We’re at the quarter pole in the race to the end of the National Football League regular season, and plenty of trends are emerging. We are getting a good idea of defenses to avoid, and those to exploit for our DFS matchups. We touched on this a little bit last week, but with a two game sample size it was still a little shaky.
A few of our matchups and subsequent plans didn’t work out as well as expected, but the majority did. We can’t get them all right; but in this industry, if you’re winning more picks than losing you’re doing awfully well for yourself.
Here are things we know are fact. The Oakland Raiders simply cannot stop opposing tight ends. And the Cleveland Browns cannot stop the run. And, Kansas City Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles hung three touchdowns on the Packers, a team struggling against the run, and Cleveland’s Travis Benjamin found the end zone again. These are all things happening on a regular basis. We also found out that the Cincinnati Bengals are a juggernaut on offense, so everyone can stop waiting for the bottom to drop out on QB Andy Dalton, at least as long as WR A.J. Green is healthy.
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FantasyAces.com salaries included below where applicable. (*** salaries subject to change ***)
Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati ($6,400 vs. KC): Dalton lit it up for 383 yards and three scores last week in Baltimore, but he is still just the 11th-highest priced quarterback on the DFS board. That’s fine. Take advantage. The Kansas City Chiefs have allowed 287.0 passing yards per game with a league-high 10 passing touchdowns through three games. Dalton and the Bengals might not be as prolific as they were last weekend against the Ravens, but they could come pretty close.
A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati ($6,000 vs. KC): Green had been rather quiet the first two weekends, but he made up for lost time with 10 grabs and 227 yards with a pair of scores in Baltimore last weekend. Green will now face the NFL’s worst-ranked defense against opposing wide receivers. The Chiefs have allowed an NFL-high 57 receptions to wide receivers while yielding 750 yards and a league-worst nine touchdowns.
Amari Cooper, WR, Oakland ($5,100 at CHI): The Raiders finally struck it rich in the NFL draft with Cooper after years of frittering picks away on that side of the ball. Cooper will be a stud for years to come. Through three NFL games he has two 100-yard games under his belt, and he has also visited the end zone. The Bears have allowed an NFL-worst seven touchdowns to wide receivers, so you can expect to see Cooper celebrating again this weekend, and he still comes with a mid-tier price tag.
Melvin Gordon, RB, San Diego ($4,800 vs. CLE): Gordon hasn’t exactly struggled through his first three games; he just hasn’t been prolific. He has posted 190 rushing yards through three games, but he has zero touchdowns. Expect Gordon to post his first 100-yard game and find the end zone, even if he is giving away 10-12 touches per game to Danny Woodhead ($4,550). Gordon is the hammer, and he will work over a Browns team that’s been very lax against the rush this season.
BARGAIN BIN VALUES AND CONTRARIAN PLAYS
Martellus Bennett, TE, Chicago ($4,350 vs. OAK): Make sure when studying your plays for the week, you not only check your player’s game logs and past history against opponents, but also check the defense they are playing. Bennett has been rather marginal to date, posting just 118 receiving yards and a touchdown through three games. However, the Raiders are making stars out of everyone’s tight end so far. Cincinnati’s Tyler Eifert banged them for 104 yards and two touchdowns, Baltimore’s Crockett Gillmore found the end zone twice in Week 2 against the silver and black, and then Cleveland’s Gary Barnidge erupted for 105 yards and a touchdown. Until the Raiders make an adjustment and find a way to stop opposing tight ends, you need to keep riding whomever is playing against them.
Isaiah Crowell, RB, Cleveland ($4,150 at SD): Many might be shying away from Crowell because, frankly, he hasn’t done anything. In two of his games he has been held under 36 rushing yards; he has found the end zone just once and he has a total of 13 receiving yards with zero catches in the past two weekends. He is a great contrarian play this week, however, as the Chargers have struggled against the rush. San Diego has given up 387 yards rushing to opposing backs, second-worst in the AFC behind this week’s opponent, the Cleveland Browns. The Chargers have also been dinged for five rushing touchdowns, second-worst in the NFL through three games.
Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco ($4,700 vs. GB): Hyde hasn’t had a big performance since Week 1, when ESPN’s Chris Berman was making stupid ‘Whoop!’ noises while calling his game. After 168 yards and two scores in that win against the Vikings in Week 1, Hyde has been hiding, posting just 94 rushing yards with zero scores and 14.7 total Fantasy points. He is the ultimate contrarian play this weekend against the Packers. Green Bay has been terrible against the run, allowing 127.7 rushing yards per game, 27th in the NFL. They have given up a total of five touchdowns to running backs, including three rushing scores by Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles last week.
Carolina Panthers DST ($3,000 vs. TB): The Panthers have rolled up solid numbers through their first three games, all wins, as they have faced a plethora of young quarterbacks. They’ll get another one Sunday, when Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston pays a visit, and they should be able to coax him into plenty of mistakes. The Oakland Raiders DST ($2,700 at CHI) are also a decent play if you’re stretched for money at the end. The Panthers are still the better play if you can afford the few extra hundred in salary.