Thursday, October 15, 2015

Dissecting DraftKings for NFL Week 6

For the first time in five weeks, the previous week's format will be carried over and maintained, as I finally like the look of this column. What I didn't like last week was my decision to fade Devonta Freeman against a Washington front seven that had been excellent through the first four games of the season. Freeman is looking matchup-proof at this point, even with a huge price bump and he's a top-two option in cash games again this week on the Thursday-night slate, as he'll likely be very productive and highly owned.

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Top Plays

Tom Brady ($8,100) at IND
Carson Palmer ($6,600) at PIT
Matt Ryan ($6,900) at NO

Usually I wouldn't have three road quarterbacks in my top-three slots, especially with Aaron Rodgers playing at home, but all three are in terrific spots. Tom Brady gets a struggling Colts' defense in a potential shootout with an over/under of 54.5, and he's the undisputed chalk play of the week in cash games.

Carson Palmer's price refuses to rise thanks to him consistently playing less than four quarters, which is definitely something to take advantage of while we can. The Steelers have been better at defending the pass over the past few weeks, but they're unlikely to be a match for the high-flying Cardinals' passing game.

Matt Ryan is usually a better target at home, but Falcons-Saints has the second-highest over/under of the week (51.5) and the game will be played in a dome, just like Ryan's home field. If you don't want to pay up for Brady on the Thursday night slate, Ryan is a great way to diversify your cash games if you play all seven different timeslots.

Tournament Shots

Sam Bradford ($6,000) vs. NYG
Colin Kaepernick ($5,000) vs. BAL
Andy Dalton ($5,700) at BUF

Prince Amukamara's injury is a nice boost for the Eagles' spread-the-wealth offense, and a huge issue for the Giants' secondary. Sam Bradford has gotten on track after a slow start in Chip Kelly's offense, and the over/under for this game is set at 49.5. You can successfully stack Bradford with Jordan Matthews, Zach Ertz and even Darren Sproles.

Colin Kaepernick is an enigma this season, but the Ravens are dead last in fantasy points allowed to QBs and he costs as much as quarterbacks who won't even see the field. Pairing him and Anquan Boldin together gives you over $40,000 to fill out six other positions and a defense, and even 30 combined points from the two puts you in good position in a tournament if your studs hit.

I suggested Marcus Mariota against the Bills last week, and that didn't quite work out so well. I'm going back to the well with Andy Dalton this week, however, and the only thing that will keep him from being underowned is his price tag. He has the second-highest scoring average at the QB position, and has three or four potential partners in a stack (A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert, Marvin Jones and Gio Bernard). Ride the wave.

They aren't listed here, but Jay Cutler ($5,200) at Detroit and Teddy Bridgewater ($5,300) vs. Kansas City are tempting low-cost options as well. Neither opponent defends the pass well, and both QBs could give you 200 yards and 2 TDs with room for more.

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Running Back

Top Plays

Dion Lewis ($5,800) at IND
Devonta Freeman ($7,000) at NO
Charcandrick West ($4,000) at MIN
Eddie Lacy ($6,300) vs. SD
Arian Foster ($7,000) at JAX

Dion Lewis continues to put up numbers, and anybody who still thinks his performance is a fluke is in danger of missing the boat. His price jumped over 20 percent from last week but he's still a bargain; he'll soon find himself just slightly cheaper than Freeman, possibly even next week if he has another 20-point game. With a good matchup in a game where New England should have no trouble scoring points, he's chalk this week.

As alluded to earlier, fading Freeman was a mistake, and one that won't be repeated this week on the Thursday slate. The Saints have a great case as the NFL's worst team, and their defense is in worse shape than their offense. While this game could be a tight one in New Orleans, it won't be because the Saints can stop the Falcons offense. Fire up Freeman in cash games to keep pace with your opponents.

After those two easy plays, the RB position gets a little shaky. Charcandrick West isn't min-priced; his tag jumped from $3,000 to $4,000 solely based on Jamaal Charles' injury, and a potential timeshare with Knile Davis ($4,500) looms. I've never been a believer in Davis' skill set and West has athleticism and pass-catching skills on his side; the floor is high enough here for cash games considering his price, even in a neutral matchup. He'll probably be somewhat popular too, which lowers his upside but raises that floor.

Eddie Lacy was a top play last week and fell flat on his face against the Rams, whose up-and-down run defense had an "up" week at home. The Packers return home this week to face the Chargers, who allow fantasy points by the boatload to RBs. I'd play the three guys above Lacy where available in cash games, but he's my top tournament play of the week at RB. His continued underperformance will scare people away, even in a near-perfect situation.

Arian Foster struggled on the ground last week against the Colts, but his nine receptions for 77 yards saved his game and provide a safe floor moving forward. With limited options in the passing game outside of DeAndre Hopkins, Foster should continue to see targets out of the backfield and faces a Jaguars run defense that was finally exposed by Doug Martin of all people, although Martin was one of my "tournament shots" last week. If you followed that advice, congrats on your money.

Tournament Shots

Mark Ingram ($6,000) vs. ATL
C.J. Spiller ($3,800) vs. ATL
Darren Sproles ($3,800) vs. NYG
LeGarrette Blount ($4,400) at IND

Frank Gore ($4,900) vs. NE

Atlanta's rush defense looks good on paper with its third-ranked 392 yards allowed, but the Falcons have been average on a per-carry basis in addition to allowing eight rushing touchdowns. Mark Ingram's upside is based on his touchdown potential in addition to his involvement in the passing game - he has 24 receptions in five games this season. The Saints will need to score points to keep up Thursday and with Drew Brees struggling to create big plays, those touchdowns will likely come in the red zone. Many will avoid Ingram in cash games because of game-flow perceptions and his lack of a sky-high ceiling, but 20 carries for 80 yards and 2 TDs with a few receptions could have him push for 25-30 points. Sometimes, low-owned value is a great goal in GPPs.

From last week's writeup: "C.J. Spiller is nothing more than a shot in the dark until we see confirmation that his usage will increase, but his 80-yard TD catch to win the game in overtime last week showed the Saints what he can do, and provided fantasy owners with a glimpse of his upside." Obviously Spiller's usage continued to wane last week, but the Saints will need all hands on deck Thursday night. If not now, I wonder if Sean Payton will ever find a way to get Spiller more involved.

Similar to Spiller, Sproles is a shot in the dark hoping for a gameplan adjustment. Also like Spiller, he has the potential to pay off his price tag with just one big play. It's not easy to find 20-point potential under $4,000 this week, but Sproles has it and he seems to be unleashed in primetime games for the world to see. The Eagles and Giants are set for a potential Monday night shootout. Pairing Sproles with Sam Bradford could be fun.

LeGarrette Blount finds his way onto the tournament list yet again, after a week of 7.4 fantasy points followed up his 28.2-point explosion in Week 4. Last week shows why he can never be trusted in a cash game, but he still saw 13 carries as the Patriots blew out the Cowboys; he just didn't hit paydirt. Dion Lewis isn't going away, but Blount has multi-TD potential in a high-scoring game that has slight laugher potential. Just don't be shocked when he plays eight snaps - there's a reason he's fourth on this list.

Like Ingram, Frank Gore is another perceived "low-upside" player. With Andrew Luck's return on the horizon for Week 6, however, Gore's scoring potential increases exponentially. Unless Luck is miraculously back to 100 percent, which seems unlikely, the Colts should continue to feed their workhorse the rock, so volume isn't a concern. If Luck can't stretch the field like usual, Gore could also find himself on the other end of a few receptions out of the backfield. The veteran likely won't be a high-owned player and, like Ingram, could pay off with good bang for the buck.

Wide Receiver

Top Plays

Julian Edelman ($7,600) at IND
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Willie Snead ($3,300) vs. ATL
Brandon Marshall ($7,100) vs. WAS
Anquan Boldin ($4,300) vs. BAL
Eric Decker ($4,900) vs. WAS

From last week's rundown: "Julian Edelman is always a great cash-game play." That was just a brief snippet, but Edelman's 25-point week certainly paid off his price tag, even without his usual target volume. Expect him to have another nice day, although his price is slowly creeping closer to his value.

Willie Snead topped my tournament plays last week and after a six-reception, 141-yard outing, he's graduated to a legitimate cash-game option as well with a price increase of just $300. He's the most trustworthy option in the Saints' passing game, which will see a lot of action Thursday night.

Brandon Marshall has been very consistent so far this season despite catching passes from Ryan Fitzpatrick, and the Jets' Week 6 matchup with the Redskins shouldn't come with expectations of a slowdown. Marshall has six receptions in all four games this season, and has scored or gone over 100 yards in every one as well.

Anquan Boldin may not seem like a wise cash-game investment based on the struggles of Colin Kaepernick, but at $4,300 his price builds in a safe floor for the receiver. Considering the rest of my top plays are somewhat pricy, Boldin has fit his way into a few of my cash lineups. While I'm not a big believer in narratives, Boldin does face his former Ravens teammates, who have struggled mightily to defend the pass. It's tough to envision a single-digit performance.

Two Jets receivers are top options? What world are we living in? Decker has scored a touchdown in all three of his games this season as the obvious No. 2 option in the offense behind Marshall. The Redskins' front seven is better than the secondary, and even if they run the ball successfully with Chris Ivory, there should be plenty of balls to go around for both Marshall and Decker to pay off their price tags.

Tournament Shots

Mike Wallace ($4,500) vs. KC
Donte Moncrief ($5,000) vs. NE
Marvin Jones ($3,500) at BUF
Jordan Matthews ($6,200) vs. NYG 
Rueben Randle ($4,400) at PHI

It was tempting to list Mike Wallace under top plays this week, but the nature of the Vikings' offense means it's tough to rely on any of their pass-catchers. I do like the Bridgewater-Wallace stack this week, as the Chiefs haven't stopped anybody through the air and have been good against the run. Even keeping that in mind, the Minnesota offense runs through Adrian Peterson, rendering Wallace a better GPP play than cash.

Donte Moncrief's floor was on display last week, as Matt Hasselbeck fed Andre Johnson against his former team. Expect a correction this week against the Patriots, who will likely focus on keeping T.Y. Hilton from busting big plays against them. Andrew Luck's return can only help the speedy Moncrief, who could lead Indianapolis in receiving in what projects as a track meet.

Marvin Jones is another boom-or-bust receiver who deserves mention, even against a good Bills' defense. Rex Ryan's proclivity for blitzing leaves his corners on an island often, and while both Stephon Gilmore and Ronald Darby have played well this season, Jones has chemistry with the resurgent Andy Dalton and the ability to win in the air against the 5-11 Darby. At his price point, all he needs is a touchdown to pay off.

Jordan Matthews' style is generally more conducive to cash games, but his price drop resulting from his recent struggles make him an interesting contrarian option, since most won't want to pay for his lack of production. The Eagles like to spread the ball around, but Matthews should theoretically be able to get open at will against a beat-up Giants secondary. Few will play him in tournaments, making him interesting at the least.

Rueben Randle was a suggested GPP play last week, but his five-catch, 42-yard effort disappointed as the Giants surprisingly struggled against the 49ers. Whether New York overlooked its opponent or not, that won't happen this week in Philadelphia. Much like Odell Beckham Jr., Randle is dealing with a hamstring injury, but seems probable to play. His injury and inconsistency will be a reason for many to fade him, but this game could be full of fantasy points. He's worth a flier if you enter multiple GPPs.

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Tight End

Top Plays

Rob Gronkowski ($7,600) at IND
Martellus Bennett ($4,800) at DET
Tyler Eifert ($4,900) at BUF

Rob Gronkowski was quiet against Dallas last week, which means he'll probably explode on Sunday night. The Colts have nobody to match up with Gronk and have struggled against the tight end. If you can afford to play him, fire him up without hesitation. Gronk loves the spotlight.

Martellus Bennett struggled with increased attention last week in Kansas City, but Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal are on track to return Sunday. While that might seem to limit Bennett's targets on the surface, both receivers may be playing at less than 100 percent. Their presence will draw attention from Bennett, but his skills along with Detroit's shaky defense make him a solid play this week.

Tyler Eifert is coming off a monster game and draws an easier matchup than both A.J. Green and Marvin Jones this week. His production has been a bit boom-or-bust so far this season, but he's trustworthy this week in cash games. I'm playing Gronk everywhere anyway, so Bennett and Eifert are unlikely to matter.

Tournament Shots

Jacob Tamme ($2,500) at NO
Zach Ertz ($2,900) vs. NYG
Richard Rodgers ($3,100) vs. SD

Tamme is another solid play from the Thursday night options. Generally I like to fade players on Thursday nights thanks to the sloppy brand of football that comes with a short week, but this game projects to be full of fantasy goodness. Coming off an eight-catch, 94-yard game against a struggling defense at minimum price, Tamme comes with some nice upside, especially if Julio Jones is at all hobbled.

Zach Ertz was in the same spot last week and responded with 11 fantasy points. Nothing exciting, but he more than paid off his price tag, even without a touchdown. A similar line is possible this week against the Giants' bad tight-end defense, with the possibility of a score adding to his upside.

Richard Rodgers is not an exciting player on his own, but anybody catching passes from Aaron Rodgers has potential. San Diego has good cornerbacks who can prevent breakout games from Randall Cobb and James Jones, leaving Rodgers with a good opportunity for a couple extra targets against a lackluster linebacker group. His price has risen from the minimum over the past few weeks, but Rodgers still has some upside. I'm probably not using him much, though.

Team Defense

Top Plays

Packers ($3,200) vs. SD
Vikings ($2,900) vs. KC
Ravens ($3,400) at SF 
Panthers ($3,000) at SEA

Just like last week, I'll be rolling out Eddie Lacy and the Packers' defense in multiple tournaments. Maybe this week, Lacy will come through like his defense did. The Chargers have struggled offensively on the road this season and while Philip Rivers is a good quarterback, he is occasionally susceptible to the pick-six, as seen against the Steelers last week.

The Vikings are a solid defense coming off a bye week against a team that just lost their best offensive player, and much of their identity as a team. The Chiefs were already a good matchup for opposing fantasy defenses but with extra pressure on Alex Smith to perform, they're an even better one.

Both the Ravens and Panthers hit the road, which generally leans me away from a defense, but Baltimore gets the sack and turnover-prone Colin Kaepernick. Even if they allow some points and yardage, which I expect with Kaepernick as a GPP option, there's a chance for some big plays as well for a defense with four sacks in three of five games.

Carolina faces Seattle, who is struggling to protect Russell Wilson so far this season. They likely
won't be highly owned, but could be a decent contrarian option for tournament play.

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