This is a weekly review of all the important DFS news and notes from all 16 games. I give my thoughts on the relevant fantasy performances and future daily fantasy impact from each game. Below is part 1.
This was a pretty ugly game for the most part but had some supreme garbage time action for fantasy. Jordan Reed (6 rec. 96 yards) looks amazing so far in 2015 and if he stays healthy (a big if) he’ll probably push to be a top 5 TE in PPR scoring. Reed was absolutely roasting the Giant LBs and CBs in this game and would have had multiple TDs if Kirk Cousins (30-49, 316 yards TD INT) hadn’t underthrown him on two red zone targets. Reed is the number one receiving option in this offense right now and possibly for the rest of the year.
Matt Jones (11 car. 38 yards, Fumble) started this game but was a disappointment. He was shut down by the Giants and then had a terrible fumble at the goal line late. Still, I wouldn’t read too much into this performance. Jones started and the coaching staff has obviously noticed he is more explosive and the better long term option to Alfred Morris (6 car. 19 yards). He’ll continue to get chances and when the Redskins are at home in decent matchups he should be able to rebound, there’s still a lot of fantasy potential here. As for Morris, his lack of receiving skills and loss of playing time make him a complete no play for me going forward right now. If one of these two missed a game or got hurt the other would potentially be a big play.
As for the Giants, I am completely off their backfield. This game was the perfect example of a three headed RB monster as all three backs took at least 6 carries and no one produced anything decent for fantasy. I really thought Shane Vereen (6 carries 23 yards) would become the preferred option for New York eventually but after three games it’s clear the coaching staff will be working all three backs in somehow regardless of what’s going on in the game. Just avoid the RB spot on this team and your life will be much better for it.
Rueben Randle (7 rec. 116 yards TD) still looks slow (he has knee issues) but he’s still such a better WR then the recently departed Preston Parker that he will have the odd big game when the Giants pass game gets going. I’d be OK targeting him and Odell with Eli in a high-upside stack some weeks. As for Eli Manning (23-32 279 yards 2 TD), he once again had over 30 pass attempts in a game. Even if the production is spotty, you at least know you are getting a lot of passing attempts from this Giants offense each game. That’s good for fantasy.
The big fantasy news in this game was the injury sustained to Ben Roethlisberger. Ben looks to be out at least 4 weeks at this point (possibly closer to 6). This is a massive loss for the Steelers and will immediately downgrade Antonio Brown (11 rec. 108 yards) and pretty much all other Steeler receiving options going forward. Mike Vick (5-6 38 yards) is the backup in Pittsburgh and couldn’t get much going once he came in. Vick can still chuck the ball a ways downfield when he needs to but his accuracy and pocket presence is nowhere near Big Ben’s level. Expect RB Le’Veon Bell (19 car. 62 yards TD, 7 rec. 70 yards) to get more carries and work in the short passing game and for the Steelers to go a tad more conservative on offense. Bell looked completely fine in week 3 and was getting his usual work in both the ground and pass game, he just missed busting a couple really long plays. If Ben is out expect the Steelers to use him even more than they already do, making him an absolute must play every week.
The Rams offense is all kinds of terrible right now. Kenny Britt (7 rec. 102 yards) may have cracked the 100 yard barrier working against an awful Pitt secondary but the fact the Rams couldn’t find the end zone once in this game is a sign of real issues. This was a perfect spot for the Rams to deploy Jared Cook (1 rec. 7 yards) across the middle but the Rams only targeted him three times the entire game. There’s some talent in St. Louis but it’s not being used properly and it’s going to be continually frustrating for fantasy football. There may be the odd week you can consider them for sleeper appeal but for now you have to avoid this passing game altogether.
I’m also not sure if you want anything to do with their running game either. Todd Gurley (6 car. 9 yards) made his debut in this game and didn’t look particularly great. It was a small sample size and he’s obviously just coming back from a terrible injury but it looks like he’s going to take at least a few more games to get up to speed (not a shocker). I’d wait a game or two more before thinking about investing in him for fantasy. The one positive in this game for the Rams was how well their defense rebounded after being semi-shredded in week 2. The Rams were really limiting the Steelers high-powered offense even before Ben went out. I’d still consider the Rams a high upside option at defense when playing at home in St. Louis.
What a change from week 1 where everyone was applauding the 49ers effort and scolding those who were predicting their demise in the preseason. QB Colin Kaepernick (9-19, 67 yards 4 INTs, 7 car. 46 yards TD) completely self-destructed in this game throwing multiple pick 6’s early on and just showing once again that he has almost zero fantasy upside when going up against good defenses. The shine on Kaepernick for DFS wore off for me last year when he failed to capitalize on numerous easy matchups. Given how weak San Francisco is as a team right now it’s quite possible that game flow and seeing lots of prevent defense will still allow him to have some decent weeks. But he’s a completely un-trustable GPP flyer play for me going forward now and not one you can trust with any certainty.
I wouldn’t write off Carlos Hyde (15 car. 51 yards) completely yet for fantasy. Yes game flow will affect him negatively many weeks (as it did here) but he’s still the main carry back with zero competition for carries (until maybe Reggie Bush comes back and gets hurt again). Hyde played a lot in this game but the 49ers offense just couldn’t move the ball consistently (not Hyde’s fault). Don’t sleep on him in better matchups, he’s still a great back who’s been getting a lot of playing time.
The Cardinals continue to crush on offense to start the season. I can’t believe how much better Larry Fitzgerald (9 rec. 134 yards 2 TDs) looks this year. It might have to do with him playing the slot more, or maybe it’s just the fact he’s rejuvenated under Bruce Arians. He’s gone from semi-write off to start the year to target monster and red-zone beast again. Fitz tore apart a weak San Fran secondary in this game and I’d expect him to continue that trend going forward. The Cardinals showed no mercy on offense so continuing to target players from their team for big games in GPPs is a great strategy going forward.
RB Chris Johnson (22 car. 110 yards 2 TDs, 1 rec. 40 yards) had a very quiet but very massive game this week. CJ2K got pretty much all the goal line work, and was in late in the game too to help salt out the win. I was personally banking on a David Johnson (7 car. 25 yards, 3 rec. 16 yards) uprising this week and it didn’t happen. Bruce Arians loves his veterans and it’s going to be tough to tell when or if David Johnson ever becomes a feature pay in Zona… he’s probably more of a 2016 story for fantasy. As for CJ2K I would not chase the points here in coming weeks. His big game was against a San Fran team who had given up late and is simply not even close to what it has been against the run in years past.
This was a struggle between two severely challenged offensive teams and two big armed-inaccurate quarterbacks. Jameis Winston (17-36 261 yards TD INT) is simply going to limit the fantasy value of Mike Evans (7 rec. 101 yards) all year. There will probably be a game or two against softer prevent defenses where Winston/Evans really connect but it’s not something you can rely on or predict for fantasy purposes. Time after time in this game Winston mis-fired throws to his receivers in this game, sometimes tossing in the odd nice pass down the seam. Evans looked a tad rusty in this game himself and actually received 17 targets (just under half of Winston’s throws) but dropped a few passes he should have made as well. This pairing will still be a GPP target some weeks but when they will go off is going to be a difficult task to figure out.
I still love the way Doug Martin (14 car. 46 yards) is running the ball this year but also know he’ll be negatively affected most weeks by game flow. Martin again received under 15 carries and zero attention in the pass game but looked good when he got some space. Targeting him in a home game against a susceptible opponent is probably not a bad tournament strategy but I wouldn’t touch him in a cash game.
As for Houston, their offense right now is pretty simple, target DeAndre Hopkins (8 rec. 101 yards TD). Even in a game where they were ahead the entire time Hopkins still came away with 14 targets and probably could have had a bigger line but the Texans running game actually came through with some decent runs and a score. Hopkins burned the Tampa corner badly on a nice little 5 yard slant to get his lone TD. I expect things to change slightly in terms of targeting when Arian Foster returns but until he does Hopkins is a legit #1 WR for DFS purposes, even if his QB has trouble getting him the ball.
It’s official, the Raiders are my new favorite team for fantasy football. Almost everything about this team looks better so far in 2015 on offense. I thought Derek Carr (20-32, 314 yards 2 TDs) might struggle in this game against a pretty tough Cleveland secondary but it was the exact opposite. Carr was extremely surgical and timely in this game, making great decisions under pressure and getting the ball into the hands of his playmakers when needed. It helps that Amari Cooper (8 rec. 134 yards) is looking better and better each game. Most people, including myself expected him to struggle with Joe Hayden and the exact opposite happened, and he was a TD away from a monster day. Going forward I want as much exposure to this duo for fantasy purposes as possible.
My other fave on this team, RB Latavius Murray (26 car. 139 yards TD). Murray finally had the breakout game I was looking for in 2015 (although it went a little under the radar due to other big RB performances). Truth be told Murray was one step away from recording a long TD twice in this game and going for close to 200 yards. I love the fact he is getting all the playing time and you basically have no concerns about him getting pipped at the goal line or losing time to game flow. I want all the Latavius in DFS this year all the time.
The one area I don’t necessarily want the Raiders is on defense. It’s not good when you allow the Browns to pass for over 300 yards and 2 TDs against you but that’s what happened here. Gary Barnidge–he’s Cleveland’s TE—roasted the Raiders for over 100 yards and a TD and that’s now an incredible 5 TDs given up to the TE position by the Raiders over 3 weeks to the likes of Barnidge and Crockett Gilmore (not exactly pro-bowl calibre players). Whoever is starting at TE against the Raiders is a possible must play for fantasy next week (it’s Martellus Bennett).
As for the Browns, Travis Benjamin (4 rec. 45 yards TD) is actually getting a little more involved in the offense now and was used as more than a situational deep threat in this game. I don’t trust anything Browns related but he’s now scored 5 times on the year and looked really good when on the field. If the usage continues to go and his price stays low you could continue to use him. But it’s still risky, the Browns are a run first team with poor QB options, the upside is very limited every week.
What to do with Andrew Luck (18-30, 260 yards 2TDs 2INTs). The Colts were insanely lucky to win this game and Luck was lucky not to finish with 180 yards passing and 2 INTs, which is pretty much where he was sitting half way through the 4th quarter. Luck then threw two quick TD strikes to take the lead and allowed the Colts to steal a game they had no business winning. I still think Luck is someone you have to consider for fantasy every week but the days of him being an automatic 300 yards 3 TD are over right now (that could change though). I expect the Colts to get it together eventually and become a solid fantasy team again but I’m keeping Luck to tournament only lineups for the near future.
TY Hilton (4 rec. 94 yards) just missed two TDs in this game (tackled at the one on a play) and could have easily had a monster day. He looked healthy and I assume will only be better next week, another week removed from his knee injury. Many will flock to Donte Moncrief (4 rec. 32 yards TD) after he found the end zone again in this game but the big play option here is still Hilton. As for everyone else, Moncrief and whoever is starting at TE (Fleener in this game) should make for decent value options many weeks, but don’t overpay. Andre Johnson (zero fantasy points) is simply done for fantasy purposes.
Marcus Mariota (27-44, 367 yards, 2 TDs 2INTs) played very well with the exception of a horrid INT late which essentially cost his team the game. Mariota still stares his receivers down in certain spots and as long as he does he’ll keep throwing the odd pick. I would have really liked to see some running from him in this game, right now the fact he’s not using his legs at all is capping his upside for fantasy.
I’d keep trying to target TE Delanie Walker (7 rec. 68 yards) and Kendall Wright (7 rec. 95 yards TD) in the pass game when the matchup is right. Mariota passes to the TE a lot and I think Walker will have some big days in this offense if he stays healthy. Wright had a great matchup and took advantage in this game beating the Colts slot CB on a short pass to find the end zone. He just missed another TD too which would have put him over 100 yards receiving as well. In soft matchups the Wright/Mariota pairing could be gold this year.
The Seattle defense pitched a shutout but honestly the Seahawks still don’t look like the team they were a year ago to me. Their offense struggled with a pretty burnable Chicago defense for the most part and they were aided in this game by a 100 kickoff return by Tyler Lockett (0 rec. return TD). If you played Lockett/Seahawks defense this week you were probably happy with that return result, but honestly the fact he didn’t record a catch after getting his TD was very frustrating. The Hawks have yet to figure out how to really employ Lockett’s speed on offense, and until they do he can’t really be used, there’s simply not enough opportunity or big game upside.
The Hawks went to Jimmy Graham (7 rec. 83 yards TD) early in this game and also looked to him a couple times in the red zone. He beasted his way into the end zone finally to cap off the game on a nice 30 yard TD catch and run. Graham looked absolutely fine in this game physically (actually better than last year in my opinion), but is simply not playing in a high volume passing offense any more. If Marshawn Lynch continues to be gimpy look for Graham to possibly have a few more efforts like this in the near future (and to see more targets game to game) but don’t be shocked if he has an odd slow day kicked in too. The Hawks love to play conservative once they’re ahead and just let their defense take over. He’ll be a very price and matchup dependant play for me week to week.
I was not shocked that the Bears looked so awful on offense. When you throw in Jimmy Clausen, one of the top 3 defenses in the league and ultra conservative coach John Fox the Bears probably had about a 50% of being shutout. The one thing that continues to stick out to me on the Bears s Matt Forte’s (20 car. 74 yards) usage. Even in a game where the Bears were down all game he got 20 carries. There might not be a running back with a more guaranteed workload in the NFL right now. Until Alshon Jeffery comes back he is the Bears offense.
The Bears play the Raiders next week who have given up a ton of fantasy points to the TE position. Using Martellus Bennett (4 rec. 15 yards) though will be risky if Cutler is not playing… you’ve been warned.
This game went according to plan for me. The Broncos still aren’t the high powered offense they used to be, but they are doing enough to win games. Everyone expected the Bronco’s run game to be top notch when Gary Kubiak took over but somehow it’s gotten worse… a lot worse. The Broncos ran the ball for an awful 41 yards on 19 carries in this game and used 3 different backs in doing so. There’s no situation you want to ignore more for fantasy right now than the Bronco’s RBs. Wait till it sorts itself out before committing to it again.
Peyton Manning (31-42, 324 yards 2 TDs) worked almost exclusively from the shotgun in this game and looked much better. The fact he was in a dome probably helped but he only got sacked once and had right around a 75% completion rate. Manning is still a fantasy target in certain weeks (especially in domes) but the days of him going for 400 yards and 5 TDs are probably still gone. This is a defense first team now.
Speaking of the Bronco’s defense they had two INTs, a forced fumble, and 4 sacks in this game. This is the best defense in the league (and I’m a Seattle fan!), the athleticism and speed at every position is ridiculous. I think it’s almost a given that you’ll see every team who faces the Bronco’s struggle offensively and they will be a prime target for me against weaker opponents in fantasy this year.
I don’t know if there’s a sadder team than Detroit right now for in the NFL (in real life and fantasy). What they are doing at Running Back is beyond me. Joique Bell led this team in carries with 10 and legitimately looked like he was running in mud… he gained only 6 yards the entire night. The fact the Lions were going with Bell when down in this game and needing a score, and not explosive rookie Ameer Abudallah (8 car. 23 yards, 2 rec. 19 yards TD) is a criminal offense (but not one in Michigan apparently). This is also another RB situation to avoid for fantasy.
I might look for a Calvin Johnson (8 rec. 77 yards) explosion soon as he finally started to look like the old Calvin in this game. The Lions season is in the balance now, but the problem is that they face Seattle week 4. I’d probably suggest waiting to deploy Megatron week 5 when the Lions face Zona, he has burned Patrick Peterson there in the past for big games.