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 16.
The Lions certainly improved the second half of the season but they really haven’t beat anyone of value all year (unless you think the Packers are good which they aren’t). The Lions got down early but then stiffened up a bit on D and actually got some production out of their hall of fame wide receiver. I don’t know where Calvin Johnson (6 rec. 77 yards TD) has been this year but seeing how easily he burned the San Fran defenders near the goal line makes me wonder why exactly he wasn’t used more. If I was a Lions fan I’d be hoping every single coach on staff right now doesn’t come back.
Ameer Abdullah (8 car. 39 yards) was in a good spot here against a terrible run defense but the Lions simply refused to give him a bigger workload. Abdullah is going to work best in the NFL as a part time back who is used in the passing game but right now he splits time with Theo Riddick in that role. He’s been horrible for fantasy and looking like a semi-wasted draft pick.
Oh Vance McDonald (5 rec. 61 yards TD). The week I trusted McDonald in fantasy he got concussed and it took until this week to get him back being a part of this offense. McDonald is really like a mini-Gronk athletically and given the lack of options in the 49ers offense I could see him being a main weapon for this team next year. For week 17 I guess he’s a decent option but it really depends on his price.
Jarryd Hayne (9 car. 27 yards), the Aussie rookie RB, made an appearance again in this game. I have no idea why the 49ers wouldn’t give him a big workload in week 17 just to see what they have in Hayne and so he could be a great sleeper week 17.
This was easily the most one sided game of the week. The Giants obviously had zero motivation to play in this game after Washington eliminated them on Saturday and it showed. Eli Manning (15-29, 234 yards TD 3 INTs) dealt with the cold about as well as his older brother has throughout his career and threw 3 or 4 “ducks” that were picked off, one for a TD. The Giants play the Eagles week 17 in what can only be described as the no defense/last score-wins bowl and so Eli might actually be worth considering.
If you started Rueben Randle (2 rec. 80 yards TD) this week you are quite literally blessed. Randle and the Giants were shut down all game outside of a broken play where Eli Manning badly under threw a deep ball, Randle adjusted and caught it and then watched two Vikings run into each other. He sauntered the other 30 yards untouched into the end zone. Randle could actually be a play week 17 even with Odell Beckham back… The Eagles are terrible against the pass.
I envisioned the Giants putting up a bit more of a fight and so I also envisioned Kyle Rudolph and Stefon Diggs getting more work than they did. Diggs got off to a hot start but then the Giants started turning the ball over and allowing defensive scores. Before you knew it the Vikes were up 30 and the starters were being pulled. The Vikings play the Packers next week for the division title and I might fancy Diggs a lot more in that game. Watch to see if Packers CB Sam Shields is active or not.
Studs: Adrian Peterson, Vikings D
Duds: Eli Manning
Part of me feels like I should have seen this game coming. The Packers have been true frauds all season getting by with an above average defense and a completely inept offense most weeks. This week they were without their top corner against one of the best passing offenses in the league. The Cardinals defense had one of the best defensive scoring games of the year but went almost completely non-owned (due to price and the perceived bad matchup). This is a unit you can start against anyone although I’d probably not tempt fate by using them versus Wilson week 17.
David Johnson (9 car. 39 yards TD, 3 rec. 88 yards) is so good and so perfect in this offense. He was splitting carries with Andre Ellington in this game but that really only happened after the Cards got up by 25 or so. With the Cardinals still in the hunt for home field throughout the playoffs I expect Johnson to get quite a bit of work again week 17, although the matchup he has with Seattle isn’t exactly ideal.
There’s a real move towards Michael Floyd (6 rec. 11 yards) as a number 1/1A receiver. He’s losing a few red zone looks to John Brown but overall seeing more targets. I’ve been impressed with the way Floyd has played this year after writing him off as a semi-bust late last year. He’s a big physical receiver who has speed to beat teams deep as well. This is your number one target for fantasy purposes at WR for ARZ next year and he might have a big game or two in him for the playoffs this season as well.
I have nothing to say about the Packers. The biggest letdown for DFS this year yet somehow they are going to a division title game, I’d guess most fantasy players are hoping the Vikings smoke them.
Studs: David Johnson, Cardinals D
The Rams have a Super Bowl Calibre Defense, a horrid offense and a worse coach. If Case Keenum and Jeff Fisher are both back next year you might as well book this team for an 8-8 record and another wasted year.
The Rams front, even without a couple of their best players, was all over Russell Wilson (25-41 289 yards 2 TDs INT, 6 car. 39 yards) in this game. The talent is undeniable on the Rams and quite frankly they make a viable fantasy play almost every week. Wilson did his best in this game but looked much more like week 1-5, running for his life Russell then the recent historic run Wilson. The Hawks play the Cardinals week 17 and the game doesn’t mean ton but I could see the Hawks wanting to get some revenge for an earlier beat down. Watch the news to see what the Seahawks plans are personnel wise but Wilson might be an interesting candidate for a bounce back game next week.
Doug Baldwin (8 rec. 118 yards TD) is unconscious. I had my eyes on Tyler Lockett in this game and it looked early like he might have a big game (was getting targeted early short and deep) but a concussion scare limited his action in the last 3 quarters. Baldwin’s a great slot receiver, legitimately one of the best in the game, but to see him working so well as the number 1, primary receiver is kind of shocking. It’ll be interesting to see if he gets the Patrick Peterson treatment week 17.
Studs: Doug Baldwin, Rams D
Duds: Tyler Lockett, Hawks D
You have to admire how both of these young QBs played in this game. AJ McCarron (22-35, 200 yards TD) came out and gave the Bengals a chance to win this game with some great throws against a very tough defense. McCarron is now going to be the one leading the Bengals for the next two weeks and gets a pretty decent matchup week 17. Ultimately I’m not sure if I’d trust McCarron for a big enough game in fantasy next week but he’ll get the entire game at QB nonetheless.
AJ Green (5 rec. 57 yards TD) has taken off the last few weeks with Tyler Eifert out. He made a great TD grab in the first quarter and had a great start but was held in check in the rest of the game. Still, matchup wise next week is so much better than this week and the Bengals still have a shot at a first round bye. Green could have a shot at a massive week 17.
I hate the way Denver plays for fantasy as they’d rather plow CJ Anderson or Ronnie Hillman into a pile 20 times a game then try and attack teams with Demaryius Thomas or Emmanuel Sanders consistently. Sanders has been heating up lately though and had the best matchup cornerback wise in this game. Credit to Brock Osweiler for getting him more involved. If Demaryius Thomas gets saddled with Jason Verrett next week, it’s quite possible that Sanders keeps producing. Denver still has lots to play for week 17 and might need a win to hold off Cincy for the first round bye.
Duds: Denver D
The Dolphins are one of the worst teams in the league right now. At home, versus a Colts team starting a banged up 40-year old at QB and a leaky secondary and they couldn’t muster up more than 12 points.
The worst part about the Dolphins might be their run defense. The Colts have had trouble getting running the ball all season and to see Frank Gore (15 car. 85 yards 2 TDs) reel off two 10+ yard TDs in this game was astounding. Gore was great value in this game but I don’t know about a repeat week 17. The Colts currently don’t have a QB that is healthy on the roster.
I have no idea why the Dolphins didn’t give Jarvis Landry (7 rec. 11 yards) 15+ targets in this game. The Colts secondary is awful and Landry is one of the better slot weapons in the NFL with after the catch skills that could have easily broken this game open. He made a sick one-handed grab in this game but only caught 7 balls total. The Dolphins wasted so much time early in this game trying to establish a run game that hasn’t worked all season.
The Fins play the Patriots week 17 and judging by their level of play this week I’m not sure how you trust a single player on this team. Maybe some hot garbage time action gets Landry going but I could see the Patriots winning by 3 TDs or more.
Studs: Frank Gore
Duds: Lamar Miller, Ryan Tannehill
What a terrible game between two teams who have nothing to play for and like to play ugly anyways. The Cowboys seem to drag down whatever team they play for fantasy purposes and have honestly done a great job at keeping games close this season considering how bad their offense is. There’s no one on this team though that remotely interests me for fantasy purposes in week 17.
The Bills still have two very capable running backs playing. Mike Gillslee has been running like he’s shot out of a canon lately which sort of ruins the upside of running mate Karlos Williams who got the bigger workload in this game. Gillsee made another long TD run in this game. The Jets have a tough run D but honestly he’s on a pretty good run for fantasy right now so maybe he is a viable play week 17?
I wouldn’t fret about Sammy Watkins performance in this game. Like I said before the Cowboys really drag down the fantasy value of opposing players with their style of play. The Jets have a much more up tempo offense and Watkins should get a ton of targets in the finale.
Studs: Mike Gillslee
Duds: everyone else
What a weird game. The Chargers had complete control until late in the second half when the Raiders took back a long fumble return for a near score. There were botched field goals, drives that took an hour and WRs playing Defensive Back on defense.
Latavius Murray (19 car. 79 yards TD, 5 rec. 38 yards) has slowly been trending to a big game. The Raiders have been committed to making Murray their feature back this season and while the O-line hasn’t really helped him reel off any of those monster games he has been solid most of the year. He ran well in this game and was finally used in the pass game more by Derek Carr. I have high hopes for Latavius next season but he’s in tough week 17 against KC.
Amari Cooper (2 rec. 10 yards) went AWOL in this game (again) but it’s not all his fault. Cooper squared off with the Chargers top corner Jason Verrett who may have surpassed Josh Norman for best CB in the league recently. Whoever is up against him is a near must fade in fantasy right now (he plays Denver next week).
It’s a shame this game was played on a Thursday because Dontrelle Inman (8 rec. 82 yards TD) would have been a great min-priced play on most sites for gpps this week. Inman is a bigger, athletic receiver who played in Canada for a while and has played a ton for the Chargers after Keenan Allen went down. Say goodbye to him till 2016 though because he pays Denver next week.
Studs: Dontrelle Inman, Latavius Murray
Duds: Amari Cooper
The Eagles offense scored on the first play of the drive and it looked like the Eagles were going to control this game. Then the Kirk Cousins-Jordan Reed (9 rec. 129 yards 2 TDs) connection started hitting and seemingly never stopped. Reed was all over the field in this game beating Eagles off the line of scrimmage and over the middle of the field, he was virtually unstoppable. I’m not sure what Reed’s price will be next week but you have to remember that next weeks’ game is basically meaningless for the Redskins now that they’ve claimed the NFC East title. He’ll be a top end option for 2016 (and possibly the number 1 TE in fantasy going into the season) but might be shutdown for week 17.
My week 17 sleeper for the Redskins, especially if Reed and some other starters miss, is definitely Pierre Thomas (4 car. 24 yards, 7 rec. 67 yards). Thomas has been floating around the league most of the season but he is one of the most underrated all around backs of the past few years and had some big seasons as part of an RBBC in New Orleans. He gives this offense another great option in the pass game and could get a ton of usage in week 17 if the Skins rest their starters.
The Eagles defense was just helpless in this game. Next week they take on the Giants in a meaningless game where I assume neither team will be interested in tackling. Stacking players from that game in DFS next week should be a popular play.
It took 14 or so weeks but the Eagles are finally making good use of Zach Ertz (13 rec. 122 yards) and Jordan Matthews in the pass game. Ertz has really come on as a big ppr option for Bradford lately, and even though he doesn’t have the same explosiveness as a Jordan Reed he’ll be in play week 17 as the Eagles have no reason to rest their starters. Ertz was the garbage time option in this game as the Eagles tried to make the score close late and could play a similar role in week 17.
Studs: Jordan Reed, “You Like That”, Jordan Matthews, Zach Ertz
Duds: Eagles defense
This game is a prime example of the fact that nothing in football is a lock, not even an offense as seemingly as unstoppable as the Steelers. A week after decimating the Denver Broncos the Pittsburgh Steelers went into Baltimore and got completely stumped by the worst passing defense in the league. None of this of course makes sense as the Steelers should have put up 25+ points in their sleep this week, but it just goes to show you I guess that players and coaches are human and capable of letdowns.
Antonio Brown (7 rec. 61 yards) was darn near completely shut down in this game by Ravens corner Jimmy Smith. Smith’s had an awful year but had a pick and a near TD in this game off another turnover. Again I don’t know how you could have predicted this but credit Smith for putting up a big game and bouncing back after a tough year. The Steelers still have a shot at the playoffs so Brown could still be in for a monster week 17.
Deangelo Williams (17 car. 100 yards 2 TDs, 6 rec. 53 yards) has been great all season and was the one Steelers player you needed to own this week. Williams has been a monster all season and ran through the Ravens run defense in this game which hasn’t been that great lately. The Steelers have no backup RBs so expect another big workload in week 17.
Ryan Mallet started this game for the Ravens and threw a TD to WR Chris Matthews who finished last season with the Seattle Seahawks. I don’t know how the Ravens won this game with two people who weren’t even a part of their organization a couple weeks ago.
For week 17 the player on the Ravens I’d be most interested in using is Javoris Allen (18 car. 78 yards TD, 5 rec. 35 yards). Allen still ceded some carries to Terrence West in this game but took the majority of the workload and was the only back used in the pass game. Allen is a terrific receiver which makes him a lot more valuable for fantasy and the one play in this offense you can count on.
Studs: Buck Allen, Deangelo Williams
Duds: Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown
It really looked the Falcons were going to run up the score here again after a quick start but credit the Falcons defense, who really hasn’t played all that bad this season, for stopping the Panthers. The good news for fantasy is that because the Cardinals beat the Packers the Panthers will need to play their starters week 17 in order to ensure that they get home field for the entire playoffs. Expect a rebound from Carolina week 17.
Cameron Artis-Payne (5 car. 49 yards) did look good in this game when he got the carries but the Panthers started Fozzy Whitaker and seemed fine going with a three-man trio at RB. If Jonathan Stewart doesn’t play next week I’m not sure if you can really trust him week 17, although I’d expect he’ll see a few more carries next week.
The other Carolina news was that Ted Ginn (1 rec. 9 yards) got semi-banged up in this game. It’s possible rookie Devin Funchess starts or sees more playing time in week 17 as a result. He’s definitely someone I’d keep my eye on, especially with the Panthers playing the weak secondary of the Bucs.
Julio Jones (9 rec. 178 yards TD) destroyed Josh Norman in this game. The Falcons offense still struggled to score more than 20 points but when you have one of the best weapons in the NFL at WR you’re always in it. Jones is chasing the record for catches in a season and would need a massive day in week 17. The good news for him though is that he plays the Saints, making him a possible must play in the final week of the regular season.
Studs: Julio Jones
Duds: Cam Newton, Ted Ginn
Watching this week’s games this is definitely the one that went as planned. The Saints offense has been great at home and was playing a horrid Jags secondary, while the Jags love to throw and have no real run game so they would be primed for some garbage time scoring. Both teams scored a bunch and both teams had some of the highest scorers in DFS.
Brandin Cooks (5 rec. 123 yards TD) is making a move towards being one of the best receivers in football. I went into the year thinking Cooks would move towards being an Antonio Brown-like option for the Saints this year and was severely disappointed through 5-6 weeks as the Saints mis-used Cooks and Cooks himself struggled to get open at times. Then some big games started happening you could see Cooks getting more confident. The last two weeks Cooks has looked near unstoppable and now has two TDs, 15 catches and 247 yards in that span. Cooks burned the Jags for the longest TD of his career and just missed on a couple other deep balls which could have made his day one for the ages. Cooks has the tough Falcons D week 17 but I’m not sure I care, I expect anther big day.
Allen Robinson (6 rec. 151 yards TD) burned the Saints Brandon Browner for a long TD in this game. Outside of that one big pay he honestly didn’t do a whole lot but that’s what happens when you play the Saints, they simply make too many mistakes on deep routes and a player like Robinson is going to take advantage.
Julius Thomas (2 rec. 12 yards) where are you? This game set up perfectly for Bortles to hammer Thomas with targets against a bad Saints D. Instead the Jags wasted time plowing tiny Denard Robinson into the pile and then had to throw deep on every drop-back in the second half. Thomas will likely bounce back next week but with Allen Hurns back to full strength I’m not sure I’ll have the confidence to play him.
Studs: Brandin Cooks, Drew Brees, Blake Bortles, Tim Hightower…. You get the point
Duds: Julius Thomas (seriously where are you?)
This was a close hard fought game between two teams who are strong on both sides of the ball. The Jets have definitely shored up some deficiencies on defense lately, although they were obviously helped by the fact Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola both missed this game. Keshawn Martin (7 rec. 68 yards) had a decent game in their absence but he’s more of a possession receiver and not someone who’s likely to net you a big after the catch return. If ether of the two aforementioned players return week 17 you can cross Martin off your list for week 17.
James White (5 rec. 28 yards TD) had another nice game and found the end zone for the fourth straight week. White isn’t quite as explosive as Dion Lewis but he’s a great receiver and beat the Jets LBs clean late in the fourth quarter for an easy TD. I’m a little surprised the Patriots didn’t use him more to be honest as he’s easily been the most effective for back for the Patriots since Lewis went down. While I hate the rotation I would keep considering him as a play for week 17 as he gets a terrific matchup against the Dolphins.
Bilal Powell (7 car. 56 yards, 5 rec. 34 yards) is now the best DFS play for RBs on the Jets and it’s not even close. Chris Ivory is banged up and quite frankly Powell is simply a better all around back at the moment. He ran great in this game and busted off a few big runs. Pass catching wise he also fits into the Jets passing scheme much better. On full ppr sites he’s a great play if his price stays low.
Brandon Marshall (8 rec. 115 yards, 2 TDs) continued to beast in this game and caught a crazy TD in the second half where he adjusted to a deep ball thrown just behind him. Ryan Fitzpatrick is nothing great at QB but when you have someone like Marshall who’s so big and so agile the duo needs to be considered for your lineups every week.
Studs: Brandon Marshall
Duds: Tom Brady, Chris Ivory
This was one of the least entertaining games of the week. Tampa seemed like they were controlling this game, or should have been but a couple costly fumbles by Doug Martin (17 car. 49 yards TD, 2 Fum) and some more awful play by Jameis Winston (15-29, 295 yards 2 TDs INT) allowed Chicago to win, fairly easily.
I loved this spot for Mike Evans (4 rec. 61 yards) this week but he couldn’t capitalize on what seemed like a golden matchup. I don’t put all the blame on Evans but he absolutely should have had a monster game today considering the advantage physically he had over the much smaller Tracy Porter. Evans basically dropped a 50-60 yard TD at one point that would have saved his fantasy day. This play sums up his fantasy season pretty well to be honest as he’s been a disappointment for the most part.
Bears TE Zach Miller (7 rec. 69 yards) just missed the end zone in this game and was one of the most targeted receivers by Jay Cutler all day. He was still a good value pick but one yard on a completion near the end zone stopped him from being one of the better plays at TE this week.
It’s pretty interesting to note that Jeremy Langford out carried Matt Forte in this game. I know Forte was injured but he also said he was OK to go back in. Langford looks like he might be the back of the future in Chicago and I wouldn’t be shocked if he ends up getting a big workload in week 17 as well. He ran well this week against a tough Tampa front and has shown he’s just as capable as Forte in the pass game.