NFL DFS Week 4: Hot Sizzle Taeks
Huh, that was an interesting Week 3 slate. Last week's hot taeks were scorching hot in favor of...well, me. Unfortunately, the top plays were as bad as the Ravens defense against Borty-pants. That's OK since we all know you're here for the Flaming Cheetos anyway. T.Y. Hilton went BONKERS, while the ol' Red Rifle was pretty good for his low, low price. I'm going to pretend DeMarco Murray didn't play and it was actually Derrick Henry who got the big rushing day. And of course, the damned Dolphins got smashed by the Jets and “out of shape” ASJ, who inhaled 8 targets from sweaty and jittery Josh McCown. Hopefully, I can continue the success of the HOT SIZZLE BIZZLE OH MY GAH WHERE'S THE WATER TAEKS while adding some top plays that actually perform instead of sinking our lineups into the abyss. It's time to eat the rake. AND YOU WILL LIKE IT! It is NFL DFS Week 4 hot taeks, right now!
Top Play – On a week where the greatest QB doesn't even play on the main slate (YES, IT”S GODGERS AND NOT THAT BUM THOMAS EDWARD PATRICK BRADY JUNIOR!) and the other super-viable QB won't even be available thanks to DK's questionable reasoning behind taking away the SNF game, it's quite the U-G-L-Y QB slate. Brady and Ryan are the top priced QBs with home games but have potential game-scripts that may lower their floor (big favorites against mediocre offenses), although the Patriots' defense has been mystifyingly bad. Is that a word? It should be, because that's how confounding the Pats' D has been. Due to how insufferable some of these QBs can be, I will simply choose Brady as the top play this week. I know it's the chalk QB play of the week, but if the Patriots continue to bleed away massive amounts of offensive yards then Brady has no choice but to negate all of those yards with some of his own!
The Panthers may be giving up the fewest offensive plays while owning the 6th best defense DVOA, but those numbers may very well be skewed due to the inferiority of past opponents (BUF and the J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS!). Drew Brees had no problems driving on the supposedly vaunted Panthers defense, finishing the day with an easy, Breesy 22/29 for 220 yards and 3 touchdowns. That very well could have been 4 TDs had Brees not missed a wide open Ted Ginn. The Patriots currently run the 5th most offensive plays in the NFL, and their pace matches their offensive output as well with the 5th fastest seconds per snap. Quite simply put, no matter the situation and how horrendous their defense has been, Brady has been able to churn out yard after yard to his plethora of weapons despite losing Julian Edelman for the year. He's now thrown for over 1000 yards already with an impressive 8 touchdowns to ZERO interceptions. That's also on a 64% completion rate, with his aDOT and deep pass attempts at near the highest of his career. It would take a colossal offensive disaster from the Panthers to cool down Brady's hot streak, and even then the Patriots are still going to try and score. It's the safest chalk play to eat for Week 4 and your best bet if you don't want to play Spin the Bottle with the QB slate on DK.
Value Play – Now, it's time to dissect this cursed QB slate. We have several options for the QB value play of the week, but you must keep an open mind before reading further! Forget about your past bias and anger for the upcoming QBs, as sometimes in DFS a landmine can turn into a gold mine. Names I'm looking at for this week at the 5k-bottom 6k prices are Eli Manning (yuck), Carson Palmer (shrug), Tyrod Taylor (eeeeeeek), Trevor Siemian (blehhh), and of course Dandy Andy Dalton (redhead). Yes, they're not easy on the eyes and may induce involuntary projectile vomiting, but suck it up and build your lineups around them! They all get good match-ups and are coming off solid fantasy outings (outside of Siemian, but he was a DFS darling before then). I'm going to put the spotlight on Eli Manning and his amazingly bad reactions to anything that doesn't go his way.
The Giants finally made Eli Manning throw the ball within 2 seconds of the snap, and it paid off handsomely for Eli-TE as he passed for 366 yards while only hurling two picks with his 3 TD passes. The Bucs defense is very banged up, with top Lbs Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander likely missing several games. Gerald McCoy is dealing with a pesky ankle injury, and Brent Grimes has a shoulder injury that kept him out of the Week 3 game. All of these injuries were too much to overcome for the Bucs against the Vikings, as Case freakin' Keenum sliced them up to the tune of 369 (nice) yards with 3 TDs and 0 picks. That's behind a shaky Vikings OL that closely resembles the downtrodden Giants OL, which bodes well for Eli. Not only did the Giants force Eli to be quick with the ball, they delved back into the no-huddle well that many had expected based on last year's performances. The Giants ran no-huddle on 37.5% of their snaps last week, their highest so far this season. That trend should continue against a decimated Bucs defense and a Bucs offense that's willing to push the pace if necessary, as they did with a 33% no-huddle rate against the Vikings. That pushed the Bucs to the 4th highest no-huddle percentage overall, with their pace nearing the top 10 for the season. The Giants are going to pass early and often, and if they continue to implement the no-huddle offense that Manning actually excels at, Peyton Manning's brother should have himself a great fantasy day for his light price tag.
HOT TAEK – You know what goes well with a burger? Some bell peppers, a little brown mustard, and a shot of Jameson. Actually, that sounds pretty gross but it's a food taek that fits into the HOT TAEK QB narrative here. If you haven't figured it out by now, then you probably should just press the big red X button right now. It's the Large Clock, Ben Roethlisberger as the HOT TAEK QB Play of the weeeeeeeeeek! He's on the road facing off against a mighty divisional rival that's always been able to shut down the vaunted Steelers offense, The very same offense that just struggled against the Bears on the road, losing in an OT thriller to a gimpy Jordan Howard. So why am I picking the Large Clock despite Ben's known home/road splits and facing against a Ravens defense that's historically broken Roethlisberger in metaphorical and literal ways? I have several reasons why, but most of it can be explained by the Bortles Effect. If a defense lets Blake Bortles look like an All Pro QB, then I'm just going to take a chance and let it ride on the QB facing that very same defense the following week.
The other reason is the fact that Le'Veon Bell just hasn't gotten rolling quite yet. Some may have forgotten already, but Bell did destroy the Ravens' defense last year during Week 1, putting up 122 rushing yards and finding the endzone twice (1 rushing and 1 receiving). Yes, it was a home game for Bell and he did put up a goose egg on the road, but that's beside the point! Bell is still getting a massive workload with over 90% of the RB snaps and 100% of the targets! He's been getting plenty of red zone opportunities (44% RZ market share!), and yet only has one touchdown to show for it. That screams positive regression for Bell, and I think it's the week for that to happen. A happy Bell is a happy Ben, and considering the Steelers continue to push their no-huddle rate into the high 20s, Roethlisberger may end up with a Bortles-like day. Large Clock posted a 108 rating in the no-huddle compared to a paltry 73 rating otherwise against the Bears. If Brandon Williams is out yet again for the Ravens, then Bell gets fewer fatties to plow through for a 100-yard day. Mark my words – a broken clock is right twice a day. Large Clock for the win!
Top Play – Most will likely choose LeSean McCoy against the Falcons and their inept rush defense, and while I won't fault you for doing so, I'm going to pivot off McCoy in this instance. I prefer Ezekiel Elliot's match-up to McCoy, as the game-script should be more in favor of Zeke than McCoy. Elliott was able to bulldoze his way to a respectable fantasy day against a top 5 run defense, putting to rest any worries about his motivation and ability to reproduce his fantastic rookie season. The Cowboys have one of the highest team totals for the week and will be facing against the 19th ranked DVOA Rams run defense. Remember that Carlos Hyde feller from that TNF bonanza? Imagine if that was Ezekiel Elliott behind that monstrous offensive line? I'm having a wet dream right now actually. Thus far this season, PFF has the Rams' run defense unit as the 5th worst overall (this is based on player grades, not actual production), and it's not a surprising fact. Last year, the Rams were one of the worst tackling units despite boasting a ferocious front, which allowed for some runs to go further than they should as opposing RBs simply broke through the arm tackles of the Rams defenders. That trend has continued for the 2017 Rams defense despite the defensive scheme changes. Chris Thompson would be a great example of rushing attempts turning into long touchdown runs. The Cowboys prefer to play ball control, handing off the rock to Zeke and company whenever the game is close or in favor of the Cowboys. In those situations, the Rams have yielded the 2nd highest run rate, which would be close to their rates last season. What I'm more focused on is the fact that despite a bad start for the Dallas O against the Cardinals, they were still hell-bent on feeding Elliott and letting him create yards. I like that kind of volume and intent out of my RB top plays, and it's a pivot off what may be the more popular play in McCoy. Zeke the Destroyer will be making a comeback sooner rather than later. Sure helps that the DailyRoto projections have Elliot as their top scoring RB.
Value Play – Did you know that the Steelers gave up 220 total rushing yards to the Bears last week? And that Jordan Howard was the leading receiver for the Bears with a whopping 26 yards? You didn't? Well, now you do! That kind of performance sticks with me for a long time, as I ponder and try to explain why on earth the Steelers wouldn't put 10 in the box against long neck Glennon. Maybe they did and simply couldn't hold their gaps? Looking back on some of Cohen/Howard's explosive plays, that certainly could be a very fair point, as Howard's game-winning TD run was ran through a gigantic hole that even Trent Richardson couldn't miss. I'm picking Buck Allen of the Ravens to put on a show against that woeful Steelers run defense. Yes, I know Buck Allen may have burned some of your lineups last week when the Ravens inexplicably started Terrance West over Allen despite reports that the opposite would happen. That sure turned out well for the Ravens' offense, which leads me to believe that Allen will likely regain his “starting” role soon enough, as he was against Cleveland with 19 touches on 42 of 68 snaps. West also fumbled during the Jags game and was justifiably benched for his atrocious performance. It's much more likely we get the Buck Allen we saw against Cleveland that totaled 101 offensive yards and a TD than the....whatever that was last week. It's a surprisingly risky value play that could pay huge dividends provided the Ravens actually understand how much better Buck Allen is compared to the rest of the trash they have. On a week with little value plays and tons of risk involved (Smallwood in a 3 RB rotation, Kamara in the same situation, and C.J. Anderson who's starting to cede touches to a rising Jamaal Charles), I'm willing to gamble with Buck Allen and pray for a Cleveland performance.
HOT TAEK – What happens when you stub the toe of a Lord? That is the question on my mind this week, as Lord Forte is now dealing with a turf toe. That opens the door for Bilal Powell to reclaim the throne as the best garbage time RB, something Powell excelled at last season when he was a savage on both the ground and through the air. For whatever reason, the Jets have decided to let Lord Forte slump his way on the field instead of letting Powell be the man in New York as the rightful heir to the RB throne.
While I was watching the Dolphins get thrashed by the Jets, I couldn't help but notice Powell was running hard and looking crisp during his runs. He had a huge run called back on a phantom holding that would have gave Powell close to 100 yards rushing on the day. He was able to find the endzone on a goal-line run, which means he's likely going to get the goal-line carries while Lord Forte nurses his ailing toe. Powell will be facing against a Jaguars defense that's been dominant in 2 of their 3 games thus far this season, but ranks dead last in rushing DVOA despite an annihilation of both the Ravens and the Texans. If there's any hope for Powell on becoming the new Jets bell-cow and returning to his 2016 form, he'll have to prove it against the Jags while the incumbent RB in Forte likely rests for the game. The loss of Forte will be Powell's gain as he should have a role in the passing game for once, a wrinkle that's been woefully absent for the Jets' passing attack. Worth a shot, I say!
Top Play – It's A.J. Green. No need for any further explanation. He destroyed the Packers as everyone expected with a 10/111/1 statline on 13 targets, and he'll do it again versus the Browns that just let Brissett dominate their pass defense. BRISSETT! T.Y. Hilton, another WR who also has an initialized name (coincidence? I THINK NOT!), exploded for 153 yards and a TD against that very same Browns defense. Most of those were against Jamar Taylor (35.6 grade), and if the current route run percentages hold true, that would mean Green will see Taylor on 50% of his routes. Please, and thank you very much for the easy 20-30 point performance. It was a pleasure doing business with you, Mr. Green. Not only does Green own an absurd 36% market share of the Bengals' targets (2nd most in NFL), but he's also responsible for 50% of the red zone targets and has a 20% RZ market share. That last number likely goes up as their leading RZ guy with 7 opportunities was Jeremy Hill, who is on the outs in favor of Joe Mixon and Gio Bernard. Let's get Green with envy, baby!
Value Play – This may be an overreaction to the legend's outburst on national television, but I'm going with Larry Fitzgerald as the value play of the week. Not only did Fitzgerald explode for a ridiculous 13/149/1 statline, he's continued to dwarf the team in red zone opportunities (8) and RZ target share (30%!). Fitzgerald now has the 3rd most targets in the NFL, and that's after a lackluster Week 1-2 with great match-ups. I was beginning to worry about whether or not Larry still had it in him after those rocky few weeks, and then of course he went nuts under the bright lights. The 49ers currently give up the 6th most fantasy points to opposing slot receivers, and Fitzgerald has now ran 69% (whoa, nice number) of his routes in the slot. Combine that with the Cardinals' utter lack of a running game and their willingness to air it out often has resulted in a league leading 69 snaps per game. I mean, that's TWO 69s right there! That's a rarity only found in...well, you know. Leading the NFL in red zone targets and gobbling up the majority of the targets for a David Johnson-less team, The 49ers have turned in a 30th ranked DVOA pass defense, and that number should continue to be a season-long trend. Larry Legend will be a staple for the majority of my lineups.
HOT TAEK – This may not seem like a hot taek considering he's a known name and always has blow-up potential, but thus far this season Tyrell Williams has largely been a bust. It doesn't help that Rivers has been unable to find his accuracy as of late, forcing 50/50 balls in Williams' direction which isn't his forte. What Tyrell excels at are deep crossing patterns and burning the top of defenses with his unsuspecting speed. He gets a salivating match-up against the most targeted cornerback in Jalen Mills, who continues to receive the attention of opposing QBs as he just keeps on getting torched by everyone facing him. Mills gave up a combined 15 catches for 119 yards and two touchdowns against the Giants, the majority coming against Odell Beckham. The Chargers generally rotate their receivers all over the field, but as of right now the match-up has Williams running 40% of his routes on Mills' usual LCB role. It will be similar to what OBJ did to Mills, attacking Mills with short routes and getting position to win red zone targets. The loss of Fletcher Cox and the Eagles' defense overall essentially forcing teams to pass on them bodes well for Williams' floor and upside. It's a great spot for Tyrell to bust out of his slump, and at a depreciated price point Williams won't bust your bank either. Just hope that Rivers doesn't get tilted after the first drive and starts yelling at imaginary people on the sideline.
Top Play – It's an unusually low slate for TEs, mostly due to Kelce playing on MNF and Jimmy Graham not being available for the main slate. You're essentially deciding whether or not to pay up for Gronk/Ertz or punting the position. For argument's sake, Gronk ideally should be the top TE play every single week until further notice. He's in an explosive offense that's been on fire behind a dreadful defense that refuses to let the Pats keep a lead. That amount of volume will always make Gronk worthwhile as the TE to pay up for. The Panthers are currently 1st DVOA against TEs, but they haven't faced any elite talents yet. I mean, facing against virtually no threat against the 49ers, Charles Clay on a run-oriented Bills offense, and the carcass of Coby Fleener? Not exactly inspiring. Gronk was able to manhandle the Texans for a 8/89/1 day, but the Texans still rate as the 13th best against TEs despite the Gronk Spikes. They were 2nd in that category last year and had the same unit coming into the season, so that should prove Gronk is match-up proof....somewhat. His health will always be a concern, but a top play is a top play nevertheless. Volume will be there and that's all that matters.
Value Play – While the Bills offense isn't exactly awe-inspiring, it's been fairly consistent on their weapons of choice. Charles Clay has been Taylor's safety valve all season long, with 18 total targets which is good for a 23% market share of the team's targets. That's only behind LeSean McCoy, which isn't a good thing long term for the Bills. Who cares about that though? The point here is Clay clearly has Tyrod's trust and will be heavily involved if the Bills end up trailing early. The game-script against the Falcons is an excellent one for Clay, as the Falcons are big favorites at home and hasn't shown any signs of their offense slowing down. Clay has been the clear cut red zone option for Tyrod, hauling in 50% of the RZ targets and nearly all of the endzone targets. It's a great play based on volume and opportunity alone, as Clay undoubtedly will have his chances to hit 3x his value in a potential blowout. Clay rates very well in the projections, coming in as the 2nd best value at TE. Mold your lineups with Clay! Mediocre pun.
HOT TAEK – That Deshaun Watson guy ain't so bad, huh? He was able to hit 300 passing yards against the Pats and was poised to defeat those damned villains for a moment until Evil Brady decided otherwise. Part of Watson's success was due to Ryan Griffin's great work at TE as he filled in for the injured C.J. Fiedorowicz, or Fedor as I like to call him. Fedor is on IR, which means Griffin has the TE job all to himself for now. He'll be facing against the Titans that just allowed a hobbled Jimmy Graham to knee his way to victory with a 7/72 line on 11 targets. The Titans linebackers are noticeably lacking in athletic ability and have been unable to keep up against opposing TEs, resulting in a 22nd rank against the position. While depending on a rookie QB to have another successful day against a non-bottom 5 defense isn't ideal, it's still a mediocre defense that's been getting out-gunned by opposing TEs. The targets will be there for Griffin and the Texans likely won't be using J.J. Watt at TE anytime soon. Actually, now they will since I just said it. Damn it.
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