakout performance after a quiet stretch of games and has the perfect matchup to do so. Miami is playing on a short week after getting blasted by Carolina. The Dolphins have given up 10 passing touchdowns over the past four weeks and do not have an above-average cornerback on the roster.

James Brimacombe: Kareem Hunt is my all in play this week and might even be the case if Le'Veon Bell was available on the Main Slate. The Giants are giving up the 9th most fantasy points to opposing running backs with 26 rushes for 109 yards and 0.6 touchdowns on average. Also, add in the 5 receptions for 43 yards and 0.2 touchdowns receiving to the position. Last week Carlos Hyde and Matt Breida combined for 26 carries for 153 rushing yards and a touchdown along with 3 catches for 9 yards. There is little competition behind Hunt at the running back position in Kansas City and he is coming off a bye week but only touched the ball 13 times against Dallas in Week 9. Head Coach Andy Reid will be looking to get Hunt involved in the offense once again and get Hunt back into the end zone where it has been since Week 3 that he got his last touchdown.

Mike Evans coming off his suspension has my attention this week against the Miami Dolphins. Sure, Evans will have Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing him the ball but it is not as if Jameis Winston was having the breakout season that everyone was hoping for. Miami just allowed Devin Funchess to post a 5/92/2 stat line and will be playing on a short week so I feel confident in Evans finally cashing in on a big performance.

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