We’re now officially past the midway point of the NFL season and this is the week I’ve been looking forward to the most. Why? Because Monday night I’ll be sitting in Lambeau Field watching my beloved Lions take on the Packers. Be sure to keep an eye out for me on the ESPN broadcast. I’ll be the dot of blue among the sea of green and gold.
Last week could have been great if you ended up on the recommended Russell Wilson and Jimmy Graham stack and left out Doug Baldwin. Of course you would have also had to avoid a few other grenades like Jason Witten and underperforming chalk A.J. Green.
I’ll be honest and admit these last three weeks have been my worst of the season. As you probably know, I only play in tournaments, which lends itself to a lot of variance. After finishing 64th out of 4545 in the FanDuel Blitz ($150 entry) four weeks back, I’ve finished literally just points out of the money the three weeks since. All three weeks I would have cashed in double ups and cash games, but that’s part of being a tournament only player.
So while it’s easy to get frustrated, we must continue to TTP (trust the process), and learn something each week. With that said, I fully planned on coming into this week telling you that the way to go is two stud running backs. If you remember last season, it was a combination of Bell/Elliott/David Johnson almost every week down the stretch and it worked well. The last few weeks, I’ve went value at RB and it seems the GPP winners lately are going studs at RB and hitting the right value WR’s.
With all that said, now that I’ve begun research this week, I’m finding myself paying down at running back again this week in early roster builds.There are just some RB’s that are underpriced and they’re hard to pass up. I’m going to write a couple of those guys up this week, but just know, I have no issues with you playing a combination of Hunt/Gurley/Fournette this week. You just know the volume you’re getting from them and don’t have to worry about the variance that comes with the value guys.
So, on to this week’s plays. I think there are some obvious plays this week as well as some off the board plays and I’ll cover a few of each.
QB: Dak Prescott – Dallas Cowboys or Alex Smith – Kansas City Chiefs
It looks like Ezekiel Elliott will finally have to serve his six game suspension. I’ve mentioned here before that it has appeared the Cowboys shifted their offensive focus this year to center more through Dak, rather than through Zeke and the run game. Well, the past three weeks, the Cowboys shifted some of that focus back to the run game. Part of that was matchups and I think the other part had to do with them knowing he’d eventually probably have to sit, so why not use him as much as possible. People have a short memory in daily fantasy, and I think they’ll be a little hesitant to roster Dak after he came crashing back down to earth fantasy wise last game with only seven FD points.
Back to the Zeke suspension. Dak will have the full reign of this offense now, and it is all going to flow through him. Against one of the most generous defenses to opposing quarterbacks, the Chiefs, we can expect Dak to have a high ceiling. It also doesn’t hurt that this game has the highest total of the weekend and that the Cowboys are one point underdogs. I expect the Chiefs to be able to put up plenty of points as well, making this a shootout with plenty fantasy goodness.
Now let’s talk about Alex Smith. Smith is having an excellent season and I don’t think he’ll have any issues carving up this Dallas secondary. I came across a glaring stat on Smith this week that I haven’t heard anyone talking about. In four home games, Smith is averaging 248 yards passing and one passing touchdown. On the road in four games, he is averaging 297 yards passing and three passing touchdowns. Is there something to that? Maybe. It’s still a small sample size, but I think it has something to do with game plan when playing in the comforts of one of the biggest home field advantages in the NFL as opposed to on the road in hostile territory. It’s a lot easier at home to manage the game, run the ball, and get away with a win. On the road, they need to move the ball and put points on the board due to how poor their defense has been playing. The Chiefs defensive is giving up 26.25 points on the road and just 19.5 at home. I don’t think the Cowboys will have any problems scoring in this one, so I fully expect Smith to have a great fantasy day.
RB: Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers
It is finally Christian McCaffrey week. He is due for an absolute breakout game, and I have a strong sense it will be this weekend. He’s basically a steady volume receiver with the ability to handle 5-10 carries out of the backfield. At $6,100, he’s a great value play. He get’s one of the best “receiving back” matchups possible against the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons allow the second most running back receiving targets and touchdowns, while allowing the most receptions. With Kelvin Benjamin out of town, McCaffrey should find an extra target or two in the passing game and he seems like a good bet to cross the goal line in this one. One last thing, in his last two home games he has scored 17.4 and 16.2 FD points, his best two games of the year.
WR: Michael Thomas – New Orleans Saints
Some people have been down on Thomas, but I think they have had too high of expectations. Thomas is averaging 8.9 targets per game this season and has had double-digit FD points in all but two games. He’s been very consistent lately, and you can count on him to catch 7-8 balls and have 80+ yards receiving most weeks. All that’s missing for a bigger day is a touchdown. I believe this is the week that he finds the end zone, facing the soft Tampa Bay secondary. The Bucs have allowed the most receptions, yards, and fantasy points to opposing wide receivers, so Drew Brees’ favorite target should have a field day.
WR: Tyreek Hill – Kansas City Chiefs
Since I think that the Cowboys/Chiefs game is going to be a shootout, I want an offensive weapon to pair with Smith. I don’t even hate a full stack with Kareem Hunt too; I’m just not finding a feasible path to afford Hunt at the moment. Back to Hill. I don’t think Dallas has the personnel to contain the big play ability that Hill brings to the table. I foresee him having a similar performance to Jamison Crowder last week. The Cowboys just couldn’t cover Crowder and he was regularly able to get open. This may be my strongest gut play of the week, as I just envision Hill getting tons of targets and running all over the field in the dome.
WR: DeVante Parker – Miami Dolphins
Here’s your salary saver play at wide receiver. Full disclosure: the last time I recommended Parker here, he caught a ball right out of the gate and then left with the injury that has sidelined him for a few weeks. All signs point to him being back to full health and he will be facing the Oakland Raiders, and more importantly David Amerson. According to Pro Football Focus, Amerson has allowed 0.52 fantasy points per route covered, which is the second worst among all corners playing this weekend.
It appears that Jay Cutler will be back to full health this weekend as well. While I don’t think he’s any good, we did see a tendency for him to favor Parker early in the year. In the first three games this season, Parker saw 27 targets and had no fewer than 9.9 FD points.
TE: Zach Ertz – Philadelphia Eagles
HOT TAKE ALERT! Zach Ertz is the best tight end in the NFL! Okay, maybe that is a little controversial, but he’s definitely in the conversation. He has at least 90 yards and/or a touchdown in every single game and has been in double-digit fantasy points in every game as well. If you watched Monday Night Football this past week, you saw Travis Kelce own this Broncos coverage with seven catches on 10 targets for 133 yards and a touchdown. This Broncos team is a funnel for opposing tight ends. They have excellent corners, which negates opposing wide receivers and are fairly stout against the run. Their only weakness is against the tight end, giving up the third most fantasy points to the position. With the relationship Ertz and Carson Wentz have, I fully expect double-digit targets in this one and although he’s the most expensive tight end, he’s absolutely worth it.
That’s it for this week. Because of new information and a better gauge of ownership, I may add updates here through the weekend, so be sure to follow me on Twitter at @mrclutchdfs so you don’t miss any additional recommendations.
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