NFL DFS Week 7: Hot Sizzle Taeks
Oh, Brees. Why haft thou forsaken me? 52 whole points scored by the Saints and barely any of it was from Brees? What is this sorcery?!? Why did you not run Kareem Hunt against a low-tier Steelers run defense, Andy Reid? You bunch of heathens! NFL continues to zig while we zag away from the top plays, as the variance laughs and mocks those who dare use logic. Thankfully, the value plays continue to be on HOT FIYA coupled with the surprising effectiveness of the HOT SIZZLE TAEKS. I think it's because the DR projections make me feel really solid in my predictions at what should be awful plays. Let's keep that trend going on a week without Deshaun Watson lighting up a poor hapless defense even when the Texans are up by 50, a SNF Pats/Falcons game that won't be available on DK's main slate, and no worrying about whether or not it's Terrelle Pryor week! Most excellent. There are going to be some injuries to keep an eye on all the way up until lock, so take certain picks with a grain of salt. The very same salt that will make you bloated, weak, and angry at the world for not giving you a 40 point burger from Kevin Hogan. Keep that blood pressure down, fellas. Anyways, onto the NFL DFS Week 7 picks!
Top Play – Sigh, it's another Brees week huh? Nah, zigging away from him. I'm picking Dak Prescott as the top play once again, facing against a 49ers defense that's currently giving up the most offensive plays to opposing offenses. The Cowboys have gone away from their usual grinding, snail-like pace made popular over the past few years and now boast the 11th fastest pace. That could be attributed to the lack of actual defense from the Cowboys and their reliance on Prescott to keep them in games that turn into shoot-outs. Prescott has been on another level since being handed the keys to the offense, racking up point after point over the past few weeks. He destroyed the Packers by himself despite tilting the entire DFS world with two touchdown passes to Cole freakin' Beasley. The 49ers pass defense has been getting absolutely shredded through the air, ranking in at a paltry 26th DVOA. They've been very good against the run despite the non-existent pass defense, which probably means Prescott won't be able to rely on a heavy run game-plan. It's a very plus match-up for a QB that's been controlling the entire offense by himself at a remarkable pace for a 2nd year QB. Sure helps that he can run for touchdowns, too! Love the Dak/Dez stack once again.
Value Play – There are several options at QB to pick from, but I think I'll stick with Brett Hundley as the value chalk. He's already going to have a steady floor due to his ability to add rushing yards and has been on the offense for a couple years. Hundley obviously isn't Aaron Rodgers or even a lite version of the God, but he's been surprisingly effective in spot duty. For those who worry about the Packers receivers' volume with Hundley, looking at past data shows that Hundley actually tends to spam certain guys at a higher frequency than Rodgers did. Adams/Nelson were the biggest beneficiaries whenever Hundley went into the game, generally amassing at least 20% of the targets from Hundley. The Saints' defense has been basically impossible to predict from a strength standpoint, either giving up a ton of passing yards or turning into the Broncos 2.0. It's safe to say the Saints/Packers game will at the very least be high volume due to the loss of Rodgers and a lack of consistency from the Packers defense. It's unlikely the Packers suddenly turn into the Steelers of old, running it 40x with Aaron Jones doing his best Jerome Bettis impression. At this price, Hundley realistically only needs about 30-40 rushing and a touchdown to hit value. Seems easy enough to me. Eat the chalk!
HOT TAEK – The Rams are the “home” favorites against the Cardinals in London, which leads me to believe that maybe Jared Goff has a Carson Wentz-type day. The Cardinals may seem like an imposing defense from past years and boast a top 5 cornerback in Patrick Peterson, but they've actually been rather mediocre as an overall defense. With not enough talent surrounding Peterson, the Cardinals' pass defense ranks as the 24th worst DVOA largely due to the very bad play from both Justin Bethel and Tyrann Matheiu. Even their linebackers have just been very poor in coverage. Jared Goff got off to a hot start with several 300+ passing yards games, then fell off a cliff ever since with back to back disappointing showings. To be fair to Goff, the Jaguars and the Seahawks both rank at the top 5 for pass defenses. The Cardinals are not even close to the aforementioned teams' defensive level, so there's a good chance Goff can notch on another 300-yard day at a discounted price across all sites. Remember, this is a Cardinals defense that let Ryan Fitzpatrick torch them for 290 yards and THREE TOUCHDOWNS! Three! And he came into the game for an injured Winston! Terrible! Goff has already proven in the past that he's absolutely a must-play against below average defense, putting up 300 yards on Indy and 292 yards/3 TDs on the 49ers. Easy play for me.
Top Play – I mean, Le'Veon Bell is a workhorse. There's no getting around that, period. However, that Cincy game feels like a slow-paced, low volume game that could minimize the value Bells brings to DFS. There are also some injury concerns with Fournette, so I'd rather save some salary and go ahead with LeSean McCoy in what appears to be a fantastic spot for a monstrous statistical day. Yes, he hasn't eclipsed 100+ rushing yards since his Week 1 explosion, but the thing about McCoy is he's quite literally the only passing option for Tyrod Taylor. Charles Clay is out, Zay Jones has been a bust thus far, and Jordan Matthews may still not come back in time this week. Despite having scored exactly zero touchdowns, McCoy's still been a valuable DFS commodity due to his gigantic role in the passing game. He's received 32 targets from Taylor, churning them out into a 27/189 stat-line. That's 45 points just off receiving alone, giving McCoy an average of 9 points per game through the air! That's kinda hawt. The Buccaneers have been vulnerable up front due to the rash of injuries suffered in the past month, and the Cardinals were able to take advantage of a depleted front with Adrian Peterson running wild to the tune of 134 rushing yards. As it stands, the Bucs may get some important players back from injury but it's still up in the air with several limited participants. Either way, whatever happens with the injuries won't affect McCoy's workload nor his insane usage in the passing game. McCoy's at a price where it's comfortable to fit him and expect a safe high floor with some serious upside if the Bucs end up being depleted up front again. Taylor still should be able to at the very least keep drives alive against a 31st ranked Bucs pass defense that's giving up the 3rd most offensive plays per game. Obviously, that will happen by throwing 50-yard bombs to McCoy. Let us feast!
Value Play – Some interesting options this week, as it appears the usual mid-low priced RBs have now skyrocketed up in price. McKinnon and Ingram are now no longer gimmes at reduced price tags, leaving me to thinking that maybe one guy might get overlooked as everyone simply elects to pay up for the sub 5-6k running backs. I'm talking about the oldest RB in the NFL, Frank the Tank! Frank Gore has always been known as Mr. Reliable, grabbing 9-12 points every week but never really appeasing your appetite for fantasy points. Well, Gore may have just become the every down goal-line back for the Colts, as they lost Robert Turbin for the season due to an arm injury. Turbin had received 6 carries (23% MS) in the RZ/goal-line situation for whatever inexplicable reason despite his struggles at running the ball (2.3 YPC). Gore should now remain as the preferred red zone RB of choice and pick some 3rd down snaps that Turbin had received. There's always the worry that explosive rookie Marlon Mack gets an expanded role, but the MNF game against the Titans may have tempered those worries a little bit as Mack barely got any work. At worst, Mack may simply slide into the 3rd down pass back role that Turbin had provided he doesn't get trucked in pass protection. That's one of the main reasons why I think Gore still remains as a slight every-down back, as Gore has long been one of the very best pass-blocking RBs on the planet. At a very favorable price against a top-tier Jags pass defense that's been funneling the run (31st ranked run defense, 1st against the pass), I'm willing to build around Gore's reliability and potential increased overall role. Will you join me on the Frank the Tank train?
HOT TAEK – Orleans Darkwa. That's a funny name. Not so funny if he turns into a million dollar winning RB. That's his potential against a Seattle defense that's continued to get gashed by the run despite a top-tier pass coverage grade. The Giants have no receivers so instead of letting Mad/Sad/Confused Eli-face throw 10 picks in a 50 point loss, they decided to take the ball out of his hands and into Darkwa's. That resulted in the Giants' best running attack in years, with Darkwa slapping the Broncos' revamped run defense around and trucking his way to a 117-yard day. It was by far the most run plays the Giants have run in the past few years, as they went with more 2 TE personnel with zero no-huddle snaps. Such a run-heavy game-plan resulted in the 2nd slowest pace for the week. That may have coincided with Ben McAdoo giving up play-calling duties to Mike Sullivan, as McAdoo has always been known as the run-n-gun OC, preferring a high pace/no-huddle offense over a run-heavy, slow-paced offense. If that trend continues, then Darkwa could be in for another 20+ carry day at a bottom basement price. The Broncos still remain as the top team in giving up fantasy points to opposing RBs, while the Seahawks rank 4th best in that regard despite a 26th DVOA run defense ranking. Seems like it's going to be Groundhog Day for Darkwa as he rumbles to another 100-yard day. Yum.
Top Play – Much like Bell, Antonio Brown likely will be near the top WR play on most weeks based on volume alone, but I will be adjusting my line-ups away from the CIN/PIT game and looking elsewhere. I wanted to put Dez Bryant here once again for the double trouble Dak/Dez stack attack, but against my better judgment I have decided to slot Michael Thomas here. Thomas got slayed by the Lions last week, ending his 3 game streak of at least 80 receiving yards per game. He'll get an easier match-up against the Packers' average secondary that's giving up the 15th most points to opposing WRs. That number could honestly have been much worse had they faced better QB competition. With Kevin King likely coming back from his concussion, that could leave either Damarious Randall or Davon House on Thomas Island as the primary boundary against the predominantly left-side WR (52% routes ran at LWR). Both cornerbacks have below-average grades at their position, giving Thomas a chance to put on a show at what could be a lowered ownership due to a goose-egg the week before. Thomas had received 25 targets in 4 games before his let-down against the Lions, scoring in two of those games. He shares RZ targets with several people, but has been Drew Brees' primary read for most of their red zone work. As is Brees' nature, he won't force the ball in double coverage, choosing to pick his spots and attack the weaknesses of each defense. Well, the Packers stink at defending against big body receivers and don't normally use bracket coverage against top WRs. The entire Saints offense has been clicking behind the Ingram/Kamara combo, which has allowed Thomas more one-on-one opportunities this season. I expect Thomas to turn those into touchdowns as he weaves his way through the 19th ranked Packers pass defense into the end zone. TOUCHDOWN GEAUX SAINTS!
Value Play – Pierre Garcon pops as a good value guy this week even with the QB change, as he's just simply one of the more reliable safer options at WR with his volume. His upside is limited though, so I've been trying to look past him in favor of guys with sneaky upside. I would probably pick Adams over Garcon just for the higher TD upside as Hundley seemed to prefer him as his primary read last week. That's with Rhodes in shadow coverage on Adams as well. Outside of Adams, the one guy I keep going back to is Bennie Fowler, both for salary and upside reasons. I'm not sure what his ownership will be considering he hasn't been anything special and there are better options a few tiers above him, but I'll state my reasoning anyway. The Chargers employ shadow coverage with their best cornerback in Casey Hayward, which has worked in Hayward's favor as he's now garnered a high grade of 85.5 and ranks highly in yards per cover snap. Demaryius Thomas hasn't practiced at the time of this writing but is expected to play, so that should put him on Hayward Island. That leaves Fowler free to play either away from Hayward in 2 WR sets, or playing in the slot as is customary (77% routes ran in the slot) in 3-4 WR sets. The Chargers have given up the 3rd most fantasy points to opposing slot receivers. Yes, that also includes Fowler's 2 TD game against the Chargers in Week 1. Will he do it again? Who knows, but the opportunity is there with no Emmanuel Sanders and DT on Hayward Island. It's a worthwhile risk to take on a week with not many obvious value options at WR.
HOT TAEK – Oh god. Blake Bortles is going to make a cameo here. Yep, it's gonna be Marqise Lee provided he isn't dead with a knee problem. He's probably just faking it so he doesn't get impaled by an inaccurate Bortles target. If Lee does suit up, he gets a Colts secondary that's giving up the 8th most fantasy points to opposing WRs and rank as the 6th worst pass defense. It's simply a play based on volume in a positive match-up. The Colts have been somewhat average against the run, only really giving up yards over time rather than letting up huge chunks at a time. Fournette has an ankle thing and could be limited if he does suit up. Bortles is Bortles, but he does seem to enjoy throwing in Lee's general direction, feeding him 40 targets on the season. That's good for 33% of the market share. Pretty impressive for a Jags WR not named Allen Robinson. Lee saw 10 targets last week but was only able to haul in 5 of those for 83 yards. Still, that's something! And sometimes something is everything and not nothing! Even if that everything isn't anything spectacular. Just hope that the Jags end up passing more often due to injuries to Fournette, though Bortles could end up just throwing to the other team.
Top Play – Who plays the Browns? Oh, the Titans. Do they have a good TE? Oh, they do. Okay then. Insert Delanie Walker into your line-ups then walk away. Just do it. The Browns have long been one of the worst at defending tight-ends over the years, letting up multiple touchdowns over the past few seasons. They still rank 2nd worst in TE coverage based on DVOA, and give up the 2nd most points to TEs as well. Walker is 3 behind the lead for total targets, owning a 21% market share of the team's targets. Walker is good. The Browns are bad. The sky is blue. Why won't you just roster him already? You can't even use Gronk on DK! Sad!
Value Play – Kittle and Bits! I want that nickname to start trending, so you better do your job. George Kittle continues his trajectory into TE Value Land as he racks up the copious amount of targets from whoever decides to be the 49ers QB. Kittle's now earned 17 targets in the last 2 games, turning it into a combined 11/129/1 stat-line. He was also a few inches from scoring a TD last week. Kittle's numbers are all trending towards a must-play every week as long as he stays in the 3k range, as he's by far and away their preferred RZ target. Kittle's received 9 RZ targets this season, with almost half of those coming in the last 2 games. Now that C.J. Beathard (that's a real name) is Kittle's new starting QB, the Iowa teammate connection should be a real narrative this week as Kittle was one of Beathard's favorite targets. The Cowboys will be getting Sean Lee back this week but were already a below-average TE coverage unit with or without him. They currently sit at 29th DVOA in that category. As long as Kittle continues to receive ample volume, he's an easy play to build around.
HOT TAEK – It seems as if Stefon Diggs may not play once again. That would open up more targets for all of the Vikings' offensive weapons. Most will flock towards Adam Thielen, Keenum's favorite receiver as of late. While that's a good strategy, I'm going to pivot away from that bum and pick Kyle Rudolph to lead the Vikings in targets and receiving this week! Ya heard me right! In games when Diggs did not play, Rudolph's average targets rose up to an impressive 9.5 targets per game! He gets a positive match-up against a tough Ravens defense that has exploitable weaknesses. What weaknesses, you say? Their TE coverage has been sub-standard for the season, generally grading out as a middle-of-the-road coverage unit. Tony Jefferson has been their primary choice at defending opposing tight ends, and he's been fairly average to below-average at his job. In the last 2 games with a hobbled Diggs vs Bears and out vs Packers, Rudolph has seen 18 targets for a 11/92/1 stat-line. Very solid! The Ravens give up the 7th most points to opposing tight ends, and that trend should continue as Rudolph receives more targets in Diggs' absence. Easy peasy lemon squeezy!
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