This is a weekly review of all the important DFS news and notes from all 15 games. I give my thoughts on the relevant fantasy performances and future daily fantasy impact from each game for week 4. Below is part 1.
I don’t know how much fantasy “news” there is for me to report in this game. The Cowboys offense was pretty non-existent outside of a big play or two, plus they lost their best player (Lance Dunbar). I like Jason Witten (4 rec. 57 yards) but he has almost no big play ability and is at the bottom of the league for yards after the catch amoung TE’s. There’s just not much upside here and I would not chase him for DFS. As for Terrence Williams (3 rec. 49 yards TD), he caught an amazing diving TD at the end of the game where he secured the ball while going to the ground, but was nearly invisible the rest of the time. He’s a great deep threat but as a number 1 WR he’s lacking. Williams is a complete home run threat regardless of whether Dez is playing or not.
As for the Saints, don’t let the CJ Spiller (2 car. 10 yards, 5 rec. 99 yards TD) “big game” fool you. Spiller barely played in this game before the long TD he scored in OT. Mark Ingram (17 car. 77 yards, 6 rec. 51 yards) is playing 60% or more of the snaps for New Orleans and the real fantasy play here, he again had a ton of ppr points and had a TD overturned for no reason. This game line could have easily ended with Ingram getting 24 points and Spiller getting 3… instead Ingram had 18 points and Spiller had 20 points through sheer luck (on full ppr sites). Even with three RBs involved in New Orleans don’t be afraid to deploy Ingram in good matchups.
As for the Saints passing game everyone is a clear avoid for me until further notice. Brees is not right and they are simply spreading it around far too often for anyone to really be an effective fantasy play. Brandin Cooks (4 rec. 25 yards) has easily been my own personal worst call of the season.
Studs: CJ Spiller
Duds: Brandin Cooks (just book him a seat here), almost every Cowboy
This was a semi-crazy game that was blown in the final quarter by Pittsburgh. Mick Vick (19-26, 124 yards TD, 9 car. 33 yards) did pretty much what I expected him to do, run for a few yards, get sacked too many times and be a game manager. Vick still has arm strength and mobility but he’s still not a great decision maker and will get eaten alive in the pocket by good pass rushes. Don’t chase him no matter what his price is, I just don’t see it paying off.
You could see the sadness in the eyes of those who gambled on Antonio Brown (5 rec. 42 yards) as this game went on. Brown’s down the field usefulness is completely wrecked without Big Ben and his streak of over 50 yards receiving in a game was broken in this game. Vick actually just missed Brown on a deep TD pass that would have saved his game, but outside of one play there wasn’t many other chances for him other than screen passes. Brown is maybe the best after the catch runner in the NFL so there’s still hope but this is not the cash game automatic WR you used to know and love, be careful deploying him till Ben returns.
While Brown may be wrecked for fantasy I think Lev Bell (22 car. 129 yards TD) is going to be ok. I assumed Bell would get a huge workload with Vick at QB and I assumed right, the Steelers will give Bell all he can handle until Ben returns. He was everywhere in this game and a huge part of the pass game once again. Going into week 5 he’ll be one of the only RBs you can count on for a big workload.
Baltimore looked to be down and out, especially after Steve Smith went down but the Ravens came back and won the game. Smith has broken bones in his back/rib area and will be out the next few weeks meaning there will be some opportunity for cheap Baltimore WRs down the road to make an impact for fantasy. Of the group the Ravens have left I like Marlon Brown (2 rec. 9 yards) to get a shot and potentially make an impact. Wait to see if he’s officially starting but if he does start week 5 I might consider him as a good punt play.
The Ravens finally got their running game going on the road against a good Pitt run defense. Justin Forsett (27 car. 150 yards) is still going to be hard to trust for me but there’s potential that this momentum carries forward into week 5. It’s something to keep an eye as Forsett got a huge workload last game while no other Ravens RBs saw more than 3 carries last game.
Studs: Lev Bell, Justin Forsett
Duds: Mick Vick, Antonio Brown (never thought he’d be here)
The Bengals defense absolutely obliterated the Chiefs offensive line in this game. Literally every snap Alex Smith (31-45 386 yards) took he was under constant pressure and could rarely wait for a route to develop. This meant he was either doing quick screens to Jeremy Maclin (11 rec. 148 yards) or doing quick jump balls to Jeremy Maclin. Either way, almost all Smith’s throws that weren’t dump offs to Jamaal Charles (11 car. 75 yards, 5 rec. 70 yards) in this game were to Maclin and we again how great this duo might be for fantasy many weeks. As bad a picture as I painted for the Chiefs O-line I still want to target this offense in games with high over/under totals. The Chiefs also can’t stop anything on defense right now so KC projects to be in more shootout type games going forward.
Jamaal Charles had the exact opposite game he had a week ago. He failed to find the end zone but still paid off alright through sheer volume. Charles has been a workhorse to start the year so far and he did get a little beat up in this game so that’s something to keep an eye on. Still, if he’s healthy Charles is almost matchup proof since he’s such a big part of the pass game and also takes goal line carries.
The Bengals are again showing they are an elite team (for the first half of the season in non-prime time games at least anyways). With so many weapons on offense and a good O-line the Bengals could have easily won this game by 30 points if a few things went their way. I’m not sure if Andy Dalton (17-24, 324 yards TD) got hit once in this game. While a lot was made about Marvin Jones’ targets last week this is still the Tyler Eifert/AJ Green show and both Mohammed Sanu and Jones will show up in small doses… don’t chase the points with these guys when they do spike. As for the Bengals running game, Jeremy Hill (9 car. 40 yards 3 TDs) scored three times but this is still a clear tandem and quite frankly Gio Bernard (13 car. 62 yards TD) is still playing better and saw more field once again. Don’t let the score sheet fool you, Gio is still the safer play most weeks and should be as long as the Bengals keep spreading the ball around.
Studs: Jeremy Maclin, Jeremy Hill
Duds: Travis Kelce
I called for the Giants to play the Bills tough but even I didn’t think they would win going away. What was shocking wasn’t that the Giants were able to pass the ball on the Bills a bit and score (other teams have done so) but that they were so effective in stopping the Bills offense. Tyrod Taylor (28-42 274 yards TD INT, 4 car. 15 yards) and Karlos Williams (18 car. 40 yards, 3 rec. 30 yards TD) just missed having a completely horrible game and sinking 60% of most people’s fantasy days, but saved people with a late passing play TD between them. I have no reason to hate either of these players going forward and there will be better days ahead. This game should remind you though that the Bills offense is not bulletproof and can be shutdown. Karlos Williams will keep getting lots of volume with Shady out but he’s not a RB I would consider automatic for fantasy against a tough opponent. Williams looks good in space and as a receiver but wasn’t so hot running between the tackles in this game.
Charles Clay (9 rec. 111 yards) looks great in this offense. Clay is more athletic than most people realize and his wonky knee finally looks healthy. He made a few nice catches on long throws in and was helped by the absence of Sammy Watkins. If Watkins misses more time Clay should stay on your radar screen. Meanwhile Percy Harvin (3 rec. 26 yards) was completely shut down. One thing to note about the Giants defense is that their corners (Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie and Prince Amukamara) are both playing very solid. Don’t automatically consider WRs must plays vs the Giants, this defense is better than it was last year. However do consider starting your TE against them, they have murdered by the TE the past few weeks.
On offense for New York Eli Manning (20-35 212 yards, 3 TDs INT) played decently and again threw more than 30 times. You have to go back to week 6 of 2014 to find a game where Eli threw less than 30 times. While Eli was decent Odell Beckham (5 rec. 38 yards) was almost completely shut down in this game. It’s nothing to be super concerned about as Buffalo’s corner Stephon Gilmore is pretty good and did a great job shadowing ODB across the field. The Giants have tended to stay off of Odell in tougher matchups so that is something to consider, and his targeting hasn’t quite been as insane as it was last season which is slightly bothersome. If the Giants keep playing solid all-around football you might see more games where Odell is negatively affected by game flow (less passing), but in general where they are projected as dogs I still think he is going to be an elite play most weeks.
Studs: Charles Clay
Duds: Shane Vereen, Percy Harvin, Odell Beckham
This was a mismatch of monumental proportions, and no I don’t mean Tampa v Carolina, I mean CB Josh Norman v QB Jameis Winston (26-43 287 yards 2 TDs 4 INTs). Norman simply ate Winston alive in this game securing two INTs including one he took for a TD, and he also shut down Mike Evans (3 rec. 32 yards) who some people were charting for a big day after getting 17 targets week 4. It’s best to bench all WR for fantasy when they go up against Norman, he’s playing the position at an immensely high level right now.
While a big part of Norman’s INTs was due to his high skill level, which is off the charts, the other side of the equation is that Jameis Winston is a complete mess as a Quarterback. At this point I hope the Bucs keep playing him so I can play fantasy defenses against him but I’m not sure how many more weeks he has left as starter. Winston’s a statuesque pocket passer who stares down his WRs and makes a ton of risky ill-advised throws. While I would not advise playing Winston… ever, playing a Tampa Bay receiver in hopes of big garbage time action is certainly a decent tournament strategy most weeks going forward. Vincent Jackson (10 rec. 147 yards TD) was the big beneficiary this week but next week it could easily be Mike Evans, they both make good tournament gambles and will see lot of late targets against soft coverage.
Winston’s counterpart Cam Newton (11-22, 124 yards 2 TDs) made some very bad passes of his own this game. However Cam can at least run the ball when needed and has generally been playing within himself in 2015 from a passing perspective. Cam once again took double digit carries in this game and his ground usage is so consistent at the moment he might actually be the best Cash game QB for fantasy week to week. I’ll be considering him in all but the toughest matchups.
Well one of the calls I did get very right this week in my weekly contrarian column on the DFS Report was the Ted Ginn/Carolina defense stack. Ginn didn’t return a TD but again showed he’s the number 1 WR in Carolina by scoring twice in the passing game. He’ll never get huge volume but as long as he’s cheap Ginn will have upside every game.
Studs: Carolina D (Josh Norman), Ted Ginn, Vincent Jackson
Duds: Jameis Winston, Mike Evans
What an ugly and strange game. The Colts are really not good right now and were lucky to be playing the Jags with Andrew Luck sitting. With no Andrew Luck, Matt Hasselbeck (30-47, 282 yards TD) relied on shorter passing routes and basically turned TE Coby Fleener (9 rec. 83 yards TD) into a star for the day. Fleener once again had a big game with Dwayne Allen sitting and was the largest beneficiary of Luck’s absence. The rest of the Colts receivers caught a few passes but I wouldn’t let that fool you for next week if Luck sits again… all Colt WRs will be limited if Hasselbeck is at QB going forward and clear fades in tougher matchups.
Frank Gore (7 car. 53 yards, 5 rec. 34 yards) coughed up a bad fumble inside the red zone for a second time this season. Gore actually didn’t look horrible and is basically Indy’s only viable back as they only really have limited options behind him. If Indy’s offense ever gets rolling he could be useful some weeks, but right now he doesn’t have enough upside for me to consider and with Luck out his red zone looks go way down.
On Jacksonville, Allen Hurns (11 rec. 116 yards TD) was able to take advantage of the Colts weak secondary. While the Colts have a great shutdown corner in Vontae Davis, who did well limiting Allen Robinson (4 rec. and 80 yards) the rest of their secondary is pretty thin (and injured) and very exploitable. Hurns had a massive day but honestly isn’t a super talent by any means. I would really target the Colts defence going forward and look to use a team’s secondary WR against them.
Blake Bortles (28-50, 298 yards TD, 4 car. 31 yards) didn’t play awful in this game but he still failed to complete over 60% of his passes. Bortles is super inaccurate and will affect the Jags receivers negatively almost every game with the odd exception. I also wouldn’t get too carried away with TJ Yeldon (22 car. 105 yards) after this game either. Yeldon was purely a volume play in a game where the Jags were playing an opponent almost as bad as them. When he takes a step up in competition Yeldon will not have nearly as much success and also be negatively affected by game flow. All in all, don’t let the box scores fool you this week, Jacksonville still isn’t a team you want too much of, if any, for fantasy in a given week.
Studs: Allen Hurns, Coby Fleener
Duds: TY Hilton, Frank Gore
The Dolphins certainly look like they’ve completely tuned out their head coach Joe Philbin. They got absolutely steamrolled in this game and allowed Chris Ivory (29 carries 166 yards TD) and Ryan Fitzpatrick (16-29, 218 yards TD, 9 car. 34 yards) to rush for 200 yards combined against them. Ivory looked great and healthy again taking nearly 30 carries as the Jets controlled the game form the start. I love Ivory as a play against weaker teams with bad rush defenses but recognize he will not be as huge a play for fantasy when the Jets are behind. The Jets run game is a weekly situation you have to evaluate based on opponent.
As for their pass game, Brandon Marshall (7 rec. 128 yards) is proving to be the perfect security blanket for Fitz-magic and even with Eric Decker (4 rec. 46 yards TD) back in this game Marshall still had a really big fantasy day. I might consider fading Marshall in really tough matchups but otherwise he’s in play for me pretty much every game. As for Decker he was able to burn the Dolphins bad defense for a nice score but is more of a situational play for me, he won’t get the targeting that Marshall is but is a great contrarian target for fantasy many weeks given the popularity of Marshall in the coming weeks.
The Dolphins got beat really soundly and honestly there wasn’t much to take from this game in terms their offense, most of their yards came in cheap garbage time. Jarvis Landry (4 rec. 40 yards) is still going to be heavily targeted (maybe even more so going forward) as the Fins simply cannot run the ball to save their life. That means more short passing game and more targets for Landry who should be a good cash game target almost every week from here on out on full point PPR sites. As for the rest of the offense, right now I wouldn’t bother too much with anyone else. Rishard Matthews got shut down after two big games and we finally saw Kenny Stills make an appearance. The WRs behind Jarvis are week to week whack a mole games for fantasy, one goes down and the next week another pops up.
Studs: Chris Ivory, Brandon Marshall
Duds: Miami Dolphins