Welcome to the 16th week of NFL action and another edition of my Sunday Morning Player from Every Game article!
Last weekend was another solid article, despite the Raiders cover photo, and this weekend I’m looking to make it a three-peat of successful entries. This slate will be defined by taking stands against unnecessary ownership; the Jets, Colts, and Giants dominate this weekend’s ownership projections, and I’m sitting here wondering how any of these teams could dominate any slate, let alone this one. There should be some serious ownership pivots to be had, and hopefully come the late hammers there will be a ton of dead money as well.
Thanks for reading, hope you enjoy. Best of luck this weekend and as always see you at the top!
DST, Indianapolis Colts
Projected Ownership: 5%
Best Use: Ownership/Scoring pivot
To start off this slate’s article we will quickly touch on the Colts hosting the NY Giants, and with either shade of blue there’ll be massive ownerships to be found. And by quickly I mean Tom Brady running quickly.
Andrew Luck is projecting to be the second highest owned QB of the slate. Barkley and Mack are projecting the second and fourth highest RB ownership, respectively. Hilton and Sterling are both top 20 ownership (13th and 20th, respectively), and Engram is projecting to be one of the highest owned players of the entire slate, forget position. Not to mention, Ebron is right up there with Engram, and only behind Ertz (another questionable play) as the third highest owned TE. Even the Colts DST is projecting quite high, however, this weekend’s DST ownership should be fairly tight, and I don’t expect many people to fall on the Colts at home. Now, I wouldn’t necessarily say any of these aforementioned plays are bad (maybe outside of Shepard/Mack fades being relevant), but as a whole these teams haven’t deserved the highest combined ownerships of this slate, of any slate, and already this season there’s been too many crappers from these teams to blindly take them with the 20-30% of people. As usual, the points will come from somewhere, and if they do come it’s the usual cast of misfits who make the points; Barkley or Engram, Mack or Hilton, while Ebron makes you question life. Apparently, Eli isn’t good any more, and against the Colts Shepard will never see the volume needed to succeed. Yes, the Colts are a disaster against receiving running backs, but that didn’t matter last slate vs. Ezke and his massive improvement in target share (who still ended up not ruining lives with his 7 catches on 8 targets). So, while it may not be something to sell the farm on at the very least we can’t say they haven’t shown otherwise. Barkley has been showing he is human after all, and with that salary he will be massively over-owned. Either you haven’t come down from cloud 9 yet, or the images of Hilton ruining last weekend are still burned into your mind, one way or another people are going to remember him, want to play him, and while it makes sense, the Colts are just as likely to go run-heavy in a low scoring game than go right back to a banged up Hilton, who this season has only four games finding paydirt. Ebron and Engram do make sense, and they should do well, but again, we cannot deeply invest into the idea that these two will produce a ceiling that will be relevant to their ownership and salary. Well, it can be done, but this slate below 4k TE isn’t exactly lacking, the spend up is there, but the idea this game doesn’t hit value is as well. One of my bold calls for this weekend is Mack, Barkley, and the two DST will be the only TDs scored this game. The Colts’ stack will have multiple, while the Giants ceiling will be capped at one each.
Either defense makes for an interesting GPP play, but in terms of upside the Colts still have everything to play for. Outside of match-up, there’s absolutely nothing to suggest either of these teams will smash with their ownership, and if we are being honest with ourselves, there’s numerous reasons to suggest otherwise. While these reasons may not be as solid nor as popular, compared to others in this slate this particular game has more reasons to go against the ownership than with it.
Other Options: Andrew Luck, Saquon Barkley, TY Hilton, Evan Engram/Eric Ebron.
WR, Houston Texans
Best Use: GPP Value WR
In the second game of the slate I’ll be going back to the well on the Texans’ WR DeAndre Carter.
His price is right, and he’s still returning kicks. Keke is still out, and even I look more in-shape than Demaryius Thomas. The Eagles secondary is #bad, and while most games they do well enough to get sacks, the very obvious way to beat them is through the air. Don’t get caught yelling “YOU’RE MY BOY, BLUE” this weekend, it was funny for me the first time, but after that and the following four times all failed, it got way less funny, way fast, and chances are if you are in a room with at least three other long-time DFS players, one of them will probably want to knock you out because they know it too. He’s barely good enough to fall into the end zone, and even then for a script it’s slim pickings at best. The entire Texans’ passing game holds far more outs, whether through discounts in ownership and salary, ceiling, or even coming back with some Eagles WR options, there’s more warrant in the passing game than chasing Blue. That being said, Derrick Henry finally turned things around, so…the one player I will be shying away from is Zach Ertz. Obviously, he’s a great player, but he doesn’t see the same usage with Foles, who prefers out wide targets like Jeffery. Ertz is a significant risk with his massive salary and ownership projection. Foles should be forced to throw, and unless he’s in excellent form he should also get lit up a few times, so making sure the Texans’ options are the foundation of any stack will be the best way to use this game/team stack.
This weekend the Texans’ WR DeAndre Carter should be one of the lower of the low owned players. However, he has tons of scripts to the contrary, and he works excellent as either a one off in GPP, stacked with the DST instead of Blue, or to finish off a game stack in massive, deep field GPPs. This is far from a cash play, he has some obvious risk (fumble issues), but his ceiling is sneaky valuable as well.
Other Options: Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins, Alshon Jeffery, Jordan Thomas/Ryan Griffin, Texans DST.
Kalen BALLAGE/Dolphins DST
RB/DST, Miami Dolphins
Projected Ownership: 10%/2.5%
Best Use: Value recency bias
For the third game of the slate we have what’s bound to be a gross affair between two Florida sides. The Jags travel cross state down to Miami beach for a date with the Dolphins. Left swipe.
If you happen to completely miss this game, or decide to X it out, have no fear this one is in the clear. Both teams are hot garbage fires, and in almost every way cancel each other out. Tannehill should struggle to throw, and do the Jags still have anyone who can actually throw? Fournette is openly speaking about how he’s a fat piece of crap, and with the injury to Frank Gore (and potentially one of the greatest, unknown RB careers of all time), it wasn’t Drake who took over the work, but Ballage. Now, I’m not sitting here saying in the history of NFL DFS it’s never happened where the following game the work completely shifts back to the other RB option, but in this script Ballage’s outcomes are the only one with less risk. Gore always got his, no matter how Drake was doing, and it’s fair to assume following last weekend’s performance we can expect at least the same for Ballage. If the points are going to come from somewhere, or even if they don’t, the Dolphins still need to win. If either the Colts or Pats lose, their playoff hopes aren’t over, however if both win (very likely) the Dolphins are out.
In any case, the Dolphins need this, and won’t be doing it through the air. Look for an excellent Dolphins defensive outing and for RB Kalen Ballage to carry the backfield once more.
Other Options: Leonard Fournette (GPP), Kenyan Drake, Dede Westbrook, Jags DST.
RB, New York Jets
Projected Ownership: 17%
Best Use: Top low-salary RB
In the fourth game of the slate we have another absurdly over-owned game, but this time in New Jersey, between the Packers and the NY Jets. Left Swipe.
Usually, I try to shy away writing about such highly owned players, but it’s another game where we are looking at slate-leading ownership levels on guys that outside of match-up do not deserve it. Robbie Anderson is projecting to be the highest owned player this slate, and it can’t be quickly justified with “it’s deserved”. Jamaal Williams is #bad, and while he has far more falling into the end zone ability than someone like Alfred Blue, he isn’t sub 5k like other options, let alone from this game. Devante Adams is looking at WR5 ownership as well, and while that could very quickly be justified with “it’s deserved”, he’s also one of the most expensive players on either site. Both teams crush TE production, and both QBs carry some of the heaviest risk of the slate (Darnold turnovers, Rogers falling apart by the seams). While I don’t hate the idea of the Jets’ DST. The Packers will have to score; if Williams isn’t getting it done (likely) than Rogers will have to, and he’s more than capable of doing so. However, the Packers DST is bad enough that Darnold may have his way without deserving it.
With that in mind, the Jets have far more +EV/favorable scripts to work with, not to mention the massive savings you get with RB Elijah McGuire. He may end up being slightly over-owned, but unlike his pass catching counterparts, his scripts aren’t expendable.
Other Options: Jets’ DST, Packers’ WRs, Jamaal Williams, Robbie Anderson.
WR, Cleveland Browns
Projected Ownership: 7.5%
Best Use: Top Value WR
In the fifth game of the slate we have the newly eliminated Cleveland Browns hosting probably the most injured team in NFL history, the Cincinnati Bengals.
Again, this game produces one of the highest owned players of the slate in the Browns’ RB Nick Chubb, and while he works, I don’t hate it nor love it. He’s one of the more expensive options of the slate, and he hasn’t exactly shown the ceiling needed from someone who is only a breath away from Kamara’s DK salary. Much the same can be said about Baker, he’s surrounded by better options and carries a higher than necessary salary. Higgins sees half as many targets, and Landry costs twice as much. I also don’t mind Njoku, but considering he’s only hit double digits once in his previous seven, I’m not jumping at the chance. The Browns do have the chance to put up some of the highest point totals of the slate, and if the points are going to come from somewhere, Callaway is far too cheap for what he offers. Much like Carter but far more established and reliable, Callaway makes a great GPP one off, he finishes a game/team stack, and he has tons of +EV scripts to work with.
Browns’ WR Antonio Callaway’s salary, ownership, and usage are all massive checks. The Bengals are in absolute shambles, and while anyone on the Browns could make this work, Callaway is the guy that makes the most sense.
OTHER OPTIONS: Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb, Jarvis Landry, Browns DST, Joe Mixon.
TE, Dallas Cowboys
Projected Ownership: >1%
Best Use: Personal Fav TE
In the sixth game of the slate we have the Cowboys playing host to the Buccs in what’s a massive must win for the Cowboys.
It goes without saying that Ezke is a great play and will be one of the highest owned players of the slate. Amari Cooper opens up a lot of different doors as well, but the player that is drawing most of my focus, and he may be one of my favorite plays of the slate, is TE Blake Jarwin. One of the bigger issues for Jarwin is all the redzone work will fall to Ezke, however, he’s dirt cheap, seeing excellent work, and doesn’t drop many targets. He’s seen seven in back to back games, and while he hasn’t found paydirt yet this season, his yard-per is very impressive, making him viable in either format. A lot of this is also resting on the notion that from slate-to-slate the TE position is a mine field, so when we are looking for salary, matchup, and consistency, very few TEs match Jarwin’s upside. Not to mention Dallas desperately need to win this, and while they may just run Ezke into the ground, in the recent past Jarwin has still found his, and makes for an excellent ownership pivot away from the run game. The closer the the endzone, the less likely it will be Jarwin, but that also opens up massive play potential if he manages to Kittle himself a score.
When you are looking to spend down at TE this weekend don’t forget about the Cowboys’ Blake Jarwin. He checks all the appropriate boxes and he carries some consistent upside that very few others in his position can provide.
OTHER OPTIONS: Dak Prescott, Ezke Elliot, if you want to play the heaviest recency bias cards ever, chris godwin/michael gallup comeback stack.
DST, Minnesota Vikings
Projected Ownership: 7.5%
Best Use: Top DST
In the seventh game of the slate we have another high owned game with the Lions hosting the Vikings. These Cat/Feline teams are taking an absolute beating this season.
The Lions’ have nothing to play for. The have a very (like, worse than the Aaron Rogers “we can rebuild him, we have the technology” kinda thing they have going on in Green Bay) unhealthy QB who is just healthy enough to risk his career for no reason. The have no healthy starting running options, with Zenner leading the way over Blount (that should speak volumes). They traded away their best WR and lost everyone else to either injuries or nagging issues. There’s no QB/TE relationship to speak of following the obvious successes with Ebron. Their play calling has been sub-par, and their defense is downright #bad.
Don’t over think this one. This weekend play the Vikings DST without shame. They are all interesting, but the DST will be the most under the radar of them all.
OTHER OPTIONS: Any starting Vikings’ player, not Matthew Stafford.
TE, New England Patriots
Projected Ownership: 7.5%
Best USE: Ultimate script pivot
In the eighth game of the slate we have one of the sneakiest big games of the weekend with the Pats hosting the Bills in Foxborough.
For most of the season I have successfully navigated Gronk, jumping on for the Jets and Colts, but missing the Dolphins, he hasn’t really hurt me this season. I’m ready to buy-in though, especially against the Bills. Outside of earlier this season Gronk has absolutely shredded the Bills for +1000 career yards in only 14 games. With Gordon out and Hogan being massively inconsistent but highly owned, look for Gronk to regain some lost target share and this weekend be one of the only expensive TE options to find double digits. We haven’t seen multiple Gronk-smashes yet this season. With the playoffs drawing nearer and a matchup against the Bills, this will be an excellent opportunity to break that streak.
For numerous, legitimate reasons the Pats’ TE Rob Gronkowski will be lower owned than he should be. Considering the slate’s common build looks like expensive RBs/spend down elsewhere, look to jump on the non-salary discounts like recency bias and tape watchers. Gronk has a great history vs. the Bills, excellent game scripts, and despite the Bills abilities against the TE, I’m looking for at least one Gronk smash this weekend.
OTHER OPTIONS: James White, Julian Edelman, Robert Foster, Pats’ DST.
Christian McCAFFREY/Julio JONES
RB/WR, Panthers and Falcons
Projected Ownership: Irrelevant
Best Use: Meta-Gods
Play pass catching backs against the Falcons, no matter what. It just so happens this weekend to be one of the best pass catching backs of the modern era, and he’s not the most expensive of the slate.
Play deep field threats against the Panthers, no matter what. It just so happens this weekend to be one of the best deep threats of the modern era, and while he’s the most expensive WR of the slate, he’s not the most expensive player of the slate.
There, saved you all the trouble of having to know anything about NFL. Matt Ryan, McCaffrey, Julio Jones, profits.
OTHER OPTIONS: Short passing vs. Falcons, Deep passing vs. Panthers, Matt Ryan.
QB, Chicago Bears
Projected Ownership: 2.5%
Best Use: Top QB option
Bears QB Mitch Trubinsky is the best QB option this slate. It’s not even remotely close and shouldn’t be a discussion.
Let’s pretend for a second he hasn’t been winning GPP takedowns all season with either raw points or script direction/builds, because he has been. Let’s also pretend for a moment that the 49ers aren’t a defensive disaster and hemorrhage points to opposition QBs, which they are and do. We can even pretend that Tarik Cohen isn’t an incredible slate-to-slate option on DK, which he is, and stacks with the best DST in DFS, which the Bears DST are. At every step this season the Bears have not only gotten the job done, but they were DFS productive/viable/relevant, and have set themselves up for a brilliant postseason run. When chances have come up they’ve really done a great job of not dropping the proverbial ball. They will beat both the Saints and Rams in tiebreakers, so anything positive here in-on-out and they may even find themselves with a first-round bye. So, let’s also pretend the Bears don’t have everything to play for, which they do.
Bears’ QB Mitch Trubisky has incredible options in any and all parts of the field, and while it may be hard to pinpoint exactly where the points will be coming from, it’s safe to say Trubz is one of the higher upside QBs of the weekend, or really any weekend.
OTHER OPTIONS: Tarik Cohen, George Kittle, Bears DST.
WR, Los Angeles Rams
Projected Ownership: 15%
Best Use: Top play of the slate
Quickly taking a look at the Rams travelling to Arizona, this one should be the easiest to predict of the slate. For this article I usually try to avoid such high owned players, but since I already cheated with McGuire, it’s too far gone at this point. Robert Woods not only continues the excellent first name stack I’ve got going this weekend, but he’s also one of the better DFS options, period.
Obviously, the Rams need to win to keep their bye, but in the case they are winning, don’t expect much Gurley at all, and that’s a massive price tag for such a solid maybe. If there was ever a cheap RB that doesn’t deserve the “instant blind click”, it’s John Kelly, not to mention he’ll be behind the non-listed CJ Anderson as well. Jared Goff isn’t as great of an option away from home, Brandon Cooks should see tons of Patrick Peterson (who isn’t immune from being burned by speed), and Reynolds should carry too much ownership with his inconsistent and inefficient production. While the Rams DST hold tons of upside as well, they aren’t cheap. Woods is too cheap compared to the slate, and while Goff may not be excellent away form home, he’s more than capable of finding Woods and Cooks for multiple TDs, though I like Woods to see the massive floor as well.
Rams’ WR Robert Woods is one of my top plays of the weekend. He is moderately priced and carries moderate ownership, however he carries insane upside and incredible floor, making him viable for either format and one of the bigger locks of the slate.
OTHER OPTIONS: John Kelly, Josh Reynolds, Trent Sherfield.
DST, New Orleans Saints
Projected Ownership: 1%
Best Use: GPP Script pivot DST
To finish up the article we have the Steelers travelling to New Orleans for a lightning matchup against the Saints. RIGHT SWIPE.
This one isn’t so much about the best play of the game, but more a script that will go massively under-owned. If anything, in recent weeks both the Saints and Steelers DSTs have picked up their play, especially the Saints. To further that argument, Big Ben has never been as good away from home. He hasn’t really hit a consistent ceiling this season, he has only a 2:1 TD/INT ratio, and he still costs an arm and a leg (neither of which/he barely has left). There’s no real reason not to own Samuels, Ju-Ju, AB, or even swing some Vance McDonald love. Well, other than they all cost a ton, will be highly owned, have sub-par matchups, and following last weekend’s emotional outing, they are coming into a let down spot. Everything the Saints have shown this season is run-preferential, and while the Steelers do well against the rush, they aren’t as effective against the pass catching backs.
With all the Steelers ownership and salary I’m looking to stack the Saints’ DST with RB Alvin Kamara, or just use the Saints as a one off late hammer DST for some deep field GPP. The scripts where “the Saints run the ball” and “Big Ben turns it over too many times” is going under every radar, and should draw GPP consideration this weekend, especially on DK.