This article last updated 10/20/2018 – Featured image from Sports Illustrated
Can you believe it’s already week 7 of the NFL season? I’ve been playing DFS for a few years now, but this year is the first year I’ve posted content. One of the reasons that I decided to launch this website and post this content is to help me keep track of my thoughts as I do my research. I also hope to engage an audience of readers and get feedback from outside perspectives about things I might be missing or flaws that I might have in my process. The Reddit community has been the most engaging group of readers that I’ve found, and I’ve appreciated the questions and comments that I have received on my posts. I’d like to have the time to get more of my thoughts out there, but I have other obligations. I do try to get my weekly NFL DFS targets articles published on Thursdays. These past 2 weeks, I’ve run out of time and published incomplete versions on Thursday which I then finished by late Saturday / early Sunday morning. I won’t be posting any links online or sharing articles before they are 100% complete, but if you like reading these posts and haven’t seen a link shared by Thursday, you can always navigate to the home page and check towards the end of the day on Thursday.
Let’s dive into the week 7 analysis and see what we can come up with.
My projection model loves Blake Bortles this week. I hate playing Bortles in DFS because he’s such a Jekyll and Hyde kind of player. He’s coming off of a game in which the Jaguars got waxed by the Cowboys and Bortles posted 11 fantasy points on Fanduel. He’s also had games this year with 376 passing yards, 388 passing yards, and 430 passing yards. This weekend, will we get the 350+ passing yard Bortles or the sub-180 passing yard Bortles? Having 9 touchdowns on the year versus 8 interceptions isn’t appealing, especially since he threw 4 picks against the abysmal Chiefs defense. He does have 188 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground to bring up his floor, but I have a hard time trusting him. If I end up trusting my model to do its work, Bortles could end up on my main squad. I think cooler heads will prevail, though, and I’ll go a different route.
Jared Goff is an option that I feel a lot better about. He’s been stellar, ranked 4th in the league in total passing yards, 6th in passer rating, 2nd in yards per attempt, and he’s leading an undefeated team with weapons all over the field in a creative, fast-paced offense. My biggest issue this weekend will be deciding which Rams to use. I’m very high on Todd Gurley this weekend, and I’m not sure that I’ll be using Goff and Gurley together.
Kirk Cousins has been one of my favorite quarterbacks to use so far this season, which is weird because I’ve never liked watching him play. I’m not sure what it is about some players, but there are guys that I just don’t enjoy watching, and Cousins is one of them. The Jets have been playing surprisingly good football this past couple of weeks, and it seems like the team has really banded together. The Vikings have been relatively disappointing as a football team, at least compared to their preseason expectations, but are riding a 2 game winning streak and still have a lot to play for. I think this will be a competitive game and Cousins will be slinging the rock until the very end. He’s got great weapons and makes for a compelling option at QB Sunday.
The other guys that I will be looking at are:
- Tom Brady – His ownership will be lower than usual because people are paying up at running back this week and Brady is going up against the vaunted Bears defense, but the Bears looked vulnerable last weekend and I could see Brady having a big day.
- Cam Newton – Again, this could be a nice spot to pay up at quarterback while everyone else looks for the cheap options.
- Andrew Luck – He’s passing the ball far too often to not at least be on our radars.
- Philip Rivers
- Baker Mayfield -I liked Baker before the news broke about the Carlos Hyde trade, and I didn’t suddenly stop liking him anymore because of Hyde’s departure. If Chubb ends up projecting for massive ownership as I expect him to, this is a cool spot to not only fade the chalk but gain an edge if the chalk fails but the Browns still succeed. Baker and his receivers could have a big game at low ownership.
- Andy Dalton
- Derek Anderson – This is purely a price play. The Bills suck, but he’s super cheap and isn’t as bad as Peterman. I probably won’t go here, but if I just love the rest of my lineup, I don’t completely hate the play.
The talk of the weekend across the DFS industry is/will be the Friday afternoon trade of Carlos Hyde to the Jaguars and the guaranteed slate-breaking game that Nick Chubb should have as a result. I am not going to be the guy that advocates fading Chubb here, but he won’t be a full lock on every single one of my lineups either. He’s so cheap that it would be hard for him to completely sink your team, even if he doesn’t have a very good game. If he ends up being on 70% of rosters, though, and he craps the bed, it may be possible to use that roster spot to propel yourself over the field. Since the news just came out a few hours ago about the trade, it’s hard for me to project if it will impact ownership that drastically, but he’s so cheap that I think he will end up being on more than 50% of teams this weekend.
Todd Gurley is that dude. It may end up being the weekend to play the two former Georgia Bulldogs together with Chubb and Gurley on the same lineup and move on. At over $10k on Fanduel and almost $10k on Draftkings, Gurley will still have 35-40% ownership, but he’s proven his worth through the first 6 weeks, and as I mentioned above, this offense seems unstoppable. Even on a team with so much firepower, Gurley stands above the crowd. He gets so many opportunities. At some point this season he will probably have a disappointing game in which he does not return adequate value for his salary, but I don’t see that being this weekend against the 49ers.
The other uber-popular running back this week will be Ezekiel Elliott. He’s going to come in at or above 30% ownership this weekend and I plan to be well under the field on that number. I think his ownership will be so high because Dallas is coming off of a performance where they looked like a competent offensive team, putting up 40 points against a Jaguars team that was favored by 3 coming into the game. Elliott had a nice game, with 24 carries for 106 yards and a TD along with a catch for 11 more yards. His floor is high, and I like him a lot this week as a cash game play, but I don’t think he’s likely to have a huge game, and this is definitely an area where I’d rather fade the chalk and look elsewhere for running backs to use.
The problem with that on this slate is that pickings are a bit slim. There aren’t any games on this slate with huge O/U totals to stack, and there aren’t really any other big name studs to look at. I guess you could look at Christian McCaffrey against the Eagles, but I can’t see paying $8000 on FD or $7700 on DK for this guy. If I knew he was going to get a bunch of carries as he did against the Bengals (28 carries which resulted in 184 yards) I would be interested, but he’s got 2 games with only 8 carries this season and another with only 10. Yes, I understand that he is heavily involved in the passing game, but he’s only got 1 game this season with double-digit targets and he has only scored 1 TD all year. Those usually go to Cam.
I would rather look at a guy like Mark Ingram. This is a guy who people will shy away from for a number of reasons. The Saints are going up against the Ravens, who are once again one of the top defensive units in the league. Their coverage is pretty great and their pass rush has been excellent, but their rush defense has been around the middle of the pack in the NFL and they have given up fantasy production to opposing running backs. The Saints leaned heavily on their ground game last season when both Ingram and Alvin Kamara were healthy and playing together, and I think this is a nice opportunity to catch Ingram coming under the radar from an ownership and production standpoint. I think Ingram gets in the end zone twice this weekend.
Other guys that I’m looking at include:
- Kenyan Drake / Frank Gore – Detroit’s run defense is horrible, but Miami’s rushing offense is also horrible. I probably won’t go here, but I would be doing myself a disservice not to at least consider a running game against the Lions.
- Corey Clement
- Tarik Cohen
- TJ Yeldon
- Kerryon Johnson
- LeSean McCoy
Adam Thielen has been unreal this season. He’s going to see most of his coverage against a rookie who shouldn’t be starting in the NFL yet, and he’s going to eat him alive. We should see a 7th straight 100+ yard receiving effort from Thielen this weekend, and I think he’ll end up over 10 catches as well. I don’t actually hate pairing Cousins with both Thielen and Stefon Diggs, who will have a tougher matchup than Thielen on Sunday but should still be able to break through and have a good game.
Jarvis Landry had been looking fantastic most of the year until last week when he caught only 2 balls on 10 targets for 11 yards. I’m not convinced that the issue is chemistry with Baker. I just think he is in a bit of a funk, and if you’re buying into the idea of possibly fading Chubb and playing Mayfield, pair him with Landry. Even if you don’t do that, I like Landry as a solid WR option this weekend.
Cooper Kupp is out this weekend, so you’ll need to decide between Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks if you want one of the Rams stud wideouts, unless you decide to play both. If you’re using Goff and fading Gurley, that may not be a horrible idea. Cooks is the more explosive of the two, and the more likely to break a big play, but Woods has a similar ceiling and maybe a slightly higher floor. This is a true coin flip for me. On Fanduel I would probably lean Cooks because he’s cheaper there, and the reverse of that on Draftkings.
Keelan Cole would be my choice from the Jaguars receiving corps to go with Bortles. He’s cheap and talented.
Here are some other guys to look into:
- DJ Moore – This talented rookie is going to have a breakout game soon, I think. I said that about Calvin Ridley before his 3 TD breakout game. I’m not saying that happens this weekend with Moore, but I’m also not saying it doesn’t.
- Marquise Goodwin – Basically the only legit option for his squad.
- Taylor Gabriel
- Alshon Jeffery
- Mike Evans
- Michael Thomas
- DeAndre Hopkins
- Robby Anderson or Jermaine Kearse
Injury AlertRob Gronkowski did not travel with the team and is considered highly unlikely to play on Sunday. While he has not officially been ruled out just yet, I would avoid him. This is an opportunity for me to play Dwayne Allen on a few lineups. Go Tigers!
Zach Ertz and
Rob Gronkowski are obvious choices, but this seems like a week where the high-priced guys will rule the roost. If you want to spend down, David Njoku and Cameron Brate both look like good values. OJ Howard is viable as well, but I like Njoku more at that price range. I’m a big fan of George Kittle, but I’ll be steering clear of him this weekend. Eric Ebron is on the table I suppose, but I’m not paying that much for him. He’s got too long of a history of being not great.
Defense / Special Teams
- Indianapolis Colts – More about Bills offense than Colts defense. Target the Bills offense with your defense. It normally works out okay.
- Los Angeles Rams – This matchup features a really, really good defense, against a mediocre, but not as bad as the Bills offense. They’re expensive.
- Jacksonville Jaguars – My projection model loves them. This matchup scares me to death, and I don’t think the Jags are who they were last year defensively.