It has been awhile since I have had a chance to make an in-depth post but I have hit a wall the past two weeks and I am going to try and rebound this weekend so I went old school pen and paper to go with some spreadsheets. I started looking at DvP and DVOA along with some early Vegas lines so I will discuss three games below and the guys I am targeting in each.
Pittsburgh (9th DVOA) at Cincinnati (4th DVOA) – 48.5 O/U
The current DVOA for both of these teams is strong but the Vegas total is one of the highest of the week and both teams rank in the middle of the league in DvP against position almost across the board. The lone exception to this is that Pittsburgh is strong against the run which is why I am not recommending either of the Bengals running backs this week. Vegas also thinks this will be a close game with Cincinnati currently installed as a 1.5 point favorite so this game has a good chance to provide us with production.
Andy Dalton ($6000 on DK) – Pittsburgh is 19th against QBs and this game has a nice total, so even if Dalton’s price had crept up into the mid-6K range he would still be a good play. As it is he looks like one of the best values on the slate as he is averaging over 25 DK PPG and he has been super consistent in scoring between 18 and 31 points every week. In looking at the Steelers’ game logs, aside from two really good performances against average QBs in Nick Foles and Joe Flacco they have given up at least 240 yards to every QB they have faced this year. There is some concern that Dalton has a history of playing better on the road than he does at home but coming off the bye week in a Divisional game, I think he can pay off his price tag without much problem and he is currently my main cash game QB.
Ben Roethlisberger ($6700 on DK) – Cincinnati has been pretty good overall (4th in DVOA) defensively this year but Ben has a couple of things working for him this week. First, his price tag is at a $500 discount due to this being his first game action in over 4 weeks. You are unlikely to see him this cheap again this year and if he is close to 100%, he should show no ill effects of the knee injury. Second, he has arguably the best collection of weapons in the entire league and the Bengals have struggled against the pass coughing up 261.5 YPG to mostly mediocre QBs. I think when you take everything into consideration with Ben, he is certainly a viable cash play but his GPP potential this week is enormous and a Steelers stack will be as cheap as you will get it the remainder of the season so take advantage.
AJ Green ($7600 on DK) – When I initially looked at Green I was thinking it was a no-brainer to pair him with Dalton because the Steelers don’t have a corner who can cover him. However, a closer look at his game logs reveal a guy who has been all over the place with his production and with the exception of his huge Week 3 in Baltimore (10/227/2), he hasn’t went over 100 yards in any other game. This week presents a chance to break out coming off the bye as the Steelers rank just outside the bottom 3rd in DvP against the WR position and with this game potentially turning into a shootout, Green should see his share of targets. He is completely out of the question in cash games for me but I have toyed with a few lineups that include him and Antonio Brown for a GPP and I like what I have. Green’s floor is probably in the 10-12 point range but as you can see his ceiling is 40+ which is what you want in a tournament play so I would at least consider him as his ownership is unlikely to be very high.
Antonio Brown ($7800 on DK) – This price for Brown is absurdly low but thats what happens when Mike Vick and Landry Jones are under center. With Ben back I think you will see Brown targeted very heavily as they have a lot of lost time to make up for. While he has put up three consecutive duds, keep in mind that he was averaging 31.86 DKPPG when Ben was healthy so the floor is probably the low 20s this weekend. Cincinnati is smack in the middle in DvP against WRs (15th) so it is a neutral matchup but for this price I don’t think it matters. Get Brown in your lineups no matter what the format.
Martavis Bryant ($5300 on DK) – Bryant was actually quite productive even with Vick and Jones but his presence in the Pittsburgh offense adds a dynamic that it has been missing. Bryant is a big target and as he showed on the long TD against Arizona, he can run with anyone in the league. His polish as a route-runner needs some work but for DFS purposes we can safely ignore that shortcoming and focus on a guy who priced in the mid-tier of WRs with a ceiling that could produce 7X value. I think Bryant is a good complimentary piece in any format but particularly in cash games where value WR plays are tough to find this week.
Lev Bell ($8300 on DK) – Bell is the premier RB in the NFL and he is the epitome of a cash game play as his usage is incredibly high as he is a weekly lock for 20-25 touches and his involvement in the passing game means he is a true 3-Down back. His price is down slightly from where it has been the past few weeks and the Bengals defense has struggled against the run recently. Bell is another guy where the matchup is irrelevant but since he is the highest priced RB this week I feel compelled to make a case for rostering him anyway. I think you are going to want shares of the Steelers offense in your lineups and there are enough value RBs (Martin, Johnson, Stewart) this week to get Bell as your RB1 in a few of them.
San Diego (24th in DVOA) at Baltimore (18th in DVOA) – 50.5 O/U
This game features the highest total of all the games on Sunday with Baltimore being a 3 point favorite at home. My only concern with some of these plays is that San Diego is traveling to the East Coast for a 1:00 kickoff but that might be something I am subconsciously overrating.
Phillip Rivers ($6600 on DK) – Rivers is still being priced as a mid-tier QB despite being the most volume-based QB in the NFL as he is averaging a ridiculous 44 attempts and 350 yards per game. This week he gets a Ravens defense that is dead last in DvP against QBs and has been torched for the better part of this season. Josh McCown and Collin Kaepernick both went off against Baltimore so this is a pretty safe play with a high ceiling. If you can find the extra $600 Rivers probably has a higher ceiling than Dalton and considering he is averaging 24 DK PPG, he should pay off his salary in a great matchup. The only negatives are not having Antonio Gates and a leaky offensive line that might struggle a little bit with Baltimore’s pressure up front. Ultimately the volume Rivers has each week should be enough to make up for this and with another big week this might be the last time he is a sub-$7000 QB.
Justin Forsett ($6100 on DK) – Forsett has been up and down this season with some brutal performances but in the last three weeks he has become more involved in the passing (2 reception TDs) and consider this: San Diego has allowed over 100 rushing yards per game every week since Week 1 and is 32nd in DvP. I think this presents a strong opportunity to use Forsett as recency bias from Monday night will likely keep ownership on him at a reasonable level in all formats. I also like the fact that Baltimore is a home favorite which sets up nicely for him to have a strong performance.
Keenan Allen ($7700 on DK) – Sticking with a theme for this game, Allen faces a defense that is at the bottom of DvP for receivers and obviously with Rivers throwing the ball with such regularity he needs to be on the radar. I see Allen as a pretty safe play this week but what really excites me is that despite double digit targets in each of his last three games, he hasn’t found the end zone. I think some positive regression is in order in this regard and that only adds to an already high upside. I feel safe locking him in for at least 18 DK points with the potential for a 30+ game within reasonable reach. However, if he is too expensive for you then maybe you should look at…
Stevie Johnson ($3200 on DK – Ridiculously cheap, Johnson only needs around 10 points to pay off his salary and without Gates in the offense I feel like he has a great chance of getting that and then some as he is easily my favorite value play this week. Against Oakland he returned from an injury a had a 4/50 line on 8 targets which was a season-high so this is a positive for him in a game where Antonio Gates is looking doubtful. If you want a cheap stack, Rivers and Johnson definitely fit the bill although you will likely have to compete with higher ownership.
Tampa Bay (27th in DVOA) at Atlanta (17th in DVOA) – 48 O/U
This game offers a few options with the high total but Atlanta is currently a 7-point favorite. I really like a lot of the Atlanta offense in this one, although their prices are pretty high. I have managed to fit Freeman in one of my cash lineups on DraftKings though and I think he is going to have a big week.
Doug Martin ($5500 on DK) – Martin has had an incredible three week stretch where he has averaged 30.4 DK PPG and this week he gets a Falcons defense that is 30th in DvP against RBs. Martin has averaged 22 touches per week during that span and has been pretty involved in the passing game so at his price he looks really appealing but this will largely depend on the Bucs keeping it close and staying in the game. If they can do that, Martin has the potential for a big week and either way, I still expect his floor to be around 12 points which for the money would return good value.
Devonta Freeman ($8000 on DK) – Like most of the Atlanta offense, Freeman disappointed owners last week at Tennessee scoring only 15 DK points which tells you how good he has been. This week he returns home to the Georgia Dome and with the Falcons being such a heavy favorite, this is lining up to be a good week for him to rebound and I think Atlanta will ride him in the 2nd half. Since Week 3 Freeman has seen 25+ touches in three games and combined with his touchdown upside makes for a great play as ownership on him may even be down a bit since he didn’t blow up last week. He is more of a tournament play for me because of his price but in a game with a high total and his team as a big favorite he is an obvious play.
Julio Jones ($9200 on DK) – Jones gets a great matchup against a burnable secondary and with the Atlanta offense having a high team total and Jones getting healthy, this might be a huge chance to get him in a GPP to pair with Ryan and have a high production stack. Personally, I go for more balanced lineups in cash so I won’t fork over 18.4% of my budget for him there, however he hasn’t went over 100 yards since Week Three and this looks like the type of game where he is a monster. With the Falcons having a team total of almost 28, fire him up.
Matt Forte ($7300 on DK) – His market share of carries is high and he is a true feature back coming off a bye week.
Todd Gurley ($6300 on DK) – Another good matchup this week coming off a huge performance. Ownership will be high but it shouldn’t matter.
Lamar Miller ($4700 on DK) – High total (51.5) and this offense looks completely different since coming back from London.
Eric Decker ($5300 on DK) – Decker gets an Oakland secondary that was torched last week underneath.
Stefon Diggs ($4800 on DK) – Cheap price tag for a guy who is Teddy B’s number one target against a terrible Bears secondary.
I didn’t hit any TE’s as the situation is still murky but if Gates is out, Ladarius Green will be in 100% of my lineups. I will add more throughout tomorrow and this weekend leading up to Sunday – Good Luck for those of you playing the Thursday slate.