Welcome to the 14th week of NFL action and another edition of my Sunday Morning Player from Every Game article!
Last slate was probably my most accurate article to date. Not only did I call a Philip Lindsay smash spot but he easily took down the RB1 spot for the weekend. There were way more success stories than misses and I hope to carry that form over into this weekend as well. This slate is all about the proper DST stack. While as per usual I provided some DST selections, I also found a few RB/DST stacks to work in, but more importantly there are a couple WR/DST stacks that I feel are ultra-viable this weekend. There’s some terrible QBs to attack, so while I think the DSTs will be a crucial part of this weekend’s builds and scripts, how we combo those DSTs will be far more important.
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Thanks for reading, hope you enjoy. Best of luck this weekend and as always see you at the top!
TE, New York Jets
Projected Ownership: 1%
Best Use: Punt TE
In the first game of the slate we have one of my go-to Tight End options of the season with the Jets’ TE Chris Herndon.
By zero means is this some sort of slate breaking, massive ceiling play. Quite the opposite; in NFL DFS the TE position has consistently been the most unreliable, variant production position in the game. In nine of Herndon’s 12 games this season he’s seen more than a target, and in the past four games he’s caught 16 of his massive 22 targets. With Darnold coming back into the frame I’m not sure if we can rely on the kind of consistent targets as we saw with McCown. On top of that it’s not like the Bills DST has been poor, so this pick isn’t something I’m rushing to lock in. Also, this game is lining up to be one of the coldest so far this season, so I’m not expecting a ton of massive down field plays, but more short, under passes to Herndon.
Given the position, ownership, and salary on Herndon I think he makes for one of the better TE options in this slate, if not most slates.
Other Options: Bills DST, Zay Jones.
DST, New York Giants
Projected Ownership: 1%
Best Use: DST Floor
For the second game of the slate we have the Giants travelling to Washington for a matchup against the Redskins’ 3rd string QB Mark Sanchez.
I know the Giants DST isn’t that good. I also know playing in Washington isn’t ideal. Chris Thompson coming back is another massive boost to the Redskins as well. With Sanchez at the helm there will be a serious need for a safety release value in the form of a pass catching back. However, the Giants DST has improved dramatically over the past few weeks, totally eight INT and nine sacks over their past four games. In three of those past four they played a backup QB, so I wouldn’t read too deeply into that, but at the same time that should only solidify the notion that they should continue their trend. A lot of this relies on Sanchez doing stupid things, but considering he’s only been a member of the team for a few weeks that shouldn’t be a big ask.
Not to mention, with Odell missing there will be so much chalk over Sterling Shepard. While I think he makes sense in cash, his ownership will be through the roof in GPP, so he probably deserves some sort of ownership pivot. I can’t think of another go-to situation to jump on a the DST than playing a game vs. Mark Sanchez.
Don’t be afraid to auto-click the Giants DST in GPP this weekend. Their salary asks very little for a team going up against Mark Sanchez, let alone Mark Sanchez on a team for only three weeks.
Other Options: Chris Thompson, Jordan Reed, Sterling Shepard.
Mark Ingram AND Alvin Kamara
RB, New Orleans Saints
Projected Ownership: 6%
Best Use: Pivot on Pivots
In the third game of the slate we have one of the higher game totals of the weekend in the Saints travelling to Tampa for a game vs. the Buccs.
I’m having trouble figuring out how to start this one. So, if you played NFL DFS last season you no doubt remember the vast success people had in taking both Saints’ RBs for GPP. It’s low owned, and if the script works out properly it hits with force. This season we haven’t seen a return to that, namely Ingram’s suspension, but in recent weeks very few teams have gone as run heavy as the Saints. I love Drew Brees until the end of time, however he doesn’t throw TDs outside as well as he does in a dome, and while the Buccs passing defense was atrocious all season, at home they’ve been much better as of late. On the other hand, their rushing defense has still been one of the worst in the league, so the Saints want to rush it and will be against one of the weakest oppositions in the league. There’s nothing to change that except the Saints decision process.
One of the bigger notions to work with this weekend will be how to manipulate this game. While the total has fluctuated throughout the week it still remains high enough to lead the slate and demands game stacking consideration. Jameis is touting as the highest owned QB of the slate, but the issue from there is the highest projected owned WR will be teammate Chris Godwin. This makes sense with Lattimore shadowing Evans, but at the same time it’s not exactly the bee’s knees of trustworthy stacks. On the other hand, we can take the Buccs’ pairing with their ownership and easily manipulate it by taking both Saints RBs as well. Last slate a lot of people were burned by the pair, so while I think this game will have tons of ownership I’m not sure enough people will be looking to click either name, let alone both.
It also should be mentioned it’s going to be windy with rain starting during the game. While I think both are manageable in terms of professionals playing the game, it can always lend a hand to the fumbled hand-offs and more INTs, so it’s something to remember.
This isn’t a play to try in cash LU’s, but for any GPP script, whether game/team/duo stack, make sure to remember how successful the Saints RB stack of Ingram/Kamara was last season. We could see a revisit to that playground very soon.
Other Options: Jameis Winston, Adam Humphries, Chris “RawDog” Godwin, Cameron Brate.
RB, Miami Dolphins
Projected Ownership: >1%
Best USe: Value on Value
Four games into the slate and I couldn’t help myself, I’m going to talk quickly about Dolphins RB Frank Gore, simply because he’s a future HOFer for 3.3k on DK.
The first place people will go (outside of Brady) will be to the Pats running game. I’m not telling you to fade them, but at the same time I’m not excited about all three RBs splitting carries AND targets. So, already we are dealing with a massive ownership edge on something not as viable. Kenyan Drake hasn’t been at full health for quite some time, and while Gore hasn’t exactly made the most out of every opportunity, he’s almost min-salary in a game that has tons of +EV situations. Drake is one of the few places where we can actually prepare for a hidden injury. He practiced non-contact all week, and while I’m sure he doesn’t need to work on taking hits, that already lends more work for Gore in the case Drake is not 100%. Not to mention, if Drake doesn’t finish the game (which has already happened more than once), a literal double digits score from Gore and you’re hitting value in either format. He should be one of the lowest owned RBs of the slate, and while I wouldn’t look for a reason to give him high ownership in the masses, he has a few more +EV outs that most probably wouldn’t consider. If Gore literally scores a 0, how many times has that happened with a TE and you weren’t surprised? Because with Gore’s salary you are simply risking a TE variance spot in a flex for a guy who has way more +EV upside than most comparable TEs of the slate. It’s also worth mentioning this should be one of the windier games of the slate, and while it’s nothing someone like Brady can’t manage, I’m not too sure about the other side of the field. You only need so many opportunities with +EV from that salary, and we’ve gone over enough.
It’s not something I’ll be building around, but this slate when the time is needed for some massive salary relief I’ll be looking at the Dolphins’s RB Frank Gore as a serious value option.
Other Options: Kenyan Drake, Sony Michel, Pats DST.
TE, Baltimore Ravens
Projected Ownership: 1%
Best Use: Personal Favorite TE
In the fifth game of the slate we have my second TE option of the article with the Ravens’ TE Mark Andrews.
There’s tons of levels to this, but Andrews is quickly chalking up to be one of my favorite TE options of the slate. First, the downsides. He hasn’t shown a ceiling this season, and it’s not like we should be expecting something more with the run heavy plays of Jackson, or the massively unreliable Flacco (who is slated to return sooner rather than later). Andrews’ targets haven’t been there as well, so while there’s no ceiling, he doesn’t really have a floor neither. Now, for the goods. Let’s start with the obvious salary savings he offers; for someone below 3k he gets solid work. This game shouldn’t be a game stack, and with the massive ownership that follows the Chiefs we are instantly given an edge play by taking the other side (especially a TE). In particular, the Chiefs pass defense has been nightmaricly bad, again, especially against the TE. They allow massive yards per catch, and with one quick glance at Andrews’ game logs we quickly see he has absolutely obliterated YPCatch this season. Not to mention the Ravens used a massive draft pick on the guy, so there has to be a certain expectation of usage going forward. While he hasn’t seen a lot of usage, what he has seen he’s turned into value. The guy is avg. nearly 15 YPCatch this seaosn, come on, get him into your exposures, it’s right there waiting.
I love the Ravens’ TE Mark Andrews for this weekend. If he can manage to avoid bad QB scripts he should be fine. His salary, ownership, and production from his limited work make him more than a viable TE option for this slate, he may be one of the best.
OTHER OPTIONS: Gus Edwards, Travis Kelce.
WR, Houston TExans
Projected Ownership: 1%
Best Use: Value WR pivot
In the sixth game of the slate we have one of my favorite sneaky WR options in the Texans’ WR DeAndre Carter.
A lot of this has to do with Keke not suiting up again, and considering it’s a hammy we all know how particularly fragile those situations can be. So, even if he dresses Keke wouldn’t be 100%, and if he’s not 100% there’s even more chance he plays either at limited or a leaving the game early capacity.
If in fact Keke misses, Carter could end up being one of the chalkier plays of the slate. The Colts passing defense isn’t something to go after, but at the same time their depth is their weakness, and Carter should have the better of the matchups. He is near min-salary, and while he’s only seen targets four games (last slate being the first multiple target game) he has yet to drop a ball thrown his way. He also returns kicks, so while I think he’s great as a one off you could also stack him with the Texans DST who are going to see a trillion chances for INTs, which Luck has thrown twice as many away from home compared to Indy’s home games this season. Mind you, Ebron should shred one of the worst TE defenses in the league, and there’s only been one fumble between Hines (1) and Mack (0) this season. Carter has also fumbled the ball a few times on returns, so while his hands are golden his carry game may need work. I still think Carter has tons up hidden value along with his obvious salary saving, and deserves exposure this slate. That’s the big thing, Carter is also returning kicks, so in the case you are looking for a viable kick returning stack, this one stands as one of the more viable WR/DST stacks from this slate.
Like I said, wait and see on Keke, but if he’s out I have no issue looking to Texans WR DeAndre Carter in either format. Don’t be afraid to try and get him with the Texans DST as well, it’s all worthwhile.
OTHER OPTIONS: Andrew Luck, Eric Ebron, Texans DST.
WR, Cleveland Browns
Projected Ownership: 5%
Best Use: When PPR doesn’t count
In the seventh game of the slate we have the Cleveland Browns playing host to one of the hottest DFS teams in the league, the Carolina Panthers. While this game should be chalked full of ownership and options, there’s one in particular that deserves serious consideration, and that’s Browns’ WR Antonio Callaway.
Nothing needs to be said about the Panthers and their deserving ownership. Outside of TE Ian Thomas, everyone is well known and should be highly owned too. All fairness to the Panthers, the Browns may be slightly better options this slate, though not across the board. It’s safe to say the way to beat the Panthers is not only through the air, but further down field, so the running back options on the Browns can be discounted as poor plays. However, the Panthers has been bad against TEs and worse against downfield threats, so Njoku has TD equity as well. We are already looking at a sneaky shootout game where a lot of people may look to stack McCaff with the Panthers DST when in fact they should be looking across the field.
One of my two go-to meta plays of the season (which has repeatedly hit week after week, the second will be covered next game) is play downfield threats against the Panthers, no matter what. Callaway is not only the Browns’ downfield threat, but a pretty good one at that. At this point of writing I still haven’t chosen my cover photo, but if I wasn’t so afraid of a) losing his week, and b) not enough people knowing who he is, Callaway would be my guy this slate. While I like the game stack, not enough people will be using him as either in either format, a fill for GPP, let alone a finish for the game stack. It’s going to be cold, but considering both running games are pass focused, it’s not something I’m worried about.
The Panthers DST haven’t and will continue to fail against downfield threats, Callaway is one of the cheapest, more talented, and lowest owned downfield threats of the slate. It just so happens he’s also playing the Panthers.
OTHER OPTIONS: Shamelessly Game stack this game.
RB, Green Bay Packers
Projected Ownership: 10%
Best USE: LOL, anywhere
I have to talk about this simply because it’s my second go-to meta play in NFL DFS; play pass catching backs against the Falcons, no matter what.
Last slate was a nightmare scenario for the Falcons. Not only did they have to deal with three glorified pass catching backs in the same backfield, but considering their own run game has flatlined, going up against the league’s best passing defense helped nothing. Aaron Jones may be one of the few guys to finish below his projected ownership. I can’t see a situation that hasn’t happened yet in which the closer we get to lock would cause people to NOT gravitate towards the high end running backs, meaning Jones would fall just outside that range of ownership. Not only is he one of the most used running backs in the league but he is running into the creme a la creme of matchups with the Falcons. While I think all the high end running backs have double digits in their pockets, Jones simply costs less, is used as much if not more, and has a better script. He has no serious backup, and considering the Saints or the Pats literally define the by-campaign run game, we are looking at Jones surrounded on the site lists by some guys who will either carry astronomical ownership or less than exclusive duties, sometimes both. This isn’t saying Jones will play better, he has just as much going as everyone else, maybe more, and usually for less. This is lining up to be another Green Bay classic home game where it’s so cold skin sticks to helmets. I expect a lot less passing and more running, not to mention short passes. Jones hasn’t fumbled at home this season and despite the cold I like that to continue. Don’t be afraid to stack Jones with the Packers’ DST as well, Matty Ice didn’t get his name from playing in the winter weather.
Packers’ RB Aaron Jones is one of my favorite options of the slate. The Falcons have been so ridiculously poor against pass catching backs for so ridiculously long this is as close to a lock as I will proclaim for this slate.
OTHER OPTIONS: Aaron Rogers, DeVante Adams, Calvin Ridley, Austin Hooper/Jimmy Graham.
George “Skittles” Kittle
T, San Francisco 49ers
Projected Ownership: 5%
Best Use: To Taste the Rainbow.
In the ninth game of the slate we have the first evening kick-off with the Denver Broncos travelling to San Fran for a game against the all but defeated and definitely broken 49ers.
While Lindsay absolutely smashed for me last weekend, Mullins wasn’t so bad either. I think both will draw substantial more ownership, and while I don’t think they are bad plays it’s not where I want to hang my hat in this game. That peg is squarely on the numbers of TE George Kittle. There’s two main reasons I like Skittles to go off this slate; firstly, it should be old news by now that the Broncos are a TE funnel defense. So, right away we are being handed the play. But, on top of this Goodwin is returning. While this wouldn’t directly correlate with Kittle getting better fantasy results, what ends up happening is Goodwin is one of the premier downfield threats in the league. Pettis did well in his stead, but most of his yards came after the catch, Goodwin is pure speed. This downfield threat opens up more space for Skittles to chase the rainbow, so while we may not directly correlate Goodwin’s return with more targets for Skittles, Skittle’s targets are now far more productive. That may even point to him being a better option on FD, but in any case, things will open up more for him with teams having to account for Goodwin’s downfield speed.
It’s also worth mentioning this game holds two of the highest projected owned plays of the slate. 49ers’ RB Jeff Wilson Jr. is clocking in at one of the higher owned players for the weekend, let alone position. I’m not saying don’t play JWJ, but it should be noted that’s a massive ownership edge to take on a run game that isn’t that great, and a player that is still unproven. We also have the Peter Jennings’ special, Courtland Sutton, who is expected to to be the resounding #1 WR option for Denver. At only 4.5k/5.6k we aren’t asking for a lot, but at the same time we only have to look at weeks 9 and 12 to see that it wasn’t exactly a foolproof plan already. While I think the 49ers are long done and their DST action isn’t exactly noteworthy, the lack of tested options on the Broncos pass catching doesn’t spell value to me, it spells danger.
I think George Kittle has a massive game coming his way, and while I don’t mind Ebron, I’m not exactly thrilled about the other expensive TE options from this slate. A lot of people will be looking at this game for value, I’ll be looking to spend up on the heaviest red Skittle in the world.
OTHER OPTIONS: Nick Mullins, Jeff Wilson Jr., Philip Lindsay, Courtland Sutton.
RB, LA Chargers
Projected Ownership: 5%
Best Use: Personal FAV RB
Here’s my plan this slate; click on the Charges, and just blindly click names until it doesn’t let me anymore. The Bengals haven’t only packed it in, they’ve already started to move.
For this slate it’s not going to be easy figuring out how to use the Chargers running game. Following the MelGor injury, if anything the Chargers’ coaching staff have to be apprehensive about over-clocking Ekeler, if not for their own image alone. Mind you, this wouldn’t be the first time an NFL coach has been quoted in saying the complete and absolute opposite as to what occurs. In any case, Justin Jackson should see more work as well. The Chargers DST will be one of the go-to defenses of the slate, so it will be important to stack them with the run game. It’s just a matter of figuring out which running back you want to use.
I’ll be taking the Austin Ekeler side of the deal. Not only is he special teams relevant on top of the script correlation RB/DST stack, but he’s lined up to have a smash game, making him one of the more multi-format plays of the slate.
OTHER OPTIONS: Any Chargers player not named Gates, Chargers DST, Joe Mixon.
DST, Dallas Cowboys
Projected Ownership: 1%
Best Use: High Floor-Low Cost GPP DST
For the 11th game of the slate I’ll use my last defensive card with the Cowboys’ DST, one of my favorite DST plays of the slate.
Now, if we are considering just the opponent than the Cowboys wouldn’t be the top play. With all the nonsense QBs in this slate something tells me this is how a lot of people will approach their defense selection. While there’s nothing wrong with that it won’t lead you to the Cowboys. Wentz has thrown six INT in his past five games (four of the five games he threw at least one), and a quick check of the Cowboys scores shows in recent weeks they have been more than respectable. The Cowboys have made multiple sack in all but two games this season, considering they are at home and have a great stacking RB option, all that combines to make the Cowboys a really decent DST option.
Like I said, there’s probably a few better options in terms of matchup, but if we are looking at consistent floor and an excellent stacking option, there’s few better this slate than the Dallas Cowboys DST.
OTHER OPTIONS: Ezke Elliot, Amari Cooper.
RB, Arizona Cardinals
Projected Ownership: 5%
Best Use: Top QB of the slate
If you happen to skip over this game, I wouldn’t be too concerned in terms of a wide spread fade, but Cardinals’ RB David Johnson still holds relevance in both DFS production and scripts.
There’s not a lot to like with this one. Both teams, in particular the Lions, are beat up and injured. The Cards’ have had one of the better pass DST for a few seasons, and the Lions’ Matthew Stafford has been anything but serviceable. On top of that, the Staffshow is hurting, Kerryon is out, and Brucey boy is also hurting. So, all this basically points to the Cards’ DST having a great day. The second hand success from the Cards having a great game will be DJ finding lots of relevance and opportunity. Considering his ownership, salary, and past usage we aren’t stretching to find a relevant game script to use Johnson with. The logical progression is the Lions will fall behind, whether through bad play, more injuries, or just the Cards being a better team at the moment, and an unhealthy/unsuccessful Stafford will have to play catch up, which can’t be a good thing. With Rosen not being fully NFL ready yet, Kirk going on the IR, and “Risky Rick” Ricky Seals-Jones earning his nickname, it would make sense; if the Cards get the chance they will probably, near exclusively, run the ball.
Cardinals DST David Johnson is lining up to have an excellent game. From his salary and ownership he deserves serious consideration for your LU’s this weekend.
OTHER OPTIONS: Cardinals DST
WR, PITTSBURGH Steelers
Projected Ownership: 1%
Best Use: Late Hammer GPP Flex
To finish up the slate we have another WR/DST potential stack with the Steelers heading to Oakland to face the hilariously bad Raiders.
Despite throwing the ball nearly 40 times and for 3 TDs last slate with no INT, Derek Carr still didn’t get past 25fpts (for comparison sake, Cam Newton threw four INT and barely finished below Carr). The Raiders run game is a massive no, and their best catching option is rookie wide-out Ateman who was barely even drafted this past draft. I know the Steelers DST hasn’t been the best of stories this season, but the Raiders ineptitude sure has been. While the Steelers’ DST isn’t my favorite DST play, they are up there. Now, James Conner is out, so a lot of ownership will fall onto the value of Samuel (running down) and Ridley (pass catching), two untested, rather unsuccessful options that split the work. And while the Steelers are great, Ju-Ju and AB have significantly harder matchups (though they are borderline matchup proof) than Switzer.
What really takes the cake for me is Switzer has taken over return duties from Brown. This is excellent because while we may be looking for a DST stacking option, neither RB is overly relevant for either format. While this wouldn’t be a cash combo it’s absolutely something to chase in GPP, especially considering how bad the Raiders have been, it wouldn’t surprise me to see them allow a return for a score. In his past five games Switz has only dropped three targets, and while his target share hasn’t been through the roof, when we consider who he has to share with it’s impressive he gets any at all.
You can take Steelers’ WR Ryan Switzer as a one off, or stack him with the Steelers’ DST, in any case don’t discount the DST stack because it’s not a RB. Don’t sell the farm on the notion of a return scoring, but don’t eliminate the possibility either.