After a wild string of “stop and smell the roses” type life events, you can expect this article to be back in consistent rotation moving forward. Somehow, we have already reached the tenth week of the 2017 NFL season, and there is no better time than now to dive deep into a slate and get the gravy train a-rollin’. Let’s get into it.
I thought about leading off with a backup quarterback who is in a prime revenge spot, but I’m going to side with a guy who somehow happens to be the highest paid quarterback in the league: Matthew Stafford. Coming off three straight Top 10 quarterback weeks, Stafford finds himself in a home matchup against the Cleveland Browns who rank 1st in Run DVOA but 28th in Pass DVOA. What does that all mean, you ask? Cleveland has been surprisingly very stout against the run through the start of the season, and face a Lions team who has been absolutely atrocious on the ground. I’m expecting Lions OC Jim Bob Cooter to place his confidence behind Stafford this week and allow his quarterback to air it out early and often. If you’re finding yourself with extra salary to spend, paying up for Stafford in both cash games and tournaments is a strong option.
Now, onto the murky options that I love this week. I thought about fading this next guy simply on the fact that he shaved off his absolutely glorious beard, but the spot for Ryan Fitzpatrick against his former New York Jets team is too strong to ignore given his price. Yes, I will preface this by saying that if salary cap restrictions were not a thing, I may not even be considering Ryan Fitzpatrick at all. However, at just above minimum salary across the industry, the Fitzmagic offers an opportunity to spend up at several other positions, which is always a strategy that I’m looking to deploy in my contests. In relief duties in Week 6, Fitzpatrick managed to muster a Top 5 QB finish on the week against the Arizona Cardinals, and gets another exploitable spot against these Jets. Yes, Mike Evans is suspended this week, but I still love the fact that Fitz has solid chemistry with both (very cheap) Cameron Brate and Adam Humphries. Speedster DeSean Jackson will remain in the starting lineup and face coverage by shadow corner Mo Claiborne, but that is a matchup that DJax can win, and we all know by now that Fitz loves to take his deep risks when possible. The over on the total of this game has been consistently pounded, and this candidate for “Fingerlakes game of the week” has the opportunity to be a low-key shootout. For $200 more on DraftKings, you can move up to Eli Manning in a prime spot against the San Francisco 49ers, which is certainly one of the more intriguing roster decisions of the week. The Giants are throwing the ball at one of the highest rates in the league, but this is also a spot that they *should* be able to control throughout. (Enter Darkwing Duck) I’m placing my “confidence” in Fitzpatrick in my cash games and liken Eli to a solid, under-the-radar tournament pivot.
I rarely find myself paying a premium for a quarterback on DraftKings, especially in my cash games, but if you’re deciding to go that route (aside from Stafford), Big Ben finds himself in a great road matchup against the reeling Indianapolis Colts. I’m siding with this turning into a Lev Bell game, but Ben offers some solid tournament appeal. On Thanksgiving last year, Ben dusted this Colts defense (who had Vontae Davis then, released this week) for three touchdowns to Antonio Brown. The long standing narrative of Big Ben’s home/road splits certainly causes concern for me here, but I think he’s a fine option to pay up for in tournaments in order to differentiate your roster construction from the field. A very sneaky spot that I’m starting to come around on is Tyrod Taylor versus the traveling New Orleans Saints. This game sneakily has the second highest over/under total of the week, and Tyrod is coming off an incredible Thursday night performance against the Jets in a losing effort. While I may choose to role the God out there by himself, given the addition of Kelvin Benjamin into the mix and the expectation that Charles Clay will also be returning. Pairing him with LeSean McCoy, although an unconventional stack, is intriguing against this Saints defense whose primary weakness is against the running back position.
If you’re feeling froggy this weekend, paying up for either quarterback in the Dallas @ Atlanta matchup is an interesting decision. Dak Prescott will be without stalwart running back Zeke Elliott for the next six games, has a hobbled Dez Bryant, and has his seen his price fly through the roof across the industry. He’s a tournament only play for me, but an under-the-radar one at that. Matt Ryan has been downright awful through the first half of the season. Regression was predicted coming off of his 2016 MVP season, but not to the extent that we’ve seen. While Dallas’ defense is on the upswing, Ryan has Julio Jones and Mo Sanu back in the fold and looking healthy. Matt Ryan -> Julio Jones has long been one of the more popular stacks in daily fantasy football, and you’re going to have an opportunity to get it at a very small ownership in a game featuring the highest over/under on the day. Furthermore, ageless wonder Josh McKown is forcing himself to be considered after consistently strong performances week in, and week out. We’ve attacked against this Tampa Bay secondary all year, and this week should remain no different. (I’m siding with the chalky Bilal Powell instead, personally) Alright, that’s enough words on quarterback..
I’m going to get this one out of the way early: if you’re playing on DraftKings, cash games or tournaments, you MUST consider Bilal Powell at $4,000. Matt Forte has been ruled out and third stringer Eli McGuire has been a non-factor this season despite garnering considerable hype. We have seen recent Jets teams turn to Powell late in the season, and in a road spot where they are small favorites, I expect that trend to continue. Powell could realistically touch the ball 20+ times with the upside for more if game script goes according to plan. He’s involved in the passing games (hello, DraftKings scoring!), and he should be the main goal line threat if McKown somehow fails to find Robby Anderson for an inevitable weekly 60 yard touchdown bomb.
Now, onto some options that anyone reading this article actually wants to hear about. Lev Bell is in a smash spot as a ten point road favorite against the Colts. He’s averaging over 33 touches per game over his last 5 games, and finds himself in an incredibly favorable matchup against this Indianapolis team who is just about to pack it up for the season. Coming out of their bye week, we can expect fresh legs for Mr. Bell and he should be one of the high-end options that you’re considering in your cash games and tournaments. Oh, by the way, he’s scored 22 of 31 career touchdowns on the road. Is that good here? Seems good here.
The high-end of running backs is just glorious this week. We have Todd Gurley has a twelve point home favorite against the reeling Texans. We know Gurley is a usage monster in this Rams offense that refuses to pump the breaks on any opponent, he’s involved in the passing game, and he’s the goal-line back. TG3 makes a great pivot away from the sure-t0-be chalky Lev Bell. The aforementioned LeSean McCoy is at home against the New Orleans Saints who have remained vulnerable to opposing backs all season. I expect some monster usage for Shady in a rebound spot from his Thursday night disaster against the Jets. Sliding down the salary scale slightly, I absolutely LOVE this spot for Jordan Howard at home against the Green Bay Packers. Howard is averaging 25 touches per game over his last 6 contests, gets to face a Packer defense that ranks 11th in run DVOA and given up the third most rushing touchdowns to opposing backs. As a near six point home favorite, we can expect a monster workload for Howard. A correlation stack with the Bears defense against Brett Hundley is firmly in play.
Continuing in the mid-range, Carlos Hyde finds himself ranked second in running back targets and gets a plum draw against the New York Giants defense who just coughed up 50+ points to the visiting Los Angeles Rams. I expect the Giants to control this game from the jump, which should only increase Hyde’s expected passing game usage and upside. I’m siding with Howard on touchdown dependent scoring sites, and still giving him the slight edge in PPR scoring formats, but Hyde is very close and makes a tremendous tournament pivot. If you’re in the business of trying to play whack-a-mole with these New Orleans Saints running backs, both Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara should have a fair shake at some heavy volume against the sliding Bills defense. Somehow, it still seems that the fantasy community is sluggish to come around on the fact that the Saints are a run oriented team now, and on the road in Buffalo, I expect Sean Payton to feature his running game rather than rely on an aging Drew Brees outdoors in the cold weather. Wrapping up the position, don’t forget about the returning Leo Fournette here. A late inactive last Sunday morning due to team rules violations, Fournette should have some fresh legs and have shaken off his ailing injuries to find himself in a gorgeous matchup against the weak run defense of the Chargers. Oh, and the Darkwing Duck. If the Giants get out to an early lead, we could see a very cheap Orleans Darkwa smash through his price point value.
Somehow, I’ve managed to get out nearly 1700 words talking about plays such as Ryan Fitzpatrick, Eli Manning, and Bilal Powell. Sheesh. However, how about that Antonio Brown guy? He’s pretty good. As mentioned with Big Ben, Tone gashed this Colts team on Thanksgiving last season for three touchdowns, and that was with their top cornerback Vontae Davis who was released this week. Brown currently leads the NFL in catches, targets, and receiving yards. While his price is at a premium, he’s an elite spend on the Week 10 slate. Don’t be scared off by the emergence of Juju Smith-Schuster and “return” of Martavis Bryant. Coming in at a *shockingly* steep discount to Brown are both Julio Jones and A.J. Green. Julio had a tremendous Week 9 game that could have led him to ending up as the highest scoring player at his position if not for dropping a wide open touchdown in the end zone against Carolina. In a likely shootout against the Cowboys, I love taking the savings and jamming in some Julio into my tournament teams this week. Could this be the debut of “Angry” A.J. Green? I’m banking on Green having something to prove this week against Tennessee after getting choked out by elite cornerback Jalen Ramsey last week. Tennessee has been getting dusted deep all season and I love the opportunity to buy-low on Green after last week’s fiasco.
Moving down into the mid-range, I absolutely love both Golden Tate and Marvin Jones of the Lions this week. You can look to Tate as your PPR scoring option for cash games with some small tournament upside attached. The Lions are struggling to run the ball and draw the worst possible matchup for the position, so I expect Tate to be used as the main chain mover. Marvin Jones has hauled in 3 touchdowns in his last 3 games, and I don’t believe this can be considered point chasing with a massive target volume over his last stretch of games. On touchdown dependent sites such as FanDuel, I think Marvin is fantastic mid-range option for both cash games and tournaments. Sterling Shepard returned for the Giants last week and hauled in 5 catches for 70 yards, and I expect those numbers to rise against this 49ers team this weekend. He’s way too cheap across the industry and makes for a tremendous cash game option with the upside to haul in a long touchdown. Mo Sanu has been heavily featured in the red zone for the Falcons all season, and continued his scoring ways against the Panthers last week. If the Cowboys try to contain Julio at all in this game, expect Sanu to be the main beneficiary. He’s worthy of cash game consideration and inclusion in tournament stacks with Matt Ryan/Dak Prescott. If you’re looking for the mega punt option of the week, look no further than Bucs slot wide receiver Adam Humphries. He holds a good rapport with QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, and should see his target volume on the rise with the absence of Mike Evans. The Jets have been stout against the run, and I could see Fitz checking down to Humphries often as a means of generating first downs. I prefer him for cash games, but it’s hard to see him completely flopping for you in any contest format. If I’m taking a shot another on cheap wide receiver, Corey Davis has returned for the Tennessee Titans, he’s a first round pick, and offers tremendous upside against this Bengals defense. Eventually, this young man is going to break out, and we will be viewing him as an elite option every week. Week 10 could be the spot. (Mariota stack? Hmm…)
Make Cameron Brate Again! No, seriously, he’s an elite option this week in all scoring formats. Blah, blah, blah, Harvard connection with Ryan Fitzpatrick. Brate had 6 catches for 76 yards and a score in Fitzmagic’s mop-up effort in Week 6. He’s still very affordable across the industry and makes for one of the strongest options at his position this week. If you’re (for some reason) spending up at tight end, Evan Engram should be your guy. Engram has found the box in three straight games, has garnered 22 targets in his last two weeks, and face a 49ers defense that is inept at defending any position. Okay, maybe paying up at tight end isn’t all that crazy. Still, it feels wrong. But, Engram is a fantastic tournament option. If you’re playing a slate that features the Sunday night game, The Gronk is a threat to find the end zone multiple times against a Broncos defense that funnels action into the middle of the field. On touchdown dependent sites the Purple Gronk, Kyle Rudolph, is a solid bet to find the end zone this week against a Redskins defense that we’ve targeted with the position all season. Rounding it out, with George Kittle sidelined in Week 10, minimum salary Garrett Celek finds himself on the streaming radar. You’re banking on volume being there and hopefully a score, but it may be a worthy risk to take in order to jam in some of the high-priced studs.
Phew, 2500+ words. Here we are. I love the Bears at home against Brett Hundley. Bryan Bulaga is out for the season, Hundley has been a turnover machine in his few starts this season, and the Bears are a tremendous home team. The Rams get to face statuesque pocket sloth (h/t Evan Silva) Tom Savage at home this week. Need I say more? The Detroit Lions have a home matchup against league leader in interceptions Deshone Kizer. The Jaguars should also be in consideration, especially when facing a gunslinger such as Phil Rivers. They’re the league leader in sacks and should see plenty of pass attempts from Rivers.
Alright, y’all, that does it for this week’s edition of the Daily Fantasy Football Primer. Not too much more that can be said here, as I’ve laid out some general strategy for both cash games and tournaments, options at every position, and some juicy matchups for you to sink your teeth into. Please don’t hesitate to shoot any questions my way or tell me how horrible I am at all forms of fantasy football. Thank you for reading!
Best of luck in your contests this week, and stay sharp out there.
You can find me on Twitter @_ryanpaulsen for more DFS nonsense.