NFL DFS Week 6: Hot Sizzle Taeks
Injuries suck. Let's just leave it at that. Also, Torrey Smith! Even a blind squirrel eventually finds a nut. Hopefully, there are more nuts to find in the upcoming weeks. This is where patterns start to emerge as we delve deeper into the advanced statistics of every team. Sure, it was a rough beginning for NFL DFS all across formats, but one must remember that the past is the past! The future is NOW! We must now become thousandaires or even better, MILLIONAIRES! The best way to do that is
ignore my picks analyze the patterns that have the most consistency and go ALL IN this week! Or you could just go with a Browns stack and Kevin Hogan. Whatever floats your boat, then inevitably sinks it into the dark, twisted abyss that is the soulless DFS industry. Eat Arby's. Onto our NFL DFS Week 6 picks!
Top Play – I'm sure many will flock to DeShaun Watson and his garbage time heroics, but let's be realistic here guys. Watson isn't going to chuck up 4-5 touchdown passes every week. Or will he? Nah, probably not. I'm going with a trusted veteran QB that's always been on fire in the Superdome. That's right! Drew Brees is my top QB play of the week, and it's no surprise considering he's off to a great start for the NFL season. Brees is completely nearly 70% of his passes and hasn't thrown a pick thus far, adding 8 TD passes during that span. We all know how incredible Brees has been at the Superdome, dropping 300-yard games like it's Happy Hour at the local pub. The Lions defense has been pretty underrated to date, but Cam Newton and the Panthers were finally able to attack the defensive weaknesses of the Lions D. Newton had one of his best games in the past 2 seasons, tossing up 355 yards and 3 TDs which also included an astounding 175 yards to his TE alone! The Lions do have a tendency to play slow-ball on the road, but that requires an adequate offense to do so. Stafford is nicked up at the moment, and the Lions O has been erratic as of late. That opens up more plays than many may think for the Saints O to get going early. The Lions have already shown a high proclivity to passing when the script calls for it, which could trigger quite the shootout in the Superdome. The exact same game may have screwed over people last year but as I've said before, let the past be the past! It is time for us to rise! Feed me Brees or feed me death!
Value Play – Carson Palmer shows up as my best value play yet once again. Even with the recent trade for Adrian Peterson, the Cardinals figure to continue being one of the pass-heaviest offenses in the NFL with the highest snaps per game count. Palmer gets a relatively good match-up against Tampa Bay's 27th ranked pass defense that's also giving up the 2nd most offensive plays. Palmer may have been rather mediocre last week, but still had value despite the Cards getting blown out by Torrey Smith and Nelson Agholor. The Buccaneers are starting to become one of the pass-heaviest teams as well, with Winston airing it out deep more often than the majority of QBs. Add in the fact that the Cardinals continue to be a top 10 run defense, that just increases the potential of two pass-heavy teams duking it out through the air with possibly the most combined offensive plays of all the teams. Volume always wins. Always!
HOT TAEK – I can't believe I'm actually going to talk about this guy, but Case Keenum has been a rather solid QB for the Vikings. He gets a positive match-up against the Packers, who continue to hemorrhage fantasy points to opposing actual QBs (see Dak last week). As I had noted last week, the statistics of the Packers defense's success versus QBs may have been misleading. While Keenum isn't exactly Aaron Rodgers, he's still been extremely serviceable for the Vikings offense, pushing down the field and setting up his players for success. Whenever Keenum has faced a porous pass defense, he's been able to step up his performance and dissect the secondary (see Bucs game). Even against the Bears on MNF with a “I dun goofed up” Bradford sitting, Keenum looked significantly better as the captain for the Vikings offense than Bradford. The Packers' overall defensive ranking has now dropped to 20th, a ranking that's much more in line with the actual strength of the defense. With Dalvin Cook out for the season and their RBs being mostly successful through screens and dump-offs, there's a chance Keenum might hit near 40 pass attempts as he tries his damnedest to keep up with Godgers and his army of cheeseheads. Not a bad volume play at his low price.
Top Play – Oooh, this is a toughie. Kareem Hunt or Leonard Fournette? Both guys are by far and away one of the highest usage rates among all RBs (we know Bell is the KING here), and both have very favorable match-ups. Hunt gets the Steelers run defense that just got decimated by Fournette to the tune of 181 yards, a defense that also gave up a 200+ yard day by the Bears RBs in an OT loss. Fournette gets a Rams run defense that's continued to be an emotional roller coaster, either starting with a Donald 5 yard loss in the backfield or a 30-yard untouched run given up. As it stands, the Rams give up the 2nd most fantasy points while the Steelers are at 4th most. Considering Kelce's concussion issues and Conley's season-ending injury, I'm going to lean towards Kareem Hunt as the top RB play as he just might get even more of a workload than he already was getting. The Chiefs' shockingly elite passing attack suddenly may have to start relying on their running game, a strategy that had generally been their M.O. Over the past few seasons. Hunt is already seeing 38% of the RZ market share with an absurd 82% MS of the RZ carries. He's the team leader in RZ opportunities and with Kelce's availability up in the air, all of those numbers should continue to rise. Hunt just might end up with a Bell-esque workload, receiving 30+ carries and possibly even 10+ targets. That makes Hunt by far and away the best RB play of the week for me. Chalk? I'll eat it!
Value Play – There are so many viable value plays at RB this week that choosing just one may prove difficult. However, there is one name that pops out to me while scrolling through the option such as Lamar Miller, Jerick McKinnon, Jay Ajayi, and even Buck Allen. That one name is Mark Ingram, whose value has now skyrocketed after the Saints traded away Adrian Peterson. Ingram had already seen both his snap counts and touches trend upwards over the past couple weeks, but the trade of AP solidifies Ingram as the RZ back of choice and bolsters his PPR ceiling. The Saints as a committee has been ranked either 1st or 2nd in PPR scoring five years running. That's an incredible statistic when you think about it. Five straight years of ranking in the top two in RB overall PPR scoring? That's simply elite numbers, and one of the biggest reasons why Ingram is a must-have in my lineups. Yes, that Alvin Kamara guy might be problematic every other week, but Ingram has continued to see plenty of targets despite Kamara's emergence in the offense. Ingram was at a 31% MS of the RZ carries and ranks 2nd in RZ opportunities. As Ingram's snap counts continue to rise, his production should be more in line with Ingram's 2016 season where he averaged 5 yards a carry and ran for 1k+ yards. I mean, the guy already has 22 targets in 4 games! MORE VOLUME!
HOT TAEK – How many people thought Marshawn Lynch would be a top tier RB when he signed with Oakland? How many of you drafted him in the 2nd/3rd round in your yearly drafts? Nope, not me! That still won't prevent me from taking a gamble on Beast-Mode against a lackluster Chargers run defense. Lynch hasn't tallied more than 12 carries since his Week 1 18 tote game, but I believe Lynch may be in line for a big workload against the Chargers. Why? Well, with Carr trending towards starting despite some sort of a fractured back, I tend to think the Raiders will try to play it safe with the troublesome injury. That means a more run-first game plan and attacking the weaknesses of the Chargers, which would actually be the smart thing for the Raiders. The Chargers are giving up the 10th most fantasy points and 4th highest yards per carry to opposing RBs, and are currently graded as the worst graded run unit in the NFL. The Raiders MUST feed Beast-Mode if they want to limit the risk to Carr and it's a fantastic match-up to play it safe for Del Rio. If there was ever a week to risk it all on Lynch's limited ceiling due to lack of pass targets, this is it. There's a 2-3 TD upside for Lynch if the Raiders don't fall over themselves. And they probably will.
Top Play – If it was for Jason McCourty's spirited play as one of the lone bright spots on the Browns defense, Deandre Hopkins would be the easy pick here. Hopkins likely sees McCourty's coverage on the majority of his snaps, pushing me off him and onto Antonio Brown for the top play. Brown has been a volume workhorse for the Steelers' inconsistent offense, amassing 64 targets (most in the league) over the last 5 weeks. That's an absurd number when you consider how dreadful Roethlisberger has been. Brown's essentially a match-up proof play based on his elite talents and volume, but might be a must-play against the Chiefs and their known lack of shadow coverage. Marcus Peters continues to be a top echelon cornerback in the NFL but never shadows the opposing #1 WR on any given week. That allows Brown to move all around the field, attacking the weaker corners such as Philip Gaines and Terrance Mitchell. Brown put up a 10/157 line on 19 targets against the number 1 pass defense, despite Large Clock sputtering and croaking all game with 5 interceptions thrown. The Chiefs are also giving up the 5th most points to opposing receivers (total, not just #1) and currently rank 22nd/26th DVOA against #1/#3 receivers. Basically, whoever doesn't line up in front of Peters gets to have a great fantasy day. Brown + volume + big upside match-up = fantasy gold.
Value Play – With Mohamed Sanu still continuing not practicing and looking doubtful, Taylor Gabriel pops out as the best WR value of the week. Filling in for Sanu, Gabriel has generally done well as he still plays the same role Sanu had, creating yards after the catch and being an underneath option for Matt Ryan. The Dolphins' defense has been on the rise, but that has more to do with their run defense and emerging linebackers than the secondary. Miami still ranks almost last in pass defense DVOA (29th) and has only seen one positive game from Xavien Howard which came against a Cassel-led Titans team. Not ideal. Cordrea Tankersley has been a fantastic draft get by the Fins, but he's still a rookie that's continuing to learn the NFL pace. The Dolphins have been lights-out against the run, thanks in part to a combination of Reshad Jones' return from an injury-plagued '16 season, Kiko Alonso rising up to the occasion, and Timmons' return to the lineup. All 3 of those players have allowed the Fins to put together a tough run-stopping unit (2nd DVOA in run defense) behind Suh's always consistent top-tier performance. That likely means the Falcons will be relying on Matt Ryan's arm, uncorking more targets and volume for Gabriel. Add in the hip injury Julio Jones suffered that may lower his snap count, and you have the potential for a Gabriel smash against my poor, poor Dolphins.
HOT TAEK – Much like the Torrey Smith pick last week, I'm going to target Bethel once again. DeSean Jackson has been mostly quiet this season, as Jackson and Winston just haven't been on the same page most games. Jackson actually leads the NFL in average depth per throw (aDOT), so Winston still thinks DeSean as his big-play receiver. Winston missed Jackson badly against the Pats on what could have been a 60+ yard touchdown pass, and that wasn't even the first occurrence. Jackson still has the elite speed that's made him one of the scariest WRs to cover deep, and his aDOT confirms that the Bucs think the same as well. Torrey Smith was largely ignored by the Eagles until he faced Bethel, popping off a 59-yard touchdown on him. Pat Peterson will be shadowing Mike Evans all game, giving DeSean Jackson free reign at slapping around Bethel as much as possible. It's really all down to Jameis Winston on whether or not Jackson has a huge fantasy day or not. Considering Winston is still going to take his shots deep regardless of the coverage or his own inaccuracies, I'm comfortable taking a chance on a Jackson 80 yard TD bomb. With what may be the highest combined offensive plays on the slate, why wouldn't you take a chance either?
Top Play – Gronk is back! But he costs an arm and a leg. Kelce may not be playing. Ertz plays on TNF. Well, there goes the top 3 TEs to consider on a weekly basis. With so few reliable options at TE that can actually get more than 10 points, it just might be time to take a risk on Jordan Reed as the top TE play. He's one of the few remaining TEs that can legitimately drop a 20 point bomb on any given week. He's continued to battle injuries (as always) to start the season, but Reed is coming off a bye week and finally not being listed on the injury report. He'll be facing the #1 TE defense DVOA, which seems rather bad for Reed's chances at dropping 20+ points. Bear in mind, the 49ers have been one of the worst pass defenses against outside receivers, getting shredded left and right by opposing #1/#2 receivers (Hilton 7/177 and Jaron Brown 8/105 in the last 2 weeks). The 49ers also haven't faced a legitimate TE since Jimmy Graham in an ugly Week 2 game versus the Seahawks. Their TE defensive statistics all seem very misleading to me, as both game-flow and lack of talented TEs faced have been a large part in limiting TE success against the 49ers. The Redskins have been waiting for a dominant #1 option for Cousins to rely on, and in the past, that's been Reed filling in that exact role. It's a leverage play if you really don't want to pay Gronk's high price tag on a week where punting at TE is likely the most popular strategy. Could be worth it.
Value Play – Now it's time to talk about punting the TE position. There's always going to be some random 3k-ish option to play at TE that gets some sort of volume. Last week it was ASJ, who salvaged his day with a 1-yard touchdown, and Hunter Henry. This week it's going to be Zach Miller for me. With Mitch Trubisky at the helm for the Bears, he clearly looked for Miller more often than not instead of whatever you want to call his receivers. Corpses? Street walkers? Markus Wheatons? Whatever they might be, Zach Miller is the only legitimate pass option for Trubisky at the moment and led the team in targets (6) in their game last week. That also includes a little bit of a flukey TD catch, but the opportunity was there regardless! Miller will be facing a top Baltimore defense (6th overall DVOA) that's surprisingly dead last in TE coverage and giving up the 11th most fantasy points to the position. While the overall BAL defense isn't exactly ideal for a rookie QB to go against, Miller gets the easiest match-up and could provide a safety blanket for Trubisky all game long. At only 2900 on DraftKings, the volume should be there for Miller against a beatable defense. Just a matter of whether or not John Fox calls 20 timeouts on 4th down.
HOT TAEK – George Kittle. Do you even know who that is? I didn't either until he scored a touchdown last week. He's the incumbent starter for the 49ers, and he's been getting some love from Hoyer over the past few weeks. He registered his highest numbers against a bad Indy defense (29th vs Tes) with a 7/83/1 stat-line. Kittle gets the 2nd worst rated TE coverage on a Redskins' team that's missing Josh Norman. That should allow Hoyer to find both Garcon and Kittle for most of the game as his primary passing options. In a game where the Redskins are big favorites and boast a strong run defense (8th best), Hoyer certainly looks like he's going to pass all game long. It's a lovely punt option with an even lovelier name. Kittle and Bits! Gimme a Kittle sugar! George is getting angry!
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