Fri Nov 8 1:21pm ET
By MIKE BARNER
Brees is a top DFS target
We have a tricky slate of DFS ahead of us for Week 10 with six teams on a bye. With the Texans, Patriots and Eagles among the teams who won’t play, we will be missing several of the top options at various positions. With that being said, that doesn’t mean you can’t still come out of it a winner. Here are some players to consider at various price points, as well as some to avoid, while creating your entry.
Top-tier option: Drew Brees, NO vs. ATL ($6,500): Brees wasted no time making an impact in his return from a thumb injury, completing 34-of-43 passes for 373 yards and three touchdowns in Week 8 against the Cardinals. The only other full game that he played this season came against the Texans in Week 1 when he threw for 370 yards and two touchdowns. Those are two teams who have struggled to defend the pass, which has certainly helped Brees’ cause. He’ll get another great matchup out of the bye with the Falcons tied for the third-most touchdown passes allowed (19) in the league.
Cheap target: Daniel Jones, NYG at NYJ ($6,000): We saw the good side of Jones in Week 8 when he torched the Lions for 322 yards and four touchdowns. However, turnovers have mostly been a problem since he took over for Eli Manning. He again struggled in that department against the Cowboys last week, fumbling twice and throwing an interception to go along with only one touchdown. Rookie quarterbacks can be inconsistent like that, so Jones is no sure-fire option in DFS. However, facing a Jets team that just allowed three touchdown passes to Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Dolphins last week is awfully enticing.
Player to avoid: Baker Mayfield, CLE vs. BUF ($5,700): The Browns have lost four straight games and enter this contest as one of the more disappointing teams in the league at 2-6. Mayfield isn’t the only reason for their struggles, but it hasn’t helped that he hasn’t thrown for more than one touchdown in a game all season. Facing a Bills team that has allowed the third-fewest passing yards per game likely won’t help matters.
Top-tier option: Christian McCaffrey, CAR at GB ($8,600): At this point, the only reason not to deploy McCaffrey in your lineup is if you’re looking to be a contrarian in tournament play. He had another monster game last week against the Titans, rushing 24 times for 146 yards and two touchdowns. He already has 13 total touchdowns this season to go along with 881 rushing yards and 363 receiving yards. The Packers have allowed the ninth-most rushing yards per game and are tied for the third-most rushing touchdowns allowed. Buckle up and enjoy the ride.
Cheap target: David Montgomery, CHI vs. DET ($6,000): The Bears have finally unleashed their promising rookie, giving him 41 carries and nine targets over their last two games. He’s rewarded their faith in him with 223 total yards and three touchdowns. With Mitchell Trubisky struggling, the Bears would be wise to keep feeding Montgomery, especially considering the Lions have allowed the sixth-most rushing yards per game.
Player to avoid: Joe Mixon, CIN vs. BAL ($5,800): The Bengals are shaping up to be the worst team in the league with their offensive line being one of their many weaknesses. They haven’t opened many holes for Mixon, who has only 320 yards on 101 carries. While he does have three receiving touchdowns, he is still looking for his first rushing score of the season. The last time he faced the Ravens, they held him to 10 yards on eight carries. Considering they have allowed the second-fewest rushing yards per game, overall, things are once again looking bleak for Mixon.
Top-tier option: Michael Thomas, NO vs. ATL ($8,000): A Brees/Thomas stack will eat up a significant portion of your budget, but it will be difficult to resist in cash contests. Even with Brees sidelined for most of the season, Thomas has 73 receptions for 875 yards. His volume has been off the charts with at least 11 targets in six of his eight games. Don’t expect the Falcons to be the team that slows him down.
Cheap target: Christian Kirk, ARI at TB ($5,000): Kirk might be one of my favorite cheap targets at any position. Throw his two catch, eight-yard performance last week out the window. He was facing the 49ers, who have one of the best defenses in the league. Now he’ll take on the Bucs, a team that has allowed the second-most passing yards per game. The Cardinals have shown a propensity for wanting to get the ball in Kirk’s hands, giving him at least eight targets in four of the six games he has played.
Player to avoid: D.K. Metcalf, SEA at SF ($6,200): Metcalf is coming off the best performance of his young career after catching six passes for 123 yards and a touchdown versus the Bucs last week. While Kirk might benefit from that matchup in Week 10, Metcalf has to face the same 49ers team that shut down Kirk and the Cardinals’ offense. Add in Metcalf’s rising price tag and this might not be the week to add him to your entry.
Top-tier option: Austin Hooper, ATL at NO ($6,100): It looks like we are finally experiencing the Hooper breakout campaign that many of us have been yearning for. Last season was the most productive of his career, but he’s on pace to blow past those numbers with 52 catches and 591 yards through eight games. He’s already hauled in five touchdowns, which is one more than all of last season. In a position that has a lot of volatile options, Hooper’s consistency is extremely appealing.
Cheap target: Mike Gesicki, MIA at IND ($3,300): If you want to spend elsewhere, taking a chance on Gesicki isn’t that crazy of an idea. He is coming off of his best performance of the season, catching all six of his targets for 95 yards against the Jets in Week 9. The Dolphins lost one of their top wide receivers in Preston Williams (knee) during that game, who has since been placed on IR. With the potential for an expanded role in the offense moving forward, Gesicki is at least an option in tournament play.
Player to avoid: Jimmy Graham, GB vs. CAR ($4,500): There’s not a lot to see here with Graham. While he’s had an impressive career, he’s a shell of the player that he once was. He’s posted 20 or fewer receiving yards in three of his last four games and has caught more than four passes in a game only one time all season. I’d argue that Gesicki has similar upside, so I can’t justify spending the extra $1,200 for Graham.
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.
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew is the starter again, but his first start since reclaiming that role comes in a bad situation. The Jags play the Chargers, who've allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing passers this season. The safest bet for you in a season-long fantasy league is to do what you can to avoid playing Minshew this week, though he's not the worst option in a two-quarterback league. He threw for 147 yards and a touchdown in one half of play against Tampa.
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins is in line for a big game in Week 14 against the Detroit Lions. Cousins has become a model of consistency, tossing multiple touchdowns in seven of his last eight games played and completing 69.3% of his passes to this point in the season (at 8.5 yards per attempt). The Detroit Lions Defense has been getting demolished by opposing fantasy quarterbacks all season, including in Week 7 when Cousins exploded for 338 yards and four touchdowns. The only possible concern for his outlook this week is volume as the Vikings are favored by 13 points and may look to lean on the run. He'll need David Blough and the Lions offense to put up some points in order to approach his ceiling this week, which shouldn't be counted on. Still, start Cousins as a low-end QB1 in this extremely favorable matchup at home.
Houston Texans wide receiver Will Fuller (hamstring) isn't even a guarantee to suit up against Denver in Week 14, but if he does, he faces a Broncos Defense that's allowing the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. Fuller played 75 percent of Houston's snaps last week, but had just one catch for eight yards. His other target was an end zone one that was initially ruled a touchdown, but two targets for the speedster isn't great. I'd expect we see a little more usage if he plays this week, but if he's not at 100 percent, it'll be tough to trust him in your lineups in shallower leagues.
Houston Texans wide receiver Kenny Stills caught his first touchdown since Week 1 in last week's meeting with New England, but his inconsistent role means you're unlikely to get much out of him in Week 14 against Denver. If Will Fuller (hamstring) misses the game, Stills has value, but it's worth noting that Stills has 50 or more receiving yards in just four games this year and has major fantasy downside.
Houston Texans tight end Darren Fells caught another touchdown last week. He also finished with two catches for 23 yards, his fourth game in a row with two or fewer catches. It's clear that Fells has a very defined role in this offense: quarterback Deshaun Watson will look for him near the goal line or in short yardage situations, and that's about it. Of his 28 catches, nine were in the red zone, and seven of those went for touchdowns. If you need a prayer, Fells is as likely as any non-elite tight end to score, but he won't put up huge yardage totals, so you're assuming a lot of risk.
Houston Texans running back Duke Johnson saw his most targets and tied for his most carries of the season against the Patriots in Week 13 while playing a season-high 67 percent of offensive snaps, a sign that the pass-catching back might be moving towards a larger role in this offense. That gives him some intriguing upside in Week 14 against a Denver team that's done better against running backs on the ground than through the air. This could be a game that favors Johnson over teammate Carlos Hyde, though Johnson's still no more than a PPR RB3 because of the downside he presents, like the fact that in Weeks 11 and 12 he combined for just 12 receiving yards.
Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins faces a tough one on Sunday, as Houston faces a Broncos team that allows the fifth-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers. Add in that Hopkins has been targeted eight times in each of the last two games after a five-game stretch with double-digit targets and you get some reason for concern. Not enough concern to even think about benching Hopkins, as his upside is just too big. Maybe you don't play him in your DFS lineup this week because of the matchup, but you have to play him in season-long leagues and hope his talent and his usage help him to a strong day.
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson is currently the fantasy QB4, and while his opponent this Sunday -- the Denver Broncos -- are allowing the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing passers this season, you've still got to trust Watson and deploy him as your starting fantasy quarterback. He's coming off a strong performance against New England's league-best defense in which he threw for three touchdowns and also caught one on an option play, so we've definitely seen Watson succeed in tough spots.
Houston Texans running back Carlos Hyde is coming his worst performance of the season, a 10-carry, 17-yard outing against a strong Patriots Defense. Now, he's about to face a Broncos Defense that's allowing the eighth-fewest yards per carry to opposing running backs, which is bad news for Hyde, who's shown a tendency to struggle at times this season. His volume should give him a chance to produce something, but he still shouldn't be considered more than a low-end RB3 this week.
Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph has scored a touchdown in his last four games played and is now up to six for the season. He'll look to keep the scoring streak going against the Lions Defense as the nominal No. 2 "receiver" in the offense with Adam Thielen (hamstring) again out. Rudolph has clearly gained the trust of Kirk Cousins in the red zone and has seen at least five targets in five of his last six games played. Though his yardage totals will never blow anyone away, few tight ends can match his propensity for finding the end zone and he has to be kept in lineups as a low-end TE1 at this point (as long as Thielen remains out). Start him as such in Week 14's home matchup against the Detroit Lions.
Minnesota Vikings running back Alexander Mattison has a chance to see an increased workload in Week 14's home matchup against the Detroit Lions. Starter Dalvin Cook (chest) was removed from the injury report and is in line to start, but the risk of re-injury certainly remains. The Vikings are favored by 13 points and have the highest projected total this week, and Mattison has had some of his best fantasy performances in blowouts this season. They could also choose to rest Cook completely if they build a big enough lead. Mattison has made the most of his opportunities this season (4.8 yards per carry), and you'll want him in your flex spot if he's going to get more than his typical 5-12 touch workload against the shoddy Lions Defense. He's not for the faint of heart, but Mattison is startable in deep leagues as a flex option in Week 14.
New York Giants tight end Evan Engram left the start of practice on Saturday and went into the training facilities. His departure from practice alongside Daniel Jones (ankle) is cause for concern considering Pat Shurmur indicated on Friday that he knows foot injuries like Engrams take a while to recover from. If Engram isnt able to come out and take part in any drills today, it would be a bad sign for his status on Monday night. Rhett Ellison would start in his place and be on the TE2 radar. His potential upside would be capped since the Giants have all their wide receivers healthy, and Eli Manning doesnt use the tight end as much as Daniel Jones did.
Detroit Lions WR Kenny Golladay, who has one year remaining on his rookie deal, said that he is open to signing a contract extension with the team during the offseason.
Fantasy Spin: Golladay appears poised to have his second consecutive 1,000-yard receiving season and an extension could make him one of the NFL's highest-paid receivers. He is currently tied for sixth in the league in receiving yards (950), ranked first in touchdown receptions (nine) and is second in the league with 20.2 yards per catch. Golladay will continue to serve as Detroit's main option in their passing game and should be a WR2 or WR3 in all fantasy leagues despite the Lions' current quarterback situation.
Cleveland Browns TE David Njoku (wrist) expects to be activated from the Reserve/Injured list in order to play in Week 14's game against the Cincinnati Bengals. He was designated for return from injured reserve Nov. 20, and has participated in several practice sessions since then.
Fantasy Spin: Njoku has a very favorable matchup versus the Cincinnati defense this weekend, so he can be viewed as a high-end TE2 with TE1 upside in most fantasy formats.
Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd has been on a roll as of late and will look to stay on course against Cleveland on Sunday. Boyd racked up 10 catches on 19 targets over his previous two outings, while also adding 160 yards and two touchdowns. John Ross (chest) will be back in the picture after missing some time, but Boyd is still an acceptable option in most fantasy leagues in Week 14, especially if you have nowhere else to turn.
Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon has started to show signs of life as the season heads into the final stretch and will look to stay on track against Cleveland on Sunday. While the Browns have been effective against the run over the last four weeks, at least on paper, by allowing a third-best 16.73 fantasy points per game to opposing backs, the 23-year-old may be the most potent rusher that they have seen since Chris Carson back in Week 6. Mixon scored his first rushing touchdown of the year against Oakland and followed that up by recording another against the Jets in Week 13. He still has some work to do from a consistency standpoint, but he will likely keep trending in the right direction throughout the remainder of the season.
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton made his return to the lineup against the Jets after a three-game absence and played relatively well, throwing for 243 yards and a touchdown on 23-for-37 passing. While the Browns Defense isn't horrible, Dalton has played historically well against them throughout his career, making his outlook more promising than usual, especially with John Ross (chest) back in the lineup. If you need a quarterback with a solid upside in Week 14, Dalton could be your guy.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Curtis Samuel will look to build off of the efficient showing that he had against the Redskins. After struggling against the Saints in Week 12, Samuel got his act together in Week 13 by finishing with four catches for 65 yards and a score against Washington. While that wasn't the most brilliant fantasy performance that we've seen out of the 23-year-old, he has the potential to score on any given week. With Greg Olsen (concussion) out against Atlanta, look for Samuel to get some extra attention from Kyle Allen, making him a decent option in deeper formats.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore has been one of the most productive fantasy options as of late and will look to keep things moving against Atlanta on Sunday. After recording just one touchdown throughout his first 10 games of the season, Moore has three over the last two weeks. He hasn't been targeted less than eight times in each of his previous eight games and should retain his must-start status in all fantasy formats in Week 14.
Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey had arguably the worst performance of the season, at least as a runner, against the Redskins in Week 13. While he had a favorable matchup against one of the league's worst defenses, the 23-year-old had just 44 yards on 14 attempts to go along with an acceptable seven catches for 58 yards. That game marked only the third time all season that he failed to record a touchdown, but he should get back on track against Atlanta after playing well against them just a few weeks ago.