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.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Jordan Howard is dealing with a stinger and has not been cleared for contact yet. With the Eagles facing off against the Patriots on Sunday, Howard's availability is in serious jeopardy. Darren Sproles was just ruled out for the rest of the season with a torn hip flexor, leaving rookie Miles Sanders and special teamer Boston Scott as the only healthy running backs on the Eagles roster. Free agent Jay Ajayi visited the Eagles and could be signed and even see some action as early as Sunday. It's a mess for the Eagles offense. Howard's fantasy owners should be making alternate plans.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Darren Sproles will miss the rest of the 2019 season due to a torn hip flexor. The veteran back suffered the injury originally in Week 5 but was able to return in Week 9. Sproles missed most of last season due to injury as well, which led him to return for one more year. After two straight injury-plagued seasons, however, this could be it for the former Saint and Charger. Jordan Howard, Miles Sanders, and Boston Scott remain on the Eagles running back depth chart.
Cincinnati Bengals DT Geno Atkins (knee) is expected to play in Week 11.
Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Vance McDonald caught three passes for 33 yards on Thursday during the loss to the Cleveland Browns. McDonald led the team with seven targets on the night after James Conner (shoulder), Diontae Johnson (concussion), and JuJu Smith-Schuster (concussion) all suffered injuries. McDonald, who has been targeted 21 times over the last three games, could be more involved against the Bengals in Week 12 if any one of those three mentioned aren't able to go. Keep on an eye on things heading into next Sunday's matchup with Cincy.
Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver James Washington finished with a team-high 49 yards during the loss to the Browns on Thursday. With JuJu Smith-Schuster (concussion), James Conner (shoulder), and Diontae Johnson (concussion) all getting banged up in this one, Washington received five targets while managing to catch just three of them. The 23-year-old could see his fantasy stock rise before the Week 12 showdown with the Bengals if any of those guys aren't able to suit up, especially for those playing in deeper formats.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Trey Edmunds finished with just three carries for 11 yards during the loss to the Browns. Edmunds yielded carries to Jaylen Samuels, who finished with five attempts for 26 yards, and while both men didn't fully capitalize on the ground after the premature departure of James Conner (shoulder), they were involved on the receiving end to some degree. If Conner is unable to suit up against the Bengals in Week 12, Edmunds has some value, but only as a desperation play in deeper leagues as Samuels will likely be more involved against Cincinnati.
Cleveland Browns LB Joe Schobert had 10 tackles (seven solo), a sack, two tackles for loss, four passes defensed and a pair of interceptions during the team's Week 11 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Cleveland Browns WR Jarvis Landry had four receptions, 43 yards and a touchdown during the team's Week 11 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Fantasy Spin: That's three games in a row with a touchdown for Landry, who has statistically been the team's top wideout for weeks now, being targeted 40 times over the last four contests (for 24 receptions). His weekly upside isn't as high as Odell Beckham, but Landry seems like a steadier play as a WR2.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jaylen Samuels finished with five attempts for 26 yards in addition to five receptions for 19 yards and a touchdown against the Browns in Week 11. Samuels stepped up after James Conner was ruled out on Thursday night after re-injuring the same shoulder that kept him out over the last few weeks. Look for 23-year-old to once again be a popular waiver wire target, especially in PPR formats, heading into Week 12 against the Bengals if Conner is forced to miss another one.
Cleveland Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr. (groin) had four receptions for 60 yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday, Nov. 14.
Fantasy Spin: Beckham had a 42-yard catch but was otherwise quiet on Thursday night. This seems to be the sweet spot for OBJ right now as he has posted between 50 and 60 receiving yards in three of his last four games. That's not terrible production, but it's certainly not what fantasy owners were expecting as Beckham hasn't scored since Week 2. His upside dictates he remain in that WR2 area even if his numbers don't.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph struggled in Week 11 in the loss to the Browns, finishing with 221 yards on 23-for-44 passing to go along with four interceptions. While the 24-year-old did throw a touchdown, the four picks he threw offset any chance for an adequate fantasy performance. He hasn't played well over the last three weeks, however, compiling only 654 yards and three scores, while throwing five interceptions. There is light at the end of the tunnel for Rudolph, nonetheless, as the Steelers will look to get back on track against the Bengals in Week 12, with his stock increasing if either JuJu Smith-Schuster (concussion) or James Conner (shoulder) are able to play after suffering in-game injuries on Thursday night.
Cleveland Browns RB Kareem Hunt ran six times for 12 yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 11. He also caught six passes for 46 yards.
Fantasy Spin: For one week at least, Cleveland's passing game flowed through three players: Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry and Hunt. That trio was targeted on 25 of the team's 32 passes. It certainly looks like Nick Chubb will be their bruiser, and Hunt will chip in on passing downs. In that role he holds some flex appeal.
Cleveland Browns RB Nick Chubb had 27 carries for 92 yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday, Nov. 14.
Fantasy Spin: Chubb's 92-yard effort puts him over 1,000 yards for the season, and his 27 carries marked the seventh time this year he's had 20 or more. The return of Kareem Hunt has had no negative effects on Chubb to this point, and Chubb remains an RB1.
Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield completed 17 of his 32 passes for 193 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in a Week 11 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Mayfield also ran for a one-yard touchdown.
Fantasy Spin: Mayfield wasn't spectacular, but he did enough and avoided the mistakes that doomed counterpart Mason Rudolph. After throwing INTs in each of his first seven games, the Oklahoma product has gone three straight without one. He's not putting QB1 fantasy numbers right now, but he's worth carrying as your backup.
Pittsburgh Steelers TE Vance McDonald caught three passes for 33 yards on Thursday, Nov. 14, against the Cleveland Browns.
Fantasy Spin: McDonald entered 2019 as a top-10 tight end, but he hasn't topped 40 yards receiving in a game this season. Any optimism that was generated by him catching two TDs in Mason Rudolph's first game petered out long ago, and McDonald isn't worth owning outside of deep leagues.
Pittsburgh Steelers WR James Washington caught three passes for 49 yards during the team's Week 11 loss to the Cleveland Browns.
Fantasy Spin: Washington's numbers weren't great Thursday night, but he still led the team. It's a continuation of the second-year pro's maturation and development into a nice complement to JuJu Smith-Schuster. While Pittsburgh's passing offense is anything but prolific, Washington still holds potential WR3 value down the stretch.
Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri has been one of the NFL's worst kickers this year, but head coach Frank Reich remains confident in him. However, in Week 11 with the fantasy playoffs looming, you can't trust him in your lineups. He's missed five field goals and six extra points this season. He's below 80 percent accuracy in both categories, and this figures to be a low-scoring game. You just can't trot him out this week, as there are likely several options available that are better than him.
Indianapolis Colts running back Marlon Mack has only cleared 100 scrimmage yards in a game twice this season. One of those was all the way back in Week 1 against the Los Angeles Chargers. In Week 11, he has a good matchup that could see that number grow to three. The Jacksonville Jaguars, Indy's Week 11 opponent, have been decent against the pass, but they're allowing over 120 yards per game on the ground. Mack is still in the RB2 conversation every week because he gets good volume, and this week he has a fair bit of upside.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett (knee) is expected to start after missing last week's loss to the Miami Dolphins. After being a consistent QB2 for much of the season, he can't be trusted this week. He'll be without three of his top four wide receivers due to injuries, and he's playing against a defense that still has a fair bit of talent to make life difficult for him. With only four teams on a bye, there should be better streaming options available for this week than Brissett. Expect the Colts to lean heavily on the running game even with Brissett back in the fold.
Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Zach Pascal was quiet last week, and he'll see an uptick in his stock this week with quarterback Jacoby Brissett (knee) expected to start. However, he still can't be relied on for anything consistent. He's been boom-or-bust wideout nearly every week since he showed up on the scene in Week 3. He'll also have to deal with cornerback A.J. Bouye a fair bit in this game, which further downgrades him. Unless you have no other options, look elsewhere at wide receiver in shallow leagues. The Colts should lean more on the run this week once again.