This is a weekly review of all the important DFS news and notes from all games played this past weekend. I give my thoughts on the relevant fantasy performances and future daily fantasy impact from each game for week 8. Below is part 1.
This game showed how utterly big the gap is team between the Patriots and most of the league. The Dolphins killed two very weak teams coming into this game and were riding high but the Pats really dominated them in every facet. I like the way Lamar Miller (9 car. 15 yards TD, 5 rec. 19 yards) has looked recently but the Pats run defense was super solid once again and has seemingly improved every week since allowing big numbers opening day. Miller got into the end zone in semi-garbage time otherwise his numbers would have been abysmal from this game. I still love Miller going forward though, his usage remains high and even when the Dolphins were behind he was getting a lot of carries/targets. Definitely stay on him as the Fins new coach is really focusing in on a more traditional run based offense.
I also love Rishard Matthews (7 rec. 62 yards) going forward for a lot of the same reasons. Matthews was the main WR Tannehill looked to in this game early and was his obvious first read on many plays. The Pats played well all night so Matthews didn’t have a ton of room to operate but he still connected with Tannehill more than any other WR. There’s a bit of a shift going on in Miami scheme wise and Matthews seems to have benefitted and is playing a ton. Definitely a cheaper priced WR I’d look to target going forward.
The Pats are officially a nightmare on offense for opposing defenses. Not only is Tom Brady (26-38, 356 yards 4 TDs) playing at the highest level I’ve seen him at in 3 or 4 years but with Dion Lewis (5 car. 19 yards, 6 rec. 93 yards TD) and Brandon LaFell (4 rec. 47 yards) back the Pats now have a full complement of weapons at every position. Lewis looked like Barry Sanders a couple times in this game (not an exaggeration) and is definitely a player to target in this offense again going forward. It’s not just the pass catching ability you get with Lewis but the yards after the catch that make him so appealing for fantasy. He’s playing at a really high level and might actually be the best weapon (outside of Gronk) the Pats have. A big game or two before the season ends is probably in the cards for him.
Studs: Dion Lewis, Gronk, Brady, Edelman
This was an odd game between two great offenses who really spurted versus each other. The Steelers big news coming from this game was of course the fact they lost Le’Veon Bell for the year with a torn MCL. Bell was getting huge touches and the fact he is down definitely makes DeAngelo Williams a target now. Williams is virtually the only NFL caliber back left on the Steelers roster and the fact he’ll have this backfield completely to himself means a ton of volume and some opportunity for big fantasy days ahead. He had a nice 55 yard run after Bell went down and has shown he still has some juice left in his legs.
The rest of the Steelers offense was great on their first drive and then completely flamed out after that. Part of the reason for this is that Ben Roethlisberger (28-45, 262 yards TD 3 INTs) simply does not look fully recovered from his knee issue. Ben looked uncomfortable at the start of the game and was quick to throw it away many times fearing pressure. It also looked to affect his throwing motion as many of the balls he threw sailed, including the final INT. It’s possible he’ll be fine after another week of rest but the Steelers need him to get right fast. Watch the injury reports this week, if he gets a clean bill of health don’t be scared off using him in week 9, the Steelers offense can get going any moment and will need to now as they are in danger of falling out of the playoff race.
The Bengals had one of their worst games offensively of the season but still squeaked out a win. AJ Green (11 rec. 118 yards TD) saw the most targets of any Bengal receiver by far and also got almost all of the fantasy points too for Cincinnati. The Steelers don’t have a real shut down corner and Green was being used all over the field on quick outs and deep balls as Dalton tried to exploit his matchup, and did with success. It will often be a weekly guessing game as to which Bengals offensive player gets most of the work but when Green has a softer matchup its likely Dalton will try to exploit it. Play the matchups with the Bengals week to week as they are becoming very Patriot like in their game planning.
Studs: AJ Green
Duds: Andy Dalton, Ben Roethlisberger, Martavis Bryant
The Lions did their best Houston Texans impersonation this week on defense. There was simply no fight, no pushback whatsoever from Detroit in this game and as a result Alex Smith and the Chiefs were able to do whatever they wanted on offense. Smith only threw for 145 yards but had two TD passes, a rushing TD and 78 yards rushing. The Chiefs basically just spread the ball out a ton so there’s no real takeaway from this game except that the Lions defense is bad and needs to be targeted every week going forward.
There is one bit of offensive news for KC, RB Charcandrick West (20 car. 97 yards TD, 4 rec. 25 yards) again dominated the touches and is clearly going to be a bit of a workhorse back going forward for the Chiefs. This is great news as West is still being priced pretty low across the board and will be a sneaky value almost every week from here on out. He of course looked great in this game, but so did every one wearing a KC uniform. The Lions D simply did not show up to play.
The Lions offense was equally abysmal as QB Matthew Stafford (22-36 217 yards TD 2 INTs) continued his downward spiral in this game. It was nary 3 or 4 years ago that Stafford was coming off a 40 TD year and being talked about as one of the best young QBs in the game. Now he looks tentative, inaccurate and just plain bad. Stafford floated passes, threw off target and simply failed to move the ball for the Lions until the game was well out of hand. With Calvin Johnson getting hurt Stafford’s value as a QB only takes another hit as he’s now without his best target. It’s going to be a long year for Detroit…
One final note, Calvin Johnson did look to sprain his ankle in this game. If he misses next week Golden Tate might be an interesting play as he had some massive weeks in 2014 when Calvin sat, and since Detroit can’t run the ball he could have a ton of targets headed his way week 9.
Duds: Detroit Lions
Probably the ugliest game on the entire slate. Dez Bryant (2 rec 12 yards) returned for the Cowboys but was a complete non-factor as Richard Sherman just locked him down for four quarters. It’s tempting to want to go to Dez now that he’s back and healthy but the prudent thing is to wait on Tony Romo. Matt Cassel (13-25, 97 yards) had a tough matchup in this game but has still not done any better under centre than Brandon Weeden. This passing unit remains off limits for fantasy.
The one Cowboy who’s now a weekly consideration in DFS is Darren McFadden (20 car. 65 yards, 6 rec. 49 yards). The Cowboys O-line is still scary good and McFadden was able to find some room to run at times even against this exceptional Seattle front. If McFadden stays healthy (perhaps a big if) he could start eating up points against weaker teams as he’s still running hard even if he’s not the most elusive back in the league. His usage in the pass game with Romo out has been great too as the Cowboys have gone ultra conservative in that area preferring to check down a lot and let McFadden do his thing after the catch. He’s the one Cowboy who can be relied on from here on out with Joseph Randle out of the picture.
As far as Seattle goes the Hawks did just enough to win on offense. Jimmy Graham (7 rec. 75 yards) actually had a pretty nice day and again we saw how up and down his production can be based on game flow. Last week with the run game going and the game out of hand Graham was barely used. But with the game tight and on the line late this week Graham was actually a big factor for Wilson and targeted quite a bit. He’ll be maddening for fantasy as his usage will be hard to predict (and the Hawks don’t get in many shootouts) but some big games will still pop up here and there for Jimmy.
Studs: Darren McFadden
Duds: Dez Bryant, Matt Cassel
This was likely a wakeup game for a lot of people. I’ve been talking about Raiders QB Derek Carr (23-36 333 yards 4 TDs) a lot this year and how much improved he has looked as a downfield passer. This game was Carr showing just how effective a QB he’s become as he essentially flung the ball all over the field against what was supposedly one of the best defenses in the entire league. Carr’s numbers were helped of course by some big after the catch yardage by his receivers (and some poor Jets tackling) but he really was great all game. This Raiders offense is extremely talented almost everywhere and is going to have more days like this in the future. Don’t sleep on Carr anymore as a very affordable option at QB in DFS.
As far as receivers go this was the game you really wanted to target Michael Crabtree (7 rec. 102 yards TD) over Amari Cooper (5 rec. 46 yards). As I mentioned in my contrarian plays for the DFS Report, the Jets have been allowing secondary receivers (aka: the people who Revis isn’t covering) to get loose for big days. Crabtree took advantage and was a beast after the catch on a couple plays including his TD where he ran through three Jets to get into the end zone. Crabtree looks rejuvenated and is really benefitting from teams tilting their coverage towards Amari Cooper. He’s a good option almost every week with how good Carr is playing.
As for the Jets we Geno Smith (27-42, 265 yards 2 TDs INT) pushed into action in this game due to an injury to Ryan Fitzpatrick. Geno honestly didn’t play too badly but a lot of his production was late in the game after the Raiders had already put the game away. If both Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker are healthy Smith could have some value (against weaker defenses only). The issue is that Brandon Marshall got pretty banged up in this game too and is dealing with ankle and toes injuries. If Marshall is out and Geno starts than I want nothing to do with him. Watch the injury news on the Jets closely this week.
Studs: Derek Carr, Michael Crabtree
Duds: Chris Ivory, Jets D
The Cards got behind early in this game due to some unforced errors (fumbles, bad D) and then played catch up for a couple Q’s before finally putting their foot on the throat of the Brown late. Carson Palmer (23-38, 374 yards 4 TDs, INT) and the Cards offense lit up the Browns secondary, who isn’t very good, and who also lost Joe Haden again in this game to a concussion. Haden looks doubtful for next week versus the Bengals at the moment and that could mean a ton of scoring, be on the watch as that game could be a massacre in the Bengals favour with a lot of fantasy points.
As for the Cards passing game, with John Brown dinged up Larry Fitzgerald (9 rec. 84 yards TD) again took centre stage with Michael Floyd (4 rec. 106 yards TD) also lending a hand by taking some big plays deep. As much as I love the Fitzgerald resurgence this year once Brown is healthy he is the WR I’d personally target in this offense. Still, the Cards are so deep that they didn’t even really need him in this game to tear up the Browns. With three quality receivers in the mix it will be hard to target which Arizona receiver to roster week to week but in my opinion Brown has the most potential once he’s back. Look to see if he’s healthy after the bye week.
As for the Browns Josh McCown (18-34, 211 yards 3 TDs INT) may have got re-injured in this game and may also miss next week’s game. McCown was again quietly efficient for fantasy and threw three more TDs. One of those TDs was again to TE Gary Barnidge who is becoming one of the best red zone targets in the league. While I wouldn’t touch anyone from this offense if Johnny Manziel starts this week Barnidge is definitely an every week consideration now assuming McCown is healthy. The Browns may not be winning much but their passing game is clicking against pretty much everyone.
Studs: Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd
Duds: Duke Johnson
I’m still not sure what I saw in this game. Basically every time a QB threw the ball there was a receiver wide open and every single time a catch was made a couple missed tackle ensued to give the player extra yardage. Drew Brees and Eli Manning combined for 13 TDs and 855 yards combined and yet it almost felt like they left some money out on the table… these defenses are simply two of the worst in the league and both secondaries looked completely lost all game. They are weekly targets to use players against every week.
The Giants entire defense has particularly fallen apart fast the past few games and just looked lost to me on almost every play. The fact that Marques Colsten (8 rec. 114 yards TD) and Ben Watson (9 rec. 147 yards TD) were allowed to make huge after huge play and both go over 100 yards receiving should tell you something about the state of the Giants secondary. Colsten literally walked into the end zone without a defender within 15 yards of him at one point and so don’t expect this type of production from him every week going forward (unless the Saints are playing the Giants again), he’s not shown anything all year and the production from this game was an anomaly. As for Watson he has seen a rise in targets of late so you could read something into that. Watson’s a solid receiving TE but with his price expected to rise it’s probably best not to chase points with him either.
The one bit of news for the Saints moving forward form this game is that Khiry Robinson suffered a fractured leg and is out for the year. Mark Ingram (16 car. 80 yards, 4 rec. 39 yards) now becomes a much more viable play going forward and someone I’d definitely target. Ingram just missed a couple short TDs in this game and now that I know he’ll be getting all the red zone work he’s that much more appealing… especially in an offense that is suddenly clicking.
Just when I thought I was done with Shane Vereen (8 rec. 60 yards TD) the Giants again pulled me back in. Outside of Odell Beckham (8 rec. 130 yards 3 TDs) who has unstoppable in the end zone, Vereen was Eli Manning’s main passing catching target. I’ve said before that Vereen makes for a great fit in the Giants quick hitting passing scheme but the Giants have thus far refused to use him as a real weapon. Maybe this game will wake some people up to his potential and we’ll see more usage? It’s doubtful though as Tom Coughlin seems to love his 4 man RBBC… it is worth keeping an eye though, Vereen could turn into DFS PPR gold soon.
Studs: Everybody on offense
Duds: Everybody on defense