Fri Oct 18 10:05am ET
By MIKE BARNER
Engram poised for big Week 7
With the Browns, Panthers, Steelers and Buccaneers all on a bye for Week 7, we are missing some of the most impactful players in the world of DFS. However, that doesn’t mean there still aren’t a lot of great options to consider. Let’s break down each position and discuss both some players to target and some to keep out of your lineup-making process.
Top-tier option: Jared Goff, LAR at ATL ($6,100): Goff might not be the most expensive quarterback on the slate, but he’s certainly one of the most appealing ones. Despite compiling just 78 passing yards last week against the 49ers, he can be productive in the right matchup. Case in point, he had 517 passing yards and two touchdowns in Week 4 against a bad Bucs’ secondary. The Falcons have been almost as dreadful, allowing the sixth-most passing yards per game in the league and 15 touchdown passes.
Cheap target: Gardner Minshew II, JAC at CIN ($5,800): I had Minshew here last week, as well, but he flopped with 163 yards and a pick against the Saints. Don’t let one bad performance get you down on Minshew Mania. This is a prime spot for him to bounce back with a great stat line considering the Bengals will likely be without two of their top cornerbacks in Dre Kirkpatrick (knee) and William Jackson (shoulder).
Player to avoid: Teddy Bridgewater, NO at CHI ($5,800): Minshew wasn’t the only quarterback to have a quiet performance in that Saints-Jaguars game. Bridgewater wasn’t as bad, but he finished with only 240 passing yards and one touchdown. He’s thrown for 240 yards or fewer in three of his four starts and has two games with one or no touchdown passes. Facing a Bears’ defense that is one of the stingiest in the league is not the time to deploy Bridgewater in DFS.
Top-tier option: Leonard Fournette, JAC at CIN ($7,200): The secondary won’t be the only area of concern for the Bengals. They have been chewed up by opposing running backs, allowing the most rushing yards per game and the most rushing touchdowns. Fournette has been a workhorse with 115 carries and 36 targets, leaving him with a tremendously high floor in this matchup.
Cheap target: Devin Singletary, BUF vs. MIA ($5,700): Singletary hasn’t been on the field since going down with a hamstring injury in Week 2. The good news is the bye week seems to have helped him since he’s been listed as a full participant in practice. While he’ll still have to share the workload with Frank Gore, being priced this low makes him a viable target against a Dolphins defense that has allowed the second-most rushing yards per game.
Player to avoid: Melvin Gordon, LAC at TEN ($6,700): It hasn’t been pretty in two games since Gordon returned from his contract holdout. The Chargers have given him 20 carries, but he’s only turned that into 49 yards while failing to find his way into the end zone. Austin Ekeler will continue to steal some snaps from him and the Titans have only allowed three rushing touchdowns this season, so I’m not taking a chance on Gordon at this price. Pay the extra $500 and roll with Fournette.
Top-tier option: Cooper Kupp, LAR at ATL ($7,100): With Goff tanking last week, Kupp had only four catches for 17 yards on six targets. Considering he had at least 101 receiving yards in each of his previous four contests, I’m largely ignoring last week’s dud. With the Falcons’ struggles to defend the pass already detailed, a Rams stack with Goff and Kupp has a great chance to be profitable.
Cheap target: John Brown, BUF vs. MIA ($5,600): The addition of Brown to the Bills’ offense has been seamless so far, catching 28 of 39 targets for 390 yards and a touchdown through five games. He hasn’t received fewer than five targets in any game, reaching at least 10 targets two times. The Dolphins have allowed 14 touchdown passes and the seventh-most passing yards per game, leaving Brown with plenty of upside at this reasonable price.
Player to avoid: Terry McLaurin, WAS vs. SF ($5,600): If there is someone to be excited about on the Redskins, it’s McLaurin. The rookie looks like one of the building blocks for the franchise, posting 23 catches, 408 yards and five touchdowns through five games. However, the 49ers defense has been excellent, resulting in them allowing the fewest passing yards per game. There will be plenty of weeks down the road in which you’ll want to target McLaurin, but this isn’t one of them.
Top-tier option: Evan Engram, NYG vs. ARI ($5,900): The Giants sorely missed Engram last week against the Patriots. He’s been one of the staples of their offense, posting 33 receptions, 373 receiving yards and two touchdowns across five games. He hasn’t received fewer than seven targets in any contest and should be back this week for a prime matchup against a Cardinals’ defense that has been destroyed by opposing tight ends. No need to overthink this one.
Cheap target: Hunter Henry, LAC at TEN ($5,000): In need of some help in the passing game, the Chargers finally got some relief last week with the return of Henry. He immediately made his presence felt, catching eight of nine targets for 100 yards and two touchdowns. While the two touchdowns will likely be hard to replicate this week, the target share shouldn’t. With that kind of volume, he can provide value at this price.
Player to avoid: Eric Ebron, IND vs. HOU ($4,400): Since we’re talking about volume, now’s a good time to bring up Ebron. He hasn’t been overly involved in the Colts’ offense with only 20 targets through five games. That has resulted in three games in which he caught only one pass. While he’s always a threat in the red zone, having a healthy Jack Doyle will continue to limit his opportunities. Henry has significantly more upside, and while the $600 price difference is nothing to sneeze at, it isn’t large enough to warrant rolling with Ebron.
Mike Barner has been covering fantasy sports since 2007. His work has appeared in Sports Illustrated, Yahoo, SportsLine and RotoWire. Mike was also a finalist for the 2018 FSWA Basketball Writer of the Year award. Follow Mike on Twitter @rotomikebarner.
Five Cold Plays: Week 2
Tennessee Titans star running back Derrick Henry will face a Jaguars Defense against which he accumulated 203 rushing yards and three rushing scores in two matchups last season. That Jaguars have allowed an average of 31.4 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs over the past eight games. This forecast seems to bode quite well for Henry who should once again see a large volume of carries. He's undoubtedly a high-end RB1 in all formats heading into week two.
Tennessee Titans tight end Jonnu Smith gets a plus matchup this week against a Jaguars Defense that allowed 363 yards through the air in week one. A.J. Brown (knee) is set to miss multiple weeks so the Titans will look upon Smith and Corey Davis more frequently. Smith hauled in four of seven targets for 36 yards and a touchdown during week one's 16-14 win against Denver. He's likely to see an uptick in targets and should be viewed as a high-end TE2 in week two against Jacksonville.
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Corey Davis (hamstring) who was listed as limited on Thursday, practiced full on Friday. He looks ready to go Sunday and should be in line for more targets with fellow receiver A.J. Brown (knee) ruled out. Davis will look to build upon the momentum from week one in which he hauled in seven of eight targets for 101 yards. The receiver is entering his fourth NFL season having yet to emerge as a go-to target after being drafted with the fifth overall pick of the 2017 draft. He should produce numbers worthy of a flex start in all league formats against the Jaguars Defense who gave up 363 yards through the air in week one. He could see double digit targets from Ryan Tannehill.
New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Sheppard was a big part of the Giants offense in Week 1 and will look to carry that momentum into a road game vs the Bears. Shepard caught all six of his targets for 47 yards as he was the primary short-area target for Daniel Jones. If Golden Tate (hamstring) suits up that could cut into Shepard's target share, but he is still a solid WR3/flex play for fantasy managers, especially in PPR. Shepard would get a big boost in his fantasy appeal if Tate sits.
New York Giants wide receiver Darius Slayton had a huge game in Week 1 going for 100-plus yards and two touchdowns on six catches. Slayton tied with Saquon Barkley for the team lead with nine targets and will look to stay hot in a favorable matchup with the Bears in Week 2. Slayton had a nose for the end zone last season with eight scores on just 48 catches and, while that touchdown rate is unsustainable, he clearly has the trust of QB Daniel Jones in the red zone. Slayton is a startable WR3 in fantasy this week.
The New York Giants Defense is not a strong unit for fantasy and managers should look elsewhere for a D/ST in Week 2. The Giants had just two sacks in Week 1 and only forced one turnover from a forced fumble. New York was gashed on the ground by Benny Snell Jr last week so expect the Bears to keep the ball on the ground, limiting fantasy-point-opportunities for Big Blue's defense. Fantasy managers streaming D/ST should look elsewhere in Week 2.
New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones struggled somewhat in Week 1 as he turned the ball over twice, but he also had some encouraging throws and will face an easier matchup in Week 2 at Chicago. The Bears secondary was carved-up by Matthew Stafford last week despite missing his top wide receiver so expect a better output from Jones this week. Jones threw for over 3,000 yards as a rookie with a completion percentage over 60-percent with several weeks as a QB1 in fantasy. He has the talent to put up numbers in this matchup and is a low-end QB1 for Week 2.
New York Giants tight end Evan Engram was a massive letdown for fantasy managers on Monday night as he caught just two passes for nine yards vs Pittsburgh. He'll have an easier matchup in Week 2 vs the Bears and should still be considered a starting tight end for fantasy. Engram struggled in Week 1 but was still targeted seven times so he has a role in the passing game. If he turns a few of those targets into catches Engram has the athleticism to be a top-5 tight end in fantasy. Start the Giants tight end with confidence Week 2 at the Bears.
New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley left fantasy managers out in the cold on Monday night as he ran for just six yards on 15 carries vs a stout Steelers Defense. He'll look to atone for that performance in Week 2 with a much more favorable matchup in Chicago. The Bears allowed the ageless Adrian Peterson to rush for 93 yards on 14 carries (6.6 YPC) last week so there should be more running lanes for Barkley in the Windy City. Barkley did have 6 catches for 60 yards last week so he should be involved in both the passing game and rushing game this week making him a top-RB option in fantasy.
Washington Football Team tight end Logan Thomas led the offense in targets last week and will look to carry that success into a road matchup with the Cardinals. Thomas caught four of eight targets for 37 yards and a touchdown in Week 1 and now gets to face an Arizona defense that allowed the most fantasy points to tight ends in 2019. Thomas should see plenty of targets as Washington is in a position to throw the ball 35-plus times as road underdogs. Fire him up as a sneaky-good start in seasonal leagues or as a cheap option in DFS.
Washington Football Team wide receiver Steven Sims Jr only saw three targets last week, but should be more involved in Week 2 vs Arizona. Sims caught all three targets and turned them into 50 yards in a game where Washington only threw the ball 31 times. The Football Team will likely need to throw more this week as road-underdogs in a game with a higher over/under. Sims Jr should see plenty of targets with top-WR Terry McLaurin seeing coverage from All-Pro corner Patrick Peterson making him an intriguing sleeper for fantasy and a strong DFS play.
Washington Football Team wide receiver Terry McLaurin had a tough matchup in Week 1 vs Darius Slay and will face another top-flight cornerback in Week 2 at Arizona. Cornerback Patrick Peterson allowed just one catch on three targets last week and will undoubtedly be tasked with covering the one, true receiving threat on the Washington offense. Despite the tough matchup, fantasy managers shouldn't shy away from McLaurin in seasonal leagues. Washington should be in a position to throw the ball 35-plus times and there simply aren't enough weapons in this offense to take targets away from the second-year wideout. McLaurin is not a good DFS play this week, but he has one of the highest floors thanks to his target share making him a low-end WR2 for fantasy.
Washington Football Team running back Antonio Gibson was overshadowed by Peyton Barber in Week 1, but the rookie should be in a better position to score fantasy points this week at Arizona. Gibson only handled nine carries last week, but most of that was due to the team having a lead in the fourth quarter and leaning on the veteran Barber. Despite handling eight more carries than Gibson, the rookie still out-rushed Barber, albeit with only 36 yards. Expect Gibson to be more involved this week, especially in the passing game, making him a strong RB3 or flex option for fantasy.
Washington Football Team quarterback Dwayne Haskins played a solid game vs Philadelphia in Week 1 and will look to build on that performance in his first road test of 2020. Haskins didn't break any passing records last week, but he was effective in throwing for 178 yards and a touchdown and, most importantly, no turnovers. Now he'll face a Cardinals Defense that didn't force a turnover in Week 1 and allowed QB Kyler Murray to rush for 91 of the team's 180 rushing yards. Haskins should have some opportunities to make plays in what is projected to be a high-scoring game making him a low-end starter in 2QB leagues.
Washington Football Team running back Peyton Barber scored two touchdowns in Week 1, but remains a risky fantasy option ahead of a date with the Cardinals. Arizona's defense limited Raheem Mostert to 56 yards on 15 carries last week and Barber wasn't exactly effective despite the two touchdown performance. Barber had just 29 yards on 17 carries as most of his production came in the fourth quarter while Washington was trying to kill the clock. This game figures to be a higher-scoring affair making Antonio Gibson a more attractive fantasy option in the Washington backfield.
New England Patriots WR Julian Edelman was on the field for five of the 27 offensive snaps played with two receivers against the Miami Dolphins in Week 1. From 2017 to 2019, he was on the field for 41 percent of the snaps in two-receiver sets.
Fantasy Spin: One game isn't a big sample, and Edelman was still New England's most productive receiver in the opener. Fewer snaps would lead to less consistency, but Edelman is going to have WR3 potential regardless.
Baltimore Ravens TE Mark Andrews played a career-high 71 percent of the offensive snaps against the Cleveland Browns in Week 1, topping his previous high of 55 percent of the snaps.
Fantasy Spin: Andrews emerged as an elite fantasy tight end last year despite playing about half the snaps. If his increased usage from Week 1 becomes the norm, he should be a lock for top-five production.
Los Angeles Rams TE Gerald Everett (back) is expected to play against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2, according to head coach Sean McVay. 'We put him as questionable, but he ended up going today,' McVay said. 'He felt good. I fully expect him to be ready to go.'
Free-agent S Doug Middleton (Titans) was signed to the Jacksonville Jaguars' practice squad Friday, Sept. 18.
Free-agent LB Devante Bond (Bears) and OG Dieter Eiselen (Bears) were signed to the practice squad of the Chicago Bears Friday, Sept. 18.